Sermon 1361. The Final Perseverance of the Saints
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 24, 1877,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The righteous, also, shall hold on his way." Job 17:9.
THE man who is righteous before God has a way of his own. It is not the way of the flesh, nor the way of the world. It isa way marked out for him by the Divine command in which he walks by faith. It is the King's highway of holiness- the uncleanshall not pass over it-only the ransomed of the Lord shall walk there and these shall find it a path of separation from theworld. Once entered upon the way of life, the pilgrim must persevere in it or perish, for thus says the Lord, "If any mandraw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him." Perseverance in the path of faith and holiness is a necessity of the Christian,for only, "He that endures to the end, the same shall be saved." It is in vain to spring up quickly like the seed that wassown upon the rock and then, by-and-by, to wither when the sun is up. That would but prove that such a plant has no root initself.
But "the trees of the Lord are full of sap" and they abide and continue and bring forth fruit, even in old age, to show thatthe Lord is upright. There is a great difference between nominal Christianity and real Christianity and this is generallyseen in the failure of the one and the continuance of the other. Now, the declaration of the text is that the truly righteousman shall hold on his way-he shall not go back, he shall not leap the hedges and wander to the right hand or the left-he shallnot lie down in idleness, neither shall he faint and cease to go upon his journey. He "shall hold on his way." It will frequentlybe very difficult for him to do so, but he will have such resolution, such power of inward Grace given him, that he will "holdon his way" with stern determination, as though he held on by his teeth, resolving never to let go.
Perhaps he may not always travel with equal speed. It is not said that he shall hold on his pace, but he shall hold on hisway. There are times when we run and are not weary and at other times, when we walk, we are thankful that we do not faint.Yes, and there are periods when we are glad to go on all fours and creep upward with pain. But still we prove that "the righteousshall hold on his way." Under all difficulties the face of the man whom God has justified is steadfastly set towards Jerusalem-norwill he turn aside till his eyes shall see the King in His beauty. This is a great wonder! It is a marvel that any man shouldbe a Christian at all, and a greater wonder that he should continue so!
Consider the weakness of the flesh, the strength of inward corruption, the fury of Satanic temptations, the seductions ofwealth and the pride of life, the world and the fashions thereof-all these things are against us and yet behold, "greateris He that is for us than all they that are against us!" Defying sin, Satan, death and Hell, the righteous holds on his way.I take our text as accurately setting forth the doctrine of the Final Perseverance of the Saints. "The righteous shall holdon his way."
Years ago, when there was an earnest and even bitter controversy between Calvinists and Arminians, it was the habit of eachside to caricature the other. Very much of the argument was not directed against the real sentiment of the opposite party,but against what had been imputed to them. They made a man of straw and then they burned him, which is a pretty easy thingto do! But I trust we have left these things behind. The glorious Truth of the Final Perseverance of the Saints has survivedcontroversy and, in some form or other, is the cherished belief of the children of God. Take care, however, to be clear asto what it is. The Scripture does not teach that a man will reach his journey's end without continuing to travel along theroad. It is not true that one act of faith is all-that nothing is needed of daily faith, prayer and watchfulness. Our doctrineis the very opposite, namely, that the righteous shall hold on his way! Or, in other words, shall continue in faith, in repentance,in prayer and under the influence of the Grace of God.
We do not believe in salvation by a physical force which treats a man as a dead log and carries him, whether he wills it ornot, towards Heaven. No, "He holds on." He is personally active about the matter and plods on up hill and down
dale till he reaches his journey's end. We never thought, nor even dreamed, that merely because a man supposes that he onceentered on this way he may, therefore, conclude that he is certain of salvation, even if he leaves the way immediately. No,but we say that he who truly receives the Holy Spirit, so that he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, shall not go back, butpersevere in the way of faith.
