What Jesus Can't Do For Us
This article is not intended to limit the power of God or of Christ. That is, it is not intended that the reader construe from this title that we helieve God is less than the Allpowerful creator of all things, or that Jesus and the Father are less than all-wise and perfect. However, we must recognize that God's power is a controlled power, and he does not do all that he has the power to do. Likewise, let us also recognize that there are some things - yes many things - that cannot be done by God or man. For instance, even God in all his majesty and might cannot make wrong right. If I say that George Washington's body is still alive, God cannot make that the truth. God cannot change a wrong act into a right one.
Sometimes we hear a Christian, in wording a closing prayer, say: "We pray that what we have done here today has been in accord with Thy will." But there is no use. If we have done wrong, that wrong will not become right even if we pray for hours about it. In the following paragraphs let us notice a number of things which Jesus can't do for us.
There are only two ways in which the love of God and of Jesus is radiated to the world of sin today. One of those ways is through the lives of God's people. Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world" (_NIt. 5:14) Actually, though, the Christian has no real light of his own, but he reflects the light of God's love. The light that came to this sin-cursed world in Jesus is made manifest in those who follow him today. But the light of God's love cannot shine from a life that is blighted by sinfullness (unless and until that guilt is washed away in the blood of Christ).
Actually the statement, "Ye are the light of the world" is a very significant and beautiful way of saying that the world is to be influenced by the disciples of our Lord. Yet the potential influence of many children of God is nullified by sinful living. The greatest gospel sermons usually fall upon deaf ears unless Christian people exemplify the truths proclaimed. Jesus cannot open the eyes of those who are blinded by ungodliness in the pulpit and the pew.
So many sinners excuse themselves by saying, "There are too many hypocrites in the church." They are right too. Of course one hypocrite is too many, but there may just possibly be more than one. At any rate, though such excuse will never avail for them, and thev will be lost unless they obey Christ, regardless of the hypocrites, yet it is certainly a shame and a disgrace that God's people ever allow such an excuse to, be given. If parents would have greater influence over their children, let them live such lives as the chi ldren, I . n the delightful and refreshing candor and honesty that is possessed only by children, can follow into lives of purity, honesty, integrity and righteousness. If husbands and wives would influence their companions, let them put awav sinful words and deeds, for even marital love of the highest degree is inadequate to eliminate the cloud cast by sinfulness in those who should influence us most. Let us all remember, that, whether it be in the workshop, the school, the home, the community or on the farm, Jesus cannot use us as instruments of righteousness I f ungodliness prevails in our words and action.
When we surrender to the will of Christ and obey his word the Lord will forgive our sins and our souls will be as pure as the soul of a new-born baby. But Jesus can't keep sin out of our livesi for that is the action that we must take in manifesting the fruits of repentance. Jesus said to the sinful woman, "Go and sin no more." Again we read, "Draw nigh to, God and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ve sinners; purify your hearts ye double minded" (Jas. 4:8). The responsibility for a change in our conduct and our character is o,urs, We must change! Jesus can't clean up our sinful lives while we continue in evil-doing. Paul did teach that the Christian will not be tempted above that which he is able to bear, and the Lord does promise to aid, guide and sustain us, but actual obligation for guilt is ours, not God's. If we would be rid of wickedness, let us put it away, for Jesus has never promised to do that for us, nor can he do so.
Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7:21 ). Sin that is made evident in the actions of our body has actually originated in our minds. The intellect of man is responsible for man's sin. If we would possess bodies that are clean and pure, let us clean up the "inner man." If we would speak words that are sound and "that cannot be condemned," let us be sure that our speech eminates from a clean heart, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34). Whoever thinks evil long or much will surely say or do evil. Paul admonished Christians to think on the things that are honest, just, true, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and worthy of praise (See Phil. 4:8). Jesus can't control our thoughts, nor can he make our lives contrast that which we do think.
Christianity is a doing religion. Jesus "went about doing good" and we are commanded to "be ye doers of the word, not hearers only" (Jas. 1 :22). Pure religion is to help those who need and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27). The Lord will not pav our debts; he will not give our money to the poor; he will not lay our hands upon the sick; he will not turn our feet into the wav of helpfulness to the feeble and downtrodden. Pure religion does not consist of what Jesus does for us, but of what we do for him and for his.
