Perseverance Of Saints
by Doyle D. Dewberry
Text ----- Jude 24-25
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.
Insecurity is closely associated with immaturity. New born children may be affected as well as older people. The Bible teaches the latter when it says they are ..such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat Heb 5:12.
You can give thanks to God that He has saved you by His will, for if salvation is by so-called "free will", then you have no security. Those who advocate such will insist, and they would be right if salvation were by free will, "You have the freedom to will into Christ - and you also have the freedom to will out." Free will and security in Christ is a contradiction, and those who hold to both are illogical. You cannot maintain that both are true. You must be one or the other. We conclude that the Bible does not support free will, but does support our eternal security in Christ.
Man is free to be what he is. If sinful, he is free to sin, but at the same time he is not free to will for spiritual good being void of the Holy Spirit. For the natural man (soulish man) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned. If man has the Holy Spirit he can will spiritual things. It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.
No one has free will, since all beings are free agents who must will and act according to their nature. Even our blessed, holy, God is absolutely not free. He too acts according to His nature. It is impossible for God to sin, to lie, to fail, and to deny Himself.
Someone has said, "THERE IS NO WILL OF GOD IN TIME EXCEPT THE WILL OF GOD IN ETERNITY." The salvation of everyone saved had its beginning in eternity past, not in time. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).
Our security in Christ is based on God's will in the primary sense, and ours in the secondary, because He has caused us to be willing to receive it. For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Therefore salvation is not of him that runneth, nor of him that willeth, but of God that showeth mercy. And Of His own will begat He us. The new birth was not according to the will of man, but according to the will of God. (John 1:12-13). Man receiveth nothing unless he receive it from heaven.
As the Prophet Jonah found, Salvation is of the Lord. Though his will was contrary to God's in the beginning, in the end it was the same. Jonah was neither forced to go to Nineveh, nor was he left to himself; HE WAS MADE WILLING TO GO, by God controlling the circumstances.
We thus hold to eternal preservation of God's people. Many of His people are in great heaviness from manifold temptations, others feel overcome and burdened because of besetting sins, and still others have an on-going lack of assurance. Some days we don't "feel" saved, and have to make our election and calling sure. Sheep, by nature, have feelings of insecurity, if they have no assurance of the protection of the shepherd.
We all know that the life given in the new birth is intimately connected with faith. Now, faith is in itself a conquering principle. In the First Epistle of John, which is a great treasury of argument (1 John 5:4) we are told, Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? See, then, that which is born of God in us, namely, the new life, is a conquering principle; there is no hint given that it can ever be defeated: and faith, which is its outward sign, is also in itself triumphant evermore. Therefore of necessity, because God has implanted such a wondrous life in us in bringing us out of darkness into His marvellous light, because He has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, because the eternal and ever blessed Spirit hath come to dwell in us, we conclude that the divine life within us shall never die. (C.H. Spurgeon)
We need to see our preservation as established, not by feelings, nor by accomplishing our own goals we have set, but our being joined with Christ in a perfect union, it being said we are in Him, and we become His ultimate responsibility. God is our Father, and we are His children, and He preserves us in His Son. He has begotten us, and He keeps us. The Triune Godhead joins together in maintaining God's people in salvation. He gives us the power to come to Christ; the power to become sons of God in Christ; the power to overcome in Christ. While they are in no wise exhaustive of this great truth, we seek to show the preservation of God's people from the following Scriptural passages which set it forth.
(4) GREAT TRUTHS WHICH TELL US OF THE PRESERVATION OF GOD'S PEOPLE IN CHRIST:
I - IF YOU ARE ONE WHO HAS BEEN GIVEN TO CHRIST AND HAVE COME TO HIM HE PROMISES NEVER TO CAST YOU OUT (JOHN 6:37)
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
All those who come to Christ are those first given to Him by the Father, and they SHALL come to Him. Our perseverance is seen in what follows - They shall never be cast out! A companion verse is John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I WILL RAISE HIM UP at the last day.
In John 17 where we see our Lord praying for those that have been given to Him, He prays for their perfect union with Him and the Father, for their sanctification (setting apart), and one of the most remarkable statements made in the Bible: John 17:23. Christ prays for those given to Him, that the world may know that Jesus was sent by the Father, and that the Father has loved us as He has loved His Son, Jesus Christ. Herein lies the basis for our preservation as the beloved sons of God. How unworthy it makes one feel and humbles our soul into the dust.