It is written, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved," and this he cannot be if he were left to go back and delightin sin as he did before! And, therefore, he shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Though the Believer,to his grief, will commit many a sin, still, the tenor of his life will be holiness to the Lord and he will hold on in theway of obedience. We detest the doctrine that a man who has once believed in Jesus will be saved even if he altogether forsakesthe path of obedience. We deny that such a turning aside is possible to the true Believer and, therefore, the idea imputedto us is clearly an invention of the adversary. No, Beloved, a man, if he is, indeed, a Believer in Christ, will not liveafter the will of the flesh!
When he does fall into sin, it will be his grief and misery-and he will never rest till he is cleansed from guilt. But I willsay this of the Believer, that if he could live as he would like to live, he would live a perfect life. If you ask him if,after believing, he may live as he wishes, he will reply, "Would God I could live as I wish, for I desire to live altogetherwithout sin! I would be perfect, even as my Father in Heaven is perfect." The doctrine is not the licentious idea that a Believermay live in sin, but that he cannot and will not do so! This is the doctrine and we, first, will prove it. Secondly, in thePuritanical sense of the word, we will briefly improve it by drawing two spiritual lessons from it.
I. LET US PROVE THE DOCTRINE. Please follow me with your Bibles open. You, dear Friends, have, most of you, received as amatter of faith the Doctrines of Grace and, therefore, to you the doctrine of Final Perseverance cannot require any proving,because it follows from all the other doctrines. We believe that God has an elect people whom He has chosen unto eternal lifeand that Truth of God necessarily involves the perseverance in Grace. We believe in special redemption and this secures thesalvation and consequent perseverance of the redeemed.
We believe in effectual calling, which is bound up with justification-a justification which ensures glorification. The Doctrinesof Grace are like a chain-if you believe in one of them you must believe the next, for each one involves the rest-thereforeI say that you who accept any of the doctrines of Grace must receive this, also, as involved in them. But I am about to tryto prove this to those who do not believe the Doctrines of Grace. I would not argue in a circle and prove one thing whichyou doubt by another thing which you doubt, but, "to the Law and to the Testimony," to the actual Words of Scripture we shallrefer the matter.
Before we advance to the argument, it will be well to remark that those who reject the doctrine frequently tell us that thereare many cautions in the Word of God against apostatizing and that those cautions can have no meaning if it is true that therighteous shall hold on his way. But what if those cautions are the means, in the hand of God, of keeping His people fromwandering? What if they are used to excite a holy fear in the minds of His children and so become the means of preventingthe evil which they denounce? I would also remind you that in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which contains the most solemn warningsagainst apostasy, the Apostle always takes care to add words which show that he did not believe that those whom he warnedwould actually apostatize.
Turn to Hebrews 6:9. He has been telling these Hebrews that if those who had been once enlightened should fall away, it would be impossible torenew them again into repentance and he adds, "But, Beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompanysalvation, though we thus speak." In the 10th chapter he gives an equally earnest warning, declaring that those who shoulddo despite to the Spirit of Grace are worthy of worse punishment than those who despised Moses' Law, but he closes the chapterwith these words, "Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draws back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him. Butwe are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." Thus he shows what theconsequences of apostasy would be, but he is convinced that they will not choose to incur such a fearful doom.
Again, objectors sometimes mention instances of apostasy which are mentioned in the Word of God, but on looking into themit will be discovered that these are cases of persons who did but profess to know Christ, but were not really possessors ofthe Divine Life. John, in His first Epistle, 2:19, fully describes these apostates-"They went out from us, but they were notof us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be mademanifest that they were not all of us." The same is true of that memorable passage in John, where our
Savior speaks of branches of the vine which are cut off and cast into the fire-these are described as branches in Christ thatbear no fruit! Are those real Christians? How can they be so if they bear no fruit? "By their fruits you shall know them."The branch which bears fruit is purged, but it is never cut off! Those which bear no fruit are not figures of true Christians,but they fitly represent mere professors. Our Lord, in Matthew 7:22, tells us concerning many who will say in that day "Lord, Lord," that He will reply, "I never knew you." Not, "I have forgottenyou," but, "I never knew you"- they were never really His disciples.
