THE ESSENTIAL NEEDS IN AMERICA TODAY

The Riches of the Glory of His Inheritance in the SaintsEphesians 1:18INTRODUCTIONIn America there are many forms of entertainment and interesting events which compete for our attention, affection and time.  Almost daily some new crisis is revealed that seemingly compels our attention.  What most people do not understand, and, in many cases do not even know, is what awaits those who are God’s children. In Deuteronomy 32:9 God’s word says that “the Lord’s portion is his people….” In 2 Timothy 2:19 the apostle Paul writes that “the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, the Lord knows them that are his. And, let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” The Lord God knows all of his people, but, many of the people who are the Lord’s do not know “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints”.  Actually, no one can know the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance in the Saints, UNLESS THE EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING HAVE BEEN ENLIGHTENED.  This is actually a part of Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus, but it is the prayer of God for all of his people all of the time, once and forever. •         The Spirit At Work  This portion of Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus is contained within this great prayer of Paul, which is actually the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ for His people for all time, and, according to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is “one of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith”.  According to Dr. Lloyd- Jones the Protestant Reformers told their hearers that this is part of the “double-action of the Holy Spirit. (a) there is the ‘TESTIMONIUM SPIRITUS EXTERNUS’.  This is the Holy Spirit that is in the Holy Word of God and it inspired the men who produced the Word of God written.  However, there is a need for a second action of the Holy Spirit.  Before I can know that this is God’s Word and God’s Truth, and before I can read the Bible and discover health and food for my soul, something additional is necessary – the ‘Testimonium Spiritus Internus’.  This means the Spirit in the Word and the Spirit in the reader”!   Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains in his great exposition of the letter to the Church of Ephesus that the Apostle Paul “prays for the Ephesian believers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give them ‘the Spirit of Wisdom (testimonium spiritus externus) and the Spirit of Revelation, the ability to see it and to receive it and revel in it and to enjoy it (testimonium spiritus interus)’.  What a perfect provision for damned, blind, helpless, wretched sinners!  All the Truth I need to know and the ability to receive it and to apprehend it!  And all given freely through the Holy Spirit of God!  What a perfect salvation!  “’All I need, in thee to find.’”  Here then is the great precursor to everyone’s needs, which are the needs of America today.  We need for the Father of Glory to give unto us “……the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the knowledge of Him”.  That is the “Testimonium Spiritus Externus and Testimonim Spiritus Internus”.  THE TRUE NEEDWith the many problems that exist in America today, and, indeed, all over the world seemingly demanding virtually all of our attention, the question is sometimes asked “why should we be spending our time in trying to glimpse into eternity and life after death with all of the turmoil, discord, and uncertainty that is occurring in this troubled modern world?”  What we see in this passage of scripture is that from the very text of God’s Word we are called to know what is the hope of God’s calling [of us] and “what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints!” Thus, it is precisely because of the turmoil, discord, and uncertainty that exists in today’s world that we realize what is the true need for each Christian. As the earthly demands increase the greater the need for heavenly thinking! The greatest benefactors that the world has ever known, and, therefore the people who have brought the greatest good to this world, have been men and women who have emphasized most of all the importance of “seeing the unseen”.  The Eleventh Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews is a litany of people who fix their eyes not on this world but on the next.  We see Abraham’s call to go out from his family in the land of Ur of the Chaldees. Abraham, was a man who would have heard the exciting rendition of the events of the global flood from Shem, Noah’s son who lived almost as long as Abraham, and would have known how God destroyed the first world with the global flood. Nevertheless when God told Abraham to get up and go, he got up and went and “looked for a city that had foundations whose builder and maker was God”.  Every Christian is called to do precisely this same thing.  It can only be done when the Lord God has caused “the eyes of our understanding to have been enlightened” that we may know what is the hope of His calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”.•         Historical Accomplishments It is a fact of history that spiritual men, men who have had their eyes enlightened and fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ, have generally through the ages introduced the greatest reforms. They have built hospitals, increased education, and affected the culture, as well as, preaching and proclaiming the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.  These are men like John Calvin, Martin Luther, Oliver Cromwell, and many others, all where men who lived in the light of the unseen.  In short, it is when men forget the next world that things tend to go wrong in this world. In actual fact, isn’t that what has happened in America today?  