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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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CONTINUING IN THE FAITH

Samuel A CainAnd I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13 ESV)

Many Christians are disillusioned by the times we live in. Wickedness, dishonesty, and violence appear to be increasing. An anti-Christian attitude has taken hold of the media and those who believe themselves our intellectual, cultural élite. The disintegration of the family and the growing numbers of abused children are alarming. Because of compromise with a secular culture, the Gospel is no longer preached with authority in many of our churches. Many lament: “What can we do?”

On a personal level, many Christians feel overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control. Some seem to be plagued by life’s cruelties; such as – sickness, job loss, and loss of loved ones, poverty, broken relationships, and victimization. Some feel as if their troubles will never end. In their frustration, they may allow sin to regain ground in their lives. They boil inside with the urge to rebel, scream, and shake their fists at God. Some even seem to fall away from the faith. Some ask: “How can we continue to believe when life is so hard and, if there is a god, he does not seem to care?”

In this life, if a believer was left by God to his own power, he would certainly apostatize from the faith when faced with such troubles. However, those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and who truly believe in Jesus Christ will continue in the Christian faith – by the power of God – and therefore cannot lose their salvation. This does not mean that true believers cannot commit sins. They sometimes do, but they cannot fall finally away from grace. They will be recovered and brought again to repentance. Those who do completely and finally fall away were never born again to begin with. John writes:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:19 ESV)

John is saying that these people were not true Christians because they never were in Christ. Some may refer to certain Bible verses, such as Matthew 24:12-13, to conclude that saving endurance is under the control of man’s will. Man decides either to endure or not to endure. Therefore, if he does not choose to endure, he will not be saved. This is a salvation of works. Loraine Boettner explains:

“God’s exhortations to duty are perfectly consistent with His purpose to give sufficient grace for the performance of these duties. In one place we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart; in another, God says, ‘I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.’ Now either these must be consistent with each other, or the Holy Spirit must contradict Himself.”

perseverance of saintsThe unmerited grace we have received by God’s love is as unchangeable as God’s being. It holds on and secures the Christian infinitely better than our own grasp. God is faithful. His promises are unbreakable. God, who saves us through the sacrificial blood of Jesus, has promised: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)

Bible verses that mention “enduring to the end” or “continuing in faith” to the end of our lives, are set before us as an example of true faith. It also serves as a warning to those who are abandoning belief in Christ that “they all are not of us”. They were never saved to begin with. A good and faithful servant will appear one day before the Judgment Seat of Christ with a testimony that clearly demonstrates he has continued in the faith and is worthy of reward. Yet, it is all by grace. All of it!

 

*Beginning Tuesday, February 17th, I will post articles that I have authored once a week on Tuesdays. During the remainder of the week, I will continue to post articles and quotes from some of the great Christian thinkers and preachers of the past – as well as the present.

Grace to you,

Samuel

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