Grace to You Resources
Grace to You - Resource

This message was originally preached on September 19, 2015 at Ligonier’s Fall Conference, “So Great a Salvation.”

The year was 1644, the place was Westminster Abbey, the room was called the Jerusalem Room. The greatest theological minds and biblical scholars in England, the famous Puritans gathered with lords and commissioners to spend five years of intense study, five year of discussion to produce a statement of doctrine true to the Scripture and faithful to the gospel. By 1649, they had completed what became the most familiar Westminster confession of faith. In that creed is a statement on the security of salvation, accurately calling is “perseverance.”

In a brief and unambiguous statement, the Westminster Confession, chapter 17, section 1 says, “They whom God hath accepted in His beloved effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit can neither totally nor finally fall away from a state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved.” Need I say, they got it exactly right. Scripture is full of promises that led to that creed, that led to that conviction. Scripture is clear on the perseverance of the saints, that those who are truly saved will be brought into eternal glory.

Our Lord Jesus said in the 6th chapter of John, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, and him that comes to Me I will not turn away. All that the Father gives to Me I will receive and raise Him at the last day.” Whomever God gives to the Son as a love gift to make up the Son’s bride will be there at the wedding feast in glory. “My sheep – ” our Lord said in John 10 “ – know Me and I know them; and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, neither will anyone pluck them out of My hand or My Father’s hand.”

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, perhaps an overlooked comment, verse 7: “You are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless; who will also confirm to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

First Thessalonians, chapter 5 and verse 23, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” That is the promise of God.

Another benediction familiar and beloved at the end of Jude: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling – ” or falling “ – and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” “Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling.”

There are many other statements that promise to us that eternal life is actually eternal. This was widely understood by the Westminster divines, but they also understood what perseverance did not mean. It did not mean that Christians do not fail in their lives, in their obedience. It did not mean that Christians do not fail seriously, and possibly to death; for among the Corinthians, many were weak and sick, and some had died for how they came to the Table of the Lord. So the Westminster Confession added this: “Nevertheless, believers may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of their means of preservation fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God’s displeasure and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.” In other words, perseverance in the faith does not mean perfection.

Perseverance of the saints, they understood to be a better expression of this great truth than eternal security. Eternal security has come to be a more popular designation, but it’s not nearly as accurate. Eternal security doesn’t describe the necessary means by which our eternal life is secured. Even though believers may sin, may sin seriously, may sin repeatedly, there are some things they will never abandon. There are some things they will never abandon. They will not come under the full dominion of sin. They will not lose trust and confidence in the Lord and the gospel. They will not shun holiness and fully embrace iniquity.

The doctrine of perseverance essentially is that the life that is from God is permanent. The gift of eternal life is permanent. It is a gift of sovereign grace, it is a gift of mercy, and it is permanent. That’s why Jesus said, “He that endures to the end, the same will be saved.” Security in Christ is tied to perseverance, it is tied to perseverance.

First John 2:19 is a very interesting portion of Scripture; this is what it says: “They went out form us because they were not of us. If they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out from us that it might be made manifest they never were of us.” When somebody abandons Christ, abandons gospel truth, abandons virtue and holiness, walks away, that is not a failure of eternal life, that is evidence of superficial faith. They never did believe or they would remain. Any idea of salvation that leaves out security is a distortion of the truth, and any idea of security that leaves out perseverance is a distortion of the truth. We are secure because we possess a persevering eternal life.

There are many texts that we could look at; our time is limited. For the sake of time, to sum it up as well as it could be summed up, please turn in your Bible to 1 Peter, chapter 1; 1 Peter, chapter 1; and I want us to look at verses 3 through 9. It is a wonderful tradition to stand when the Word of God is read. Would you do that as I read 1 Peter 1, 3 through 9, and listen very carefully. Don’t let your mind wonder as you look at this text.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” You may be seated.

Let me make a simple comment. If it were possible for me to lose my salvation, I would lose it. If it were possible for me to lose my salvation, I would have lost it a thousand, thousand times. Anybody who tells you it’s possible to lose their salvation is predicating the keeping of that salvation on their own strength, on their own power, and that is a terrible oversight when viewing the weakness of human flesh and human will. If I could lose my salvation, I would lose it.

This text says, however, that I have been born again, I have been given life, and this life is eternal life. Just a little bit about the context here. This is written by Peter, and Peter would be the right person, don’t you think, to write about perseverance. If there’s any New Testament person who was ever prone to failure, colossal failure, it was the man who wrote those words and personally experienced the power of those words. Based on Scripture, none of our Lord’s disciples, except Judas, stumbled more miserably than Peter.

