#234, SAVING FAITH TESTED BY YOUR FRUIT, #16
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience, LUK 8:15.
Take notice how our text begins; it is speaking of those who have heard the Word. The context is very important. What did they hear? Lets consider the first verse in this chapter. "And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him," LUK 8:1. What you must understand by "preaching...the glad tidings of the kingdom of God" is the good news that a way has been made open to be able to serve God acceptably in the Spirit of Christ. So the topic of His preaching at this point was coming into the service of His kingdom. This flows so preciously and beautifully through this entire chapter.
Our text must be taken in context with the parable Jesus spoke on this occasion. "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light," LUK 8:11-16.
We see that many people were gathered. Jesus spoke to them a parable, then His disciples asked Him in Verse 9 what the parable might be. Jesus answered in LUK 8:10, "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand." These mysteries of the kingdom of God are the formula whereby you and I, wretched, hell-deserving sinners, can again be reconciled with a holy and righteous God and serve Him acceptably.
Those are the mysteries. How are you and I going to be reconciled? Two elements are needed. We must have the atonement for our sins in the precious righteousness, i.e., in the obedience of Christ and in His blood. Also, as we see in 2CO 5:20, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christs stead, be ye reconciled to God." We must be reconciled unto God; that is the second increment. In other words, the will must be renewed; there must be a transformation of the will of man where that will is brought back into subjection. It is the work of the Holy Spirit whereby our will is brought into His service under His kingship. There lays the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
This parable is what He used to bring forth and expound on those mysteries. As we go through this, take notice of the blessed truth. Charlotte Elliot penned this precious truth in the hymn, JUST AS I AM.
Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou biddst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Those words convey a blessed Scriptural truth: sinners must come to Christ just as they are solely on the basis of faith in the blood and righteousness of Christ. This wonderful truth comes through in JOH 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." To believe in Him means that one comes in surrender and serve under His kingship. Their will and haughty rebellion have been broken. They have been brought into subjection under Christs kingship by the regeneration of the Spirit.
This plain truth is also brought forth in JOH 6:37; "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." See the blessed harmony of these truths for those who come to Him. "O Lamb of God, I come! I come!" These are precious truths.
We must see the danger in Satans use of overreaction to these blessed truths; taking verses out of the context of other Scriptures gives the truth a deceitful twist. This is what we must understand when it comes to the assurance of faith. We must keep Scripture passages in the context of where they are spoken.
The message of modern gospel sounds so similar that these very verses "Just as I am," are used in their altar call more than any other hymn, but the difference in their meaning is so profound! We must learn to recognize this.
Todays gospel not only teaches that Christ will receive them the way they are (which is true), but it is only half of the truth, and a half-truth is a lie. That is how Satan makes a lie of Gods Word. Those who teach the half-truth also imply that they may remain as they are because there is no preaching of death to self or sin. Christ came to save His people from their sins, not in their sins. This is where we find the twist. Satan takes this precious truth of coming to Christ just as we are, without one thing we can do, out of context of the Scriptures to cause us to remain in the service of sin. We do not have to get rid of one dark blot first; we do not have to cleanse ourselves first. No, we come to Him, just as we are, for cleansing, but that doesnt give us a license to remain in sin. This is where the problem lies.
ROM 6:1-2 says, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" You see, when we come to Christ, we become dead unto sin. "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God," ROM 6:10. When we come unto Him by faith, we come become dead to sin and can no longer live in sin. We must preach the whole counsel of God. Preaching the death of Christ without preaching His resurrection is only a partial truth, which makes a lie. We just read ROM 6:1-2, but if we stop there, it is a partial truth.
We must read on to see how His resurrection is also as necessary as His death because we must be raised with Him as well as die with Him. ROM 6:3-6 says, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [We cannot preach His death alone; we must also preach His resurrection.] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: [If we are going to claim a portion of the benefits of His death, we must realize that if He had stayed in the grave, there would have been no benefits.] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
We need Christs resurrection benefits as it says in COL 2:9-12. "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."
We need the whole counsel of God; if we stop with any one of the three facets, we have no salvation. We must be complete; we must have all three. That is what Jesus is teaching us in the parable that lies before us. He is teaching us that we must persevere unto the end. In LUK 8:16-17 we read, "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad."
