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What is Perseverance of the Saints?

Updated: Feb 12, 2022

I recently discussed Total Depravity and Unconditional Election in my blog titled "Is Unconditional Election Biblical?", Limited Atonement in my blog titled "Did Jesus Limit His Atonement to the Elect?", and Irresistible Grace in my blog titled "Can We Resist God's Grace?" These cover the first four points of Calvinism. This blog discusses the last of Calvinism's five points - Perseverance of the Saints.

  • Total Depravity - the unregenerate man is totally dead in sin to the extent that he has the inability to freely accept Jesus Christ.

  • Unconditional Election - God, by a sovereign, eternal decree, unconditionally elected a certain number of individuals to salvation.

  • Limited Atonement - Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross, only made an atonement for individuals previously elected to salvation.

  • Irresistible Grace - God irresistibly overpowers the will of the elect sinner with His grace and regenerates him, granting him faith and repentance to believe on Jesus Christ.

  • Perseverance of the Saints - the elect who have been regenerated by God will persevere in the faith and ultimately die in a state of grace.


In October 2021 I published a blog titled "Can True Christians Lose Their Salvation?" This blog addresses Hebrews 6:4-6. Those who object to "once saved, always saved" use this passage to teach that a Christian can lose his or her salvation. This is not what this passage teaches when exegetically and hermeneutically interpreted within the context of Hebrews chapter 6 and the rest of the scriptures.


Perseverance of the Saints

The word "perseverance" in the Greek is hypomonē (noun) means "steadfast endurance - the power to withstand hardship or stress, especially the inward fortitude necessary to do this." There are those who would prefer the term "Preservation of the Saints" as a title for this doctrine because "perseverance" is the idea that we must persevere throughout our walk with Christ in order to enter eternity in His presence. The verb form of hypomonē is the Greek hypomenō is "endure" which means "to face and withstand with courage." It is this word that, when not correctly interpreted within the context in which it is used, results in the idea that one must endure to the end to be saved (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13). But what does "was saved", "being saved", and "will be saved" mean?


Salvation

There are three states of salvation:

  • Justification - past (I was saved)

  • Sanctification - present (I am being saved)

  • Glorification - future (I will be saved)


Justification

The word "justified" in the Greek is dikaioō means "to judiciously pronounce or declare a person righteous." This happens the moment you come to faith in Christ.

  • Romans 4:2-5 - "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."

  • Romans 8:33 - "Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies."

  • Romans 10:1, 9 - "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ... Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."


God already justified those He predestined and called.

  • Romans 8:30 - "and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."


God does not declare us righteous based on our works, but solely because of His grace.

  • Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."


Our faith is a faith that works!

  • Ephesians 2:10 - For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

  • James 2:18 - "But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”


Sanctification

The word "sanctification" in the Greek is hagiasmos (noun). It refers either to the process of becoming holy, by which the state of holiness is attained, or to the end result that the sanctifying work has obtained. This word is derived from the verb hagiazō which means "to make holy."


Philippians 1:6 serves as a great example of this process - "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

  • Christ Jesus began a good work in you the moment you came to faith in Him.

  • Christ Jesus will perfect (epiteleō - "to complete, to bring to a whole") the work in you that He began.

  • Christ Jesus will complete this work until the day you are glorified in His presence forever.


We are sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • 2nd Thessalonians 2:13 - But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

  • 1st Peter 1:2 - "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure."


Glorification

The word "glorified" in the Greek is doxazō which "refers to praising someone for their high and exalted status, or to entering into a state of glory and exaltation." In this case it means entering into a state of glory and exaltation.


Jesus entered this state.

  • John 12:16 - "These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him."

  • Acts 3:13 - “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him."


We will be glorified with Jesus.

  • Romans 8:16-17 - "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him."


God already glorified those He predestined, called, and justified:

  • Romans 8:30 - "and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."


It is God who justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies all who belong to Him!


We Are Under Warranty - Forever

Whenever you purchase some expensive item that is guaranteed to breakdown when you least expect it, you also purchase a warranty that ensures the manufacturer will fix or replace that item at no additional cost to you.


God purchased His church "with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). 1st Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we were redeemed (lytroō - "set free by paying a ransom") "with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."


Ephesians 1:13-14 states "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."

  • We were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. The word "sealed" in the Greek is sphragizō which means "to be or become designated and made secure as a sign of authentication or ownership." This word is also used in Ephesians 4:30 - "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

  • The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of our inheritance. The word "pledge" in the Greek is arrabōn which means "a first installment, a down payment made at the time of purchase."

  • We are God's own possession because He redeemed with His own blood.


We Have Eternal Life

I mentioned earlier Romans 8:30 that God already glorified those He predestined, called, and justified. 1st John 5:11-13 clarifies this statement - "And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life." The apostle John does not write "you may have eternal life at some point", "maybe you will have eternal life", or "you had eternal life but..." He leaves no doubt whatsoever that, if you have the Son, you have eternal life now!


Jesus makes this very clear in several passages.

  • John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

  • John 5:24 - “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."

  • John 6:37-40 - "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing but raise it up on the last day. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

  • John 10:27-29 - "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, 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."


There are several promises in these passages:

  • Those who believe in the Son will not perish - they have eternal life.

  • The Father will not cast out anyone who comes to the Son.

  • The Son will not lose anyone given to Him by the Father.

  • The Son will raise up everyone given to Him by the Father on the last day.

  • The Son gives His followers eternal life, and they will never perish.

  • No one can snatch those who believe out of the Son's hands.

  • No one can snatch those who believe out of the Father's hands.


Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God

I once had a very well churched friend that told me, in response to John 10:27-29 that he is able to snatch himself from the hands of the Son and the Father because of his free will. He also stated that he could separate himself from the love of God in response to Romans 8:38-39 - "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


Conclusion

The doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints recognizes that those in Christ who are regenerated by God will persevere in the faith and have eternal life. Jesus, the "author and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2) is "able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). We only persevere by the grace of God.


"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth"

2nd Timothy 2:15


Unless otherwise noted, all scripture cited in this post is taken from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update.

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