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Kept for Jesus: What the New Testament Really Teaches about Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security Paperback – February 28, 2015
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“I have wrestled with the issue of assurance of salvation not just as a pastor counseling timid souls but as a sinner trusting in God. What a great help is Kept for Jesus, then! Handling the relevant biblical texts with clarity and precision, Sam Storms has crafted real ministry with this book, working by the Spirit to plant the security of union with Christ in the believer’s heart.”
―Jared C. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry, Spurgeon College; Author in Residence, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, The Imperfect Disciple
“With care and compassion, Sam engages in a wide-ranging discussion of the love of God, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, spurious faith versus saving faith, human dignity and human depravity, the nature of eternal security, God’s preserving power in faithful Christians, the problem of apostasy, and much more. Not shying away from the controversial nature of his topic and tackling head-on dozens of difficult passages, Sam offers an engaging book that deals biblically, theologically, and practically with the all-important matter of assurance of salvation.”
―Gregg R. Allison, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Sojourners and Strangers; Roman Catholic Theology and Practice; and Historical Theology
“Is your errant friend unsaved or simply backslidden? This book contains a great overview of what the Bible teaches about eternal security, the perseverance of the saints, God’s sovereignty and free will. Clear, readable, and compelling. A must for anyone who wants to understand the Reformed view on the assurance of salvation.”
―Mary A. Kassian, author, Girls Gone Wise
“Too often the gospel is reduced to only wiping away sin’s debt. Storms shows us a more wonderful gospel of love and direct relationship with God in which Christ is inseparable from us, keeping us, and holding us as family. Storms is a pastor of pastors, walking us through the thorny issues―such as the warning passages―and into green pastures of communion with our Savior. He calls us into the beautiful tension and transformation of God’s forever grace.”
―Daniel Montgomery, Lead Pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky; Founder, Sojourn Network; author, Faithmapping, PROOF, and Leadership Mosaic
“Do you worry that you will lose your salvation? Do you feel confident in God’s love for you? This book will help you feel secure in God’s promises over you. Jesus said of his people: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Sam Storms once again demonstrates his pastoral wisdom as he lovingly lays the foundation for eternal security.”
―Adrian Warnock, author, Hope Reborn and Raised with Christ
“This is classic Sam Storms: warm, thoughtful, clear, and wise. Not all readers will agree on every detail, but all will be well served by working through the issues with such an insightful guide. Throughout the book, God’s protection of his people shines through―and so do the joy and security that this brings to all who trust him.”
―Andrew Wilson, Pastor, Kings Church London; author, The Life We Never Expected and Unbreakable
“Sam Storms has given us a book that is fair, humble, straightforward, and helpful. He consistently presents views that oppose his own and frequently admits he does not have all the answers. He argues biblically and passionately for the truth that God keeps true believers saved to the end and focuses on the Christian life and rejects errant views, including those that cut the biblical cord between God’s keeping us and our keeping on in faith, love, and holiness. This is a good book, and I am happy to recommend it.”
―Robert A. Peterson, independent researcher, St. Louis, Missouri
About the Author
Sam Storms (PhD, University of Texas at Dallas) has spent more than four decades in ministry as a pastor, professor, and author. He is currently the senior pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was previously a visiting associate professor of theology at Wheaton College from 2000 to 2004. He is the founder of Enjoying God Ministries and blogs regularly at SamStorms.com.
Senior Pastor, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Item Weight : 10.1 ounces
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1433542021
- ISBN-13 : 978-1433542022
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.55 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Crossway (February 28, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #277,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Again, if you want a classic thesis on the Reformed doctrine of Election, this book will give it to you. It's worth the read, but I would implore you to ask, "Why draw this conclusion?" more than once.
I wish to make some pointed critiques. Dr Storms posits as a real life example a man named Charley (or woman named Charlene - we can pick either) who was born into and reared in the church but later rejects the faith. How does eternal security function in this setting? Charlie is still young and may or may not come to Christ. Yet his faithful parents are in prayerful agony over his eternal estate. A very familiar and common problem.
