Running the Marathon of Faith: Persevering to Life’s End - page 5

 


 


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From the Fall 2015 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Running the Marathon of Faith: Persevering to Life’s End

by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min.
Vice President for Ministry & Director, Washington Area Fellows Program, C.S. Lewis Institute

 

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 The Necessity of Perseverance

  We have looked at a number of passages that urge us to endure in faith and to overcome the many and varied obstacles we encounter as we seek to faithfully follow Jesus Christ to our life’s end. It remains to state explicitly what has been implicit up to this point: Only those who continue to trust and follow Christ to the end will ultimately be saved. As Paul said to the Colossians who were in danger of being led astray by false teachers,

You, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel you heard. (Col. 1:21–23)

  The writer to the Hebrews said the same thing to Jewish believers who were tempted to return to Judaism,

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Heb. 3:12–14)

  Do these passages (and others like them) mean that a true Christian can lose his salvation if he does not persevere to the end? God gives strong assurances of His unchanging love and His almighty power to keep and preserve His true children unto salvation. But a vital part of how He does so is to warn soberly all professing believers of the tragic consequences of giving up faith in Christ and to urge us to persevere. Such warnings are meant to be taken very seriously and to be heeded, because some who profess Christ actually do forsake Him. Arminians would say that such people were true Christians who lost their faith. Calvinists would say they were never true believers, whose lack of saving faith is seen in their turning away from Christ. But both would agree that such people will not be saved. The true believer will take God’s warnings seriously and will earnestly seek His grace and power to be obedient and faithful in the midst of the trial and temptations of life, and will never forsake Jesus. The true believer will faithfully use the means God has given for growing in grace4 and will heed the words of Peter to make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Pet. 1:5–10)

Will We Persevere to the End?

  The question that faces each of us is, Will I persevere to my life’s end? I know how weak I am, and how prone to sin. Will I really make it to heaven?
  The words of Jesus give great encouragement and assurance:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out . . . And this is the will of him who sent me that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (John 6:37, 39)

  Later on, Jesus said,

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. (John 10:27–29)

  These promises apply to those who have come to saving faith in Jesus. Such people are recognized by the fact that they persevere in trusting and following Jesus, who said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. (John 8:31–32)

 

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