Well it’s great to be with you tonight and I want to bring you the greetings of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and the Heritage Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Let us first seek God’s face for illumination.
Lord God, we are so grateful to worship Thee again this evening, the God who makes everything out of nothing, the God who can recreate us and our children with a Spirit-wrought image to conform us to Jesus and to make us fully follow Thee. And as we discuss tonight what it means to fully follow Thee, we pray that our hearts may be submissive and be conquered and that we may truly live to Thee and in Thee and by Thee and for Thee and through Thee, fully following Thee. Lord, if Thou art the living God, as Thou art, Thou art worthy of our all, for Thou hast given Thy all in Jesus, for us, and when we give our all back to Thee we are yet but unprofitable servants. But help us to do that out of gratitude so that our lives may be fruitful and owned of Thee and Thy benediction may be upon us. Make us true Calebs as we shall hear tonight. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Turn with me please to Numbers 13. Tonight we want to look at the history of the spies as they returned from spying out the land, and particularly Caleb and Joshua. We’ll pick up at verse 25 in Numbers 13 where we read:
“At the end of forty days they,” that is, the twelve spies, “returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.’
But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’ Then the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.’ So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?’ And they said to one another, ‘Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’
Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, ‘The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.’ Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.”
And then if you move to verse 24, which is actually our text this evening. Verse 24:
“But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”
May God bless the reading of His sacred Word.
Well tonight I want to address a subject with you of following God fully. Following God fully. I want to look at the meaning of it – by grace, what it means that Caleb followed God fully. Second, I want to look at the root of it – in grace, why Caleb could follow God fully. And third, I want to look at its reward – a reward of grace, the promise that God granted to Caleb for following Him fully.
The Meaning of Following God Fully
Now the Bible gives us a number of examples, sometimes very good examples, sometimes very bad examples, and certainly Caleb is one of those incredibly good examples. In fact, you don’t read of any sin that Caleb committed in all that the Bible says about him, though of course we know that he was a sinner like you and me. But God sets Caleb before us as a godly portrait of someone who really fears the Lord with all his heart. Someone who is not only saved by grace but really responds an entire lifetime in following the Lord. Caleb was in the minority. You see, it is one thing to be in a church where, on the Lord’s Day, everyone looks decent, everyone looks like they’re worshiping God, and it’s another thing to be out in the world in the midst of murmurers and people who disbelieve God and His promises and they’re still to follow God fully. So when the twelve spies – of which Joshua and Caleb were two of the twelve – came back to give a report to Moses of the land of Canaan, ten of them brought a majority report and two brought a minority report. The interesting thing is that all twelve agreed on the facts – what they saw. All twelve said, “It’s a good land, a land that flows with milk and honey.” They brought back a huge cluster of grapes from Eschol as evidence of that fact. And all twelve agreed that the inhabitants of the land were, for the most part, a war-like people. They were strong; there were giants in the land, the children of Anak, and the cities were walled about, they were strongholds with strong bulwarks. And they all agreed, in essence, it would be a complicated thing to defeat such enemies.
But the spies parted ways when it came to interpretation of the facts. The majority report gave a bad report of the land. The ten said, “We can’t do this. We’ve only got 600,000 men and 2.5 million people and our 600,000 men are not able to go into the land and conquer these amazing giants in these great strongholds. In fact, the men are so big, so tall, that we’re like grasshoppers in our own eyes but also in their eyes. We just can’t go in. We can’t respond to God’s promises to go in and conquer the land as He has said He would do.” And so fear and unbelief rule the majority of the ten. They are the parents, fear and unbelief, of their conclusion. And so they look at the facts, they look at the circumstances, and they draw an incorrect conclusion. They forget that their God is the God of the Red Sea, that their God is almighty. They look at circumstances and they balance them and they say, “The enemy is stronger than we are. We cannot go in.”
The problem is they left out God. God’s not in the equation nor are His promises. And you see, that’s the problem. So often, also in our lives even as believers, our unbelief still consults with flesh and blood and we often act on human reasoning devoid of God. You see, unbelief tallies up the walls, the Amalekites, the Hittites, the Canaanites, the giants, and the conclusion is, “We can’t do it.” And the people, sadly, tragically, respond to the majority report. It has a profound impact on them. Unbelief, among believers, is powerful. Unbelief, among unbelievers, is far more powerful.
