The day after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus went into the outer court of the Temple. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and drove out all those who were extorting the people. After driving out the racketeers, Jesus stood in the massive courtyard and taught the people. In His teaching Jesus quotes two Old Testament prophets. The first is from Isaiah 56:7, “My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer.” The court of the Gentiles was not a place of business. The court of the Gentiles was not a thoroughfare for the ease of the community. The court of the Gentiles was a place set aside for the people of other nations to come and worship God.
The Jews of that time were notorious for their hatred of other races. Those that were not Jews were looked on with contempt. The Jews did not consider Gentiles as really able to come to God. Real relationship with God was restricted to Jews. By their practices the Jews were diminishing the validity of the Gentiles ability to join in the worship of God. What did they care if the Gentiles place of worship is noisy and distracting? What did they care if the steady flow of traffic hinders prayer?
The Jews considered the Temple as only theirs because they believed God was offering salvation only to them. Jesus was having none of that. He was showing them salvation is for all men. The temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations, not just the Jews. Jesus was declaring that He came to do a work for all the world. He was not bringing an exclusive religion to one people but an inclusive salvation available to all races. Jesus came to bring salvation, not pander to the desires of Jewry.
The other Old Testament quote is from Jeremiah 7:11. In Jeremiah 7 God rebukes the Jews for their idolatry. They were living in wickedness, defrauding, assaulting and murdering one another. They were living in idolatry, offering sacrifices to Baal and following the ways of other gods. They were excusing all their villainy and false worship by their attendance to the temple worship. They declared that they were forgiven by God to go and do all their wickedness. They could sin as much as they liked as long as they made the proper sacrifice to God when they were done. God rejected all their offerings to Him because their sacrifices were not matched with a heart that sought to follow Him.
God says to Israel, “Is my house become a den of robbers?” Can those who rob God of His true worship meet in His house and by formal ritual obtain from Him absolution of their idolatry? The Jews of Jesus’ day were using the temple worship as cover to excuse their wicked hearts and greedy practices. They were not worshiping God in sincerity and truth. They did not love justice, mercy and walk humbly with God. They loved their own gain. Jesus was not permitting business as usual. Jesus rebuked them for their selfish and shortsighted ways. He had come to change everything and in cleansing the temple was showing the unacceptability of the evil worship offered up by the Jews.
His cleansing of the temple was a vivid illustration. Jesus was showing and teaching the Jews the poverty of their false religion. The priests could not save. The sacrifices could not save. The Jew’s nationality could not save. The magnificent temple could not save. All the Jews were trusting in was a sham. The sacrifices and offerings were always powerless to save and now had become a cloak to cover covetous hearts. By cleansing the temple, Jesus was illustrating a point: He is the Messiah who alone is sufficient to bring salvation to His people.
“Just as we take a piece of foul clay and put it into the furnace, and can see, as it gets red-hot, the stains melt away, as a cloud does in the blue, from its surface, so if we will plunge ourselves into the influences of that divine power which Christ has come to communicate to the world, our sin and all our impurities will melt from off us, and we shall be clean. No amount of scrubbing with soap and water will do it. The stain is a great deal too deep for that, and a mightier solvent than any that we can apply, if unaided and unsupplied from above, is needed to make us clean. ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean,’ especially when the would-be bringer is himself the unclean thing? Surely not one. Unless there be a power an extra, unparticipant of man’s evils, and yet capable of mingling with the evil man’s inmost nature, and dealing with it, then I believe that universal experience and our individual experience tell us that there is no hope that we shall ever get rid of our transgressions. Brethren, for a man by his own unaided effort, however powerful, continuous, and wisely directed it may be, to cleanse himself utterly from his iniquity, is as hopeless as it would be for him to sit down with a hammer and a chisel and try by mechanical means to get all the iron out of a piece of ironstone. The union is chemical, not mechanical. And so hammers and chisels will only get a very little of the metal out. The one solvent is fire. Put the obstinate crude ore into your furnace, and get the temperature up, and the molten metal will run clear. There should be mountains of scoriae, the dross and relics of our abandoned sins, around us all. If we desire to be delivered, let us go into the fire. It will burn up all our evil, and it will burn up nothing else. Keep close to Christ. Lay your hearts open to the hallowing influences of the motives and the examples that lie in the story of His life and death. Seek for the fiery touch of that transforming Spirit, and be sure that you quench Him not, nor grieve Him. And then your weakness will be reinvigorated by celestial powers, and the live coal upon your lips will burn up all your iniquity.
