Thursday, May 21, 2009
Are You Far Off?
In Isaiah 57:19 the following is stated:
I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.
God makes no progress in the one who thinks that peace is at hand in the ways and rewards of the world. Better the one who honestly despairs of the absence of inner, spiritual tranquility. Jesus reminds us that there is blessing to the one who is poor in spirit. His is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3). Oswald Chambers referred to the "door of destitution".
I remember reading a book of revival sermons by Brownlow North (1810-1875) entitled "The Rich Man and Lazarus" (Banner of Truth Publications). He meditated on the comparative situation of the two men who died in Luke 16. It appeared that the rich man left a large estate, a sumptuous table and a notable reputation among men to enter into torments and thirst at death. The pauper Lazarus was carried away to the exact opposite. I am reminded of the warning in Psalm 49: 16, 17:
Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased. For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.
North suggested that this would probably be the greatest source of torment to the rich man; that he had lived to demonstrate to younger brothers, friends, employees and sharecroppers that life could contain bounty, peace and satisfaction without Christ. The man who claimed that peace was near, had none of it.
North had experienced this very truth earlier at age forty-four; a child of privilege, carefree from toil. Taken chronically ill he was convinced that he was going to die without elements of redeeming faith or service to his account. Memories of sport, excess and carousing haunted him, but mostly his failure to speak good words of Christ and to explore honestly the religious impressions of youth. He repented and was raised from his bed an awakened man and eventually an evangelist.
Do you perceive that you have a peace apart from Christ? Beware, you will find that you are hanging from a cobweb over torments. While you breathe there is yet time.