Furthermore, the doctrine of perseverance harmoniously links the believer's assurance of salvation to the larger scheme of redemption. God's determination to save sinners is affirmed from beginning to end. The believer's faith in Christ, exercised as an act of the believer's will, is understood to be itself a gift of God and a result of God's calling. Thus, the doctrine of perseverance grounds assurance in the eternal purposes of God, by which God determines to redeem His people through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to preserve Christ's church throughout all the ages.

In his first letter, Peter reminded Christians that the Father "has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Believers are promised "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" [1 Peter 1:4-5]. The Christian's proper assurance of salvation is God's gift--a gift given to the believer by the very God who has accomplished our salvation. True believers are those who have genuinely responded to the call of the Gospel, whose belief is evident in a life transformed by God's grace, and whose profession of faith in Christ is accompanied by repentance from sin and an eagerness to follow Christ.

Believers do sin, and may sin grievously, but they can never finally remain in sin. Peter promised that God will guard His own through faith, even as salvation will be revealed "in the last time." In the end, the gift of assurance and the doctrine of perseverance take us back to the very essence of the gospel--we are saved by grace through faith. Grace alone . . . nothing more and nothing less.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to www.albertmohler.com. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to www.sbts.edu. Send feedback to mail@albertmohler.com.

See also the most recent entries on Dr. Mohler's Blog.