The Duty is not the Delight

“Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth [it] not, then cometh the wicked [one], and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon [other translations: “immediately”–CD] with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth [it]; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23; underlining mine).


My brother in Christ comments on this passage:


“The roadside hearer heard the gospel but didn’t understand it. The thorny ground hearer was too consumed with the cares of the world. But take a look at the stony ground hearer in verses 20 and 21. He receives the gospel with JOY when he first hears it! Now during the time he was joyful about the gospel, would this man tell you that he has faith in Jesus? Of course he would. And it even looks for a time like he DOES have faith in Jesus. But what happens to him? His so-called ‘faith’ withers when persecution comes because of the gospel. Here is an example of FALSE FAITH. It believes things about the gospel, but it doesn’t believe EVERYTHING about the gospel. It doesn’t VALUE the gospel to the point of JUDGING by it. Once the persecution comes, the house shows that it was not built on the rock of Christ but on the sand of self-righteousness. The world comes in and says that his gospel is too harsh and judgmental, and he ends up caving in and agreeing with them.”


Multitudes of professing Christians pencil-in central, basic, fundamental truths of the gospel of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ as optional. One writer describes false faith accompanied by carnal joy (all underlining mine):


“Nor is it a temporary joy in the doctrine of the gospel that is true faith…a flashy heat in the affections and a joy in the matter revealed (Matt. 13:20). The seed that was received into stony places was ‘received with joy,’ which may be occasioned by the novelty of a thing, the suitableness of it to some interest or carnal affection upon some present necessity. Such have often been seen to revolt again. It is as a man’s taking a servant whom he puts off again, or as the sending for a physician in a present fit and rejoicing at his coming, and putting him off after some ease when the distemper is removed.”


There are once-professed Christians who joyfully found the suitableness of the gospel seed to be commensurate with their own carnal and perverted ideas of what it means to be “truly valued” in familial relationships (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7). Sadly, such did revolt and sold the Pearl of Great Price for a pottage of porneia and perverse view of familial love. Pathological and hysterical exaggerations effectually serve to blacken a fallible face and contemn the precious paideia of God.


“With what lively thoughts will many approach to God, when a revenue may be brought in to support their own ends! But when the concerns of God only are in it, the duty is not the delight, but the clog” (Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God).


Not a promotion of Stephen Charnock as true believer, but he is quite right — when the true doxalogical concern is revealed by fiery trials, the duty indeed is NOT the delight, but a distressing and cumbersome clog.


“Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, [even] as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten [them], they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:34-42).


Some people are quite clueless about from whom true Christians ultimately were taught the gospel of Christ. As if true Christians had not actually been regenerated and taught by the resurrecting power of God the Holy Spirit to believe all essential gospel doctrine.


“Many entertain a doctrine for the person’s sake, rather than a person for the doctrine’s sake, and believe a thing because it comes from a man they esteem as if his lips were more canonical than Scripture. The Apostle implies in the commendation he gives the Thessalonians that some receive the word for human interest, not as it is in truth the word and will of God to command and govern their consciences by its sovereign authority; or else they have the truth of God…with respect of persons and receive it not for the sake of the fountain, but of the channel; so that many times the same truth delivered by another is disregarded, which, when dropping from the fancy and mouth of a man’s own idol, is cried up as an oracle. This is to make not God, but man the rule; for though we entertain that which materially is the truth of God, yet not formally as His truth, but as conveyed by one we affect” (Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God).


True Christians are grateful to God for providing them teachers and pastors after His own heart (for however long or short a time as that might be). They have greatly benefited. This like precious faith obtained through the propitiating blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone (2 Peter 1:1), is an unfeigned and incorruptible faith that loves the One who efficaciously regenerates and loves those who are regenerated by Him.


“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]” (2 Timothy 3:14).


“It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me” (John 6:45).


“And all thy children [shall be] taught of the LORD; and great [shall be] the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13).


“But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).