Session 6 Extra: Abiding in Christ

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In Session 6, we ask the question, “Why is it essential to abide in Christ?” In this study of John 15, we explore Jesus’ intimate analogy of the vine and branches.

Believers are joined with Christ in a living and organic unity. They are forever united with him and bear fruit as they abide in Christ. In John 15:2, however, Jesus refers to fruitless branches that are thrown into the fire. Who are these people?

These are those who pretend to have faith but really do not. By contrast, Jesus promised that those who by faith receive the eternal life he offers will never perish (John 10:28). This is the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. What does that mean? Read more in this article from The Reformation Study Bible.

In declaring the eternal security of God’s people it is perhaps clearer to speak of their preservation than, as is usually done, of their perseverance. Perseverance means continued adherence to a belief despite discouragement and opposition.  The reason that believers persevere in faith and obedience, however, is not the strength of their own commitment, but that Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit preserves them. John tells us that Jesus Christ is under promise to His Father (John 6:37–40) and to His people directly (John 10:28–29) to keep them so that they never perish. In His prayer for the disciples at the close of the Last Supper, Jesus asked that those whom the Father had given Him (John 17:2, 6, 9, 24) would be preserved to glory. Christ continues to intercede for His people (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25), and it is inconceivable that His prayer for them will go unanswered.

Paul celebrates the present and future security of the saints in the almighty love of God (Rom. 8:31–39). He rejoices in the certainty that God will complete the good work that He began in the lives of believers (Phil. 1:6; cf. 1 Cor. 1:8, 9; 1 Thess. 5:23, 24; 2 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:18).

The Westminster Confession says, 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 (17.1).

The regenerate are saved through persevering in faith and Christian living to the end (Heb. 3:6; 6:11; 10:35–39) as God preserves them.

This doctrine does not mean that all who ever professed to be Christians will be saved.  Those who try to live a Christian life in their own abilities will fall away (Matt. 13:20–22). The false profession of many who say to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” will not be acknowledged (Matt. 7:21–23). Those who pursue holiness of heart and love of neighbor and so show themselves to have been regenerated by God are entitled to believe themselves secure in Christ. Belief in perseverance properly understood does not lead to careless living and arrogant presumption.

The regenerate may backslide and fall into sin. In so doing they oppose their own new nature, and the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin (cf. John 16:8) and compels them to repent and be restored to righteousness. When regenerate believers manifest a humble, grateful desire to please the God who saved them, the knowledge that He has pledged to keep them safe forever increases that desire.

—”Perseverance of the Saints,” page 1,627 of The Reformation Study Bible (Copyright © 2005 by Ligonier Ministries. All rights reserved.) Reprinted with permission.

Click here for more resources for A Study of John 11–21.

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