But as great as the problems, as insurmountable as the problems seem to be, happily there are two others who bring a minority report. As terrible as the majority report is, so wonderful is the minority report. Caleb quiets the people. He says, “We can go in and we can get the victory here. God will be true to His promises.” Basically he’s saying Numbers 23:19. “God is not a man that He should lie or the son of man that He should repent. Has He not said, ‘Shall He not do it?’” You see, unbelief makes problems big and God small, but faith makes God big and problems small. The tragedy is that unbelief has a tendency to drag others with it into the slough of despond. And the ten did that. The people broke out in weeping. Unbelief, you see, is terribly contagious. It easily persuades that the giants of Anak are larger than the promises of Almighty God, the God of Israel. It makes the promises look weak. It seems so impossible to ever enter into the land of Canaan to the people that they all weep and they even wish that they had gone back to Egypt. Why did they ever leave Egypt? Well this is a terribly harmful condition, of course. Unbelief eats away at the vitals of faith. It stunts our spiritual growth. It does untold damage to other beginnings in the life of grace and also to the unsaved to then see nothing in the people of God that recommends the service of God.
So I wonder about you and me tonight. What kind of testimony do we leave behind in our families, in our marriages, with our children, with our work associates? Are we living by the promises of God, claiming those promises, walking forward in the strength of God? Is God big in our lives and people small, or are people big and God small? Joshua and Caleb had the same eyes as the spies, used similar minds, but the difference was, Joshua and Caleb had a big heart for a big God. And so they quieted the people and Caleb says to the people basically this – “We’ve got to go in at once! God has promised us victory. If God has promised us something, we don’t need to sit down and even pray about it. It’s His will; we know it’s His will. Let us go in at once. Our defense is sure because we have God on our side. Let us go in and claim the inheritance that God will give us.”
So Caleb shows the people the way of faith, the way of faith; faith that trusts the Lord even in seemingly impossible circumstances, problematic circumstances. You see though, faith is not unreasonable. Faith rises above human reason. Giants become dwarfs, as it were. And Caleb says, “The people will become bread for us if we will only enter the Promised Land by faith.” “All things are possible,” Jesus said, “to him that believeth.” Well, when we are exercising faith, we often wonder at that point how we can ever be unbelieving again. Isn’t that true, as a believer? “Why don’t I always exercise faith? Why don’t I always believe the positive report of holy Scripture in and through Jesus, who makes the impossible possible, who does the most wondrous things, who saves my soul and who keeps me safe through constant intercessions at the right hand of the Father? What an amazing Savior He is! God will not go back on His own Word, His own promises, because all His promises are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus and His prayers cannot fail to be answered.” And see, Jesus is sure. And so God’s promises are sure in Jesus. Joshua and Caleb have faith in the Messiah to come. They declare unashamedly that they believe that their God is willing to fulfill all His promises – the Messianic ones not only, but also the providential ones. He will bring them into the land.
And then the Lord gives this wonderful testimony in our text about Caleb that he followed God fully. And that’s a striking expression. Wasn’t he a sinner? Well of course he was a sinner, but what does it mean to follow God fully? If you’re a Christian, that ought to prick your interest. You ought to be sitting here tonight saying, “I really want to live wholly and solely,” as one of my parishioners used to often pray, “Lord, let me live wholly and solely for Thee. I want a life that’s not 50/50; world in one hand, God in the other. I want a life that’s totally dedicated to that God who gave Himself for me, who gave His all on the bloody tree, and continues to live on my behalf at the Father’s right hand.”
