A class I lead on Wednesday nights is reading John Piper’s book, The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce. In the Introduction, Piper wrestles in a very transparent way about how our will is incapable of persevering on its own. We cannot will our way to persevere any more than a dead man can will himself to faith. It is all of grace. Piper writes,
I used to think, when I was in my twenties and thirties, that sanctification had a kind of cumulative effect and that at fifty the likelihood of apostasy would be far smaller than at thirty or forty. In one sense this is true. Surely growth in grace and knowledge and faith helps us “no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). I see more clearly now that even after years of such growth and stability, shocking coldness and even apostasies are possible. And I have known moments of horrifying blankness that made me realize my utter dependence on the mercies of God being new every morning.
Perseverance is a gift. That I will wake up and be a believer tomorrow morning is not finally decisively owing to my own will, but to God. I have known too many mornings on the precipice to think otherwise. That I have been snatched back every time is sheer mercy. The human will cannot be depended on, because in the crisis of faith it is precisely the will that is weak and falling.
Praise God for grace that saves and keeps.