Chapter 17: Of Perseverance of the Saints

  1. Those whom God has accepted in the Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and to whom he has given the precious faith of his elect, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace. They shall certainly persevere in that state to the end and be eternally saved. This is because the gifts and callings of God are without repentance [there is no change of mind]. Therefore, he still creates and nourishes in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit that lead to immortality.1 And, though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet such things shall never be able to sweep them off that foundation and rock upon which they are fastened by faith. Because of unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the felt experience and sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them.2 However, God is still the same and Christians shall surely be kept by the power of God for [final and complete] salvation.3 Then they shall enjoy their purchased possession, having been engraved upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.

1 Jn 10.28-29; Phil 1.6; 2Tim 2.19; 1Jn 2.19 2 Ps 89.31-32; 1Cor 11.32 3 Mal 3.6

  1. This perseverance of the saints does not depend on their own free will. It depends on the immutability [unchanging nature] of the decree of election, which flows from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father.4 It also depends on the efficacy [sure effectiveness] of the merit [worthiness] and intercession [prayers on our behalf] of Jesus Christ and the saints’ union with him,5 on the oath of God,6 on the abiding of his Spirit, on the seed of God within them,7 and on the nature of the covenant of grace.8 The certainty and infallibility of the perseverance of the saints arises from all these things.

4 Rom 8.20; Rom 9.11, 16 5 Rom 5.9-10; Jn 14.19 6 Heb 6.17-18 7 1Jn 3.9 8 Jer 32.40

  1. Believers may – through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the power of [sinful] corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means for their preservation – fall into grievous sins and continue in them for a time.9 Because of this they incur [bring upon themselves] God’s displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit,10 come to have their graces and comforts impaired [weakened],11 have their hearts hardened and their consciences wounded,12 hurt and scandalize [offend] others, and bring temporal judgements [chastenings in time and space] upon themselves.13 Nevertheless, they shall renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.14

9 Mt 26.70, 72, 74 10 Is 64.5, 9; Eph 4.30 11 Ps 51.10, 12 12 Ps 32.3-4 13 2Sam 12.14 14 Lk 22.32, 61-62