When You Follow God Fully, You Follow Him Consistently
Well I think it means four things. First of all it means this. When you follow God fully, you follow Him consistently. That’s what Caleb did. In Numbers 14:24, when he’s about forty years old, the Lord says he followed Him fully. But when he’s eighty years old or eighty-five years old in Joshua 14:13-14, we read that “Joshua blessed Caleb and gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.” And you turn over one page to Joshua 15 and it says that again. “He followed the Lord fully all his days.” So Caleb was not a man who would follow the Lord by fits and starts as one old Puritan put it. That when the wind is blowing in the right direction you follow the Lord; when the wind comes against you, you give up your resistance and you just wallow in your unbelief. No, Caleb refuses also the forty long years in the wilderness that God sends the people back into because of their unbelief and surrounds Caleb with murmuring rebels all forty years, and everyone Caleb’s age, except Joshua, dies in the wilderness. I figured out the math one time. It meant forty funerals on an average every day. Imagine that. And surrounded with murmuring rebels who persevered in their unbelief and Caleb followed God fully. He was a testimony for God in the midst of all that unbelief, all forty years. That’s amazing.
But you know, by God’s grace nothing is impossible. And you, young people, when you go to university, you’re in the midst of a lot of unbelief I’m sure. But you can be a witness for God there. If you follow God fully, God can honor you and bless you and be near to you and others will notice. You’re in the minority report of how to interpret this world and how to interpret providential events and how to respond to Jesus Christ most of all. God can use you mightily, like he used Caleb. Caleb persevered until he obtained the promised rest. He fought until he gained the crown. He was consistent. It wasn’t like Lot’s wife who looked back. He wasn’t like the Jews in John 6 that walked no more with Jesus. He wasn’t like the Galatians who began to waffle on the Gospel, began to embrace another one.
In pastoring, I visited with a man once who wasn’t saved, but I actually thought he was saved through his sickness. And in the hospital he just said to me, “I’ve lived my life entirely wrongly. I’m going to follow the Lord fully now. If I ever come out of this hospital, I’m going to give the rest of my life to Him.” He got out of the hospital; he went right back to his old ways, within two weeks. See, that’s not true, vital Christianity. What we want is we want a life that follows God consistently all our days – from you, children, to your very young years, all the way to old age. What a blessing a life of following God fully truly is. Think about it this way. If God is the living God, as He is, He’s worth our all for all our days. Isn’t He? God isn’t worth half a life. You don’t tithe your life to God. You don’t give Him 10%. You give Him a certain amount of your finances. You need some money to live a daily life, of course, but you give Him your all – every area of your life, every piece of the pie of your life; your leisure time, your recreations, your family, your hobbies, your interests, your work, your Lord’s Day worship. Every day of your life you want to live wholly and solely for the Lord. That’s the way to live. Follow God fully, consistently.
When You Follow God Fully, You Follow Him Sincerely
Secondly, follow God fully means to follow God sincerely. That’s what Caleb did. He wasn’t a hypocrite. He didn’t follow God out of a works righteousness or follow God because he wanted to impress people. He followed God sincerely with his heart. He loved God. He could say with John, “We love Him because He first loved us.” And we know he followed God sincerely because when the people picked up stones in Numbers 14:9, Caleb didn’t flinch. I mean, how would you respond if you were in the midst of hundreds of thousands of people and they’re all against you except Joshua, and maybe Moses and Aaron, and they’re picking up stones to stone you to death. Would you perhaps say – perhaps I would say – “Well, maybe we’re just miscommunicating here. Let’s have a little consultation. Maybe we can compromise a bit. Maybe we can go in a couple of weeks from now. Let’s talk more about this. Let’s have a meeting. Let’s have some mediation here.” Caleb doesn’t flinch. He endures the insults, the jeers, the stones that are about to come his way. And wondrously the Lord intervened and the glory of the Lord appeared suddenly. God came to deliver Caleb.
But you see, that doesn’t mean in everyday life in every situation that you’re going to get that kind of miraculous deliverance. You know, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced the same thing. Didn’t they? They were going to be thrown into the burning, fiery furnace and they said to the king, “We will not bow down to your idol, no matter what you say! And our God is able to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace. But if not, O king, we still, even if we go into the burning, fiery furnace, we still will not bow because we are going to follow our God fully. We will have no other gods before our God!” Now that’s the way to live. You see, you follow God fully. You follow Him with all your heart. You bear the reproach of Christ. You do like Moses. You esteem the people of God, the God of the people, to be of greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.
