This truth is pictured in the book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. There’s a scene in which Christian is taken into a room by the Interpreter, who is explaining various truths to him. Here is the scene. (I’ve smoothed out some of the King James English in a couple spots to make it more readable.)
Then I saw in my dream that the Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the fire burn higher and hotter.
Then said Christian, What means this? The enemy Interpreter answered, this fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the Devil; but in that you see the fire still burning higher and hotter, you shall also see the reason for that. So he had him about to the backside of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of which he did also continually cast, but secretly, into the fire.
Then said Christian, What means this? The Interpreter answered, this is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart: by means of which, no matter what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still. And in that you saw that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire, that is to teach you that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul.
In other words, Christ maintains the work of faith begun in our hearts, though to our eyes we find it hard to see how that will happen.
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