Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Temporary Faith and Reformed Assurance of Election

Reformed theology has a doctrine of “temporary faith”. A reprobate can “believe” the gospel, have joy, persevere for a while producing works in his life, but will eventually fall away demonstrating his non-election. This teaching weighs heavily upon their experimental doctrine of assurance. There can be no certain or absolute assurance of eternal life providing:

In this Experimental Predestinarian position, it is possible for someone to believe in Christ, follow the path of sanctification, yet fall away later proving his reprobation.

Those who exercise mere temporary faith experimentally believe they are of the elect, fellowship with the elect, produce some fruits, persevere for a while, but will at some time eventually fall away. There are no objective standards by which to find out if one is merely a reprobate with temporary faith, or is truly elect. There is no way to know if one is elect barring a personal revelation from God saying as much. Only through pesevering in faith and works for an extended period of time can one gain some (uncertain) "assurance" of salvation. Even then it is not certain, for it is not assured that he is elect and will persevere until the end.

Read John Calvin’s words on Temporary Faith:

"...experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way similar to the elect, that even in their own judgement there is no difference between them... Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.

"Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment... Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never obtain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. he only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living roots of faith, so that they persevere even unto the end” (Institutes III.ii.11-12).

Ineffectual grace (my term) is due to the ministry of the Spirit in imparting "transitory" faith or temporary faith. John Calvin argues this from Scripture on the basis of Heb 6:4-5:

"I know that to attribute faith to the reprobate seems hard to some, when Paul declares it (faith) to be the result of election. This difficulty is easily solved. For...experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected by almost the same feeling as the elect, so that even in their own judgement they do not in any way differ from the elect" (Institutes III.ii.11).

"There is nothing to prevent His giving some a slight knowledge of his gospel, and imbuing others thoroughly... the light which glimmers in the reprobate is afterward quenched..." (Institutes III, ii, 11-12).

(Calvin seems to credit God with working an almost fiendish deception upon the reprobate, "enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent." (Institutes, III:ii, 11))

For those of the Reformed persuasion, certainty of eternal life is impossible. My question from my last post was, “Why sacrifice for Christ if you cannot be sure that Christ sacrificed for you?” If you are a reprobate, Christ did not die for you. Yet it is possible to experimentally believe that you are elect. Thus out of your uncertainty you work to prove your election, to attain final salvation.

A simple syllogism shows that Calvinist’s cannot be sure that Christ died for them, that they are elect, that they certainly possess eternal life:

1) The elect will persevere to the end in faith and works
2) There is such a thing as a temporary faith and ineffectual grace whereby there are fruits being produced but they do not persevere
Thus, only when one perseveres to the end can they ascertain whether or not they are elect or were ineffectually called.

“There is a spurious as well as a genuine faith. Every man, when he thinks he believes, is conscious of exercising what he thinks is faith. Such is the correct statement of these facts of consciousness. Now suppose the faith, of which the man is conscious, turns out a spurious faith, must not his be a spurious consciousness? And he, being without the illumination of the Spirit, will be in the dark as to its hollowness” (Dabney, Discussions by Robert L. Dabney, D.D., L.L.D., pgs 180-181).

A person who believes now may only be a rebrobate with a spurious faith, and will be in the dark as to its temporary nature, for their consciousness is fooling them. As John MacArthur put it, “You may be a spiritual defector who hasn’t defected yet!”

Any experimental tests used to assess if one is elect or not, regenerate or not, can give a faulty conclusion! If the reprobate who has exercised temporary faith follows the so-called “tests of life” in 1 John, he may end up with the same uncertain assurance that the elect does when they take the tests! How are you to then know if you are elect? Only by a perseverance in well-doing until the end of life.

But, you can be completely certain that you have eternal life now! The certain assurance of the possession of eternal life is found only by looking outward to Christ and not by looking inward to the evidences of regeneration in the life. As the gospel promise and the beauty of the Redeemer are held before the believer's gaze, absolute assurance is the result of such contemplation.

Jesus answered and said to her, "… whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:13-14).

“Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life” (John 6:47).

I plan on creating a post discussing the Parable of the Sower in my next blog article.


Blogger Rob Slaven said...

Interesting and well-written viewpoint.

January 13, 2006 1:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew Celestine said...

Great, another good post. Keep them coming, Antonio.