We have been through at least sixty years from the early 1950’s up through and including today, where there has been a concerted, unified, continuing effort to eradicate God’s Word and its proclamation from public life in America.  It is now true that even in so-called “Christian churches” many of those filling the pulpit have turned from preaching sound doctrine merely to the introduction of an entertainment culture.  They have done this in an effort to compete with the many forms of entertainment and interesting events that compete for our attention and our affection.  As Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in his commentary on Ephesians “when men forget the next world and concentrate only on this present life, this world becomes a kind of living hell with confusion, and lawlessness and immorality and vice rampant”.   One need only to look at what is going on in the United States today to know in your heart that those things which Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in the late ‘50’s are true today. Abortion on demand; men marrying men; women marrying women; daily disclosures of kidnapping and random and senseless acts of violence.  The promotion of immorality, lawlessness, violence, and rampant vice in movies, television, books and magazines. It is only the Word of God which gives us revelation as to the only real solution for His children.  The eternal solution and hope for society is to fix our eyes on and consider the world to which God’s children are going. We are called to meditate there on, and, as Abraham, “look for a city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God”.  Meditate on “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”.  It is when we begin to realize that our citizenship is in Heaven “from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His Glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21) that we can begin to have an impact to the Glory of God on this world.  A few selected passages should aid us  in understanding the vital and essential need to eliminate confusion and to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ if we are to be any “earthly good”. I.   THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF HIS INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS.While there are competing views as to the exact meaning of this phrase that “you may know the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” means it is clear that at least one meaning is that Paul is praying that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened in order that we may come to know the character of the inheritance which we are going to receive.  First, of course, must occur the grant from God our Father Himself that the eyes of our understanding being enlightened that we might know what is the hope of his calling.  In Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians he said in the second chapter verse nine “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him”. Thus, first comes the “enlightenment” from God, then comes the command for us to “know the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints.”While there is some opposition to the preaching and teaching of this portion of this great prayer for God’s people, nevertheless, it remains one of the most essential needs for Christians.  Christians are “the salt of the earth”.  We are “the light of the world”.  It is through God’s chosen people (His children), who have been chosen before the foundation of the world that change to the “praise to the glory of God’s Grace comes.”  Of course, there are those who object even to the preaching of the doctrine of personal salvation.  Although, that makes it none the less necessary, and none the less true. Just meditate on the fact that Jesus is God the Son, who is God’s last Word to mankind regarding everything that matters.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Basically, that covers it all.  He came to earth in the form of a baby having left His throne above and He made Himself of no reputation.  He came solely for the purpose “to seek and to save that which was lost and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Even the great doctrine of the substitutionary atonement of Christ is under attack by many today. Yet, the word of God clearly reveals that “He Himself bore our sin in His own body on the cross.”  In fact scripture clearly reveals that “He became sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”  Do you know this?  Do you believe this?  Jesus did not come into the world to condemn anyone.  God’s Word tells us that all were condemned already.  In the natural state of things every person is “dead in their trespasses and sins.”  It is only by this great enlightening, this great making us alive in Christ and causing us to be born-again, that we can receive these things.  So, as Jesus said, a man must be born-again!•         How Then Should We Live?Having been born-again God’s Word tells us how we should then live.  We have been born-again that we might be holy!  We have not been given eternal life to squander it on riotous living.  Or to spend it on temporal things.  We have been given eternal life to be holy. (Ephesians 1:4-5) We therefore come to the realization that eternity starts now!  Oh, we recognize that there are difficult times, and perhaps even sufferings in America today, however, God’s Word states without equivocation in the Eighth Chapter of Paul’s great Epistle to the Romans that this must not deter us: “for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us”. (verse 18)  Christians should never pretend that “there is nothing wrong” but should always be realistic.•         Earthly Sufferings Paul also writes in the same Eighth Chapter of his Epistle to the Romans (8:19-23) that “ even we ourselves that have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, that is the redemption of our bodies”.  