The Terrible Danger of Trusting Your Faith, but Not Jesus

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you;depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

The alarming and terrifying thing which our Lord says is that not everyone who does say `Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Those who do go in say it; anyone who does not say it can never enter into the kingdom of heaven; but not all who do say it shall enter in. This is clearly something that should arrest us and cause us to pause. James, in his Epistle, puts the very same point. He warns us to be careful against merely relying upon our belief of certain things, and he puts it like this in a rather startling manner by saying, `The devils also believe, and tremble’ (James ii. ig).

An instance of this is found in the Gospels where we read that certain devils recognized Him and said `Lord, Lord’, but remained devils. We are all in danger of being content with an intellectual assent to the truth. There have been people throughout the centuries who have fallen into this trap. They have read the Scriptures and accepted their teaching. They believed the teaching, and sometimes they have been exponents of the truth, and have argued against heretics. And yet their whole character and life have been a denial of the very truth they have claimed to believe. It is a terrifying thought and yet Scripture so often teaches us that it is a dreadful possibility. A man who is unregenerate and not born again may accept the scriptural teaching as a kind of philosophy, as abstract truth. Indeed, I would not hesitate to say that I always find it very difficult to understand how any intelligent man is not compelled to do that.

If any man comes to the Bible with an intelligent mind and faces its evidence, it seems almost incredible that he should not arrive at certain inevitable logical conclusions. And a man may do that and still not be a Christian. The historical evidence for the Person ofJesus Christ of Nazareth is beyond question. You cannot explain the persistence of the Christian Church apart from Him; the evidence is overwhelming. So a man may face that and say: `Yes, I accept that argument’. He may subscribe to the truth and say: `Jesus of Nazareth was none other than the Son of God’. He may say that and still be unregenerate, and not a Christian. He may say `Lord, Lord’, and yet not enter the kingdom of heaven. Our forefathers, in days when they realized these dangers, used to emphasize this tremendously. Read the works of the Puritans and you will find that they devoted not only chapters but volumes to the question of `false peace’. Indeed, this danger has been recognized throughout the centuries. There is the danger of trusting your faith instead of Christ, of trusting your belief without really becoming regenerate. It is a terrible possibility. There are people who have been brought up in a Christian home and atmosphere, who have always heard these things, and in a sense have always accepted them, and have always believed and said the right thing; but still they may not be Christians.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Kindle Edition)

I Cannot Arrive at God by My Own Unaided Efforts

Those who are anxious to find God and to know Him, are confronted by two possible ways of doing so. The first way, and the one that comes instinctively to us because of our fallen condition, is to believe that we, by our own efforts and seeking, can find God; and from the very beginning of history men and women have been engaged in this quest. They have done so by two main methods. One is to follow this kind of instinctive, intuitive feeling that we have, and that is put in various forms. People sometimes talk about an `inner light’, and say that all you have to do is to follow that light and its leading. . . . The other method that has been adopted has been the one that is based upon reason and wisdom and understanding. People may start, perhaps, with nature and creation, and they reason on from that. They maintain that as a result of that process they can arrive at a knowledge of God. Others say that by looking at history, and by reasoning on the course of history, they can arrive at a belief in God. Yet others say that the way to arrive at God is to indulge in a process of pure reasoning. . . .

But the Christian answer is that that method is inevitably doomed to failure. The apostle Paul puts it in those memorable words: `The world by wisdom knew not God’ (1 Cor. 1:21); and it is significant that he said that to the Corinthians, who were Greeks, and who were therefore familiar with philosophical teaching. But in spite of Paul having said that, people still rely on human ideas and reasoning to find God.

It seems to me that this is not a matter to argue about, because it is just a question of fact; and the fact is, that one cannot arrive at a knowledge of God along those lines, for two very obvious reasons. The first is (as we hope to see later as we consider these particular doctrines) the nature of God Himself: His infinity, His absolute character and qualities, and His utter holiness. All that in and of itself makes it impossible to have any knowledge of God by means of reason or intuition.

But when you add to that the second reason, which is the character and nature of men and women as they are in a state of sin, the thing becomes doubly impossible. The human mind is too small to span or grasp God and to realise Him. And when you understand that because of the fall all human faculties and powers are affected by sin and by natural enmity, then, again, a knowledge of God by human endeavour becomes a complete impossibility.

