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RECEIVING THE WORD IS RECEIVING CHRIST, #824

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me (JOH 17:8).

Receiving Christ’s words is receiving Christ (Christ is the Word.)— just as well as rejecting His words is rejecting Him. See what the Lord said when Saul rejected the Word of the Lord. 1-SA 15:23 says, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king."

Samuel had told him in verse 19, "Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?" We see the background to this in verses 13-18, "And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed."

The Lord gave Saul a specific command, but in his human reasoning he amended it to what he thought would be a better way. Verses 1 to 3 say, "Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

Verse 21 says, "But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal." This was in disobedience to His Word. Saul was going to do as king what he thought was proper.

There is a receiving Christ and a receiving of His Word. JOH 20:31 says, "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." Believing in Christ and receiving life are inseparable.

ACT 10:43 says, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." This means to believe the truthfulness of what He says. We receive the promise as we receive Him.

We must also see how that receiving the Word of Christ is an act of saving faith. ACT 2:41 says, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Are you a candidate for baptism if you say that you are outside of Christ? Receiving His Word is receiving Christ.

 

On the other side of this same principle, unbelief is rejecting the Word of God, refusing to be baptized. LUK 7:29-30 says, "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." As we step forward to baptism we are initiating ourselves into His service. The Pharisees rejected Christ and refused to be baptized. Unbelief is such a horrible sin.

The Lord is pleased in our obeying His voice, and we have the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to cover our omissions and our violations of the law that we do in our weakness, as we are unable to keep His law perfectly. He is not delighted if we plead the sacrifice of Christ and sin willfully.

Unbelief not only rejects the Word of God, it rejects all the promises of His Word. ACT 13:46 says, "Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." In rejecting the Word of God they have forfeited their salvation.

See what a distinction between those unbelievers and those Gentiles. ACT 11:1 says, "And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God."

See how graciously they received the Word and Christ together. As the Apostle Peter preached the Word unto the household of Cornelius, it was those who heard who received. ACT 10:35-44 says, "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word." Faith comes by hearing, but the Jews refused to hear.

Saving faith, therefore, may be summed up as a motion in the heart of man, stirred up by the Spirit of God, to receive the whole Word of God. Receiving the Word of God is assenting to the conditions and trusting Him for the fulfillment of the promises contained therein. ACT 3:19 says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." To be converted means to change your attitude, to become a different person. This is conditional for receiving forgiveness. We cannot receive a pardon for sins while continuing in sin.

The Jews remained bitter against the gospel because they did not receive the grace of repentance. If we claim to have the grace of God we must examine ourselves to see if we have repented and become converted. These times of refreshing are the assurance in our soul that the Lord has pardoned our sins. However, if we have rejected His law of the gospel, we have rejected Christ.

Our God has so ordained that we receive the Word by the ministry of those whom He has sent, therefore, we read in 1TH 2:13, "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, 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." If I tell you that I preach the Word of God, then you must be able to go into the Word and confirm what I have told you. If that is not possible I have not given you the Word of God, but I have given you the Word of men.

To profit from the ministry we must take our eye off the man and compare the doctrines they teach with the Scriptures, to be assured that God’s Word is truly taught. I do not know of anything more dangerous than to hold someone in reverence because he is a powerful preacher. ACT 17:10-12 says, "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few." Whatever you hear from the pulpit that you cannot confirm in the Word of God, put it in the trash can.

 

When we can reject all Pharisaical traditions and commandments of men, we set to our seal that what Christ has said is true. To do this we must reject anything that is not the Word of God. JOH 3:31-33 says, "He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." When we take philosophy and private interpretations we make God a liar, but when we receive His testimony as the word of God, we set to His seal that what He says is true.

We read in PRO 30:5-6, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." If a word trips us up, we must do some studying. We are forbidden to add unto His Word, lest we be found to be a liar, and we are forbidden to take from His Word lest He take our name out of the Book of Life as we see in REV 22:19. It is not a slight thing to amend the Word of God.