The thoughts and intents of your heart will be revealed by your light, your walk of life. You cannot conceal it under a vessel or a bed. What you are speaks so loud others cannot hear what you say. I dont care to hear your profession of faith if I cannot see it in your walk of life. If they do not correspond, dont bother with the profession. Verse 18 continues, "Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."
The gospel does not end with the death of Jesus. The good news and the conclusion of the gospel are in the resurrection of Christ. It is how you hear. If you hear His sayings, do you do them? I want you to see how the parable of the sower that we are studying brings this forward.
Why did the Saviour of sinners give us the parable of the sower? Was it not to stir me up to serious inquiry and diligent examination as to what kind of hearer I am? Have I heard the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, the blessed opportunity, the call of the gospel to come and enter into His service? If I have heard that, then my actions should reveal the fruit of what I heard. Therefore, take heed of how you hear.
Jesus divided His hearers into four different classes, but three out of these four never brought forth any fruit to perfection. They all heard and understood what He meant. If they had not heard in a spiritual sense, Scriptures would not have said they heard. So they spiritually understood the words of Christ. Now, we must consider the four classes of hearers.
The parable in which we find our text teaches various ways in which the old man of sin, i.e., that old ugly monster, "self," must be crucified. The parable says, "Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection." LUK 8:12-14.
Notice that in the first case, the devils concern is that one would believe, that they would obey the Word, and be saved. Satan took the Word out of their heart; this is gainsaying the Word of God. It happens when hearers come together, reason it out, and say, "Yes, but..." They come up with a reason to justify why they will not obey it quite that way. It is a refusal to obey under His terms. The hearer wants his own terms. That is the first group of hearers, and they make up the great multitude in todays Christendom. They want to barter the Word of God; they will not allow the authority of the Word to be absolute in their life. They hear, but... The devil comes and takes the Word out of their heart. There is no more authority in the glad tidings are of the kingdom of heaven "...lest they should believe and be saved."
Now, lets examine the second group. "They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away." The Word entered their heart, and they received it with joy. They left the church with good intentions; they want to alter their lives, change their ways, and follow Christ. It makes good logic. So they leave with a determination that they will obey, but they have no root. For a while they obey; they follow and serve the Lord according to His Word. Then in time of temptation, they fall away. This is telling us that they hear, they believe what they hear, and they obey what they heard until they have to put a price on it. Giving up certain friends, entertainment, and sacrificing the old monster, "self," were things they had not counted on doing. They did not calculate the cost, so they fall away. There is no fruit brought to perfection. There was the beginning of fruit, but nothing ripened.
The third group are those who fell among the thorns. "And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection." They too heard and believed. They went forth to do His will, but they got too carried away with the things of the world. They didnt have time to serve the Lord. The cares, riches, and pleasures of this life choked them. They were going to obey, but by the time these other things were accomplished, there was no time left for the Lord. Jesus gave illustrations of the things people had to do first: a yoke of oxen to try, a new wife, an old parent. They asked to be excused just this one time. This tells us that the kingdom of God, being in Gods service, was not their first priority, so they fell away. They produced no fruit.
The good ground hearers were identified by one single distinction. Can we claim the assurance of faith if the things of the world are choking us? We may have had tremendous experiences, but if the world chokes us out, we are not bringing forth any fruit. If we are walking contrary to the will of God, where is our assurance of faith? First, we must understand that faith is the same as believing. They come from the same Greek word and are used interchangeably. It means coming into subjection to the kingship of Christ. It is to rely on Him for salvation, to rely on Him to save us from the power of sin. Can you say you have the assurance of faith, that you have been delivered from the power of sin and the riches and pleasures of this life? If they have choked you out, you have no assurance regardless of what you claim or whatever experiences you have had.
The good ground hearers had one single distinction that separated them from all others. What was that? Was it that they rested on the promises, or accepted Christ as their Saviour? Is that how Christ identified them? Do they boast of a great experience? What was it that identifies them?
The answer lies in Verse 15. "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." You have the assurance of faith if God has given you the grace, the new man, the new desires, to enter His kingdom. You have been brought in to serve Him through His grace. No man will ever come into the service of Christ with a delight to do His will outside of grace. That is our assurance.
One time a brother pastor came over to visit me. After he had gone over his whole checklist of things he believed was necessary to experience before we could claim salvation, he said I did not have salvation. He said I didnt have enough experience of telling when I was eternally lost, I hadnt experienced enough of the nature of my sins and miseries, or many other so-called tests. It was the most depressing visit I ever endured. Then I read PSA 112 after our meal together. PSA 112:1 begins, "Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD..." I stopped. "Brother," I said, "I dont know one thing about your check list. I cannot find those requirements in the Word of God, but one thing I know. I fear God! That I know because I have such a holy, reverential love for the will of God."
