PARTAKERS & POSSESSORSĒ
My friends, look at what is happening in
the middle east. Consider the
developments in our own country, where on university campuses students are
beginning to side with the terrorists against the tiny little state of
So, what better time is there for people everywhere to consider the
message Paul sent to those in the Corinthian congregation, in Second
Corinthians 13.5, to ďExamine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;
prove your own selves.Ē
I shall show the importance of you being examined to see whether
you are in the faith by addressing one very practical matter:
Is it possible for a hypocrite to become familiar with Christianity
without becoming a Christian? Cannot
unsaved men go farther than superficial knowledge and illumination?
Is it not possible for an unconverted personís will and
affections to be convinced without him actually being converted?
If we admit that unconverted sinners may acquire some imperfect
knowledge of spiritual truths, may they not also have some type of
affections about spiritual things, as well?
And if it is possible for an unsaved person to have feelings about
Christianity and therefore ďfeelĒ saved without being saved, is there
not some way of distinguishing between the Christianís feelings and the
unconverted personís feelings?
This matter is very important, beloved, and it is reality to build
upon, and we are therefore able to point out distinguishable differences
and to show the limits that exist between the knowledge of the saved and
the knowledge of the unsaved, between the feelings of the saved and the
feelings of the unsaved, so that there may be a distinguishing between the
saved and the lost.
We will consider this subject under three headings this morning:
First, CONSIDER THOSE WHO CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS
kind of people go under the name and title of Christian, each kind
supposing to know Christ and claiming to have the rights and privileges of
a child of God?
First, Are Those I Choose To Label Pretender
This the fellow who has only the name
and outward appearance of the Christian religion, but has not the least
influence of Christ in his life, and in works actually denies Him, Titus
This type of fellow is like a box that
is labeled to be a box of candy, but inside the box is actually deadly
poison. He is in name a
Christian, but in actions a heathen.
He looks sweet on the outside, but inside is only death.
A so-called Christian like this has no
real and saving benefit by Christ. He
is, rather, like a dead corpse, having fragrant flowers strewn upon it,
but those flowers do not in the least degree make the corpse any less
smelly by their fragrance.
Is it not a terrible shame that some men can make use of moral
philosophy and the principles of reason to cure their external ungodliness
and thereby seem to be so refined, while others who claim to know Christ,
Who they claim has regenerated them and given them a new nature, donít
measure up to the lifestyles and personal standards of these moral
Yet if you look around and observe those
who claim to be born again Christians, will you not find many of those who
have only the name Christian? Is
it not true that you will see in them nothing else?
Is it not obvious that they derive not the least efficacy or power
from Christ, but are as a dead weed or a withered branch?
And are not their lives a continual blasphemy to the gospel of
Christ? These I call the
Second, There Are Those I Label Partaker
This the man who, besides the name
Christian, also has some influence and effect of the Spirit of God upon
him. You might liken him to
an unborn embryo of a child who has only proved to be aborted before
You would find this type of so-called
Christian illustrated in the parable of the sower,
in Matthew 13. He is like the
second hearer, who heard the Word with joy, but there was no place for a
root to take hold in his stony ground heart.
Or perhaps he is like the third hearer, who heard the Word, but the
cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choked the Word, and he
never bore any fruit.
In the past such a person as a pretender, who I first described to
you, was referred to as having a mere historical faith, such as the devils
have. That is, he believed
the facts of the Gospel, he believed in God, and he believed in Jesus, but
not in a saving way, not in a trusting way, not for the deliverance of his
soul from sin.
But this fellow weíre dealing with now, who I call the partaker,
has something akin to a temporary faith.
He has a religion that is accompanied by certain affections and
some genuine feelings, so he is different from the pretender, who has only
a historical basis for his so-called Christianity.
Though this second type, this partaker,
is far superior to the pretender, in that he has real feelings and real
emotions connected to his religion, he is still unsaved.
But what works in him to have these feelings and these emotions,
which are comparable to those felt by a godly and truly converted man,
even though they are counterfeit and false?
Such a person as this partaker has been
touched by the Holy Spiritís ministry.
He has benefit of the effect of Godís truth impressed upon him,
though the Holy Spirit does not indwell him.
He has been affected by the Holy Spiritís ministry, so that he is
properly called a partaker of the Holy Ghost by the writer of Hebrews in
This second type of person, this
partaker, is beyond the pretender, yet he falls far short of real
Christianity. You see, he has
never actually, he has never truly, come to Christ.
