But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
PERSERVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
(Preservation of the Saints)
For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his SAINTS; they are PRESERVED for ever.... (Psalm 37:28) (Emphasis mine)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I GIVE unto them ETERNAL LIFE; and they shall NEVER PERISH, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. (John 10:27-30)
Our Lord calls the elect sheep. They hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. Where? They hear His voice in the Holy Bible. They do not hear the voice of strangers (false messiahs, false prophets and false teachers). They flee from strangers.
Our Lord knows (with love and approval) his own sheep. He laid down His life for them at Calvary's Cross. He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. He leads and they follow, in trust and obedience. He gives to us ETERNAL LIFE. We shall never perish.
No man, nor devil, can ever pluck a single sheep out of our Lord's hand. Nor can they pluck themselves out of His hand. They are secure in Him. It would be easier to pluck a star out of heaven than to pluck a saint out of our Lord's hand. Ditto with His Father's Hand.
They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from a state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. (Westminster Confession)
PERSEVERANCE DEPENDS ON PRESERVATION
The saint's perseverance is due to God's preservation. It depends, not on the saint's free will, but on the immutable decree of God's election. God's love for his elect is unchangeable.
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3)
The obedience of Christ their Representative secures the saint's preservation. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
The once for all sacrifice, on the Cross, of our Lord Jesus Christ for His people paid for all their sins. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
The continual intercession of Christ for His people guarantees the perseverance of every true believer. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
True believers are in UNION with Christ. They have God's promise. His Holy Spirit abides in them. They are thus SEALED unto the Day of Redemption. They have a NEW NATURE implanted in them at their new birth. This is a sphere in which man does not have control.
No creature can change the fundamental principles of its nature. Only God can do that. This new nature will always love God. This new life is ETERNAL and EVERLASTING. It can never be lost. The born-again Christian can never lose his sonship to his Heavenly Father.
NOT SINLESS PERFECTION
Believers may fall into grievous sins. Why? The temptations of Satan and the world, the corruption remaining in them from their old nature, and the neglect of the means of their preservation (such as the Word of God and prayer) are all causes.
They may continue for a time in sin and incur God's displeasure. Through sin they may have their graces and comforts impaired.
They may have their hearts hardened and their consciences wounded. They may hurt and scandalize others. They may bring temporal judgments upon themselves.
Yet they will renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Jesus the Messiah to the end. In fact, the very presence of strife between the old, sinful nature and the new, holy nature is the sign of life. It is the promise of final victory to every blood bought child of God.
The Christian is like a man making his way up hill, who occasionally slips back, yet always has his face set toward the summit. The unregenerate man has his face turned downwards, and he is slipping all the way. (A. H. Strong)
The believer, like a man on shipboard may fall again and again on the deck, but he will never fall overboard. (C. H. Spurgeon)
Each one of the elect is like the prodigal son in this, that for a time he is deluded by the world and is led astray by his own carnal appetite. He tries to feed on the husks, but they do not satisfy.
And sooner or later he is obliged to say, I will arise and go to my father, and say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight. And he meets with the same reception ... This my son was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Let it be noticed that ... the prodigal was a SON, and could not lose that relationship. Those who are not sons never have the desire to arise and go to the Father. (Loraine Boettner)
NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD
Not all who PROFESS to be Christians are sure of heaven. Only saints (those set apart by the Spirit) PERSEVERE to the end. Multitudes claim the name Christian who are destitute of Christian knowledge, experience and character.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
Baptism, church membership, a good outward appearance, etc. are NO GUARANTEE that the person is truly elect. Many make a great profession of religion although they know nothing of the Lord Jesus in sincerity and truth. Their hearts have never been changed.
Some of these people will finally fall away from the Christian faith. But they were never sheep in the first place. They did not lose their salvation. They never had it. These wolves either have their sheep's clothing stripped off, of they cast it off themselves.
Only when a person's faith in Christ issues in a consistently holy life can he be assured of his salvation. By their fruits ye shall know them is the test given by our Lord. Therefore, true believers strive to make their calling and election sure.
They work out their salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God that works in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. They fear God and depart from evil. They love God and keep His Commandments.
They persevere to the end and are saved. They are preserved: kept by the power of Almighty God through faith unto salvation.
George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows the Lamb of God. He and his wife, Christy, have been married 42 years (in 2019). They have 8 grown children. You can contact George at email@example.com
Copyright © 2002 through 2019 by George Theiss