Jesus can't make us honest, benevolent, helpfill, zealous and kindhearted. Yet those are attributes that he requires in us. Let us remember that Jesus does not perform a miracle upon the Banker so that our credit will be good. Furthermore the Banker does not investigate the record of Jesus to determine our credit rating. Likewise, Jesus does not remove the food from our pantry and give it to the poor, nor does he reach into our
purse to relieve the beggar. The widow and the orphan are net sustained by a miracle from heaven, nor does the Lord make the beds, wash the sheets and clean the blankets with which we may provide a bed for the unfortunate. The fevered brow of the sick is not touched with a cool, damp cloth from heaven, and the feeble and downtrodden, either ill hody or in mind, are not sustained and encouraged, either bv a guardian angel sent from God or by any other miraculous means. Jesus came to do the will of the Father, and did it perfectly, but he can't do for us what God has given as our responsibility.
Jesus can't make a good teacher out of the unprepared, for to be a scholar, one must first be a student. The Lord can't make a good personal worker out of one who won't speak to people about truth, and he can't make a good bishop out of one who does not desire to thus serve. He can't make a preacher out of one who is unwilling to speak, and he can't make a ~ong leader out of one who will not sing. Jesus can't even make a good janitor out of one who won't sweep, and lie can't make a good deacon out of one who is not eager to be a servant of men.
The Lord committed the gospel to earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7) and ever since the full and perfect will was revealed and given to us ill the written word, the Lord has charged men with the responsibility of teaching that word, and if men fall it will not be preached at all. (See also 2 Tim. 2:2). And, just as surely as Jesus can't speak to lost men about their souls, neither can he take money froin our pocket and put into the contribution basket to supply the support for those who do preach the word. If the church treasury is to be adequate for such work, we must supply the funds ourselves. The teeming millions who will face the Lord in judgment unprepared will not point the accusing finger at Jesus, but unless we have been faithful n our duty, they will accuse us, and justly.
Jesus said that "Ye are the salt of the earth," but he can't use us to save the lost if we are passive and weak. Usefullness to Christ for man's salvation is dependent upon consecration on the part of the follower of the Lord, and the disciple who does not give himself first, and then his substance, to Jesus, is like salt that has lost its saltiness.
Jesus can't fill the church treasury, nor can he use what the church keeps in it. The abundance of God's blessings will not make large contributions, but only the generosity of Christians will accomplish the Lord's will in this matter. Likewise large contributions into the treasury will not make the church great nor its work significant unless it is properly used. Every dollar that lies idly in the church treasury is a dollar that Jesus can't use, either to bring relief to needy saints or to bring the gospel message to souls that are lost in sin. Funds of great consequence mav give us a sense of security, but those funds that are not useful to Christ until they are buying necessities for the needy or are supplying the ways and means for preaching thc. gospel.
Christ left us an example of faith and obedience, which included a life of sinlessness and of complete subjection to the will of the Father, but the only faith and obedience that avails for us today is our own. He said, "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of the Father which is in heaven." (Mt. 7:21). Significantly, when we surrender to the Lord's will the Lord cleanses us from guilt, for we cannot cleanse ourselves, but on the other hand, the purity of Christ does not purify us, and the faith that he had does not save us. His purity may motivate us, and his faith provided a way for our salvation, but he still can't purify the impenitent - he can't wash the disobedient - he can't give new life to the one who continues in the old life of sin.
Jesus said, "Ye must be born again" (Jn. 3:7). The "incorruptible seed, which is the word of God" is the power to bring about this new birth, but our own action now, not the Lord's, brings us into the place where w,-may have this new relationship to God.
Jesus can't take our place today. Figuratively he has no hands but our hands with which to reach out in kindness and compassion. He has no lips but our lips with which to speak words of love and truth. He has no feet but our feet with which to carry the gospel message to the four corners of the earth and to every human soul. He has no money but our money with which to carry out the work of his church. Let us give fervent thanks for the grave that provided that which we could never otherwise have had, and then let us with equal zeal and with real devotion do those things which God wants us to do, and be exactly what Jesus would have us be.
Truth Magazine II:4, pp. 14-16