The IF-Condition in the



Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great sal­vation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him? (Heb. 2: 13)


THE APOSTLE SAID that if we do not give diligent attention to the Gospel we have heard, we let these saving truths slip away from us. Mosaic law pun­ished every disobedience with a just penalty. How then shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?

This salvation is so great because God’s great love provided it, and a great Savior paid a great price for it. Therefore, he who neglects it has a great guilt and will receive a great punishment. The guilt and punishment will be in proportion to the greatness of the salvation.

The Apostle appealed to the history of covenant­-breaking Israel.

Every transgression of Mosaic covenant law was punished. This warning of Israel’s covenant disobedience is scattered many times throughout the Scriptures. And it proves that New Covenant lawbreakers shall likewise receive not only an eternal covenant penalty–but a “sorer punish­ment” (Heb. 10:29). This fact alone condemns the teaching of unconditional salvation.

How shall we escape? The question expresses denial. There is no escape from the penalties of cov­enant disobedience, as there was none under Moses. Escape is impossible. He who persists in sin, persists in an evil course of condemnation. He tramples over the covenant blood of Christ and rushes to his eter­nal doom.


The Apostle’s next “if” is in Hebrews 3:6, 14:

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.


To be a member of “the household of God” (Eph. 2: 19)… one must remain in the House. He must con­tinue in faith and hope “unto the end.” Observe, “the beginning…unto the end.” Genuine faith will meet all enemies and conquer them; but counterfeit faith is conquered by enemies. Temporary faith “dureth for a while” (Matt 13:21); but genuine faith “endureth to the end” (Matt 10:22). He must not only believe, he must believe unto the end. He must not only overcome, he must overcome unto the end, professor A. T. Robertson, in his commen­tary on verse 14, quoted Jonathan Edwards, the famous Calvinist theologian: “Jonathan Edwards once said that the sure proof of election is that one holds out to the end.”


If the Bible teaches the final perseverance of the saints, it also teaches that the saints are those who finally persevere in Christ. Continuance is the test of reality. And indeed, to hold fast to hope is throughout the New Testament an indis­pensable condition of attaining the goal of full salvation.


In Hebrews, as in many other Scriptures, the if­ warnings in relation to faithless Israel are constantly held before our view. Chosen as they were to be God’s covenant people, their lustings and cravings led them to unbelief and death. Their burial place was named kibroth-hattaavah, meaning, “graves of lust,” because “there they buried the people that lusted” (Num. 11:34). Thousands today who live and persist in such unlawful indulgences have an unshakeable belief that they are eternally predes­tinated for salvation. They worship the money-god, the pleasure-god, the sex-god, and believe that God has made a special provision for them so that they can never be lost. Satan has no greater deception.

Consider another if-warning:

For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made par­takers of the Holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to them­selves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the land which hath drunk the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receiveth blessing from God; but if it bear­eth thorns and thistles, it is rejected and nigh unto a curse; whose end is to be burned. (6:4-8, RV)


Some Calvinists admit that this Scripture has stopped them on unconditional salvation. And all the language-twisting and word-magic of others leave the facts unexplained. “Facts are stubborn things.” Their explanations do not explain “impossible,” “fall away,” and “renew them again.”

The Pulpit Commentary says: “Calvin’s predestinarian views compelled him and his followers to do violence to the plain meaning of the passage.”

The Apostle speaks of those who were “once en­lightened … tasted of the heavenly gift made par­takers of the Holy Ghost …tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.”

Robertson’s Word Pictures and the Expositors Greek Testament say that these were actual spiritual ex­periences enjoyed by these people. Does God give such experiences to unsaved people?

It was impossible to “renew them again” if they fell away. So, they had been regenerated and renewed before. The authority of Greek grammar supports this statement…

The Apostle bluntly stated the impossibility of renewal for such people. “Such falling away after such experience precludes the possibility of repent­ance. On such persons the powers of grace have been exhausted” (Pulpit Commentary).


Then the Apostle used an illustration from na­ture. The earth that brings forth good fruit receives blessing; that which brings forth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. The word “rejected” here means “cast­away” (Gr. adokimos), and it is the same word that Paul used in I Corinthians 9:27 when he said he feared being a castaway (rejected, adokimos). The thorns and briars were not “put on the shelf”; they were “nigh unto cursing,” and will be “burned.” Those who had received the spiritual experiences described by the Apostle were two classes of people. Both had received the “rain that cometh oft upon it.” One class brought forth fruit that receiveth blessing. The other brought forth thorns and briars that were nigh unto Cursing. “The contrast is be­tween two classes of Christians under equally fa­vorable conditions, out of which they develop opposite results” (Vincent’s Word Studies).


