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( <580401> HEBREWS 4:1-3).
The exhortation begun by the apostle in Hebrews 3:12 is not completed till Hebrews 4:12 is reached, all that intervenes consisting of an exposition and application of the passage quoted from Psalm 95 in Hebrews 3:7-11. The connecting link between what has been before us and that which we are about to consider is found in Hebrews 3:19, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” These words form the transition between the two chapters, concluding the exhortation found in verses 12, 13, and laying a foundation for the admonition which follows.
Ere proceeding, it may be well to take up a question which the closing verses of Hebrews 3 have probably raised in many minds, namely, seeing that practically all the adults who came out of Egypt by Moses perished in the wilderness, did not the promises of God to bring them into Canaan fail of their accomplishment?
In Exodus 6:6-8, Jehovah said unto Moses, “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God... and I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did sware to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.” We quote now from the helpful comments of Dr. J. Brown upon these verses: “This is a promise which refers to Israel as a people, and which does not by any means necessarily infer that all, or even that any, of that generation were to enter in. No express condition was mentioned in this promise — not even the believing of it. Yet, so far as that generation was concerned, this, as the event proved, was plainly implied; for, if it had been an absolute, unconditional promise to that generation, it must have been performed, otherwise He who cannot lie would have failed in accomplishing His own word. There can be no doubt that the fulfillment of the promise to them was suspended on their believing it, and acting accordingly. Had they believed that Jehovah was indeed both able and determined to bring His people Israel into the land of Canaan, and, under the influence of this faith, had gone up at His command to take possession, the promise would have been performed to them. “This was the tenor of the covenant made with them: ‘Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation’ ( Exodus 19:5,6). ‘Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him, and obey His voice, provoke Him not; for He will not pardon your transgressions: for My name is in Him. But if thou shalt indeed obey His voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an Enemy unto thine enemies, and an Adversary unto thine adversaries’ ( Exodus 23:20-22). “Their unbelief and disobedience are constantly stated as the reason why they did not enter in. ‘Because all those men have seen My glory, and My miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted Me now these ten times, and have not harkened to My voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked Me see it’ ( Numbers 14:22,23), cf. Joshua 5:6. God promised to bring Israel into the land of Canaan; but He did not promise to bring them in whether they believed and obeyed or not. No promise was broken to those men, for no absolute promise was made to them. “But their unbelief did not make the promise of God of none effect. It was accomplished to the next generation: ‘And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein’ ( Joshua 21:43). Joshua appealed to the Israelites themselves for the completeness of the fulfillment of the promise, see Joshua 23:14. That generation believed the promises that God would give Canaan, and under the influence of this fact, went forward under the conduct of Joshua, and obtained possession of the land for themselves.”
This same principle explains what has been another great difficulty to many, namely, Israel’s actual tenure of Canaan. In Genesis 13:14, we are told, “And the Lord said unto Abraham, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place from where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
How then came it that the children of Israel occupied the land only for a season?
Their descendants, for the most part are not in it today. Has, then, the promise of God failed? In no-wise. In His promise to Abraham God did not specify that any particular generation of his descendants should occupy the land “for ever” and herein lies the solution to the difficulty.
God’s promise to Abraham was made on the ground of pure grace; no condition whatever was attached to it. But grace only superabounds where sin has abounded. Sovereign grace intervenes only after the responsibility of man has been tested and his failure and unworthiness manifested. Now it is abundantly clear from many passages in Deuteronomy 31:26-29, that Israel entered Canaan not on the ground of the unconditional covenant of grace which Jehovah made with Abraham, but on the ground of the conditional covenant of works which was entered into at Sinai ( Exodus 24:6-8). Hence, many years after Israel had entered Canaan under Joshua, we read, “And an Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of the land of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break My covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars; but ye have not obeyed My voice: Why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be a thorn in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you” ( Judges 2:1-3).
The same principles are in exercise concerning God’s fulfillment of His gospel promises. “The gospel promise of eternal life, like the promise of Canaan, is a promise which will assuredly be accomplished. It is sure to all ‘the seed.’ They were ‘chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.’ Eternal life was promised in reference to them before the times of the ages, and confirmed by the oath of God. They have been redeemed to God by ‘the blood of the Lamb,’ and are all called in due time according to His purpose. Their inheritance is ‘laid up in heaven’ for them, and ‘they are kept for it by the mighty power of God, through faith unto salvation.’ And they shall all at last ‘inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.’ “But the Gospel revelation does not testify directly to anyone that Christ so died for him in particular, that it is certain that he shall be saved through His death: neither does it absolutely promise salvation to all men; for in this case all must be saved, — or God must be a liar. But it proclaims, ‘he that believeth shall be saved — he that believeth not shall be damned.’ It is as believers of the truth that we are secured of eternal life; and it is by holding fast this faith of the truth, and showing that we do so, that we can alone enjoy the comfort of this security. ‘The purpose of God according to election must stand,’ and all His chosen will assuredly be saved; but they cannot know their election — they cannot enjoy any absolute assurance of their salvation independent of their continuance in the faith, love, and obedience of the Gospel, see 2 Peter 1:5-12.