But now to the argument itself. First, we argue the Perseverance of the Saints most distinctly from the nature of the lifewhich is imparted at regeneration. What does Peter say concerning this life? In 1 Peter 1:23 he speaks of the people of God as "being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, whichlives and abides forever." The new life which is planted in us, when we are born again, is not like the fruit of our firstbirth, for that is subject to mortality. No, it is a Divine principle which cannot die nor be corrupt and, if it is so, thenhe who possesses it must live forever! He must, indeed, be evermore with the Spirit of God-regeneration has made him so!
In 1 John 3:9 we have the same thought in another form. "Whoever is born of God does not commit sin, for His seed remains in him and hecannot sin because he is born of God." That is to say, the bent of the Christian's life is not towards sin. It would not bea fair description of his life that he lives in sin-on the contrary, he fights and contends against sin because he has aninner principle which cannot sin. The new life sins not-it is born of God and cannot transgress-and though the old naturewars against it, yet does the new life so prevail in the Christian that he is kept from living in sin. Our Savior, in Hissimple teaching of the Gospel to the Samaritan woman, said to her (John 4:13), "Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Now, if our Savior taught this to a sinful and ignorant woman at His first interview with her, I take it that this doctrineis not to be reserved for the inner circle of full-grown saints, but to be preached among the common people and to be heldup as a most blessed privilege! If you receive the Grace which Jesus imparts to your souls, it shall be like the good partwhich Mary chose-it shall not be taken away from you! It shall abide in you, not as the water in a cistern, but as a livingfountain springing up unto everlasting life.
We all know that the life given in the new birth is intimately connected with faith. Now, faith is, in itself, a conqueringprinciple. In the First Epistle of John, which is a great treasury of argument (1 John 5:4) we are told, "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world-our faith. Whois he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" See, then, that which is born of God inus, namely, the new life, is a conquering principle-there is no hint given that it can ever be defeated! And faith, whichis its outward sign, is, also, in itself, triumphant forevermore! Therefore, because God has implanted such a wondrous lifein us in bringing us out of darkness into His marvelous light, He has begotten us, again, unto a lively hope by the resurrectionof Jesus Christ from the dead. And because the eternal and ever-blessed Spirit has come to dwell in us, we conclude that theDivine Life within us shall never die. "The righteous shall hold on his way."
The second argument to which I shall call your attention shall be drawn from our Lord's own express declarations. Here weshall look to the Gospel of John, again, and in that blessed third of John, where our Lord was explaining the Gospel in thesimplest possible style to Nicodemus, we find Him laying great stress upon the fact that the life received by faith in Himselfis eternal. Look at that precious verse, the fourteenth-"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must theSon of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." Do men, therefore, believein Him and yet perish? Do they believe in Him and receive a spiritual life which comes to an end? It cannot be, for, "Godgave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish." But he would perish if he did not persevere tothe end and, therefore, he must persevere to the end!
The Believer has eternal life-how then can he die so as to cease to be a Believer? If he does not abide in Christ, he evidentlydoes not have eternal life-therefore he shall abide in Christ, even to the end. "For God so loved the world, that He gaveHis only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." To this, some reply thata man may have everlasting life and lose it. To which we answer, the words cannot mean that! Such a statement is a self-evidentcontradiction! If the life is lost, the man is dead! How, then, did he have everlasting life? It is
clear that he had a life which lasted only for a while-he certainly did not have everlasting life, for if he had it, he mustlive forever! "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life" (John 3:36).
