Sermon 1177. Fearful Of Coming Short
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 7, 1874,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed withfaith in them that heard it." Hebrews 4:1,2.
THE general strain of the Apostle Paul is confident and even jubilant. Where in the whole compass of Revelation do you meetwith bolder writing than that which comes from his pen? "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in ChristJesus." "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present,nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, whichis in Christ Jesus our Lord." "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" "I know whom I have believed, and ampersuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him." Paul is the great doctor of faith and teacher of fullassurance. You meet with nothing in his writings which would encourage doubts and fears, or lead the saints into bondage toanxiety and suspicion.
Yet, in the text before us, Paul does not speak of faith so much as offear, and does not so much exhort us to boldness asto a reverent trembling, lest by any means we should come short of the rest which God has promised. Before we have concludedthis morning's discourse, we shall be able to show that such caution is quite consistent with the Apostle's usual teachingand is, indeed, an essential part of it. He would have us cautious, that we may thereby lay a solid foundation for confidence.He who has been careful to build his house well and to found it upon a rock, is the man who can fitly be at peace in the dayof storm. The holy fear of today brings forth the full assurance of days to come.
It was important that the Apostle's teaching should be of a complete and balanced nature. Only unwise persons allow any onequality of their character to destroy another-a moral balance must be aimed at and maintained. The teacher of full assurancemust also inculcate watchfulness or he will be a one-sided instructor. Boldness and confidence are all the more likely tobe preserved in their integrity if seasoned with the salt of holy fear, without which faith may become carelessness and fullassurance degenerate into presumption. The Apostle, here, exhorts us to fear upon a subject of the utmost importance. He hadsuch a value for the rest which God has laid up for His people, that he trembled lest any one of His brethren should missit, or seem to miss it.
I do not marvel that a man so strong in faith as he was, and so full of holy expectancy of the promised rest, should feela jealous alarm lest any of those committed to him should fail to reach the desired end. Is not every loving father fearfulthat his child may not succeed in life? Love never thinks of a beloved one tossed upon the sea without a measure of anxiety,nor can we see our friends crossing the ocean of life without a tender fear for them. That fear makes us beg them to be cautiousand watchful. My earnest love to your souls compels me to dwell upon such sacred warnings as that of my text. Heedless andToo-Bold are never wise-in watchfulness is our safety. To this subject I shall address myself with all my heart, trustingthat the Spirit of God may also arouse your hearts to give it the consideration which it deserves.
I. We shall first answer the inquiry, WITH WHAT DOES THE FEAR ENJOINED IN THE TEXT MAINLY CONCERN ITSELF? "Let us thereforefear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." Now, the Apostlecannot mean that we are to fear lest we should come short of Heaven for lack of merit! Why, my Brothers and Sisters, thereis not a man living, nor has one ever lived, nor shall one ever live, who will not come short of Heaven if he tries that road!Human merit is not the way to Heaven! Since the hour in which our first parent broke the Law for us, the perfect keeping ofthe Law has been impossible!
Neither is the keeping of the Law set before us in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as the way of acceptance with God."By the works of the Law there shall no flesh living be justified; for by the Law is the knowledge of sin." The just shalllive by faith and it is in the matter of faith that we are cautioned against coming short. The Apostle would, with indignation,have spurned the idea that the Gospel race is to be run at the foot of Sinai-and that its prize would be a reward for goodworks! Over and over again he has plainly declared, "it is not of works, lest any man should boast," but by Divine Grace,as the pure gift of the good pleasure and mercy of God. We must not, therefore, twist his words into a legal injunction, forthey were never intended to bear such a meaning.
The great point which we are to be concerned about is lest we come short of the heavenly rest by failing in the faith whichwill give us the rest. Notice the second verse of the text, for that makes it clear enough-"For unto us was the Gospel preachedas well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." To this,therefore, we must give earnest heed. We must see to it that faith is mixed with our hearing of the Word. The way to Heavenis by faith-we are to fear lest we have a false faith, a faltering faith, or a temporary faith- and so come short of the heavenlyrest.