Now the Bible has always started by saying that, and yet people in their foolishness still try these outworn methods which have already proved to be failures. So we must start by laying down this postulate: our only hope of knowing God truly is that He should be graciously pleased to reveal Himself to us, and the Christian teaching is that God has done that. So clearly the first doctrine which we have to consider together is the biblical doctrine of revelation. I cannot arrive at God by my own unaided efforts. I am dependent upon God revealing Himself. The question is: `Has He done so?’ The answer is: `Yes, He has,’ and the Bible tells us about this.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible: God the Father, God the Son; God the Holy Spirit; The Church and the Last Things (Kindle Edition)

Always Be Thinking Of The End

Finally wrapping up some work I’m doing related to the Sermon on the Mount. Loved reading these words from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Matt. 5:11-12:

The Christian is a man who should always be thinking of the end. He does not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. . . . `Rejoice,’ says Christ, `and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.’

What is this reward? Well, the Bible does not tell us much about it, for a very good reason. It is so glorious and wonderful that our human language is of necessity almost bound to detract from its glory. . . . But it does tell us something like this. We shall see Him as He is, and worship in His glorious presence. Our very bodies will be changed, and glorified, with no sickness or disease. There will be no sorrow, no sighing; all tears shall be wiped away. All will be perpetual glory. No wars or rumours of wars; no separation, no unhappiness, nothing that drags a man down and makes him unhappy, even for a second!

Unmixed joy, and glory, and holiness, and purity and wonder! That is what is awaiting us. That is your destiny and mine in Christ as certainly as we are alive at this moment. How foolish we are that we do not spend our time in thinking about that. Oh, how we cling to this unhappy, wretched world, and fail to think on these things and to meditate upon them. We are all going on to that, if we are Christians, to that amazing glory and purity and happiness and joy. `Rejoice, and be exceeding glad.’ And if people are unkind and cruel and spiteful, and if we are being persecuted, well then we must say to ourselves, Ah, unhappy people; they are doing this because they do not know Him, and they do not understand me. They are incidentally proving to me that I belong to Him, that I am going to be with Him and share in that joy with Him. Therefore, far from resenting it, and wanting to hit back, or being depressed by it, it makes me realize all the more what is awaiting me. I have a joy unspeakable and full of glory awaiting me. All this is but temporary and passing; it cannot affect that. I therefore must thank God for it, because, as Paul puts it, it `worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’.

How often do you think of heaven and rejoice as you think of it? Does it give you a sense of strangeness and of fear, and a desire, as it were, to avoid it? If it does so to any degree, I fear we must plead guilty that we are living on too low a level. Thoughts of heaven ought to make us rejoice and be exceeding glad. True Christian living is to be like Paul and to say, `to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ Why? Because it means, `to be with Christ; which is far better,’ to see Him and to be like Him. Let us think more about these things, realizing increasingly, and reminding ourselves constantly, that if we are in Christ these things are awaiting us. We should desire them above everything else. Therefore, `Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.’

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Kindle Edition)

Be heavenly-minded, brothers and sisters.

The Flesh Can Counterfeit Almost Anything

Strong words from the Doctor on Matt. 7:21-23:

Our Lord is emphasizing that though they say `Lord, Lord’, and are fervent and zealous, it may be nothing but the flesh. Great enthusiasm in these things does not of necessity imply spirituality. The flesh may account for that; it can counterfeit almost everything. We can perhaps emphasize this point best by quoting something which was written by Robert Murray McCheyne. That man of God, when he merely entered the pulpit, caused people to break down and weep. People felt that he had come straight from an audience with God, and they were humbled by his very appearance. This is what he said in his diary one day: `Today, missed some fine opportunity of speaking a word for Christ. The Lord saw that I would have spoken as much for my own honour as for His, and therefore He shut my mouth. I see that a man cannot be a faithful, fervent minister until he preaches just for Christ’s sake, until he gives up trying to attract people to himself, and seeks to attract them to Christ. Lord’, he ends, `give me this.’ Robert Murray McCheyne there recognizes this terrible danger of doing things in the flesh and imagining that we are doing them for Christ’s sake…