And to the Christian, in every stage of his progress, it is of importance to remember, that he who turns back, turns ‘back to perdition’; and that it is he only who believes straight onward — that continues in the faith of the truth — that shall obtain ‘the salvation of the soul’” (Dr. J. Brown).
Our introduction for this article has already exceeded its legitimate limits, but we trust that what has been said above will be used of God in clearing up several difficulties which have exercised the minds of many of His beloved people, and that it may serve to prepare us for a more intelligent perusal of our present passage. The verses before us are by no means easy, as any one who will really study them will quickly discover. The apostle’s argument seems to be unusually involved, the teaching of it appears to conflict with other portions of Scripture, and the “rest” which is its central subject, is difficult to define with any degree of certainty. It is with some measure of hesitation and with not a little trepidation that the writer himself now attempts to expound it, and he would press upon every reader the importance and need of heeding the Divine injunction of Thessalonians 5:21, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
It should be evident that the first thing which will enable us to understand our passage is to attend to the scope of it. The contents of this chapter are found not in Romans or Corinthians or Ephesians, but in Hebrews, the central theme of which is the superiority of Christianity over Judaism, and there is that in each chapter which exemplifies this. The theme is developed by the presentation of the superlative excellencies of Christ, who is the Center and Life of Christianity. Thus far we have had Christ’s superiority over the prophets, the angels, Moses. Now it is the glory of Christ which excels that attaching to Joshua.
Our next key must be found in noting the connection between the contents of chapter four and that which immediately precedes. Plainly, the context begins at Hebrews 3:1, where we are bidden to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.” All of chapter 3 is but an amplification of its opening verse. Its contents may be summarized thus: Christ is to be “considered,” attended to, heard, trusted, obeyed: first, because of His exalted personal excellency:
He is the Son, “faithful” over His house; second, because of the direful consequences which must ensue from not “considering” Him, from despising Him. This second point is illustrated by the sad example of those Israelites who hearkened not unto the Lord in the clays of Moses, and in their case the consequence was that they failed to enter into the rest of Canaan.
In the first sections of Hebrews 4, the principal subject of chapter 3 is continued. It brings out again the superiority of our “Apostle,” this time over Joshua, for he too was an “apostle” of God. This is strikingly brought out in Deuteronomy 34:9, “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid hands upon him; and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses” — the prime thought of the “laying on of hands” in Scripture being that of identification. Let the reader compare Joshua 1:5, 16-18. The continuation of the theme of Hebrews 3 in chapter 4 is also seen by the repeated mention of “rest,” see Hebrews 3:11,18 and cf. Hebrews 4:1,3, etc. It is on this term that the apostle bases his present argument.
The “rest” of Hebrews 3:11,18 refers to Canaan, and though Joshua actually conducted Israel into this (see marginal rendering of Hebrews 4:8), yet the apostle proves by a reference to Psalm 95 that Israel never really (as a nation) entered into the rest of God. Herein lies the superiority of the Apostle of Christianity; Christ does lead His people into the true rest. Such, we believe, is the line of truth developed in our passage. “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (verse 1).
The opening words of this chapter bid us seriously take to heart the solemn warning given at the close of verse 3. God’s judgment upon the wicked should make us more watchful that we do not follow their steps. The “us” shows that Paul was preaching to himself as well as to the Hebrews. “Let us therefore fear” has stumbled some, because of the “Fear thou not” of Isaiah 41:10, 43:1, 5, etc. In John 14:27, Christ says to us, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” And in 2 Timothy 1:7, we read, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
On the other hand, believers are told to “Fear God” ( 1 Peter 2:17), and to work out their own salvation “with fear and trembling” ( Philippians 2:12). How are these two different sets of passages to be harmonized?
The Bible is full of paradoxes, which to the natural man, appear to be contradictions. The Word needs “rightly dividing” on the subject of “fear” as upon everything else of which it treats. There is a fear which the Christian is to cultivate, and there is a fear from which he should shrink.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and in Proverbs 14:26,27 we read, “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence.... The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life”; so again, “Happy is the man that feareth always” ( Proverbs 28:14). The testimony of the New Testament inculcates the same duty: Christ bade His disciples, “Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell” ( Matthew 10:28). To the saints at Rome Paul said, “Be not high-minded, but fear” ( Romans 11:20). To God’s people Peter wrote, “Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” ( Peter 1:17). While in Heaven itself the word will yet be given: “Praise our God all ye His servants, and ye that fear Him both small and great” ( Revelation 19:5).
