Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 9, 1961

"Thy Blessing Is Upon Thy People"

Jesse M. Kelley, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Our caption is a partial quotation of Psalms 3:8. We are told that it was uttered by David when he fled from Absalom, his son. It sets forth two truths. First, God has a people, and second, His blessing accompanies them.

God has always had a people; and it has never been necessary to deisre to ascend into Heaven and examine His hooks to know who they are. God has a people today, and the New Testament being our guide and book of life, we have only to look there to know who they are; for not only are the names of God's people found there, but their character as well. Paul said: "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Phil. 3:3) Thus the character of God's people, being set forth in the New Testament, not only is the above passage but in many others, leaves us not to guess who his people are.

By the scriptures therefore, should those making the profession hasten to examine themselves, being anxious to ascertain whether they are in the number of his people. Paul said: "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." (1 Cor. 11:28) It is neither the obligation nor the privilege of one to make an examination of another to ascertain his status in the sight of God, but this belongs to the individual and he alone is responsible to God should he fail to do so. Paul further states, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." (2 Cor. 13:5) Full proof of one's faith and stewardship certainly is to be made, but the privilege of proving is not extended to others. Therefore, each individual making the profession of faith in God should hasten to the scriptures and ascertain his true status in the eyes of God. God's blessing is upon him if he will do so.

God's people have never been distinguished by any worldly greatness, and there have always been enemies who wished them ill, but the "blessing of God is upon them." Let us note some of them.

First, His blessing is upon their mercies. This takes the curse out of them and gives them a relish never, tasted in the comforts of others. God speaking to Israel said: "And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water"; and I will take sickness away from thee." (Ex. 23:25) But please note that his blessing is on the condition "ye shall serve the Lord your God." God has never blessed unconditionally. Many prayers for blessings are not answered simply because the conditions upon which the blessings are promised are not met by the petitioner.

There are two parts to every prayer if the prayer is to he answered -- God's part and man's part. Many seemingly never realize this, but pray as if the answer to the prayer depended wholly upon God alone. We, are taught to pray for our daily bread, and it would be a feeble mind indeed that would contend that conditions were not attached thereto But why are such conditions as the above attached to the "in the land." ".... for the Lord shall, greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess:" now notice the condition: "Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day." (Dent. 15:4, 5) Only those who were "in the land" were promised the blessing of God, and they only "if they harkened observe to do all these commandments." God has never promised to bless any save his own people .... those "in the land." This is all God has promised to bless today. Those "out of the land," out of the church, God's family, have no promise whatever of the blessings of God.

But why are such conditions as the above attached to the blessings of God? Here is the answer: "Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, "that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no." (Ex. 16:4) Here we have the reason. It is a test to prove the worthiness of the petitioner, and the sincerity of his profession. Therefore, Paul said in a pas sage already referred to, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." The condition attached isn't for God's benefit — he already knows, but it is for ours; that we may prove to ourselves the measure of our faith and the validity of our profession.

In the secular sphere of life one doesn't count for much until he has proved to himself as well as to others that he has the metal to meet the issues of every day life in stride, attaining unto success in spite of the difficulties and set-backs which may be his. And until he fully and satisfactorily proves to himself his own ability and worthiness he will be cursed with an inferiority that will make him no more than a stepping-stone for others on the way up.

So it is with the Christian. He must make "full proof of his ministry," proving not only to God, but to himself that he is "in the faith." And of course this is done by meeting the conditions which God has set before, and it is only then that God's blessing is upon his mercies. Thus, being "in the land," the church, is not enough; one must hearken to every command and every condition God has laid down.

Second, His blessing is upon their trials. God's people as much need a blessing upon their daily rod, as upon their daily bread. Certainly were it not for the strength a Christian derives from communion with God his trials would overcome him. The temptations which Satan is ever placing before the child of God are such that no one by his own strength could escape them. But by constant communion with God one may find a way of escape. Paul said: "There bath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13) With God's blessing, temptation will serve as a strengthener and will turn to our salvation; and yield the fruits of righteousness. Thus temptation endured and overcome becomes a stepping-stone by which man ascends the ladder to a more intimate and pleasurable relationship with God. James said: "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (Jas. 1:12)

Finally God's blessing is upon their labors. Christians sometimes become anxious and in a hurry to do a great work for the Lord. So much so that they forget to wait upon the Lord and his way. Zeal is a wonderful thing, without which no man can please the Lord. But uncontrolled zeal is dangerous and will lead into error. David said; "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." (Psa. 27:14) When one gets too anxious to "turn the world up side down" for the Lord the first thing he knows he will be devising ways and means by which he may speed up the work of the Lord and he gets ahead of God. Uncontrolled zeal led to the Missionary Society, and the Missionary Society led to other innovations by which a once faithful people have become completely and hopelessly lost in a world of denominationalism. Our salvation depends not only upon accomplishing the work of the Lord, but it depends upon God blessing our accomplishments and work. If we get ahead of God in our zeal, to the devising of our own ways of accomplishment certainly God is not obligated to bless our work. This is a lesson that many need to learn today.

God has said, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent." (Isa. 55:11) People should be content to preach God's word and do his will in the way that God has said, and let God do the worrying about the results. Many times we become alarmed unless there is a great influx into the ranks of the Lord, all in a season, and then we begin to set up some sort of machinery to speed up the work of the Lord and the results thereof. Many need to learn that the results of our work is God's responsibility, not ours. "Paul planted, Apollos watered, but it was God that gave the increase." Christians should heed that lesson and "wait on the Lord." If they will, God's blessing will be upon their labors.