Does Lack of Perseverance Imply Limited Atonement?

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation [1] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:21-23)

This passage clearly implies the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, or as I renamed it, Persevering Grace for the Saints. It basically says that Jesus actually reconciled a professing believer if he continues, or perseveres, in the faith. Simple enough, those who persevere are the ones who were truly reconciled to the Father in Christ’s death on the cross.

But look what happens when you read its opposite:

if you shift from the hope of the gospel that you heard, are unstable, waver and do not continue in the faith, then Christ has not reconciled you in his body of flesh by his death in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.

Do you read what I read? When I think of it in this way, my logic tells me that lack of perseverance may be evidence for limited atonement. In other words, if you don’t persevere in the faith, then Jesus didn’t die for you.

What say you? Am I reading limited atonement into this passage, or am I properly drawing limited atonement out of the text? Eisegesis or exegesis? You be the judge (That means post your opinion!).

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14 responses

  1. John

    this is one of the most difficult sequence of Scriptures to understand.

    I would pose it, or parse it this way and ask if that makes any difference in your outcome here?

    Col 1:19 For in him/Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
    Col 1:20 and through him/”Jesus” to reconcile to himself/”God Our Father” all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
    Col 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,
    Col 1:22 he/”God Our Father” has now reconciled in his/”God the Son’s” body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him/”Son of God”,
    Col 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

    My point to these verses is it is God Our Heavenly Father doing something because of what God, the Son has done and because of this, what God, the Son has done, God the Holy Ghost can now come to us and make us alive in God, Our Heavenly Father, the Son and Himself, God, the Holy Ghost, because of the “election” by God Our Heavenly Father.

  2. “and my growth in the truths of the Christian faith, aka, “Reformed theology,” comes from personal study of Scripture and solid Reformed literature.”

    Thorough navigation through your site’s and blog’s, it becomes quickly evident your growth in “truths” comes from the second of your claims. Working as a 17 year old in a Christian bookstore can quickly develop as the worst possible environment for an impressionable child. One can rapidly fall squarely into the stumbling stones of listening to the wisdom of men, rather than the truths of the Bible.

    One can readily see this with the incredible amount of zeal you use in the direction you point others to. Towards the reading and study of literally dozens of books written by the wisdom of men. Yet VERY LITTLE if ANY, toward the reading , or even postings of scripture, of where true salvation itself is found.

    Some books of which, you highly recommend the reading of, yet readily admit, you have yet to read it yourself. Rather being so “excited” of learning of the existence of the book, you felt compelled to recommend its being read by others.

    Be mindful that you are being prayed for in earnest. Take heed you don’t fall into a snare, heeping unto teachers, having itching ears.

    Ro 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    Ps 119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
    Ps 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

    6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
    7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

    2Ti 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

    Ro 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

    1Co 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
    May the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ endure…. Kevin

    Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

  3. Kevin,

    I hope you feel better, now that you’ve gotten that off your chest. Thanks for the prayers. Pray on!

  4. Michael,

    You may need to clarify. Do your remarks correct mine in any way? I have no dispute with yours. I think you’re simply saying that the Father reconciles us to himself in Christ’s death, on the basis of which the Spirit applies the benefits actually and finally procured by the Son on the cross to the elect.

    I’m appealing to the way saying the reverse of a statement can often clarify or shed more light on the original statement. In this case, I’m wondering if my seeing limited atonement implied in the reverse of this passage seems as valid to others as it seems to me.

  5. Kevin,

    Since my making “Christian faith” synonymous with “Reformed theology” I’d like to introduce you to one of our big brothers who felt the same way. He was an effective evangelist who was thoroughly saturated, not only with Scripture, but also with sound Reformed theological literature, Pilgrim’s Progress chief among it. His name was Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers.”

    “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; CALVINISM IS THE GOSPEL, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.” (emphasis mine)

    –from . . .

    http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm

  6. John,

    I am well aware of what you call Calvinism (the doctrine of the Bible). You chose the words of Spurgeon well. My reaching was a mere attempt at an assistance. The Spurgeon words were nice and Calvinism is more a term of naysayers.

    The use of Spurgeon’s words in the context of THIS discussion were okay, the term “Calvinism” can certainly be improved upon, the term “doctrine of the Bible” is good.

    Yet having said that, can we consider calling Calvinism what the Bible terms it, and that is Grace. And surely, while those were nice words by Spurgeon, we can find some passages from God’s own mouth.

    The first post by myself is not an assault on your reformist theology. Rather I see a potential brother spending enormous time and efforts into the vast endless banks of mans wisdom. You recommend an incredible array from those banks. And reading all that, you may come into a snare along the way, for there will be contradiction between them.

    Just a small brotherly “nudge” that with a small shift to pointing to the reading of God’s Word, and doing so yourself, you may someday be compelled to re-title your blog “The True Adventures of Captain Heartknowledge” without all the running to and fro.

    Nice words by Spurgeon….

    Ge 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

    Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

    Joh 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

    Joh 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

    Ac 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

    Ac 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

    Ro 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

    Ro 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace

    Ro 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

    Ro 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

    2Co 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you–ward.

    Ga 1:6 I MARVEL that ye are SO SOON REMOVED from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

    Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

    Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

    Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    These Words are so much better than Spurgeons’

    May the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ endure………… Kevin

    Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

  7. I would be interested in your definition of “perseverance.” Exactly what is it we expect from one who have been “saved?”

    And while I know this is “your” blog, I can’t help but ask if Kevin is endorsing reading only the Bible? Is he suggesting that all. . .or most. . .other material is fruitless?

