What follows is an excerpt from an article that bears the same title as this post. You can read it here.
Scripture teaches that believers must persevere until the end, but also that believers will persevere until the end by God’s grace. As the Westminster Assembly concluded, Christians might temporarily yield to Satan’s temptations, even to excess, but like Peter when he denied Christ three times, God will still restore and preserve the faith of the Christian, a faith which God gave in the first place! Peter went on to be chief among the apostles! Two biblical principles must be held side-by-side:
1. You Must Persevere until the End: God’s Requirement of His People
God does not merely command us to begin to believe for a time, and then fall away. He requires us to continue to believe until the end, living lives of repentance and covenant faithfulness. Granted, He does not ask for a perfect faith, but He does ask for a real faith, one that produces real, lasting change.
• Colossians 1:21-23
• 1 John 1:5-10; 3:3-6
• Hebrews 10:26-31
• Hebrews 12:1
2. You Will Persevere Until the End: God’s Preservation of His People
We will persevere because God preserves us. God will keep us from falling—not one will be lost of all those who belong to the Son. True believers are not able to leave Christ, for Christ is at work within them.
• John 6:38-40
• John 10:28-29
• Romans 8:28-39
• Philippians 1:4-6
• Philippians 2:12-13
• 1 John 2:19
This first set of texts cannot be used to refute the second; nor can the second set of texts be used to refute the first (cheap grace). The point that makes the two compatible is the biblical teaching that faith (while commanded of everyone) is a gift from God to His elect. If faith is simply a human action of a free will, then it can be lost. But if saving faith is God’s gift, then it cannot be lost. Can professing Christians fall away? Yes, and they will perish. Can true Christians fall away? No, for they are kept by the invincible power of God in Christ. The Bible teaches us that professing Christians who leave the faith were never truly believers (1 John 2:19; and notice the qualification even in Hebrews 10:39).
Dan’s question: If we agree that we are saved by faith alone in the finished work of Christ on the cross, but also assert that if we commit sin(s), or fail to repent of every single one, are we not saying that our works contribute, at least in part, to our ultimate salvation?
As the above article excerpt states, if one is saved by an act of human free will, then one must necessarily be able to leave the faith by another act of human free will to be logically consistent. Also, to believe that God alone saves AND preserves in faith those who have trusted in Christ for their salvation is also logically consistent. However to say that God alone saves initially (grants eternal life) but by human effort one must remain saved, is theological schizophrenia.
NOTE: This is a public blog post and I make no claim to having absolute truth concerning the issue at hand. I do however claim as absolutely truth my Nissan being parked in the driveway. Nevertheless, this IS an important issue because it shapes much of our Christian lives, especially in the area of personal evangelism.
Have a great day, everyone!