If you think of nothing but Christ, and do not set yourself to do his words, you but build your house on sand. What have such teachers not to answer for, who have turned their pupils’ regard from the direct words of the Lord, which are spirit and life, to contemplate plans of salvation tortured out of the words of his apostles, even were those plans as true as they are false! There is but one plan of salvation, and that is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, to take him for what he is—our master, and his words as if he meant them, which assuredly he did. To do his words is to enter into vital relation with him, to obey him is the only way to be one with him. There can be no truth, no reality, in any initiation of at-one-ment with him, that is not obedience.
I know what the father of lies whispers to those to whom such teaching is distasteful: “It is the doctrine of works!” But one word of the Lord humbly heard and received will suffice to send all the demons of false theology into the abyss. He says the man that does not do the things he tells him builds his house to fall in utter ruin. He instructs his messengers to go and baptize all nations, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Tell me it is faith he requires: do I not know it? But faith in what? Faith in what he is, in what he says--a faith which can have no existence except in obedience, a faith which is obedience.
How Have We Learned Christ?
by Dave Roney
"If, indeed, Him you have heard and in Him you have been taught..."
That which passes for the "gospel" today bears small resemblance to the "good news" proclaimed by Christ. For, today, it is considered as being personal salvation, preached as an event and no process, the banner over this gospel being John 3:16. How have we learned Christ?
The gospel of Christ was the Kingdom message, His message being "Your King has come!" It is the first thing our Lord preached, ere He called to Himself His first disciple; if you doubt it, see in St. Matthew 4:17 His proclamation; "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” See it also in St. Mark 1:14; "Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand'!" This great King of all kings was an enigma to the Jews, for He presented Himself as Lion-Lamb, as He must to fulfill the Scriptures; but they desired a Lion only and no Lamb, did not realize nor accept their King, thus rejected the Lamb. How did they learn Christ?
What is the first thing every king demands of his subjects? Is it not loyalty? And is not loyalty best demonstrated through obedience? And is not obedience truest when it is willingly given? See then this great King as the veiled Lion; He is come for warfare, to fight against everything which has been corrupted, to restore His Father's creation and all within it, to fight against every evil and to, as the Lamb slain, die so that Death itself should die and Life reign throughout. Do we know it? How have we learned Christ?
This King, proclaiming everywhere the Gospel of His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, of Heaven, and of Christ Jesus—see Him next going to the shore and calling the impious fishermen to Himself. He gives them no message, says naught to them of personal salvation, but in the majesty of His kingship commands them; "Follow Me!" He speaks as the Lion, He will teach them the Lamb. They obey, leave their nets and cast no backward glance at them as did that one who was turned into a pillar of salt; in willing obedience they forsake all and follow after Him. The natural order of fallen man is to first know, and knowing to then believe; the Divine order is a reversal of this: If we seek to know before we will believe we will never know what God would have us to know—but if we will first believe, then we will know. It is a conundrum to the skeptic who demands proof, but when he has turned from the old nets of his logic to follow after Christ, then he will begin to know aright. The skeptic has learned Christ wrongly, very badly: How have we learned Christ?
And in all the three years of His ministry, whether spoken overtly or implied, the King calls all to a willing, obedient, following after Him. It is the same with the authors of the New Testament, as with those who by them came to Christ; bona fide obedience is the litmus test; for how shall any person claim to be His apprentice if he does not do the things commanded by his great Mentor? By any other means than obedience we ask: How has such an one learned Christ?
You will see, I'm quite sure, that your entry into the Kingdom of God depends on you becoming as a small childlike child; the Lord Himself has said it, it is His command to you. You will also know that your personal salvation is your belief in Him; this He says to you and this you believe. But what is it to truly believe? Is it your mental agreement with Him? Is it an emotional rush that you feel or felt? I dare say there are demons that with their minds believe better than you, and that their emotions concerning their belief are stronger than yours; yet are they now numbered among the redeemed? God forbid the thought; they cannot enter in lest they also become willingly obedient to the Master's commands. True belief is that of the heart before the mind; from the heart a man is either obedient or self-willed; and the proof of salvation is obedience. How, then, have you learned Christ?
"There is but one plan of salvation, and that is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, to take Him for what He is—our Master, and His words as if He meant them, which assuredly He did. To DO His words is to enter into vital relation with Him, to OBEY Him is the only way to be one with Him. There can be no truth, no reality, in any initiation of at-one-ment with Him, that is not OBEDIENCE."
(CAPs mine for emphasis)
For three years our Lord labored, presenting Himself as both Lion and Lamb, as Sovereign King and Sacrifice-Servant. No lord among men on earth ever lived as this Man, nor died with such humble nobility as He. On the far side of Calvary He began with the proclamation of His Kingdom, was consistent in that message, and at the doorstep of His crucifixion demanded obedience from His own, saying; "And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." They must be obedient; they must proclaim. And on this side of Calvary His final command to His disciples before Ascension was, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." And to those who would fall under this preaching; "...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." By "observe" is meant "obey"--the command is to both disciples and all future disciples the same: Obey! How have we learned Christ?
"Tell me it is faith He requires: Do I not know it? But faith in what? Faith in what He is? in what He says?— A faith which can have no existence except in obedience, a faith that is obedience."
My question throughout has been "How have you learned Christ?" It is the most important question could be set before you; upon your answer rests your all. Did you think this salvation to be secured by your response to an "altar call?" your accord with what the preacher, by his interpretation, has told you? by your guilt ridden acquiescence to some "Roman Road" or other passage; or by submitting yourself to some rite, or ceremony or doctrine; in your mind does it depend upon your hopefulness in "eternal security," as though "once saved always saved" regardless of your life, your disobedience, your self-will, the indwelt sins which you neither can nor have a true desire to escape? I hope to make you uncomfortable if this is your case, to unsettle you if I can.
Our Lord said "Come unto Me!" And further declared "My sheep hear My voice and follow Me." Again, He with utter solemnity says “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”—Note and do not miss this: In these quotes from our Lord, and all other quotes which could be named, the essential words regarding discipleship, which infers salvation, are verbs; they are action words, "Come, Follow, Do—which is to say 'Be obedient'!"
How, then, have you learned Christ? Have you learned Him wrongly? Let nothing stand between you and Him; no doctrine, no preacher, no sect or denomination, let go any and all errant beliefs regarding Him and by a willing act of will submit your will to His Will as a small child of your Father, even as He; take up your cross, and follow Him in obedience to His commands. This is your entry into the Kingdom of Heaven, your kinship with your Redeemer, your very salvation. I have spoken of the Gospel as being first about the Kingdom of our Lord; let me end with this:
"The Kingdom of Heaven is not come, even when God's will is our law: It is come when God's will is our will. While God's will is our law, we are but a kind of noble slaves; when His will is our will, we are free children."
If we say Heaven it is to say the Heart of God; for that is Heaven. If we say the Kingdom of Heaven, that is in the hearts made after The Heart, doing the things of God our Father. And if we say both Heaven and the Kingdom of God we speak of Christ Jesus, for in Him is expressed fully the Heart of God and the Kingdom alive, working, spreading, in the hearts of His brothers and sisters, the children of His Father...