You do not find in Scripture many cases of young people going astray. You do find believers sinning, but they were mostly getting old men. There is Noah—no youth. There is Lot, when drunken—no child. There is David with Bathsheba—no young man in the heat of passion. There is Peter denying his Lord—no boy at the time. These were men of experience and knowledge and wisdom. ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.’ With sorrow do we remember one whom, years ago, we heard pray among us, and sweetly too; esteemed and trusted by us all. I remember a dear brother saying very kindly, but not too wisely, ‘If he is not a child of God, I am not.’ But what did he, my brethren, to our shame and sorrow, but go aside to the very worst and foulest of sins. But this is the badge of a true child of God: that a man endures to the end; and if a man does not hold on, but slinks back to his old master, and wears again the Satanic yoke, there is sure proof that he has never come out of the spiritual Egypt through Jesus Christ, and has never obtained that eternal life which cannot die, because it is born of God. I have thus then, dear friends, said enough to prove, I think, beyond dispute, that the true badge of the Christian is perseverance, and that without it, no man has proved himself to be a child of God.
For meditation: The perseverance of the saints is not a theoretical concept; the fact that we are God’s children can only be proved by practice. It is a bad sign when those professing to be Christians will not endure, for example, affliction (Mark 4:17) or sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). Our endurance in the Christian faith points to a glorious future (2 Thessalonians 1:4–5; James 1:12).
N.B. This sermon was preached after the death of Spurgeon’s grandfather, James Spurgeon, on 12 February 1864 at the age of 87. He had endured ‘to the end as a minister of Christ,’ said Spurgeon in a glowing tribute.