A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, June 24, 1877, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *7/12/2012
The righteous also shall hold on his way. [Job 17:9]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 749, “Righteous Holding on His Way, The” 740]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1361, “Final Perseverance of the Saints, The” 1352]
1. 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 is a way marked out for him by the divine command, in which he walks by faith. It is the King’s highway of holiness, the unclean shall not pass over it; only the ransomed of the Lord shall walk there, and these shall find it a path of separation from the world. Once the pilgrim entered upon the way of life, he must persevere in it or perish, for thus says the Lord, “If any man draws 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 who endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” It is in vain to spring up quickly like the seed that was sown upon the rock, and then eventually to wither when the sun is up; that would only prove that such a plant has no root in itself, but “the trees of the Lord are full of sap,” and they remain and continue and produce fruit, even in old age, to show that the Lord is upright. There is a great difference between nominal Christianity and real Christianity, and this is generally seen in the failure of the one and the continuance of the other. Now, the declaration of the text is that the truly righteous man shall hold on his way; he shall not go back, he shall not leap over the hedges and wander to the right hand or the left, he shall not lie down in idleness, neither shall he faint and cease to go upon his journey; but he “shall hold on his way.” It will frequently be very difficult for him to do so, but he will have such resolution, such power of inward grace given to him, that he will “hold on 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 his way. There are times when we run and are not weary, and then when we walk are thankful that we do not faint; indeed, and there are times when we are glad to go on all fours and creep upward with pain; but still we prove that “the righteous shall hold on his way.” Under all difficulties the face of the man whom God has justified is steadfastly set towards Jerusalem; nor will he turn aside until his eyes shall see the King in his beauty.
2. This is a great wonder. It is a marvel that any man should be 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 temptation, the seductions of wealth and the pride of life, the world and its fashion; all these things are against us, and yet behold, “greater is he who is for us than all those who are against us,” and defying sin, and Satan, and death, and hell, the righteous man holds on his way.
3. I take our text as accurately presenting the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints. “The righteous shall hold on his way.” Years ago when there was an earnest, and even a bitter controversy between Calvinists and Arminians it was the habit of each side to caricature the other. Very much of the argument is 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 thing to do, but I trust we have left these things behind. The glorious truth of the final perseverance of the saints has survived controversy, and in some form or other is the cherished belief of the children of God. Take care, however, to be clear concerning what it is. The Scripture does not teach that a man will reach his journey’s end without continuing to travel along the road; it is not true that one act of faith is all, and that nothing is needed of daily faith, prayer, and watchfulness. Our doctrine is 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 wishes or not towards heaven. No, “he holds on,” he is personally active about the matter, and plods over hill and dale until he reaches his journey’s end. We never thought, nor even dreamed, that merely because a man supposes that he once entered 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, but persevere in the way of faith. It is written, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” and this he cannot be if he were left to go back and delight in sin as he did before; and, therefore, he shall be kept by the power of God through faith to salvation. Though the believer to his grief will commit many a sin, yet still the tenor of his life will be holiness to the Lord, and he will hold on in the way of obedience. We detest the doctrine that a man who has once believed in Jesus will be saved even if he altogether forsook the path of obedience. We deny that such a turning aside is possible for the true believer, and therefore the idea imputed to us is clearly an invention of the adversary. No, beloved, a man, if he is indeed a believer in Christ, will not live according to the will of the flesh. When he does fall into sin it will be his grief and misery, and he will never rest until he is cleansed from guilt; but I will say 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, “Oh that I could live as I wish, for I desire to live altogether without sin. I would be perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect.” The doctrine is not the licentious idea that a believer may live in sin, but that he cannot and will not do so. This is the doctrine, and we will first prove it; and, secondly, in the Puritan sense of the word, we will briefly improve it, by drawing two spiritual lessons from it.
4. I. LET US PROVE THE DOCTRINE.
5. Please follow me with your Bibles open. Dear friends, most of you have received as a matter 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 for eternal life, and that truth necessarily involves the perseverance in grace. We believe in special redemption, and this secures the salvation and resulting perseverance of the redeemed. We believe in effectual calling, which is bound up with justification, a justification which ensures glorification. The doctrines of grace are like a chain — if you believe in one of them you must believe the next, for each one involves the rest; therefore I say that you who accept any of the doctrines of grace must receive this also, as involved in them. But I am about to try to prove this to those who do not receive the doctrines of grace; I would not argue in a circle, and prove one thing which you doubt by another thing which you doubt, but “to the law and to the testimony,” to the actual words of Scripture we shall refer the matter.
