Section 7: Salvation – Part 2
Week 3: Perseverance
Day 1: Only Those Who Persevere Until the End Are Saved
In theology, the term perseverance refers to a believer continuing in faith through the end of his or her life. We will be looking at several aspects of the doctrine of perseverance this week. The place to start though is the Bible’s insistence that only those who persevere to the end will be saved.
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matt 10:22).
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first Heb. (3:14).
But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation–if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel (Col. 1:22-23a).
If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned (John 15:6).
Those passages have something important to say about the nature of the Christian life. It can’t be a transitory phase or passing fad. It’s crucial that we hold on to our faith in Christ until the end. Some Christians believe if a person responds to an altar call or prays the “sinner’s prayer”, nothing else the person does matters. No matter what they do, that person is eternally secure. The Bible, however, clearly says that someone who makes a profession of faith, but later walks away will not be saved.
And that only makes sense when you think about it because it’s our connection to Christ that saves us, and it’s our faith that forms the connection.
A few years ago, there was a T.V. show called Heroes. As I’m writing, they’re about to come out with a spinoff called Heroes Reborn. I wasn’t a die-hard fan of the original series when it was on, but I liked it well enough. So, I’ve been re-watching the old episodes in preparation for the new series. One of my favorite characters is Hiro Nakamura. At the start of the show, Hiro is a bored office worker who dreams of being a superhero. Then one day he discovers he has the power to bend space and time, which allows him to teleport to any place (or any time) he wants. As you can imagine, that power comes in handy. Whenever he gets into a dicey situation, he can just teleport out of it. More than once he was able to save others by grabbing them and teleporting them out of danger. To make that happen though the other person had to be connected to Hiro because they didn’t have the power to teleport on their own. So, without that physical connection, they would have been stuck.
Salvation works in a similar way. Our faith connects us to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. As a result, his righteousness becomes our righteousness. If we were to sever that connection though, everything would change because, on our own, we aren’t righteousness. In fact, as we have seen, our sin places us under God’s judgment. Jesus’ righteousness is the only thing that can save us, and we take hold of his righteousness through faith. To let go of our faith, therefore, is to also let go of our salvation.
That’s why the Bible warns believers so strongly not to give up their faith. Only those who persevere in faith are saved because only those who persevere in faith remain connected by that faith to Christ. Now, some of you are worrying that you can lose your salvation. Don’t worry, you can’t. More about that in the days to come.
Read the book of Hebrews in its entirety over the next couple of days.
Why does the author warn his readers so often about the dangers of turning away from Christ? What does he say would happen were they to do that?