After some discussion about what it is to fear God, I continued reading PSA 112:1 "Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments." Again I stopped reading to inform my brother "I dont know anything about your checklist, but one thing I know My Bible tells me Im blessed." We read the rest of the chapter that tells how tremendously blessed man is who fears the Lord, and delights in His commandments. There is the assurance of my faith. It lays in the fact that I fear God. His holy will is my will for my will has been totally dissolved in His will. I delight to do His will. That was the test of Abrahams assurance of faith. The angel said, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me," GEN 22:12. In other words, he obeyed God; Gods will was more important than even his dearly beloved and only son.
What does our text say? "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." They heard the Word and kept it, and with patience they bore fruit. The test is their fruit! That is where one finds the assurance of their faith, and not in their knowledge of sins and miseries, or boastings of great experiences, but it is their turning from sin to serve the living God.
I am not coming against an experiential religion. I believe in experiential religion. A believer can tell of rich and great experiences, but they are not the basis or the hope of their salvation. The hope of salvation is based on the Word of God. The Word of God says, "Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD," and therein lays the assurance of faith. When a person dares to say he fears the Lord, it is evidence of a holy reverence for His will. This is not done in a legal sense. Christ is the only hope of salvation, and the evidence is a holy reverence for God and keeping His Word from a motive of love. This is the fruit that is our evidence of our assurance of faith. Our text says, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience," LUK 8:15.
The Saviour of sinners tells us in MAT 12:41, "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." The Lord Jesus Christ, preaching the perfect gospel of peace, was greater than Jonas. The Lord is telling us that the men of Nineveh repented with only the preaching of the law. They did not have the gospel. The only thing Jonas brought was a message of destruction, and on that they repented. Jesus is saying that you have been preached the kingdom of God and have not repented. Therefore, they will condemn you in the Day of Judgment.
This is because the heathen king of Nineveh, though he never received the gospel of repentance, yet he understood its true formula. The people to whom Christ was preaching, the leaders of the church scribes and Pharisees, chief priests and rabbis, never understood the formula for repentance. Lets read this to see what Jonah said. "And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water, [He put them on a fast and brought humility to them.] But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" JON 3:7-9.
The blessed formula for repentance includes humility, contrition, fasting and prayer, and turning from the evil ways. Turn and repent. Do you see the logic and reasoning of a heathen king? "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" The king understood what provoked God to anger; he understood that the provocation of his nation was their violence, sin, and evil ways. He understood the gospel principle of repentance even though he had never heard the gospel.
So Gods all seeing eye saw the sackcloth on man and beast; the people had acted upon their well-planned repentance. God saw their humility. God witnessed their fasting and heard all their cries. They were fasting; think of all the lowing and braying and cries that came up to heaven. All the animals were crying; they were hungry and thirsty. The Lord heard that. God understood all their thoughts, and the fears of their hearts in anticipation of the consequences of their sin. The coming judgment provoked their repentance. God knew that and understood their hearts. JON 3:4 says, "And Jonah began to enter into the city a days journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." They believed God. They repented.
There was sackcloth, fasting, and crying, but what was it that moved God to mercy, to spare them from the evil He had thought to do unto them? It is important to understand this. We read in Verse 10; "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not." He understood them their cries and saw their tears, but He will also hear cries from hell for all eternity. That didnt move Him. He was moved by the change of attitude followed by their works. All of their crying, sackcloth, and fear of hell would have never moved God if they had not turned from their evil ways. It is a lesson we must remember. We can cry unto God all we want, but there is no salvation until there is repentance and a turning from our evil ways.
The most blessed evidence we can receive as assurance of our faith is when our fruit is the fruit of the true Vine; namely the Spirit of Christ and being conformed to the image of Christ. Is our faith bearing the fruit of the true Vine? Are we being conformed to the image of Christ? Is that the fruit we bear? The fruit is our evidence. MAT 7:20 says, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them," and therein lays our evidence. It is not that we merit anything by it, but it is our evidence of a saving faith.