Unfortunately, the example of Charlie is not the best for isolating, analyzing and discussing the Doctrine of Eternal Security. Classically, the doctrine applies to born-again (or true) believers. Early in church history writers such as Augustine recognized in his discourse with the Donatists that the church was a corpus permixtum (a mixed body of believers and unbelievers). Thus at any time the visible church consists of the elect and reprobate.
Edwards (Religious Affections) was sensitive to the believer’s desire to know if he/she was truly saved and therefore one of the elect. His thoughtful and logical analysis is designed for personal reflection and not for judging others as only God can know another’s heart and know his estate as concerns election.
Therefore, the present issue many face with their own personal eternal security is not unique to this day. We are all sensitive that the visible church is not the church victorious. Many who seem by outward appearance to be Christian are not regenerate.
Charlie is not one that would struggle with the problem of eternal security as he rejects the faith and, if we take him at his word, is not (or not yet) saved. The issue for Charlie (and for his parents, pastors and theologians) is not primarily one of eternal security but one of election and the extent of the covenant promises made to the church and the decendents of believers.
This is unfortunate because it opens the door for objection and debate about election and distracts from the teaching of eternal security. Certainly, they are necessarily joined in salvation but are two distinct issues and should not be confounded. Indeed, our class quickly became derailed debating the more controversial election and predestination leaving the rather straightforward doctrine of eternal security behind. Eternal security is more cleanly and easily dealt with on its own and ultimately finds its rest in God’s promises as revealed in Scripture and in the very essence of God.
Likewise, Charlie raises more complicated and subtle issues concerning the extent of the covenant as it affects the decendents (households) of believers and the visible church in toto. Berkhof (Systematic Theology p287) addresses this issue nicely and earlier explores the range of opinions offered by Reformed theologians such as Bavink and Vos. Despite the theological distinctions there are clearly covenant promises and blessings made to entire households and the visible church community that do not include election and all that follows. This is obvious from experience as Augustine clearly demonstrated.
Charlie may be one who is elect, under grace and does not know it because God has yet to do the work of regeneration in him. If this be the case then preservation would apply to God's grace in protecting Charlie until that time. The issues of what are the covenant promises to Charlie regardless of his election status is beyond the scope of this work and is a complex issue upon which many good Reformed theologians differ. What is clear is that Charlie benefits from the general grace and promises that overflow to the community that comprises household and church. The covenant applies to him and he has more opportunity for instruction and receipt of grace. Indeed, although not all children of believers are saved they are likely to be so.
Therefore, the issue surrounding Charlie fall into many of the same issues surrounding paedobaptism more so than eternal security.
Rather than Charlie, Dr. Storm’s case would have been better served by the example of a person who is in the Church and an active participant in the covenant community. We can posit such a one wondering about his/her eternal security. Then we can ask what are the grounds of this question, its parts and then address how Scripture answers it.
In my experience many in the Church who wrestle with eternal security do so not over doubt about God’s promises but doubt over their own election. If one is not elect then it is plain that one cannot rest in eternal security. That doubt must be addressed first and here, Edward’s treatise on Religious Affections is most helpful.
Once the issue of election is settled then it is rather straightforward to demonstrate the Doctrine of Eternal Security from Scripture and as a natural and logical consequence of God’s covenantal promise and of God’s nature. Here, Dr. Storm’s analysis of John 6 really suffices and is a clear bulwark upon which less “clear” verses in Scripture may be interpreted (basic Reformed Hermeneutics).
One objection raised in our class was that of “special pleading” on the part of Dr. Storms when he qualified the elect as “born again believers” (discussion of John 6 in Chapter 1). It was argued that the author was using personal bias by thus qualifying the term “believers.” I found this a hollow objection on the grounds that John 6 follows John 3 wherein Jesus clearly defines for us and Nicodemus who the elect are: those who are born-again.
