Now, the faith that receives Christ is the most direct, simple, and saving exercise of this marvelous grace, and the most lovely and precious exhibition of this fruit. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, is everything to the soul. An eternity of bliss is involved in it. Believe in Christ, and the treasures of heaven are swept into your bosom. Believe in Christ, and a present salvation is yours. Believe in Christ, and the hope of glory dawns upon your soul. Believe in Christ, and you are linked with the bliss of eternity.
You know so little of God, my reader, because you live at such a distance from God. You have so little communion with Him, so little confession of sin, so little searching of your own conscience, so little probing of your own heart, so little transaction with Him in the little things of life. You deal with God in great matters. You take great trials to God, great perplexities, great needs; but in the minutiae of each day’s history, in what are called the little things of life — you have no dealings with God whatever — and consequently you know so little of the love, so little of the wisdom, so little of the glory, of your resplendent covenant God and reconciled Father.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31, 32
In proportion to a believer’s simple, filial, and close walk with God, will be his deep and spiritual discoveries of truth. “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.” The more steadily he walks in God’s light, the clearer will he see the light. The nearer he lives to the Sun of Righteousness, the more entirely will he be flooded with its glory, and the more vividly will he reflect its brightness. The more simply and entirely the believing soul lives on Christ, the more enlarged, experimental, and practical will be his ideas of all truth.
The central fact of the Bible is, Christ crucified. From this, as their center, all the lines of truth diverge, and to this, as by a common attraction, they all again return. To know Christ, then—to know Him as dwelling in the heart by His own Spirit —is to have traversed the great circle of spiritual truth. What is His own testimony? “He that has seen me, has seen the Father.” “I am the Father’s great revelation. I have come to make Him known. To unveil His attributes, to illustrate His law, to pour forth the ocean fullness of His love, and to erect one common platform on which may meet in holy fellowship God and the sinner—the two extremes of being. Learn of me; I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Not only will a spiritual perception of the beauty and fitness of the truth be the result of a close and filial communion with God, but the assurance that God’s word is truth, and not fiction, will increase. And to be thoroughly established in this is no small attainment.
To know that God’s word is true—to cherish no doubt or hesitancy—to give Him full credit for all that He has said—to repose by simple faith upon the promise, and on the faithfulness of Him that has promised—is a blessing earnestly to be sought, and, when found, diligently to be kept.
To quote the striking words of the apostle, “He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself.” He has the inward witness to the truth. He needs no outward demonstration. He is in possession of a sort of evidence to the truth of God’s word which scepticism cannot shake, because it cannot reach it. He may not be able to define the precise nature of his evidence; his reply to the unbelieving objector is, “It must be felt to be known, it must be experienced to be understood.
This evidence is not the result of a labored process of thought. I arrived not at it by mathematical reasoning. I was convinced by the Eternal Spirit of sin, fled to Christ, ventured my all upon Him, and now I know of a surety that God’s blessed word is truth.” And not more completely was his sophistry confuted, who attempted to disprove the doctrine of motion, by his opponent immediately rising and walking, than a humble, spiritual, though unlettered believer may thus put to silence the foolishness and ignorance of men.
Their sophistry he may not be able to detect, their assertions he may not be able to disprove, yet by a walk holy and close with God he may demonstrate to the unbelieving universe that Jehovah’s word is true.
Christian professor! are you one of Christ’s true disciples, following Him closely, or are you walking at a distance from Him? A distant walk will as certainly bring darkness into the soul, with its painful attendants—unbelief—loss of evidence—hard thoughts of God—slavish fear—as if an individual were to close every inlet of a habitation to the rays of the sun, and sit down amid the gloom and obscurity with which He has enshrouded Himself.
There is no true spiritual light but that which beams from the Sun of Righteousness, and to this every inlet of the soul must be open. To enjoy this light, then, a believer must dwell near the Sun—he must live close to Christ; he must live the life of daily faith upon Him—he must look away from himself to Jesus—he must walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing—he must be found prayerful and diligent in the means; while, rising above them, he draws all his life, light, and peace from the God of the means.
