BY Rev. Andrew Murray
THE NEW LIFE Words of God for Young Disciples of Christ
"They go from
strength to strength, Every one of them appeareth before God in
I. THE NEW LIFE
"For God so loved the world, that He
gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,
but have eternal life." -- John 3:16
"For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Christ is our life." --
"We declare unto you the
life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.
God gave unto us eternal life; and this life is in His Son. He that hath the
Son hath the life." - 1 John 1:2,11,12
How glorious, then, is the blessing which every one receives that believes in
the Lord Jesus. Not only does there come a change in his disposition and
manner of life; he also receives from God out of heaven an entirely new life.
He is born anew, born of God: he has passed from death into life. (John
1:12-13; 3:5,7; 5:24; 1 John 3:14; 5:1)
This new life is nothing less than Eternal Life. (John 3:15-16,36; 6:40,51;
6:25-26; Romans 6:11,23; 8:2; 1 John 5:12,13) This does not mean, as many
suppose, that our life shall now no more die, but shall endure into eternity.
No: eternity life is nothing else than the very life of God, the life that He
has had in Himself from eternity, and that has been visibly revealed in
Christ. This life is now the portion of every child of God. (1 John 1:3; 3:1,
This life is a life of
inconceivable power. Whenever God gives life to a young plant or animal, that
life has in itself the power of growth, whereby the plant or animal as of
itself becomes large. Life is power. In the new life, that is, in your heart,
there is the power of eternity. (John 5:10,28; Heb. 7:16,29; 6:25,26; 2 Cor
7:9; 8:4; Col. 3:3-4; Phil. 4:13) More certain than the healthful growth of
any tree or animal is the growth and increase of the child of God, who in
reality surrenders himself to the working of the new
What hinders this power and the
reception of the new spiritual life is chiefly two things. The one is
ignorance of its nature, its laws and workings. Man, even the Christian, has
of himself not the least conception of the new life that comes from God: it
surpasses all his thoughts. His own perverted thoughts of the way to serve and
to please God, namely, by what he does and is, are so deeply rooted in him,
that, although he thinks that he understands and receives God's word, he yet
thinks humanly and carnally on Divine things. (Jos. 3:4; Isa. 4:8,9; Matt.
16:23) Not only must God give salvation and life; He must also give the Spirit
to make us know what He gives. Not only must He point out the land of Canaan,
and the way thither; we must also, like the blind, be led every day by
Himself. The young Christian must try to cherish a deep conviction of his
ignorance concerning the new life, and of his inability to form right thoughts
about it. This will bring him to the meekness and to the childlike spirit of
docility, to which the Lord shall make His secret known. (Ps. 25:5,8-9; 143:8;
Isa. 42:16; 64:4; Matt. 11:25; 1 Cor. 1:18-19; 2:7,10,12; Heb.
There is a second hindrance in the
way of faith. In the life of every plant and every animal and every child
there lies sufficient power by which it can become big. In the new life, God
has made the most glorious provision of a sufficient power whereby His child
can grow and become all that he must be. Christ Himself is his life and his
power of life. (Ps. 18:2; 27:1; 38:3; 34:8; John 14:19; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3,4)
Yet, because this mighty life is not visible or cannot be felt, but works in
the midst of human weakness, the young Christian often becomes of doubtful
mind. He then fails to believe that he shall grow with Divine power and
certainty. He does not understand that the believing life is a life of faith
whereby he reckons on the life that is in Christ for him, although he neither
sees, feels, nor experiences anything. (Hab. 2:4; Matt. 6:27; Rom. 1:17; Gal.
3:11; Heb. 10:38)
Let every one then
that has received this new life, cultivate this great conviction: it is
eternal life that works in me: it works with Divine power: I can and shall
become what God will have me be: Christ Himself is my life: I have to receive
Him every day as my life given by God to me, and He shall be my life in full
O my Father, who hast given me Thy
Son that I may have life in Him, I thank Thee for the glorious new life that
is now in me. I pray Thee, teach me to know aright this new life. I will
acknowledge my ignorance and the perverted thoughts which are in me,
concerning Thy service. I will believe in the heavenly power of the new life
that is in me: I will believe that my Lord Jesus, who Himself is my life, will
by His Spirit teach me to know how I can walk in that life.
Try now to apprehend and
appropriate the following lessons in your heart;
1. It is eternal life, the very life
of God, that you have now received through
2. This new life is in Christ,
and the Holy Spirit is in you to bring over to you all that is in Christ.
Christ lives in you through the Holy
3. This life is a life of
wonderful power. However weak you may feel, you must believe in the Divine
power of the life that is in you.
This life has need of time to grow in you and to take possession of you. Give
it time: it shall surely increase.
Forget not that all the laws and rules of this new life are in conflict with
all human thoughts of the way to please God. Be very much in dread of your
thoughts, and let Christ, who is your life and also your wisdom, teach you all
II. THE MILK OF THE WORD
"As new-born babes, long for the
spiritual milk that is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation"
-- 1 Peter 2:2
Beloved young Christians,
hear what your Father has to say in this word. You have just recently given
yourselves to the Lord, and have believed that He has received you. You have
thus received the new life from God. you are now as new-born infants: He would
teach you in this word what is necessary that you may grow and wax
The first point is: you must
know that you are God's children. Hear how distinctly Peter says this to those
just converted: (1 Pet. 1:23; 2:2,10,25) `You have been born again,' `you are
new-born infants,' `you are now converted,' `you are now the people of God.' A
Christian, however young and weak he is, must know that he is God's child.
Then only can he have the courage to believe that he shall make progress, and
the boldness to use the food of the children provided in the word. All
Scripture teaches us that we must know and can know that we are children of
God. (Rom 8:16; 1 Cor. 3:1,16; Gal. 4:6,7; 1 John 3:2,14,24; 4:13, 5:10,13)
The assurance of faith is indispensable to a healthy powerful growth in the
Lord. (Eph. 5:8; Col. 2:6; 1 Pet.
The second point which this
word teaches you is: you are still very weak, weak as new-bon children. The
joy and the love which a young convert sometimes experiences do indeed make
him think that he is very strong. He runs the risk of exalting himself, and of
trusting in what he experiences. He must nevertheless learn much of how he
must become strong in his Lord Jesus. Endeavour to feel deeply that you are
still young and weak. (1 Cor. 3:1,13; Heb. 5:13,14) Out of this sense of
weakness comes the humility which has nothing (Matt. 5:3; Rom 12:3,10; Eph.
4:2; Phil. 2:3,4; Col. 3: 12) in itself, and therefore expects all from its
Lord. (Matt. 8:8,15,27,28)
lesson is: the young Christian must not remain weak; he must grow and increase
in grace; he must make progress and become strong. God lays it upon us as a
command. His word gives us concerning this point the most glorious promises.
It lies in the nature of the thing: a child of God must and can make progress.
The new life is a life that is healthy and strong: when a disciple surrenders
himself to it, the growth certainly comes. (Judg. 5:31; Ps. 84:8, 92:13,14;
Prov. 4:18; Isa. 40:31; Eph. 4:14; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Pet.
The fourth and principal lesson,
the lesson which young disciples of Christ have most need of is: it is through
the milk of the word that God's new-born infants can grow. The new life from
the Spirit of God can be sustained only by the word from the mouth of God.
Your life, my young brother, will largely depend on whether you learn to deal
wisely and well with God's word, or whether you learn to use the word from the
beginning as your milk. (Ps. 19:8,11; 119:97,100; Isa. 55: 2,3; 1 Cor.
See what a charming parable the
Lord has given us here in the mother's milk. Out of her own life does the
mother yield food and life to her child. The feeding of the child is the work
of the tenderest love, in which the child is pressed to the breast, and is
held in the closest fellowship with the mother. And the milk is just what the
weak child requires, food gentle and yet strong.
Even so is there in the word of God the
very life and power of God. (John 6:63; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12) His tender
love will through the word receive us into the gentlest and most intimate
fellowship with Himself. (John 10:4) His love will give us out of the word
what is, like warm soft milk, just fitted for our weakness. Let no one suppose
that the word is too high or too hard for him. For the disciple who receives
the word, and trustfully relies on Jesus to teach him by the Spirit, the word
of God shall practically prove to be gentle sweet milk for new-born infants.
(Ps 119:18; John 14:26; Eph. 1:17-18)
Dear young Christian, would you continue standing, would you become strong,
would you always live for the Lord? Then hear this day the voice of your
Father: `As new-born babes, long for the spiritual milk that is without
guile.' Receive this word into your heart and hold it fast as the voice of
your Father: on your use of the word of God will your spiritual life depend.
Let the word of God be precious to you above everything. (Ps
Above all, forget
not this: the word is the milk; the sucking or drinking on the part of the
little child is the inner, living, blessed fellowship with the mother's love.
Through the Holy Spirit your use of the milk of the word can become warm,
living fellowship with the Living Love of your God. O long then very eagerly
for the milk. Do not take the word as something that is hard and troublesome
to understand: in that way you lose all delight in it. Receive it with trust
in the love of the living God. With a tender motherly love will the Spirit of
God teach and help you in your weakness. Believe always that the Spirit will
make the word in you life and joy, a blessed fellowship with your
Precious Saviour, Thou hast taught
me to believe Thy word, and Thou hast made me by that faith a child of God.
Through that word, as the milk of the new-born babes, wilt Thou also feed me.
Lord, for this milk shall I be very eager: every day will I long after it.
Teach me, through the Holy Spirit and the word, to walk and hold converse
every day in living fellowship with the love of the Father. Teach me always to
believe that the Spirit has been given me with the word. Amen.
1. What texts do you consider the best
for proving that the Scriptures teach us that we must know we are children of
2. What are the three points in
which the sucking child is to us a type of the young child in Christ in his
dealing with the word?
3. What must a
young Christian do when he has little blessing in the reading of God's word?
He must set himself through faith in fellowship with Jesus Himself: he must
reckon that Jesus will teach him through the Spirit and so trustfully continue
in the reading.
4. One verse chosen to
meet our needs, read ten times and then laid up in the heart, is better than
ten verses read once. Only so much of the word as I actually receive and
inwardly appropriate for myself, is food for my
5. Choose out for yourselves what
you consider one of the most glorious promises about making progress and
becoming strong; learn it by heart, and repeat it continually as the language
of your positive expectation.
you learned well to understand what the great means for growth in grace
III. GOD'S WORD IN OUR HEART
"Therefore shall ye lay up these My
words in your heart and in your soul.' -- Deut.
"Son of man, all My words that I
shall speak unto thee, receive in heart.' -- Ezek.
"Thy word have I laid up in mine
heart, that I might not sin against Thee.' - Ps.
Long for the milk, that ye may
grow thereby. This charming word taught every young Christian that, if he
would grow, he must receive the word as milk, as the living participation of
the life and the love of God. On this account is it of so great importance to
know well how we must deal with the word. The Lord says that we must receive
it and lay it in our heart. (Deut. 30:14; Ps. 1:2; 119:34,36; Is. 51:7; John
5:38; 8:31; 15:7; Rom. 10:8-9; Col. 3:16) The word must possess and fill the
heart. What does that mean?
The heart is
the temple of God. In the temple there was an outer court and an inner
sanctuary. So also is it in the heart. The gate of the court is the
understanding; what I do not understand cannot enter into the heart. Through
the outer gate of the understanding, the word comes into the court. (Ps.
119:34; Mat.. 13:19; Acts 8:30) There it is kept by memory and reflection.
(Ps. 119:15,16) Still it is not yet properly in the heart. From the court
there is an entrance into the innermost sanctuary; the entrance of the door is
faith. What I believe, that I receive into my heart. (John 5:38; Acts 8:37;
Rom. 10:10,17) Here it then becomes held fast in love and in the surrender of
the will. Where this takes place, there the heart becomes the sanctuary of
God. His law is there, as in the ark, and the soul cries out: `The law is
within my heart.' (Ex. 25:16; Ps. 37:31; 40:9; Col.
Young Christian, God has asked
your heart, your love, your whole self. You have given yourself to Him. He has
received you, and would have you and your heart entirely for Himself. He will
make that heart full of His word. What is in the heart one holds dear, because
one thinks continually on that which gives joy. God would have the word in the
heart. Where His word is, there is He Himself and His might. He considers
Himself bound to fulfil His word; when you have the word, you have God Himself
to work in you. (Gen. 21:1; Josh. 23:14) He wills that you should receive and
lay up His words in your heart: then will He greatly bless you. (Deut. 11:10;
28:1,2; Ps. 1:2,3; 119;14,45,98,165; John
How I wish that I could bring
all young Christians to receive simply that word of their Father, `Lay up My
words in your heart,' and to give their whole heart to become full of God's
word. Resolve then to do this. Take pains to understand what you read. When
you understand it, take then always one or another word to keep in remembrance
and ponder. Learn words of God by heart; repeat them to yourself in the course
of the day. The word is seed; the seed must have time, must be kept in the
ground: so must the word be carried in the heart. Give the best powers of your
heart, your love, your desire, the willing and joyful activity of your will,
to God's word. `Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord;
and in His law doth he meditate day and night.' Let the heart be a temple, not
for the world and its thoughts, but for God and His thoughts. (Ps. 119:69;
John 15:3,7; 17:6,8,17) He that, every day, faithfully opens his heart to
God's voice to hear what God says, and keeps and carries about that word,
shall see how faithfully God also shall open His heart to our voice, to hear
what we say to Him in prayer.
Christian, pray read yet once again the words at the head of this section.
Receive them as God's word to you -- the word of the Father who has received
you as a child, of Jesus who has made you God's child. God asks of you, as His
child, that you give your heart to become filled with His word. Will you do
this? What say you? The Lord Jesus would complete His holy work in you with
power along this way. (John 14:21,23; 1 John 2:14,24; Rev. 3:8,10) Let your
answer be distinct and continuous: `I have hid Thy word in my heart;' `How
love I thy law: it is my mediation all the day.' Even if it appears difficult
for you to understand the word, read it only the more. The Father has promised
to make it a blessing in your heart. But you must first take it into your
heart. Believe then that God will by the Holy Spirit make it living and
powerful in you.
O my Father, who hast
said to me: `My son, give Me thine heart,' I have given Thee mine heart. Now
that Thou chargest me to lay up and to keep Thy word in that heart, I answer:
`I keep Thy commands with my whole heart.' Father, teach me every day so to
receive Thy word in my heart that it can exercise there its blessed influence.
Strengthen me in the deep conviction that even though I do not actually
apprehend its meaning and power, I can still reckon on Thee to make the word
living and powerful in me. Amen.
is the difference between the reading of the word to increase knowledge and
the receiving of it in faith?
word is as a seed. Seed requires time ere it springs up. During this time it
must be kept silently and constantly in the earth. I must not only read God's
word, but ponder it and reflect upon it: then shall it work in me. The word
must be in me the whole day, must abide in me, must dwell in
3. What are the reasons that the
word of God sometimes has so little power in those that read it and really
long for blessing? One of the principal reasons is surely that they do not
give the seed time to grow, that they do not keep it and reflect upon it, in
the believing assurance that the word itself shall have its
4. What is the token of His
disciples that Jesus mentions first in the high-priestly prayer? (John
5. What are the blessings of a heart
filled with the word of God?
"Blessed is she that believed; for there
shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the
Lord.' -- Luke 1:45
"I believe God, that
it shall be even so as it hath been spoken unto me.' -- Acts
"Abraham waxed strong through
faith, being fully assured that what He had promised, he was able also to
perform.' -- Rom. 4:21
God has asked you
to take and lay up His words in your heart. Faith is the proper avenue whereby
the word is taken and received into the innermost depths of the heart. Let the
young Christian then take pains always to understand better what faith is: he
will thereby gain an insight into the reasons why such great things are bound
up with faith. He will yield his perfect assent to the view that full
salvation is made every day dependent on faith. (1 Chron. 22:20; Mk. 9:23;
Heb. 11:33,35; 1 John 5:4,5)
Let me now
ask my reader to read over once again the three texts which stand above, and
to find out what is the principal thought that they teach about faith. Pray,
read nothing actually beyond them, but read first these words of God, and ask
yourself what they teach you about
They make us see that faith
always attaches itself to what God has said or promised. When an honourable
man says anything, he also does it: on the back of the saying follows the
doing. So also is it with God: when He would do anything, He says so first
through His word. When the man of God becomes possessed with this conviction
and established in it, God always does for him what He has said. With God,
speaking and doing always go together: the deed follows the word: `Shall He
say it and not do it?' (Gen. 21:1; 32:12; Num. 14:17,18,20; 23:19; Josh.
21:45; 23:14; 2 San. 7:25,29; 1 Chron. 8:15,24; Ps. 119:49) When I have a word
of God in which He promises to do something, I can always remain sure that He
will do it. I have simply to take and hold fast the word, and there with wait
upon God: God will take care that He fulfils His word to me. Before I ever
feel or experience anything, I hold fast the promise, and I know by faith that
God will make it good to me. (Luke 1:38,45; John 3:33; 4:50; 11:40; 20:29;
What, now, is faith?
Nothing other than the certitude that what God says is true. When God says
that something subsists or is, then does faith rejoice, although it sees
nothing of it. (Rom. 1:17; 4:5; 5:1; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 1:19; 3:17) When God says
that He has given me something, that something in heaven is mine, I know by
faith with entire certitude that it is mine. (John 3:16,17,36; 1 John 5:12,13)
When God says that something shall come to pass, or that He will do something
for me, this is for faith just as good as if I had seen it. (Rom. 8:38; Phil.
3:21; 1 Thess 5:24; 1 Pet. 1:4,5) Things that are, but that I have not seen,
and things that are not yet, but shall come, are for faith entirely sure.
`Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen.'
(Heb. 11:1) Faith always asks only for what God has said, and then relies on
His faithfulness and power to fulfil His
Let us now review again the words
of Scripture. Of Mary we read: `Blessed is she that believed; for there shall
be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord.'
