26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26–27, NKJV)
Those who believe a Christian can never fall from grace and be lost (as Galatians 5:4 says can happen) falter and fall over this passage. The “once saved, always saved” doctrine refuses to believe and accept its clear warning against willful sin. The “we” of verse 26 are Christians who sin willfully. The sin being discussed happens “after we have received the knowledge of the truth” (a figure of speech for one’s salvation by the gospel, 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25). When Christians sin willfully (voluntarily) they should not think they will have another path of redemption. That is flawed thinking. There will not be another sacrifice given for their sins. Christians who sin intentionally can expect a sure judgment of God’s fervent wrath. “The Lord will judge His people” who willfully turn away from Christ (Hebrews 10:30). The impossibility of apostasy (Calvinism’s “perseverance of the saints”) denies the Bible by denying the outcome of a Christian’s willful sin. The issue is not about God’s power to save (the “sacrifice for sins” has been fully made). The issue is about Christians choosing to reject Christ to practice sin. For them, judgment is certain, fiery and full (Hebrews 10:31). So, exercise your faith and do not sin willfully.
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3–4, NKJV)
Christians “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). Along with rejoicing in “having been justified by faith” and its spiritual blessings, we also learn to glory (boast, joy, rejoice) in tribulations as we view their beneficial results (verse 3). Our faith looks beyond present distress and its pain, uncertainty, trauma and trials, to the consummation of our hope. We understand (we know) that trouble borne out of being faithful to Christ produces steadfast endurance (perseverance). Do not be overwhelmed when trials test your faith, but “by patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). Patiently continuing to do God’s will despite tribulations produces “character” that is approved by God. Trustworthy dependability to keep doing the will of God is developed in your life by consistently enduring the distresses that test your faith (see James 1:2-4). The hope you have in Christ is enlivened and secured when your faith is genuine and when, by God’s grace, you are trustworthy to persevere through the temporary trials of life.
26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:26–28, NKJV)
The Jewish leaders’ failure to believe in Christ made it clear that they were not His sheep (John 10:26). They were not His disciples. Jesus contrasted His sheep and the unbelieving Jewish leaders in John 10:27-28. By so doing, He specifically stated the blessings of being His sheep. Christ’s sheep hear His voice, and consequently, He knows them (John 10:14). They follow the words of Christ, and consequently, He gives them eternal life (John 10:10). As a result, they shall never perish (no one shall snatch them out of the hand of Christ). Jesus taught that human salvation rests upon the pillars of man’s faith and God’s grace (John 10:27-29; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus rejected the Calvinistic doctrines of unconditional election and the perseverance of the saints. If the conditions of verse 27 are not obeyed, the blessings of verses 28-29 will not follow. As one hears and obeys the voice of Christ (the gospel), his soul is secured by the Son and the Father. The Jewish rulers did not hear His voice, nor did they follow Him. Therefore, they were not saved. Because of their unbelief, they would die in their sins (John 8:23-24). We must hear and obey the words of Christ to have eternal security.
10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:10–11, NKJV)
Perseverance. Steadfast endurance, patient continuance. Perseverance defines a growing, fruitful faith, come what may. When opposed, the patient perseveres, waiting for the divine blessing they know will come (James 5:7). By patience, the heart is established (James 5:8). Knowing the Lord is just and that He will execute justice against evil is our incentive to persevere through the sufferings imposed by the unjust. The prophets and Job are examples of such perseverance. God’s prophets were threatened, harassed, rejected and killed, yet still they rose up early and spoke God’s word to a rebellious people (Jeremiah 26:1-6). Job’s suffering was intense, but he endured, and God’s merciful compassion was abundantly supplied. The Lord will return, bringing blessings to those who trust Him and patiently wait for Him. Even when the way is hard, add perseverance to your faith, and it will bear fruit unto eternal life (2 Peter 1:5-8).
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness… (2 Peter 1:5–6, NKJV)
The Holy Spirit calls on us to add perseverance to our self-control. Self-control that is only sporadically used is like a misfiring spark plug in an engine. The engine of our faith will sputter, lose power, waste energy and become more and more ineffective. It may be time to give your faith a tune up by equipping your self-control with constancy, endurance and steadfastness. A thriving faith is vigilant to endure trials, constantly using self-control to avoid sin and to obey the Lord. The testing of our faith by various trials produces patience. Faith grows stronger when we endure, letting “patience have its perfect work” (Jas. 1:2-4). Living by faith is not easy. It demands constant self-control to persevere in the face of many challenges. You can successfully add perseverance to your self-control by “looking unto Jesus”. He endured the cross and its shame, and is now exalted (Heb. 12:1-2). Follow in His steps and persevere to the end.