HEAR & KEEP!
Text: “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:28 KJV)
Last Lord’s Day, we learnt the recipe for a blessed life from Psalm 1. Firstly, a man must be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, he must shun ungodly associations and embrace fellowship with the saints. Thirdly, he must delight in God’s Word. The man who does so will be spiritually prosperous. Despite the trials and challenges in the world, he will stand firm in the grace of God, and the Lord will help him be successful in accomplishing His will.
The need to delight in God’s Word is aptly stated here in Luke 11:28 by the Lord Jesus Christ. He was responding to a cry made by a woman in the congregation – “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.” (Luke 11:27) Indeed, Mary was privileged to be the virgin through whom the Lord Jesus Christ was born. However, greater joy and satisfaction belongs to those who will “hear the word of God, and keep it.”
It is a great blessing and privilege for a man to hear God’s Word because “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the preached word (rhēma) of God.” The preaching of God’s Word is also the way by which God’s people may be built up in the most holy faith. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)
However, the hearing described by Christ is not one that is cursory or perfunctory. Neither is it one that is critical or unbelieving. It is a humble and faithful hearing that results in the glad reception of the truth. They will be like the Thessalonian Christians whom Paul observed in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that “when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
True hearing of faithful preaching will result in a faithful keeping of God’s Word. This is the testimony of the church at Pentecost, which having gladly received the preached Word from Peter, not only submitted themselves to water baptism, but continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:41-42). On the other hand, James chastised the Jewish church in James 1:22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” There is no blessing if we refuse to obey God’s Word!
Sadly, we can fall into the same trap as the Jewish church if we are not careful. Let us not deceive ourselves by using mere ritualistic attendance in worship service, fellowship group meetings or prayer sessions as a cover for disobedience. It is no use assenting to faithful preaching when we are not committed to keeping the Biblical teachings. Such hypocrisy will rob us of experiencing the joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dearly beloved, if we truly want to have a blessed new year, let us take heed not just to hear, but to also keep the Word of God.
Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew
WHEN LOVE DIVORCES DOCTRINEAND UNITY LEAVES TRUTH (I)
By John C Whitcomb
(Taken from the Appendix of Biblical Separation: Doctrine of Church Purification and Preservation by Jeffrey Khoo)
It is evident that leading neo-evangelical writers in the evangelical world believe that our main goal must be to eliminate doctrinal distinctives and to emphasise unity among those who claim to be Christians. There must be, in their opinion, a minimising of doctrinal distinctives to give Christians a united front which will impress the world and thus secure a listening ear.
This position, however outwardly attractive or impressive to the superficial observer, is a disaster when viewed in the light of Scripture. In total contradiction of the philosophy of ecumenical evangelism, the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ has a very different emphasis. The great commission does not say, “Make disciples of all nations by whatever means or methods may come to your mind.” Our Lord was much more specific on how His work should be done in this world. The great commission also contains the command to bring the converts immediately into a teaching programme. Notice how definitely this is stressed in the words of the Lord Jesus, “Teaching them to observe all things what-soever I have commanded you.” In other words the entire Scripture is the basis of this instruction, and this must be the supreme emphasis of the great commission in terms of priorities. It is a lifelong assignment for the pastor-teacher, under the Spirit of God, to bring a new convert into the whole counsel of God’s revealed Truth.
God’s Commission Minimised
It is this great task which, in modern ecumenical evangelism, is minimised to the point of vanishing away entirely. The new goal is to bring the person to Christ and then to turn him loose to “pick the church of his choice” (or no church if he pleases). The “convert” is left to the Holy Spirit to take care of. The neo-evangelical has done his job in evangelising the world by the streamlined techniques of twentieth century methodology. One of the basic ideas of today’s philosophy of ecumenical evangelism is that love is really more important than doctrine. Neoevangelical authors tell us that doctrine divides, whereas love unifies.
What does the Bible say about this? Is it really true that in the New Testament love is more important than doctrine, or Truth? In the so-called “love” chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, we are told, “Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love (agape).” Some say, “That settles it; love is supreme!” But when we examine that chapter more carefully we discover that Truth is also mentioned in the chapter. In verse 6 we are told that, love “rejoices in the truth.” In other words, faith, hope and love are virtues but Truth has an altogether different status. It is the frame of reference, the foundation, the atmosphere without which virtues such as love cannot exist at all.
Love rejoices in the Truth. Why? Because without Truth to define it, to interpret it, to protect it, to guide it, to channel it—love can become a total disaster. We dare not place Truth on the same level as virtues. Virtues would shrivel up and die if it were not for Truth. We cannot imagine life on this planet without water. Water is absolutely essential for life, as long as it stays within proper channels, within its canals, aqueducts and pipes. But when water gets out of control, it is the second greatest catastrophe that can happen to this planet, second only to fire. On the one hand it is an absolutely essential blessing, but on the other hand, it may become a near-total disaster. So it is also with love.
God’s Definition of Love
Love without divine definition (God’s revealed channels within which it must flow) becomes the most horrible thing on earth. It can destroy human beings by the million, and can be reduced to satanic sentimentalism. Observe what happens within a home when mother or father exhibits love toward a child by refusing to discipline it. In the name of love, the child is destroyed, as the Book of Proverbs makes so clear. Love, as defined by God, is doing for a person that which is best for him in the light of eternity, no matter what the cost may be. That is how it is defined by God.
Love Obeys the Truth
Somehow when it comes to world evangelism many people have forgot-ten God’s definitions and have fallen into sentimentalism. We must consider some key Scriptures to illustrate the distinction between love and Truth. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31). The Lord Jesus Christ said that ultimate freedom may only be achieved by total submission, unconditional surrender to Truth. There is nothing here about love.
There are many who speak glowingly of their love for Jesus Christ and for lost men. Listen to our Lord’s very blunt statement in John 14:15, 21, 23, and 24 as He stresses that obedience to Truth is the best form of love, “If ye love me, keep my commandments . . . He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me . . . If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.”
This is what we may call the acid test of love: Does a man obey the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ? It really makes no difference how much we talk about our love if we are not obeying Christ. Is this not a tragedy within homes, where children will occasionally say to a mother or father, “I love you,” and write these words on a card at birthday time or Christmas? But many a parent grieves because all the year long, or at least for long periods of time, there is very little obedience or respect, and those sentimental words therefore mean next to nothing. It is obedience that counts, not words. Obedience without love is theoretically possible, but love without obedience is impossible. It is a satanic substitute for God’s plan.
(To be continued)