By Kevin Shrum
Pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville
One of the most distinct, Baptist doctrines is called the “security of the believer.” Some tritely refer to this as “once saved always saved.” It is better to refer to this doctrine as the “perseverance or endurance of the saints.”
This doctrine states that those who have genuinely placed their faith in Jesus Christ will be kept by God and will, by God’s grace and Spirit, endure to the end.
This doctrine also teaches that true salvation is measured not just by when faith begins, but where the life of faith ends. The truly saved must and will endure. Those who do not endure to the end are not saved. How a person begins and ends the life of faith cannot be separated.
Too many people pray to receive Christ, but never live out their faith or endure for Christ. Those who are truly saved cannot be lost; those who are truly saved endure and persevere in a life of faithful service.
We are saved by faith alone, but never by a faith that is alone — true faith is demonstrated in a life of Spirit-enabled faithfulness. We are not saved by works, but we are saved by the kind of faith demonstrated in good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). We are to be known by the kind of faith that produces righteous deeds (Matthew 7:20). And God enables us to do all of this. So, how do we endure?
Thankful (II Thessalonians 1:3-4). We are to endure with a heart of gratitude. Ingratitude is sin (Rom. 1:21). This was why Paul was thankful for the growing faith of the Thessalonian believers. Their enduring, patient faith through many persecutions and tribulations brought glory to God and encouragement to other believers. Gratitude even during trials is characteristic of the maturing, enduring believer.
Avenged (II Thessalonians 1:5-10). We are to endure knowing that we do not need to vindicate ourselves, but that God will vindicate us. Why would Paul say this? Paul knew that serving Christ and enduring in the gospel would bring trials and tribulations that may seem unfair and unwarranted. In other words, there will be people who will “trouble” us because of our commitment to Christ (v. 6).
We are to live righteously and leave the vengeance to God. He will bring retribution to those who trouble His people and attempt to wreck and ruin His Church.
They will be punished “with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (v. 9). God’s vindication may not come in this life, but it will come.
So, we do not endure with an attitude of vengeance; we endure with grateful hearts in that we ourselves are no longer enemies of God, and that God will vindicate His people in His time.
Worthy (II Thessalonians 1:11-12). Finally, we are to endure to the end, being made worthy through Jesus Christ. We are made worthy by “the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” (v. 11). When we endure in His power Jesus Christ is glorified in us.
Enduring is not always pleasant or easy. Enduring calls for faithfulness. Yet, we endure in God’s power with grateful hearts, leaving our vindication to God because He has made us worthy in Jesus Christ. B&R