The Doctrines of Grace: Perseverance of the Saints
Before I became reformed I had no idea what the Doctrines of Grace were. I knew what the Bible said in regards to knowing Jesus and having faith, but there was always an underlying fear of “am I really saved?” I was a Christian struggling with sin, and it became more apparent to me that I needed to have an answer for this question…I needed assurance. I knew if my salvation depended upon me, I would have no hope because of my depravity. This left me in a state of despair. Focusing on myself and my sinfulness, I kept falling further and further away from the reality that it is ultimately not about me. When I came across the Doctrines of Grace, namely Perseverance of the Saints, I learned my salvation does not rest in my hands: my salvation is rooted in God’s unconditional election and predestination (2 Timothy 2:19).
The Westminster Confession of Faith describes Perseverance of the Saints as, “They, whom God has accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” John 10:28-29 says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will 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.” What an amazing reality this is! Those who are truly saved will persevere to the end and not lose their salvation. This does not mean God waits to see if we persevere until the end, and if we don’t, we lose our salvation…“God justifies us completely through the first genuine act of saving faith, but this is the sort of faith that perseveres and bears fruit in the ‘obedience of faith’…God works to cause His elect to persevere” (Desiring God). Being born of God, we are eternally secure.
The Westminster Confession of Faith goes on to say that “this perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace: from all which arises also the certainty and infallibility thereof”. God’s chosen can all have assurance that their salvation by God, through the atonement of Jesus, the outpouring of His Spirit, and nature of the covenant of grace is dependent upon Him…not them (Jeremiah 32:40). What blessed assurance we have because of Jesus who took on the punishment for our sin. It was Him who was the provision for our perfection.
Of course, Christians, we will sin. Although, what sets us apart from the world is that we have the Spirit dwelling inside of us—forever sanctifying us. We must never make peace with our sin; we must make every effort to hate it. It is so reassuring to know Christians can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace. Because of His Spirit is in us, we persevere to the end (1 John 3:9). His ongoing work, and not our commitment to the faith, is what keeps us from falling (Philippians 1:6). My friends, thank the Lord for His divine power He graciously gives to us so we might die to ourselves and grow in faith, righteousness, and understanding. After coming to Reformed theology and grasping the Doctrines of Grace, the hope for my salvation is in Christ alone. The Scriptures tell me because of His grace and unconditional election, I can never be plucked out of His hand. I quit looking to myself for assurance of my salvation because therein lies none. I am a depraved sinner, unconditionally elected by God, atoned for by Christ, overcome with irresistible grace, and whose eternal security depends upon the justification God provides me. God’s preserving grace seeps into the marrow of the bones of my existence. When I look to Him, I have faith that I will never fall away from His eternal hold on me. Christians, when we truly have faith in Jesus, we need not worry that we will ever lose our salvation, thinking like this is unbiblical and undermines the total sin-vindicating death Christ paid for you. Romans 8:30 says, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
* This post is part of a blog series, The Doctrines of Grace.