The One Great Reality
Part 2 out of 2
after. It is in the Upper Room at Jerusalem, on Easter Sunday. The
disciples who were like scattered sheep have gathered together there once
more, though still trembling with fear. "Then came Jesus and stood in the
midst and said unto them, Peace be unto you." [Footnote: St. John xx. 19.]
It was the first time He had spoken to them since the night when He was
betrayed when they had forsaken Him and had run away. He might have met
them with a reproof, but He knows all about our poor hearts, so He meets
them with a smile and the sweet greeting, "Peace be unto you." And He says
it to them _all_, even to Peter who had denied his Lord, and to the others
who had forsaken Him. Yes, He has only one greeting for them one and all,
and that is "Peace."
Then a pause, and after the pause there came a revelation--"He showed them
His hands and His side." Why did He show them the nail prints in His hands
and the deep wound in His side? It was to reveal to them the wondrous
truth that He Himself is our Peace, and that the Peace which He gives is
the Peace which He has Himself made through the Blood of His
Cross. [Footnote: Col. i. 20.]
"Through Christ on the Cross peace was made,
My debt by His death was all paid;
No otter foundation is laid,
For peace the gift of God's love."
He showed them His hands and His side, because He wants them to understand
that these sacred scars tell us of His wondrous love and of the infinite
cost of Redemption. Let us lift up our hearts and say--
"Oh, make me understand it,
Help me to take it in,
"What it meant to Thee the Holy One
To bear away my sin."
We find from St. John's Gospel that Thomas, one of the twelve, was not
among them when Jesus came, so the rest of the disciples told him, "We
have seen the Lord." He replied, "Unless I see in His hands the wound made
by the nails, and put my finger into the wound, and put my hand into His
side, I will never believe it." So when a week later Jesus says to Thomas,
"Reach hither thy finger and behold (or feel) My hands, and reach hither
thy hand and thrust it into My side," [Footnote: St. John xx. 27.] it
shows how our Lord made these scars the very test of his faith, and it is
the same now.
In St. Luke's Gospel we read that He said, "Behold My hands and My feet."
When He showed them the marks of His sufferings for them, it was as if He
said, "Here is the guarantee of your pardon and peace." We cannot have
peace until we have pardon; many seek peace instead of taking pardon
first. When He showed them His hands, and His feet, and His side, it was
as if He said, "You need cleansing from all sin; here are the marks of the
cleansing Blood. You need the touch of healing power, and here is the Hand
that will give it to you. You want companionship in your daily life.
Here are the feet that will travel with you, you never walk alone." What
wonderful tenderness and love! If ever you feel depressed or ready to
doubt God's love, remember how "He showed them His hands and His side,"
that they might see those sacred scars. And we read in the next verse,
"Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." Yes, "they were
filled with joy at seeing the Master." You will remember how troubled
Thomas had been before this, but now the sight of the wounded hands took
away all his doubts and fears. It was then that his faith rose higher than
that of any of the others, for he exclaimed with adoration and worship,
"My Lord, and my God!" If ever you wander away or your heart grows cold
and careless, think of those words, "He showed them His hands and His
side," and remember He is still the same in the glory.
When the beloved Apostle John looked through the open door into heaven, he
saw Him standing there in the midst of the throne with the nail prints in
His hands and feet, "a Lamb as it had been slain." [Footnote: Rev. v. 6.]
What a sight!
"Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more."
But _why_ did He show them the wounds in His hands and side? To make it
plain that He bore all the penalty of sin. Some speak about sin as if it
were only a mistake, but God says sin is guilt, and that all are guilty,
for all have sinned. We have offended against God's holy law, and if any
one breaks the law he brings upon himself the penalty. God says, "The soul
that sinneth, it shall die;" [Footnote: Ezek. xviii. 20.] so the penalty
we deserve is death, everlasting punishment. The penalty must be paid by
some one. God's justice demands it.
God is not willing that any should perish; He loves the sinner, though He
hates the sin. Still the penalty must be paid, so He found out a way; His
own dear Son must take the sinner's place and suffer the full penalty
instead, the death-penalty.
Perhaps you wonder, how can the death of One atone for the sin of the
many? A lad once asked his father this question. The father made no reply
but took him into the garden. Then he dug up a spadeful of earth with a
number of worms in it, and turning to the boy he asked him, "Now which is
of most value, your life or that of one worm, or even a thousand worms?"
"Mine," said the boy. "Now" said the father, "you can see how the life and
death of the Divine Saviour is _sufficient satisfaction to God_ for the
sins of the whole world."
Oh! the wonder of it all. We see God, the Holy God, the just God, the
righteous God--we see man, guilty, condemned, sinful. Then we see the Son
of God Who knew no sin, _made_ sin for us, [Footnote: 2 Cor. v. 21.] so
that all the requirements of God's holiness and justice are fully met.
It was on the Cross, in that hour of darkness and agony when He cried, "My
God, My God, _why_ hast Thou forsaken Me," that He was _made_ sin for us.
Now we see the meaning of the wounded Hands, the broken Heart of God.
"If I were God," the cynic said, "this sinning, suffering world would
break my heart." But what if God's heart _was_ broken? Do we not read in
the 69th Psalm, "Reproach hath broken my heart? [Footnote: Ps. lxix. 20.]"
The last night before He died He went to the garden of Gethsemane. Only
three of His disciples followed Him into the place where He knelt down to
pray, and even these three fell asleep. He was left alone. He says, "I
looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but
I found none." It was then the agony began which ended on the
Cross in a broken heart.
It was then He prayed saying, "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup
from Me, and there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening
Him." [Footnote: St. Luke xxii. 42, 43.]
His prayer was heard and the victory was won over the adversary, for it
must be on the Cross and in no other way that the Atonement could be made.
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for
us, for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."
[Footnote: Gal. iii. 13.] "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body
on the tree." [Footnote: I Pet. ii. 24.]
It was there on the Cross that He said, "It is finished; and He bowed His
Head and died." We should not have known that He died of a broken heart if
one little circumstance had not taken place. The Holy Spirit has shown us
that this circumstance was foretold in the Scriptures and was all part of
God's purpose in our redemption. The soldiers had orders to break the legs
of those who had been crucified, so as to hasten their death, and remove
their bodies without delay; but when they came to Jesus and saw that He
was dead already, they brake not His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced
His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. "This was a proof
that He had died of a broken heart." [Footnote: John xix. 34.]
"He died of a broken heart for you,
He died of a broken heart,
Oh! wondrous love for you, for me,
He died of a broken heart."
When we remember that the pouring out of the blood followed on the
breaking of the body, then we see the meaning of the precious words spoken
by our Lord during the Last Supper. We read that, "He took bread, and when
He had given thanks, He brake it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My Body
which is broken for you.' [Footnote: I Cor. xi. 24.] And He took the cup
and said, 'This is My Blood of the New Testament which is shed for many.'"
[Footnote: St. Mark xiv. 24.]
Why did He die? Why was His blood poured out? The Apostle Paul answers
that question when He says, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto
Himself." In that one sentence we have the Message of the Cross! We see
God's purpose behind it all.
Two wonderful truths lie hidden in that glorious message. The first is,
that "Christ _died_ to put away sin," because sin is the thing and the
only thing which comes between us and God. The good news which Christ
brings to us is that God Himself has taken the first step in this work of
reconciliation. Oh! how wonderful it is that it is our sins which have
brought out all the anguish and love of God's heart. Yes, our sins grieved
Him so much He could not rest till He had devised a plan by which they
could "all be blotted out," once for all.
Dear friends, whenever your sins are a burden, say these words over and
over in your heart, "God was in Christ reconciling me to Himself."
[Footnote: 2 Cor. v. 19.] This alone would have been wonderful, but there
is something more in the good news, and that is "God is beseeching you to
be reconciled to Him." Have you ever grasped that truth?
I remember hearing of a great lawyer who was moved to shed tears, and when
a fellow-lawyer asked him why he was in trouble he replied, "I see now
what I never saw before. Yes, I see that God is _beseeching_ me to be
reconciled to Him. I always thought it was for me to beseech God."
Many think as this lawyer did that the sinner must first come to God. No,
it is God Who comes to us entreating us to return to Him. He is always
sending us messages of love, and the moment we turn to Him and trust Him
He gives us a full free pardon.
Dear fellow-sinners, "we pray you now in Christ's stead," and because of
His great love in dying for you, "Be reconciled to God." God is now
willing; are you willing? Do say "Yes." Will you say it now very solemnly
in your heart to God?
