Perseverance: Patti’s Problem

“Here I go again.  Looks like another Monday night with no sleep.  Why is this happening to me?  If I could just get out of going to catechism.  I’m sure everything would be alright.

“Everything was going just fine earlier in the year.  It almost seemed too good to be true.  Being totally depraved by nature doesn’t sound all that great, but that after all seems quite far removed from me personally.  Not only that, that I am elect from eternity, and that Jesus died for me and the Spirit works grace in me irresistibly pretty much takes care of that depravity anyway.

“It seemed there was nothing to worry about until we got to discussing the perseverance of the saints.  Ever since then I’ve spent my Monday nights counting sheep.  Why can’t I handle this the way Lorna at the grill does?  What was it she said again? ‘To me perseverance of the saints sounds like a laudable characteristic of a New Orleans football team.’ Yes, that was it!  She always was quick-witted.  I just wish I could be more like her…not a care in the world.

“Here it’s already 12:36 and I’m still wide awake.  I guess it won’t hurt to think through what Reverend Boring taught us from the Canons about the Perseverance of the Saints these past six weeks.  I can’t sleep anyway.

“’What is a saint?’ That’s what he asked.  I remember it like it was yesterday, and I can still feel his eyes boring right through me when he asked it.  (I can’t help but think he has a fitting name.)  If a saint is one who mortifies his flesh by prayer, and who practices holy exercises of piety and presses more and more toward the goal of perfection like he said, there’s no way I can be one!  My prayers don’t seem to get off the ground, and as far as exercises of piety are concerned, they’re non-existent.

“One of two things must be true: either I’m not a child of God, or, as we discussed a few weeks back, my life of sin has caused me to lose the sense of God’s favor.  How can I know for sure? We talked about melancholy falls and how God does not withdraw His Spirit from His people even in these, but it sometimes seems like I’m headed for hell.  How else can my attraction to movies and the beat of rock music be explained?

“Now what time is it?  Already 1:04.  I’ll never get to sleep, and I’m so tired!  Oh! what was it we memorized last week? ‘…in these falls He preserves in them the incorruptible seed of regeneration from perishing, or being totally lost; and again, by His Word and Spirit, certainly and effectually renews them to repentance, to a sincere and godly sorrow for their sins, that they may seek and obtain remission in the blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favor of a reconciled God, through faith adore His mercies, and henceforward more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Canons 5th Head, Art. 7, C.K.)

“No, it can’t be, can it, that I have that seed of regeneration, and that the Spirit is right now working in me that sorrow for sin? But why else would I be concerned about these things? What we memorized for class tonight is beginning to make sense now…believers in this life have to struggle with various carnal doubts, and that under grievous temptations they are not always sensible of this full assurance of faith and certainty of preserving (Canons, 5th Head, Art. 11, C.K.) That certainly fits me!  No wonder I’ve been losing sleep.  So long as I give myself over to sin, God will not allow me to experience the assurance of faith.

“Strange, I’m not tired anymore.  Everything seems to be falling into place now.  Some of Rev. Boring’s conclusions to his recent series of sermons on the Five Points of Calvinism seem to pull everything together.  How did that go again? Oh, yes, I remember now. He said, ‘By sovereign predestination the believer is predestined unto perseverance as the way of his salvation.  Limited atonement is the guarantee of this perseverance.  And the preservation of the saints is the cause of the perseverance of the saints.’

“Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbe…zzzzzzzzzz”