The Striving Spirit and the Knocking Christ

Revival Sermon
by
Dr. W. Noble King

Now tonight I am going to use two verses of scripture; one is found in the first book of the Bible, near the beginning, and the other is found in the last book of the Bible, near the beginning of the book. I thought it might be wise to take a text from the beginning of the Bible and one from the end and then operate in between. That might be a good idea. 

The two texts are in the book of Revelation, chapter 3:20, and then from the book of Genesis, chapter 6:3.  I think I'll read them in the order in which I have presented them.

"Behold, I stand at the, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with me."

And then the other, "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."

So with these two verses I have taken a topic from them, "The Striving Spirit and the Knocking Christ." And as we go along we shall read those two verses and their content with what we have to say tonight.

Now when God made man, He made him right. There was no monkey business about it. God made man in His own moral and spiritual image, and in doing so He used Himself as the blueprint.

Probably man represents the highest power even of God in the creative fiat. He made him upright, pure and holy, in mind and heart and spirit, but finite or limited. That probably is the only difference between God and man. God is infinite. Man is finite.

Man was not a machine mechanically directed from without. Nor yet is man an animal instinctively guided by blind force from within. But man is a free and a rational spirit. He's vested with self-consciousness, self-direction, and self-perception.

Man can step back from himself, and take a look at himself, and pass judgment on his own actions as good or bad. Man has the power to do that, the only creation on this earth that has the power to do that.

You remember when the rich man spoke across the un-bridged gulf to Abraham, and Abraham said, "Son, remember," and the rich man remembered all about his deeds and actions back on earth and he passed judgment on the same.

Man's power of mind and will and his gift of freedom of choice demanded a probationary trial or a probationary period. How shall he use those freedoms and how shall he use those powers?

Two special trees stood in the midst of the garden in which they had been placed.   Both of those trees were accessible to them; one was the tree of life; they had permission to eat of that tree.  The other tree was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; they did not have permission to eat of the fruit of that one. However, both were accessible to them. They were forbidden permission to eat of the second tree at apparent loss to themselves. 

Now this was their probationary test or trial: Would they disobey God at apparent loss to themselves? That was the situation that arose by which their characters were to be tested.

Now while Eve was alone and apparently near the forbidden tree, where possibly she should not have been, Satan came and spoke to her through the serpent and pointed out to her that the forbidden tree was good for food, and pleasant to look at, and a source of knowledge.

Now she listened to the serpent, she looked at the tree, she took of the fruit, and she ate and gave to Adam, and he ate and they fell.

Now the probation was clearly stated.  God had said to Adam, (Genesis 2:17 ) "for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." 

Then later, Eve accurately repeated the prohibition to the serpent when she said, (Genesis 3:3) "God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." 

The stakes were high! So the prohibition was clearly and unmistakably enunciated. They were self-condemned and they passed judgment upon themselves and went into hiding and separated themselves from God.

Now sin entered the human heart when man consciously and knowingly with his will volitionally crossed the will of God. Sin then rapidly spread from the initial act of disobedience in one generation to murder in the very next generation, when Cain arose and slew his brother Abel.

A few generations later, a very few generations later, the world situation was described in these words, (Genesis 6:5 ) "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." 

Thus man lost the spiritual image of God his Creator, but retained his freedom of choice and his moral action.

First, let us notice that certain basic truths are either positively stated or clearly implied

The whole Trinity is involved in this vital matter. God created, God saw and God said. The Son knocks and the Son calls; the Spirit wrestles and the Spirit strives. There we have God the Father, and the Son and the Spirit; all are vitally and personally involved in this matter.

The Spirit wrestled with Jacob at the little brook of Jabbok all night through until the dawn of a new day, and until the rising of the sun. So also the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit of God, wrestles and strives with the souls of all men until the dawn of a new spiritual day in their lives or else until outer darkness settles down upon them and shrouds their souls.

The Son stands at the door of the heart of man and both knocks and calls. He said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with me." 

The Son stands not as a thief to steal or as a robber to plunder or as a foe to destroy or as an officer of the law to apprehend a criminal and bring him to a bar of justice or condemnation. But the Son stands as a friend to help in time of trouble and as a physician to heal in time of sickness, and as a savior to save from the deadly and maligned malady of sin. All men are involved in this free offer of personal salvation. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." 

The term "with man" as we have it here refers to mankind or to the whole human race as such, and not to a favored few or to any elect group.

When Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in and help," the expression or the term "if any man" is very personal. "If any man" refers to individuals within the whole human race or within the whole group. Thus every rational responsible member of the whole human race has a meeting or encounter with a Knocker and a Caller, and with a Wrestler and a Striver. There is no way that we can avoid this encounter or this meeting. "He that believeth," without restriction to any group, "he that believeth shall be saved." "He that believeth not," without restriction to any group, "he that believeth not shall be damned."

