This lesson is a very positive one. We are dealing with some of the things, about which God says "MUST." And where God says MUST, we dare not deny Him.
God's Word is immutable. Yea, when He has spoken, we cease to speak.
Christ told the disciples how He "MUST suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes," and how "He MUST be KILLED." Peter at once began to rebuke Him, and said: "Pity Thyself Lord, this shall not be to Thee." Immediately Christ said to Peter: "Get behind Me, satan, thou art an offense unto Me."
There are seven MUSTS and every one of them are God's pronouncements, and they MUST be as He has said. Then let us believe Him now.
"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).
When God says "must" we certainly can afford to use no word less imperative. There is nothing indefinite, nothing optional in "Ye must be born again."
He who would see the Kingdom of God, he who would enter the Kingdom of God, must be born again.
Salvation is not a patching up of the old man, it is a new man created of God in righteousness and true holiness.
Salvation is not the cleaning up of the outside of the platter but it is the cleansing of the inside of the platter. Christ said, "Cleanse first the inside of the cup and the platter, that the outside may be clean also."
Salvation is a new creation. "If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature." "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus."
We should never speak of regeneration as "A change of nature" or as a "change of heart." Regeneration is not a change, it is a generation, a new generation; it is a second birth. "Ye must be born again."
There is nothing about the old nature that God will accept. It is "corrupt according to deceitful lusts," "there is no soundness in it," it is full "of wounds and bruises and putrifying sores."
The old nature is too weak to follow Christ, "Ye cannot do the things that ye would." They that are in the flesh cannot serve God. Can a bitter fountain give forth sweet water? Can an evil tree yield good fruit?
The description of the old man is given us in the Word of God: "Their throat is an open sepulcher; their tongue has used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: there is no fear of God before their eyes."
How are you going to reform or patch up or change such throats and tongues and lips and feet and eyes as these? It is impossible!
Back of all these members there lies a nature which is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." "Ye must be born again."
Churchianity, signing the pledge, turning over a new leaf; none of these can be accepted as substitutes—"Ye must be born again."
"As Moses lifted up the serpent, in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up" (John 3:14).
This "must" stood before Jesus Christ just as imperatively, as "ye must be born again" stands before each sinner.
Christ knew the full force of this "must." At Cæsarea Philippi Christ began to show unto His disciples, "How that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."
There was an eternal "must" that faced Christ every day of His life, yea, it faced Him from before the foundation of the world, it was the "must" of the Cross.
But what was this compelling "must" that drove Jesus Christ to Calvary?
1. Did Christ say, "The Son of Man must be killed," because He saw the multitudes turning away from Him? Once the populace had heard Him gladly, they had eaten His bread and His fishes; they had applauded the power of His miracles; they had applauded when He taught the things of God; but now they were leaving Him. So swiftly and so sweepingly did this defection of the common people set in, that Christ turned to His disciples and said, "Will ye also leave Me?"
Did Christ mean that He must be killed because the populace had turned against Him?
2. Did Christ say, "The Son of Man must be killed" because the scribes and Pharisees were going about to slay Him? These men had never loved Him. For envy they were about to deliver Him. It was their power and their prestige that turned the populace away. They sat in Moses' seat, they dominated the synagogue, and wielded a tremendous power in Israel. Did Christ mean that He must be killed because He could not withstand the surging waters of the wrath of the scribes and Pharisees?
3. Did Christ mean, "The Son of Man must be killed," because He knew the weakness of character that Pilate possessed? Did He mean, "This Roman governor cares more for Cæsar's friendship than for Me; this Roman governor is afraid of his very shadow, he fears the mob; he weakly washes his hands, and says, 'I am innocent of the blood of this just Person, see ye to it;' he releases Barabbas and turns Me over to the fury of the mob"? Did Christ mean the Son of Man must be killed because Pilate, the Roman ruler, was swayed by the populace and the priests who, like ravenous and roaring lions, beset Christ round?
4. Did Christ mean the Son of Man must be killed because satan had marshaled all his hosts to meet Him in one final conflict, and because He feared He could not stem the tide? Satan possessed tremendous power, he made the world tremble; he, with all subtlety swayed the hatred-filled scribes and Pharisees; he inspired the maddened cries of the multitudes. Did Christ mean, that He must die because of satan's overwhelming power?
5. Away with the thought! Christ did not die a martyr to a holy cause, helpless and overwhelmed by His foes. Christ could have called twelve legions of angels, had He wished their aid; He, who merely by the words "I am He" caused the mob in the Garden of Gethsemane to fall back as dead men, could have thrown back all of the combined forces which beset Him round. For Christ was God.