THE WORD OF GOD
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE--Psalm xix.
This Psalm is full of the glory of God. It tells us first of the Glory of
God shining in this beautiful world which He has made, and then it shows
us the glory of God shining in the Scriptures, in this Book which lies
open before us.
The first verse bursts forth with the triumphant note, "The heavens
declare the glory of God." Everything in earth and sky shows forth His
wisdom, His power and His love.
Then it gives us a wonderful picture of the sunrise and compares it to "a
bridegroom coming out of his chamber." You have seen the first streaks of
light in the early morning, and then you have watched the onward course of
the sun till it is high up in the sky at mid-day, full of power,
"rejoicing as a strong man to run a race."
But Nature, with all its secrets, Nature with all its wonders and
treasures, is only part of God's revelation of Himself; the other part is
to be found in His Word.
So the Psalmist passes from the glorious sun in the heavens to the glory
shining in the Word of God. The glory we see in God's works is only an
illustration of the glory shining in this Book. After giving the wonderful
description of the rising sun, he goes on to point out that there is not a
single spot in the whole world where the sun does not shine, and that its
light and heat can be felt by everything. Then he shows us that it is just
the same with the Word of God. It is God's message to every one, but it is
only when it finds an entrance into man's heart that it gives light.
[Footnote: Ps. cxix. 130.]
If you draw down the blind the sun cannot shine into your room; so the
Holy Spirit must open our hearts for the light of His Word to enter in,
otherwise it will be to us the same as any other book.
"Is it dark without you, darker still within?
Clear the darkened windows,
Open wide the door;
Let the blessed sunshine in."
How can we know that the Bible is the Word of God? A gentleman, who was an
unbeliever, stopped one day to speak to Molly, the old woman who kept a
flower stall near the station. He noticed she was reading her Bible, so he
asked her why she read it. "Because it is the Word of God." "How do you
know?" "Because it cheers and warms my heart. I am just as sure it is
God's own Word as I am that it is the sun shining up there." This simple
testimony was the means of convincing him and he thanked her for it.
We have heard how the sun shines over the whole world, but is it not
wonderful that every little drop of water can reflect the whole of its
light? In every sunbeam there are seven colours, and when you look up at
the rainbow you see all the seven in one drop of rain. This is only an
illustration of the wonders of God's grace. If you are a child of God the
whole of God's grace enters your heart, so you have grace to speak, grace
to pray, grace to be loving and patient, grace for everything. The whole
of God's life and light and love are for you as if there were no one else
in the world. It is the same with all the precious truths of God's Word:
they are _all_ yours. A minister who wanted to know how many promises
there are in the Bible searched all through the Book and he counted nearly
five thousand. Had you any idea that there are as many as five thousand
precious promises for the believer in God's Word? Have you claimed them?
A Christian woman who was very ill asked her daughter to read the 8th
chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. When she had finished the mother
said, "That's mine, it's _all_ mine." How rich she was! Only think of it
and it is an _Eternal_ inheritance, for the chapter begins with "no
condemnation" and ends with "no separation."
If you will look at verses 7 and 8 of our Psalm, you will see four things
which the Word of God does. "It converts the soul, makes wise the simple,
rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes." Let us think of these four
First: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." The law here
means the whole covenant of Jehovah.
You remember how, when God appeared to Abraham, that Abraham fell on his
face, feeling his utter weakness and nothingness, and then God talked with
him. When a man is laid low in the dust then God can talk to him. And God
said to Abraham, "I will make my covenant between Me and thee." [Footnote:
Gen. xvii. 2.] A covenant is a promise made under solemn conditions, and
it is God's covenant of grace which converts the soul. Such a promise as
we have in Ezekiel: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit
will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your
flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh: And I will put my Spirit
within you." [Footnote: Ezek. xxxvi. 26.] God says "I will" five times in
those few lines, because He wants us to understand that in giving this
promise He undertakes to do in us and for us what we can never do for
This reminds me of a young woman who was troubled because, although she
was longing to be saved, yet she felt her heart was so hard. One Sunday
the minister took this verse as the text for his sermon. When he gave it
out it seemed to her as if a voice was speaking these words close to her,
right into her ear, "I will give you an heart of flesh." It came like a
message direct from God. She was so deeply touched she could not listen to
the sermon, and after it was over she went into the fields to find a quiet
place that she might look at the words again in her Bible. She is now a
very bright earnest Christian.
It is through the Word that God speaks to our hearts, and when the Holy
Spirit makes it a living Word and quickens us to receive it with faith,
then we are converted. If you are not saved, take your Bible and read it
prayerfully, and you will find in it just what you want. Remember the
letter of Scripture is of no use unless we experience its power and enjoy
A young clergyman was converted through a very strange text. He was so
much depressed he thought of committing suicide, and then his eye fell on
that verse in Ecclesiastes, "A living dog is better than a dead lion."
[Footnote: Eccles. ix. 4.] The words brought fresh hope to him. He said to
himself, One thing is certain and that is, I am still a _living_ man, and
he was then led to seek Christ as the Way, the Truth and the _Life_.
It is wonderful to think of the many different ways in which God sends His
Word home to our hearts. Spurgeon gives an instance of this. He was asked
to visit a dying man who told him about his conversion. He said, "Some
years ago I was at work in the Crystal Palace. God's Spirit was striving
with me and I felt the burden of sin. It seemed to follow me wherever I
went. Suddenly a voice said to me distinctly, 'Behold he Lamb of God which
taketh away the sin of the world.' [Footnote: St. John i. 29.] No one was
near me, and I thought the message had come straight from God. I then saw
clearly that Christ had died to save me, and ever since I have had joy and
peace in believing."
Spurgeon listened to the dying man's testimony with deep interest, and he
remembered that on that very day he had gone to the Crystal Palace to test
his voice in the transept before speaking at a People's service which was
to be held there, and had used that very text, "Behold the Lamb of God
which taketh away the sin of the world."
Let us thank God that His Word is _perfect_ in converting he soul.
"The testimony of the Lord is _sure_, making wise the simple." It is well
known that very often a man who is no scholar, but who is taught of God,
is able to see deep truths which learned men fail to understand. Every
time you read your Bible look up and say, "Lord, open Thou mine eyes that
I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law." [Footnote: Ps. cxix. 18.]
Do not feel discouraged because you do not understand t all. There are
many things which earthly fathers tell their children which they do not
understand till they are grown up, but still they love to get father's
letters, and the Bible is our heavenly Father's letter to us. Do you value
In the 8th verse of the 19th Psalm it says, "The statutes of the LORD are
right, rejoicing the heart." I have seen many careworn faces lit up with
joy when reading the Word. One man especially, who had a great deal of
trouble and opposition in his home life, used to give his testimony at the
Meeting. Opening his Bible in the 5th chapter of the Gospel of St. John he
would read the 24th verse, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that
heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life
and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."
Then he would tell us with a beaming face that it was his song of
assurance, for, as he said, there are three links, "He that _heareth_,
_believeth_, _hath_--and 'hath' means 'got it,' and I've got everlasting
life. Jesus says it and I know it's true." He is now in the glory, and
maybe he is telling the angels about it.
If we had no Bible we should have no certainty that our sins are forgiven.
A little girl named Molly said to her aunt who was teaching her about
Jesus, "How can I be sure that my sins are forgiven?" "Because God says
so," [Footnote: i John i. 9.] was the reply, and then she repeated the
text, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Many say, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins," and yet they still carry
about the burden of their sins. They see clearly how God can forgive sin,
but they cannot realise that it is their own sins which are forgiven. This
was the case with Luther. He tells us how, when he was distressed because
of his sins, a friend pointed out to him that he would not have real peace
unless he claimed God's forgiveness for his _own _sins. It was like a new
light flashing into his soul; he saw his mistake and looking up with a
beaming face, he said, "I see it now--it is not other people's sins, it is
_my_ sins which are all forgiven!"
We must not estimate sin and forgiveness by our own standard. When we have
given way to sin again and again we feel ashamed to ask God's forgiveness
so often but the wonder of it all is that God meets this very feeling of
shame with the words, "My thoughts are not your thoughts"; and then He
adds, "For I will abundantly pardon," [Footnote: 2 Isa. lv. 7, 8.] which
means, I will repeatedly pardon. God's thoughts of sin and His thoughts
about forgiveness are far higher than ours. Sometimes I feel quite
overwhelmed when I think of how great His forgiving love has been to me.
Look again at our Psalm, verse 7, "The testimony of the Lord is _sure_,
making wise the simple." The word Testimony means an assurance or a
promise from God to the individual soul, and David had such confidence in
God he is quite sure He will not disappoint him or fail to keep His word.