The Third Type Who Is Labeled
ďChristianĒ Really Is A Possessor Of New Life In Christ
This is the fellow who is in Christ, who
is as a living branch in the Vine. This
is the one who is miraculously born of God, who has the immortal seed in
him, who shall never perish, because Christ will not lose any who have
been given to Him.
It is this fellow, the real Christian,
who has a proper, clear and fully experimental knowledge of Christís
sufferings and resurrection upon his soul.
This fellow is a completely different order of person, owing to the
regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit.
This man, this converted fellow, does
not differ from the pretender and from the partaker in a general way, as
though he is only farther down a certain path or as though he has
accumulated more facts. He is
different in a specific way. You
see, the lowest kind of possessor differs from the pretender and from the
partaker, even if he is the highest of his kind, as much as the heavens
from the earth. Why so?
Because this man is a possessor of eternal
life, a possessor of Jesus Christ.
And the works of Godís Spirit upon unconverted people who are not
possessors, no matter how powerfully the Spiritís works are felt by
them, no matter how strong His influence is on them, cannot measure up to
saving grace, just as copper will never be gold.
Second, CONSIDER THAT EVEN THOUGH THESE HYPOCRITES WHO CLAIM TO BE
CHRISTIANS ARE NOT TRULY CONVERTED, THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS WORKED ON THEM AND
THEY DO HAVE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
this is somewhat familiar territory from last week, it is of benefit for
someone who is not converted to realize that not all religious impressions
and feelings, no matter how valid and genuine they are, necessarily means
a person is truly converted. My
desire is that these considerations will awaken you and will make you
tremble. Consider these
experiences felt by people who are unconverted and ask yourself if your
experiences even measure up to these counterfeits.
First, Even An Unconverted Man Can Have An
Experimental Knowledge Of The Common Gifts Of Godís Spirit
He feels what it is to have assistance from God in the Spiritís
administrations. Thus, in
Matthew 7.22, he and others like him ask, ďLord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have
cast out devils? and in thy name done many
wonderful works?Ē He did
what he did by the power of Christ. It
was no false exorcism and no fraudulent work that he did.
But though it was the Spiritís assistance it was not saving
assistance that he received.
Remember king Saul, who had benefit of Godís Spirit.
Not in the way of salvation, but for the purpose of political
administration and kingly rule, whereby he had an experimental knowledge
of Godís power and assistance as
In this way may a professing Christian find great assistance in the
duties he discharges, in the abilities that he displays, and may even find
the power of the Lord going along with him for the benefit of the Church
and the cause of Christ. But
this work of the Holy Spirit is not for the purpose of his personal growth
as a Christian, since he is not a Christian.
Did not that prophet, Balaam, enjoy the
benefit of the Holy Spiritís help in the discharge of his prophetic
duties? Yet that man was
wicked and obviously unconverted. Thus,
the Holy Spirit provided through that man influence and a type of work,
but not the variety of influence and work that led to his own salvation.
My great concern in these last days is
that such work of the Holy Spirit is the only practical experience of
Godís help that some people have. And
it explains how a man can be a marvelous preacher on the platform and an
adulterer in private. The
gracious ministry of the Holy Spirit for others in blessing his efforts,
all the while benefiting the unconverted preacher in a personal way not at
Think of it, beloved.
Why is there so little victory over sin?
Why is there so little demonstration of real life in Christ?
Why is there so little fruit?
Does not the first Corinthian letter show us that men are naturally
more prone to desire the gifts of Godís Spirit that result in public
recognition and adulation than they are to desire the graces of Godís
Spirit that result in personal holiness and consecration?
You see, to be a good preacher, to be
able to make impressive public prayers, you do not need to be genuinely
saved. All you need is for
the Spirit of God to breathe on you, not dwell in you.
And God does not thereby bless a man when He so enables him, but
does it for the benefit of His cause, for the benefit of His people, for
the benefit of His Church. Much
like nannies in a rich manís house eating fine food, not for their own
sake, but for the childrenís sake of the rich man they take care of.
So it is that these preachers deliver a Gospel, a faith, a Christ,
to others, which they do not partake of themselves, and so are like those
signs on the freeway and surface streets, directing people this way and
that way, but they never follow their directions themselves.
Oh, if only preachers would learn from the illustration of the sons
of thunder in this matter, who had the experience of God enabling,
enlarging, and increasing in their ministries the common gifts of His
Spirit, but had not experienced the Spirit of Godís renewing,
sanctifying, and healing of their lusts.
