Sermon 2492. Paul's Persuasion
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1896.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 7, 1886.
"For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor thingsto come nor height, nor depth nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love ofGod which is in ChristJesus our Lord." Romans 8:38,39.
A CHRISTIAN Brother was asked, one day, "To what persuasion do you belong?" He parried the question at first, for he did notthink that it was very important for him to answer it. So the enquirer asked him again, "But what is your persuasion?" "Well,"he said, "if you must know my persuasion, this is it, '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 created thing, shall be able to separateus from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'" I also am of that persuasion. Somebody says, "That is Calvinisticdoctrine." If you like to call it so, you may, but I would rather that you made the mistake of the good old Christian womanwho did not know much about these things and who said that she herself was "a high Calvaristt" She liked "high Calvary" preachingand so do I. And it is "high Calvary" doctrine that I find in this passage. He who hung on high Calvary was such a lover ofthe souls of men that from that glorious fact I am brought to this blessed persuasion, "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 anyother created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Paul was fully persuaded of this great Truth of God. Did he not learn it by Revelation? I doubt not that God at first supernaturallyrevealed it to him, but yet, in order that he might be still more sure of it, God was pleased to reveal it to him again andagain, till his trembling heart was more and more completely persuaded of it. It may have seemed to him, as it does to someof us, to be almost too good to be true and, therefore, the Holy Spirit so shed abroad this Truth in the Apostle's mind thathe yielded to it and said, "I am persuaded." He may have thought, with a great many in the present day, that it was necessaryto caution Believers against falling from Grace, and to be a little dubious about their final perseverance in the ways ofGod, but, if he ever had such fears, he gave them up and said, "I am-yes, I am persuaded that nothing can separate us fromthe love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Beside that, I suppose that the Apostle was persuaded through reasoning with himself from other grand Truths of God. He saidto himself, "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, weshall be saved by His life." He argued that if the death of Christ reconciled God's enemies to Himself, the life of Christwill certainly preserve safely those who are the friends of God! That was good argument, was it not?
I have no doubt that Paul also argued with himself from the nature of the work of Grace which is the implantation of a livingand incorruptible seed which lives and abides forever. Christ spoke of it as the putting of a well into us and He said, "Thewater that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." And as Paul thought of thenature of this new life, he felt persuaded that it would not die-he was convinced that he would never be separated from thelove of God!
Moreover, I doubt not that Paul remembered the doctrine of the Union of Believers with Christ, and he said to himself, "ShallChrist lose the members of His body? Shall a foot or an arm be lopped off from Him? Shall an eye of Christ be put out in darkness?"And he could not think that it could be so! As he turned the matter over mentally, he said, "If they are, indeed, one withChrist, I am persuaded that nothing can separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Now, dear Brothers and Sisters, if I could extend the time for this service to 24 hours, I might give you all the arguments,or the most of the arguments, which support the blessed Truth of the non-separation of Believers from the love of Christ.As for my own convictions, I can never doubt it! I am fully persuaded concerning it. This Truth seems to me to have struckits roots into all the other Truths of Scripture and to have twisted itself among the granite rocks which are the very foundationof our hope! I, too, am persuaded by a thousand arguments, and persuaded beyond all question, that nothing shall be able toseparate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Yet more, I fancy that Paul had been persuaded of this Truth by his own experience. He had endured persecution, imprisonment,famine, shipwreck. He had suffered from scorn and scandal, pain of body and depression of spirit. "A night and a day," hesaid, "I have been in the deep." And I will guarantee you that many a night and many a day he had been in spiritual'deeps,yet he had survived them all and he could testify to the faithfulness of his God and say at the end, as the issue of his sufferings,"I am persuaded that nothing in creation is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Thus he was persuaded of this Truth of God by Revelation, by argument and by experience. And I should like you to notice thathe was not only persuaded that none of the powers he mentions will separate us from the love of Christ, but that they cannotHe puts it thus-they are not able to separate us. Yet these are the strongest forces imaginable-death, life, angels, principalities,powers, the dreary present and the darker future. Paul summons all our foes and sets them in battle array against us! Andwhen he has added up the total of all their legions, he says that he is persuaded that they shall not be able-shall not beable, mark you-to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
In this discourse I am only going to handle the topic of Paul's persuasion. Paul says, "I am persuaded," and it is impliedthat, first, HE IS PERSUADED OF THE LOVE OF GOD. He could not be persuaded that nothing could separate us from a thing whichdid not exist! And so he is persuaded, first of all, of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Come, my Brothers and Sisters, are you persuaded of the love of God? Are you intelligently persuaded not only that God isLove, but that God loves you? Are you fully persuaded of the love of God-the love of the Father who chose us because He wouldchoose us for nothing but His love? The love of Jesus, the Son of God, who bowed Himself from His Glory that He might redeemus from our shame? The love of the Holy Spirit who has quickened us and who comes to dwell in us that we may, by-and-by, dwellwith Him? Are you persuaded of this love of God to you? Happy man, happy woman, who can truly say, "I am persuaded that Godloves me. I have thought it over, I have fully considered it, I have-thoroughly weighed it and I have come to this conclusion,that the love of God is shed abroad in my heart."
