The Perseverance of The Saints
We have entered a time of increased persecution of the saints and have entered the dark days of judgment on our nation. We have riots in our streets with anarchy and the burning of cities and the burning of Bibles. This is not about social justice; this is about evil unleashed in our nation as the powers of darkness attack all that is holy and righteous. Knowing the return of Christ is coming, the powers of darkness know their time is short! Ephesians 6:12-"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places ."
In this country, we have been blessed for over two hundred years to have religious freedoms because our founding fathers made it part of our bill of rights -- a right given to all men by God Himself. That freedom can be a blessing or a curse in that we can take it for granted. Reality is we have become spoiled and slothful in our faith because we have not had persecution. The strongest churches in the world today are those under great persecution! I believe the days of religious freedom in America are almost over! The real church, the regenerated saints, are going to face affliction and persecution as has never been experienced before in this nation. I do not seek or pray for affliction and persecution. But Jesus told us that in this world we would have tribulation (John 16:33). Jesus also told us in Matthew 15:20 that "if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…" The Apostle Paul also told us in 2 Timothy 3:12 that "indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
Indeed, in America we have been blessed by God with religious freedom and freedom from the persecution that so many other nations today and throughout history have endured. But know this: suffering for Christ draws us closer to Christ and "produces for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison"-2 Corinthians 4:17. From an eternal perspective, persecution is not always a bad thing. Persecution of some sort is an absolute certainty for the true regenerated believer. Our Sovereign God of all grace tests and purifies His people in order to perfect, confirm, strengthen, and mature us in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 5:10).
Persecution has always been an instrument to awaken God's people and to sift the wheat from the chaff and the sheep from the goats. Mark:16-17-"In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away." Mark's gospel shows us that when afflictions and persecutions come, the goats (the unsaved church members) immediately abandon ship!
The pandemic of 2020 has been used by God to sift the churches in America. Many are still closed. Some will never open again; and some will suffer great loss in attendance and financial loss. When the churches were closed for the Pandemic, the sheep (true, regenerated believers) were starving for the Word and fellowship. Only a few of the churches supplied a steady diet of God's Word and encouragement to them. The goats (unsaved church members) could care less; and they are the ones who were not in a hurry to come back -- and for that matter, may never return to church. [ Of course, there are those who for medical reasons could not come back; and that is very understandable. But for others, the excuses are very thin.]
Jesus told his disciples that they were to preach the gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8-"but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." But they remained in their comfort zone having church in Jerusalem and had not gone out as Jesus commanded! THEN CAME PERSECUTION when Stephen, the deacon, was martyred and the saints were then forced out of Jerusalem and end up going to Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth. Acts 8:1-"Saul [later Paul] was in hearty agreement with putting him [Stephen] to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." Acts 11:19-"So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone."
The persecution caused the saints to do what Christ had commanded (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)! The Word of God was being brought to greater number of the people so they could be saved! Persecution was used for the better good. Romans 8:28-"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
By now you are saying to yourself this sounds like a blog on persecution and not on the perseverance of the saints… But this introduction was needed as the foundation of what the saints who are persevering are going to go through FOR THE GLORY OF CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH TRIUMPHANT. True saints will experience trials, tribulation, afflictions, and persecution which God uses to sanctify them. The Holy Spirit in the regenerated saint is going to help them to persevere no matter what comes their way
THE DOCTRINE OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS asserts that once a person is truly "born gain" or "regenerated" by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27), NOTHING IN HEAVEN OR EARTH SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE THEM FROM THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS resulting in a loss of their regeneration. Romans 8:35-39-"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, 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." True saints will go through trials, tribulations, afflictions, persecutions, and failures on their life path as a believer, but it will not affect their eternal destination and relationship with Christ Jesus their Savior. (Note: This is not about assurance. That is a topic for another Blog.)
The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) states in chapter 17-
Section 1.) They, whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
(1) Philippians 1:6; 2 Peter 1:10; John 10:28-29; 1 Peter 1:5, 9
Section 2.) This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; (1) upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; (2) the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them; (3) and the nature of the covenant of grace: (4) from all which arises also the certainty and infallibility thereof. (5)
(1) 2 Timothy 2:18-19; Jeremiah 31:3
(2) Hebrews 10:10, 14; Hebrews 13:20-21; Hebrews 9:12-15; Romans 8:33-39; John 17:11, 24; Luke 22:32; Hebrews 7:25
(3) John 14:16-17; 1 John 2:27; 1 John 3:9
(4) Jeremiah 32:40
(5) John 10:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 2:19
Section 3.) Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalence of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; (1) and, for a time, continue therein: (2) whereby they incur God's displeasure, (3) and grieve His Holy Spirit, (4) come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; (5) have their hearts hardened, (6) and their consciences wounded; (7) hurt and scandalize others, (8) and bring temporal judgments upon themselves. (9)
(1) Matthew 26:70, 72, 74
(2) Psalm 51:14
(3) Isaiah 64:5, 7, 9; 2 Samuel 11:27
(4) Ephesians 4:30
(5) Psalm 51:8, 10-12; Revelation 2:4; Song of Solomon 5:2-4, 6
(6) Isaiah 63:17; Mark 6:52; Mark 16:14
(7) Psalm 32:3-4; Psalm 51:8
(8) 2 Samuel 12:14
(9) Psalm 89:31-32; 1 Corinthians 11:32
The true church in America (regenerated souls) are about to see a great storm coming on the horizon (See my Blog May 9th 2020 "The Coming Storm") which will bring great trials, tribulation, affliction, and persecution on the real church coming from both the false church and the lost world! There is great comfort in knowing that nothing that comes our way can separate us from the love and protection of Christ (Perseverance of the Saints).
But God's ways and God's thoughts are not the same as man's ways and thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9-"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." THE PROTECTION AND THE LOVE OF THE LORD DOES NOT MEAN WE WILL NOT EXPERIENCE STORMS. It means that Jesus Christ will be with us THROUGH the storms!
Remember how it was stated earlier that Jesus sent persecution on the church in Jerusalem to get them to share the gospel in the areas that Jesus commanded them to go to? Jesus used the storm of persecution for His purpose and good (Romans 8:28). Man would have never come up with that plan! In the gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the disciples to go out on the lake in their boat. Jesus knows all things and will never say the words "I never saw that coming!" He knew that the storm was coming, yet He deliberately sent them out on the lake to be IN the storm. He was with them and asleep in the back of the boat showing no fear or worry. Luke 8:22-25- "Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So, they launched out. But as they were sailing along, He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?" Why did Jesus deliberately send them into the storm? Because now they would see He was God; He had complete control over nature; and their faith in Him would grow! Again, man would never come up with this plan. He was with them in the storm and did not fail or desert them; and He got them safely to the other side. That same Jesus is with us in the Holy Spirit -- also called the Spirit of Jesus -- to see us in and through life's storms and see us safely to our eternal home with Him, the Perseverance of The Saints.
R C Sproul stated: "Writing to the Philippians, Paul says, 'He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it to the end' (). Therein is the promise of God that what He starts in our souls, He intends to finish. So the old axiom in Reformed theology about the perseverance of the saints is this: If you have it -- that is, if you have genuine faith and are in a state of saving grace -- you will never lose it. If you lose it, you never had it." TRUE CHRISTIANS CAN HAVE RADICAL AND SERIOUS FALLS BUT NEVER TOTAL AND FINAL FALLS FROM GRACE.