Choice Teaching For The Chosen
“It is written in the Prophets, `And they shall be all taught of God.‘ Every man, therefore, that has heard and has learned of the Father, comes unto Me.”
I SUPPOSE that you never noticed any great literary excellence in Bradshaw’s Railway Guide. “No,” you say, “one writing would be very much out of place in such a book as that–it is meant to be a plain direction to travelers. When we consult it, we do not wish to be entertained, we want to be guided as to the best and quickest route to our desired destination.” Well, that is the sort of sermon I am going to try to preach–one which, I trust, shall be a guide to Heaven to some who hear it, or who may afterwards read it–I long, above all things, that through my words many may find rest and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Notice, dear Friends, what our Savior was aiming at in this discourse. The Jews had been murmuring at Him. Certain followers of the scribes and Pharisees, who always opposed Him, had been whispering among themselves and finding fault with Him. Our Lord did not condescend to come down to their level and parley with them. They pretended that their difficulty was that He was well known among them, that He was the son of Joseph, the carpenter, and that they knew His mother and His brothers and sisters. Our Lord does not appear directly to answer them, but He takes quite a different tack. He says, “Murmur not among yourselves about this matter. Do not imagine for a moment that I am disappointed because you do not believe in Me, and do not suppose that your unbelief will at all frustrate My Father’s purpose or surprise Him. You may reject Me if you are determined to do so, but your folly and sin will make no difference to anybody except yourselves. On your own head shall be the guilt of your own blood. I knew that you would not believe in Me. I quite expected that you would not receive Me, for, ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.’” And, Beloved, in a similar manner, when we are pleading with you that you should believe in Christ, we must weep over you as Jesus wept over Jerusalem! And we may say, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children,” but when you come to this terrible decision–that you reject Christ and will not have Him reign over you, then we fall back upon the eternal purposes of God–and we tell you that you have not received either the electing love of God or the effectual working of the Holy Spirit. And you are left to perish in your sins!
To the ungodly and the unspiritual this may sound like rather harsh language, but should not men be treated with some measure of harshness if they spurn the Christ who is set before them and, in their unbelief, wickedly reject Him? True love is all the more loving because it is outspoken and sometimes seems even severe. There is a spurious sort of love current, nowadays, which consists in saying, “Ah, yes, you are all right and I am all right! You say, ‘No,’ and I say, ‘Yes,’ but, no doubt, we are both equally correct. You are black and I am white–or I am black and you are white–but, in these days, black is white, and white is no color at all! Let us make things smooth and pleasant all round. You praiseme and I will praise you! It does not really matter what you believe, or what you think–we shall all get right at last.” That kind of talk, or the preaching which comes practically to the same point, is infernal cruelty to immortal souls! I dare not use a milder term to describe it. It may be cried up as charity, but there is no charity in it! It is a shameful selfishness which, for the sake of ease and popular favor, cries, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace, and seduces men to their own destruction–playing merry tunes to them when, all the while, they are dancing down to death and to Hell!
Our Lord Jesus Christ was not a preacher of that order. When men refused Him, He flashed the red light of the Truth of God in their faces and made them know that if they rejected Him, they rejected their only hope of mercy–and if they turned against His Grace, it was because they did not know its power and were not under its influence. He taught these people, who murmured at Him, that they never would believe in Him unless the Father taught them. He plainly declared that the Father would teach all His own and that if those who were listening to Him did not come to Him, it would prove that the Father had not taught them, that they were not God’s chosen and, therefore, they would perish in their carnal and guilty ignorance of Him!
Now coming to the text, I shall ask you to notice, first, the promise of the Father’s teaching of His own people. “It iswritten in the Prophets, ‘And they shall be all taught of God.’” Then, secondly, we shall examine the teaching itself. “They shall be all taught of God.” And, thirdly, we shall consider the grand result of the teaching. “Every man, therefore, that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto Me.”
- To begin, then, there is in the text, THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER’S TEACHING OF HIS OWN PEOPLE.