6. And yet, He said: "The Son of Man must be lifted up;" "He must be killed." What then, was the "must" that drove Him to the Cross? There is but one answer. It was the "must" made necessary by, "Ye must be born again." The one was wholly dependent upon the other.
The "must" that nailed Christ to the Cross, was God's answer to the question, "How can God be just, and justify the ungodly?" Christ must die because there was no other way by which His burning love for sinners, and His certified promises to saints could be fulfilled. Salvation is dependent on the Cross.
The Son of Man must be killed because apart from the shedding of Blood there is no remission.
"There is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
The same "must" that drove Christ to the Cross, drives the sinner unto Christ. If Christ must be killed in order that the believer may be saved, then the believer must come to Christ and Christ alone.
There are many other names, and many other meanings suggested for our salvation.
Some would go so far as to suggest the name of Buddha, or Confucius, or Mohammed, or Mary G. Baker Eddy, thinking that they should take their place on an equality with our Lord.
They argue thus: Christ headed a great religion and so did they; Christ taught wonderful ethics and so did they.
We answer thus: Christ was the Son of God; were they? Christ was virgin born; were they? Christ did no sin; did they? Christ died a sacrificial death; did they? Christ was raised from the dead on the third day; were they? Christ is exalted and seated at the right hand of the Father; are they?
Surely there is salvation in none other: surely there is none other name under Heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved. We must have our approach to God through Christ or else we can never see the Father's face.
Christ is the Bread of Life, there is none other; He is the Light of the world, there is none other; He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, there is none other; He is the Resurrection and the Life, there is none other; He is the Door of the sheepfold, there is none other.
It is not Peter, nor James, nor John, it is Christ. It is not Spurgeon nor Wesley, nor Moody, it is Christ. It is not Buddha nor Zoroaster nor Mohammed, it is Christ. There is none other name whereby we must be saved.
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
When Nicodemus asked Christ, "How can these things be?" the answer was the must of regeneration. When the jailer asked Paul, "What must I do to be saved?" the answer was the "must" of belief. The first "must" God alone can work out; the second "must" is man's. Faith is the imperative "must" that links the soul to God.
The table is set, the dinner is prepared, the bell has rung, but you must eat or else starve.
The street car stands fully equipped, the power is in the wire, but the trolley must touch the wire, or else the car will stand still on the track.
The engine is in full steam, the train is ready to go, the conductor is crying, "all aboard;" but you must get on, or else be left behind.
The Lord Jesus has died, the imperative must of the Cross has been fulfilled, yet you must believe or be lost.
But in whom must we believe? In Christ. We must believe that Christ died, this is essential unto justification; we must believe that Christ rose again, this is essential to sanctification; we must believe that Christ is coming, this is essential to glorification.
We must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ: believe in Him as Jesus, Who died upon the Cross; believe in Him as the Lord, Who is exalted to the right hand of God; believe Him as Christ Who is the anointed of the Father, the Messiah, and the Coming King.
There is no use to quibble, salvation comes only to those who believe.
We are not saved by giving our hearts to God. What does God want with our vile and filthy hearts? We should be ashamed to even offer them to Him, before they have been washed in the Blood; we must believe.
We are not saved by cleaning up our life, and joining the church, and being baptized, and taking the Lord's Supper. These are things that we do as Christians, but to be saved, we must believe.
We are not saved by some big experience, a wonderful dream or a startling voice—pay no attention to such things, they will take care of themselves—we must believe.
"And He must needs go through Samaria" (John 4:4).
There is a series of four questions in Romans 10:14, 15. "How shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?"
If a sinner to be saved MUST believe, then he must hear; and if he must hear, then the Gospel MUST be preached.
The story of our Key Verse is to the point. A woman who was a sinner, but who evidently was seeking the light, and who was ready to accept the Saviour, if the opportunity was given, lived in Sychar, a city of Samaria.
Christ said I MUST NEEDS go through Samaria. Why? It was not customary for Jewish travelers to pass through the land of the mongrel Samaritans; but Christ said, "I MUST go through." Why?
The only answer, is the result of His trip. Wearied, He sat by Jacob's well, hard by Sychar. The disciples went into the city to buy food. A woman came out to fill her pitcher at the well. Immediately Christ spoke to her, and soon He was telling her of the "Water of Life." The disciples returned, and wondered that Christ was so earnestly speaking to a sinful Samaritan. They pressed food upon Him, but He said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of."