In other words, a man may be able to point to great results such as healings and so on, and yet they may signify nothing. And we should not be surprised at this. Are we not learning more and more in these days about the powers that are innate in man even in a natural sense? There is such a thing as a natural gift of healing; there is a kind of natural, almost magical power in certain people. For instance the whole question of electricity in the human frame is most interesting. We are merely beginning to understand it. There are people such as water-diviners who possess certain curious gifts. Then there is the whole question of telepathy, transference of thought and extra-sensory perception. These things are just coming into our ken. As the result of such gifts and powers many can do marvellous and wondrous things, and yet not be Christian. The natural power of man can simulate the gifts of the Holy Spirit, up to a point. And, of course, we are reminded by Scripture that God, in His own inscrutable will, sometimes decides to give these powers to men who do not belong to Him in order to bring to pass His own purposes. He raises up men for His own particular purpose, but they themselves remain outside the kingdom. It was God who called and used the pagan Cyrus.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Kindle Edition)

Delight In God and His Commandments

The apostle John says in his first epistle, “his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). How can God’s commandments be grievous to anybody who really has an enlightened mind? There is no life like it; this is the only life-the other is darkness. Is it possible that to a child of God the commandments should be grievous, a heavy burden to be borne? But the children of Israel were always giving that impression. They said in effect, “Look at those other nations; they have kings, but we don’t have one. Give us a king.” You see, they despised the fact that God was their King. They envied those other nations; those people could do what they liked. They did not have the Ten Commandments; they did not have to observe the Sabbath; they could eat anything they liked and marry anybody they liked. “Here are we,” said God’s people, “living this narrow life.” They were always grumbling and complaining; that was the charge brought against them.

Is that true of us? Do we find the commandments of God “grievous”? Do we find the way that God has mapped out for us to be hard and difficult and narrow and trying? Is our Christianity against the grain? Do we give the impression that it is a matter of duty or perhaps more a matter of fear than anything else? If so, my friends, we are “limit[ing] the Holy One of Israel” [Ps.78:41]. God means us to enjoy keeping His commandments. They are meant to be our chief delight. The psalmist could say, “I delight in thy law” (Ps. 119:70), but we are in a superior position to the psalmist; we have a fullness that he did not know.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms (Kindle Edition)

Something To Look At For All Eternity

All the New Testament epistles are, in a sense, a map of life. They start off with the great doctrines, and they give us understanding, insight, intellectual apprehension. There is no more intellectual book in the world than the Bible, but our own intellects will never grasp it until they have been enlightened by the Spirit. It is food for the mind, something to look at for all eternity.

So I can state confidently, and to the glory of God in Jesus Christ, I understand life. I understand myself, and I am not a bit surprised that the world is as it is. I could have prophesied it. I began preaching in the 1920s when people were still optimistic. There had been one world war, but they said, “It is all right; we’ll never do that again.” They were preaching with optimism, and I began preaching chaos and sin and man as he is, and I prophesied that war would come. I simply believed my Bible. I simply accepted the view of life presented there plainly and clearly. Because mankind is sinful there will be wars, and it is just idle fancy and nonsense to imagine that men and women, being self-centered and selfish, will do anything but fight one another in some shape or form. James has said it all: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (Jas. 4:1).

There is no difficulty in understanding the world if you are a Christian and if you believe the message of the Bible. It is all there; it is a perfect, complete view of life.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms (Kindle Edition)

Oh, The Way We speak About God!

These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
Psalm 50:21

We have all done it; I have done it myself. I have been one of a company discussing religion and God and theology, and there we all sat in armchairs, discussing God. The amazing thing is that God tolerates us at all and that He does not wipe us out of existence! You remember what happened to Moses at the burning bush. He said, “What is this? This is an interesting phenomenon-I’m going to investigate it,” and he was on the point of approaching when the Voice came out of the bush and addressed him, saying, “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exod. 3:5).

If you and I realized the real nature and being of God, we would stop speaking. We would stop mouthing these things and making our declarations. With job of old, when he really came into God’s presence, we would put our hands upon our mouths. We would be ashamed of ourselves for having spoken “unadvisedly with [our] lips” (Ps. 106:33), and we would be silent before Him. And that is the only right and true and appropriate attitude.

