This week I want to look at the doctrine of perseverance. To persevere as a Christian means we will remain steadfast as Christians until either the end of our lives or until Jesus comes back.
Some people believe that a Christian may fall away and go back to being a non-Christian. Many base this upon the experience that they have had with friends or family who committed themselves to Christ but then changed their minds later on and went back to their old ways. If we believe that Christians can fall away this raises serious doubts in our minds whether we will remain Christians. We think to ourselves, ‘Will tomorrow be the day I wake up and decide that I no longer want to be a Christian?’
But the Scriptures are quite clear that if we are truly saved then we will always be Christians. Jesus speaks of this in John’s gospel: ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can 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 10:28-29). When you become a Christian you are put into the hands of the Son and the Father and noone is able to snatch you out, not even yourself. The apostle Paul also speaks of perseverance: ‘…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).’ God has promised that he will finish the work he has started in the hearts of his children.
So what about those who become Christians and then deny Jesus? The Bible says that although they may have appeared to be Christians, they were never actually Christians. The apostle John explains this in his first letter: ‘They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us’ (1 John 2:19).
Therefore we can trust that we will persevere as Christians because Jesus hangs on tight to those who are truly Christians. But then the question remains, ‘How do I know I am truly a Christian and in Christ’s hands so that I will persevere?’ The Bible tells us the answer: You are a Christian if (i) you have repented of your sins; (ii) trusted in Jesus’ death for your sins; and (iii) begun to see the fruit of repentance and faith in your life through obedience to God. If that is you, then rest assured you are a child of God and he will protect you to the end.