July 13: The Triune Mutual Interest

“And all mine are your, and your are mine; and I am glorified in them.” John 17:10

The manifested glory of Christ in His church is clearly and manifestly stated in the sublime prayer of our Lord. Addressing His Father, He claims with Him—what no mere creature could do—a conjunction of interest in the church, based upon an essential unity of nature. What angel in heaven could adopt this language, what creature on earth could present this claim—”All your are mine”? It would be an act of the most daring presumption; it would be the very inspiration of blasphemy: but when our Lord asserts it—asserts it, too, in a solemn prayer addressed on the eve of His death to His Father—what does it prove, but that a unity of property in the church involves a unity of essence in being? There could be no perfect oneness of the Father and the Son in any single object, but as it sprang from a oneness of nature.

The mutual interest, then, which Christ thus claims with His Father refers in this instance specifically to the church of God. And it is delightful here to trace the perfect equality of love towards the church, as of perfect identity of interest in the church. We are sometimes tempted to doubt the perfect sameness, as to degree, of the Father’s love with the Son’s love; that, because Jesus died, and intercedes, the mind thus used to familiarize itself with Him more especially, associating Him with all its comforting, soothing, hallowing views and enjoyments, we are liable to be beguiled into the belief that His love must transcend in its strength and intensity the love of the Father. But not so. The Father’s love is of perfect equality in degree, as it is in nature, with the Son’s love; and this may with equal truth be affirmed of the “love of the Spirit.” “He that has seen me,” says Jesus, “has seen the Father.”

Then he that has seen the melting, overpowering expressions of the Redeemer’s love—he that has seen Him pouring out His deep compassion over the miseries of a suffering world—he that has seen His affectionate gentleness towards His disciples—he that has seen Him weep at the grave of Lazarus—he that has followed Him to the garden of Gethsemane, to the judgment-hall of Pilate, and from thence to the cross of Calvary—has seen in every step which He trod, and in every act which He performed, a type of the deep, deep love which the Father bears towards His people. He that has thus seen the Son’s love, has seen the Father’s love.

Oh, sweet to think, the love that travailed—the love that toiled—the love that wept—the love that bled—the love that died, is the same love, in its nature and intensity, which is deep-welled in the heart of the TRIUNE GOD, and is pledged to secure the everlasting salvation of the church. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

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April 24: I Am In The Father

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. John 8:42

THIS is the key to the infinite grace of God. “I am in the Father,” said Christ, “and the Father in me.” Glorious announcement! Collecting together all the riches of His grace, the Father places them at the disposal of His Son, and bids Him spread them out before the eyes of a fallen world. True to His covenant engagement, the Eternal Son appears, “made like unto His brethren,” and announces that He has come to lift the veil, and show to us the heart of a gracious, sin-pardoning God. In declaring that the “Father Himself loves us,” and that “he that had seen Him,” so full of grace, “had seen the Father,” He affirms, but in other words, that He is a copy, a representation of the Father. That the love, the grace, the truth, the holiness, the power, the compassion, the tenderness, that were exhibited by Him in such a fullness of supply, and were distributed by Him in such an affluence of expenditure, had their origin and their counterpart in God.

Oh how jealous was He of the Divine honor! He might, had He willed it, have sought and secured His own distinction and advancement, His own interest and glory, apart from His Father’s. He could, had He chosen it, have erected His kingdom as a rival sovereignty, presenting Himself as the sole object of allegiance and affection, thus attracting to His government and His person the obedience and the homage of the world. But no! He had no separate interest from His Father. The heart of God throbbed in the bosom of Jesus—the perfections of God were embodied in the person of Jesus—the purpose of God was accomplished in the mission of Jesus—the will of God was done, and the honor of God was secured, in the life and death of Jesus. “I seek not mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me,” was a declaration emblazoned upon His every act.

Anxious that the worship which they offered to His deity, the attachment which they felt for his person, the admiration which they cherished for the beauty of His character and the splendor of His works, should not center solely in Himself, He perpetually pointed His disciples upward to the Eternal Father. It would seem, that such was His knowledge of His Father’s grace to sinners, such His acquaintance with His heart of love, that He could find no satisfaction in the affection, the admiration, and the homage yielded to Himself, but as that affection, admiration, and homage were shared equally by His Father. With Him it was an ever-present thought—and how could He forget it?—that the Father’s grace filled to overflowing this glorious vessel. He had just left the bosom of the Father, and this was well near the first announcement which broke in music from His lips, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And as He pursued His way through the awe-struck and admiring throng, He might often be heard to exclaim, in a voice that rose in solemn majesty above their loudest plaudits, “I seek not mine own glory; I honor my Father.”