You know, you might even struggle to distinguish Judas from Peter if you just compare the fact that John 13 says, “On that Thursday night of Passion Week in the upper room, Satan entered into Judas.” With our Lord’s words to Peter in Matthew 16, “Get behind Me, Satan.” If ever there was one prone to failure it was Peter whose failure seemed to be so massive, and so there couldn’t be a better person to write this than Peter.

In fact, is it not remarkable that it was in the 16th verse of Matthew 16 that Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus says, “Flesh and blood didn’t reveal that to you, My Father in heaven.” And in verse 23, Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get behind Me, Satan.” And in the same text upon that confession concerning Jesus Christ, “I will build My church.” And the apostles, including Peter, will become the foundation stones. Peter is proof that a true believer can stumble but not fall. Peter went out after his further denunciations of Christ and betrayals and wept bitterly. This must have been a glorious time for Peter to have receive this revelation and written it down, to be reminded of how he had lived through the persevering life that God had given him in darkness and dark hours that were unusual.

The criteria by which a true believer is distinguished is not a past event, not a past event – and we’ve been talking about that in the Q&As today. It’s not a past event, it’s not a prayer, it’s not a profession, it’s not church attendance, it’s not baptism; it is perseverance, it is perseverance. We’ve been given life. We have talked about regeneration. Peter talks about born again; that’s regeneration. We have been given life. And the Bible is pretty clear, there’s no question about it, it is eternal life, it is eternal life. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. I give them water that will cause them to never thirst.”

Let’s go back to Peter for a minute. Turn to Luke 22, and we’re just trying to set up a little bit of background to look more closely at the text that I read. But in Luke 22, we were all familiar with Peter’s experience. Jesus says to him in verse 31, “Simon, Simon – ” He used to call him by his old name when he was acting like his old self. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.” Wow. If I had of been Peter I’d have probably said, “Well, you told him no, didn’t You? No deal.” Not really. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”

Security in the believer’s life to eternal glory is not somehow automatic, it is secured by a means, and the means is that eternal life, a part of which is a faith that cannot fail. “I have prayed for you.” That faith cannot fail because God planned that it not fail, Christ prayed that it not fail, and even the Holy Spirit intercedes on behalf of the believers, Romans 8 says. “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. That prayer will be answered, because when you have turned again and come out of this trial, this sifting by Satan, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter’s response obviously demonstrates that he thought he had the power to hold on. He said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death.” The Lord knew better. He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you even know Me.” Peter’s faith would not fail because Jesus prayed that it would not fail, and Jesus prayed according to the will of God. This is a model, this is a wonderful model of Christ’s intercessory ministry.

Look at John 17; this is another passage that we’re familiar with. Here is our Lord interceding in this most wonderful of all biblical prayers, the intercession of our Lord before the Father. This is how He prays. So when He prayed for Peter that his faith fail not, what did He say? Pick it up in verse 11: “I’m no longer in the world – ” He says to the Father “ – yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name. Father, keep them.”

So here is our Lord saying to Peter, “You’re going to come through this sifting by Satan because I’m going to pray that your faith not fail.” And here is an example of that kind of prayer; and it’s not only for those eleven, but for all who will believe through their words. “All who the Father gives to Me throughout all of redemptive history, I’m asking You, Father, keep them in Your name.”

And then go down to verse 15, and here you see this which is a further explanation of the very intercession of our Lord for Peter in Luke 22, “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They’re not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You gave Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me.” Here is the intercessory prayer of our Lord. “Bring those You have given Me to glory. Bring those You have given Me to glory.”

It as if the Lord, on the brink of the cross, says to the Father, “I have kept them. I have kept them. I’m now going to the cross. There’s going to be a time on the cross when I am separated from You. Father, keep them, keep them.” This is the passionate prayer of our Lord that believers would be kept from the power of the evil one, that they would be sanctified by the Word of God, that they would share ultimately in His final holiness in glory, that they would be brought to glory as a unit, all the redeemed with no one lost; that they would therefore persevere to the end.

And by the way, this intercessory prayer is what is in view in Hebrews 7:25, “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to make – ” what? “ – intercession for them.” It isn’t just some automatic reality that you were saved and you’re going to go to heaven based upon some automatic reality. The reason you go from the point of regeneration into eternal glory is because of the nonstop intercession of the living Christ on your behalf.

We don’t talk much about the intercession of Christ, but it is that intercession before the Father and that intercession by the Spirit as well, Romans 8, that sustains us to glory. Christ’s intercession guarantees our eternal salvation and the fulfillment of the Father’s plan that those whom He foreknew He glorified. So we have been born again.

Let’s go back to 1 Peter for just a brief look. We have been glorified; we are on our way to glory; we have been regenerated. Just look at verse 3: “We have been caused to be born again.” We possess new life; that new life is eternal life. Jeremiah 32:40, “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.”

The covenant of salvation is an everlasting covenant. There are no dropouts; no one falls through the cracks. You say, “Well wait a minute; aren’t there warnings in Scripture? Doesn’t Scripture warn people, ‘Lest they fall away,’ the book of Hebrews and other places?” Yes, but that is a warning to false believers and uncommitted hearers.

And again I say the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints says that true believers will persevere. It doesn’t say they’re secure no matter what they do, it says they will persevere. It doesn’t say that if they accepted Jesus in a moment they’ll end up in heaven, it says they will persevere, and they will persevere because that life which is in them. That life is eternal life, it is the life of God and the soul of man, and it is sustained in every believer by the intercessory work of Christ and the Spirit according to the purpose of God. You have a persevering eternal life in you as a believer.

This had to be good news to the readers of this letter. Peter was writing to scattered believers, as it says in verse 1, in Asia Minor who were facing horrible persecution. These believers feared for their lives. They feared that their faith would fail when put to the test; rightly, they didn’t trust in their own strength. Peter reminded them that they were aliens in the world, they were citizens of heaven, they were a kind of royal aristocracy, residents of a heavenly kingdom, living stones in God’s temple, a holy priesthood, a people who were God’s own personal possession. All of that He reminds them of in this wonderful epistle.

But this may be the most wonderful of all, and that may be why it’s up front. They didn’t to fear the threats, they didn’t need to fear the danger or they didn’t need to fear the persecution, they didn’t need to fear suffering and even death – and He talks about that in almost every chapter – they didn’t need to be intimidated by or troubled by the worst that could befall them, because their eternal life would never fail, never. Instead of giving them doses of sympathy, commiseration, Peter points them to their absolute safety in Christ. They might lose all earthly possessions, they might lose their lives; they would never lose their salvation. Their heavenly inheritance is fixed, it is guaranteed, and they are being kept to its fulfillment. Their faith will survive anything and everything because it is part of that eternal life.

Just looking a little more closely at the text, let me give you a handful of things to sort of spread this out a little bit. Eternal life includes a hope that cannot fail, a hope that cannot fail. Verse 3 says, “God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has blessed us according to His mercy by causing us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Based upon the fact that Christ came out of the grave, as He says in John, “Because I live, you shall live also,” and grants to us that very life which He possesses which death cannot destroy, we have a life that is eternal and living and possesses, first of all, a living hope, a living hope. You have a perpetual hope.

Hebrews 6:19 says, “This hope is an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” Our hope cannot die because our hope is attached to our life which is eternal, it is alive. That is the heart of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. We persevere because we have a life that cannot die, and it has a hope that cannot die. We are guaranteed; this is amazing. “We are guaranteed – ” verse 4 “ – an inheritance.” We are guaranteed that inheritance as surely as Jesus Christ rose from the dead and purchased for us that eternal life.

We have an inheritance already waiting for us, imperishable, aphthartos, “not liable to pass away, not corruptible.” It’s even used in some places “not subject to be plundered by an enemy or invading army.” This is an inheritance that is not accessible for any thief or anyone to steal. It cannot be plundered, it cannot be taken by an enemy, including Satan and demons. It is eternal; it is indestructible; it is safe with God.

Not only that, it is undefiled, amiantos, “unstained, not subject to defect, not subject to failure, cannot be polluted, cannot be tarnished, cannot be touched with anything that is evil.”

Not only that, it is “unfading,” amarantos. “It doesn’t have the property of decay. It can never lose its supernatural beauty. It can never lose its glow or it’s shine.” Why? Because, as you can see, it is reserved in heaven, it is reserved in heaven.

And what is true about heaven is therefore true about our inheritance. And what is true about heaven; listen to these wonderful words: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may the right to the tree of life, and enter by gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, and sorcerers, and the immoral persons, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”

None of that is in heaven. Heaven cannot be tainted. Heaven cannot be stained by any such things. It is pure; there’s no curse there. None of that which manifests corruption in this world will be in heaven. No one will be in heaven who is a corrupting influence. Unlike everything in this life which is subject to corruption, decay, and fading, our salvation is in heaven – incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading. It’s not a part of this world, it’s not a part of this system; it is reserved in heaven for you.