If you want to know anything about God and to be blessed by Him, then you do not start by speaking about Him, nor by thinking what you want to think about what God ought to be like or about what God ought to do. You just stop in silence, and you wait, and you listen, and you adore, and you look up. “The mighty God, even the LORD [Jehovah], hath spoken.”

Have you ever realized who God is? Everything in connection with religion is about Him. Christ came into the world and died. Why? To bring us to God. It is all about God. It is not some comfortable feeling that you and I have to strive for; it is not having your body healed or a thousand and one other things. The whole object of Christ and His death upon the cross, His burial, and His resurrection is to bring us to God. And the ultimate test of our profession of the Christian faith is our thoughts about God, our attitude in His presence, our reverence and godly fear because our God is a consuming fire.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms (Kindle Edition)

Aware of Many Facts, They May Be Fools

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
Psalm 14:1

There is nothing new about not believing in God; it is the oldest thing in the world to deny Him. This is what I find so pathetic, that people think it is clever not to believe in God, that it is modern, that it is something new, that it is something wonderful! But here is a man, King David, writing all this a thousand years before Christ-nearly three thousand years ago-and there were people saying then, “There is no God”-just what clever people are saying today, those who try to argue that they are saying it in terms of some latest esoteric knowledge that they have been given and that other people still do not have. But is it not clear that this has nothing at all to do with knowledge as such?

No; it is a question of understanding, and that is a very different thing. Men and women may have a lot of book knowledge, but that does not mean they have understanding or that they have wisdom. They can be aware of many facts, but they may be fools in their own personal lives. Have we not known such people? I have known men in some of the learned professions; I would take their opinion without a moment’s hesitation because of their knowledge and because of their learning. But sometimes I have known some of those men to be utter fools in their own personal lives. I mean by that, they behaved like lunatics, as if they had not a brain at all. They have behaved in exactly the same way as a man who never had their educational advantages and who had none of their great knowledge. They drank too much even as a less educated man did; they were guilty of adultery even as he was.

There is all the difference in the world between knowledge-an awareness of facts-and wisdom and real understanding. Though people may have great brains and may know a number of things, they may still be governed by their lusts and passions and desires, and that is why they are fools. They want to live the kind of life that the psalmist describes here. “They are altogether become filthy,” he says. “There is none that doeth good” (v. 3). It is because they want to be filthy that they say, “There is no God.” So there is my first reason for calling such people fools. They are men and women who listen to their hearts, their desires; they are governed by what they want to do rather than by true understanding.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms (Kindle Edition)

Around the Interweb

The Only Hope We Have, And It Is Hope Enough

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)

R.C. Sproul from Together for the Gospel 2008 on the curse motif of the atonement:

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Also Worth Reading:

Controversy: Michael Krahn on what he thinks John Piper meant when he tweeted, “Farewell, Rob Bell.” (Incidentally, Piper responded: “Pretty close.”)

Men: A Bigger Problem Than “Boys Will Be Boys”

Bible: What About the Issues Scripture Doesn’t Address?

Documentary: The Life of George Whitefield as told by The Doctor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Apparently this video will no longer be available after March 31, so watch it while you can. It’s fascinating stuff:

In Case You Missed It:

Book Review: Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb

Husbands, Date Your Wives

What Good Will Come From the Bell Brouhaha?

Richard D. Phillips: Your Witness Matters

Meet My Friend Deni Gauthier

Thomas Watson: Let Us Imitate Our Father

Around the Interweb (08/29)

Martin Lloyd-Jones on Family Worship

If you love your children; if you would bring down the blessing of heaven upon your families; if you would have your children make their houses the receptacles of religion when they set up in life for themselves; if you would have religion survive in this place, and be conveyed from age to age; if you would deliver your own souls—I beseech, I entreat, I charge you to begin and continue the worship of God in your families from this day to the close of your lives… Consider family religion not merely as a duty imposed by authority, but as your greatest privilege granted by divine grace.

From Donald Whitney’s book Family Worship

HT: The Resurgence

In Other News

Parenting: My wife was interviewed on the How to Be Awesome podcast. The subject? How to be an awesome mom.

