Without a new nature we cannot perform Gospel-duties constantly. “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh” ( Romans 8:5).
Such a mind cannot long be employed upon spiritual things. Prickings of conscience, terrors of Hell, fears of death, may exert a temporary influence, but they do not last. Stony-ground may bring forth blades, yet for lack of root they quickly wither away ( Matthew 13). A stone may be flung high into the air, but ultimately it falls back to the earth; so the natural man may for a time mount high in religious fervor, but sooner or later it shall be said of him, as it was of Israel, “their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His covenant” ( Psalm 78:37).
Many seem to begin in the Spirit, but end in the flesh. Only where God has wrought in the soul, will the work last forever ( Ecclesiastes 3:14: Philippians 1:6).
As regeneration is indispensably necessary to a Gospel-state, so it is to a state of heavenly glory. It seems to be typified by the strength and freshness of the Israelites when they entered into Canaan. Not a decrepit and infirm person set foot in the promised land: none of those that came out of Egypt with an Egyptian nature, and desires for the garlic and onions thereof, with a suffering their old bondage, but dropped their carcasses in the wilderness; only the two spies who had encouraged them against the seeming difficulties. None that retain only the old man, born in the house of bondage; but only a new regenerate creature, shall enter into the heavenly Canaan. Heaven is the inheritance of the sanctified, not of the filthy: ‘that they may receive an inheritance among them which are sanctified through faith that is in Me’ ( Acts 26:18).
Upon Adam’s expulsion from paradise, a flaming sword was set to stop his reentering into that place of happiness. As Adam, in his forlorn state, could not possess it, we also, by what we have received from Adam, cannot expect a greater privilege than our root. The priest under the law could not enter into the sanctuary till he was purified, nor the people into the congregation: neither can any man have access into the Holiest till he be sprinkled by the blood of Jesus: Hebrews 10:22” (S. Charnock).
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Said Christ, “I go to prepare a place for you” ( John 14:2). For whom? For those who have, in heart, “forsaken all” to follow Him ( Matthew 19:27). For those who love God ( 1 Corinthians 2:9) love the things of God: they perceive the inestimable value and beauty of spiritual things. And they who really love spiritual things, deem no sacrifice too great to win them ( Philippians 3:8). But in order to love spiritual things, the man himself must be made spiritual. The natural man may hear about them and have a correct idea of the doctrine of them, but he receives them not spiritually in the love of them ( 2 Thessalonians 2:10), and finds not his joy and happiness in them. But the renewed soul longs after them, not by constraint, but because God has won his heart. His confession is “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee” ( Psalm 73:25).
God has become his chief good, His will his only rule, His glory his chief end. In such an one, the very inclinations of the soul have been changed.
The man himself must be changed before he is prepared for Heaven. Of the regenerate it is written, “giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” ( Colossians 1:12).
None are “made meet” while they are unholy, for it is the inheritance of the saints; none are fitted for it while they are under the power of darkness, for it is an inheritance in light. Christ Himself ascended not to Heaven to take possession of His glory till after His resurrection from the dead, nor can we enter Heaven unless we have been resurrected from sin. “He that hath wrought (polished) us for the self-same thing (to be clothed with our Heavenly house) is God,” and the proof that He has done this is, the giving unto us “the earnest of the Spirit” ( 2 Corinthians 5:5); and where the Spirit of the Lord is “there is liberty” ( 2 Corinthians 3:17), liberty from the power of indwelling sin, as the verse which follows clearly shows. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” ( Matthew 5:8).
To “see” God is to be introduced into the most intimate intercourse with Him. It is to have that “thick cloud” of our transgressions blotted out ( Isaiah 44:22), for it was our iniquities which separated between us and our God ( Isaiah 58:2). To “see” God, here has the force of enjoy, as in John 3:36. But for this enjoyment a “pure heart” is indispensable. Now the heart is purified by faith ( Acts 15:9). for faith has to do with God.
Thus, a “pure heart” is one that has its affections set upon things above, being attracted by “the beauty of holiness” ( Psalm 17:15). But how could he enjoy God who cannot now endure the imperfect holiness of His children, but rails against it as unnecessary “strictness” or puritanical fanaticism? God’s face is only to be beheld in righteousness. “Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” ( Hebrews 12:14).
None can dwell with God and be eternally happy in His presence unless a radical change has been wrought in him, a change from sin to holiness. This change must be, like that introduced by the fail, one which reaches to the very roots of our beings, affecting the entire man: removing the darkness of our minds, awakening and then pacifying the conscience, spiritualizing our affections,, converting the will, reforming our whole life. And this great change must take place here on earth. The removal of the soul to Heaven is no substitute for regeneration. It is not the place which conveys likeness to God. When the angels fell. they were in Heaven, but the glory of God’s dwelling place did not restore them. Satan entered Heaven ( Job 2:1), but he left it still unchanged. There must be a likeness to God wrought in the soul by the Spirit before it is fitted to enjoy Heaven. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” ( 1 Corinthians 15:50).
If the body must be changed ere it can enter Heaven, how much more so the soul, for “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth” ( Revelation 21:27).
And what is the supreme glory of Heaven? Is it freedom from toil and worry, sickness and sorrow, suffering and death? No: it is, that Heaven is the place where there is the full manifestation of Him who is “glorious in holiness”—that holiness which the wicked, while presumptuously hoping to go to Heaven, despise and hate here on earth. The inhabitants of Heaven are given a clear sight of the ineffable purity of God and are granted the most intimate communion with Him. But none are fitted for this unless their inner being (as well as outer lives) have undergone a radical, revolutionizing, supernatural change. We invite you and your family to come worship with us at Grace misioanry Baptist Church at the Glowmarw Bridge Sunday School 11:00 am worship at 12:00 Evening Worship 7:00 pm Prayer meeting and Bible Study Wednesday 7:00 pm The Book of I Galatains Elder Charles Minks.