Proverbs 12:28 ESV
In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.
Can a man once saved be assured that the salvation is permanent? To say yes, many argue, is rank presumption; to say no, their opponents argue, is insulting the sovereignty of God and the truth of His promises. This controversy, with all its baggage and emotions, pops up unexpectedly in Proverbs 12:28, the verse we are concerned with today.
What is a ‘saint’? What does it mean for a saint to ‘persevere’?
In the simplest terms, a saint is a human saved by God through faith, being one of the ones He elected to redeem from the beginning (Romans 8-9, Hebrews 11:13-16; Ephesians 2:8-9) To be a saint does not mean purely that one goes to church, has been baptized, or is a nice person. A saint will endeavor to be baptized and to join a church; a saint will, according to James 2:14-26, exhibit good works. A saint, however, is such purely by the grace of God Ephesians 2:8-9).
‘Perseverance’ in this context is perseverance unto salvation, that is, to continue in the faith granted by God from conversion to death without falling away from the faith. Perseverance does not mean sinlessness or freedom from struggles with sin. A saint can fall into sin and struggle terribly with it, but a saint will not succumb (Romans 8:37-39).
From this definition, perhaps, you have already divined my answer to the question of the perseverance of the saints.
God preserves His saints unto salvation. To argue that He does not would be to spit on His sovereignty and the plain witness of His word. Christ Himself says in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me.” Any person who has been saved by His blood is clearly among those given to Christ by the Father; for such a person to apostatize to the extent of damnation would be a direct contravention of this passage. Indeed, to say that a human being, a man formed in his inmost being by an omnipotent, omniscient creator God, to say that such a being could possibly thwart the saving grace of that Creator would be dangerous arrogance (Psalm 139).
Some may say that man can fall away from salvation by his own ‘free will’. They say that to violate a man’s will by preserving him would be wrong and therefore not within the character of God. This concept of ‘free will’ has some value: in human-to-human relations, a man has only so much right to constrain the actions of another. In interactions between man and God, however, God has the prerogative to do with His creation what He wills. He is the potter; we are the clay (Jeremiah 18:1-11). If God chooses to make from a man a vessel for glory, a son in His own image, He has that right. The man would, if asked, invariably refused, for as Romans 3:10-11 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Yet God saves men regardless, turning them by His power from loving sin to loving their Creator.
To say that a man could oppose his will to God’s and win should also strike us as absurd (Job ___). If God sways the hearts of Pharaoh, Saul, and Cyrus, all men without saving faith in Him, how much more will He not mold the hearts of those whom He has re-made (Exodus 7:3; 1 Samuel 10:9-17; 2 Chronicles 36:22; John 3:1-8)?
For the Christian, this message should be a bastion of hope and gratitude. God has promised to never leave or forsake you, no matter how hard you try (Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5). God’s children are disciplined as His children, not cut off in judgement as the wicked are (Hebrews 12:11; Exodus 34:24). God promises the perseverance of the saints unto salvation, unto victory, unto His presence, where we shall stand to praise His glory forevermore.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.