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By Stephen Green. (First published in Christian Voice: November 2009)
Lev. 18:5: Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Rom. 2:13: For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Jas. 1:22: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
It is the desire of every Christian to be blessed by God. We all want to experience His favour, to see the tokens of His grace. But what do you need to do to achieve these aims?
THE SEARCH FOR A SHORT-CUT
Some think all they have to do is queue up at the front after the service and be prayed for. Others are sure that if they rest in His presence they will receive what they desire. Or maybe they go to hear some famous preacher. Either way, they are sure there is a shortcut.
But what does the Bible say? What is the Scriptural blueprint for blessing?
The Apostle Peter speaks about spiritual growth lying in the word:
1 Pet. 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
But in the previous verse, the prerequisite is laid down:
1 Pet. 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings,
It is clear that we have to do something to receive that sincere milk. We have to lay aside ungodly doing. The Greek word translated 'malice' is 'kikia' which means 'wickedness'. It appears that we have a responsibility to lay wickedness aside, along with deceit, hypocrisy, envy and what the Apostle Paul calls 'corrupt conversation'. There is no idea here that we can have any benefit from the milk of the word if we are still indulging the flesh. Peter says lay it all aside. The blessing of God depends on our standard of holiness. The word of God is the source of spiritual growth but we have to be doers of it.
LIFE, HEALTH AND SUSTENANCE IN THE WORD
And as we study the word of God, in the Old and New Testaments, it must become for us more than just letters on a page, more than a collection of words and sentences to be read and forgotten. Jeremiah (15:16) ate God's word. It was life, health and sustenance for him and, the Lord Jesus taught, from the Old Testament, which as God Incarnate He wrote, for all of us:
Luke 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
We are not just physical beings. Secularists think we are. They deny the spiritual, but Jesus says:
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
The word of God is spirit and life. The Bible is the manual for life. We can live in its words, and it promises blessing to those who keep its words, which, it constantly reminds us, are God's commandments. All through Psalm 119 we read of the importance and the benefits of keeping God's words. In Deuteronomy chapter 28 we read of God's blessings for obedience and then of His curses for disobedience.
Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The word of God should - and if our spiritual antennae are at all receptive does - convict of sin and of our transgression of the word itself. The Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) not just with their lips but with their hearts - which means with their deeds.
OBEDIENCE IN WORD AND DEED
The Lord says 'If ye love me, keep my commandments' (John 14:15) and when the lawyer asked Him what to do to inherit eternal life, it was simple: Do the law as it is written 'and thou shalt live'. There is no shortcut. There is no concept in scripture that we may simply believe in Jesus and not let that belief make an impact in our lives. There is no sense in which we can carry on a life which the Bible declares as sinful and be blessed. We cannot remain in disobedience of God and His word and receive the blessing. Even our eternal salvation depends on obedience to God in His word:
Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
So there is no shortcut to salvation either. An altar-call is not enough. Making 'a commitment' at summer camp does not do it either. Anyone who is truly born again is being obedient to the word of God and being not just a hearer of the word but a doer as well.
And there is more. We cannot think to receive the Holy Spirit if we are living outside the will of God. Again, there is no easy option. Peter told the Council and the High Priest about the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus:
Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
Peter is saying that the Holy Spirit cannot fill those who are disobedient to God. Every aspect of God's blessing depends on obedience to His word. True, the wicked appear to be blessed for a season, but it will not help them; their end is destruction. Asaph sought the Lord about the apparent prosperity of the wicked in Psalm 73:
'Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain' he cried (vs 13) until he went into the house of the Lord (vs 17) and realised 'they are utterly consumed with terrors' (vs 19) but that 'God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever' (vs 26).
Of course we can find the origin of all this in the book of Genesis. There we find that the doers of God's word, the obedient to His commands, may experience His blessing. It was hard, even though Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead, to be prepared to offer him up as a sacrifice like all the heathen were doing round about.
OBEDIENCE RELEASES THE BLESSING
Yet God was testing him, to see the depth of his obedience before He could release the blessing. Just as with us, there would be no easy option, no shortcut, no quick fix to blessing. The angel of the Lord (possibly a pre-incarnate visitation of the Lord Jesus) called out of heaven:
Gen. 22:16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Obedience brought the promise of blessing. Laying aside sin, doing the word, not just hearing it, puts us right with God and releases all He wants to give us: life, salvation, the Holy Spirit and blessing in abundance.
Our Lamplight Bible-reading plan was one of the first things we published when Christian Voice was formed fifteen years ago. We published it to help our members know the word of God, so that by knowing the will of God in the word of God we could pray with the mind of God.
The Lamplight plan begins in January and now is the ideal time to place an order for yourself or for a friend or relative. For an investment of just twenty minutes a day, with Old Testament and New Testament readings each day, you will read the whole Bible through in one year.
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