December 30: The Lord Our Bulwark

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” Psalm 118:6

God must be on the side of His people, since He has, in an everlasting covenant, made Himself over to be their God. In an especial manner, and in the highest degree, He is the God of His people. In the most comprehensive meaning of the words, He is for us. His love is for us—His perfections are for us—His covenant is for us—His government, extending over all the world, and His power over all flesh, is for us.

There is nothing in God, nothing in His dealings, nothing in His providences, but what is on the side of His people. Enshrined in His heart, engraved on His hand, kept as the apple of His eye, God forms a mighty bulwark for His church. “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even forever.” In Christ Jesus, holiness, justice, and truth, unite with mercy, grace, and love, in weaving an invincible shield around each believer. There is not a purpose of His mind, nor a feeling of His heart, nor an event of His providence, nor an act of His government, that is not pledged to the happiness, the security, the well-being of His people. What Joshua said to the children of Israel, trembling to encounter the giants of Anak, may be truly said to every believer in view of his foes, “The Lord is with us, fear them not.”

Not the Father only, but the Son of God, is also on our side. Has He not amply proved it? Who, when there was no eye to pity, and no arm to save, undertook our cause, and embarked all His grace and glory in our salvation? Who slew our great Goliath, and rescued us from Pharaoh, discharged our debt, and released us from prison? Who extinguished the fires of our hell, and kindled the glories of our heaven? Who did all this by the sacrifice of Himself? Oh, it was Jesus!

Need we further proof that He is for us? Who appears on our behalf within the veil? Who sits for us as a priest upon His throne? Whose blood, first shed on Calvary, now sprinkles the mercy-seat? Who pleads, and argues, and intercedes, and prays for us in the high court of heaven? Whose human sympathy flows down in one continuous stream from that abode of glory, blending with our every trial, and suffering, and sorrow? Who is ever near to thwart our foes, and to pluck our feet from the snare of the fowler? Oh, it is Christ! And there is not a moment of time, nor a circumstance of life, in which He does not show Himself strong in behalf of His people.

And so of the Holy Spirit. Who quickened us when we were dead in trespasses and in sins? Who taught us when we were ignorant, enlightened us when we were dark, comforted us when we were distressed; and when wounded and bleeding, and ready to die, led us, all oppressed with guilt and sorrow as we were, to Jesus? Who inspired the first pulsation of life, and lighted the first spark of love; who created the first ray of hope in our soul, and dried the first tear of godly grief from our eye? Oh, it was the eternal Spirit, and He, too, is for us.

Survey the record of your own history, dear reader. What a chequered life yours, perhaps, has been! How dotted the map of your journeyings, how many-colored the stones that have paved your path, how varied and blended the hues that compose the picture of your life! And yet, God constructed that map, God laid those stones, God pencilled and painted that picture. God went before you, God is with you, and God is for you. He was in the dark cloud that enshrouded all with gloom, and He was in the sunshine that gilded all with beauty. “I will sing of mercy and of judgment; unto You, O Lord, will I sing.”

Who has carried forward the work of grace in our souls—checking our feet, restoring our wanderings, holding up our goings, raising us when we had fallen, and establishing our feet more firmly upon the rock? Who has befriended us when men rose up against us? Who has healed all our diseases, and has filled our mouths with good things, so that our youth has been renewed list the eagle’s? It was the Lord who was on our side, and not one good thing of all that He has promised has failed.

November 21: Fairer Than The Children Of Men

“You are fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into your lips: therefore God has blessed you forever.” Psalm 45:2
“No man knows the Son, but the Father.” Matthew 11:27

These two passages of God’s word convey to the mind the most forcible and exalted views of the personal excellence and dignity of the Lord Jesus. The first portrays His matchless beauty, the second His incomprehensible greatness. The Psalmist doubtless refers here to the perfection of His human excellence.

As man, His beauty transcends the comeliest of human beings—”fairer than the children of men.” Their beauty is mixed; His is pure. Theirs is derived; His is from Himself. Theirs decays; His is imperishable. His body prepared of God, His mind filled with all the wisdom, grace, and holiness of the Spirit—He stands forth the “bright and morning star,” the perfect, peerless Son of man. Oh for an eye to see and admire His excellence! and not admire only, but to imitate. Oh for grace to lie at His feet, and learn of His meekness! to lean on His bosom, and drink of His love! to set the Lord always before us, never moving the eye from this perfect model, but ever aiming to transcribe its lineaments upon our daily life! Yes! “You are fairer than the children of men!” You altogether lovely One! And as I gaze upon Your perfection, passing from beauty to beauty, my admiration increases, and my love deepens; until, in the assurance of faith, and in the transport of joy, I exclaim, “This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend.”

