Last time we concluded with the observation that the wise business man takes inventory to see what goods to reorder and also what product does not sell.
We said this in connection with the truth, to which attention was called last time, that now, at this very moment, is the time for spiritual inventory. We used Paul’s words in II Corinthians 13:5, where he exhorts us to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith; for if Christ is not in us, we are reprobates. But we were also reminded of Jesus’ words that not all who say, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom, but only those who, besides saying, “Lord, Lord,” do the will of His father in heaven. Matthew 7:21-23.
Now, there are those, and the words of Jesus exactly mean that, who claim to be doing the will of His Father in heaven who nevertheless do not enter into the kingdom. They claim to have prophesied in His name, to have cast out devils in His name, and to have done many wonderful works in His name. All this means that they are convinced in their own minds that they have been doing the will of His Father which is in heaven.
There is today so much of that, so much that goes under the name of Christianity, and for that matter under the name of Calvinism and of the Reformed faith as well, that is NOT doing the will of the Father in heaven.
We can profitably pause a few moments therefore and investigate this will of the Father in heaven in order to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. And in the measure that we find that we are following in the teachings or practices of those who only say, “Lord, Lord” but are not really doing these things in His name, we must turn away, follow no more, and walk so that we do find that Christ is in us.
There is much confusion on this matter. The defense is often uttered that it really makes no difference what you believe as long as you believe something concerning God and His Christ. We all, so the argument goes, are going to the same place. Only we are doing so on different roads. We all serve and love the same God, only we express this in different ways. No church has all the truth, and all churches have a part of the truth.
Now the two texts to which we referred last time, and which then are again briefly referred to in the above lines, say something quite different. Many believing that they are serving Christ and believe in Him are told that He never knew them; and that is said of them in spite of “tremendous” works and a great abundance of deeds “in His name.” The road they were walking on was quite different from the narrow way which on God’s map is labeled, “The way of doing the Father’s will.” They thought they were going to the same place. They deceived themselves into thinking that they were worshipping the same God and Christ. But the end of the way shows that they were walking on a way that will drive them forever from His presence. They deluded themselves into thinking that they had something to prophesy that was truth, and for which they would be rewarded alongside of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, with the minor prophets and Elijah and Elisha. But God would have nothing of their fine speeches and “religious” zeal. Their prophecies were wholly unknown to Him. They did not even have a part of the truth. And He Who is The Way tells them that they were never walking on the way of life, and will be sent to the doom of the way on which all these years they were traveling. They claimed that Christ was in them. They, surely, were no reprobates. They had works to show that He was in them and that therefore they were the children of God.
It behooves us for our own comfort, then, to look more closely at this matter of spiritual inventory and ask ourselves whether we are doing the will of the Father in heaven. You have your choice today of doctrines, and spiritual leaders, and practices, and mergers of religious bodies. But there still is only one way that leads to glory. Christ is The Way, and He is not divided into parallel or converging lines that ultimately, the one sooner than the other, the one more safely than the other, the one more conveniently than the other, lead to the Kingdom of Heaven. He does not speak out of two sides of His mouth, so that you can defend this doctrine in His name, and then also take the completely opposite view and preach it in His name. And one does not come before His face in glory with a part of the truth. For He is The Way, because He isThe Truth and The Life! John 14:6 The “devil” which we, while walking on our pet way, believing our cunningly devised doctrine, and with emphasis upon a way of life for which our flesh clamors, have cast out may well be a saint who does not only say “Lord, Lord,” but is doing the will of the Father; he enters those gates into heaven from which we are turned back and where we were told that we were workers of iniquity.
Now really the matter is not so involved and complicated. It is simply a matter of doing the will of the Father in heaven. For that you and I must look into our lives. And though it is a simple matter, it is nevertheless a matter full of implications because our life is so complicated; and each step of the way we must take inventory as to what is lacking, that is, what fails to be doing His will, and what must be eradicated, taken off the shelves of our hearts and minds and be branded as sin and unbelief!
That will of the Father is presented to us in Scripture in very simple terminology. Jesus Himself boiled it all down to that simple statement that we love God with all of our being. That is His will. That is what pleases Him. Those who love Him and whose prophesying, casting out of devils, and works are characterized by this love shall enter the kingdom.
Yes, here we run right back into the same apparent difficulty. All those who claimed that they did these works in Christ’s name, believed that they did this in love to God. Are we a step further then in determining what activity actually reveals that Christ is in us and that we are not reprobates?
