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The Rest That God Promised

 4

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it.


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1. Let us therefore fear, etc. He concludes that there was reason to fear lest the Jews to whom he was writing should be deprived of the blessing offered to them; and then he says, lest anyone, intimating that it was his anxious desire to lead them, one and all, to God; for it is the duty of a good shepherd, in watching over the whole flock so to care for every sheep that no one may be lost; nay, we ought also so to feel for one another that every one should fear for his neighbors as well as for himself

But the fear which is here recommended is not that which shakes the confidence of faith but such as fills us with such concern that we grow not torpid with indifference. Let us then fear, not that we ought to tremble or to entertain distrust as though uncertain as to the issue, but lest we be unfaithful to God’s grace.

By saying Lest we be disappointed of the promise left us, he intimates that no one comes short of it except he who by rejecting grace has first renounced the promise; for God is so far from repenting to do us good that he ceases not to bestow his gifts except when we despise his calling. The illative therefore, or then means that by the fall of others we are taught humility and watchfulness according to what Paul also says,

“These through unbelief have fallen; be not thou then high ­ minded, but fear.” 6767     Calvin renders the last verb “be disappointed,” (frustratus,) though the verb means properly to be behind in time, to be too late; yet it is commonly used in the sense of falling short of a thing, of being destitute; of being without. See Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 1:7; chapter 12:15. To “come short” of our version fitly expresses its meaning here, as adopted by Doddridge and Stuart; or “to fall short,” as rendered by Macknight.
   “Seem” is considered by some to be pleonastic. The verb δοκέω is so no doubt sometimes, but not always; but here appears to have a special meaning, as the Apostle would have no one to present even the appearance of neglecting to secure the rest promised. — Ed.

(Romans 11:20.)

2. For to us, etc. He reminds us that the doctrine by which God invites us to himself at this day is the same with that which he formerly delivered to the fathers; and why did he say this? That we may know that the calling of God will in no degree be more profitable to us than it was to them, except we make it sure by faith. This, then, he concedes, that the Gospel is indeed preached to us; 6868     See Appendix O but lest we should vainly glory, he immediately adds that the unbelieving whom God had formerly favored with the participation of so great blessings, yet received from them no fruit, and that therefore we also shall be destitute of his blessing unless we receive it by faith. He repeats the word hear for this end, that we may know that hearing is useless except the word addressed to us be by faith received.

But we must here observe the connection between the word and faith. It is such that faith is not to be separated from the word, and that the word separated from faith can confer no good; not indeed that the efficacy or power of the word depends on us; for were the whole world false, he who cannot lie would still never cease to be true, but the word never puts forth its power in us except when faith gives it an entrance. It is indeed the power of God unto salvation, but only to those who believe. (Romans 1:16.) There is in it revealed the righteousness of God, but it is from faith to faith. Thus it is that the word of God is always efficacious and saving to men, when viewed in itself or in its own nature; but no fruit will be found except by those who believe.

As to a former statement, when I said that there is no faith where the word is wanting, and that those who make such a divorce wholly extinguish faith and reduce it to nothing, the subject is worthy of special notice. For it hence appears evident that faith cannot exist in any but in the children of God, to whom alone the promise of adoption is offered. For what sort of faith have devils, to whom no salvation is promised? And what sort of faith have all the ungodly who are ignorant of the word? The hearing must ever precede faith, and that indeed that we may know that God speaks and not men.




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