February 10: The Desire Of The Christian

To present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if you continue in the faith grounded and settled. Colossians 1:22, 23.

NEXT to an ardent desire to be assured that he possesses the truth—the believer in Jesus will feel anxious for establishment in the truth. It will not suffice for him to know, upon evidence he may not gainsay, that he is a converted man; He will aim to be an advancing Christian.

Just to have touched the border of the Savior’s righteousness, and obtained the healing, will not satisfy his conscience; with a strong and growing faith he will strive to wrap the robe more closely around him, in that full assurance of his “acceptance in the Beloved,” of his “completeness in Christ,” which supplies the strongest incentive to a walk worthy of his heavenly calling.

The Christian’s faith includes not merely what we are to believe, but also what we are to practice. It embraces not only the doctrines of Christ, but equally the precepts and commandments of Christ. The true Christian desires to stand “complete in all the will of God.” No longer under a covenant of works, but under the law of Christ, He aspires to be an obedient disciple, manifesting his love to Jesus by observing the commands of Jesus. He needs Christ to be his King, as he needs Him to be his Priest; to govern him, as to atone for him; to sanctify, as to save him.

His faith is characterized by the apostle Jude as our “most holy faith.” Its nature is holy, its principle is holy, its actings are holy, its tendencies are holy, its fruits are holy. It seeks to “bring every thought into obedience to Christ;” nor will it cease its mighty work—opposed, thwarted, and foiled, though it be—until the soul it sanctifies takes its place “without fault before the throne,” perfected in the image of God and of the Lamb.

Establishment in the faith is a matter of great moment in the experience of a child of God. The relation of stability in the truth with progress in the Divine life, is the relation of cause and effect. It is impossible that there can be any progress of the inner life in connection with unsettledness and instability of opinion on the great points of the Christian faith. Hence the especial stress which the Spirit of truth has laid upon it. What says the Scripture? “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught.” “Now He which establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God.” “I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established.”

Welcome all God’s dealings, as designed and as tending to build you up on your most holy faith, and thus advance the life of God in your soul. A hallowed possession of trial is a great mean of soul-advancement. Affliction is God’s school. Every true child of God has been placed in it. Every glorified saint has emerged from it. “Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord, and teach him out of Your law.” Chastening—the school; instruction—the end. Humbling and painful though the process be, who, to secure such an end, would not meekly welcome the discipline?

October 7: While Yet Sinners

“But God commends his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

From what other and higher source could the atonement have proceeded, if not from the very heart of God? And from His heart it did proceed. And not more freely does the sun pour forth its streams of light, and not more freely does the air fan with its refreshing influence, and not more freely does the ocean-billow heave, than the atonement flows from the heart of God! “God is love;” and the seat of that love is His heart.

Towards a sinner standing in the righteousness of His Son, that heart is love, and nothing but love. Not an unkind thought lodging there; not a repulsive feeling dwelling there; all is love, and love of the most tender character. Yes, we dare affirm, that towards His chosen people there never has been, and there never will be, one thought of unkindness, of anger, of rebuke in the heart of God: from eternity it has been love, through time it is love, and on through eternity to come it will be love.

What! are not their afflictions, their chastisements, the rough and thorny path they tread, proofs of God’s displeasure? What! is that individual loved of God, whom I see yonder bearing that heavy and daily cross; against whom billow after billow dashes, to whom messenger after messenger is sent; whose gourds are withered in a night, and whose fountains are all broken in a day; who is poor, feeble, and dependent; what! is that individual beloved of God? Go and ask that afflicted saint; go and ask that cross-bearing disciple; go and ask that son and daughter of disease and penury; and they will tell you, their Father’s dealings with them are the most costly proofs of His love: that instead of unkindness in that cross, there was love; instead of harshness in that rebuke, there was tenderness; and that when He withered that gourd, and broke up that cistern, and removed that earthly prop, it was but to pour the tide of His own love in the heart, and satiate the soul with His goodness. Oh, dear cross! oh, sweet affliction! thus to open the heart of God; thus to bring God near to the soul, and the soul near to God.

Let it not be forgotten that the atonement had its origin in the heart of God; it follows, then, that it must be free. Does the sun need bribing in order to shine? does the wind need persuasion in order to blow? does the ocean-wave need argument in order to roll? is the sun-light purchased? is the air purchased? is the water that flows from the fountain purchased? Not less free is the love of God, gushing from His heart, and flowing down through the channel of the cross of Christ, to a poor repenting, believing sinner, without works, without merit, without money, without price, without a previous fitness.