All things that have been spoken in the word shall be fulfilled for me: so I
Of Abraham it is reported
that he was fully assured that that which had been promised, God was also able
to fulfil. This is assurance of faith: to be assured that God will do what He
Exactly thus is it in the
word of Paul: `I believe God that it shall be even so as it hath been spoken
unto me.' It stood fixed with him that God would do what He had spoken.
Young disciples in Christ, the new, the
eternal life that is in you is a life of faith. And do you not see how simple
and how blessed that life of faith is? I go every day to the word and hear
there what God has said that He has done and will do. (Gal. 2:20; 3:2,5;
5:5,6; Heb. 10:35; 1 Pet. 1:2) I take time to lodge in my heart the word in
which God says that, and I hold it fast, entirely assured that what God has
promised, He is able to perform. And then in a childlike spirit I await the
fulfilment of all the glorious promises of His word. And my soul experiences:
Blessed is she that believed; for the things that have been spoken to her from
the Lord shall be fulfilled. God promises -- I believe -- God fulfils: that is
the secret of the new life.
O my Father,
Thy child thanks Thee for this blessed life of faith in which we have to walk.
I can do nothing, but Thou canst do all. All that Thou canst do hast Thou
spoken in Thy word. And every word that I take and trustfully bring to Thee,
Thou fulfillest. Father, in this life of faith, so simple, so glorious, will I
walk with Thee. Amen.
1. The Christian
must read and search the Scriptures to increase his knowledge. For this
purpose he daily reads one or more principal portions. But he reads the
Scriptures also to strengthen his faith. And to this end he must take one or
two verses to make them the subject of special reflection, and to appropriate
them trustfully for himself.
2. Pray, do
not suffer yourselves to be led astray by those who speak as if faith were
something great and unintelligible. Faith is nothing other than the certitude
that God speaks truth. Take some promises of God and say to Him: I know for
certain that this promise is truth, and that Thou wilt fulfil it. He will do
3. Never mourn over unbelief as if
it were only a weakness which you cannot help. As God's child, however weak
you may be, you have the power to believe, for the spirit of God is in you.
You have only to keep in mind this: no one apprehends anything before that he
has the power to believe; he must simply begin and continue with saying to the
Lord that he is sure that His word is truth. He must hold fast the promise and
rely upon God for the fulfilment.
V. THE POWER OF GOD'S WORD
`Faith cometh of hearing, and hearing by
the word of Christ.' -- Rom. 10:17
`Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.'
-- James 1:21
`We also thank God without
ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word
of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the
word of God, which also worketh in you that believe.' -- 1 Thess.
`For the word of God is living and
active.' -- Heb. 4:12
The new life of a
child of God depends so much on the right use of God's word, that I shall once
again speak of it with my young brothers and sisters in the
It is a great thing when the
Christian discerns that he can receive and accomplish all only through faith.
He has only to believe; God will look to the fulfilling of what is promised.
He has every morning to trust in Jesus, and the new life as given in Jesus and
working in himself; Jesus will see to it that the new life works in
But now he runs the risk of another
error. He thinks that the faith that does such great things must be something
great, and that he must have a great power in order to exercise such a great
faith. (Luke 17:5-6; Rom. 10:6-8) And, because he does not feel this power, he
thinks that he cannot believe as he ought. This error may prove a loss to him
his life long.
Come and hear, then, how
perverted this thought is. You must not bring this mighty faith to get the
word fulfilled, but the word comes and brings you this faith which you must
have. "The word is living and powerful." The word works faith in you. The
Scripture says, "Faith is by the word." (Rom. 10:17; Heb.
Think on what we have said of the
heart as a temple, and of its two divisions. There is the outer court, with
the understanding as its gate or entrance. There is the innermost sanctuary,
with the faith of the heart as its entrance. There is a natural faith -- the
historic faith -- which every man has; with this must I first receive the word
into my keeping and consideration. I must say to myself, "The word of God is
certainly true. I can make a stand upon it." Thus I bring the word into the
outer court, and from within the heart desire reaches out to it, seeking to
receive it into the heart. The word now exercises its divine power of life; it
begins to grow and shoot out roots. As a seed which I place in the earth sends
forth roots and presses still deeper into the soil, the word presses inwardly
into the holy place. The word thus works true saving faith. (1 Thess. 2:13;
Jas. 1:21; 1 Pet. 1:23)
pray understand this. The word is living and powerful; through the word you
are born again. The word works faith in you; through the word comes faith.
Receive the word simply with the thought that it will work in you. Keep
yourselves occupied with the word, and give it time. The word has a divine
life in itself; carry it in your inmost parts, and it will work life in you.
It will work in you a faith strong and able for
O be resolved then, pray,
never to say, I cannot believe. You can believe. You have the Spirit of God in
you. Even the natural man can say, This word of God is certainly true or
certainly not true. And when he with a desire of the soul says, "It is true; I
will believe it," the living Spirit, through whom the word is living and
powerful, works this living faith. Besides, the Spirit is not only in the
word, but also in you. Although you do not feel as if you were believing, know
for certain you can believe. (Deut. 32:46,47; Josh. 1:7,9) Begin actually to
receive the word; it will work a mighty faith in you. Rely upon it, that when
you have to do with God's word, you have to do with a word that can be surely
trusted that it of itself works faith in
And not only the promises, but also
the commands have this living power. When I first receive a command from God,
it is as if I felt no power to accomplish it. But if I then simply receive the
word as God's word, which works in those that believe, -- if I trust in the
word to have its working, and in the living God which gives it its operation,
-- that commandment will work in me the desire and the power for obedience.
When I weigh and hold fast the command, it works the desire and the will to
obey; it urges me strongly towards the conviction that I can certainly do what
my Father says. The word works both faith and obedience of faith. I must
believe that through the Spirit I have the power to do what God wills, for in
the word the power of God works in me. The word, as the command of the living
God who loves me, is my power. (Rom. 1:3; 16:6; Gal. 6:6; 1 Thess. 1:3; Jas.
Therefore, young disciples in
Christ, learn to receive God's word trustfully. Although you do not at first
understand it, continue to meditate upon it. It has a living power in it; it
will glorify itself. Although you feel no power to believe or to obey, the
word is living and powerful. Take it, and hold it fast; it will accomplish its
work with divine power. The word rouses and strengthens for faith and
Lord God, I begin to conceive
how Thou art in Thy word with Thy life and Thy power, and how that word itself
works faith and obedience in the heart that receives and keeps it. Lord, teach
me to carry Thy every word as a living seed in my heart, in the assurance that
it shall work in me all Thy good pleasure.
1. Forget not that it is one and
the same to believe in the word, or in the person that speaks the word, or in
the thing which is promised in the word. The very same faith that receives the
promises receives also the Father who promises, and the Son with the salvation
which is given in the promises. Pray see to it that you never separate the
word and the living God from each other.
2. See to it also that you apprehend thoroughly the distinction betwixt the
reception of the word "as the word of man" and "as the word of God, which
works in you that believe."
3. I think
that you now know what is necessary to become strong in faith. Exercise as
much faith as you have. Take a promise of God. Say to yourself that it is
certainly true. Go to God and say to Him that you rely on Him for the
fulfilment. Ponder the promise, and cleave to it in converse with God. Rely
upon Him to do for you what He says. He will surely do
4. The Spirit and the word always go
together. I can be sure concerning all of which the word says that I must do
it, that I also can do it through the Spirit. I must receive the word and also
the command in the confidence that it is the living word of the living God
which also works in us who believe.
VI. GOD'S GIFT OF HIS SON
`For God so loved the world, that He
have His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish,
but have eternal life.' -- John 3:16
`Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.' -- 2 Cor.
Thus dear did God hold the world.
How dear? That He gave His only-begotten Son for every one in the world who
will trust in Him. And how did He give? He gave Him, in His birth as man, in
order to be for ever one with us. He gave Him, in His death on the cross as
Surety, in order to take our sin and curse upon Himself. He gave Him on the
throne of heaven, in order to arrange for our welfare, as our Representative
and Intercessor over all the powers of heaven. He gave Him in the outpouring
of the Spirit, in order to dwell in us, to be entirely and altogether our own.
(John 1:14,16; 14:23; Rom. 5:8; 8:32,34; Eph. 1:22; 3:17; Col. 2:9-10; Heb.
7:24,26; 1 John 4:9-10) Yes; that is the love of God, that He gave His Son to
us, for us, in us.
Nothing less than His
Son Himself. This is the love of God; not that He gives us something, but that
He gives us some one -- a living person -- not one or another blessing, but
Him in whom is all life and blessing -- Jesus Himself. Not simply forgiveness,
or revival, or sanctification, or glory does He give us; but Jesus, His own
Son. The Lord Jesus is the beloved, the equal, the bosom-friend, the eternal
blessedness of the Father. And it is the will of the Father that we should
have Jesus as ours, even as He has Him. (Matt. 11:27; John 17:23,25; Rom.
8:38-39; Heb. 2:11) For this end He gave Him to us. The whole of salvation
consists in this: to have, to possess, to enjoy Jesus. God has given His Son,
given Him wholly to become ours. (Ps. 73:25; 142:6; John 20:28; Heb.
What have we, then, to do? To take
Him, to receive and to appropriate to ourselves the gift, to enjoy Jesus as
our own. This is eternal life. `He that hath the Son hath life.' (John 1:12; 2
Cor. 3:13,5; Col. 2:6; 1 John 5:12)
I do wish, then, that all young Christians may understand this. The one great
work of God's love for us is, He gives us His Son. In Him we have all. Hence
the one great work of our heart must be to receive this Jesus who has been
given to us, to consider Him and use Him as ours. I must begin every day anew
with the thought, I have Jesus to do all for me. (John 15:5; Rom. 8:37; 1 Cor.
1:30; Eph. 1:3; 2:10; Phil. 4:13; 2 Tim. 1:12) In all weakness or darkness or
danger, in the case of every desire or need, let your first thought always be,
I have Jesus to make everything right for me, for God has given Him to me.
Whether your need be forgiveness or consolation or confirmation, whether you
have fallen, or are tempted to fall, into danger, whether you know not what
the will of God is in one or another matter, or know that you have not the
courage and the strength to do this will, let this always be your first
thought, the Father has given me Jesus to care for
For this purpose, reckon upon this
gift of God every day as yours. It has been presented to you in the word.
Appropriate the Son in faith on the word. Take Him anew every day. Through
faith you have the Son. (John 1:12; 1 John 5:9,13) The love of God has given
the Son. Take Him, and hold Him fast in the love of your heart. (1 John
4:4,19) It is to bring life, eternal life, to you that God has given Jesus.
Take Him up into your life; let heart and tongue and whole walk be under the
might and guidance of Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:15; Phil 3:8) Young Christian, so weak
and so sinful, listen, pray, to that word. God has given you Jesus. He is
yours. Taking is nothing else but the fruit of faith. The gift is for me. He
will do all for you.
O my Lord Jesus,
today anew, and every day, I take Thee. In all Thy fulness, in all Thy
relations, without ceasing, I take Thee for myself. Thee, who art my Wisdom,
my Light, my Leader, I take as my Prophet. Thee, who dost perfectly reconcile
me, and bring me near to God, who dost purify and sanctify me and pray for me,
I take as my Priest. Thee, who dost guide and keep and bless me, I take as my
King. Thou, Lord, art All, and Thou art wholly mine. Thanks be to God for His
unspeakable gift. Amen.
1. Ponder much
the word Give. God gives in a wonderful way: from the heart, completely for
nothing, to the unworthy. And He gives effectually. What He gives He will
really make entirely our possession, and inwardly appropriate for us. Believe
this, and you shall have the certitude that Jesus will, to the full, come into
your possession, with all that He
2. Ponder much also that other
word Take. To take Jesus, and to hold Him fast and use Him when received, is
our great work. And that taking is nothing but trusting. He is mine with all
that He has. Take Jesus -- the full Jesus -- every day as yours. This is the
secret of the life of faith.
weigh well also the word Have. `He that hath the Son hath light.' What I have
is mine, for my use and service. I can dispose of it, and can have the full
enjoyment of it. `He that hath the Son hath
4. Mark especially that what God
gives, and what you take, and what you now have, is nothing less than the
living Son of God.
Do you receive
VII. JESUS' SURRENDER OF
`Christ also loved the Church, and gave
Himself up for it; that He might sanctify it; that He might present the Church
to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle; but that it should
be holy and without blemish.' -- Eph.
So great and wonderful was the
work that Jesus had to do for the sinner, that nothing less was necessary than
that He should give Himself to do that work. So great and wonderful was the
love of Jesus towards us, that He actually gave Himself for us and to us. So
great and wonderful is the surrender of Jesus, that all that same thing for
which He gave Himself can actually and completely come to pass in us. For
Jesus, the Holy, the Almighty, has taken it upon Himself to do it: He gave
Himself for us. (Gal. 1:4; 2:20; Eph. 5:2,25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:14) And now
the one thing that is necessary is that we should rightly understand and
firmly believe this His surrender for
To what end, then, was it that He
gave Himself for the Church? Hear what God says. In order that He might
sanctify it, in order that it might be without blemish. (Eph. 1:4; 5:27; Col.
1:22; 1 Thess. 2:10; 3:13; 5:23,24) This is the aim of Jesus. This His aim He
will reach in the soul according as the soul falls in with it so as to make
this also its highest portion, and then relies upon Jesus' surrender of
Himself to do it.
Hear still a word of
God: `Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and
purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works.'
(Titus 2:14) Yes: it is to prepare for Himself a pure people, a people of His
own, a zealous people, that Jesus gives Himself. When I receive Him, when I
believe that He gave Himself to do this for me, I shall certainly experience
it. I shall be purified through Him, shall be held fast as His possession, and
be filled with zeal and joy to work for
And mark, further, how the
operation of this surrender of Himself will especially be that He shall then
have us entirely for Himself: `that He might present us to Himself.' `that He
might purify us to Himself, a people of His own.' The more I understand and
contemplate Jesus' surrender of Himself for me, the more do I give myself
again to Him. The surrender is a mutual one: the love comes from both sides.
His giving of Himself makes such an impression on my heart, that my heart with
the self-same love and joy becomes entirely His. Through giving Himself to me,
He of Himself takes possession of me; He becomes mine and I His. I know that I
have Jesus wholly for me, and that He has me wholly for Him. (Ex. 19:4,5;
Deut. 26:17,18; Isa. 41:9,10; 1 Cor. 6:19,20; 1 Pet.
And how come I then to the full
enjoyment of this blessed life? `I live in faith, the faith which is in the
Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.' (John 6:29,35; 7:38;
10:10,38; Gal. 2:20) Through faith I reflect upon and contemplate His
surrender to me as sure and glorious. Through faith I appropriate it. Through
faith I trust in Jesus to confirm this surrender, to communicate Himself to me
and reveal Himself within me. Through faith I await with certainty the full
experience of salvation which arises from having Jesus as mine, to do all, all
for me. Through faith, I live in this Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for
me. and I say, `No longer do I live, but Christ liveth in me.' Christian, pray
believe it with your whole heart: Jesus gives Himself for you: He is wholly
yours: He will do all for you. (Matt. 8:10; 9:2,22; Mark 11:24; Luke 7:50;
8:48; 17:19; 18:42; Rom. 4:16,21; 5:2; 11:20; Gal. 3:25,26; Eph. 1:19;
O my Lord Jesus, what wonderful
grace is this, that Thou gavest Thyself for me. In Thee is eternal life. Thou
Thyself art the life and Thou givest Thyself to be in my life all that I need.
Thou purifiest me and sanctifiest me, and makest me zealous in good works.
Thou takest me wholly for Thyself, and givest Thyself wholly for me. Yes, my
Lord, in all thou art my life. O make me rightly understand this.
1. It was in His great love that
the Father gave the Son. It was out of love that Jesus gave Himself. (Rom.
3:15; Eph. 5:26) The taking, the having of Jesus, is the entrance to a life in
the love of God: this is the highest life. (John 14:21,23,; 17:23,26; Eph.
3:17,18) Through faith we must press into love, and dwell there. (1 John
2. Do you think that you have
now learned all the lesson, to begin every day with the childlike trust: I
take Jesus this day to be my life, and to do all for
3. Understand that to take and to
have Jesus, presupposes a personal dealing with Himself. To have pleasure in
Him, to hold converse gladly with Him, to rejoice in Him as my friend and in
His love -- to this leads the faith that truly takes Him.
VIII. CHILDREN OF GOD
`As many as received Him, to them gave
He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His
name.' -- John 1:12
What is given must
be received, otherwise it does not profit. If the first great deed of God's
love is the gift of His Son, the first work of man must be to receive this
Son. And if all the blessings of God's love come to us only in the ever-new,
ever-living Son of the Father, all these blessings enter into us from day to
day through the always-new, always-continuing reception of the
What is necessary for this
reception, you, beloved young Christians, know, for you have already received
the Lord Jesus. But all that this reception involves must become clearer and
stronger, the unceasing living action of your faith. (2 Cor. 10:15; 1 Thess.
1:8; 3:10; 2 Thess. 1:3) Herein especially consists the increase of faith.
Your first receiving of Jesus rested on the certitude which the word gave you,
that He was for you. Through the word must your soul be still further filled
with the assurance that all that is in Him is literally and really for you,
given by the Father in Him to be your
The impulse to your first
receiving was found in your want and necessity. Through the Spirit you become
still poorer in spirit, and you see everything every moment: this leads to a
ceaseless, ever-active taking of Him as your all. (Matt 5:3; 2 Cor.
3:10,13,16; 6:10; Eph. 4:14,15; Col.
Your first receiving consisted in
nothing but the appropriation by faith of what you could not yet see or feel.