    Christian

  8. John,

    no, no need to clarify. You have done it well. It would be good to do the reverse with many other passages too as this way helps clarify even more, when “helpful”.

    I wanted to emphasize where Our Heavenly Father’s Hand is involved in those passages by Paul to the Colossians.

  9. I think you’re reading into it too much, because as long as a person is alive, he has the chance to repent and therefore, persevere. Maybe that argument could be made for those who have died in unrepentant sin, but the passage isnt saying that and saying the opposite of it isn’t necessarily what the author had in mind to say, otherwise, he would have said it that way.

  10. Since my making “Christian faith” synonymous with “Reformed theology” I’d like to introduce you to one of our big brothers who felt the same way. He was an effective evangelist who was thoroughly saturated, not only with Scripture, but also with sound Reformed theological literature, Pilgrim’s Progress chief among it. His name was Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers.”

    Your belief that Spurgeon was the “Princes of Preachers” certainly causes me to cease communication with you. This statement shows you are beyond the hope that could be sought in you.

    Christ is the Prince of Preachers, Spurgeon was a fallible sinful man whose teachings did not follow a “perfect” path. Only Christ can fit that bill. Not to worry, I wont be back. Putting Spurgeon OVER Christ in that HE is the Prince of Preachers has driven this blog reader out. Which I suspect you’ll be happy about. You may answer this if you like, but you will be answering to your other bloggers as I wont be here to read it.

    Only God Himself can rescue you, today is the day of salvation. Cry to Him for mercy, READ HIS WORD, and quietly hope for His salvation. God is not a respecter of persons. He can save you as well. I will be praying He, in His mercy, may do so.

    Be correct, you will not find salvation in the words and theology books of men, seek His Word out to find where His salvation may be found, if it be His will to save you.

  11. Will,

    I agree wholeheartedly that as long as there’s life, there’s hope. Perhaps it would be clearer to specify that I’m talking about final perseverance, or lack thereof. I certainly believe it to be the case that those who fail, by the end of their life, to repent and return to a persevering faith in Christ give evidence that they were among those who “went out from us because they were not of us.” Which means they are revealed as not having been among the elect after all is said and done.

    I realize that by reading the reverse of the statement, any inferences derived, such as the one I’ve made, is not the primary intention of the text, but I think it demonstrates the Scriptural consistency of the doctrine of Limited Atonement, or the Redeeming Grace of the Son, as I renamed it in a recent post.

  12. C. W.,

    Never be shy to engage another commenter. This is a forum for discussion, you don’t have to only interact with me.

    Here are a few helpful paragraphs regarding perseverance of the saints from Theopedia.com:

    “Perseverance of the saints is the Calvinist doctrine that those who are truly saved will persevere to the end and cannot lose their salvation. It doesn’t mean that a person who is truly saved will never lose faith or backslide at any time. But that they will ultimately persevere in faith (inspite of failures) such as not to lose their salvation.

    The doctrine of perseverance is rooted in God’s unconditional election and predestination. That is, since God is the One who chose and predestined the elect to salvation, therefore the elect will be saved. They might turn away from faith and give appearance of losing their salvation, but if they really are elect they will repent and ultimately return to faith, because God is the One ensuring their salvation.

    This doctrine is also closely related to the doctrine of justification and adoption. Because God is the One who justifies the elect, no one can bring any condemnation on them. In the same way because those who truly believe in Christ are adopted as God’s sons, they cannot be condemned to eternal punishment (although subject to God’s loving discipline as a Father). ”

    “Eternal security” is often seen as synonymous with “Perseverance of the saints.” That is, a person who truly trusts in Christ, may have assurance of eternal life with God, and thus be eternally secure. Historically, this comes from a biblical, Calvinistic framework, wherein salvation is secure because the perseverance of the saved person is certain.

    Today, however, the doctrine of eternal security is usually expressed without the reference to the perseverance (or continuance) and other means of grace indicative of true saving/justifying faith. This mind-set goes hand-in-hand with the “easy believism” and “carnal Christianity” so prevalent in the evangelical church today. It is characterized by the trite phrase “once saved, always saved”, suggesting that one may continue in a life of willful sin and be confident of salvation because he has made a profession of faith in the past. This goes against biblical exhortations, warnings for final salvation and qualifications of true saving faith. For example :

    John 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

    Heb 12:14 “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”

    Eph 5:5-6 “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

    1 John 2:3-4 “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;”

    1 Cor. 10:1-6 “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.”

    2 Cor 13:5 “Test yourselves {to see} if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?”

    James 2:14-17 “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

    Definitive wandering is deadly and maybe a sign that one is not truly saved. Christians in the bible are warned and encouraged over and over again to not give up, but to persevere in faith in order to be saved. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,’ as James says, ‘for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.’ (James 1:12) “

  13. John,
    Looks like you lost Judge Moon. And you were wrong. My pastor is the “prince of preachers,” which you full well know.

    I think I have read all these scriptures before, but they do not give me a working, visual, “fruit-inspecting” means for determining if I or anyone else is “persevering.” Can you, or your theological friends, give me something concrete that I can look for in the life of an individual so that I will know from his actions that he is “persevering?”

    Christian

  14. Christian,

    I step to the plate and swing:::>

    Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

    When you are “under” stress from “outside” forces, who God allows to press you out of measure, despairing even of this temporal life, do those who learn, receive, hear and see from your life, when they do as you, have the God of Peace with them?

    If they don’t, then I don’t believe you are persevering. You can always tell the men from the boys by their fruit! As they say, the fruit nevers falls very far from the limbs, in fact, look down and see if there is any fruit under your tree.

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