Then, next, it is the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. That is, His great love in giving His dear Son to die for us.I am not going to expatiate upon this wondrous theme. The thoughts are too great to need to be spun out, or you can do thatin your private meditations. Is it not a wonderful thing that God loved me, and loved you, (let us individualize it)- thatGod so loved you that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life?He gave His Son for you! And for me. It is as though one bartered a diamond to buy a common pebble from the brook, or gaveaway an empire to purchase some foul thing not worthy of being picked off a dunghill! Yet we are persuaded that He did it,and that the love of God is most clearly to be seen in the fact that He gave His Son Jesus Christ to die instead of us.
And, once more, we are persuaded of the love of God to all who are in Christ We believe in Christ and so we come to be inChrist by our believing. And now we are persuaded that to as many as receive Christ, to them gives He power to become thesons of God, even to them that believe on His name and, therefore, all who believe in Jesus are beloved of the Lord, not becauseof anything good in them, but for Jesus Christ's sake. He loves Christ so much that He loves us notwithstanding our unloveliness,because Jesus Christ has covered us with His robe of righteousness and He has said, "My Father, consider them as lost in Me,hidden in Me, made one with Me." And the Father says, "Yes, My beloved Son, I will love them. Jesus, I will love them forYour sake."
So we are persuaded of these three things. First, that God loves us. Next, that God has shown His love to us by the gift ofHis Son Jesus Christ. And then, that His Divine Love comes streaming down to us because we are in Christ and are loved forHis sake. I want you, dear Friends, to get this persuasion into you. If you are not so persuaded, here is honey, but you donot taste it! Here is light, but you do not see it! Here is Heaven, but you do not enter the pearly gate. Beloved, if youwould be saved, you must be persuaded of this Truth of God-and when you are persuaded of it, you will know the joy of it.
II. That leads me to pass on to the second thing of which Paul was persuaded. It does not appear on the surface of the text,but if you look a minute you will see that PAUL WAS PERSUADED THAT HE AND ALL THE SAINTS ARE JOINED TO GOD BY LOVE. Otherwisehe could not have said, "I am persuaded that things present and things to come shall not be able to separate us." We mustbe joined together, or else the Apostle would not talk of separation! There is a picture for you to contemplate-God and ourselvesjoined together by the bonds of love in Christ Jesus. God loves Christ and we love Christ, so we have a meeting place-we lovethe same blessed Person-and that brings us to love one another.
There are two things that join God and a Believer together. The first is God's love to the Believer. And the second is theBeliever's love to God. It is as when two dear friends lovingly embrace with their arms around each other's neck- there isa double link binding them together. Or, to come nearer the truth, it is as when a mother puts her arms around the neck ofher little child and her child puts its tiny arms about the mother's neck-that is how we and God are joined together.
Are you persuaded that it is so with you, dear Friends? Can you, each one, say, as you sit in your pew tonight, "God lovesme, and that love joins Him to me" And, "I love God, and that love joins me to Him"? I believe that the Apostle was persuadedthat these two blessed links existed between Him and the great God, and He was persuaded that neither of those two links wouldever be broken. God could not withdraw from Paul, His embrace of love, and Paul felt that, by Divine Grace, he could not withdrawhis embrace of love from his God. But he must have been, first of all, persuaded that both those embraces were there. Areyou, my dear Hearer, persuaded that it is so with you? Are your arms about the neck of the great Father? Are the great Father'sloving arms about your neck? Be persuaded of that Truth and you are, indeed, happy men and happy women! What more could youwish to say than to be able truthfully to say that?
III. Now, to come to what is evidently in the text, and to dwell upon it for a little while, Paul, being thus persuaded thatthere was a love of God and that there was a union through love between the soul and its God, now says that HE IS PERSUADEDTHAT NOTHING CAN EVER BREAK THOSE BONDS.