Only one of the twelve which He has chosen is lost, but of that one, the scripture assures us, was intended to be so. He was the son of perdition, not of God. (see verse 12) Jesus tells us, I know whom I have chosen when referring to Judas. (see John 6:65-70) An enemy of God is an evident token of perdition, but unto us salvation, and that of God. Sometimes we are called on to suffer at their hand. (Phil 1:28-29). All sons of perdition shall not prevail, and shall be destroyed. But God has preserved His elect. (2 Thess 2:3-15)
II - IF WE ARE CHRIST'S SHEEP WE ARE SECURE UNDER HIS CARE AND NOTHING CAN TAKE IT AWAY: (JOHN 10:11-29)
He giveth His life, and lays down His life for the sheep: v11,15. Not all are His sheep, and those who are not believe not. Ye believe not for ye are not of my sheep. (v26). One can safely say the scriptures declare that Jesus did not die for everyone. But now notice the preservation of the sheep. "And I GIVE UNTO THEM eternal life; and they SHALL NEVER PERISH, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." We are also told "My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." We are well preserved and in good hands of Jesus and the Father.
The Armenian, with his free-will, likes to say, "Yes, no man can pluck you from His hand, but you can take yourself out. Notice the word man is italicized indicating it is not in the text. The true meaning is "nothing or no one" shall pluck us out of Christ's or God's hand. Wouldn't "nothing or no one" include one's self?
The word "pluck" is translated different ways in the New Testament. In v12 it is translated "catcheth". With a hireling to whom the sheep do not belong, the wolf comes and "catcheth" them. But it is not so with the shepherd! It is also translated "pull", "take up by force", "caught up" which is commonly called "the rapture" in 1 Thess 4. The Father and the Son will not permit anything or anyone to catch us up, pull us out, or take us out by force.
The noun forms have the idea of robbery, extortion, and spoiling. One is used of Jesus who thought it not "robbery" to be equal with God. It would be sheer robbery if anyone could take us out of Christ, yet we are told that nothing or no one can rob God of His people.
In regard to those who become true Christians, but who, as the Arminians allege, fall away, why does God not take them out of the world while they are in the saved state? Surely no one will say that it is because He can not, or that it is because He does not foresee their future apostasy. Why, then, does He leave these objects of His affection here to fall back into sin and perish? His gift of continued life to these Christians amounts to an infinite curse placed upon them. But who can really believe that the heavenly Father takes no better care of His children than that? This mistaken doctrine of the Arminians teaches that a person may be a son of God today and a son of the Devil tomorrow, that he may change from one state to another as rapidly as he changes his mind. It teaches that he may be born of the Spirit, justified, sanctified, all but glorified, and that even then he may become reprobate and perish eternally, his own will and course of conduct being the determining factor. Certainly a sovereign loving God would not permit His ransomed children to thus fall away and perish. (L. Boettner)
III - IF ONE IS THE CALLED ACCORDING TO GOD'S PURPOSE THEN NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS: (ROM 8:28-39)
A. This purpose is according to election: (Rom 9:11)
B. This purpose is according to the council of God's own will: (Eph 1:11)
C. This purpose is according to the eternal purpose in Christ (Eph 3:11)
D. This purpose was determined before the world began: (2 Tim 1:9)
On the basis of His purpose, he foreknew us, predestinated us, and has decreed our call, justification, and glorification. In time we have been called, and Jesus died and was raised for our justification whereby the gift of faith has given us the assurance of it; it will be the verdict when we stand before God "NOT GUILTY, JUSTIFIED", and we will then enter into our eternal home, which Paul labels "glorification." In God's sight we are already there in Christ seated at the right hand of the Father.
Read what the Sovereign, Free grace of God gives us and assures us in Christ: Romans 8:31-39. Paul says there is nothing able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Add to this that all the things that befall us work together for good. (Rom 8:28).
Remember Jacob and the events of going into Egypt for corn given in Gen 42? Jacob thought Joseph was dead, who had been raised as a ruler in Egypt. Another son, Simeon, was being held captive until the other brothers would return with Jacob's youngest son, Benjamin. And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: ALL THESE THINGS ARE AGAINST ME." (Gen 42:36). Looking back, however, he could see that the things were for his good.
IV - IF ONE IS THE ELECT OF GOD THEN SALVATION IS ASSURED: (1 PET 1:2-9)
In this passage referring to our election, Peter tells us we are the children of God who has begotten us again unto a lively (living) hope. v3. He has given us an inheritance .. that fadeth not away .. reserved in heaven. v4. He further adds that we are kept by the power of God through faith, (the gift of God) ready to be revealed in the last time v5. This is preservation in CAPITAL LETTERS. What could be any plainer?
