by: Rev. Ed Schneider
John Calvin, the famous theologian and pastor of Geneva, died in 1564. Along with Martin Luther in Germany, he was the most influential force of the Protestant Reformation. His Commentaries and Institutes of the Christian Religion are still exerting tremendous influence on the Christian Church worldwide.
The churches which have inherited the teachings of Calvin are usually called Reformed as opposed to the Lutheran or Episcopalian branches of the Reformation. While not all Baptist churches hold to a reformed theology, there is a significant Baptist tradition which grew out of and still cherishes the central doctrines inherited from the reformed branch of the Reformation.
People grasp these points more easily if we follow a presentation based on the order in which we experience them. This offering is #5. The listing of all five basic categories of Reformed theology are as follows:
- We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.
- Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.
- Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.
- Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.
- And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.
Perseverance of the Saint & the Scriptures it is derived from
In order to place the doctrine of perseverance in proper light we need to know what it is not. It does not mean that every one who professes faith in Christ and who is accepted as a believer in the fellowship of the saints is secure for eternity and may entertain the assurance of eternal salvation. Our Lord himself warned his followers in the days of his flesh when he said to those Jews who believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye truly my disciples, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32).
The doctrine of perseverance is an elaboration of what Peter meant by his words “protected by the power of God” when he wrote his first epistle (1 Pet 1:5). If any biblical character was ever likely to fail, it was Peter. Peter was one of the three closest disciples Jesus had when His earthly mission began. Peter was also one of the early architects of Christianity. However, he seemed to have a knack for saying the worst possible thing at the most inappropriate time. He was impetuous, erratic, vacillating—sometimes cowardly, sometimes weak, sometimes hotheaded. On several occasions he merited strong rebukes from the Lord, none more severe than that recorded in Matt 16:23: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” That occurred almost immediately after the high point in Peter’s experience with Christ, when Peter confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16).
Peter’s life is proof that a true believer’s spiritual experience is often filled with ups and downs, but Peter illustrates another biblical truth, a more significant one: the keeping power of God. On the night Jesus was betrayed, He gave Peter an insight into the behind-the-scenes spiritual battle over Peter’s soul: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31–32).
Peter was confident of his willingness to stand with and boldly support Jesus, whatever the cost. He told the Lord, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). Yet Jesus knew the truth and sadly told Peter, “The cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:34).
Did Peter fail? Yes, miserably. Was his faith overthrown? Never. Jesus Himself was interceding on Peter’s behalf, and His prayers did not go unanswered.
The Lord intercedes for all genuine believers that way. John 17:11 gives a glimpse of how He prays for them:
“I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou has given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.”
NOW BELOVED….TAKE A LOOK AT THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURES AND LET THEM SPEAK CLEARLY TO YOU ON THIS TOPIC. PEACE.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-2) 15 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
(Colossians 1:22-23) 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
(2 Timothy 2:11-12) 11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
(Mark 13:13) 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
(Philippians 3:12-13) 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
(Matthew 6:12) 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
(Hebrews 12:14) 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
(Galatians 5:19-21) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(1 John 2:3-6) 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
(John 8:31) 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
(Romans 8:28-30) 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.