Perseverance of the Saints
( Is it the Doctrine of Eternal Security? )
by Tony Warren

    There are those theologians who seem to be infatuated with convoluting and over complicating the litigation of scripture. This is often seen in attempts to make artificial distinctions between the doctrines of "eternal security, perseverance of the Saints, and once saved, always saved." Now I fully realize that there are some who misunderstand and misapply these terms. But defining them differently is like trying to find a difference between believers being washed in the blood of the lamb, and Christ having died for believers' sins. I.e., they are both speaking of the exact same thing. We should not be confused or puffed up in reading long platitudinous essays purporting distinguishing qualities of different phrases, which declare the exact same thing. They all declare that the Saints cannot lose their salvation, and by the Spirit of God they will persevere. That is eternal security. And it's not invalidated, it's the doctrine delivered to the saints.

2nd Corinthians 1:21-22

We persevere because God has sealed or secured us eternally by His Spirit. We cannot have one of these doctrines without the other. By any common understanding of the language, for the saints to persevere (continue in a state of Grace) means that they are continually or eternally secured. i.e., once they are saved, they are always saved. For that is what secured or sealed means. So despite all the recent attempts by some theologians at separation (and some--well meaning), there really is no need for any distinction. Just because some stray from the true intent of the phrase, doesn't mean that we now have to reassign the phrase to their groups.

All who are truly in Christ persevere because they are secured eternally. Anything less, is Salvation by works. There is not one person who will ever be lost from the ranks of those called and chosen of God who had their sins forgiven by God. Because if one is eternally secure, he obviously cannot fall, and thus by definition must persevere. If not, then we have to redefine terms so eternal doesn't mean eternal. But then we are all just playing word games. A saint is either eternally secure, or else he is not a saint, and has not been made sanctified, Holy and unblamable before God. Because everlasting life cannot be temporary or fleeting. That would be a contradiction in terms.

John 3:36

A true believer has been [aionios] or perpetual life. It's not a future gift, it is something that has already been "secured" for him by the work of Christ on the cross. Therefore, how could any saint not persevere after he has received it? It makes no sense. Christ has died for all our sins, and was risen that we might walk in newness of life having hope in the eternal redemption of His blood.

Hebrews 9:12

We have complete assurance of salvation because Christ has already purchased every single believer. It is by His efforts that we persevere, not our own. And indeed this promise of God of confirmation is an integral part of true Christianity.

1st Corinthians 1:6-9

There is a reason God strengthens us gives us stability unto the end, and He declares that it is to make us blameless in the day of the Lord. So we see that it's not established until the day we slip, or the day we fall, it's established unto the end. That word translated confirm is the Greek word [bebaioo], meaning to stabilize or to establish. It's from the root [bebaios] meaning to firm up or make steady or sure. That's what our Faithful Lord and Saviour did for us. He didn't just pay for our sins and leave us, He is within us as our Rock or foundation. Those who endure are blameless before the lord, and the reason they do persevere is because Christ is their strength in this endurance. He confirms (establishes) us unto the end "that" we will be presented blameless before God.

The truth is, those who have no "assurance of Salvation," will go through their whole life in insecurity, questioning their relationship with God. In a real sense, they are unconvinced that God was telling the truth when He "Promised" them that He would never leave nor forsake them. Because you cannot have that assurance when you are not sure that Christ has obtained an eternal redemption for you wherein He will always be there as he declared. If there were even a chance of us losing our Salvation, God would not have provided a seal of the promise by the Spirit, nor declared that He would not forsake us. For unlike the promises of man, God's promises are true and trustworthy.

Hebrews 13:5

Since when does, "I will never leave you" re-translate to "I will leave you if you don't keep up?" we cannot make our own private interpretations of scripture references, we must surrender to the authority.

Matthew 28:20

Since when does "always" re-translate to mean I am with you, "just for a season, and only if you endure?" Again, it's when man decides to make his own private interpretations of the text. How can God say that we are made forever perfect, if we have to earn our salvation by our work of endurance? If that were true, then God's statements would be false.

Hebrews 10:10-14

Are we by the sacrifice of Christ perfected for ever as God's Word declares, or are we merely working to see if we can be worthy and merit sanctification? We can't have it both ways. The fact is, in order for one who has become a true Christian to lose their Salvation, Christ (who dwells within each and every one of them) must forsake them and leave them. And that is something that He has faithfully "Promised" that He will never do. But you see this is the shaky foundation upon which many build their doctrines of works. They speak of lost salvation, while God speaks of an eternally purchased inheritance. They are basking in the darkness of "out of context" references, and on an insular level, ignoring all other scriptures which show their ideas contradictory to other passages. Every doctrine that is not a true doctrine must take this path. When we take verses out of context, and then ignore all others verses that would show those verses are misapplied, we have no solid foundation. Anyone who truly believes in Christ, hears Christ, for He dwells within them.