“It needs huge courage to bear being sanctified, or, if you do not like the theological word, to bear being made better. It is no holiday task, and unless we are willing to have a great deal that is against the grain done to us, and in us, and by us, we shall never achieve it. We have to accept the pain. Desires have to be thwarted, and that is not pleasant. Self has to be suppressed, and that is not delightsome. A growing conviction of the depth of one’s own evil has to be cherished, and that is not a grateful thought for any of us. Pains external, which are felt by reason of disciplinary sorrows, are not worthy to be named in the same day as those more recondite and inward agonies. But, brother, they are all ‘light’ as compared with the exceeding weight of ‘glory,’ coming from conformity to the example of our Master, which they prepare for us. And so I bring you Christ’s message: He will have no man to enlist in His army under false pretences. He will not deceive any of us by telling us that it is all easy work and plain sailing. Salting by fire can never be other than to the worse self an agony, just because it is to the better self a rapture. And so let us make up our minds that no man is taken to heaven in his sleep, and that the road is a rough one, judging from the point of view of flesh and sense; but though rough, narrow, often studded with sharp edges, like the plough coulters that they used to lay in the path in the old rude ordeals, it still leads straight to the goal, and bleeding feet are little to pay for a seat at Christ’s right hand.
“Social reformers, philanthropists, you that have tried and failed to overcome your evil, and who feel the loathly thing so intertwisted with your being that to pluck it from your heart is to tear away the very heart’s walls themselves, here is a hope for you. Closely as our evil is twisted in with the fibres of our character, there is a hand that can untwine the coils, and cast away the sin, and preserve the soul. And although we sometimes feel as if our sinfulness and our sin were so incorporated with ourselves that it made oneself, with a man’s head and a serpent’s tail, let us take the joyful assurance that if we trust ourselves to Christ, and open our hearts to His power, we can shake off the venomous beast into the fire and live a fuller life, because the fire has consumed that which would otherwise have consumed us.”
– Alexander MacLaren
Sunday School stories often portray Jesus’ dramatic procession into Jerusalem as a day of great triumph. Palm Sunday is the day traditionally set aside to commemorate the event often referred to as the triumphal entry. The stories of the triumphal entry conjure up images of praise, of accolades, of reception and great joy. For Jesus this day was anything but a day of rejoicing. This was a day of great sorrow. The triumphal entry marks the pinnacle of the Jews wrong expectations about Jesus. The cries show the depths of their folly and the tragedy of their longing for earthly salvation, for a human king and for a physical kingdom. This day reveals just how ignorant the Jews really were of their most desperate need. The crowd’s response to Jesus was not the triumph of His mission, but the failure of the people to receive their Messiah. The day in question is a day of great sorrow masked by the substanceless happiness of the crowds.
The triumphal entry happened just a few days before the cross and is the first major event in the final week of Jesus’ life. The happy cries of the multitude should not be convincing evidence that the day was a joyous event. The Bible describes the event far differently. The gospel John surrounds the triumphal entry with predictions of Jesus’ death. In the gospel of John the triumphal entry is central to a major discussion of Jesus’ death. In John the triumphal entry is not connected to kingdom or reception, but to unbelief, rejection and Jesus’ death.
Luke 19:41-44 makes the sorrow of this day very clear. As Jesus approached the main part of the city, presumably at a hilltop where he could look over much of Jerusalem, He stopped and He wept. He wept because the people of Jerusalem did not know the Messiah had come. He wept because He had been rejected by Jerusalem. He was not fooled by the applause of the people. He knew their shouts were cries for a conqueror to rescue them from Rome, not a Savior to forgive their sin. Though it appeared the Jews had finally accepted Jesus, they had actually rejected Him. The triumphal entry was not a brief moment of belief, it was the culmination of unbelief that would result in the city’s destruction and set Jesus to weeping over His people.
The Jews rejoicing during the triumphal entry is the real tragedy. The Jews were not looking for the Savior God promised, the were looking for the Messiah they desired. While these Jews declared truth with their mouths, they did so unwitting of the truths they shouted. Their heart did not believe the truth their lips proclaimed. The crowds sought peace they thought could be found in conquest, kingdoms and national identity. They were not seeking salvation from sin, rescue from the bondage of the law or deliverance from death. They were seeking freedom from Rome, prosperity in business, strength of country and comfort in living. They foolishly sought after temporal peace and by doing so lost the eternal peace they needed. John MacArthur says of the Jews on this day, “(Jesus) would not deliver them on their terms, and they would not be delivered on His.”
