Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Preserving Grace


IN MATTHEW
Scripture clearly teaches that the salvation of God’s people is guaranteed. As we see in the passage considered below, God does not guarantee our eternal salvation by making us unable to fall. He guarantees it (in part) by protecting us from circumstances in which we certainly would fall.
In the Mount Olivet Discourse, Jesus unveiled the end of the age. Through this sermon, He taught His disciples that those who persevere to the end are, in reality, the elect of God. They are kept eternally secure by God:
“And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” —Matthew 24:22 (cf. Mark 13:20)
Unquestionably, the elect have been chosen by God to be His people, and He will move heaven and earth to preserve them forever. They will be kept secure in their faith. Affirming this truth, MacArthur writes, “This is the first use of the term elect in the New Testament, and through it Jesus introduced a new concept concerning those who belong to Him. They have been divinely chosen and called out as His own people and indeed His very own children. And when God chooses people for Himself, He will restructure the entire universe if that becomes necessary to protect them and to fulfill His promises concerning them.”1
IN LUKE
In one of the most comforting and encouraging New Testament passages, our Lord tells us why Satan can’t have us:
Jesus made known that He intercedes with the Father on behalf of all believers. He prays that they will endure in their faith in the face of much opposition by Satan:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” —Luke 22:31–32
Jesus prays this prayer for His elect, asking the Father to overcome Satan’s attempts to subvert the faith of true believers. God always answers this prayer. As a result, the faith of all of the elect never fails. Ryle explains, “The continued existence of grace in a believer’s heart is a great and constant miracle. His enemies are so mighty and his strength is so small, the world is so full of traps, and his heart is so weak, that it seems at first sight impossible for him to reach heaven. This passage explains how he is kept safe. He has a mighty friend at the right hand of God who always lives to intercede for him. He has a watchful advocate who is daily pleading for him, seeing all his daily necessities, and obtaining daily supplies of mercy and grace for his soul. His grace never totally dies because Christ lives to intercede (Hebrews 7:25).”2

1 Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace, 257.
2 Ibid.