Profession Without Practice: A Destructive Combination

Have you ever noticed how the Word of God seems to always keep you on your toes?  The perfection of the scriptures and God’s working providence have a unique ability to satisfy your continuous need to be rebuked and then restored.  A good preacher will never deliver a sermon that is open ended.  The hearers should always be convicted of sin and convinced of mercy.

Well, I’m no good preacher, but I have heard from and read a few in my time.  I guess you have gathered that Thomas Boston tops my list.  Boston would sometimes preach for weeks or even months on one verse of scripture and pull out many doctrines for his congregation’s edification.  In the summer of 1728, summer being a season with the most attended services, he preached a series of sermons on a scripture passage, which, on the surface would seem self explanatory.  “And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)

Boston titled this series “The Sin, Folly, and Danger of Men’s Calling Christ Their Lord, and Not Yielding Obedience to His Laws” or “The Sinfulness and Hazard Of a Profession of Religion Without a Corresponding Practice.”  They either didn’t believe in catchy titles back then or maybe sermon titles could be longer because you could read more words on the sign out front of the Church building at the speed of horseback than in a car.  Regardless, Boston’s title is enough to cause us all to pause.

Chronologically Christ spoke these words, as recorded by Luke, fairly early in his ministry.  He had only recently called the disciples.  They were just beginning to realize who he was.  His healing miracles and teaching had initiated a cult following, and many were calling him Lord, a title of authority.  Though they called him Lord, it was obvious they used the term loosely.  Do we do the same?

The title “Lord” is a relative term.  In other words, you base whether you use it on your relationship to the one being addressed.  Only someone who is inferior or subordinate may address another as Lord.  Ask yourself, what is your relationship to Christ?  Do you reflect that relationship by your practice?  Or, what relationship do you reflect?

In scripture we see many titles of authority used for Christ.  Together they should better help us to rectify the matter of his Lordship in our minds.  For example, he is called Master, Redeemer, Husband, Owner, King, and Thomas goes so far as to call him “My Lord and My God.”

To put things into proper perspective, we must see who we are.  We are servants, purchased slaves, wives, property, subjects, and creations.  As believers, we fall into an even more unique category than others.  God calls unbelievers children of disobedience.  Therefore, we must be children of obedience.  As for me, I don’t feel much like an obedient child.  However, before I start feeling sorry for myself, and hanging my head, let me look up and see the light in the darkness.  Christ is the true child of obedience, and we are the children for obedience.  We are, at the moment of our regeneration, united to Christ and he becomes our representative.  Our elder brother is our Lord, and only his perfect obedience is counted.  As members of the heavenly kingdom and the family of God, the structure of our being becomes intertwined in the glorious nature of the Triune God.  Therefore, our obedience to the this system, that is engineered by his Law, becomes all the more necessary.  The strength of our faith is directly dependent on our following of the design.

Just look at how Christ explains it to the hearers on that day in the verses following verse 46.  “I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.  He is like a man building a house and dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.  When the flood came, the torrent struck the house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Gods law is not an arbitrary list of do’s and don’ts.  He did not leave us law simply to rule our lives and to keep us in line.  They are the blueprints of his character.  God’s law is liberating and being regenerated is being given freedom to follow it.  Freed from slavery to lawlessness, we are now given the liberty of the law.  Therefore, the practice of the law is the strength of our foundation and everything that is built from it.

Boston would have you to take note of the special gift you have been given.  First, the pardon of your sin makes you acceptable to become children of God.  As children, your efforts at obedience, though done imperfectly and only by degrees, are made perfect and complete by your elder brothers representation.  As you profess to call him Lord, may your practice evidence your inheritance and give structure to your faith.

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