He begins by mentioning some of the things that are supposed to separate. And the first is, death. It sends a shiver throughsome when we begin to speak of death and the bravest man who ever lived may well tremble at the thought that he must soonmeet the king of terrors. But, Brothers and Sisters, if Christ loves us and we love Christ, we may well be persuaded thatdeath will not break the union which exists between us! I have lately seen one or two of our friends almost in the very articleof death. I think that they cannot long survive, but I have come out from their bedchamber greatly cheered by their holy peacefulnessand joy! I can see that death does not break the Believer's peace-it seems, rather, to strengthen it! I can see that thereis no better place than the brink of Jordan, after all.
I have seen the Brothers and the Sisters, too, sit with their feet in the narrow stream, and they have been singing all thewhile! Death has not abated a single note of their song! No, more. I have known some of them who are like the fabled swanwhich is said never to sing till it dies. Some of them who were rather heavy and sad of spirit in their days of health, havegrown joyous and glad as they have neared the eternal Kingdom. There is nothing about death that the Believer should construeinto a fear that it will separate him from the love of Christ. Christ loved you when He died-He will love you when you die!It was after death-remember that-it was after death that His heart poured out the tribute of blood and water by which we havethe double cure! See, then, how He loves us in death and after death! There is nothing about death that should make Christcease to love us-our bodies will be under His protection and guardian care and our souls shall be with Christ, which is "farbetter" than being anywhere else. Do not, therefore, fear death!
In the days when this Epistle was written, the saints had to die very cruel deaths by fire, by the cross, by wild beasts inthe amphitheatre. They were sawn in two. They wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.Yet they never feared death. It is very amazing how the Church of Christ always seems to brighten up at the idea of deathby martyrdom. The grandest, most heroic days in Christendom were the days of the Pagan persecutions, when, to be a Christianmeant to be doomed to die! In English history, the days of Mary, when the saints at Smithfield bore witness for Christ atthe stake, were grand days! And in Madagascar-did you ever read a more thrilling story than the record of the bravery of thoseChristian men and women who suffered the tyrant's cruelty? And at the present moment, in Central Africa, where Bishop Hanningtonhas been put to death, we hear that there is an edict for the killing of Christians, yet hundreds of black men came forwardto confess that they are followers of Christ. It is a wonderful thing. We do not ask for these persecutions, but they mightdo us great good if they came. Certainly, this wondrous ship of Christ's Church, when she plows her way through waves of blood,makes swifter headway to the heavenly haven than she does in times of calm. So, beloved Friends, there is nothing in deathto separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
The Apostle says next, "nor life." I must confess that I am more afraid of life than of death. "Oh," says one, "but dyingis such hard work." Do you think so? Why, dying is the endof work-it is livigthat is hard work! I am not so much afraid ofdying as I am of sinning-that is ten times worse than death. And what if some of us should live very many years? "There'sthe respect that makes calamity of so long a life," that there is so much longer time for temptation and trial. If one mighthave his choice, one might be content to have a short warfare and to enter upon the crown at once. But we may be permittedto live on to extreme old age-do you dread it? There is nothing about old age to separate you from the love of Christ! Hehas made and He will bear-even to hoar hairs will He carry you-therefore, be not afraid. The ills of life are many, the trialsof life are many, the temptations of life are more. O life, life, life here below, you are, after all, little better thana lingering death! The true life is hereafter. "Yet," says Paul, "I am persuaded that life cannot separate us from the loveof God in Christ Jesus." He means that if we were tempted by the love of life to deny Christ, we would be strengthened sothat we would not deny Him even to save our lives, for His people have been brave enough in this respect in all times. Paulcounted not his life dear to him that he might win Christ and be found in Him. Therefore he says that he is persuaded thatneither death nor life shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Then he mentions angels, principalities and powers. Well, the good angels cannot separate us from the love of God-we are surethat they would not wish to do so! And whatever spiritual creatures may frequent the earth, theycan-not separate us from thelove of Christ. Does the Apostle mean devils-fallen angels that would overthrow us, some of them as "principalities" by theirdignity, others of them as, "powers" by their subtle, crafty force-does he refer to devils? I think he does and this, then,is our comfort, that if we have to meet the arch-fiend, himself, foot to foot in terrible duel-and we may, for men of Godhave had so to meet him, and he that does battle with the adversary will gain nothing by it but sweat of blood and achingheart, even if he shall win the victory, so that we may well pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the EvilOne"-still we have this comfort, that even though he may rejoice over us for a moment and may cast us down, he cannot separateus from the love of Christ! He may open many of our veins and make us bleed even to utter weakness, but the life-vein he cannever touch!
