Puritans on Perseverance of Saints
Chapter 38 - Perseverance of the Saints
The certainty of our perseverance.
Jus as Christ finished His work FOR us, He will finish His work IN us. Jude 1, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Proverbs 24:16, Philippians 1:3-6, and even Leviticus 25:23 all show this doctrine. "Once saved, always saved" is misleading, though technically true. People do fall from a profession of faith (so we see apostasy), but not from saving grace and from the possession of true faith. Rome contradicts this, asserting that we lose our justification when we sin mortally and regain it with penance.
Objections to perseverance
1. Hebrews 6:1-4 and 10:26-39 and experience show us that falling from grace is real.
No, professors of faith are not all elect.
2. Scripture calls us to keep ourselves in the faith, so it must be up to us.
No, "obligation does not entail ability" (605). Our duty and God's grace do not displace each other. Both are at work at the same time.
3. People won't be motivated to holiness if they really believe in total assurance.
No, knowing true grace and this assurance motivates holiness, and we are preserved precisely INTO holiness.
Grounds of perseverance
Persevering to the end depends on God holding us, not us holding Him (John 10:28-29).
The Father's love electing, the Son's work purchasing and the Spirit's indwelling interceding (Eph. 1:13-14) all bring assurance, as does the covenant of grace (Isaiah 55:3; 2 Samuel 23:5).
Difficulty of perseverance
True believers slip and fall IN the way without leaving it for good. David and Peter did this, while Judas fell from fellowship finally. God heals the former kind of backsliding (Hosea 14:4), but not the latter.
Necessity of perseverance
We must persevere to the end or we will not be saved.
Means of perseverance
Beeke and Jones lay out the two classic areas of Puritan application: the diligent use of the means of grace, and maintaining a good conscience.