There are many perfect qualities of God. One such quality of God is seen in the way He goes about working to restore His people to Him. God did and does many things in order to save the souls of the people He chose. For example, God sent His Son, Jesus, to restore the lost nation of Israel. He also sent Him that the nations which never knew Him and are created in His image may be restored to His image. The source He provides to bring back His people to Him is truth and righteousness through His unfathomable love. In them He provides conditional blessings that those who have fallen, when return to Him, are received by Him. Many are the wondrous works of God while restoring His people. This indicates that His love has no boundaries when certain objectives are met. These objectives are the essentials, since by these alone men defeat sin. For the people who are unwilling to return to Him there is yet another way for God, His last of defense, by which he hopes to restore them. It is the last line, because He has done everything possible to call them to Him. It is a defense, since He always works for their salvation and by it He measures His patience toward them. The extent of this patience is seen in His word. “Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin” (Jer. 36:3).
After having provided many opportunities for Judah to return to Him a final warning has become His last line of defense for them. Most Christians, if not all, are aware of the many sinful deeds of Judah. The present world we live in is also not any different from them. However, the deeds of Judah have become more relevant, since they have been informed of God and they called on His name. More importantly, they have become relevant, since whatever they did they did it in His name and under His banner. Sitting in the now and looking back at the history of Judah, the last line of God’s defense i.e. the proclamation of calamity, reveals its sorrowful condition to us, the readers of the word. Such calamity was proclaimed by God to be carried out except if they return to Him by the hearing of it. It was the deep wish of God that Judah should return to their Father and it is clearly visible in the way He spoke to His prophet. How often would parents tell their children to refrain from doing certain things and when they refrain, parents greatly rejoice in them? Yet, Judah neither desired to understand the compassion of God toward them nor the calamity that is impending over them. Rather, they abused God’s word and mistreated His prophet; and for what reason? For the same reason God pronounced the calamity over them i.e. because of their evil works.
They were so accustomed to living under the works of sin they did not have the heart to engage themselves in the word from God. In their condition, the word of God seemed punitive to them. They did not want to heed the discipline of God for they did not want to be humiliated before their works and their boasting. They rather wished to be unremorseful for humiliating God before the nations. The lust of the eyes, flesh and the boastful pride of the world has captured them to such an extent that they committed adultery both in the flesh and with the commandment of God. They performed what God loathed. They spoke when God did not ask them to; they prophesied in His name when God did not send them. It is one thing to live like the nations that are without the knowledge of God, but to be named after the banner of God and then live a manner that indicates rebellion against Him can never be justified. In this the present churches of Christ and of God are situated. Yet, there is the love of God to every one who turns to Him from evil by receiving His proclamation: they shall be forgiven of their iniquities. It feels good to be in the possession of the word of God, to be able to read it and speak of it, but if your possession of it did not yield in understanding God, because of the manner of your searching it, you have abused it. For this reason, the Lord continues to proclaim His word that perhaps His church will hear and return to Him and “He will rescue their life from oppression and violence, and their blood will be precious in his sight” (Ps. 72:14).
For who is the King of our domain, but Jesus Christ, the Lion from Judah? It is imperative to know that a Christian’s blood is precious in His sight only when He Himself has rescued him. It should not and cannot involve the influence of any man for that which He provides is not in man. Or else, they are in oppression and violence just as the world. Their life is influenced by Satan, though they have been immersed in water. Everything and anything they do is no longer by the will of God, but by the things that appear either beautiful to their eyes or cause fear to their mind. They do not have the peace, blessings, guidance and the gifts that come from possessing Him. If the churches continually deny the adequacies that God offers His believers, it is impossible for them to see Him; faith has never been established. Consider it yourself brethren that by annulling through His word the will, command, promises, gifts and blessings that God desires to offer through Christ, have you not used the Scripture like the one that tempted the Lord that He should fall? Indeed, you have projected the Lord as foolish both to yourselves and to those who hear you. As much as you say you believed in God you have not yet believed in Him to point of turning away from falsity. Yes, many are present that abuse the word of God, but what justice have you done when you claimed to have turned away from them and yet, are speaking that which is not true of God? In fact, by rejecting them and not turning to God you have declared them as more righteous than you. They will receive their share and how much more will you receive, unless you turn to God by hearing His word. Behold the repercussion the former children of God, Judah, received when their unrighteousness became worse than the nations. “Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a fine of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold” (2 Kings 23:33). The Lord God caused this to happen.