The objector would have done better to raise the issue of tautology and circular reasoning. The argument would go thus: the elect are true believers who are born again and who make it to final Glory and because they make it to final Glory then they must be elect and therefore persevered. Admittedly, it is a difficulty for the Calvinist to deny and defend this circular argument. Yet we have a good defense. It rests in the philosophical and theological distinction between a circle of virtue (circulus veratis) and a viscous circle (circulus vitiosus). Barth (CD II.1) gives a good use of the distinction. In my mind the circulius veratis rests in the absolute truth found in Scripture and will be internally consistent with that truth. This will not work for folks who have a low view of Scripture or who reject Scripture. This need not concern us unless when comforting a brother or sister their view of Scripture becomes the weakness that gives rise to their problem with eternal security.
Finally, there was the objection concerning passages that are translated “all” or “whole” (all men or all the world). Here we must recognize that Greek, like English, utilizes words such as “all” and “whole” in various ways only one of which means “every single one without exception.” Correct interpretation requires looking at the context of the relevant passage and when the verse does not clearly address the issue to turn to a verse that does.
Here is where Dr. Storms analysis of John 6 is critical to the entire enterprise.
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Here we see the plain application of this hermeneutic principle. In verse 37 “all” is qualified by “that the Father gives me” and “I should lose nothing” is an absolute negative. If you are one that the Father has given Jesus you will not be lost. Read the book for a comprehensive analysis of these sorts of passages.
Ultimately the issue of eternal security is covenantal. As Berkof argues “Logically, election precedes the counsel of redemption, because the suretyship of Christ, like His atonement, is particular. If there were no preceding election, it would necessarily be universal. Moreover, to turn this around would be equivalent to making the suretyship of Christ the ground of election, while Scripture bases election entirely on the good pleasure of God.” (ST p268).
The unfailing logic of the suretyship of Christ, of the clear teaching of God in his "cutting" the covenant with Abram, and in the very essence and power of God made clear in His Word and by deeds mighty and culminating with the unique miracle of the resurrection of Jesus we know that God cannot lie and that he has the power to effect what he has promised.
Believer, examine thyself and if you love Jesus and are regenerate rest in thy eternal security. For this is the promise of our almighty and Holy Father may his name be praised and blessed forever, amen.
The Reformed view takes the stand that evidence of disobedience in a believer's life may simply mean that such a believer was never really a believer in the first place. While that could certainly be the case in some instances, does that really apply in all instances? To further this Reformed claim, Storms cites the parable of the soils in Matthew 13 concluding that those who did not persevere were not genuine born again believers as "at no time should it leads us to conclude that those genuinely born of the Spirit can falter so as to finally fail to enter the kingdom of God." However, Storms fails to examine and consider the parallel passage in Luke 8 where Jesus tells the same story but the details provided therein appear to undermine Storms' conclusion. Luke 8:12 references those who the devil takes away the word from their hearts so that they "may not believe" and be saved. In the very next verse another group is described as those who receive the word with joy but having no firm root, "believe for a while," only later to fall away due to testing. The same Greek verb "pisteuo" is used in vs. 12 & 13. So if the first group did not possess saving faith because they DID NOT believe, would it not stand to reason that the second group did possess saving faith because they DID believe - if only for a while? In order to remain faithful to the text, one cannot interpret pisteuo differently in these two verses. Belief and saving faith are equivalent in meaning. Therefore Jesus himself illustrated that it is possible for a Christian to believe, i.e. to have saving faith for a while. To claim that he/she was never a believer to begin with goes against the plain teaching of this passage. Moreover it is not logically possible for persons to fall away from something that they were never a part of to begin with. Only a person with true faith can be said to fall away from the faith.
Calvinists will likely recommend this book because of its simple and straight forward read advocating for the Reformed viewpoint. At the same time however, I perceived that strength to be a weakness because his arguments just don't provide enough detail and depth of analysis to provide sufficient counterweight to the Arminian view.