Preserved by God
by Burk Parsons
Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying, “Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer. You have only to persevere to save yourselves.” Considering what he accomplished in his life, such a statement is certainly appropriate. Churchill‘s victories demonstrated his ability to persevere to the end. He overcame great odds, and his self-sustained fortitude enabled him to endure the hardships and complexities of political life during the Second World War.
While Churchill’s assertion is accurate, it is only accurate insofar as it pertains to our natural human capability. Churchill’s call to persevere to save ourselves is by all means applicable to soldiers in wartime. It is a stern charge to fight to the end in order to overcome the enemy. And, indeed, it conveys a similar exhortation found in Scripture. In Hebrews, we are called to run the race that is set before us (12:1). The apostle Paul likewise exhorts us to endure so that we might reign with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12), and, while teaching His disciples about persecution, Jesus said, “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:22). The testimony of Scripture is clear; we must persevere to the end in order to obtain salvation. However, this is only one part of the biblical equation.
Although the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is the last point in the Calvinistic acrostic, it is by no means the final doctrine of salvation. On the contrary, it is foundational to every aspect of our salvation. At the very core of the perseverance of the saints is the sustaining power of God — the only reason we are able to persevere is because God almighty preserves us. He is both the Author and Finisher of our faith, and it is only in Him that we live, move, and have our being.
Unfortunately, many Christians have become practical deists. They have been duped by the notion that after having begun the work of salvation in our lives, God leaves us to our own devices while He sits back awaiting our failure. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is precisely because God sustains us that we are able to endure faithfully to the end. By His loving hand, He blesses us with discipline. By His kindness, He leads us to repentance, and by His sacrifice, He has conquered the Enemy and defeated death. For this reason, we will endure because we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Therefore, we live coram Deo, before the face of the God of our salvation.
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