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The Perseverance of the Saints, Part 1

October 14, 2015

Grace to you! Some Christians believe that once a person is saved they can never lose their salvation. Other Christians believe that a person can get saved but later lose their salvation. How do we sort through the differences? Is there something maybe both sides are right about and also something both sides are missing in their views? Biblically speaking, both sides need to relook at the issue.

Those who believe ‘once saved, always saved’ idea seem to have biblical support. Passages such as, “God who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phillipians 1:6) The thought is, “How can a Christian lose their salvation if God who started their salvation also promises to finish what He started?” Or listen to John 10:29, “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.” How can a Christian lose their salvation if God is holding us? Something would have to be stronger than God Himself to take us from His hand and of course, nothing is! And there are also other passages such as Romans 8:1, 28-32, etc.

Yet, those who believe you can lose your salvation seem to have verses that support their position also. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12) Or consider Hebrews 10:26-27, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Compare also Hebrews 6:4-6) So how are we to make sense of these various verses? How can they fit together?

Something that has been overlooked in the modern church is the historic doctrine called the ‘perseverance of the saints.’ This doctrine says that those who are saved will eternally be saved but those who are saved will always continue to persevere in their faith. This speaks out against those who believe ‘once saved, always saved’ and yet after their initial profession of faith believe they can just sit down in the pew and never grow spiritually. These types of people the bible warns that they are not persevering in the faith and are in danger of being under judgment.

Perseverance of the saints also speaks against the view of believing a true Christian can ‘lose their salvation.’ How? Because a true believer will themselves persevere and be preserved by God. So what does this look like practically? In short, the bible often gives verses from an outside looking on viewpoint. How do I know you are a real Christian? Not only by your initial profession of faith in Christ, but by your constant living for Christ the rest of your life. Those who profess faith in Christ but then stop pursuing Christ show they never were truly in Christ. (See 1 John 2:19) Next week we will look at the different passages and how they actually fit together. Until then, keep pursuing Christ lest you fall away under judgment!

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