Christ says, concerning this promise, “It is written in the Prophets.” I greatly admire that sentence because if there was ever anyone in this world who might have spoken on His own authority, without quoting Scripture, it was our LordJesus Christ! “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” and, therefore, all His sayings are the utterances of Omnipotence and He often, when upon the earth, made use of that great double Amen, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” Yet this Divine Teacher, who spoke as never man spoke, continually quoted from the Old Testament and supported His own teachings by quotations from “the Law and the Prophets,” and the Psalmists and other Inspired writers. In this case, addressing Himself to the Jews, He says, “It is written in the Prophets.” The tendency, nowadays, even among preachers, is to depreciate and dishonor Holy Scripture. I am often saddened as I find how many are quibbling at one part or another of the Sacred Word. To my heart, there is nothing more authoritative or more conclusive than this little sentence, “It is written.” If God’s message to men is written, that is enough for me–and my great concern shall be to find out what that message is! Every man must have Infallibility somewhere. Some find it in the Pope, but I frankly confess that I have never seen the slightest sign of it there! Some find it in what they call, “the church.” I am sure I do not know in which church to look for it, for all of them seem to me to be very, very fallible. I find Infallibility only in the Inspired Word of God! Here is a harbor where I can drop down my anchor feeling certain that it will hold. Here is a place where I can find sure footing and, by the Grace of God, from this confidence I shall never be moved. “It is written in the Prophets,” is quite enough for me! I trust, Beloved, that it is also sufficient for all of you.
That we may learn the lesson that our Lord intended to teach, let us look at the Words which He quoted. He said, “It is written in the Prophets.” And, truly, the passage or its equivalent may be found in more places than I shall be able to refer to, now, but will you kindly look, first, at the 54 th verse? Ah, I see the eyes of you Bible-lovers flash and I think I hear you say, “Fifty-fourth of Isaiah? Why, of course, that follows just after the 53 rd ofIsaiah!” Precisely so and, that 53
rd . There we
have the full-length portrait of the bleeding Substitute–“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Many of you know by heart that blessed chapter, so full of the doctrine of God laying upon Christ the sin of His people, and of Christ bearing all their iniquities that they might be forever free. Well, immediately after that great central Truth of the Christian faith, comes this 54 th Chapter–“Sing, O barren, you that did not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you thatdid not travail with child,” There is no better place for any to sing than at the foot of the Cross, gazing by faith upon the crucified Savior! O Earth, with all your barrenness! O heart of steel, with all your hardness! “Break forth into singing,” for there is heavenly joy and there is the promise of Heaven, itself, in the death of Him who lived, and loved, and died for us!
Further on in the 54 th verse, from which our Savior quoted, “And all your children shall betaught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of your children.” This is a promise to the Lord’s own people. The teaching of Scripture is that Christ died for His chosen. “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.” God’s promise, “All your children shall be taught of the Lord,” is made to His own Church and to all who are the children of that Church, namely, all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life! All God’s chosen, all whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, all whom Christ has redeemed by His blood, shall be, each according to his measure, in due time taught of the Lord.
That is the meaning of the promise as we get it in Isaiah’s prophecy. First, it follows the Doctrine of Substitution and, next, it is made to God’s chosen people.
Now will you turn over a few pages in your Bible, and read what is written in the 31 st Chapter of the prophecy ofJeremiah, beginning at the 31 st verse? “Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new Covenant with thehouse of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My Covenant they broke, although I was an husband unto them, says the Lord: but this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
So, you see, this promise is joined with other blessings of the New Covenant. Notice that when our Savior quoted theprophecy, He commenced with the word, “and.” Now, as a general rule, when you make a quotation, you do not begin with, “and.” That is a copulative conjunction which joins one sentence to another, yet our Lord begins with an, “and,” as if to hint that there was a great deal going before it of which He could not speak fully, just then. There is “an Everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things and sure,” which God has made with Christ Jesus, His Son, on our behalf. And all who were represented by Christ became, by virtue of their union with Him, partakers in all the blessings of that Covenant. Our side of it has been fulfilled by Christ, our Representative. He has done the Father’s will perfectly and He has been able to say, concerning the part entrusted to Him, “It is finished.” The side of the Covenant which has yet to be fulfilled is God the Father’s portion–and that runs thus, “I will, and they shall”–“I will be their God, and they shall be My people. I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me. I will instruct them so that they shall not need to have anyone to say to them, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.” What a wonderful promise this is! It is perfectly unconditional and freely made by the Father concerning all His chosen!
