Sermon 3561. The Drawings of Love
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 1917.
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The Lord has appeared of old unto me, saying, Yes, Ihave loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with loving kindnesshave I drawn you." Jeremiah 31:3.
From the context it is clear that this passage primarily refers to God's ancient people, the natural descendants of Abraham.He chose them from of old and separated them from the nations of the world. Their election fills a large chapter in historyand it shines with resplendent luster in prophecy. There is an interval during which they have experienced strange vicissitudes,been visited with heavy chastisements and acquired an evil reputation for the perverseness of their mind and the obstinacyof their heart. Yet a future glory awaits them when they shall turn unto the Lord their God, again, be restored to their landand acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as the King of the Jews, their own anointed King. Without abating, however, a jot or tittlefrom the literal significance of these words as they were addressed by the Hebrew Prophet to the Hebrew race, we may acceptthem as an Oracle of God referring to the entire Church of His redeemed family and pertaining to every distinct member ofthat sacred community. Every Christian, therefore, whose faith can grasp the testimony, may appropriate it to himself. Asmany a Believer has heard, so every Believer may hear the voice of the Holy Spirit sounding in his ears these words, "Yes,I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn you."
There are two things of which we propose to speak briefly tonight-the unspeakable blessing-"I have loved you with an everlastinglove." And the unmistakable evidence-"therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn you."
How exceedingly great and precious this assurance! How priceless this blessing to be embraced with the love, the everlastinglove of God! Our God is a God of Infinite Benevolence. Towards all His creatures He shows His goodwill. His tender merciesare over all His works. He wishes well to all mankind. With what force and with what feeling he asserts it! "As I live, saysthe Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezekiel 33:11). And whoever of the whole human race, penitent for past sin, will turn to Jesus, the Savior of sinners, he shall find inHim pardon for the past and Grace for the future! This general Truth of God, which we have always steadfastly maintained,which we never saw any reason to doubt and which we have proclaimed as widely as our ministry could reach, is not at all inconsistentwith the fact that God has a chosen people among the children of men who were beloved of Him, foreknown to Him and ordainedby Him to inherit all spiritual blessings before the foundation of the world! As an elect people, they are the special objectsof His love. On their behalf the Covenant of Grace was made. For them the blood of Christ was shed on Calvary. In them theSpirit of God works effectually to their salvation. Of them and to them it is that such words as these are spoken, "I haveloved you with an everlasting love"-a love far superior to mere benevolence-towering above it as the mountain above the sea!A kinder love, deeper, far sweeter than that bounty of Providence which gilds the earth with sunshine, or scatters the dropsof morning dew-a love that reveals its pre-ciousness in the drops of blood distilled from the Savior's heart and manifestsits personal, immutable favor to souls beloved in the gift of the Holy Spirit which is the seal of their redemption and thesign of their adoption. So the Spirit, Himself, bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God! Now think fora little while of-
I. THIS INESTIMABLE BLESSING.
Let us consider the text word by word. "I have loved you," Who is the speaker "I," the great "I am," Jehovah the Lord! Thereis but one God, and that God fills all things. "By Him all things were made, and through Him all things consist." He is notfar away, to be spoken of as though He were at an infinite distance from us, though Heaven is His
Throne-for He is here with us. We live in Him, move in Him and have our being in Him. Imagination's utmost stretch fails tograsp any true conception of what God is. The strong wing of reason, though it were stronger than that of the far-famed albatross,would utterly fail if it should attempt to find out God. Incomprehensible are you, O Jehovah, Your Being is too great formortal mind to compass! Yet this we understand-Your voice has reached us-from the excellent Glory it has broken in tones distinctlyon our ears-"Yes, I have loved you." Believer in Christ, have you heard it? The love of any creature is precious. We prizethe love of the beggar in the street. We are flattered by it. We cannot estimate it by silver or gold. Most men court theacquaintance or esteem the friendship of those among their fellow creatures who are in anyway distinguished for rank, forlearning, or for wealth. There is a charm in living in the esteem of those who, themselves, are estimable, but no passionof our nature will supply me with an adequate comparison when I ask what must it be to be loved with the love of God! To beloved by Him whose dignity is beyond degree, whose power to bless is infinite, whose faithfulness never varies, whose Immutabilitystands fast like great mountains-to be loved by Him who dies not, and who will be with us when we die, to be caressed by Himwho changes not in all our cares, to be shielded by His love when we stand at the Judgment Seat and pass the last dread ordealthat responsible creatures have to undergo! Oh, to be loved of God! Had you the hatred of all mankind, this honey would turntheir gall into sweetness! It were enough to make you start up from the dungeon of wretchedness, from the chamber of poverty-yes,or from the bed of death! How like an angel you might feel-and know that such you are-a prince of the blood Imperial! If thisis true of you, my Friend, in unspeakable joy you may emulate the bliss of blest spirits who see Jehovah and adore Him beforeHis Throne!