Respecting His superior nature, not less clear and emphatic is the declaration of His essential greatness: “No man knows the Son, but the Father.” Surely these words are sufficient to remove all doubt as to His Deity. Were He only man, with what truth could it be affirmed of Him, that “no man knows the Son”? It is the property of an angel, that he understands the angelic nature; and of man, that he understands the human nature. It is the perfection of God, that He only understands the nature of God. Who, then, but the Infinite can measure the infinite greatness of the Son of God?

The loftiest created imagination, the mightiest human intellect, the profoundest angelic research, falls infinitely short of what He is. The Father alone knows the Son, because He is of the same nature and mind with the Father. Beware of holding this doctrine lightly. A more important one—one more glorious or more precious—asks not the confidence of your faith. Hold it fast, even as the vessel in the storm clings to its anchor. This gone, the next mountain wave drives you upon the quicksand of doubt and perplexity, and then where are you? Consider how important must be that single truth, on which the value, the preciousness, and the efficacy of all other truths depend.

Such a truth is the Godhead of Christ.

October 26: A Feeble Glance

“That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:7, 8

It was no little kindness in our God, that as one saving object, and one alone, was to engage the attention and fix the eye of the soul, through time and through eternity, that object should be of surpassing excellence and of peerless beauty. That He should be, not the sweetest seraph nor the loveliest angel in heaven, but His own Son, the “brightness of His glory, the express image of His person.”

God delights in the beautiful; all true beauty emanates from Him; “He has made all things beautiful.” How worthy of Himself, then; that in providing a Savior for fallen man, bidding him fix the eye of faith supremely and exclusively upon Him, that Savior should unite in Himself all Divine and all human beauty; that He should be the “chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely.”

Adore the name, oh! praise the love of God, for this. In looking to Jesus for salvation, we include each Divine Person of the glorious Trinity. We cannot look unto Jesus without seeing the Father, for Christ is the revelation of the Father. “He that has seen me,” says Christ, “has seen the Father.” Nor can we contemplate Jesus exclusive of the Holy Spirit, because it is the Spirit alone who imparts the spiritual eye that sees Jesus.

Thus, in the believing and saving view a poor sinner has of Jesus, he beholds, in the object of his sight, a revelation of each separate Person of the ever blessed Trinity, engaged in devising and accomplishing his eternal salvation. Oh! what a display of infinite love and wisdom is here, that in our salvation one object should arrest the eye, and the that object should embody an equal revelation of the Father, who gave Jesus, and of the Holy Spirit of truth, who leads to Jesus, and that that object should be the loveliest being in the universe. God has deposited all fullness in Christ, that we might, in all need, repair to Christ. “Looking unto Jesus,” for our standing before God—for the grace that upholds and preserves us unto eternal life—for the supply of the Spirit that sanctifies the heart, and meets us for the heavenly glory—for each day’s need, for each moment’s support—in a word, “looking unto Jesus,” for everything.

Thus has God simplified our life of faith in His dear Son. Severing us from all other sources, alluring us away from all other dependencies, and weaning us from all self-confidence, He would shut us up to Christ above, that Christ might be all and in all.

For the weakness of faith’s eye remember that Christ has suitably provided. His care of, and His tenderness towards, those whose grace is limited, whose experience is feeble, whose knowledge is defective, whose faith is small, are exquisite. He has promised to “anoint the eye with eye-salve, that it may see,” and that it may see more clearly.

Repair to Him, then, with your case, and seek the fresh application of this divine unguent. Be cautious of limiting the reality of your sight to the nearness or distinctness of the object. The most distant and dim view of Jesus by faith is as real and saving as if that view were with the strength of an eagle’s eye.

A well-known example in Jewish history affords an apposite illustration: the wounded Israelite was simply commanded to look to the brazen serpent. Nothing was said of the clearness of his vision or the distinctness of his view; no exception was made to the dimness of his sight. His eye might possibly be blurred, the phantoms of a diseased imagination might float before it, intercepting his view; no, more, it might already be glazing and fixing in death! Yet, even under these circumstances, and at that moment, if he but obeyed the Divine command, and looked towards, simply towards, the elevated serpent, distant and beclouded as it was, he was immediately and effectually healed.

Thus is it with the operation of faith. Let your eye, in obedience to the gospel’s command, be but simply raised and fastened upon Jesus, far removed as may be the glorious object; and dim as may be the blessed vision, yet then “looking unto Jesus,” you shall be fully and eternally saved: “Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood.”