Oh, what losers are they who walk as Peter walked—at a distance from their Lord; what seasons of endearing communion—what tokens of love—what visits of mercy they rob themselves of! What losers are they who neglect the means of grace—closet prayer—church fellowship—the communion of saints—the blessed ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper—these channels, through which a covenant God conveys such untold blessings into the soul of His dear child; for “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him;” and to fear Him is not to dread Him as a slave, but as a child to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
“Oh, send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me, let them bring me unto Your holy hill and to Your tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yes, upon the harp will I praise You, O God, my God.”
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3
When heart and flesh are fast failing, and the trembling feet descend into the dark valley of the shadow of death, to whom shall we then look but unto Jesus? The world is now receding, and all creatures are fading upon the sight; one object alone remains, arrests and fixes the believer’s eye–it is Jesus, the Savior; it is Emmanuel, the Incarnate and now-present God; it is the Captain of our salvation, the Conqueror of death, and the Spoiler of the grave; it is our friend, our brother, our Joseph, our Joshua, loving and faithful, and present to the last.
Jesus is there to confront death again, and vanquish him with his own weapons. Jesus is there to remind His departing one that the grave can wear no gloom, and can boast of no victory, since He himself passed through its portal, rose and revived, and lives for evermore.
Sick one! in your languishing, look to Jesus! Departing one! in your death-struggles, look to Jesus! Are you guilty?–Jesus is righteous. Are you a sinner?–Jesus is a Savior. Are you fearful, and do you tremble?–the Shepherd of the flock is with you, and no one shall pluck His sheep out of His hands. How fully, how suitably, does the gospel now meet your case!
In your bodily weakness and mental confusion, two truths are, perhaps, all that you can now dwell upon–your sinfulness and Christ’s redemption, your emptiness and Christ’s sufficiency. Enough! you need no more; God requires no more. In your felt weakness, in your conscious unworthiness, amid the swelling of the cold waters, raise your eye and fix it upon Jesus, and all will be well.
Hear the words of your Savior calling you from the bright world of glory to which He bids you come, “Arise, my love, my fair one! and come away.” Believer! look to Him–lean upon Him–cleave to Him–labor for Him–suffer for Him–and, if need be, die for Him. Thus loving and trusting, living and dying, for “Jesus only.”
“Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” Solomon’s Song 8:5
Was ever a poor pilgrim more honored? Was ever a lonely traveler in better company? How can you be solitary or sorrowful, be in peril, or suffer need, while you are journeying homewards in company with and leaning upon Jesus? But for what are you to lean upon your Beloved? You are to lean upon Jesus for your entire salvation.
He is “made of God unto you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;” and for each one of these inestimable blessings you are to depend daily upon Christ. Where can you lean for pardon, but upon the atoning blood of Jesus? Where can you lean for acceptance, but upon the justifying righteousness of Jesus? And where can you lean for sanctification, but upon the sin-subduing grace of Jesus? This leaning upon the Beloved, then, is a daily coming up out of ourselves in the great matter of our salvation, and resting in the finished work of Christ–no more, in Christ Himself.
You are to lean upon the fullness of your Beloved. He is full to a sufficiency for all the needs of His people. There cannot possibly occur a circumstance in your history, there cannot arise a necessity in your case, in which you may not repair to the infinite fullness which the Father has laid up in Christ for His Church in the wilderness. Why, then, seek in your poverty what can only be found in Christ’s riches? why look to your emptiness when you may repair to His fullness?
“My grace is sufficient for you” is the cheering declaration with which Jesus meets every turn in your path, every crook in your lot, every need in your journey. Distrust then your own wisdom, look from your own self, and lean your entire weight upon the infinite fullness that is in Christ.
The posture is expressive of conscious weakness and deep self-distrust. Who is more feeble than a child of God? Taught the lesson of his weakness in the region of his own heart, and still learning it in his stumblings, falls, and mistakes, many and painful, in his self-inflicted wounds and dislocations, he is at length brought to feel that all his strength is outside of himself. He has the “sentence of death in himself, that he should not trust in himself.” “I am weak, yes, weakness itself,” is his language; “I am as a reed shaken of the wind; I stumble at a feather; I tremble at an echo; I recoil at my own shadow; the smallest difficulty impedes me; the least temptation overcomes me.
