||2013-12-13 10:58:33, 조회 : 1,690, 추천 : 409
| Chapter 9|
Keeping on – Perseverance
Going to the same church for practically my whole life, there are many different people that I’ve seen come and go through the doors. Some of them casually come to hear the Word whenever the time is convenient for them. However, there are some “Christians” that start off their Christian life very strongly, but end up losing all interest. Eventually, they stop coming and convert back to their old ways. Even in the bible there are cases where we can see such things. Such as King Saul, or even Judas who walked around preaching the gospel. But ended up betraying Christ and committing suicide. What can we say about these people? Fellows ask “Were they true believers who turned back and lost their salvation, or were they never really saved?”
One may think that this topic shouldn’t be taken seriously. However, these differences are significant when pursuing a Christian life. We can look at John 6:39-40,
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise him up at the last day”
This verse shows us that Jesus was referencing to those specific people that God has given to him. To reiterate we can look at Romans 8:29-30,
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, That he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified”.
These verses show us something very important. It reveals to us to “the purpose and continuity in God’s plan to save sinners”. The steps of foreknowledge (chapter 2), predestination, calling, justification and glorification all consist of the very people that God chose. No one is added in between processes and no one is left behind. Those that God hand-picked out of the sinful human race, are part of this process. Then why is there such controversy on this matter? The Methodists and Salvation Army teaches you that a true believer can be lost. Basically, meaning that a person can be saved one day and lose it the very next. Let us examine closely to these beliefs.
Some seem to be genuinely saved then fall away
To say that everyone who proclaims to be converted is genuine, is a dangerous road to take. They may be sincere, but that doesn’t guarantee them of true faith. I myself have witnessed many of this while growing up in a church. Many times, these very people are so “sincere” that it makes you want to try harder in your own Christian life. But, the very next week in Sunday mass they disappear. Then you think, “oh maybe it’s just this one week they weren’t able to make it”. One week passes, two weeks, still nothing. Then you hear stories of how they went back to living the same lives as they once did. It was shocking for me at times, because in our minds it seemed really genuine, however Fellows points out that it isn’t the same. Jesus Christ says at the end of his Sermon on the Mount,
“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)
These verses were suggesting to those “professing” Christians that were eventually proven false by their wicked lives. A key word to note here is “never”. Jesus said “I never knew you” instead of “I once knew you, but not any longer”. Fellows says it bluntly “However, well they start, if troubles or worldly obsessions cause them to go back, there was never a true work of grace”.
Scriptures that seem to teach that a believer can lose his salvation
1) Peter writes “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud”. (2 Peter 2:20-22).
This passage shows us that Peter is writing about the false teachers. Once again those that “professed faith in Christ”. However, they began to teach falsely and went back to their sinful lives. Their knowing of Christ was an intellectual knowledge only. This teaches us that you cannot just have “head knowledge of Christ and salvation” we must believe it from the heart as well (reference to Romans 10:9,10).
2) “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will same him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
This second passage from James shows us of a person that is restored and saved from death. But, if this person was not restored and continued in their sin, then they would not be rescued from death. Thus proving that their faith wasn’t authentic.
The value of the doctrine of perseverance
Well, the value of this doctrine is to encourage us so that whenever we are going through something difficult we know that God’s grace will endure to the end. God has promised us that with his help we will reach the very end. Some may ask, whether the doctrine of perseverance gives some people false assurance. However, if the practice of the other truths aren’t applied (as we spoke about earlier) then yes, it can encourage false assurance. Fellows says it clearly when he says “The promises of God have no validity for those not walking with the Lord, but for those who truly love Christ and seek to follow him, these promises are a precious comfort”.
The doctrine of perseverance will also serve as a warning to us
Fellows clarifies that the doctrine is sometimes referred to as “perseverance” and “preservation”. These two designations gives us both side of this doctrine. For instance, God will “preserve” his own people, but we must “persevere” simultaneously. We cannot just sit back in hoping that due to preservation we don’t need to do anything. We must go forth with our goals and endure. It is important to note that God utilizes means in order to carry out his purposes. There are times were God will “warn” us in order for us to get back on track. For instance, Paul wrote to the Galatian churches, he said “I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you” (Gal 4:11). Why did he say such a thing? Well, firstly he was deeply worried about the people converting back to the ceremonies of the Jewish law. However, he did so to warn them so that the genuine believers may react and try to work more fervently. So it is important to have warnings and promises so that one may not rely just on the promise but to work towards it.
The ministry of the Word
In John 17:17 we can see that in Jesus’ prayer, we are sanctified by the truth (God’s Word). If we are persevering to the end we mustn’t abandon the Bible. David says “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end” (Psalms 119:112). One of the most dangerous ways to think, is one believing they know everything about the Bible. However, we are always learning, because there is so much to learn from God’s Word. We need constant repetition because God’s Word keeps sanctifying us and helps us to persevere.
God’s own power
Peter says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1Peter 1:3-5)
One of the words we can examine is “shielded”. This word is used when its “kept under guard” or “protected”. We are essentially protected from falling away. If God has begun the good work on us, then he will surely finish it. If we have started the Christian life, then we will arrive at the finishing line.
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