Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

The Comfort of the Perseverance of the Saints

Written by Rev. G.R. Procee
The perseverance of the saints is a source of rich comfort for God's children. They were brought into the state of grace and can never fall away from this state. This is because God causes them to persevere. They are purchased by Christ and will always remain His. God's people are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (1 Pet.1: 5).

The perseverance of the saints is a matter of great comfort for God's children. What comfort would it be if being regenerated, converted, justified and led into a life of sanctification, I would be able to lose all I have received tomorrow and become alienated to the grace of God again? I would have no true comfort, but have only fear and great concern, for I would still be in danger of losing this precious salvation.

Great joy flows from the knowledge that I am in God's hand. He cares for me and He will lead me to be with Him. This knowledge is not, as the Arminians claim, a motive for laziness, but on the contrary, this sure comfort of being preserved by the grace of God excites His children to be the more zealous for the Lord and His cause. Such a person will forget what lies behind and will press forward to the mark of the prize of the high calling of God (Phil.3: 14).

The Basis for the Perseverance of the Saints
The triune God keeps and preserves His people. This is the sure basis and foundation that provides the comfort of the perseverance of the saints. "Since His counsel cannot be changed, nor His promise fail, neither can the call according to His purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated" (Canons V, 8).

It is God the Father Who elects and therefore He preserves His elect for the blessed salvation in His Son, so that, the purpose of God according to election might stand (Rom.9: 11). Neither the devil nor hell nor any evil power can annul God's decree. God the Father is immutable. With God the Father there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (Jas.1: 17).

From beginning to the end salvation forms a golden chain. All the links are connected; they cannot be broken. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son... Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified (Rom.8: 29-30).

It is God the Son Who has given full satisfaction for all sins, past, present and future. Christ not only redeems His people, but He also prays for them. His intercession supplies much comfort for the believer. For through the prayer of Christ His people are kept in the faith. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are (Jn.17: 11).

It is God the Holy Spirit Who abides with His people forever. That He may abide with you forever (Jn.14: 16). The Holy Spirit is the earnest of the salvation of His people. They have the divine guarantee in their hearts that they forever will be the Lord's. That provides unspeakable comfort.

Comfort from the Covenant of Grace
The perseverance of God's children lies also firm in the covenant of grace. God is the foundation of that covenant. When a person becomes a partaker of the benefits of the covenant, it is a rich comfort that God will undertake for him forever because God remembers His covenant. He is faithful to His covenant. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on them (Isa.54: 10).

The covenant of grace is an everlasting covenant and is unbreakable from God's side. God remains faithful to His covenant. God's children may be comforted by the fact that their preservation is firmly rooted in the covenant that God has established with them.

God's People Must be Focused upon God
God's children should live more from the wealth of the blessings of the covenant of grace. They should be more focused upon God's work and promises than upon their own experiences. It can be detrimental for healthy spiritual life to be too focused on personal experiences. In this respect Brakel comments:

It is a serious deficiency in the godly to be so inclined to
focus upon themselves, desiring to derive all their comfort from
the enjoyment of spiritual blessings, and to have such an
excessive desire for them. If they then are deprived of this (for
it is not God's way always to give them the sensible enjoyment of
this), they are discouraged. This is the reason why the godly are
often so melancholy. Instead they would run their course with joy
if they would focus more upon the immutability of God, the
covenant, and the promises. Their life would be more to the
honour of God and to the edification of their neighbour.
Therefore train yourself to be fully assured of this doctrine and
to use it continually to your comfort. Then the efficacy unto
salvation will immediately issue forth from it."

Afflictions in Life of Faith
The people of God encounter many serious attacks in this life and this world, but if the doctrine of the perseverance is understood well, there will be comfort in all these afflictions. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints supplies a remedy against all kinds of afflictions and tribulations:

1. The assaults of the devil
When God converts a sinner and delivers him from the dominion of sin, the devil will seek to have his former prey back. He will assault a sinner and try to lead into sin and arouse sinful sentiments towards God. He is very sly and can reveal Himself as an angel of light. He can even come with Bible texts. He can breathe into your ear that there is no grace for you and no forgiveness for you any more. He can plant doubts about your election or wrong views concerning the attributes of God.

But the devil will not succeed in snatching even one sheep from Christ, for the Lord Jesus is in control. Instead, the devil himself will be trodden under foot (Rom.16: 20). God holds on to His children during these assaults. He leads them to renewed repentance and comforts them with unspeakable comfort.

2. The enmity of the world
God's children have forsaken the world. Therefore the world hates them and will seek to draw them away from God. The world displays the lusts of the eye, the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. Christ prays for His people who are in the world but are called not to be of the world. Christ prays that they would receive the strength not to imitate the world.

It can also be that the world comes with cruel persecution and suffering. Yet also in these matters Christ is in control. He gives special courage and strength. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Rom.8: 35).

3. The struggle against sinful flesh
The old man within God's children causes much stumbling and falling into sins of the flesh. This can be carnal worldly flesh within, but it can also be pious flesh. There can be hypocritical self-righteousness. It is terrible when we are led by our flesh--and what sorrow then dwells in the soul of a child of God!

The flesh has to be starved and mortified. This constitutes a life-long battle, because we always carry our flesh along with us. Yet Christ causes His people to persevere. The Lord Jesus prays for His people and keeps them until the day, when at last, forever in glory, they will die completely to the old man of flesh within and the new man only will live. God's children look forward to being delivered from the flesh and they are comforted by the perseverance of the saints.

4. The battle against the weakness of faith
Faith will be assaulted by doubts. Not that doubts are good and desirable--they are not. Doubts are present as a result of the weakness of faith. God's children may wonder if they have true faith. Calvin comments that these doubts are present with faith just as smoke comes with fire. Believers do not always experience the sweetness of God's service. At times they can enjoy the loving embraces of the Lord Jesus through His Holy Spirit. But the Lord can also hide Himself, so that it seems as if prayer does not even ascend to the Lord in heaven. God can hide Himself, as it were with a cloud. He can withhold the impressions of His mercy towards them.

The Lord Jesus protects His people in all these struggles. He confirms His work and comforts the souls of weak disciples. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not (Lk.22: 32). God's children are kept by Him. That gives unspeakable comfort.

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