In this our day we must be ever aware of the admonition of our Saviour in MAT 7:15-16; "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Look at the fruit of a false prophet. There is no turning away from sin. The fruit of their labor does not turn men from iniquity. We will know them by their fruits. If they have not received a new heart, will the fruit of their preaching bring repentance in their flock? Jesus says, No. "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Look to see if there is repentance as the fruit of the preaching.
If there is no preaching of repentance, there will be none in the flock.
The fruit, which Jesus was speaking about, becomes very apparent in the following verses. After speaking of gathering figs from thistles and grapes from thorns, He goes on to identify the false prophets. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven," MAT 7:20-21.
Jesus is telling us we can identify false prophets by their fruits. Take one look at their flock, their congregation, and examine their life to see what spirit dwells therein. Then you will know whether he is a false prophet or not. It doesnt matter how many degrees he has or if he has his doctrine straight. The fruit of his preaching must bring repentance; his flock must not be living in bitterness and anger, devouring one another. If they do, you will know them by this fruit. MAT 7:24 says, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock." The sheep and the goats will be divided on the premise that those who hear and do will be those who bear the good fruit. The Lord divides the wicked and righteous by those who serve Him and those who serve Him not, Cf. MAL 3:18.
Jesus uses this fruit to distinguish between those who are wisely building upon the Rock, and those who are building upon the sand. LUK 6:46-49 tells us, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep [into the Word to discover the will of God], and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. [The rock is the Lord Jesus Christ.] But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."
The flood of the stream beating on the house is the entire untruth taught in Satans gospel. It is gainsaying the Word of God. The godly man must stand firm on the Word and say, "No, this is what the Word of God says." He will be able to stand because he has searched, dug deep, and he is built and founded upon the Rock. He isnt swayed by every wind of doctrine. New doctrines do not deceive him; such floods do not effect a person built upon the Rock for they hear the sayings of Christ and do them. Streams of deception will not shake such a person. A person who is not doing the Word of God will be caught in the flood of doctrines of man because he doesnt dig deep into the Word to become founded on the Rock.
Before we can understand assurance of faith we must rightly understand Scriptures meaning of faith and the word believe. The fallacy of todays modern approach to evangelism is their definition of faith eliminates repentance and erases the moral elements of believing. That is where the problem lays.
The Greek word Pistis, which is the original word for faith, encompasses two meanings. The one is trustfulness, i.e., and the frame of mind that relies on another. However, the same word also encompasses trustworthiness, i.e., the frame of mind that can be relied upon. Do you have faith in Christ? Do you trust Christ? Then are you trustworthy to Christ?
The relationship between Christ and His church is that of a marriage union. As in a marriage union, faith is mutual. Can you trust in your wife if she cannot trust in you, if you are unfaithful to her? Can the Lord Jesus Christ be the object of your trust if He sees you are unfaithful to Him, living in spiritual adultery, willfully and deliberately? Christs bride must be cleansed from the pollution of sin. Faith is mutual trust, and it must come from both sides.
JAM 2:14-17 teaches this principle. "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." That is what Christ is teaching us.
EPH 5:25-27 says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That [He did it for a reason.] he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Is Christs bride going to continue living in sin? No. If you hear His Word and do not do His Word, have you been washed with the water of the Word? No. Saving faith is fruit brought to maturity. Christ wants a glorious church without spot or wrinkle. He cleanses His church by the washing of the water of the Word to present it unto Himself without spot or blemish.
Faith and believing are synonymous with godly fear. If you tell me you have faith, you are telling me you are a person who fears the Lord. If you say you fear the Lord, you are also telling me you are a person of faith. You cannot separate them. Godly fear is a holy reverence for Gods will which is inseparable from trusting Christs obedience unto death to remove Gods just wrath for our rebellion. Can you tell me that you will trust in Christ and His perfect obedience in stepping into Gods wrath to take away your sin, and you are going to rely on that as the basis for your salvation, and continue in sin? There is no logic in this. Our text says, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
ROM 10:10-11 says, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." The marriage union is in the heart; the surrender to the will of God is in the heart. We all offend in many ways; we all sin in every thought, word, and deed, but the Lord is looking at our heart. Man believes unto righteousness, unto observance of the law of love. Notice what comes first. It is the heart before the mouth. The heart must be in obedience unto righteousness. Do you see the precious harmony?
True saving faith which sees the righteousness of God revealed in the atonement will hate sin. If you have ever had a glimpse by faith of our Saviour hanging on the cross with His lifes blood dripping from His veins. Every drop has the name of your sin written on it. If you have had a faiths view of your Saviour in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood, seeing the sins you have committed written with the finger of God in the bloody sweat of your Saviours back, you cannot slight sin.