6. Before we advance to the argument it will be well to remark that those who reject the doctrine frequently tell us that there are many cautions in the word of God against apostatizing, and that those cautions can have no meaning if it is true that the righteous shall hold on his way. But what if those cautions are the means in the hand of God of keeping his people from wandering? What if they are used to instill a holy fear in the minds of his children, and so become the means of preventing the evil which they denounce. I would also remind you that in the epistle to the Hebrews, which contains the most solemn warnings against apostasy, the apostle always takes care to add words which show that he did not believe that those whom he warned would actually apostatize. In the sixth chapter he has been telling these Hebrews that if those who had been once enlightened should fall away, it would be impossible to renew them again into repentance, and he adds, “But, beloved, we are persuaded of better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we speak like this.” [Heb 6:9] In the tenth chapter he gives an equally earnest warning, declaring that those who should do despite to the spirit of grace are worthy of more severe punishment than those who despised Moses’ law, but he closes the chapter with these words, “Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition; but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” [Heb 10:38,39] Hence he shows what the consequences of apostasy would be, but he is convinced that they will not choose to incur such a fearful doom.
7. Again, objectors sometimes mention examples of apostasy which are mentioned in the word of God, but on looking into them it will be discovered that these are cases of people who only professed to know Christ, but were not really possessors of the divine life. John, in his first Epistle, fully describes these apostates; “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, so that it might be shown that they were not all of us.” [1Jo 2:19] The same is true of that memorable passage in John, where our Saviour speaks of branches of the vine which are cut off and cast into the fire; these are described as branches in Christ that bear no fruit. Are those real Christians? How can they be so if they bear no fruit? “By their fruits you shall know them.” [Mt 7:20] The branch which bears fruit is purged, but it is never cut off. Those which bear no fruit are not examples of true Christians, but they fitly represent mere professors. Our Lord, in Mt 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 forgotten you,” but “I never knew you”; they were never really his disciples.
8. But now we go to the argument itself. First we argue the perseverance of the saints, most distinctly from the nature of the life which is imparted at regeneration. What does Peter say concerning this life? He speaks of the people of God as “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and remains for ever.” [1Pe 1:23] The new life which is planted in us when we are born again is not like the fruit of our first birth, for that is subject to mortality, but it is a divine principle, which cannot die nor be corrupt; and, if it is so, then he who possesses it must live for ever, must, indeed, be for evermore what the Spirit of God in regeneration has made him. So in the First Epistle of John we have the same thought in another form. “Whoever is born by God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born by God.” [1Jo 3:9] That is to say, the direction of the Christian’s life is not towards sin. It would not be a fair description of his life that he lives in sin; on the contrary, he fights and contends against sin, because he has an inner principle which cannot sin. The new life does not sin; it is born by God, and cannot transgress; and though the old nature wars against it, yet the new life so prevails in the Christian that he is kept from living in sin. Our Saviour, in his simple teaching of the gospel to the Samaritan woman, said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks from 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.” [Joh 4:13,14] Now, if our Saviour taught this to a sinful and ignorant woman, at his first interview with her, I take it that this doctrine is not to be reserved for the inner circle of fully grown saints, but to be preached ordinarily among the common people, and to be held up as a most blessed privilege. If you receive the grace which Jesus imparts to your souls, it shall be like the good part which Mary chose, it shall not be taken away from you; it shall remain in you, not as the water in a cistern, but as a living fountain springing up into everlasting life.
9. We all know that the life given in the new birth is intimately connected with faith. Now, faith is in itself a conquering principle. In the First Epistle of John, which is a great treasury of argument we are told, “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, except he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” [1Jo 5:4,5] See, then, what is born of God in us, namely, the new life, is a conquering principle; there is no hint given that it can ever be defeated; and faith, which is its outward sign, is also in itself triumphant for evermore. Therefore by necessity, because God has implanted such a wondrous life in us in bringing us out of darkness into his marvellous light, because he has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, because the eternal and ever-blessed Spirit has come to dwell in us, we conclude that the divine life within us shall never die. “The righteous shall hold on his way.”
