Section 7: Salvation – Part 2
Week 3: Perseverance
Day 2: All Genuine Believers Persevere Until the End
There’s a saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That’s definitely true of me. When the going gets tough, I get going… in the opposite direction. That’s why the doctrine of perseverance, at first glance, seems so intimidating. If things get tough, can any of us be sure we will stick with our faith?
Life gets tough…
I have a friend who went in for surgery several years ago. It didn’t go well. Complications developed shortly after surgery that almost took his life. As a result, he was in the hospital much longer than originally planned. As the weeks dragged on, he started to get depressed.
There just never seemed to be any good news. The doctors weren’t able to tell him when he’d be well enough to go home. More discouraging, though, no one could give him a long-term prognosis. He knew his condition had the potential to dramatically alter his life. But for the longest time no one could tell him how much better he was going to get. So all he could do was lay there wondering what his life would be like when he finally got out. Would he be able to do the things he used to do? Would he be able to work? Would he be able to take care of his family?
He didn’t have the answers to any of those questions. We tend to feel better when we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But there was no end of the tunnel for him, let alone any light. In the midst of that medical limbo, he asked God, “If this is what I get for following you, what’s the point?”
Even if we haven’t gone through a similar situation, we can certainly imagine a time when we might. And that’s what makes the doctrine of perseverance sound so daunting. Only those who persevere are saved. How do we know we will persevere? How do we know life won’t get so tough that we won’t decide to give it all up? Maybe we’ll get some dreaded disease and get so mad at God that we won’t want anything to do with him. Maybe we’ll face such painful persecution that we will feel like we have no choice but to deny Christ.
… But will God see us through it?
We want to know we are saved, but the doctrine of perseverance seems to say we can’t be sure. The good news is we can be sure because it is God’s strength, not ours, that ensures we will persevere to the end. And that’s what gives us confidence.
Jesus himself promised he wouldn’t let any believer slip away:
I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:38-40).
The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).
Only those who persevere will be saved. But, if we’ve put our faith in Jesus Christ, we can be confident we will persevere because God is at work in us. And as Paul said, we know that he who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).
Does persevering until the end seem daunting to you? Why? Are you comforted by the fact that God is the one who ensures your perseverance?
Thank God for the work he is doing in you right now and that he will continue to do in the future.