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Perseverance of the Saints in Scripture


The doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints teaches that those who have been chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and regenerated by the Spirit will infallibly persevere in the faith to the end.

That, positively, is what this doctrine is. Before going any farther, we should clarify what it is not. This is not a doctrine of cheap grace whereby one may profess faith in Christ and go on to produce no fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8; cf. Luke 3:8) while being “once saved, always saved.” The Spirit’s work of regeneration results in a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), sanctified and growing in holiness.

That is not to say that Christians don’t sin. We face temptation, and often succumb to it. We are not perfect, but we desire to be, and live accordingly (Philippians 2:12; 3:12–14). We can take no credit for this because, though we strive for holiness, it is really God working in us (Philippians 2:13)—and that is the core of this doctrine. That is why many theologians prefer preservation to perseverance: It is God who preserves our faith; our perseverance is consequential to that.

The first proof of this doctrine is the language used to describe the new life to which we are born: eternal life. Not life for now, if you can keep it, but life forever, without end, beginning now.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

—John 3:16

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.

—John 5:24

Lest we still doubt, the guarantee is given in no uncertain words. Notice how often glorification is tied directly to election/predestination.

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 6:37–40

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

—Romans 8:29–30

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, . . . 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 1:5, 13–14

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

—Colossians 3:3–4

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

—1 Thessalonians 5:23–24

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

—Hebrews 9:15

If you’ve been following this series, you’ve noticed the repetition of many texts from one post to another, demonstrating how intertwined these five doctrines are in Scripture. They really are inseparable.

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This post summarizes The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented, 2nd ed. (P&R, 2004), 64–71.



Posted 2018·01·19 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Monergism · Perseverance of the Saints · The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented

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