Every Born-again Believer in Christ Perseveres Through Grace to Glory
"He that endureth to the end shall be saved. . . He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matthew 10:22; 24:13.)
"His seed also will I make to endure for ever." (Psalm 89:29, 36.)
In their lusty pursuit of worldly position, popularity and self, promoters of Baptist programs, properties, and prelates have departed from the historic faith of Baptists - which is another way of saying that they have departed from faith in the Bible. When men turn from divinely inspired revelation to satanically inspired reason, it is not surprising if they wind up entangled with the "doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1).
One popular notion brought by demons to the minds of men is the doctrine of a partial, temporary, spiritual salvation - the idea that a sinner can be spiritually saved for a while, actually a child of God, and then lose his holy standing before God, become lost again, and go to hell.
Such an idea is contrary to all Bible teaching, and reveals gross ignorance or unbelief of all the promises of God concerning His salvation.
A salvation that is never finished, a salvation that can be lost, is a fake salvation.
If salvation were..a product merely of human will, human effort, human faithfulness, then it would be reasonable to suppose not only that it might but that it must fail - but such a supposed salvation is fake from the beginning.
Salvation is of the Lord
Jonah learned in the fish's belly what neophytie preachers are not taught in modernistic seminaries: "Salvation is of the Lord." (Jonah 2:9.)
Paul had a confidence not shared by modern infidels parading their false learning under the banner of Christianity: confidence that the God Who begins a good work in His people will finish it up until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6.)
According to the Lord Jesus, every true believer in the Son of God (John 3:36), every person who truly comes to Christ for salvation (John 6:37), every true sheep belonging to the Good Shepherd (John 10:27-30), is in present possession of everlasting life, will never be cast out, and can never be taken out of the loving hand of God.
Now, either God's word is true, or it is not. Either we believe Him, or we do not Either He has provided salvation for lost sinners, or He has not And if He has provided salvation, either His salvation is as He describes it, or we have no way of knowing'what or of what sort it is.
Surely if we have any real faith at all in the truth of God's word and in His saving power, we must agree that the salvation of the Lord is complete (Colossians 2:10) and everlasting (Hebrews 7:25; 10:14).
Perseverance in What?
Of course, Baptists do not claim that any Christian, much less every Christian, lives as good a life here in the flesh as he ought. We leave such claims to the false holiness sects. Yet I read recently the following words from a confused brother who calls himself a Baptist:
"Just what did the brethren [who wrote the Hew Hampshire Confession] mean by the 'perseverance of the saints'"? I think they made themselves clear: "their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professions." . . .
"This poses a question . . . How much lapse, how much carelessness, does 'persevere' allow? . . . The dictionary defines 'perseverance' as 'persistence; steadfast pursuit of an undertaking or aim, steadfastness.' I ask How steadfast?"
If our brother had read a little farther in the dictionary, he might have found another definition better fitted to theological discussion. From Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, I quote the following definition of perseverance:
"Continuance in a state of religious or spiritual grace until it is succeeded by a state of glory."
No intelligent and informed Baptist has ever before, to my knowledge, confused perseverance with steadfastness, or eternal security with faithful service. But let us "strive not about words to no profit" (II Timothy 2:14): the point at issue is not the advisability of faithfulness in the Christian's life, but the certainty of permanence in the salvation he receives from Christ.
Known by their Fruits
Viewing individual human lives in terms of their general effects or issues, Jesus compared them to trees and in this figure declared: "By their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:15-20; see also Matthew 12:33; Luke 6:43, 44.)
Yet, it would be absurd to argue from such figurative language that a generally good man cannot do a single bad deed, or that a generally bad man cannot do any (outwardly) good deeds. After all, we do sometimes find wormy or rotten fruit even on a good tree. And while some varieties of trees are quite unlike, others are so similar that only an expert can tell them apart, especially out of the fruitbearing season.
Under another figure, in the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43), Jesus emphasizes this very fact that many false professors are practically indistinguishable in this world from true believers.
"Let us not therefore judge one another any more; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." (Romans 14:13.)
Examining the individual life more closely, we find that human nature since Adam sinned is pretty well disintegrated, a battlefield of conflicting thoughts and motives. Especially is this true in the life of a Christian, where the old man's sepulcher has become the new man's shrine; where, in the words of the apostle, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." (Galatians 5:17.)
So Paul exhorted Timothy, and through him us, to "fight the good fight of faith." (I Timothy 6:12.) The only people in this world who have no quarrel with sin, are those who feel right at home in sin; like the loafer who is so unafraid of work that he can lie right down by it and go to sleep.
Only those souls that endure to the end shall be saved. We need not try to limit the application of these words of Jesus. They are for general application, and the truth here declared, if declared once, is declared a hundred times and a hundred ways in the word of God. Let's face it: God's people are engaged In spiritual warfare, and only those who win the war are truly the people of God.
More than Conquerors
But praise His holy name! His seed shall endure for ever! The same Captain Who demands victory has insured it at the cost of His own blood and with the wielding of His own resurrection power!
"Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world." (I John 5:4.) Now, if you can't believe God on this point, don't pretend to believe Him at all. If He made a mistake here, who knows how many other mistakes He made? But thank God, He cannot lie (Titus 1:2), and He tells us plainly that every true child of His overcomes the world. Moreover:
"We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." (I John 5:18.) Remember that it is only in spirit that we have been born of God in this life; our bodies remain sinful until the resurrection.
Our victory as God's people is more than mere survival. Read the list of adversaries in Romans 8:35-39, and then take comfort from the inspired promise, in verse 37:
"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
Gifts and Rewards
Again, let us not confuse salvation with service, or gifts with rewards. The gift of God is eternal life, and we are justified freely by His grace. (Romans 6:23; 3:24.) But some of His people will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, and others will be called great. (Matthew 5:19.) Our Savior's gifts are free, but His rewards are for those of His people that earn them. (Revelation 22:12.)
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, September 26, 1971, pp. 2, 3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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