John 3:16

Those who actually believe in the Word (All the Word, not just select verses) have the Spirit in assurance of salvation. For it is God's Spirit, working through God's Word itself, which teaches that when a person becomes truly saved, he is eternally saved. Which means he is in no danger of ever losing it. Because if he didn't secure it by his own efforts, he cannot lose it by lack of effort. God Himself secured salvation in us.

Ephesians 4:30

Ephesians 1:13 That Greek word Sealed there is [sphragizo], meaning to stamp as secured. Clearly believers are secured by the Holy Spirit of God and not by their own works. And so how could they suddenly find themselves unsecured? And note carefully that they are sealed "until the redemption" of the purchased (in the blood of Christ) possession. It is absolutely ludicrous to take this verse and claim that it actually means that we are not secured by the Holy Spirit until the day of Redemption. Indeed, it would be tortuous of God's Word to do so. Christ went to prepare a place of inheritance for us, but He also sent the Holy Spirit to seal (secure) us unto the day of that we ultimately receive that purchased inheritance. Nothing could be plainer. Again, note that it is the Holy Spirit of promise. And God does not break His promises. Man assuredly does, but God does not. We are by His power sealed, preserved unto the day of the consummation when we receive our inheritance.

Jude 1

2nd Timothy 4:18 We're sanctified, made holy, and preserved unto the consummation in the kingdom of God. This is not man's best guess here, or merely our assumption, or our speculating (as so many others do) this is the faithful testimony to what God has clearly declared. And He has said it again, and again, and again. It's not ambiguous, neither is it drawn from some obscure reference. This is a doctrine that is seen all throughout scripture. Indeed it makes one wonder how anyone can hold to any other position, considering all the scriptures addressing this issue. Every single Christian whom God has chosen will not only be drawn to Him, but will persevere so that not one of them will be lost.

John 6:37

In no way will Jesus cast anyone out who has come to Him. We have "Peace" with God and "Safety" in Christ, that we are totally secure in our salvation. When the unregenerate stand before the throne of God at the judgment, they will be cast out into the lake of fire. But our inheritance has already been bought and paid for. Jesus will in no way cast out those who had part in the regeneration unto new life. Every one of them are secure, and not one cast out because of any alleged non-endurance, or non-persevering, or lost salvation.

So those who will stand before God and are cast out, we can rest assured that they never knew Christ. They were like a wolf in sheep's clothing, who were never really sheep. You cannot be the Lord's sheep, and then be a wolf. So how can some professing Christians insist that at one time Jesus knew these people, and then they lost their Salvation? This is a tangled web woven when we ignore pertinent parts of scriptures. Jesus is not a Liar! If He had known them by their once having been saved, and then they had fallen away, why would Jesus say, "I never knew you?" Like all the other arguments, it makes absolutely no sense at all. It's totally illogical and contradictory to God's word. Because of association, some people may not like the term, "Once saved, always Saved," but they cannot deny the truth of it. Because it's nothing less than the gospel truth. The people who will stand before God professing to be Christians, and having God rebuke them, obviously were never raised up in Christ in the first place. They merely took Christ's name, but they never had a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Himself proves this in His warnings that not all who call themselves Christian, are.

Matthew 7:20-23

Yes, they called Him Lord. Yes, they took upon themselves His name. Yes, they claimed to be working to His glory. But the bottom line is that in spite of all this outward show of Christianity, Christ never knew them. They were liars who were deceiving themselves in thinking that they were Christian. Because they didn't build their house upon the solid Rock of the Word of God. And in the end, that house was bound to fail. If you'll read that whole of Matthew chapter 7, you will see that's exactly what Jesus says of them. They were those who would not listen to the Word of God, and who built their house upon loose sand and shifting dirt. Thus their house fell when the rains came and the winds blew, because it was not established upon God's word. Likewise those who hear and keep the Word of God are likened unto those who build their house upon the solid Rock. A house that will never fall because it had "stability" in Christ. That was their assurance of Salvation. The fact that they built upon the Word of God is how they knew they were truly Christians, and not lying to themselves. Thus they were assured that God Knew Them. They didn't ignore the Words that they heard, as the others in the parable did. Therefore, they truly knew Christ and He them, and were not lying to themselves. Exactly as we are bluntly told in 1st John.

