by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
The test of a Christian
How different are the tests that men apply from what we find [in the gospel]! ... We tend to forget the man himself in our interest in his various parts and the various phases of his life and activities.... How numerous are the questions that men ask! How wide is their field of investigation and how conflicting their opinions as to what really is the matter! ...
Some, like the Pharisees of old, are simply concerned about outward appearances. The only test they apply is that of outward morality and respectability. To others the one all-important question is the view which we may happen to hold on the subject of war or peace or on the subject of alcohol, education, or housing. As long as our views on those questions satisfy them, they are agreed that we are Christians; and it is extraordinary to note the zeal and energy, not to say the fiery, warlike spirit, with which they are prepared to preach and propagate these views. To others, again ... a Christian is, ... first and foremost, one who subscribes to a certain number of general philosophical propositions.... What an utter travesty of the gospel! How false to its method! ... The gospel has but one preliminary test. It is not our outward behavior, our good deeds. Nor is it our intelligence, our view on some particularly pressing social question. It is not our wealth or poverty, our ignorance or our learning.
It is just this one thing. How do we stand with God? Apart from all we are, and all we do, what about ourselves? It is the man himself in the depths, and at the center, that really matters. The motive is more important than the action. The unseen is more important than the visible.... The vital thing, the only thing that really matters, is how we stand when we are face to face with God alone.
Truth Unchanged, Unchanging, pp. 84-6
Comments on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, A First Book of Daily Readings
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