So he says, "The testimony, or promise, of God is _sure_." It is this
certainty which makes David so happy.
He seems to be overflowing with joy, for he says, "Thy testimonies also
are my delight and my counsellors," [Footnote: Ps. cxix. 24.] and again,
"I love Thy testimonies." "Thy testimonies are wonderful, therefore doth
my soul keep them. Thy testimonies that Thou hast commanded are righteous
and very faithful." [Footnote: Ps. cxix. 119, 129, 138.]
The word "Testimony" means also what God has commanded us to believe and
also to practise.
A native convert in China said the other day, "I began by reading the
Bible, but now I am _behaving_ it." This is what David means when he says,
"My soul hath kept Thy testimonies, and I love them exceedingly."
[Footnote: Ps. cxix. 167.]
The question was once asked at a meeting, "Can you point to any text in
the Word of God which makes you sure you are saved and safe?" "I can,"
said one of the company, in a quiet firm voice. "It is John iii. 36,
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."
We have many bed-rock texts and that is one, as the beautiful old hymn
"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word."
I was summoned late one evening to see a dying man who had been brought to
Christ through my Bible Class. When I entered his room he looked up and
said with a smile, "I sent for you because I want to tell you that I am
quite safe, quite sure and quite satisfied. I am quite safe because Jesus
died for me. I am quite sure because I have His Word for it. I am quite
satisfied because I am going to be with Him in the glory."
The Word of God was written that we _might_ believe; to believe is to
know, and to be quite certain. The word "believe" comes from an old root
meaning "to live by." "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every
word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." [Footnote: St. Matt. iv.
4.] Put your finger down on one of the many precious assurances which God
has given us in His Word, of the certainty of complete forgiveness and
acceptance, and then look up into His face with loving gratitude.
God's pardon and acceptance are absolute and eternal; nothing can ever
alter them. God wants us to know it and to live in the joy of it. Trusting
His Word gives us safety, certainty and enjoyment.
If any sin comes into your mind and troubles you, dear child of God, do
not carry it about with you, tell Father about it at once; confess it to
Him and remember that you are under the cleansing Blood. "The Blood of
Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin." [Footnote: 1 John i.
7.] It has not only cleansed us once for all, but it is cleansing us now
at the present moment.
It is important to remember that the whole purpose of the Bible is to give
glory to God. It is the Everlasting Word of the Everlasting God. "The word
of our God shall stand for ever." [Footnote: Isa. xl. 8.] Make the word of
God _everything_. Receive its statements by faith as revelations of simple
certainties. Find out how happy you are. "Happy is that people that is in
such a case, yea, happy is that people whose God is Lord." [Footnote: Ps.
If we are walking with God in our daily life we need a light to show us
the way. David knew well what it was to go along rough roads on dark
nights, so he says, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my
path." [Footnote: Ps. cxix. 105.]
Did you ever hear about Moody's torch? One night Moody had to return home
through a dark wood after one of his meetings, and the path was winding
and rough, so a friend offered him a torch. Moody declined taking it,
saying, "Thank you, but it is too small."
"It will light you home," said the man.
"But the wind may blow it out."
"It will light you home."
"But if it should rain?"
"It will light you home."
At last Moody started, taking the torch with him, and he said afterwards,
"In spite of all my fears, it gave abundant light on my path all the way
Every promise in the Word of God is like Moody's torch, and if we will
take it and use it, we shall find as he did, that it will light us all the
way to our Eternal Home. The Bible is the Book of light placed by our
Master in the hand of faith that we may see clearly how to walk and to
please God and how to deal wisely and kindly with those around us. It
contains plain directions about everything in our daily life.
The Bible is a Revelation of God Himself. It is a direct communication
from Him to us. There are four things made known to us in the Word which
are of priceless value--
1. It proclaims a full, free salvation through faith in Christ. "To you is
the Message of this Salvation sent."
2. It opens out to you the riches of grace and invites you to take them
3. It opens "the door of faith" wide to the weakest sinner and even to
4. It gives a new life within, which transforms the soul and makes us new
creatures in Christ Jesus.
Our Lord says, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they
are life." [Footnote: St. John vi, 63.] Can you say, "Thy Word hath
quickened me"? [Footnote: Ps. cxix. 50.]
Do not be satisfied with reading a chapter here and there. Read straight
through. Why? Because the Bible has a beginning and an ending like any
other book. It begins with the story of a friendship between God and man:
we see man very happy in this friendship. Then something happens; you will
find it in the third chapter of Genesis. Some one has come in between them
and the friendship is broken. Still God is looking for His friend and
calling him, "Where are you?" The answer comes from under the shadow of
the trees. "I heard Thy voice and I was afraid and hid myself."
Now we come to the last words at the end of the Book, and we hear the same
Voice saying, "I am coming back again very soon." It is the Voice of the
same Friend, no longer sad but glad. "The darkness has all passed
away and the true Light is shining," [Footnote: I John ii. 8.] and will
shine for ever: yes, it is sunshine all around, everlasting sunshine.
Where is the Bible? Do you keep your Bible where you can take it up
whenever you have a few spare moments? Is it ready at hand so that you can
read it before you go to bed at night? Do the children speak of it as
"Mother's book"? Do you turn to it for strength and comfort? Is it a
_living_ book to you?
One of the most solemn things which God says to His rebellious people in
olden times is that "they were casting His Words behind their backs." We
are doing the same thing if the Bible is laid aside on the shelf, or put
into the front room and allowed to remain unopened week after week. There
can be no blessing in your home and in your life while you neglect the
Word of God. It is this very word of God which will judge you at the last
Listen to Christ's solemn warning: "He that rejecteth Me and receiveth not
My words hath one that judgeth him," which means you will not be left
without a Judge. It is not a matter of small importance whether you read
the Bible or not: it is a matter of life or death. A neglected Bible shows
you are living without God; a neglected Bible shows you are living for
this world only; a neglected Bible shows that your soul is dying of
starvation; a neglected Bible means that though you may _think_ you can
get on very well without it, Jesus _says_, "The Word that I have spoken
the same will judge him in the last day." [Footnote: St. John xii. 48.]
The Bible is God's Message to this present generation. Sometimes people
want to lay it on one side as an old book which is out of date. It is the
most up-to-date book in the world. It not only tells us of what is going
on at the present moment, but about what will happen in the future. We see
pictures in the daily papers of what people were doing yesterday and what
they looked like, but in the Bible we have portraits true to life not only
of what we are outwardly, but of the thoughts of our hearts. "The Word of
God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword: it can
discern the secret thoughts and purposes of the heart." [Footnote: Heb.
iv. 12.] We hear a great deal about the X-rays which show what is going on
inside the body, but this is nothing compared to the Word of God which
penetrates deep down into our inmost feelings and brings them to light. It
is better to be searched and cleansed now, than to go on in the old way
and then to stand before the great White Throne by and by, condemned to
Let us pray with David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and
know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in
the way Everlasting. Amen." [Footnote: Ps. cxxxix, 23, 24.]
HAVE FAITH IN GOD
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE--Romans iv.
There is one man set before us in this chapter as the man who had faith in
God. The one thing which marks him more than any other is his faith. The
man lived nearly 4,000 years ago, and yet he is still a vivid personality;
he lives on in our thoughts and memories as the man who trusted God. His
name is still reverenced all over the world, even among people of
different religions, as "The Friend of God."
"The God of Glory appeared to Abraham," and from that moment Abraham's
faith fastens on what God is. The attractive power of Jehovah drew him
from his home, his relations and his country, and with every fresh
revelation of God, Abraham's faith grasped more of God and clung to Him
with a firmer hold. God's word was all he had to go by; whatever God said
was enough for him; whatever God told him to do, he did it, because, to
_trust God_ means to obey Him. He had God with him at every step.
If ever there was a clear-sighted man, that man was Abraham, for trust in
God enlightens our understanding. He was a man with a far sight. He saw
what no other man then living saw. He saw that the day was coming when God
would send His Son to be the Saviour of the world. How do we know this?
Because Christ said, "Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and
was glad." [Footnote: St. John viii. 56.] He saw far on into the future,
farther than any other man then living. He saw the golden City, the holy
City, "whose builder and maker is God." [Footnote: Heb, xi. 10.] Yes, the
eye of faith not only sees God, it sees also what "God has prepared for
those who love Him."
God was very real to that man. Abraham trusted God because he knew Him
personally. Faith is the act of the soul which looks wholly away from
_self_, whether it be righteous self or sinful self, and looks to God
only, in complete submission and confidence.
