Whenever we are being faced with some new and different course, some fresh proposition or position, there is one all-governing question that we should ask, and which we should take ample time to ponder and pray over seriously.
That question is~Does this thing before me stand in direct line with the full purpose of God, as revealed not in a fragment but in the fulness of His Word?
God has left us in no doubt that He has a clearly defined purpose in view as the ultimate object of all His dealings. He has also made it abundantly clear what that purpose is. Further it is distinctly shown that believers are called according to his purpose and that they are to make their calling and election sure.
One who was an aged and advanced believer, and a greatly used servant of God, said toward the end of his course that his great concern was that he might apprehend that for which he had been apprehended by Christ Jesus.
It is the business and duty of every true Christian to study so as to be quite clear as to what that Eternal Purpose is. Having done so everything that arises to engage us must be brought to the judgment bar of that purpose, and interrogated in its light. God will not cut across our path, or give us particular light at any fork in the road if we have not been diligent in this quest or faithful to the light given.
It just will not do to allow ourselves to be influenced by questions of comparative right or wrong good or bad, permissibility, desirability, expediency, or policy. Nor must ambition, soul-gratification, enlarged prospects for the Lord, wider acceptance in Christianity, or any such thing, colour our judgment or affect our decision. Advantage and cost are ruled out here as deciding factors.
One question, and one alone, will decide tragedy or glory: Does this that is before me stand directly in line with the full purpose of God? When the end is reached, the full story told, the sum taken, how much that is bound up with this will be stripped off, as having no real substance with what is Christ, and therefore fail to be carried over into the eternal? What will the River carry away, and what will emerge on the other side? This was the big question that Paul put to the Corinthians.
In all the generations of this dispensation God is at work, seeking to secure a maximum of eternal value in accordance with eternal purpose in His elect. His discipline is to sift out the chaff, the merely perishable, and store up the imperishable. When He has secured in heaven an adequate and commensurate measure of that which is His Son out of all these generations, the terminus of the age will be brought about, the world purged by fire, and that accumulated eternal value be brought in with the elect, to be the governing character of the ages of the ages.
Because so much hangs upon this issue, the course of the Purpose is beset by every means and effort for its frustration.
The peril or snare will be cunningly and ingeniously adapted to the prey. What would capture some would make no appeal to others. The most spiritual will be presented with what appears to be most spiritual. Our particular temperament will be our peculiar danger. We shall have to, ever and always, be governed by principle, and not by feelings, preferences, arguments, or natural appeal. Intellectual palliatives, emotional ecstasies, activity gratifications must be suspected or challenged.
The one question must be paramount~Where does this lead? Does it essentially and intrinsically relate to the one supreme purpose of God?
~T. Austin Sparks~