Other Sellers on Amazon
Follow the Author
Run to Win the Prize: Perseverance in the New Testament Paperback – May 5, 2010
Enhance your purchase
Scripture's commands to persevere, and warnings of the consequences if we fail, have been met with apathy by some, and led others to doubt the state of their salvation. The fearful and eternal nature of these issues warrants careful examination of what the Bible says about perseverance. Thomas Schreiner once again tackles this difficult topic in Run to Win the Prize. Clarifying misunderstandings stemming from his more detailed treatment in The Race Set Before Us (IVP 2001), Schreiner draws together an illuminating overview of biblical teaching on the doctrine of perseverance.
Schreiner details how God directs the collective warnings and exhortations of Scripture toward believers as a means of preservation. We are to think of the call to persevere in light of the initial call to faith, both agents by which God leads us to final salvation. Those looking for a general treatment of the doctrine of perseverance will profit from the challenges and assurances in Run to Win the Prize.
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
“The twin doctrines of assurance and perseverance are defined by our understanding of the gospel of Christ. In Run to Win the Prize, Tom Schreiner presents a masterful and faithful case for the doctrine of perseverance as set forth in the New Testament. The book is a must read for these times. A master New Testament theologian, Tom Schreiner offers an education in biblical interpretation and sound words of pastoral counsel. This concise book will help all believers run the race together.”
―R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Centennial Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Mature insight. Control of the sources. Satisfying interpretations. Schreiner takes a difficult topic and makes it look easy. Like the work of a master craftsman, this book will enrich understanding and inspire interpreters to see what is there.”
―James M. Hamilton Jr., Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment
faith to be saved has proved not only difficult, but has often led to excesses and imbalances. One imbalance ends up arguing that true believers can forfeit their salvation and be lost if they don't persevere; the opposite imbalance suggests that professing believers are saved regardless of whether or not they persevere in belief and good works. Tom Schreiner has done a masterful job of charting a course through rich biblical teaching that avoids both of these excesses. Here readers will encounter both the joy of knowing that God will not fail to save those whom he has elected and brought to true saving faith, while at the same time they will face squarely the necessity of persevering faith, love and good deeds that mark those truly saved through Christ and His Spirit. Here is biblical balance, and more important, biblical fidelity. All who long to understand better the nature of Christian faith and good works will benefit greatly from this lucid and biblical treatment.”
―Bruce A. Ware, T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
About the Author
Thomas R. Schreiner (MDiv and ThM, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Publisher : Crossway (May 5, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 128 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1433514362
- ISBN-13 : 978-1433514364
- Item Weight : 6.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.32 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #133,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
He clarifies by saying that true Christians will eventually and invariably heed these warnings, and that God uses the warning passages to preserve His saints. Those who irreparably fall away were not true Christians to begin with, based on Dr Schreiner's reading of 1 John 2:18-19 and Matthew 7:21-23.
The book is very pastoral and wise and will help believers see why obedience is an important part of God's sanctifying work in our lives.
This little book is from lectures given at Oak Hill in London. It' s a summary of the thinking found in the book Schreiner wrote with Caneday, The Race Set Before Us (2001, IVP) Schreiner again engages in some special pleading for a "paradox" (p73) in which works are necessary but also for not focusing on works but Christ. How it's possible to rationally live in that paradox is not so clear. I guess words like "premeditation" and "intention" and "byproduct" play a big part.
I would not say that Schreiner's thesis comes from the "new perspective". There's no need to go to NT Wright, Norman Shepherd, or John Armstrong, to make his case. Rather, he goes to Jonathan Edwards against John Calvin to argue that works of faith are necessary for justification. In this respect, Schreiner is simply making popular a path already made by Dan Fuller in The Unity of the Bible (1992, Zondervan).