10. The second argument to which I shall call your attention shall be drawn from our Lord’s own express declarations. Here we shall look to the gospel of John again, and in that blessed third chapter of John, where our Lord was explaining the gospel in the simplest possible way to Nicodemus, we find him laying great stress upon the fact that the life received by faith in himself is eternal. Look at this precious verse: — “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” [Joh 3:14,15] Do men therefore believe in him and yet perish? Do they believe in him and receive a spiritual life which comes to an end? It cannot be, for “God gave his only-begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish”; [Joh 3:16] but he would perish if he did not persevere to the 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 remain in Christ, he evidently does not have eternal life, therefore he shall remain in Christ, even to the end. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [Joh 3:16] To this some reply that a man may have everlasting life and lose it. To which we answer, the words cannot mean that. Such a statement is a self-evident contradiction. 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 must live everlastingly. “He who believes on the Son has everlasting life.” [Joh 3:36] The saints in heaven have eternal life, and no one expects them to perish. Their life is eternal; but eternal life is eternal life, whether the person possessing it dwells on earth or in heaven.
I need not read all the passages in which the same truth is taught;
but further on in John chapter six, our Lord told the Jews, “Truly,
truly, I say to you, he who believes on me has everlasting
life”; [Joh 6:47] not temporary life, but “everlasting life.”
And later on he said, “I am the living bread which came down from
heaven; if any man eats from this bread, he shall live for
ever.” [Joh 6:51] Then comes that famous declaration of the Lord
Jesus Christ, which, if there were no other at all, would be quite
sufficient to prove our point: “And I give to my sheep eternal life,
and they shall never perish, neither shall any” (the word “man” is
not in the original) “pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave
them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out
of my Father’s hand.” [Joh 10:28,29] What can he mean except
this, that he has grasped his people, and that he means to hold them
securely in his mighty hand?
Where is the power can reach us there,
Or what can pluck us thence?
Over and above the hand of Jesus which was pierced comes the hand of the omnipotent Father as a kind of second grasp. “My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” [Joh 10:29] Surely this must show that the saints are secure from anything and everything which would destroy them, and consequently safe from total apostasy.
12. Another passage speaks to the same effect — it is to be found in Matthew twenty-four, where the Lord Jesus has been speaking of the false prophets that would deceive many. “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect”; [Mt 24:24] which shows that it is impossible for the elect to be deceived by them. Of Christ’s sheep it is said, “They will not follow a stranger, for they do not know the voice of strangers,” [Joh 10:5] but by divine instinct they know the voice of the Good Shepherd, and they follow him.
13. So our Saviour has declared, as plainly as words possibly can express it, that those who are his people possess eternal life within themselves, and shall not perish, but shall enter into everlasting felicity. “The righteous shall hold on his way.”
14. 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 to the uttermost those who come to God by him, seeing he lives for ever 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 merit of his perfect work, and as he pleads there for all his people whose names are written on his heart, just as the names of Israel were written on the jewelled 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 chapter twenty-two where our Lord said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, so that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for you so that your faith does not fail; and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.” [Lu 22:31,32] The intercession of Christ does not save his people from being tested, and tempted, and tossed up and down like wheat in a sieve, it does not save them even from a measure of sin and sorrow, but it does save them from total apostasy. Peter was kept, and though he denied his Master, yet it was an exception to the great rule of his life. By grace he held on his way, because not only then, but many a time besides, 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 seventeenth chapter of John — the Lord’s prayer. What
a prayer it is! “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in
your name; those whom you gave to me I have kept, and none of them is
lost, except the son of perdition; so that the Scripture might be
fulfilled.” [Joh 17:12] Judas was lost, but he was only given to
Christ as a disciple and not as one of his sheep. He had a temporary
faith, and maintained a temporary profession, but he never had
eternal life or he would have lived on. Those groans and cries of the
Saviour which accompanied his pleadings in Gethsemane were heard in
heaven, and answered. “Holy Father, keep through your own name those
whom you have given to me”; [Joh 17:11] the Lord does keep them
by his word and Spirit, and will keep them. If the prayer of Christ
in Gethsemane was answered, how much more what 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, intercessory voice has power to keep the saints, and so has the living Lord himself, for he has said — “Because I live you shall also live.” [Joh 14:19]
16. Now for a fourth argument. We gather complete 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 to you; but if you know him you will say what the apostle does in second Timothy, — “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him against that day.” [2Ti 1:12] He did not say “I know in whom I have believed,” as most people misquote it, but, “I know whom I have believed.” He knew Jesus, he knew his heart and his faithfulness, he knew his atonement and its power, he knew his intercession and its might; and 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 only one glimpse of his character and you will see what he was like when he lived here among men. At the beginning of John chapter thirteen we read, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” [Joh 13:1] If he had not loved his disciples to the end when here we might conclude that he was changeable now as then; but if he loved his chosen to the end while still in his humiliation below, it brings us the sweet and blessed confidence that now he is in heaven he will love to the end all those who confide in him.