Despite the tragedy of the Jews illegitimate faith, the day was a triumph. Jesus entry is triumphal because it sets in motions the final events that end with His crucifixion. “It was indeed the triumph of humility over pride and worldly grandeur; of poverty over affluence; and of meekness and gentleness over rage and malice. He is coming now meek, full of kindness and compassion to those who were plotting his destruction! He comes to deliver up himself into their hands; their king comes to be murdered by his subjects, and to make his death a ransom price for their souls!” (Adam Clarke)
Jesus declares, “Whosoever will come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me.” Four sentences later Jesus makes specific application of what it means to take up the cross. “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed.” (Mark 9:34, 38) He that has taken up the cross will not be ashamed to preach Jesus and the Word of God. A man that has taken up his cross will not be ashamed of the gospel. This unashamed, cross carrying man will:
- Give the gospel boldly, even in the face of intense opposition and persecution. (1 Thessalonians 2:2)
- Preach the gospel and the Bible in full truth, not distorting, shifting or subtly changing the content in any way. (1 Thessalonians 2:3)
- Declare the gospel without mixing in the methods and means of this world. He will not seek to impress with oratory, showmanship, exhibitionism, shock, emotion or superstition. He will give the message with power and simplicity. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
- Not bait people into hearing or professing belief. He will not treat the gospel like a trap to which people have to be drawn with appealing bait. (1 Thessalonians 2:3)
- Give the message with both eyes on God and not an eye to the satisfaction or pleasure of men. When the gaze shifts to pleasing men, the gospel preacher will inevitably change the gospel to limit it’s offense and make it more palatable to the hearer. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
- Preach God’s Word without flattery. Because he already consider himself dead, the cross carrying man will not butter up men to make them want to hear. The cross carrying man will not rely on a dynamic personality to his will with people to draw them to a decision. (1 Thessalonians 2:5)
- Be dead to the things of this world and is not greedy. He is certaintly not greedy of money and personal prosperity. He is not longing for a huge crowd that will flock to hear him speak. He is also not greedy for other more acceptable forms of gain, full pews at church, more tithers in the church or a more moral community. The gospel is motivated by a deep love for God and the lost. The gospel seeks the glory of God and the eternal gain of hearer, not the temporal gain it brings to the gospel preacher, his coalition, denomination, publisher or church. (1 Thessalonians 2:5, 9)
- Not seek honor among men. The messenger who desires to become famous or applauded for his presentation of the message will inevitably obscure the glory of the originator of the message. The king’s herald has no business drawing the praise of men away from the king and the one who counts himself dead but living now in Christ will not obscure Christ for personal glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:6)
- Preach the gospel with boldness and with love. He will gently, tenderly, compassionately give the truth and labor long for the salvation and growth in Christ of the hearers. He will not respond in anger to rebuttals or rebuffs. He will give sacrificially that which is necessary for the salvation of others no matter the cost to himself. (1 Thessalonians 2:8-9)
The man who is dead to all but Jesus will live and speak without shame for the spread of the gospel.
In a very real sense, faith does nothing. Faith has no power to save a man from sin. Faith has no power to heal disease. Faith has no power to answer prayer. Faith is not a force that when properly channeled accomplishes great things. Faith is never the cause of salvation. Faith is the means by which salvation is received. Think of the water pipes in your house. Those pipes are the means of getting water to all the faucets around your house. However, those pipes do not produce water. They are means, but the cause is much deeper. For many the cause is a pump in your backyard drawing water from deep underground and pushing it into your home. The cause is the pump, the pipes are the means. In faith, the cause is always the power of God but faith is the means of applying that power effectively to life.
Genuine faith is always a right response to truth. Faith is not just a vague response to an internal prompting, feeling or longing. Faith is a response to truth, not falsehood. An erroneous faith has no connection to the source of power. A faith disconnected from truth is as effective as a garden hose screwed into a stone. Biblical faith is a right dependence on one that is able. As blind Bartimeus sat by the side of the highway, he cried out to Jesus for mercy. If he had pled with the disciples to save him from his sin, his faith would have been meaningless.