I quote from Unity (p181): "In commenting on Genesis 2:17 -do not eat from that tree--Calvin said, `These words are so far from establishing faith that they do nothing but shake it.' I argue, however, that there is much reason for regarding these words as well suited to strengthen Adam and Eve's faith...In Calvin's thinking, the promise made in Genesis 2:17 could never encourage faith, for its conditionality could encourage only meritorious works. `Faith seeks life that is not found in commandments.' Consequently, the gospel by which we are saved is an unconditional covenant of grace, made such by Christ having merited it for us by his perfect fulfillment of the covenant of works. Dan Fuller comments: "I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture a gospel promise that is unconditional."
More from Unity (p310): "If Abraham was not declared forgiven until ten years later, was he still a guilty sinner when he responded positively to God's promises in Genesis 12:2-3 and also during the following years up until 15:6?" "Calvin gave a meaning to James's use of the word justification which is not supported by the text...He argued that for James, `justify' meant the `declaration' rather than the `imputation' of righteousness."
Calvin (3:17:12): "Either James inverted faith and obedience--unlawful even to imagine--or he did not mean to call him justified, as if Abraham deserved to be reckoned righteous. What then? Surely, it is clear that he himself is speaking of the declaration, not the imputation, of righteousness."
Back to Fuller (p313): "Paul would have agreed with James that Abraham's work of preparing to sacrifice Isaac was an obedience of faith. He would have disagreed strongly with Calvin, who saw obedience and works as only accompanying genuine faith...James' s concern in 2:14-26 was to urge a faith that saves a person, not simply to tell a person how they could demonstrate their saving faith...Calvin should have taught that justification depends on a persevering faith, since he regarded Abraham as already justified before Genesis 15:6."
And then Fuller quotes Edwards: "We are really saved by perseverance...the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation...For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act." For more from Edwards, see Schreiner's new little book (p20, 70, 92).
Rob Zins, who wrote his masters on Shepherd's view of Justification, writes about James in his book on Romanism (2002, p184): "The best we can do with James 2 is to say that Abraham was `shown to be just' by offering Isaac up on the altar. It may be stretching things too far to say that Abraham was `shown to have been justified' when he offered Isaac. One can be called righteous without being declared justified by God...Certainly there is a demonstration here, but it is a demonstration of faith rather than a demonstration of righteousness."
Zins writes on p189 about Romans 2: "It is difficult to grasp how Paul could be speaking hypothetically. Paul rather seems to be making direct statements of reality. .. The question revolves around whether God gives eternal life `because' of good works or `in accordance with good works'. " And then on p192, Zins concludes: "both James and Paul do not hesitate to apply the word `justification' when God approves a sinner on the basis of good works...Yet these justification notifications stem from a previous justification by imputation...The blood of Christ had to be applied to Abraham for his justification despite both his faith and the completion of his faith by his good works." And then Zins quotes favorably ( p196) the conclusion of Jonathan Edwards about God considering from the first the future works of faith of the believers.
I have been trying to set the Schreiner book in a context, but in doing that, I have written more about Dan Fuller, Rob Zins, Jonathan Edwards, and John Calvin, than I have about Schriener's exegesis or about the psychology of making assurance depend on present working without at the same time depending on present working. Now, I am going to compound the strangeness of this review, by closing with a quotation from Fesko's excellent new book on Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine (2008, P and R). This time it's not Dan Fuller against the later Luther, but Fesko against the later Richard Gaffin (even though he supports Shepherd, Gaffin should not to be confused with Shepherd. See my review of Gaffin's By Faith, Not by Sight, another Oak Hill lecture.)
Fesko writes on p 315: "Gaffin tries to argue that works are not the ground of judgment. `It is not for nothing, I take it, and not to be dismissed as an overly fine exegesis to observe that, in Romans 2:6, Paul writes "according to works" and not "on account of works"... Gaffin's point is that `in accordance with works' are synechdochial for faith in Christ. (Ridderbos; Paul: Outline, 178-181; also Murray; Romans, 78)."
Fesko responds: "Can such a fine distinction be supported by the grammar alone...What difference exists between the two? `Corresponding to' is common in reference to the precise and impartial standard of judgment that will be applied on the great Day. Gaffin and Venema fail to account for judgment according to works for the wicked....According to Gaffin's interpretation, are the wicked judged according to their works, but the works are not the ground of their condemnation? Romans 4:4--"now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as WHAT IS DUE."