17. 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 chapter thirty-two, and there you will find the covenant of grace explained at some length. We shall only be able to read the fortieth verse: “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I put my fear in their hearts, so that they shall not depart from me,” [Jer 32:40] he will not depart from them, and they shall not depart from him, — what can be a grander 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 the eighth chapter quotes that passage for this very purpose. The question runs like this — “ ‘Behold, the days come,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not regard them,’ 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 shall be to me a people.’ ” [Heb 8:8-10] 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 hence there came a failure on man’s part, and the whole covenant ended in disaster. It was the covenant of works, and 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, and you shall be my people.” [Jer 7:23] Glory be to God, this covenant will never pass away, for see how the Lord declares its enduring character in the book of Isaiah: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, says the Lord who has mercy on you.” [Isa 54:10] And again he says: “I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” [Isa 55:3] The idea of falling utterly away from grace is 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 once been emancipated slaves, and have had the fetters of legal bondage struck from off your hands, never consent to wear those bonds again. Christ has saved you, if indeed you are believers in him, and he has not saved you for a week, or a month, or a quarter, or a year, or twenty years, but he has given to you eternal life, and you shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck you out of his hands. Rejoice in this blessed covenant of grace.
18. The sixth most forcible argument is drawn from the faithfulness of God. Look at Romans chapter eleven; what does the apostle say there, speaking by the Holy Spirit? “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” [Ro 11:29] which means that he does not give life and pardon to a man and call him by grace and afterwards renege on what he has done, and withdraw the good things which he has bestowed. “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent.” [Nu 23:19] When he puts outs his hand to save he does not withdraw it until the work is accomplished. His word is, “I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” [Mal 3:6] “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent.” [1Sa 15:29] The apostle would have us base our confidence of perseverance upon the confirmation which divine faithfulness is sure to bestow upon us. He says: “Who shall also confirm you to the end, so that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” [1Co 1:8,9] And again he speaks to the same effect in First Thessalonians, “Faithful is he who calls you, who also will do it.” [1Th 5:24] It was of old the will of God to save the people whom he gave to Jesus, and from this he has never changed his mind, for our Lord said, “And this is the Father’s will who has sent me, that of all whom he has given to me I should lose none, but should raise them up again at the last day.” [Joh 6:39] So you see from these passages, and there are numbers of others, that God’s faithfulness secures the preservation of his people, and “the righteous shall hold on his way.”
19. The seventh and last argument shall be drawn from what has already been done in us. I shall do little more than quote the Scriptures, and leave them to sink into your minds. A blessed passage is that in Jeremiah: “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying, ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’ ” [Jer 31:3] If he did not mean that his love should be everlasting he would never have drawn us at all, but because that love is everlasting therefore with lovingkindness he has drawn us. The apostle argues this in a very elaborate manner in Romans chapter five: “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.” [Ro 5:9,10] I cannot stop to show how every word of this passage is emphatic, but it is so: if God reconciled us when we were enemies, he certainly will save us now that we are his friends, and if our Lord Jesus has reconciled us by his death, how much more will he save us 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 bring to your minds that golden chapter, the eighth of Romans, the noblest of all language that was ever written by human pen? “Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover, whom he predestinated, those he also called; and whom he called, those he also justified; and whom he justified, those he also glorified.” [Ro 8:29,30] There is no break in the chain between justification and glory; and no supposable breakage can occur, for the apostle puts that beyond all question, by saying, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who 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?” [Ro 8:33-35] Then he heaps on all the things that might be supposed to separate, and says, “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, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Ro 8:38,39] In the same manner the apostle writes in Philippians: “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.” [Php 1:6] I do not have time to mention the many other Scriptures in which what has been done is made an argument that the work shall be completed, but it is according to the manner of the Lord to go through with whatever he undertakes. “He will give grace and glory,” [Ps 84:11] and perfect what concerns us.
