Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Precious Perseverance in the Psalms
Knowing my own heart, as well as what Scripture says about it (such as Jeremiah 17:9 and Romans 3:10-12), I know that my salvation has been all of Christ and none of myself. One aspect of that is my perseverance. As prone to treason as the Scripture says my heart is, how could I have any hope of staying saved for a mere hour, if it depended on my free will, my effort, or on anything at all from me? There could be no hope at all. That is why people in Pelagian "churches," such as Rome, the so-called Churches of Christ," and the United Pentecostal Church, add so many things to salvation, trying to find something that will give them an assurance of eternal life. Yet, they always return to their state of terror when their questions return: How many masses will make sure I get to heaven? How many times raising my hand? Being baptized the right way? What will give me security of conscience? How much gibbering will satisfy the wrath of God?
And the answer will always be, if you look to yourself for assurance, then you will never find any.
The author of Psalm 119 talks about where he found his assurance (Ps. 119:33-40):
"Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep Your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of Your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in Your ways.
Confirm to Your servant Your promise,
that You may be feared.
Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for Your rules are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
in Your righteousness give me life!"
Notice the imperative verbs he uses: "teach me," "give me," "lead me," "incline me," "turn me," "confirm to me," "turn away." All of these verbs are requests that God will exercise His sovereign grace in the author's spiritual life. not once here does he make any claim to have power in himself to do these things. There is no appeal to free will. Rather, they all appeal for God to do these things in him (see also Isaiah 26:12). And that prayer is very appropriate, because it is a promise of God to do exactly that: "It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
One further point must be made here. Notice from this that the perseverance of the saints is no "once saved, always saved." No saint can find assurance in raising his hand or signing some response card. Rather, perseverance involves the working of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the truly converted. We do not persevere as a convert left as he was, but rather as the convert is changed to be more and more like Jesus. He will change the true believers in will and life, not in passivity.