‘What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.’ Jeremiah 23:28
Suggested Further Reading: Jude 1–4
Watch and pray, as a Christian church, each one of you as members of it, that we may not be allowed to flatter ourselves with a nominal increase, unless it be a real increase from God, for ‘what is the chaff to the wheat?’ Suppose the report should be that there are so many added to the church, but suppose that they are not added to the Lord now, nor found in Christ hereafter? We have done these people serious damage by, as it were, endorsing their pretensions to Christianity when they have no real claim to it. We may have helped their delusion, we may have rocked the cradle of delusive slumber into which they have fallen, and out of which they will never wake until they open their eyes in hell. ‘What is the chaff to the wheat?’ I wish that such a text as this would go whistling through some of the churches! I would like to hear of its being preached from every pulpit in London, and I would pray the Holy Spirit to apply it to the conscience of every hearer. Your admission into the church by infant sprinkling, or by confirmation, or by the right hand of fellowship, or by believers’ immersion, all go for nothing unless you have been admitted into union with Christ. Your sitting at the Lord’s table; coming often to holy communion; being found regularly occupying your place in public worship; joining in the solemn hymn; bending with others in earnest prayers—these things are all nothing, and less than nothing and mockery, unless your heart has been renewed. Unless you have the Spirit of Christ you are none of his. ‘Ye must be born again.’
For meditation: Those who are members of local churches without being members of Christ’s body have been placed in a position of extremely dangerous false assurance and are unequally yoked with converted church members. It is kinder and wiser to refuse to admit such to membership rather than to give them the benefit of the doubt. A challenge to their false hopes will probably do more to bring them to their spiritual senses (Acts 8:13–24).
Sermon no. 862
17 January (1867)