20. One marvellous privilege which has been bestowed upon us is of particular significance; we are one with Christ by close, vital, spiritual union. We are taught by the Spirit that we enjoy a marriage union with Christ Jesus our Lord — shall that union be dissolved? We are married to him. Has he ever given a bill of divorce? There never has been such a case as the heavenly bridegroom divorcing from his heart a chosen soul to whom he has been united in the bonds of grace. Listen to these words from the prophecy of Hosea. “And I will betroth you to me for ever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness: and you shall know the Lord.” [Ho 2:19,20]
21. This marvellous union is illustrated by the metaphor 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 outfitted with new limbs as old ones are lost? No, being members of this body, we shall not be separated from him. “He who is joined to the Lord,” says the apostle, “is one spirit,” [1Co 6:17] and if we are made one spirit with Christ, that mysterious union does not allow for the possibility of a separation.
22. The Lord has accomplished another great work upon us, for he has sealed us by the Holy Spirit. The possession of the Holy Spirit is the divine seal which sooner or later is set upon all the chosen. There are many passages in which that seal is spoken of, and is described as being a guarantee, a guarantee of the inheritance. But how is it a guarantee if after receiving it we do not attain the purchased possession? Think over the words of the apostle in First Corinthians, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom did not know God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.” [1Co 1:21,22] To the same effect the Holy Spirit speaks in Ephesians, “In whom you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.” [Eph 1:13,14] Beloved, we feel certain that if the Spirit of God lives in us, he who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead will keep our souls and will also quicken our mortal bodies and present us complete before the glory of his face at the last.
23. Therefore we sum up the argument with the confident expression of the apostle when he said, “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me for his heavenly kingdom; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” [2Ti 4:18]
24. II. Now, how shall we IMPROVE THE DOCTRINE PRACTICALLY? THE FINAL PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
25. The first improvement is for encouragement to the man who is on the road to heaven. “The righteous shall hold on his way.” If I had to take a very long journey, say from London to John of Groats, with my poor tottering limbs to carry me, and such a weight to carry too, I might begin to despair, and, indeed, after the very first day of walking it would cripple me; but if I had a divine assurance unmistakably saying, “You will hold on your way, and you will get to your journey’s end,” I feel 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 that we shall reach our home makes us pluck up courage. The weather is wet, rainy, blusterous, but we must keep on, for the end is certain. The road is very rough, and runs over hill and dale; we pant for breath, and our limbs are aching; but since we shall get to our journey’s end we press on. We are ready to creep into some cottage and lie down to die of weariness, saying, “I shall never accomplish my task”; but the confidence which we have received sets us on our feet, and off we go again. To the right hearted man the assurance of success is the best stimulus for labour. 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 not give up my faith, that I shall not fling away my shield, that I shall come home a conqueror — then I will play the man, and fight like a hero. This is one of the reasons why British troops have so often won the battle, because the drummer boys did not know how to beat a retreat, and the rank and file did not believe in the possibility of defeat. They were beaten often by the French, so the French tell us, but they would not believe it, and therefore would not run away. They felt like winning, and so they stood like solid rocks amidst the dread artillery of the foe until victory was declared on their side. Brethren, we shall do the same if we realise that we are preserved in Christ Jesus, kept by the power of God through faith to salvation. Every true believer shall be a conqueror, and hence the reason for warring a good warfare. There is laid up for us in heaven a crown of life that does not fade away. The crown is laid up for us, and not for chance comers. The crown that is reserved for me is such that no one else can wear it; and if it is so, then I will battle and strive to the end, until the last 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 and
receive it with grateful delight. Those who deny this doctrine offer
sinners a poor two cent salvation, not worth having, and it is no
marvel that they turn away from it. Just as the Pope gave England
to the Spanish king — if he could get it — so do they proffer Christ’s
salvation if a man will deserve it by his own faithfulness.