As it stands in these two prophecies, as our Savior quotes it, it is a promise made to each individual of the chosenseed. taught of God.“ Then there shall not be one true child of God who shall not be taken into the Lord’s school and be taught and trained by the Divine Father! Perhaps someone asks the very important question, "Do I belong to that blessed number?” Let me reply by making another enquiry, Have you been truly taught of the Lord? If so,you belong to the chosen company. If you have not been taught of the Lord, I cannot tell whether you are His or not. None of us can climb to Heaven and unroll the eternal parchments, to tell whose name is written there. And until there is some open and overt evidence of your being the Lord’s, I cannot declare that you are. But by this test shall you know–if you have been taught of the Lord, you are one of His children, you are in the Covenant of Grace, and you shall have your full share of every good thing which the Lord has there laid up for His own.
That, then, is the promise of the Father’s teaching.
II. Now, in the second place, let us briefly examine THE TEACHING ITSELF. “They shall be all taught of God.”
I want you to notice, first, that this teaching is practically the same thing as God’s drawing. Let me read the previous verse. “No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him. And they shall be all taught of God.” The way in which God draws men to Christ is not merely by persuasion, but by instruction. The Father does notdraw us to Christ by a force which is contrary to our nature and will–we are not sticks and stones–and He does not treat us as if we were. We are rational, responsible, free agents and He deals with us as such, never snapping even the finest strings in the instrument of human nature, so far as it is human nature. So, when He draws men, He draws them by teaching them!
I will show you how the Lord does this. He first teaches the poor soul what a great sinner he is–and that makes him look for a great Savior. He teaches that poor sinner the impossibility of his being saved by his own works–and that makes him look for the works of somebody else. He teaches that poor sinner that He has authorized Christ to stand in his place and, by His life and death, to meet all the Law’s demands on that sinner’s behalf–and the poor sinner says, “Why, that is exactly what I need!” So, while the Lord teaches him, He is really drawing him and, in like manner, there ought to be a great deal of teaching in all our attempts to draw men to Christ–I mean, in our efforts to be the instruments ofdrawing them. If I stand here and simply shout, “Believe, Believe, Believe,” I cannot expect that any good and lasting result will come of my shouting. I must tell people what they are to believe! I may try to persuade men to do this and to do that–and there may be great force in the persuasion, but, unless they understand the reason for my pleading, little will come of it. God’s way of working should be our way of working and He draws men by teaching them! Observe that very carefully.
Now notice what kind of teaching is here promised. It is Divine teaching. “All your children shall be taught of theLord.” “They shall be all taught of God.” There is no teaching but that which will ever save the soul. My dear Hearer, you may listen to the best preacher who ever lived, but unless God shall apply the Truth of God to your heart, you will not receive it. You may study the best books on theology as long as you like, but unless God the Holy Spirit shall give you the keys of this treasure house, you will never get at its precious things and secure them as your own. Means are to be used–as I will show you in a minute or two–but you must not trust in the means–you must not even rely on the beststudy that you can give to the Word of God, itself, as the sure means of your knowing the Truth. Over and above all that, you need the instruction and illumination of the Holy Spirit! “He shall teach you all things.” But unless you have His teaching, you cannot and you will not know the Truth of God. I would like, if I could, to unlearn everything concerning the things of God that I have taught myself. I desire with all my heart that all I know may be what I have learned of the Spirit of God and, dear Soul, if ever you are to come to Christ, you will have to unlearn a great deal that you have been teaching yourself, for nothing will be of any real worth to you in the matter of your eternal salvation but what the Holy Spirit, Himself, shall write on your heart and teach you. So, the promise of the text concerns Divine teaching.
