by Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
I have been asked is it not inconsistent to declare we believe salvation is all of grace and at the same time believe in the final perseverance of the saints. The question reveals a misunderstanding of the doctrine of perseverance. Salvation is of the Lord. The Father planned it, the Son accomplished it and the Spirit applies it; but the evidence that a person has been born again is that he continues following the Lord.
Perseverance is not a work performed by the sinner as a contribution to his salvation but evidence that he has been saved.
A true believer may have many failures along the way but he will not finally turn away. “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 manifest that they were not of us” (I John 2:19). The desire of the child of God is to live righteously but because the old nature has not been eradicated he struggles and often stumbles, but when a person denies the faith it is evidence he never was a true believer.
This Bible truth is a doctrine held by Baptists through the years. The quote below is from the London Confession of 1689 and from the Fulton Confession of 1900. While some of the notes added to the Fulton Confession changed the original sentiment: the section on Perseverance was adopted without change.
1. Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (whence He still begets and nourishes in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality); and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet it is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palms of His hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
2. The perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, and union with Him, the oath of God, the abiding of His Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the Covenant of Grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
3. And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein; whereby they incur God's displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves; yet they shall renew their repentance, and be preserved, through faith in Jesus, to the end.
© Baptist Bible Hour
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