Writing: Tim Challies shares about latest writing projects, including The Next Story (coming in 2011 from Zondervan)

Pastors: Piper’s desire for his church during his sabbatical:

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Anne Bradstreet by D. B. Kellogg

A Precise God

Sermon audio: Be Heavenly-minded

The Bible’s Not About You

Spurgeon encourages us to see Jesus as our greatest object of astonishment

Martyn Lloyd Jones: The Peculiar Task of the Church

[T]he primary task of the Church is not to educate man, is not to heal him physically or psychologically, it is not to make him happy. I will go further; it is not even to make him good. These are things that accompany salvation; and when the Church performs her true task she does incidentally educate men and give them knowledge and information, she does bring them happiness, she does make them good and better than they were.

But my point is that those are not her primary objectives.

Her primary purpose is not any of these; it is rather to put man into right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God.

This really does need to be emphasised at the present time, because this, it sees to me, is the essence of the modern fallacy.

It has come into the Church and it is influencing the thinking of many in the Church—this notion that the business of the Church is to make people happy, or to integrate their lives, or to relieve their circumstances and improve their conditions. My whole case it that to do that is just to palliate the symptoms, to give temporary ease, and that it does not get beyond that.

I am not saying that it is a bad thing to palliate symptoms; it is not, and it is obviously right and good to do so. But I am constrained to say this, that though to palliate symptoms, or to relieve them, is not bad in and of itself, it can be bad, it can have a bad influence, and a bad effect, from the standpoint of the biblical understanding of man and his needs. It can become harmful in this way, that by palliating the symptoms you can conceal the real disease. . . .

The business of the Church, and the business of preaching—and she alone can do this—is to isolate the radical problems and to deal with them in a radical manner.

This is specialist work, it is the peculiar task of the Church.

The church is not one of a number of agencies, she is not in competition with the cults, she is not in competition with other religions, she is not in competition with the psychologists or any other agency, political or social or whatever it may chance to be.

The church is a special and a specialist institution and this is a work that she alone can perform.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, 30-32 (paragraph breaks and emphasis added)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Dishonesty of Unbelief

The popular teaching is that you cannot believe [the] records we are given, but that does not matter at all as long as you get the “religious value” of the stories. It does not matter whether or not Jesus was born of a virgin; it does not really matter whether or not He worked miracles or atoned for our sins by His death. It certainly does not matter whether He arose in body from the tomb.

The facts do not matter, they say, as long as you have the religious value of Jesus and His teaching.

In a sense, these apostles preached nothing but the facts, which to them were all-important.

They kept on talking about “the things which we have seen and heard.”

The experience of these men came directly out of the facts about which they were constantly speaking. If your experience does not result from the facts of Christ’s life and death, it is not a Christian experience.

If there was a time when we need to emphasize the facts, these great foundational facts on which the whole of our faith is based, it is the present moment. The world is as it is because it does not believe these facts. If you give your experience to the world, it will say, “All right, if that’s the sort of thing that pleases you, get on with it. I’m not interested; it has nothing to do with me.” On top of that, you can hear proponents of the cults saying, “Believe us, and you will get happiness. Though you have not slept for years, you will be able to sleep peacefully.”

But we preach facts, and we preach the apostolic witness to the facts, including this tremendous, glorious fact of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection is indeed a fact.

These apostles did not merely preach that Jesus—the one whom they had all known and listened to, the one who had been crucified and who had died and was buried—was still alive in the other spiritual realm. They did preach that, but the Resurrection does not merely mean that Jesus is still in existence in the spiritual realm. It means much more than that, and this is what we must be clear about.

These men preached the empty tomb.

They said: “We were witnesses, we saw Him crucified, we heard his cry of dereliction, we heard Him saying at the end, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46). We saw them taking down His body; we saw them laying it in a tomb, rolling a stone in front of the entrance, sealing it, ordering Roman soldiers to guard it. We saw that, but we also saw the empty tomb on the morning of the third day.”

That is what they were witnesses to, and that is what they preached—not merely that Jesus can still help us from the unseen realm, but that Jesus literally rose, leaving nothing behind except the grave clothes.

He arose in the body; it was a changed body, but it was essentially the same body, His body. He was able to show them His hands and side. You remember the incident in connection with Thomas, who was very slow to believe and stumbled at it. “Reach hither thy finger,” said our Lord, “and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side” (John 20:27). It was the same body, but changed.

