Wind-up toys have been around for hundreds of years. Originally made for royalty, toymakers began mass producing them in the 1800’s. They are still popular today.
Wind-up toys are simple enough. They are powered by clockwork motors. A key or dial sticks out of their back or side. After their key is turned, they “move” on its own. These toys can be anything – a car, a robot, an animal, etc.
This is what God does when He saves us. During conversion, He “winds” us and points us toward Himself. He aligns our desires and the direction of our lives with His will. Then He sets us down to walk the way we should go.
Veering Off Course
Wind-up toys usually move in a straight line. But it is easy for them to get off course. They veer to either side or even turn around to head in the opposite direction! To get where they’re going, someone must stand by to correct them when they wander. And they must crank the key again when the motor winds down.
It is easy for us to get off course as well. Our flesh and the world conspire against our faith, making it difficult to follow the path God has laid out for us.
Three main forces attempt to knock us off course. The first is temptation. Our sinful desires resurface at times, causing us to relapse into sin. The second is persecution. In many countries, Christians are harassed and mistreated for their faith. The third is deception. False religion and false ideas about Jesus lead us astray.
So the Holy Spirit stands by to correct us when we wander from God’s will. He cranks us up when we feel worn down. In all things, He keeps us headed toward God.
This process of divine course correction is called “perseverance.” The Bible blesses “the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life” (James 1:12). Perseverance is the mark of a true Christian. Jesus says only “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).
But we do not persevere in our own strength or by our own willingness. We cannot keep ourselves faithful to God. On our own, we are overwhelmed by the forces Satan employs against us. Paul clarifies, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:21).
Perseverance is God’s work in us. We persevere because “he anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (1:21-22). Perseverance is God’s gift to His elect. If someone does not “stand firm to the end,” it only shows they never stood on Christ at all.
Some Christians argue against this. They maintain that we persevere on our own, that we are capable of staying faithful to God. They quote Philippians 2:12: “Continue to work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” They ignore what Paul says next: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (2:13).
We persevere in salvation because God motivates us to do so. He provides the willingness to work out our salvation. Our own willpower fades against the forces of this world. When they threaten to knock us off course, the Holy Spirit strengthens us to keep going.
Perseverance is the second to last stage in God’s “plan of salvation.” It is also perhaps the most important. After all, why take such great efforts to save us if He couldn’t preserve us against the forces of the world? What sort of Savior would He be if our salvation could be lost?
Some Christians argue that salvation can be lost. They do not believe God makes us “stand firm to the end.”
But what does this say about God? Paul bases our perseverance on God’s faithfulness. He says God “will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son” (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).
God will “keep us firm to the end” as surely as He “has called us into fellowship with his Son.” If He doesn’t, then He isn’t faithful. Should we think He predestined us, provided for our sins, regenerated us, converted us, and began sanctifying us, only to fail to preserve us before glorifying us?
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