Obedience Required
If ye love me, keep my commandments. —John 14:15

Many would have us believe that obedience to Christ is a non-issue, something that has no real place in the pulpit or in Christian conversation. “After all,” they say, “Christ is all, and Christ is enough. Our obedience and our responsibility is not the gospel; therefore, such things really don’t matter.” I say with the Apostle Paul, “Ye have not so learned Christ.” Such foolish thinking and speaking is ungodliness of the highest order. I must confess that I am growing increasingly weary with people, who ought to know better, who defend their unbelief, irresponsibility, and disobedience by hiding behind Christ is all—as if that fact somehow excuses ungodliness. No! No! No! A thousand times—no! Christ crucified, God’s free grace, and the gospel of redemption accomplished do not give believers free reign to live like devils. In fact, Paul exhorts us to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Uncompromising devotion, commitment, and obedience to Jesus Christ is our reasonable service for one simple reason: to whom much is given much is required.
The Son of God himself says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” That is to say, if you truly love the Lord Jesus; if you truly believe the gospel of the grace of God; if you truly trust Christ for righteousness, obey him. Now, in making such a statement, is the Master advocating legalism? Of course not—but he is advocating the believer’s responsibility to do what he says. Yet, many who would not dream of charging the Savior of being a legalist dare to charge some of God’s faithful servants with legalism because they impress upon their hearers the necessity of keeping the commandments of Christ. What a travesty! Some people want the grace and mercy of God, but they do not want the responsibility that comes along with those blessings. Let it be known this day, we can’t have God’s grace, if we will not render to Jesus Christ the obedience he requires. We do not obey Christ for righteousness, but if we love him, we will keep his commandments. This is the doctrine of the Book!
Christ is All
Without question, the scriptures teach us that Christ is all. Paul tells us this in Colossians, chapter 3, verse 11; however, many people distort Paul’s teaching, forcing upon it a meaning that Paul never intended. Yes, Christ is all of our righteousness, all of our holiness, all of salvation, and all of our hope before God. We do not trust in ourselves, in our abilities, in our talents, in our gifts, in our decisions, or in our obedience, in any measure, for our acceptance with God. “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Every believer takes Paul’s confess as their own: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” However, though Jesus Christ is all of our hope and salvation, that does not mean our obedience to him does not matter. It matters a lot!
Does it Matter?
To you who foolishly believe that because Christ is all nothing else really matters, I ask the following questions. Does prayer matter? Does baptism matter? Does public worship matter? Does reading the scriptures matter? Does self-denial matter? Does giving matter? Does loving the brethren matter? Does the confession of sin matter? Does practicing forgiveness matter? Does running our race with patience matter? Does redeeming the time matter? Does mortifying our members matter? Does putting off the old man matter? Does believing every verse of the Bible matter? Does practicing circumspection matter? Does bowing to the true doctrine of creation matter? Does the submission of a wife to her husband matter? Does the obedience of servants to their masters matter? Does restoring the fallen matter? These practical matters of obedience and many others are stated repeatedly in various forms throughout the scriptures; yet, none of these things are gospel. These things are not Christ and him crucified; however, they are founded upon the gospel. To dismiss all of our practical responsibilities to Christ our Savior by distorting the doctrine that Christ is all is not only dishonest—it is completely ridiculous. If our responsibilities do not matter, why does God spend so much time instructing us in the matter of obedience? Christ is all; therefore, let us obey God, giving ourselves to prayer, restoring our fallen brethren, avoiding evil, giving God thanks—faithfully observing all of his commandments.   
Our Responsibility
Do we love Jesus Christ? Then we must keep his commandments—this is our reasonable service. We are not responsible to keep the law for righteousness, but we are responsible to obey the commandments of Christ. We are not responsible to put away our sin, but we are responsible strive against our sin. We are not responsible to redeem our brethren, but we are responsible to pray for our brethren. We are not responsible to earn God’s favor, but we are responsible to seek his grace. We are not responsible to understand the hidden things of God, but we are responsible to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” We are not responsible to bind the devil, but we are responsible to be sober and vigilant, because our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. —Frank Hall

A Double Blessing
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. —John 14:18