You see, the people are so angry, so angry with Caleb because he removed all excuses for not going up into Canaan. He’s taken away all their arguments. They were determined to cling to their unbelief like every unbelieving person is. That’s why they send out spies in the first place. When the spies return, they expect to hear confirmation of their own unbelief. And the spies give them exactly what they want to hear. But these two, Joshua and Caleb, expose them for what they are, expose their unbelief, expose their irreligiosity, and so they’re angry and they’re going to stone them. You know, Martin Luther said the true sign of the church is not only the pure preaching of Gospel and the pure administration of the sacraments, but he gave another mark – suffering persecution. And he based it on this text – “All they that are godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Can I just speak to you a moment young people and teenagers? You face a lot of peer pressure, no doubt, negative peer pressure. You need to understand its strengths. You need to search and know and love and live the Scriptures if you’re going to stand up against, if you’re going to be a Caleb in the midst of this hostile world. You’ve got to lean hard on Christ. You’ve got to be true to God and true to your renewed self, to your Christian faith. And remember that true friends are those that seek your best welfare. Those who would lead you into the quagmire of unbelief are not your friends; they’re your enemies. So you need to take the long-term perspective. You need to lead rather than be led into the pathways and byways of unbelief. You need to remember that even those multitudes that would persecute you, the majority report, that even those people will have respect for you when you stand up for God.
How vividly I remember some scenes – right now in my mind they’re before me – when I was in the army of some guys who really harassed me for being a Christian. But when there came a need, when one of them lost his uncle very suddenly in a tragic crash, he was knocking on my door. “I want advice,” he said. You see, unbelief talks big, thinks it’s big, but in the end of the day, unbelief knows faith has something it doesn’t have. And it’s, in a way, jealous, because when the trials come, unbelief has no answers. So you go out, young people, and you resist this peer pressure. You be true to God. You follow God fully by the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit in you, which He gives to you for Christ’s sake. And when you’re taunted and when you’re mocked and when you’re persecuted, just remember what you’re enduring is nothing compared to what your Savior endured for you.
You know, I have a little statement of Spurgeon, just one of two statements that I’ve got taped to my computer so I see it every day. Because you know ministers can easily feel sorry for themselves when they get a bunch of criticism. It comes with the territory. The old Dutch used to say, “You can’t stand up in the front without getting kicked in the rear.” You’ve got to expect it. It comes with the ministry. But Spurgeon said, “Has anyone thrown you in jail? Has anyone beaten you up and crushed your bones?” Basically he was saying, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You haven’t endured anything compared to your Savior. You go out and fight His battles and He will fight yours.” So when I get a little bit down I just read that statement and say, “I haven’t seen anything yet. I’m going to stand tall for my Savior.”
When You Follow God Fully, You Follow Him Indivisibly
Number three, to follow God fully means not only to follow Him consistently and sincerely, but also the word the old divines used was “indivisibly.” We might use the word today, “holistically.” That is to say, to follow all God’s commandments, to follow all His will, all the means of grace. David puts it this way. “Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all Thy commandments.” David said he ran in the way to obey God’s commandments. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” So if you follow God fully, you see, you want your whole life to be one seamless channel of obedience to God. You want your life of faith to be willing to follow God unconditionally no matter where He leads you, no matter what He does with you. You want to carry the clusters of grapes and tell the people how good the land of Canaan is, how good our God is, how great His promises are. You want to spread the good news. You want to go and fight the giants, the sons of Anak. “Lord, here I am,” said Isaiah. “Send me.” That’s what Caleb is saying here. “Lord, here I am. I’m willing to go. Come with me, Israelites, fellow soldiers.” He’s willing to do it, even if it would cost him his life. His obedience was not partial, was not halting, but a whole-hearted, complete obedience.