Surely there are many unanswered questions. If the non-elect are condemned ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR WORKS, how do the elect live with the notion that works of faith are necessary for their justification? I will say the one simple thing I keep on saying: God does not count faith as the righteousness. Neither the initial act of faith nor the continuing acts of faith are the basis of justification. God counts the righteousness of Christ earned for the elect alone as the righteousness. The elect have legal union with Christ's obedience to death for the elect. The elect come to share in this righteousness by legal imputation. The righteousness credited ( a free gift received, Romans 5:17) results in the justification of elect. But you cannot have faith ( beginning or continuing) in this righteousness if you have not yet heard and understood and assented to what the gospel reveals about election.
Run to Win the Prize is a condensed and simplified version of a larger work entitled The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance by Schreiner and Caneday. At the same time, Run to Win the Prize is an attempt by Schreiner to respond to some misconceptions about the conclusions of the larger and more exhaustive work on the topic. But readers need not fear that this shorter version is unhelpful. Schreiner uses the smaller book size to great effect as he helps readers to consider some very important perspectives on perseverance.
First, Schreiner insists that the New Testament does teach perseverance. He argues that a person genuinely saved by God will remain saved. At no point does Schreiner allow for a view that holds that we keep ourselves saved by good works—a form of legalistic works righteousness. Nor does Schreiner ever offer a view that Christians who are genuine Christians can ever end up ultimately lost.
Often, when people hear a strong message of eternal security for the saved, they will respond with a twisting caricature of the doctrine. Opponents will claim that a person can pray a prayer, be saved, and then live however sinfully they want without consequence. Schreiner’s work speaks boldly against this view by arguing that the warning passages in Scripture are very real, very serious, and intended for believers.
Many Christians interpret passages such as the opening verses of Hebrews 6 as passages intended for people considering Christianity, but who are not yet converted. They, if they turn from grace, will be lost. Others suggest that the warning texts teach that someone can lose their salvation by intentionally walking away. Schreiner offers a third option.
Schreiner suggests that the warning passages are genuinely for Christians. He argues that the passages say exactly what they want to say, warning that a believer who intentionally turns from Christ and walks away will be lost. But Schreiner adds the biblical perspective that no genuine believer actually will make such a turn against the Lord. Schreiner argues that the warnings, genuine warnings, are means that the Lord uses to keep genuine believers. Like warnings on bottles of poison that declare to a person, “If you drink this you will die,” the warnings in Scripture, Schreiner argues, tell believers that if they turn from Jesus they will die. And, Schreiner argues, just as you and I would never drink the poison because of the warning, neither will genuine Christians ever turn against Christ so as to fall away eternally.
Schreiner also addresses briefly the misconception that an understanding of the doctrine of perseverance of the saints leads to a Wesleyan doctrine of perfectionism. The author is clear that he is not in any way teaching any form of sinless perfection among saints before the eschaton. Instead, he argues that believers are warned by God and kept by God. Believers will grow and be sanctified. But Believers will not be perfected until they leave this life.
I found Run to Win the Prize to be thoughtful, encouraging, and helpful. Personally, I am not certain that I agree with Dr. Schreiner regarding the audience for all of the warning passages. I believe it is possible that some of the passages are for those who have been exposed to Christianity, are considering it, are understanding its truth, but who are tempted to reject Jesus and walk to the Jewish temple religion (obviously pre AD 70). But, even if I disagree there, I must be humble enough to allow Dr. Schreiner to cause me to think my conclusions through thoroughly.
For sure, this book is a great help for believers in showing us that a true understanding of eternal security, perseverance of the saints, does not do away with our call to obedience and sanctification. Schreiner’s book sounds a clear call for all saints to recognize that God warns us sternly to remain in the faith, and God works in us, even using those warnings, to keep us in the faith.