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Submit to All the Instructions of the Lord Jesus

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Strangers to the Heavenly Trade

How to Get the Heavenly Trade

Submit to All the Instructions of the Lord Jesus}

Sixth, you must commit to this also: to submit to all the instructions the Lord Jesus gives you. You must go through all the toils and bear all the burdens that this heavenly trade calls you to. Every craft and vocation has its principles and rules; by learning and obeying them, one may become proficient in the trade. This applies to Christianity also, and as piety is the highest and noblest profession, so its principles are more pure, mysterious,509 and attainable only with the greatest difficulty. Acquired knowledge gives people enough information for all earthly endeavors, but the heavenly trade requires both infused and acquired understanding. Both rules and an eye to discern them must be given to you in order for you to become proficient. One reason the Lord Jesus is given is to be a light to the gentiles and to open blind eyes (Isaiah 42:6–7).510 He is given as a prophet to teach and instruct them in the way they should go. To hear and obey Him as God’s prophet is the absolute duty of all who have given themselves up to His leading and government. “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you’” (Acts 3:22 NASB). He has engaged to make very wise those who obey Him and also show them what they must do (Acts 9:6).511 And if they go on to know [what they must do] they will know the Lord. If they sit at His feet and hear His Word (Deuteronomy 33:2–3),512 He will shine out to them and send out a fiery law for them. To get this instruction, your duty is to hear Him, to watch daily at His gates, and to wait at the doorposts of His house (Proverbs 8:34).513 When He calls, say with Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).514 And (as His mother said) whatever He says to you, do it (John 2:5).515 Do not slight any directions or balk at any difficulties in complying with His will for you. This is for the life of your souls; obedience is so necessary for the disciples of Christ that without it, you cannot learn any true knowledge on earth or obtain salvation hereafter. “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17 NKJV). “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9 ESV). “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30 NASB). See also Proverbs 8:5–6 and Proverbs 3:17.516 He gives you no commands except what is needful, profitable, excellent, and pleasant. Hear, and your souls will live (Isaiah 55:3).517 Shall the servants of people come, go, or do this or that when they are ordered (Matthew 8:8–9)?518 Indeed, shall the devil’s slaves do the greatest drudgery, engage in the most desperate ventures, throw themselves from pinnacles, and even damn their souls at his bidding? And shall the servants of Christ be so disobedient, especially when their own concerns, mercies, and advantages are wrapped up in obeying them, and that to so rational and easy commands? The easiness of obeying the command versus the life and health benefits impelled a heathen to obedience against his inclination: “And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, “Wash, and be clean”?’” (2 Kings 5:13 NKJV). If God’s commands seem grievous, let [God’s] love sweeten them. If His yoke seems heavy, let His rest at the end of it render it easy. When duties seem burdensome to flesh and blood, His burdens heavy, or losses for the Gospel’s sake great, think along these lines: It is better to be stung once, than forever. It is better to undergo troubles along the way, than at the judgment at the end. It is better to have my bad things on earth, than to be tormented for eternity (Luke 16:25).519 Consider what pains and hardships people will undergo for gold that perishes, even for counterfeits that cheat them; shall I not endure trials for an imperishable inheritance reserved in Heaven (1 Peter 1:3–7)?520 How some strive to obtain a perishable wreath [trophy]; shall I be weary in pursuit of an incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25)?521 Without labor, there is no [eternal] rest. Without bearing the burden and heat of the day when called to it, there is no pay at the end (Matthew 20:12–13).522 Without striving according to God’s law, there is no crown (2 Timothy 2:5).523 Without obeying the commandments, there is no eating from the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:14).524 Without enduring to the end, there is no salvation (Mark 13:13).525 Comfort yourselves with this: Heaven will make amends for all when your wet and weary sowing will end in a pleasant and eternal harvest. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV). “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV).

[A theme of this subchapter is counting the cost.526 This is a commanded duty that must be taken seriously. Ed.]

509Mysterious does not here mean that we cannot know what God expects of us, but rather that why God commands certain things and how these things “work” is not always revealed to us.

510I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house” (Isaiah 42:6–7 NKJV).

511So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’” (Acts 9:6 NKJV).

512And he said: ‘The Lord came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them. Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hand; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words’” (Deuteronomy 33:2–3 NKJV).

513Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors” (Proverbs 8:34 ESV).

514Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for Your servant is listening’” (1 Samuel 3:10 NASB).

515His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it’” (John 2:5 NKJV).

516O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right” (Proverbs 8:5–6 ESV). “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17 ESV).

517Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David” (Isaiah 55:3 ESV).

518But the centurion said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, “Go!” and he goes, and to another, “Come!” and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this!” and he does it’” (Matthew 8:8–9 NASB).

519But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish” (Luke 16:25 ESV).

520Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3–7 ESV).

521Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:25 NASB).

522saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?’” (Matthew 20:12–13 NKJV).

523An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5 ESV).

524Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14 NKJV). Some other translations have wash their robes instead of do His commandments; this is due to a textual variant, which this editor will not presume to adjudicate.

525You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Mark 13:13 NASB).

526Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27–33 ESV).

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