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Preservation of the Saints

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 18, 2021 12:01 am

Preservation of the Saints

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 18, 2021 12:01 am

God's people are not strong enough to fall away from faith while He has resolved to hold us. Today, Alistair Begg conveys the comfort of the Christian in every trial: the Lord will preserve the faith of His elect until the end.

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We talk about once saved always saved is important to know what it means and what it doesn't mean it is a mistaken notion which regards the perseverance of the saints, or the preservation of the saints as some kind of amazing insurance policy irrespective of the lives that we live preservation of the city is a biblical doctrine. The apostles clearly embraced in 20 but unfortunately it's been misunderstood in some dangerous words this week on Renewing Your Mind refocusing on some of the essential truths of the Christian faith teacher today is Alastair back when John Bunyan closes Pilgrim's progress.

He does so with a staggering statement. Then I saw that there was a way to hell even from the gate of heaven, as well as from the city of destruction. I have been involved in the affairs of church life now for essentially all of my life.

Having known the benefit and blessing of a Christian upbringing and therefore there have been many many people and continue to be who have marked and stand my life for good and who have walked before me marking out a path that I might follow in the vast majority of cases.

I have followed their progress with the greatest of joy and continue in some respect, at least to model my own life after there's the greatest sadness for me in relationship to all of that is to know the names today of some who wants to preach the Bible to me. Others who explained it for me. Others who walk before me and yet who today are not involved in the affairs of the church do not follow hard after Christ indeed if I drenched would deny the very professions of faith which they had made in their earlier days and they have wandered from the way they have essentially taken the pathway of pliable and Pilgrim's progress who in finding himself along with children in the slough of despond entered into an altercation with children asking him is this the kind of thing that you expected when we set out from the city of destruction and without essentially waiting for faithful are for pilgrims to given much of a response he determines that he will out of the slough despond and Bunyan tells us he gets out of the slough at the side closest to his own and he went back and was Herod from no more.

The fact is that in the course of each of our lives if we are honest, we have witnessed the sorry spectacle of those who once walked the path and who yet have not continue. Now this is a subject that has not simply been given to me to address, although it has but it is a subject which is uppermost in my mind at the moment because in the course of our Sunday by Sunday exposition back in Cleveland we are studying together.

The moment the book of Hebrews and in the opening six chapters which is as far as we have gone.

I've been forcibly struck by the recurring emphasis which the writer makes on the absolute necessity of persevering of staying the course of keeping on track and if your Bible is on your lap. Why not turn to Hebrews for just a moment with me and let me underscore this for you in Hebrews chapter 2, and in verse one, the writer says we must pay more careful attention. Therefore, to what we have haired so that we do not drift away so that we do not drift away and he is moving through these opening chapters to the conclusion of chapter 3 enter three great staggering questions in verse 16. Who were they who Herod and rebelled, where they not all those Moses led out of Egypt, and with whom was he angry for 40 years, was it not with those who sin whose bodies fail in the desert and to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest is not to those who disobey and he is recording their one of the saddest on the sorriest lines and lines of tombstones that is ever recorded in Scripture, some 600,000 of them who never made into the promised land.

Despite a quite glorious begin review notes and allow your eyes to scan back up to verse 12 of chapter 3. He says I want you to see to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

In verse 14 he says you know we have come to share in Christ and then noticed a little to letter word that is so important in a game of Scrabble if it lands on the right square and it is vitally important here. We have come to share in Christ, if we hold firmly till the end. The confidence we had at first. Indeed, he says the same thing in verse six, but Christ is faithful as a son over God's house and we are God's house if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast you go on into chapter 4 and in verse one. Let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of the rest which God's promise to us. Verse 11 of chapter 4. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. I love once I start here because I want to be very very clear for myself and for you to my understanding of the Bible is such that I believe that the doctrine of the preservation of the saints or the perseverance of the saints does not in any way make a fiction of these warnings in the book of Hebrews. These are real warnings for real people who have made professions and stepped out on the path. Indeed, quoting from Sinclair in his book the Christian life, from which I've derived as much help as any single book on the Christian life.

