The Westminster Confession defines the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints like this: “They whom God hath accepted In His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” In other words, while a believer may temporarily backslide and fall into grievous sin, he or she will never fall completely into apostasy. As the great Puritan William Secker has said, “Though Christians be not kept altogether from falling, yet they are kept from falling altogether.” The evidence of salvation is that a believer who falls into sin WILL be brought to repentance and be saved.
Digging deeper, consider that if God, while we were still sinners, put us under a system of grace and not the law (Rom 6:14) then we cannot be condemned for having violated the law afterwards. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom 11:6). We died to the power of the law when we died with Christ (Rom 7:4) therefore where there is no law, the law cannot be broken! (Rom 4:15) On that note, we can all be grateful that the basis of God’s love was not our irresistible beauty but rather His sovereign grace! And with that in view, we say with Paul, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).
To what do we owe such Divine charity? Listen as Robert L. Dabney explains it has nothing to do with us but all of God.
“The sovereign and unmerited love is the cause of the believer’s effectual calling. Jer. 31:3; Rom. 8:30. Now, as the cause is unchangeable, the effect is unchangeable. That effect Is, the constant communication of grace to the believer in whom God hath begun a good work. God was not induced to bestow His renewing grace in the first instance, by anything which He saw, meritorious or attractive, in the repenting sinner; and therefore the subsequent absence of everything good in him would be no new motive to God for withdrawing His grace. When He first bestowed that grace, He knew that the sinner on whom He bestowed it was totally depraved, and wholly and only hateful in himself to the divine holiness; and therefore no new instance of ingratitude or unfaithfulness, of which the sinner may become guilty after his conversion, can be any provocation to God, to change His mind, and wholly withdraw His sustaining grace. God knew all this ingratitude before. He will chastise it, by temporarily withdrawing His Holy Spirit, or His providential mercies; but if He had not intended from the first to bear with it, and to forgive it in Christ, He would not have called the sinner by His grace at first. In a word, the causes for which God determined to bestow His electing love on the sinner are wholly in God, and not at all in the believer; and hence, nothing in the believer’s heart or conduct can finally change that purpose of love. Is. 54:10; Rom. 11:29. Compare carefully Rom. 5:8-10; 8:32, with the whole scope of Rom. 8:28-end. This illustrious passage is but an argument for our proposition; ‘What shall separate us from the love of Christ?’”1
Nothing, absolutely nothing — not even sin, will keep us from the love of God that is ours in Christ! Now tell me, isn’t that good news?! 😉
1 Robert L Dabney quoted in Lorraine Boettner’s “The Perseverance of the Saints”