If I were to walk out on the thin, melting ice on the lake in front of my house and I had a deep, sincere confidence the ice would support me my faith would accomplish nothing. To act on such a spurious faith is folly that will at best leave me cold, wet and miserable. Biblical faith is proper dependence on the one that is able. Because faith accomplishes nothing, it must be properly place in the one who can do all things. Blind Bartimeus’ faith was effective because it had as it’s object the One who is able to heal and save.
Faith in a proper object responds properly to that One. If Blind Bartimeus had said in his heart that he believed Jesus could heal and that Jesus was the Messiah but did not cry out, Bartimeus’ would never have been healed or saved. Faith receives truth, accepts it as truth and responds rightly to the truth. Faith acknowledge the truth of God’s revelation and cries out for the mercy it knows it needs. As Alexander MacLaren said, “We recognize our need of a Savior and recognize Him to be the Savior we need.” True faith relies on the power of God and results in a life transformed His mighty hand.
Two things converged in the past month to prompt my writing of this particular post. I reread an article about a journalist who spent a year disconnected from the internet. To his surprise, at the end of the year he was still the same person engaged in the same bad behaviors, just without the convenience of using the internet to accomplish them. The second was a conversation with a friend who was having a difficult time that was being exacerbated by the improper conversation (read, gossip and conniving) of others. The collision of those two dissimilar events set off a small explosion of thoughts, one tiny particle of which is this: self-centered snooping is a poor substitute for genuine relationships.
Many social observers have noted that the tsunami of social media has not created an increase of connectivity among people. People remain as disconnected as ever, but mask their lack of connection with a pseudo-connection defined by the ability to learn a host of trivial details about another person. Social media is not responsible for the the lack of real relationships in modern society. The internet has not caused people to suddenly become more shallow in their friendships and more callous towards others. Social media has simplified the process and has promoted the lie that knowing about someone is the same as knowing that person. However, the problems of social media are not inherent to the medium, but to humanity. Generations of people have spent their time talking about people. Small towns are hotbeds of gossip in which every one knows what is going on in everyone else’s life. The work place, suburban neighborhoods, inner city ghettos, churches and almost every other place that involves a subset of the human population become breeding grounds for conversation about what’s going on in someone else’s life. Most of those who know about another’s life do not know intimate details because of personal conversation with the person involved. They know what they know because of another who has heard or seen something. Much knowledge about a person is gained by one who has not talked with the person but about him.
The believer has no business developing relationships voyeuristically. Social media, email and talk around the water cooler can be useful for passing along vital information in a short span of time, but those communication networks are no substitute for real relationships. Do not allow information communication to be a substitute for a real relationship. The pattern of confrontation found in Matthew 18 begins with a face to face conversation with a brother. One of the reasons for such a conversation is the restoration of a relationship. Discussing the situation with everyone but the person involved will never build or rebuild a relationship. The Christian must not allow a knowledge of facts to replace genuine fellowship. The Christian cannot allow knowing about someone to be an accepted substitute for knowing someone.
Don’t be satisfied reading about a person or talking about a person. Instead, go to the person and get to know him firsthand. At times Christians seem curiously inept at developing and sustaining relationships outside a select few people. New people are discussed and dissected second and third hand until some ringleader decides if the new person has met the invisible, always moving standard of acceptability at which point the person will be brought into a fringe relationship on a probationary status. Wrong done by one to another person, or wrong that is not performed but only perceived, is a subject for speculation and conversation by the curious. Few address the issue with the individuals actually involved. Few follow a Biblical model for repairing breaches in the relationship. Instead of a Biblical, gracious, personal response, disconnected voyeurism rules the day and wounds the heart.
I plead with you, forsake such easy selfishness. Forsake such remote intrusions. Sit down face to face and talk to people. Listen to their stories. Tell them yours. When you want to find out about someone, don’t google them or gossip about them. Get to know them. Don’t friend them on facebook, befriend them face to face.
William Barclay, a Scottish theologian and minister, said, “The world may assess a man’s greatness by the number of people whom he controls and are at his beck and call; or by his intellectual standing and his academic eminence or by the number of committees of which he is a member; or by the size of his bank balance and the material possessions which he has amassed; but in the assessment of Jesus Christ these things are irrelevant.” The measure of greatness is not power, influence, control or prestige. The measure of greatness is a measure defined by Jesus Himself.
