"Come, you who are blessed by the LORD," said Laban. "Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels."
I. THE POSITION OCCUPIED. "Without." Probably they have no realized pardon, no enjoyment in religion, no future prospects of joy. Life is a dread mystery to them. They are saying, "Who will show us any good?" They may be just awakened spiritually, like the Philippian jailor. They may be under the condemnings of law and conscience, and in dread of the consequences of sin. Those within the true Church know in whom they have believed, and rejoice in forgiveness and the prospect of heaven. They are no longer outside the gates of mercy. We may be in a visible Church without being of Christ's fold. It is penitence, faith, and character that determine our position, and not birth, rank, or ceremonial observances.
II. THE REASONS WHEREFORE MANY RETAIN A POSITION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH.
1. Accustomed to the state, and unwilling to change. They are like the prisoner who, after many years' imprisonment in the Bastile, was liberated, and went forth only to find all his friends gone and himself a mere burden to society. He went back and entreated to be allowed to retain his cell until he should pass out of the world.
2. Many, because they are ignorant of the fullness of Divine mercy.
3. Others, because they think there is so much to be done ere they can be fitted to be received within, and are looking to their own efforts to prepare themselves.
4. Many, because they fear their opportunity of admittance is past.
5. Others, because undecided as to whether they shall give up the pleasures of the world for the privileges of Christian fellowship.
6. Others, because they lack faith in their faith and its power to justify.
7. Many stand outside because they think themselves as secure outside as within. They forget that Christ demands open confession, and that to be united openly, to his Church is one way of confessing his name before men. Let there be a personal and searching inquiry, "Wherefore standest thou without?" The invited guest passed within, and found his highest expectations more than realized, because God "had prospered his journey." - H.
I. WHAT IT IS THAT CONSTITUTES REAL HAPPINESS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. It is being blessed of the Lord.
Come in, thou blessed of the Lord.
I. WHO ARE THE BLESSED OF THE LORD? The Lord Jesus answered our question in the very first sentences of His great sermon on the mount. "He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit.'" The Lord also said, "Blessed are they that mourn." The Lord also said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." These are "blessed of the Lord."
II. Let us inquire WHY THOSE WHO ARE "BLESSED OF THE LORD" SHOULD ACCEPT THE INVITATION of the Church to "come in," by personal confession of Christ.
2. The Church solicits it. A Christian who never confesses Christ and who holds aloof from fellowship with the Church, might as well not exist, so far as the interests of the Church are concerned.
3. The world needs it. The stronger the Church the more potent is the influence at work for the world's good.
4. Your own spiritual welfare requires it. The value of association is recognized in other things. And thus church fellowship is useful in strengthening the convictions of those who share in a common faith and love towards Christ. An additional safeguard is thus furnished in seasons of temptation.
III. Let us now examine SOME OF THE EXCUSES adduced by those who, though "blessed of the Lord," yet "stand without." Some are ashamed of Christ, and shrink from the ridicule or enmity which confession might bring upon them. But these are not "blessed of the Lord," for He says to them: "He that is ashamed of Me, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed." Some keep outside that they may be free from the restraints of membership, and have more liberty for sin, or at least for folly. Others keep outside because they resolve to postpone repentance. But why do any who really trust in Jesus and who desire to love and obey Him "stand without"? They are hindered by unscriptural obstacles, erroneous opinions, or misapplied humility.
(Newman Hall, LL. B.)
II. WHO ARE THEY THAT MAY BE SAID TO RE EMPHATICALLY BLESSED?
1. They who are justified in the sight of God.
2. Those who are sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
III. IN WHAT RESPECT AWE THEY BLESSED?
1. In their souls.
2. In their trials and sorrows.
3. In their mercies and prosperity.
4. In their labours.
5. In their relationship.
6. Throughout all eternity.
IV. And those, in the next place, who are thus blessed of the Lord, may TEST THE REALITY of their having that benediction by what they do for, or distribute amongst others, to whom the knowledge of that blessing has long been strange. He who is most blessed of God is always the greatest blessing to those that are about him. The greatest receiver of spiritual things is always the greatest giver; and the more he gives the more he gets, till he learns, by blessed and practical experience, "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
(J. Cumming, D. D.)
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