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.
- Romans 8:28-31 - “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
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.
- Romans 8:29-30 - “those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
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.
- Romans 8:38-39 - “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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.
- John 6:37 – “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
- John 10:27-29 - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, 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.”
- Romans 11:29 – “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
- 2 Corinthians 1:22 – “And who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
- Ephesians 1:13-14 – “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
- Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
- Philippians 1:6 – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
- Hebrews 13:5 – “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
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.
- Luke 22:31-33 – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." 33 Peter said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death." 34 Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me."
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?
- Job 1:9-11 – “Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face."
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.
- John 17:12 – “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
- Hebrews 7:25 – “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. “
- 1 Peter 1:3-5 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. “
Several times over the last couple years I have drawn your attention to Hebrews 12:2.
- Hebrews 12:2 – “ looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
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.
- Jude 24 – “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen”