Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Persevering in the Faith

"To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples" (John 8:31).

True faith, as we have seen, finds its fulfillment in good works. The Bible teaches that anyone who has true faith will persevere in good works until the day of his or her death. We shall have to persevere through suffering, when we are tempted to get angry at God and forsake Him, and through temptations of the flesh.

God guarantees the perseverance of His elect. We can call this the doctrine of the preservation of the elect. We, however, don’t know who the elect are. Man can only look on the outward appearance; only God can know the heart. We cannot even know our own hearts, for they are deceitful. Thus, we cannot look at ourselves and know that we are elect. We cannot look at things from God’s point of view because we are not God.

We are called to persevere. We can know that we are elect, in a sense, it we persevere. We have to exercise faith daily and walk in obedience to God’s commands.

Assurance of salvation is important to true faith. If we trust God, how can we doubt? Faith, however, can be weak, and thus so can assurance. When we sin, we may lose assurance. That is a good thing. Just as pain tells us our body is wounded, so spiritual pain tells us that our relationship with God has been wounded. David, when he sinned, prayed that God would not take the Holy Spirit from him (Psalm 51). He was worried about his salvation. That he ran to God for forgiveness instead of angrily rejecting God proves that his faith was real, and evidenced his election.

When we look at the visible church, we see people come and go. Some people give every indication of being true Christians, but then one day they depart and are never heard from again. From our human standpoint, it appears that they fell from grace, and, in a sense, they have. Ultimately, however, they never were in a state of grace to begin with.

The book of Hebrews gives many warnings to believers to persevere in the faith. We know that God’s elect will never fall, but as regards ourselves and others, we know that we are called to believe in Him, trust Him, and fill out that trust in a life of obedience. We are called to persevere.

The Bible teaches election, and we are to believe in it. We are not, however, to try and deduce from it whether we are saved or not. Our responsibility is to believe the promises and live by the law. We can be sure of our election as we persevere. If we sin, we must repent and return to our gracious God.