Lift Up Your Eyes
The Scriptures are not hyper - Calvinistic.. Whilst they plainly teach that man will not come to God unless God in sovereign grace works in him first, they quite as plainly show God's gracious disposition towards the world at large. He commandeth all men everywhere to repent, and reveals Himself as a Saviour-God, who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3-4).
On the one hand, God is sovereign, else none were saved. On the other, man is responsible, else none could be judged. You may not be able to explain God's sovereignty in relation to man's responsibility, but you are called upon to believe both, for both are clearly stated in Scripture. Romans 11 is the plainest, strongest statement as to God's sovereignty. Responsibility is emphasised throughout the entire Word of God.
In the fact that God is sovereign we find that which calms the heart; and whilst doing all we can to spread the gospel, we thankfully leave the rest with Him. Else we might be overwhelmed with the tremendous need at our own door, and that of whole continents lying in heathen darknessa need that we personally can only touch the fringe of, however devoted and ready to sacrifice ease, friends, comforts, and health in going to the regions beyond, to carry the good news where Christ is unknown.
Let it be remembered that if God is sovereign, He acts in every case of blessing. God's sovereignty is active, not passive. He wills and He works . God's sovereignty, held in an undue and unbalanced way, may lead us to fold our hands and do nothing for souls; but that same sovereignty leads Him to the FULLEST ACTIVITY. And if God is active in grace, those in communion with Him must be active too.
Christ said to Simon and Andrew, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Now Simon and Andrew were fishermen. In catching fish did they wait for the fish to swim into their net, or did they cast it where the fishes were and enclose them? Or when the net was full did they say, We will not throw it again into deeper and untried waters? And shall they act less wisely or energetically when serving a divine Master, and fishing for men ? Most assuredly not.
Yes, God, the Sovereign God, is active, active in every case of blessing. Luke 15 contains but one parable, and from beginning to end it is full of sovereign activity. The shepherd (picture of the Lord Jesus Christ), active in seeking the sheep; the woman (picture of the Holy Ghost), active in seeking the lost piece of silver; the father (picture of God Himself), active , RUNNING to welcome the returning prodigal.
He Himself said, For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. He was not content with the work of the crossmighty though that wasa work that righteously opens the way to heaven to the vilest who comes through Christ, but He SEEKS as well as savesblessed be His name.
You have but to read the four gospels and you will get a picture of His ceaseless activity. True, for thirty years we have no record of service, but when anointed for service we find Him the untiring Servant of the sovereign will of God till His blessed life closed at the cross. And now as risen from the dead He is active in resurrection life and grace.
The contemplation of the holy life of Jesus is enough to shame us out of our useless, aimless livesout of our apathy and indifferenceto drive us to our knees with the earnest importunate prayer that we might be like Him.
But if one objects, and to show that all this gracious activity towards sinful men is over quotes Romans 6:10 , In that He liveth, He liveth unto God, what shall we say? The words are indeed the words of inspiration; but shall we construe them to mean that the blessed Lord has naught to say to sinners now ? Nay, He who could touch a leper and be undefiled when on earth, can now morally touch the sinner and bless him.
He liveth unto God . True, but when here on earth He ever lived unto God. In healing the sick and feeding the thousands, and raising the dead, and preaching the gospel, and rebuking the hypocritein all this, we repeat, He lived unto God. Every breath He drew was in dependence upon God, every step He took, every act He did. He had meat to eat which the disciples knew not ofHe lived by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God. But He came to die. Sin had to say to Him, not in its committal surely, but as entering into the sinner's place and God's judgment of sin, He died unto sin once. Now that is all past and He liveth unto God, as a contrast to the cross, and as affording an argument to the apostle that we should reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A single passage of Scripture proves the present activity of the Lord Jesus. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them , and confirming the word with signs following.
And it is worthy of note that the four gospels do but contain a partial record of the activity of the Lord Jesus, for the very last lines of the Gospel of John read thus, And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.