It was because Abraham trusted Him that God stamped the man as His
friend--Abraham My friend. On and on through all these hundreds of years
he has been called "the Friend of God." In the book of Chronicles, in
Isaiah and in the Epistle of James it is mentioned again, "He was called
the Friend of God."
What is friendship? It is two hearts trusting in each other. Abraham
trusted God, and God trusted Abraham. God put such confidence in him that
He let him know that He was going to destroy the cities of the plain.
The LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?"
[Footnote: Gen. xviii. 17.]
Mutual trust is at the root of all friendship. Where there is a lack of
mutual confidence in the home life or in commercial life it spells ruin.
The great question for each one in life is, What is my relation to God? Is
it trusting God, or is it doubting God?
"Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
[Footnote: Rom. iv. 3.] What is righteousness? It means to be right with
God, and the moment we trust God's Word we are made righteous, and we
We read in Acts that after their first missionary tour. Paul and Barnabas
reported in detail all that God had done, and how He had opened the door
of faith unto the Gentiles. [Footnote: Acts xiv. 27.] So faith is the
gate of life by which the Gentiles were entering in.
Here was a new fact proving that faith was the gate of the Lord into which
the righteous should enter; [Footnote: Ps. cxviii. 20.] righteous
_because_ believing. Faith is the door by which God comes into our hearts.
Faith is only the door, nothing in itself, but it is called "precious
faith" because of all the life and joy and riches of grace and glory which
it lets in.
Abraham is not only presented to us in the Word of God as the Friend of
God, but also as a pattern for all believers, and we are told to take him
as our model, "to walk in his steps," to trust God and to find in God's
wondrous friendship all that he found. God has been teaching us ever
since, through the simplicity of the faith of this man. The most
remarkable point in his faith is this, he grasped as no one else had done
that God is God because He can quicken the dead. [Footnote: Rom. iv. 17.]
He can give life to the dead because He Himself is the Source of life. He
calls "those things which are not as though they were" because He is the
Creator of all things. This applies not only to the body but to the soul.
Your confidence in God began when your soul, which was "dead in sin," was
quickened into a new life. When we ourselves have experienced this
quickening it gives us such faith in praying for those we love, knowing
that God alone can quicken dead souls.
Abraham was "strong in faith"; even when God promised him a son, although
it seemed impossible, "he staggered not at the promise of God through
unbelief," being "fully persuaded" that God was able to do it. To be
"strong in faith" is to feel our utter helplessness and to rely on God's
power only; to be "strong in faith" is to grasp God's promise and not to
let anything make us doubt it.
We have an illustration of this strong faith in the case of the first
missionary who went out to China a hundred years ago. The captain of the
ship in which he sailed was an atheist, and one day he said to him with a
sneer, "You don't suppose, do you, that you are going to convert those
Chinese?" "No," said the missionary, "but I believe _God_ is going to do
it." Did God fail him? No. His faith was rewarded, and at the present time
there are a quarter of a million Chinese believers who meet in fellowship
at the Lord's Table.
What is faith? It is the link between me and God. The link between my
emptiness and God's fulness. The link between me, the sinner and Jesus,
the Saviour. Is there this link between you and God? Is the link on? Faith
is the spiritual link, the one and only means by which a man can have
dealings with God, realise God and walk with God. It is a living link
between God and the soul, a living union. The word "faith" comes from an
old word which means to _bind_. When I say "I _believe_ God," it means
that "I am His and He is mine for ever and for ever." It is trusting in
His love, not a mere cold belief in His power. It is grasping His
promises, because they are precious promises. It is the whole heart and
mind going out and up to God. David says: "Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up
my soul; O my God, I trust in Thee," [Footnote: Ps. xxv, 1, 2, 5] This
brings perfect rest. "Thou art the God of my salvation, on Thee do I wait
all the day." Do we make it a habit to be constantly referring to God
about everything? We learn first, that _God_ is, and then our faith feeds
upon _what_ God is. His faithfulness and His lovingkindness are seen in
all His dealings with us.
Faith has to do with unseen realities, for faith is the evidence, or proof
of things not seen; [Footnote: Heb. xi. 1.] it makes them as real as if we
could see them, and brings them near.
So we may say faith is like the telegraph wire which connects two places
however far apart they may be.
We had an illustration of this not long ago. Our Queen Mary was in her
sitting-room in Buckingham Palace. A hospital was to be opened in Canada
4,000 miles off, and she was asked to perform the ceremony. When the
signal was given that all was ready, the Queen pressed a little ivory
button and in two seconds the door of the hospital, which was held by an
electric wire, opened, and in fifteen seconds the signal was flashed back
that the hospital was open. So in about half a minute the signal went
there and back over a space of 8,000 miles. How wonderful! and yet greater
spiritual wonders are happening every day and many times in the day, if
only we have faith in God and let Him work in us and through us.
I will give you another illustration how the simple touch of faith links
us with God's power. A few years ago some rocks blocked the entrance into
the river St. Lawrence, so that the ships could not go up the river to
Quebec. It was decided that the mass of solid rock must be removed. How
was it done? In the presence of a large crowd a little child stepped
forward and touched an electric button and the whole mass of rock was
blown up by dynamite and the passage cleared.
Faith has done great wonders in times past, and it can still do wonders,
if only we make use of God's Almighty power. But the rule is, "According
to your faith so be it unto you."
I will give you an illustration. When I want light in my room I touch the
electric button and the room is filled with light. The moment I press the
button I expect the light will come, and I am surprised if it fails. Why?
Touching the electric button is like the touch of faith; it brings us into
contact with the source of light. Faith brings me into contact with God
Himself, for He is the source of life and light. God has ordained that
faith shall be a power as real and as uniform in its working as light or
heat or electricity. Everything about them is a mystery which we do not
fully understand, but all the same they are real to us and we use them.
Although we do not understand them, yet we prove again and again that they
supply us with new life and energy simply by a touch. Even a child can
touch. Faith places all God's fulness at our disposal, but it is only
according to our faith that we receive it.
I know a poor woman who went through a time of great anxiety about her
little girl who was ill. One day a Christian friend called to see her and
she told her all about her trouble. When she had finished the friend said
to her very tenderly, "You have forgotten one little word of five
letters." "What is it? Do tell me," she exclaimed, looking puzzled. Then
the friend, pointing on her five fingers, said slowly, _f-a-i-t-h_. The
dark cloud cleared away and she was able to look up into God's face again
and to trust Him.
So when Christ says, "Have faith in God," it is a command to hold fast to
God. It means trust God about everything, great and small; nothing is too
small. Trust Him to save you, and to keep you. Trust Him in every
difficulty and in every duty.
"Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring
heaven to your souls."
When Christ said to Peter and the others, "Have faith in God," He said it
very earnestly and with a ring of deep conviction in His voice. He knew in
Himself what dependence on God means in the earthly life. Day by day He
showed what it is to have simple trust in God. When He said, "Have faith
in God," He said it very solemnly, because He was speaking on behalf of
He had come to reveal Him, so He says, "I do nothing of Myself, but as My
Father hath taught Me I speak these things." He had already said, "He that
believeth on Me hath everlasting life," and now He adds, "Have faith in
God." Yes, He claims our confidence, our full confidence, not a half-
Our Lord saw men seeking other objects of trust, so He says, "Take hold of
God, hold fast to God, have faith in God and never let it go."
The world's great need is faith in God. God's own character demands it.
The Scriptures make Him known and reveal Him as altogether trustworthy,
such an One as invites our entire confidence. To have faith in God means
leaning on Him, letting Him bear the whole weight. There is a great
difference between believing and committing. Many say they believe, but
they are not willing to commit themselves to Him.
A few years ago there was a man named Blondin who performed wonderful
feats at the Crystal Palace. Once he walked on a tight rope stretched
across the centre of the Palace at a height of 150 feet. Another time a
rope was stretched at a great height over a shipbuilder's yard, and he not
only walked steadily across, but he carried a man on his back. A large
crowd gazed at him in wonder and awe, and great was their relief when both
Blondin and his burden reached the ground in safety.
Among the eager upturned faces in the crowd there was a lad about eleven
years of age. When Blondin came down he went up to the lad and said to
him, "You saw me carry that big man across, do you believe I could take
you?" "Of course you could," replied the boy; "why, he was a big man, and
I am only a little chap." "Well, then, jump up, my lad," said Blondin, and
he stooped down for the boy to climb up on his back. But although the boy
said he believed Blondin was able to carry him across, he was not willing
to trust himself, and so, just saying, "No, thank you," he was off like a
shot and ran as fast as he could till he was lost in the crowd. Though he
said he believed, when it came to the point he did not commit himself, and
that is all the difference, between believing _in_ Christ and believing
Faith in God means really committing ourselves into His hands and rolling
our burdens on Him.