Note, then, that it becomes us to be peculiarly anxious that we do not come short of fully realizing the spirituality of faith.The Jews in the wilderness saw the sacrifices, but they did not look to the grand Sacrifice. They saw the blood poured outat the altar, but their eyes did not look to the blood which would, in the fullness of time, be shed for many for the remissionof sins. They looked at the washings and the different cleansings, but they did not see that their spirit needed to be renewedand their nature changed. They were content with the outward rituals and missed the inner meaning-they did not recognize thatfaith in the living God is the grand essential.
I fear that many religionists of all denominations fall short in this. They are satisfied because they have attended to theirsacraments and their ceremonies, or they are quite content because they have taken their place at a simple, unadorned service.But the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit is not felt, nor is His absence lamented by them. The outward things being done,they conceive that everything is done. Some read a chapter of the Scriptures and repeat a prayer daily-with the full convictionthat the practice will be sure to do them good-though they do not meditate on what they read, or pour out their hearts intheir prayers.
As the Papist rests in his crucifix and does not, in soul, come to Jesus, so may the Protestant rest in his Bible, or hisform of prayer and come short of real communion with God. Many are content with the shells of religion, whereas it is thekernel, only, which can feed the soul. The bended knee is nothing! The prostrate heart is everything! The uplifted eyes arenothing-the glance of the soul towards God is acceptable. The hearing of good words and the repeating of them in prayer orin song will amount to very little-if the heart is absent the whole thing will be as dead as a stone. We must be born again!Baptism avails nothing apart from that. We must live spiritually upon the slain Redeemer-the bread and wine of the Lord'sSupper avail nothing if we do not feed upon Jesus.
"With the heart man believes unto righteousness." The inner nature, the soul, must be quickened, for "God is a Spirit andthey that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." I exhort you, Brethren, to fear lest any of you come shortof this, for if you do, you will come short of the rest which remains for the people of God. "Rend your hearts and not yourgarments." Draw near unto God with your hearts, for if not, your lips insult Him. It will not matter how orthodox you maybe in creed, nor how attentive to the rites, even, of the Church of Christ, itself. Unless your spirit, your inner self, isreconciled to God, pardoned through Jesus Christ and you have access to the Father in the power of the Spirit through Jesus-yourreligion is in vain. This exhortation is to be repeated in every street of our city! The great majority of professing Christiansneed to be admonished concerning it, for everywhere the religion of show is set up and the religion of the heart is neglected.The outside of religion is garnished with fine churches, organs, altars and enriched with learning and eloquence-but the vitalityof godliness and careful conscientious discipleship are utterly despised.
The exhortation of our text leads us to say, next, that we must take heed lest we fail to discern the fact that the wholeway of salvation is of faith. Many have not even learned this elementary Gospel Truth! They suppose religion to be a matterof attendances upon religious exercises, observances of moral precepts and the like. They think as long as their life is regularand their habits are respectable, they may remain peaceful in the conviction that things are pretty right-or at any rate willright themselves, one of these days-but they scarcely know how! Whoever reads this Bible attentively will discover that theway of salvation runs in quite another direction, lies, in fact, here-"He that believes in the Son has
everlasting life, but he that believes not shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." "It is of faith that itmight be by Grace." "By Grace are you saved through faith."
The commission which our Lord gave to the Apostles on the Mount of Olives ran thus, "Go you into all the world, and preachthe Gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; he that believes not shall be damned." He didnot say, "To him whose life is orderly, faith is unimportant," but He made faith an absolute essential! Let us not stop shortof this or be at peace till we can claim the promise, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." Faith is essential,and we must have it. In a word, we must put our trust in the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must giveup all other confidences and cast ourselves entirely upon Him. Otherwise we shall certainly never enter into the rest whichis reserved for Believers.
