Many Christians greatly struggle with the issue of assurance. For such Christians hearing the warning passages in Hebrews or other passages in the Bible should be a great encouragement since they are designed to help us examine where we’re at in the Christian life. Furthermore, the warning passages give us increasing confidence after examining our lives to see if we’re walking the straight and narrow in our walk with God. Yet, for others the issue of assurance is a settled matter. They don’t struggle with unbelief, doubt, or other issues. To address both groups, Dr. Sam Storms wrote Kept For Jesus: What The New Testament Really teaches About Assurance Of Salvation And Eternal Security.
Sam’s book has eleven chapters and considers topics such as the love of the Father, fickle faith, the logic of love, inseparability, perseverance, testing ourselves to see if we are in the faith, what God starts He finishes, two parts on the warning passages and apostasy, and finally the question, “Can a Christian commit the sin unto death?”
Kept For Jesus is an excellent book. This book is biblical, pastoral, and practical. The best books combine these three traits and help readers consider the topic. This book handles the relevant biblical passages with clarity and precision which will help the reader understand the biblical text. Also, Storms deals with this topic in a pastoral manner which will help readers to address issues related to assurance in their lives.
The Reformed doctrine of perseverance is that a regenerate soul will persevere through the trials of life and continue to believe and repent. He will slip and fall, develop bad habits, wrestle with doubt, but through it all he/she will keep on going even as he/she began. All believers slip and fall into sin, but no true believer stays down. Just as God gave him faith and repentance unto initial conversion, so He supplies him with faith and repentance all along the way to heaven (Canons of Dort, Head V, Art. 7).
Believers who have come to Christ by grace remain wedded to Christ, knowing they are in Him by grace. Perseverance and assurance are the two sides of grace. The believer cannot persevere in grace without growing in assurance, and they cannot grow in assurance of faith without perseverance.
The doctrine of perseverance is not just a pretty ribbon that completes the package of Calvinist soteriology. Perseverance involves intense Christian watchfulness and discipleship. It requires pilgrim warfare in a world that aims to distract the mind and rip open the heart. It embraces major issues of life and death, including the believer’s eternal security in glory. Frances Roberts says, “Perseverance is the rope that ties the soul to the doorpost of heaven.” John Blanchard concludes: “Glory for the Christian is more certain than the grave. God has never torn up a Christian’s birth certificate. It is possible to fall in grace, but not to fall from grace. The Christian can be as certain of arriving in heaven as he is that Christ has already ascended there.”
Because the believer’s perseverance depends on the One who does the work of salvation, namely, the triune God, every believer is a jewel of Christ and can never be lost. Malachi 3:17, “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. “ Thomas Brooks adds, “Earthly jewels sometimes get separated from their own, Christ’s jewels, never. Earthly jewels are sometimes lost, Christ’s jewels never. Earthly jewels are sometimes stolen, Christ’s jewels, never!”
“In the final analysis, the hope of true believers resides not in our feeble hold of God but in his powerful grasp of us,” Bruce Demarest writes. “The stability and constancy of our spiritual lives rests not in our human powers but in God’s eternal purpose and infinite resources.” God’s purposes, God’s promises, God’s powers, God’s provision, God’s protection- what comfort that gives.
Perseverance is ultimately the result of the work of the Spirit in believer’s hearts. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, coming down to believers from the Reformation must be preserved at all costs. Believers must neither abandon it nor compromise with those who wish to do so.
Perseverance opens the way for assurance. Rooted in God’s grace, objective perseverance makes possible subjective assurance, which is rooted in the believer’s conscience. If a Christian does not believe in the perseverance of the saints, he/she cannot be sure he/she is going to Heaven. He/she may know he/she is in a state of grace, but he/she has no way of knowing whether he/she will continue in that state. Assurance is wedded to the doctrine of perseverance. Perseverance increases assurance. Those who persist in works that spring from faith will attain high levels of assurance, which is why believers must persevere to the end in faith, holiness and obedience.
Perseverance encourages the believer to live in hope. As believers persevere, they become increasingly confident of victory in Christ and their future with him in glory (Rom. 5:1-11). This book will help believers to understand the Reformed view of the perseverance of the saints and how to have assurance of salvation. This book addresses all the issues in a winsome, thoughtful, and helpful way. I highly recommend Kept For Jesus and believe it will help every Christian to understand what the New Testament teaches on this subject. This book would also be good for pastors, pastors in training, Sunday school teachers, and anyone in a teaching role of any kind in the church. Go pick up Kept For Jesus, for in doing so you’ll be blessed as I was in reading it, and gain further insight and knowledge on this vital doctrine.