That same faith must be continually exercised in saying: all that I see in
Jesus is for me: I take it as mine, although I do not yet experience it. The
love of God is a communicating, a ceaseless outstreaming of His light of life
over the soul, a very powerful and veritable giving of Jesus: our life is
nothing but a continuous blessed apprehension and reception of Him. (John
1:16; Col. 2:9,10; 3:3)
And this is the
way to live as children of God: as many as receive Him, to them gives He the
power to become children of God. This holds true, not only of conversion and
regeneration, but of every day of my life. If to walk in all things as a child
of God, and to exhibit the image of my Father, is indispensable, I must take
Jesus the only-begotten Son: it is He that makes me a child of God. To have
Jesus Himself, to have the heart and life full of Him, is the way to live as a
child of God. I go to the word and learn there all the characteristics of a
child of God; (Matt 5:9,16,44,45; Rom. 8:14; Eph. 1:4,5; 5:1,2; Phil. 2:15;
Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:14,17; 1 John 3:1,10; 5:1,3) and after each one of them I
write: this Jesus shall work in me: I have him to make me to be a child of
Beloved young Christian, learn, I
beseech you, to understand the simplicity and the glory of being a true
Christian. It is to receive Jesus, to receive Him in all His fulness, to
receive Him in all the glorious relations in which the Father gives Him to
you. Take Him as your Prophet, as your Wisdom, your Light, your Guide. Take
Him as your Priest, who renews you, purifies you, sanctifies you, brings you
near to God, takes you and forms you wholly for His service. Take Him as your
King who governs you, protects you and blesses you. Take him as your Head,
your Exemplar, your Brother, your Life, your All. The giving of God is a
divine, an ever-progressive and effectual communication to your soul. Let your
taking be the childlike, cheerful, continuous opening of mouth and heart for
what God gives, the full Jesus and all His grace. To every prayer the answer
of God is: Jesus, all is in Him, all in Him is for you. Let your response
always be: Jesus, in Him I have all. You are, you live in all things as,
`children of God, through faith in Jesus
O my Father, open the eyes of my
heart to understand what it is to be a child of God: to live always as a child
through always believing in Jesus, Thine only Son. O let every breath of my
soul be, faith in Jesus, a confidence in Him, a resting in Him, a surrender to
Him, to work all in me.
If by the grace
of God you now know that you have received Jesus and are God's child, you must
now take pains to make His salvation known. There is many a one who longs to
know and cannot find out how he can become a child of
Endeavour to make two things plain
to him. First, that the new birth is something so high and holy that he can do
nothing in it. He must receive eternal life from God through the Spirit: he
must be born from above. This Jesus teaches. (John 3:1-8). Then make plain to
him how low God has descended to us with this new life, and how near He brings
it to us. In Jesus there is life for every one who believes in Him. This Jesus
teaches (John 3:14-18). And this Jesus and the life are in the word. Tell the
sinner that, when he takes the word, he then has Jesus, and life in the word.
(Rom. 10:8). O do, pray, take pains to tell forth the glad tidings that we
become children of God only through faith in Jesus.
IX. OUR SURRENDER TO JESUS
`They gave their own selves to the
Lord.' -- Cor. 8:5
In the surrender of
Jesus for me, I have the chief element of what He has done and always does for
me. In my surrender to Him I have the chief element of what He would have me
to do. For young Christians who have given themselves to Jesus, it is a matter
of great moment always to hold fast, to confirm and renew this surrender. This
is the special life of faith, to say anew every day: I have given myself to
Him, to follow Him and to serve Him; (Matt. 4:22; 10:24,25,37,38; Luke 18:22;
John 12:25,26; 2 Cor. 5:15) He has taken me: I am His, and entirely at His
service. (Matt. 28:20)
hold firm your surrender, and make it always firmer. When there recurs a
stumbling or a sin after you have surrendered yourself, think not the
surrender was not sincere. No; the surrender to Jesus does not make us perfect
at once. You have sinned, because you were not thoroughly or firmly enough in
His arms. Adhere to this, although it be with shame: Lord, Thou knowest it, I
have given myself to Thee: I am Thine. (John 21:17; Gal. 6:1; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2
Tim. 2:13; 1 John 5:16) Confirm this surrender anew. Say to Him that you now
begin to see better how complete the surrender to Him must be, and renew every
day the voluntary, entire, and undivided offering up of yourselves to Him.
(Luke 28:28; Phil. 3:7,8)
The longer we
continue Christians, the deeper will be our insight into that word: surrender
to Jesus. We shall always see more clearly that we do not yet fully understand
or contemplate it. The surrender must become, especially, more undivided and
trustful. The language which Ahab once used must be ours: `According to thy
saying, my lord, O king, I am thine, and all that I have' (1 Kings 20:4). This
is the language of undivided dedication: I am thine, and all that I have. Keep
nothing back. Keep back no single sin that you do not confess and leave off.
Without conversion there can be no surrender. (Matt. 7:21,27; John 3:20,21; 2
Tim. 2:19,21) Keep back no single power. Let your head with all its thinking,
your mouth with all its speaking, your heart with all its feeling, your hand
with all its working -- let your time, your name, your influence, your
property, let all be laid upon the altar. (Rom. 6:13,22; 12:1; 2 Cor. 5:15;
Heb. 8:15; 1 Pet. 2:5) Jesus has a right to all: He demands the whole. Give
yourself, with all that you have, to be guided and used and kept, sanctified
and blessed. `According to Thy word, my Lord, O King, I am Thine, and all that
That is the language of
trustful dedication. It is on the word of the Lord, which calls upon you to
surrender yourself, that you have done this. That word is your warrant that He
will take and guide and keep you. As surely as you give yourself, does He take
you; and what He takes He can keep. Only, we must not take it again out of His
hand. Let it remain fixed with you that your surrender is in the highest
degree pleasing to Him: be certain of it, your offering is a sweet-smelling
savour. Not on what you are, or what you experience or discover in yourselves,
do you say this, but on His word. According to His word, you are able to take
a stand on this: what you give, that He takes; and what He takes, that He
keeps. (John 10:28; 2 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 1:12) Therefore every day anew, let
this be the childlike joyful activity of your life of faith: you surrender
yourselves without ceasing to Jesus, and you are safe in the certitude that He
in His love takes and holds you fast, and that His answer to your giving is
the renewed and always deeper surrender of Himself to
According to Thy word, my Lord and
King, I am Thine, and all that I have. Every day, this day, will I confirm it,
that I am not mine own, but am my Lord's. Fervently do I beseech Thee to take
full possession of Thy property, so that no one may doubt whose I am. Amen.
1. Ponder now once again the words
giving and taking and having. What I give to Jesus, He take with a divine
taking. And what He takes, he has and thereafter cares for. Now it is
absolutely no longer mine. I must not take thought for it; I may not dispose
of it. O pray, let your faith find expression in adoration: Jesus takes me:
Jesus has me.
2. Should there overtake
you a time of doubting or darkness whereby your assurance that the Lord has
received you has come to be lost, suffer not yourself thereby to be
dispirited. Come simply as a sinner, confess your sins: believe in His
promises that He will by no means cast out those that come to Him and begin
simply on the ground of the promises to say: I know that He has received
3. Forget not what the chief element
in surrender is: it is a surrender to Jesus and to His love. Fix your eye, not
upon your activity in surrender, but upon Jesus, who calls you, who takes you,
who can do all for you. This it is that makes faith
4. Faith is always a surrender.
Faith is the eye for seeing the invisible. When I look at something, I
surrender myself to the impression which it make upon me. Faith is the ear
that hearkens to the voice of God. When I believe a message, I surrender
myself to the influence, cheering or saddening, which the tidings exercises
upon me. When I believe in Jesus, I surrender myself to Him, in reflection, in
desire, in expectation, in order that He may be in me and do that for which He
has been given to me by God.
X. SAVIOUR FROM SIN
`Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for it
is He that shall save His people from their sins.' -- Matt.
`Ye know that He was manifested to
take away sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not.'
-- 1 John 3:5,6
It is sin that is the
cause of our misery. It is sin that provoked God, and brought His curse upon
man. He hates sin with a perfect hatred, and will do everything to root it
out. (Deut. 27:26; Isa. 59:1,2; Jer. 44:4; Rom. 1:18) It is to take away sin
that God gave His Son, that Jesus gave Himself. (Gal. 2:4; Eph. 5:25,27; 1
Pet. 2:24; 1 John 3:8) It belongs to God to set us free, not only from
punishment and curse, from disquietude and terror, but from sin itself. (Jer.
27:9; 1 Pet. 1:2,15,16; 2:14; 1 John 3:8) You know that He was manifested that
He might take away our sins. Let us receive the thought deep into our hearts:
it is for God to take away our sins from us. The better we apprehend this, the
more blessed shall our life be.
not receive this. They seek chiefly to be freed from the consequences of sin,
from fear and darkness, and the punishment that sin brings. (Gen. 27:34; Isa.
58:5,6; John 6:26; Jas. 4:3) Just on this account they do not come to the true
rest of salvation. They do not understand that to save is to free from sin.
Let us hold it fast. Jesus saves through taking away sin. Then we shall learn
The first is to come to
Jesus with every sin. (Ps. 32:5; Luke 7:38; 19:7,8,10; John 8:11; 34:36) the
sin that still attacks and overmasters you, after that you have given yourself
over to the Lord, must not make you lose heart. There must also be no
endeavour merely in your own strength to take away and overcome sin. Bring
every sin to Jesus. He has been ordained by God to take away sin. He has
already brought it to nought upon the cross, and broken its power. (Heb. 9:26)
It is His work, it is His desire to set you free from it. O learn then always
to come to Jesus with every sin. Sin is your deadly foe: if you confess it to
Jesus, and surrender it to Him, you shall certainly overcome it. (Rom. 7:4,9;
8:2; 2 Cor. 7:9; 2 Thess 2:3)
believe this firmly: this is the second point. Understand that Jesus, Jesus
Himself, is the Saviour from sin. It is not you that must overcome sin with
the help of Jesus, but Jesus Himself: Jesus in you. (Deut. 8:17,18; Ps.
44:4,8; John 16:33; 1 John 5:4,5) If you would thus become free from sin, if
you would enjoy full salvation, let it be the one endeavour of your life to
stand always in full fellowship with Jesus. Wait not till you enter into
temptation ere you have recourse to Jesus. But let your life beforehand be
always through Jesus. Let His nearness be your one desire; Jesus saves from
sin; to have Jesus is salvation from sin (1 Cor. 15:10; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 4:13;
Col 3:3-5) O that we could indeed rightly understand this! Jesus will not
merely save from sin as a work that He will from time to time do in us, but He
will give it as a blessing through Himself to us and in us. (Ex. 29:43; John
15:4,5; Rom. 8:10; Eph. 3:17,18) When Jesus fills me, when Jesus is all for
me, sin has no hold on me: `He that abideth in Him sinneth
Yes: sin is driven out and kept
out only through the presence of Jesus. It is Jesus, Jesus Himself, that,
through His giving Himself to me and His living in me, is salvation from
Precious Lord, let Thy light stream
over me, and let it become still clearer to my soul, that Thou, Thou Thyself,
art my salvation. To have Thee, Thee, with me, in me -- this keeps sin out.
Teach me to bring every sin to Thee; let every sin drive me into a closer
alliance with Thee. Then shall Thy Jesus-name become truly my salvation from
1. See of what moment it is
that the Christian should always grow in the knowledge of sin. The sin that I
do not know, I cannot bring to Jesus. The sin that I do not bring to Him is
not taken out of me.
2. To know sin
better there are required:
prayer, `Examine me:' make known to me my transgression and my sin (Job 13:23;
A tender conscience that
is willing to be convinced of sin through the Spirit, as He also uses the
conscience for this end;
The very humble
surrender to the word, to think concerning sin only as God
3. The deeper knowledge of sin
will be found in these results:
shall see to be sin things which previously we did not regard in this
That we shall perceive more the
exceedingly sinful, the detestable character of sin (Rom.
That with the overcoming of
external sins we become all the more encouraged over the deep sinfulness of
our nature, of the enmity of our flesh against God. Then we give up all hope
of being or of doing anything good, and we are turned wholly to live in faith
through the Spirit.
4. O let us thank
God very heartily that Jesus is a Saviour from sin. The power that sin has had
over us, Jesus now has. The place that sin has taken in the heart, Jesus will
now take. `The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from
the law of sin and death.'
XI. THE CONFESSION OF SIN
`If we confess our sins, He is faithful
and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness.' -- 1 John 1:9
thing that God hates, that grieves Him, that He is provoked by, and that He
will destroy, is sin. The one thing that makes man unhappy, is sin. (Gen.
6:5,6; Isa. 13:24; Ezek. 33:6; Rev. 6:16,17) The one thing for which Jesus had
to give His blood was sin. In all the intercourse betwixt the sinner and God,
this is thus the first thing that the sinner must bring to his God -- sin.
(Judg. 10:10,15,16; 2 Chron. 27:14; Ezra 9:6; Neh. 2:33; 9:2,33; Jer. 3:21,25;
When you came to Jesus at
first, you perceived this in some measure. But you should learn to understand
this lesson more deeply. The one counsel concerning sin is, to bring it daily
to the only One who can take it away -- God Himself. You should learn that one
of the greatest privileges of a child of God is -- the confession of sin. It
is only the holiness of God that can consume sin; through confession I must
hand over my sin to God, lay it down in God, get quit of it to God, cast it
into the fiery oven of God's holy love which burns against sin like a fire.
God, yes, God Himself, and He alone, takes away sin. (Lev. 4:21; Num. 5:7; 2
Sam. 12:13: Ps. 32:5, 38:19; 51:5,19)
This the Christian does not always understand. He has an inborn tendency to
desire to cover sin, or to make it less, or to root it out only when he
purposes drawing near to God. He thinks to cover sin with his repentance and
self-blame, with scorn of the temptation that came to him, or otherwise with
what he has done or still hopes to do. (Gen. 3:12; Ex. 32:22,24; Isa. 1:11,15;
Luke 13:26) Young Christian, if you would enjoy the gladness of a complete
forgiveness and a divine cleansing of sin, see to it that you use aright the
confession of sin. In the true confession of sin you have one of the most
blessed privileges of a child of God, one of the deepest roots of a powerful
For this end, let your
confession be a definite one. (Num 12:11, 21:7; 2 Sam. 24;10,17; Isa.
59:12,13; Luke 23:41; Acts 1:18,19; 22:19,20; 1 Tim. 1:13,15) The continued
indeterminate confession of sin does more harm than good. It is much better to
say to God that you have nothing to confess, than to confess you know not
what. Begin with one sin. Let it come to a complete harmony betwixt God and
you concerning this one sin. Let it be fixed with you that this sin is through
confession placed in God's hands. you shall experience that in such confession
there are both power and blessing.
the confession be an upright one. (Prov. 28:13; Lev. 26:40,41; Jer. 31:18,19)
By it deliver up the sinful deed to be laid aside. By it deliver up the sinful
feeling with a view to trusting in God. Confession implies renunciation, the
putting off of sin. Give up sin to God, to forgive it to you, and to cleanse
you from it. Do not confess, if you are not prepared, if you do not heartily
desire to be freed from it. Confession has value only as it is a giving up of
sin to God.
Let the confession be
trustful (2 Sam. 12:13; Ps. 32:5; Isa. 4:7) Reckon firmly upon God actually to
forgive you, and also to cleanse you from sin. Continue in confession, in
casting the sin of which you desire to be rid into the fire of God's holiness
until your soul has the firm confidence that God takes it on His own account
to forgive and to cleanse away. It is this faith that really overcomes the
world and sin: the faith that God in Jesus really emancipates from sin. (1
John 5:5; 2:12)
Brother, do you
understand it now? What must you do with sin, with every sin? To bring it in
confession to God, to give it to God; God alone takes away
Lord God, what thanks shall I
express for this unspeakable blessing, that I may come to Thee with sin. It is
known to Thee, Lord, how sin before Thy holiness causes terror and flight. It
is known to Thee how it is our deepest thought, first to have sin covered, and
then to come to Thee with our desire and endeavour for good. Lord, teach me to
come to Thee with sin, every sin, and in confession to lay it down before Thee
and give it up to Thee. Amen.
is the distinction betwixt the covering of sin by God and by man? How does man
do it? How does God do it?
2. What are
the great hindrances in the way of the confession of
Fear to come with sin to the holy
The endeavour to come to God with
Unbelief in the power of
the blood and in the riches of grace.
Must I immediately confess an oath or a lie or a wrong word, or wait until my
feeling has first cooled and become rightly disposed? O pray, confess it
immediately; come in full sinfulness to God, without first desiring to make it
4. Is it also necessary or good to
confess before man? It is indispensable, if our sin has been against man. And,
besides, it is often good; it is often easier to acknowledge before God than
before man that I have done something (Jas. 5:16).
XII. THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
`Blessed is he whose transgression is
forgiven, whose sin is covered.' -- Ps.
`Bless the Lord, O my soul .... who
forgiveth all thine iniquities.' -- Ps.
In connection with surrender to
the Lord, it was said that the first great blessing of the grace of God was
this -- the free, complete, everlasting forgiveness of all your sins. For the
young Christian it is of great moment that he should stand fast in this
forgiveness of his sins, and always carry the certitude of it about with him.
To this end, he must especially consider the following
The forgiveness of our sin is a
complete forgiveness. (Ps. 103:12; Isa. 38:17; 55:7; Micah 7:18,19; Heb.
