Title: PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE
Text: John 8:31
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
Is there one overall characteristic by which all true believers may be identified and known? Is there one trait, one identifying mark, one universal evidence of grace and salvation in the heart? Indeed, there are many marks and evidences of grace. Remember, there is a difference between evidences and proof. I am not suggesting that evidences of grace are proofs of grace. A person may have many evidences of grace and yet have no grace at all.
Illustrations: Judas, Ananias & Sapphira, Demas, Diotrephes
In fact, many who are lost will cling to their false evidences of grace as a ground of hope even in the day of judgment. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." -- Mat 7:22-23
However, there are some identifying marks by which God's saints are known in this world. If I have truly been born of God...
1. I repent of our sin. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. -- Luke 13:5
2. I trust Christ alone as my Savior.
My only Righteousness!
My only Sanctification!
My only Redemption!
My only Hope!
2. I bow to Christ as my rightful, sovereign Lord. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. So likewise, PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE Page - 2
whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. -- Luke 14:26, 27, 33
3. I love my brethren with a genuine, heartfelt, sincere love. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. -- 1 John 3:14
4. There is a struggle, a warfare in my soul with sin. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? -- Rom 7:14-24
The true believer is a person in whom there is a continual, growing repentance, faith, love and conflict. When the Word of God comes into a person's heart in the power of the Holy Spirit, that person is a new creature in Christ, transformed by the grace of God. But the transformation is a continual process. When God the Holy Spirit comes into a man's soul in saving power and grace, he brings forth fruit. But the fruit is never perfect in this world. It is always growing. When Christ takes the rule of a man, that man is freed from the dominion of sin and the penalty by the grace of God, through the blood of Christ. But he is not freed from the being of sin and the influence of sin so long as he lives in this body of flesh.
Yet, as I read the Word of God, I do find that there is one mark, one characteristic, one evidence of grace that is always found in the people of God in this world, one thing that identifies the true believer from a mere carnal professor. If my religion is more than a sham, a show, and a pretence of hypocrisy, if it is more than a refuge of lies, it will be marked by this one thing.
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Are you interested in knowing what that one thing is? Turn to John 8:31. "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."
Proposition: The one identifying mark of a true believer is perseverance. Listen to the Scriptures.
The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger. -- Job 17:9
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. -- Prov 4:18
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. -- Mat 24:13
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. -- Heb 3:6
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; -- Heb
The one dominate mark of salvation and grace is perseverance. True believers are persevering believers. True servants are persevering servants. True disciples are persevering disciples. Our Lord speaks very plainly about this matter. He tells us that a disciple is not one who professes faith, but one who continues in the Word. A saved man is not one who puts his hand to the plow, but one who never removes it. A regenerate soul is not one begins well and runs well for a season, but one who "endureth to the end." True believers begin in faith, live in faith, and die in faith. True faith never quits.
If you and I are true believers, we will be found worshipping God, serving Christ, and walking in the Spirit all the days of our lives. We will leave this world leaning upon our Beloved. We may often fall; but the Lord will raise us up. We will never cease to be plagued with sin; but we will never again be brought under the dominion of sin. True Christianity is not a spasmodic religion of convenience. It is life in Christ. Amid trials hard, temptations strong, and troubles constant, true faith is persevering faith.
Tonight I want to talk to you very plainly from PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE Page - 4
the Word of God about PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE. These are twin truths taught in Holy Scripture. Yet, men seem to always separate them. Many believe in the preservation of the saints, what we sometimes call eternal security. And many believe in the perseverance of the saints. But few believe both. Yet both are plainly taught in the Scriptures. Preservation is the cause of perseverance. Perseverance is the fruit of preservation. The two always go together. You cannot have one without the other.
I. First, WE REJOICE IN THE GLORIOUS DOCTRINE OF THE PRESERVATION OF GOD'S ELECT.
This is a doctrine taught throughout the Scriptures. The Lord God will keep his own. Not one of those chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit shall perish. It is altogether impossible for one of God's elect to be lost! Everyone of them shall enter into heaven at last.