Who is loved? "Ihave loved you." Drink that in if you can, Christian! Come to that wellhead-here is joy for you, indeed! Repeatthe words to yourself with fitting emphasis, "Yes, I have loved you." Is it not amazing that the Mighty God should love anyof the race of Adam-so insignificant, so ephemeral, so soon to pass away? Did an angel love an ant creeping on an anthill,it were strange, though the disparity is comparatively trivial between these two-but for the eternal God to love a finiteman is a marvel of marvels! And yet had He loved all men everywhere, save and except myself, it had not so amazed me as whenI grasp the Truth in relation to myself that He has loved me! Let me hear His voice saying, "Yes, I have loved you," and forthwithI sit down abashed with humility and overwhelmed with gratitude, to exclaim with David, "What am I, and what is my father'shouse, that You have brought me here? Why have You loved me?" Surely there was nothing in my natural constitution, nothingin my circumstances, nothing in my transient career that could merit Your esteem or regard, O my God! Why, then, have Youspoken thus unto Your servant, saying, "I have loved you"?
Oh, how well I could imagine His having rather said to one and another of us, "I have despised you!" You were, perhaps, oncea drunk, yet He loved you! A swearer, yet He loved you! You had a furious temper, yet He loved you! And you have, even now,infirmities and imperfections that make you sometimes loathe yourself and lie down in shame, weary of life, chafed with theconflict in which you have to fight with such besetting sins day by day-evil thoughts and evil desires so degrading to yournature, so disgusting to yourself, so dishonoring to your God. Still, He says, "Yes, I have loved you." Come, Brothers andSisters, hear the Word of God and heed it! Do not fritter away the sweetness of the text with annoying questions! Here itis. In large and legible letters it is written. Come to this wellhead and drink! Take your fill and slake your thirst withthis Divine Love. If you believe in Jesus, what though you are poor, obscure, illiterate and compassed with infirmities whichmake you despise yourself, yet He who cannot lie says, "I have loved you." These words have been said to a Magdalene-theyhave been spoken to one possessed with seven devils-they were whispered in the heart of the dying thief! Within the tenfolddarkness of despair, itself, they have sounded their note of cheer. Blessed be the name of the Lord, you and I can hear thevoice of His Spirit, as He bears witness with our spirit, "Yes, I have loved you." What a disparity by Nature, what a conjunctionby Grace between these two, the, "I," and the, "you"-the Infinite "I" and the insignificant "you"-the first Person so grand,the second person so paltry!
