Dear Professor Frame and Professor Poythress,
I am a young man in Nigeria and I love your ministries. I have been blessed by your works especially triperspectival epistemology and Prof Frame’s Systematic Theology. I find them very illuminating. Please I just want to ask about the Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. Is it is correct to say “The elect CAN be lost but WILL NOT be lost because they are kept by the power of God? In light of the numerous warning texts in the N.T, I tried to make a distinction between what can happen and what will happen. I also believe it’s precisely because the elect can be lost that God keeps them from falling so they will never be lost. Please Sirs, I just want to know if I am right. Thank you so much. I would really appreciate your reply.
Thanks for your interest in our work.
The problem here is that “can” is somewhat ambiguous. It always presupposes conditions. See the “excursus on ability” (pp. 124ff) in the enclosed chapter.
The elect “can” be lost in the sense that they are human beings and are always subject to God’s evaluation. Every human being “can” be saved or lost depending on God’s decision concerning them. Here we interpret “can” under the conditions of our human condition.
But when we consider different conditions we evaluate the “can” differently:
The elect not only will not, but cannot be lost, in the sense that God has determined before the foundation of the world to keep them in Christ until the end.
Hebrews warns believers against falling because (1) in the context of Hebrews, God does not assure all readers of the letter that they are eternally elect. (2) So it is possible, so far as we can tell, that they may fail, as some people do. (3) Human efforts toward faithfulness are one means God uses in history to maintain the faith of the elect.
Hope this is helpful.