If that happened in our country the
Second, Even An Unconverted Man Can
Experience The Bitterness Of Sin And The Terrors That Are Associated With
An Awareness Of Sin
Consider the terror to his soul that was experienced by Cain after
he murdered his brother Abel. And
ponder the terrors experienced by Judas after he betrayed the Savior for
30 pieces of silver. Those
menís feelings about their sins did not come from the natural light of a
troubled conscience only, because such a natural conscience can be quickly
extinguished and seared.
In the lives of both men there was also the Spirit of God
convincing them and strongly impressing upon their consciences the
seriousness of their sins. This
is why in Romans 8.15 the Spirit of God is called ďthe spirit of bondage
to fear.Ē Itís because He
works fear and trouble in the hearts of some sinners.
Understand that this is not the same as convicting a man of the
sinfulness of his sins, that Jesus referred to
in John 16, but something else entirely.
It is a troubling of his soul and disturbing him about the
unpleasant consequences of his sins.
Thus, when king Ahab in his humiliation
cried out to God because of his sins, it was not by the mere power of his
natural free-will, but by the work of the Spirit of God on him.
As well, many of the gripes and wounds of a personís heart which
are inflicted by the preaching of the Word, and whereby the memory of his
sins grates on him, are not necessarily the convicting work of the Holy
Spirit to prepare his heart for Christ.
Sometimes it is for the purpose of simply showing sinners that it
is a bitter thing to sin against God.
Therefore, the experiences of men in the Bible clearly shows that
concluding that because you have once felt terrible because of your sins
or because that bitter feeling for sins came under Bible preaching you are
necessarily a Christian, is unwarranted.
Many have felt inward feelings of Godís displeasure for sin,
maybe even resulting in times when you were unable to eat or sleep, and
even cried out to God for relief. Yet
this does not demonstrate for sure that such a person is really a
Thirdly, Even An Unconverted Man Can
Experience Desires And Longings For Things That Are Good
A man or woman has a sudden awareness of the goodness of spiritual
things, may even have some such general affection for and desire after
those spiritual things, and yet be lost.
Lots of young men have thought they were Christians, have convinced
themselves they wanted the Christian life and personal holiness, only to
find out that what they wanted was one of the young women in the Church.
Remember Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration?
ďMaster, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three
tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not
knowing what he said,Ē Luke 9.33.
In like manner a lost man can see the things of God, can overview
the blessings of the Christian life, can imagine what life in the Church
with the people of God is like, and will convince himself that he wants
God and Christ and personal consecration.
But what he really wants are the benefits, the fruit of the vine if
you will, without a real desire to be engrafted into the Vine.
Understand, there is nothing wrong with
attracting the lost to the fig tree by putting its fruit on display.
There is nothing wrong with attracting the lost to the vine branch
by putting on display the ripe grapes.
But it is wrong for the lost to think that by tasting some of the
fruit he has thereby been engrafted into the Vine.
Such is not the case.
Fourth, Even An Unconverted Man Can
Enjoy The Sweetness And Joy Of
Remember, in the parable of the sower,
Matthew 13, the illustration was of a lost
man receiving the Word with joy. And
in John 5.35 the Lord Jesus declared that His hearers were willing for a
while to rejoice in John the Baptistís light.
And in Hebrews 6.5, those who are not
saved are said to have tasted of the Word of God.
And they did taste it, as Jonathan tasted a little honey, but had
not his fill of it. But
tasting the Word of God does not make a sinner a saint.
And has it not been our own experience
in this Church that the unconverted can enjoy the sweetness and joy of the
ministry and service to God? Do
you remember all those teenagers who used to travel every summer to
witness and to preach and to minister in other Churches?
But where are those teenagers now?
Do you remember those who used to serve in this capacity and in
that capacity in this Church and in others?
Yet where are they now?
Yes, an unconverted man can enjoy the sweetness and joy of
Christian ministry and service . . . for a while.
Itís no indication that he is truly converted, is it?
Fifth, Even An Unconverted Person Can
Experience Some Changes To His Lifestyle And Behavior
Second Peter 2.20: ďFor
if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the
knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is
worse with them than the beginning.Ē
This refers to those who returned to their own vomit, and so were
never truly converted, though Peter indicates they had escaped the
pollutions of the world through the knowledge of Christ.
Note that Peter reveals that it is the knowledge of
Christ, not knowing
Christ. Thus, changes in life
and lifestyle, escaping pollutions of the world, without salvation.
