There must be few pastors who have not repeated the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:7, with a wistfulness equal to his: “You were running well. Who hindered you?” The Apostolic finger had touched upon the timeless tragedy of a life that showed early spiritual promise yet was blighted by a lack of perseverance. It is, of course, the same sad story as Jesus told in the parable of the sower, when He describes the one who “hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while” (Matt. 13:20).
Perseverance is a word applied in the Bible in two ways. First is the ultimate perseverance that depends on God's preserving us, His people, which is the ground of our assurance of eternal glory. The Westminster Confession of Faith devotes a whole chapter to this subject, assuring us that true believers "can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end" (17.1). This depends on God's election of a people for Himself.