justification, believing and perseverance

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Puritan Board Freshman
I was thinking about something. It's about justification and perseverance. In my reading of reformed theology I often find an emphasis on justification as a one time thing. The moment we first believe, we are justified. Together with the belief in perseverance I guess one could say that we are eternally justified.

Personally, I don't really emphasise it in that way and I think I am confessionally sound but I wanted your opinions. I also don't like the term "once saved always saved" because I believe it does not reflect the Biblical teaching on eternal security at all..

I believe that we are justified by faith, because by faith we lay hold of Christ. Therefore to stop believing is to be no longer justified, because we lose Christ. Now before I sound to arminian and someone might get me the wrong way. I also believe that the elect will persevere by the power of God. But I see perseverance not as something once saved always saved, but rather that God's elect will persevere in the faith. Persevere in believing etc. Is it biblical and confessional to see it this way? It seems a sort of silly to emphasis "to be justified" is something that signifies only the moment that we first believed.

I hope you people understand what I mean (and forgive my possible spelling mistakes)

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Puritan Board Freshman
OSAS is true in that the salvation of God is abiding, enduring, irrevocable, and immutable. If we think of "salvation" as the eternal life, and "being saved" as the receiving of eternal life; then it becomes easier to recognize this; nobody who enters eternal life can ever forfeit it (else it was never eternal life that they entered into). So in that sense; OSAS does reflect the biblical reality of God's salvation.

OSAS as a spiritual term carries some baggage acquired by those who use the term to justify or defend licentious living. But Biblical salvation is unto communion with Christ, to share in His eternal life (and also his obedience, his righteousness, his death, his resurrection, his inheritance, and so on). Christ receives all who come to him, and whoever does come He will never cast out.

A believer, Biblically speaking, is one who has been united to Christ by God and sealed with the Holy Spirit. The active faith of the believer flows out of this union, and while it is refined by trial, it cannot be broken or lost because it's foundation is not the will or effort of the individual but the power of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit and union with the ascended Lord. The believer's faith, and the perseverance of it, flow out of the union and will last as long as it is in effect.

The justification of this believer cannot ever be lost, because the faith cannot be broken, because of this real spiritual union with the invincible, already victorious Christ.

This is my understanding of the confessional faith / Biblical account on the issue.


Puritan Board Freshman
I will add to this that while the Bible does speak of the revelation of unbelief (they went out from us because they were not of us), as well as a form of godliness that is in truth with out the power of it; wheat and tares; etc; it knows nothing of a formerly justified soul.

Justification is an act of God. He does not mess around nor change his mind as so many of his creatures.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
You are right to see that perseverance is just that: perseverance, keeping the faith. That's how it is from our human standpoint, struggle rather than ease. And from God's standpoint, his elect are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time," 1Pet.1:5. There we see God who does the actual saving. He is our confidence, not ourselves in the struggle.

The OSAS people are not typically focused on the matter of salvation in the same way that we are. For many of them, the key to confidence is remembering there was a day they "walked an aisle," or prayed "the sinner's prayer." And then they were commanded not to doubt, because doubt can't happen to someone who has said the magic charm.

On the other hand, I would never want to miss that my justification is settled with God, and that on the basis of the finished work of Christ. I have been found righteous by God in Christ, which makes him propitious toward me, not once but forever. I cannot trust my struggle, or my sanctification, the way I can trust Christ. My heart is unreliable, 1Jn.3:20. But when my heart does not condemn me, I have confidence toward God, v21. John is writing his letter so that assurance will be ours, now, 5:13.

So, the assurance believers have is not: that "so far" I'm handling my business, and God will (eventually, if everything stays fine) finish his work of justifying me. No, but Christ, who is all-perfect, is my righteousness. Now. Today.

We should rejoice in our once-for-all justification; AND be concerned to persevere--thus, making our calling and election sure, 2Pet.1:10 (sure to ourselves, but not more sure to God!).


Staff member
LBC 17:paragraph 2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God,6 the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.


Puritan Board Freshman
Col 2:14 helped me through this thought process. Justification has to do with our legal standing before God. Christ took our sin debt, paid it, and nailed it to the cross. It can't be unpaid or repaid again. It is a one time event. Justification is a one time occurrence. As stated above, perseverance is an ongoing process, but with the power of God, not ourselves, it is a sure thing just as Christ tells us that all that the Father has given him, none shall be snatched from his hand.
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