It is so important to understand that the whole Word of God must be received. We cannot claim the promises and reject His commandments. 1JO 2:4-6 says, "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. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." A prominent church movement says that His law has been abolished, that His commandments are no longer in effect. Yet, Christ says that unless we repent, we will likewise perish. This teaching brings contradiction into the Word of God. Receiving His word and receiving Him are inseparable. Christ did not walk in rebellion to the commandments of the Father. If He had violated one commandment He would have spent eternity in hell.

We are not under the law to earn salvation. We are under grace, but grace is the ability to keep the law with gospel obedience, with a heart’s desire to do the will of God.

Hypocrites are willing to receive the Word of promise with joy, but what do we read of them? LK 8:13-15 says, "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." This is receiving Christ and His word.

People today want to die the death of the righteous, but live the life of the unrighteous. Balaam longed to die the death of the righteous as we see in NUM 23:10, yet he loved the wages of unrighteousness—forsaking the right way as we read in 2PE 2:15. See the admonition against this doctrine in REV 2:14, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."

Saving faith or believing in Christ is an exercise of the heart. Balaam lacked a change of heart. He had no salvation because he had no repentance. He still coveted the wages of unrighteousness. He did not receive the Word of God as the authority of His life. ACT 8:36-37 says, "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." The Lord does not want a divided heart. He does not want us to preach the gospel with one side of our face and serve the world with the other. The Lord will not accept those who have a divided heart.

The first table of the law reveals that God looks at the attitude of the heart for acceptable obedience, which must be motivated by love. MAT 22:35-38 says, "Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."

 

Our Saviour went on to complete His answer by telling what was His highest command, which would evidence our love for our GOD in MAT 22:39-40, "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Receiving Christ’s words is to obey them by the obedience of faith with the whole heart. Receiving Christ’s words implies an act of the will. Until we are made willing, that we serve God out of desire, we have not received His word. There must not only be knowledge of His will, but an actual choice and desire to do His will. PSA 112:1 says, "Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments." Our chief joy should be that the Lord is pleased with what we are doing. Nothing has humbled me more than when the Lord spoke to me out of this verse, letting me know that He was pleased with something I had done.

If we see ourselves as sinners before the Lord with the need to be washed, that is sometimes a good place to be, but on the other hand it is quite humbling for the Lord to smile on us, that He has accepted us and is delighted in something we did.

This act of the will is accompanied with a motivation by affection for the will of God. We do not do His will grudgingly. It is something we delight to do. GAL 5:24-25 says, "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." They continue to spring up in our lives, but immediately we must cut them off and flee to Christ that He might deliver us from the power of that temptation. We must do this daily.

All acts of faith are motivated by affection for Christ, which draws us unto the Person of Christ, though we meet with many difficulties. MAT 15:22-28 says, "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole."

Obstacles become stepping stones to bring us closer to Christ. The woman of Canaan did not claim any worthiness. She did not claim any right or title. All she could pray was, "Lord, help me." Sometimes that is the most powerful prayer we can pray.

It is a consolation to the church of Christ even today to know that the crumbs that may fall from the Master’s table are to be used as food for us even though we feel how unworthy we are.

 

Those who have received the Word by faith will have Christ regardless of the cost. See what we read of the Apostle Paul in PHI 3:7-9, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."

Those who receive the Word with their whole heart, not only acknowledge the truth of it, but they also choose it as their guide with all gladness. PSA 119:10-11 says, "With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

Those who walk by the doctrines of Balaam look to Christ to die the death of the righteous, but they look to the world to gratify their affections. They do not receive the authority of the Word that admonishes them in COL 3:1-3, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

Hear the venting of Asaph’s affection when his eye of faith was lifted above the things of this life and fixed upon Christ. PSA 73:22-27 says, "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee."

Receiving the Word of God is the gift of the covenant of grace, which we read of in HEB 8:10-12 says, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." We have received the Word of God when the covenant of grace is written in our hearts.


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