cc'And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' Christ knew the motives of His questioner, and He threw upon him the burden of the answer. 'What is written in the law? how readest thou?' He asked. The lawyer answered, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.' 'Thou hast answered right.' Christ said, 'this do, and thou shalt live.' Supreme love to God and love to our neighbor are the great principles of the law. Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Those who keep the first will not transgress the second; for supreme love to God includes all other requirements.
cccIt is essential to our eternal well-being to know more of God; for love to God depends on a conception of His goodness. His excellence, and a knowledge of His will. It requires an appreciation of His character. His law is the transcript of His character, and this law He calls upon us to obey. God calls for an entire surrender of the entire being. 'Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,' is the first great command, and upon this command depends all the rest. This is the substance of all obedience. Let those who profess to be Christians remember that profession will not save them. The life which Christ alone can give is given upon condition of obedience, an obedience which takes in the whole man,--mind, heart, soul, and strength. This is true sanctification. 'This do, and thou shalt live,' is the only genuine definition of sanctification.
ccc''Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and will all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest-up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.'
cccChrist presented the requirements of God's law with great force and clearness, but many of His hearers turned away, careless and indifferent. And to-day God's ministers preach the Word with power sent down from Heaven, but on the minds of many no permanent impression is made. The messages given by God are not received and practised. It is not thought necessary to bring the controlling power of God into the daily and hourly transactions of life. God is not known by an experimental knowledge, and therefore He can not encircle them with the realities of the unseen world. The eternal reward of the righteous does not impress their minds. The great day of the Lord, which is right upon us, awakens neither alarm nor rejoicing in their hearts. They have a form of godliness, but not the power of the truth. Wrapped in self, nothing can help them till they realize their true condition.
cccThose who claim to be the children of God, and yet do not obey His commands, who are hearers but not doers of the Word, are regarded by the Lord as bankers regard fraudulent bank-notes. They are not genuine. They claim the name of Christian, but in reality they are heathen. To those who do not practise it, the Word of God is a dead letter. Christ says of such, 'I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth.' If they realized that they were sinners, He could plead in their behalf, and the Lord would arouse them by His Holy Spirit. But He can not present them to the Father; for they are worse than dead in trespasses and sins. They hear the Word, but make no application of it to themselves. Instead, they apply the Word to their neighbors. God can be no power to lukewarm Laodiceans.
cccWithout a working faith it is impossible to please God. Truth may be made ever so clear, it may be urged home ever so strongly; yet if not received by faith, it can not work in the heart. The themes presented may be ever so glorious, yet if not mixed with faith in them that hear, the work of presenting these themes will be labor in vain. The message may be one of hope, which if received would be a savor of life unto life, but if not received and acted upon, it is a savor of death unto death. Until the faith that works by love and purifies the soul opens the door for the Heaven-sent blessing, the blessing remains outside. Faith must be exercised if we would keep the great principles of God's law.
cccIt is our duty to use all our powers in an effort to know the Word of God. All our capabilities are to be used in the work of becoming acquainted with Him. We love God with an intensity proportionate to the knowledge we have of His attributes and the value we place on the object of which we are in pursuit. To love God with all the heart is to obey His law with pleasure, to meditate upon the eternal excellence of His character. Such love can never be hidden. Let us study His character in the light of His Word, working as those who realize that they are Judgment bound, that they will be called upon to give an account for the words they speak and the attributes of character they possess.
cccOur eternal welfare depends upon our obedience to God, and therefore we should make it our one aim to seek Him most earnestly, that we may gain a knowledge of Him. This is to be our first consideration. All else is to be made secondary to this object. The Word which is our guide declares, 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.' Seeing then that all the powers of mind, soul, and strength are to be given to God, in order that we may use our capabilities to His glory, and in this way increase them, let us search His Word earnestly and diligently to learn our duty to our Creator. Thus we may understand that God makes no requirement without making ample provision for the fulfilment of that requirement. Through the redeeming grace of Christ, man may accomplish everything that God requires of him. ST August 2, 1899; or 4ST 49-50.
Pastor Michael O. Hodges
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