John, the “Beloved” Disciple, writing in his old age, says: “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I Jn. 5:5); and that belief, surely, is our aim in this day of perplexity and tribulation. We have lost our way, and not know where to turn for help; and so the best thing we can do is to retrace our steps and see, if we can, where we went astray.
Let us begin right back at the beginning, where we will find something of God’s Plan and Purpose for mankind.
In Genesis, we find: “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.” (Gen. 1). He planted it in all sorts of herbs and grasses, trees and flowers; next He created all kinds of fish, and birds, and animals; and on the sixth day (or age), “God created man in His own image . . . male and female created. He them … and God blessed them . . . and God saw ever thing that He had made, and behold it was very good.” (Gen. 1).
And then, “God commanded the man…” That is, He told him what to do, and what not to do; He told him, too, how much he would be blessed if he obeyed, and what would happen if he disobeyed. “But of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:17). Perhaps we wonder sometimes just what God meant by “the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”, but we may be sure that Adam and Eve knew full well, and understood what disobedience of that command entailed: but the devil (the serpent, the “shining one”, Satan, the evil one) call him what you will, persuaded the man, Adam, through the woman, Eve, that God could be disobeyed with impunity. “Ye shall not surely die,” he had told the woman.
“Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6: 23). “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” we are told by the Prophet Ezekiel (18:4).
But when Adam sinned, God, in His mercy, gave the Promise of a Seed, who should destroy (bruise the head of [Gen. 3:15]) the evil one; and so, in fulfilment of that promise, “God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him”; (I Jn. 4:9); or as that wonderfully comforting passage in John 3:16 has it: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners”; and God acknowledged Him publicly, “This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him”.
In order to inherit eternal life, we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and keep His Commandments; and we shall be saved. It is just as easy as that or as difficult, depending upon the way we look upon obedience.
To quote John again, he tells us that we should “believe on the name of … Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” (I Jn. 3:23). “THIS is the work of God,” says Jesus Christ Himself, “that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (Jn. 6:29).. “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every Spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God … Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in Him, and he in God.” (I Jn. 4:2,15).
Did not the thief on the cross confess Jesus Christ, and receive the Promise, “this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise”? All he did was believe, and witness to the fact, and that was enough. We need not question as to whether the repentant thief would receive further instruction “over on the other side”; or whether Jesus said: “I tell you today, thou shalt be with Me …” or “I tell you, today thou shalt be with Me . . .”; these are non-esentials, but the great fact remains that the thief’s belief in Christ, and witness to Him, was enough to obtain for him the immediate assurance of salvation. What more can anyone want than that?
“Come unto Me,” says Jesus, “… and I will give you rest.” “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me . . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Isn’t that what we need today, in this chaotic age – rest for our souls? Then, think of that wonderful promise in Christ’s own words, so little heeded, and yet so full of hope. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” The Kingdom needs a King, a People, and a Kingdom. Jesus Christ—the King (there are many today who seem to think we can have a Kingdom without the King); all who believe in Him—the People; and the whole world—the realm, or Kingdom. The day for the crowning of Jesus Christ as King is near at hand; let us see to it that our belief in Him gives us the rights of one of His subjects; and let us not forget too that we must seek “His” righteousness”, as well as “His Kingdom”; in fact, it is doubtful if we could have one without the other.
“His righteousness” means nothing less than obeying His commands. “If ye love Me,” He said, “keep My Commandments.” Sometimes we are afraid to face His Commandments, but they are nothing whatever to be afraid of; did not Christ say: “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light”?
Yes, Jesus Christ IS the One Essential. Let us follow Him.