It’s amazing how often men set themselves high up in things pertaining to God. They involve themselves in them, though it is unconvincing to God. Many are “acting God” in the things pertaining to God when they must understand Him. This is sin. Yet, they do not regard it as sin. They ironed themselves out with the rational that they are of the truth regardless of what they say or do. And churches are projecting a light and image that only seems to be of Christ. A great amount of teaching is being done, but apart from Christ’s heart. A great amount of work is being done, but without God’s will. Too much of man’s authority in the form of tradition, doctrine and knowledge is governing the gospel. Believers as well as leaders are more interested in the affiliations of this realm rather than the heavenly. It is owing to this nature of men God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel and said, “For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out” (34:11). Apparently it had not dawned upon today’s servants.
It is impossible to commit souls to Christ by our merits, though we have credible merits by our endeavors on this earth. We may be able to acquire people, reputation and be known for our standards, yet, they are fruitless for the gospel that Christ suffered for when they are not born of the same mind with which Christ walked to Golgotha. Our knowledge of the Scripture might even astonish us at times, let alone those who hear it, yet it gains nothing for Christ when it is not in wisdom. Our traditions and doctrines might set us apart from others, but when they are without the substance of faith, sacrifice, righteousness, Spirit, suffering and commandments they create confusion, disappointments in life, and frictions among men, evil, hopelessness, disobedience and reliance upon the world as in the days when we knew not the gospel. Consider this for a moment – if your knowledge, status and affiliations can accomplish the work of the gospel, what is the point of the ministry of the Spirit? Then will not the ministry of the Law still reign? And the ministry of the Spirit has become inferior in all things; Jesus’ death too is pointless. But as it is the ministry of the Spirit is different and superior, since it does not rely on or work under the things that make man’s authority.
Many work for the gospel to satisfy their desires under the cover of acquired knowledge, though they do not admit it. But, the fruit of their desires is quite apparent in the product of their work, behavior, understanding, expressions and affection for Christ. Because of all the above reasons they do not realize that God is not building His house through them. In fact, He Himself is finding His sheep and seeking them out. Of these are the different workers of the church; they simply follow Him. They are not bound by affiliations, knowledge and traditional knowledge, but by Christ. They are sheep because their obedience rests in the will of God for every circumstance regardless of what they have, face and hear. Knowledge of the Scripture is good only when it is governed in the wisdom of God. Knowledge alone is evil, since it avoids God’s wisdom to bring something out from the Scripture which was never God’s intent. Its content itself stands against it and those who embrace it constantly war to uphold it. Knowledge can be harvested with our ability and resources while wisdom is not. Yes, wisdom is in the Word, but the key to it is from above. Failing to endeavor toward this insight is failing many in defending the gospel and preaching it. So, the Lord again said, “Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; Pay your vows. For never again will the wicked one pass through you; He is cut off completely” (Nah. 1:15).
Such a one will be of a different genre, class and intellect. The idea of “the mountains” has two connotations. One, that something better, in this case peace, is coming from a higher place, and two, that the mind of the one appointed for it is dissimilar to the rest. Hence, a man like the apostle Paul found himself to be a wise master builder. The idea is that God doesn’t choose men because they choose themselves for Him. He chooses a different kind, i.e. those that He Himself calls. This is vindicated by the wisdom, faith, Spirit, righteousness, sacrifice, sufferings and commandments that are found in them. Only at such a time will His people find joy. So then His choice has disqualified all those who go by their merits. And for all those that follow the disqualified along with the disqualified the wicked one continues to pass through them. They may not realize it for a time or until the end of their existence or may not realize it at all, since they couldn’t be the sheep that God searched and sought out. Interestingly then, let us take a look at a sheep that God searched and sought out. “Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times’” (Matt. 26:34). Peter too strayed. However, the difference with him is that Christ interceded for him so that he rises again. While the wicked one passes through the disqualified continually he cannot do so with God’s searched and sought out. God’s work and kingdom progresses with people like Peter whereas Christ does not intercede for those that choose themselves for Him.
What essentially happened with Peter was he was cleansed thoroughly. He was made fully qualified by the removal of weakness in obedience. Hence, the gospel he preached stood not only in those times but continues to stand until the return of the Shepherd. On the other hand, the disqualified continue to disqualify Peter’s gospel with their own merits adding and subtracting to it as they do with the rest of the Scripture. The only respite to this is in Christ’s response to Pilate and the Jews; and it continues to be effective. “But from now on ‘THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD’” (Lk. 22:69). The idea is that God is working for and with His people whom He searched and sought out and against the will, work and result of the disqualified. As God Himself searches and seeks out people for Him, Jesus does the work of God for them. This separates the called from the disqualified. While both claim to work in the realm of faith, only the work of the called will be evident and effective for the praise and glory of God. It is superfluous to be deceived regarding this, though the disqualified could feel nothing is challenging them. Every falsity, deception, earthly knowledge and reasoning, abuse and pride will be thwarted by the Christ who shows Himself as God by the power He owns.
When Christ, the unique man (Lk. 22:69), is seated at the right of the power of God, He means He is God. He will keep seeking and searching His sheep even as He did the apostles. Regardless of the number of the disqualified He does it. With the kind of power He owns nothing can disrupt His venture. Those who are open to Him apart from their merits are His sheep. Because He reigns, no distress will prevail over His servants. “When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, ‘Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live’” (Acts 28:4). This is exactly how the disqualified feel and hope should take place with the called. However, God’s saving hand has the power to disappoint their feelings. This is yet another differentiating mark between the called and the disqualified. Until our purpose for God is fulfilled man’s judgment cannot fail us.
Consider this statement: “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;” (1 Cor. 1:22). What do you ask or search for? If you are the called, you preach Christ crucified, who is both a sign and wisdom. But if you are not, you rely on your merits and earthly wisdom. What the Jews ask for is apart from faith; for if they are of faith Christ is the sign that causes all things for them by power. What the Greeks search for is in fact the highest knowledge among men, which they call wisdom; for if they sought Christ they would not seek their glory. This insight is one more differentiating mark between the called and the disqualified.
The sheep that God searches and seeks out are quite different. It is for this reason they become strangers on this earth. Yet, they cause many to marvel, for God’s essence goes with them in His power. They are an epitome of His desire that says “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16).