Paul’s pursuit was to “win” or “gain” the fullness of the majesty and wonder of Christ. He was “reaching” unto something beyond the perspectives of man’s concepts and teachings. He was stretching, reaching, pressing unto the fullness. There existed in him a passion for the “One Thing”. In light of this “prize” he could not and would not rest in his current knowledge of Him. Oh, may we see afresh the vast horizons of glory reserved for those who feel the fire and call of God in Christ Jesus!
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me”
“And he said, WHO art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, WHAT wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” (Acts 9:5-6)
“He who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words…”
Jesus clarifies the verity of an individual’s love for Him. The criteria are simple as is the faith to walk in it. Many may declare their allegiance to Him, they may pray, they may speak of deep and esoteric things, they may ascribe to teachings and associations, but the Spirit of Christ cuts to the core. Obedience reveals the truth of our hearts toward Him.
Isaiah declares who it is that God sets His eye upon:
“…but I will look to this man, even to he who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word”
One who understands the enormity of God’s Word, and the inherent need to draw from Him the grace to walk in it, captures His notice. The religious readily acknowledge His Word yet feel no need to honour it with a life of obedience. They are not loving Him for who HE is, but for the sake of easing their conscience. They ascribe to His Salvation but not to His Lordship; they use grace to absolve themselves of the doing. They find refuge in His promises but remain unaffected by the power and love of Him through which the heart becomes subservient to that Word.
Jesus asks a penetrating question:
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
There is no time like the present to face the truth concerning our relationship with Him. Jesus does not leave us with any ambiguity as to our condition. Do not let the obscurity of a false gospel blind us to His clear word. Religion will rob God’s Word of its authority and leave the conscience untouched. Rather let us allow the Word to strike our hearts with His full power and intent.
“He who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words…”
The litmus test for our heart is not in what we know, how well we pray, or in how many good things we may involve ourselves. The proof of our love for Him is always obedience.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments”
The true life is the simple life.
Those who truly love will truly obey.
Allow nothing else to cloud our hearts. Let our growing obedience to Him be the sole measure of our love. Love always serves the object of its desire. Those who love themselves will end up serving themselves – even in the Name of God. Those who love Him, serve only Him.
“…having been perfected, He came to be the Author of eternal salvation to all the ones obeying Him”
“God Himself – His thoughts, His will, His love, His judgments are men’s home. To think His thoughts, to choose His will, to judge His judgments, and thus to know that He is in us, with us, is to be at home”
– George MacDonald
“For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you…”
Spiritual resources come to those who give what they have. It matters not how little one has, it is what one does with what one has. The Law of Christ is “give and it shall be given…”.
Jesus is not talking here about the “unrighteous mammon” He is speaking of the true riches, His graces, His gifts, His Word and His resources. His dealings with us is always proportional to our dealings with Him. There is an expenditure in our giving, there are times of weariness, times of discouragement and loneliness, but there is also mingled in the process touches of His Joy in our lives as we give what we have to others. There are also seasons of refreshment and His watchful care to fill our hearts with fresh truths, new glimpses of His wonder and stirring in the hearts of those to whom we feel the impulse to cry out to God to raise them up to heights we have yet to see ourselves.
In all of these things we are reminded to “not grow weary in well doing… for WE SHALL REAP”! Such glorious promises to those who plow the fields, sow their seeds and pray for the rain of His Spirit to bring forth a New Generation fit and prepared for the “Master’s Use”. We are reminded that if there be no sowing there will be no reaping and the whole purpose of this life is to bear fruit unto Him for He alone is worthy.
May all those who give all that they have be encouraged for the harvest will surely come and He will be glorified. May God continue to purify our hearts that all of our giving be unto His Glory and that we shall glory with Him in His Glory. Continue to give, continue to sow, and continue to pray over that precious seed that there would be a harvest of hearts who live for Him, unto Him and through Him for eternity.
“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him”
“A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing. It is his great concern. As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ”
– Jonathan Edwards
Holy lives are the result of spiritual warfare. The Apostle Paul’s life exemplified one who was ardent, diligent and consistent in his pursuit of the “one thing”. The Holy Spirit has been given to lead us into the fulness of Truth, the fulness of Christ living and ruling within our hearts. He has come that we may come into the wonder of all Christ is.
Whenever the scriptures speak of life they speak of His life, there is no life outside of Him. There can be no other call or desire within the life of the true disciple. He is and there is no other.
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen”
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” (Psa 84:5-7)
Mat 5:44 “but I say to you, Love your enemies; bless those cursing you, do well to those hating you; and pray for those abusing and persecuting you,”
Mat 5:45 “so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven. Because He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust.”