We have manifold temptations, trials of our faith, but they only refine us as gold tried in the fire, and will be to the praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. v6-8. Then he adds, Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. v9.
The Bible plainly teaches both perseverance and preservation. God's people will truly persevere because God preserves His own. This is a good place to emphasize the other side of our security. It is a warning! Let us not think that man will be ultimately saved who has made some kind of decision and is no more than a professor rather than a possessor. Man is not saved by a one-time decision; he is saved whose faith continues unto the end. We exclude both the Arminian an the Antinomian position in perseverance. There is the everyday walk which sometimes is uphill and sometimes downhill. There are many tests along the way, and the man who discontinues his hope is one of whom John refers, who said, They went out from us but they were NOT OF US; for if they had been OF US, they would have CONTINUED with us; but they went OUT FROM US that they might be made manifest that they were NOT ALL OF US (1 John 2:19). The writer of the book of Hebrews also tells us, But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them what BELIEVE TO THE SAVING OF THE SOUL (10:38-39).
Our Lord had somewhat the same to say of those whose hope existed in their works rather than knowing Him, or rather His knowing them. In this passage He tells us,
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matt 7:21-23)Let me give four examples of God's Preserving Grace by selecting four men who demonstrate the blessed truth.
1. Moses the Disobedient Leader: When Israel in the wilderness had no water, God told Moses to take his rod and speak to the Rock (Christ) and water would come forth. But Moses smote the rock in disobedience, for which he was not allowed to enter into the good land. But he went into heaven, and it was Moses along with Elijah who appeared with Christ on the mount of Transfiguration.
2. David the Disreputable King: When David could not sleep, he was walking on the roof-top of his house and saw Bathsheba bathing. He sent for her and she went in unto him. Later she notified him she was expecting his child. Her husband, Uriah the Hittite, was away in battle. David gave him leave to come home hoping he would go in unto his wife, but he refused, sleeping at the door of the king. David then invited him to eat with him, and proceeded to get him drunk. Yet Uriah slept before the king's door. David then had him placed in forefront of the battle where he would be, and was killed. God sent Nathan the prophet to David to confronted him with his sin. Thou art the man! David said, I have sinned against the Lord", but Nathan told him, The Lord also HATH PUT AWAY THY SIN. That is covenant love and reveals David's preservation. In Psalm 51, David appears to be convicted of his sin and repentant. He acknowledged his sin, confessing (agreeing with) his sin, and crying out for deliverance from his "blood guiltiness".
3. Elijah the Discouraged Prophet: Elijah had just come from a great victory over the prophets of Baal. But he became very discouraged as it seemed to have no effect on reviving the Israelites. Having ascended the mountain, he sat under the juniper tree discouraged. The Lord came to him, asking, What doest thou here? Elijah displayed his disappointment, and the Lord brought forth a great WIND that rent the rocks. He said, however, he was not in the wind; He brought forth a great EARTHQUAKE, and said neither was He in the earthquake; He brought forth FIRE, and said he was not in the fire. How does he speak? With a still, small voice. Through the still, small voice of God there were seven thousand which had not bent the knee nor kissed the hand of the false god Baal. Elijah's discouragement did not prevent him from being taken into heaven bodily.
GOD DOES NOT HAVE TO SHOUT TO BE HEARD, and when He says, He that HEARETH my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and SHALL NOT come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life... God's people also hear through the still, small voice.
4. Peter the Denying Apostle: Peter denied the Lord three times. Afterward, Peter went out and wept bitterly. Whereafter Jesus went to the cross where all Peter's sins were laid upon Him, and all His people's sins as well. The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6). Peter, after Pentecost, proved to be brave in his preaching, becoming the apostle to first begin the ministry to the Gentiles, and even became one of the authors of two epistles in the New Testament.
There is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8:1)
He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:6)
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is LONGSUFFERING TO US-WARD, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet 3:9)
The most a man can do for anyone, lost or struggling for assurance, is to point one to Christ. He saves, not man. Our message is simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. For assurance, consider all that the Word of God has revealed concerning the preservation we have in Christ. God grant you the faith to believe and give you the strong assurance which accompanies salvation, and that you finally persevere.
Setting Forth The Doctrines of Grace In Salvation. Doyle Dewberry
formerly of Alameda, California, is a retired Pastor and author of
Sovereign Grace Baptist Proclaimer, Email: email@example.com