The Perseverance of the Saints

What Are The Doctrines of Grace?  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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There is a lot of discussion among Christians concerning the Bibles position on eternal security. Some groups teach that you can lose your salvation and some teach once saved always saved to the point that if you simply walked an aisle and prayed a prayer, you can go on living however you want. Well, as we go through our doctrines of grace series, we’ve found ourselves entering that same debate and it’s an important one. Should you guys work hard and live full of worry over whether or not you’ll be saved in the end? Or can you simply go on your way and live however you want. Well, as we explore this thought today, I think we will find that the Bible calls us to rest in Christ, to be aware of our sinfulness and how far we can fall, and to know that God will not let us go. And as we look at that, we will find what that means for us practically.
With that said, the first point I want us look at today is that:

We are prone to wander

If you’ve grown up in church you may be familiar with an old hymn that says, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love!” Well, the cry of that writter was a Biblical one because even the greatest of Christians are prone to wander. The Bible tells us repetitively not to trust in ourselves, that our hearts are desperately wicked, and that we still have sin within us and are to look to the Lord and not only does it tell us these things, but it gives us examples of the effects of our wandering hearts and how even great men can fall.
One that comes to mind is Samson. In the book of Judges we read of a strong and mighty Judge named Samson. He was known for his unbelievable strength and for being a fierce warrior. But as we’ve heard since we were kids, he fell into Delilah’s trap, she cut his hair and he was taken away by the Philistines. So, even the mighty Samson fell. But God didn’t leave him that way. At the end of Samson’s story, we find that they’ve gouged his eyes out and are using him as a slave. Well, the story tells us that the Philistines were having a massive party while worshipping their idol, Dagon and they wanted to bring Samson out to entertain them. While he is being led out, he asks one of the men to lead him to the pillar so he could lean against them and once he found the support pillars, he prayed for God to strengthen him and he proceeds to push the pillars in causing the building to collapse which killed not only himself, but three thousand of God’s enemies.
Another heartbreaking story is the one of King David, one of the most beloved men in our faiths history. We know that he was a good and godly man, but one day he walked out and saw Bathsheba bathing. So he had his men go and get her and he committed adultery with the wife of Uriah, of his most faithful warriors. So what does David do when he finds out she is pregnant with his child? Well, he calls Uriah home from war to try and get him to lay with Bathsheba so he think it’s his child. And Uriah refuses and says that there’s no way he could do that while his fellow soldiers are dying for the Lord. So, David hands Uriah a sealed envelope which Uriah couldn’t read with orders to send Uriah out to fight against the enemy army alone which obviously got Uriah killed. David lived in this sin for at least 9 months until Nathaniel rebuked him for his sin and God brought David to repentance.
Finally, you might remember the story of Peter. Peter was a hard-nosed, hard-headed, blue collar fisherman who was committed to Jesus. Well, when Jesus told Peter that everyone would betray Him, Peter swore that he would never do that. But what happened when Jesus was being persecuted and sentenced? He denied the Lord. But what did Jesus do when He rose from the grave? He brought Peter back.
Each one of these stories shows us how we are prone to wander. Article 4 of Doctrine five in the Canons of Dort say, “Those who are converted are not always so activated and motivated by God that in certain specific actions they cannot by their own fault depart from the leading of grace, be led astray by the desires of their flesh, and give into them.” To put it plainly, there are seasons where a believer may fall deeply into serious sin against God. So, what are the effects of that? Well, article 5 of the Canons shows us:

The Effects of Wandering

It says, “By such monstrous sins, however, they greatly offend God, deserve the sentence of death, grieve the Holy Spirit, suspend the exercise of faith, severely wound the conscience and sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a time...”
When the Christian wanders into such a place, they are in open rebellion against God, the Lord frowns upon them as a disproving Father, they grieve His Holy Spirit, and they sear their consciences and can even lose the awareness of grace. Guys, this is not a place you want to be in as a believer. To know you’ve sinned against your heavenly father, that you’ve harmed your conscience, and grieved the Spirit is a serious thing that we should be terrified of falling into. But if and when we fall into this times, we can find encouragement in our second point:

God has promised to keep us

In Article 6 and 7, the canons speak on the restoring grace of God in the life of His fallen people. That He will not let us go, that He will not disown us or take His Spirit from us. The reason for that is that God is unwaveringly committed to us as His people.
In John 6:39-40 Jesus says,
John 6:39–40 NKJV
39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Notice the significance of this passage. God chooses a people who He will bring to Christ and what happens? Jesus accepts them all, He will not lose a single one of them, and He will ensure their resurrection on the last day.
Romans 8:38–39 NKJV
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice, this doesn’t say, “Yeah, nothing can take you from God’s love except your own weakness.” Paul is covering all of his bases here and he makes it clear that the true believer will never be separated from the love of God. Another verse discussing this is Philippians 1:6
Philippians 1:6 NKJV
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
As believers, we can have full assurance that we belong to God and He is committed to us as His children.
RC Sproul said, “True Christians can have radical and serious falls but never total and final falls from grace.” Article 8 says, “God’s plan cannot be changed; God’s promise cannot fail, the calling according to God’s purpose cannot be revoked; the merit of Christ as well as His interceding and preserving cannot be nullified; and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated or wiped out.”
To put it simply, you aren’t escaping the grace of God as one of His.
Now, what about those who said they were Christians, but have rejected Christianity now? 1 John 2:19
1 John 2:19 NKJV
19 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
Those who fall away don’t do so because they slipped through the cracks, they fell away because they weren’t saved to begin with and God allowed them to show us who they really were. But what about those who are Christians and living in sin, how does God bring them back? Or what about us right now? How does God keep us? This is what article 7 discusses

The Restoration and Keeping of Believers by Means

In article 7, we read that God causes us to persevere in our faith by actively working in us what we need to keep walking with Christ. So, what does He use? The first thing they speak of is the seed of the Word of God. God will use those memory verses, the sermons you hear, the Bible studies you have to work in your heart. This is what Psalm 119:10-11
Psalm 119:10–11 NKJV
10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
The second thing that God will work repentance in our hearts. 2 Timothy 2:25 shows us that repentance is a gift from God.
2 Timothy 2:25 NKJV
25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

What does this doctrine do?

The greatest thing this doctrine does for us is give us assurance. Guys, assurance is so important for us as believers. If we aren’t sure that the God we know loves us and cares for us, we will be filled with fear and anxiety. Article 10 says, “If God’s chosen ones in this world did not have this well-founded comfort that the victory will be theirs and this reliable guarantee of eternal glory, they would be of all people most miserable.”
But if we know that He knows us and is for us, we can embrace His grace and live empowered by it. But what is this assurance based on? Growing up, I would hear people base their faith on their profession, their prayer, their tears, their altar response. But that’s not good grounds for assurance.

Assurance and its grounds

The ground of our assurance is on Jesus Himself. Kevin DeYoung said, “You can be a true Christian and still doubt whether you are a true Christian. We are saved by the object of our faith, that is, Christ, not by the quality of our subjective faith in Christ.”
To put it simply, don’t put your faith in your faith. Put your faith in Jesus. Charles Spurgeon said this, "Do your sins trouble you? Go to him and trust in him, and the moment you look to him you are saved. 'Oh,' says one, 'But I cannot do that; my faith is so weak.' Well, when I walk about and see a beautiful sight, very seldom do I think about my own sight; my mind is occupied with the sight, and so let it be with you. Never mind that eye; think more about the vision to be seen. Think of Christ" (Spurgeon, Sermons Vol. 35, Sermon 2151).
Now how do we get assurance? Well, they give three ways.
First, by trusting in God’s promises.
Second, the Holy Spirit gives witness that we are His children. Romans 8:16-17
Third, by looking up and seeing the work that God is doing in your life.

Assurance and its fruits.

Finally, we want to see the fruit that this assurance brings in our life and it’s two things in particular.
First, it provides an incentive to godliness.
This assuring doctrine doesn’t make us proud or carnal, but it motivates us to pursue God. To live in thanksgiving. It’s like a fountain flowing from a water source. We know that God has us and that we are His and we just can’t help but to love and flow with His grace because of that.
Second, it kills carelessness in our Spiritual walk.
Since we know that we are prone to wander from the Lord and we know how serious that is, we want to be careful about our Christian walk. We don’t want to become careless or cold but should regularly think about the gospel, meditate on it, and find ourselves with the people of God regularly to be encouraged by them and the means of grace.
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