Therefore we see this great truth of what Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in the mid 1950’s that “the Christian above all men knows what a terrible world this is; but he also knows that he is but ‘waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body’”.   In Paul’s second letter to the Church at Corinth he even describes these sufferings and groanings as “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”.  Is this not real comfort?   This is what moves men and gives them the courage to call for an end to the killing of babies and ungodliness of all forms.  Let us strive, in so far as possible, to pray with all diligence, for all those in authority over us: that God would change their hearts and draw them unto Himself and that the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, that they may know the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the knowledge of Him. •         EncouragementDr. Lloyd-Jones said that: “there is nothing that so encourages us to Christian living, there is no greater stimulus to continue in it, than to know something about ‘the riches of His inheritance in the saints:’ The more I know of them the more I shall be encouraged to forsake sin, and to mortify the flesh, and to prepare myself for that which God has awaiting me.  It is the greatest incentive to holiness and to holy living; there is nothing comparable to it.  ‘He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure’. (1 John 3:3)  The lack of true scriptural holiness today is surely due to the fact that we do not spend sufficient time in meditating upon the glory that awaits us.  The world is too much with us, and we tend to think of salvation too much in terms of present experience rather than in the light of the glory which awaits us.  This contemplation of the glory is the high road to holiness”  Do you have courage? “The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” Do you have it? Ask yourself these questions and ask the Lord to help you to “know the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints”.II.                  KEEPING YOUR EYES ON JESUS. It always helps to look to the Master.  Jesus, Himself, declared that He is our Master.  He is greater than we.  If He was persecuted, we can expect to be persecuted also.  Rejoice in it! We have a race to run.  The Apostle Paul says that we should run it in the manner that He is running it.  In Paul’s letter to the Church at Phillipi he states:  “This one thing I do, forgetting those things that have gone before, and stretching forth unto those things which lie ahead, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.  We should run this race single mindedly. We must keep our eyes on the prize.  Do not let all of the different things that compete for our attention draw us away.  Don’t be like the seed that fell on rocky ground which sprang up but soon the cares of the world choked it out (Matt 13:18-23) We are called to continue to run the race with a “single-mindedness”.  Don’t be drawn aside by the discord and turmoil and entertainment and excitement and all of the things that demand your attention and affections.•         How To Run  In the Epistle to the Hebrews we see in the Twelfth Chapter that we are in fact to “lay aside every weight and the sin that does so easily beset us and run with patience the race that is laid before us……”.  In other words we are simply not to be caught up in all of the various things that compete for our attention.  Laying aside every weight speaks to those things that may not necessarily be sinful in and of themselves but they operate to draw us away from the main thing.  In scripture, the main things are usually the plain things.  The most main thing is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Indeed, the passage of scripture in the Twelfth Chapter of Hebrews goes on to say “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down on the right-hand of the thrown of God”. There it is! Look unto Jesus – not the things of earth! Therefore, we see that Jesus did not let His eyes be drawn away from the “recompense of the reward” He was looking to the joy of the glory that awaited Him.  That is the way that we are called to conduct ourselves!III.                THE COMMAND What we see throughout scripture is that the manner of our “running the race” is not optional.  God’s Word gives us the command, or instruction which is the most fundamental need that we can have.  Jesus says “He is the Way! He is our Life! He is the Truth!”  We must keep our eyes on Him.  In Paul’s letter to the Church at Colosse he says clearly in the Third Chapter “If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right-hand of the Father.  Set your affection on things above and not on the things which are on the earth.”(Colossians 3:1-2)  Ask yourself, honestly, how much time do you spend thinking about Heaven?  This admonition is clearly addressed to Christians.  It isn’t really a question which the Apostle Paul is asking when he says “If you then be risen with Christ ……”,he is actually saying that because you are risen with Christ do these things.  And then we see both the positive and the negative admonition.  First, the positive says “seek those things which are above where Christ sits on the right-hand of the Father.  Ask for God’s wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.  Ask Him to help you meditate on and to seek those things which are above where Christ sits on the right-hand of the Father.”  Dr. Lloyd-Jones says “the nearer we are to Christ the more we shall meditate upon the glory which He has prepared”.  Second, the positive again and the negative where we are told “set your affection on things above not on things which are on the earth”.  This really doesn’t leave any room for debate.  This is a command!  Ask yourself what are you setting your affection upon?  Many times I have found that my affection is set on some matter on the earth. Don’t do it!  Meditate on this passage of scripture.  Ask God to help you to set your affection on things which are above, not on things which are on the earth.  