In this sermon, Pastor Babij continues his teaching on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Using various scriptures, Pastor Babij explains the following points concerning this doctrine:
• Levels of belief in those who profess Christ
• Points of security for the true believer
• Heart transformation distinctions in true believers
• God’s promises to those who persevere
By way of application, Pastor Babij admonishes listeners that they must show evidence of a changed heart to have assurance that they truly belong to God.
I started a message series on the Lord’s comprehensive evaluation on the state of the church and this will be the last one that I will preach in this series. We’re going to look at several passages but we’re going to start out looking at Revelation 2:7.
We’re looking at this morning the blessings of those who overcome. In other words, this is the perseverance of the saints. Once a person comes to genuinely believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, they will continue to follow the Lord for the rest of their lives and many factors come into that.
The point I ended with last time was despite this unparalleled spiritual opposition that I mentioned, all the believers will be kept secure by God and will persevere until the end. God will preserve all who have been saved by His grace and will transport them safely to Heaven. The elect will be divinely enabled to overcome and will persevere. 1 John 5:5 says:
Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
So this doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is emphasized repeatedly in Revelation. Often referred to as overcomers, Revelation 2:7 says:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.
That word overcome is used often in Revelation. This morning I’m going to take a detour then come back to the Revelation passages. First I want to define what perseverance is: the doctrine and teaching that says that those who are the elect because they have been the object of God’s eternal decree of election and because they have been the object of Christ’s atonement, shall continue in the way of salvation as the same power of God that saved them will also keep and sanctify them until their final salvation. Now if you’re there in Revelation 14:12-13, it says:
Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
So this phrase gives the strong impression that God’s saving purpose cannot be frustrated. None of Christ’s true sheep can ever be lost. Though the elect may for a time fall into sin, even sometimes radical sin, such as Peter’s denial of Christ, God restores them into fellowship with Himself and assures their eternal salvation. So this salvation involves the work of the Trinity. All those chosen by God the Father are redeemed by Christ the Son and given faith by the Spirit. Those are the ones that are eternally saved.
They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end. They persevere in faith and He preserves them. Just like it says in Romans 8:30:
Those whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
There is an unbroken chain of theology. Whatever God starts, He also finishes. Let’s pray.
Father this morning, I pray as we look at this particular subject, that You would press on our hearts by the Word of God where we each stand with You. We thank You Lord that our salvation in Christ is not a fickle thing. It’s not about having it one day and losing it the next. What You start You finish and You do complete. Thank You that we can rest our salvation on You because You are faithful to Your children and sheep. You will accomplish everything You say You will in the Word of God on behalf of Your sheep and the glory of Your Name. We thank You for that and I pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.
Now if you remember your past science classes where you learned about the Law of Inertia. It teaches that objects at rest tend to stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force. An object in motion tends to stay in mention until acted upon by an outside force. Just as an illustration, before conversion you were in a sense at rest and dead in your sin. The gospel came and the power of God unto salvation quickened you and made you alive. You were no longer dead but set in motion unto the narrow path of eternal salvation.
In the natural world, God did not only create the universe, but He also upholds it. If He would withdraw His power for even one second, the universe would go crashing back into non-existence. God creates and sustains the universe and the same is true of our spiritual lives. God not only recreates in Christ and by His Spirit, but He keeps us alive spiritually every single moment of every single day. We know that because the Lord intercedes for us every moment of every day so He keeps us. If He should withdraw His Holy Spirit from us for even a single moment, we would instantly crash back into our natural depraved natures. Thank the Lord that He does not allow that to happen to those who are truly His sheep.
So this morning I would like to examine this topic by looking at it from a verbal profession level and then at a heart transformation level. I want to start first of all looking at it from a verbal transformation level. This responses may seem the same at first for those who really believe and those who profess falsely. We all know someone who at least at one point was deeply convicted of their sin, was burdened in their conscience and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Their professions seemed right, they came to church and would engage in prayer. They lifted up their voices with the saints in worship service, and yet they are no longer amongst us.
They faded and went back to their old lifestyle and have no desire for the things of God anymore. However the doctrines of perseverance does not rule out backsliding by a believer. The doctrine says that a true believer will not remain their endlessly, if he does he had better put a big question mark beside their profession of faith. Many of God’s saints have backslidden and not one of them has apostatized, left completely. Some people fell into sin but not from grace.
