We now approach our final point in what is often called the Five Points of Calvinism or a component in Reformed Theology. We look today at the final letter in that acronym known as TULIP. We are looking at the letter “P” which stands for Perseverance of the Saints.
The Bible teaches that God the Father is sovereign in electing or choosing a people for Himself before the world began (cf. Romans 9:6-24; Eph. 1:4-5). We have also seen that God the Son is sovereign in His atoning work of dying on the cross for His people securing forever and completely their forgiveness. Lastly we see, that God the Holy Spirit sovereignly applies the work of Christ on God’s elect at just the right time so that they are effectually called from spiritual death to spiritual life. We call that event regeneration or being born again.
If Scripture teaches that God has done all of this – do we then believe that He can fail? The question being raised is simply this, “Can God finish what He started?” Today’s final letter “P” exclaims powerfully- YES! “And I am sure of this,” the Apostle Paul wrote, “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)
How do we prove this? First, saints are called to be disciples. When we hear the word “perseverance” the word bears an air of difficulty about it. Perseverance often draws out ideas of strain or exertion. When we consider God’s call for Christians, it is not an easy work. Nevertheless, true disciples of Jesus Christ persevere to the end. Jesus said, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22) Endurance is not optional, it’s a necessity. This is why Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” and “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (John 8:31; 15:5b-6)
Second, saints are set apart by God. It is true that everyone we encounter is a sinner. But what is not equally true is that everyone we meet is a sanctified sinner; that is, a saint. A Christian is a saint. God has sanctified you in Christ by pouring His Holy Spirit upon you. The question we must raise then is – can we lose this status? Can it be snatched away by apathy, sin, or even Satan himself? Some well-meaning Christians would say “yes” but nothing could be further from the truth, which leads us to our next point.
Saints are preserved by God. Scripture does not teach that you are saved by being good enough. How many of us suffer needlessly because of our fears or uncertainties or even ignorance of Scripture? What does Jesus promise to all those who come to Him? “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” (John 6:39) He also promised, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
What does Jesus preach to our fearful hearts? Is it get your act together or get out? Is it “You better start living this out or else”? Christ’s promises are better than that. He promises that the recipients of His grace will be kept and empowered by God. They will be victorious, and it will not be because of their ability to hold onto God. Instead, they will persevere to the end because God will never let them go. The Lord Jesus promises to preserve His precious saints all the way until the end. Satan cannot rip us out of His hand. Just as God promises to raise us to new life, so He has promised to walk with us even to the end.
It is impossible for a true Christian to lose their salvation. This is why we rejoice in the Apostle’s Paul’s words in what is often called the golden chain of salvation, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:30)
We need to know this because there will be times in our lives where being a Christian is going to be very difficult. There may be internal struggles of doubt, disappointment, or tremendous failures in sin. There may be external pressures whether it be persecution, opposition, rejection by family, friends, or even jobs. But whether it be danger from without or danger from within the promise of God stands secure: God will preserve us and enable us to persevere to the end.