If we withhold our confidence it shows that we do not really believe that
God is what the Bible says He is. The reason there is so much unrest and
ungodliness is because we have lost sight of God. It is not because the
Bible is out of date as some say, or that the Gospel has lost its power;
it is still as ever, "the power of God unto salvation," but we are
It is just the same now as in olden times when the children of Israel
limited the Holy One of Israel, and we read how this lack of confidence
grieved God all through those forty years in the wilderness. Yea, they
spake against God, they said, "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness;
can God give bread also; can He provide flesh for His people?" [Footnote:
Ps. lxxviii. 19, 20.] Unbelief asks, "_Can He?_" Faith says, "_He can._"
Dear friends, let me ask you to stop and ask yourself, Where do you put
that little word "can"? Are you constantly thinking to yourself, Can God?
or are you saying in your heart and meaning it too, "_God can_"! We limit
God's power to save, by asking, _Can_ God? The hindrance is the same as in
olden times when Jeremiah felt that because of the unbelief of the people
"the Lord was as a mighty man that cannot save." [Footnote: Jer. xiv; 9.]
You have prayed many years perhaps for the conversion of some one near and
dear to you, but are you limiting God because you doubt His power to do
it? A poor man who gave way to drink said sadly, "I have broken the pledge
again and again"; then pointing to his pledge card he said, "But now I
have written a text on it, Isaiah xli. 13: 'For I the Lord thy God will
hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, I will help thee.'" Then
looking up he said simply, "Maybe, Him and me will do it together."
Is it victory over temptation you long for? Look up to Him and say, "I
can't, but God can." Is it grace you need for some special trial? Say,
"God is able to make all grace abound towards me, for He tells us in His
Word that He is able to do 'exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think
according to the power that is working in us.'" [Footnote: Eph. iii. 20.]
The world's great sin is not trusting God. "Thus said the LORD, Cursed be
the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm and whose heart
departeth from the Lord." [Footnote: Jer. xvii. 5.] Yet in times of
difficulty or danger how apt we are to lean on the arm of flesh.
During the present European war I was much impressed by the words of one
of our soldiers who writes from the front: "After all that is being done
there still remains one supreme necessity without which neither arms or
munitions can be decisive, namely, the spiritual outlook of the whole
nation. When I returned home after ten months in Flanders, I was amazed at
the lack of spirituality of the people as a whole. The simple faith and
dependence upon God which characterised our country in her past struggles
seem lost to sight. 'They trusted in Thee and Thou didst deliver them'
implied no disregard for military efficiency; it was the real and vital
accompaniment to armed force. Can it be that the hellishness of battle,
the wearing down of the spirit induced by trench warfare, moments of utter
loneliness which every soldier has to bear, strike right at the soul and
enable him to realise the nearness of the spiritual world? 'Prayer is the
foundation of all grace' were the words of a dying soldier who had
deliberately returned to the area of poisonous gas and had brought back
the machine gun on his shoulders. Some of us have realised what individual
prayer at home has done for us, but we should all like to feel that the
whole nation is also testing the value of spiritual power."
We read in God's Word that "The children of Judah prevailed, because they
relied upon the Lord God"; [Footnote: 2 Chron. xiii. 18.] and when King
Asa was defeated the prophet said to him, "Because thou hast relied on the
King of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host
of the King of Syria escaped out of thine hand." [Footnote: 2 Chron. xvi.
To have faith in God we must put God first in everything. He must be first
when we awake in the morning. How blessed it is to be able to feel, "When
I awake I am still with Thee." A working man said to me once, "I make
myself happy in God the first thing in the morning." David says, "In the
morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up." [Footnote:
Ps. v. 3.] "When I awake I am still with Thee." [Footnote: Ps. cxxxix.
"In my morning prayer," said a Christian man, "instead of thinking of my
own needs first, I like to think of the fulness there is in Christ for
me." Let us resolve to put "God _first_," even if we have only time for
one text of Scripture. "God _first_," even if it is only a minute or two
for prayer. A Christian said once, "I must see the face of God before I
see the face of man." The manna was gathered early every morning. Another
said, "Unless I meet with God first, I cannot meet the difficulties of the
day in a prepared spirit." If you put "God first," you will find this will
make all the difference as to how you do your work and how you deal with
others. "Little is much if God is in it."
To have faith in God is to trust Him _only_. David says, "My soul, wait
thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him." [Footnote: Ps. lxii.
5.] Is it so with you? If so, what for, and for how much? First find out
from His Word that God is able and willing to do what you need; then trust
Him to do it. "Trust in Him at all times" it says again in that beautiful
Psalm. [Footnote: Ps. lxii. 8.]
"I have been looking into my Bible," said a working man, "and I find a
great many men trusted God, and whatever they trusted God for, they always
got it; He never failed them, and it is the same now."
You have all heard of Florence Nightingale and her life of devotion in
nursing the sick. She was asked to tell the secret of her earnest
Christian life, and after a pause she said, "I have kept nothing back from
God." Faith in God is unreserved confidence, telling Him all and keeping
nothing back. But before we can do this as a daily habit we must
definitely commit ourselves and all we have into God's hands.
It says in Isaiah xliv. 5, "One shall say, I am the Lord's." I have a mark
in my Bible which I made many years ago by the side of these words. I put
the date and then I wrote these words: "He gave Himself for me and I give
myself to Him. He takes me and I take Him." Ever since then it has been my
delight to tell others how simple it all is. It is the sinner taking the
Saviour and the Saviour taking the sinner.
Are you asking, What must I do? First believe what God says about you in
His Word. He says, that you are guilty, lost, ruined. Then He presents
Christ to us as the Saviour and calls on us to believe what He says about
Him. "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar because he hath not
believed the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record that
God hath given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son." [Footnote:
I John v. 10, 11.]
"Have faith in God." Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of
God, and "faith is the gift of God." And the wonder of it all is that God
says to the weak ones like poor Jacob, "I have chosen thee and not cast
thee away," and He never will, for "_God keeps all His failures_," not
like man who throws his failures on one side as worthless.
Oh! to trust Him then more fully,
Just to simply trust.
Then instead of "limiting the Holy One of Israel" we shall be singing at
the top of our voices, "The LORD hath done great things for us whereof we
are glad." [Footnote: Ps. cxxvi. 3.] So then let us "trust in the Lord for
ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is Everlasting Strength." [Footnote: Isa.
THE CHURCH OF GOD
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE--Ephesians v. 22-33.
"Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it." [Footnote: Eph. v.
25.] Two precious truths shine out in these words. He _loved_, He _gave_.
He not only gave Himself for the Church when He died on the Cross, but He
is still sanctifying and cleansing it, and by and by when He comes again
"He will present it unto Himself a glorious Church." [Footnote: Eph. v.
So we have the history of the Church in the past, in the present, and in
the future. We look back to the past and we see Christ giving Himself,
that is, laying down His life on the Cross; but we must also look far, far
back into the past Eternity to find out another precious truth. (Perhaps
you have never thought about it.) It is, that the Church was in God's
thoughts from the very beginning! The Son of God was in the bosom of the
Father "in the beginning"; and it was then--before the world was created,
that God chose us in Him and gave us to Him. [Footnote: Eph. i. 4.]
Now we see why "Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it."
What is the Church? The word "Church" means "called out," so the Church
embraces all who have been "called out" during the present age to form the
"Body of Christ." In the Old Testament we find that the Jews were God's
chosen people, [Footnote: Exod. vi. 7.] so they had all the privileges,
but in later times, the Jews rejected the Gospel of the grace of God, and
then God graciously visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people to
be called by His Name. [Footnote: Acts xv. 14.]
When did this special "_calling out_" begin? Nearly 1900 years ago on the
Day of Pentecost, and it has been going on ever since, and when the number
of "the called-out ones" has been completed, then "The Lord Himself shall
descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and
with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we
which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the
clouds to meet the Lord in the air." [Footnote: I Thess. iv. 16, 17.]
Each of those three words, "_chosen_," "_called out_," and "_caught up_,"
leads us on to something more. We were chosen in Him to be holy;
[Footnote: Eph. i. 4.] we are called out to be the Body of Christ now, and
by and by we shall be caught up to meet the Bridegroom and to be with Him
for ever. If you are a child of God, you can say with holy wonder, "God
has done all this for me."
