God Will Not Forsake the Work of His Own Hands: Reflections on Perseverance
The truth that God will persevere in the preservation of his people is one of the more comforting and encouraging revelations in Scripture. The ultimate and only reason why you and I will persevere in our faith and not fully and finally fall away into perdition is because God is committed to preserving us in the faith that he requires for salvation. Continue reading . . .
The truth that God will persevere in the preservation of his people is one of the more comforting and encouraging revelations in Scripture. The ultimate and only reason why you and I will persevere in our faith and not fully and finally fall away into perdition is because God is committed to preserving us in the faith that he requires for salvation.
In Miscellany 750, Jonathan Edwards takes up this truth and brings light to bear on its beauty. “Grace,” says Edwards, “is that which God implants in the heart against great opposition of enemies, great opposition from the corruption of the heart, and from Satan and the world” (Yale, 18:398). What he means is that “grace” is not merely a principle or a truth or an abstract attribute of God’s nature. Grace is power. Grace is divine energy. Grace is the Holy Spirit in us to sustain and preserve us in faith in the face of all manner of opposition from the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to prevent grace from taking up residence in us. But to no avail. Says Edwards:
“Seeing therefore that God manifests his all-conquering power in giving grace a place in the heart in spite of those enemies, he will doubtless maintain it there, against their continued efforts to root it out. He that has so gloriously conquered them in bringing in grace, won’t at last suffer himself to be conquered, by their expelling that which he has so brought in by his mighty power. He that gloriously subdued those enemies under his feet by bringing this image of his into the soul, won’t suffer this image of his finally to be trampled under their feet. God alone could introduce it. It was what he undertook, and it was wholly his work, and doubtless he will maintain it. He will not forsake the work of his own hands. Where he has begun a good work, he will carry it on to the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6)” (Yale, 18:398).
This is such a simple truth, but a deep and glorious one at the same time. Edwards’ point is that if God went to such great and gracious lengths to implant his grace in our hearts, he will not be overcome or defeated in his purpose by the efforts of men and demons to remove it.
God sacrificed his only Son to save his elect. He marvelously implanted his grace in their hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Will God who conquered human sin and defiance and the concerted efforts of the entire demonic realm allow himself to be defeated and conquered on the final day? Of course not! How insulting to God to suggest that his incomparable work in and through the sufferings of his Son and the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit could so easily be overturned and reversed by the work of mere creatures such as Satan and human beings.
God’s preserving grace will prevail, and we shall persevere!