Some expositors say this warning was for those Jewish Christians who were tempted to return to Judaism and escape persecution for being Christians. But the warnings in Hebrews cannot be limited to that. The Apostle repeatedly admonished them with the “ensamples” from Jewish history, and they were destroyed because of their sinful indulgences.

Jesus said we could know them “by their fruits,” which means that we can know them by their “thorns and briars.” The famous Baptist scholar, A. T. Robertson, in his commentary on this passage wrote: “It is a terrible picture and cannot be toned down.”

The Apostle knew the Christians to whom he wrote, and said in verse 9 that he was “persuaded better things” of them; but the experience he de­scribed had happened to others. We wish we could be so persuaded of many thorns-and-briars believers, for when we give them God’s oft-repeated if-warn­ings, they say with an offended spirit: “Are you trying to get me to doubt my salvation?”

The class of professing Christians described here should not be confused with the ordinary backslider. A few of these do return to God and are restored. David and Peter sinned, but sin was the exception in their lives. If they had persisted in those sins, the story would be different.

In chapter 8: 8, 9, the Apostle again reminded his readers of the Hebrew covenant-breakers under Moses:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they con­tinued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

This Scripture was quoted from Jeremiah 31:31-34, which has the detail: “…my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord.” God’s covenant with Israel was a covenant of wedlock. There is much truth in the Bible on this subject.

This Jehovah-Husband Israel-Wife relationship was conditional, as it was between Israelites. Un­faithfulness to the nuptial tie was always a major offense in the family life of the nation and was pun­ishable by death from the beginning as seen in Genesis 38:24. Under Mosaic covenant law, adultery was a “sin unto death.” “The adulterer and adulter­ess shall surely be put to death” – “so shalt thou put away evil from Israel” (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22).

To profane God’s holy covenant of matrimony was a crime so shocking that Jehovah demanded the death penalty. The guilty were “cut off” from the innocent and from the covenant nation in the inter­ests of the Hebrew State.

There are numerous references in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea that speak of this Husband-Wife relationship between Jehovah and Israel. Israel was Jehovah’s harlot wife. When Israel-Wife “played the harlot with many lovers” (Jer. 2:20; 3:1), Jehovah-­Husband forgave and invited her to return. This she refused to do and continued in her harlotries. Jeho­vah was a “jealous” Husband–“whose name is Jealous” (Ex. 20:5; 34: 14). The Divine Lover, after long patience, carried out His threats. In jealous vengeance, He poured out His wrath upon the adul­terous nation. The merciless slaughter, the captiv­ities, and the plunder of her country by heathen armies bear impressive witness to the awfulness of the penalty she suffered for violations of her wed­lock.

“They continued not in my covenant, and I re­garded them not.” In legal language such a covenant is known to this day as a Continuing Covenant. Such a covenant indicates the successive perform­ance of specific acts as embodied in the covenant. A breach of covenant nullifies its provisions. “The Israelites broke the covenant. Then God annulled it. The covenant was void when they broke it” (Robertson).


Some Eternal Security teachers quote Jeremiah 3:14 to confirm their unconditional salvation: “Turn, 0 backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am mar­ried unto you.” But they don’t quote other Jeremiah passages and Hebrews 8:9, which show that God cast them off when they did not return.

Isaiah called Jerusalem the “harlot city” (1:21). When Jesus wept over this Harlot, He announced the awful doom of that “adulterous generation” which was fulfilled under the Roman general Titus in 70 A.D. Jesus gave details about what Titus would do when he destroyed the city: “Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side…shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee…not leave in thee one stone upon another” (Luke 19:41-44).

The “house” of Israel would be left to them “desolate.” Their covenant protection would be withdrawn. Jehovah-Husband would no longer live with the Harlot.


Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote a graphic record of the fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy. When Titus besieged the city, the Jews’ supplies were re­duced until they ate from sewers and dunghills. No persuasion from Titus or Josephus could induce them to surrender to save their lives. They cut the throats of family members who talked peace. Those who tried to desert to the Romans were slaughtered by their kindred.

Titus desired to save the city and temple, but the insane refusal of the Jews to surrender caused the soldiers to murder them until they wearied of the killing. There were 1,100,000 slain. And 600,000 dead bodies were thrown out at the gates and piled in heaps. They had crucified their Covenant-Messiah, and the Romans crucified them until there was no place to put the crosses. Others in suicidal frenzy leaped from the wall and were crushed to death. The frightful terror and unparalleled cruelty did not spare the aged and infants. Josephus wept and Titus groaned at the ghastly horror. Condemned and doomed, centuries of accumulated wrath had “come upon them to the uttermost” (Matt. 23:35; I Thess. 2:16). “Whenever iniquity has reached its last stage, the judgment of heaven is at hand” (Fairbarn).