Whenever I attempt to speak about God's love, I feel that I would rather hold my tongue, sit down to ponder and ask Believersto be kind enough to join me in meditation rather than wait upon my feeble expressions. If the love of God utterly surpasseshuman knowledge, how much more a mortal's speech? What is it He bestows? That God should be merciful to us is a theme forpraise. That He should pity us is a cause for gratitude. But that He should love usis a subject for constant wonder, as wellas praise and gratitude! Love us? Why, the beggars in the street may excite our pity, and towards the criminals in our jailswe may be moved with compassion-but we feel we could not lovemany whom we would cheerfully help. Yet God loves those whomHe has saved from their sins and delivered from the wrath to come! Between that great heart in Heaven and this poor throbbing,aching heart on earth there is love established-love of the dearest, truest, sweetest and most faithful kind! In fact, thelove of woman, the mother's love, the love of the spouse-these are but the water-but the love of God is the wine! These arebut the things of the earth, but the love of God is the celestial! The mother's love mirrors the love of God, as the dewdropmirrors the sun, but as the dewdrop compasses not that mighty orb, so no love that beats in a human bosom can ever compass,as no words can express the height, length and breadth of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
"Yes, I have loved you." Oh, come near then, Christian! Your Father, He that chastened you yesterday, loves you! He whom youforget so often and whom you have offended so constantly, yet loves you! You know what it is to love. Translate the love youbear to your dearest friend and look at it and say, "God loves me better than this." Do you think there are some you coulddie for cheerfully, whose pain you would freely take if you could ease them of it for a while, upon whose weary bed you wouldcheerfully lie down if a night of suffering could be spared him? Your Father loves you better than that and Jesus proves itto you! He took your sins, your sorrows, your death, your grave, that you might be pardoned, accepted and received into Divinefavor-and so might live and be blessed forevermore!
Passing on with our meditation, let us observe that there is incomparable strength, as well as inexhaustible sweetness inthis assurance, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." That word, "everlasting," is the very marrow of the Gospel. Takeit away, and you have robbed the sacred Oracle of its most Divine part! The love of God is "everlasting." The word bears threeideas within it. It has never had a beginning. God never began to love His people. Before Adam fell. Before man was made,or the mountains were brought forth. Before the blue heavens were stretched abroad, there were thoughts of love in His hearttowards us! He began to create, He began actually to redeem-but He never began to love. It is eternal or "everlasting" lovewhich glows in the bosom of God towards every one of His chosen people! Some of our hearers, strange to say, take no delightin this Doctrine. But if you know that everlasting love is yours, you will rejoice to hear it proclaimed again and again!You will welcome the joyful sound. Ah, God's love is no mushroom growth. It sprung not up yesterday, nor will it perish tomorrowbut, like the eternal hills, it stands fast. You were loved of your God before He had fashioned Adam's clay, or ever thisround world was rolled from between His palm to spin in its mighty orb! Long before the stars began to shine, before timewas, when God dwelt in eternity all alone, He loved you, then, with an everlasting love!
The second idea is that He loves His people without cessation. It would not be everlasting if it came now and then to a halt-ifit were like the Australian rivers which flow on, become dry and flow on again. The love of God is not so. It swells and flowson like some mighty river of Europe or America, ever expanding, mighty, joyous river returning again into the eternal oceanfrom where it came. It never pauses. Christian, your God's love to you is always the same. He cannot love you more! He willnot love you less! Never, when afflictions multiply, when terrors frighten you or when your distresses abound, does God'slove falter or flag. Let the rod fall ever so heavily upon you, the hand that moves, like the heart that prompts the stroke,is full of love! Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His Grace. Whether He brings you down into the depthsof misery, or lifts you up into the seventh Heaven of delight, His faithful love never varies or fluctuates-it is everlastingin its continuity.
