Perseverance of the Saints!

“Why should you wake up believing in the morning?”

John Piper

On a regular basis I meet up with my dad in one of my favorite places in Melbourne, Lygon St, Carlton and discuss God, life and ministry. He reflected back to me recently, how as a pastor preaching every Sunday to a full congregation, he would ask himself, “What makes these people keep turning up? Why do they keep listening? And why do I keep turning up to preach the bible to them?”

Challenging questions that require more than surface level answers. I want to offer some brief, and hopefully biblical answers to them.  Paul said in Philippians 3:12, “Christ Jesus has made me his own.” To be saved is to be owned by Christ through his saving work on the cross. We can only make knowing Christ our own, cause Christ has first made us his own. Jesus said to his Father in John 17:12 “While I was with them (speaking of the disciples), I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction (Judas), that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

A key question I ask of this passage is, would the Father present to his Son a gift that would not last? The disciples by covenant belonged to the Son. Jesus keeps all whom the Father gives to him. In John 11:41-42 we read of Jesus interceding and he says, “Father I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus always gets his prayers answered and Jesus intercessory ministry keeps us safe and secure.

John 16:1 “I have said all these things to you, to keep you from falling away from me.”

A Theology of Salvation.

Romans 8:29 ‘Those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called, he also justified, and those whom he justified, he also glorified.” 

 

  1. Justification (past) is a free gift from God and is about our right standing with God. To be justified means to be declared righteous and no longer guilty of sin because of Christ’s death on the cross, my sin has been removed and God’s wrath appeased. Jesus has become my substitutionary atonement.
  2. Sanctification (present) is about the continuing process of salvation. It speaks of consecration to God and being set apart. Sanctification is challenging and exhausting, where the believer works out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 3:12-13) as a direct result of what God has already worked into the believer through justification and regeneration (new birth).
  3. Glorification (future) is effortless because God will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by his power (Phil 3:21). Glorification is the final step in receiving the gift of eternal life, whereby, we are morally and spiritually perfected and completely transformed.

A real Christian perseveres in their present sanctification, not as an exercise of their will but as a provision of God’s grace at work in them. A real Christian perseveres because they have been justified, regenerated, adopted by God and they are going to be glorified.

I believe that the bible teaches that all who are justified will win the fight of faith. Believers will persevere in faith and never surrender to the enemy of their souls because of the grace of God at work in them. This perseverance is the promise of the new covenant, obtained by the blood of Christ, and worked in us by God himself, yet not as to diminish, but only to empower and encourage, our vigilance; so that we may say in the end, “I have fought the good fight, but it was not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Romans 8:30 “Those whom he justified he also glorified.”

 

John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

 

Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Ron Hanko says, “Believers are not preserved from falling, but from falling away; not from temptation, but from being destroyed by temptation; not from sin, but from the sin unto death. Due entirely to their own weakness and sinfulness, believers can and do fall into temptation and sin. But Psalm 37:24 assures us, ‘Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

Grace!

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