According to some, eternal life is given to you, but then it may not
be eternal; you may fall from it, it may last only for a time. When I
was only 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 mothers’ laments, and seen their tears about them; I have heard
their fathers expressing bitterest sorrow over the boys whom I knew
in my class to be quite as good as I had ever been, and it used to
strike me with horror that I perhaps might sin as they had done. They
became Sabbath breakers; in one case 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 was the very thing which
won me; it seemed to be a celestial life assurance for my character,
that if I would really trust Christ with 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
power of the Holy Spirit. What charmed me in my boyhood is even more
attractive to me in middle life; I am happy to preach to you a
certain and everlasting salvation. I feel that I have something to
bring before you this morning which is worthy of every sinner’s eager
acceptance. I have neither “if” nor “but” with which to dilute the
pure gospel of my message. Here it is; “He who believes and is
baptized shall be saved.” I dropped a piece of ice upon the floor
yesterday, and I said to one who was in the room, “Is that not a
diamond?” “Ah,” he said, “you would not leave it on the floor, I
warrant you, if it were a diamond of that size.” Now I have a diamond
here — eternal life, everlasting life! I think you will hurry to take
it at once, to be saved now, to be saved in living, to be saved in
dying, to be saved in rising again, for ever and ever, by the eternal
power and infinite love of God. Is this not worth having? Grasp for
it, poor soul; you may have it if you only believe in Jesus Christ,
or, in other words, trust your soul with him. Deposit your eternal
destiny in this divine bank, then you can say, “I know whom I have
believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have
committed to him against that day.” [1Ti 1:12] May the Lord
bless you, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Joh 10:1-30]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Work of Grace as a Whole — Grace Completing Its Work” 245]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Seeking to Persevere — Let Us Not Fall” 668]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Security in Christ — Accepted And Safe” 738]
The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for July, 1877.
Feed My Sheep. The closing sermon delivered to the Conference of the Pastors’ College, April 13, 1877. By C. H. Spurgeon.
Three Ha’pence a Week in the “Book of Remembrance.” By James L. Stanley.
The Sluggard’s Purpose.
Servants in Latimer’s Day
At a Party of Night School Graduates. By G. Holden Pike.
Bible Flower Mission for the sick poor of South London. By a Visitor.
Robert Hall’s opinion of Novel Reading.
Encouragement to pray. An incident in connection with the Pastors’ College.
The Legend of St. Marguerite.
Letter from C. and T. Spurgeon.
Notices of Books.
Stockwell Orphanage Report.
Price 3d. Post free, 4 stamps.
The Work of Grace as a Whole
245 — Grace Completing Its Work
1 To God the only wise,
Our Saviour and our King.
Let all the saints below the skies
Their humble praises bring.
2 His tried almighty love,
His counsel and his care,
Preserve us safe from sin and death,
And every hurtful snare.
3 He will present our souls
Unblemish’d and complete
Before the glory of his face,
With joys divinely great.
4 Then all the chosen seed
Shall meet around the throne,
Shall bless the conduct of his grace,
And make his wonders known.
5 To our Redeemer God
Wisdom and power belong,
Immortal crowns of majesty,
And everlasting song.
Isaac Watts, 1709, a.
The Christian, Seeking to Persevere
668 — Let Us Not Fall
1 Lord, through the desert drear and wide
Our erring footsteps need a guide;
Keep us, oh keep us near thy side.
Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
2 We have no fear that thou shouldest lose
One whom eternal love could choose;
But we would ne’er this grace abuse.
Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
3 Lord, we are blind, and halt, and lame,
We have no strong hold but thy name:
Great is our fear to bring it shame.
Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
4 Lord, evermore thy face we seek:
Tempted we are, and poor, and weak;
Keep us with lowly hearts, and meek.
Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
5 All thy good work in us complete,
And seat us daily at thy feet;
Thy love, thy words, thy name, how sweet!
Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
Mary Bowly. 1847.
The Christian, Privileges, Security in Christ
738 — Accepted And Safe <8s.>
1 A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
For fear, with thy righteousness on,
My person and offering on bring:
The terrors of law, and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
2 The work which his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is yea and amen,
And never was forfeited yet:
Things future, nor things that are now,
Not all things below nor above,
Can make him his purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from his love.
3 My name from the palms of his hands,
Eternity will not erase;
Impress’d on his heart it remains
In marks of indelible grace:
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven.
Augustus M. Toplady, 1771.