Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.
The truth is that so long as we hold both sides of the proposition together they contain nothing inconsistent with right belief, but as soon as one is divorced from the other, it is bound to prove a stumbling-block. “Only those who believe obey” is what we say to that part of a believer’s soul which obeys, and “only those who obey believe” is what we say to that part of the soul of the obedient which believes. If the first half of the proposition stabs alone, the believer is exposed to the danger of cheap grace, which is another word for damnation. If the second half stands alone, the believer is exposed to the dangers of salvation through works, which is another word for damnation.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Half surrendered is still in resistance. We have to ask ourselves what are we holding onto this morning? What have we not handed over to the Lord?
Yes, we may look at our own lives and be humbled by how short we fall compared to the perfect example of Christ’s life. But we must not mistake a lack of resistance to temptation and tell ourselves that it is covered by grace so that we continue in rebellion – this is not stumbling. This is deliberate, repeated rebellion against the will of God. Without resistance, without repentance, how can we say we have heard the call and decided to follow Christ.
This is not a call for empty religious conversion. This is to those who are called. This is to those who are touched by the very voice of God that is heard and recognized. His is a voice and a call that we do not ignore – or it is a reflection of our undeniable peril.
We are not the seed cast by the wayside. We are not the seed that springs up to wither away in the sun. We are the seed of the Holy Lamb of God. We are touched and annunciation by His very presence, as He lives in us and through us.
And who can deny the Lord once His touch on our lives is made known? Who can look at their old life and long for the filth of sin once they have treated freedom? Who can turn down a wedding invitation when they are the bride to the King?
We are brand new. I say “we” hopefully, but I do not know your heart, friend. But the world sees our example. And it is not hard to discern good fruit from rotten. Even the world can smell the putrid stench of death of a life centered on self –
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
We must examine ourselves, us who claim Christ with our words. I say to you, friend – do not trust me, but test me. Hold me accountable to this Word of God as it is the sword that cuts out the death and sin from our lives, so that the dead branches are printed away so that fruitful branches will grow.
How many of us need some serious pruning in our lives today? Surrender those dead branches, and see the fruit grow.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Do we fear that if we cut away the death, the sin, that nothing will be left but am empty stump of a life? You are not far from the truth friend – but from this stump, a new life is born.
Are you reborn?
Are you a new sprout springing from the old stump?
Or an old, dead tree, afraid for the branches to be laid low to the ground?
A dead tree is dead and cannot grow higher, a dead tree cannot be lifted up higher to Christ.
So cut away those dead branches with the Word of God.
Seek first the Kingdom, and all these things will be added to your branches.
Arise from your sleep, child of God.
Hear His call.
Pick up your cross and follow.
Cling to that old cross, where the dearest and best was slain, for a world of lost sinners. Lay down your old treasures, and know the everlasting treasures that do not rot or rust away.
Lord, we need your call. We need your touch, your righteousness, your mercy, your forgiveness – your costly grace. Grace paid for by your blood, by your sacrifice. Remind us the previous worth of this Grace.
We do not seek cheap grace, we do not seek empty religion. We see YOU, Lord.