Thy bark shall every storm outride;
Grace once received can ne'er be lost,
Nor hell from Christ thy soul divide.
These precious words from John Kent (1766-1843) say in a quaint way what the gospel is all about. Sinners cannot save themselves, for they are "sin-burdened" and "tempest tossed." But "grace" comes to us in sweet sovereignty to rescue us, enabling our "bark" to safely "every storm outride." Not even "hell" itself can sever one soul from the hands of our mighty Savior, for "Grace once received can ne'er be lost."
The doctrine of perseverance is often either misunderstood or mistaught. This doctrine does not mean we hope to be saved if we can just hold out, as maybe we can be faithful enough within ourselves to "endure to the end," others not being so "lucky." "Enduring, faithful, holding fast, patient to the end, clinging, trusting, believing, being steadfast, overcoming," are all important words in the New Testament regarding "the perseverance of the saints." But God's superabounding grace alone puts us on this journey, and keeps us all the way to journey's end, as beautifully illustrated by John Bunyan in his The Pilgrim's Progress. We remind you that Bunyan rightly named his pilgrim "Graceless" before becoming "Christian." Indeed, the grace of God made the difference for Graceless, and makes the same difference for us!
"Every storm outride." Here is the true doctrine in all its glory. Not that we have smooth sailing. Never. Not that we have cloudless days, with no storms. Never. Not that there are not tears and sorrows in abundance. Never. Not that we never know "fiery trials." Not that we cannot sin and fall, and lose our joy, and our hopes for heaven become dim. Not that we have "full assurance" at all times (sometimes we have no "assurance" at all). Not that we cannot be hurt deeply in running this race to glory, for we can lose heart, grow faint and weary, even "in well doing." "But God." Yes, by God's mercy we keep going, for grace has not been bestowed upon us "in vain," and according to Paul, this was what made him "labor abundantly" (I Corinthians 15:10). Yes, grace makes us work and pray and study and persevere!
So, once again, let us be reminded that "grace bestowed" or "grace received" is the fuel that keeps us going. It is not our human faith, our human abilities, our human wisdom, our cleverness, or our "good luck." GRACE ALONE keeps us and preserves us, and no devil or power, things now or later, not even death itself, can ever "separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). In a world gone mad with lust and greed and war and unbelief and doubt, we need this message to comfort us and assure us. Let us continue to "outride" these and all other storms, and after our "bark" safely reaches Glorification Harbor (The Day of Rapture or Resurrection), we shall render to our most worthy Captain all praise and glory "forever and ever" (I Peter 5:10-11). God's people are indeed "more than conquerors," but ONLY "through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).