Perhaps you can see why I decided not to put the chapter title in the headline...
I read the entire chapter today...but it was a short one. Only 40+ pages long...and I stayed home from church this morning on "Grandpa Duty", so I had a little extra time to read. Still, I think I might have gotten it all read anyway.
But, to begin: this chapter covers Question 79.
Q. 79: May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace?
A.: True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God, and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable union with Christ, his continual intercession for them, and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Dr. Morecraft begins with an exposition of the difference between true and false believers.
The TRUE believer in Christ will persevere to the end and is eternally secure, possessing unloseable salvation: “who are protected [kept] by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Pet. 1:5). All PROFESSED believers are not TRUE believers. Some are hypocrites and others have a temporary, self-conceived, non-saving faith that is not a gift of God (John 2:23–25; Acts 8:9–23). (208)
If any true believer in Jesus perseveres in the Christian life to the very end without falling away, imperfect as he is and surrounded by temptation, it will have to be because of the intervention of God. Just as no person can save himself from sin, because he is full of weakness, so no believing person can keep himself in a saved condition for one second....“Man is not the author of his salvation, nor is he the assurance of its certainty. No more than his life is his own creation is his salvation
and preservation man’s own doing.” 2. Rousas J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology, 2 vols. (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1994), 1:541. (208)
Some believe that it is possible for true believers to fall away from salvation and be lost eternally (Arminians); others believe that it is possible for true believers to be lost after they have been saved, but that they will be re-saved before they die, (Lutherans). Roman Catholicism teaches that saving, regenerating grace, which is received at baptism, can be lost after baptism by the committing of mortal sins. And others believe that salvation is unloseable for the true believer in Jesus (Reformed). (209)
Most denials of the doctrine of eternal security and “the perseverance of the saints,” are based on a faulty definition of “free will.”...According to this view, the believer in Christ stays saved as long as he chooses, and not even God can keep him saved, if he chooses not to be. Some have even held, consistently, that in heaven millions of years in the future, glorified Christians will still have the liberty and power of will to choose to sin and go to hell, because, as some have been so foolish to say, “the door to heaven swings both ways.”...As one famous evangelist has said, “God has
given man a free will to do whatever he wants, and He cannot do a thing about it!” (209)
The two sides of this Biblical truth must always be kept in view so as not to mislead: (1) The eternal security of the believer, and (2) The perseverance of the believer in obedience to God. (210)
"The perseverance of the saints reminds us very forcefully that only those who persevere to the end are truly saints." 7. Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 154–55. (212)
On what does the eternal salvation of the believer in Jesus depend: man’s will or God’s will, man’s choice or God’s grace? If it depends on man’s will, weak and sinful as it is, then all believers will apostatize, because man’s will is too weak to sustain the commitment of faith. If it depends on God’s gracious will, then all believers
in Jesus are eternally secure. (212)
In 1 Peter 1:3–5, we are told some important truths about true believers in Jesus. (1) God has sovereignly and mercifully “caused us to be born again.” (2) The effect of this new birth on the person is the creation of “a living hope,” a confident assurance that the resurrected Christ will do as He has promised with reference to them. (3) The reason God caused us to be born again is so that we will “obtain an inheritance which is imperishable… reserved in heaven.” God always accomplishes His intentions and purposes; and if it is His intention that all whom He causes to be born again obtain an imperishable inheritance in heaven, then not the slightest
possibility exists that any “born again person” will ever become “un-born again.”...(4) The reason no one who is born again will fail to obtain his eternal inheritance
is, not because of his will or merit, but solely because he is “protected [kept] by the power of God through faith for a salvation to be revealed in the last time.” (213)
[1: The Unchangeable Love of God] The motive in God for predestining us to
adoption was His great love for us: “In love He predestined us.” It was not anything in us that He found attractive that moved Him to choose us. It was something in Him—His own sovereign, unmerited and eternal love. “In a word, the causes for which God determined to bestow His electing love on the sinner are wholly in God, and not at all in the believer; and hence, nothing in the believer’s heart or conduct
can finally change that purpose of love.” 8 Robert L. Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House,  1975), 691. (213-214)