They had despised the Prophet of Nazareth but believed the false prophets who seduced them with promises of a miraculous deliverance. In the end they saw they were deceived and killed themselves in frantic madness. Others were taken as slaves.

Josephus wrote:

Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.


The divine sword devoured them. The full fury of the covenant curse fell upon them, as the true prophets had warned, but which the false prophets said would never happen because they were God’s chosen and elected nation.

God’s sword of vengeance has slashed the Harlot through 19 centuries. In our time we have seen the savagery of Hitler’s colossal massacre of six million of them, and the worst is yet to come (Luke 21:20­-24). The Jewish State has been restored and Jews are returning there, but the full force of God’s vengeance and wrath upon the covenant-breakers has yet to fall upon them.

There is a point in God’s dealings with sinners when He gives up. “God gave them up” (Rom. 1:24­-26). The Jews had rejected repeated warnings:

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adver­saries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10: 26-31)


We have seen that under Moses there was no sacrifice for willful and persistent sin. This is true under both covenants. God’s love and mercy are great, but He has set a limit. As we saw in the Old Covenant, the deliberate sinner had to bear his own guilt. The covenant sacrifice could not atone for him. Persistent sinning against the “knowledge of the truth” leads one to a hopeless state. He passes -to a state from which there is no recovery. Every divine means for his salvation has been exhausted.

The Apostle referred to those who had persisted in deliberate sin and had trampled over the covenant blood of Christ wherewith he was sanctified. They were not only saved but had advanced to the position of sanctification. Their guilt involved them in the “blood of the covenant.” They had insulted the Holy Spirit

This Apostle threatened them again and again. Warnings were repeated: “fearful judgment,” “fiery indignation,” “sorer punishment,” “fearful thing,” “devour,” “vengeance.” How come that many who preach so much about the love of God never get around to these truths?

“Willful sin, continued in, means apostasy, repu­diation of the covenant” (Expositors Greek Testa­ment). “Such a covenant-breaking people could no longer be the subject of covenant mercy on God’s part” (Delitzsch, Commentary on Hebrews).


We go on to chapter 12: 7, 8:

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

The Apostle’s blunt language jolts us to the re­ality of the facts. There were two classes of people in the first-century churches, as in the twentieth­century churches: those who endured God’s chas­tenings and those who did not. Those who endured the chastenings were God’s sons. Those who did not were bastards. Endurance was evidence of divine sonship. Non-endurance was proof of bastardy. The genuine and counterfeit are again revealed for what they are by a test-an endurance test.

Abraham received the promise “after he had pa­tiently endured” (Heb. 6:15). Moses “endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). Christ “endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Those who “have no root in themselves…endure but/or a time” (Mark 4:17). My Greek New Testament has this verse: “they are temporary. ” Endurance is the great­est test.


It is evident the Hebrews were beset with vari­ous dangers. Some were tempted to deny Christ to avoid persecution. To others tempted with lusts, there went the Esau-warning: “looking diligently …lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau.” For others there was the root-of-bitterness warning (Heb. 12:15). The deadliness of each sin was like a serpent’s fangs. A man dead with infec­tion is as dead as one with a heart attack.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto per­dition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb. 10: 38-39)

        The just live by faith in Christ-continuously. They do not draw back. Those who draw back, go back unto perdition. They go back to this perdition because they do not endure; they do not continue to live in Christ by faith. When one draws back unto perdition, it is evident that he is not elected to salvation because with freedom of decision he chose perdition. He does not continue in Christ He con­tinues in sin.


Jesus said: “My sheep…follow me”–contin­uously. They do not draw back to sin. They could but won’t. These are the ones of whom Jesus said: “No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29). The others are not in the Father’s hand because they turn back from Christ – and continue in sin. This is perdition. To endure in Christ is to “believe to the saving of the soul.”

Salvation is of the Jews. But those who draw back do not share in this salvation. This Epistle, like others, used the ancient Israelites as warnings. Once in the Covenant, and sustained by God’s mighty miracles of salvation, yet, under God’s covenant curse, they rotted in “graves of lust.”

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3: 7-13)


Let us obey the Apostle’s exhortation to “run with patience the race that is set before us… Look­ing to Jesus” (Heb. 12:1, 2). Like Paul, God’s great spiritual athlete, let us press onward to the prize; ever onward to the Goal Post with our eyes Continually fixed upon Jesus. Do this dear reader, and you will be predestinated to eternal salvation.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1: 12)




IF YE CONTINUE, Guy Duty 1966

Bethany House Publishers

Reproduced with permission





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