That faith becomes a mutual trustworthy love. Then you can understand the words of ZEC 12:10; "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Then sin becomes so exceeding sinful and grievous.
Now the words of our text have a true meaning. "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience," LUK 8:15. They keep His Word because it has been instilled in the heart by the Spirit of God, and they have learned to see the authority of Gods Word. Then they can bring forth fruit and cheerfully endure the trial of temptation. It will not drown them for they see the sinfulness of sin.
Those who believe in Christ will desire and strive to walk in all good conscience before Him. They will delight in His will. It becomes their food by day and their pillow by night. 1JO 2:5-6 says, "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." This does not mean we can keep His Word with perfection. It doesnt mean we keep the law in a legalistic way, but it is the hearts desire to do what is pleasing unto the Lord. That is godly fear and our evidence of eternal salvation and saving faith.
The fundamental characteristic of saving faith is meekness and humility as Jesus taught in MAT 11:29-30, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." If we learn to delight to do His will His Yoke is not a burden but a delight to carry.
Genuine believers mourn over having offended against such love of the Father in giving the unspeakable gift of His Son -- this crushes their hearts into meekness, and creates a true hunger and thirst after righteousness. As we just read in ZEC 12:10, "...they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Genuine believers will mourn over their sin that brought such grief upon their Saviour. They have sinned against the love of the Father in sending His well beloved Son. They have sinned against the love of the Son who stepped into the wrath of the Father to take away the penalty of their sin. He made atonement to reconciliation us back unto our God.
A faiths view of how we have sinned against such love brings meekness. There is no longer room for pride in the heart. The opposite of meekness is haughtiness and inconsiderate rebellion against the will of God. Meekness means that a person is teachable; and that creates a hunger after righteousness. We see in the Beatitudes, when we see how they are the fundamental characteristics of true saving faith. The beatitude teaches the fruit of saving faith. The fruit of such a change of heart in the true believer is becoming merciful, pure of heart, and therefore a peacemaker. This fruit is their evidence that they mourn over sin.
One of the clear evidences of saving faith is that the world sees the Spirit of Christ in true believers. They have come to hate them even as they hated Christ. I dont have to run around telling the world I am a Christian; if one feels such a need, he has a sad form of Christianity. That is one of the side benefits of fearing God. A flood comes against us. Can we give up the fame and love of the world, or does temptation drag us away from the Lord? Are we able to stand?
LUK 6:22 tells us, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of mans sake." This will happen because we want to obey the Word of God; it happens because we want to hear and do the will of our Lord. The world will put out, mock, and reproach us if we are true believers. 1JO 2:3-5 teaches this principle. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him."
When we can have friends of this world it is a very bad sign. JAM 4:4 says, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." This does not say whosoever is a friend of the world; it says, "will be," i.e., those who have a desire to have the embrace and honor of the world are enemies of God.
In the beatitudes Jesus gives the most perfect picture of true faith. It starts with humility and reaches its fruition in our will being totally dissolved in Gods will. The obedience which results from true saving faith is much more than keeping the external letter of the law. It flows from a heart that is made tender for the will of God. ROM 10:6-8 says, "But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach."
This faith is more than a humanistic act of the will; it is the gift of God. It is not a decision-making act on mans part. It is an act of God. 2PE 1:3-4 says, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, [God has given us all things which concern godliness.] through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
As we grow in the knowledge that the righteousness God requires of us is higher than that which we can attain unto, we begin to travel the road to true faith. When we begin to realize that Gods requirements are greater than our ability to meet, that is an indication that we are on the right road.
As we become spiritually poor in ourselves, we begin to resemble the character of saving faith. We find we are not able to render perfect obedience. Jesus said in MAT 18:3-4," Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." As we begin to realize our spiritual poverty, we become as little children.
Faith obeys, unbelief rebels. This difference is as obvious as that between a live man and a corpse. There is no middle ground. As our text reveals, it is not our profession, but the fruit of our life that reveals whether we are a believer or an unbeliever.
Our text says, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
All true believers understand the plea of the father of the boy who was possessed of a devil which we find in MAR 9:24; "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Any true believer understands that because he desires from his heart to do His will, but how often he must cry out with the Apostle Paul in ROM 7:22-25 "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
Our text says, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience," LUK 8:15. Amen.
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