You know, God hates a half a heart. God says, “I hate feigned obedience,” in one of the minor prophets. I wonder about us. Do we follow the Lord with an undivided heart? But you say, “I can’t do that. I’m a sinner.” Well, yes you’re a sinner but the habit of your life – you know the old divines used to talk about your “habitus” – the habit; the general bent of your life. If you live out of Christ, if you’re being conformed to the image of Christ, He followed the Lord fully and perfectly and He can make you willing to be conformed to His image. He gave an undivided heart in order to conquer your heart. So don’t follow the Lord just when it’s pleasant to do so. At times it will mean plucking out, as it were, metaphorically, a right eye; cutting off our right hand, responding in self-denial. You know John Calvin once said, “Self-denial is the beginning, the beginning of the Christian life.” We like to think it’s just for the very, very mature. We’re so pampered in our society, so pampered in American Christianity. Do we really use the means of grace? Do we use our Savior, clinging to Him, to help us follow God fully? Are we diligent in communicating with God? You know, God communicates with us through the Bible and we communicate with God back through prayer. Are we in the Word? Are we listening to the ear of God and are we talking back to the Lord in prayer telling Him, as that really good 19th century female writer, Mary Winslow, said, “Tell the Lord everything about you as if He knew nothing about you, yet knowing He knows everything about you.” Pour out your whole heart. Live wholly for Him, indivisibly, in every part of your dimension. Say with the psalmist, ‘My soul followeth hard after God.’ I want to know Him better. I want to serve Him more fully. I want to put the sword through sin. I want to kill sin and I want to live totally dedicated to the Lord. That’s what we can learn from Caleb.
When You Follow God Fully, You Follow Him Exclusively
And then fourthly, to follow God fully means not only to follow Him invisibly and to follow Him sincerely and to follow Him consistently, but to follow Him exclusively. It means to set up no other idols. An idol is anything you put above God. It means God is supreme – His rule, His reign. If He commands me, that’s sufficient. To follow God exclusively is our calling as Christians. And you see, that’s what’s so beautiful about our text. “Behold my servant, Caleb.” A servant is someone who follows his master in everything. That’s the word used here. It’s like “my willing slave.” And that’s so beautiful to see a Christian do that. And that’s not possible in your own strength but it’s possible by the Spirit working in you, taking the things of Christ and revealing them to you. Christ is the servant of the Father. Think of the Isaiah Servant songs. He’s the perfect Servant of the Father. He always followed His Father fully. He made no mistakes. He committed no sins. And through His servanthood, He makes us willing servants in the day of His power. “Take my life, Lord, and let it be consecrated to Thee. Take my hands. Take my will. Take my heart. Take my affections. Take my mind. Take everything of me and consecrate it wholly to Thee.” Is that your desire, that you want to follow God fully?
The Root of Following God Fully
Well maybe by now you’re saying, “You’re putting the bar pretty high.” Well, the Bible does. But I’m not saying you can do this in your own strength. I’m saying the grace to follow God fully is rooted in the grace that God gives to Caleb by putting another Spirit in him. That’s what the text says. “But my servant, Caleb, he had another spirit, a different spirit with him.” You see, theirs, the majority report, was a spirit of distrust. His, of faith. Theirs of unbelief and fear; his of hope and love. Theirs was worldly; his was heavenly. Theirs was angry disobedience; his affectionate obedience. Theirs was satanic; his was of God. Theirs was a lazy spirit; his was an active Spirit. They wanted the rest without the journey, the reward without the labor, the victory without the warfare; they were led by their own spirit, the evil spirit. But Caleb was led by the Holy Spirit. This is the different Spirit in him – the Spirit of God that made him willing to follow God fully.
What a tragedy. The people wept that night, even in spite of hearing Caleb speak, in spite of Joshua. Caleb had a courageous and noble spirit, a generous and heroic spirit, a self-denying and loyal spirit, a loving and persevering spirit because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, was in him. That’s the Spirit that Christ had. Without measure, the Spirit came upon our Savior without measure. The Holy Spirit is a spirit of faith. He inspires faith in our hearts. That’s what we want. That’s the way to live. “Now, we have received,” Paul says, “not the spirit of this world but the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”
But why was the Spirit given to Caleb? You see, now you get to the heart of it. It’s just pure grace. Isn’t it? Sovereign grace that God selected Caleb, freely took him as His own possession. God loved him with an everlasting love. And why did God love him with an everlasting love? Because He loved him with an everlasting love! You can’t get beyond the headwaters and the fountain springs of the eternal love of God and so all our religion, without the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is but a sham. It’s but outward form. It’s but lukewarm. God delights to fill His people with the Holy Spirit that they may have a different Spirit in them – a Spirit that years to follow Christ, God, fully. That’s the secret of a blessed, happy life. The Puritan Thomas Goodwin said, “One who has that full, vibrant assurance of faith and lives for God and to God and through God is ten times more active of a Christian than those who live more half-heartedly for the Lord.”