There is a secret something about the Christian of which Satan wishes to spoil, but which is entirely out of his reach, sothe saint sings, "I am persuaded that neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers can separate me from the love of Christ.You may come on, battalions of the adversary, with all your terrible might sweeping hypocrites and deceivers before you likechaff before the wind, but as many as are linked to Christ by His eternal love shall stand firm against you, like the solidrocks against the billows of the sea." Therefore, be confident, dear Brothers and Sisters, that these spiritual beings, theseunseen forces, these strange and mysterious powers which you cannot fully understand can, none of them, separate you fromthe love of God which is in Christ Jesus your Lord!
Having summarily disposed of all of them, Paul adds, "nor things present.'" I like this thought. He is persuaded that thingspresent cannot separate us from Christ. I wonder what the things present are with you, my dear Hearers. One of you says, "Well,it is an empty pocket with me." Others will say, "It is a family of children who have no bread." Some may say, "It is theprospect of bankruptcy." Another will say, "Ah, it is an insidious disease that will soon carry me to my grave!" A motherwill say, "It is rebellious children who are breaking my heart." Well, whatever it may be-and the woes of the present arevery many-there is nothingthat can separate us from the love of Christ!
I was feeling very heavy, I scarcely knew why, when I caught at this text. And it seemed to come in so pleasantly for me whenmy spirits were down. "Things present." Even a depressed and desponding state of mind, whatever the cause of it is-whetherweariness of brain or heaviness of heart-cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus!
Then, what can it do? Why, sometimes it can drive us to Christ-let us pray that it may! But anyhow, things present cannotseparate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Then the Apostle says, "nor things to come." Well, I wonder what is "tocome." O Friends, I sometimes feel a strange trembling when I stand upon this platform to speak to you because the words thatI utter are often so remarkably fulfilled of God as really to amaze me! Two Sunday nights ago, when I stood here to preachabout the long-suffering of God being salvation, [Sermon No. 1997, Volume 33: God's Long-suffering- An Appeal to the Conscience"]I spoke, in the middle of the sermon, as if personally addressing someone who was present, who had lately been ill with fever,and who had come to the Tabernacle, still weak and scarcely recovered. There was a young man here who exactly answered tothe description I gave, and who wrote home to his mother something like this (I have the letter)-"I went to Spurgeon's Tabernacleon Sunday night and I heard such a sermon! I never felt anything like it before. He looked at me and picked me out as if Iwas the only man there, and described me exactly."
Then he gave the words I used and continued, "It was a true description of myself. If the sermon is printed, pray get me acopy that I may read it when I come home, for I felt the power of it and I prayed, then and there, that God would bring meto my mother's God and save me." That was on the Sunday, mark you. On the Wednesday he was at Graves-end-there was a collisionand he and five others were drowned. The mother received that letter about an hour before she heard the news that her sonwas dead-and the parents wrote to tell me what a balm it was to their spirits that God's Providence should bring their boyin here just before he was to meet his God.
So, you see, I cannot help wondering what the "things to come" will be for you who are here. With some-who can tell?-as theLord lives, there may be but a step between you and death. And if you have no Christ, and have never tasted of His love, youare running awful risks even in going one step further. You have walked on, and on, and on, and there has up to now alwaysbeen something beneath your feet-but the next step may precipitate you into the abyss! Therefore, seek the Lord now beforeit be too late! As for the child of God, he knows no more about his immediate future than you do, but he knows this-that thereis nothing in the future that can separate Him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Therefore, let thefuture bring with it what it may, all will be well with him.