Yet notice, also, that it is teaching through the usual means. “Every man, therefore, that has heard, and has learnedof the Father, comes unto Me.” “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Though my hearing will not save me, yet, ordinarily, it is the channel by which God’s Spirit works to the saving of the soul. Though my reading of the Scripture will not, of itself, save me, yet it is the usual way by which God enlightens the understanding through the Holy Spirit. Never neglect the means of Grace, I pray you, but, at the same time, never get into the condition that some are in who feel quite happy so long as they have been to a place of worship on Sunday, who return home and go to bed, just as if they had done all their duty for the day and had no need of anything further. They are like men who go to market, but do not buy anything. Or like persons who go into a field, but do not work in it. They are quite satisfied with having been to the market or the field. It must not be so with you, dear Hearers. If you want to find Christ–if you want to go to Heaven when you die–never be satisfied with mere hearing of the Word, but pray God the Holy Spirit that through the hearing you may be taught of the Lord.
The most blessed thing about this Divine teaching is that it is effectual teaching. If you are taught by the ablest divine, you may yet learn nothing. But if you are taught of God, you will really know what you learn. If He teaches you what your sin really is, you will know it–perhaps even to despair. If He teaches you the meaning of His Law, you will know it as you lie at the foot of Sinai trembling. And if He teaches you the fullness of Christ, you will know that, and you will rejoice that He is just such a Christ as you need! Men are sure to learn whatever God teaches them by His Holy Spirit. There shall not be one who shall pass through His school and yet remain a fool. Though they were all fools when they entered it, yet, before they leave it, they shall be so instructed as to the way of holiness that they shall not err therein. My heart continues praying even while I am preaching, “Lord, teach me,” and then it adds, “and, Lord, teach these people, too. Come and be their Instructor, for what can they know except that which You teach them ?”
III. So I shall conclude with this last point–THE GRAND RESULT OF THIS TEACHING. We have read the promise of the teaching. We have thought over what kind of teaching it is. Now let us enquire–What is the result of it? “Every man, therefore, that has heard and has learned of the Father, comes unto Me.”
Some men say that they have been taught of God and then they go on to prove that what they know is of their own inventing. Our Lord’s test concerning His disciples is, “By their fruits you shall know them.” And this is the fruit–every man who has heard the Word, and who has been taught of the Father, comes to Christ! Therefore, if any man preaches that which does not lead you to Christ, do not listen to it, for evidently he has not been taught of God. And, if you find in any book, teaching which makes you think less of Christ than you did before, burn the book! It will do you no good, and it may do you a great deal of mischief. All sound teaching leads to Christ, for if, when the Father, Himself, is the Teacher, the consummation of our scholarship is that we come to Christ. Surely, when we poor creatures are the teachers, we must be even more bound to begin and end with Christ Crucified. You were asking me, just now, whether you had been taught of the Father. You wanted to know whether you were one of His children. Well, here is the test–have you come to Christ? If so, you have been taught of God!
Coming to Christ is a very simple thing. It is the easiest thing in all the world, yet no man ever performed it until God the Father instructed him and taught him that sacred art. To wash in Jordan was a very simple thing, yet at first proud Naaman would not do it–he turned away in a rage! To believe in Jesus is a very simple thing–little children have believed in Him, persons who have scarcely been intellectually above an idiot have, nevertheless, been able to believe in Jesus! And yet, with all its simplicity, men never exercise it until they have been taught of the Father. I suppose it is because faith is so easy that they despise it. Naaman’s servants said to him, “If the Prophet had bid you do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, Wash, and be clean?” And it is only when the Divine Spirit humbles the heart and makes the man feel that he must stoop to anything so long as he may but be saved, that, at last, he goes down to wash in Jordan according to the saying of the man of God, or to believe in Jesus Christ according to the command of the Gospel.
