Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Perseverance Of The Saints

Finally, we come to the “P” which is Perseverance of the Saints. We often hear this doctrine called, “Once saved, always saved”. The Scriptures teach that man has the ability to choose whom he will serve and that his eternal soul will be judged on that choice. No one who believes in “Once saved, always saved” would deny that Paul was one of the “elect”. Yet when we read 1 Corinthians 9:27 we find that he constantly “worked” to stay in that saved condition. We can also look to Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8) as one who was saved and then lost. Judas was another. He was given the ability to do miracles like the rest of the disciples (Matthew 10:1). No one can deny that he was saved. Yet we know that he fell away. It will be our actions that will be judged on the judgment day hence, we decide whether we will go to heaven or hell by those actions (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The first and most glaring problem that this person has when it comes to the perseverance of the saints is that, as with the other points of doctrine already examined, he really doesn’t know what it means. Perseverance of the Saints does not mean “once saved always saved.” Although the true believer will endure to the end, what is often meant by once saved always saved is that, regardless of what a person does once he has made a decision for Christ he will be saved in the end (one of the many problems that the decisional salvation model holds). Although many will reject that idea, in practice that is what often ends up being taught. It is obvious that such is not what we believe. But when we speak of the perseverance of the saints, we do not look at it from man’s point of view as much as from God’s point of view. Let me explain.

The Scriptures tell us that it is God who chooses man (Ephesians 1). In Romans chapter 8, God is said to be the One predestining, calling, justifying and glorifying. Because those whom God predestines will in the end be glorified, we are forced to conclude that the true believer, that is the one who is elect of God, will be glorified and thus will persevere to the end. But that perseverance is not based on the creature; rather, it is based on God’s electing grace and His decree. See, far too often people do what this individual has done here: they think that salvation and perseverance are all up to man and therefore man can fall from grace. But when you understand the biblical concept that God is the one who saves, for His own purposes and for His own glory, then you can understand how and why the believer perseveres.

The claim here about 1 Corinthians 9 and Paul’s concern for his own standing is irrelevant. And it is irrelevant because it is not speaking about the believer’s perseverance and his final salvation. 2 Peter 1:10 tells us that we are to work to “make your calling and election sure.” That does not negate what we just saw in Romans 8. Philippians 2:12-13 tells us that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; immediately after that statement, Paul says that it is God who works both the will and the ability for us to do His good pleasure. We see then that God is doing the work within us, but we are still responsible for working on our sanctification and endurance.

The confusion that many have is that they seem to try to somehow set these statements against each other rather than seeing them as harmonious and flawless. When you read a passage and make of that passage the definitive word on all that a particular doctrine means, you’re not going to have a full-orbed theology. As proper biblical exegetes, we must ensure that we take the Scriptures as a whole and not engage in the far too common practice of proof-texting that leads us away from the actual truth.

Let me also say a word about the statement of Judas and his supposed salvation. Our author claims that Judas must have been saved because he was given the ability to perform miracles (going so far as to declare that “no one can deny that he was saved”). Yet, in John chapter 6, Jesus tells the disciples “have I not chosen you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70). So, I have to ask, when exactly did Judas become a devil? This episode is in the middle of Christ’s ministry. Did he become a devil a year after he was chosen by Christ, a day, a week, when? There is also the editorial statement that John makes in the same chapter when he says that Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him. So, Jesus saved Judas knowing that he would be the one that would betray him? And bear in mind that Jesus also said that he chose Judas so that the Scripture would be fulfilled (John 17:12; Psalm 41:9). If what this person says is true, what a mess all these Scriptures would be!

Finally, to say that it is our actions that will decide whether we go to heaven or hell is not only unscriptural, but dangerous. And it is not surprising to see this individual make such a claim since he is a member of the church of Christ denomination. That group places a tremendous emphasis on what we do when it comes to our justification. Just to mention one, they will latch unto James 2:24 (“you see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only”) and claim that we have to save ourselves by our actions as much as by Christ’s sacrifice. All I’ll say about that here is that throughout the New Testament we are consistently told that our salvation does not depend on our actions. As a matter of fact, the entire book of Galatians is all about the impossibility of anyone being saved by works (in the specific case of the Galatians, circumcision and the works of the law).


  1. Sadly, your church of Christ friend is so confused, so poorly taught and so inept in the bible. May the Lord deliver him as he delivered you.