Thursday, December 30, 2010
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God's Purpose of Grace
At this point, the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 has discussed God, man, salvation, & so much more. Now we turn to God’s work in salvation & our security. Many today continue to debate & despair over the question of assurance. What assurance do we have that right now that we are still reconciled with God, called into His kingdom, & adopted as His child? Am I still saved? Have I squandered my salvation? What assurance do I have?
The despair over the uncertainty of one’s salvation can be devastating. And it is at this point that one of the Baptist distinctives come to our aid: the perseverance of the saints. The BF&M 2000 reads:
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. 
So what assurance do true believers have that we are still in the loving arms of the Father? One word: God. That is the argument put forward above. Salvation is not the work of man, but of God. God is the One who put on flesh. God, in the Person of the Son, bore our sins as our atoning substitute. God satisfied His own wrath, redeemed a people, & saves souls for His own glory. Man plays no role in any of it. All our “righteousness” is like filthy rags. Even the most noble of works is tainted with sin.
This means that our security is determined by God. And being that God makes no mistakes (He is perfect & cannot lie), never changes (He is Immutable), & His wrath is fully & completely satisfied for the repentant due to the saving work of Christ on the cross, believers – true believers – cannot & will not lose their salvation. This is the point in the first paragraph. It is God – & God alone – who regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. Sinners cannot accomplish such glory. Only God can.
However, this does not mean that salvation is a get-out-of-hell-free-card. It is more than fire insurance. It involves more than saying a prayer, walking an aisle, and getting baptized. No. Salvation is much bigger than that.
Salvation regenerates us changing us from the inside out. Though none of us are what we ought to be yet, praise God, we are not what we once were. The reason is because God is working in our lives. That which God begins, God will accomplish. Making us more like Him is one of God’s greatest works.
This is what is meant in the second paragraph: All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. This is the wonderful doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints.” Words like “eternal security” or “once saved always saved,” though true, are misleading. It implies that persons can “accept Jesus” superficially and then live however they want to. Perseverance of the Saints implies that true believers – saints – will live godly lives that reflects their Savior and will persevere to the end in obedience to their saving Father. Everyday, for such believers, is another opportunity to be more like Christ.
Certainly Christians sin, but not with glee. Our goal is to be more like Christ, not less like Him. Believers will persevere to the end with this ultimate goal. Though we have not attained such glorification yet, we look forward to the day that we do.
This all comes down to where we began. Do we have assurance of our salvation? Every religion in the world offers an emphatic no. The reason is because they are built on what man does, instead of what God has done. If God is the author and finisher of our faith, then rest knowing that you are safe in the arms of God trusting in the saving work of the cross. But assurance works both ways. Trust in yourself and your self-righteousness and I can assure you that you are lost and will remain so. Salvation is of God, not of man and so long as you strive for grace you will never achieve it. Instead, come to the cross in full humility, and embrace the gospel. Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
 See Gen 12:1-3; Ex 19:5-8; 1 Sam 8:4-7,19-22; Isa 5:1-7; Jer 31:31ff.; Matt 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Rom 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Cor 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Eph 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Col 1:12-14; 2 Th 2:13-14; 2 Tim 1:12; 2:10,19; Heb 11:39–12:2; Jam 1:12; 1 Pet 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Introduction
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Scripture
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God
This is Who We Are What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Father
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Son
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Spirit
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Man
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Salvation