Perseverance of the Saints

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Q. A correspondent would be glad to know how far the doctrine of the “Perseverance of the Saints unto the obtaining of eternal life” is borne out by the passage, “He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of redemption,” or Jesus Christ.
A. The passage (Phil. 1:66Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6)) shows the perfect confidence there was in the Apostles heart, that God who had begun a good work in them, that is, the spirit of devotedness to the interests of the Gospel (vs. 5) as all other precious fruits which he saw in the Philippians, would continue it until the day of Jesus Christ. His confidence was sure, because it was God Himself who wrought in them, both to will and to do, of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:1212Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)). And these fruits which he had seen were the proof of the existence of the eternal life which God had implanted in their souls. Just as there cannot be the fruits of righteousness, till the righteousness is possessed (Phil. 1:1111Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:11)); or the fruits of the Spirit, till the Spirit is within; (Gal. 5:2222But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (Galatians 5:22)) and “By their fruits ye shall know them.” In all these cases it is merely the happy natural outflow of that which the Christian possesses; and is to the Glory of God. Hence, dear friend, I don’t like the expression, “Unto the obtaining of Eternal life.” We never find the obtaining of it a future thing in Scripture. To be sure the full unhindered enjoyment of it — “reigning in life”; and its full fruition is always, as we well know, a future thing; but its possession always a present thing to the believer. It may be clouded and hindered, but it is there. He has obtained it as he has obtained forgiveness of his sins, by faith in the death and blood-shedding of Christ.
Life and Propitiation come to us through the death of Christ (see 1 John 4:9, 109In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9‑10)). When we hear His words and believe on the Father who sent Him, we have eternal life (see John 5:24, 17:3). We are born again by His word, applied to our consciences by the Holy Spirit. “Of His own will begat he us with the word” (James 1:1818Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18)). “Being born again ... by the word of God” (1 Peter 1:2323Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23)). We have thus a life in our own souls which as sinners we never possessed. We were dead in sins; Christ came into the place of death for sin. In His death He put away sin, and bore the sins of many (Heb. 9:26-2826For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:26‑28)). God raised him up from the dead, and has, by the same power, quickened, or given life to us, together with Christ thus risen, “having forgiven us all trespasses (read carefully Eph. 1:19,23,2:5, 6 and Col. 2:1313And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (Colossians 2:13)); leaving them behind us as it were, in the grave of Christ, and thus bring us into a new place in resurrection before Himself. And so, Christ risen from the dead, and gone up to heaven, is our life, which is thus, “Hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-41If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1‑4)); and is — blessed be God — as secure as He! We have still the old nature (we had nothing else once) to treat as an enemy, to mortify, and subdue; but our life is secured forever. Hence, dear friend, it is not a question with us now of obtaining life; but of possessing Christ, who is our life; and thus safe in God’s own hand. “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:1919Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. (John 14:19)). The fruits will be seen somehow, wherever there is life in the soul; still the fruits are not to be an object to occupy us. Let others see them — and let us be occupied with Him who is our life — risen, victorious over death, sin-bearing, judgment, everything: and its object and measure. If so occupied we will have but few doubts of the final issue — rather treating them as they deserve, as of the enemy. Faith, keeping the doer of our hearts, will admit of no such intruders there.