10:16-18) God does not forgive by halves. Even with man, we reckon a half
forgiveness no true forgiveness. The love of God is so great, and the
atonement in the blood of Jesus so complete and powerful, that God always
forgives completely. Take time with God's word to come under the full
impression that your guilt has been blotted out wholly and altogether. God
thinks absolutely no more of your sins. `I will forgive their iniquity, and
their sin will I remember no more.' (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:12;
The forgiveness of our sin
restores us entirely again to the love of God. (Hos. 14:5; Luke 15:22; Acts
26:18; Rom. 5:1,5) Not only does God not impute sin any more, -- that is but
one half, -- but He reckons to us the righteousness of Jesus also, so that for
His sake we are as dear to God as He is. Not only is wrath turned away from
us, but the fulness of love now rests upon us. `I will love them freely, for
Mine anger is turned away from him.' Forgiveness is access to all the love of
God. On this account, forgiveness is also introduction to all the other
blessings of redemption.
Live in the
full assurance of forgiveness, and let the Spirit fill your heart with the
certitude and the blessedness of it, and you shall have great confidence in
expecting all from God. Learn from the word of God, through the Spirit, to
know God aright, and to trust Him as the ever-forgiving God. That is His name
and His glory. To one to whom much, yea, all is forgiven, He will also give
much. He will give all. (Ps. 103:3; Isa. 12:1,3; Rom. 5:10; 8:32; Eph. 1:7;
3:5) Let it therefore be every day your joyful thanksgiving. `Bless the Lord,
O my soul, who forgiveth all mine iniquities.' Then forgiveness becomes the
power of a new life: `He who is forgiven much, loves much.' The forgiveness of
sins, received anew in living faith every day, is a bond that binds anew to
Jesus and His service. (John 13:14,15; Rom. 7:1; 1 Cor. 6:20; Eph. 5:25,26;
Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:17,18)
forgiveness of former sins always gives courage to go immediately anew with
every new sin and trustfully to take forgiveness. (Ex. 34:6,7; Matt. 28:21;
Luke 1:77,78) Look, however, to one thing: the certitude of forgiveness must
not be a matter of memory or understanding, but the fruit of life -- living
converse with the forgiving Father, with Jesus in whom we have forgiveness.
(Eph. 2:13,18; Phil. 3:9; Col. 1:21,22) It is not enough to know that I once
received forgiveness: my life in the love of God, my living intercourse with
Jesus by faith -- this makes the forgiveness of sin again always new and
powerful -- the joy and the life of my
Lord God, this is the wonder of Thy
grace, that Thou art a forgiving God. Teach me every day to know in this anew
the glory of Thy love. Let the Holy Spirit every day seal forgiveness to me as
a blessing, everlasting, ever-fresh, living, and powerful. And let my life be
as a song of thanksgiving. `Bless the Lord, O my soul, who forgiveth all thine
1. At bottom,
forgiveness is one with justification. Forgiveness is the word that looks more
to the relation of God as Father. Justification looks more to His acquittal as
Judge. Forgiveness is a word that is more easily understood by the young
Christian. But he must also endeavour to understand the word justification,
and to obtain part in all that the Scripture teaches about
2. About justification we must
That man in himself is
That he cannot be
justified by works, that is, pronounced righteous before the judgment-seat of
That Jesus Christ has brought in a
righteousness in our place. His obedience is our
That we through faith
receive Him, are united with Him; and then are pronounced righteous before
That we through faith have the
certitude of this, and, as justified, draw near before
That union with Jesus is a life by
which we are not only pronounced righteous, but are really righteous and act
3. Let the certitude of
your part in justification, in the full forgiveness of your sins, and in full
restoration to the love of God, be every day your confidence in drawing near
XIII. THE CLEANSING OF SIN
`If we walk in the light, the blood of
Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness.' -- 1 John 1:7,9
same God that forgives sin also cleanses from it. Not less than forgiveness is
cleansing a promise of God, and therefore a matter of faith. As it is
indispensable, as it is impossible for man, so is cleansing as well as
forgiveness certain to be obtained from
And what now is this cleansing? The
word comes from the Old Testament. While forgiveness was a sentence of
acquittal passed on the sinner, cleansing was something that happened to him
and in him. Forgiveness came to him through the word: in the case of
cleansing, something was done to him that he could experience. (Lev. 8:13;
14:7,8; Num. 19:12, 31:23,24; 2 Sam. 22:21,25; 2 Chron. 5:10; Neh. 13:30;
28:21,25; Ps. 21:4; Mal. 3:3) Consequently with us also cleansing is the inner
revelation of the power of God whereby we are liberated from unrighteousness,
from the pollution and the working of sin. Through cleansing we obtain the
blessing of a pure heart; a heart in which the Spirit can complete His
operations with a view to sanctifying us, and revealing God within us. (Ps
51:12; 73:1; Matt. 5:8; 1 Tim 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Pet.
Cleansing is through the blood.
Forgiveness and cleansing are both through the blood. The blood breaks the
power that sin has in heaven to condemn us. The blood thereby also breaks the
power of sin in the heart to hold us captive. The blood has a ceaseless
operation in heaven from moment to moment. The blood has likewise a ceaseless
operation in our heart, to purify, to keep pure the heart into which sin
always seeks to penetrate from the flesh. The blood cleanses the conscience
from dead works, to serve the living God. The marvelous power that the blood
has in heaven, it has also in the heart. (John 13:10,11; Heb. 9:14; 10:22; 1
Cleansing is also through the
word, for the word testifies of the blood and of the power of God. (John 14:3)
Hence also cleansing is through faith. It is a divine and effectual cleansing,
but it must also be received in faith ere it can be experienced and felt. I
believe that I am cleansed with a divine cleansing, even while I still
perceive sin in the flesh; through faith in this blessing, cleansing itself
shall be my daily experience.
is ascribed sometimes to God or the Lord Jesus; sometimes to man. (Ps. 51:3;
Ezek. 30:25; John 13:2; 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim 2:21; Jas. 4:8; 1 John
3:3) That is because God cleanses us by making us active in our own cleansing.
Through the blood the lust that leads to sin is mortified, the certitude of
power against it is awakened, and the desire and the will are thus made alive.
Happy is he that understands this. He is protected against useless endeavours
after self-purification in his own strength, for he knows God alone can do it.
He is protected against discouragement, for he knows God will certainly do
What we have now accordingly to lay
the chief stress upon is found in two things, the desire and the reception of
cleansing. The desire must be strong for a real purification. Forgiveness must
be only the gateway or beginning of a holy life. I have several times remarked
that the secret of progress in the service of God is a strong yearning to
become free from every sin, a hunger and thirst after righteousness. (Ps.
19:13; Matt. 5:6) Blessed are such as thus yearn. They shall understand and
receive the promise of a cleansing through
They learn also what it is to do
this in faith. Through faith they know that an unseen, spiritual, heavenly,
but very real cleansing through the blood is wrought in them by God
Beloved child of God, you
remember how we have seen that it was to cleanse us that Jesus gave Himself.
(Eph. 5:26; Tit. 2:14) Let Him, let God the Lord, cleanse you. Having these
promises of a divine cleansing, cleanse yourselves. Believe that every sin,
when it is forgiven you, is also cleansed away. It shall be to you according
to your faith. Let your faith in God, in the word, in the blood, in your Jesus
increase continually: `God is faithful and righteous to cleanse us from all
Lord Go, I thank Thee
for these promises. Thou givest not only forgiveness, but also cleansing. As
surely as forgiveness comes first, does cleansing follow for every one that
desires it and believes. Lord, let Thy word penetrate my heart, and let a
divine cleansing from every sin that is forgiven me be the stable expectation
of my soul. Beloved Saviour, let the glorious, ceaseless cleansing of Thy
blood through Thy Spirit in me be made known to me and shared by me every
1. What is the connection
between cleansing by God and cleansing by man
2. What, according to 1 John
1:9, are the two things that must precede
3. Is cleansing, as well as
forgiveness, the work of God in us? If this is the case, of what inexpressible
importance is it to trust God for it. To believe that God gives me a divine
cleansing in the blood when He forgives me, is the way to become partaker of
4. What, according to Scripture, are
the evidence of a pure heart?
5. What are
`clean hands'? (Ps. 24)
`Like as He which called you is holy, be
ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living: because it is written, Ye
shall be holy; for I am holy.' -- 1 Pet.
`But of Him are ye in Christ
Jesus, who was made unto us from God, sanctification.' -- 1 Cor.
`God chose you from the beginning
unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.' -- 2
Not only salvation, but
holiness -- salvation in holiness: for this end has God chosen and called us.
Not only safe in Christ, but holy in Christ, must the goal of the young
Christian be. Safety and salvation are in the long run found only in holiness.
The Christian who thinks that his salvation consists merely in safety and not
in holiness, will find himself deceived. Young Christian, listen to the word
of God: Be holy.
And wherefore must I be
holy? Because He who called you is holy, and summons you to fellowship and
conformity with Himself. How should any one be saved in God, when he has not
the same disposition as God? (Ex. 19:6; Lev. 11:44; 19:2;
God's holiness is His highest
glory. In His holiness His righteousness and love are united. His holiness is
the flaming fire of His zeal against all that is sin, whereby He keeps Himself
free from sin, and in love makes others also free from it. It is as the Holy
One of Israel that He is the Redeemer, and that He dwells in the midst of His
people. (Ex. 25:11; Isa. 2:6; 12:14; 43:15; 49:7; 57:15; Hos. 11:9) Redemption
is given to bring us to Himself and to the fellowship of His holiness. We
cannot possibly have part in the love and salvation of God if we are not holy
as He is holy. (Isa. 10:18; Heb. 12:14) Young Christians, be
And what is this holiness that I
must have? Answer: Of God are ye in Christ, who of God is made unto you
sanctification. Christ is your sanctification; the life of Christ in you is
your holiness. (1 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 5:27) In Christ you are sanctified; you are
holy. In Christ you must still be sanctified; the glory of Christ must
penetrate your whole life.
more than purity. In Scripture we see that cleansing precedes holiness. (2
Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:26,27; 2 Tim. 2:21) Cleansing is the taking away of that
which is wrong; liberation from sin. Holiness is the filling with that which
is good, divine, with the disposition of Jesus. Conformity to Him -- this is
holiness: separation from the spirit of the world; the being filled with the
presence of the Holy God -- this is holiness. The tabernacle was holy because
God dwelt there; we are holy, as God's temple, after we have the indwelling of
God. Christ's life in us is our holiness. (Ex. 29:43,45; 1 Cor. 1:2; 3:16,17;
And how do we become holy? By the
sanctification of the Spirit. The Spirit of God is named the Holy Spirit,
because He makes us holy. He reveals and glorifies Christ in us. Through Him
Christ dwells in us, and His holy power works in us. Through this Holy Spirit
the workings of the flesh are mortified, and God works in us both the will and
the accomplishment. (Rom. 1:4; 8:2,13; 1 Pet.
And what is now the work that we
have to do to receive this holiness of Christ through the Holy Spirit? `God
chose you to salvation, in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the
truth.' (2 Thess. 2:13) The holiness of Christ becomes ours through faith.
There must naturally first be the desire to become holy. We must cleanse
ourselves from all pollutions of flesh and spirit by confessing them, giving
them up to God, and having them cleansed away in the blood. Then, first, can
we perfect holiness. (2 Cor. 7:1). Then, in belief of the truth that Christ
Himself is our sanctification, we have to take and receive from Him what is
prepared in His fulness for us. (John 1:14,16; 1 Cor. 2:9,10) We must be
deeply convinced that Christ is wholly and alone our sanctification as He is
our justification, and that He will actually and powerfully work in us that
which is well-pleasing to God. In this faith we must know that we have
sufficient power for holiness, and that our work is to receive this power from
Him by faith every day. (Gal. 2:21; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13; 4:13) He gives His
Spirit, the Holy Spirit, in us; the Spirit communicates the holy life of Jesus
Young Christian, the Three-One
God is the Thrice-Holy. (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8; 15:3,4) And this Three-One God is
the God that sanctifies you: the Father, by giving Jesus to you, and
confirming you in Jesus; the Son, by Himself becoming your sanctification and
giving you the Spirit; the Spirit, by revealing the Son in you, preparing you
as a temple for the indwelling of God, and making the Son dwell in you. O, be
holy, for God is holy.
Lord God, the Holy
One of Israel, what thanks shall I render to Thess for the gift of Thy Son as
my sanctification, and that I am sanctified in Him. And what thanks for the
Spirit of sanctification to dwell in me, and transplant the holiness of Jesus
into me. Lord, give me to understand this aright, and to long for the
experience of it. Amen.
1. What is the
distinction betwixt forgiveness and cleansing, and betwixt cleansing and
2. What made the temple a
sanctuary? The indwelling of God. What makes us holy? Nothing less than this:
the indwelling of God in Christ by the Holy Spirit. Obedience and purity are
the way to holiness; holiness itself is something
3. In Isa. 52:17, there is a
description of the man who will become holy. It is he who, in poverty of
spirit, acknowledges that, even when he is living as a righteous man, he has
nothing, and looks to God to come and dwell in
4. No one is holy but the Lord. You
have as much of holiness as you have of God in
5. The word `holy' is one of the
deepest words in the Bible, the deepest mystery of the Godhead. Do you desire
to understand something of it, and to obtain part in it? Then take these two
thoughts, `I am holy.' `Be ye holy,' and carry them in your heart as a seed of
God that has life.
6. What is the
connection betwixt the perseverance of the saints and perseverance in
`He hath showed thee, O man, what is
good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to justly, and to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?' -- Micah
`Present yourselves unto God, as
alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness. Even so
now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification.' --
The word of Micah
teaches us that the fruit of the salvation of God is seen chiefly in three
things. The new life must be characterized, in my relation to God and His
will, by righteousness and doing right; in my relation to my neighbour, by
love and beneficence; in relation to myself, by humility and lowliness. For
the present, we meditate on
Scripture teaches us that
no man is righteous before God, or has any righteousness that can stand before
God; (Ps. 14:3; 143:2; Rom. 3:10,20) that man receives the rightness or
righteousness of Christ for nothing; and that by this righteousness, which is
received in faith, he is then justified before God, (Rom. 3:22,24: 10:3,10; 1
Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9) he is right with God. This
righteous sentence of God is something effectual, whereby the life of
righteousness is implanted in man, and he learns to live as a righteous man,
and to do righteousness. (Rom. 5:17,18; 6:13,18,19; 8:3; Tit. 1:8; 2:12; 1
John 2:29; 3:9,10) Being right with God is followed by doing right. `The
righteous shall live by faith' a righteous
It is to be feared that this is
not always understood. One thinks sometimes more of justification than of
righteousness in life and walk. To understand the will and the thoughts of God
here, let us trace what Scripture teaches us on this point. We shall be
persuaded that the man who is clothed with a divine righteousness before God
must also walk before God and man in a divine
Consider how, in the
word, the servants of God are praised as righteous; (Gen. 6:9; 7:1; Matt.
1:19; Luke 1:6; 2:25; 2 Pet. 2:7) how the favour and blessing of God are
pronounced upon the righteous; (Ps. 1:6; 5:13, 14:5; 34:16,20; 37:17,39;
92:13; 97:11; 144:8) how the righteous are called to confidence, to joy. (Ps.
32:11; 33:1; 58:11; 64:11; 68:4; 97:12) See this especially in the Book of
Psalms. See how in Proverbs, although you should take but one chapter only,
all blessing is pronounced upon the righteous. (Prov.
10:3,6,7,11,16,20,21,24,25,28,30,31,32 See how everywhere men are divided into
two classes, the righteous and the godless. (Eccles 3:17; Isa. 3:10; Ezek.
3:18,20; 18:21,23; 33:12; Mal. 3:18; Matt. 5:45; 12:49; 25:46) See how, in the
New Testament, the Lord Jesus demands this righteousness; (Matt. 5:6,20; 6:33)
how Paul, who announces most the doctrine of justification by faith alone,
insists that this is the aim of justification, to form righteous men, who do
right. Rom. 3:31; 6:13,22; 7:4,6; 8:4; 2 Cor. 9:9,10; Phil 1:11; 1 Tim. 6:11)
See how John names righteousness along with love as the two indispensable
marks of the children of God. (1 John 2:4,11,29; 3:10; 5:2) When you put all
these facts together, it must be very evident to you that a true Christian is
a man who does righteousness in all things, even as God is
And what this righteousness
is, Scripture will also teach you. It is a life in accordance with the
commands of God, in all their breadth and height. The righteous man does what
is right in the eyes of the Lord. (Ps. 119:166,168; Luke 1:6,75; 1 Thess.
2:10) He takes not the rules of human action; he asks not what man considers
lawful. As a man who stands right with God, who walks uprightly with God, he
dreads above all things even the least unrighteousness. He is afraid, above
all, of being partial to himself, of doing any wrong to his neighbour for the
sake of his own advantage. In great and little things alike, he takes the
Scriptures as his measure and line. As the ally of God, he knows that the way
of righteousness is the way of blessing, and life, and
Consider, further, the promises of
blessing and joy which God has for the righteous, and then live as one who, in
friendship with God, and clothed with the righteousness of His Son through
faith, has no alternative but to do
O Lord, who hast said,
`There is no God else beside Me: a just God and a Saviour,' Thou art my God.
It is as a righteous God that Thou are my Saviour, and hast redeemed me in Thy
Son. As a righteous God Thou makest me also righteous, and sayest to me that
the righteous shall live by faith. O Lord, let the new life in me be the life
of faith, the life of a righteous man. Amen.
1. Observe the connection between the
doing of righteousness and sanctification in Rom. 6:19,22; `Present your
members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification.' `Having become
servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification.' The doing of
righteousness, righteousness in conduct and action, is the way to holiness.
