Are You in Earnest?

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THIS question, dear reader, suggests itself on reading the first verse of Luke 15, "THEN drew near all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him." The occasion is remarkable. "Great multitudes"' went after Him, we are told, just after the parable of-the "great supper." But followers such as these the Lord Jesus did not desire. That each one would have met with an instantaneous and ready reception at His hands, had they been really in earnest, there ' can be no manner of doubt; for "the righteousness of God" is "unto all." (Rom. 3:2222Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (Romans 3:22).) But knowing full well that a vast majority were seeking present advantage rather than future blessing, He applied to their consciences the searching words we read in chapter xiv. 26-35-words that well might make the heart of the most "in earnest" quail-" If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother' and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters; yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my. disciple. For which of you,"- &e. The mighty work of redemption, with all the fearful "cost" of it, had not stayed Him in His career of devotedness. He knew full well that Satan's "twenty thousand" would come against Him, but this did not hinder His course of love. He had indeed forsaken all that He had; for as we read in Phil. 2, He first—made Himself of no reputation, taking on Him the form of a servant; and then when found in fashion as a man, He humbled. Himself, and became obedient even unto death And not only this, but obedient in life likewise, He was the perfect "meat offering" from which "the salt" of the covenant of God was never lacking. (Lev. 2:1313And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. (Leviticus 2:13).)
To this position of true discipleship He calls on those who had "an ear to hear" to respond. He was thoroughly rejected of the world. Would they, then, identify themselves with One who, before He gave them a crown, had nothing but a cross to offer? Fully and fairly He opens out to them the consequences of following Him. He throws down the gauntlet, as it were, and challenges them to take it up. Well might the stoutest quail at the prospect. Bet, most blessed is it to observe, that this was the very moment that the publicans and sinners selected to draw near to Him. "Then drew near all the publicans and sinners." They bad heard to the full the terms of discipleship. They were not strangers to the fact, that He to whom they now drew near was "despised and rejected of men." They knew only too well what the religious world would say to them; but in spite of all these obstacles they " drew near," and placed themselves side by side with the rejected Jesus, and found a welcome from Him. "Wisdom's children," surely these were; and they were "in earnest." Doubtless, they were thoroughly discontented with their present condition. No doubt; they had tried the "far country," and found nothing but starvation there;-they had had fellowship with its citizen and found him a hard taskmaster. In fact, like the four lepers in 2 Kings 7, they said to themselves, as it were, "Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city and we shall die there, and if we sit still here we die also: Now therefore come and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians; if they save us alive we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die." Thus with these poor sinners. They, too, were perishing, but they had an ear to hear-(faith comes "by hearing.") They were aware of their wretched, sinful state. They came to Jesus, and found in Him the One whom the Pharisees charged with receiving sinners, and eating with them, causing these self-righteous ones to murmur. They were thoroughly in earnest, because they knew their wretched condition, and they found a perfect welcome from Him.
Dear reader, I would ask, Are you in earnest on this vital question too? This same Jesus is now in glory, and still invites you to draw near to Him. "This man receiveth sinners" is equally true of Him now as then; and be assured, therefore, there is a welcome for you. The Holy Ghost, with the candle of the word of God, is even now seeking diligently in the very corners of the great house of Christendom, to find the lost but precious souls that Satan is seeking to cover with the dust of Antiquity, Legality, Ritualism, and Expediency. Will you not, then, as the light flashes upon you from on high, respond to its summons, and let there be rejoicing amongst the angels of God at the finding of the lost one! Will you not allow yourself to be gathered up to-day, to become the precious possession of Christ? Hearken to His voice,-" He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24).) Can anything speak more plainly than this? You hear His words. You believe in the Father who in gracious love sent His Son, a Savior, and to give you eternal life: the moment you do this, everlasting life is yours-a life as long and as lastino.° as that of the blessed God who liveth forever and ever. Your condemnation has passed away; for Christ bore it all, and now ever liveth to make intercession for you. You have passed from the state of death in which you were, into life, and are introduced into present "'fellowship with the Father and the Son." Could there be higher joy than this? Impossible! "These things," Says the Apostle John, "write I unto you that your joy may befell." (1 John 1:44And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:4).)
It is then a question for you, "Will you exchange your present condition as a sinner 'under judgment'-as 'all the world' is declared to be (Rom. 3:1919Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Romans 3:19)) in the midst of a scene over which the cloud of retribution is fast thickening-for that of one not only secure from condemnation, but possessed of eternal life in the Son of God?" And although you are passing through a scene on which the cloud of judgment is so soon to burst, yet having your present portion fellow- ship with the Father and ° the Son, and for your hope the return of Him who loved you, and gave Himself for you, you have fullness of joy-the foretaste of that which you will have when in your glorified body, you will be enabled through the Holy Ghost, in unhindered accents of praise and worship, to cast your crown before the feet of Him who has done all for you! I pray you, then, dear reader, be in earnest, and to-clay accept God's salvation, if you have not yet done so. " Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:3737All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37).)
D. T. G.