How shall I ever fight my way through this mighty host, and reach in safety the world of bliss?” By leaning daily, hourly, moment by moment, upon your Beloved for strength. Christ is the power of God, and He is the power of the children of God. Who can strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees, but Jesus? In those who have no might He increases strength. When they are weak in themselves, then are they strong in Him.
His declaration is–”My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Lean, then, upon Jesus for strength. He has strength for all your weakness; He can strengthen your faith, and strengthen your hope, and strengthen your courage, and strengthen your patience, and strengthen your heart, for every burden, for every trial, and for every temptation. Lean upon Him; He loves to feel the pressure of your arm; He loves you to link your feebleness to His almightiness, to avail yourself of His grace.
Thus leaning off yourself upon Christ, “as your day, so shall your strength be.” In all your tremblings and sinkings, you will feel the encircling of His power. “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? Hope you in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 42:11
In all His dispensations—the severest and the darkest—have faith in God. This is, perhaps, one of the greatest achievements of faith. To believe in God when He smiles, to trust in Him when conscious of His nearness, to have faith in Him when the path is flowery and pleasant, were an easy task. But to have faith in Him when “He holds back the face of His throne, and spreads His cloud upon it; to love Him when He frowns; to follow Him when He withdraws; to cleave to Him when He would seem to shake us off; to trust in Him when His arm is raised to slay—this were faith indeed. And yet all this the faith of God’s elect can achieve. If not, of what value is it? Of what possible use to the mariner would be the compass which would only work in the day, and not in the night? which only served to steer the vessel in light winds, and not in rough gales? Faith is the believing soul’s compass, guiding it as truly and as certainly to the heavenly port through the wildest tempest as through the serenest calm.
To change the figure, faith is that celestial telescope which can pierce the thickest haze or the darkest cloud, descrying suns and stars glowing and sparkling in the far distance. It can discern God’s smile under a frown; it can read His name to be “love” beneath the dark dispensation; it can behold the Sun of Righteousness beaming through the interstices of gloomy clouds; and now and then it can catch a glimpse of the harbor itself, with the towering turrets and golden spires of the “new Jerusalem” glittering in the distance. Oh, it is a wonderful grace, the precious faith of God’s elect!
Is God dealing with you now in a way of deep trial, of dark providence, mysterious to your mind, and painful to your heart? Is He even chastening you for your backslidings, correcting you for your sins? Still “have faith in God.” Sensible appearances, second causes, cannot in the least degree affect the ground of your faith which is God Himself—His immutable nature, His unchangeable love, His eternal purpose, His everlasting covenant, His own Divine and glorious perfections. Believe that you are in His heart, and that your interests are in His hands. Have faith in His wisdom to guide, in His love to direct, in His power to sustain, in His faithfulness to fulfill every promise that now relates to your best welfare and happiness. Only believe in God—that all things in His disposal of you, in His transactions with you, are working together for our present and eternal good. All that He expects and requires of you now is to have faith in Him. The cloud may be dark, the sea tempestuous, but God is in the cloud, and “the Lord sits upon the flood.” Even now it is the privilege of your faith to exclaim, “My soul, hope you in God. He is my God; I will trust, and not be afraid.”
Oh, what inspiring words are these—”hope you in God!” I hesitate not to say, my reader, you may hope in God. Though your case may seem desperate, to your eye cheerless and hopeless, not merely too intricate for man, but too unworthy for God—yet you may hope in God. Take your case to Him, hoping against hope, and believing in unbelief. Will He close His heart against you? Never! Will He repel you when you fly to Him? Never! It is not in the heart of God, no, nor is it in His power, to do so.
Take hold of His strength—I speak it humbly, reverentially—and you have overcome God. You disarm Him of the instrument and of the power to punish you; you have laid your hand of faith upon the strength of His love, and have made peace with Him. You cannot cherish a hope too sanguine, nor exercise a faith too implicit in God, hopeless, cheerless, and extreme as your case may be. Impossible! God never appears so like Himself, as in the season of the believer’s darkness and suffering. At the very moment in which he sees the least of God, God appears the most what He is. The tenderest unfoldings of His heart are in sorrow, the brightest exhibitions of His character are in darkness, and the most glorious displays of His wisdom, power, and grace are seen gleaming through the mist.
