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Preserving Grace: What about Sin?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 9, 2021 12:01 am

Preserving Grace: What about Sin?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 9, 2021 12:01 am

Some Christians fear that their sin will make God angry--so angry that He abandons them. Today, Steven Lawson assures us that none of God's elect will ever fall from grace.

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When sin moved into the temple, the Holy Spirit moved out, and the glory of God moved out. But now, as the Spirit has come to indwell us, when sin comes into our life, He's not leaving. He's not moving out. You know what He's going to do?

He's going to clean house. The Holy Spirit will be with you forever. You may come from a tradition that believes that indeed you can lose your salvation. Our teacher, Dr. Stephen Lawson, takes us to the Gospel of John to show us that not only are we saved by grace, we're preserved by grace. Well, we come again to this wonderful truth of the preserving grace of God.

There are different titles or labels that have been put on this doctrine. Some call it the perseverance of the saints. Some call it the perseverance of the Spirit. Some would call it the preservation of the saints. Some would call it eternal security of the believer.

We're calling it preserving grace. But they all say the same thing in reality, that once one is brought into the kingdom of God, he will never exit. He can never fall away from grace.

And it is this truth that causes all of the other doctrines of grace to be so sweet, to be so precious. Those whom He chose in eternity past will be saved forever. Those for whom Christ died will never fall from grace. Those who have been born again can never be unborn. We are forever a child of God. And the last three headings that we looked at, in fact the last four, eternal life, and then we had three nevers in staccato fashion, never perish, never thirst, never condemned. I want to give you another never, never lost. This is number five and it's in John 6 and verse 39.

I invite you to turn with me to that section. And this is a glorious truth and it's another way of asserting the eternal security of the believer. In John 6 verse 39, Jesus said, this is the will of Him who sent me, that of all that He has given me, now watch this, I lose nothing.

Those are strong words, my friend. I lose nothing. And He's referring to all those who have been given to Him before the foundation of the world. Our Lord is an all-powerful Savior and all who have been entrusted to Him, He says, I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. And what He is saying there is that all the elect will be raised up, resurrected on the last day and will be raised up in grace, will be raised up safe and guarded by Christ.

This is John Calvin, the great exegete and expositor of the Reformation. And John Calvin writes, Christ is not the guardian of our salvation for just one day or even for a few days, but He will care for our salvation to the end. Calvin says, He will accompany us as it were from start to finish of our journey. So he mentions here the final resurrection, from the Alpha to the Omega, from the beginning to the end. He guards us, He keeps us, He holds on to us, we will never slip through His fingers and He will raise us up on the last day.

Now look at verse 40, the very next verse in John 6. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone, and that word implies no exceptions, everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life and I myself will raise Him up on the last day. That last day is the day of judgment.

And what Jesus is saying here is none of the elect will ever fall from grace. He will raise us up to stand faultless before the throne of God. He will raise us up to a place of full acceptance with God on that last day. Look at verse 44 in John chapter 6. He continues with this thread running through this chapter, He will raise us up on the last day. And this is something for which we need not fear.

This is something for which we should have great anticipation. In verse 44, no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. Now look at the end of the verse, and I will raise Him up on the last day. Look at the idea, He will raise us up secure and saved forever. Look at verse 54 one more time. This theme runs through John 6. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.

There we have it again, present tense. But notice the end. And I will raise Him up on the last day. That means to live with God and to remain with God forever and ever and ever. Let me give you another passage while we're in John 6.

And this is another way of saying the very same thing. Live forever. We will live forever with the Lord. In John 6 verse 51, Jesus said, I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, referring to himself, He said, I am the living bread. If anyone eats of this bread, meaning if anyone believes upon Me and receives Me, as someone would receive bread into their mouth, as someone receives Me into their soul.

Notice what it says. He will live forever. Now, let me just tell you, everyone is going to live forever someplace, either in heaven or in hell.

So this must go beyond that in meaning. What this is saying is everyone will live forever in God's presence. Who believe upon Christ and who eat of this bread, He will live forever. And Jesus' point here is that there will be a great differentiation between an unbeliever who dies and a believer who dies. The unbeliever who dies, their soul will go on forever and ever and ever.

But they will have mere existence, mere empty, hollow, shallow existence, as they will suffer the torment of the damned forever. But those who eat of this bread, they will live forever and ever and ever, fully alive in the Lord's presence. Thus, this one will live forever, and it's another way of asserting the eternal security of the believer. Let's look at another verse, John chapter 10, verse 27. Now, if I had to turn to just one text in the Bible to establish the eternal security of the believer, this is my signature text. Put me in a room with just one section to defend what we're talking about, this is, I think, the premier passage.