God Bless


January 13, 2006 2:26 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

Thank you antonio. The only thing I can say is you have undying devotion to a topic and probably will be laboring this point until Christ comes back. You are a machine.

Johnny mac's quote about a faker is like Jesus saying "not everyone who says Lord Lord".

You have some good points of people in the reformed camp not having firm assurance of salvation in Jesus in the reformed camp, but what are reformed guys trying to do but take into consideration all of scriptures just like you. It seems your arguments are against us rather than patiently going through much more than your favorite verses on salvation being eternal which we all believe.

I think the danger as Christians is we keep seeing some contradiction in the
text that isn't there.

For example, Considering God's Free Grace and Call to not fall away

1) God's freely justifies condemned sinners and it is eternal salvation based
on his power and grace and mercy. This is all over the scriptures. You can't be un-born again. We have one who has made satisfaction for our sins and who have given us the righteousness of God in Christ.

2) The scriptures say that there are those who have temporary
faith/shipwrecked faith/ removed from the lampstand/ are removed from the vine.

3) Many Christians fail in their walk and fall from biblical understanding temporarily, but are restored back to Christ and Paul expects the Galatians in
the book of Galatians to come back to the truth of justification by faith alone because they have been born again.

4) Paul pleads with the body in Acts 20 to not fall away from the faith and that many will scatter the body even within the local congregation.

5) You can fall away from the faith and be hardened by sin's deceitfulness and not make it to the end or share in Christ (Hebrews 3:12-19)

The real question is why do we as evangelicals not believe all of those things. I don't know, but its a interpretation difference.

It would be interesting to note how you get from Hebrews 3:12-19

"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

January 13, 2006 2:29 PM  
Blogger Matthew Celestine said...

"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end."

Are you sure this speaks of eternal salvation, Shawn?

I would connect these verses to Rev 2:26
'And he that overcometh, and keepth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations'.
There is nothing in this text to suggest that ruling the nations is intrinsically connected with eternal life. The promise of sharing in Christ's rule is conditional. This is clearly seen in 2 Tim 2:11-13.

I think this interpretation of that warning text that you cite and others in the New Testament, makes them much more meaningful and relevant to the believer.

Every Blessing in Christ


January 13, 2006 2:49 PM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 13, 2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger Doug E. said...


You should do a study on the doctrine of common grace. It would help you understand what the calvinist truely believe regarding this.

There is also a difference between mental assent and true faith, which seems to be lacking in your post. You are equivocating between the two thus making your argument fallacious.

Your Brother,


P.S. I pulled my first comment due to typos.

January 13, 2006 2:56 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...


Enter his rest?

It's being in Christ - The shelter from the coming storm. God has saved us from God's wrath and we are in Christ. God has overcome the power of sin in our life as well.

He has provided satisfaction on our behalf.

All By God's Grace,

January 13, 2006 2:58 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...


The Timothy is mercy to our ears. We all need it. We are many times like Peter. Weird right as I'm talking about Peter I'm listening to steve Camp sing about for every time we have sinned God once for all stood in our place. I would recommend that song it's so helpful.

We do many times deny him like Peter did.

That verse is like the Galatians verse where Paul is certain they will come back to justification by faith alone in their temporary condition and be restored by God's grace.

God overcomes the power of sin in our life as well. We have to believe that in our sanctification that God is working...amen..

January 13, 2006 3:01 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...


Rev 2:26....

Consider 2:5-7 What does remove the lampstand mean does that mean you don't have the tree of life like it says below

"If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

January 13, 2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger Nate said...


Good post!

I still haven't figured out this reformed idea of temporary “faith”.

If temporary faith is true, then let’s be totally honest with ourselves and admit that there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for assurance of salvation, none!

"So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief."

Was Moses saved??



January 13, 2006 3:07 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...


It's simple and yet very devistating.

My mother believed in Christ for awhile and helped me come to Christ when I was younger, and now she hates everything with Christians and the gospel. She now is a practicing psychic and tries to make money doing it. She enjoys the wicca religion as well I believe.

Surprisingly her husband (my step dad) believed in a form of perseverence back then and told me once "don't put you hope in me or mom, you never know we could fall away from the faith and not believe in Christ for real anyway".

This was freaky to me as a teen and I never forgot it, but then when my mom rejected christ I looked all over and this is in the scriptures all over the place.

Do you notice this in your daily quiet times in your reading? I believe in eternal and free salvation as well. You can't become unborn again.

