compiled by Michael Jeshurun

Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Pet. 5:8, 9).

Obviously such a warning would be meaningless if the Christian were not threatened with a most deadly danger. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17). This warning looks back to the false prophets of (2:1, 2) and what is said of them in vv. 18-22. The “error of the wicked” here cautioned against includes both doctrinal and practical, especially the latter—forsaking of the “narrow way,” the highway of holiness which alone leads to Heaven. “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11)—cling tenaciously to the Truth you have received, the faith which has been planted in your heart, to the measure of grace given you.

But how do you reconcile the Christian’s danger with his safety? There is nothing to reconcile, for there is no antagonism. It is enemies and not friends who need reconciling, and warnings are the Christian’s friend, one of the safeguards which God has placed around the truth of the security of His people, preventing them from wresting it to their destruction. By revealing the certain consequences of total apostasy Christians are thereby cautioned and kept from the same: a holy fear moves their hearts and so becomes the means of preventing the very evil they denounce.

There is a one-sided and un-scriptural forgetfulness of the actual position of the believer (or professing believer) as a man who is still on the road, in the battle; who has still the responsibility of trading with the talent entrusted, of watching for the return of the Master. Now there are many bypaths, dangers, precipices on the road, and we must persevere to the end.

Only they who overcome and are faithful to death shall be crowned. It is not spiritual but carnal to take the blessed and solemn doctrines of our election in Christ and of the perseverance of the saints, given us as a cordial for fainting hours and as the inmost and ultimate secret of the soul in its dealings with God, and place them on the common and daily road of our duties and trials, instead of the precepts and warnings of the Divine Word. It is not merely that God keeps us through these warnings and commandments, but the attitude of soul which neglects and hurries over these portions of Scripture is not childlike, humble, and sincere. The attempts to explain away the fearful warnings of Scripture against apostasy are rooted in a very morbid and dangerous state of mind.

A precipice is a precipice, and it is folly to deny it. “If we live after the flesh,” says the apostle, “we shall die.” Now, to keep people from falling over a precipice, we do not put up a slender and graceful hedge of flowers, but the strongest barrier we can; and piercing spikes or cutting pieces of glass to prevent calamities. But even this is only the surface of the matter. Our walk with God and our perseverance to the end are great and solemn realities. We are dealing with the living God, and only life with God, and in God, and unto God, can be of any avail here. He who brought us out of Egypt is now guiding us; and if we follow Him, and follow Him to the end, we shall enter into the final rest.”

God has assured His people that His grace shall be all-sufficient and that His strength shall be made perfect in their weakness, but nowhere has He promised a continuance of His love and favor unto dogs returning to their vomit or to sows which are content to wallow in the mire. If our thoughts on this subject be formed entirely by the teaching of God’s Word (and not partly by carnal reason), then we shall expect perseverance only in that way wherein God has promised it, and that is by availing ourselves of the helps and advantages He has provided, especially the study of and meditation upon His Word and the hearing or reading the messages of His servants. Though God has promised grace unto His people, yet He requires them to—sincerely, believingly, earnestly—seek it:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

And that grace we are constantly in need of as long as we are left here:— “Day by day the manna fell, O to learn that lesson well.”

(Gleaned from the writings of A.W. Pink and Adolph Saphir)

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