We are, if we are willing to listen to what the Word of God says about that love of God. Where many go astray is that they begin with man and from that position approach God. What we mean is this: They use man’s love as the standard whereby they judge God’s love and from it conclude what He loves and what that love of God truly is. Now that is a very dangerous and serious error, not only because being creatures our love can only be a reflection, and then a creaturely reflection, of the God in Whose image we were created, but also because we are beginning with the love of a fallen image bearer, who, even if he has been born again, and has the life of Christ in him, has only a very small beginning of that new obedience and a very faint reflection, therefore, of the love of God. And when we begin to measure and characterize the love of God by using our human love as the starting point, we are going to make His love something of human emotions and of human sentimentality, which God as a Spirit of infinite perfections does not have. The goings-on in our flesh, and the emotional reactions of the creature of flesh and blood are an exceedingly poor basis upon which to come to a decision as to what the love is of Him Who is a Spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. And we will find that when this is our starting point, we are going to have an imaginary God (as those in Matthew 7:21-23) whose love is in conflict with His righteousness, holiness and justice.
Let us then begin with God; and by all means let us listen to Him. And He says Himself that He IS love. We love. He is love. And He loves Himself eternally and unchangeably. He loved Himself before there was a creature. Father, Son and Spirit loved each other eternally as an holy and triune God. This is an important point to remember. That point was also thundered twice from heaven, once at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and later on the Mt. of Transfiguration; “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”
Hold fast now then to that truth that eternally and unchangeably God loved His Son, the Father and Spirit loving the Son in the triune life of God, and the triune God loving that Son in our flesh. What then do we have when we maintain that God loves everybody? Where do we land when we so interpret John 3:16(Closing our eyes to John 17:9 and I John 2:25, 26) so that it means that God loves every man head for head and soul for soul in the world? Is there duplicity in the God Who IS love? Can He love His Son and also those who hate His Son? Can He love Himself and also those that hate Him? And this God Who is just in all His ways, why has He not also loved the fallen angel world and the devil himself? Those who cry, “Unfair! Unfair, Such is not a God of love Who can decree that some men shall perish for their sins, and some He will save in Christ,” must face the issue squarely and answer for the fairness and justice then of not providing atonement for the devil and for a single one of his fallen angels. Are we coming to this yet in the future? The enemies of sovereign election and limited atonement, are they going to make it so unlimited that it includes Satan and the evil spirits which fell with him? God so loved the world. . . . But are not these—Satan and his fallen angels—also not a part of the world?
That bit of emotionalism and sentimentality that is right down the line of man’s flesh, namely, that God hates sin but not the sinner must answer that question He hates no sinners? He has no hate for Satan, only for his sin? Or is there arbitrariness with God, and respect of persons, so that He does not hate the human sinner, only his sin, while He does hate the angelic sinner as well as his sin?
If we love God are we not going to listen to Him when in Psalm 5:5 He says that He hates “all workers of iniquity?” Note not all works of iniquity but workers of iniquity. If we love Him, are we going to agree with Him, or are we going to tell Him that He does not know Himself, does not know that He really does love the workers of iniquity? When He is specific enough inRomans 9:13 to mention even the name of Esau and to say that He hated him before he did any good or evil, “that the purpose of God according to election might stand,” and we love Him, are we going to try to twist His words to mean that this means that He loved Esau less? Andthat is the meaning of the word hate? Are we then going to translate, or rather explain, that word “hate” this same way when used in John 15:24, 25 where Jesus speaks of the hatred of the world towards Himself? Did they nail Him to the cross because they loved Him less than they loved Caesar and Pilate? Or than Barabbas? Does a lesser degree of love lead to murder, or is it hatred that produces murder?
And other texts there are such as Psalm 7:11, Ephesians 5:6and others which show that God hates the sinner. Did He tell Adam in paradise that He would hate his deed but would inflict no punishment upon the sinner? Does He today punish the sin or the sinner? Is sin an act that can be divorced from the man who committed it? But our time is up once again; and there is much more to say. But for our comfort let our concluding remarks be that God does love us, who also are sinners, only because He sees us in Christ. We belong to Him, are one plant with Him, are judged in Him because God gave Him to be the Head of the Church and wrote our names in the Lamb’s book of life as those whose punishment He would bear and whom He would make saints by His blood.
It is such a God Whom we must love. It must be before the will of such a God that we must bow. His will we must do, or all our calling Him our Lord is the lie. And if Christ is in us, and we are not reprobates, we will find that we love such a God. For such a love was in Christ. If He is in us, will it not also be found in us?