Convictions do not merit it; repentances do not merit it; tears do not merit it; faith does not merit it. Pardon to the chief of sinners—forgiveness to the vilest of the vile—the blotting out of sins of the deepest dye—the justification and acceptance of the most unworthy—all, free as the heart of God can make it. The hungry and the thirsty, the poor and the penniless, the weary and the heavy-laden, may come to the gospel provision, for the heart of God bids them welcome.

The objects contemplated in the special and gracious design of the atonement establish its perfect freeness beyond all question. Who are they? Are they spoken of as the worthy, the righteous, the deserving, the rich, the noble? The very reverse. They are sinners, ungodly, unworthy. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

And see how our blessed Lord confirms this statement: “I am not come to call the righteous (that is, the self-righteous—those who were righteous in their own estimation, and despised others), but sinners to repentance.” And who did He save when upon earth? Were they the worthy or the most unworthy? were they the righteous or sinners?

Take the case of Saul of Tarsus. His own description of his previous character will certainly be believed: “which was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.” And yet he “obtained mercy:” and why? “That in me Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.”

If Saul of Tarsus, then, obtained mercy—obtained it as a sinner of the deepest dye—obtained it fully, freely, aside from all human merit—penitent reader, so may you.

June 7: Submitted Unto God

How few there are, among the many “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” James 4:7

Submission to the Divine will is a great advance in holiness; and this is mainly and effectually attained through sanctified chastisement. In prosperity, how full are we of self-sufficiency! When the Lord asks our obedience, we give Him our counsel. But when He sends the rod, and by the accompanying grace of His Spirit sanctifies its stroke, we learn in what true obedience consists.

It was in this school our blessed Lord Himself was taught. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” He learned to obey in suffering- to bring His will in suffering into complete submission to His Father’s will. God has not in His family such obedient children as those who, “passing under the rod,” are “brought into the bond of the covenant.” Oh, what a high Christian attainment is submission to the will of God!

The noblest grace attainable upon earth is it. When our Lord taught His disciples to pray to the Father for the spread of holiness, He embodied the petition, in these words, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The universal and complete holiness of heaven springs from the universal and complete perfection in which the will of God is done by angels and glorified spirits.

In proportion as the Divine will prevails upon earth, holiness will reign. And, oh, what a beauteous earth and what a blissful world would this be, were the will of God done by every creature! In the new earth, in which will dwell righteousness, it will be so. The original harmony of this fallen universe will then be restored, its pristine beauty recovered, and God, in the person of His Son, will once more reign over, and walk in the midst of, a people whose will shall be but the reflection of His own.

Thus to approximate to the Divine will is to assimilate with the Divine holiness. What God will, how God will, and when God will, defines the rule which should govern all the conduct and limit all the desires of the child of God. The instant the overwhelmed heart is brought into this state, the afflicted believer has planted his feet upon the Rock that is higher than he. All is peace, all is composure, because all is submission to the will of God.

“The Lord reigns” is the truth whose all-commanding yet gentle whisper has stilled the tempest and calmed the waves. In its intense anxiety that the Divine will might be done, the chastened soul is but breathing after deeper holiness; and every fervent desire for the attainment of holiness is holiness already attained. Blessed chastening of love, that produces in this world, so distant and uncongenial, the buds and blossoms and fruits of heaven! A richer fruit grows not within the Paradise of God than Holiness.

And yet, in the experience of a chastened believer, bleeding under the rod of his heavenly Father, there may be obtained such victories over sin, such purification of heart, such meekness of spirit, such Christ-like conformity, and such a discipline of the will, as to make him a rich “partaker of the Divine holiness.”

April 18: The Depth Of His Humiliation

“Is not this the carpenter’s Son?” Mark 6:3

The attending circumstances of His birth, and the subsequent events of His life, entered deeply into the fact of His abasement. In each step that He took, He did seem to say, “I was born to humiliation and suffering; therefore I came into the world.”

His parents were poor, of lowly extraction, and humble occupation. Until the age of thirty, He lived a life of entire seclusion from the world; and as He was “subject unto His parents,” doubtless His early years were employed in assisting His father in his lowly calling; thus, with His own hands, ministering to His temporal necessities.

