Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.

 
 
 

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Gospel Tract #48

Receiving the Messenger

by John D. Clark, Sr.

"The Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple,
even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in."

Malachi 3:1

"The Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
2Corinthians 3:17

A heathen king named Nahash mercifully gave refuge to young David when he had to flee for his life from the mad King Saul. Later, after David became king in Israel, he heard that Nahash had died and that his son, Hanun, reigned in his stead in Ammon. David said to his advisors, "I will show mercy to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness unto me." Faithful to his promise, David sent ambassadors to Hanun to comfort him concerning his father's death. David expected Hanun to be thankful for his gesture of good will, but to his great surprise, Hanun was persuaded by his advisers to treat David's messengers with great cruelty:

"The princes of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, ‘Do you think that David is honoring your father, and that he has sent comforters to you? Has not David rather sent his servants to you to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it?' Therefore, Hanun took David's servants and shaved off half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away" (2Sam. 10:1-5).

Throughout the history of diplomatic relations, it has held true that abuse of ambassadors is tantamount to a declaration of war. It is a clear, open challenge to the nation that sends the ambassadors. The humiliation of David's ambassadors was no exception. It was a personal affront to the king and nation of Israel which could not be ignored, and a long, bloody war with Ammon ensued, a war that cost the Ammonites dearly.

This diplomatic principle holds true in the spiritual realm as well. Jesus was sent as God's messenger, and just as David was indignant when his messengers were despised, so God was indignant when His Son was despised and rejected by men. Jesus warned them that "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him" (Jn. 5:23). But they did not take heed to the warning.

Receiving the Messenger

When Jesus ascended into heaven to the Father, the holy Spirit was sent back as the Father's Ambassador to mankind. On that happy Pentecost morning, described in Acts 2, God's holy Messenger arrived, and those who received God's Messenger honored God, as well as His Son, by doing so. Those who rejected that holy Messenger were damned.

Regardless of anyone's position or title, if he refuses the holy Spirit, he dishonors the Father who sent him. But not only so; where the Spirit is refused, the Son is also dishonored because the Spirit comes in his name (Jn. 14:26), and he suffered and died to make the way for the Spirit to be sent. Where the Spirit is not welcome, Jesus is disrespected, even if those who reject the Spirit are saying good things about Jesus. Those Jews who hated Jesus, you will recall, spoke reverentially of the Father who sent him; they were enemies of God, even as they praised Him and demanded that others do the same. The Father Himself described them: "These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Their rejection of God's Son proved that their hearts were far from Him, no matter what was coming out of their mouths. And people's rejection of the Spirit proves that their hearts are far from God, too, regardless of how well they speak of Jesus.

Our praise of God, who sent His Son to suffer and die so that the Spirit could come, means nothing if we refuse to receive the Spirit that He sent to take His Son's place on earth. It is an affront to the Father for people to reject the Spirit which Jesus died to make available. God will not receive into His kingdom anyone who refuses to receive His Messenger. This is why Paul said, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9).

We should reverence this heavenly Ambassador! We should welcome him into our lives and give him the seat of honor in our assemblies! We should listen to his voice and receive his instruction. He alone is able to teach us the things of God and bring us into fellowship with the King of kings. If you are ashamed of the Spirit, then you are, in fact, ashamed of Jesus; and in the end, he will be ashamed of you.

That is just how serious it is, my friend. If you reject the holy Spirit, the messenger that the Father sent in Jesus' name, you have actually rejected Christ and will have no part in the kingdom of God. The way into the body of Christ is the baptism of the holy Spirit (1Cor. 12:13). Knock on the door of God's heart for it! The only life one has in Christ is the life which the Spirit brings. Do you have this life? Jesus encouraged those who believed in him to ask God for it (Lk. 11:9-13):

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. If a son asks bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he, instead of a fish, give him a serpent? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

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