We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end the assurance we had at first.
I. AN AWFUL PERIL. "Lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." The danger is that of growing into a condition of moral obduracy, of becoming "past feeling." The greatness of this peril largely arises from two facts.
1. That this condition is generally reached gradually. Men do not become hardened in sin by one act of wickedness. Moral insensibility is the result of a process. The progress may sometimes be distinctly traced.
(1) The hardening of the will against certain Divine commands, as in the case of Pharaoh (Exodus 5:2). The refusal to do a manifest duty.
(2) The hardening of the entire moral disposition in sin. In this stage the struggle against temptation to sin is renounced, and the effort to be and to do what is true and right is given up (cf. Ephesians 4:18, 19).
(3) The hardening of the heart against the influences of Divine grace. In this stage the offers of the gospel are rejected; unbelief becomes positive and active (cf. Acts 7:51). How inexpressibly terrible is such a condition of soul!
2. That this condition is generally reached insidiously. "Hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Sin never approaches the soul in its true aspect. It assumes attractive disguises; it propounds plausible reasons; it exhibits fascinating yet fictitious prospects. For example, to those who are "not far from the kingdom of God," and who are almost entirely decided to serve him heartily and wholly, the deceitful and dangerous suggestion is presented that tomorrow will be more favorable in circumstances than today for beginning a decided Christian life, that a more "convenient season" for genuine personal religion will speedily arrive. And. so the holy decision and. consecration are deferred; procrastination becomes habitual; the heart hardens in procrastination. Again, to the Christian the temptation to unbelief is never presented in its real character, or it would be rejected immediately and decisively. It approaches the heart in fair forms, and with a show of reasonableness and righteousness. Thus, if a man be not on his guard, the hardening process will have begun ere he is aware of it. Hence the awful peril.
II. AN INSPIRED PREVENTIVE. "Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today."
1. The nature of this preventive. "Exhort one another." The word translated "exhort" indicates two exercises.
(1) Admonition of each other. Stuart translates, "Admonish one another." Let Christians warn each other when they detect impending dangers.
(2) Encouragement of each other. Let Christians endeavor to inspire their disheartened brethren with new hopes, to comfort their troubled brethren with Christian consolations. "Wherefore, lift up the hands that hang down," etc. (Hebrews 12:12, 13). Christians, being children of one Father, disciples of one Master, members of one great community, exposed to similar perils, sustained by similar influences, and inspired by common hopes, ought thus to "exhort one another." Moreover, there is a preventive mentioned in the preceding verse against, this dread peril which each one must exercise for himself. "Take heed." Be watchful, etc.
2. The season for the exercise of this preventive. "Exhort one another daily," or, "day by day." Mutual oversight and help should be continuous. Watchfulness and prayer and Christian effort must not be irregular or intermittent, but steady and constant; not occasional exercises, but abiding dispositions.
3. The limit to the exercise of this preventive. "While it is called Today." This may mean while our present form of life shall last; as in our Lord's words, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day," etc. Or it may mean while the day of grace continues. Adopting either interpretation, the season for this mutual exhortation is limited and uncertain. "We have but an uncertain season for the due performance of most certain duties; how long it will be called Today, we know not; the day of life is uncertain, and- so is the day of the gospel; a summer's day for clearness, a winter's day for shortness; our working day is a wasting day." Let the solemn gravity of the peril lead each of us to a diligent use of the Heaven-inspired preventive. - W. J.
We are made partakers of Christ.
(W. Jones, D. D.)μέτοχι as meaning here, as in chap. 1:9, "companions " or "fellows." We then get the striking thought that by persistent loyalty to the Christian vocation we become fellows of Jesus. It is intrinsically likely that the passage about the Messiah quoted from the forty-fifth Psalm in the first chapter was present to the writer's mind at this point. It speaks of the Messiah as anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows, implying that they too, in their measure, have a cup full of joy. In the present connection of thought mention is made of a "boasting of hope," a hope rising into exultation, implying a still higher measure of triumphant joy when hope reaches its consummation. The idea, "the faithful the fellows of Christ," is also in full sympathy with the thought expressed in ver. 6, "whose house are we." The faithful are God's house, at the head of which is Christ, God's Son. They are God's house not as Moses was, as servants, but as sons, therefore the brethren of Christ. But brotherhood is a thing of degrees. There is an initial brotherhood, in which, as Paul says, a son differs nothing from a servant; and there is a brotherhood, the result of a normal moral development, in which a younger son, at length arrived at maturity, becomes the companion of the elder brother. We are brethren to begin with, but if we are faithful we shall end in becoming fellows. And so our author, having already said of those who persevere that they are the house of God, now takes a step in advance, and in renewing his exhortation to steadfastness says, "The faithful are not only the house of God and the brethren of Christ, they are His fellows, sharing His joy and having perfect communion with Him in spirit."
(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)I. First, then, here is A VERY HIGH PRIVILEGE. "We are made partakers of Christ." Observe that the text does not say we are made partakers of rich spiritual benefits. There is more than that here. To be partakers of pardoning mercy, of renewing grace, of the adoption, of sanctification, preservation, and of all the other covenant blessings, is to possess an endowment of unspeakable value: but to be made "partakers of Christ," is to have all in one. You have all the flowers in one posy, all the gems in one necklace, all the sweet spices in one delicious compound. "We are made partakers of Christ" — of Himself. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell," and we are made partakers with Him of all that He is ordained to be of God unto us "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." We are made partakers of Christ, when first of all by faith in Him we procure a share in His merits. Moreover, we are partakers of Christ, inasmuch as His righteousness also becomes ours by imputation. We further become partakers of Christ by living and feeding on Him. The sacramental table represents our fellowship. Partakers of Christ! Yes, and therefore with Him partakers in destiny. The language of the text reminds us that none of us have any title to this privilege by nature. "We are made partakers of Christ." From our first parentage we derived a very different entail. "We are made partakers of Christ." This is the Holy Ghost's work in us, to rend us away from the old wild olive, and to graft us into the good olive; to dissolve the union between us and sin, and to cement a union between our souls and Christ. This is work as grand and godlike as to create a world.
II. The privilege of which we have spoken suggests A SOLEMN, SEARCHING QUESTION. Are we made partakers of Christ? There is nothing more to be dreaded than a counterfeit justification, a spurious hope.
III. Now we come to THE UNERRING TEST. Patience comes to the aid of faith here. Evidences accumulate till the issue is conclusive. "We are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." This passage may be read in two ways, neither of which violates the literal meaning of the original as we have it in our version, "the beginning of our confidence," or, as I would rather translate it, "the foundation of our confidence," the basis on which our confidence rests. Take your choice. We will expound both. That man is a partaker of Christ who holds fast the faith he had at first, having received it, not as an education, but as an intuition of his spiritual life; not as an argument, but as an axiom he could not challenge, or rather as an oracle he received joyfully and bowed to submissively. The confidence which is based upon the true foundation, even Christ Jesus, is simple and clear as one's own consciousness. It asks no proof because it admits no doubt. Now what was the beginning of our confidence? Well, the beginning of my confidence was, "I am a sinner, Christ is a Saviour; and I rest on Him to save me." We were nothing at all, and Jesus Christ was all in all. We are not made partakers of Christ unless we hold this fast to the end.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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