Luk_6:46. Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
THE honour of Christ and the salvation of our souls depend on our having right views of the Gospel: we cannot therefore too earnestly insist on the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. Nevertheless we should constantly urge the practice of good works as the fruits and evidences of our faith. The folly of expecting salvation while we neglect them is strongly represented by our Lord in the text.
Shew who they are that deserve the censure in the text—
The heathens have less to aggravate their sins than Christians. The greater part of those who live in countries that are evangelized are obnoxious to this censure—
Mere nominal Christians deserve it—
[Many are Christ’s, as having been devoted to him in baptism. By the appellation of Christians they profess themselves his followers; but they are in no respect subject to his will and word. Christ commands them to “seek first the kingdom of God,” &c and they seek it last.]
Formal, self-righteous persons deserve it—
[Many will go far in the outward duties of religion: they will profess too a veneration for the name of Christ: but he calls them to regeneration [Note: Joh_3:3.], and they deny their need of it. He bids them live by faith on him, and it proves a hard saying [Note: Joh_6:53; Joh_6:60.]: they are satisfied with the form of godliness, without the power.]
False professors deserve it—
[None are so worthy of reproof as they: they will talk much of their dependence on Christ: they will profess perhaps to have experienced much of his power and grace: they may even glory in the recollection of his truth and faithfulness; but in the midst of all, they can be proud, covetous, passionate, censorious, unforgiving, deceitful, and dishonest. To such the text may be applied with peculiar energy.].
Such persons ought to be addressed with all plainness of speech—
Expostulate with them on the folly of their conduct—
The service of God is justly called a “reasonable service;” but a fruitless profession is most unreasonable. No reason can be assigned “why” persons should rest in such a state—
Is not a conformity to Christ’s precepts practicable?
[Many allege, that such strictness as he requires is unattainable. We allow that absolute perfection is not to be expected in this world; but an unreserved devotedness of ourselves to God is attainable. Thousands of the saints of old have walked thus with God: there is a cloud of living witnesses who exemplify this conduct. God has promised grace to all who seek it diligently.]
Is not obedience to him necessary?
[We may be good citizens if we possess only the virtues of heathens; but an unfeigned regard to Christ is necessary to constitute us Christians. St. Paul has fully declared the in-efficacy of outward religion [Note: Rom_2:28-29.]. Judas and the foolish virgins awfully exemplified it [Note: Mat_25:3; Mat_25:11-12.]. Our Lord has warned us all respecting it [Note: Mat_7:21-23.].]
Will not a feigned allegiance be discovered by him?
[We may easily deceive our fellow-creatures; but every motion of our hearts is visible to Christ [Note: Heb_4:13.]: nor can the most specious appearances deceive him [Note: Joh_2:24-25.]. In his final judgment he will shew that he was privy to our most secret thoughts and desires [Note: 1Co_4:5.].]
Shall we not wish at last that we had been sincere and upright?
[The reproach which attends the exercise of real religion, may make us satisfied with the form of it at present; but in the day of judgment we shall see our folly [Note: Wisd. 5:1–9.]. We shall not know what to reply to this question then. The vain excuses we now make we shall not even dare to offer.]
[Let all then seek to become Christians indeed. Let us not be afraid to confess our Lord before men; and let us regard “what he says” not only above all, but in opposition to all, that human counsellors can suggest. Let us take care that our lives be consistent with our professions. Let us trust in the Lord as simply, as if obedience were not required. Let us obey the Lord as zealously, as if obedience only were required.]