Now the Apostle adds two more expressions, "nor height, nor depth." There are some people who dwell in the heights. I am ratherpleased to meet with dear friends who never have any doubts or fears, but are always full ofjoy and ecstasy, and who go onto tell us that they have left all these things behind and have risen to the heights of bliss. But what I do not like is whenthey look down from those awful heights upon us poor Christians and say that they cannot believe in us because we are anxious,because we practice self-examination, because we have to struggle against sin! They do not struggle-they have risen beyondall struggling-they rub their hands and sing of everlasting victory. Well, my dear Brother-you up there on the topmost bough-youwill not frighten me with all your heights though I cannot get up there-and I could not stay there if I could get up so high!This one thing I know, I am sure that there is nothing in those heights that can separate me from the love of Christ! I willstick to that. Whatever revelations there may be to the enthusiastic, whatever raptures and ecstasies and extreme delightsany may have, they cannot separate me from Christ! I am glad that you have them, Brother, may you always keep them. And ifI cannot have them, I shall sit down in my struggles and temptations and stillsay that there is nothing in the heights-inhigh doctrine or in high living-that can separate me from the love of Christ!
I am a little more acquainted with the depths and I meet with many Christian people who are very familiar with those depths.I could indicate some dear friends here who I hope are not in the depths right now, but I have seen them there. You were verylow down, Brother-we had to stoop to call to you-the waters of God's waves and billows seemed to have gone over you. You havebeen down to the depths and I have been there with you. But there is nothing in the depths that can separate us from the loveof Christ! Jonah went down to the depths of the sea, but he came up with this testimony, that there was nothing there to separateus from the love of God! No,; though you should be weary of your life, though you should never have a ray of light by themonth together, there is nothing there to separate you from the love of Christ! You may go down, down, down, till you seemto have got beyond the reach of help from mortal man, but there are cords and bands which bind you to Christ that even thesedepths can never break, come what may.
The Apostle ends the list by saying, "nor any other creature." It may be read, "Nor any other created thing, nor anythingthat ever is to be created," nothing shall ever separate us from the love of Christ. Oh, what a sweet persuasion is this!Let us go forward into the future, however dark it is, with this confidence that at least one thing we know-the love of Christwill hold us fast and, by His Grace, we will hold fast to Him. We are married to Him and we shall never be divorced. We arejoined to Him by a living, loving, lasting union that never shall be broken!
IV. I have done when I have called your attention to one more thing. Did you notice how the text begins? It begins with theword "for." "For I am persuaded." What does that mean? That shows that this is used as an argument drawn from something mentionedbefore. What is that? "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us, for I am persuaded,that neither death, nor life," and so on. It seems, then, dear Friends, that PAUL'S PERSUASION HELPED TO BRING HIM TO VICTORY.
He was persuaded that Christ would not leave him and that he would not be allowed to leave Christ-and this stirred him upto deeds of daring. Oh, where there is real cause for fighting, there cannot be victory without striving! Paul was so persuadedthat Christ would never leave him, that he became a fighter, and he went in with all his might against the world, the fleshand the devil. Some say that this doctrine would send us to sleep-it never does-it wakes us up! The doctrine that I am quitesure to gain the victory makes me fight. If I did not know that I should win it, I might think that I would let discretionbe the better part of my valor, but, being assured that Christ will be with me all through, I feel incited to war againstall that is evil that I may overcome it in Hsstrength!
Yes, and the Apostle seems to hint that this persuasion that Christ would not leave him made him aspire to a very great victory.Men do not reach what they do not aspire to-and Paul says, "We are more than conquerors." Therefore, he aspired to be a completeand perfect conqueror. And this persuasion helped him to gain his aspiration. By God's Grace, the man who trusts in Christ'seternal love and believes in the Immutability of the Divine Purpose and, therefore, is persuaded that he can never be separatedfrom the love of God which is in Christ Jesus-he is the man to win a glorious victory by his faith in his great God! Therefore,let us be encouraged to go on and fight against everything that is evil, especially in ourselves, and tread down all the powersof darkness since nothing can stand against us while Christ is for us! And for us He must be forever and ever.
I wish that all here present had a share in my blessed text. It is an intense regret to me that I cannot present it to someof you. You do not know the love of Christ. Oh, that you would come and learn it! May the sweet Spirit lead you to Jesus,cause you to look to Him upon the Cross and trust in Him! Then you will have something worth hearing, for you will have alove that never changes-a love that shall never be separated from you nor you from it! God bless you, for Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: HEBREWS 6.
In the previous chapter Paul was writing to some who ought to have been teachers, but who still needed to be taught the firstprinciples of the Gospel. They were such babes in Grace that they needed the milk of the Word-the very simplest elements ofGospel Truth-and not the strong meat of solid doctrine. The Apostle, however, desires that the Hebrew Believers should understandthe more sublime doctrines of the Gospel and so be like men of full age who can eat strong meat. In this chapter he exhortsthem to seek to attain to this standard.
