What does the Bible teach about perseverance?

Perseverance is a crucial subject in the Bible, especially as it relates to faith and salvation. True saving faith perseveres. A lack of persevering faith indicates nothing less than a lack of conversion to Christ. Consider the following Scripture as proof: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us" (1 John 2:19).

Not all who make a profession of faith are necessarily saved. Some professions are false. Some individuals are self-deceived (Matthew 7:21–23). It is only those who possess true saving faith who persevere to the end. Those who apostatize never belonged to the family of faith to begin with. Their departure from the faith disproves the genuineness of their initial profession. Examples include Judas Iscariot and some of those who initially joined Paul in his missionary work (Matthew 27:5; 2 Timothy 1:15; 4:10).

The parable of the soils illustrates the difference between those who seem, for a short time, to have faith and those who have received true saving faith which produces a changed life (Matthew 13:18–23).

These passages do not imply that a true believer's faith will never falter or fail, but that a person who possesses true saving faith will never fully or finally fall away because God will sustain their faith. The apostle Peter is a perfect example of a true believer who denied Jesus Christ but ultimately returned to Him (Luke 22:31–34). Peter turned back to Christ and persevered, even to a martyr's death (John 21:18–19).

Jesus prophesied Peter's denial; He also "prayed for [Peter] that [his] faith may not fail" (Luke 22:32). Jesus similarly intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25; John 17). He promises eternal life to those who put their faith in Him and guarantees that no one can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28–30). As Philippians 1:6 states, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." It is not our self-sufficient will or strength that causes us to persevere in the faith. It is nothing less than the power of God's Holy Spirit that causes us to persevere in the faith.

Therefore, we are commanded to persevere, not in our own might, but in the power of the Spirit. We are called to persevere in faith, in prayer, in fruitful service to Christ, and by participating in the Great Commission of spreading the gospel to the whole world (Ephesians 6:13–18; Matthew 28:18–20).

A big part of perseverance involves enduring trials and tribulations. As Christians, we are to be prepared for and not surprised by trials and suffering (1 Peter 4:12–14). The Scriptures tell us that all who seek to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Those who believe that the Christian life should be easy and carefree are mistaken. A cross is not a comfortable accessory (Luke 9:23). However, we do not carry our cross under own our strength; rather, we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit, not only to persevere through suffering, but to rejoice in the midst of it (James 1:2–4). God has promised to use even fiery trials and tumultuous tribulations to strengthen our faith and make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:28–30). In the end, our perseverance is rewarded with an eternal weight of glory that will make our temporal suffering seem insignificant in comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Christ is our perfect example of perseverance. His faith was tested and yet He never faltered (Matthew 26:39; Hebrews 4:15). He suffered and yet did not retaliate (1 Peter 2:23). He endured the horrors and inhumanity of the crucifixion. He persevered when He was forsaken and betrayed by those closest to Him. He did all this for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). He did all this to save us (1 Peter 3:18). Let us be eternally grateful to Christ and pray that God will grant us the strength and perspective to persevere under trial, fight the good fight, and finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7–8). For if we suffer with Him we will reign with Him (Romans 8:16–17)!

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