And I want to call this one forever secure, forever secure. And we've already looked at this verse under the atonement and under election and under irresistible grace. This section just speaks to all of the doctrines of grace.

But here, we are forever secure. Look at verse 27. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. All right, that is irresistible grace. Now, note verse 28, and this goes hand in hand together. Notice, and begins verse 28, and this is inseparably bound together. All who are irresistibly drawn to Christ, verse 28, and I give eternal life to them and they will never perish.

Now, we've already talked about eternal life and never perish, but now here's a third in this one verse, a third reason for the eternal security of the believer. No one will snatch them out of my hand. Forever secure in the hand of Christ. No one will ever snatch them out of my hand. I think Jesus has in mind here the thieves and the robbers who are trying to break in – referring to the false teachers and the false prophets of Israel – but it can certainly be opened up to even Satan himself, the demons, whatever spiritual forces there would be that would threaten our soul and try to turn our heart away from God.

This says no one will snatch them out of my hand. Jesus asserts their absolute, irrevocable, eternal security and promises their preservation. In fact, He does so in four ways here. Let me just make sure that you see this. First, He gives them all eternal life.

We've already talked about that. What's settled for eternity cannot be undone in time. Second, they will never perish. Third, no one will snatch them out of my hand, and then fourth, in the next verse, verse 29, we read, my Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

Now, just think about this. The psalmist would say, Selah, ponder and meditate this. We have eternal life. It's settled for eternity.

We will never perish. We are held in the hand of Christ, and we are also held in the hand of the Father. That's as secure as secure can be, and the Holy Spirit also seals us in Christ. The entire Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit are preserving our standing in grace. This passage, to me, is unmistakably clear. This is the Good Shepherd. He loses not a one of His sheep, not a one. So, all glory and praise to Him.

But let's continue to look at this. Come to John chapter 11 with me, and I want to give you an eighth heading, which is never die. John 11 verse 25 and the beginning of verse 26, no believer will ever suffer eternal death or the second death. Verse 25, Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life.

Please note the definite articles there. There is no life outside of Christ. There is no resurrection outside of Christ. He's not a life and a resurrection.

He is the life and the resurrection. He who believes in me will live even if he dies. Do you know you will never be more alive than five seconds after you die? You will simply graduate to glory. The Apostle Paul said, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain, meaning I get to go be with Christ.

That's what this is saying. He who believes in me will live even if he dies. Even if he dies physically, he will live spiritually forever with me. Then look at verse 26, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Now, all believers are going to die unless Christ comes back before the time of our death. So what does he mean, will never die? I mean, Martin Luther has died. John Calvin has died.

Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield have died. What does this mean, will never die? Well, this is referring to the second death. This is referring to eternal death. This is referring to being banished and condemned and sentenced to hell and under the eternal wrath of God forever and ever.

That is represented as the second death. No believer will ever die in that sense. We will live forever with the Lord. I want to say again, after you die as a believer in Christ, you will never ever be any more alive.

Number nine, never abandoned. John 14 verse 16. And maybe you've never thought about this text as confirmation of the preservation of the saints, but it is because the word forever is mentioned in it. John 14 verse 16, I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, capital H, that He may be with you for how long?

Forever. God the Holy Spirit has come to indwell us, right? 1 Corinthians 6 verse 19, what? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God?

I mean, our body is the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Now, in the Old Testament, you remember the glory of God moved into the temple. In the book of Ezekiel, we learn that the glory of God moved out. The Shekinah glory moved out, and God wrote Ichabod over the temple.

The glory has departed. Well, the Holy Spirit has come to indwell us, and He has brought the glory of God into our soul, and now that He has moved in, He will never move out. In the Old Testament, when sin moved into the temple, the Holy Spirit moved out, and the glory of God moved out.

But now, as the Spirit has come to indwell us, when sin comes into our life, He's not leaving. He's not moving out. You know what He's going to do? He's going to clean house, and He'll bring conviction. He'll bring discipline, and He'll prune, and He'll wash, and He'll cleanse. But the Holy Spirit, this says, will be with you forever. And then verse 17, He abides with you and will be in you. And we could add never to leave, never to move out, never to desert us. Beloved, God the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead who is coequal and coeternal, has come to make His abode in your heart and in your soul.

And now that He has moved in, He will never move out. And when sin develops in our life, and we all continue to sin, right? It's His ministry to bring about the conviction to clean up what has become cluttered in our lives.

Now, let me give you number 10. I want to give you one more, number 10, John chapter 17. And we come back, it seems like all roads lead to John chapter 17, doesn't it? It's impossible to talk about the doctrines of grace without visiting John 17 again and again and again.