Obedience is the way to become filled with the Holy Ghost. And the indwelling
of God through the Spirit -- this is
2. `Suffer it now: for thus it
becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. It was when the Lord Jesus had spoken
that word that He was baptized with the Spirit. Let us set aside every
temptation not to walk in full obedience towards God, even as He did, and we
too shall be filled with the Spirit. `Blessed are they that hunger and thirst
3. Take pains to
set before yourselves the image of a man who so walks that the name of
`righteous; is involuntarily given to him. Think of his uprightness, his
conscientious care to cause no one to suffer the least injury, his holy fear
and carefulness to transgress none of the commands of the Lord -- righteous,
and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; and
then say to the Lord that you should so
4. You understand now the great
word, `The righteous shall live by faith.' By faith the godless is justified,
and becomes a righteous man; by faith he lives as a righteous
`A new commandment I give unto you, That
ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to
another.' -- John 13:34,35
no ill to his neighbour: love therefore is the fulfilling of the law.' -- Rom.
`Beloved, if God so loved us, we
also ought to love one another. If we love one another, God abideth in us, and
His love is perfected in us.' -- 1 John
In the word of Micah, in the
previous section, righteousness was the first thing, to love mercy the second,
that God demands. Righteousness stood more in the foreground in the Old
Testament: it is in the New Testament that it is first seen that love is
supreme. Utterances to this effect are not difficult to find. It is in the
advent of Jesus that the love of God is first revealed; that the new, the
eternal life, is first given; that we become children of the Father, and
brethren of one another. On this ground the Lord can then, for the first time,
speak of the New Commandment -- the commandment of brotherly love.
Righteousness is required not less in the New Testament than in the Old. (Matt
5:6,17,20; 6:33) Yet the burden of the New Testament is, that power has been
given us for a love that in early days was impossible. (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22; 1
Thess. 4:9; 1 John 4:11; 13:34)
every Christian take it deeply to heart, that in the first and the great
commandment, the new commandment given by Jesus at His departure, the peculiar
characteristic of a disciple of Jesus is brotherly love. And let him with his
whole heart yield himself to Him, to obey that command. For the right exercise
of this brotherly love, one must take heed to more than one
Love to the brethren arises from
the love of the Father. By the Holy Spirit, the love of God is shed abroad in
our hearts, the wonderful love of the Father is unveiled to us, so that His
love becomes the life and the joy of our soul. Out of this fountain of the
love of God to us springs our love to Him. (Rom. 5:5; 1 John 4:19) And our
love to Him works naturally love to the brethren. (Eph. 4:2,6; 5:1,2; 1 John
3:1; 4:7,20; 5:1) Do not attempt then to fulfil the commandment of brotherly
love of yourselves: you are not in a position to do this. But believe that the
Holy Spirit, who is in you to make known the love of God to you, also
certainly enables you to yield this love. Never say: I feel no love; I do not
feel as if I can forgive this man. Feeling is not the rule of your duty, but
the command, and the faith that God gives power to obey the command. In
obedience to the Father, with the choice of your will, and in faith that the
Holy Spirit gives you power, begin to say: I will love him; I do love him. The
feeling will follow the faith. Grace gives power for all that the Father asks
of you. (Matt. 5:44,45; Gal 2:20; 1 Thess. 3:12,13; 5:24; Phil. 4:13; 1 Pet.
Brotherly love has its measure
and rule in the love of Jesus. `This is my commandment, that ye love one
another, as I have loved you.' (Luke 22:26,27; John 13:14,15,34; Col. 2:13)
The eternal life that works in us is the life of Jesus; it knows no other law
than what we see in Him; it works with power in us what it wrought in Him.
Jesus Himself lives in us and loves in and through us: we must believe in the
power of this love in us, and in that faith love as He loved. O, do believe
that this is true salvation, to love even as Jesus
Brotherly love must be in deed
and in truth. (Matt. 12:50; 25:40; Rom. 13:10; 1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:6; Jas.
2:15,16; 1 John 3:16-18) It is not mere feeling: faith working by love is what
has power in Christ. It manifests itself in all the dispositions that are
enumerated in the word of God. Contemplate its glorious image in 1 Cor.
13:4-7. Mark all the glorious encouragements to gentleness, to longsuffering,
to mercy. (Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2,32; Phil. 2:2,3; Col. 3:12; 2 Thess. 1:3) In
all your conduct, let it be seen that the love of Christ dwells in you. Let
your love be a helpful, self-sacrificing love, like that of Jesus. Hold all
children of God, however sinful or perverse they may be, fervently dear. Let
love to them teach you to love all men. (Luke 6:32,35; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2 Pet.
1:7) Let your household, and the Church, and the world, see in you one with
whom `love is greatest;' one in whom the love of God has a full dwelling, a
Christian, God is love.
Jesus is the gift of this love, to bring love to you, to transplant you into
that life of godlike love. Live in that faith, and you shall not complain that
you have no power to love: the love of the Spirit shall be your power and your
Beloved Saviour, I discern more
clearly that the whole of the new life is a life in love. Thou Thyself art the
Son of God's love, the gift of His love, come to introduce us into His love,
and give us a dwelling there. And the Holy Spirit is given to shed abroad the
love of God in our hearts, to open a spring out of which shall stream love to
Thee, and to the brethren, and to all mankind. Lord, here am I, one redeemed
by love, to love for it, and in its might to love all. Amen.
1. Those who reject the word of God
sometimes say that it is of no moment what we believe, if we but have love,
and so they are for making love the one condition of salvation. In their zeal
against this view, the orthodox party have sometimes presented faith in
justification, as if love were not of so much importance. This is likely to be
very dangerous. God is love. His Son is the gift, the bringer, of His love to
us. The Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in the heart. The New Life is a
life in love. Love is the greatest thing. Let it be the chief element in our
life: true love, that, namely, which is known in the keeping of God's
commandments. (See 1 John 3:10,23,24;
2. Do not wonder that I have said
to you that you must love, although you do not feel the least love. Not the
feeling, but the will is your power: it is not in your feeling, but in faith,
that the Spirit in you is the power of your will to work in you all that the
Father bids you. Therefore, although you feel absolutely no love to your
enemy, say in the obedience of faith: Father, I love him; in faith in the
hidden working of the Spirit in my heart, I do love
3. Pray, think not that this is
love, if you wish no evil to any one, or if you should be willing to help, if
he were in need. No: love is much more: love is love. Love is the disposition
with which God addressed you when you were His enemy, and afterwards ran to
you with tender longing to bless you.
`And what doth the Lord require of thee,
but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?' --
`Learn of me that I am meek
and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.' -- Matt.
One of the most dangerous enemies
against which the young Christian must watch, is pride or self-exaltation.
There is no sin that works more cunningly and more hiddenly. It knows how to
penetrate into everything, even into our service for God, our prayers -- yea,
even into our humility: there is nothing so small in the earthly life, nothing
so holy in the spiritual life, that self-exaltation does not know to extract
its nutriment out of. (2 Chron. 26:5,16; 32:26,31; Isa. 65:5; Jer. 7:4; 2 Cor.
12:7) The Christian must therefore be on his guard against it, must listen to
what Scripture teaches about it, and about the lowliness whereby it is driven
Man was created to have part in the
glory of God. He obtains this by surrendering himself to the glorification of
God. The more he seeks that the glory of God only shall be seen in him, the
more does this glory rest upon himself. (Isa. 43:7,21; John 12:28; 13:31,32;
27:1,4,5; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Thess. 1:11,12) The more he forgets and loses
himself, desiring to be nothing, that God may be all and be alone glorified,
the more happy shall he be.
By sin this
design has been thwarted: man seeks himself and his own will. (Rom. 1:21,23)
Grace has come to restore what sin has corrupted, and to bring man to glory by
the pathway of dying unto himself and living solely for the glory of God. This
is the humility or lowliness of which Jesus is the exemplar: He took no
thought for Himself, He have himself over wholly to glorify the Father (John
8:50 Phil. 2:7)
He who would be freed
from self-exaltation must not think to obtain this by striving against its
mere workings. No: pride must be driven out and kept out by humility. The
Spirit of life in Christ, the Spirit of His lowliness, will work in us true
lowliness. (Rom. 8:2; Phil. 2:5)
means that He will chiefly use for this end is the word. It is by the word
that we are cleansed from sin; it is by the word that we are sanctified and
filled with the love of God.
what the word says about this point. It speaks of God's aversion to pride, and
the punishment that comes upon it. (Ps. 31:24; Prov. 26:5; Matt. 23:12; Luke
1:51; Jas. 4:5; 1 Pet. 5:5) It gives the most glorious promises to the lowly.
(Ps. 34:19; Prov. 11:2; Isa. 57: 15; Luke 9:48; 14:11; 18:14) In well-nigh
every Epistle, humility is commended to Christians as one of the first
virtues. (Rom. 12:3,16; 1 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 5:22,26; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3; Col.
2:13) It is the feature in the image of Jesus which He seeks chiefly to
impress on His disciples. His whole incarnation and redemption has its roots
in His humiliation. (Matt. 20:26,28; Luke 22:27; John 13:14,15; Phil.
Take singly some of these words
of God from time to time and lay them up in your heart. The tree of life
yields many different kinds of seed -- the seed also of the heavenly plant,
lowliness. The seeds are the words of God. Carry them in your heart: they
shall shoot up and yield fruit. (1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12; Jas.
Consider, moreover, how lovely,
how becoming, how well-pleasing to God, lowliness is. As man, created for the
honour of God, you find it befitting you. (Gen. 1:27; 1 Cor. 11:7) As a
sinner, deeply unworthy, you have nothing more to urge against it. (Job 40:6;
Isa. 6:5; Luke 5:8) As a redeemed soul, who knows that only through the death
of the natural I does the way to the new life lie, you find it indispensable.
(Rom. 7:18; 1 Cor. 25:9,10; Gal. 2:20)
But here, as everywhere in the life of grace, let faith be the chief thing.
Believe in the power of the eternal life that works in you. Believe in the
power of Jesus, who is your life. Believe in the power of the Holy Spirit who
dwells in you. Attempt not to hide your pride, or to forget it, or to root it
out yourself. Confess this sin, with every working of it that you trace, in
the sure confidence that the blood cleanses, that the Spirit sanctifies. Learn
of Jesus that He is meek and lowly in heart. Consider that He is your life,
with all that He has. Believe that He gives His humility to you. The word: `Do
it to the Lord Jesus,' means, `Be clothed with the Lord Jesus.' Be clothed
with humility, in order that you may be clothed with Jesus. It is Christ in
you that shall fill you with
Blessed Lord Jesus, there never
was any one amongst the children of men so high, so holy, so glorious as Thou.
And never was there any one who was so lowly and ready to deny himself as the
servant of all. O Lord, when shall we learn that lowliness is the grace by
which man can be most closely conformed to the divine glory? O teach me this.
1. Take heed that you do nothing
to feed pride on the part of others. Take heed that you do not suffer others
to feed your pride. Take heed, above all, that you do nothing yourself to feed
your pride. Let God alone always and in all things obtain the honour.
Endeavour to observe all that is good in His children, and to thank Him
heartily for it. Thank Him for all that helps you to hold yourself in small
esteem, whether it be sent through friend or foe. Resolve, especially, never
on any account to be eagerly bent on your own honour, when this is not
accorded to you as it ought to be. Commit this to the Father: take heed only
to His honour.
2. By no means suppose
that faint-heartedness or doubting is lowliness. Deep humility and strong
faith go together. The centurion who said: `I am not worthy that Thou shouldst
come under my roof,' and the woman who said: `Yea, Lord, yet even the dogs eat
of the crumbs' -- these two were the most humble and the most trustful that
the Lord found (see Matt. 8:10; 15:28). The reason is this: the nearer we are
to God, the less we are in ourselves, but the stronger we are in Him. The more
I see of God, the less I become, the deeper is my confidence in Him. To become
lowly, let God fill eye and heart. Where God is all, there is no time or place
`In many things we all stumble.' -- Jas.
This word of God by James is the
description of what man is, even the Christian, when he is not kept by grace.
It serves to take away from us all hope in ourselves. (Rom. 7:14,23; Gal. 6:1)
`Now unto Him that is able to guard you from stumbling ... be glory, majesty,
dominion, and power ... forevermore' (Jude 24,25). This word of God by Jude
points to Him who can keep from falling, and stirs up the soul to ascribe to
Him the honour and the power. It serves to confirm our hope in God. (2 Cor.
1:9; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 2:16,17; 3:3) `Brethren, give the more diligence
to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall
never stumble' (2 Pet. 1:10). This word of God by Peter teaches us the way in
which we can become partakers of the keeping of the Almighty: the confirmation
of our election by God in a godlike walk (see verses. 4,8,11). It serves to
lead us into diligence and conscientious watchfulness. (Matt. 26:41; Luke
12:35; 1 Pet. 1:13; 5:8-10)
young Christian, it is often a difficult question what he ought to think of
his stumblings. On this point, he ought especially to be on his guard against
two errors. Some become dispirited when they stumble: they think that their
surrender was not sincere, and lose their confidence towards God. (Heb.
3:6,14; 10:35) Others again take it too lightly. They think that it cannot be
otherwise: they concern themselves little with stumblings, and continue to
live in them. (Rom. 6:1; Gal. 2:18; 3:3) Let us take these words of God to
teach us what we ought to think of our stumblings. There are three
Let no stumblings discourage
you. You are called to perfectness: yet this comes not at once: time and
patience are needful for it. Therefore James says: `Let patience have its
perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire. (Matt. 5:48; 2 Tim. 3:17; Heb.
13:20,21; Jas. 1:4; 1 Pet. 5:10) Think not that your surrender was not
sincere; acknowledge only how weak you still are. Think not also that you must
only continue stumbling: acknowledge only how strong your Saviour
Let stumbling rouse you to faith in
the mighty keeper. It is because you have not relied on Him with a sufficient
faith that you have stumbled. (Matt. 14:31; 17:20) Let stumbling drive you to
Him. The first thing that you must do with a stumbling is: go with it to your
Jesus. Tell it out to Him. (Ps. 38:18; 56:6; 1 John 1:9; 2:1) Confess it, and
receive forgiveness. Confess it, and commit yourself with your weakness to
Him, and reckon on Him to keep you. Sing continually the song: `To Him that is
mighty to keep you, be the glory.'
then, let stumbling make you very prudent. (Prov. 28:14; Phil. 2:12; 1 Pet.
1:17,18) By faith you shall strive and overcome. In the power of your keeper
and the joy and security of His help, you shall have courage to watch. The
firmer you make your election, the stronger the certitude that He has chosen
you, and will not let you go, the more conscientious shall you become, to live
in all things only for Him, in Him, through Him. (2 Chron 20:15; Ps. 18:30,37;
44:5,9; John 5:4,5; Rom. 11:20; 2 Cor. 1:24; Phil. 2:13) Doing this, the word
of God says, you shall never
Lord Jesus, a sinner who is
ready to stumble every moment would give honour to Thee, who art mighty to
keep from stumbling: Thine is the might and the power: I take Thee as my
keeper. I look to Thy love which has chosen me, and wait for the fulfilment of
Thy word: `Ye shall never stumble.' Amen.
1. Let your thoughts about what the
grace of God can do for you, be taken only from the word of God. Our natural
expectations -- that we must just always be stumbling -- are wrong. They are
strengthened by more than one thing. There is secret unwillingness to
surrender everything. There is the example of so many sluggish Christians.
There is the unbelief that cannot quite understand that God will really keep
us. There is the experience of so many disappointments, when we have striven
in our own power.
2. Let no stumbling
be tolerated, for the reason that it is trifling.
XIX. JESUS THE KEEPER
is Thy keeper: ... The Lord shall keep thee from all evil; ... He shall keep
thy soul.' -- Ps. 121:4,7
`I know Him
whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I
have committed unto Him against that day.' -- 2 Tim.
For young disciples of Christ who
are still weak, there is no lesson that is more necessary than this, that the
Lord has not only received them, but that He will also keep them. (Gen. 28:15;
Deut. 7:9; 32:10; Ps. 27:8; 89:33,34; Rom. 12:2,29) The lovely name, `the Lord
Thy keeper,' must for this end be carried in the heart, until the assurance of
an Almighty keeping becomes as strong with us as it was with Paul, when he
spake that glorious word: `I know Him in whom I have believed, and I am
persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him
against that day.' Come and learn this lesson from
Learn from his to deposit your
pledge with Jesus. Paul had surrendered himself, body and soul, to the Lord
Jesus: that was His pledge which he had deposited with the Lord. You have also
surrendered yourselves to the Lord, but perhaps not with the clear
understanding that it is in order to be kept every day. Do this now daily.
Deposit your soul with Jesus as a costly pledge that He will keep secure. Do
this same thing with every part of your life. Is there something that you
cannot rightly hold -- your heart, because it is too worldly; (Ps. 31:6; Jer.
31:33) your tongue, because it is too idle; (Ps. 51:17; 141:3) your temper,
because it is too passionate; (Ps. 119:165; Jer. 26:3,4; John 14:27; Phil.
4:6,7; 2 Thess. 3:16) your calling to confess the Lord, because you are too
weak? (Isa. 50:7; Jer. 1:9; Matt. 10:19,20; Luke 26:15) Learn, then, to
deposit it as a pledge for keeping with Jesus, in order that He may fulfil in
you the promise of God about it. You often pray and strive too much in vain
against a sin: it is because, although this is done with God's help, you would
be the person who would overcome. No: entrust the matter wholly to Jesus: `the
battle is not yours, but God's. (Ex. 14:14; Deut. 3:22; 20:4 2 Chron. 20:15)
Leave it in His hands: believe in Him to do it for you: `This is the victory
that hath overcome the world, even your faith.' (Matt. 9:23; 1 John 5:3,4) But
you must first place it wholly out of your hands in
Learn from Paul to set your
confidence only on the power of Jesus. I am persuaded that He is able to keep
my pledge. You have an almighty Jesus to keep you. Faith keeps itself occupied
only with His omnipotence. (Gen. 17:1; 18:14; Jer. 32:17,27; Matt. 8:27;
28:18; Luke 1:37,49; 18:27; Rom. 4:21; Heb. 11:18) Let your faith especially
be strengthened in what God is able to do for you. (Rom. 4:21; 14:4; 2 Cor.
