Christianity is unique among all religions in that it is a religion of rest. What do I mean by a religion of rest? It is the one religious system where salvation is not earned by the individual. In every single man-made religion, whether it be Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Islam, or Roman Catholicism……all are systems wherein people work to earn their salvation, never having assurance that they are in fact saved.
Christianity is the polar opposite: we do nothing; God does all of the work. Because it is God who has ensured our salvation through Jesus sacrificial death on the cross, we can know with certainty that we are in fact, saved. Why? Because God is perfect, He does what He says, He never fails, and our salvation is dependent upon His mighty upholding Hand. God cannot fail, or He would cease to be God. Since the assurance of our salvation is dependent upon God who cannot fail and not upon us as individuals, sinners who are imperfect and fail all of the time, we can have confidence that our salvation is sure.
This is known as the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. “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” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine p. 788). What joy, what relief! Praise His mighty Name!
Here are some Bible verses that teach the perseverance of the saints:
- 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, emphasis mine)
- “And 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, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:39-40, emphasis mine)
Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry writes of the John 6:39 verse: This verse should prove the perseverance of the saints for two reasons. First, the will of the Father is that Jesus lose none of those who have been given to him by the Father. If Jesus does not accomplish this, then Jesus has failed to do the will of the Father – which would imply that Jesus had sinned, but this cannot be. Second, if people can lose their salvation and thereby render the doctrine of perseverance of the saints false, then the Father exercised bad judgment by trusting Jesus with the ones he had given to him. Perhaps this is why Jesus said in John 17:20, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.” In this verse Jesus was praying for the disciples and for those who would believe, not for those who would not only. It makes sense to say that Jesus came to redeem those who belong to the Father by his election, and were entrusted to the Son for redemption.
- “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall 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. “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-28, emphasis mine)
- “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)
To head off the objections that may be raised in your mind: if someone professes to be a Christian, and at some future point, renounces their faith, they are only revealing that they were never truly saved to begin with. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19)
What prompted me to write about the perseverance of the saints was a hymn that I heard yesterday while watching the Shepherd’s Conference online. The name of the hymn is He Will Hold Me Fast and it was performed by Keith and Kristyn Getty, my favorite modern hymn writers. It was a blessing to hear them sing this hymn, the first time I’ve ever heard it, while joined by the voices of over 4,500 men. The words reflect the comfort and rest believers experience because of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. If you are struggling or weary, this hymn will be a balm to your soul. Listen and enjoy while contemplating the lyrics: