October 16: Walk In The Promises

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went.” Hebrews 11:8

The entire spiritual life of a child of God is a life of faith—God has so ordained it; and to bring him into the full and blessed experience of it, is the end of all His parental dealings with him. If we desire to see our way every step of our homeward path, we must abandon the more difficult though more blessed ascent of faith; it is impossible to walk by sight and by faith at the same time—the two paths run in opposite directions. If the Lord were to reveal the why and the how of all His dealings—if we were only to advance as we saw the spot on which we were to place our foot, or only to go out as we knew the place where we were going—it then were no longer a life of faith that we lived, but of sight. We shall have exchanged the life which glorifies, for the life which dishonors God.

When God, about to deliver the Israelites from the power of Pharaoh, commanded them to advance, it was before He revealed the way by which He was about to rescue them. The Red Sea rolled its deep and frowning waves at their feet; they saw not a spot of dry ground on which they could tread; and yet this was the command to Moses— “Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.” They were to “walk by faith, not by sight.” It had been no exercise of faith in God, no confidence in His promise, no resting in His faithfulness, and no “magnifying of His word above all His name,” had they waited until the waters cleaved asunder, and a dry passage opened to their view.

But, like the patriarchs, they “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but were strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Have little to do with sense, if you would have much to do with faith. Expect not always to see the way. God may call you to go out into a place, not making known to you where you go; but it is your duty, like Abraham, to obey. All that you have to do is to go forward, leaving all consequences and results to God: it is enough for you that the Lord by this providence says, “Go forward!” This is all you may hear; it is your duty instantly to respond, “Lord, I go at Your bidding; bid me come to You, though it be upon the stormy water.”

“Having begun in the Spirit,” the believer is not to be “made perfect in the flesh;” having commenced his divine life in faith, in faith he is to walk every step of his journey homewards. The moment a poor sinner has touched the hem of Christ’s garment, feeble though this act of faith be, it is yet the commencement of this high and holy life of faith; even from that moment the believing soul professes to have done with a life of sense—with second causes—and to have entered upon a glorious life of faith in Christ. It is no forced application to him of the apostle’s declaration: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.”

July 25: May His Word Revive Us

“I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word.” Psalm 119:25

The argument with which this holy petition is urged is most powerful and prevalent. According to the promise of the word, and the instrumentality of the word. Both are engaged to quicken the soul. The promise is most precious: “I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely; for my anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine.”

This precious promise to quicken and revive you, to shed the dews of His grace upon your soul, thus moistening and nourishing the roots and fibers and fruits of the new and heavenly life within you, God stands ready to fulfill in your holy and happy experience. “I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. It will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon.” Christ is our dew: the dew of His love, the dew of His grace, the dew of His Spirit, is prepared, silent and unseen, but effectual and vivifying–to fall upon the renewed powers of your nature–reviving the work of God in your soul.

But by the instrumentality of the word, the Lord quickens the soul. The word of Christ is “spirit and life,” therefore it is a quickening word. “This is my comfort in my affliction; for Your word has quickened me.” Again, “I will never forget Your precepts; for with them You have quickened me.” Therefore did Jesus pray to His Father in behalf of His Church, “Sanctify them through Your truth.” Thus does the word quicken. We are here constrained to suggest an inquiry–May not the prevalent decay of spiritual life in the Church of God–the low standard of spirituality–the alarming growth of soul-destroying error–the startling discovery which some modern teachers appear to have stumbled upon, that doctrines which the Church of Christ has always received as revealed truth, which councils have authorized, and which creeds have embodied, and which the sanctified intellects of master-spirits–the Anakims and the Shamgars of polemic divinity and divine philosophy of past ages–have contended for and maintained, are not found in the Bible, but are the visionary dogmata of a by-gone age–we say, may not these prevalent evils be mainly attributable to the contempt thrown upon the word of God? We verily and solemnly believe it to be so.

We need to be constantly reminded that the great regenerator and emancipator of the world is the Bible–that nothing short of this disturbs the spiritual death which universally prevails, and that nothing short of this will free the human mind from the shackles of error and superstition which enslave at this moment nearly two-thirds of the human race. This “sword of the Spirit”–like that of Goliath, “there is none like it”–has overcome popery and infidelity, and, unimpaired by the conflict, it is ready to overcome them yet again. Oh, that in this day of sad departure from the word of God, we may rally round the Bible in closer and more united phalanx!

Firm in the belief of its divinity, strong in the conviction of its potency, may we go forth in the great conflict of truth and error, wielding no weapon but the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” In all our spiritual relapses, too, may the word of the Lord quicken us. May it, like a mighty lever, raise our soul from the dust to which it so much cleaves.

June 29: Seeing Through A Glass Darkly

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” 1 Corinthians 13:9

With all our attainments, how little have we really attained! With all our knowledge, how little do we actually know! How superficially and imperfectly are we acquainted with truth; with Jesus who is emphatically “the Truth,” with God whom the Truth reveals. “We see through a glass darkly,”- all is yet but as a riddle, compared with what we shall know when the shadows of ignorance have fled.

There are, too, the enshrouding shadows of God’s dark and painful dispensations. Our dealings are with a God of whom it is said, “Clouds and darkness are round about Him.” Who often “covers Himself as with a cloud,” and to whom the midnight traveler to the world of light has often occasion to address himself in the language of the Church, “You are a God that hides Yourself.”

Ah! beloved, what clouds of dark providences may be gathering and thickening around your present path! Through what a gloomy, stormy night of affliction faith may be steering your tempest-tossed barque! That faith eyeing the promise, and not the providence, the “bright light that is in the cloud,” and not the lowering cloud itself- will steer that trembling vessel safely through the surge.

Remember that in the providences of God the believer is passive, but with regard to the promises of God he is active. In the one case he is to “be still” and know that God reigns, and that the “Judge of all the earth must do right.” In the other, his faith, childlike, unquestioning, and unwavering, is to take hold of what God says, and of what God is, believing that what He has promised He is also able and willing to perform. This is to be “strong in faith, giving glory to God.”

June 9: Rest Ye Saints

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love.” John 15:9

What sweet repose is here for the saints of God. Does God rest in His love? then the believer in Jesus may rest in it too. Does Infinity, find repose here? then may a poor finite creature. Does Immanuel rest in it? then may I, resting in Immanuel. If it is enough for Jehovah, surely, it is enough for the people of Jehovah.

Our dear Lord’s exhortations harmonize with this truth, “Abide in me;” “Continue in my love.” Beloved reader, come and rest in this love- Jesus invites you to its blessed repose. Are you weary, tossed with tempest? Is there sadness in your spirit, sorrow in your heart, a cloud upon your mind? Is some crystal cistern broken, some fragrant flower withered, some fond and pleasant mercy gone? “Come,” says Jesus, “and rest in my love- rest in the reality of my love- rest in the depth of my love- rest in the tenderness of my love- rest in the deathlessness of my love.”

Oh blessed rest! Poor, heart-broken sinner, weeping penitent, weary, laboring soul! what do you need? Mercy? it is in Christ. Forgiveness? it is in Christ. Acceptance? it is in Christ. The silencing power of love? it is in Christ. A reconciled Father, a pacified God? He is in Christ. All that you need is in Christ.

Draw near, then, and rest in His love. The Father rests in Jesus, His justice rests in Jesus, His holiness rests in Jesus, His truth rests in Jesus, His power rests in Jesus- and in Jesus you too may rest! God rests in His love towards you, because He rests in the Son of His love. And in the Son of His love your weary, jaded, trembling spirit may find full and eternal repose. And whatever your present circumstances are, be the severity of your Father’s dealings what it may, ever remember that He still rests in His love.

Judging of Him by providences rather than by promises, your faith may become unhinged from this truth. But the standard by which you are to form your views of God’s character is the same by which you are to judge your own- His word. That word declares that He rests in His love, that He now rests in it, that He rests in it at the present time, and, therefore, He rests in it at the moment that His providences in your history are the darkest and most lowering.

When to your view all things seem against you- when even God himself seems against you- then is He resting with infinite satisfaction and delight in the love with which He has loved you from everlasting. And when all the mighty wheels of His providence are rapidly revolving, when event follows event, and convulsion succeeds convulsion- when your spirit is agitated, and your heart is alarmed, and your whole soul is awe-struck and appalled at the wonder-workings of His power, then is God calmly, serenely, resting in His love towards you, unmoved, unruffled, unbeclouded by the things which convulse the universe.

May 27: Why Do You Doubt?

“He is faithful that promised.” Hebrews 10:23

O you of doubting and fearful heart! looking at the waves rolling at your feet, and well near sinking beneath their swellings, exclaiming, “Will the Lord cast off forever? and will He be favorable no more? Is His mercy clean gone forever? Does His promise fail for evermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?”

Behold the glory of God’s truth beaming in the face of Jesus Christ, and doubt no more. So long as Jesus lives- lives as your Advocate, as your High Priest, as your Representative in the court of heaven, all is yours which the covenant promises, and which His mediation secures. “The promises of God are all yes and Amen in Christ Jesus.” Never will he break His oath, or falsify His word, or alter the thing that has gone out of His mouth. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.”

God says it, and let faith believe it because He says it. So essential is it to your comfort, that I would repeat the caution- in all your dealings with the Divine promises, avoid a Jewish faith. Do not so much look at the grace of the promise, or at the thing promised- precious as both are- as at God in the promise.

The promise is the heart of your Father speaking; it is the faithfulness of your Father performing. Rest then not in the blessing promised, but in the veracity of Him who promises it, and then shall your faith have confidence towards God.

May 16: Hope

“For we are saved by hope.” Romans 8:24

The phrase, as employed by the apostle, does not imply the instrument by which we are saved, but the condition in which we are saved. The condition of the renewed creature is one of hope. Salvation by the atonement of Christ- faith, and not hope, being the instrument of its appropriation, is a complete and finished thing.

We cannot give this truth a prominence too great, nor enforce it with an earnestness too intense. We cannot keep our eye too exclusively or too intently fixed on Jesus. All salvation is in Him- all salvation proceeds from Him- all salvation leads to Him, and for the assurance and comfort of our salvation we are to repose believingly and entirely on Him. Christ must be all; Christ the beginning- Christ the center – and Christ the end.

Oh blessed truth to you who sigh and mourn over the unveiled abominations that crown and darken the chamber of imagery! Oh sweet truth to you who are sensible of your poverty, vileness, and insufficiency, and of the ten thousand flaws and failures of which, perhaps, no one is cognizant but God and your own soul! Oh, to turn and rest in Christ- a full Christ- a loving Christ- a tender Christ, whose heart’s love never chills, from whose eye darts no reproof, from whose lips breathes no sentence of condemnation!

But, as it regards the complete effects of this salvation in those who are saved, it is yet future. It is the “hope laid up for us in heaven.” It would seem utterly incompatible with the present economy that the renewed creature should be in any other condition than one of hopeful expectation. The constitution towards which he tends, the holiness for which he looks, the bliss for which he pants, and the dignity to which he aspires, could not for a moment exist in the atmosphere by which he is here enveloped. His state must of necessity be one of hope, and that hope must of necessity link us with the distant and mysterious future.

The idea, “saved by hope,” is illustrated by the effects of Christian hope. It is that divine emotion which buoys up the soul amid the conflicts, the trials, and the vicissitudes of the present life. So that we are cheered and sustained, or “saved” from sinking amid the billows, by the hope of certain deliverance and a complete redemption. “In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began.”

March 14: God Has Promised

“I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” Isaiah 55. 3.

God had promised David that he would sit upon the throne of his fathers- that the kingdom of Israel, rent from Saul, should be transferred to his government. But the crown and the scepter thus promised loomed in the distance, almost enshrouded from view by dark intervening clouds. The promise seemed as a dead letter. The providence of God appeared to clash with and to contradict the promise of God.

But, in the history of His Church, the providences of the divine government are not the exponents of the promises of the Divine Governor. It is not so much by what God does, as by what God has said, that He is to be judged. Christian mourner, in the divine promises you have an equal proprietorship. They are as much yours as they were David’s, of whose “sure mercies” you are the possessor. These promises are exceedingly great and precious in their nature- they are personal and particular in their application- they are absolute and infallible in their fulfilment.

Death may appear to be written upon the promise, and upon all the means leading to its accomplishment, but there is a life in the promise that cannot die. See how God wrote the sentence of death upon the promise, as in the case of the age of Abraham- the sterility of Sarah- the abduction of Joseph- the demand for Benjamin- the banishment of David; and yet, in all the instances, the word upon which God caused those waiting souls to hope was made good to the letter; and the promise that appeared dead rose again with a life, all the more vigorous and glorious from its long and gloomy entombment. It is the believer’s mercy to know that he has to do with a Divine Promiser, whose faithfulness has been proved, and with a promise whose power has been tested.

There is not a promise with which the Holy Spirit the Comforter seeks to support and console you, but has passed through the crucible, and has been “tried as silver is tried.” “The word of the Lord is tried.” And if it be a fearful sin to doubt what God has declared, it is a tenfold aggravation of that sin not to believe, when a thousand times over He has made good what He has promised, and when a great cloud of witnesses testify that He has never once falsified His word.

November 23

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? Or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19

GOD has done the utmost which His infinite wisdom dictated, to lay the most solid ground for confidence. He has made all the promises of the covenant of grace absolute and unconditional. Were faith simply to credit this, what “strong consolation” would flow into the soul! Take, for example, that exceeding great and precious promise, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” What a sparkling jewel, what a brilliant gem is this! How many a weeping eye has caught the luster, and has forgotten its misery, as waters that pass away! While others, perhaps, gazing intently upon it, have said, “This promise exactly suits my case, but is it for me? is it for one so vile as I? Who by my own indiscretion and folly and sin have brought this trouble upon myself? May such an one call upon God, and be answered?”

IWhat is this unbelieving reasoning, but to render this divine and most exhilarating promise, as to any practical influence upon your mind, of none effect? But the promise stands in God’s word absolute and unconditional. There is not one syllable in it upon which the most unworthy child of sorrow can reasonably found an objection. Is it now with you a “day of trouble”?—God makes no exception as to how, or by whom, or from where your trouble came. It is enough that it is a time of trouble with you—that you are in sorrow, in difficulty, in trial—God says to you, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you.”

Resign, then, your unbelief, embrace the promise, and behold Jesus showing Himself through its open lattice. Take yet another glorious promise, “Him that comes unto me I will in no wise cast out.” “This is just the promise that my poor, guilty, anxious heart needs,” exclaims a trembling, sin-distressed soul; “but dare I with all my sin, and wretchedness, and poverty, take up my rest in Christ? What! may I, who have been so long an enemy against God, such a despiser of Christ, such a neglecter of my soul, and scoffer at its great salvation, approach with a trembling yet assured hope that Christ will receive me, save me, and not cast me out?” Yes! You may. The promise is absolute and unconditional, and, magnificent and precious as it is, it is yours. “Him that comes unto me I will in no wise cast out. Satan shall not persuade me, sin shall not prevail with me, my own heart shall not constrain me, yes, nothing shall induce me, to cast out that poor sinner who comes to me, believes my word, falls upon my grace, and hides himself in my pierced bosom: I will in no wise cast him out.”