The Church was formed out of a little company of 120 men and women who
were gathered together praying in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. [Footnote:
Acts i. 14, 15.] Suddenly they heard a wonderful sound and saw a heavenly
vision, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost; and before the day
was over that little company increased to the number of 3,000 souls. How
many does it number now? No one knows, but it is a "multitude which no man
can number." [Footnote: Rev. vii. 9.] Some are already in glory, some are
still on earth, but it matters not where they are, they belong to the
"whole family" of God "in heaven and in earth." [Footnote: Eph. iii. 15.]
On the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, His special
work was to create a new thing--it was then that the Church of God was
formed into one Body by the Holy Spirit, "For, as the body is one and hath
many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one
body, so also is Christ." [Footnote: I Cor. xii. 12, 27.] "Now ye are the
Body of Christ and members in particular," that is, individually, for
every saved soul is a member.
The Church is a living body united to Jesus Christ, for He is the living
Head of the Body. He needs His Church just as much as His Church needs
Him. It is the Holy Spirit who unites us to the risen and glorified Christ
Who is the Head, and then He unites us to one another in Him. It is a
_living_ union, because we pass through death into the resurrection life
of Christ, for by "One Spirit we are all baptized into One Body, and we
have all been made to drink into that One Spirit." [Footnote: I Cor. xii.
13.] The Holy Ghost sustains the life of the Church. In Him we live and
move and have our being. As the bird lives in the air, as the flower lives
in the sunshine, so we live in the Spirit, and when we drink in His
fulness there is growth and fruitfulness.
Have we ever felt this need of drinking into that One Spirit? Everything
connected with the true Church of Christ must be spiritual, it is this
which is being lost sight of in the present day, and it is the reason why
there is so little power and so few conversions.
Have you ever tried to understand why the Church is called "the Body of
Christ"? Think first about your own body. It is the only part of your real
self that can be seen. I cannot see your heart or your thoughts, but
I know what your thoughts are by your words, and what you feel by the look
of joy or sorrow in your face, and by the way you go about.
It is by your body that your real personality is made known to others;
what you really are would never be seen unless your body made it known. In
the same way the Church is the Body in order to make Christ known in the
world. He is hidden from our view, He is unseen, but He manifests Himself
and shines out through us, and He sends us to carry His messages and to do
This was the earnest desire of the Apostle Paul when he said that he was
willing that the old self should be taken away so that "the _life_ also of
Jesus might be made manifest in our body." [Footnote: 2 Cor. iv. 10, 11.]
This is what the Church is here on earth for, to make the unseen Christ
known. Just as every drop of water reflects the light, so every member of
the Church, however weak and small, can reflect His love.
Is His compassion for sinners beaming in your eye? Is His purity seen in
your daily life? Do you judge things from His standpoint?
I remember when some one was telling me why she loved a Christian worker
whom we both knew, she added, "I love her for what I see of Christ in
Think of Christ exalted in Heaven far above all things, and remember He is
there not for Himself, but for _you_. "He is Head over all things to His
Body, the Church." [Footnote: Eph. i. 22, 23.]
It is wonderful to think of this union with Christ, that we are His Body
and He is the Head; but there is another wonder quite as great, it is that
He is the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride. When we speak of the
Church as the Body of Christ, it is a living union, _life_ is the one
thought brought out; when we speak of Christ as the Bridegroom it is
_love_ which is the chief point. It brings out the affection, tenderness
and nearness of the Bridegroom. "So ought men to love their wives as their
own bodies, He that loveth His wife loveth Himself." [Footnote: Eph. v.
We have nothing so wonderful in the Old Testament. Think of the depths out
of which we have come, and the heights to which we are raised. "He raiseth
up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill
to set them among princes and to make them inherit the throne of glory."
[Footnote: 1 Sam. ii. 8.] Think of the sinner lifted out of all his
bondage and ruin to be the Bride of the Lamb! There is nothing higher that
God can give than this. This will be our glorious position by and by when
the Bridegroom comes to take us to our Heavenly Home, for His parting
words were, "I will come again and receive you unto Myself." [Footnote:
St. John xiv. 3.]
There will be three great surprises on the day that He comes again. These
surprises have been kept secret, but on that day the glorious secrets will
all be made known.
The first surprise will be when we shall see all the saints who have died
in Christ called back from the unseen world and clothed with their new,
glorified bodies. What a joyful meeting it will be.
The next surprise will be that we who are still living on earth when
Christ comes will be changed, we shall not die, we shall escape from the
hand of death. "It is appointed unto men once to die," but "Christ was
once offered to bear the sin of many," [Footnote: Heb. ix. 27, 28.] and
when He comes the saints who are living will be changed "in a moment, in
the twinkling of an eye." [Footnote: 1 Cor. xv. 52.] You know how long it
takes for you to shut your eye and open it--it will not take longer than
that for the change to be made. Three great changes will take place--our
_bodies_ will be changed, no more sin, or pain, or weariness; our _minds_
will be changed. "We shall _know_" then what we cannot know now, we shall
see all as God sees it, we shall know the love of Christ and we shall love
Him as He deserves to be loved, and best of all "we shall be like Him for
we shall see Him as He is."
The third surprise will be that our _circumstances_ will also be changed;
we shall be no longer on the earth, for as soon as the great change takes
place we shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. He will then look
into our life work, and He will say to His faithful ones who have been
true-hearted and loyal: "Well done, good and faithful servant." [Footnote:
St. Matt. xxv. 21.] Then the heavens will resound with the Hallelujah
chorus, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to Him, for the
marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife hath made herself ready."
[Footnote: Rev. xix. 7.]
But the glory will be only then beginning, it will be "_glory upon
glory_." Remember there are two stages in Christ's Coming; He will come
_for_ His saints, and then He will come down to earth _with_ His saints.
As it is written: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His
saints." [Footnote: Jude 14.] "When Christ, who is our Life, shall appear,
then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." [Footnote: Col. iii. 4.]
We shall come _with_ Him when He comes to reign on the earth.
But there is something still grander than the glorious position of having
a place with Him on His throne. We look on and on into the Eternity that
is coming (and it is a wonderful outlook) and what do we find? It is that
we are wanted for the ages to come to show forth, and to be living
personal illustrations "of the riches of God's grace." It is not only that
we shall be saved and glorified, but that God will use us personally to
show forth all His love. The grace of God is the love which flowed down to
us in our great need, when we were dead in sins, slaves to sin and Satan
and deserving nothing but God's wrath.
It is we ourselves who are wanted for the ages to come for "the praise of
His glory." The expression "_the riches_ of God's grace" [Footnote: Eph.
i. 7.] meets our personal need, but there is something else that will
shine forth, it is called "_the glory_ of God's grace." [Footnote: Eph. i.
6.] All that God prepares for us is worthy of His greatness and power. The
inheritance which He has in store and the beautiful Home above will be
worthy of God Himself, all that is in it and around it surpassing
everything that we can imagine in its glory and beauty will be worthy of
God Himself. It is only as our eyes are spiritually enlightened that we
can get a glimpse of "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the
saints." [Footnote: Eph. i. 18.]
The words of this old hymn describe what it will be like--
"I go on my way rejoicing,
Though weary the wilderness road--
I go on my way rejoicing
In hope of the glory of God.
"Then no more in the earthen vessel
The treasure of God shall be,
But in full and unclouded beauty,
O Lord, wilt Thou shine through me.
"All, all in Thy new creation
The glory of God shall see;
And the lamp for that light eternal
The Bride of the Lamb shall be.
"A golden lamp in the heavens,
That all may see and adore
The Lamb who was slain and who liveth,
Who liveth for evermore.
"So I go on my way rejoicing
That the heavens and earth shall see
His grace, and His glory and beauty,
In the depth of His love to me."
Our mission throughout eternity is to make known the love and wisdom of
God that He may not only be all, but in all. He is in us now, but we want
Him to be in all, and it will be through us that God will let the whole
universe be so filled with the glorious knowledge of His love and wisdom
that these words will at last be fulfilled--"God ... all and in all."
[Footnote: I Cor. xv. 28.]
We are passing through wars and convulsions and revolutions hitherto
unknown, but a glorious future is awaiting us, and one thing is certain,
that nothing can "separate us from the love of God which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord." [Footnote: Rom. viii. 39.] That is our security.
It is also certain that it is not in the power of the devil to destroy the
Church of God, for we are wanted in the ages to come. It is the Church
which is to be the glory of Christ to all Eternity.