And again in the Greek language, very interesting, perfect passive participle from tēreō which means “to guard” or “to keep.” And the perfect form underlines that the inheritance is already in existence, all right; it’s already in existence and it is presently and continually being guarded until you receive it in the end. It’s the safest place in the universe, isn’t it; safest place in the universe. Heaven will never know any invasion. No treasure there will ever be stolen, or defaced, or defiled, or corroded. We persevere in this eternal life with a living hope, a living hope.

Secondly, we persevere with a living faith, with a living faith. This is so wonderful, verse 5, “who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We are protected by the power of God through faith. Faith is the means. We have a living hope that cannot die; we have a living faith that cannot die. We will believe all the way into eternal glory. Awaiting us is a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, already prepared, already present, already at hand, already accomplished; it’s just waiting for us. It is protected – a military term. It is protected by the power of God until we arrive.

But the means, again, by which it is protected is a living faith, our continued faith. Ephesians 2:8 and 9, “For by grace are you saved through faith; that not of yourself, it is the gift of God.” We have been given a living and undying hope; we have been given a living and undying faith. We’re not talking about natural faith, we’re not talking about human faith; we’re talking about a supernatural ability to believe the truth concerning God and the gospel throughout the entirety of our lives. Never do we cease to believe. It’s not apart from our own will, but by divine power, it activates our will, and we remain steadfast; not passive, but active in the persevering; hence, it is called the persevering of the saints.

There’s a third element to this. We persevere in this eternal life with a living hope, and a living faith, and a living power, verse 6, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” What this says to us is that there is a power operative in our lives that sustains us through the very most severe tests we can possibly or can’t possibly imagine. “Even though you now, for a little while if necessary, have been distressed by various trials, this becomes the proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold which is perishable. That’s a fascinating thought to me.” That’s a fascinating thought to me.

I’ve been a pastor long enough to know that lots of people struggle with their assurance in salvation. They wonder, “Am I really saved? Have I really been forgiven? Am I really on the way to heaven? I struggle with trusting the Lord.”

Young people sometimes will say, “You know, I’ve invited Christ to be my Lord, I’ve asked God to save me many times. I fear, I worry that I may not be a true believer. Where does assurance come from?” Assurance comes from the Spirit of God to an obedient believer as a grace given. But beyond that, assurance becomes stronger and more firm the more your faith is tested by trials.

When the doctor says to me, “Your son has a brain tumor; it could cost his life,” my faith is tested. And through nine days of praying and fasting, coming out at the other end of that with a greater love, and a greater trust, and a greater confidence, and a greater hope in God whatever it meant for my son. He spared my son, even to this day, with no long-term effects at all. But I came through that, and what could have crushed me to my knees, humanly speaking, my faith endured, and I had that golden realization that I have a real faith.

There’s been a lot of trials like that through life. My wife, Patricia, a car accident; broke her neck, fractured C2/C3. The Lord spared her. There have been mutinies through the years at the church, maybe 20 years into my ministry there, 250 people walk out of the church, hostility against me; betrayal by friends that I’d invested my life in; disappointment with couples that I’ve tried to help, families I’ve tried to help; disappointed in men that I’ve disciple, disappointed in men that I’ve trained and their lives – life is just full of all of that – illness, illness of people that you care for and love; and your faith goes through a test; and as those tests accumulate and you come out of those tests, and your faith doesn’t fail. No matter what the assault, you have that wonderful realization that is more precious than gold that this is the real thing.

This is unlike the false faith of the parable of the soils, where the soil receives the seed; but when tribulation and trouble comes, it chokes the seed and it dies without ever having fruit. That’s a false faith. Or, the love of riches and the cares of the world choke that seed. The greatest thing the Lord can give you is a hard trial that proves the validity of your saving faith. And as you go through life and get to the point that I am, you’ve accumulated an awful lot of those. And the older I’ve gotten and the more trials that I’ve seen the Lord put me through, the more assurance I have of my true salvation.

People who lose their faith in a trial shake their fist at God, walk away; that’s rocky soil. Real faith emerges from trials stronger than before, stronger than before. There is distress for a season, and it’s necessary, because it perfects our faith. Isn’t that what James says? “The testing of your faith produces maturity, perfection; it grows you. Count it all joy.” They come like fire to burn off the dross; and that’s the point. What is left is power to overcome in a stronger faith.

We persevere because we have eternal life, and that eternal life has as components, a living hope, a living faith, and a living power – a hope that never dies, never fails; a faith that never dies, never fails; and strength that never fails. This is the proof of our faith, the power unleashed in trials that one day we will see the praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Christ. There’s so much more I would want to say about that; but for time, let me go to another point.