THE HOLY GHOST'S ACTIVITY
The Acts of the Apostles, it has often been said, would have been more correctly christened The Acts of the Holy Ghost. Anyhow, every divine work, as recorded in the Acts, was the work of the Holy Ghost. The first open result of the Holy Ghost's descent was a triumph over Babel . Many nations heard in their own tongues the wonderful works of God; and Peter, who had trembled before a servant-girl's question, was turned into a bold evangelist, whose first sermon was blessed to no less than three thousand souls. The Holy Ghost's activity is very clearly seen in the service of the apostle Paul. Very distinctly does He both call and send him forth. The Holy Ghost said , Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost , departed unto Seleucia , etc. At once there arises before the mind the Holy Ghost's record of the great apostle's laboursrecord of ocean travelling and shipwrecks, land travelling and perils of robbers, perils by the heathen, perils in the wilderness; in weariness and watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakednessrecord of his service bringing upon him scourgings, stonings, perils among false brethren, prisons, and, last of all, the martyr's end. All this was from without. In addition, the care of all the churches, the agonising in prayer, the writing of epistles fell to him.
He had the true spirit of an evangelist, also that of a pastor and teacher. By birth and training a Jew, He preached the gospel in Athens , Corinth and imperial Rome . His missionary map was the map of the known world, and his ardent spirit led him to regard himself as debtor in the gospel to Jew and Gentile. He fixed his eye on Spain , though we believe he was never permitted to reach that most westward point of the known world. To the last he was full of energythe blessed energy of the Holy Ghost. Now we do not plead for mere activity, but oh! to be controlled, equipped, and sent forth by the Spirit of God to labour in a world where He is working for the accomplishment of God's sovereign will and pleasure.
A last word. Our Lord had met and blessed a poor Samaritan outcast. Forgetful of herself, she left her waterpot and went into the city, saying, Come, see a Man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
Her invitation had power. She spoke with the persuasiveness of one who was not only blessed, but attracted beyond measure to the One who could give such blessing. Her invitation had power, for many of the men flocked out to Jacob's well to see the Christ. His disciples in the meantime rejoined the Lord, and doubtless, as He saw the crowd of seeking souls draw near, moved with compassion He turned to His disciples with the memorable words, Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
Nearly nineteen centuries have passed away since then. Are the words then uttered by the Saviour of the world less forcible, less pregnant in their meaning now? Assuredly not. I would that I could sound them in your inmost heart with something of the power and sweetness of their first utterance. Lift up your eyes . In so doing you may see your next-door neighbour's house, or the next street, or neighbouring town, or country, long neglected by you.
Look at the map of the world . The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world . Look at priest-ridden, infidel Europe . Look at America with its teeming multitudes. Look at South America with its dark superstitions and wicked lives. Look at the far-off islands of the sea. Look at China and Africa with their millions who have never heard the name of Christ.
We may not be free to follow the tactics and organisations of the missionary world, but it has a very good motto, divided into three parts
2. Let go.
3. Help go.
1. Go . But not unless you are constrained by the Master of the harvest-field and sent forth by the Spirit. But if so constrained and sent, let no considerations of business home comforts, or ease stand in the way. The woman left her waterpot, so leave yours.
2. Let go . Let no one hinder the setting forth of those who seek to carry the good news of the gospel far and wide. Put no hindrance in the way. Throw no cold water on your zealous brother or sister who seeks to go forth in the strength of the Lord.
3. Help go . Help by your encouragement, by your prayers, by your purse, as guided of the Master. It is a sin for any Christian to live in luxury. The richest is but a steward of his possessions to the Lord. Everywhere the need is great, at your very door, in the next street, town, country, or across the seas. Money is the smallest help in one way of all. Prayer, sympathy, encouragement greatly help, and if these are not lacking, neither will the means necessary for carrying on the work be wanting.
The Lord is coming quickly; everything declares it. Christians world-wide are expecting Him. What a moment when He comes! Oh for hearts to serve Him with our all till He come! He is indeed worthy.
Dear fellow-Christian, what are you doing in helping to make known the gospel of the grace of God to perishing souls?