Man cannot conceal what God requires of his life. If it is everything he owns he cannot hide it. If it is his family for His namesake, he cannot conceal it; if it is his wealth or death, he cannot hold it back. God requires from every individual’s life something that glorifies Him. Does God have such authority? Surely, since He is the creator and the sustainer of us all, and there is an advantage. When God calls an individual through Christ He first requires a sacrifice from him; sacrifice necessary for a holy life. For without such sacrifice it is impossible for a man or woman to be a partaker of Christ’s suffering and be a child of God. Through suffering by sacrifice He fills accordingly that which we have left. This is not because He is obliged to us, but because we are obliged to Him for the kind of salvation He granted us by calling us to suffer by sacrifice. Yet, not all people give something of their life to glorify God. They do not give, because they love the blessings of this earth more than God. These are the godless and their hope is according to the blessings of this earth, things that will have to perish. “For what is the hope of the godless when he is cut off, When God requires his life?” (Job 27:8).
The godless have no hope, simply because they are without God. For this reason, the gospel is constantly preached through His servants that as many as possible may have hope concerning their soul. Yet, we see many leave their earthly dwelling in vain. When God instituted the Law through Moses it was because that faith should remain in Israel as it did in Abraham, and not the sin of this world. But those nations that were not chosen became a law to themselves doing whatever seemed good to their eyes and were constantly cut off. When God required their life they died without the hope of eternity. Similarly, when Israel replicated in themselves the nature of the godless nations, they too performed what seemed good to their eyes and so, were often cut off. Thus, it became the duty of God to continually send His prophets and priests to warn and reconcile His people. Those who were unwilling to listen could not give something of their lives to glorify God; they loved the blessings of the earth than the living God who called them. For this reason, they became the godless.
This is a lesson Christians ought to learn from the former times. When we cannot suffer for God by sacrificing the blessings of this world, we are never without sin. Moreover, it signifies where our interest lies, whether in heaven or on earth. When God calls us through Christ, He is calling us to come out of the flesh and its intricacies into the Spirit and His intricacies. Or else, what is the need in calling? If the flesh and its intricacies are good enough for a heavenly place, then Christ died needlessly. When Jesus called the disciples they willingly left that which was sustaining them in order to follow Him. Such was the power in Christ’s calling and shall always be! They left whatever was required of them and followed Christ to receive an eternal place, but then again, received all they left. This was the promise that Christ gave to them; not only to them, but to all who do likewise. However, have today’s Christians followed suite? Some of the disciples even suffered martyrdom along with others. When one does not have the suffering of Christ in him, he cannot have the mind of God. We are informed of what suffering produces in us – it is the fruit of the Spirit. “They turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When they entered, they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night” (Jud. 19:15).
We are aware of the account of the Levite and his concubine. I suppose most Christians can recapitulate the entire account. Perhaps, most easily remember the destruction in the end. The cause for the destruction of Benjamites is seen in the above verse. It was their mindset. They did not have the mind of God; kindness and love were not their blessings. Hence, they were perverted. Though their tribe was called, these did not keep the calling like their father who suffered by sacrifice. Hence, no one took the Levite and his companions into their homes. Not only did they deny the Levite into their homes, but some were ruthless toward him. Was not Benjamin blessed mightily by God through Jacob? He was a ravenous wolf that devoured prey in the morning and divided the spoil at evening (Gen. 49:27). The Benjamites of Gibeah kept the words of the blessing in that they were ravenous as wolf toward the Levite and at evening divided his concubine. They used the powerful blessing to commit sin; they did not keep the true intent of the blessing. The Levite forsook the city of foreigners, the Jebusites, and kept the Law of God by entering the city of the sons of Israel only to be mistreated by his own. What have we learned? Whether it was the Benjamites in those days or Christians these days all have been called by God to keep the commands and blessings in order to glorify Him. In addition, we are given better wisdom through Christ that with the fruit of the Spirit we should glorify Him in this world. Hence, we are informed of suffering. It is impossible to be in God without suffering and without suffering we are in sin, perhaps in perverted sin! Therefore, we are told by the Spirit that Christ also suffered in the flesh.