This eternal life has a love that never fails, a love that never fails. One of the things that I talk about a lot is that Christians love Christ, Christians love Christ. First Corinthians 16:22 says, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be damned.” If you want to define Christianity in a very simple way: Christians love Christ, Christians love Christ. That’s reciprocal; we love Him because what? He first loved us. Christians love Christ. We have an undying love for Christ.

Please notice verse 8, “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him.” We have a hope that will not fail, we have a faith that will not fail, we have a power that will not fail, and we have a love that will not fail. We should be defined by that love.

With Peter again, John 21, Jesus confronts him after he’s gone back to his old career fishing, disappointed in himself. He probably decided he was unfit for any future ministry, even though he’d seen the risen Christ, been up in Galilee for awhile waiting for Jesus to show up. Jesus said, “Wait for Me.” He didn’t; he went back fishing.

The Lord showed up on the shore and made breakfast, breakfast; and He appeared and they ate; and pulled Peter aside and said, “Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Do you love Me?” once for each denial. Peter finally had to appeal to omniscience because it was invisible. He said, “You know me; you know I love you.” “Feed My sheep. Feed My sheep.”

He loved his Lord, there’s no question about it, with an undying love. That’s why at the end of the 22nd chapter of Luke, when his eyes met the eyes of Jesus in the night of that terrible denial, he was crushed into tears. How much did he love his Lord? Enough to be crucified upside-down because he thought himself unworthy to be crucified the way his Lord had been crucified. Love is not just an affection, it is a desire for obedience, and sacrifice, and service, and worship for his Lord.

The perseverance of the saints then involves eternal life which possesses a living hope, a living faith, living strength, a living love, and I think, a living joy. Verse 8, “Though you do not see Him now but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy, inexpressible and full of glory.” What that is saying is that no matter what’s going on, no matter how hard the persecution is, no matter how difficult the trials are – such as in the case of these scattered believers – no matter how tough the suffering is, there is a deep down unassailable joy in the anticipation of future glory. That joy is manifest in a true believer because it is an element of eternal life, it is an element of eternal life.

We know these things, don’t we: hope, and faith, and power, and love, and joy. The believer experiences those as the components, the realities of eternal life. They are the ever-present evidence of a true faith; and it is through those that we persevere.

And, finally, “We obtain – ” verse 9 “ – the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls.” The final salvation, the full salvation, the salvation that is nearer now than when we believed, obtaining – present middle, presently receiving for yourselves. Even now, you have the outcome already in your hands, already in your soul. It is yours, the ultimate, final glorification that is the ultimate element of salvation; and promise that comes in the words of the apostle Paul we so often claim, “He who has begun – ” what? “ – a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ.”

One final thought. Turn to John, chapter 15, for just a moment. John, chapter 15, upper room – and I’ll say more about that chapter tomorrow at church. But upper room, Judas has been revealed and dismissed, and Jesus gives an analogy, “I am the true vine, Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that doesn’t bear fruit He takes away. Every branch that bears fruit He prunes so that it might bear more fruit. You’re already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

He’s speaking to the eleven that are there, and He’s talking about Judas who’s the prototypical branch with no fruit, the branch that’s cut off, verse 6, “thrown away, dried up, gathered, thrown into the fire and consumed.” Judas branch: didn’t persevere, defected. And our Lord says to these eleven, verse 4, “Abide in Me. Abide in Me.” And then down in verse 7, “If you abide in Me.”

We’ve taken that word abide and turned it into something rather mystical. You know what He’s saying to them? “Stay.” That’s menō. “Stay. Don’t do what Judas did; stay, remain. If you stay, I’ll take up My residence in you. If you stay, you’ll bear much fruit. If you stay, I’ll hear and answer your prayers. If you stay, you’ll have joy; stay.” Don’t be like Judas; stay. Stay with Christ; don’t do what Judas did. Be faithful to the very end.

Lord, again, we thank You for Your truth, Your Word. We feel as if we’ve scratched the surface of these profound realities; and yet even the surface yields treasure beyond description. We thank You for that hope that burns bright in our hearts, and we thank You for that promise that we will all meet at last in Your presence – every one of us that You chose before the foundation of the world and whose name You wrote in the Lamb’s Book of Life; every one of those who were chosen to be given as love gifts to the Son to make up His bride; every one was received by the Son, kept by the Son, and will be raised to eternal glory.

We thank You for this life which perseveres, this life which triumphs over sin and Satan and death. And we thank You for the hope that all of us as one, chosen before the foundation of the world, will be gathered in eternal joy in Your presence. In anticipation of that, Lord, we live triumphantly over all the issues of life with grateful hearts for such grace. We thank You; we worship You in our Savior’s name. Amen.

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