1. I have a confession to make. There are times that I wonder if I am really saved.
2. I believe that God did call me to be His child. When I first knew this, I could not read enough, worship enough, or talk enough about Him. The joy and excitement of a new found love. A deep desire to run away from all my sins. But there have been many times when I have not felt that way. Some days, even some weeks or months I struggle with spending time with Him. My desire seems to be on other things rather than in spending time with Him. I find it hard to read His word. I fall back into some sins that I thought I had overcome. My faith often feels dry and lifeless. Then I feel I am not living as a believer ought to, let alone a minister.
3. I know that I am not alone in this struggle. When I have mentioned this to a few of you, you have been surprised that I have these struggles. But you have also confessed to me that you struggle just like me.
4. And when you do, you wonder if you are really saved.
5. Today we look at the last of our Reformed doctrines that form the word TULIP.
6. And as we do, many we find assurance and peace and confidence that our faith is genuine and that we are truly saved. May we find that we share in the living hope of which Peter writes to us.
7. The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints should give us that assurance.
8. What is this teaching. The Westminster Confession of Faith has defined perseverance as follows:
They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved (chap. 17, sec. 1).
9. In simpler terms this doctrine says this about our salvation: "If we have it, we never lose it. If we lose it we never had it." In other words, if we are true believers, we can rest assured that we will never lose our salvation.
10. But don't we still sin and even have times when we do not act or feel like saved Christians?
11. This definition does not deny the possibility of living in sin or falling away for a time:
Nevertheless [believers] may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and for a time continue therein; whereby they incur God's displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit: come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves (sec. 3).
12. But even the sins we continue to commit cannot take our salvation away from us. We will persevere in our faith.
Jesus said: Mat 24:13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
The KJV says "But he that shall ENDURE to the end, the same shall be saved"
13. We may fall into sins and even periods of sin, but we will not fall from grace. It means that we do not fall into a life of sin and/or a life that repudiates or denies or rejects our faith.
14. But do we not know peopel who have done just that? Those who made profession of faith and showed real zeal. Does this not show that we can loose our faith?
15. There are two explanations for this situation.
a. The one is that their faith was not genuine in the first place. They are like the seed that fell in shallow soil and sprang up quickly, then withered and died. The seed never really took root. There may have been some outward of conversion, but it was not real. They are like those who honoured Christ with their lips but whose hearts were far from Him. We might include Judas as one of these.
b. The second is that the person has fallen into serious apostasy and sin but they will repent of their sin and be restored before they die.
c. eg. my brother-in-law and me. Both served in consistory and confessed Christ with lips. But the we both denied Christ. Took five years for me to be restored. He has not been - after 20-25 years. Seems like he was never saved but God may still restore him.
16. If our faith is real, we will persevere or hold onto our faith until the end. But the reason we will do so, is because God preserves. Our perseverence does not depend on ourselves but upon God. As RC Sproul says, God’s preserving grace makes our perseverence both possible and actual.