There is no way that we can get out of this; and at this point and on this matter each one of us is on our own. The father cannot determine the destiny of the son, nor the son determine the destiny of the father. Children cannot determine the destiny of their parents, nor parents determine the destiny of their children. "He that believeth" from the heart and with the heart "shall be saved." "He that believeth not shall be damned." That is the only sin on the catalogue so stated. "He that believeth not shall be damned."

Again it is both stated and inferred, that mankind as a whole has barricaded himself against the efforts of the Triune Godhead to bring about its redemption. God the Father has been expelled as an undesirable entity from the religions of the world. They then become what we call heathen religions, but when they started they were not heathen religions. They had God at their center also. But God was expelled from them and then they became what we call heathen religions. 

Then Jesus said to the Jewish people of His day, (John 5:46) "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me." 

That God was drawn by expulsion from both ethnic and heathen religions and also from the Hebrew religion. He stands without.

When Jesus Himself was about to enter our world as a member of the human family, the family that He selected to enter through was relegated to a dirty and filthy manger used by, for the most part, the animals that work for man. That reeking manger was a symbol of the immoral filth and degradation of the world to which he had come. 

During His public ministry He was hounded from town to town, city to city and from province to province.  Later He was expelled by crucifixion as an undesired member of the human race that He had created, and as an unwanted resident on the earth that He had made. Then when the Holy Spirit of God revealed Himself, He came to this world and took over as the dispensational head at Pentecost.  He faired no better, and the men and the women whose hearts He had cleansed and empowered were declared to be drunk, and that is an insulting term. Later they were defamed and stoned, beheaded and slain with the sword or otherwise removed from this earth as unwanted members of human society. Their only claim was that they were very instruments in the hands of the Spirit and intended on doing the will of God at any cost to themselves or at any price.

Not only so, but the individual is also pictured as concealed and hiding behind barricaded or fortified walls and barricaded doors. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in and help."

Here we have a picture, a heart-breaking picture; a picture of heart-breaking pathos. The Highest and Greatest--God
Incarnate in human flesh-stands at the door of the meanest and the lowest, the denizen of the slums and pleads for admission.  That race has expelled the Trinity. The nation has expelled Him and even individuals, for the most part, have locked Him outside of their hearts and outside of their homes.

Secondly, let us notice that his state of affairs is not the permanent situation. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." 

God could enter and use the human heart (I suppose he's saying by force here). And were he to do so, He would be regarded as an intruder and as an unwelcome guest. Therefore He stands without and knocks and calls and wrestles and strives. But this text says, "My Spirit shall not always" so its not going to be that way forever.

The antediluvian people, the people before the flood were told exactly how long God was going to wrestle and strive with them. That God Himself set the period of 120 years for them. And that was not a period of 120 years of grace for each individual. Rather, it was a period of 120 years of grace for the race as a whole. And individuals were to be dealt with within that period one by one. 

At the first pronouncement of the 120 year period no doubt all of them intended to enter before that period came to an end. As they put it off, however, sin fastened itself upon them more firmly. Their realization of danger dimmed and the strivings of the Spirit became less real. Those three things always go together. They drifted down the steam and they missed it. It was only those who made an early decision to enter who ever entered. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." NOT FOREVER!

God has warned us how long His Spirit wrestled with the children of Israel out there in the wilderness. Through the Psalmist God said, (Psa. 95:10-11) (King's paraphrase) "Forty years long was I pleading with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: [11] Unto whom I swear in my wrath that they should not enter into my land." ( He changed a couple of words only.) 

God had previously sworn by Himself that the Israelites as a nation were going to enter into the land of Canaan and no power in heaven above or earth beneath or hell below could prevent God from fulfilling that promise, when He swear by Himself that Israel as a nation was going to enter the land of Canaan. Now He swears by Himself that that disobedience and rebellion and unbelieving generation would not enter into the land of Canaan. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." NOT FOREVER!

Jerusalem had her day of divine invitation in the person of righteous priests and holy prophets and godly kings. Those invitations were spurned and resisted by the people of the city of Jerusalem and the province of Judah. Then Jesus said this, with regard to them, (Luke 19:42) "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes." And when God hides a thing, it is hidden-NOT FOREVER!

The Spirit of inspiration to Hosea, the prophet, said, (Hosea 11:8 ) How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?" Then, at another time, at a later time, the same Holy Spirit of inspiration, through the same holy prophet said, (Hosea 4:17 ) "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." 