Here let us examine ourselves with great anxiety, for on many points we may come short. As for instance, we may fail in referenceto the Object of our faith. A man may say, "I have faith," but another question arises, "What have you faith in?" "Well, Ihave faith in what I have felt." Then get rid of it! What you have felt is not an object of faith, nor to be trusted in atall. "I have faith," says another, "in the doctrines which I have been taught." I am glad you believe them, but remember,doctrines are not the Savior. A man may believe all the doctrines of the Truth of God and yet he may be lost. A creed cannotsave, neither can a dogma redeem. What is the object of faith, then? It is a Person. It is a living, Divine, appointed Person.And who is that Person? He is none other than Jesus, the Nazarene, who is the Son of God, God over all, blessed forever, andyet the son of Mary, born into this world for our sakes!
No faith will save a man which does not rest upon Jesus Christ as God. We must depend upon a whole Christ or else our faithis not the faith of God's elect. We must believe in His proper humanity and rejoice in the sufferings which He endured. Wemust believe in His assured Deity and rejoice in the merit which that Deity imparted to His suffering. We must believe inChrist as a Substitute for us, suffering that we might not suffer, making Atonement on our behalf to the broken Law of God,so that God can be just and yet the Justifier of him that believes. If we do not fix our faith upon this basis our faith isnot the work of the Holy Spirit, for His work always tends to glorify Christ.
Brothers and Sisters, let us be very careful here, for if our faith is strong, but rests upon a weak foundation, it will belike a builder who should lay a course of granite upon a foundation of sand. It will be of no service, whatever, to have afirm faith unless that faith has a substantial basis. If mistake is made about the Person of Christ, it is fatal, for it destroysthe foundation. If the very foundation is a false one, then all the building will only hasten the ultimate fall. Build safely,therefore, on the solid rock of God in human flesh, redeeming us by the Sacrifice of Himself. "Other foundation can no manlay than that which is laid." "There is none other name given under Heaven among men whereby we must be saved." Rest, therefore,on His blessed Person and His finished work, or you will surely come short of His rest.
Here let us remark that the quality of our faith must be one object of our anxious care, and for its qualities I would mention,first, that it must be simple. To rely upon Christ in part is deadly-our faith must be altogether unmixed. If I depend inpart upon the righteousness of Christ, in part upon the occult influences conveyed by a priest, in part upon sacraments, inpart upon my own repentance, in part upon my overt faith, in part upon anything, I am lost forever! Jesus will be a wholeSavior or no Savior. I must throw my whole weight upon His bosom and cling to Him, alone, for no other can bear me up fromdestruction. Look well to the simplicity of your confidence, my Brothers and Sisters, and beware of mixing self-confidencewith your faith-all that is of Nature's spinning must be unraveled-every thread of it must be destroyed.
You think you can help Christ? Would you yoke an ant with a seraph? If you did, they would be a far more equal pair than Christand you! Loathe, abhor, detest everything like confidence in yourself, or in your fellow men, or in sacraments or in creeds,or in anything whatever, except Jesus Christ your Lord-
"On Christ the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand." This faith must be as real as it is simple. It willnot avail you to merely say, "I believe in Jesus." You must really do so. So often have men told us, "Only believe in Jesusand you shall be saved"-that persons have conceived faith to be a trifle and have imagined that to think they believe willbe quite enough. But to think you believe and actually to have faith are very different things. To rely alone upon Jesus isno small matter. "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him
whom He has sent." May your faith be not only real, but intense and hearty, earnest and living! Let your trust be a whole-heartedone, for, "With the heart man believes unto righteousness."
You know with what heart soldiers have trusted their commanders. They have gone into the fight and been outnumbered, but theyhave felt that their leader was so skillful in war-and so sure to win that they have remained undaunted under terrible attacks-andtheir battalions have stood firm as iron walls amid a sleet of deadly missiles. With unstaggering faith they have rested inthe prowess of their leader and have earned the victory! Such must be our confidence in Christ. Whatever may discourage ourhope, whatever may contradict the promise-ours it is to repose in Jesus with all our soul and strength-for such faith unitesto the Lamb and brings salvation through His name. Beware of a notional faith, an historical faith, a faith which deals withstatements, theories and opinions. Get an enthusiastic confidence which flings itself at the pierced feet and lies there,or only rises up to march forward at the bidding of Him who said, "It is finished," when He bowed His head and gave up theghost. Oh, may we never even seem to come short of such a faith as this!