David’s fall was like this and was not total for God’s Spirit remained with him. Psalm 51 gives us his confession and him running to God with his sin. David received the washing away of his guilt and sin and God restored him. Peter was also like this. His faith did not fail him for Christ prayed for him even though Satan desired to sift him like wheat. The Lord prayed on his behalf and he did not finally lose or fail.
The sinful falls of the saints are not recorded in Scripture for our imitation but for our warning, to take heed for ourselves and to watch against any temptation to go to the old way of life and idolatrous systems. Even when we read the parable of the sower. Someone may hear the Word and even respond with joy, but yet fall away because of troubles and persecutions.
Some it says in Corinthians, react with just worldly sorrow and not true repentance in faith and are not genuinely saved. The book of Hebrews talks about dimensions of enlightenment where people receive full knowledge of theology and how to be made right with God, and yet these Hebrews did not want to let go of Judaism and believe in the Messiah who died in their place. They had dimensions of enlightenment and truth and yet did not go all the way and believed.
Jesus even warned that someone can put on a ministerial show and lack the true faith and repentance in Christ leading to holiness as it says in Matthew 7:23:
I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity.
Some people can actually think they are believers because they made a profession of faith but are self deceived. It’s not in the initial profession but it is in the undermining of truth which is the continuing preservation of God for the saints. Here are some Old and New Testament passages which teach that God perseveres His people. Take your Bible and turn to Psalm 37:28 and notice what it says:
For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
In Psalm 121:3, 7-8 says:
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.
If we go to the New Testament, we find other passages of Scripture that say the same things in different ways. Look at what it says in 2 Timothy 4:18
The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
And 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
In other words, God’s faithfulness began our salvation by calling us and His faithfulness guarantees the ultimate completion of our salvation. Other passages say this in 2 Thessalonians 3:3:
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
And then 1 Peter 1:4 says:
To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.
And then one other passage before we move on is Jude 1:1, 24 where it says:
Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.
So all those passages impress upon those who are truly believers that our salvation never depended on us. It doesn’t even depend on you now in keeping yourself saved. It is God from the beginning to the end. Philippians 1:6 says:
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Now if you note in that passage, a Christian’s confidence is not in himself, but in God. God can guarantee a believer’s preservation. Also God supplies security to His saints. How can you be sure that you will never perish or be separated from God for all eternity in a place the Bible calls the lake of fire. Well you can be sure because of what the Word of God says. As long as you are truly a believer like what it says in Hebrews 9:12:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways.
The ESV says it like this, “thus securing eternal redemption.” Now we all live in a society where we are all security conscience, aren’t we not? Maybe more these days than any other time in history. We go to great lengths to protect and secure what we have. We want to keep our most precious things as secure as possible but even then we know that with our greatest effort to secure our stuff, there still remains a possibility that we can lose it or someone can steal it from us.
Now just for your information, the protectors of England’s priceless crown jewels have gone to great lengths to make sure they are protected and secured. In fact, a person would somehow need to sneak past 22 trained, fully armed guards and then pass undetected through more than 100 security cameras. And if they got that far, the invaluable prize is secured behind bomb-proof glass. No wonder England’s crown jewels have remained secure for 17 centuries. Each year, they have been building on their security. What a security system!
The Christian is worth much more than England’s crown jewels. The Christian’s salvation is highly protected and securely kept for all of Christ’s true sheep for all of eternity. Christ has earned it for you by paying for it with His precious blood. So then it is eternally secure no matter what happens. That is only for Christ’s true sheep. Now saying that, I want you to look at what the Word of God says in John 10. There are three points of security in the Parable of the Good Shepherd and of course the Shepherd is Jesus Christ. He loves His sheep, will not deceive His sheep, and will bring His sheep near safe waters and green pastures. And in two places, we are given points of security in this passage.
The first thing He tells His sheep is that they have eternal security. In John 10:28 it says:
I give eternal life to them.
