Yesterday, I preached in our evening service on the doctrine of perseverance from Hebrews 11:13-16. One of the bedrock doctrines of our faith is that the true children of God finish their course and die in the faith. We don’t see evidence in Scripture of true believers walking away from the faith and forever departing from Christ. We see people in Scripture who looked like true believers from the exterior perspective, but when they departed the testimony given for them was 1 John 2:19. All true believers persevere in the faith to the end, and that’s the testimony of Hebrews 11.
The writer to the Hebrews says:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Notice that the people referenced in this paragraph (likely a summary of those mentioned earlier in Hebrews 11 (Abraham, Sarah, and others), had faith in God from afar. In other words, they were seeing things promised by God although they had yet to occur. The promise of land and a deliverer (Messiah) were all promises given by God, but they were yet to be seen by these people. The writer to the Hebrews reminds his readers that those people all died in the faith believing God’s promises as if they were tangible realities. This is what genuine faith looks like. This is what true perseverance of the saints looks like.
The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith: Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints, reads: “Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” As we look at the examples of faith from Hebrews 11, we see this doctrine clearly exemplified in their lives. God never begins a faith that He doesn’t complete (Heb. 12:2).
The text also says that they were not content in this world. They were strangers and exiles – just pilgrims passing through. Like Abraham, they were looking for a better country – a better city – a “city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). If you’re like me, when I stay in a hotel while traveling, I stay uncomfortable until I return home. I often ask myself why they have a chest of drawers in a hotel? Who unpacks their belongings and “moves in” to the hotel? Until I leave the hotel, I’m not at home, and therefore, I don’t unpack my belongings.
How many people do we know who claim to be the children of God, but they’ve unpacked their belongings and they’ve become very comfortable here in this world? We must remember how Christian and Faithful entered Vanity Fair in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. From the moment they entered the city, they were looking for the exit. Unfortunately, they met people who were once on their way to the Celestial City who were entrapped by the seductive offerings and sinful allurements of Vanity Fair. In short, they moved into Vanity Fair.
While passing through this world, we must keep our focus on the reality that we’re not home yet. God has prepared for us a city – and He will not be ashamed to be called our God so long as we persevere in the faith and remain steadfast until the end. People aren’t remembered for how they started, but they are remembered for how they finish. How will you finish? How will you be remembered? Will God be ashamed of you in the end? Faith is more than a talk, it’s a walk. Real faith produces action. God’s will for His people is that they remain steadfast in the faith until the end. It’s my prayer that my children and their children and beyond will see our church have funeral after funeral where it was said – “this person died in faith.”