And, being everlasting, the third thought is, it never ends. You will grow gray soon, but the love of God shall still haveits locks bushy and black as a raven with the verdure of youth! You will die soon, but the love of God will not expire. Yourspirit will mount and traverse unknown tracts but that love shall encompass you there! And at the bar of judgment, amidstthe splendors of the Resurrection Morning in the Millennial Glory, and in the eternity that shall follow, the love of Godshall be your unfailing portion! Never shall that love desert you. A destiny how splendid! For your soul an heritage, howboundless! Stand tonight on your Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the north, and the south, to the east and the west, for theinfinite prospective that lies before you is all your own inheritance! God began not to love you, nor will He ever cease tolove you! You are His and you shall be His when worlds shall pass away and time shall cease to be! There is infinitely moresolace and satisfaction here than I can bring out. I must leave it with you and commend it to your meditation. I am sure thereis no more delightful manna for the pilgrims in the wilderness to feed upon than this
Doctrine applied to the heart! The love of God towards us personally in Jesus Christ is an everlasting love. Now we come tothe second point, which is-
II. THE UNMISTAKABLE MANIFESTATION, the manifestation by which this love is made known. Good peopleoften get puzzled withthe Doctrine of Election. In their simplicity they sometimes ask, "How can we know whether we are the Lord's chosen, or ascertainif our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life?" You cannot scan that mystic roll, or pry between those folded leaves.Had you an angel's wing and a seraph's eye, you could not read what God has written in His book! The Lord knows them thatare His. No man shall know by any Revelation save that which the Holy Spirit gives according to my text. There is a way ofknowing and it is this-"Therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn you." Were you ever drawn? Have you been drawn with lovingkindness If so, then there is evidence that the Lord loved you with an everlasting love! Be ready, therefore, to judge yourselves.You are challenged with this pointed question-Were you ever Divinely drawn? Say now, Beloved, have you experienced this sacredattraction that made you willing in the day of His power? Were you ever drawn from sin to holiness You loved sin once-in ityou found much pleasure. There were some forms and fashions of vice and folly which were very dear to your heart. Have yourtastes been changed and your track been turned by the Sovereign charm of this Divine loving kindness? Can you say, "The thingsI once loved, I now hate. And what gave me pleasure, now causes me a pang"? Is it so? I do not ask you whether you are perfectand upright. Alas, who of us could answer this question otherwise than with blushes of shame? But I do ask if you hate sinin every shape and desire holiness in every form? Would you be perfect if you could be? If you could live as you like, howwould you like to live? Is your answer, "I would live as though it were possible for me to serve God day and night in HisTemple, without a wandering thought or a rebellious wish"? Ah, then, if you have been thus drawn from sin to holiness by theway of the Cross, no doubt He loved you with an everlasting love and you need not discredit it! You may be as sure of it asif an angel should come and drop a letter into your hands on which those words would be inscribed! Yes, still surer, for theangel might have missed his way, but God's Word cannot err! If you are thus drawn, He has loved you with an everlasting love!
Listen again. Have you ever been drawn from self to Jesus? There was a time when you thought yourself as good as other men.Had the bottom of your heart been searched, there would have been found written there, "I do not see that I am so great anoffender as the most of my neighbors. I am respectable, upright, moral. I should hope it would speed well with me at the last,for if I am not, now, all that I should be, I shall try to be good and by earnest endeavors, joined with fervent prayers andrepentance, I hope to fit myself for Heaven." Oh, that you may be drawn away from all such empty conceit and led to rest yourhope solely on that blessed Man who sits at the right hand of God, crowned with Glory, though He was once fastened to theCross, despised and rejected of men and made to suffer as a scapegoat for our sins! This, Beloved, would be a sure sign thatyou had renounced yourself and closed in with Christ. You must have been loved with an everlasting love. It is as impossiblefor any of the elect of God to come to Christ and lay hold on Him without Divine drawing, as it would be for devils to feeltenderness of heart and repentance towards God! If you can say from your heart-
"Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Your Cross I cling,"then His drawing may suffice as the proving that He loved youwith an everlasting love!
Have you ever been drawn from sight to faith, from consulting your creature faculties to confidence in God? You used to dependonly on what you called your common sense. You walked by the judgment of your own mind. Do you now trust in Him who trulyis, though He is invisible-who speaks to you, though His voice is inaudible? Have you a sense, day by day, of the Presenceof One Supreme whom you cannot hear nor see? Does the unseen Presence of God affect you in your actions? Do motives drawnfrom the next world influence you? Do you, in the day of trouble, lean upon an arm of flesh, or cry and pray, and make supplicationto the Almighty? Have you learned to walk in dependence upon the living God, even if His Providence seems to fail you andgives a lie to His promises? Know, then, that a life of faith is a special gift of God-it is the fruit of Divine Protectionso you are enabled to walk with God-and He deigns to befriend you so you may humbly but safely conclude that your name standsinscribed in the records of the chosen! To be drawn into a life of faith is a blessed evidence of Christ's love.