Mat 5:46 “For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same?”
Mat 5:47 “And if you only greet your brothers, what exceptional thing do you do? Do not the tax-collectors do so?”
Mat 5:48 “Therefore, you be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
The higher life is a lowly life. This call to truth, to the actual living out of His life in us is impossible in our own self; the true godly life is self-less. His Life is required in order to live His Life! There are no substitutes, teachings or strategies which will avail us of this wondrous reality.
This phrase struck me this morning: “Love your enemies”. We all have those who marginalize, disrespect, and even plainly hate us. God is gracious to provide us with real-life opportunities to become sons of His by discovering His nature within; to love in word and in deed those who mistreat us. While many look for signs, wonders and overt acts of God, the greatest display of God’s power is found in loving those who mistreat us.
“Love your enemies” is the resplendent Call of God. In the doing of such love, we fulfill the purpose of the Call of God in Christ: “Therefore, you be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect”. Perfection in Christ can only be realized by our doing the love we have been called to. The love of which God speaks is revealed in the deeds it produces. It is beyond words.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
John follows this remarkable truth with another:
“And hereby we know that we are of the truth…”
1 John 3:19
Love is the evidence of truth. Our standing in the truth of Christ must be assessed by the Word of God and not by our own carnal estimations. The divisions and secular composition of the Body of Christ, the lack of His Truth in our midst, belies our true condition.
“For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have?”
Our attitude toward others is the revelation of the depth our abiding in Him.
Relationship with Christ is the spring from which His Life flows. This flow of Life is the essential element of ministry.
The Womb of Ministry
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:16-17)
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy* both soul and body in hell”
Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
“I think, my friends, that it depends altogether upon that of which one is afraid. The words of our text (Mt. 10:28), with the solemn inculcation of fear, are also a ringing denunciation of fear: the “Fear Him” is balanced by “Fear not.” The fear of God is here made a way of overcoming the fear of man. And the heroic centuries of Christian history have provided abundant testimony to its efficaciousness” - John Gresham Machen
The history of the Church has been one of men and women bearing testimony to God by living His truth. True pilgrims were often “misfits”; even though their testimony was a shining light of God’s grace and favor in their generation. They did not dwell in the concepts of men concerning the scriptures. They lived their lives in the unfolding truth of God and as a result their testimony was the spirit of prophesy. There was a sense of being captured or, as Paul would say, “bound in spirit” to the will and purposes of God; a knowing that they had been apprehended to apprehend the thing to which they had been called.
To feel deep within our being that CALL, inarticulate in the language of men, which is more real, more powerful and more essential than any existence the world has to offer is true life. Its passion is to leave a clear witness of the Christ here in the earth. Bound up within this call is to know the joy of finishing our course with a testimony that clearly expresses His heart and being. The CALL to an effective communication of His Faith to the world around us and to leave a legacy of faith in our own children which will impart His Life to their generation is to be our birthright.
The CALL of Christ is unto Himself; it does not leave options or choices to those who respond to it. Disciples are ultimately freed from their own agendas and pursuits. They are captured by the wonder of His beauty to follow Him alone. They cannot rest in anything less than a full and dynamic expression of Christ. There is a sense of the eternal that draws them to things unseen. There is an endurance borne of “seeing Him” who is invisible.
“By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible”
The Testimony of the Church has ever been one of faith, intensity of spirit and heart which desires to honor Him.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…”
May our testimony be somewhat worthy of all who have gone before us!
*Note: apollumi (G622), a strengthened form of ollumi, signifies “to destroy utterly”; in middle voice, “to perish.” The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of wellbeing. This is clear from its use, as, e.g., of the marring of wine skins, Luk 5:37; of lost sheep, i.e., lost to the shepherd, metaphorical of spiritual destitution, Luk 15:4, Luk 15:6, etc.; the lost son, Luk 15:24; of the perishing of food, Joh 6:27; of gold, 1Pe 1:7. So of persons, Mat 2:13, “destroy”; Mat 8:25, “perish”; Mat 22:7; Mat 27:20; of the loss of well-being in the case of the unsaved hereafter, Mat 10:28; Luk 13:3, Luk 13:5; Joh 3:16 (Joh 3:15 in some mss.); Joh 10:28; Joh 17:12; Rom 2:12; 1Co 15:18; 2Co 2:15, “are perishing”; 2Co 4:3; 2Th 2:10; Jas 4:12; 2Pe 3:9. “Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words”