     This is good news indeed for the tried and troubled saint of God. Afflicted and plagued though we are, we know that our Savior will come to us and comfort us by his grace. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Dry your eyes, my friend, and believe the word of your God. Faithful is he that promised, who will also perform it. He is as good as his word. He has promised you a double blessing, and a double blessing you shall receive. Jesus Christ will not leave you comfortless. He will come to you by his Spirit, pouring the sweet honey potion of his love, mercy, and grace into your heart.
     There are some things that Christ simply will not do. He will not justify the wicked. He will not give his glory to another. He will never leave thee nor forsake thee. He will not fail, and he will not leave you comfortless. At the appointed hour of love, he will come to you, tenderly reminding you that all of your sins are under the blood and that your salvation is safe and secure forever. He will make you lay down in the green pastures of his grace, comforting you in the knowledge of his absolute sovereignty over all things. He will comfort you, and he will come to you much sooner than you think. Whether he comes tonight, tomorrow, or next week, you have but one simple responsibility: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” —Frank Hall 

Sweet Meditation
My meditation of him shall be sweet. —Psalm 104:34

     All that is noble, pure, and precious is found in Jesus Christ. He is holy, harmless, and undefiled. He is sovereign, majestic, and higher than the heavens. He is humble, lowly, and meek—almighty, eternal, and unchanging—gracious, tender, and kind. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” And all of these true, pure, honest, righteous, virtuous, and praiseworthy things are found in Christ alone. Do not meditate on evil; rather, meditate on the Son of God, and your meditation of him shall be sweet.
     Are you tempted and tried, pressed beyond measure, and overwhelmed with difficulty? Oh, then meditate on him, who “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Long before you were born, the Lord Jesus traversed the same dark valley of loneliness and derision. He came, he suffered, he bled, and he conquered, gaining the victory over all his temptations because he trusted in his God to deliver him. Meditate on him, child of God, “for we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” He knows what it is to be a man in this world of temptation and woe, and as such, he is able to effectually relieve us in all our temptations. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” In all of your tribulation, “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” —Frank Hall

Let's be Clear

Let’s be clear—the gospel is not good advice; the gospel is good news. God’s word is not fantasy; God’s word is fact. God is always honest; we are born liars. Sin is not fun; sin is fatal. Human beings are not upright and righteous; they are fallen sinners. We are not born spiritually alive and free; we are born into bondage, dead in trespasses and sins. Our single greatest problem is not external; it is within. Your heart, by nature, is not good and pure in the eyes of God; your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. The judgment of God is not afar off; the judgment of God is near and fast approaching. Faith is not a decision; faith is the gift of God. Faith does not argue with the word of God; faith bows to the word of God. Faith does not work for salvation; faith rests in Christ for salvation. Coming to church will not save you; coming to Christ will. Salvation it not in the church; salvation is in Christ. Salvation is not by the will of man; salvation is by the will of God. God does not need us; we need him. Our God is not trying to have his way; our God is in the heavens, and he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. Jesus Christ is not in your hands; you are in his. Righteousness is not the work of man; it is the work of God. Christ did not die to make salvation possible for all men; by his death, he effectually saved his elect from their sins. —Frank Hall