[2: The Eternal Decree of God] As we have seen time and again in our studies of “The Perfections of God” and “The Eternal Plan of God,” the eternal decree of
the Almighty God is certain and unchangeable...Whatever God has decreed before
he creation of the universe that is what will happen inevitably. And before the creation of the universe, God chose a people in Christ for Himself, and predestined them to be adopted into His family forever (Eph. 1:3–5). All those whom God has predestined for eternal salvation will be saved forever, and not one of His chosen ones will ever be lost. (214-215)
[3: The Covenant of God] In eternity before the creation of the universe, God the Father entered into the Covenant of Redemption with His Son....This Covenant between the Persons of the Trinity, which we have expounded in the chapter entitled, “The Covenant of God,” is a Covenant from all eternity, and therefore an unchangeable one....In such a divine covenant, uncertainty of success is impossible. What God the Father and God the Son covenanted to do will be done. (215-216)
In the New Covenant, promised in the Old Testament (Jer. 31:31–34) and fulfilled in Christ (Heb. 8:6–13), the Lord promises true believers that His covenantal bond of friendship with them in Christ not only will be “everlasting” (Jer. 32:40), but that it will contain all the promises involving the beginning, continuing, sustaining,
completing and perfecting of the eternal salvation of all His chosen people. (218)
[4: The True Believer's Inseparable Union with Christ] ...our union with Christ has its source in the election of God in eternity and has as its goal and fulfillment the glorification of the sons of God in their resurrection on the Last Day. It binds the past, present and future together for the child of God. Why can the believer face the future with confidence? Because he cannot think of past, present or future apart from his union and communion with Jesus Christ. (221)
[5. Christ's Continual Intercession] Likewise, the eternal intercession of the exalted Christ for His people from the right hand of God is based on His perfect redemptive
work which ensures the eternal salvation of all for whom it was undertaken, i.e., the elect of God. “Hence also He [the exalted Christ] is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). (222)
[6. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the Seed of God Abiding in True Believers]
Every person, the moment he believes in Christ, is united to Christ, and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God: “However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Rom. 8:9). This indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer is a permanent and abiding gift of God: “But if the Spirit of
Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you” (Rom. 8:11). (223)
"So the renewing of the Holy Ghost is, to every believer who has enjoyed it, a seal, impressing the image of Christ on the wax of his softened heart, closing and certifying the engagement of God’s love, to redeem the soul. It is the earnest, or
advance, made to the soul, to engage God to the final bestowal of complete holiness and glory. Unless the final perseverance of believers is certain, it could be no pledge nor seal. The inference is as simple and as strong as words can express, that he who has once enjoyed this seal and earnest is thereby certified that God will continue to give the Holy Ghost until the end. It is a most low and unworthy estimate of the wisdom of the Holy Ghost and of His work in the heart, to suppose that He will begin the work now, and presently desert it." 18. Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 692. (224)
[7. The Direct Teachings of the Bible] John 10:27–30: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” ....
Christ’s sheep, for whom He laid down His life and to whom He has given eternal life, are now His personal and eternal possession and at His eternal disposal. He has undertaken the full responsibility for their eternal welfare. How, then, can any of Christ’s sheep ever be lost? (226)
If God has begun the good work of salvation in a person’s life, He will complete what He has begun at the Second Coming of Christ. He will not leave this gracious work half-finished, nor will He destroy what He has begun. (227)
...this very thought is repugnant to God’s self-revelation in the Bible. The Almighty God is able to do to the end whatever He intends, plans, wills, or says He will do, and nothing or no one in heaven, earth or hell can stop Him (Isa. 14:24, 27). (228)
True believers will not apostatize. (229)
Four passages of Scripture are usually brought up at this point by critics of our doctrine as proof that true believers can apostatize from a state of grace and be lost again after they have been saved: Heb. 6:4–6; Ezek. 18:24–29; Gal. 5:4 and John 15:2, 6. In explaining these texts, we should be able to meet all the other texts used against our doctrine. (230)
[Hebrews 6:4-6] This passage is misinterpreted to say that the person spoken of
here is a regenerate believer in Christ who apostatizes and therefore
loses his salvation. (231)
Those who had grown dull of hearing and had once been in a healthier state of mind. They had “become” this way. The gospel once aroused and motivated them, but now, like babies, they cannot digest it and they have lost interest in it. ....
