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Strangers to the Heavenly Trade Are Neglecting Duties and Obligations

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Strangers to the Heavenly Trade

Reasons to Pursue the Heavenly Trade

Strangers to the Heavenly Trade Neglect Duties and Obligations}

Your duty should hasten you into this great employment. Christianity is not your liberty, but your many-sided debt. The law of creation binds you to God. You will confess you were made by God, and He will declare that you were made for Him. “The people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:21 ESV). Your fall from the covenant of works440 is not your liberty from the essential duties of Christianity. Your inability to fulfill the covenant of works does not release you from its obligation of perfect obedience to God. It is therefore your duty to return to the condition from which you have fallen by taking the Lord Jesus Christ to be your God, to love Him with all your heart and all your might, to trust in Him, to fear Him, and to obey Him. God has placed a copy of these covenant duties by which you will be judged in your conscience (Romans 2:12–15).441 Although you have defaced this copy in your conscience, the original is with God and it will be set out in the day of Christ [Judgment Day] against all who have not taken the Lord Jesus for their God.

You are also kept alive by God and that puts you under obligation to Him. This was the argument that the apostle [Paul] gave to the philosophers of that time [on Mars Hill], why they should seek the Lord; it was from Him that they had their subsistence. “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring’” (Acts 17:28 ESV). If God sustains you, it is reasonable that you should serve Him with all your being. This was the reason that Moses used to prove that God had a right to Israel’s all. “For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. The Lord alone guided him, And there was no foreign god with him.” (And therefore there was no reason for them to leave Him for strangers.)442He made him ride on the high places of the earth, And he ate the produce of the field; And He made him suck honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock, Curds of cows, and milk of the flock, With fat of lambs, And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, With the finest of the wheat—And of the blood of grapes you drank wine. But Jeshurun443 grew fat and kicked—You are grown fat, thick, and sleek—Then he forsook God who made him, And scorned the Rock of his salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:9–15 NASB). Mercies are cords and bands by which the Lord binds people under obligation to Himself. “I drew them with gentle cords, With bands of love, And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them” (Hosea 11:4 NKJV). Sinner, all your life has been full of these constraints of mercy and love to take the Lord to be your God.

The Gospel of grace, which you profess to acknowledge and receive, binds you to do the works of God,444 to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33 NKJV),445 to do the work of God, to labor for that bread that endures to eternal life, and to work the works of God (John 6:27–28).446 You are to be no longer be your own, but the Lord’s (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).447 Stop calling yourself, or thinking of yourself, as a Christian. Either tell the world you do not believe or hope to be saved by Christ crucified, or come over to Him and submit yourself to His sacred will. This is your duty.

440Theologians use covenant of works to describe God’s covenant with Adam. Although God did not owe Adam anything, for he was God’s creature, God allowed Adam and Eve to live in His garden in fellowship with Himself on condition of perfect and continuous obedience to Him. When Adam sinned (disobeyed God), he converted his very nature into that of a sinner, a rebel against God. All of Adam’s posterity, the entire human race, inherit this rebel nature, called by theologians original sin. Thus, we all remain under the covenant of works, and being sinners, have fallen under its curse. Because we are all conceived sinners and rebels, we commit actual sins and cannot please God no matter how hard we try because all we do is thickly infused with sin. The world is thus divided between sinners and saints. Sinners are all humans who are apart from Jesus Christ. Saints are those humans who have repented of their sins by faith alone, and also by faith alone have trusted in Jesus Christ. Saints demonstrate the genuineness of this trust in Christ by good works given to them by God. Saints are saints because Jesus Christ, on the Cross, took their sins and resultant punishment on Himself and accounted His own perfect righteousness to the saints as the saints’ own. God thus sees saints clothed with the perfect righteousness of His own Son. Even before God created the world, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit covenanted together to save all of those whom He chose to be saints. Theologians call this covenant the covenant of grace, in contrast to the covenant of works, which Christ alone has ever, and will ever, fulfill perfectly. (In contrast to the perverted doctrines of some denominations, all believers in Jesus Christ, those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit, are called saints in Scripture, not just those picked out by clergy.)

441For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:12–15 ESV).

442The words in parentheses are Ashwood’s, not from the Bible.

443Jeshurun: a poetic designation for ideal Israel.

444The two redundant do/work…of God phrases are both in the original.

445But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV).

446“‘Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’” (John 6:27–28 ESV).

447Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NKJV).

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