The Preservation of Saints

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Peter 1:3-5  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.

“We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end (John 8:31); that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors (I John 2:19); that a special Providence watches over their welfare (Romans 8:28); and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (Philippians 1:6).”

This is perhaps the most misunderstood of doctrines.  Strong Christians have disagreed and are disagreeing.  Often the same passage of Scripture is interpreted so as to prove opposing conclusions.  There are two sets of relevant Scriptures:

1.  Those emphatically asserting the eternal security of the Christian.   (John 6:37; 10:28,29; Romans 5:9,10; 8:29-39; Ephesians 1:13,14; 4:30; Philippians 1:6;2 Timothy 1:12; 4:18; I Peter 1:3-5.)

2.  Those which give warnings about the results of trifling with divine things and of the neglect of spiritual privileges.   (I Corinthians 8:11; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:11-6:9; 10:19-31,38,39; II Peter 1:10; Jude 5,21,24)

A great deal depends upon how we approach the subject.  When we start with God, we cannot help but see Divine Preservation.  However, when we begin with man we are sure to see the possibility of failure.  It is as if the positive side conveyed a ruling, spiritual principle, and the negative, a warning not to distort it.  The positive conveyed an assurance for the Christian as such, the negative, a caution to the individual not to delude himself as to his Christianity, above all, not to allow anything to excuse sin, or to rationalize grace.

Let us carefully note that the word of God makes a real difference between the one who merely professes attachment to Christ, and those who have been made a new creation in Christ  (Matthew 7:22; Luke 13:24-29).  There are those who seem to willfully misquote the teaching of the security of the believer by saying that “since one is in the faith set free from sin, he is, therefore, made eternally safe no matter what he may become in character and life.” Such perversion of the truth must be met with the clear teaching of Scripture. The truth is not that a justified man is saved irrespective of what he may be in character.  It is rather that the justifying and regenerating grace of God so revolutionizes a justified man’s character that he can never be what he was before.  Biblical salvation includes everything between regeneration and resurrection.  Salvation is, from beginning to glory, altogether of grace through faith.

The heirs of heaven shall certainly be conducted safely to their possession of it. Christians being kept by the power of God through faith implies both danger and deliverance.  They may be attacked, but shall not be overcome.  Faith is the sovereign preservative of the soul through a state of grace, unto a state of glory  (I Peter 1:3-5).   See also Micah 7:8.

- - - - The Scriptures below are referenced in the doctrinal statement - - - -

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;

1 John 2:19  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.

Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Philippians 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

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