Perpetual Praise

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. —Psalm 34:1

Sorrow, grief, and vexation often seize upon our hearts, but these painful seizures must not be permitted to hinder us from blessing and praising the name of our great God and Savior. If he afflicts us, it is to make us better. If he lays his chastening rod upon us, it is to make us partakers of his holiness. If he bereaves us of loved ones and earthly comforts, it is to draw us near to his throne of mercy and grace. If he strikes our hearts, it is that we might better know our sinfulness and depravity. If he hides his face from us in times of trouble, it is to call faith and patience into exercise. If he brings us into the deep and fiery waters of difficulty and pain, it is that we might learn obedience by the things we suffer. In peace and prosperity, as well as in seasons of trouble and pain, our God is accomplishing his purpose of grace, working all things together for his glory and our everlasting salvation, and he will not turn away from us to do us good. Though he breaks our hearts, we have no reason to be depressed or discouraged, but every reason to sing his praise. Have you forgotten that he performs all things just for you, child of God: for your benefit, for your welfare, for your advancement and happiness? Though his providence often seems to contradict his promises of grace, all things are working together for good to them that love him, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Oh, child of God, he knows the thoughts that he thinks toward you—thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 
Always Gracious
Regardless of what befalls us in time, each and every one of us, children of God, should join with David, blessing the LORD at all times because God is always gracious to his people—always. God afflicts us, not because he is angry, but because he is gracious. If he afflicts us because of some sin in us, indulged by us, or performed by us, he does so in grace and mercy, not in vindictiveness and judgment. Having chosen us from the beginning in Christ by his grace, he will continue to be gracious toward us in all things, all the days of our lives, and throughout eternity. God is not inconsistent or changeable, as many would have us believe. Yes, he may hide his face from us to teach us some needful lesson, but he will never suspend his grace or cease to be gracious toward us. He is not gracious to us one day and ungracious toward us the next. With him there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Was he gracious to us from the foundation of the world? Then he will be gracious to us world without end—our sin, unbelief, and shortcomings notwithstanding. “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.”  
Always Our Father
By understanding that God almighty is always our Father in all things and at all times, it should be quite easy for us to bless the LORD continually and to praise him perpetually. The darkness of difficulty does not dissolve our adoption. Our unbelief, though sinful and inexcusable, does not abolish our membership to the household of faith. Not even murder, adultery, or denial of the Lord Jesus will move God to disinherit us from his family—just ask David and Peter. God is our Father, and we are his children; nothing will ever change that—nothing can change that. Oh, what cause we have to bless the LORD at all times! It is quite easy to bless his name in times of comfort and ease, but in times of trial we all have a subtle inclination to fear and complain; however, this need not be the case. Praise and thanksgiving should continually flow from our hearts and mouths for one simple reason—God is always our Father. In times of uneasiness and unrest, God is still our Father. In times of heaviness and persecution, God forever remains our Father—and he will never leave us nor forsake us. We are forever his children, and he is forever God our Father! 
Always Effectual
We may be cast out and forsaken by all of our brethren, family, and friends, but not even that should stop our mouths from singing the praises of our God. No matter what our circumstances in life may be, this remains forever true—the blood of Jesus Christ is always effectual. My friends may count me an enemy, but the blood of my Savior still prevails with God in heaven. I am filled with ignorance and a thousand evils, but through the cross of Jesus Christ I will triumph over all. Things are not unfolding as I wish, but my sins are all under the blood; therefore, “his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. Nor am I  what I hope to be in the world to come, but I will not grumble or despair. My Jesus died and rose again to save me from my sins, and his blood shall never lose its power. No one, no devil, no trouble, no loss, no failure, and no disappointment will ever neutralize his blood or render his cross a miscarriage. Many things plague and grieve me. But what are plagues and grievances when weighed in the balance with the precious blood of Jesus Christ my Lord? I am a wretch, but I am redeemed. I am guilty, but I am forgiven. I am sinful, but I am washed. I am in trouble, but I have peace with God through that scarlet stream that flows from Calvary’s Mountain; therefore, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
Always Good News
The Sabeans came from the north and murdered all my servants. They fell upon my oxen and asses and took them all away. The fire of God is fallen from heaven and hath burned up my sheep and servants, reducing them to cinders and ash. The Chaldeans made out three bands and fell upon my camels and have carried them all away. There came a great wind from the wilderness and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon my children. I am covered with boils, and Satan assaults my soul in every part. And though my God slay me, yet will I trust him. Still, his praise shall continually be in my mouth because his gospel is always good news to this poor sinner. All the bad news in the world can never change the good news of the gospel. It was good news at the first, and it is good news in this day of crisis. My servants are dead, but my Savior lives. “For I know that my redeemer liveth!” I have lost much—“yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” My sins are all gone, and I am accepted in the Beloved. The law is fulfilled, and my redemption is accomplished. This is good news to my soul, and I therein rejoice! I am pressed down, but Jesus Christ is exalted—and that is enough for me! He overcame, and in time, so shall I. “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
Always Secure
My sins, my enemies, and my adversary the devil may rob me of my joy and comfort for a season, but nothing and no one will ever rob me of my home beyond the river. My inheritance in heaven is always secure; therefore, I will bless the Lord Jesus at all times. God has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure. He has bequeathed to me an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. It is reserved in heaven for me by his grace. The Lord Jesus purchased it for me, and I will behold it “with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” The Spirit is God’s pledge that everlasting righteousness, pleasure, and joy are mine forever. My treasure is not on this earth, but in the heavens, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. It is safe, certain, and secure, and for those reasons the perpetual praises of my God shall continually be in my mouth. —Frank Hall

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