There is no indication that these people who fall away from the faith were originally believers....

Consider Reading and meditating Acts 20 when you consider this on what Paul said.

January 13, 2006 3:24 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...


I don't talk like my step father did, because I put my hope in Christ. Being in Christ is my assurance. Christ is my assurance.

January 13, 2006 3:26 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


your understanding begs the question:

What is the difference between spurious faith and true faith?

Don't tell me the difference by referring to some later results! How can one in his heart know that the faith he has exercised is not spurious but is true faith?

If someone merely has "intellectual assent" what are we to tell them? Believe harder?

What would you tell someone who has "intellectual assent" or a "spurious" faith? They say that they believe in Jesus for eternal life. How much more can they believe?

What would be the objective test for the Calvinist if he has truly believed or merely has a temporary faith? There is none. The Calvinist cannot know if he is elect. He cannot know if he has eternal life.

He can only hope that his faith will produce sufficient results so that he can gain some semblance of assurance that he is elect, and will strive his whole life not certainly knowing if He is truly God's son.

If temporary faith can produce works and fruit for a while, and no one has stated how long it could last (it could very well last most of the reprobate's life, he just will fall away in the end), any experimental test on introspection and inspection of fruits will result in an "assurance" that could absolutely be wrong.

You can't tell me any difference within the consciousness and heart of a reprobate exercising his temporary faith, and the elect exercising his true faith.

It is an endless regress of works and doubts!


January 13, 2006 3:29 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Shawn, if your mom preached you the gospel and you believed, you may have to watch out to. The gospel she believed she fell from. If you believed the gospel she preached, well you very well may have the same temporary faith as she did.


January 13, 2006 3:31 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...


Okay, interesting thing to say. I didn't live with my mother she lived about 2000 miles away. I lived with my father. She would tell me things from afar.

She kept telling me about christ. I thought I was saved for awhile, but didn't like the sin problem thing. I was in my room in the basement listening to a radio program that was basically a dramatization of the gospel and God saved me through the preaching of Christ's words and when the curtain was torn I begain putting my hope in Christ sobbing at my sinfulness and his greatness.

My faith wasn't in my mother but Christ and His death and resurrection. I turned from my sin and prayed for forgiveness.

January 13, 2006 4:02 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...


Personal question :

Is there any particular reason you don't spend loads amount of time attaching the errors of the arminians as well who believe that you can lose your salvation?

Or is it Calvinists because they believe that God's Grace is Free and Eternal.

Is it there are no arminians out there anymore who believe you can lose your salvation?

January 13, 2006 4:46 PM  
Blogger Doug E. said...


I am tempted not to answer because you have yet to answer the tough question I threw at you during the last post. Come on my friend, play fair. :-)

This really is a tough question to answer I admit. Not because it is not seen in scripture but because all questions of epistimology are difficult. And I doubt you could give me a sound answer if I were to ask you how you know God really exists if I kept pushing you on it [especially since you can’t answer the new nature question (still probing)]. So you have to deal with the scriptures.

First of all to call something spurious faith is really no faith at all. It is a mere mental assent and even the demons do that. James calls it a dead faith

But first of all we see this in the parable of the sower.

Mat 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Mat 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Mat 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Here are three examples of it Biblically. People who had some sort of recognition of the things of God but not real faith.

Faith must also have with it trust not just mental assent. It is an actual leaning up on the thing in which you believe. These soils did not have it. It sounded good but most likely just for personal gain.

But one who places true trust in it (and I believe this happens by the sovereign grace of God) does something “never to be repented of”

As far as assurance goes the true believer does have it.

Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

I know you won’t like that answer but you will have to deal with this scripture.

I’ll have to give you more when I have more time,

Your Brother,


January 13, 2006 4:54 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


I am amazed how difficult this is becoming to explain such a basic and profound doctrine.

Are we dealing on the hypothetical too much, or is grace through faith that elusive to grasp?

While it's true that the fruits of the Spirit should be evident in a believers life, this does not necessarily confirm or deny true salvation.

Is there not two distinct issues here? First, the means of salvation, by grace through faith, plus nothing minus nothing.

Secondly, the process of sanctification and the dispensing of rewards or chastisement at the Judgement (Bema) seat of Christ.

Did any newborn child have the smallest part in his conception or birth? Does the disobedience of the same negate the relationship to his father?

January 13, 2006 5:54 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...