Fear may be called one of the disliking affections. It is good or evil according to the object on which it is placed, and according to the ordering of it thereon. In Hebrews 4:1 it is placed on the right object — an evil to be shunned. That evil is unbelief, which, if persisted in, ends in apostasy and destruction. About this the Christian needs to be constantly on his guard, having his heart set steadily against it. Our natural proneness to fall, the many temptations to which we are subject, together with the deceitfulness of sin, the subtlety of Satan, and God’s justice in leaving men to themselves, are strong enforcements of this duty. Concerning God Himself, we are to fear Him with such a reverent awe of His holy majesty as will make us careful to please Him in all things, and fearful of offending Him. This is ever accompanied by a fearsome distrust of ourselves. The fear of God which is evil in a Christian is that servile bondage which produces a distrustful attitude, kills affection for Him, regards Him as a hateful Tyrant. This is the fear of the demons ( James 2:19). “Let us therefore fear.” “It is salutary to remember our tendency to partiality and onesidedness in our spiritual life, in order that we may be on our guard, that we may carefully and anxiously consider the ‘Again, it is written’; that we may be willing to learn from Christians who have received different gifts of grace, and whose experience varies from ours; above all, that we may seek to follow and serve the Lord Himself, to walk with God, to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. Forms of godliness, types of doctrine, are apt to become substitutes instead of channels, weights instead of wings. “The exhortations of this epistle may appear to some difficult to reconcile with the teachings of Scripture, that the grace of God, once received, through the power of the Holy Spirit by faith, can never be lost, and that they who are born again, who are once in Christ, are in Christ for ever. Let us not blunt the edge of earnest and piercing exhortations. Let us not pass them over, or treat them with inward apathy. ‘Again it is written.’ We know this does not mean that there is any real contradiction in Scripture, but that various aspects of truth are presented, each with the same fidelity, fullness and emphasis. Hence we must learn to move freely, and not to be cramped and fixed in one position: we must keep our eyes clear and open, and not look at all things through the light of a favorite doctrine. And while we receive fully and joyously the assurance of our perfect acceptance and peace, and of the unchanging love of God in Christ Jesus, let us with the apostle consider also our sins and dangers, from the lower yet most real earthly and time-point of view. “When Christ is beheld and accepted, there is peace; but is there not also fear? ‘With Thee is forgiveness of sin, that Thou mayest be feared’ ( <19D004> Psalm 130:4). Where do we see God’s holiness and the awful majesty of the law as in the cross of Christ? Where our own sin and unworthiness, where the depths of our guilt and misery, as in the atonement of the Lord Jesus? We rejoice with fear and trembling.... It is because we know the Father, it is because we are redeemed by the precious blood of the Savior, it is as the children of God and as the saints of Christ, that we are to pass our earthly pilgrimage in fear. This is not the fear of bondage, but the fear of adoption; not the fear which dreads condemnation, but the fear of those who are saved, and whom Christ has made free. It is not an imperfect and temporary condition; it refers not merely to those who have begun to walk in the ways Of God. Let us not imagine that this fear is to vanish at some subsequent period of our course, that it is to disappear in a so-called ‘higher Christian life.’ No; we are to pass the time of our sojourn here in fear. To the last moment of our fight of faith, to the very end of our journey, the child of God, while trusting and rejoicing, walks in godly fear” (Saphir). “Lest a promise being left us.” It is very striking to observe how this is expressed. It does not say, “lest a promise being made” or “given.” It is put thus for the searching of our hearts. God’s promises are presented to faith, and they only become ours individually, and we only enter into the good of them, as we appropriate or lay hold of them. Of the patriarchs it is said concerning God’s promises (1) “having seen them afar off, (2) and were persuaded of them, (3) and embraced them” Hebrews 11:13). Certain promises of Jehovah were “left” to those who came out of Egypt. They were not “given” to any particular individuals, or “made” concerning that specific generation. And, as the apostle has shown in Hebrews 3, the majority of those who came out of Egypt failed to “embrace” those promises, through hearkening not to Him Who spake, and through hardening their hearts. But Caleb and Joshua “laid hold” of those promises and so entered Canaan.
