We have now reached one of the most solemn and fear-inspiring passages to be found not only in this epistle, but in all the Word of God. May the Holy Spirit fit each of our hearts to approach it in that godly trembling which becomes those who have within their own hearts the seeds of apostasy. Let it be duly considered at the outset that the verses which are now be before us were addressed not to those who made no profession of being genuine Christian, but instead, unto them whom the Spirit of truth owned as “holy brethren partakes of the heavenly calling.” (3:1). Nevertheless He now dehorts them from stepping over the brink of that awful precipice which was before them, and faithfully warns of the certain destruction which would follow did they do so. Instead of replying to this which arguments drawn from the eternal unity of God’s saints, let us seek grace to honestly face the terrible danger which menaces each of us while we remain in this world of sin, and to use all necessary means to avoid so fearful and fatal a calamity.
In the pass, dear reader, there have been thousands who were just as confident that they had been genuinely saved and were truly trusting in the merits of the finished work of Christ to take them safely through to Heaven, as you may be; nevertheless, they are now in the torments of Hell. Their confidence was a carnal one; their “faith,” no better than that which the demons have. Their faith was but a natural one which rested on the bare letter of the Scripture. It was not a supernatural one, wrought in the heart by God. They were too confident that their faith was a saving one to, to thoroughly, searchingly, test it by the Scriptures, to discover whether or no it was bringing forth those fruits which are inseparable from the faith of God’s elect. If they read an article like this, they proudly concluded that it belonged to some one else. S cocksure were they that they were born again so many years ago, they refused to heed the command of 2 Cor. 13:5 “prove your own selves.” And now it is too late. They wasted their day of opportunity, and the “blackness of darkness” is their portion forever.
In view of this solemn and awful fact, the writer earnestly calls upon himself and each reader to get down before God and sincerely cry, “Search me, O God: reveal me to myself. If I am deceived, undeceive me ere it be eternally too late; Enable me to measure myself faithfully by Thy Word, so that I may discover whether or no my heart has been renewed, whether I have abandoned every course of self-will and truly surrendered to Thee; whether I have so repented that I hate all sin, and fervently long to be free from its power, loathe myself and seek diligently to deny myself; whether my faith is that which overcomes the world (1 John 5:4), or whether it be only a mere notional thing which produces no godly living; whether I am a fruitful branch of the vine, or a new creature in Christ, or only a painted hypocrite.” If I have an honest heart, then I am willing, yea anxious to face and know the real truth about myself.
Perhaps some readers are ready to Ay, I already know the truth about myself: I believe what God’s Word tells me: I am a sinner, with no good thing dwelling in me; my only hope is in Christ. Yes, dear friend, but Christ saves His people from their sins. Christ sends His Holy Spirit into their hearts, so that they are radically changed from what they were previously. The Holy Spirit seeds abroad the love of God in the hearts of those He regenerates, and that love is manifested by a deep desire and sincere determination to please Him who loves me. When Christ saves a soul, He saves not only from Hell, but from the love of the world; He delivers him from the far of man, the lusts of the flesh, the love of self. True He has not yet completed this blessed work. True, the sinful nature is not yet eradicated, but one who is saved has been delivered from the dominion (Romans 6:14). Salvation is a supernatural thing, which changes the heart, renews the will, transforms the life, so that it is evident to all around that a miracle of grace has been wrought.
Thus, it is not sufficient for me to ask have I repudiated my own righteousness, have I renounced all my good works to fit me for heaven, am I trusting alone to Christ? Many will earnestly and sincerely affirm these things, who yet give no evidence that they have passed from death unto life. Then what more is necessary for me to ascertain whether or no my faith be a truly saving one? This, there are certain things which accompany salvation” (Hebrews 6:9), things which inseparable from it; and for these I must look, and be sure I have them. A bundle of wood that sends forth neither heat nor smoke, has no fire under it. A tree, which is in summer, bears neither fruit nor leaves, is dead. So a faith which does not issue in godly living, in an obedient walk, in spiritual fruit, is not the faith of God’s elect. O my reader, I beg you to diligently and faithfully examine yourself by the light of God’s unerring Word. Claim not to be a child of Abraham, unless you do the works of Abraham John 8:39).