Friday, March 17, 2006

Perseverance

John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 151-60

I. Observation, the biblical record, and church history make for strong arguments against the perseverance of the saints since there are many examples of those who have fallen away from their faith. Plus there are verses that speak of falling away: Hebrews 6:4-6 and John 15:1, 2, 6.

II. To understand what perseverance is, we need to understand what it is not.

    A. Not everyone who professes Christ or is part of the fellowship of the believers has assurance of eternal salvation. Jesus warned that there would be some who thought they were disciples but weren't (John 8:31, 32).

    B. Abiding in the words of Christ is how to distinguish a true disciple of Christ ( Matt. 10:22; John 8:31,32; Heb. 4:14; John 15:6). “The crucial test of true faith is endurance to the end, abiding in Christ, and continuance in his word” (pg. 152).
III. Scripture provides a picture of apostasy (falling away) in the parable of the sower – the seed falls on the rocky soil and when the plant springs up, the sun scorched it and brought forth no fruit (Mark 4:5, 6, 16, 17). A Christian can have all the outward signs of regeneration and appear to have faith in Christ but then fall away and become hostile to the gospel.

IV. In the parable of the sower we see that the plant grows, it produces something. The apostate produces “a blade and sometimes there may be an ear. There is germination; there is also growth. The only defect is that there is never the full ear of corn” (pg. 152-3). We see this also in Hebrews of those who “were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit” (Heb. 6:5-6) as well as 2 Peter 2:20-22. “The Scripture itself, therefore, leads us to the conclusion that it is possible to have very uplifting, ennobling, reforming, and exhilarating experience of the power and truth of the gospel...and yet be not partakers of Christ and heirs of eternal life” (pg. 153)

V. “The Perseverance of the saints” is to be preferred over “The Security of the Believer.” The term “security” implies that the Christian is secure in their salvation which might not be the truth. The believer is not secure in a pernicious state of sin. “It is true that a believer sins; he may fall into grievous sin and backslide for lengthy periods. But it is also true that a believer cannot abandon himself to sin; he cannot come under the dominion of sin; he cannot be guilty of certain kinds of unfaithfulness” (pg. 154).

VI. Peter writes of those who have a living hope: they are kept through faith until the final consummation (1 Peter 1:4, 5).

VII. “The perseverance of the saints reminds us very forcefully that only those who persevere to the end are truly saints. We do not attain to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus automatically. Perseverance means the engagement of our persons in the most intense and concentrated devotion to those means which God has ordained for the achievement of his saving purpose” (pg. 155).

VIII. Paul statement that those who would be justified by the law have fallen from grace in Galatians 5:4 cannot be used as a proof that the saints do not persevere. The doctrine of justification by grace is the reason that the saints will persevere.

IX. The “saints”are the called of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:6,7). According to Paul in Romans 8:27-30, the saints are called and justified. Can those who are called and justified fall away? According to this passage the called and justified are also glorified. Glorification is the conformation of the image of Christ (Phil. 3:21).

X. There are other passages that support the perseverance of the saints.

    A. Jesus says that of all that the Father had given him, he would lose nothing but raise it on the last day (John 6:39) and the Father's will is that everyone who believes in Jesus may have eternal life and Jesus will raise him on the last day (John 6:40). Jesus also says that those who come to him he will not cast out (John 6:37).

    B. Jesus says that everyone that the Father gives him will come to him (John 6:37).

    C. In John 10:30 Jesus says no one is strong enough to snatch those given to him out of the Father's hand. And in the previous verse Jesus said that he gave them eternal life and they shall never perish, and no one will snatch them out of his hand.
I. “It is the indissolubility of the bond of the covenant of God's grace that undergirds this precious article of faith” (pg. 160). (Isa. 54:10)

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