How Calvinism Shapes Christian Ministry: Perseverance of the Saints and the Powerful Promises of God

How Calvinism Shapes Christian Ministry: Perseverance of the Saints and the Powerful Promises of God

It is the strength of the Lord that preserves and keeps us persevering. In this truth, let us also remember that it is “the joy of the Lord that is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) and let us remain faithful to the Lord and his people wherever he has placed us. This, ultimately, is how Calvinism shapes Christian ministry.

Every pastor, at one point or another, stands in a similar position to the Prophet Elijah—looking at the enemies that surround us, the sheep that bite us, and the weakness within us, we often cry out, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD” (1 Kings 18:22). The trials of the Christian life can feel overwhelming and, when coupled with the dangers of pastoring, it is little surprise that many ministers and stewards of the gospel sometimes feel the crushing weight of despair. Our strength can seemingly fail, our hope grow dim, and our joy dissipate.

Often, we find ourselves like Peter. As the Lord calls us to minister in some extraordinary way (all ministering, at its heart, is extraordinary, whether it be seen by thousands, hundreds, tens, or one), we find ourselves sinking in the waves of fear and doubt. We are like Peter in Matthew 14:29–30 wherein, “[Jesus] said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’”

If it were up to us as Christians to keep ourselves saved, we would daily fail. We would be eternally lost. If it were up to our faith or our works to secure the continuance of our salvation, then none of us would ever prevail. We do not have the strength or power within ourselves to either be saved or stay saved.

Praise the Lord, then, that as tightly as we cling to Christ, he clings even more tightly to us still. If salvation hinged at all on our efforts, then we would not be strong enough to uphold our salvation. But salvation depends not on us. Salvation depends on Christ.

It is not the extent of our faith that saves, but the object of our faith—the Lord Jesus Christ—who both saves and secures us to himself. It not the number of our works that save or secure us, but the finished work of Christ that saves us eternally (Jn 19:30).

The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints promises that our salvation in Christ is secure, that eternal life is ours and will never be lost, and that God will finish the good work he began within us (Phil 1:6).

Perseverance of the Saints and the Everlasting Certainty of Salvation

Perseverance of the Saints is the final letter of the TULIP acronym, and it outlines for the believer the certain and comforting truth that we who belong to Christ will never be lost by Christ. We who are saved are saved eternally.

Perseverance itself is a word that describes the everlasting continuance of something. It explains how those who have repented of their sin and trusted in Christ, who have been washed by the blood of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, been forgiven, redeemed, and saved, will continue within that salvation.

Philippians 1:6 provides one of the most encouraging verses in this regard, as it comfortingly promises, “And 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.” God not only began the work of salvation within us, but he will complete the work. The Golden Chain of salvation will  never  be broken. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:29–30). The promise is that God, who foreknew and predestined us unto salvation before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), elected us to an everlasting salvation.

Indeed, Perseverance of the Saints is the culmination of the other four letters of the TULIP acronym. We are born into this world as  totally depraved  sinners, dead in our trespasses and sins and absolutely incapable of saving ourselves or coming to saving faith on our own. Yet, God, by his gracious and sovereign will,  unconditionally  elected  a number of sinners unto salvation. Those whom God has  unconditionally elected—according to his providential purposes within predestination—he sent Jesus, the Son of God, to this earth to die for. At the cross, Jesus  limitedly atoned  for the sins of those whom the Father had elected and promised to him. At the time appointed by the Father, the Holy Spirit now effectually applies salvation to elect sinners through the preaching of the gospel by drawing them to Christ with an  irresistible grace. Those who are  irresistibly  drawn to Christ will be  kept  and  preserved  by this same sovereign and amazing grace of God.

This means that our salvation, from beginning to end, is a Trinitarian work of God. The Father planned our salvation, the Son purchased our salvation, and the Holy Spirit now applies our salvation. As Jesus promised in John 10:28–30: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Because of these promises, we can know with absolute certainty that we who are saved are never in danger of losing our salvation. We will be kept by God because we are triply and eternally secure in Christ. Held in the hands of the Son, whose hands are wrapped in the hands of the Father, we are also filled and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

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