But we must also take care that we do not come short as to the inner working of faith upon our nature. True faith walks handin hand with repentance. A faith that never wept is a faith that never lived. Faith without repentance is dead. Hatred ofsin always accompanies a sense of pardon. Faith is the inseparable attendant upon regeneration, even as light attends thesunrise. When faith comes into the soul, the heart is changed, the man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus-he receivesnew life and with it new faculties, new hopes, new dreads, new loves, new hates, new pleasures and new pains. "Behold I makeall things new," is the voice of Christ when He comes into the heart by faith.
Now, Beloved, are you really, radically and totally changed? If not, it is not for me to flinch from stating the Truth ofGod to you-however reformed and however devout you may seem to be, you come short of the Divine rest, for, "you must be bornagain." There must be the new birth in your spirit, or else you are not numbered among the chosen of God and among the savedones you can never sit in Heaven. Search yourselves, lest you are deceived-
"Vain are your fancies, airy flights,
If faith is cold and dead.
None but a living power unites
To Christ the living Head.
Grace, like an uncorrupted seed,
Abides and reigns within.
Immortal principles forbid
The sons of God to sin."
Faith must also be judged of by its power upon the character. The man who really believes in Jesus becomes a man of prayer.Never had a man faith and yet despised the Mercy Seat. "Behold, he prays," is a declaration akin to, "Behold, he believes."How about your private prayers, then, my dear Friends? Are they neglected? Are they performed in a slovenly manner? I willnot inquire so much as to your formal prayers, as to the spirit of prayer-does your heart, all the day long, go up to Godin silent cries and secret groans? Do you speak to God out of your inmost soul by snatches while at your work? Do you say,"My God, my Father, help me," when none could tell that your lips are moving? If you have not the spirit of prayer, you aredestitute of one of the surest signs of spiritual life-and you may conclude that your faith is dead and that you come shortof God's rest.
True faith works upon us by leading us to obedience. When we believe in Jesus, we desire to do all that Jesus tells us. ManyChristians fall short here. They want to do as little as they can and yet keep a quiet conscience. They do not read some partsof the Bible for fear they should discover duties which would be inconvenient to attend to. Shutting the eyes to heavenlylight is dangerous work! Do not knowingly neglect the smallest command of our Lord Jesus Christ, for an act of willful disobedienceupon a point which may seem to be non-essential may sufficiently prove that your profession is rotten at the core becauseyou do not delight in the Law of the Lord-
"Faith must obey her Father's will,
As well as trust His Grace.
A pardoning God is jealous, still,
For His own holiness.
When from the curse He sets us free,
He makes our natures clean. Nor would He send His Son to be The minister of sin."
Faith works in us separation from sinners. Those who believe in Jesus cannot enter into the pleasures of the ungodly. Theyhave higher joys. Like the eagle, they disdain the carrion upon which the world's vultures feed. Shall an angel be seen riotingwith the unclean and the profane, enjoying their fooleries and laughing at their excesses? Yet the heir of Heaven is akinto angels-and it were a shame for him to stoop to that which charms only the baser part of mankind. "Holy, harmless, undefiled,separate from sinners," is the great Apostle and High Priest of our profession-and His true disciples imitate Him.
What do you say as to your faith, my Brothers and Sisters? Is it of that kind which separates you from the world? Does itinspire you to fight against temptation? Does it lead you to conquer sin? Does it impel you to walk with God? Does it putyou into the light where God dwells? Remember that text, half of which is often quoted and the rest willfully forgotten, "Ifwe walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son,cleanses us from all sin." Mark well that the cleansing by blood is joined to the walking in the light-why is this so seldommentioned? Walk with God, Brothers and Sisters, then you are cleansed! But if there is no walking with God, you may well fearthat your faith is not of that kind which brings the saints to their everlasting rest.
I would gladly speak with many tears and sorrowful entreaties at this time, so as to press these solemn thoughts upon yourminds. For, my Brethren, there is reason to fear lest a promise being left of entering into this rest, some of us will comeshort of it! Do not refuse to examine yourselves, for there is urgent need of it! I dare do no less than implore you to attendto the matter at once.
