You might not feel like the best version of yourself right now. In light of all that’s happened this year, you may feel irritable, apathetic, exhausted, or a million of other ways. No matter your unique situation, no matter how you’ve failed in the past few months, and no matter how much you might feel like you’re not good enough, you’re right—you’re not good enough.
I know, at first, it might seem like I’m adding insult to injury just for the fun of it, but I promise I’m not. I believe it is an absolute, incontrovertible truth that right now—whoever you are—you are not good enough. In fact, you’ve never been good enough.
Now, if I stopped right there, then yeah, I’d be a jerk. But don’t worry, I won’t stop there because the Bible doesn’t stop there. Scripture does confirm that you and I have never been good enough. However, it goes on to resoundingly establish that it’s not about how good we are but about how perfect Jesus is. And it’s at times like these, when we feel like we are at our worst, that we need to press into the Bible’s reassurance that our salvation rests in Christ alone. We must remind each other that once we are truly in Christ, we are forever in Christ.
The Perseverance of the Saints
The name of this doctrine is the perseverance of the saints. It essentially states that genuine believers, though they will still sin and wander at times, will persevere until the end through Christ’s power and cannot lose their salvation. This doctrine is built on a trove of biblical texts, but we’ll base our study of it in Revelation 14:12–13.
“‘Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.’”
That bolded phrase “the perseverance of the saints” is quoted as “the endurance of the saints” in a few other translations. But no matter if the word “perseverance” or “endurance” is used, we need to be careful not to impose any preconceived definitions on those words.
If a long-distance runner gets tired during a race, we may tell him or her to persevere. Or when we see a doctoral student successfully defend his or her dissertation, we may commend the endurance that degree required. And in both of those scenarios, the action of persevering or enduring is placed on the individual.
This is an area where we must let the Bible speak for itself. Open your mind to the radical reversals of biblical teaching. When the Bible says a person, who is in Christ will persevere to the end, the action is not placed on the individual. The burden of endurance has been transferred on to Christ—a burden He cast off once and for all when He died on the cross and rose from the grave. And now, the yoke He gives us is easy and light.
Here are a couple of other passages that solidify the permanent erasure of our sins:
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake,
And I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
“As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:12–13)
Rest and Work
As you can see, your salvation is not dependent on what you can do or how you feel. Instead, if you are truly in Christ, you are forever secured and guaranteed to persevere to the end. Even if it’s a messy process of sanctification, God will see you through.
However, Christians are not meant to be idle bystanders in their sanctification. We are not called to just sit around until we are brought into Heaven. If we look back at the passage in Revelation 14:12, we see that saints are “those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” Basically, while our salvation is never earned on the basis of our works; our works reveal the reality of our salvation. Pastor John Piper puts it this way, “The point is that persevering does not earn your participation in Christ; it verifies your participation in Christ. Perseverance is not a payment for getting into Christ. It is a proof that you are in Christ.”
Rest in that truth. It’s okay to not be okay. Jesus knows this life is hard. He’s the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and familiar with temptation, but He’s also our Redeemer and the assurance of our faith. What a joy it is that we worship such a God!
So, no matter if you—or the world—get better or worse in the coming weeks, months, and years, focus on trusting the Spirit, keeping the commandments and your faith in Jesus, and knowing that your salvation is assured in Him.