Many Christians have a fear of losing their salvation. However, the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is God’s gift, and he takes full responsibility for maintaining our salvation. Our salvation is as secure now as it will ever be; we cannot lose it! The technical term for this is “perseverance”; it means God’s work by grace in us never gives up and that we will continue to eternal life in heaven and there is nothing that can take away that security.
“Romans 5: 1-11 lists the immediate results of being justified by faith… Paul does not give the slightest hint there is anything insecure or conditional about this but immediately goes on to describe believers as rejoicing in their expectation of getting to glory. Paul does not qualify this expectation by hinting at any other possibility. Simply, believers will get to glory.”
”Paul’s statements in Romans 8 are absolute: nothing in all creation is able to separate the Christians in Rome from the love of God in Christ Jesus. If we were simply taking Romans at its face value we should surely say: the Christian cannot lose his or her salvation.” “The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.”
In the Christian life God and man work together. Our part is to continue in faith and well doing, God’s side is to keep us. Our part always depends on God’s. We do not sit and do nothing because what God does in us is expressed in life. The change God works in us will make it impossible for us to be finally lost. The real thing is that the whole of the Christian life depends on the grace of God. Our works contribute nothing whatsoever to our salvation.
The doctrine is scripturally based. “I will not cast out” is a statement of Jesus’ continuing commitment to us, not just His response to our initial repentance, i.e. it could be expanded to “I will not cast out the one who comes to me, then or in any future circumstances”. No sin, hardness of heart, lack of faith or doubt can stop Him holding on to us.
We need to notice the connection between perseverance and the other works of God’s grace in us. Without “perseverance”, election, new birth, justification by faith, sanctification would all mean nothing. Assurance of salvation is based on the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in us, not on our efforts.
Our realisation of assurance is based on two things. We have God’s word. No other basis can ever be laid. The Bible says clearly that there is a certainty which cannot be broken in our salvation. God has guaranteed his promise to us by his word and character, and as a result our security is not in the things that happen on earth, even our failures, but in heaven, where our hope is secure and steadfast. Hebrews clearly roots our certainty of salvation in the cross and priesthood of Jesus – things we cannot change. The second source of assurance for us in the New Testament is the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is the present guarantor of our future inheritance and he assures us are children of God.
C. H. Spurgeon said, “The believer, like a man on shipboard, may fall again and again on the deck, but he will never fall overboard.” Put in a sentence this doctrine is saying that every true believer will certainly get to heaven.
- Some of the difficulties people find with this doctrine are dealt with in a separate article, “Objections to the doctrine of Perseverance”.
- M. A. Eaton, A Theology of Encouragement, p. 190.
- M. A. Eaton, A Theology of Encouragement, p. 194.
- W. Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 788.
- Luke 12: 32; John 17: 11-12; Jude 21 Jude 24.
- 2 Peter 1: 10.
- 1 John 3: 9.
- John 10: 28; Romans 11: 29; Philippians 1: 6; 2 Timothy 1: 12; 1 Peter 1: 5; John 6: 37.
- Romans 8: 29-30.
- Hebrews 6: 13-20.
- Romans 8: 14-16.