Are you totally absorbed by politics? By athletics of all kinds? By your endeavors at golf, or tennis, or some other athletic event? Do you pursue some hobby?  Don’t do it.  Increase the time that you spend in thinking about Heaven. Pursue Holiness! Without Holiness no one will see the Lord!•         The Things AboveWe need to focus on those things which are revealed to us concerning the life to come.  We are not told a lot about it because as Paul says in First Corinthians “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)  Heaven and the glory that awaits us is so marvelous, so wonderful, so perfect, that our human language is actually incapable of conveying a true idea of it.  However, there are a few things that are disclosed to us that we can focus on. Dr. Martyn Lloyd- Jones points out first, we shall be with the Lord Jesus.  In John Fourteen he says “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me…..I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there you may be also”.  (John 14:1-3)  We will be with Him.  Second, Martyn Lloyd- Jones says we are also told in the Gospel of John Chapter Seventeen that Jesus prays to the Father and says “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I Am; that they may behold My Glory, which thou hast given Me: for thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).  There are other passages of scripture that give us some insight into what awaits us in Heaven.  A brief recessitation, although not exhaustive, may be helpful:  1 John 3:2 says “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”.  In Philippians 3:21 we see that “He will change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body…..”.  The Apostle Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 12:3-4 that “He was caught up unto the third Heaven and heard “unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter”.  The Apostle Peter says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you”.In a sermon on Colossians 3:1-2 preached on Sunday morning March 28, 1880 Charles H. Spurgeon, who has been referred to by many as the prince of preachers, said the following regarding the “things above” on which we should set our affection:   “First there is God Himself. Make him the subject of your thoughts, your desires, your emotions, your love.” “Delight thyself, also, in the Lord, and He will give thee the desires of thine heart.” “My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.” Call him “God my exceeding joy”. Let nothing come between you and your heavenly father. …O to say “Whom have I in Heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” O to love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength: that is what the law required, it is what the Gospel enables us to render.”    “What say I next? I seek Jesus, who is God, but yet is truly Man. Need I press upon you, Beloved, to set your love upon the Well-beloved? Has He not won your heart, and doth He not hold it, now, as under a mighty spell? I know you love Him. Fix your mind on Him, then. Often meditate upon His Divine Person, His perfect work, His mediatorial Glory, His second coming, His glorious reign, His love for you, your own security in Him, your union with Him. Oh, let these sweet thoughts possess your breasts, fill your mouths, and influence your lives. Let the morning break with thoughts of Christ and let your last thought at night be sweetened with His presence. Set your affection upon Him who has set his affection upon you.”  Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his great commentary and exposition on the book of Ephesians in addressing this passage of scripture said the following: “Do you know that you are a saint? Are you certain that you are one of God’s people?  Make certain of it.  Then having made certain of it, dwell upon it, apply your mind to it, read the scriptures, delve into them, commit them to memory, repeat them to yourself daily.  Say to yourself, ‘that is what I’m destined for, that is the inheritance which has been prepared for me, that is how I am going to spend my eternity’”……..”Let us get to know these things; let us look upon them; let us live in the light of them.  And then, as men who have seen them, let us live our life in this world to the maximum, telling others about this glorious God and what He does for all who trust in Him, and helping as best we can to “go about doing good” in this passing world of time, even as our blessed Lord did when He was here”. Conclusion: Resolve now “if you then be risen with Christ” to seek those things which are above where Christ sits on the right-hand of the Father and to set your affection on things above and not on the things of the earth.  Meditate on God’s Word.  Pray and ask the Lord to give you revelation so that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know what is the hope of His calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”  Resolve to think less of about the things of this earth.  It takes discipline and training to stop thinking about what others are thinking about you.  It takes discipline and training to stop thinking about and setting your affection on the things of the earth.  Lay aside every weight and the sin that does so easily beset you and run with patience the race that is laid before you, looking unto to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. This is what Paul is talking about in the 4th chapter of Ephesians when he commands us to “put off the old man and put on the new”. As Jude, who describes himself as a “bond-servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” said “But you beloved building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life……….Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise be glory and majesty and dominion and power both now and forever, Amen”. Your friend and brother in Christ,Daniel (Bill Gray)

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