The Doctrine of Perseverance

An Exploration of the Doctrine of Perseverance and Its Practical Significance for Every Christian

In partnership with Bethlehem College & Seminary

Course Introduction

Part 1

About Dr. Tim Tomlinson

Tim Tomlinson serves as President of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He has been a professor and administrator in Christian higher education for the past 28 years, and an active member at Bethlehem Baptist Church since 1985.

Reflection Questions
  1. “It’s not how you start that matters, it’s how end that matters in the Christian life.” Reflecting on this statement, what Scriptural support would you turn to?
  2. What dangers of cheap grace (“easy believe-ism”) are avoided by pursuing perseverance?

Part 2

About Sam Crabtree

Sam Crabtree serves as the Pastor for Small Groups at the north campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church and is Board Chair at Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Reflection Questions
  1. How does perseverance help us reconciles the already/not-yet nature of the Christian life—that we are saved and yet are being saved?
  2. How is prayer (or evangelism, or eating) an example of God’s use of means in bringing about ends?

Recommended Reading

Resources prepared by Tyler Stitt from Bethlehem College & Seminary.

The Trinity and Perseverance

Perseverance is a Trinitarian project, grounded in the Father’s election, the Son’s intercession, and the Spirit’s possession. The connection between the Father’s election and our perseverance is a person—Jesus Christ. He has offered the ultimate sacrifice, sat down in the ultimate holy place, and now offers ultimate help to those in need. Now, as the Spirit sanctifies us through his indwelling possession, we are able to put to death sin and cry out, “Abba, Father.”

About Dr. Rick Shenk

Rick Shenk is the Senior Pastor at Village Church in Maple Plain, MN. Rick received his PhD from University of Wales in 2008 and is an adjunct professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in the theology department.

  1. Why should God’s election free us from worrying about how Christ’s call might cause offense to those who do not (or do not yet) believe?
  2. “I can’t do anything for non-Christians, but I can’t tell them apart from not-yet Christians.” How might reflection on this truth influence the way you proclaim Christ to your neighbors, family, and friends?

Part 2

About Dr. Brian Tabb

Brian Tabb is Academic Dean and Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Bethlehem College & Seminary. Brian is a graduate of Wheaton College (BA, MA), Bethlehem College & Seminary (MA), and Luther Seminary (MTh), and earned a PhD in New Testament from London School of Theology.

Reflection Questions
  1. How is the fact that Jesus is both our high priest and sitting down (at rest) a comfort for the Christian?
  2. Where have you been tempted to think that you can appeal to the Father based on your own qualifications, and how might our need for Jesus’s righteous advocacy reshape your dependence on him?

Part 3

About Zach Howard

Zach Howard finished his M.Div. at Bethlehem College & Seminary in 2016, and now serves Bethlehem College & Seminary as an instructor in the college.

Reflection Questions
  1. Do you pursue God as your Father in the way that a young child runs gladly to their parent? Where do you see and feel this evidence of the Spirit’s work in your own life?
  2. How can you ensure that seeing and loving Christ is the great goal of your perseverance?

Hindrances to Perseverance

Persevering in the faith is, by nature, difficult. Our faith is being contended with by external forces and internal desires—the world, the flesh, and the devil. We must be diligent, therefore, to put to death the things we crave wrongly (Dr. Tamfu calls them “shallow joys”) and defend against the enemy. We can trust as we pursue this task, our heavenly Father, who loves us immensely, will cause us to abide with him forever.

Part 1

About Dr. Dieudonné Tamfu

Dieudonné Tamfu is an Assistant Pastor at Jubilee Community Church and an Adjunct Professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary. He holds a B.Th. from the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary, Graduate Certificate in Biblical and Pastoral Studies from the Bethlehem College & Seminary, M.A.T.S in Biblical Studies from Bethel Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Reflection Questions
  1. What four hindrances stand in the way of the human heart responding rightly to the word of God, based on Matthew 13?
  2. Why are “shallow joys” insufficient to carry someone through times of suffering?
  3. How does the parable of the sower remove any place for boasting in the fruit we see in our life?

Part 2

About Dr. Andy Naselli

Andy Naselli serves as Assistant Professor of New Testament and Theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary. He also serves as an Elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He earned a PhD in theology from Bob Jones University and a PhD in New Testament Exegesis and Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School under D. A. Carson.

Reflection Questions
  1. How do we distinguish God’s good gifts from the things in the world (as the apostle John means it)?
  2. What overt or subtle influences of the world, of the ones Dr. Naselli lists, are you inadvertently allowing to shape you?

Perseverance & The Word

About Tom Steller

Tom Steller is the Pastor for Leadership Development at Bethlehem Baptist Church; and Dean of Global & Alumni Outreach at Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Reflection Questions
  1. How would you counsel a professing believer who is bearing fruits of unbelief? How might you help them consider the possibility that they could fall away (1 Corinthians 10:11-12)?
  2. What might you learn from the way leads us in examining the Scriptures as a means of diligently confirming our calling?

Perseverance & Christian Fellowship

About Dr. John Piper

John Piper is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Reading the Bible Supernaturally.

Reflection Questions
  1. How does the reality of our common share in Christ motivate personal pursuit of holiness?
  2. Why does the deceitfulness of sin put us at risk of falling away from the living God? In sin, what are we being deceived to believe?
  3. Who has been placed in your life to keep you believing (and you, them)?

Perseverance & Mortification of Sin

About Joe Rigney

Joe Rigney serves as Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College & Seminary, where he teaches Bible, theology, history, philosophy, history, and Jonathan Edwards.

Reflection Question

Recognizing that mortification is not something that happens to you, but something that you do, what steps do you need to willfully, actively take in your fight against sin?

Perseverance & Habits of Grace

About David Mathis

David Mathis is executive editor for and pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

Reflection Questions
  1. How do the perceived restrictions of the habits of grace free us to know and enjoy Jesus?
  2. Within the biblical principles of fellowship, hearing God’s word, and prayer (Acts 2:42), what person-specific habits might you begin to cultivate in ways that particular and life-giving to you?

The Experience of Perseverance

About Dr. Matthew Westerholm

Matthew Westerholm serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Worship at Bethlehem College & Seminary and as the Pastor for Music and Worship at Bethlehem Baptist Church, downtown campus. Matthew has PhD in Christian Worship from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Reflection Questions
  1. In what way is uncertainty-doubt a common part of the Christian life? How does this differ from unbelief-doubt, which is potentially deadly?
  2. How does the objective reality of Christ’s finished work anchor our hope amid the disorientation of the Christian life?