If Jesus Never Came
by Tom Stewart
September 7, 2001
Humanity has been the beneficiary of a continuing revelation of
God Himself to man. "1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God... 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His
Glory, the Glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father,) full of Grace and Truth" (John 1:1,14). It is far too easy to take for granted
knowledge inherited without the toil that ingrains appreciation upon every remembrance
of the possession. "5
And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before
the Ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of
you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children
of Israel: 6 that this
may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come,
saying, What mean ye by these stones? 7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off
before the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters
of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children
of Israel for ever" (Joshua 4:5-7).
Broadly speaking, what has God taught humanity about Himself since the Creation?
At this stage of God's manifestation of Himself to mankind, we
should be learning the Blessed Assurance of our Perfect Obedience to His Law
of Love, for we have been the recipient's of the Blessed Holy Spirit's influence
since the time of the Pentecost of the Book of Acts. "1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were
all with one accord in one place. 2 And
suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing Mighty Wind, and it filled
all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven Tongues like as of fire, and
it sat upon each of them. 4 And
they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,
as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4). Though the Spirit's presence may be attended with great emotion or miraculous
manifestations, the giving of the Spirit was always and preeminently intended
by the Almighty to secure His people in Loving Obedience to His commandments.
"26 A New Heart also will I give you, and a New Spirit will
I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will
give you an heart of flesh. 27 And
I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes,
and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel
36:26-27). Instead of solely focusing upon the removal of the pain,
difficulty, or obstacles in the path of our obedience to God, we ought to petition
the Father for the mercy that will cause us first of all to be sanctified into Loving
Obedience, as His Dear Son was sanctified. "8 Though He were a Son, yet learned
He obedience by the things which He suffered; 9 and being made perfect, He became
the Author of Eternal Salvation unto all them that obey Him"
Salvation has always been by faith, trust, and confidence in God. "4 Our fathers trusted in Thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them... 21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns... 24 For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from him; but when he cried unto Him, He heard" (Psalm 22:4, 21, 24). "Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). Obedience has always been by the effectual working of God's Spirit in a willing heart causing us to obey. "Teach me to do Thy Will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is Good; lead me into the land of uprightness" (Psalm 143:10). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). What then is the significance of a New Covenant ushered in with the Holy Spirit in these New Testament times, if the Saints could have already obeyed prior to the New Covenant? The New Covenant is "Grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). Plainly, a covenant or contract authored by God is a Promise that our faith may rely on to secure for us and assure to us what is not available otherwise. "I have sworn by Myself, the Word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear" (Isaiah 45:23). Though obedience was manifestly possible prior to the New Covenant, the New Covenant assures the certainty of obedience to God's commandments, but only to those who understand and accept the terms of faith of the New Covenant-- namely, to simply understand and believe that God will secure our obedience through His Spirit. "Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established" (2Chronicles 20:20). "As for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the LORD; My Spirit that is upon thee, and My Words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever" (Isaiah 59:21). "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a New Spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 11:19). "38 He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of Living Water. 39 (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)" (John 7:38-39).
If Jesus never came, the Spirit would never have been given. "Nevertheless I tell you the Truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you" (John 16:7). And, without our absolute sense of dependence upon the assistance and Promise of the Holy Spirit for our obedience, we would be like Old Testament Israel-- perpetually backsliding. "For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer" (Hosea 4:16). But, thanks be to God, Jesus did come, and His Spirit has been given! "4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1:4-5). However often we may have ever disgraced God with our sinful disobedience-- "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24)-- we still have the hope that we may be delivered from ourselves, if we would but repent and stand fast in the liberty of the Promise of the Spirit of the New Covenant. "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the Promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14). The secret of joyful, loving, perfect obedience is to learn to intimately walk with our All-Loving, Omnipotent, and Omniscient Comforter, Ally, Advisor, and Friend-- the "Spirit of Christ" (1Peter 1:11).
"1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is Death; but to be spiritually minded is Life and Peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is Life because of Righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:1-14).
May God give us the mercy, grace, wisdom, and strength to stand
in faith until He comes! "Thy people shall
be willing in the day of Thy Power" (Psalm 110:3).
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