Perseverance of the Saints -- By: John F. Macarthur, Jr.

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 04:1 (Spring 1993)
Article: Perseverance of the Saints
Author: John F. Macarthur, Jr.


Perseverance of the Saints1

John F. MacArthur, Jr.

President and Professor of Pastoral Ministries

Peters life exemplifies what the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints means in the life of a faltering believer. Christs present intercessory prayers assure that genuine believers will be saved to the uttermost. This is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Those with true faith will not lead perfect lives, though some have attributed such a claim to proponents of working-faith salvation. The reaching ofonce saved, always saved may carry the false implication that afteraccepting Christ a person may live any kind of life and still be saved. That leaves out the doctrine of perseverance, which carries with it the need for a holy life. Peter in his first epistle furnishes six means through which God causes every Christian to persevere: by regenerating them to a living hope, by keeping them through His power, by strengthening them through tests of faith, by preserving them for ultimate glory, by motivating them with love for the Savior, and by saving them through a working faith. Quantification of how much failure the doctrine of perseverance allows is impossible, but Jesus did prescribe a way for the church to deal with a professing believer whose life sin had seemingly come to dominate.

* * * * *

In order to place the doctrine of perseverance in proper light we need to know what it is not. It does not mean that every one who professes faith in Christ and who is accepted as a believer in the fellowship of the saints is secure for eternity and may entertain the assurance of eternal salvation. Our Lord himself warned his followers in the days of his flesh when he said to those Jews who believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye truly my

disciples, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). He set up a criterion by which true disciples might be distinguished, and that criterion is continuance in Jesus’ Word.2

The above explanation by Murray of the doctrine of perseverance is an elaboration of what Peter meant by his words “protected by the power of God” when he wrote his first epistle (1 Pet 1:5).3 If any biblical character was ever prone to failure, it was Simon Peter. Judging from the biblical record, none of the Lord’s disciples—excludi...

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