This means that the life is forever. At this point, that once saved always saved. That’s a dangerous phrase because we don’t want to give anyone assurance when it’s not our job, but the Holy Spirit’s job. It’s the Word of God that will provide assurance if they continue in it. Everyone needs to know that they have eternal life and that it is based on what Christ has done, just like what it says in 1 John 5:13:
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
God wants us to know from the Word of God that we have eternal life. The first point of security for a child of God is that they have eternal life. The second point of security comes out of the nature of the promise that is given to His sheep. In John 10:28 it also says this:
I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish.
In other words, the promise from God is that the saints will never perish. They are God’s property and are sealed and will be guarded right down to the day of redemption. The Holy Spirit guarantees that they will not be lost. In Ephesians 1:13 says:
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.
And then again it is repeated in Ephesians 4:30:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The Lord gives us eternal security and guarantees that security to His real sheep. The third point of security in this passage in John 10:28-30 is the united commitment to be guarded by the Godhead. Notice what it says here:
No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
If we take what I just said, that if the Spirit of God seals us into the day of redemption and no one can snatch us from the hand of Jesus or the Father, than who can snatch us? The point is that God has his hand on you and no one can possibly remove you from Him. Paul brings this up in Romans 8:35, 38-39:
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now that’s a triple security system: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. You are kept until the day when you stand before Him. Now you may feel sometimes that you are not doing well spiritually, but it doesn’t mean that it changes God’s mind about which sheep He will keep until the end.
Now I want to switch from a verbal profession of faith to a heart transformation level. That’s the second thing I want you to see this morning. We’ll stay there in John 10 and we’ll look at several distinctives that are found amongst God’s sheep. If you are really a believer, then something is going to happen. The useful nature of this doctrine is found in the consistent perseverance of the saints. Why would a true believer continue in the faith and not turn back to a life of habitual sin? Because God works in him or her. He works on your heart, mind, and will. It says in Philippians 2:12-13:
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
God is working in His children. They have the Spirit of God living in them. He is transforming your heart, mind, and will. There are things that will be particular to the sheep and no one else. There are people who profess in the name of the Lord but don’t have those distinctives. The saints will be identified by four distinct facts and these really reflect the nature of regeneration.
The new birth is a miracle of grace affecting a radical change within a person who believes. It renews the faculties of the soul and gives an entirely different bent to a person’s inclinations of the way they think and what they desire and where they are heading and how they want to live their life. God is changing all of those things.
The question would be, who are those who overcome and persevere? Who are those people who continue on in walking with the Lord? No matter what is going on in their life, they just keep going. They may get knocked down get pulled a little by sin, but then they confess and get back on track again. It may be that they wandered off the narrow path but now they’re back. The ones who persevere are the saints and none other. How can you recognize these saints? How can you recognize Christ’s sheep. Look back at John 10. The first distinctive of Christ’s sheep is found in John 10:26, which says:
But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.
In other words this could mean that some think you are God’s sheep, but Jesus is saying that you are not because you don’t believe. The first distinctive of Christ’s sheep is that they have real, saving faith. Only Christ’s sheep have saving faith. They were commended by God to repent and believe, but of course are informed that it is not God who repents or believes for them. Behind the scenes, the Holy Spirit enables the heart to believe and come to Christ for salvation and eternal life. When the person comes to Christ, the Holy Spirit’s sweet drawing of them, the sinner comes to Christ with full consent without realizing that a secret influence had ever been exercised in their heart.
Yes, they believed, but there was so much that happened behind that when God draws a person. No one comes to know the Lord Jesus unless the Father draws them. The Father is drawing them and is pulling them and organizing their lives and circumstances to bring them to the place where they see the truth and come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. When the call comes, the second distinctive of God’s sheep becomes evident. Look in John 10:27:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
They hear the voice of their Shepherd. We have a particular relationship with the Word of God. The Lord also said in John 10:16:
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice.
From the Jews or the Gentiles, the flock that God is going to bring to themselves, a clear distinctive is that once they are saved and while they are being saved, they hear for the first time the voice of the Shepherd. Our ears were created to hear the voice of Jesus Christ and that important message on how to be right with God. Hearing Christ’s voice means more than being familiar with His Words as they are recorded in Scripture, more than believing that they are His words and are true. The Lord requires more than simply listening respectfully and believing what He says. The sheep submit themselves unreservedly to his authority. The sheep respond promptly to His orders. In other words, the sheep want to obey Christ. In fact, the day that you were saved, God opened your spiritual ears and you’re still intently listening to what God is saying. You should want to hear and do what He says.
