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STUDENT : CARMEN BAUTISTA

WRITTEN REPORT OF THE READING:


“THE CHRISTIAN LIFE: PERSEVERANCE AND RENEWAL”
BY H ENDRIKUS B ERKHOF IN D ONALD K. MC K IM , ED.,
MAJOR THEMES IN THE REFORMED TRADITION
(GRAND RAPIDS: EDERDMANS, 1992) 155-165.

The article is basically divided into two parts:

I. The perseverance of the saints

II. The Complete Renewal

In the first part of the article the author explains the doctrine called “The perseverance of the saints”

in terms of a covenant that God has made with humans. In this covenant God’s part consists of the

promise of faithfulness, help and support in the struggling of man in the war against sin. Our part is

our commitment to glorify God during our journey in this life. The author also stated there is a

process in which God is working in our lives calling us, renewing us, forming our character more

and more like his.

In the second part, about the renewal, the author discusses the fact that human kind has

refused to accept death as the end of human life. Death is the result of our sin, as the Bible says it,

but also death is the necessary step in the transition from this life full of despair and suffering to

eternal life with God in Heaven, where the renewal will be completed.

Finally, the author mentions that there will be a continuing process which will take us into

maturity but now with a clearer goal. This will be a process in which our earthly needs are

completed, and we will be similar to Christ, to be truly like him.

Personally, the reading was really interesting to me. I struggled with these matters some

time in my life. Some years ago I had a difficult faith crisis because of it. I surely wouldn’t have

been able to understand many things in this reading years ago, but I am thankful I could understand

them at least in a more simple way then.


Now, I am convinced that my salvation depends on grace and there is nothing that could

separate me from my Savior. I know I have done wrongs, and I will commit many more sins during

my life, but I am not worried about losing that gift I never earned (If I had earned it, it wouldn’t be

a gift). I know it is only God’s faithfulness which upholds this hope, this trust. I have understood

this covenant between God and me. He made a choice, and I am sure he never will change that. My

part is to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9), and my commitment is to stand against sin.

Certainly I won’t succeed all the time, but my task is to resist the devil (James 4:7) with the

assurance that God will always give me a way to escape.

The Bible is full of these promises; these commands, too. Therefore, I agree with the author

that the word “covenant” is the best way to understand the relationship between God and human

beings, because we have been called to receive this great salvation and to have this communion

with the Creator. He offers all the resources, all the strength, all the promises for us to fulfill our

part of the covenant. We can stand because he stands, all the time. His faithfulness doesn’t depend

on ours, and this doctrine “The perseverance of the Saints” is based on this. So there is nothing to

fear, God will fulfill his purpose for us (Psalm 138:8).

Regarding the Complete Renewal doctrine, I believe that the sanctification process is not

done yet. Death is part of the plan. It is also seen as part of the “deal”. In our part of the covenant,

we renounce ourselves to begin a new life with Christ. In Christ both physical death and this

renouncement are linked at the end of everything as we know it. We have the promise of eternal life

with God and that is the way we can persist in our new life.

It is important to me to remember that everything I do here is just part of a road I am

walking. Anything in this life is not the real goal. Any good, any aim, any goal reached or mark

overcome, or objective accomplished is not the end. We have been called to a higher goal, which

won’t be reached until we are in the presence of our Father in Heaven. We need to live in the light

of this truth, without expecting all our own needs to be fulfilled here. We can live a life willing to

serve God and others, because we have been set free to do this through the cross of Christ.