Mark 10:45 declares, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Those who would follow Jesus must be like Him. Jesus’ entrance into this world was not for rule, domination, conquest or control. His purpose in coming was to serve, to ministering to the deepest need of the world.
Jesus came because He knew the real need of the world. The real need of mankind is not political. Man’s great need not a change in our national and international leadership, a better education system, freedom from government intrusion, universal healthcare, peace in the Middle East, free trade agreements, the end of racial injustice or any of the dozens of other topics that flit across the news screens throughout the day. The great need of man is a need of a Savior.
Man is enslaved to sin and death. Man is hopelessly condemned because of his own personal guilt and has no hope of escaping that condemnation. Every person on the planet enters life shackled with the chains of Satan’s dominion, of sin’s corruption and of certain destruction. Jesus came to meet that need.
Jesus came to serve man, meeting man’s need by giving Himself as the ransom for the world. Jesus ransom is the ultimate in sacrificial service. As Jesus says in John 13, “The servant is no greater than his master.” “I have given you an example that you should do as I have done.” Jesus’ service for the world sets the example which the Christian must follow.
This measure of greatness leaves Christian’s with a seeming paradox. We still tend to view greatness in terms of power and influence. However, Jesus says, “whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” Striving for power and authority has no place in the church. Such behavior is decidedly unlike Christ. It is the direct opposite of Christ’s behavior. Greatness in Christ is measured by service. The one who serves most is the greatest. The lowest is the highest and the highest is the lowest. This is the chief characteristic of importance in Jesus’ kingdom. He is not impressed with those who chair large committees, who influence great decision or who give large sums of money. He is pleased with those who set themselves aside to lift up others. Jesus turns the world’s view of greatness upside-down. Not authority, but humility make a man great in Jesus’ kingdom.
To accomplish the Divine mission to deliver His people from sin Jesus had to suffer and die. In the weeks leading up to His death, Jesus told His disciples what was going to happen in Jerusalem. The first event in a tragic series that would end in Jesus’ crucifixion was His betrayal. Jesus was betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and scribes. The chief priests and scribes were supposed teachers of the nation regarding the coming Messiah and should have been the first to recognize the Messiah when He came. Instead, these men had already shown themselves to be in active opposition to the Messiah. Instead of receiving Jesus as the One promised by God to bring salvation to His people, the leaders of Israel rejected Him. They condemned their Messiah to die.
Israel’s governing body turned the King of the Jews over to their Roman conquerors. Jesus was the One the Jews were to receive as their long awaited King, their God and their Savior. He should have been paraded through the streets in praise and bowed before in humble worship. In their rage and jealousy, the Jews turned Him over to the Romans. The Romans received Jesus with hoots of derision, shouts of laughter and cries of mockery. Pontius Pilate sought to remove himself from an embarrassing situation by shipping Jesus off to Herod. Herod wanted to see a magic trick, but Jesus refused to entertain him. Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus. They clothed Him in a royal purple robe and mocked His claims to be the Jews Messiah before sending Jesus back to Pilate.
Pilate, hoping to appease the Jews anger, had Jesus scourged. A scourged was a whip with an end split into several different tips. To each tip was attached a piece of bone, stone or metal. The one sentenced to scourging was tied to a large pole, his hands stretched over his head. A soldier would drive the whip into the condemned back, tearing off the skin and muscle. As the lash struck again and again, the whip would drive deeper into the person, tearing cartilage and ligaments and chipping bones. Scourging was often so brutal it resulted in the prisoner’s death.
When Pilate’s soldiers were done scourging Jesus, they berated and mocked Him. They drove a crown of thorns on His head, beat Him with a reed and spit upon Him. As the chief sign of their disdain and hatred, the Romans spit on Him. Instead of praising the God of Heaven, their Creator who was on His way to the cross to die for them, they spat on Him as if He was the lowest piece of human scum.
After all the indignities and abuse were heaped upon Jesus He was sentenced to death on the cross. The cross was a brutal method of torture and execution. The cross was carefully designed to leave one hanging on the verge of death in intense agony for as long as possible. The cross is an instrument of horrible suffering perfected by a people who wanted every crucifixion to be a warning to any who would rebel against the power of Rome. Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of men, was to be killed.