1st John 2:3

These are strong words! People claiming they're Christian (they know Christ) but whom God says won't keep His Word, are Liars who really don't know Christ. Hereby means "this is how" we know. By Keeping (as opposed to ignoring) God's Word. This is the evidence of salvation. Guarding the Word from loss, is keeping it. When true Christians sin (and we do), they don't try to pretend it's not sin, they repent and confess their sins. When these others sin, they pretend (or convince themselves) that it's not really a sin. They rationalize that scripture doesn't really mean what it says. I.e., they ignore scripture (God's Word) and build upon sand rather than the foundation of the solid Rock. True believers are secure, for they have the evidence of Salvation, which is obedience to God's Word. The justifiers are not secure, for they have the 'evidence' of rebellion against God's Word. And the evidence is how (hereby) we can have confidence that we know Him. The evidence is our guarding from loss (keeping) the commandments of God. We are lawful men who keep the laws of God, as contrasted to the lawless man who will forsake it. As it is written, a tree is known by it's fruits.

So either people were never saved in the first place and Jesus never knew them, or Jesus knew them and He will confess them before His Father. The only other alternative is "Blasphemy," where Jesus knew them before when they were saved and then lied and said He never knew them at the throne after they (allegedly) lost their salvation. Of course that is Heretical, but that is in essence what people say when they claim Christ knew some, and then they fell away and lost their salvation. It's makes our God to be a liar. But He is the good shepherd who cannot ;lie, and who watches over His sheep, and who secures them unto the day of redemption.

Jude 1:24

Our God is a God of power, not an idle God who sits twiddling His thumbs worried that some of us will not make it. The truth is, we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Did God choose us before, knowing full well that we would never endure to the end to be saved? God is not the author of confusion, we were both foreknown and chosen unto eternal salvation.

Jeremiah 31:3

How long is an everlasting love? It's love that never ends. Thus eternal security does not grow from our "accepting Christ," and we do not merit it by our works or labors on this earth. We were chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world, and thus that love of us began in eternity! God loved us with an everlasting love, and drew us (John 6:44) to Christ. He "foreknew" us from eternity, and yet knowing all that we would do, He loved us anyway, even while we were yet dead in trespass and sin. He didn't love us for our righteousness, because without Him, we have no righteousness.

Will God make His dwelling place within the believer and yet not do anything to secure him? God forbid, for we were made faultless or blameless by the blood of Christ, and He works within us to will and to do (Philippians 2:13). And there can be no greater security than that. We do the will of God because Christ dwells within us (Hebrews 13:20-21) working that which is well pleasing in His sight. Thus we remain faultless, because not one of us was washed clean of his sin in vain.

John 10:27-29

This is the life eternal (inability to perish), and this is the language of eternal security. God says we will never perish, and the word never means just that. It doesn't mean sometimes, as these who follow the lost Salvation theory must conclude. It means that they will never perish, therefore they will never fall from salvation. They will always persevere. They have eternal security that no one can pluck them out of God's hand. And that means any false prophet, any deceiver, or Satan himself. There is none greater than God, therefore they can never be deceived by others to be loosed from God's seal of security. Who of us would think that we worship an ambivalent, idle, by-standing God? None of us would. For we know that we worship an Omnipotent and Sovereign God. Therefore He doesn't wait for us to move (our own works), He draws us and we hear His voice and follow him. We will persevere because no one, or thing, can keep us from the love our God.

Romans 8:38-39

That covers it all. In short, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Yet we're supposed to believe that the Christian can indeed be separated from the love of God in "direct" contradiction to God's word. We cannot be separated from God's merciful love by rulers, by powers, by creatures, by life, by deceivers, or even by ourselves. There is nothing that can separate the believer. And that makes null and void any interpretations by man that the believer can fall out of saving Grace with God. Jacob God loved, Esau He hated. Nothing could separate Jacob from that love of God. So the question is, who are we going to believe in all this? The words of men, or the Word of God that says over and over again that we cannot and will not be abandoned by God. What is our Authority? Is it the Word of God or the word of man?