In Matthew 25, the parable of the ten
virgins, though the foolish ones are obviously unconverted, having no oil
in their lamps, unprepared for the coming of the bride groom, they are
still properly called virgins. Thus,
they were kept from the profaneness of others who were more obviously
Now, you might think this is enough, since what more would you
want? Those that stole steal
no more, those that were drunk drink no more,
those that were once fornicators get married and are faithful to their
Yet, as the swine are swine in their
natures, though washed from their filth, thus are the unconverted
unregenerate and filthy still, though you may outwardly appear to be
Yes, my friend, even a man who is not genuinely converted, who does
not know Jesus in a saving way, may yet have many apparent works of grace
on his soul, may seem to himself and to others to be a Christian, and yet
from the examples we have seen in Godís Word, be lost still.
Finally, CONSIDER THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE LOST AND THE SAVED,
BETWEEN THE PRETENDER AND THE PARTAKER AND THAT ONE WHO IS A POSSESSOR OF
differences exist between the genuine and the counterfeit, between the
hypocrite and the one who truly knows Jesus in a saving way?
That man or woman who is godly differs from the most refined
hypocrite, as much as gold differs from lead, or as much as true pearls
differ from plastic beads.
Remember, in Matthew 13, the fourth kind of hearer, the only one
who is truly converted, is the only one
said to have ďgoodĒ ground, referring to a good heart.
So you see, the soil of one ground is
qualitatively different from the others.
Thus, justification and eternal life do not come to just any kind
of faith that a hypocrite may have. But
justification and eternal life does come to the real faith of a man who,
though he may have such a small amount of faith, it is a faith which
receives Christ, while a hypocrite with much faith cannot take hold of
That which the pretender and the partaker knows about the things of
God is in a more confused manner, because that light of illumination in
them is but a flash, a sudden enlightening, and not a permanent and
abiding light in them.
You see, a little sip or taste of
heavenly things cannot enable a man exactly to comprehend the
excellency and value of them.
Therefore a lost man sees these things as the man who is not
perfectly cured of his blindness, like the blind man in Mark 8.24 who saw
men walking by like trees. He
was not yet converted. And so
it is with the pretender and the partaker.
Now, let us recognize that the holiest
and most consecrated of Christians only see in part.
David prayed, ďOpen thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous
things out of thy law,Ē Psalm 119.18.
And Paul also prayed for the Ephesians, who were converted and a
spiritual people, that God would give to them ď the
spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him,Ē Ephesians
But this is altogether different than the lost manís poor and
limited insight into spiritual truths.
The experience of the genuinely
converted man inclines him to spirituality.
It makes him more holy. The
whole process of striving and conviction that culminates in genuine faith
in Christ and real conversion carries him out of himself.
But the unconverted manís efforts tend always to carnality,
result in him being puffed up, ending in a vain confidence in himself.
A great example of this was the Pharisees.
Although they abounded in the duties of the Law, their greatest
corruptions also showed in that direction.
Thus, we have a Pharisee praying, or a Pharisee giving alms, being
a Pharisee in all the power of his corruption.
As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, that which is not born of the
Spirit is flesh. And this
fleshliness extends not only to sins and corruptions, but also to duties.
What does this lead to?
It leads to spiritual duties done by a spiritual man leaving that
man more spiritual, more humble, more emptied of himself, more dependent
upon Christ and the grace of God,
more dead to the world and to its temptations.
But as in the case of the Pharisees, who did all that they did so
they might be seen of men, they used the platform of their religion to
commit sins and to fulfill their lusts.
This message from Godís Word may be profoundly discouraging to
you, so that you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel, saying to
yourself ďWhatís the use?Ē
Or you may be angered and feel within yourself, ďItís not
supposed to be this complicated. This
man is creating confusion instead of bringing clarity.Ē
Just remember that Godís Word says that ďThe heart is
deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked,Ē Jeremiah 17.9.
Thus, the complications are brought in, not by Godís Word rightly
understood, but by the workings of your sinful heart seeking to deceive.
But we have Godís Word. Amen?
And we have the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Amen? And we have the
means used by God to bring sinners to Christ.
Therefore, lean not to your own understanding.
Trust fully in Godís Word to be the lamp unto your feet and the
light unto your pathway. Do
not trust your heart, or your feelings, or your own judgment.
Make your calling and election sure . . . after the manner that God
6. All thatís required of you, poor sinner, is that you come to Christ, really come to Christ, truly come to Christ, only come to Christ. Did you come to Christ? Make sure you did. Will you come to Christ? Make sure you do.
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