The saints in Heaven have eternal life and no one expects them to perish! Their life is eternal-and eternal life is eternallife-whether the person possessing it dwells on earth or in Heaven! I need not read all the passages in which the same Truthof God is taught but further on, in John 6:47, our Lord told the Jews, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believes on Me has everlasting life." Not temporary life,but, "everlasting life." And in the 51st verse He said, "I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eatsof this bread, he shall live forever." Then comes that famous declaration of the Lord Jesus Christ, which, if there were noother at all, would be quite sufficient to prove our point- John 10:28-"And I give unto My sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone" (the word, "man," is not in theoriginal) "pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck themout of My Father's hand."
What can He mean but this, that He has grasped His people and that He means to hold them securely in His mighty
"Where is the power can reach us there, Or what can pluck us from there?" Over and above the hand of Jesus which was piercedcomes the hand of the Omnipotent Father as a sort of second grasp. "My Father, which gave them to Me, is greater than all,and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." Surely this must show that the saints are secure from anythingand everything which would destroy them and, consequently, safe from total apostasy. Another passage speaks to the same effect-itis to be found in Matthew 24:24, where the Lord Jesus has been speaking of the false prophets that should deceive many. "There shall arise false christsand false prophets, and they shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, to deceive the very elect."
This shows that it is impossible for the elect to be deceived by them. Of Christ's sheep it is said, "A stranger will theynot follow, for they know not the voice of strangers," but by Divine instinct they know the voice of the Good Shepherd andthey follow Him. Thus has our Savior declared, as plainly as words possibly can express, that those who are His people possesseternal life within themselves and shall not perish but shall enter into everlasting happiness. "The righteous shall holdon his way."
A very blessed argument for the safety of the Believer is found in our Lord's intercession. You need not turn to the passage,for you know it well, which shows the connection between the living intercession of Christ and the perseverance of His people-"Therefore,also, He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them"(Heb. 7:25). Our Lord Jesus is not dead! He has risen! He has gone up into Glory and now, before the eternal Throne, He pleads the meritof His perfect work! And as He pleads there for all His people whose names are written on His heart-as the names of Israelwere written on the jeweled breastplate of the high priest-His intercession saves His people even to the uttermost!
If you would like an illustration of it you must turn to the case of Peter which is recorded in Luke 22:31 where our Lord said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayedfor you that your faith fail not; and when you are restored, strengthen your brethren." The intercession of Christ does notsave His people from being tried, or tempted, or tossed up and down like wheat in a sieve. It does not save them, even, froma measure of sin and sorrow. But it does save them from total apostasy. Peter was kept and though he denied his Master, yetit was an exception to the great rule of his life. By Grace he did hold on his way, because not only then, but many a timebeside, though he sinned, he had an Advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ the Righteous!
If you desire to know how Jesus pleads, read at your leisure at home that wonderful 17th of John-the Lord's prayer. What aprayer it is! "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name; those that You gave Me I have kept and none ofthem is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled." Judas was lost, but he was only given to Christas an Apostle and not as one of His sheep. He had a temporary faith and maintained a temporary profession-he never had eternallife or he would have lived on. Those groans and cries of the Savior which accompanied His pleas in Gethsemane were heardin Heaven and answered. "Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom You have given Me." The Lord keeps them by HisWord and Spirit-and will keep them!
If the prayer of Christ in Gethsemane were answered, how much more that which now goes up from the eternal Throne itself!-
"With cries and tears He offered up
His humble suit below.
But with authority He asks,
Enthroned in Glory, now.
For all that come to God by Him,
Salvation He demands.
Points to their names upon His breast,
And spreads His wounded hands." Ah, if my Lord Jesus pleads for me, I cannot be afraid of earth or Hell! That living, intercessoryVoice has power to keep the saints and so has the living Lord Himself, for He has said-"Because I live you shall live also"(John 14:19).
Now for a fourth argument. We gather sure confidence of the perseverance of the saints from the Character and work of Christ.I will say little about that, for I trust my Lord is so well known to you that He needs no word of commendation from me toyou. But if you know Him, you will say what the Apostle does in 2 Timothy 1:12- "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against thatday." He did not say, "I know in whom I have believed," as most people quote it, but, "I know whom I have believed." He knewJesus! He knew His heart and His faithfulness! He knew His Atonement and its power! He knew His intercession and its mightand he committed his soul to Jesus by an act of faith-and he felt secure.
