The following was distributed in tract form at the Royal Black Preceptory demonstration at Scarva, County Armagh on 13th July 2004.
We All ‘Belong’ Somewhere
We all feel we ‘belong’ somewhere. We belong to a certain family and place. We belong to a particular country. The question of where we belong politically is a bone of contention in Northern Ireland. Commentators speak of a ‘divided community’. To which country we belong is important and we have no desire to trivialise these matters in the name of a vague appeal to ‘Christian love’ as some have done. Nevertheless, it is not the most important part of our ‘belonging’. There is a greater divide than that between Unionists and Nationalists.
We are all either part of Christ’s gracious kingdom or we are still in darkness. The Apostle Paul could say to fellow believers that God, “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). This distinction that God brings about amongst men, unlike political distinctions, will last forever.
Where Do You Belong Now?
The Lord Jesus speaks of “the children of this world” and “the children of light” (Luke 16:8). By nature we belong to a fallen and sinful world and we love darkness rather than light. True Christians are those who have been “born again” of the Holy Spirit. Their hearts have been changed by God, so that they are willing to come to the light (John 3:3,19-21). They heartily embrace the light of God’s truth. They no longer want to be in the dark about God – not even about his holiness and justice. They fully accept that he punishes sin and that they themselves deserve to be punished forever in Hell. They also trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone to take away their sin, because he bore the guilt of sin when he died on the cross. He is “he Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
As a result of this great change in them, Christians love the Lord, the Lord’s word, the Lord’s Day, the Lord’s worship, and the Lord’s people. They look forward to being “with the Lord” in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Are these things true of you? Or is it the case that you have no real interest in the word of God? The way of salvation in Christ is not something you care to think about. Church-going, if it happens, is merely routine. You prefer the company of unbelievers, albeit perhaps of the respectable kind, and you do not want to be troubled or “preached at” by people who claim to be “born again”. This tells you plainly that you belong to the world that “lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19).
Where Will You Belong?
If you do not belong to Christ, then whatever now divides you from other unconverted sinners, politically or culturally, in the end it will become apparent that you belong together. Judas “went to his own place” (Acts 1:25) and so will you. Christ said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). This means those who believe in multi-faith will not be accepted of God. It is not true that we can get to Heaven any-old-how as long as we are sincere. It means the ‘protestant’ who takes no notice of the Gospel or who trusts in the fact that he goes to church and ‘pays in’ to it, will be condemned as surely as the Roman Catholic who trusts in the priest and the mass. The Orangeman who rejects the Gospel will join all these in being “cast into outer darkness: there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
Those who have trusted Christ as all their salvation, on the other hand, will be received into never-ending blessedness. “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world” Matthew 25: 34).
Nevertheless, this great, final and endless divide has not yet taken place. You are still in this world and the great gulf between you and Heaven is not yet fixed (Luke 16:26). You must seek the Lord and not rest until you are assured that you belong to him and have a place in Christ’s kingdom that never ends. “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).