The Reward of Following God Fully
And the beauty is that this text not only speaks of this following God fully and speaks of the root of that grace and explains the meaning of it, but it also – that’s my third point – shows the reward. It’s a reward of grace as well. It’s not a reward of merit; a reward of grace. God fulfills His promises to Caleb. And you see three of them here. First, the Lord is promises to preserve Caleb’s life. Look again at verse 24. “Him I will bring into the land where unto he went.” Think of that. Joshua and Caleb are the only two that would survive from their generation those forty years. And God brings Caleb into the land of Canaan. God honors them that honor Him. God will preserve Caleb until he’s at least eighty-five years of age; quite an age for at that time in world history.
But secondly, God not only preserves Caleb, but He gives Caleb the land that he went to spy for an inheritance. This is remarkable. This is remarkable. In Joshua 14 and Joshua 15, we read that “Caleb drove from thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak, with his sons.” Now I want you to put this in perspective. This man’s eighty-five years old. God preserves him wonderfully. He has the strength of a man of thirty he says to Joshua. Now you can take that literally, and there was a sense in which that was true, but we can also take it spiritually, can’t we, that you can be eighty-five years old and you can be filled with the love of God with vigor and strength and follow God fully in senior years. What a blessing it is to see seniors following God fully. What a blessing they can be to their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren when they can say, “You know my grandpa, my great-grandfather, maybe he’s got his faults and flaws, but one thing I can tell you about him, he just loves the Lord. Every time we come over, he’s talking to us about the Lord. He’s encouraging us to follow the Lord.” What a blessing. That’s the kind of dad that Caleb was.
And so after forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Caleb comes to the border again and what does he do? This time he just says to his boys, “Come on, boys. We’re going to go in. We’re going to take down those giants.” Not 600,000 people – four. Eighty-five year old man goes in with three boys and kills the giants! Someone said it seems almost as if God had a sense of humor. I think it’s something beyond that. I think it’s saying to us today that when your life, when you follow God fully, God can do great exploits for you in your family and give great rewards for you at your work or whatever sphere by God’s providence you move in, God can use you mightily.
You know we were just talking this noon in Laurel to the family there about the minister who was so sincere, so earnest in preaching Isaiah 45:22. “Look unto me all the ends of the earth and be ye saved for I am God and there is none else.” And he had a young boy in his midst, Charles Spurgeon, who got converted under that sermon. And Charles Spurgeon doesn’t know the name of the man but it was obviously a minister who was following God earnestly and God used him for the conversion of Charles Spurgeon. And how many hundreds of thousands of people have been converted under Spurgeon’s sermons. There are more sermons by Spurgeon than any other preacher, dead or alive. God can use you greatly. God can use you greatly when you follow Him fully.
And then finally, thirdly, the Lord also promises to give Caleb’s seed, that is his children, his descendants, the land to possess. And that’s what happens. Joshua bestows upon that whole section of land, to the children of Caleb. And that is, of course, a symbolical meaning – the land of Canaan typifying the spiritual Canaan. When you are godly and you follow the Lord fully, it will have tremendous impact by God’s grace on your family. Now don’t take it wrong and don’t say, “Well if I have one child who’s like a black sheep and gone the wrong way it means I didn’t follow the Lord.” No. No. God is sovereign in all His ways. But I want to tell you something, when you walk and you follow the Lord fully – I mean I had very God-fearing parents. They followed the Lord fully. In fact, my dad sat me down one day a few years before he died. He said, “I want you to know that when your mother and I pass away, we won’t have money for you children because I’ve given my whole life to the church and the Lord and any time I had left over I did that. So I was never interested in making money.” He said, “But one thing we will leave for you – we will leave for you a treasury of prayers at the right hand of the throne of God.” And you know, I later found Matthew Henry’s statement – “Far better for parents to leave a treasury of prayers than a treasury of silver and gold.” You follow the Lord fully. He will have tremendous impact.