"How shall I give thee up?" "Let him alone." NOT FOREVER! "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." NOT FOREVER! Jerusalem, Jeremiah prayed for Judah, but the time came when the Holy Spirit of God said, (Jeremiah 7:16 ) Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear and help." 

Some years before, Samuel said, (1 Samuel 12:23 ) "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you." And now some time later the same Holy Spirit is saying that Jeremiah [was to pray for them no longer]. NOT FOREVER! 

While Jesus was preaching, He said, (Matthew 12:41-42) "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold a greater than Solomon is here." 

Again while Jesus was preaching on one occasion, He said, (Matthew 11:21-23) "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon (two heathen cities), they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. [22] But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable (more endurable) for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you. [23] And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom (laying in her cindery tomb, it would have remained until this day." 

The past with its little light condemns the present with its greater light. The reproof that Jesus gave to those people and those cities and places was in proportion to the privileges that they had spurned. And judgment and condemnation from God is always so related: the greater the light, the greater the condemnation; the greater the opportunity, the greater the damnation. Pagan and heathen people will condemn the people of the Christian age-of our age-and they know nothing of God,  who clothed Himself in human flesh in the person of the Son and died upon the cross to redeem mankind. And they know nothing of the Holy Spirit that was outpoured at Pentecost.  But we do. We do know all about those things. We have light and understanding and mental grasp and comprehension of those things. We know; they do not know. They'll stand up the judgment day and bring condemnation to souls for our neglect of the opportunities that we have.

Third, let us notice that the members of the Trinity-Father, Son and Spirit-by patience and persistence they came and engaged our attention, and they claim and demand our thoughts.  The Father speaks, the Son knocks, and the Spirit wrestles and strives, and we must do something about it. Other voices and other influences may be kept out of our minds and our hearts if we so desire.  We can close our eyes and stop our ears and we can absent ourselves from the areas where those other forces have influence. But this divine voice and those soul affections cannot be kept out; they cannot be locked out.   They pass by everything and come and grip our hearts and minds and our very self. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Thus the paying of the price is laid upon every last one of us tonight. This contact with deity and mind and heart and soul produces old-fashion conviction. It is not possible for anyone to pass from death unto life and to be saved and know it who is not first of all, at least, in a measure, brought under Spirit conviction and this plague, this grip of the Spirit, this contact with deity.  This confrontation with deity produces heart conviction. 

One may ask this question: How do I know when I am under conviction? When a person finds that his attention is arrested to the great concerns of his own soul, his lost estate, his future meeting with God and his eternal doom, he is then under conviction. He forgets about everything else around him and every person.  He's brought face to face with his own soul-the awful fact that he has a soul and it's a guilty soul, and it's a sinful soul and it's a sin stained soul and it is a soul that must meet God.

When a person is convicted of his sinful acts, he sees them one by one.  He sees his sinful deeds and his deliberate spiritual neglect and his sinful state.  Then when he is brought under a cloud of guilt by the Spirit of God and stands condemned at the bar of the presence of God and at the bar of his own conscience and reason, he is under conviction.

When a person sees the folly of trying to lift himself by his own bootstraps, when he stops looking elsewhere for salvation from sin and realizes that it's the blood of Christ and the blood of Christ alone that can save him after he's repented and placed his faith in the cross of Christ, he is then under conviction.

When he is brought face to face with those verities, with those realities that it's not the other fellow, not even his own relatives, but it's himself Ė himself - that spirit within his own soul - and is brought face to face with the claims of Jesus Christ, he is then under conviction.

We talk about the witness of the Spirit in the soul of the sanctified man; it is so. We talk about the witness of the Spirit in the soul of the regenerated man; it is so. But all old fashioned Bible conviction, Holy Ghost conviction on the soul of man is, all it is, it is merely God bearing witness with the soul of man that he is lost, and doomed, condemned, without God forever. That's all conviction is.

It is the witness of the Spirit of God that he's lost, unsaved, and can never see God in peace unless he does not repent of sin and turn of God.

Conviction not only exposes sin to one's self but it also produces a hatred of sin. Sin is exposed and sin is hated. And yet sin is hung on to at the same time. There is generated in the heart a longing for God. These things happen. Sin is exposed; sin is hated and in the heart a longing to get to God. Beneath the wayfarer's jacket, beneath the scholarís robe, and beneath the royal tassel, there are hearts that long for God. When God grips a man's soul He generates that longing, that desire, that fancying after God.

That's conviction. Man flees from God and barricades himself behind fortified walls and behind locked doors and yet at the same time he longs for the One against whom he has barricaded and fortified himself. 

Man also hides from God and flees from Him as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. And as he hides and as he flees from Him, he nevertheless longs for Him. He barricades himself against God and yet longs for God. He flees from God and yet desires God in his heart.