For, be it remembered, it was a material part of the original curse pronounced by God on man, “In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread.” Jesus was made under the law, that He might endure the curse; that curse He fully sustained. There was not a part, the bitterness of which He did not taste, and the tremendousness of which He did not endure; and that for His elect’s sake. It were no fanciful idea, therefore, to suppose, that in this feature of the curse our Lord personally entered; that this part of the penalty of human transgression He fully paid; and that, in early life, by the sweat of His brow, He did literally provide for His own temporal sustenance.

Oh touching view of the humiliation of the Son of God! How does it dignify the most lowly occupation, sweeten the heaviest trial, and lighten the deepest care, to reflect, “thus lived, and labored, and toiled, the Incarnate God!”
His riper years were marked by corresponding lowliness. The curse tracked His every step, pressing its claims, and exacting its penalties, to the last moment of existence. What were all His excessive privations, but parts of the same? No home sheltered Him- no domestic comforts cheered Him- no smile of fondness greeted Him- no hand of affection welcomed Him- “The Son of man has not where to lay His head,” was the heart-rending acknowledgment extracted from His lips.

And when a day of exhausting toil had closed upon Him- a day spent in journeying from village to village, and from house to house, preaching the kingdom, healing all manner of diseases, supplying the needs, alleviating the sufferings, and soothing the cares of others- He would retire, lonely and unrefreshed, to the bleak mountain, and spend His long sleepless night in unremitting prayer for His Church!

O adorable and adored Jehovah-Jesus! was ever humiliation and love like yours?

April 17: Constrain Me To Obey

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

As King in Zion, our adorable Lord Jesus delights to reign over a loving and an obedient people. Thus He has made their obedience to His commands a test of their love to His person- “If you love me, keep my commandments.” “Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you,” was the last charge given to His disciples.

Now it is this keeping of His commandments, this observance of what He has enjoined, that glorifies Him in His saints. Coming to Him in our ignorance glorifies Him as Prophet; coming to Him with our guilt glorifies Him as Priest; and walking obediently to His precepts glorifies Him as King. It places the crown upon the head of His sovereignty, it recognizes the spiritual nature of His kingdom, and it upholds the purity, majesty, and authority of His laws. It becomes, then, the solemn and imperative duty of every believer to search the will and testament of his dying, risen, and exalted Lord, to ascertain all that He has enjoined upon his obedience in the way of precept and command.

For how can he be a good and an obedient subject, if he does not understand the laws of Christ’s kingdom? Then, when the precept is clearly revealed, and the command is distinctly made known, immediate, self-denying, and cheerful obedience is to follow, as that path which, while it insures the sweetest peace to the soul, brings the highest glory to Christ. Let yours be an obedient walk, dear reader! Let your obedience be the fruit of faith, the dictate of love. Permit no reserve in your obedience; let it be full, honest, and complete.

Search the New Testament Scripture, and examine closely your own walk, and ascertain in what particular your obedience to Christ is deficient. Be upright, honest, and sincere in your inquiry. Let your fervent prayer be, “Lord, what will You have me to do? Is there any precept of Your word slighted, any, command disobeyed, any cross not taken up? Is there any desire to withhold my neck from Your, yoke, or to withdraw my shoulder from Your burden, or to mark out a smoother path than that which You have chosen and bade me walk in? Is there any secret framing of excuse for my disobedience, any temporizing, any carnal feeling, any worldly motive, any fear of man, any shrinking from consequences?

Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. You are precious to my soul, for You have borne my sins, endured my curse, carried my cross; and in return do only ask, as an evidence of how much I owe, and how much I love, that I should keep Your commandments, and follow Your example. Now, Lord, take my poor heart, and let it be Your, Your wholly, and Your forever. Let Your sweet love constrain me to run in the way of Your commandments, for this will I do, when You shall enlarge my heart.” Then will I follow the precious fruits of obedience, even as the bud expands into the blossom, and the blossom ripens into the fruit.

There will be a growth, a delightful expansion of the life of God in the soul; and with the increase of the divine life, there will be an increase of all the precious “fruits of the Spirit.” See that your Redeemer is glorified in your obedience; that for the happiness of your soul, and for the honor of Christ, you “stand complete in all the will of God.”