A Powerful Verse for the Perseverance of the Saints
One of those doctrines that is often debated among Christians is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. This doctrine states that those who are truly born again will have a faith that endures to the end. There is a reason that this doctrine is debated. That reason is we all know people who used to zealously profess faith in Christ, but then fell away completely, never to return. In regard to this doctrine, what do we do with those people? Many will say that they lost their salvation. They were once truly born again, but at some point they chose the world over Jesus and so they lost their salvation.
The other side of the debate can take two forms. The first is what many call Eternal Security. While this is similar to the perseverance of the saints, there is a key difference. Eternal Security generally states that when a person receives forgiveness and salvation, then their salvation is secure and they can rest assured that they are going to heaven. I do believe this is true. The problem is that the title is too vague and too susceptible to misapplication. For instance, regarding the above situation of a person who falls away from the faith, Eternal Security proponents will say that person is still saved. They are prodigals who are in sin, but they will be in heaven. I do not agree with that. Why not? Because of how eternal security proponents answer the question “Who actually can have eternal security and why?” They will answer it by saying eternal security can be had by anyone who prays a sinner’s prayer, or who walks an aisle, or who is baptized, or who points to certain experiences. This is simply not where eternal security is found according to the Bible.
Eternal security is found in the perseverance of the saints. That is, while there will be sin and failure, even in grievous ways at times, a truly born again person will always respond to chastisement and return to humble submission to Christ. Their living faith and pursuit of holiness will preserve. A Christian will endure in his repentance, his faith, his embrace of the gospel, and his pursuit of holy living. Perseverance of the saints means those truly born again have been transformed by the gospel, and so they will never be able to actually forsake the Lord because they will always see His beauty and life and truth and power. Take a look at a few verses:
- Colossians 1:22–23 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel…
- Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
- 1 Corinthians 15:2 …by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
At this point, I have basically just stated that the born again person will endure. But it is appropriate to ask why. To answer that I would like to add one more verse that touches on that very point. That verse is Romans 5:9-10.
- Romans 5:9–10 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
This is a particularly powerful verse that explains why a person endures. Verse 10 says that if we were justified by blood while were thoroughly and totally enemies, then there is a logical conclusion that is necessary once we are made children. If God will go to unfathomable lengths to bring in enemies, then what is He going to do for children? And not only are they children, but they are children with a living Savior. This Savior is going to intercede for them. He is going to send another comforter (the Holy Spirit) to them. He is going to be with them till the end of time. Through His life, they will be on the receiving end of grace upon grace and the powerful working of covenant promises. Their endurance happens because they are continually being conformed to the image of Christ by the unfailing grace of God.
Do you see what this means for the person in question above? A living Savior, who will do all of the above for those who are not enemies but beloved children, means that the situation stated above will never happen. Christ is going to apply all of his omnipotent power to make sure that His children will never forsake Him. Jesus is going to transform them, fill them, discipline them, protect them, and direct them in every way necessary to make sure they will endure to the end. If they don’t endure, it means they were never actually saved. Nowhere do we read of Jesus abandoning, forsaking, or letting his children go. Those who leave never had a place at the table to begin with.
It is a glorious thought that our security is not that we have some cold, lifeless, binding contract in the heavenlies, but we have a living Savior who is actively working in our lives. Romans 8:16 says the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God. What is he testifying to? At least one feature is Christ’s work in us, moment by moment, over the course of a lifetime. This is the glorious reality that assurance is built upon.
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