Ask Steve: Perseverance of the Saints

 

Currently Reading:

Captured by Grace: No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God

by Dr. David Jeremiah

Category: Christian Living

2006, Thomas Nelson

 

 

 

 

Question: Steve, I have heard debates about whether true Christians can fall away from the faith. Do Christians persevere, and what relationship does this have to counseling?

Answer: The subject of Christian perseverance is covered in the historic doctrines of grace, which affirms the teachings of the perseverance of the saints. Scripture gives ample support that true Christians who have been regenerated and are united with Christ by faith will be successfully sanctified, and will not apostatize or fall away from the faith (John 6:38-40, Ephesians 1:13-14). In other words, they will persevere in the faith and have control over the power of sin, doubt, and unbelief because of God the Spirit who indwells and empowers them to be sanctified in holiness (Romans 8:2-6). Although it is the believer who perseveres in his faith, it is God who preserves them in the faith through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If someone is born of the Holy Spirit, God the Spirit dwells with them forever, guiding them in the process of sanctification and completing it upon his death and the Lord’s return for the church (Ephesians 1:13-14). This is the glorious truth behind election, that all whom God has foreknown before the beginning of time will be saved, persevere, and go to be with Him (Rom 8:28-30). Those who apostasize from the faith, or do not persevere, demonstrate that they were never saved to begin with, since this action would be out of accord with God’s promise from Scripture (Jn 8:31; Rom 2:7; Jn 6:37-47).

An understanding of perseverance of the saints is crucial in counseling because it defines how effective or applicable counseling will be in the life of the counselee. If the counselee is truly regenerated and saved, counselors can have assurance that the counselee will submit to God’s Word and be properly edified (Ephesians 4:12). That will be a life pattern no matter what circumstances or struggles the counselee is dealing with. The doctrine of perseverance can also provide great assurance to the counselee that they will remain in faith to the end, because it is God who is working in them to perfect His plan (Phil 2:12). It will give them comfort that despite their many pains and trials, they will find supernatural strength to endure, and find comfort and edification in God’s Word. They will continue in the faith and even be receptive to counseling that seeks to remove sinful patterns from his life.

If the counselee is not regenerated and saved, then counselors have a better understanding of how that affects his practice. They understand that the counselee will most likely not persevere in the midst of sin, or even in faith. The counselee may not even be receptive to hearing God’s Word ministered to them in the counseling sessions. In that case, the counselor must see this as an opportunity to evangelize more so than to edify.[1] Perseverance of Christians is an important indicator of the spiritual condition of professing believers and how counselors are to approach each counselee’s case.