“Only believe.” Mark 5:36
Precious and significant are the words of Jesus, the very same words that He spoke when on earth. Did those lips, glowing with more than a seraph’s hallowed touch–lips into which grace without measure was poured–ever breathe a sentence more touching, more simple, or more significant than this, “Only believe”?
Originally addressed to an afflicted parent, who sought His compassion and His help in behalf of a little daughter lying at the point of death, they seem to be especially appropriate to every case of anxiety, of trial, and of need. Alas! how many such will scan this page–how many a sigh will breathe over it, how many a tear will moisten it, how many a mournful glance will light upon it!
Be it so; there comes back a voice of sympathy responsive to each sad heart–not man, but Jesus speaks–”Only believe”–in other words, “only trust.” What is faith, but trust? what is believing in Jesus, but trusting in Jesus? When Jesus says, “only believe me,” He literally says, “only trust me.” And what a natural, beautiful, soothing definition of the word faith is this!
Many a volume has been written to explain the nature and illustrate the operation of faith–the subject and the reader remaining as much mystified and perplexed as ever. But who can fail to comprehend the meaning of the good old Saxon word trust! All can understand what this means.
When, therefore, Jesus says–as He does to every individual who reads these words–”only believe me,” He literally says, “only trust me.” Thus He spoke to the anxious father who besought Him to come and heal his child: “only believe–only trust my power, only trust my compassion, only trust my word; do not be afraid, only trust me.” And thus He speaks to you, believer. Oh, for a heart to respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears!”
Trust implies, on our part, mystery and ignorance, danger and helplessness. How wrapped in inscrutability, how shadowy and unreal, is all the future! As we attempt to penetrate the dark clouds, what strange forebodings steal over our spirits. Just at this juncture Jesus approaches, and with address most winning, and in accents most gentle, speaks these words, “Only believe–only trust me!
Trust me, who knows the end from the beginning; trust me, who has all resources at my command; trust me, whose love never changes, whose wisdom never misleads, whose word never fails, whose eye never slumbers nor sleeps–only trust me!” Enough, my blessed Lord, my soul replies. I will sit myself down a loving child, a lowly disciple at Your feet, and, indistinct and dreary as my future path may be, will learn from You how and where I may trust You all my journey through.
“Now the just shall live by faith.” Hebrews 10:38
We cannot too frequently nor too deeply study the profound meaning of these words. God will have his child perpetually looking to, leaning upon, and receiving from Him. At present we are but in an immature state. We are not, therefore, in a condition to be trusted with grace for the future.
Improvident and careless, we would soon squander and exhaust our resources; and when the emergency came, we should find our selves unprepared to meet it. The Lord, in wisdom and love, keeps all our grace in His own hands, and deals it out just as our circumstances demand.
Oh, who that knows his own heart, and the heart of Christ, would not desire that all his supply should be in God, and not in himself? Who, so to speak, would wish to be his own spiritual treasurer? Who that knows the blessedness of a life of faith, the sweetness of going to God in everything, and for everything, would wish to transfer his mercies from Christ’s keeping to his own, or wish to hold in the present the supply of the future?
Be satisfied, dear reader, to walk by faith, and not by sight. You have a full Christ to draw from, and a faithful God to look to. You have a “covenant ordered in all things and sure,” and the precious promise, “As your days, so shall your strength be,” to lean confidently upon all your journey through. Be content, then, to be poor and dependent. Be willing to travel on empty-handed, seeing God’s heart opened, and Christ’s hand outstretched to supply your daily bread.
Oh! it is sweet to be a dependent creature upon God- to hang upon a loving Father- to live as a poor, needy sinner, day by day, moment by moment, upon Jesus- to trace God in ten thousand ways- to mark His wisdom here, His condescension there- now His love, and then His faithfulness, all combining and exerted for our good- truly it is the most holy and blessed life upon earth.
