Last time we dealt with the section of Article V which addressed election. Today we will be looking at what it has to say about perseverance/eternal security:
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39-12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.
[Note: These are the verses for both the portion on perseverance as well as the previous section on election.]
In a turn of irony, we follow the previous section to which no consensus was given and most all options were left on the table with a section that all of us should be able to be on-board with. Many non-Calvinist Southern Baptists will argue that they are not Arminians (the traditional Calvinist counterpart) because Arminians deny eternal security while no Baptist would do such a thing. So, let’s take a moment to enjoy this brief period of agreement.
Most of this article consists of standard yet solid lines like “All true believers endure to the end.” This is nice, and particularly when it comes to an issue of such critical importance to the Christian life as security, it’s straightforwardness is appreciated.
One place where it gets interesting however is when it says, “Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation. . . . yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” There are a number of people today who still hold to a theology which says Christians who live in sin must have never been Christians to start with. This is both wrong and dangerous. Instead we must replace this incorrect notion with the proper biblical teaching that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.38-39).
Other than that, as I said, the section on eternal security is nice, simple, and straightforward. It is an excellent outline to witness from when dealing with someone who struggles over their own righteousness and if they have done enough to merit salvation or pay penance. I am thankful that, though it happens quite infrequently, we can at least come to one mind on the doctrine of perseverance within our convention.