Yes, I believe in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. But it’s not like you think.
Not all, but some Christian who hold to an Arminian theology of salvation, believe that a person who, apparently “accepts the Lord” can lose his salvation.
However, many of them believe in the doctrine of “the eternal security of the believer.” That is the belief that a person who, at one time, walked an aisle, repeated a prayer, raised his hand, asked Jesus into his life, joined a church, got baptized, was overcome by an emotional or spiritual experience, got right with God, or responded to any other human generated machination to become a Christian, is eternally saved and safe in the arms of Jesus. He believes that, as long as he “did that thing” once, he is Heaven bound. His ticket was paid.
Now pay close attention here because I don’t want you to miss this. If your salvation is a result of something you did a long, long time ago; if you are depending or trusting in that action to get you into Heaven, and you think that you can continue in disobedience and sin, YOU ARE WRONG.
I don’t know how many times I have seen acquaintances of mine, who have once professed “saving faith” and yet turn away from God to continuously dwell in open, and unrepentant sin.
So what is the difference between my belief in “the perseverance of the saints” and their belief in “eternal security?
Eternal security is a false belief that, because a person accepted the Lord, he is saved. He excuses his actions thinking that “Jesus loves him just the way he is and He will always say, I forgive.” As a Christian, he believes that he is to try to be as good as he can be but this is a sinful world and temptations are all around. And besides, God understands his weaknesses. After all, God created him the way he is and He will not judge him. Jesus paid for all that.
On the other hand, the phrase, “perseverance of the saints” is a doctrine in a context.
The context begins with God. It begins with His perfect holiness and His assessment of man. MAN IS NO GOOD. Man is incapable of making himself good enough for God. He cannot clean himself up. He is dead in his sins and dead men cannot accept, invite, or do anything else to initiate their salvation. If God will not save him or raise him up to new life, he cannot be saved.
The word, “perseverance” is followed by a preposition with an object -- the “saints.” The word, saint, means one who is sanctified or set apart for a special (or holy) purpose. When God saves a man, He sets him apart from the world for His own purpose and His own glory. His spirit indwells the man and begins the process of cleaning him up and making him fit for Heaven.
And the Spirit of God convicts the man of his sin. That means that, whenever the man sins, the Spirit chases and chastens him relentlessly, until he grieves over his sin and is brought to confession and repentance (which means he stops doing what he was doing). The Spirit is like a mother with eyes in the back of her head; she sees everything, and she knows what you did and she will make your life miserable until you are sorry and corrected.
And that work of the Spirit is one of the evidences of salvation. It is how a believer can know for certain, that he is saved. If you are not miserable with your sin; if you can ignore the pleas from other Christians, to stop, and if you can quench or silence the Spirit and continue to sin, it is probable that you do not have the Spirit of God and there is good reason to wonder about your salvation.
Sure, saints sin. We all sin because we are sinners. But a saint will not continue to sit comfortably in unrepentant, rebellious sin because GOD WON'T LET HIM. When God saves a man, He saves him completely and to the uttermost. Saints persevere because God is holding those He saved, firmly in His hand and no one can take them out. That is ASSURANCE.