The Perseverance of the Father’s Heart

There is a popular doctrine within Christian theology known as the perseverance of the saints. You may have heard it described as the eternal security of believers. The doctrine expresses that all who are truly saved by God will never nor can ever lose their salvation. Their eternity is secure.

The question often goes: Is it ever possible, after surrendering our lives to Christ, to walk away from faith and no longer be “saved”? For centuries, Christians have debated whether or not a believer can lose their salvation. I have dear brothers and sisters who answer the question differently. Both groups love Jesus and seek to live biblically; however, some would answer the question with an emphatic yes, while others, a confident no. Which one is it?

The issue is important for practical Christian living, because, as Millard Erickson has described, “If, on the one hand, there is no guarantee that salvation is permanent, believers may experience a great deal of anxiety and insecurity that will detract from the major tasks of the Christian life. On the other hand, if our salvation is absolutely secure, if we are preserved quite independently of our lives or actions, then there may well be, as a result, a sort of lassitude or indifference to the moral and spiritual demands of the gospel.” Theology determines how we live our Christian life.

The question of whether or not a person can lose their salvation is more complicated than you may think, because there are places in Scripture that seem to suggest both (John 10:27-28; Hebrews 6:4-6). When I was in seminary, the warning passages found in Hebrews proved especially challenging to my growing understanding of eternal security. Conversely, the passages in Scripture which speak of the Holy Spirit “sealing” us and “guaranteeing” our salvation make a strong case that our eternal destiny is secure (Ephesians 1:13-14).

To muddy the waters more, I personally know people who were once fired up Christians now living a life contrary to much of the Bible’s teaching. Did they lose their salvation? It certainly appears that way.

Christians will continue to debate the issue, but I came to my personal opinion after pondering two questions about the father heart of God. First, does God love his children? Second, would he ever disown them? Perseverance has little to do with us. It’s all about God and what he has done and will continue to do. As John MacArthur has said, “If you could lose your salvation, you would.” We should properly call the doctrine the perseverance of the Father’s heart.

When I look at my children, I’m overcome with joy and love for them. Even if one of my daughters decided to disown me and leave my love, I would never disown them. Ever. They will always be my sweet girls and I will always see them as such. How much more so a perfect Father?

When we become Christians, we are called children of God. We pass from being enemies of the cross to being men and women transformed by it. God welcomes us into his family. It may be possible for us to distance ourselves from our family, though I think it’s unwise to do so, but whether we like it or not, we have a family. John 6:37 records Jesus saying, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” The ESV says Jesus will never cast us out.

You are going to fall short in this life. We all will. You are going to experience dry seasons where your love for God seems nonexistent. Thankfully, your eternal destiny is not thwarted by your ability to keep it all together. Timothy Keller once asked the question, “If you didn’t earn your salvation, how are you going to un-earn it?”

If you are a child of God, you may lose heart for him on occasions, but he will never lose heart for you. You may run from him, but he will always run to you. You may become distracted with worldliness and sin, but the Father’s heart will always woo you home. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, God the Father will welcome you into eternity with singing and shouts of joy. His heart for you, sinner, is one of grace.

If you have surrendered all, repented of sin, and trusted in the finished work of Jesus on your behalf, you will be with the Father for all eternity. Don’t lose heart. Those who are children of God will be children of God forever. Or, put another way, once a child of God, always a child of God.

4 thoughts on “The Perseverance of the Father’s Heart

  1. This does not square with the whole counsel of God, nor with some of your own thoughts expressed hitherto. In your February 24th piece: the time for bad teaching is now, you said and I quote, “although Jesus came to save sinners, not all sinners want to be saved. Therefore God is giving people over to their sinful desires”. Again you said, “Many will walk away from a faith they have professed for years. As it increasingly becomes frowned upon to associate with a Christian worldview, the purging of many ‘Christians’ is inevitable”. If God is giving people over, and many Christians are to be purged, whence comes eternal security or the perseverance of the Father’s heart as you said? Jesus anticipating that many who start out in faith will not make it to the end said, “he who endures to the end shall be saved” – Matthew 24:13. This was also the same line of thought expressed in Matthew 13:3-7. The inheritance for which we are sealed by the Holy Spirit is contingent upon the choice of man, and we know that is subject to fluctuations. While God’s purposes are eternal, and he desires that man once redeemed should remain so, we discover that on this side of heaven so much happens to defeat his intentions. And like you rightly said, no one goes to hell by accident. If any man must secure their eternal destination, abiding is a must – John 15:1-6.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate the fact that you read other posts of mine to make your point. Also, I appreciate your heart for the whole counsel of God. Perhaps now more than ever, we must seek the truth as laid down in holy Scripture.

      Hopefully I can clarify my thoughts you cited. As far as God giving people over to their sin, I was referring to the second half of Romans 1, where the phrase “God gave them over” occurs several times. These people are not Christians who fall away, they are rebels who possess a knowledge of the truth yet trade it for a lie. God allows them to keep living in their sin. I believe it’s possible to know truth yet ignore it’s implications. Which leads to the next comment of mine you cited.

      Many will indeed walk away from their profession of faith because they never surrendered their will to the will of God. These people believe certain aspects of Christianity but never become disciples of Jesus. They are not truly Christians. At best, they are cultural Christians. There is a difference. Another way to say this is they confess with their lips but never believe in their hearts. It takes both (Romans 10:9).

      As far as the Matthew 24:13 verse, I believe it with my whole heart. The perseverance of the Father’s heart in no way contradicts it. Sin runs so deep in us that, left to our own will power, we will fall away from Christ. Thankfully, we were marked with the Holy Spirit, a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). Our salvation is not somewhat guaranteed, it is guaranteed. All those who are are called by Jesus and commit with their entire being will endure to the end and be saved.

      When Christ died on the cross, he accomplished something. He didn’t shed his blood for the potential accomplishment of our salvation, he finished the work. It is finished (John 19:30).

      Christians will continue to debate the perseverance issue until Jesus returns. That’s ok. The important part is that we’re headed somewhere glorious. You and I will sing the praises of King Jesus together for all eternity. In unison we will cry out “holy, holy, holy” and “worthy is the lamb.” I look forward to that day with you, brother.


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