Note: This was written before the author’s conversion to Orthodoxy.
When reading Chapter 33 of On Predestination I ran into the following short but sweet statement on why believers are not only assured of their salvation (for it is God’s will to save His elect), but why also God will preserve those whom He has saved:
Those who belong to this calling are all teachable by God; nor can any of them say, I believed in order to being thus called, because the mercy of God anticipated him, because he was so called in order that he might believe. For all who are teachable of God come to the Son because they have heard and learned from the Father through the Son, who most clearly says, “Every one who has heard of the Father, and has learned, comes unto me.” John 6:45 But of such as these none perishes, because of “all that the Father has given Him, He will lose none.” John 6:39 Whoever, therefore, is of these does not perish at all; nor was any who perishes ever of these. For which reason it is said, They went out from among us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would certainly have continued with us. John 2:19
He also says in Chapter 10 of On Perseverance:
But since no one has perseverance to the end except he who does persevere to the end, many people may have it, but none can lose it. For it is not to be feared that perchance when a man has persevered unto the end, some evil will may arise in him, so that he does not persevere unto the end. This gift of God, therefore, may be obtained by prayer, but when it has been given, it cannot be lost bycontumacy. For when any one has persevered unto the end, he neither can lose this gift, nor others which he could lose before the end.
Ironically, Robert Sungenis asserts when speaking of the doctrine of assurance, “The burden is on the Reformed position because it says that a person can live his whole life thinking that he is justified by faith alone and yet come to the point in time where he stands at the judgment seat of God and finds out that he or she did not have the works that qualified the faith…” He calls this a “double dilemma.”
Yet, our own forerunners in the faith recognized Christ’s plain teaching on the matter. We are called to faith by God, and once saved we are always saved, because “nor was any who perishes ever of these.”
The only question is whether our faith is genuine.: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10). We must inspect our own hearts and see if we are living by our supposed faith. However, it is good to be confident: “ For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). And where did Paul place such confidence? In the God that will make sure, as He promises, that the believer wil persevere to the end, for He will lose no one! Yes, you must “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” but “it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13).
If this be the case “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).