Doctrine > Confessions > Canons of Dordt > Fifth Head of Doctrine > Rejection of Errors

Having explained the true doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, Synod rejects the following errors:


Error: The perseverance of the true believers is not a fruit of election or a gift of God obtained by the death of Christ, but a condition of the new covenant, which man before his so-called decisive election and justification must fulfil through his free will.

Refutation: Holy Scripture testifies that perseverance follows from election and is given to the elect by virtue of the death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ: The elect obtained it. The others were hardened ( Rom 11:7). Also: He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all — how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ( Rom 8:32-35).


Error: God does indeed provide the believer with sufficient strength to persevere, and is ready to preserve this in him if he will do his duty. But even with all those things in place which are necessary to persevere in faith and which God will use to preserve faith, it still always depends on the decision of man’s will whether he will persevere or not.

Refutation: This idea contains outright Pelagianism. While it wants to make men free, it makes them robbers of God’s honour. It conflicts with the consistent teaching of the gospel, which takes from man all cause for boasting, and ascribes all the praise for this benefit to the grace of God alone. It is also contrary to the testimony of the apostle: It is God who will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, ( 1 Cor 1: 8).


Error: True regenerate believers not only can fall completely and definitely from justifying faith and also from grace and salvation, but indeed they often do fall from them and are lost forever.

Refutation: This opinion nullifies the grace of justification and regeneration and the continuous preservation by Christ, contrary to the clear words of the apostle Paul: God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him! ( Rom 5:8, 9). And contrary to the apostle John: No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God ( 1 Jn 3:9), and also to the words of Jesus Christ: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father's hand ( Jn 10:28, 29).


Error: True regenerate believers can commit the sin that leads to death or the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Refutation: The same apostle John, after speaking of those who commit the sin that leads to death and forbidding prayer for them , immediately adds: We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin (namely, with that kind of sin); the One who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him ( 1 Jn 5:16-17) .


Error: Without a special revelation we can have no certainty of future perseverance in this life.

Refutation: By this doctrine the sure comfort of true believers in this life is taken away, and the doubting of the followers of the pope is again introduced into the church. The Holy Scriptures, however, always deduce this assurance, not from a special and extraordinary revelation, but from the marks peculiar to the children of God and from the very constant promises of God. So especially the apostle Paul declares that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord ( Rom 8:39). And John writes: Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us ( 1 Jn 3:24).


Error: By its very nature the doctrine of the certainty of perseverance and salvation causes false security and is harmful to godliness, good morals, prayers, and other holy exercises. On the contrary, it is praiseworthy to doubt.

Refutation: This error ignores the effective power of God’s grace and the working of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. It contradicts the apostle John, who teaches the opposite with these clear words: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure ( 1 Jn 3:2, 3). Furthermore, it is refuted by the example of the saints in both the Old and the New Testament who, although they were certain of their perseverance and salvation, nevertheless continued in prayer and other exercises of godliness.


Error: The faith of those who believe for a time does not differ from justifying and saving faith except with respect to its duration.

Refutation: In Mt 13:20-23 and Luke 8:13-15 Christ Himself clearly indicates, besides this duration, a threefold difference between those who believe only for a time and true believers. He declares that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, but the latter in good soil, or in a good heart; that the former are without root, but the latter have a firm root; and that the former are without fruit, but the latter bring forth fruit in varying measure, constantly and steadfastly.


Error: It is not absurd that one, having lost his first regeneration, is again and even often born anew.

Refutation: This doctrine denies that the seed of God, by which we are born again, is imperishable, contrary to the testimony of the apostle Peter: You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable ( 1 Pet 1:23).


Error: Christ did not pray anywhere that believers should unfailingly continue in faith.

Refutation: This contradicts Christ Himself, who says: I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail ( Luke 22:32). It also contradicts the apostle John, who declares that Christ did not pray only for the apostles, but also for all who would believe through their word : Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name, and, My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one ( Jn 17:11, 15, cf. 17:20).


Canons of Dordt

First Head of Doctrine

Second Head of Doctrine

Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine

Fifth Head of Doctrine