THE DOOR TO GOD’S PRESENCE
The Word of God tells us that in the midst of the great mass of men there are to be found a special people—a people who were chosen of God out of the common race before the stars began to shine—a people who were dear to God’s heart before the foundation of the world, a people who were redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus beyond and above the rest of mankind, a people who are the special property of Christ, the flock of His pasture, the sheep of His hand, a people over whom Providence watches, shaping their course amid the tangled maze of life—a people who are to be produced at the last, every one of them faultless before the Eternal Throne and fitted for the exalted destiny which, in the ages to come, He shall reveal! All through Scripture you read about this particular and special people. Sometimes they are called “a seed,” at other times “a garden,” at other times “a treasure,” and sometimes, as in the Chapter we have read, “a flock.”
The common name in the New Testament for them is “the Church”—“the Church of God which He has purchased with His own blood.” “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” Now, the all-important question is how can we obtain admission into this Church? Where is this community to be found? Who are the members of it? What is the way to become a partaker of the privileges which belong to it? Jesus Christ here tells us two things—First, How to enter the Church. The way is through Himself as the door. Secondly, What are the benefits we shall receive through being members of Christ’s Church—we shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.
Christ tells us that the only way to enter the Church is through Himself. He is the door, the only door. There is no other mode of admission into His Church but through Himself. Let it be understood, then, once and for all, that we cannot get into the Church of Christ through Baptism. There are tens of thousands, yes, there have been millions who have been baptized after a fashion, that is to say, they have been sprinkled—and thousands have been immersed—who never were admitted into the Church of Christ! In consideration of the ordinance as it was administered to them, with, or more commonly, without their consent, they were recognized by some persons as being Christians. But let me tell you that unless they came to Christ by true faith, they are nothing better than baptized Pagans! They are still just sprinkled heathen! Why, you might hold a man in an everlasting shower, but you could not, thereby, make him “a member of Christ.” Or you might drag him through the Atlantic Ocean and if he survived the immersion, yet he still would not be one jot the better! The door is not baptism, but Christ! If you believe in Christ, you are a member of His Church. If your trust is stayed upon Christ, who is God’s great way of salvation, you have evidence that you were chosen of Him from before the foundation of the world—and that faith of yours entitles you to all the privileges which Christ has promised in His Word to Believers!
My Brothers and Sisters, it is a great privilege to have Christian parents. It may prove a very great advantage if you use it rightly. But it involves a great responsibility, and if you use it wrongly, instead of being a blessing to you, it may be a fearful curse! Though you may be one of a long line of saints, “Except a man is born-again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” The most pious example, the most godly training cannot ensure conversion—and without conversion, depend upon it—you cannot be Christ’s. “Except you are converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Through our not practicing infant baptism, we do not so readily fall into this error as some denominations—still, it is necessary to say even here that you have no right to Gospel privileges because of your mothers and fathers.
You must yourselves be born-again! You have no right to the Covenant of Grace, nor to the blessings or promises thereof, except as by your own personal and individual faith you come to Christ! It is not your father nor your mother who can be the door into Christ’s Church for you, but Christ Himself. “I,” He said, “I am the door.” If you are in Christ, you are in His Church. If you have laid hold on Him, you are a member of that secret and invisible community of His elect and His redeemed—but it is not by Baptism, nor by birthright that you can ever be so!
Moreover, as Christ is the door, it is evident that a man does not come to be a member of the Church of Christ by MAKING A PROFESSION OF BEING SO. He may prove himself to be a detestable hypocrite, but he cannot prove himself to be a genuine Christian by mere profession! Men do not get rich in this world by a lavish expenditure, or by a profession of being wealthy. They must hold the title deeds of their estate and have the cash in the strong box, or else they are poor in spite of all their pretensions! And you cannot become a Christian by COMING FORWARD and asking to be admitted into the Church, declaring that you believe and avowing that you repent. No, verily, but you must truly repent, or you shall perish! You must truly believe, or you shall have no part or lot in this matter!
The mere saying, “Yes, yes, I am willing to profess this, I am willing to say that,” no more makes you a Christian than it would make cotton to be silk to call it so, or make mud to be gold by labeling it with that title! Beware of a false profession, for it is doubly hazardous. The man who has no Grace is in danger, but the man who makes a profession of having it when he has none, is in DOUBLE DANGER, for he is the least likely to be awakened and he is certain, unless Sovereign Grace prevents, to make his profession a pillow for his wicked and slumbering head till he sleeps himself into Hell!
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