Call To Worship February 18 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke J.C. Ryle Luke 9:46-50

In the second place, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a warning against a bigoted and illiberal spirit. As in the preceding verses, so here, the occasion of the warning is supplied by the conduct of His own disciples. We read that John said to Him, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name — and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” Who this man was, and why he did not associate with the disciples — we do not know. But we do know that he was doing a good work in casting out devils, and that he was doing what he did in the name of Christ. And yet John says, “we forbade him.”

Very striking is the reply which the Lord at once gave him, “Do not forbid him — for he who is not against us, is for us.”

The conduct of John and the disciples on this occasion is an illustration of the sameness of human nature in every age. Thousands, in every period of Church history, have spent their lives in copying John’s mistake. They have labored to stop every man who will not work for Christ in their way — from working for Christ at all. They have imagined, in their petty self conceit, that no man can be a soldier of Christ — unless he wears their uniform, and fights in their regiment. They have been ready to say of every Christian who does not see everything with their eyes, “Forbid him! Forbid him! For he does not follow with us.”

The solemn remark of our Lord Jesus Christ, on this occasion, demands our special notice. He pronounces no opinion upon the conduct of the man of whom John speaks. He neither praises nor blames him for following an independent course, and not working with His disciples. He simply declares that he must not be forbidden — and that those who work the same kind of work that we do, should be regarded not as enemies, but allies. “He who is not against us — is for us.”

The principle laid down in this passage is of great importance. A right understanding of it will prove most useful to us in these latter days. The divisions and varieties of opinion which exist among Christians, are undeniably very great. The schisms and separations which are continually arising about Church-government, and modes of worship — are very perplexing to tender consciences.

Shall we approve those divisions? We cannot do so. Union is strength. The divisions of Christians is one cause of the slow progress of vital Christianity. Shall we denounce, and hold up to public reprobation — all who will not agree to work with us, and to oppose Satan in our way? It is useless to do so. Harsh words have never yet made men of one mind. Unity was never yet brought about by force.

What then ought we to do? We must leave alone those who do not agree with us — and wait quietly until God shall think fit to bring us together. Whatever we may think of our divisions, the words of our Lord must never be forgotten, “Do not forbid them.”

The plain truth is, that we are all too ready to say, “We are the men — and wisdom shall die with us!” (Job 12:2.) We forget that no individual Church on earth has an absolute monopoly of all wisdom — and that people may be right in the main, without agreeing with us. We must learn to be thankful if sin is opposed, and the Gospel preached, and the devil’s kingdom pulled down — though the work may not be done exactly in the way we like. We must try to believe that men may be true-hearted followers of Jesus Christ — and yet for some wise reason, may be kept back from seeing all things in religion just as we do.

Above all, we must praise God if souls are converted, and Christ is magnified — no matter who the preacher may be, and to what Church he may belong. Happy are those who can say with Paul, “If Christ be preached, I rejoice! Yes and I will rejoice!” (Philippians 1:18.) and with Moses, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets — and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” (Numbers 11:29.)

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