The problem, as I see it, with “Once Saved Always Saved” is in the getting there. First, you have to ignore lots of scripture that indicates that one can lose one’s salvation. The R. C. Sproul response would be that if one manages to fall away, well, one wasn’t saved in the first place.
At this point, the believer starts to thrash around, trying to sort it out. What do you go by? Is there supposed to be some interior witness? When you get this assurance, does it change you? If so, where is it? What is meant by ‘accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior?’ What must I do? Will I fall off my ride, like Paul? Will I suddenly turn into a different person? Where are the fruits of the Spirit? When do I see a change in my expectations and behavior? Why do I still want the same old sinful stuff? Where is the tangible evidence of this experience?
These are all questions I’ve been asked by reformed believers, in the privacy of personal conversation.
I suppose that some folks come to an easy decision in regard to this, and have no problem. I’m not one of them, unfortunately.
Let me back up and say that I don’t accept the Reformed doctrine of predestination, except that, as I wrote earlier, I can understand it in the C. S. Lewis sense — that God, being outside of time (or perhaps a better way is to say time is ‘inside’ of God?) knows and acts in individual lives in a way that certainly looks like determinism.
You know, in writing that, I’m struck by a) my poor excuse for an explanation, and b) the ‘counting angels dancing on the head of a pin’ quality of the topic.
The presbyterian church can be an almost schizophrenic experience. Or at least it feels that way to me. Have you read Marcus Grodi’s story? He was a presbyterian minister, or so I gather, and he tells about finding out that, because majority rules, he was in the minority on a point of doctrine in the church he pastored. His side was voted down.
Thereis a tradition of individual interpretation of scripture. On the other hand, when they made me a deacon this year, I was asked to affirm that I held scripture to be the word of God, the Book of Confession to be valid as a kind of digest of scriptural belief, and the Book of Order as the method by which church polity and policy were to be conducted. Part of that is church discipline, which states that certain procedures are followed if a person is found to be conducting him or her self in a way that goes counter to the above mentioned documents.
That sounds like a definite authority system to me — and I don’t mind it. But it keeps bringing me back to the question — from where does this authority come?
I thought it was remarkable when my minister stated that, in the personal study of scripture, if one came across an understanding or interpretation that had never, in 2000 years of church history, been written of or practiced before, then you should look out. That’s a pretty healthy attitude, I think. But it still doesn’t make me deal with the ‘frozen chosen’ topic any easier.