II. Pursuing the same subject, our second point is this-WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES MAY SUGGEST THE
NECESSITY FOR THIS FEAR? The first is this. It is certain that many professors apostatize. We sang truly just now-
"When any turn from Zion's way, Alas, what numbers do!"
Apostates throng the gates of Hell! True faith is, in every case, immortal, and cannot be destroyed! If men have really enteredinto God's rest by living faith, they will never depart from it for, "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. They who come short of entering into thisrest may have thought they believed, but they never did. They may have had a sincere belief that they were children of God,but they were not. They deceived themselves and mistook the name of life for life itself.
Now, if others apostatize, may we not also? If we have really believed we shall not apostatize, perhaps our faith is not real.Our candle may have been lit by our own flame and, if so, it will surely go out. Nothing but the work of the Holy Spirit willendure to the end. Note, again, that we ourselves know others who are, we fear, much deceived and fall short of true salvation.We are not to judge-God forbid we should-but we cannot help suspecting, from the actions of some of our fellow professors,that their profession covers a good deal that is unsound. They could not act as they do if they were truly converted.
We would with the utmost charity hope the best, but we cannot conceal from ourselves with fear and trembling that a largemass of professors are so worldly, so fond of every trifling amusement, so given up to self and so negligent of anything likezealous service of God, that they cannot be Christians, though they profess to be such. Well, if we think so of others, mayit not happen that somebody or other is thinking so of us? And what is much worse-for it is of very little importance whatpeople think of us-it may be true that it is so! Though we have very much that is morally excellent, it may be that we aredestitute of the real work of Divine Grace and so come short of the rest which is given to faith. I suggest it to you all-Isuggest it to myself most of all-and am prepared to abide the necessary tests.
Yet, more, remember there are some professors who know that they are not at rest. "We that have believed do enter into rest,"but you know you do not rest. Am I not addressing some who claim to have faith and yet they have no peace? You dare not sitdown and cast up your spiritual accounts. You dare not to put yourself through an examination because you more than half suspectthat you are spiritually insolvent. You do not like too searching a sermon because you are conscious that there is somethingrotten in the state of Denmark, something amiss within your heart. You know it is so, for when you have a little sickness,or fear of death, you tremble dreadfully!
Now, if you have run with the footmen and they have wearied you, what will you do when you contend with horses? And if inthe land of peace, in which you have trusted, they have wearied you, what will you do in the swelling of the Jordan? If youcannot bear a little shaking by the Truth of God when I, your feeble fellow man, am preaching, how will you bear the dreadshaking of the last skeleton orator, who shall say, "This night your soul is required of you"? How will you endure the thunderingvoice of the great Judge of All? I put to you another question-are there not professors here who are not, even now, contentwith Jesus?
You take your Savior's yoke as a necessity, but not as a delight! And when you need to enjoy yourself you run off to the world-isnot this a sure index of where your heart is? If you cannot find your richest joy in Christ-if He is not your chief delight-thenit is clear you are already short of the rest, for to a true saint there is no music like His charming name, and there isno delight like fellowship with Jesus. Now, if you already fail to discover the sweetness of religion, may you not fear thatyou not a possessor of it at all? O Sirs, I beseech you to fear lest you come short of the living faith which will give yourest, for are not some of you listless and indifferent? Do not many professors go to their places of worship without heart?
Are they not mere formalists, bowing their heads as if they were moved by machinery, but destitute of heart worship? Theydo not care whether Christ's Church prospers or not! It never costs them a sleepless night whether Jesus' kingdom comes orAntichrist triumphs! They show far more concern about the rise and fall of Console, or a change in the Cabinet, or the stateof the crops, than they do about the kingdom of God and the things which make for the Glory of the Most High! Now, where thereis this listlessness and carelessness, does it not seem as if you are coming short of the sacred rest? Some professors arequite destitute of energy or zeal-they serve God as if they were in a dream-they go about every godly work as if they hadtaken a tincture of opium or soothing syrup. Indeed, they look at religion as if it were a kind of cordial, given them onpurpose to quiet them.