We are also wanted _now_ in a very special way. Men's hearts are failing
them for fear, they need strong, calm, prayerful helpers in this time of
perplexity. Who can speak a word of cheer and encouragement? Who can point
them to the Rock of Ages which cannot be moved? Who can inspire them with
faith and hope? Only the one who has himself made God his Refuge. It is in
times of trouble that the worldly man turns for help and sympathy to the
believer. It is through us that God would work out His purpose of grace
and love to the world.
A young man who had met with a bitter disappointment went to an aged
Christian and poured out his trouble. After hearing his sad story, his
friend said in a calm, tender voice, "God knows all about it, there is no
such thing as chance in the world." "What is there then?" asked the young
man eagerly. "There is _love_, Eternal _love_," was the answer.
The reason why the believer is kept in perfect peace is because he looks
beyond all the tumult of battle, the bitter strife and terrible bloodshed
to the time when God will gather together all things in Christ, for He is
to be Head over all.
LOVE, ETERNAL LOVE.
Never for a moment shall that love cease to bless us and shield us.
Whatever may happen to our bodies nothing can touch the eternal life
Do you feel anxious to know whether you will have a share in the glory? I
will tell you how you may know. You remember Christian had a roll given
him by Evangelist which he was to give in at the Celestial Gate. When you
first come to Jesus as a poor sinner the Holy Spirit gives you four
precious words written as it were in a roll for you to hide in your heart
until the moment when Jesus comes and you are caught up to meet Him in the
air. Take your Bible and you will find there four precious words which God
has written for you to rest upon, and which will never fail you.
1. REDEEMED. [Footnote: Pet. i. 18, 19] "Bought with a price," and the
price was the life-blood of God's dear Son, so we belong to the Church of
Christ which He has "purchased with His own blood." [Footnote: Acts xx.
2. SEALED. [Footnote: Eph. i. 13] The Seal is God's mark upon us showing
to men and angels and devils that we are His "purchased possession"; that
we belong to Him, spirit, soul and body absolutely, and for ever, for
God's solid foundation stands unmoved, bearing this inscription, "The Lord
knoweth them that are His." [Footnote: 2 Tim. ii. 19]
A Christian doctor who had been in the Crimean War and in China, was very
particular when going on a journey to have all his luggage "_labelled and
ready_." In his last illness he turned to a friend and said with a smile,
"_I am labelled and ready_"! and then he gave this beautiful testimony:
"There is only one thing that makes me quite ready and quite sure of
Heaven, it is that my sins are forgiven by trusting in the Blood of Jesus.
Nothing that we can do can save us, it is what He did. He alone can give
us peace with God."
3. KEPT. [Footnote: 1 Pet. i. 5] A young Christian told a friend that he
was afraid as to whether he would be able to live the life. The friend
looked at him, and said, with a ringing voice of assurance, "He is able to
keep you from falling." [Footnote: Jude 24] He then saw that he was no
longer in his own keeping, but in _God's_ keeping, and that the keeping
would be up to the last moment, and be so complete that he would be handed
over without the smallest defect to stand in "the presence of His glory
with exceeding joy."
4. GLORIFIED. [Footnote: Rom. viii. 30] This is the last and grandest of
the four precious words which God has given to strengthen our hearts, and
it is the crown of all. What shall we say? No words can express what it
will be, it will surpass our highest expectations. But we know that it
will be fulness of life, fulness of joy, fulness of love, and all our
deepest longings satisfied, all our highest hopes fulfilled, and it will
be for ever and for ever!
Let us hold fast God's sure word of promise, "The Lord will give grace and
glory." [Footnote: Ps. lxxxiv. 11] Let us lift up our hearts in praise and
thanksgiving to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all
that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, UNTO HIM
IS THE GLORY IN THE CHURCH, THROUGHOUT ALL AGES, TO ALL ETERNITY, WORLD
WITHOUT END. AMEN. [Footnote: Eph. iii. 20, 21]
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE--St. Matthew xxi. 1-17, and
Revelation xi. 15-18.
Now, therefore, why speak ye not a word of bringing the King back?
[Footnote: 2 Sam. xix. 10] This question was asked a long time ago. You
remember how David was driven from his throne. His son Absalom rebelled
against him and he had to leave the country; but Absalom is now dead, the
rebellion is at an end, and still David is an exile. At last some of the
people talk it over together and inquire of one another, "Why say ye not a
word, or why are ye silent about bringing back the King?" So they sent
word to the King and Judah went to meet him.
I was reminded of this Old Testament story when a correspondent wrote in
the spring of this year as follows: "I have spent two days in what is left
of Belgium, and I find that the dream of the Belgians is to see the King
ride back into Brussels. Men and women, old and young, talk and plan and
have visions of the time when the King comes Home."
It is touching to think how these people, in spite of all their
misfortunes, still love their brave King and cling to the hope of having
him once more among them in his rightful place on the throne and then
their ruined towns and homes will be restored.
It makes me think of another King, our Lord Jesus, who entered the City of
Jerusalem amidst the cheers and acclamations of a large crowd, and how the
words came true: "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold thy King cometh
unto thee." [Footnote: St. Matt. xxi. 5] And now they cry, "Hosanna"--He
is come, He is come! and the children's voices ring out with praise. But
this proclaiming Him as King aroused the enmity of some of the rulers and
they stirred up the people against Him. Here was the opportunity, the
golden opportunity, for accepting or rejecting the Son of God. They had
listened to His teaching, they brought their sick to Him for healing, they
appreciated the benefits of His ministry, but they refused to submit to
His authority, so they were determined to silence His Voice. Sin shows
itself in the rebellion of the _will_ against God, and so they lost the
opportunity, and instead of accepting Him, they crucified their King.
The words are still true: "Behold, thy King cometh," He comes to set up
the Kingdom of God in our hearts, so the opportunity is given to you now
to accept Him as your King.
We listen to the good news about peace and forgiveness, but are we willing
to make Jesus King in our hearts? Here is the great test, it is here that
the opposition of man's _will_ begins to show itself, because if He is to
be our Lord and Master He claims all we are and all we have. He must be
Lord of _all_ or He is not Lord at all; nothing less will do. There is no
real union with Him by faith until we say in our hearts, "My Lord, and my
God." [Footnote: St. John xx. 28.] It is impossible to accept Christ as our
Saviour without also yielding to Him as King, and proclaiming Him as King.
A young friend of mine has these three simple words, "Make Jesus King," in
a frame hanging on the wall of her room. She told me they were the means
of leading her to decide for Christ.
Nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit can enable us to yield to Him as
our Lord and Master. "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the
Holy Ghost." [Footnote: 1 Cor. xii. 3.] This is the central fact--"JESUS IS
LORD." "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He
might be Lord both of the dead and living." [Footnote: Rom. xiv. 9]
It is the Holy Spirit who first reveals Christ to your heart and enables
you to say, "Thou art my Lord," [Footnote: Ps. xvi. 2] and then He gives
you grace to love and obey Him as your Master. So, whether you look
backward to the moment when your sins were all blotted out, "_He is
Lord_"; or whether you look at your present life with all its
shortcomings, "_He is Lord_"; or whether you look forward to the end,
waiting for His Coming, _He is Lord_. "Can you say truly--
"He cleansed my heart from all its sin,
What a wonderful Saviour!
And now He reigns and rules within,
What a wonderful Saviour!"
We have seen our Lord proclaimed King at Jerusalem and accepting the
title. Although rejected and crucified, His every word and action was
kingly up to the last moment of His earthly life. He spoke openly of His
Kingdom to Pilate, for when Pilate asked Him, "Art Thou a King then?"
[Footnote: St. John xviii. 37] He answered, "I am." The purple robe, the
crown of thorns, the sceptre, though offered in mockery, were all kingly,
for the superscription over the Cross, THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE
JEWS, [Footnote: St. Matt. xxvii. 37] was true. The Cross was the way to
the Throne. "I beheld, and lo in the midst of the Throne stood a
Lamb, as it had been slain." [Footnote: Rev. v. 6]
In that dark, dark hour of Christ's agony on the Cross, there was only one
man who recognised Christ as King, and that was the dying thief. It was a
very real cry that broke from his lips in his utter need--"Lord, remember
me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom." [Footnote: St. Luke xxiii. 42] It
was wonderful faith. Can you think of any other as wonderful? He
recognised Christ as King--not a dying King leaving His throne--but a
victorious King about to enter His Kingdom. The penitent thief saw even
more than this, he saw that it was a Kingdom of souls rescued from sin's
bondage and slavery; not a Kingdom of the great ones of earth, but for
outcasts such as he was, so he cried, "Take me as I am and give me a place
in the Kingdom."