The cross shows the horrible consequences of sin and the beautiful love of God. All that Jesus tells His disciples of His coming crucifixion serves to highlight the horrible tragedy of sin. Sin is such an wretched offense, such a heinous crime, such a vile treason, that only an infinite payment is sufficient to accomplish justice. Sin is so horrible that for it to be forgiven, God the Son had to be betrayed, rejected, mocked, scourged and executed. Jesus had to suffer the most horrible of physical agonies for our salvation. Jesus had to suffer the most horrible of spiritual agonies for our salvation.
His death was the end, but not for Him nor for His work of salvation. Jesus death was the end of the domination of sin and death. Jesus death was the end of the payment of sin. After finishing His task, Jesus was restored to life by the power and good pleasure of God the Father. The resurrection of Jesus is the triumph that concludes the victory of the cross. The resurrection is that which assures salvation. The resurrection is that which ensures everlasting life. The resurrection is the final, Divine certification that Jesus is God who made the only sufficient and satisfactory payment for man’s sin. The resurrection is the reason Christian’s have hope in this world today. The cross is a nightmarish atrocity necessary to rectify the unthinkable rebellion of wicked man. The Savior who died for sin has been restored to life. He is now alive and offers salvation freely to all who will receive Him.
“I now feel it a duty to offer a few introductory hints to those whose attention is specially directed to the subject of sanctification in the present day. I know that I do so at the risk of seeming presumptuous, and possibly of giving offence. But something must be ventured in the interests of God’s truth. I shall therefore put my hints into the form of questions, and I shall request my readers to take them as “Cautions for the Times on the subject of holiness.”
(1) I ask, in the first place, whether it is wise to speak of faith as the one thing needful, and the only thing required, as many seem to do now-a-days in handling the doctrine of sanctification?-Is it wise to proclaim in so bald, naked, and unqualified a way as many do, that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is it according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it.
That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness-that the first step towards a holy life is to believe on Christ-that until we believe we have not a jot of holiness-that union with Christ by faith is the secret of both beginning to be holy and continuing holy-that the life that we live in the flesh we must live by the faith of the Son of God-that faith purifies the heart-that faith is the victory which overcomes the world-that by faith the elders obtained a good report-all these are truths which no well-instructed Christian will ever think of denying. But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith. The very same Apostle who says in one place, “The life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,” says in another place, “I fight-I run-I keep under my body;” and in other places, “Let us cleanse ourselves-let us labour, let us lay aside every weight.” (Gal. ii. 20;! Cor. ix. 26; 2 Cor. vii.! ; Heb. iv. 11; xii.! .)
Moreover, the Scriptures nowhere teach us that faith sanctifies us in the same sense, and in the same manner, that faith justifies us! Justifying faith is a grace that “worketh not,” but simply trusts, rests, and leans on Christ. (Rom. iv. 5.) Sanctifying faith is a grace of which the very life is action: it “worketh by love,” and, like a main-spring, moves the whole inward man. (Gal. v. 6.) After all, the precise phrase “sanctified by faith” is only found once in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus said to Saul, “I send thee, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.” Yet even there I agree with Alford, that “by faith” belongs to the whole sentence, and must not be tied to the word “sanctified.” The true sense is, “that by faith in Me they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified.” (Compare Acts xxvi. 18 with Acts xx. 32.)
As to the phrase “holiness by faith,” I find it nowhere in the New Testament. Without controversy, in the matter of our justification before God, faith in Christ is the one thing needful. All that simply believe are justified. Righteousness is imputed “to him that worketh not but believeth.” (Rom. iv. 5.) It is thoroughly Scriptural and right to say “faith alone justifies.” But it is not equally Scriptural and right so say “faith alone sanctifies.” The saying requires very large qualification. Let one fact suffice. We are frequently told that a man is “justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” by St. Paul. But not once are we told that we are “sanctified by faith without the deeds of the law.” On the contrary, we are expressly told by St. James that the faith whereby we are visibly and demonstratively justified before man, is a faith which “if it hath not works is dead, being alone.” (James ii. 17.) I may be told, in reply, that no one of course means to disparage “works” as an essential part of a holy life. It would be well, however, to make this more plain than many seem to make it in these days.