Here is a third distinctive in John 10:27:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them.
It’s not so much that you know God, but that He knows you. That’s a game changer that His eyes are on you and you are in the palm of His hand. You are His property and no one can snatch you from Him. You have the seal of the Spirit of God in you and no one can break that seal except for God Himself. God knows you.
John 10:15 says:
Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
The union and a communion with Him becomes deeper and more abiding as we learn to love God because we know that He loves us. Romans 5:8 says:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And Romans 8:28 says:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
You see in all these passages of Scripture that there are distinctions where Christ’s sheep have saving faith and hear the voice of their Shepherd and they know that their Shepherd knows them. A last thing in John 10:27 says:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
Who else are we going to follow once we come to know Christ? There’s no one else to follow. Once you put your hand to the plow, there’s no looking back to the old habits, sins, and friends. All things become new because God is transforming our heart and conforming us to will. He is changing our mind, giving us the mind of Christ. He is doing all of these things to our benefit while leaving us here on this earth. All the things we deal with on this earth we want to display to others, the transforming power of Christ in our life. We are not the same, what we used to be. We are different.
We follow Him and continue to do so. As soon as as sheep hears the voice of his true Shepherd, they follow and obey Him. They are not sent anymore on following the flesh or being solicited by Satan or the ways of the world. They see clearly what Christ wants for them in this life. Only those who hear and are known of Christ and follow Him shall never perish. Only those who bear the distinctive marks can lay claim to eternal security. Someone can make a profession of faith all day long but no longer follow Christ now. They are not the ones who are part of the perseverance of the saints.
If you are Christ’s sheep, then what evidence do you have to show it? If we were to drag you before a Christian court and you were to prove to us that you are a Christian, what would you bring up and where is your evidence? Could you walk out of that courtroom confident that you made your case that you are truly a believer? That’s the only way that assurance is going to come, if you are convicted in a Christian court as being a believer.
Nowadays if someone applies for a passport, need three to six points of identification. They want a birth certificate, a driver’s license, military discharge papers, current phone or utility papers all qualify for a certain amount of points. You need all that to prove you are who you are. The burden of proof is on you to prove who you are, and then you can get what you came for. God’s people are distinguished from all other people, not only by what He has done for them but also by what He has worked in them. That transforming change that’s come over them as they cooperate with the Spirit of God in their life. The saints are endowed with a new life and with a spiritual and a supernatural principle or nature which effects their whole soul.
So what does the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints teaches us? It teaches that if a person is totally depraved and cannot do anything to help himself or herself spiritually, and if God is absolutely sovereign in the matter of election choosing the elect on the basis of His will alone, and if Christ’s death was for the elect which guarantees their salvation, and if God calls the elect irresistibly, then it follows that God will assure the final salvation of these elect, that they will persevere to the final end. And the elect will enter heaven. What God starts, He will completely finish.
Now this brings me full circle back to Revelation and I want you to turn there. Someone who is in a position who knows that they have eternal life because of what Christ has done has certain promises. God always gives us promises and hope for the future. In fact, in these passages you find over and over again that God uses the word overcomer. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is emphasized repeatedly in the book of Revelation.The promises given to those who persevere and are overcomers is important to know. Here is the first promise in Revelation 2:7:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.
In other words, Christ promises that all believers will have part in the heavenly paradise. The paradise that was lost in the fall is now regained for a believer in the heavenly paradise where it could never go bad again, but will be the promise of believers. The second thing in Revelation 2:11 is that all believers will escape the second death, the eternal destruction of the soul in hell forever. Instead they will have part in the Heavenly life. Christ promises that the second death will not have an impact on believers, even if they undergo the first physical death. Look at what it says in the verse:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
That’s the promise that the Lord gives to a believer. We all will die physically except for believers who will not experience the second death when the Lord comes. For the most part, you’re going to die physically. But you don’t have t die spiritually or eternally. The worst part of death is that you are separated from God, a good and merciful and gracious God. That’s the horror of death. You will be left to yourself without all the goodness and mercy and grace that God has given to this world. If you think this world is bad with all those common blessings provided for us to see the sun rise every day, rain that gives us food, and the ability to enjoy life.