My Lord is so excellent in all things that I need give you but one glimpse of His Character and you will see what He was whenHe dwelt here among men. At the commencement of John 13 we read, "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." If He had not loved His disciples tothe end when here, we might conclude that He was changeable now as then-but if He loved His chosen to the end while yet inHis humiliation below-it brings us the sweet and blessed confidence that now that He is in Heaven He will love to the endall those who confide in Him. Fifthly, we infer the perseverance of the saints from the tenor of the Covenant of Grace.
Would you like to read it for yourselves? If so, turn to the Old Testament, Jeremiah 32, and there you will find the Covenant of Grace set forth at some length. We shall only be able to read the 40th verse: "AndI will make an Everlasting Covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I put My fear intheir hearts, that they shall not depart from Me." He will not depart from them and they shall not depart from Him-what canbe a greater assurance of their perseverance even to the end?
Now that this is the Covenant of Grace under which we live is clear from the Epistle to the Hebrews, for the Apostle, in the8th chapter, quotes that passage to this very end. The question runs thus-"Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I willmake a new Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the Covenant that I made with theirfathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt because they continued not in My Covenant,and I regarded them not, says the Lord. For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,says the Lord; I will put My Laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shallbe to Me a people."
The old Covenant had an "if" in it, and so it suffered shipwreck. It was-"If you will be obedient, then you shall be blessed"and, therefore, there came a failure on man's part and the whole Covenant ended in disaster. It was the Covenant of Worksand under it we were in bondage until we were delivered from it and introduced to the Covenant of Grace, which has no "if"in it, but runs upon the strain of promise. It is, "I will," and, "you shall," all the way through. "I will be your God andyou shall be My people." Glory be to God, this Covenant will never pass away, for see how the Lord declares its enduring characterin the book of Isaiah (54:10)-"For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not departfrom you, neither shall the Covenant of My peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you."
And again in Isaiah 55:3: "I will make an Everlasting Covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." The idea of falling utterly away from Graceis a relic of the old legal spirit. It is a going away from Grace to come under Law, again, and I charge you who have oncebeen emancipated slaves and have had the fetters of legal bondage struck from off your hands, never consent to wear thosebonds again! Christ has saved you, if, indeed, you are believers in Him. He has
not saved you for a week, or a month, or a quarter, or a year, or 20 years, but He has given you eternal life and you shallnever perish-neither shall any pluck you out of His hands. Rejoice in this blessed Covenant of Grace!
The sixth most forcible argument is drawn from the faithfulness of God. Look at Romans 11:29. What does the Apostle say there, speaking by the Holy Spirit? "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable," whichmeans that He does not give life and pardon to a man and call him by Grace and afterwards repent of what He has done and withdrawthe good things which He has bestowed. "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent."When He puts forth His hands to save, He does not withdraw them till the work is accomplished. His Word is, "I am the Lord,I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Mal. 3:6). "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent" (1 Sam. 15:29).
The Apostle would have us ground our confidence of perseverance upon the confirmation which Divine faithfulness is sure tobestow upon us. He says in 1 Corinthians 1:8, "Who shall, also, confirm you unto the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful,by whom you were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." And again he speaks to the same effect in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, "Faithful is He that calls you, who, also, will do it." It was of old the will of God to save the people whom He gave toJesus and from this He has never turned, for our Lord said, "And this is the Father's will which has sent Me, that of allwhich He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:39). Thus you see from these passages, and there are numbers of others, that God's faithfulness secures the preservation ofHis people and, "the righteous shall hold on his way."
