Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Doing Something About it (Part 2)

Modern Christians find it easy to hear the Word and do nothing about it. Preaching may be had on every hand, at church, at the turn of a radio dial. Sermons have become so commonplace that we take the truth for granted. But where much has been given, much shall be required. God forbid that we should go out of our churches merely comparing one minister with another; like the listeners of Ezekiel's day, complimenting the messenger without conforming to the message, passing it up as just another sermon, "enjoying" it when God meant that our consciences would be pricked by it. The task of the preacher is "to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" and we are comfortable enough. God help us if we let the fowls of the air snatch up the seed which should produce thirty-, sixty-, an hundredfold; if we behold ourselves in the mirror of the Word and straightway forget what manner of persons we are!

The great and holy themes of Scripture are always joined with a call to do something about it. The first part of Ephesians shows us our exalted position in Christ, but right out of those heavenly glories we move from doctrine to duty, to the believer's vocation, which too often is regarded as a vacation. There are those who enjoy a dissertation on "The Lord knows those who are his" but who resent an application of the rest of the verse, "And let every one who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." It is possible to revel in prophetic lectures, "seeing that all these things shall be dissolved," without going on to do something about what manner of persons we ought to be. The coming of our Lord is a certainty, a coming certainty, a comforting certainty, and a challenging certainty, and if we hold properly this hope we shall do something about it, we shall purify ourselves even as He is pure. Alas, it is too often the case that the same brother who shouts "amen" — and well he may! — through the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the resurrection chapter, shuts his mouth as tightly as his pocketbook on the sixteenth chapter, the collection chapter!

From start to finish, the Word of God joins creed with deed, and if "cursed be he that handles the word of God deceitfully," let us remember that one way we can do that is by hearing it and not doing it. "Sin will keep us from the Book and the Book will keep us from sin," and it is not the Word hidden in the head but in the heart that keeps us from sin. You can have a head full of Scripture and heart full of sin! You can backslide with a Bible under your arm!

It is possible to mistake a familiarity with Bible terms for a knowledge of Bible truth. We are not suffering from a lack of sermons. Maybe we have too many sermons. There is enough of the Word of God stored in the heads of Christians, if it were obeyed, to set America on fire and set off enough Divine power to put atomic bombs to shame in comparison.

But something has to be done about the Word. It is true, gloriously true, that God's Word will not return unto Him void. Ezekiel was assured that although the people would not heed his message, they would know that a prophet had been among them. Many a preacher, in an unresponsive day, has encouraged himself with that blessed truth. But that God's Word will not return void is no lollipop to roll under our tongues while we evade personal responsibility. The preacher has a responsibility to preach the Word, but his hearers have a responsibility to heed it. There is another verse about the Word not profiting Israel long ago, "not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." There must be a volitional response, "faith taking hold of the word."

We may have faith, but is it OBEDIENT faith? "By faith Abraham OBEYED." Are you obedient to the truth you know? Let me confine myself to the book of James and ask you a few pointed questions from that brief letter whence came our text about being doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves. And don't put these verses in a dispensational cubbyhole, they are for us all!

"Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." This is to Christians. Have you done anything about that lately?

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." Have your prayers been unanswered because of sin?

"Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." Have you done anything about your tongue and temper lately?

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." Have you been proud? We want to have a revival and still save our faces, but the first thing we lose in a revival is our face!

"Speak not evil one of another, brethren . . . Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed." Are you critical? Is there someone to whom you owe an apology?

These are only a few verses, chosen almost at random. Think what would happen if the Church did something about one little book, the book of James!

God help us to do something about it, lest we hear God's words and do them not, deceiving ourselves. "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them" (John 13:17).

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