Very good points, but antonio will not answer you, nor you, Doug E. You have given him self explanitory scriptures from the Bible that explain your beliefs, but antonio will ignore them. He will refer back to his handfull of scriptures he likes to use. Then I will hear about how he has discussed them several times and needs not to discuss them anymore. Then he will post in a couple of days, again, about the same thing. Then you or someone else will tell him how he is not being scriptural and the same excuses will be made. I hope he is not a lost cause. I hope you can get through to him. You bring up very good verses and in an intelligent manner. I still would like to know what antonio thinks of the prodigal son. He believed, fell away, and returned. Did he not truly belong to his father in the first place? Is that why he fell away? Oh well, good luck in your quest.

January 13, 2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

If you believe that perserverance comes with salvation then that leads to a guilt ridden works based system of salvation....


Sorry I just wanted to try to slide down that slippery slope since you have been able to do it so many times. I did it on my stomach. Have you ever gone down on your back.

Just playing!

Enjoying your blog and discussion,


January 13, 2006 11:04 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

There is one thing I hear alot:

I don't encorporate all the Scriptures into my theology.

I deny this.

There is not one scripture, once properly interpreted in its context, that does not fit harmoniously into my theology.

Of that I am convinced.

The proof-texting for Reformed theology pulls scripture out of context and makes a superficial interpretation based upon the text yanked out of its context.

The way the texts are handled is shameful and irresponsible as is the lack of critical thinking and analysis that plagues their exposition.

What I usually get in the comment section when I compose my posts are machine-gun fire proof-texting without a shred of support which lends to the combatants interpretation.

As if the mere rapid-fire referencing disproves my point or makes theirs!

So often they leave their references and say "they speak for themselves". But when I reference Sciputre, I am not taking in the whole counsel of God!

If you wish to enlighten me with your 'contrary' proof-text, do us all a favor in blogdom:

Give a well-reasoned exposition of the text in its context, along with the reference, that supports your interpretation of it.

I contend that when the text is examined carefully and contextually it will support Free Grace theology.

It is funny how all these reformed people think that those texts can't be harmonized with Free Grace theology!

Let me tell you one thing, Paul was the first Free Grace theologian!


January 13, 2006 11:36 PM  
Blogger Modern Day Magi said...

Thanks Antonio. i have finally found a place where salvation by Grace through Faith can be discussed from both sides of calvinism.
It has been my experience that the christians i speak to about Salvation theology and the whole calvinism v arminianism debate are either calvinists (some hyper-calvinists) or do not want to disuss the subject.

As to our assurance, can any of us truly have it?
Dont misunderstand me I believe that i am saved and will go to heaven, not by myself but by the Grace of God and the blood of Christ.
Antonio I would love to hear your interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (NIV)
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you,(that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures v. 3-4) which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain."

It seems to suggest that once a person is saved, If they do not stand firm in the gospel they will lose their salvation and thus have believed in vain. This verse does not mention thinking that you were saved but in fact you weren't, it says that they were saved and could still have believed in vain.

January 14, 2006 5:45 AM  
Blogger Matthew Celestine said...

"If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Shawn, the lampstands represent the Churches, not individual believers. This warning refers to the complete apostasy of that Church. This Church is addressed corporately, though it is certainly relevant to believers as individuals.

Every Blessing in Christ


January 14, 2006 8:24 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Modern Day Magi,

I really appreciate you visiting my blog! Here is my answer to 1 Cor 15:2:

The problem in correctly understanding this verse is caused by the English translation. A very flexible Greek verb (katecho) is translated "hold fast" in the New King James Version (the AV has "keep in memory"). But the verb could equally well be rendered "take hold of" or "take possession of" (Matt 21:38; Luke 14:9). In that case it would refer to the act of appropriating the truth of the gospel by faith.

Closer examination of the Greek text suggests that this is indeed the correct understanding. The Greek word order can be represented as follows: "by which also you are saved, by that word I preached to you, if you take hold of it, unless you believed in vain." From this appears that Paul is thinking of the saving effect of the preached word when it is duly appropriated, unless in fact that appropriation (by faith) has been in vain.

What he means by believing "in vain" is made clear in verses 14 and 17:

1 Cor 15:14
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

1 Cor 15:17
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

I hope this helps!


January 14, 2006 11:49 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...



Can't wait to eat from the tree of life....

January 16, 2006 4:22 PM  

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