The seventh and last argument shall be drawn from what has already been done in us. I shall do little more than quote theScriptures and leave them to sink into your minds. A blessed passage is that in Jeremiah 31:3-"The Lord has appeared of old unto me, saying, yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindnesshave I drawn you." If He did not mean that His love should be everlasting, He would never have drawn us at all! But becausethat love is everlasting, therefore with loving kindness has He drawn us. The Apostle argues this in a very elaborate mannerin Romans 5:9, 10-"Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies,we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
I cannot stop to show how every word of this passage is emphatic, but it is-if God reconciled us when we were enemies, Hecertainly will save us, now we are His friends. And if our Lord Jesus has reconciled us by His death, much more will He saveus by His life, so that we may be certain He will not leave nor forsake those whom He has called. Do you need me to bringto your minds that golden chapter, the 8th of Romans, the noblest of all language that was ever written by human pen? "WhomHe did foreknow, He, also, did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, themHe, also, called; and whom He called, them He, also, justified; and whom He justified, them He, also, glorified."
There is no break in the chain between Justification and Glory! And no supposable breakage can occur, for the Apostle putsthat out of all possibility, by saying, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. Whois he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who,also, makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Then he heaps on all the things that mightbe supposed to separate, and says, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, norpowers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate usfrom the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
In the same manner the Apostle writes in Philippians 1:6-"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."I cannot stay to mention the many other Scriptures in which what has been done is made an argument that the work shall becompleted, but it is after the manner of the Lord to go through with whatever He undertakes. "He will give Grace and glory,"and perfect that which concerns us. One marvelous privilege which has been bestowed upon us is of peculiar significance-weare one with Christ by close, vital, spiritual union. We are taught of the Spirit that we enjoy a marriage union with ChristJesus our Lord-shall that union be dissolved?
We are married to Him! Has He ever given a bill of divorce? There has never been a case where the heavenly Bridegroom divorcedfrom His heart a chosen soul to whom He has been united in the bonds of Grace! Listen to these words from the prophecy ofHosea 2:19, 20-"And I will betroth you unto Me forever; yes, I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth you unto Me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord." This marvelous unionis set forth by the figure of the head and the body-we are members of the body of Christ. Do the members of His body rot away?Is Christ amputated? Is He fitted with new limbs as old ones are lost?
No, being members of this body, we shall not be divided from Him. "He that is joined unto the Lord," says the Apostle, "isone spirit," and if we are made one spirit with Christ, that mysterious union does not allow for the supposition, even, ofa separation! The Lord has worked another great work upon us, for He has sealed us by the Holy Spirit. The possession of theHoly Spirit is the Divine seal which sooner or later is set upon all the chosen. There are many passages in which that sealis spoken of and is described as being an earnest, an earnest of the inheritance. But how can it be an earnest if after receivingit, we do not attain the purchased possession? Think over the words of the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22-"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spiritin our hearts as a guarantee."
To the same effect the Holy Spirit speaks in Ephesians 1:13, 14-"In whom you, also, trusted, after that you heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation, in whom, also, after thatyou believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemptionof the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory." Beloved, we feel certain that if the Spirit of God dwells in us,He that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead will keep our souls and will, also, quicken our mortal bodies and present uscomplete before the Glory of His face at the last.
Therefore we sum up the argument with the confident expression of the Apostle when he said (2 Tim. 4:18), "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory foreverand ever. Amen."
II. Now, how shall we IMPROVE THE DOCTRINE OF THE FINAL PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
PRACTICALLY? The first improvement is for encouragement to the man who is on the road to Heaven. "The righteous shall holdon his way." If I had to take a very long journey, say from London to John o' Groats, with my poor tottering limbs to carryme, and such a weight to carry, too, I might begin to despair and, indeed, the very first day's walking would knock me out.But if I had a Divine assurance unmistakably saying, "You will hold on your way and you will get to your journey's end," Ifeel that I would brace myself up to achieve the task.