Dullness of hearing is caused by the neglect of Biblical teaching and preaching (Heb. 2:1, 3; 3:7–12; 5:12). Truth is to the heart what food is to the body. ....
The “mature” are those who are making progress in Christ-likeness (Eph. 4:15), because they have a fixed habit of obedience to the Bible in thought and life. They are “accustomed to the Word.” Their “senses” of perception and spiritual sensitivity are “trained to discern good and evil” because of constant “practice” in obeying the
Unchecked dullness of hearing leads to hardened apostasy! (233-235)
They profess “repentance,”...They are “enlightened.”...They have “tasted of the heavenly gift” and have been “partakers of the Holy Spirit.”...They have “tasted the good word of God,” having experienced in some manner that the substance, blessings and experiences of gospel preaching are real and personal. They have “tasted the powers of the age to come.” (235-236)
If we notice what is missing in this description, it will be obvious that Paul is not describing true Christians, who having been truly saved are about to be lost again forever. When we notice this missing element, it will be easy for us to see the true identity of those being described: professed Christians who may have been baptized, who probably are members of the church, and who may have been close to surrendering to Christ in faith, but who have not.
What is missing? FIRST, there is no mention at all of faith in Christ in this description....SECOND, nothing is said about these people that is true of real Christians exclusively....THIRD, in Hebrews 6:8, these apostates are clearly
contrasted with true believers who are symbolized as fruitful ground....FOURTH, the apostates do not possess those “things that accompany salvation,” because they do not truly possess salvation, i.e., they are not truly saved. FIFTH, in Hebrews 6:12–15, these apostates are clearly distinguished from the true heirs of God’s promises, i.e., the true believers in Jesus. (236-237)
[Apostasy]...is deliberately, totally, and voluntarily to renounce Christ and His kingdom, and to join His enemies. This falling away is NOT an occasional falling into sin, however gross, of which all Christians are guilty; NOR is it a renouncing
of some Biblical doctrines. (237)
"The Scripture itself, therefore, leads us to the conclusion, [in such passages as Heb. 6:4–6; 2 Pet. 2:20–22; etc.], that it is possible to have very uplifting, ennobling, reforming, and exhilarating experience of the power and truth of the gospel, to come into such close contact with the supernatural forces which are operative in God’s kingdom of grace that these forces produce effects in us which to human observation are hardly distinguishable from those produced by God’s regenerating and sanctifying grace and yet be not partakers of Christ and heirs of eternal life. A doctrine of perseverance that fails to take account of such a possibility and of its actuality in certain cases is a distorted one and ministers to a laxity which is quite contrary to the interests of perseverance." 32. Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 153. (239)
[Ezekiel 18: 24-29] “It would appear, therefore, that the thing of which the prophet is speaking is not a state of grace at all; but the outward, formal and civic decency of a citizen of the theocracy; and that the punishments into which such a man fell
on lapsing into rebellion were temporal calamities.” 34 Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 696–697. (242)
[ Galatians 5: 2-4] [Paul's] concern is defection (“falling”) from the revealed doctrine of justification by grace to the false position of justification by law and merit. If someone, who once taught that salvation was by pure grace, changes his mind, and is now teaching salvation by meritorious law-keeping, as the Judaizers were teaching, then in his teaching and his doctrine, he has “fallen from grace.” He has fallen into serious error with reference to his doctrine, although he may be a true believer, having been saved by grace. (242)
[John 15: 1-2, 6] In John 15, Jesus describes metaphorically two kinds of people
who come into close contact with Him, and who are members of His church: (1) Branches that bear fruit (15:2b, 5, 8); and (2) Branches that do not bear fruit (15:2a, 6). They are treated in two different ways: (a) Branches that bear fruit are pruned and cleaned (15:2b), and (b) Branches that do not bear fruit are taken away and burned in fire (15:2a, 6).