The woman went to the city and told of her meeting with Christ at the well; then many of the people of Sychar came unto Him, and many were saved. He therefore abode with them two days and taught the things of God.
Is it hard to comprehend the MUST of that trip? It is answered by the word in Romans: "How can they believe in Him, of Whom they have not heard?" And, "How can they hear without a preacher?"
The Holy Spirit called upon Philip to leave the city of Samaria, and hasten down a desert road. Why?
The answer is the result of that trip. He soon came across a man of Ethiopia, who was in charge of all the treasuries of Candace, his queen. The man was reading the Prophet Isaiah. Philip drew near and said: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" The answer is illuminating: "How can I except some man shall guide me?"
Yes, the Gospel MUST be preached. Sinners at home and sinners in heathen lands cannot believe in Him of Whom they have not heard. Let us hasten away, then, with the Gospel, the good news of salvation. Let us go and let us go quickly, until every creature under heaven has heard the message of redeeming love,
"Exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
Paul was making a tour of the Churches where he had preached. Many of these had suffered great tribulation for Christ's sake. Paul had these saints in his heart. He loved them and felt for them and encouraged them. He told them that their lot was a common one to all believers, and that "we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God."
Satan is the god of this age, and he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. The men of this world are men of Belial, and they are rebels against Jesus Christ, certainly they will oppose those who are servants of Christ.
Christ said: "Marvel not if the world hate you." He also said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation."
Surely the world has not had a change of heart. When Jesus came into the world, the world knew Him not and His own received Him not. The world holds the same attitude toward the servants of Christ.
"If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His own household." If they have hated Him, they will hate us.
To be sure, persecution has not the same methods in all lands. Sometimes the world seeks to befriend the saint, but only to draw him from his separated life.
Paul said: "If any man live Godly in Christ Jesus, he shall suffer persecution." Again he said: "It is given you, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him but also to suffer for His sake."
Illustration: When the Brooklyn bridge was in building, and the machinists were digging deep to get to bed rock on which to build their buttresses that would hold the weight of the great suspension, the following is said to have occurred.
One of the men in charge of the drilling, called the chief engineer to examine the screws that were grinding through to solid rock. He said to the chief: "Have we reached bed rock?" As the engineer looked down, and watched the big screw turn, he replied "No, not yet, that is nothing but soap stone." A short time after, the chief came by and said: "Stop your engines, you have the bed rock now." "And how can you tell so quickly?" was asked. The reply is worth remembering: "Can't you see it shooting fire; when you get to bed rock it always shoots fire."
Thus, when a Christian gets to bed rock in his service and testimony and life, he will find the sparks will begin to fly.
As the age nears its close, we may expect more and more to suffer for His Name. Before many moons have passed, the wrath of satan will be waxing hot again, and the saints will once more begin to have tribulation. But let us stand firm. Consider the glory that shall be revealed in us. And, if we suffer, we shall reign.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in the body, * * whether it be good or bad" (II Cor. 5:10).
There is a day when Christ will call His own unto Himself. The Lord is coming with a shout and with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. Then the dead and the living in Christ shall all be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
When this rapture takes place, and we have entered in, then we MUST all stand before the Bema, the judgment-seat of Christ.
Now, we are building upon Christ the solid Rock; we are building wood, hay, and stubble, or we are building gold, silver and precious stones. That day will declare the results. Then we will receive either a reward or suffer loss.
There is no way to escape that hour of the reckoning of Christ with His saints. It is not a question of whether we are saved or lost; it is not a question of Heaven or of hell. The sin question was settled on the Cross, and there is now therefore no judgment so far as sin goes, for them who are in Christ Jesus; but there is a judgment of rewards.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a nobleman taking his journey and going into a far country, and leaving with his servants certain pounds, and saying, "Trade until I come." When the nobleman returns, he calls his servants together to see how they have traded and to reward them accordingly. One is placed over ten cities, and another over five. That servant, however, who had hid his pound, loses all reward.
Surely we would be more careful in our daily walk and in our service for our Lord, if we remembered that God has placed before us this MUST of standing at the Bema to receive the things we have done in the body, whether good or bad.
Let us be diligent in living, and in serving, for both will have their weight in that day of the reward of saints.
There are five distinctive crowns to be allotted to saints who have been faithful along five distinctive lines. These crowns cover more than service, they cover suffering, if need be, unto death; they cover the "feeding of the flock of God" and the motive of the shepherd who does the feeding; they cover fidelity to the faith; and