9:8; 2 Tim. 1:12) Expect with certainty from Him that He will do for you great
and glorious things, entirely above your own strength. See in the Holy
Scriptures how constantly the power of God was the ground of the trust of His
people. Take these words and hide them in your heart. Let the power of Jesus
fill your soul. Ask only: `What is my Jesus able to do?' What you really trust
Him with, He is able to keep. (John 13:1; 1 Cor. 1:8,9)
And learn also from Paul where he
obtained the assurance that this power would keep his pledge: it was in his
knowledge of Jesus. `I know Him whom I have believed:' therefore I am assured.
(John 10:14,28; Gal. 2:20; 2 Tim. 4:18; 1 John 2:13,14) You can trust the
power of Jesus, if you know that He is yours, if you hold converse with Him as
your friend. Then you can say: `I know whom I have believed: I know that he
holds my very dear: I know and am assured that He is able to keep my pledge.'
So runs the way to the full assurance of faith: Deposit your pledge with
Jesus; give yourselves wholly, give everything, into His hands; think much on
His might, and reckon upon Him; and live with Him so that you may always know
who He is in whom you have believed.
Young disciples of Christ, pray, receive this word: `The Lord is thy keeper.'
For every weakness, every temptation, learn to deposit your soul with Him as a
pledge. You can reckon upon it, you can shout joyfully over it: `The Lord
shall keep you from all evil. (Josh. 1:9; Ps. 23:4; Rom.
Holy Jesus, I take Thee as my
keeper. Let Thy name, `The Lord thy keeper,' sound as a song in my heart the
whole day. Teach me in every need to deposit my case as a pledge with Thee,
and to be assured that Thou art able to keep it. Amen.
1. There was once a woman who for years
long, and with much prayer, had striven against her temper, but could not
obtain the victory. On a certain day she resolved not to come out of her room
until by earnest prayer she had the power to overcome. She went out in the
opinion that she should succeed. Scarcely had she been in the household, when
something gave her offense and caused her to be angry. She was deeply ashamed,
burst into tears, and hastened back to her room. A daughter, who understood
the way of faith better than she, went to her and said, `Mother, I have
observed your conflict: may I tell you what I think the hindrance is?' `Yes,
my child,' `Mother, you struggle against temper, and pray that the Lord may
help you to overcome. This is wrong. The Lord must do it alone. You must give
temper wholly into His hands: then He takes it wholly, and He keeps you.' The
mother could not at first understand this, but later it was made plain to her.
And she enjoyed the blessedness of the life in which Jesus keeps us, and we by
faith have the victory. Do you understand
2. `The Lord must help me to
overcome sin:' the expression is altogether outside of the New Testament. The
grace of God in the soul does not become a help to us. He will do everything:
`The Spirit has made me free from the law of
3. When you surrender anything to
the Lord for keeping, take heed to two things: that you give it wholly into
His hands; and that you have it there. Let Him have it wholly: He will carry
out your case gloriously.
THE NEW LIFE Words of God for Young Disciples of Christ Chapters 20-39
BY Rev. Andrew Murray
"They go from strength to
strength, Every one of them appeareth before God in Zion"
XX. POWER AND WEAKNESS
`He hath said unto me, My power is made
perfect in weakness. Therefore will I glory in my weaknesses, that the
strength of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses:
for when I am weak, then am I strong.' -- 2 Cor.
There is almost no word that is
so imperfectly understood in the Christian life as the word weakness. Sin and
shortcoming, sluggishness and disobedience, are set to the account of our
weakness. With this appeal to weakness, the true feeling of guilt and the
sincere endeavour after progress are impossible. How, pray, can I be guilty,
when I do not do what it is not in my power to do? The Father cannot demand of
His child what He can certainly do independently. That, indeed, was done by
the law under the Old Covenant; but that the Father, under the New Covenant,
does not do. He requires of us nothing more than what He has prepared for us
power to do in His Holy Spirit. The new life is a life in the power of Christ
through the Spirit.
The error of this
mode of thinking is that people estimate their weakness, not too highly, but
too meanly. They would still do something by the exercise of all their powers,
and with the help of God. They know not that they must be nothing before God.
(Rom. 4:4,5; 11:6; 1 Cor. 1:27,28) You think that you have still a little
strength, and that the Father must help you by adding something of His own
power to your feeble energy. This thought is wrong. Your weakness appears in
the fact that you can do nothing. It is better to speak of utter inability --
that is what the Scriptures understand by the word `weakness.' `Apart from me
ye can do nothing.' `In us is no power.' (2 Chron. 16:9; 20:12; John 5:19;
15:5; 2 Cor. 1:9)
Whenever the young
Christian acknowledges and assents to this his weakness, then he learns to
understand the secret of the power of Jesus. He then sees that he is not to
wait and pray to become stronger, to feel stronger. No: in his inability, he
is to have the power of Jesus. By faith he is to receive it; he is to reckon
that it is for him, and that Jesus Himself will work in and by him. (John
15:5; 1 Cor 1:24; 15:10; Eph. 1:18,19; Col. 1:11) It then becomes clear to him
what the Lord means when He says, `My power is made perfect in your weakness.'
He knows to return the answer, `When I am weak, then am I -- yea, then am I --
strong.' Yea, the weaker I am, the stronger I become. And he learns to sing
with Paul, `I shall glory in my weaknesses.' `I take pleasure in weaknesses.'
`We rejoice when we are weak.' (2 Cor. 11:30; 12:9,11;
It is wonderful how glorious
that life of faith becomes for him who is content to have nothing, or feel
nothing, in himself, and always to live on the power of his Lord. He learns to
understand what a joyful thing it is to know God as his strength. `The Lord is
my strength and song.' (Ps. 89:18; 118:14; Jer. 12:2) He lives in what the
Psalms so often express: `I love Thee, O Lord, my strength;' `I will sing of
Thy strength: unto Thee, O my strength, will I sing praises.' (Ps. 18:2;
28:7,8; 31:5; 43:2; 46:2; 59:17,18; 62:8; 81:2) He understands what is meant
when a psalm says, `Give strength to the Lord: the Lord will give strength to
His people;' and when another says, `Give strength to God: the God of Israel,
He giveth strength and power to His people.' (Ps. 29:1,11; 68:35,36) When we
give or ascribe all the power to God, then He gives it to us
"I have written unto you, young
men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have
overcome the Evil One." The Christian is strong in his Lord: (Ps. 71:16; 1
John 2:14) not sometimes strong and sometimes weak, but always weak, and
therefore always strong. He has merely to know and use his strength
trustfully. To be strong is a command, a behest that must be obeyed. On
obedience there comes more strength. `Be strong ... and He shall strengthen
thine heart.' In faith the Christian must simply obey the command, `Be strong
in the Lord, and in the power of His might.' (Ps. 27:14; 31:25; Isa. 40:31;
The God of the Lord Jesus, the
Father of glory give unto us the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the
knowledge of Jesus, that we may know what is the exceeding greatness of His
power to usward who believe. Amen.
long as the Christian thinks of the service of God or of sanctification as
something that is hard and difficult, he will make no progress in it. He must
see that this very thing is for him impossible. Then he will cease still
endeavouring to do something; he will surrender himself that Christ may work
all in him. See these thoughts set forth in detail in Professor Hofmeyr's
book, Out of Darkness into Light: a Course of Instruction on Conversion, the
Surrender of Faith, and Sanctification * (J.H. Rose, Cape Town), chapter third
and following of the third part.
complaint about weakness is often nothing else than an apology for our
idleness. There is power to be obtained in Christ for those who will take the
pains to have it.
3. `Be strong in the
Lord and in the power of His might.' Mind that. I must abide in the Lord and
in the power of His might, then I become strong. To have His power I must have
Himself. The strength is His, and continues His; the weakness continues mine.
He, the Strong, works in me, the weak; I, the weak, abide by faith in Him, the
Strong; so that I, in the self-same moment, know myself to be weak and strong.
4. Strength is for work. He who would
be strong simply to be pious, will not be so. He who in his weakness begins to
work for the Lord, shall become strong.
* Professor N.J. Hofmeyr is senior professor of the Theological College of the
Dutch Reformed Church, Stellenbosch, Cape Colony. The volume referred to has
been recently published in English under the title, The Blessed Life: How to
Find and Live It (J. Nisbet & Co.), (vide P. 185). --
XXI. THE LIFE OF FEELING
`We walk by faith, not by sight.' -- 2 Cor.
`Blessed are they that have not
seen, and yet have believed.' -- John
`Said I not unto thee, that, if
thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?' -- John
In connection with your conversion
there was no greater hindrance in your way than feeling. You thought, perhaps
for years, that you must experience something, must feel and perceive
something in yourselves. It was to you as if it were too hazardous thus
simply, and without some feeling, to believe in the word, and be sure that God
had received you, and that your sins were forgiven. But at last you have had
to acknowledge that the way of faith, without feeling, was the way of the word
of God. And it has been to you the way of salvation. Through faith alone have
you been saved, and your soul has found rest and peace. (John 3:36; Rom. 3;28;
In the further life of the
Christian there is no temptation that is more persistent and more dangerous
than this same feeling. The word `feeling' we do not find in Scripture, but
what we call `feeling' the Scripture calls `seeing'. And it tells us without
easing that not seeing, but believing, that believing right in opposition to
what we see, gives salvation. `Abraham, not being weak in faith, considered
not his own body'. * Faith adheres simply to what God says. The unbelief that
would see shall not see; the faith that will not see, but has enough in God,
shall see the glory of God. (2 Chron. 7:2; Ps. 2713; Isa. 7:9; Matt. 14:30,31;
Luke 5:5) The man who seeks for feeling, and mourns about it, shall not find
it; the man who cares not for it shall have it overflowing. `Whosoever would
save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake
shall find it.' Faith in the word becomes later on sealed with true feeling by
the Holy Spirit. (John 12:25; Gal. 3:2,14; Eph. 1:13)
Child of God, learn to live by faith.
Let it be fixed with you that faith is God's way to a blessed life. When there
is no feeling of liveliness in prayer, when you feel cold and dull in the
inner chamber, live by faith. Let your faith look upon Jesus as near, upon His
power and faithfulness, and, though you have nothing to bring to Him, believe
that He will give you all. Feeling always seeks something in itself; faith
keeps itself occupied with what Jesus is. (Rom. 4:20,21; 2 Tim. 1:12; Heb.
9:5,6; Jas. 3:16; 6:16) When you read the word, and have no feeling of
interest or blessing, read it yet again in faith. The word will work and bring
blessing; `the word worketh in those that believe.' When you feel no love,
believe in the love of Jesus, and say in faith that He knows that you still
love Him. When you have no feeling of gladness, believe in the inexpressible
joy that there is in Jesus for you. Faith is blessedness, and will give joy to
those who are not concerned about the self-sufficiency that springs from joy,
but about the glorification of God that springs from faith. (Rom. 15:13; Gal.
2:20; 1 Pet. 1:5,7,8) Jesus will surely fulfil His word: `Blessed are they
that have not seen, and yet have believed.' `Said I not unto thee, that, if
thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of
Betwixt the life of feeling and
the life of faith the Christian has to choose every day. Happy is he who, once
for all, has made the firm choice, and every morning renews the choice, not to
seek or listen for feeling, but only to walk by faith, according to the will
of God. The faith that keeps itself occupied with the word, with what God has
said, and, through the word, with God Himself and Jesus His Son, shall taste
the blessedness of a life in God above. Feeling seeks and aims at itself;
faith honours God, and shall be honoured by Him. Faith pleases God, and shall
receive from Him the witness in the heart of the believer that he is
acceptable to God.
Lord God, the one, the
only, thing that Thou desirest of Thy children is that they should trust Thee,
and that they should always hold converse with Thee in that faith. Lord, let
it be the one thing in which I seek my happiness, to honour and to please Thee
by a faith that firmly holds Thee, the Invisible, and trusts Thee in all
1. There is indeed
something marvelous in the new life. It is difficult to make it clear to the
young Christian. The Spirit of God teaches him to understand it after he
perseveres in grace. Jesus has laid the foundation of that life in the first
word of the Sermon on the Mount: `Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs
is the kingdom of heaven'; a feeling of deep poverty and of royal riches, of
utter weakness and of kingly might, exist together in the soul. To have
nothing in itself, to have all in Christ -- that is the secret of faith. And
the true secret of faith is to bring this into exercise, and, in hours of
barrenness and emptiness, still to know that we have all in
2. Forget not that the faith, of
which God's word speaks so much, stands not only in opposition to works, but
also in opposition to feeling, and therefore that for a pure life of faith you
must cease to seek your salvation, not only in works, but also in faith.
Therefore let faith always speak against feeling. When feeling says, `In
myself, I am sinful; I am dark; I am weak; I am poor; I am sad;' let faith
say. `In Christ, I am holy; I am light; I am strong; I am rich; I am
XXII. THE HOLY GHOST
`And because ye are sons, God sent forth the
Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.' -- Gal.
The great gift of the Father,
through whom He obtained salvation and brought it near to us, is the Son. On
the other hand, the great gift of the Son, whom He sends to us from the
Father, to apply to us an inner and effectual salvation, is the Holy Spirit.
(John 7:38; 14:16,26; Acts 1:4; 2:33; 1 Cor. 3:16) As the Son reveals and
glorifies the Father, so the Spirit reveals and glorifies the Son. (John
15:26; 16:14,15; 1 Cor. 2:8,12; 12:3) The Spirit is in us to transfer to us
the life and the salvation that are prepared in Jesus, and to make them wholly
ours. (Job 14:17,21; Rom. 8:2; Eph. 3:17,19) Jesus who is in heaven is made
present in us, dwells in us, by the Spirit. We have seen that in order to
become partaker of Jesus there are always two things necessary: the knowledge
of the sin that is in us, and of the redemption that is in Him. It is the Holy
Spirit who continually promotes this double work in believers. He reproves and
comforts, He convinces of sin and He glorifies Christ. (John
The Spirit convinces of sin. He
is the light and the fire of God, through whom sin is unveiled and consumed.
He is `the Spirit of judgment and of burning,' by whom God purifies His
people. (Isa. 4:4; Zech. 12:10,11; Matt. 3:11,12) To the anxious soul who
complains that he does not feel his sin deeply enough, we must often say that
there is no limit as to how deep his repentance must be. He must come daily
just as he is; the deepest conviction often times comes after conversion. To
the young convert we have simply to say: let the Spirit who is in you convince
you always of sin. Sin, which formerly you knew but by name, He will make you
hate. Sin, which you had not seen in the hidden depths of your heart, He will
make you know, and with shame confess. Sin, of which you fancied that it was
not with you, and which you had judged severely in others, He will point out
to you in yourself. (Ps. 139:7,23; Isa. 10:17; Matt. 7:5; Rom. 14:4; 1 Cor.
2:10; 14:24,25) And He will teach you with repentance and self-condemnation to
cast yourself upon grace as entirely sinful, in order to be thereby redeemed
and purified from it.
the Holy Spirit is in you as the light and fire of God to unveil and to
consume sin. The temple of God is holy, and this temple you are. Let the Holy
Spirit in you have full mastery to point out and expel sin. (Ps. 19:13;
139:23; Mic. 3:8; 1 Cor. 3:17; 2 Cor. 3:17; 5:16) After He makes you know sin,
He will at every turn make you know Jesus as your life and your
And then shall the
Spirit who rebukes also comfort. He will glorify Jesus in you, will take what
is in Jesus and make it known to you. He will give you knowledge concerning
the power of Jesus' blood to cleanse, (1 John 1:7; 5:6) and the power of
Jesus' indwelling to keep. (John 14:21,23; Eph. 3:17; 1 John 3:24; 4:13) He
will make you see how literally, how completely, how certainly Jesus is with
you every moment, to do Himself all his own Jesus-work in you. Yea, in the
Holy Spirit, the living, almighty, and ever-present Jesus shall be your
portion; you shall also know this, and have the full enjoyment of it. The Holy
Spirit will teach you to bring all your sin and sinfulness to Jesus, and to
know Jesus with His complete redemption from sin as your own. As the Spirit of
sanctification, He will drive out sin in order that He may cause Jesus to
dwell in you. (Rom. 1:4; 5:5; 8:2,13; 1 Pet.
Beloved young Christian, take time
to understand and to become filled with the truth: the Holy Spirit is in you.
Review all the assurances of God's word that this is so. (Rom. 8:14,16; 1 Cor.
6:19; 2 Cor. 1:22; 6:16; Eph. 1:13) Pray, think not for a moment of living as
a Christian without the indwelling of the Spirit. Take pains to have your
heart filled with the faith that the Spirit dwells in you, and will do His
mighty work, for through faith the Spirit comes and works (Gal. 3:2,5,15; 5:5)
Have a great reverence for the work of the Spirit in you. Seek Him every day
to believe, to obey, to trust, and He will take and make known to you all that
there is in Jesus. He will make Jesus very glorious to you and in you.
O my Father, I thank Thee for this gift
which Jesus sent me from Thee, the Father. I thank Thee that I am now the
temple of Thy Spirit, and that He dwells in me. Lord, teach me to believe this
with the whole heart, and to live in the world as one who knows that the
Spirit of God is in him to lead him. Teach me to think with deep reverence and
filial awe on this, that God is in me. Lord, in that faith I have the power to
be holy. Holy Spirit, reveal to me all that sin is in me. Holy Spirit, reveal
to me all that Jesus is in me. Amen.
