Is it wrong to insist on perseverance in the life of the disciple of Jesus? The answer to this question is not an easy one within the Church today. Some argue that perseverance teaching is not necessary because believers are eternally secure no matter what they do. Other Calvinists teach that believers must persevere and in fact will persevere or their faith is not genuine. This answer of course still begs the question: Can anyone then have the assurance of their salvation until they die because maybe they were not part of the elect after all?
The [traditional] Arminian view best fits Scripture and logic. Disciples of Jesus must persevere and we have an obligation to teach people to do so. Does this mean we teach works salvation? No! We are simply teaching Scripture. How else do we understand Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:2 or Galatians 5:1-4 or Philippians 2:12-15 or Colossians 1:21-23 or 1 Thessalonians 3:5 just to name a few? Paul obviously believed that believers must persevere in their faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).
Luke 12:42-48 is one of the most powerful passages of Scripture on perseverance. Here Jesus clearly shows that He expects His disciples to continue in the faith and not merely rely on a past experience to get them into the kingdom of God. Notice the context of Luke 12:42-48 by looking back at verses 35-40. Here Jesus calls for the disciples (the slaves) to be alert and waiting for His coming for Jesus will come at a moment they do not expect (v.40). Peter asks if Jesus is addressing the people or the disciples and Jesus answers Peter in verses 42-48. Here we see:
- The Blessing of Perseverance (vv.42-44) – The disciple is promised a blessing if Jesus finds him faithful. The blessings are similar to those found in Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 3:5, 12, and 3:21 but the same is true in both contexts and that is blessings are promised only to overcomers (Rev. 21:8).
- The Necessity of Perseverance (vv.45-46) – Some try to divide the faithful slave from the unfaithful but notice Jesus’ words in verse 45. He says “that slave” referring to the slave of verse 44. If the slave goes back to sinful living then he will be cut off (Romans 8:12-13; 11:20-22; 2 Peter 2:20-22). The slave started out so focused on his master and the master’s will but he became lazy and did not inherit the blessing of the previous verses (see Hebrews 6:4-20; 10:19-39).
- The Cost of Perseverance (vv.47-48) – The price to pay for not continuing in the faith is nothing more then hell itself. We must persevere in our faith no matter what to avoid hell (Romans 2:7-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10). The elect will persevere but we must do so in humility and fear and not in arrogance of false security.
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