One might hardly undertake a difficult journey if he did not believe that he would finish it. But the sweet assurance thatwe shall reach our home makes us pluck up courage. The weather is wet, rainy, blusterous-but we must keep on, for the endis sure. The road is very rough and runs up hill and down dale. We pant for breath and our limbs are aching-but as we shallget to our journey's end, we push on. We are ready to creep into some cottage and lie down to die of weariness, saying, "Ishall never accomplish my task." But the confidence which we have received sets us on our feet and off we go again! To theright-hearted man the assurance of success is the best stimulus for labor.
If it is so, that I shall overcome the world, that I shall conquer sin, that I shall not be an apostate, that I shall notgive up my faith, that I shall not fling away my shield, that I shall come home a conqueror-then will I play the man and fightlike hero! This is one of the reasons why British troops have so often won the fight, because the drummer boys did not knowhow to beat a retreat and the rank and file did not believe in the possibility of defeat! They were beaten oftentimes by theFrench, so the French tell us, but they would not believe it and, therefore, would not run away! They felt like winning andso they stood like solid rocks amidst the dread artillery of the foe till victory was declared on their side.
Brothers and Sisters, we shall do the same if we realize that we are preserved in Christ Jesus-kept by the power of God throughfaith unto salvation! Every true Believer shall be a conqueror and, therefore, the reason for warring a good warfare. Thereis laid up for us in Heaven a crown of life that fades not. The crown is laid up for us and not for chance comers. The crownreserved for me is such that no one else can wear it! And if it is so, then will I battle and strive to the end, till thelast enemy is overcome and death, itself, is dead.
Another improvement is this-what an encouragement this is to sinners who desire salvation. It should lead them to come andreceive it with grateful delight. Those who deny this doctrine offer sinners a poor two penny-halfpenny salvation not worthhaving-and it is no marvel that they turn away from it. As the Pope gave England to the Spanish king-if he could get it-sodo they proffer Christ's salvation if a man will deserve it by his own faithfulness. According to some, eternal life is givento you, but then it may not be eternal! You may fall from it. It may last only for a time.
When I was but a child I used to trouble myself because I saw some of my young companions who were a little older than myself,when they became apprentices and came to London, become vicious. I have heard their mother's laments and seen their tears.I have heard their fathers expressing bitterest sorrow over the boys whom I knew in my class to be quite as good as ever Ihad been-and it used to strike me with horror that perhaps I might sin as they had done! They became Sabbath-breakers-in onecase there was a theft from the till to go into Sunday pleasuring. I dreaded the very thought!
I desired to maintain an unsullied character and when I heard that if I gave my heart to Christ, He would keep me, that wasthe very thing which won me! It seemed to be a celestial life assurance for my character, that if I would really trust Christwith myself, He would save me from the errors of youth, preserve me amid the temptations of manhood and keep me to the end.I was charmed with the thought that if I was made righteous by believing in Christ Jesus I should hold on my way by the powerof the Holy Spirit.
That which charmed me in my boyhood is even more attractive to me in middle life! I am happy to preach to you a sure and everlastingsalvation! I feel that I have something to bring before you, this morning, which is worthy of every sinner's eager acceptance.I have neither an, "if," nor a, "but," with which to dilute the pure Gospel of my message! Here it is-"He that believes andis baptized shall be saved." I dropped a piece of ice upon the floor yesterday and I said to one who was in the room, "Isnot that a diamond?" "Ah," he said, "you would not leave it on the floor, I guarantee you, if it were a diamond of that size."
Now I have a diamond here-eternal life, everlasting life! I pray you will be in haste to take it up at once, to be saved now,to be saved in living, to be saved in dying, to be saved in rising again, forever and ever, by the eternal power and infinitelove of God! Is not this worth having? Grasp at it, poor Soul! You may have it if you but believe in Jesus Christ, or, inother words, trust your soul with Him. Deposit your eternal destiny in this Divine bank-then you can say-"I know whom I havebelieved and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day." The Lord bless you,for Christ's sake. Amen.