(2) I ask, in the second place, whether it is wise to make so little as some appear to do, comparatively, of the many practical exhortations to holiness in daily life which are to be found in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the latter part of most of St. Paul’s epistles? Is it according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it. That a life of daily self-consecration and daily communion with God should be aimed at by everyone who professes to be a believer-that we should strive to attain the habit of going to the Lord Jesus Christ with everything we find a burden, whether great or small, and casting it upon Him-all this, I repeat, no well-taught child of God will dream of disputing. But surely the New Testament teaches us that we want something more than generalities about holy living, which often prick no conscience and give no offence. The details and particular ingredients of which holiness is composed in daily life, ought to be fully set forth and pressed on believers by all who profess to handle the subject.
True holiness does not consist merely of believing and feeling, but of doing and bearing, and a practical exhibition of active and passive grace. Our tongues, our tempers, our natural passions and inclinations-our conduct as parents and children, masters and servants, husbands and wives, rulers and subjects-our dress, our employment of time, our behaviour in business, our demeanour in sickness and health, in riches and in poverty-all, all these are matters which are fully treated by inspired writers. They are not content with a general statement of what we should believe and feel, and how we are to have the roots of holiness planted in our hearts. They dig down lower. They go into particulars. They specify minutely what a holy man ought to do and be in his own family, and by his own fireside, if he abides in Christ. I doubt whether this sort of teaching is sufficiently attended to in the movement of the present day. When people talk of having received “such a blessing,” and of having found “the higher life,” after hearing some earnest advocate of “holiness by faith and self-consecration,” while their families and friends see no improvement and no increased sanctity in their daily tempers and behaviour, immense harm is done to the cause of Christ.
True holiness, we surely ought to remember, does not consist merely of inward sensations and impressions. It is much more than tears, and sighs, and bodily excitement, and a quickened pulse, and a passionate feeling of attachment to our own favourite preachers and our own religious party, and a readiness to quarrel with everyone who does not agree with us. It is something of “the image of Christ,” which can be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings. (Rom. viii. 29.)”
– JC Ryle
Jesus demands we give up all for Him. Jesus deserves all we give up for Him and much more. He is worthy of the greatest sacrifice. Those that love football may save and sacrifice to buy prime seats at a playoff game, or may spend more money every month to get the extra channels to watch all the games around the nation. We give our time and resources to the things valued most.
What is more valuable than Jesus? He that loves his wife is willing to set aside personal plans to spend time with her. He spends money on her and does things special just for her. We give time and resources for the one we love. Who is more lovely than Jesus?
How can we compare the greatness and glory of Jesus to anything or anyone in this world? He is more than a great King, He is the King of kings. He is more than a powerful ruler, He is the Lord of lords. He is more than an important personage, He God of all. He is more than a great leader, He is the Savior. How to tell the worth of God the Son? How to describe His value and
His many names give a glimpse of His excelling loveliness. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is the One that was alive, and died and now lives forever. He is
the Wonderful Counselor. He is the Prince of Peace. He is Lily of the Valley and the Bright and Morning Star. He is the One who was sent, the One who has come and the King who is coming.
He is the Redeemer and the Lamb of God.
His many glorious works offer a hint of His supreme value. He created all things out of nothing. He emptied Himself of His Divine prerogatives and put humanity onto His deity. He humbled Himself. He took onto His shoulders the sin of men and died on a cross to pay the penalty of that sin. He ascended into heaven and sent His Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who believe Him to salvation. He mediates between His children and the Heavenly Father. He rules over all. He
rules over the church. He is working all history to accomplish His glorious will.
The consideration of all these glorious names and works fails to adequately reveal the brilliance of Jesus’ glory. He is surpassingly excellent and glorious beyond all description. If the richest, most important in the world were to give up all his possessions, all his influence and his own life for Jesus, he will not have given to Him the smallest fraction of the glory due to Him.
The call to forsake all to follow Jesus is not for His sake alone. The call of discipleship is a call to a person and a call to a mission. The mission is the proclamation of the gospel. Jesus doesn’t call men to leave everything behind and sit in a cave pondering eternal verities. He calls men to
follow Him in proclaiming salvation to the world. Following Him is a readiness to set aside self and resources to call the nations to salvation. Following Him is a willingness to forsake family
and friends to embrace strangers and declare to them the only One who saves from sin.
Once again, this is worth it. How many willingly risk their lives to rescue a stranger from impending death? How much more valuable is the eternal soul! A single convert is worth long years of labor, long seasons of suffering and perpetual poverty. The call of discipleship is a call to give up anything and everything for Jesus’ sake to go out into the world with the gospel.