Whom do these two sets of metaphors represent? The Gospel of John, which is the context of John 15, gives us the answer. In John’s Gospel, those to whom the gospel is preached are divided into two groups: (1) Those who embrace the message by faith, and (2) Those who reject it (1:5, 9, 12; 12:35, 36). The immediate historical context of John 15 confirms this viewpoint: Judas had just left and was on his way to eternal destruction. (245)
(1) The branches that bear fruit and are cleansed represent “all those who not only come into close contact with Christ and the Gospel but also (by God’s sovereign grace and through faith) accept it.”39 (2) The branches that do not bear fruit and are burned represent“all the others who have come into close contact with Christ
and the Gospel, [but who have not accepted it by faith].”40
These two groups of people have one thing in common: they both were in close contact with Christ and the Gospel. Both groups of branches were in the vine.
39. Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, 295.
40. Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, 295. (246)
Two more objections are that this doctrine A) is inconsistent with human freedom (page 247) and B) that it leads to moral laxity (page 248). However, I will not go into those and move on to the next section of the chapter.
There are seven means by which God eternally preserves believers that Dr. Morecraft outlines. They are as follows: 1) Instruction and Direction of the Word of God; 2) The Encouragement of God's Promises; 3) The Stirring Exhortations of the Bible; 4) The Admonitions and Warnings of the Bible; 5) The Rod of Chastisement and Fatherly Discipline; 6) The Sealing of the Sacraments; and 7) The Use of the Keys of the Kingdom (i.e. Church Discipline). More is to be found on these from page 248 to page 249.
Lastly, there is the encouragement of this doctrine to all true believers.
First, this doctrine of eternal security and the perseverance of true Christians underscores all the encouragements which believers in Jesus receive from all other doctrines of the Bible....great encouragement is to be found in believing that along with the reception of salvation by grace through faith, one is assured that he is kept from falling by the power of God, that God’s love, decree and covenant are unchangeable, and that he will most certainly enjoy eternal life in the presence of God.
Second, faith in this doctrine is a remedy for spiritual desertions and backslidings. In the midst of all the afflictions, temptations, and discouragements of this life, in which God sometimes hides His face from us, as if He deserted us, the fact that God’s love for His own is unchangeable, and that His gifts and calling are irrevocable, brings us great encouragement and comfort. God may hide His face from us for a moment to test us, but we are confident He will return to us, for He
will never let us go: “‘For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer” (Isa. 54:7–8).
Third, faith in this doctrine is a protection against the assaults of Satan. These assaults are vicious, and are capable of pushing a believer off-balance, causing his faith to doubt. ...
Fourth, faith in this doctrine is a protection against the hostility of this evil world....However, true believers in Jesus need not fear, for neither this world,nor anything in it, is capable of separating us from the love of God in Christ our Lord (Rom. 8:38–39). ....
Fifth, faith in this doctrine is a protection against sin and temptation....If we are battling sin in our lives, praying against it, and going to Jesusfor strength to fight it, then we can be encouraged by the fact that all the sins that remain within us as believers, contrary to the wishes of our renewed heart, cannot pluck us out of the hand of Christ, nor will Christ ever cast us away because of them: “Thus says the LORD, ‘If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth
searched out below, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,’ declares the LORD” (Jer. 31:37).
Sixth, faith in this doctrine is a remedy for weakness of faith....Rather than robust and hardy, sometimes his faith is weak and as small as a mustard seed. But the Lord Himself has promisedthat he will preserve faith in our hearts and not let it go out. ....
Seventh, faith in this doctrine is a remedy for fear of death. Thoughts of death are sometimes unsettling to the best of Christians. However, we can take comfort in the certainty of God’s preservation of us, who not only keeps us throughout life, but who also guards us in the hour of death. ....
Eighth, faith in this doctrine is a powerful motive for sanctification.
"The Lord God being omnipotent and infallible, His purpose never fails, and His word always prospers. When God saves a man, He places man within His Kingdom and its purpose, so that man’s labor is never in vain. Man remains frail, fallible
and erring, but God makes all things work together for good for and through those who are called according to His purpose, and in terms of His purpose and glory (Rom. 8:28). Our security is in God’s omnipotence and grace."48. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology, 1:545. (250-252)