Now, if the kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, do not such people seem to come short of it? We know others who are awakeenough, but they are captious, critical, snarling. They seem to come short of the spirit of Christ, do they not? I am notgoing to judge them, but what can we say of them? They do not look very much like their Master. The attribute of love is notvery apparent. We know some who do nothing for Jesus! Ragged schools? They have no interest in them. The preaching of theGospel? Of course they never attempt that, though they can speak well enough at a political meeting. Could they visit thesick? Oh, no! They have not the time. Could they teach in the Sunday school? No, they cannot stand children! Could they opena cottage meeting? No, it is not a thing they at all approve of. Lions are in the way. There is nothing they can do-rather,nothing they will do.
Many, also, of those who profess to belong to Christ give Him of their substance the bare odds and ends, the small crumbsfrom under their table and cheeseparings which they never miss. Now, I do not say that such misers are not Christians, butI do say let us not be like they are lest we should seem to come short! When I read the lives of martyrs giving themselvesto burn for Christ-and see the worldliness of these Christians who cannot bear even a word of ridicule-I am sure they seemto come short of it. When we see men at the very first brush of battle ready to run, what judgment can we form of them? Arethese the soldiers of the Cross? Will these be more than conquerors? They leave the pure worship of God because it is notrespectable and they get away to the reputable religion of the world! Where is the blood of your sires, if sires you had worthmentioning, if you are ashamed to bear the reproach of Christ? Surely you seem to come short of what Jesus deserves. WhenI see the self-indulgence of many professors, the utter absence of any sacrifice for Christ, the lack of anything like ardorand zeal for the propagation of the Truth of God, or prayer for the spread of the Redeemer's kingdom-am I too severe if Isay that many do seem to come short of it?
Here, then, are arguments for holy anxiety. Brothers and Sisters, it may be that even now I am addressing some who are anxiousto avoid the offense of the Cross, who cut and trim in order to please their neighbors, who reckon the reputation of the worldto be greater riches than all the treasures of Jesus, who make provision for the flesh and think fashion, credit and respectabilityto be everything. These are the men whose god is the world and who mind earthly things. May God have mercy upon such and havemercy upon us by never allowing us to fall into such evil ways.
III. Thirdly, WHAT SOLEMN TRUTHS DEMAND THE FEAR SUGGESTED IN THE TEXT? If we should really come short of Heaven we shallhave lost all its bliss and glory forever-for us no vision of the Crucified! No sight of the King in His beauty! And we shallhave lost Heaven with this aggravation, that we did begin to build, but were not able
to finish. We shall be eternally covered with shame. The damned in Hell will laugh at us because we professed to be differentfrom them and came short, after all. If I must be lost, let me not be lost as a pretender to religion, for the inner dungeonof the infernal prison is for those who played the Judas, who sold their Lord for pieces of silver, or came short by someother means.
To have gone a little way towards Heaven and then to miss it will render the loss of it the more intolerable. What if youshould drink of the sacramental cup and then forever drink of the cup of devils? It must be wretchedness, itself, to remember,when lost, "I used to hear the Gospel and I professed to believe it. I sat with the saints of God and sang their hymns. Ibowed my head and joined ostensibly in their prayers-and now I am forever banished from the God of Love- instead of Sabbathrest I feel infinite misery. And instead of the songs of the saints I hear the howling of lost spirits forever!" O my Brothersand Sisters, fear lest you come short of it! No, begin sooner, fear lest you seem to come short of it, for he that is afraidof the seeming will be delivered from the reality.
IV. And now to close, HOW DOES OUR FEAR EXERCISE ITSELF? I must dwell on this a moment to prevent
mistakes. Our fear of coming short of the rest must not lead us to unbelief, because in that case it would make us come shortat once. As I have already shown you, the way is by faith. I am not, therefore, to fear believing, but rather to fear distrustand unbelief. I must not doubt the promise, or I shall at once come short of rest. The translators, by inserting the word,"us," into the text, have clouded the meaning.