When the apostle here says, “Let us fear therefore lest a promise being left” — there is no “us” in the Greek — he addresses the responsibility of the Hebrews. He is pressing upon them the need of walking by faith and not by sight; he is urging them to so take unto themselves the promise which the Lord has “left,” that they might not seem to come short of it. But to what is the apostle referring when he says, “lest a promise being left”? Surely in the light of the context the primary reference is clear: that which the Gospel makes known. The Gospel proclaims salvation to all who believe.
The Gospel makes no promise to any particular individuals. Its terms are “whosoever believeth shall not perish.” That promise is “left,” left on infallible record, left for the consolation of convicted sinners, “left” for faith to lay hold of. This promise of salvation looks forward, ultimately, to the enjoyment of the eternal, perfect, and unbroken rest of God in heaven, of which the “rest” of Canaan, as the terminal of Israel’s hard bondage in Egypt and their wearisome journeyings in the wilderness, was the appropriate figure. “Any of you should seem to come short of it.” Passing over the word “seem” for a moment, let us inquire into the meaning of “to come short of it.” Here again the language of Hebrews 11:13 should help us. As pointed out above, that verse indicates three distinct stages in the faith of the patriarchs. First, they saw God’s promises “afar off.” They seemed too good to be true, far beyond their apprehension. Second, they were “persuaded of them” or, as the Revised Version renders it, “greeted them,” which signifies a much closer acquaintance of them. Third, and “embraced them”; they did not “come short,” but took them to their hearts. It is thus the awakened and anxious sinner has to do with the Gospel promise.
Wondrous, unique, passing knowledge as it does, that promise is “left” him, and the Person that promise points to is to be “greeted” and “embraced.” “That which was from the beginning (1), which we have heard (2), which we have seen with our eyes (3), which we have looked upon (4), and our hands have handled of the Word of Life” ( 1 John 1:1).
At this stage perhaps, the reader is ready to object against what has been advanced above, “But how can the ‘promise’ here refer to that presented in the Gospel before poor sinners, seeing that the apostle was addressing believers? Is not the ‘promise’ plainly enough defined in the ‘of entering into His rest’?” Without attempting now to enter into a fuller discussion of God’s “rest,” it should be clear from the context that the primary reference is to the eternal sharing of His rest in heaven. This is the believer’s hope which is laid up for you in heaven, “whereof ye heard before in the Word of the truth of the Gospel” ( Colossians 1:5).
At first this “hope” appears “afar off,” but as faith grows it is “greeted” and “embraced.” But only so as faith is in exercise. If we cease hearing and heeding the Voice which speaks to us from heaven, and our hearts become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, the brightness of our hope is dimmed, we “come short” of it; and if such a course be continued in, hope will give way to despair.
The whole point of the apostle’s exhortation here is a pressing upon Christians the imperative need of persevering in the faith. Israel left Egypt full of hope, as their song at the Red Sea plainly witnessed, see Exodus 15:13-18. But, alas, their hopes quickly faded. The trials and testings of the wilderness were too much for them. They walked by sight, instead of by faith; and murmuring took the place of praising, and hardness of heart instead of listening to the Lord’s voice. So too the Hebrews were still in the wilderness: their profession of faith in Christ, their trust in the Lord, was being tested. Some of their fellows had already departed from the living God, as the language of Hebrews 10:25 dearly implies. Would, then these whom the apostle had addressed as “holy brethren” fail, finally, to enter into God’s rest? So it is with Christians now. Heaven is set before them as their goal: toward it they are to daily press forward, running with perseverance the race that is set before them. But the incentive of our hope only has power over the heart so long as faith is in exercise.
First , is not this word inserted here for the purpose of modifying the sharpness of the admonition? It was to show that the apostle did not positively conclude that any of these “holy brethren” were apostates, but only that they might appear to be in danger of it, as the “lest” warned.
Second , was it not to stir up their godly fear the more against such coldness and dullness as might hazard the prize set before them?
Third , and primarily, was it not for the purpose of showing Christians the extent to which they should be watchful? It is not sufficient to be assured that we shall never utterly fall away; we must not “seem” to do so, we must give no occasion to other Christians to think we have departed from the living God. The reference is to our walk. We are bidden to “abstain from all appearance of evil” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:22). Note how this same word “seem” signifies “appeared” in Galatians 2:9. The very appearance of backsliding is to be sedulously avoided. “For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard” (verse 2).
The contents of this verse unequivocally establish our definition of the “promise” in verse 1, namely, that it has reference to the Gospel promise, which, in its ultimate application, looks forward to the eternal rest in heaven. Here plain mention is made of the “gospel.” The obvious design of the apostle in this verse is to enforce the admonition of us fearing a like judgment which befell the apostate Israelites, by avoiding a like course of conduct in ourselves — unbelief.