You know my parents had their 50th anniversary. All five of us children decided we’d thank my mother for one thing and we’d thank my dad for one thing. We won’t talk ahead of time about what it would be. Do you know that all five of us thanked my mother for her secret prayer life? She was just a prayer warrior. Do you know that all five of us thanked my dad specifically for his Sunday evening family worship in which he’s read Pilgrim’s Progress to us every Sunday night for all the years we were home and explain to us how God leads His people, and often teach us with tears streaming down his face? Be a Caleb. Train your children in the ways of God, your grandchildren. Take them on your knee. Talk to them about the Lord. Don’t be shy. Follow the Lord fully and God, may God enable you to experience Psalm 128:6, “Thou shalt see thy children’s children and peace upon Israel.” God will bless you and in blessing you He’ll bless your children, blessing your children, blessing your grandchildren. He’s a covenant keeping God from generation to generation.
So what about you tonight? Are you following God fully? Are you holding something back? Are you allowing some open window space for some bosom sin and not shutting the window and asking God to help you kill every sin? Do you wish with passion that every sin in you were dead and that you could be wholly dedicated to the living God? You know John Owen once said, “If indwelling sin is not your greatest burden in life, I wonder if you’re a Christian.” A believer groans over his indwelling sin. He wants to be done with sin. He wants to come to that point where he can say, “Evil is no longer present with me.” And it won’t happen fully, will it, until the day of resurrection. But you see, more and more when it’s right with Him, when we’re not backsliding, more and more we want to be conformed to the image of the Savior and we want to walk in His ways; we want to be like Him. We long for that day when we will be with Him, sinless as He is sinless, when He’ll see no sin in Jacob, no transgression in His Israel, and we will be able to gaze upon His face without shame, without hiding anything; no longer seeing through a glass darkly but beholding Him with all evil walled out and all good walled in and to be in utopia and the everlasting marriage with the Son of God, as holy as he is holy. O God, help me to follow Thee more fully here and be ready for that place hereafter.
See, if you’re in union with Christ, if you’re saved you’re in union with Christ. If you’re in union with Christ, you’re in communion with Christ. And that means that you are justified in Christ but also you are being sanctified in Christ. “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” We’re not saved by our works but our works are fruits. Sanctification is a justification of our justification. Sanctification is a visual portrait of our justification. God does not think well of His children when He saves them and they don’t yearn to follow Him fully.
So in your life, in your family, among your children, your neighbors, your associates, your peers at work, what kind of report are you bringing of God? A minority report? Are you a grumber, a murmurer? Are you bringing – I think I said minority report; I meant majority report. Or are you bringing a minority report of faithfulness to God, trusting in Him, trusting in His promises that are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus? Or, God forbid, are you really just an unbeliever in heart and you bring the majority report because the majority report is really the state, not just the condition, but the state of your heart? Jesus Christ really is not number one in your life but you go through all the motions? Will you go home tonight and please, get down by your bed alone – get alone with God – and just ask God to forgive you, to forgive me, of all our inconsistencies in not following Him fully. And ask Him, “Lord, take my heart. Wash away all my inconsistencies, my sins. Take my heart and let it be, consecrated, wholly to Thee.”
Great God of heaven, we grieve over how inconsistent our lives are in what a model Caleb is for us out of the fullness of Jesus who followed Thee fully, even through Gethsemane and Gabbitha and Golgotha, all the way to the end of the cross and now follows Thee at Thy right hand, ever living to make intercession for us. O, conform us more to His image by Thy Holy Spirit indwelling in us. Take the things of Jesus, Holy Spirit of God, and reveal them to us and make them transform our lives that we too may be Calebs in this enemy territory, in this world of vanity fair, and even if the world persecutes us and throws us in prison and does break our bones, we pray that we would not give up the battle but that we would follow Thee fully, even to the end, by Thy grace, and experience Thy benediction upon our lives. Lord, help us to be genuine disciples, denying ourselves, taking up the cross, following Thee, of Jesus Christ. Do bless this dear congregation and the pastors and leaders, and be especially, Lord, with Reverend David Strain and his wife. Please grant Thy healing hand of benediction upon her and bless them together. Help us, Lord, to be genuine disciples. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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