“Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 1:3)
I presume that you are reading this article because you have some interest in your immortal soul, some interest in knowing God, some interest in eternal matters, because you have some interest in what the Word of God calls “salvation.” You want to know the answer to this question — “What does God require of me?” Does he require that I go to church, get baptized, reform my life, start serving the Lord, or obey the law? “What does God require of me?” That question is answered clearly by the Lord God himself. — “Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts.”
This word from our God, “Turn ye unto me,” is not merely an offer of mercy, or merely an invitation of grace. It is a command from God to you and me. The verb “Turn” is in the imperative mood, indicating an order or a command. There are many other passages in Holy Scripture like this. Turn to them and read them (Isa. 45:22; 55:1, 6; Matt. 11:28; John 7:37; Rev. 22:17). As you read these sweet, gracious, gospel calls to you, understand that in every case the verbs used by our God, by which he sweetly calls sinners to repentance and faith in Christ are, like the word “Turn” in Zechariah 1:3, in the imperative mood, indicating an order or a command, an order or command from the triune God to lost, ruined, straying sinners.
The one thing God requires of you and me is that we trust his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. — “This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 3:23). The one issue between fallen man and the holy Lord God is his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:18, 36; 6:27-29).
Salvation is not a legal work, but a work of grace alone, received by faith alone, in Christ alone. That statement would be redundant were it not for the fact that many (Indeed, most!) religious people have a foolish and deadly enchantment with the law of God. In many places of worship the ten commandments are written out in large, bold letters and hung on a wall in some conspicuous place for all to read. There are some churches where every Sunday the congregation mournfully chants, “Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep thy law.” Some are even so foolish as to enter into a covenant for their children and vow before God that, “They shall keep God’s holy commandments, and walk in them all the days of their lives.”
The pulpit, which should proclaim freedom and liberty in Christ, lays a heavy yoke of bondage upon men, which they cannot bear. Men and women are taught from their youth up to groan under the yoke of the law and to labor after
righteousness at the foot of Mt. Sinai, where it can never be found. If I had my way, wherever there is a plague hanging with the ten commandments, I would hang another, larger plague inscribed with these words: — “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.”
The law of God, specifically the ten commandments, was never intended by God to produce righteousness of any kind, to justify sinners, or to be a rule of life for God’s people in this world. The law was given to convince us of our sin, to condemn us for sin, and to show us our need of a Substitute. Nothing else!
It was never intended to be a means of attaining righteousness. Just the opposite is true. The law was given to convince us of the impossibility of attaining righteousness by our own works. — “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10).
Churches all over the world preach up works, declaring either that you are justified by works, or that you are sanctified by works. Read any newspaper on any day of the week, and you will see the result. This world of freewill/works religion has spawned a generation of godless, immoral reprobates who vainly imagine that they have God in their hip-pocket and that eternal salvation is theirs because they have done something for God. What a sad commentary this generation is on the preaching they hear. If the message of the pulpit is not all gospel, all mercy, all grace, all Christ, there is no soundness in it.
I want to turn you entirely away from yourself, and so lift up Jesus Christ before you in his redemptive, saving glory that you cannot help looking to him alone and trusting him alone to save you. I do not ask you to produce any obedience whatsoever to the law of God. I call upon you to trust the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Substitute. I do not set before you the commandments of the law, or the commandment of churches. Rather, I set before you this day the blessed commandment of the gospel, God’s sweet commandment. — “Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of Hosts.” — “This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.” This is the one commandment you must obey. And if you obey this commandment you will live forever, for the Lord of host has sworn, “and I will turn unto you!”
The one thing God requires of every sinner is faith in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” That is the one issue that must be settled. — “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” It is written in the Book of God, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).