God has spoken to men by angels and God speaks to man by man. I'm not denying that. But in this strictly spiritual sense, He Himself-God Himself-conveys the message direct to the heart of man. DIRECT! "Behold I STAND!" Direct! God conveys this message. Direct to the heart of man. The stakes are too high to risk an error or a faulty messenger. The savior of the soul of man is up against manís soul. This soul of ours out-weighs it all. The stakes are too high! What if the finite messenger erred in the presentation of that message? God cannot risk it!! Therefore God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, comes and knocks at the heart's door so there can be no mistake. He carries the message Himself to our very selves. "Behold I stand at the door and knock."  God the Son, His own Spiritual Person, reveals our true condition to ourselves and the peril that we are in without God, and then councils us what to do and urges us to do it. Every possible approach to the soul of man has been made use of by God. There's not one more.

Every attribute of personality has been appealed to. There's not one more. Every faculty of human nature has been made to minister to the Divine. There's not one more. There is not another way that God can speak to man and there is not another vessel by which God can reach the soul of man. If you cannot hear it you will not hear the message or the messenger that God uses; there's not another way, but God Himself can speak to even you.

God speaks to man by means of hope. When Jonah went into the city of Nineveh and started to preach damnation, for that was all he preached, and they said, (Jonah 3:9 ) 

Who can tell if maybe that God will repent, they took the chance and they won? God speaks to man by means of his goodness. The goodness of God leads and helps and helps. God is a teacher of repentance. 

God speaks by means of His providence and affliction also. He speaks to us by means of fear and by means of conscience and reason. God also speaks to us by means of the written word. (Hebrews 4:12 ) "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." 

That sharp two edged sword, with its razor point, cuts going and it cuts coming; it cuts to the right, it cuts to the left; it cuts on the up stroke, it cuts on the down stroke; it cuts every way. It's a sharp sword that pierces right into the soul of man and looms at the vital spot.

Now God in His Triune personality-Father, Son and Spirit-does knock at the hearts of all. Jesus said in Hebrews 4:12,  "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. "

Jesus said, (John 12:32 ) "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."  All men. God was expelled from the doors of our heart as an unwanted disturber of our sinful kingdom. We may do that to God. But it is not forever. No other avenue of approach to the soul of man is known and none will ever be used. The rich man begged Abraham to send one from the other world-one from where he was back to the earth to preach. But Abraham merely said, "They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them." No other avenue is going to be used! No other message is going to be delivered but this central message: "Jesus Christ died on the cross to save man's soul from sin. The Holy Spirit of God coming and fastening upon the souls of men with a vise like grip and shaking our souls, shaking our souls, until they're awakened and aroused and awakened out of their sleep, brought to realize that if they don't do something they'll drop into a devil's hell.

The Holy Spirit of God takes us and shakes us and causes us to realize that if we don't get our past covered by the blood, it will damn us and condemn us at the judgment bar of God, and we'll pass judgment on ourselves and separate ourselves from God.   The eternal, permanent, and everlasting banishment of our own free will. The Holy Spirit of God has come and is coming; and he is here and is watching our soul tonight. He's watched our souls during this last week.  He's warning tonight, and if this does not awaken us and arouse us, GOD HIMSELF has no other message than the message of the blood.

GOD HIMSELF has no other messenger than the Holy Ghost. GOD HIMSELF has no other messenger than the wounded side of Jesus the Christ. THE BLOOD STAINED CROSS, THE BLOOD STAINED PAGES OF HISTORY, THE BLOOD STAINED TORSO OF JESUS CHRIST. They can trample that blood under foot, they can trample CHRIST UNDER FOOT; they can say no to God, they can say no to the Holy Ghost.  But there is no other avenue, there is no other message, there is no other Savior. There is no other estate. 

IT'S HEAVEN or HELL!!!

At the foot of the cross, HERE or NOWHERE! SINNER FLEE THE WRATH TO COME!!!

For it's coming if you don't do something about it. God is speaking to us and He's speaking to us tonight. The cross was erected yonder outside of Eden. Abel climbed the hill, offered to God and was saved. Cain refused the shed blood and became a curse, the first man who blazed a trail to hell, while Abel blazed a trail to the throne of God. Every one of us here tonight is following in the footsteps of one or the other.

Help (...and help?) in salvation tonight with regard to those two boys. They had the light, they had the Spirit, they knew the way, the BLOOD STAINED WAY.  It lies before us tonight and what are we going to do about it? What are we going to do about it? The Lord hears our troubles. God is swinging near. What are we going to do about it?

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, we are in the Thy presence tonight, men and women who are not right with God; boys and girls who are not right with God; who know the way and help. They know the way is wide open, the door is open. O God, help tonight.

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