When professed Christians deny eternal security, they are actually making an attack upon the very gospel itself. Because one must believe in the perseverance of the saints in order to accurately teach the good news of the unmerited favor of God. The gospel is of Grace. And let's face facts. When we get right down to the basics in the, "we can lose our salvation," camp, it's fundamental cornerstone is the belief that ultimately we retain our salvation by our "own work" in enduring. But the problem is, a work of enduring or maintaining favor with God, is not a gospel of Grace. It's the merit system, which God has warned us cannot be Grace. God's Word makes it perfectly clear that our own merit has nothing whatsoever to do with our Salvation. To deny this is to deny true Grace. We don't acquire salvation by merit, and we certainly don't hold on to salvation by our merit. Therefore we cannot say we will lose salvation by neglect. It is true, "we must endure to the end in order to be Saved." But the question is, who will endure and how. And the answer is those in whom God dwells and strengthens and guides that His will be done. Anything less is nothing more than a salvation by works merit system, dressed up to look like Grace.

Titus 3:5

It's by His sovereign mercy, His sovereign good pleasure and favor. That what we call Grace. And so to suppose that we must merit keeping Grace by our own efforts in endurance is not only unbiblical, it's anti-Biblical. A free gift means it we didn't earn it, thus it cannot be taken away for lack of effort. Else, it was not free. We can then say that it was given based on merit, so how could it be Grace? That's what these theologians don't seem to fully understand. Furthermore, the gift of salvation itself is declared everlasting.

Romans 5:18

Romans 6:23 If we had to work to keep it, it would not be free, and everything in the scriptures declaring it so would be a lie. It was unto justification of life. So how then can one stand before God unjustified? The Gift wasn't life based upon our enduring. The Gift itself is eternal life. And we have already been given it that we will never die. Not of works, but of Grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9

This gift doesn't remain because of our works of endurance. We endure because our merit is Christ, who freely gave it to us. He has become our strength and armor. Not will become, but has become. So note that when God speaks about our having eternal life, He speaks in the present tense (hath, have, etc.), as something that we already possess, not something that we're working towards receiving. If we had to work or endure in order to keep our salvation, how is this not salvation by our own works? This philosophy would make null and void countless scriptures proclaiming salvation cannot be by our own merit. That is why it's present tense. we "have" obtained everlasting Life through the death of Christ.

1st John 5:24

John 3:36 It's not something that we're going to get after God watches our works and sees we merit it in enduring, it's something which has already been purchased for us. And God wants us to "know" this.

1st John 5:13

Moreover, Salvation is an event, an actual regeneration or new birth in the Spirit of God. It is not something that takes place over a long period of time or in a drawn out process. It's a cleansing, a baptism in the Spirit which immediately frees one from condemnation from all sins. And just as your physical birth happened on a certain day and time, so the second birth (regeneration) unto new life occurs at a certain time. We may not know exactly what specific time or what specific day we were born of the Spirit, but we know that we were. Because God's Spirit within us tells us. Thus we have no reason to fear.

Romans 8:15-16

We know we are born from above as children of God secure in eternal life because God's Spirit witnesses within us of this. Our salvation is a gift given by God. A gift determined to be given to you long before you were born. It's not a future salvation based on our efforts, the time is now.

2nd Corinthians 6:2

John 3:3 1st Peter 1:23 This is what salvation is in real time. It's not something that happens after we endure twenty years, or after we meet the Lord. According to God, it's something we have now. And when we meet the Lord, it will be the consummation of that gift. It will be the redemption of the purchased possession. So how could one not persevere in life if both his strength and his working (Hebrews 13:21) is of the Lord? It's impossibility given the scriptures.

1st John 3:2

1st Peter 1:5 The power or strength of God keeps us. And either this is true or it is all just words, and we're kept by our own work in endurance? One or the other, but certainly not both. The real question is, do we believe what God says, or do we follow after man's theories?

Jude 24

The ability to keep us from falling is found only in Christ. If not, we shall surely fall because no one can endure and overcome in this world by their own strength. It is not possible for man to do so. But with God, all things are possible.

We've seen many of the scriptures that clearly show that once an individual has been born from above, they can never be unborn. They have received an eternal inheritance in heaven, and God promises that this inheritance is "secured" for them, sealed until the day of redemption. It doesn't get much plainer than that. So the question "again" is, do we actually believe all that these scriptures declare?

1st John 5:10

Do we have everlasting life, or are we given temporary life? are we washed clean of all sins, or just some of our sins? Does enduring mean we merit salvation, or does salvation mean we'll endure? Will He never leave us nor forsake us, or will He abandon us if we aren't careful? We ask these types of questions because they illustrate just who is saying what, and just who looks upon those words as untrue. And that's the bottom line. In the end (as always), it comes down to the common denominator. Will we believe the Word of God, and put our minds on His thoughts. Or will we follow the words of men, and put our minds on our own thoughts? In these truths, we must come to the conclusion that no one, and no thing, can take from us what God has given. We can't give it away, and we can't lose it. No one can snatch us out of our Lord's hands, for He is mightier than any.