There is no promise to us which we can ever come short of-every promise is sure. The text speaks of a promise which is left,left to Believers, and so left that some must enter in. Do you belong to that some? That is the question. You do if you area true, real, genuine believer in the Lord Jesus-if the Word of God which you hear is mixed with faith, according to the secondverse of my text. But if the Word you hear is not mixed with faith, there is no promise made to you that you shall enter intoGod's rest-and you must come short of that which is promised to faith because you have no faith. The promise is made to thebeliever in Christ! I will, therefore, fear to doubt my Lord, fear to distrust Him, fear to suspect His veracity. I will believethat He came into the world to save sinners. I will believe that He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto Godby Him. I will not hesitate to trust Him, for I fear to doubt the God who cannot lie, lest it be said of me, "He could notenter in because of unbelief."
Next, the Apostle does not mean to have us always stand in doubt whether we are saved or not, for that would be to come shortof the rest. A man cannot rest while he is in doubt about his own salvation and, indeed, many texts teach the doctrine ofAssurance! We are told that, "The Spirit, Himself, bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." Now, Paulwould not run contrary, nor have us run contrary, to the testimony of the Holy Spirit within us! If I have, indeed, believedin Jesus Christ, then I am saved and I must not doubt but what I am saved. I am bound to believe it and so to enter into rest.I am to fear lest I should not fully realize my own personal salvation when I profess to trust my whole soul with Christ.
What the Apostle would have us do, I gather from the chapter in which my text stands. We are to hold fast our profession.If you have believed in Jesus, cleave to Him! If His Cross, indeed, is your support, hold on to it as for dear life, neverlet it go! And when you are tempted by new-fangled notions, or by pretended old religions, say to them all-
"Should all the forms that men devise
Assault my soul with treacherous art,
I'd call them vanities and lies,
And bind the Gospel to my heart." "Christ for me, Christ for me, and none but Christ." Hold to that and then you will notcome short.
Next, submit yourselves to the whole Word of God, for it is living and powerful. It will search your inmost soul even to thejoints and marrow-habitually let it do so. Never be afraid of your Bibles. If there is a text of Scripture you dare not read,humble yourself till you can. If your creed and Scripture do not agree, cut your creed to pieces and make it agree with thisBook. If there is anything in the Church to which you belong which is contrary to the Inspired Word of God, leave that Church!To the Law and to the Testimony-there is the Infallible chart of faith-follow it closely and if you do, you need have no fearof coming short, for this Book cannot lead you astray! Follow it to the letter and be precise about it, even though men shalllaugh at you for being too particular. Keep to every jot and tittle-and to the living spirit of it-and you will not come short.
Then, come boldly to the Throne of Grace. So the chapter concludes. There you will obtain mercy and find Grace to help intime of need. Cling to the Mercy Seat as Joab to the horns of the altar. Pray much, pray always. Cry to God for help. Yourhelp comes from the eternal hills and as you become more and more prevalent in prayer, you will feel that you do not comeshort, for God hears you and He would not hear you and answer you from day to day if you were, after all, short of the faithwhich brings the soul into rest. In a word, believe fully! If we have been half-and-half Christians, let us now be whole Christians.If we have given up to God a little of our time, a little of our substance, a little of ourselves, let us be baptized intothe Lord Jesus Christ! Let us be buried with Him, given up to Him totally-no longer sprinkled with a little Grace which maysuffice to spatter us with enough godliness to make us decent-but forever dead unto the world and alive unto God in newnessof life!
Is it worth it? O you that are bought with blood, is Jesus worthy of your entire selves? You profess to be Christians! SoI charge you by that profession to answer my question! Is the faith of God and the kingdom of God worth your whole selves?I know what your answer is if you are sincere. You will say-
"Had I ten thousand thousand tongues,
Not one should silent be.
Had I ten thousand thousand hearts,
I'd give them all to Thee!"
O Brethren, we have not done enough for God because we have not loved God enough! We are not powerful because we are not intense.If we were on fire with love, we should be very different. But we are cold, carnal, worldly, half-hearted- and we shall comeshort if we do not alter.
May God in infinite mercy cause the faith which is in us to grow till it affects our entire nature and the zeal, thereof,consumes us! Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORESERMON-Hebrews 3:12-19; 4. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-906, 668, 666.