Are you, moreover, day by day being drawn from earth to Heaven? Do you feel as if there were a magnet up there drawing yourheart so that when you are at work in your business, in your family with all its cares, you cannot help darting a prayer upto the Most High? Do you ever feel this onward impulse of something you do not understand, which impels you to have fellowshipwith God beyond the skies? Oh, if this is so, rest assured that it is Christ that draws you! There is a link between you andHeaven-and Christ is drawing that link, and lifting your soul forward towards Himself. I love that sweet hymn and I hope youlove the sentiment of it-
"My heart is with Him on the Throne.
And ill can brook delay!
Each moment listening for the voice,
'Make haste and come away!'"
If your heart is here, below, then your treasure is here. But if your heart is up there-if your brightest hopes, your fondestwishes are in the heavenly places-your treasure is manifestly there and the title-deeds of that treasure will be found inthe eternal purpose of God whereby He ordained you unto Himself that you might show forth His praise! Thus have I tried toshow you that those who are thus drawn may be assured that they were loved with an everlasting love. And now will you furtherobserve that it is with loving kindness they are drawn?
Some people are frightened into religion. Beware of any religion that depends upon exciting your terror! Some people's religionconsists entirely of doing what they think they must do, though they do not like it. They are afraid of punishment, or theyare anxious for a reward. Such is not the religion of Jesus Christ! It is said that the soldiers of Persia were driven intobattle and that the sound of the whips of the generals could be heard even while the battle was raging- lashing on the unwillingranks to fulfill their part in the fray! Not so went the Greeks to battle. They rushed like lions amidst a flock of sheepto tear their prey. They fought for their country, for their temples, for their lives, for all that they held dear-and rightcheerily from such an impulse within did they engage in the war. The difference between the Greeks and the Persians is justthe difference I want to describe among the professed followers of our Lord. The genuine Christian serves God because he lovesHim, not that he fears Hell, for he knows that he has been delivered from condemnation, being washed in Jesus' blood! He servesGod not that he expects to earn Heaven-he scorns the idea. Heaven is not to be merited by our poor paltry works. And besides,Heaven is his inheritance since Christ has given it to him, having made his title sure! He serves God because he loves Him.He is drawn by a sense of the love of God towards him to love God in return. Who is the best servant? Not, surely, the manwho only does what he is paid to do-who serves you for his wage and who would betray your interest to benefit himself! Ratheris he the true servant who would cling to you in all your fortunes or misfortunes, through good or through evil report.
Some of the old-fashioned servants were so attached to their masters that they were reckoned on and regarded as members ofthe family. Those are the true servants of Christ who love Him and render Him their services, not menially for the pay theycount upon, but loyally because their hearts are faithful and true to Him! They love Him so that they could not turn asidefrom Him, or seek another Lord. Say now, are you thus drawn with loving kindness? What a lovely word this, "loving kindness,"is! "Kindness," seems to be like some huge opal or some sparkling diamond, a Koh-I-Noor, and love seems to be like fine goldto encircle it! I think I could stand and look at that word, "loving kindness," till with sacred enchantment I burst intoa song! There is such a charming sweetness and yet such an immutable stability in the Grace of God which it reveals that ourrapture is kindled as often as we review it! Of that loving kindness I have tasted here below and of that loving kindnessI hope to sing in yonder skies in worthier notes than this weak voice can now compass! The loving kindness of the Lord, asit beams from His eyes, as it is communicated by His helping hands, as it is expressed by His gentle, tender voice, quickensthe soul in the path of duty and restrains it from falling into sin! How can I do this great wickedness, how can I sin againstso almighty a Friend whose kindness to me is so gratuitous, so constant, and so exceedingly generous?-
"Now for the love I bear His name,
What was my gain, I count my loss!
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His Cross.
Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus' sake!
Oh, may my soul be found in Him And of His righteousness partake!"
