Perseverance of the Saints
Doubting my salvation is something that I struggled with A LOT growing up. I just didn’t feel what I thought I was supposed to feel. Then, I became even more worried about the state of my soul when I read Hebrews 6. These doubts plagued and consumed me as a teenager. It still sneaks up occasionally, but not nearly as much as it used to.
So, what changed? I heard Todd Friel and Paul Washer speak on the subject. (Contrary to what the memes on Facebook say, Paul Washer’s sermons didn’t cause me to doubt my salvation at all.). I finally had peace that the hope of my salvation was not found in me – in anything I did, or could possibly do, but in Christ. May this post encourage you, and strengthen you during a season of doubt. I’ve taken notes from their sermons and this post is based upon my studying those notes.
Many Christians who attend strong, Bible-believing churches struggle with questions about their eternal security. Believers are not immune to seasons of doubting their salvation. But true believers never doubt that Christ is their only hope of salvation. They don’t doubt Christ – they doubt that they have enough believing faith, or that their repentance was genuine enough. (Neither of which is a determining factor in the security of your salvation.)
True believers are marked with a change in their life – after all, the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart, new desires, new affections – you are completely changed at the moment of salvation. It doesn’t mean that you are completely perfect and immune from doubts or even stumbling over sins – but it means that you are now, by the Holy Spirit, able to want to do the will of God.
There are in fact, several Bible verses that appear to say that you can, indeed, lose your salvation. Over abundantly, the scriptures speak of our salvation being secure in Christ. God, through His Word, wants to remove that doubt from your heart. He wants us to know that we are secure in Him.
Eternal Security vs Conditional Security
1 John 5:13 “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.”
These things. What things? The things John talks about in this book. It was written so that upon hearing the Word, the Holy Spirit would apply it to their heart, and they could have the assurance of their eternal security. God wants us to know that the penalty for our sins was paid for on the cross.
Hebrews 6:1-6 “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
That’s the passage that scared me just about to death when I was 12. Here is how it’s broken down:
Therefore. Therefore is an important word. We have to stop every time we see it and go back to make sure we have in mind what the author was talking about he used that word.
Previously we see that the author is talking about Jesus. He explains that Jesus is better than the Priests or even the Temple. He explains that Jesus is better than Melchizedek, better than all the sacrifices throughout the Old Testament. He explains that all of that religious stuff was pointing TOWARDS Jesus. That it didn’t actually forgive anyone in and of itself. The author of Hebrews says that Jesus is the fulfillment, or completion, of all of this.
Then we get to the part of that passage that really stood out to me was:
Hebrews 6:4-6 “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
We have to understand what enlightened is. They were knowledgeable. They just tasted the heavenly gift – it doesn’t say anywhere that they believed. They saw the miracles. Yet they rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior. They didn’t believe. They were curious and stuck around long enough to get a bit of a taste.
This passage can’t be talking about losing your salvation. These people were never saved, to begin with. False converts. This passage is describing the people inside the Church who are not saved. They may sit next to you on the pew Sunday after Sunday, and hear the sermons preached – but they are on their way straight to Hell. Other passages that deals with these people are:
1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they are not of us.”
Revelation 2:4-5 “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place — unless you repent.”
This passage in Revelation has been used frequently to say that the church at Ephesus had fallen away, so God removed their salvation – but contextually, this has nothing to do with salvation. The original church of Ephesus was fruitful and busy doing the will of the Lord. But over time, they became complacent. Jesus told them to repent and to get back to work. The lampstand does not mean salvation – it is symbolic of their assembling together, an actual church. Jesus would cause them to cease to be a church. He would dismantle them if they did not repent and get back to what they were supposed to be doing.
Scripture is inundated with verses that support eternal security. God wants us to be able to stand boldly and in full assurance of His Grace and salvation. Let’s take a look at some of those verses:
Romans 8:38-39 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.”
Absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Even ourselves. There is nothing we can say, or do, or even stop doing that will cause God to decide to take away our salvation. We are not more powerful than God.
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.”
Jesus has promised this. Are we willing to call Jesus a liar? Absolutely not! But we do when we doubt our eternal security. We can see that promise again here:
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.”
Another promise. No one can snatch us out of God’s hands. Not even our own selves. That should give us tremendous comfort and assurance.
As a kid, I had a lot of pets. You had to hold hamsters just right and be really careful not to let them jump out of your hand. Because they would. They just seem to have no concept of depths at all. Sometimes, I would get distracted and – plop! – the poor hamster would dive right off my hand. Thankfully, he was ok. But he could have snapped his little neck. God does a much better job at holding us in His hand than I did with that hamster. We don’t have to worry about making one accidental slip and falling away from salvation.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9 “(He)…who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 “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.”
Philippians 1:6 “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.”
1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Christ will hold us to the end. He is not going to let His good work go unfinished. God is faithful. He is safe to trust. He will hold us firmly until the end – until our salvation is made complete; until we reach our inheritance in heaven and are given a glorified, perfect form.
Ephesians 1:1-6 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 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.”
Ephesians 2:4-11 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Perseverance of the Faith and …. Predestination?
Predestination is a touchy subject even in conservative circles. The Southern Baptist Convention is even splitting down the middle on the issue.
What does scripture say? He chose us.
God’s plan of salvation began before the universe was ever created. In eternity past He chose you. He carried that plan out on the cross at Calvary and He will bring it to completion at Glorification in Heaven. God’s plan of salvation is so much bigger than we tend to think of it. It’s no just about the moment we realized that our sin was enmity with God and we repented from it and turned to Christ.
One of my favorite quotes from the Todd Friel sermon was “If you can lose your salvation, you will single-handedly wreck that entire plan. If you can be snatched from the father’s hand – God, He created the universe, He got that job done, He chose Abraham to be the father of many nations, to give a covenant of land a nation and a seed. He delivered with the seed, the Lord Jesus Christ – but YOU were able to thwart all of that because you lost your salvation. It’s rather preposterous.”
Who am I to think that I can thwart God’s plan? Salvation is designed by God, given by God and kept safe by God. He is faithful. He is safe to trust. God chose you from the very beginning as a part of His glorious plan of redemption. Why? Right there in Ephesians, it explains.
Ephesians 1:5-6 “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Do you see that? For His own Glory.
Because it pleased Him.
Out of the kind intention of His will.
And all for the Praise of the Glory of His Grace.
And when we get to heaven, we – the Church – arriving as the Bride of Christ: We will be standing there singing praises to God, all for the Glory of Christ – and Christ will lay all of this down at the feet of the Father to give it all back to Him. That was the plan from before the creation of the universe. Salvation is so much bigger than we could possibly imagine.
So take hope – you are secure because God holds you in His hand.
Want to hear more about this topic? Check this out https://strivingforeternity.org/is-salvation-really-secure-theology-answers-podcast-episode-13/