Those who are called by God are those who suffer in the flesh even as Christ did. Many regard suffering for Christ as something they offer or must offer. Hence, they consider every misfortune, difficulty, loss and some, even those that resulted by their misdeeds as suffering for Christ. In truth, suffering is not offered by us, but is given to us in many ways by Satan and his servants for obeying God’s call. Now, those who keep the call through this suffering for however long are separated from sin; if till death, then forever. These bring glory to God and shine Christ to the world. God only calls those whom He foreknew, i.e. whom He knows will stand till the end. “So Moses and Aaron took these men who had been designated by name” (Num. 1:17). Even in the former days God called people by name to stand with Moses for however long, but there for a different purpose and according to the flesh. However, God now calls through the word and in the Spirit to stand with Christ and fight the spiritual forces of darkness to cease from sin. Yet, those who assume as the called will fall, for God still foreknew them as those that misused the manner of calling.
There are churches today that liken themselves to the church of the first century. It feels good to do this way, but do these have the same blessings as they? Do they keep the commandments of God as they? Do they preach and fathom Christ as they? Can they liken themselves to the kind of blessings they had? Our churches might have the designations of the first century churches, but this alone does not liken us to them. Their faith, their lives and sufferings for Christ will not make you like them! Did the blessing of Benjamin save the Benjamites of Gibeah? When there is sin, false teaching and misrepresentation of Christ in today’s churches, they are without Christ, though they may liken themselves to the churches of the first century. In order to make any comparisons, the present day churches must first experience Christ just as they. “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself” (Exo. 19:4).
After having heard and seen numerous times what God has done for them, Israel still sinned against Him. The following generations too sinned against God, because they did not remember His blessings and works. They did not remember because they did not believe. Or else, why would they walk in the wilderness for forty years? Why did they suffer at the hands of the very enemies they once defeated? Even so are the churches today that liken themselves to the first century churches and yet, do not live for Christ as they. They take pride in comparing themselves to them, but do not perceive the manner in which the gospel worked in them nor remember the works that God performed through Christ in their midst. This is because they do not believe the manner in which the gospel was preached nor behold the kindness in the works of God. Hence, they are in the wilderness unable to come out of their unbelief. They do not have the suffering necessary for the kingdom of God. Sadly, these are indulged in what is falsely called – knowledge. With this knowledge each is continually preaching Christ and just like the Benjamites is using the powerful blessing to commit sin. Hence, “He will not escape from darkness; The flame will wither his shoots, And by the breath of His mouth he will go away” (Job 15:30).
Would you like to be made to dust by the anger of His flame? If your reply is, no, then know that God is still gracious to those who humble themselves before Him. Though the Israelites sinned against God, God still forgave them when they sincerely sought His forgiveness. Yes, they were punished and some killed, since they did not revere God, but when those alive realized God and turned to Him, He rescued and healed them. They left God when unbelief entered their heart, but returned to Him with belief. Hence, it is imperative that we turn to God with belief in Him and His Son, and confess our sins with all our heart that we may obtain His forgiveness. The one who preaches and the one who is baptized, the one who leads and the one who follows, all are to approach God for the renewing by the Spirit. This is the lesson we ought to learn from them – “I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, ‘Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and loving kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances’” (Dan. 9:4-5).
When you repent and seek God’s forgiveness, you have come to the only teacher, who teaches perfectly the kingdom of God. He is the one who has shown the Father and will show the Father and His will to you. He is the word of God and the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. Have you seen Jesus? He is the word. Have you heard His voice? It is in the word. The only escape for a person who erred from God’s commands and ordinances is to pray for forgiveness, and His word will satisfy him. You might be worshipping God on every Sunday, and it must be so, but if you do not have the ordinances of Christ in you, your worship is vain. If the one who preaches Christ to you cannot lead you to God’s forgiveness, still, your worship is worthless. It is even vain to worship with those who do not know the truth; rather, it is better to live in exile for Christ. Your worship to God is worth only when His forgiveness is confirmed to you either by the hearing of the word or your reading of it. The one who is taught by Christ will recognize Christ and His voice. “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher)” (John 20:16).