Why should we, then, shrink from any trial, or flee from any duty, or turn aside from any cross, since for that trial, and for that duty, and for that cross, Jesus has provided its required and appropriate grace? You are perhaps exclaiming, “Trouble is near!” Well, be it so.
So also Divine grace is near- and strength is near – and counsel is near- and deliverance is near- and Jesus is near- and God is near- and a throne of grace is near; therefore, why must you fear, though trouble be near? “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58
Dear reader, what a wondrous declaration is this! What a glorious and precious truth does it involve! Are you a believer in Jesus? Is He all your salvation, your acceptance, your hope, and desire? Then cast the anchor of your faith deeply, firmly here; you shall find it an eternal rock.
Weak faith you may have, and doubtful faith numbers have; but here is the ground of faith, respecting which there can be neither weakness nor doubt. Is it an Almighty Savior that you need? Behold Him! “Before Abraham was, I am.”
Oh, what a foundation for a poor sinful worm of the dust to build upon! What a stable truth for faith in its weakest form to deal with- to have a glorious incarnate ‘I Am’ for an atoning sacrifice- an ‘I Am’ for a Redeemer- an ‘I Am’ for a Surety- an ‘I Am’ as a Day’s-man between God and the soul- an ‘I Am’ as an Advocate, an unceasing Intercessor at the court of heaven, pleading each moment His own atoning merits- an ‘I Am’ as the center in whom all the promises are “yes and amen”- an ‘I Am’ as a “Brother born for adversity”- an ‘I Am’ as “a very present help in trouble”!
This is the answer which faith receives to its trembling and anxious interrogatories. To each and all touching His faithfulness, His tenderness, His long-suffering, His fulness, and His all-sufficiency, Jesus answers, “I Am.” “Enough, Lord,” replies the believer, “on this I can live, on this I can die.”
“My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalm 62:5
THIS trust implies a ceasing from self, and from all confidence in the arm of flesh, and from all reliance in unbelieving, carnal plans and schemes to obtain deliverance from the pressure of present trial, and supplies for present need. It involves a constant, prayerful, and believing leaning on the Lord; a quiet, patient waiting for the Lord; a peaceful, childlike, passive resting in the Lord; and a holy, filial walking with the Lord. Recollect, a leaning upon Christ—a waiting for Christ—a resting in Christ—and a walking with Christ. Only do this, in all your trials and temptations, needs and sorrows. Only trust Him to lead you by a right way to bring you to heaven. Only trust Him to appear in His own good time to deliver you from a present cross, to remove a present burden, to supply a present need, and to conduct you into the green pastures and beside the sweet flowing waters of His truth and love. So delightsome to Him will be this calm submissive trust—so honoring of His faithfulness and so glorifying to His name this full implicit confidence—He will honor and bless you by granting the desires of your heart, and bestowing from the plenitude of His resources every blessing that you ask and need.
Above all other trusts, trust to Jesus your priceless soul. Relax your grasp upon everything else but Jesus. Let go your religious duties and doings, your sacraments and prayers, your works and righteousness and Babel-built hopes of heaven—and only trust, and trust only, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. No poor penitent sinner did He ever reject—none was He ever known to cast away. And if you come and trust in His righteousness alone to justify you, and to give you acceptance with God, and a title to eternal glory, you will be the first that ever perished at His feet—if you perish there! Hear the Father and your God say—”As your day, so shall your strength be.” “As your day.” Each new burden shall bring its support; each new difficulty, its guidance; each new sorrow, its soothing; and each new day, its strength. Be it your only care to deny all ungodliness, and to walk worthy of your high vocation; to separate yourself more widely and distinctly from the world, its practices and its spirit; more closely to resemble Christ in His gentle, charitable, forgiving temper; and yielding yourself more entirely to the disposal of the Lord, to do as seems Him good. And when called to meet death—to hear the summons that bids you rise—then, when all other things are receding from your view, and all other voices are dying upon your ear, Jesus will approach, and amid the gloom and steadiness of the shadowy valley you shall see His person, and hear Him say—”Do not be afraid—only trust me!”