But the answer to the cry was as wonderful as the cry itself--"To-day
shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." When the King said "With Me," He
meant, "I am passing from darkness into Everlasting Light. Come with Me. I
have broken the chains of sin, I am setting the prisoners free. Come with
Me." From that moment the penitent thief was identified with Christ in His
death and in His Risen Life. Is this true of you?
When earth rejected the King, not only was Heaven opened to receive Him,
but a triumphant reception awaited Him. Heaven resounded with the joyful
chorus of the angelic hosts--"Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye
lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in"!
[Footnote: Ps. xxiv. 7.]
So for nineteen hundred years the heavens have received Him, but once
again the everlasting doors will open, and the Son of Man will come in
"the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." [Footnote: St. Matt.
What has been going on during all these years? Kingdoms and world powers
have risen up one after another, but all have failed to give what the
world really needs, "A King to reign in righteousness." [Footnote: Isa.
xxxii. 1.] God is still saying, "Why do the heathen rage and the people
imagine a vain thing?" [Footnote: Ps. ii. 1.] But in spite of man's
rebellion and forgetfulness of God, God's purpose will stand firm, "Yet
have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." [Footnote: Ps. ii. 6.]
God's purpose is to have all power placed in the hands of One Man, and
that is Christ. What will be the final winding up of Earth's suffering and
struggles? The veil will be drawn aside and
"The Glory of the LORD will be revealed." [Footnote: Isa. xl. 5.]
It is the glory of the Personal Presence of the Son of God. When? Where?
How? will the glory be seen.
Look back into the Garden of Eden. God gave man control over all, but he
listened to another voice and then he lost control. The question was
raised, "Who was to rule, Satan or God?"
By and by another veil will be drawn aside and we shall see how the unseen
powers of darkness have been at work behind all the wars and sin and
rebellion of this poor world. "An enemy hath done this." [Footnote: St.
Matt. xiii. 28.] It is the devil who blinds the eyes, hardens the hearts,
and deadens the conscience of mankind. But we must not lose heart or think
that Satan is getting the upper hand. The Word of God enables us not only
to trace some of his plots and schemes, but it shows us _why_ God has been
so long silent and _when_ God intends to break that silence. [Footnote:
See Ps. 1] The victory is sure, but whose victory? The Victory of the Son
But first the Jews must return to their own land, and then "the kings of
the earth and of the whole world" will be gathered to the battle of the
great Day of God Almighty. All these nations will fight against the Jews
at Jerusalem in the place called Armageddon. It is really a desperate
attempt of the devil who is sending forth these nations to make war with
the Lamb. Jerusalem will be taken, and when the enemy is rejoicing over
the victory and the destruction of the Jews seems certain, then suddenly
they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and
great glory, [Footnote: St. Matt. xxiv. 30] "the armies" which are "in
Heaven" following Him. [Footnote: Rev. xix. 14]
Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations, and His feet
shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, [Footnote: Zech. xiv. 3,
4] and "every eye shall see Him." [Footnote: Rev. i. 7] The armies of the
enemy will be destroyed and God's people will be delivered. In this
marvellous way the Lamb shall overcome, for "He is Lord of lords and King
of kings and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
[Footnote: Rev. xvii. 14]
It will not only be the deliverance of the Jews from their enemies, but
the wonder of that great day will be that at last their eyes will be
opened to see Him as the Messiah, so they will be converted and restored.
The Lord says, "I will pour upon them the spirit of grace and of
supplication and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced."
[Footnote: Zech. xii. 10.]
What an overwhelming sight! The same Jesus whom they despised and rejected
is come down from heaven to deliver them, but they only think of Him as
the One whom they have pierced. The glory which meets their eye at that
moment is the glory of the love and compassion of the Crucified One. The
result of looking is mourning. They get such a view of their sin against
His love that they are filled with godly sorrow. When the eye of faith is
turned to Jesus then the tears flow. Oh, how perfectly will all Satan's
evil influence in man's heart be destroyed in the presence of Jesus.
"In that Day we have seen what has taken place at the beginning of that
day, and now before it closes a fountain will be opened to the house of
David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness."
[Footnote: Zech. xiii. 1.] With the opening of that fountain there is
grace given to _use_ it, for God says, "I will pour upon them the spirit
of grace." Many see the fountain now who never use it!
Precious fountain, of all things most precious to poor sinners such as you
and me. No one but God's dear Son, and nothing but His atoning death on
Calvary, could open that fountain. The fountain is still flowing--has it
Then the Kingdom of God is set up on earth. Who can tell the good news so
well as these restored and converted ones?
The question is sometimes asked, Has the Gospel lost its power? Is
Christianity a failure? No. The Gospel will yet be preached throughout the
whole world. Who will be the preachers? Converted Jews, [Footnote: Isa.
lxi. 6] "a mighty angel, [Footnote: Rev. xiv. 6] and glorified saints, for
they shall be priests of God." [Footnote: Rev. xx. 6]
What will be the result of their preaching? There will be a world-wide
revival. "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the
waters cover the sea." [Footnote: Hab. ii. 14]
When Christ comes to us now, it is to rule in the hearts of His people,
but _then_ He will reign over a believing world without opposition, for
Satan will be bound and Christ will take the Kingdom which is His by
redemption, and His glory will be seen on Mount Zion. "Out of Zion, the
perfection of beauty, God hath shined." [Footnote: Ps. 1. 2]
And the seventh angel sounded and there were great voices in heaven
saying: "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord
and of His Christ and He shall reign for ever and ever." [Footnote: Rev.
After reigning on earth for a thousand years there will be the Judgment of
"the Great White Throne," [Footnote: Rev. xx. 11-15] when all those who
had no part in the first resurrection will be raised, and all whose names
are not "written in the Book of Life" will be "cast into the lake of
"This is the second death."
Has your name been entered in the Book of Life?
One more glorious Vision of the Kingdom is unfolded
before us, and the glory grows brighter and brighter,
for it is "THE EVERLASTING KINGDOM."
"I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first
earth were passed away and there was no more sea.... And He that sat upon
the throne said, Behold I make all things new...." [Footnote: Rev. xxi. 1,
5] "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the
Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see
His face and His name shall be in their foreheads.
"And there shall be no night there: and they need no candle, neither light
of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for
ever and ever." [Footnote: Rev. xxii. 3-5] How wonderful that God should
promise us an abundant entrance into His Everlasting Kingdom. [Footnote: 2
Pet. i. 11] What does an abundant entrance mean? It means that we shall
not, as it were, just creep into heaven by a side door, but that we shall
have a grand welcome from the glorified ones there and from the Lord
Himself, all the doors, as it were, being thrown wide open to receive us.
Are we preparing for it? A mother who was dying called her little daughter
who was ten years old to her bedside and said tenderly, "I want you to
learn this little prayer, 'O God, prepare me for all Thou art preparing
for me.'" And the prayer was answered, for that little girl was Frances
Ridley Havergal, who lived a consecrated life, and passed away singing
about the Lord whom she loved.
I must give you some words spoken by that holy man Samuel Rutherford who
was persecuted and put into prison for Christ's sake. "I wonder many
times," he said, "that ever a child of God should have a sad heart
considering what the Lord is preparing for him. When we get Home above and
enter into possession of our Brother's fair Kingdom, it will be like one
step from prison to glory." These words came true, for soon after this he
received notice to appear before his judges in court, but before the day
of the trial came he died. So it was literally one step for him from
prison to glory. His own account of it is given in the following lines----
"They've summoned me before them,
Thither I may not come;
My King says, Come up hither,
My Lord says, Welcome Home."
What will it all be like? No words of ours can describe it, but God
Himself tells us what He will be to us and what He will do for us in the
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of
God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His
people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God." [Footnote:
Rev. xxi. 3-4]
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no
more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more
pain, for the former things are passed away."
The Crown of it all is that "God Himself shall be with them and be their
God." [Footnote: 1 Cor. xv. 28] All creatures will say, "God is everything
to me," for GOD will be "All in All."'
We have traced out some of the wonderful truths which God has revealed to
us about Himself. "This is Life Eternal that they might know Thee, the
only True God and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." [Footnote: St. John
Apart from God, all is death and ruin for ever; to _know_ God, to _trust_
God, to _love_ God is Eternal Life.
The great question is, What is God to me? Can you say--"O GOD, THOU ART MY
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