Ecclesiastes 3:14

While there is no "real" distinction between "Once saved, always saved, perseverance of the Saints, and Eternal Security," there most certainly is a distinction between perseverance of the saints, and perseverance of those who call themselves saints. Saints, and those who call themselves saints, are not always the same people. True saints are those who are sanctified and sealed of God, made Holy in the blood of the Lamb. While those who merely profess to be saints, have no such holiness or security. When those who call themselves Christian do not persevere, some people see this as evidence that perseverance of the saints is a faulty doctrine. But when their assumptions are wrong, then their conclusions will be wrong. Those who fall away from serving God were never really washed in the blood of Christ in the first place. They were never given eternal Life and never made free from sin, they thus do not really qualify as saints. They may take the name Christian, but a tree is known by its fruits, not its name. Indeed, their non-perseverance is evidence that they were never truly children of God. As demonstrated in verses such found in chapters like 1st John.

1st John 2:19

They were not "of us," and then fell away from being an appendage of the body. God's inspired Word reveals to us that "if" they were of us, they would have continued with us demonstrating they were truly of this body. But they were never of us, and that is why they ultimately grew weary and went out from among us. It was to make manifest or reveal that they were really not part of this body of Christ. Had they been, they would have waited upon the lord, and renewed their strength mounting up with wings as eagles. True believers do not weary of well doing, spiritually they run and are not weary and walk without fainting. But those who do grow weary and eventually leave the body, had no root in Christ. They had no root of strength that would cause them to endure. Enduring has nothing to do with our works, but with the work which Christ has done in us. We persevere because we have Christ in us, and it is He who sustains us, that we will and do (work).

Philippians 2:13

1st Corinthians 1:6-8 We can intellectually understand why some theologians hold to the idea that Christians can lose their salvation, but we cannot condone it. Many of them have this misguided idea that the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints promotes irresponsibility in Christians. i.e., "it might cause them to sin knowing they can never come into condemnation for it." But nothing could be further from the truth. No true Christian is going to sin just because He knows He is blameless before God. We all fully recognize our responsibility to walk circumspectly in a manner that is consistent with the Word of God. We will use scripture to try ourselves to see that we are truly of the faith, as we make our calling and election sure. Because we never want to sin again. That is the new nature of the believer. But the real love of God's Grace is that if we are truly in Christ, when we do slip and sin, He will be there to strengthen us and see us through to the end. Because Christ abides forever with us, and is seated with God, to make intercession for us.

Hebrews 7:24-25

In our regenerated nature, we don't sin because we can. Though we know we have no sin because He washed sin away and made us a new creature, we also know that in that new creation, we now abhor or hate the sin in our lives with a passion. We have received a new heart, and in it an earnest desire to do the will of God. So you show me a man who sins because He thinks he can do it with impunity, and I'll show you a man who is not a true Christian. But this doesn't in any way show anyone can lose their salvation. On the contrary, in point of fact those who believe in eternal security or perseverance of the saints are generally some of the most faithful Christians you'll find. He that has been born from above (a saint) is a new creation, a new man in Christ. He's not the old man that he would continue in his old ways because He knows that he has Grace. That's antithetical to being a Christian, and is addressed clearly in Romans.

Romans 5:21

Romans 6:1-7 How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? To that we respond, how indeed! Again, when you become a saint you become a new man, and the old man has been crucified or put to death in Christ. Shall we continue in sin knowing Grace abounds? Paul under inspiration of God retorts, God Forbid! That's not the evidence of a saint, that's the evidence of one who is not really a saint. So those who make this claim that the doctrines of Grace causes men to sin with impunity, have horribly missed the mark. They neglect to take into account that true salvation is much more than profession of being a Christian. It's actually being born a new creation wherein we never "want" to sin again. It's not in our new nature to rejoice that we can sin anytime we want with impunity. That is not the mentality (1st Corinthians 2:16) of a true saint. A true believer has eternal security, and that is why he will persevere. Separating one from the other is like separating Christ's work, from His Grace. It cannot be done. For you can't have one without the other, they are inherently synonymous, just like the phrases that define their result. i.e., Once saved, you are always saved, because by being saved you have eternal security, and thus will by power of God, persevere.

  May the Good Lord who is Gracious above all, guide us into the precious truth of His most Holy Word.


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Copyright ©1999 Tony Warren
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