Verse 1. Therefore leaving the principles-The rudiments, the elementary Truths of God- 1. Of the doctrine of Christ, let usgo on to perfection.-Let us go from the school to the university. Let us have done with our first spelling books and advanceinto the higher classics of the Kingdom.
1. Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God. Let us make sure that the foundationis laid, but let us not have continually to lay it again. Let us go on believing and repenting, as we have done, but let usnot have to begin believing and begin repenting-let us go on to something beyond that stage of experience.
2. Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Let ustake these things for granted and never dispute about them anymore, but go on to still higher matters.
3. And this will we do, if God permits. We must keep on going forward. There is no such thing in the Christian life as standingstill-and we dare not turn back.
4-6. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakersof the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away-Notethat Paul does not say, "If they shall fall," but, "If they shall fall AWAY"-if the religion which they have professed shallcease to have any power over them-then it shall be impossible-
6. To renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.If all the processes of Grace fail in the case of any professors, what is to be done with them? If the Grace of God does notenable them to overcome the world-if the blood of Christ does not purge them from sin, what more can be done? Upon this supposition,God's utmost has been tried and has failed. Mark that Paul does not say that all this could ever happen, but that, IF it could,the person concerned would be like a piece of ground which brought forth nothing but thorns and briers.
7, 8. For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed,receives blessing from God: but that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near to cursing; whose end is to beburned. If, after having plowed this ground and sown it and, after it has been watered by the dew and rain of Heaven, no goodharvest ever comes of it, every wise man would leave off tilling it. He would say, "My labor is all thrown away on such aplot of ground as this, nothing more can be done with it, for after having done my utmost nothing but weeds is produced, sonow it must be left to itself." You see, my dear Hearers, if it were possiblefor the work of Grace in your souls to be ofno avail, nothing more could be done for you. You have had God's utmost effort expended upon your behalf and there remainsno other method of salvation for you. I believe that there have been some professors, such as Judas and Simon Magus, who havecome very near to this condition-and others who are said, after a certain sort, to have believed, to have received the HolySpirit in miraculous gifts and to have been specially enlightened so as to have been able to teach others-but the work ofGrace did not affect their hearts, it did not renew their natures, it did not transform their spirits-and so it was impossibleto renew them to repentance. Now notice what Paul says-
9. But, Beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. Harsh asthe Apostle's words may seem, they are not meant for you who are really Believers in Christ and in whom the Holy Spirit hasworked a complete change of heart and life. Paul is not speaking of such as you.
10. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have showed toward His name, in that you haveministered to the saints and do minister. If you have proven by your works that the Grace of God is within you, God will notforget you. He will not leave you, He will not cast you away. You know the contrast in the speech between different personsconcerning this doctrine. One will wickedly say, "If I am a child of God, I may live as I like." That is damnable doctrine!Another will say, "If I am a child of God, I shall not want to live as I like, but as God likes, and I shall be led by theGrace of God into the path of holiness! And through Divine Grace I shall persevere in that way of holiness right to the end."That is quite another doctrine and it is the true teaching of the Word of God.
11. And we desire that everyone of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end. Keep it up! Be asearnest, today, as you were 20 years ago, when you were baptized and joined the Church-"Show the same diligence to the end."Still, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which works in you both to will and to do of Hisgood pleasure."
12-15. That you be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God madepromise to Abraham because He could swear by no greater, He swore by Himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless you, andmultiplying I will multiply you. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. Therefore, Brothers andSisters, you and I also are patiently to endure, to hold on even to the end, and God's sure promise will never fail us!
16-18. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willingmore abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the Immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two Immutablethings, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay holdupon the hope set before us. I t seems a great change in this chapter from the sad tone at the beginning to the joyous noteat the end, but, indeed, there is no contradiction between the two. Paul is but giving us two sides of the Truth of God-bothequally true-the one necessary for our warning, the other admirable for our consolation. God will not leave you, my Brethren!He has pledged Himself by Covenant to you and He has given an oath that His
Covenant shall stand. Therefore, be of good courage, and press forward in the Divine Life, for your work of faith and laborof love are not in vain in the Lord! So let us "lay hold upon the hope set before us"-
19. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil Sailorsthrow their anchors downwards-we throw ours upwards! Their anchor goes within the veil of the waters into the deeps of thesea-ours goes within the veil of Glory, into the heights of Heaven where Jesus sits at the right hand of God- "within theveil."-
20. Where the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest forever after the order ofMelchisedec.