You are taught of the Lord, my dear Hearer, if you believe in Jesus Christ, that is, if you come and trust Him. And, ifyou do not trust Christ, you may be a Doctor of Divinity, but you have never been taught of the Lord. He is not to you “very God of very God,” your sole and only Savior. It you do not trust Christ, you are a stranger to the Divine Light of God–that assuredly must be the case. You cannot be right in the rest unless you are trusting in Him. But, if you are truly believing in Him, then you are taught of the Lord. It is very wonderful how God brings His people to this point of trusting Jesus. I heard a little story which might have fitted very well into my morning sermon [Sermon #1745, Volume 29–Abijah–Or Some Good Thing Towards the Lord–] but it was told tome after I had finished my discourse, so I will repeat it to you now. In a London court there was a little girl who had been to Sunday school and who had found Christ as her Savior. She heard that there was a poor woman lying very ill and all alone, up two flight of stairs, so the child went up to the room and pushed the door open. She did not show herself, but said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” A nurse came in the afternoon, to attend to the poor creature, and she fetched in a city missionary to see the woman, for she talked so strangely, the nurse thought. When the good man came in, the woman said, “I am so happy, I am believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and I am saved! An angel came to the door and I heard him speak, and he said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved,’ and I did believe on Him, and I am saved!”
It was not an angel at all, it was that little girl! But it did not matter in the least who said it, for it was just as true whether an angel or a child spoke the words. I long that God should lead you, my dear Friend, to feel, “It does not matter how the Gospel comes to me, for if it is true, I believe it and I accept the Christ whom it makes known to me.” Some of you probably think that if an angel were to come flying through the Tabernacle and were to alight just against your seat and say to you, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved,” you would believe at once. But it would not make any difference in your believing, would it? It is the same message as I, who am, indeed, in the Scriptural sense, one of the angels or the Churches, put before you. You do not mind who brings the letter that is full of good news! I never trouble to send out to enquire the color of the postman’s hair if he brings me a letter–I take it and read its contents–and you need not stop to ask whether the message comes to you by an angel, or a babe, or a minister, or whoever it is! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”! And, if you do believe on Him, then I know that the Father taught you, I am persuaded that you are one of God’s elect and I can turn and say to you, “Yes, though I have not read the secret roll of the redeemed, if you believe in Christ, your name is there,” for there never was a soul yet that came to Christ except the Father drew him. And the Father never drew one by mistake and He never will! This is the blessed consummation of all God’s teaching–that the taught ones come to Christ!
But notice, before I close, that the Lord says, “Every man, therefore, that has heard and has learned of the Father, comes unto Me.” He does not merely come once, but he keeps on coming. Do not make any mistake about faith in Christ,as if it were one single act and then were done with. The faith that saves the soul is an all-the-day faith and an everyday faith. If you believe in Christ, your faith must be of the kind that believes today, tomorrow and forever. If you say, “I believe that I believed in Christ 20 years ago and, therefore, I am saved,” I do not believe anything of the kind! Unless you
still believe, you never truly believed in Christ Jesus, for the faith that God works in the soul is a continual faith! It has its ups and downs and, sometimes, like the moon, it is eclipsed, but it comes out of the darkness, again, and shines as brightly as ever! And, further, if you did ever really believe in Christ, you believe in Him now. “To whom coming,” says the Apostle–not, “having once come to Christ, we now run from Him.” But, “to whom coming,” always coming, always trusting, always believing!
And why is this? Because we are always being taught of the Father! I trusted Christ when I knew comparatively little of God’s Word. And I confess that I still know but very little of its boundless height, depth, length and breadth, but I believe that as I grow to know more and more, I shall trust more. If that is not the result of your knowledge, it is not the knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives you! It is the knowledge that puffs up. If it were the Holy Spirit’s teaching, you would rely more and more upon Christ and rest more entirely on Him. I pray for you, my dearly-beloved fellow Church members, that you and I may be taught of God till we grow less and less, and come to be nothing at all in our own esteem–till we vanish away into Christ and Christ becomes more than our necessary food, our life, our joy, our All-in-All!
Everyone who is taught of the Father, in proportion as he is so taught, comes nearer and nearer to Christ until hecomes perfectly to Christ in the Glory yet to be revealed. O blessed Master, we are still coming to You. We are, everyday, coming nearer to You. Your Spirit is making us more like You and making us long more for You! Your Father is creating in us more and more of a hungering and thirsting after You. Though we are very lame and do sadly limp, yet still we are coming to You. We can only feebly fly, yet still we are flying towards You and we expect that when You shall appear, and sit upon the Great White Throne, You will recognize that we are coming to You and You, Yourself will say to us, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” We are coming, Lord, to You! Come to us! Yes, come quickly, even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen and Amen.