He says the New Testament warns is by precept and example that some professing Christians may not persevere in their profession of Christ to the end of their lives. So the issue then is not a matter of theological precision. It is definitely a matter of theological importance, but it is a matter of deep personal concern it was to the apostle Paul who on one occasion and recorded in first Corinthians 9 says I my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize in the great skill in pastoral care in relationship to these things must surely be to know when to emphasize the warnings and when to come and administer the promises in the book of Hebrews is full both off promises and warning every pastor understands this. I recall in the very early days in one of the three churches in which I have served being called to the home of a family that I didn't know I had only been in the church. If I recall correctly, a matter of weeks and I went there relatively early in the morning to be confronted by a fairly mature couple who were shattered by the untimely death of their daughter and as I sat and listened to them. They told me that just in the early hours of that same morning that Dr. had been killed in a motorcycle accident. She and her boyfriend, with whom she had been living for some time had been out the previous evening drinking and carousing and in the alley hours of the morning and making their way towards their apartment. They had crashed into an oncoming car and both of them had been killed in the father's great concern was to find out from me and I've never forgotten how he had put it, because I think it was the first time I had had it put in this way is great concern was to ask me as his new pastor, pastor, do you believe one's saved always saved. Of course my answer to that is yes, but in relationship to his daughter.

What was I to say this was a girl who, for a period of time. Indeed, for some years, ever since her teenage years she had shown no interest in the things of Christ. She had not attended church she had absolutely no interest in Christian things, whatsoever, and snatched away in a moment from the back of this motorcycle. Her father had gone somewhere in the house and it found a card that she had signed following an evangelistic meeting when she was a teenage girl and he said to me, so will be okay 13. After all, you believe in one's saved, always see many of the people who approach me with these kind of questions are individuals who are marked by a kind of smug complacency and a groundless optimist which has little if anything at all to do with the doctrine of salvation, which begins in the internal counsels of God and therefore will bring to the end those in whose life's. He has begun a good work and therefore it is imperative for us that we make sure that when we are thinking about the preservation of the saints that an experiential grasp of this biblical doctrine is not something which assures us into a life of carelessness and false bravado, but it is something which assures theirs into a life of deep carefulness and I would suggest that those who have been embraced by it and how learning to live in the light off. It will be those who are taking most care to the very warnings that are conveyed in the book of Hebrews. Now all of that by way of introduction, because I'm getting ahead of myself. We need somehow or another to define our terms and so let me do that. Indeed, Lentz allowed Bancroft to do that.

I had my own definition, but when I compared it to Burkle's. I thought maybe breathlessly be better and if I told you mine. You would agree immediately.

The cop says perseverance is that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer by which the work of divine grace that is begun in the heart is continued and brought to completion. It is that continual operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life by which the work of divine grace begun in the heart is continued and brought to completion. Strictly speaking, and when you read theology you discover this where talking about the perseverance of God. It is on account of the find that God perseveres in his love towards his own that we are enabled to persevere in our lives towards him. It is not some mustering up a frenetic activity on the part of the well-meaning professor, but it is rather that we have been laid hold of by his great and powerful hand and that of course is brought out in the fight that as you will note from your outline today. The subject was described not as the perseverance of the saints, but of the preservation of the saints, and I would think purposely in order to emphasize the activity of God so that we might know that it is he who preserves it is he who keeps and it is he who guards acts another so many places in the Scriptures where this unfolds for us in the most helpful of ways. Let me turn with you for a moment of first Peter and to the opening verses there and simply underscore this essential truth, having supplied the definition that is look to the Scriptures and see the way in which it unfolds in the plain and obvious meaning of the text first Peter in chapter 1 and verse three praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ in his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Peter writes to the scattered believers of his day to encourage them right out of the chute in his opening words.

He tells them. You have been chosen by God the father you are sanctified by the Holy Spirit in your sprinkled with the blood of Christ. Three facts which are true of every genuine Christian and then as he proceeds from there to work it out.

He tells them.

Isn't this a wonderful thing that on account of God's mercy toward you. He has brought you out of the realm of hopelessness you have been born on you to a living hope. If there is one thing that marks the Christian believer in a world of hopelessness is surely this. And then what does it have its foundation not in the fact that the weather is lovely today, not in the fight that we live in the best of places, nor that all is well in business and in home because the fact is, if we were to take time with one another and pursue many of those things.

Many of us carry heavy burdens and walk with heavy high. But the amazing truth is that God in his mercy has done something within us that is brought us out of that realm and into our new you go to see the long movie version of Hamlet. You will be struck again by the things that you are forced to learn as a schoolboy or schoolgirl, and there are some wonderful moments in it but I was struck again by the king as he sidles up to Hamlet and of course he wants Hamlet to come around from his discomfort.