The Gospel preached unto Israel of old is recorded in Exodus 6:6-8, and that it was not “mixed with faith in them that heard it” is seen from the very next verse, “And Moses so spake unto the children of Israel, but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.”
We need hardly say that was not the only time a gospel message was proclaimed to them, see Numbers 13:26,27,30; and for their unbelief, Numbers 14:1-4. “But the word preached did not profit them.” “They were none the better for it. They did not obtain the blessing in reference to which a promise was given them: they did not enter into Canaan: they died in the wilderness” (Dr. J. Brown).
The reason for this was, because they did not receive the good news in faith. The mere hearing of the Gospel is not enough: to profit, it must be believed. Thus Hebrews 4:2 is parallel with Hebrews 2:3. “For we which have believed do enter into rest” (verse 3). Failure to rightly understand these words led many of the commentators right off the track of the apostle’s argument in this passage. It pains us to have to take issue here with some eminent expositors of Scripture, but we dare not call any man, however spiritual or well-instructed, our “father.” We must follow the light which we believe God has granted us, though we would again press upon the reader his responsibility for “proving all things” for himself. “For we which have believed do enter into rest.” Many have taken these words as referring to a spiritual rest into which believers enter here and now. But we believe this is a mistake. The apostle did not say, “We which believe have entered into rest.” To which it may be replied, “Nor did he say, ‘We which have believed shall enter into rest.’“ True, for to have put it thus would have weakened his argument. Moreover, it would be to evacuate the exhortation of verse 11 of its significance, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” If then verse 3 does not refer to a spiritual rest into which believers now enter, what is its meaning?
Bagster’s Interlinear (and we know of no English translation which is its equal) gives, “For we enter into the rest, who believe.” This is a literal word for word rendering of the Greek into English. Put thus, the historical tense is avoided, and we have simply an abstract statement of a doctrinal fact. This verse gives us the positive side of verse 2, defining the characters of those who will enter God’s rest, namely, Believers. Unbelieving Israelites did not, believing Christians shall. It is important to remember that the “rest” of this whole passage is as yet only “promised,” verse 1. “For we which have believed do enter into rest.” “The apostle speaks of believers of all ages as a body, to which he and those to whom he was writing belonged, and says, ‘It is we who believe, and we alone, who under any dispensation can enter into the rest of God’” (Dr. J. Brown).
The opening “for” signifies that what follows is added as a reason to confirm what has been previously stated. The reason is drawn from the law of contraries, the inevitable opposites. Of contraries there must be opposite consequences. Now faith and unbelief are contraries, therefore their consequences are contraries. As then unbelievers cannot enter into God’s rest ( Hebrews 3:18), believers must ( Hebrews 4:3), that is their privilege. Such we believe is the force of this abstract declaration. “The qualification of such as reap the benefit of God’s promise is thus set down, ‘Which have believed.’ To believe is to yield such credence to the truth of God’s promise, as to rest on Him for participation of the thing promised. We can have no assurance of the thing promised till we do believe the promise: ‘After that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise’ ( Ephesians 1:13). ‘I know whom I have believed,’ saith the apostle, and thereupon maketh this inference, ‘and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day’ ( 2 Timothy 1:12). This, Christ manifested by the condition which He required of those whom He cured, thus, ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible,’ Mark 9:23.” (Dr.
The second half of verse 3 we must leave for the next chapter. In the meantime, “Let us therefore fear.” “The absolute safety, the fixed and unchanging portion of the chosen people of God can never be doubted. From the eternal, heavenly, divine point of view, saints can never fall; they are seated in heavenly places with Christ; they are renewed by the Spirit, and sealed by Him unto everlasting glory. But who sees the saints of God from this point of view? Not the world, not our fellow- Christians. They only see our character and walk.... From our point of view, as we live in time, from day to day, our earnest desire must be to continue steadfast, to abide in Christ, to walk with God, to bring forth fruit that will manifest the presence of true and Godgiven life. Hence the apostle, who says to the Philippians, ‘Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ ( Hebrews 1:6), adds to a similar thought in another epistle, ‘If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.’ In the one passage Paul’s point of view is the heavenly, eternal one; in the other he looks from earth heavenwards, from time to eternity. And in what other way could he think, speak, exhort, and encourage both himself and his fellow- Christians but in this manner? For it is by these very exhortations and warnings that the grace of God keeps us. It is in order that the elect may not fall, it is to bring out in fact and time the (ideal and eternal) impossibility of their apostasy, that God in His wisdom and mercy has sent to us such solemn messages and such fervent entreaties, to watch, to fight, to take heed unto ourselves, to resist the adversary” (Saphir).