The LORD JESUS CHRIST made some fairly startling statements during HIS ministry here on the Earth. None any more so than when HE said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 5:3) It was with this declaration that HE began HIS famous "sermon on the mount" and that group of sayings known as the "Beatitudes".
HIS teaching was completely at odds with the prevailing religious notions of the day even as HIS teaching is completely at odds with what masquerades in the world today as evangelical Christianity. The Pharisees hated HIS words because they worshipped their own free will and determination to live up to the religious order which they were convinced the scriptures taught. Two thousand years later the religious Pharisees still compass land and sea to make converts and when they have succeeded, they make them sevenfold more the children of hell than themselves.
To say that we live in an age when supposed Christians are poked, prodded, and persuaded by all manner of motivational efforts and guilt trips to "serve GOD" would be an understatement of the highest order. The vast majority of effort that is expended by the "great bible teachers" of our day and time is not in teaching men of the utter glory and majesty of the Living GOD who must be worshipped in SPIRIT and truth, but is in trying to convince them that they can become the children of GOD by an act of their own free will at a time which is convenient for them. Then they spend the rest of their time like the old vaudeville acts of keeping plates spinning on sticks. Once they have supposedly persuaded men to allow the LORD to save them by an act of their own will then they have to keep them motivated so they won't drop out (or keep spinning).
I have heard some preachers say that if all you do is preach grace then you'll wind up with a bunch of lazy Christians. They are the same ones who delight in binding burdens upon men and the religious masses love to have it so, because they delight in going about to establish their own righteousness as they survey the many activites and ministries that they are involved in. Some even keep count of how many "souls" are "saved" through their activities. Many today judge the value of a church by how many different "activities" are available, especially for the young people who they expect to herd into the kingdom of GOD as if they were sheep and its entrance could be found through fleshly endeavor.
Everything that the LORD taught cuts diametrically across the grain of the religious nature of men. HE set forth no hope or expectation for those intent on gaining the courts of heaven through their earthly endeavors. The gospel declares no comfort for those who think that it is within their own power to grasp the things of GOD. In fact, HE rebuked the Pharisees who were of such a mind when HE said, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.'' (John 5:39-40)
We have vast multitudes of men and women, boys and girls, who are well versed in the scriptures through Sunday Schools, vacation Bible school, study courses, etc, who are nonetheless completely ignorant of the spiritual nature of the kingdom of GOD. Generations of families have belonged to the same churches and go about year after year to stir one another up to perform this ministry or that who have not the slightest clue of what it is to mourn before the face of GOD and know themselves to be poor in spirit, blind, naked, and under the lash and curse of sin.
The promises of GOD are yea and amen and are not predicated upon any conditions but are granted according to HIS purpose and grace to a particular people of HIS own choosing. "And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician: but they that are sick I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31-32) This is how the LORD describes HIS elect. These are the people that HE came to minister to. "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost." (Mat 18:11)
The LORD is pleased to manifest those that HE calls by working in them a profound and lasting work of sorrow for their sin. This sorrow is compounded by the stark realization that there is not one thing that they can do to remedy their dire situation except to cast themselves upon the mercy of GOD. Even as is demonstrated in the prayer of the Publican. "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:13)
A man can no more make himself to truly mourn over his sin before GOD than the Ethiopian can change his skin or the leopard his spots. (see Jer.13:23) Neither can such a man who is brought low by the convicting power of HIS SPIRIT ever be comforted by the formulas of salvation offered by the workmongers and would be evangelists who encourage them to meet the LORD halfway. They are quite convinced that they shall perish without help except that the LORD stoop down to rescue them. When told to believe all that they can say is "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mar 9:24)
These are those little ones whom the LORD warns HIS disciples not to offend. (see Luke 17:1-2) These are those whom Jeremiah says shall be "satiated" or "made drunk". "For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." (Ps 107:9) There is only one thing that they desire and that longing which is ever with them shall be fulfilled."One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple." (Psa 27:4)
The LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF is the only ONE with whom they can be satisfied and under the shadow of HIS wing is the only place they can find any comfort. "And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." (Isa 32:2) "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." (Mat 5:4)
Dear Refuge of my weary soul, On thee, when sorrows rise,
On thee, when waves of trouble roll, My fainting hope relies.
To thee I tell each rising grief, For thou alone canst heal;
Thy word can bring a sweet relief For every pain I feel.
But O! when gloomy doubts prevail, I fear to call thee mine;
The springs of comfort seem to fail, And all my hopes decline.
Yet, gracious God, where shall I flee? Thou art my only trust;
And still my soul would cleave to thee, Though prostrate in the dust.
Hast thou not bid me seek thy face, And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace Be deaf when I complain?
No; still the ear of sovereign grace Attends the mourner's prayer;
O may I ever find access To breathe my sorrows there!
Thy mercy-seat is open still; Here let my soul retreat;
With humble hope attend thy will, And wait beneath thy feet.
#136 Gadsby's Hymns by Anne Steele