The Perseverance of Christ
Discussion Guide for Romans 8:31-39
“They, whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally, nor finally, fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” (Westminster Confession XVII.1)
We Are More than Conquerors
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:38
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:37
Perseverance of the Saints
Our Discussion on February 21 focused in depth on the Christian doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. There is no way we can exhaust this important doctrine. One thing that was not emphasized then is that the “perseverance of the saints,” is actually not the best technical term for the doctrine. The doctrine of perseverance is really all about the perseverance of Christ!
The Pilgrim’s Progress
The greatest illustration of Romans 8:31-39 in Christian literature can be found in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. When Christian, the protagonist, receives his armor from the Palace Beautiful (the church), he immediately goes down to the Valley of Humiliation where he has to face the foul fiend, Apollyon.
Apollyon, of course, is the devil attacking Christian. He uses every means possible to try to convince Christian to give in to sin, leave the King’s Highway, and return to the City of Destruction. Apollyon attempts to use intimidation, accusation, condescension, flattery, and temptation to convince Christian to lose heart and give in to the flesh. When none of these tactics work, Apollyon commences a daylong hand-to-hand battle that is fiercer than anything Christian has ever faced.
A Battle with Apollyon
Christian receives many wounds from the battle. His strength seems to falter. But just as Apollyon is about to land the deathblow, Christian’s sword miraculously returns to his hand and he delivers a blow to the body of the enemy. The verse Christian quotes is Romans 8:37.
- Read the Facing Apollyon section of Pilgrim’s Progress with commentary.
- Also available free on Kindle directly from Amazon
How Do We Become More Than Conquerors?
The lessons from Pilgrim’s Progress are nearly inexhaustible. Here are a few that I have drawn from that section.
- Maintaining devotion to Christ requires a struggle against temptation.
- God’s plan is for you to face temptation/humiliation head-on. That is why he only gives you armor for the front.
- The struggle against sin is long, grueling, and marked with setbacks.
- When Satan accuses us of failure, the Gospel response is to say “yes, and I’ve done worse than that. But the sweetness of my savior is that he’s paid for all of it.”
- The battle is being waged for the heart. Sin requires total allegiance. We will either give it to God or give it to sin.
- Victory comes through confidence that the love of Christ cannot and will not fail.
- Does Romans 8:31 mean that we will not face opposition?
- What greatest test you have experienced in following Christ?
- From where do you receive the greatest accusations and condemnations? (vv. 33-34)
- Is it possible to conquer without facing hardships? (vv. 35-36)
- How has Romans 8:37 personally impacted your life?
- What has established Jesus’ victory in your heart? (vv. 38-39)
Related Message: Keep Fighting
Remember to pray for believers in India. They are voting in a national election. The results of that election will mean a lot for the future of religious toleration and persecution in India.