THE EMPHASIS OF THE GOSPELS OF MATTHEW AND MARK—PAYING A PRICE
However, the Gospels comprise not only Luke and John but also Matthew and Mark. If we read through the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, we will discover that it is not so easy to find passages about salvation by faith. These two Gospels tell us to leave all that we have, to deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34-35), to enter in through the narrow gate and walk on the constricted way (Matt. 7:13-14), and to pay a considerably great price to follow the Lord Jesus. Although in some instances these two Gospels also refer to faith, the faith they mention is not the faith for receiving salvation but for walking on the way of the Lord. This is not the faith for receiving life but for living a daily life. The faith for our salvation is the faith by which we receive forgiveness of sins and the life of God. This is the faith revealed in Luke and John. However, after we are saved and have received the life of God, we still need to walk on the Lord’s way and live a heavenly life. To walk such a way and live such a life we need the kind of faith referred to in Matthew and Mark.
Aside from passages concerning this kind of faith, it is difficult to find passages in Matthew and Mark telling us that faith is for us to be saved and to receive the life of God. Instead, in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark we are solemnly told numerous times that we should forsake everything, deny ourselves, and take up the cross to follow the Lord. This shows us the word of God in its completeness with its overall significance.
PAYING A PRICE BEING NECESSARY AFTER BELIEVING
Faith alone is not enough for us to fully enjoy God’s salvation in its richness and extensiveness. Hence, after believing, we still need to pay a price to follow the Lord that we may enjoy such a rich salvation. Believing in the Lord is for us to receive Him whereas following the Lord is for us to enjoy Him. By believing we receive forgiveness of sins and the life of God, and the Lord comes into us as the Spirit. By following the Lord after we have been saved, we enjoy the Lord, have His presence, and allow Him to be everything to us, including our life and power every day.
Let us use an illustration. When your friend gives you a nice gift, you need only to receive it, and then you will have it. From the day you receive it, it is yours. However, if after receiving it you simply put it aside and do not spend any time to enjoy it, then even though you have received it and now possess it, you have not enjoyed it at all. Similarly, we receive and possess God’s salvation just by believing. Once we believe, our sins are forgiven and we receive the life of God. Once we believe in the Lord, He comes into us. Furthermore, God and all that God has becomes ours. After we believe, however, we still have to pay a price. We need to make an effort every day to enjoy what we have received, taking the Lord in by eating and drinking Him in our spirit day by day. In this way He can then become the element within us in reality. If we do not pay such a price and do not make such an effort, we cannot practically and fully enjoy the salvation we have received.
THE CONDITION OF GOD’S CHILDREN TODAY
Today many of the children of God—although they have truly been saved, have the Lord’s life in them, and also have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them—have not enjoyed the Lord or the salvation of God. Although they come to the meetings, listen to messages, and occasionally pray and read the Word, in their living and in their walk they are themselves, while the Lord is the Lord. They and the Lord have not been mingled to become one. They have not allowed the Lord to practically come into their daily living. They do whatever they like to do and say whatever they like to say. They have simply forgotten about the Lord and have put Him aside.
Although they have the Lord, they do not enjoy Him. They are like misers who have much money and yet do not use their money. They are saved ones who have the Lord’s life and the Lord’s presence, yet they do not enjoy the Lord. They live by themselves according to the lusts of the flesh, following the tide of this world. They are just like unsaved people, living in the world in a common way. The only difference is that they confess that there is a God while the unsaved people do not. They believe in the Lord while the unsaved people do not. They believe in the eternal life while the unsaved people do not. In addition, sometimes when their hearts are touched by the grace of God, their hearts become filled with gratitude toward God whereas unsaved people do not have such experiences. Christians of this kind are different from unsaved people in their beliefs, but in their daily walk they are the same as the unsaved. Just as the unsaved ones love the world, live for the world, and struggle for fame and wealth, so also do these saved ones. Just as the unsaved ones live by themselves in their flesh and in their natural being, being neither under the rule of God nor under the authority of the kingdom, so also do the saved ones. They already have the life of God in them, yet they do not live by God’s life. To them, God is no more than an object for them to believe in. This is the abnormal condition of many of God’s children today.
(How to Be Useful to the Lord, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)