Here are eight reasons for our confidence in this matter:
A. The Covenant of Grace cannot be nullified!
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. -- Jer 32:37-41
B. The Blood of Christ cannot have been shed in vain!
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. -- Eph 5:25-27
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C. The Seal of the Holy Spirit can never be broken!
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. -- Eph 1:13-14
D. The Power of God cannot be defeated!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. -- 1 Pet 1:3-5
E. The Promise of Christ cannot be broken!
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. -- John 10:27-29
F. The Love of God can never cease!
Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. -- John 13:1
G. The Immutability of God will not allow his chosen to perish!
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. -- Mal 3:6
They are well kept whom God keeps! Our security is not the absence of danger, but the presence and power of God no matter what the danger is! To put it in the words of Toplady
A sovereign Protector I have,
Unseen, yet forever at hand,
Unchangeably faithful to save,
Almighty to rule and command;
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He smiles, and my comforts abound;
His grace, as the dew, shall descend;
And walls ofsalvation surround
The soul He delights to defend!
H. Sin Can Never be Imputed to a Justified Soul!
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. -- Rom 4:8
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. -- Rom 8:33-34
II. Secondly, ALL WHO ARE KEPT AND PRESERVED BY THE GRACE AND POWER OF GOD PERSEVERE IN GRACE AND FAITH.
The Word of God abounds with warnings to those who do not continue in the way of faith, to those who depart from Christ, his gospel, and his church. These warnings are not vain. They are real. You will be wise to lay the to heart. Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than apostacy. And there are some people who are guilty of it. There are some people walking on this earth sealed for hell, because they have willingly departed from Christ!
Hear the warnings God gives. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. -- Heb 6:4-6
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? -- Heb 10:26-29
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE Page - 7
back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. -- Heb 10:38
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. -- 2 Pet 2:20-22
There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. -- 1 John 5:16
Here are three facts that cannot be denied.
A. All true believers continue to believe.
Our faith in Christ is mixed with much unbelief. That we painfully confess. But the Object of our faith never changes. We trust Christ alone for our everlasting salvation. Christ alone is our Righteousness and our Redemption. Like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Moses, David and Paul, all true believers die in faith. All can say with Paul, For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. -- 2 Tim 1:12
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. -- 2 Tim 4:6-8
B. All true converts continue in the Word.
They continue to live by the rule of the Word, continue to seek understanding in the Word, and continue to believe the blessed gospel doctrines revealed in the Word. All hell cannot drive a believing sinner away from the hope of the Gospel. We say, with Peter, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. -- John 6:68
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Paul gives stern warning to those who depart from the faith. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. -- Gal 5:1-5
C. Every true child of God continues in the worship of God and the fellowship of the saints.
God's children worship him. They feed upon the Word. They cannot survive without it. They delight in the fellowship of God's saints, gathered in the house of God, feeding at the Master's table. Nothing is more important, and nothing is more delightful to them.
-This is My Family!
-This is Where Christ Meets with His People!
-This Where God Speaks to His Children!
-This is Where We Bathe Our Souls!
1. The first step toward total apostacy is the neglect of public worship.
That is the meaning of Paul's warning. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, -- Heb -26
2. Those who forsake the people of God forsake the Son of God.
It is written, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. -- 1 John 2:19
Illustration: The Scottish Girl who met the Queen's persecuting soldiers - "I'm going to a meeting of my family. Our Elder Brother has died; and the family is gathering this morning to read his will."
Application: All true believers persevere in the faith. PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE Page - 9
They are at last found faithful. Make it your business, like Caleb of old, to persevere in the way of God. Like Jephthah, having lifted your hand to the Lord, dare not go back. If you fall, don't give up, get up! The secret to perseverance is twofold:
1. The Preserving Grace of God!
2. Consecration to Christ!