The knowledge of the person and the work of the Holy Spirit is for us of just
as much importance as the knowledge of the person and the work of
2. Concerning the Holy Spirit,
we must endeavour especially to hold fast the truth that He is given as the
fruit of the work of Jesus for us, that He is the power of the life of Jesus
in us, and that through Him, Jesus Himself, with His full salvation, dwells in
3. In order to enjoy all this, we
must be filled with the Spirit. This simply means, emptied of all else and
full of Jesus. To deny ourselves, to take up the cross, to follow Jesus. Or
rather, this is the way in which the Spirit leads us to His fulness. No one
has the power to enter fully into the death of Jesus but he who is led by the
Spirit. But He takes him that desires this by the hand and brings
4. As the whole of salvation, the
whole of the new life is by faith, so is this also true of the gift and the
working of the Holy Spirit. By faith, not by works -- not in feeling, do I
receive Him, am I led by Him, am I filled with
5. As clear and definite as my
faith is in the work that Jesus only and alone finished for me, so clear and
definite must faith be in the work that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in me, to
work in me the willing and the performing of all that is necessary for my
XXIII. THE LEADING OF THE SPIRIT
`As many as are led by the Spirit of God,
these are sons of God. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit,
that we are children of God.' -- Rom.
It is the very same Spirit that
leads us as children who also assures us that we are children. Without His
leading there can be no assurance of our filiation. True full assurance of
faith is enjoyed by him who surrenders himself entirely to the leading of the
In what does this leading
consist? Chiefly in this, that our whole hidden inner life is guided by Him to
what it ought to be. This we must firmly believe. Our growth and increase, our
development and progress, is not our work but His: we are to trust Him for
this. As a tree or animal grows and becomes large by the spirit of life which
God has given to it, so also does the Christian by the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus. (Hos. 14:6,7; Matt. 6:28; Mark 4:26,28; Luke 2:40; Rom. 8:2) We
have to cherish the joyful assurance that the Spirit whom the Father gives to
us does with divine wisdom and power guide our hidden life, and bring it where
God will have it.
Then there are also
special directions of this leading. `He will lead you into all the truth,'
When we read the word of God, we are to wait upon Him, to make us experience
the truth, the essential power of what God says. He makes the word living and
powerful. He leads us into a life corresponding to the word. (John 6:63,
14:26; 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:10,114; 1 Thess.
When you pray, you can reckon upon
His leading: `The Spirit helpeth our infirmities.' He leads us to what we must
desire. He leads us into the way in which we are to pray, trustfully,
persistently, mightily. (Zech 12:10; Rom. 8:26,27; Jude 12,20)
In the way of sanctification it is He
that will lead: He leads us in the path of righteousness. He leads us into all
the will of God. (1 Cor. 6:19,20; 1 Pet
In our speaking and working for
the Lord, He will lead. Every child has the Spirit: every child has need of
Him to know and to do the work of the Father. Without Him no child can please
or serve the Father. The leading of the Spirit is the blessed privilege, the
sure token, the only power of a child of God. (Matt. 10:20; Acts 1:8; Rom
8:9,13; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 1:13)
then can you fully enjoy this leading? The first thing that is necessary for
this is faith. You must take time, young Christian, to have your heart filled
with the deep and living consciousness that the Spirit is in you. Read all the
glorious declarations of your Father in His word concerning what the Spirit is
in you and for you, until the conviction wholly fills you that you are really
a temple of the Spirit. Ignorance or unbelief on this point makes it
impossible for the Spirit to speak in you and to lead you. Cherish an
ever-abiding assurance that the Spirit of God dwells in you. (Acts. 19:2; Rom.
5:5; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:5 Gal.
Then the second thing that is
necessary is this: you are to hold yourself still, to attend to the voice of
the Spirit. As the Lord Jesus acts, so does the Spirit. As the Lord Jesus
acts, so does also the Spirit: `He shall not cry nor lift up His voice.' He
whispers gently and quietly: only the soul that sets itself very silently
towards God can perceive His voice and guidance. When we become to a needless
extent engrossed with the world, with its business, its cares, its enjoyments,
its literature, its politics, the Spirit cannot lead us. When our service of
God is a bustling and working in our own wisdom and strength, the Spirit
cannot be heard in us. It is the weak, the simple, who are willing to have
themselves taught in humility, that receive the leading of the Spirit. Sit
down every morning, sit down often in the day, to say: Lord Jesus, I know
nothing, I will be silent: let the Spirit lead me. (1 Chron. 19:12; Ps. 62;
2,6; 131:2; Isa. 43:2; Hab. 2:20; Zech. 4:6 Acts
And then: be obedient. Listen to
the inner voice, and do what it says to you. Fill your heart every day with
the word, and when the Spirit puts you in mind of what the word says, betake
yourself to the doing of it. So you become capable of further teaching: it is
to the obedient that the full blessing of the Spirit is promised. (John
14:15,16; Acts 5:32
know that you are a temple of the Spirit, and that it is only through the
daily leading of the Spirit that you can walk as a child of God, with the
witness that you are pleasing the
Precious Saviour, imprint this
lesson deeply on my mind. The Holy Spirit is in me. His leading is every day
and everywhere indispensable for me. I cannot hear His voice in the word when
I do not wait silently upon Him. Lord, let a holy circumspectness keep watch
over me, that I may always walk as a pupil of the Spirit.
1. It is often asked: How do I
know that I shall continue standing, that I shall be kept, that I shall
increase? The question dishonours the Holy Spirit -- is the token that you do
not know Him or do not trust Him. The question indicates that you are seeking
the secret of strength for perseverance in yourself, and not in the Holy
Spirit, your heavenly Guide.
2. As God
sees to it, that every moment there is air for me to breathe, so shall the
Holy Spirit unceasingly maintain life in the hidden depths of my soul. He will
not break off his own work.
3. From the
time that we receive the Holy Spirit, we have nothing to do but to honour his
work: to keep our hands off from it, and to trust Him, and to let Him
4. The beginning and the end of
the work of the Spirit is to reveal Jesus to me, and to cause me to abide in
Him. As soon as I would fain look after the work of the Spirit in me, I hinder
Him: He cannot work when I am not willing to look upon
5. The voice of the Father, the
voice of the good Shepherd, the voice of the Holy Spirit is very gentle. We
must learn to become deaf to other voices, to the world and its news of
friends and their thoughts, to our own Ego and its desires: then shall we
distinguish the voice of the Spirit. Let us often set ourselves silent in
prayer, entirely silent, to offer up our will and our thoughts, and, with our
eye upon Jesus, to keep ear and heart open for the voice of the Spirit.
XXIV. GRIEVING THE SPIRIT
`Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom
you were sealed unto the day of redemption.' -- Eph.
It is by the Holy Spirit that the
child of God is sealed: separated and stamped and marked as the possession of
God. This sealing is not a dead or external action that is finished once for
all. It is a living process, which has power in the soul, and gives firm
assurance of faith, only when it is experienced through the life of the Spirit
in us. On this account we are to take great care not to grieve the Spirit: in
Him alone can you have every day the joyful certitude and the full blessing of
your childship. * It is the very same Spirit that leads us who witnesses with
our spirit that we are children of God. And how can any one grieve the Spirit?
Above all by yielding to sin. He is the Holy Spirit, given to sanctify us,
and, for every sin from which the blood cleanses us, to fill us with the holy
life of God, with God. Sin grieves Him. (Isa. 53:10; Acts. 7:51; Heb. 10:29)
For this reason the word of God presently states by name the sins against
which above all we are to be on our guard. Mark only the four great sins that
Paul mentions in connection with our text.
There is first lying. There is no
single sin that in the Bible is so brought into connection with the devil as
lying. Lying is from hell, and it goes on to hell. God is the God of truth.
And the Holy Spirit cannot possibly carry forward His blessed working in a man
or woman that lies, that is insincere, that does injury to the truth. Young
Christian, review with care what the word of God says about lying and liars,
and pray God that you may never speak anything but the literal truth. Grieve
not the Holy Spirit of God. (Ps. 5:7; Prov. 12:22; 21:28; John 8:44; Rev.
Then there is anger.
`Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be
put away from you.' Hastiness, proneness to anger, sin of temper is, along
with lying, the most common sin by which the Christian is kept back from
increase in grace. (Matt. 5:22,26,27; 1 Cor. 1:10,11; 3:3; 13:1,3; Gal. 5:5;
15:21,26; Col. 3:8,12; 1 Thess. 5:15; Jas. 3:14) Christian, let all
passionateness by put away from you: this follows on the command not to grieve
the Spirit. Believe that the Holy Spirit, the great power of God, is in you.
Surrender yourself every day to His indwelling, in faith that Jesus can keep
you by Him: He will make and keep you gentle. Yea, believe, I pray you, in the
power of God, and of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit to overcome temper. (Matt.
11:29; 1 Cor. 6:19,20; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 2:16,17; Col. 1:8; 2 Tim. 1:12) Confess
the sin: God shall cleanse you from it. Grieve not the Holy Spirit of
Then there is stealing: all sin
against the property or possession of my neighbour: all deception and
dishonesty in trade, whereby I do wrong to my neighbour, and seek my own
advantage at his cost. The law of Christ is love whereby I seek the advantage
of my neighbour as well as my own. O the love of money and property, which is
inseparable from self-seeking -- it is incompatible with the leading of the
Holy Spirit. The Christian must be a man who is known as honest to the
back-bone, righteous, and loving his neighbour as himself. (Luke 6:31; Rom.
13:10; 1 Thess. 4:6)
Then says the
apostle: `no corrupt speech -- but such as is good for edifying as the case
may be.' Even the tongue of God's child belongs to his Lord. He must be known
by his mode of speech. By his speaking, he can grieve or please the Spirit.
The sanctified tongue is a blessing not only to his neighbours but to the
speaker himself. Foul talk, idle words, foolish jests -- they grieve the Holy
Spirit. They make it impossible for the Spirit to sanctify and to comfort and
to fill the heart with the love of God. (Prov. 10:19, 20,21,31; 18:20; Eccles.
5:1,2; Matt. 12:36; Eph. 5:4; Jas.
Young Christian, I pray you,
grieve not the Holy Spirit of God by these or other sins. If you have
committed such sins, confess them, and God will cleanse you from them. By the
Holy Spirit you are sealed if you would walk in the stability and joy of
faith, listen to the word: `Grieve not the Holy Sprit of
Lord God, my Father in heaven, do,
I pray thee, cause me to understand what marvelous grace Thou art manifesting
to me, in that Thou hast given to me Thy Holy Spirit in my heart. Lord, let
this faith by the argument and the power for cleansing me from every sin. Holy
Jesus, sanctify me, that in my thinking, speaking, acting -- in all things,
Thine image may appear. Amen.
thought of the Christian about this word, `Grieve not the Holy Spirit' is a
touchstone as to whether he understands the life of
For some it is a word of terror
and fear. A father once brought a child to the train to go on a journey with
the new governess, with whom she was to remain. Before her departure he said:
`I hear that she is very sensitive and takes things much amiss: take care that
you do nothing to grieve her.' The poor child had no pleasant journey: it
appeared to her very grievous to be in anxious fear of one who was so prone to
take anything wrong amiss.
This is the
view of the Holy Spirit which many have: a Being whom it is difficult to
satisfy, who thinks little of our weakness, and who, even though we take
pains, is discontented when our work is not
2. Another father also brought
his daughter to the train to go on a journey, and to be a time from home: but
in company with her mother, whom she loved very dearly. `You are to be a good
child,' said the father, `and do everything to please your mamma; otherwise
you shall grieve her and me.' `Oh, certainly, papa!' was the joyful answer of
the child. For she felt so happy to be with her mother, and was willing to do
her utmost to be agreeable to her.
are children of God to whom the Holy Spirit is so well known in His tender,
helpful love, and the Comforter and the Good Spirit, that the word, `Grieve
not the spirit of God' has for them a gentle, encouraging power. May our fear
to grieve Him always be the tender childlike fear of trustful
* Kindschap -- a word coined by
the writer to express the relation of a child. Our childhood expresses rather
the state or stage of child-life. -- Translator
XXV. FLESH AND SPIRIT
`And I, brethren, could not speak unto you
as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ.' -- 1 Cor.
`I am carnal, sold under sin: to
will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. The law of the
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.
Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God
dwelleth in you.' -- Rom. 7:14,18; 8:2,9
`Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh? If ye are led
by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. If we live by the Spirit, by the
Spirit let us also walk.' -- Gal. 3:3;
It is of great importance for
the young Christian to understand that there are in him two natures, which
strive against one another. (Gal. 5:17,24,25; 6:8; Eph. 4:22,24; Col. 3:9,10;
1 Pet. 4:2) If we weigh the texts noted above, we shall see that the word of
God teaches us the following truths on this
Sin comes from the flesh: the
reason why the Christian still does sin is that he yields to the flesh and
does not walk by the Spirit. Every Christian has the Spirit and lives by the
Spirit, but every Christian does not walk by the Spirit. If he walks by the
Spirit, he will not fulfil the desires of the flesh. (Rom. 8:7; 1 Cor. 3:1,3;
So long as there are
still in the Christian strife and envy, the word of God calls him carnal. He
would indeed do good, but he cannot: he does what he would not, because he
still strives in his own strength and not in the power of the Spirit. (Rom.
7:18; 1 Cor. 3:3; Gal. 5:15,26)
flesh remains under the law, and seeks to obey the law. But through the flesh
the law is powerless, and the endeavour to do good is vain. Its language is:
`I am carnal, sold under sin: to will is present with me, but to do that which
is good is not.' (Rom. 6:14;15; 7:4,6; 8:3,8; Gal. 5:18; 6:12,13; Heb. 7:18;
This is not the condition in
which God would have his child remain. The word says: `It is God that worketh
in you, both to will and to work.' * The Christian must not only live by the
Spirit, but also walk by the Spirit. He must be a spiritual man, and abide
entirely under the leading of the Spirit. (Rom. 8:14; 1 Cor. 2:15; 3:1; Gal.
6:1) If he thus walks, he will no longer do what he would not. He will no
longer remain in the condition of Romans 7, as a new-born babe, still seeking
to fulfil the law, but in Romans 8, a one who through the Spirit is made free
from the law with its commandment, `do this,' which gives no power, but brings
death, and who walks, not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of
the Spirit. (Rom. 7:6; 8:2,13)
Christians that begin with the Spirit, but end with the flesh. They are
converted, born again through the Spirit, but fall unconsciously into a life
in which they endeavour to overcome sin and be holy through their own
exertion, through doing their best. They ask God to help them in these their
endeavours, and think that this is faith. They do not understand what it is to
say: `In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing,' and that therefore
they are to cease from their own endeavours, in order to do God's will, wholly
and only through the Spirit. (Rom. 7:18; Gal. 3:3; 4:9;
Child of God, pray, learn what it
is to say of yourself, just as you are, even after the new birth: `I am
carnal, sold under sin.' Endeavour no longer to be doing your best, and to be
praying to God, and to be trusting Him to help you. No: learn to say: `The law
of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of
death.' Let your work every day be to have the Spirit work in you, to walk by
the Spirit, and you shall be redeemed from the life of complaining, `the good
that I would I do not,' into a life of faith, in which it is God that worketh
in you both to will and to do.
teach me to acknowledge with all my heart that in me, that is, in my flesh,
dwelleth nothing good. Teach me also to cease from every thought, as if I
could with my own endeavours serve or please Thee. Teach me to understand that
the Spirit is the Comforter, who frees me from all anxiety and fear about my
own powerlessness, in order that He may work the strength of Christ in me.
1. In order to understand the
conflict betwixt flesh and Spirit, we must especially seek to have a clear
insight into the connection between Rom. 7 and 8. In Rom. 7:6 Paul had spoken
of the twofold way of serving God, the one in the oldness of the letter, the
other in the newness of the Spirit. In Rom. 7:14.16 he describes the first, in
Rom. 8:1-16 the second. This appears clearly when we observe that in ch. 7 he
mentions the Spirit but once, the law more than twenty times; in Rom. 8:1-16,
the Spirit sixteen times. In Rom. 7 we see the regenerate soul, just as he is
in himself with his new nature, desirous, but powerless, to fulfil the law,
mourning as one who `is captive under the law of sin.' In Rom. 8 we hear him
say, `the law of the Spirit of life in Christ made me free from the law of
sin.' Rom. 7 describes the ever-abiding condition of the Christian,
contemplated as renewed, but not experiencing by faith the power of the Holy
Spirit: Rom. 8 his life in the freedom which the Spirit of God really gives
from the power of sin.
2. It is of very
great importance to understand that the conflict between grace and works,
between faith and one's own power, between the Holy Spirit and confidence in
ourselves and the flesh, always continues to go on, not only in connection
with conversion and the reception of the righteousness of God, but even
further, into a walk in this righteousness. On this account the Christian has
to watch very carefully against the deep inclination of his heart still to
work in his own behalf, when he sees in himself anything wrong or when he
would follow after holiness, instead of always and only trusting in Jesus
Christ, and so serving God in the
3. In order to make clear the
opposition between the two methods of serving God, let me adduce consecutively
in their entirety the passages in which they are expressed with special
distinctness. Compare them with care. Pray God for the Spirit in order to make
you understand them. Take deeply to heart the lesson as to how you are to
serve God well, and how not.
circumcision of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter. (Rom.
To him that worketh not but
believeth, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. (Rom.
Ye are not under the law but under
grace. (Rom. 6:14)
We have been
discharged from the law, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in
the oldness of the letter. (Rom. 7:6)
know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. (Rom.
The ordinance of the law is
fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. (Rom.
Ye received not the Spirit of
bondage again to fear, but ye received the Spirit of adoption. (Rom.
The righteousness which is of the
law is: `The man that doeth these things shall live by them? But the
righteousness which is of faith saith thus, Say not in thine heart, Who shall
ascend? Who shall descend? But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, in thy
mouth and in thy heart. (Rom. 5:5-8)
it is by grace, it is no more of works. (Rom.
I could not speak unto you as unto
spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. (1 Cor.
I live; and yet no longer I, but
Christ liveth in me. (Gal. 2:20)
righteous shall live by faith; yet the law is not of faith: but the man that
doeth these things shall live by them. (Gal.