You're the death of his father and all of the badness that is in that disease sidles up to Hamlet. He says how is it that the clouds still hang on you. Hamlet walks out from there and be drains that great soliloquy how we really steal flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this life and that is a great introduction to the picture of modern man. You may write that across the front page of people magazine when you're makes getting yourself a gallon of milk at the grocery store, but it is really and it is stale and it is flat and it is unprofitable and into all of that unprofitable flatness the grace of God is come, and born this again to a living by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

The work which is goodness began.

Secondly, you will notice that in accord with this in verse four he is granted as an inheritance. This inheritance can never perish or spoil or fade. It's got your name on it. I will call. I didn't know what will call was I thought it was a person's name when I came years and 83 but when you go to the will call thing you go over the bit about fluttering your heart. Don't you because you always leave it to the last minute.

There's no reason to go early because after all there. There at least I hope there and even as you stand in the line you can be sure and many of us have had the experience of walking up fairly boldly and announcing our name and showing our drivers license and holding our breath as they go through the envelopes and they look back through the healing the sick. I'm sorry. There's nothing here until and it is the most wrenching of all experiences, because on the ground of what someone else has said we would do for us. We have based our whole evening and it is all gone wrong and some people's view of Christian living is just like that feather heading for the will call but they're not sure if there will be an envelope there with her name when they arrive dear ones in the life of every one who is been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He has an inheritance and it has your name upon it and it awaits you, and it cannot be touched by death, and it cannot be sustained by evil, and it cannot be impaired by tying that's what he said thirdly he says you are not only those who have been born again. According to his great mercy and born into an inheritance which has your name on it, reserved in heaven for you, but in the present.

You are through faith shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time shielded by God's power.

It's actually a military term which describes the gardening that was done by soldier.

It would be accurate to use this word, I believe, when you see those scenes of a boxer and I think particularly of Mohammed Ali from the old days as we use to await his appearance from the dressing room such a big strong strapping powerful character, and how did he come.

You could hardly see him because he was shielded by a great company who where his helpers and his adherence and they surrounded him and brought him safely to his destination. That is exactly the picture, which is used here you he says dear believers who have been done in the journey of faith are looking forward to a day that is about to come. Yes, you have trials and yet in these trials, you may rejoice when you understand the wonder of what God has done. It is God's power which garrisons the believer and it is in this that the child of God finds his security in the unending struggle of the soul. Now pay attention carefully to two words in verse five it doesn't say kept in heaven for you, who are shielded by God's power. It says, who through faith are shielded by God's power. It is a mistaken notion which regards the perseverance of the saints, or the preservation of the saints as some kind of amazing insurance policy irrespective of the lives that we live in your sensible people annually to check in and make sure that this is the case, the Bible makes clear that there is no preservation without faith and at the same time it emphasizes that those who have faith are those who persevere indeed. Back in Hebrews again. It was the very absence of faith on the part of the listeners which resulted in the fight.

The word of God was of no value to them at all and back nine Hebrews chapter 4 and in verse two he says for we also have had the gospel preached to us just as they did by the message they had was of no value to them because those who Herod did not combine it with faith we are preserved and we persevere through faith and never apart from faith that is not to say that we retain salvation on the basis of the persistence of our faith, but it is that we give evidence that we possess salvation by the continuation of our faith. Such a simple yet important distinction God preserves his snitch Alastair Bragg is better teacher today on Renewing Your Mind as we continue the series essential truths of the Christian faith.

This week we've heard from Dr. RC Sproul, John MacArthur and Sinclair Ferguson covering topics like the authority of Scripture and the holiness of God in 12 messages. This series points out key truths of the Christian faith would like for you to have all of these messages that simply contact us today with a donation of any amount of regular ministries and we will send you the complete series on a single USB drive plus will include Dr. Sproles, classic collection answers provide you with tens of RC's most requested messages you can give your gift or you can call us at 800-435-4343 for me take just a moment to thank you for your support of this ministry. Your gifts allow us to continue producing teaching series like the one we're hearing this week that I would humbly ask that the you consider coming alongside us on a regular basis by becoming a ministry partner when you pledge $25 or more a month. You're helping us take these life-changing truths to millions of people around the world that you receive benefits and special offers reserved just for partners to find out more, call us at 800-435-4343 tomorrow were going to wrap up the series on the essential truths of the Christian faith in the Dr. Sproles message will help us look ahead to that incredible day of the Lord awaits all believers Bible tells us that the end of our site location is our glorification were all vestigial remnants of sin are removed from our character. No more doubt, fear no more error. No more pain, no more evil all the I hope you join us again tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind

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