Now, of course, our scientific age cannot believe anything like that, but they could not believe things like that in the first century either. In the last chapter of Matthew we read that the clever people at that time invented a story and bribed the Roman soldiers to tell a lie in order to disprove the Resurrection. They went as far as that, and people are doing similar things today.

That is the dishonesty of unbelief.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Courageous Christianity, pp. 165-166 (emphasis & paragraph breaks mine)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: There is Hope for All Who Cry Out to Him

But above everything else, Christianity is entirely beyond understanding. “What meaneth this?” they asked. Of course they did. If you can understand your religion, that is proof it is not Christianity. If you are in control of your religion, it is not Christianity. If you can take it up in a bag on Sunday morning when you go to church and then put it down again, that is not Christianity. Christianity is a miracle. It is a marvel. It astonishes people.

When Blaise Pascal, the French thinker, had a great experience of God, he said, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Then, negatively, “not the god of the philosophers and seers and thinkers.” That is the contrast. The God of the Bible is the God who reveals Himself in all the glory and wonder of His miraculous, eternal power. Thank God for such a message, such a Gospel. It made the church. This is what she preached, and on the day of Pentecost 3,000 men and women were added to the church.

But finally, because all  this is true, Christianity is a message for all people. “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). You will need to be very clever to understand the modern books about God, but thank God, you do not need to be clever to be a Christian. “The common people heard him gladly,” wrote Mark (12:37). “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called,” says the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 1:26). Rather, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty …and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (vv. 27-28). There is a hope for all who realize their need and cry out to Him.

Is that your idea of Christianity? Do you know this living God, this true God, this active God, this God who intervenes and comes? Have you ever met Him in any shape or form, as Moses met Him in the burning bush, as Jacob met Him at Peniel, as Elijah met Him on Mount Carmel? Have you ever felt the touch of God upon your soul? Are you aware that you have been dealt with, that God has entered into your life and has done something that you could not do? Do you know that you are what you are by the grace of God? Do you say, “I can’t explain it—all I know is that God has done something to me in Christ”? If you can say that, you are a Christian. But  if all you have is what you do and what you think, I am afraid you are not a Christian. God’s coming to you need not be the rushing, mighty wind, but it is always the power of God. It is always the hand of God. It always brings the knowledge that God has had pity upon you and has come down in the person of His Son to enter into your life, to save you and set you free. Oh, that men and women might know the living God and His power unto salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord!

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity, 31-32

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Our Greatest Hope

And what then? In Acts 1:10-11 we read: “Two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” If you think that Jesus finished when He died and was buried, listen to the message of Luke, listen to this treatise written to Theophilus—it is written to you. He will come again, even as He went. He will return, in bodily, visible fashion, riding the clouds of heaven, surrounded by the holy angels. And He will judge the world in righteousness and set up His glorious kingdom, to which there shall be no end.

That is the message of Christianity. That is what has made the church what it is. Do men and women need to be told about some kind of program that will give them better conditions? That is not our greatest need. Our greatest need is to know God. If we were all given a fortune, would that solve our problems? Would that solve our moral problems? would that solve the problem of death? Would that solve the problem of eternity? Of course not. The message of Christianity is not about improving the world, but about changing people in spite of the world, preparing them for the glory that is yet to come. This Jesus is active and acting to that end, and He will go on until all the redeemed are gathered in, and then He will return, and the final judgement will take place, and His kingdom will stretch from shore to shore.

That is the message that turned the ancient world upside-down. It is the only message, and I want to ask you a simple question: What does this message mean to you? What is your idea of Christianity? What do you think the business of the church is? Do you say, “I don’t want your sermons, I don’t want your argumentation—I just want to feel that I’ve said my prayers and paid my respects, as it were, to God, before I go out and do what I like”? Is it that? Do you think Christianity is something you can take up and use as a minimum, in the hope that it will somehow put you right? Or is it the most amazing and astounding thing that ever happened or will ever happen? Is it the thing by which you live, the thing that you long to know and to experience more and more? Do you realize that this Jesus came into the world to save you from hell, from the punishment that your sins and mine so richly deserve? Do you realize now that the essence of Christianity is not that it calls you to do something, but rather that it tells you what Jesus came into the world to do for you?

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity, 17-18