Thus clearly and thus surely may you judge for yourselves whether you are God's chosen or not. Are you drawn and how are youdrawn? Is it with loving kindness? These are the two points that melt and fuse in experience. As before that God whose eyesof fire search you through and through, I do conjure you to judge and righteously judge right now as to your own condition!Be not satisfied to rest peacefully until you can say, "Thanks and praise to God's eternal love, I am drawn by Grace! By DivineGrace I am constrained. From now on I freely yield myself up to Christ to be His servant, His disciple, His friend, His brother,forever and forever. The Lord has appeared unto me, saying, 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.'"
Do I hear a sigh come up from some in this assembly? A sigh which, being interpreted, would say, "Alas, for me this sacredsolace was never mine! I was never drawn. I feel no love, no such melting favors as your description of loving kindness everdawned on me. But, ah, I wish I were drawn, that I had a part among that blessed throng who shall forever see His face! Oh,that I could believe that I, though the meanest of them all, should find my name written in the Lamb's Book of Life!" WhyFriend, with you it would seem the drawing has begun! Surely God's loving kindness has made your mouth water! I rejoice exceedinglyover those who hunger after the Bread of Life, for they shall speedily be filled! Right well I know my Master will give itto them. If you desire Christ, depend upon it, Christ desires you! No sinner was ever beforehand with Christ. When you arewilling to have Him, He is evidently willing to have you! You had not put out one hand towards Him if He had not already puttwo hands on you! Oh, if you will but trust the bleeding Lamb-believe that He can save you-and trust in Him to save you withunfeigned confidence, then you are already drawn! This is proof positive that God has loved you from before the world's beginning!
Oh, how I would that some might be drawn tonight! Some who have been great and grievous sinners. There are many such amongthe chosen vessels of mercy. God grant some of you young people may be drawn. And you who, though no longer young, are stillwithout the blessing, I cannot bear the thought that you should tarry longer uncalled by Sovereign Grace. May the Holy Spiritattract you! May you feel in your heart the wish to belong to Christ-the desire to be counted among them when He makes upHis jewels. Turn that wish into a prayer! Bow your head, now, and pray with this petition. God will hear your secret sighs.He does not reject sincere prayers, however badly they may be worded. If you can get no further than a sigh, it has its valuein His kind esteem. The tear that fell just now upon the floor of the pew was not lost, for an angel tracked and treasuredit and carried it on high. God will accept you if you will accept Christ. If you trust Jesus now, 'tis done! You are saved!The moment a sinner believes and trusts in Christ, he is saved-saved forever! In that moment his iniquity is blotted out andhe is accepted in the Beloved. From that moment he might sing-
"'Tis done, the great transaction's done! I am my Lord's and He is mine! He drew me and I followed on, Glad to obey the voiceDivine!"
The Lord appear to you, speak to you and bless you, saying to you, "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore,with loving kindness have I drawn you." Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW 7:13-23.
13, 14. Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many thereare which go in there because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leads unto life, and few there are that findit Be up and on your journey. Enter in at the gate at the head of the way and do not stand hesitating. If it is the rightroad, you will find the entrance somewhat difficult and exceedingly narrow, for it demands self-denial and calls for strictnessof obedience and watchfulness of spirit. Nevertheless, "enter you in at the strait gate." Whatever its drawbacks of fewnessof pilgrims, or straitness of entrance, yet choose it and use it! True, there is another road, broad and much frequented-butit leads to destruction. Men go to ruin along the turnpike road but the Way to Heaven is a bridle path. There may come otherdays when the many will crowd the narrow way, but at this time, to be a popular road, it must be broad-broad in doctrine,so-called, in morals and in spirituals. But those on the strait road shall go straight to
Glory-and those on the broad road are all abroad. All is well that ends well! We can afford to be straitened in the rightway rather than enlarged in the wrong way because the first ends in endless life and the second hastens down to everlastingdeath! Lord, deliver me from the temptation to be "broad," and keep me in the narrow way, though few find it!
15. Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. We have need ofour judgments and we must try the spirits of those who profess to be sent of God. There are men of great gifts who are "falseprophets.'' These affect the look, language and spirit of God's people, while really they long to devour souls, even as wolvesthirst for the blood of sheep. "Sheep's clothing" is all very fine, but we must look beneath it and spy out the wolves! Aman is what he is inwardly. We had need beware. This precept is timely at this hour. We must be careful, not only about ourway, but about our leaders! They come to us-they come as prophets-they come with every outward commendation but they are veryBalaams and will surely curse those they pretend to bless!
16. You shallknow them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?Their teaching, their livingand their effect upon our minds will be a sure test to us. Every doctrine and doctrinaire may thus be tried. If we gathergrapes from them, they are not thorns. If they produce nothing but thistledown, they are not fig trees. Some object to thispractical method of test, but wise Christians will carry it with them as the ultimate touchstone. What is the effect of moderntheology upon the spirituality, the prayerfulness, the holiness of the people? Has it any good, effect?
17. 18. Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit A good tree cannot bringforth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit Every man produces according to his nature, he cannotdo otherwise. Good tree, good fruit. Corrupt tree, evil fruit. There is no possibility of the effect being higher and betterthan the cause. The truly good does not bring forth evil-it would be contrary to its nature. The radically bad never risesto produce good, though it may seem to do so. Therefore, the one and the other may be known by the special fruit of each.Our King is a great Teacher of prudence. We are not to judge, but we are to know-and the rule for this knowledge is as simpleas it is safe. Such knowledge of men may save us from great mischief which would come to us through associating with bad anddeceitful persons.
19. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Here is the end to which evil thingsare tending. The ax and the fire await the ungodly, however fine they may look with the foliage of profession. Only let timeenough be given and every man on earth who bears no good fruit will meet his doom! It is not merely the wicked, the bearerof poison berries, that will be cut down, but the neutral, also-the man who bears no fruit of positive virtue must also becast into the fire!
20. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them. It is not ours to hew or to burn, but it is ours to know. This knowledgeis to save us from coming under the shadow or influence of false teachers. Who wants to build his nest upon a tree which issoon to be cut down? Who would choose a barren tree for the center of his orchard? Lord, let me remember that I am to judgemyself by this rule. Make me a true fruit-bearing tree.
21. Not everyone that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enterinto the Kingdom ofHeaven, but he that does the will of My Fatherwho is in Heaven. No verbal homage will suffice! "Not everyone that says." We may believe in our Lord's Deity and we may takegreat pains to affirm it over and over again with our, "Lord, Lord"-but unless we carry out the commands of the Father, wepay no true homage to the Son! We may acknowledge our obligations to Jesus and so call Him, "Lord, Lord"-but if we never practicallycarry out those obligations, what is the value of our admissions? Our King receives not into His Kingdom those whose religionlies in words and ceremonies, but only those whose lives display the obedience of true discipleship!
22. 23. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils?And in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you who workiniquity!Anorthodox creed will not save if it stands alone, neither will it be sure to do so if accompanied by official position andservice. These people said, "Lord, Lord," and, in addition, pleaded their prophesying or preaching in His name. All the preachingin the world will not save the preacher if he does not practice what he preaches! Yes, and he may have been successful-successfulto a very high degree-"and in Your name have cast out devils"-and yet, without personal holiness, he who casts out devilswill be cast out himself! The success boasted of many have had about it surprising circumstances of varied interest-"and inYour name done many wonderful works"-and yet the man may be unknown to Christ! Three times over the person is described asdoing all "in Your name," and yet the Lord, whose name he used so freely, so boldly, knew nothing of him and would not allowhim to remain in His company! The Lord cannot endure the presence of those who call Him, "Lord, Lord," and then work iniquity!They professed to Him that they knew Him, but He will "profess unto them, I never knew you." How solemn is this reminder tome and to others! Nothing will prove us to be true Christians but a sincere doing of the Father's will! We may be known byall to have great spiritual power over devils and men-yet our Lord may not acknowledge us in that Great Day, but may driveus out as impostors whom He cannot tolerate in His Presence!