God promises that even if you die physically, the second death has no hold because we are His and He gives eternal life which will be experienced in its fulness when we pass through the presence of God.
A third thing in Scripture is in Revelation 2:17. All believers will receive from Christ the new name. They will receive a Heavenly name that identifies believers with their Lord Jesus Christ as adopted children of God. Christ promises that every believer, the one who conquers and overcomes, will receive with their new name spiritual sustenance and spiritual strength forever. In fact the passage of Scripture does say this:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.
If you notice right there it says that they will be given a white stone. There’s an ancient custom in the legal court room setting if someone receives a black stone, it meant condemnation. But if someone receives a white stone, it meant acquittal. The white stone, with its new name written on it is absolution from all guilt of sin. Nothing can come up against us and condemn us anymore because of what Christ has done. We are acquitted completely.
A fourth thing is that a believer will rule with Christ over the nations. They will receive a Heavenly rule. Those who believe upon Christ will be given authority to rule with Him throughout all eternity. Look at what it says in Revelation 2:26-28:
He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.
The star is always a symbol of royalty, meaning that believers will share in Christ’s royal splendor and dominion with Him forever. Revelation 20:6 tells us that we will reign with Him for a thousand years. Christ will rule this earth with a rod of iron and with authority because there will still be sin when he comes back, and we’re going to rule with Him. That’s a promise for those who overcome and persevere, for those who are truly Christ’s sheep. I mentioned last time that all believers will enjoy a place in God’s holy presence for all eternity and they will be Heavenly pillars that Christ promises that every believer will have a permanent residence in the dwelling place o God. Revelation 3:12 says:
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
Pillars are strong symbols of strength, security and stability and they have a prominent place within the temple of New Jerusalem. All the saints will be one day eternally secure with God in Heaven. Revelation 3:21 tells us that we will be seated with Christ in Heaven for eternity. Christ promises that every believer, the one who conquers and overcomes and perseveres will be seated on the same throne that Jesus shares with His Father. The verse says:
He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
If this wasn’t recorded in Scripture, we would never know the wonderful promises and blessings that await all believers in the yet future and a glorious future. These are the promises that keep us going. Titus 1:1 says that God cannot lie. We learned in the Old Testament that God keeps His promises right to the end. The glorious truth for those who are saved in Christ has this, that God keeps all His saints secure forever and ever. That is the exciting thing about the perseverance of the saints.
As a mater of fact, these are the abiding doctrines that I often go back to when I feel like I’m wavering and can’t go another step. I’m reminded back to the doctrines of grace and what God has done for me. I know I’m in Him because I’ve born fruit year after year. I don’t want to follow away or give up. I want to keep going whatever the Lord has. He is faithful of course. Remember that to keep going is to have those distinctive always there. You gotta listen, follow, obey, and love the Lord. No one should change that in your life or should convince you otherwise. Those are the very things as encouragement that God gives in the Word of God. They help us to know that we are in His hand and no one can touch us. Satan can’t even touch us.
All I can say is Amen. Let’s pray! Lord thank You again. I pray Lord this morning that if there is someone that has not come to know You today, that they would come and not put it aside anymore. I pray that if there’s someone who has professed, thinking they are a believer when in reality they are not because they have no evidence or proof, I pray today would be the day they become a believer. Lord, help us to lay aside our pride or anything that has become an obstacle in our life. I pray that we would submit to You, give ourselves to You and thank You for the many blessings that You proclaim to us in the Word of God. We know they are for our encouragement, blessing, rebuke, and stability. We continue to grow in the knowledge and wisdom of Jesus Christ every single day of our lives until You decide to take us. We know that whatever happens to us physically, we’re going to be in Your presence because the second death cannot touch us. Thank You Lord Jesus for being faithful to the Father’s plan of salvation. Thank You Holy Spirit for drawing and convicting us of sin, righteousness, and judgment and for bringing us to hear the gospel. Thank You Lord for the one who brought it to us and let us be faithful to bring it to others. Thank You Holy Spirit that You brought us to understand the gospel, give us the gift of faith and repentance as we trust in Christ. We want to continue to grow, bear fruit, give You glory, and be used by You. We thank You Lord and lay everything at Your feet today. We praise Your Name for all the good things You’ve done for us. In Christ I pray this, Amen.