Perseverance of the Saints
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 16, 2014
Open your Bibles to Romans 8:28-31. Today we find ourselves examining the last petal our our TULIP, Perseverance of the Saints. For those who are visiting this morning, we have been examining the Doctrines of Grace: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and now Perseverance of the Saints. And once again, if you are not familiar with the term Doctrines of Grace, you may be familiar with the more common description, Calvinism. With that said, let's get to work. Let us read our text, pray and pursue the Glory of God in His Word.
The Golden Chain of Five Links
But today, I want to examine what holds up verse 28. I want to ask the question, why can Paul say that “all things work together for good?” What is the foundation that is beneath such a extraordinary claim. And this is generally, in my opinion, the difference between a Calvinist and a non-Calvinist. If a non-Calvinist knows that verse 28 exists they love it, who wouldn't? But when they hear it, they don't go deeper, there understanding of verse 28 is about 1 inch deep. I refuse to be the 1 inch deep Church. If you are looking for shallow Christianity, you will have to look elsewhere. I do not want the Sheep the God has brought to this building to remain infants in Christ. I want, and more importantly God wants, mature believers, strong believers, sages, soldiers ready to battle for Him.
So what is the foundation to Romans 8:28? Let me ask you, what word does verse 29 begin with? “For.” I want everyone to hear me. The next time you read your Bible and you come across the word “for” I want you to stop and study. Don't keep reading. Most of the time, “For” is foundational to the promises of the Bible. This is not always the case, but most times it is. So in verse 29, Paul is telling us, get ready here comes the foundation to the extraordinary and wonderful claim of verse 28. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit is revealing to us the pillars that hold up this overwhelmingly comforting and empowering text.
What makes these links so precious? Think about it. What does the verse say, “those whom he foreknew he also predestined.” Meaning all that were foreknown by God were destined by God. Every single one of them, not one of them dropped out. All who God intimately and relationally knew before existence were all predestined. Likewise, all who were predestined we also called; once again, everyone. Every single one whom God predestined he called. Of those called, all were justified. This is last week's sermon, limited atonement. Those who are justified are the ones called, the ones that are called are the ones who were predestined. The ones that were predestined are the ones he foreknew. Next what do we see? All whom are justified are glorified, once again everyone. No one drops out.
This means that everyone who began down this golden chain of God's sovereign plan made it to the end. God bats 1000. Not one person is lost along the way. This golden chain stretches from eternity past to eternity future, and this chain is the foundation to the most comforting verse in the Bible, verse 28. If God foreknows you, you will be glorified. Another way to think about this wonderful reality is the doctrine that we are studying today, Perseverance of the Saints. Another term to describe it is Eternal Security.
Perseverance of the Saints is the understanding that once you are saved, you are always saved. Or to say it another way, once you are born again, you don’t become unborn. Or to say it another way, once God adopts you, he does not turn around and kick you out of the family. Or to say it another way, once you are justified by the blood of Jesus, you are not later sent to Hell. Or to say it another way, once you are given the gift of eternal life, God doesn’t take it back and say just kidding. However, perhaps we should allow Paul to say it, for he says it in the context of Romans 8. Look at verse 38.
Additional Biblical Support
So let’s ask the question, is this the only place in Scripture that God reveals this truth to us? Of course not. Let’s look at some text.
How Do We Persevere?
The question is how do we persevere? In between justified and glorified in life as a Christian. How do we make it to the end? This is where a lot of people misunderstand eternal security. Many people wrongly see salvation, or justification, as a shot in the arm. By this I mean that they believe that when they initially believe in Jesus this singular decision is a onetime event that cures them of the disease of damnation. They see faith in Christ as a “get out of hell free card.” Because of this wrong understanding, many people believe that if they say a magic prayer, they will go to Heaven. After they say this prayer they can continue in their sin, never read the bible, never go to Church, pray when they are in a pinch, and otherwise have the best of both worlds, this world and the world to come. This is what James calls a dead faith. A faith without any signs of spiritual life.
But that is not how Salvation works. When God opens up your heart to receive the good news of Jesus Christ, you are not receiving a vaccination; you are instead receiving a Physician. A physician that continues to assist you until the end. Turn with me to Luke 22:31. This is a conversation between Jesus and Peter.
Peter is a follower of Jesus. Satan has demanded to have Peter, just like Satan demanded to have Job. Do you recall that dialogue in Job between Satan and God?
What is God’s response to Satan? Go for it. This is so crucial to your walk to understand this. God is Sovereign over the worst mistake of Peter’s life, this was the darkest moment of Peter’s existence, and it was God who allowed it to happen. As Christ was carried off to die in Peter’s place and atone for his sins, Peter couldn’t even find the courage to admit that he knew Jesus. Jesus is personally dieing for Peter and Peter turns his back on Jesus to save his own skin. Remarkably sinful.
But is this the end of the story? Absolutely not! We know that the coward Peter, later becomes an early pillar for the Church, willing to be arrested, beaten and eventually murdered. Why did Peter survive good Friday. Why didn't he throw in the towel? Why did Peter persevere?
Jesus says, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Jesus intercedes for Peter. He approaches His Father and advocates for Peter. God the Son interceding to God the Father for the sake of this pathetic little fisherman. Why? Because this is what Saviors do, they save. The mission of Christ is to rescue sinners, not to merely give an opportunity to be saved. Jesus will complete the mission and bring the elect home. Listen to what Jesus says in John 17:12.
Several times over the last couple years I have drawn your attention to Hebrews 12:2.
Why is this truth so important?
Why is this truth so important? Imagine living your Christian walk always being scared of losing your salvation. Think about this. What guarantee do you have that tomorrow you will wake up a believer? Imagine if every time you sinned you were worried about going to Hell? Does this sound like the freedom that Christ proclaimed? Does this sound like Good news? No it sounds like a Pharisaical prison. Unfortunately so many people are trapped in devil lies, whispering God doesn't love you any more. We should yell Get behind me Satan? For we are sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. So let us end with a doxology from the book of Jude. This is just a fantastic way to end.