Perseverance of the Saints & Assurance of Salvation

I just finished writing a sermon on 2 Peter 1:10-11. It was a bit of a chore in that I was fighting to stay true to the text while at the same time wanting to bring some comfort to the church concerning the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and assurance of salvation as found elsewhere in scripture. I opted to leave some of this teaching out of the sermon because I believe that the intent of 2 Peter 1:10-11 is to exhort the church to be sober about their salvation and to not grow slack in their striving after Christ. It is a warning passage that is meant to shake Christians up a bit and to motivate us to growth in Christ. I didn’t want to take away from that by bringing words of comfort to quickly.

But as you can see I couldn’t wait to long. It’s Friday at 2:05pm. I am going to schedule this to post on Sunday at 5:30pm so that the church can read it if they so desire. The warning passages are needed, but I think we also need to be encouraged by the great promises of scripture, that those whose who are truly in Christ will endure to the end, all of this thanks to our Lord and Saviors gracious care.

Below I have posted chapters 17 and 18 from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. These sections provide a wonderful overview of these precious doctrines.


[Their persistence or steadfast continuance in the state of grace]

1. Those whom God has accepted in the Beloved [the Lord Jesus], and has effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect, can neither totally [completely] nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they will certainly persevere [definitely persist] in that state to the end and be eternally saved. This is because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [He will never change His mind], and therefore He continues to beget [create] and nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit which lead to immortality.(1)
And though many storms and floods arise and beat against the saints, yet these things shall never be able to sweep them off the foundation and rock which they are fastened upon by faith. Even though, through unbelief [including lack of faith] and the temptations of Satan, the sight and feeling of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them,(2) yet God is still the same, and they are sure to be kept by His power until their salvation is complete, when they shall enjoy the purchased possession which is theirs, for they are engraved upon the palm of His hands, and their names have been written in His Book of Life from all eternity.(3)
(1) John 10.28-29; Phil 1.6; 2 Tim 2.19; 1 John 2.19. (2) Psa 89.31-32; 1 Cor 11.32. (3) Mal 3.6.

2. This perseverance of the saints does not depend on them – that is, on their own free will. It rests upon the immutability [unchanging ­character] of the decree of election,(4) which flows from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father. It also rests upon the efficacy [the power and certain success] of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ [those for whom He died cannot fail to be saved], and upon the union which true saints have with Him(5) [He will never let His loved ones go].
– It rests upon the oath [solemn affirmation] of God,(6) and upon the abiding of His Spirit [Who cannot fail].
– It depends upon the seed of God [which cannot die] being within them(7) and upon the very nature of the covenant of grace.(8) [The covenant stipulates that saved souls will never turn away.]
– All these factors give rise to the certainty and infallibility of the security and perseverance of the saints.
(4) Rom 8.30; 9.11-16. (5) Rom 5.9-10; John 14.19. (6) Heb 6.17-18. (7) 1 John 3.9. (8) Jer 32.40.

3. The saints may, through the temptation of Satan and the world, and because their remaining sinful tendencies prevail over them, and through their neglect of the means which God has provided to keep them, fall into grievous sins.
They may continue in this state for some time,(9) so that they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit,(10) suffer the impairment of their graces and comforts,(11) have their hearts hardened and their ­consciences wounded,(12) and hurt and scandalise [offend] others. By this they will bring temporal judgements [present punishment] upon themselves.(13)
Yet [despite all this] they shall [in time] renew their repentance and be preserved, through faith in Christ Jesus, to the end.(14)
(9) Matt 26.70-74. (10) Isa 64.5-9; Eph 4.30. (11) Psa 51.10-12. (12) Psa 32.3-4. (13) 2 Sam 12.14. (14) Luke 22.32 & 61-62.

1. Although temporary believers [Those who falsely profess Christ for a time and then fall away – See section 14.3], and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions [in an unspiritual way they take it for granted] that they are in the ­favour of God and in a state of salvation, such a hope on their part will perish [die away].(1) Yet those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, and who endeavour to walk in all good conscience before Him, may be certainly assured in this life that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.(2) And such a hope shall never make them ashamed.(3) [It will never disappoint them or let them down, for God will bless them, hear their prayers, and finally take them to glory.]
(1) Job 8.13-14; Matt 7.22-23. (2) 1 John 2.3; 3.14-24; 5.13. (3) Rom 5.2-5.

2. This assurance is not merely a conjectural persuasion [something supposed to be true on slender grounds] nor even a probable persuasion based upon a fallible hope. It is an infallible assurance of faith(4) founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel.(5) [It is based on a historical act of the Saviour of the world.] It is also founded upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit [marks or evidences of grace] in connection with definite promises made in the Scriptures,(6) and also on the testimony [evidence] of the Spirit of adoption Who witnesses with our spirits that we are the children of God [a felt, spiritual assurance],(7) and Who uses the experience of assurance to keep our hearts both humble and holy.(8)
(4) Heb 6.11 & 19. (5) Heb 6.17-18. (6) 2 Pet 1.4-11. (7) Rom 8.15-16. 8 1 John 3.1-3

3. This infallible assurance is not so joined to the essence of faith that it is an automatic and inevitable experience. A true believer may wait long and fight with many difficulties before he becomes a partaker of it.(9) Yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given to him by God, he may, without any extraordinary revelation attain this assurance by using the means of grace in the right way.(10)
Therefore it is the duty of every one to give the utmost diligence to make his calling and election sure, so that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness for carrying out the duties of obedience. These duties are the natural fruits of assurance,(11) for it is far from inclining men to slackness.(12)
(9) Isa 50.10; Psa 88; Psa 77.1-12. (10) 1 John 4.13; Heb 6.11-12. (11) Rom 5.1-5; 14.17; Psa 119.32. (12) Rom 6.1-2; Tit 2.11-14.

4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation in various ways shaken, diminished, or intermitted [suspended for a time]. This may be because of their negligence in preserving it,(13) or by their falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit,(14) or by some sudden or forceful temptation,(15) or by God’s withdrawing the light of His countenance, and causing even those who fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light.(16)
Yet, [whatever the cause or duration of the impairment of assurance] believers are never left without the seed of God [essential spiritual identity](17) and life of faith [that hold on eternal values],(18) that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and that conscience about their spiritual duty. Out of these things, by the operation of the Spirit, their assurance can in due time be revived,(19) and in the meantime the presence of these graces preserves them from utter despair.(20)
(13) Song 5.2-6. (14) Psa 51.8-14. (15) Psa 116.11; 77.7-8; 31.22. (16) Psa 30.7. (17) 1 John 3.9. (18) Luke 22.32. (19) Psa 42.5-11. 20 Lam 3.26-31.

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warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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