Do Christians persevere? What relationship does this have to counseling?
―Perseverance is that gracious work of the triune God in a believer whereby He enables him to fight the good fight of faith from the point of his conversion until he is brought into His presence at death.( http://www.nanc.org/Theological_Considerations/Perseverance.aspx)
Spurgeon once said ―You will not be lost, for He who owns you is able to keep you. If you were to perish, who would be the loser? Why, He to whom you belong and ―you are not your own, you belong to Christ! My hope of being preserved to the end lies in this fact, that Jesus Christ paid far too much for me ever to let me go. Each Believer cost Him His heart‘s blood! Stand in Gethsemane and hear His groans! Then draw near and mark His bloody sweat and tell me—will He lose a soul for whom He suffered like this? Look at Him hanging on the tree, tortured, mocked, burdened with an awful load and then beclouded with the eclipse of His Father‘s face! Do you think He suffered all that and yet will permit those for whom He endured it to be cast into Hell? He will be a greater loser than I shall if I perish, for He will lose what cost Him His life! Surely He will never do that. Here is your security—you are the Lord‘s portion and He will not be robbed of His heritage! We are in a hand that bears the scar of the nail! We are hidden in the cleft of a rock—the Rock that was riven for us nearly 1,900 years ago! None can pluck us from the hand which redeemed us—its pressure is too warm with love and strong with might for that.
The Reformation Study Bible says ―In declaring the eternal security of God‘s people it is perhaps clearer to speak of their preservation than, as is usually done, of their perseverance. Perseverance means continued adherence to a belief despite discouragement and opposition. The reason that believers persevere in faith and obedience, however, is not the strength of their own commitment, but that Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit preserves them. Certainty of the doctrine: ―1st. The direct assertions of Scripture. 2nd. This certainty is a necessary inference, from the Scriptural doctrine (1) of election; (2) of the covenant of grace, wherein the Father gave his people to his Son as the reward of his obedience and suffering; (3) of the union of Christians with Christ; (4) of the atonement, where in Christ discharged all the obligations of his people to the law as a covenant of life; (5) of justification, which declares all the conditions of the covenant of life satisfied, and sets its subject into a new relation to God for all future time, so that he can not fall under condemnation, since he is not under the law, but under grace; (6) of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, (a) as a seal by which we are marked as belonging to God, (b) as an earnest, or first installment of the promised redemption, in pledge of complete fulfillment; (7) of the prevalency of Christ‘s intercession.
The Golden Chain of Rom 8:29-30 is so strong ―Paul sees the future event of glorification as such a certainty in God‘s settled purpose that he can speak of it as if it were already accomplished.(Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg 790 ) The doctrine is both a warning and a source of great comfort. It is a warning against false views of security. If a counselee is not a true believer he will eventually fall and stay down; He will, at some point, be unwilling to face his sin and seek the Lord‘s help in working out his salvation; He will not, in his own strength, be able to resist the tug of his fallen nature. It, thus, aids the counselor in determining an appropriate course of action. But it, also, is a great source of comfort. To produce insecurity in a counselee by constantly questioning his salvation is just as destructive as false security. God‘s glory shines brightly in His preserving grace as He is the great Shepherd who leads His sheep beside still waters.1 ―To grasp perseverance of the saints anchors counseling in the reality that the process of growth is sometimes (usually?!) bumpy, and that the genuineness of a person‘s conversion ―comes out in the wash in learning to face today‘s fresh challenges. As a counselor, you can simply take a counselee‘s profession at face value, roll up your sleeves, and get down to work. As your counselees face the current challenges in their fight with sin by finding mercy and grace to change, and as they face their current troubles of life by finding refuge and hope in the Lord‘s promises, they manifest that they are in fact the Lord‘s true children. (www.nanc.org/Theological_Considerations/Perseverance.aspx).
The implications for counseling are huge!
It is vital to determine, to the best of our human understanding, the counselee’s position before God, for if he does not know Christ, that is the first step to be taken.
There are a few evidences of true conversion that can be looked for, understanding that God is the only one who knows the heart. We are told to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard.” (Col 1:23).
Does she still believe the gospel? Does she confess today, and not just twenty years ago when she walked the aisle, that belief in Jesus is all she needs for salvation? Or is she relying on her own works?
Is the Holy Spirit at work in his life? The Holy Spirit is said to bear witness in our hearts that we are God’s children, and He leads us in paths of obedience to God’s will. (Rom 8:14-16). The evidence of the fruit of the spirit should be growing, and his life should be producing other fruit that builds up the body and doesn’t tear it down. (Gal 5:22-23, Matt 7:16-20).
Does she accept and obey the sound teaching of their church and pastors? Constantly rejecting major doctrines of the faith is a warning sign. John said, “Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us.” (John 4:6).
Does he have an on-going relationship with Jesus, abiding in Him? This can show itself in worship, prayer, and praise. Jesus also said that His sheep follow Him and walk as He walked. Is her life showing a pattern, though not perfect, of obedience to God’s commands and of a growing love for others? “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (I John 3:14).
So what does this mean?
A counselee who can gain assurance from these things can boldly approach God for help and healing, knowing that when God looks at Him, He sees the perfect righteousness of Christ. A counselee who is broken by the list can be brought to the cross for forgiveness, and God will meet Him there with open arms