This is a lofty mountain peak. This is grand and glorious passage of Scripture. So in John chapter 17, I want you to note verse 12. Notice verse 12, while I was with them, I was keeping them in your name. Now, that is an extraordinary statement of preserving grace, the preservation of the disciples and the preservation of the saints.

I was keeping them in your name. He was keeping them from apostatizing. He was keeping them from falling away. He was keeping them from being lured away. He was guarding their soul. He was protecting and preserving them.

Notice what he is saying. Now, notice what he continues to say in verse 12, and I guarded them and not one of them perished, not a single one. When the wolves came, when the thieves and the robbers came, spiritually speaking, he was the good shepherd and he defended his flock and not a one of them perished. Then he says, but the son of perdition so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.

You say, well, what do you have to say about that? Well, Judas was never saved to begin with. Judas was a counterfeit disciple.

Judas gave the appearance outwardly of believing. Remember when Jesus said, one of you will betray me, the other eleven didn't rise up and all point a finger at Judas and go, I knew it all along. It was Judas.

You know, they all said, is it me, Lord? So they had no idea that it was Judas, but the Lord knew. And from the very beginning, Judas was never born again.

Judas was simply, what we would say today, he was religious but lost. Judas heard the greatest sermons that had ever been preached in the history of the world. He sat under the preaching of Jesus Christ himself. Judas had the closest access and proximity to Christ.

He traveled with him and he served with him. He beheld the miracles. He saw the people who were healed. He saw the people who were saved. No one had such exposure to truth as did Judas, but Judas had the devil's initials carved in his heart and Judas was never saved. Learn this about Judas. The faith that fizzles before the finish had a flaw from the first. He had simply spurious faith, non-saving faith.

It was something in the head, but it was never in the heart and it never activated the will. And so Jesus at the end of verse 12 says, but the son of perdition, that's Judas, he did perish, but he acknowledged even that was according to the sovereignty of God. Even that was God's eternal decree. And it was recorded in Scripture so that it would be fulfilled so as not to shake the faith of the disciples and Jesus wanted them to know, now this was a part of God's plan and purpose from long ago. But what I want you to see is there in verse 12, it says, I was keeping them in your name and I guarded them and not one of them perished.

The same is true of us here in this room as we go through this series. Not one of us will perish, we who have entrusted our lives to Christ. The reason is because He is guarding us and He is keeping us. I want to say again, it's not a matter of me holding on to Christ, it's a matter of Christ holding on to me. His grip is a whole lot stronger than my grip.

And there are times when I trip and when I fall and my grip is weakened, but He never weakens His grip on me. Now look at verse 24, I want to show you one more verse. Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me be with me where I am.

He's referring to heaven. He's saying, I pray God that they will all be in heaven and to be with me there so that they may see my glory which you have given me for you love me before the foundation of the world. I want you to know this prayer will always be answered. This prayer for all of His sheep will never go unanswered. The Lord has prayed for us and He continues to make intercession for us. And we are kept secure and one day we will be around His throne in glory and we will behold Him not as He was but as He is.

We'll not see the meek Messiah nor the humble carpenter from Galilee. We will behold the King of kings and the Lord of lords and we will see Him enthroned upon high and we will fall on our face before Him and we will sing all hail the power of Jesus' name. All who have been entrusted to Him, all who have believed upon Him, all who have been kept by grace will be safely transported to His throne above and He will lose not a one of them. What a great Savior He is. What a great Shepherd He is that He loves us so much and His grace is so far reaching that none of us will ever fall away from Him. Christ is a great Savior, a strong Savior. His perfect life, His death, and His resurrection secured and guaranteed the salvation of His people.

That is good news. We've heard from Dr. Stephen Lawson over the past couple of days here on Renewing Your Mind teaching from his series, The Doctrines of Grace in John. We've been exploring God's sovereignty and salvation and we'll send you this 12-part series when you contact us with a donation of any of our Delegate Ministries. These videos would be a great 12-week study for your Sunday school class or a small group.

So request the two-DVD set at redoingyourmind.org. You can also call us with your gift at 800-435-4343. And I'd like to take just a moment to thank you for supporting the work here at Ligetier Ministries, opportunities for proclaiming the truth of God's Word or opening up around the world. For example, we've recently launched our dedicated language outreach in Hindi, supplying trustworthy Bible teaching to equip the Church in India for Christian discipleship. And we're reaching the Arab and Farsi-speaking world too, where Islam is the major religion. So your gifts make this outreach possible and we're grateful for them. With that in mind, next week we're going to feature Dr. Sproul's series, The Dark Side of Islam. It's a critical look at the Muslim religion, so we hope you'll join us beginning Monday here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-03 14:50:28 / 2023-12-03 14:59:13 / 9

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