Do not assume the same will not fall upon us. For the manner of punishment may vary, but the consequences of evil i.e. death will not. See the effect God produced in Judah. The king lost his authority to reign in Jerusalem and the land was heavily imposed with fine. This is the oppression and violence that those who do not turn to God will receive, and their blood is not precious in His sight. Our kingdom is not of this earth. Nevertheless, if the church that represents the kingdom of God on this earth does not act upon the ordinances and will of God, those who lead and feed the church will lose their place in it and the members too will heavily suffer. In fact, by rejecting the adequacies of God, they already are. The word of God is not given to go about by our understanding, but to call upon the Lord to receive the understanding present behind revealing His word. This will cause for our blood to be precious in His eyes. The curse that fell upon Judah will not fall upon us to eternity. We will not be handed over to Satan. The pressures of gentiles living around us will not have any effect upon us. “And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand” (Josh. 21:44).
A true Christian will have experienced this and will further experience it at the appearance of the Lord. For the life he lived for God has determined it. Or what shall I believe that the power and might of God has become any less than in the former days? It shall never be. Many may speak of God in many ways, but here are the constants that remain to those who faithfully approach Him. His power and justice are supreme and unchanging. There is none like them. His guidance to people for a heavenly place is His motto, He is impartial, His promises neither fail nor act partially, His word is unique and tested; all His fulfilled promises are still at work for the leading of many to eternity, or else, the church today is no longer the church of the first century. Therefore, “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me” (Ps. 55:16).
It is up to each one of us who claims to be of Christ to call upon the Lord. For the knowledge to call upon the Lord exists in our confession of belonging to Him. Many have meddled with the act calling on the Lord. Some of them have not understood it as one of the most necessary aspects of godly life. Others openly have and still make it appear as a demonic act by the manner they approach it. They all have theories of how prayer ought to be performed, they have performed extensive research on it, but none actually have the intimate or the inner experience of it. Considering our form in the flesh, our calling upon the Lord is not only a unique asset, but an act that must be performed with utter sensibility. When we pray we are entering the presence of the God, who appeared to Moses in a burning bush and the place was called holy, who relented the destruction of Israel by the interference of Moses, who did not allow Balaam to curse His children, who forgave Samson and strengthened him to punish the sinners, who saved the entire race of Jews through a woman by the name Esther, who rescued Daniel from the mouth of lions, who caused the shadow to turn backward ten steps as a sign for extending Hezekiah’s life, who when sought destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in one night, who made His Spirit fall upon His disciples and the church, who promised to give His Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him, who escaped Peter from prison, broke the chains of Paul and Silas and reminded us of the prayer of a righteous man that led to a rainless three and half years. Much more can be said, but the point to be grasped is one must enter His presence and receive by calling on Him with complete sensibility.
The providing, restoring and saving of God are initiated only through calling upon Him. Without having called on the Lord there is no salvation. For this reason also, the gospel heard must initiate in every believer the calling on the Lord. And Luke elsewhere wrote by the instruction of the Holy Spirit that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Many have entered the church without having first called on the Lord. The reason for calling on the Lord is nothing peculiar. To call on Him is for receiving His grace, admitting all our sins before Him, presenting our weaknesses before Him, seeking His forgiveness; for seeking purity, strength to confess Him before men, seeking wisdom and for seeking the Spirit that fill us and sanctifies us. If it becomes the obligation for you to call upon the Lord, no man is required to lead you to salvation. For it is explicitly said in the Spirit, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11).
Therefore, the onus to fulfill the work of heaven is on Christ wherein those who call on His name shall be saved. It would be foolish to further doubt the manner in which one is saved, since it would mean to under estimate the turn of events that our Lord Jesus can cause. Only those who do not call on the Lord or do not desire to call on Him shall further doubt. The baptism that Christ gives applies and must apply to all, and without it salvation is incomplete. Water baptism is essential, but that alone does not provide salvation without the Lord doing His work. Just because baptism by immersing in water is given to men to be performed upon people it does not give them complete authority on it nor does it provide them with means to nullify the work of the Lord. “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21). Every man and woman that returns to the Lord, them He will restore by the power that is in Him.
(*For more on Matt. 3:11 see the article titled “God’s Provision”)