If the inheritance is of the
law, it is no more of promise. (Gal.
So that thou art no longer a
bondservant, but a son. (Gal. 4:7)
Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the free-woman.
Walk by the Spirit and ye
shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Gal.
If ye are led by the Spirit, ye
are not under the law. (Gal. 5:18)
worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence
in the flesh. (Phil. 3:3)
priest, who hath been made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but
after the power of an endless life. (Heb.
4. Beloved Christian, you have
received the Holy Spirit from the Lord Jesus to reveal Him and His life in
you, and to mortify the working of the body of sin. Pray much to be filled
with the Spirit. Live in the joyful faith that the Spirit is in you, as your
Comforter and Teacher, and that through Him all will come right. Learn by
heart this text, and let it live in your heart and on your lips: `We are the
circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus, and
have no confidence in the flesh.'
Dutch version has -- `and to accomplish.' -- Translator
XXVI. THE LIFE OF FAITH
`The righteous shall live by his faith.' --
`We have been discharged from
the law, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of
the letter.' -- Rom. 7:6
`I live; and
yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in
the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me,
and gave Himself up for me.' -- Gal.
The word from Habakkuk is thrice
quoted in the New Testament as the Divine representation of salvation in
Christ by faith alone. (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38) But that word is
oftentimes very imperfectly understood, as if it ran: Man shall on his
conversion be justified by faith. The word includes this, but signifies much
more. It says that the righteous shall live by faith: the whole life of the
righteous, from moment to moment, shall be by faith. (Rom. 5:17,21; 6:11; 8:2;
Gal. 2:20; 1 John 5:11,12)
We all know
how sharp is the opposition which God in His word presents betwixt the grace
that comes by faith and the law that works -- demands. This is generally
admitted with reference to justification. But that distinction holds just as
much of the whole life of sanctification. The righteous shall live by faith
alone, that is, shall have power to live according to the will of God. As at
his conversion he found it necessary to understand that there was nothing good
in him, and that he must receive grace as one that was powerless and godless,
so must he as a believer just as clearly understand that in him there is
nothing good, and that he must receive his power for good every moment from
above. (Rom. 7:18; 8:2,13; Heb. 11:38) And his work must therefore be every
morning and every hour to look up and believe and receive his power from
above, out of his Lord in heaven. I am not to do what I can, and hope in the
Lord to supply strength. No: as one who has been dead, who is literally able
for nothing in himself, and whose life is in his Lord above, I am to reckon by
faith on Him who will work in me mightily (Rom. 4:17; 2 Cor. 1:9; Col. 1:20;
Happy the Christian who understands
that his greatest danger every day is again to fall under the law, and to be
fain to serve God in the flesh with his own strength. Happy when he discerns
that he is not under the law which just demands and yet is powerless through
the flesh, but is under grace where we have simply to receive what has been
given. Happy when he fully appropriates for himself the promise of the Spirit
who transfers all that is in Christ to him. Yea, happy when he understands
what it is to live by faith, and to serve, not in the oldness of the letter,
but in the newness of the Spirit. (Rom. 7:4,6; 12:5,6; Gal. 5:18; Phil.
Let us make our own the words of
Paul: they present to us the true life of faith: `I have been crucified with
Christ; yet I live.' My flesh, not only my sin, but my flesh, all that is of
myself, my own living and willing my own power and working, have I given up to
death. I Live no longer -- of myself, I cannot. I will not live, or do
anything. (John 15:4,5; 1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 12:10) Christ lives in me: He
Himself, by His Spirit, is my power, and teaches and strengthens me to live as
I ought to do. And that life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in
Him: my great work is to reckon upon Him to work in Him, as well the willing
as the accomplishment.
let this life of faith be your faith.
my Lord Jesus, Thou art my life: yea, my life. Thou livest in me, and art
willing to take my whole life at Thine own charges. And my whole life may
daily be a joyful trust and experience that Thou art working all in me.
Precious Lord, to that life of faith will I surrender myself. Yea, to Thee I
surrender myself, to teach me and to reveal Thyself fully in me. Amen.
1. Do you discern the error of the
expression -- if the Lord helps me -- the Lord must help me? In natural things
we speak thus, for we have a certain measure of power, and the Lord will
increase it. But the New Testament never uses the expression `help' of the
grace of God in the soul. We have absolutely no power -- God is not to help
us, because we are weak: no, He is to give His life and His power in us as
entirely impotent. He that discerns this aright will learn to live by faith
2. `Without faith it is
impossible to please God'; `All that is not of faith is sin.' Such works of
the Spirit of God teach us how really every deed and disposition of our life
is to be full of faith.
3. Hence our
first work every day is anew to exercise faith in Jesus as our life; to
believe that He dwells in us, and will do all for us and in us. This faith
must be the mood of our soul the whole day. This faith cannot be maintained
except in the fellowship and nearness of Jesus
4. This faith has its power in
the mutual surrender of Jesus and the believer to each other. Jesus first
gives Himself wholly for us. The believer gives himself wholly in order to be
taken into possession and guided by Jesus. Then the soul cannot even doubt if
He will do all for it.
XXVII. THE MIGHT OF SATAN
`Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have
you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I made supplication for thee, that
thy faith fail not.' -- Luke 22:31,32
There is nothing that makes an enemy so dangerous as the fact that he remains
hidden or forgotten. Of the three great enemies of the Christian, the world,
the flesh, and the devil, the last is the most dangerous, not only because it
is he that, strictly speaking, lends to the others what power they have, but
also because he is not seen, and, therefore, little known or feared. The devil
has the power of darkness: he darkens the eyes, so that men do not know him.
He surrounds himself with darkness, so that he is not observed. Yea, he has
even the power to appear as an angel of light. (Matt. 4:6; 2 Cor. 4:4; 11:14)
It is by the faith that recognizes things unseen that the Christian is to
endeavour to know Satan, even as the Scripture has revealed
When the Lord Jesus was living upon
earth, His great work was to overcome Satan. When at His baptism He was filled
with the Spirit, this fulness of the Spirit brought him into contact with
Satan as head of the world of evil spirits, to combat him and to overcome him.
(Matt. 4:1,10) After that time the eyes of the Lord were always open to the
power and working of Satan. In all sin and misery He saw the revelation of the
mighty kingdom of the very same superior, the evil one. Not only in the
demoniacs, but also in the sick, He saw the enemy of God and man. (Matt.
12:28; Mark 4:15; Luke 13:16; Acts. 10:38) In the advice of Peter to avoid the
cross, and in his denial of his Lord, where we should think of the revelation
of the natural character of Peter, Jesus saw the work of Satan. (Matt. 26:23;
Luke 22:31,32) In His own suffering, where we rather speak of the sin of man
and the permission of God, Jesus perceives the power of darkness. His whole
work in living and in dying was to destroy the works of Satan, as He shall
also at His second coming utterly bruise Satan himself. (Luke 10:18; 22:3,53;
John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Rom. 16:20; Col. 2:15; 2 Thess. 2:8,9; 1 John
His word to Peter, compared with
the personal experience of the Lord, gives us a fearful insight into the work
of the enemy. `Satan hath eagerly desired you,' says Jesus. `As a roaring
lion, he walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,' says Peter himself later
on. (1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:8) He has no unlimited power, but he is
always eager to make use of every weak or unguarded moment. `That he might
sift you as wheat:' what a picture! This world, yea, even the Church of
Christ, is the threshing-floor of Satan. The corn belongs to God; the chaff is
his own. He sifts and sifts continually, and all that falls through with the
chaff he endeavours to take for himself. And many a Christian is there who
does fall through in a terrible fashion, and who, were it not for the
intercession of his Lord, would perish for ever. (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim.
Satan has more than one sieve. The
first is generally wordly-mindedness -- the love of the world. Many a one is
pious in his time of poverty, but when he becomes rich, he again eagerly
strives to win the world. Or in the time of conversion and awakening he
appears very zealous, but through the care of the world he is led astray.
(Matt. 4:9; 8:22; 1 Tim. 6:9,10; 2 Tim.
A second sieve is self-love and
self-seeking. Whenever any one does not give himself undividedly to serve his
Lord and his neighbour, and to love his neighbour in the Lord, it soon appears
that the principal token of a disciple is lacking in him. It will be manifest
that many a one, with a fair profession of being devoted to the service of
God, fails utterly on this point, and must be reckoned with the chaff.
Lovelessness is the sure token of the power of Satan. (John 8:44; 1 John
Yet another sieve, a very
dangerous one, is self-confidence. Under the name of following the Spirit, one
may listen to the thoughts of his own heart. He is zealous for the Lord, but
with a carnal zeal, in which the gentleness of the Lamb of God is not seen.
Without being observed, the movements of the flesh mingle with the workings of
the Spirit, and while he boasts that he is overcoming Satan, he is being
secretly ensnared by him. (Gal. 3:3;
O it is a serious life here upon
the earth, where God gives permission for Satan to set his threshing floor
even in the Church. Happy are they who with deep humility, with fear and
trembling, distrust themselves. Our only security is in the intercession and
guidance of Him who overcame Satan. (Eph. 6:10,12,16) Far be from us the idea
that we know all the depths of Satan, and are a match for all his cunning
stratagems. It is in the region of the spirit, in the invisible, that he works
and has power, as well as in the visible. Let us fear lest, while we have
known and overcome him in the visible, he should prevail over us in the
spiritual. May our only security be the conviction of our frailty and
weakness, our confidence in Him who certainly keeps the lowly in
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to know
our enemy and his wiles. Cause us to see him and his realm, that we may dread
all that is of him. And open our eyes to see how Thou hast overcome him, and
how in Thee we are invincible. O teach us what it is to be in Thee, to mortify
all that is of the mere Ego and the will of the flesh, and to be strong in
weakness and lowliness. And teach us to bring into prayer the conflict of
faith against every stronghold of Satan, because we know that Thou wilt bruise
him under our feet. Amen.
comfort does the knowledge of the existence of Satan give us? We know then
that sin is derived from a foreign power which has thrust itself into our
nature, and does not naturally belong to us. We know besides that he has been
entirely vanquished by the Lord Jesus, and thus has no power over us so long
as we abide trustfully in Christ.
whole of this world, with all that is in it, is under the domination of Satan:
therefore there is nothing, even what appears good and fair, that may not be
dangerous for us. In all things, even in what is lawful and right, we must be
led and sanctified by the Spirit, if we would continue liberated from the
power of Satan.
3. Satan is an evil
spirit: only by the good Spirit, the Spirit of God, can we offer resistance to
him. He works in the invisible: in order to combat him, we have, by prayer, to
enter into the invisible. He is a mighty prince: only in the name of One who
is mightier and in fellowship with Him can we
4. What a glorious work is
labour for souls, for the lost, for drunkards, for heathen; a conflict to
rescue them from the might of Satan. (Acts.
5. In the Revelation the victory
over Satan is ascribed to the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 12:11) Christians have
also testified that there is no power in temptation, because Satan readily
retreats when one appeals to the blood, by which one knows that sin has been
entirely expiated, and we are thus also wholly freed from his
XXVIII. THE CONFLICT OF THE CHRISTIAN
`Strive to enter in by the narrow door.' --
`Fight the good fight of the
faith.' -- 1 Tim. 6:12
`I have fought
the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.' -- 2 Tim.
These texts speak of a twofold
conflict. The first is addressed to the unconverted: `Strive to enter in by
the narrow door.' Entrance by a door is the work of a moment: the sinner is
not to strive to enter during his whole lifetime: he is to strive and do it
immediately. He is not to suffer anything to hold him back; he must enter in.
(Gen. 19:22; John 10:9; 2 Cor. 6:2; Heb.
Then comes the second, the
life-long conflict: by the narrow door I come upon the new way. On the new way
there are still always enemies. Of this life-long conflict Paul says: `I have
fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.'
With respect to the continuous conflict, he gives the charge: `Fight the good
fight of faith.'
There is much
misunderstanding about this twofold conflict. Many strive all their life
against the Lord and His summons, and, because they are not at rest, but feel
an inner conflict, they think that this is the conflict of a Christian.
Assuredly not: this is the struggle against God of one who is not willing to
abandon everything and surrender himself to the Lord. (Acts 5:39; 1 Cor.
10:22) This is not the conflict that the Lord would have. What He says is that
the conflict is concerned with entering in: but not a conflict for long years.
No: He desires that you should break through the enemies that would hold you
back, and immediately enter in.
follows the second conflict, which endures for life. Paul twice calls this the
fight of faith. The chief characteristic of it is faith. He who understands
well that the principal element in the battle is to believe, and acts
accordingly, does certainly carry off the palm: just as in another passage
Paul says to the Christian combatant: `Withal taking up the shield of faith,
wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.'
(Eph. 6:16; 1 John 3:4,5)
And what then
does it mean, this `fight of faith'? That, while I strive, I am to believe
that the Lord will help me? No: it is not so, although it often is so
In a conflict it is of
supreme importance that I should be in a stronghold or fortress which cannot
be taken. With such a stronghold a weak garrison can offer resistance to a
powerful enemy. Our conflict as Christians is now no longer concerned with
going into the fortress. No: we have gone in, and are now in; and so long as
we remain in it, we are invincible. The stronghold, this stable fort, is
Christ. (Ps. 18:3; 46:2; 62:2,3,6,7,8; 144:2; Eph. 6:10) By faith we are in
Him: by faith we know that the enemy can make no progress against our
fortress. The wiles of Satan all go forth on the line of enticing us out of
our fortress, of engaging us in conflict with him on the open plain. There he
always overcomes. But if we only strive in faith, abiding in Christ by faith,
then we overcome, because Satan then has to deal with Him, and because He then
fights and overcomes. (Ex. 14:14; Josh 5:14; 2 Chron. 23:15; John 26:33; Rom.
8:37; 2 Cor. 2:14) `This is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our
faith.' Our first and greatest work is thus to believe. As Paul said before he
mentions the warlike equipment of the Christian: `From henceforth be strong in
the Lord, and in the strength of His
The reason why the victory is
only by faith, and why the fight of faith is the good fight, is this: it is
the Lord Jesus who purchased the victory, and who therefore alone gives power
and dominion over the enemy. If we are, and abide, in Him, and surrender
ourselves to live in Him, and by faith appropriate what He is, then the
victory is in itself our own. We then understand: `The battle is not yours,
but God's. The Lord your God shall fight for you, and ye shall be still.' Just
as we in opposition to God can achieve nothing good of ourselves, but in
Christ please Him, so also is it in opposition to Satan: in ourselves we
achieve nothing, but in Christ we are more than conquerors. By faith we stand
in Him righteous before God, and just so in Him are we strong against our
enemies. (Ps. 44:4,9; Isa. 45:24)
this light we can read and take home to ourselves all the noble passages in
the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms, where the glorious conflict of
God in behalf of his people is spoken of. Fear, or spiritlessness, or
uncertainty, makes weak, and cannot overcome: faith in the living God is equal
to everything. (Deut. 20:3,8; Josh. 6:20; Judges 7:3 Ps. 18:32-40; Heb. 11:23)
In Christ this truth is now still more real. God has come near. His power
works in us who believe; it is really He that fights for
O Lord Jesus, who art the Prince of
the army of the Lord, the Hero, the Victor, teach me to be strong in Thee my
stronghold, and in the power of Thy might. Teach me to understand what the
good fight of faith is, and how the one thing that I have need of is, always
to look to Thee, to Thee, the supreme Guide of faith. And, consequently, in
me, too, let this be the victory that overcometh the world, namely, my faith.
1. The conflict of faith is no
civil war, in which one half of the kingdom is divided against the other. This
would be insurrection. This is the one conflict that many Christians know: the
unrest of the conscience, and the powerless wrestling of a will which consents
to that which is good, but does not perform it. The Christian has not to
overcome himself. This his Lord does when he surrenders himself. Then he is
free and strong to combat and overcome the enemies of his Lord and of the
kingdom. No sooner, however, are we willing that God should have His way with
us than we are found striving against God. This also is truly conflict, but it
is not the good fight of faith.
Galatians 5 reference is made to the inner conflict; for the Galatians had not
yet entirely surrendered themselves to the Spirit, to walk after the Spirit.
`The connection,' says Lange, `shows that this conflict betwixt the flesh and
the Spirit of God is not endless, but that there is expected of the Christian
a complete surrender of himself, in order to be led only by the one principle
-- the Spirit; and then, further, a refusal to obey the flesh.' The believer
must not strive against the flesh, to overcome it: this he cannot do. What he
is to do is to choose to whom he will subject himself: by the surrender of
faith to Christ, to strive in Him through the Spirit, He has a divine power
3. Hence, as we have
seen in connection with the beginning of the new life, our one work every day
and the whole day is to believe. Out of faith come all blessings and powers,
also the victory for overcoming.
XXIX BE A BLESSING
`Get thee out of they country, and from thy
kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee; and
I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee; and be thou a
blessing.' -- Gen. 12:1,2
In these first
words that God spake to Abraham, we have the short summary of all that God has
to say to him and to us as His children. We see what the goal is to which God
calls us, what the power that carries us to that goal, and what the place
where the power is found.
Be a blessing:
that is the goal for which God separates Abraham and every believing child of
God would have him and us made to
understand that, when he blesses us, this is certainly not simply to make us
happy, but that we should still further communicate His blessing. (Matt.
5:34,35; 10:8; 18:33) God Himself is love, and therefore He blesses. Love
seeketh not itself: when the love of God comes to us, it will seek others
through us. (Isa. 43:10,11; 1 Cor. 13:5; 1 John 4:11) The young Christian must
from the beginning understand that he has received grace with the definite aim
of becoming a blessing to others. Pray, keep not for yourself what the Lord
gives to you for others. Offer yourself expressly and completely to the Lord,
to be used by Him for others: that is the way to be blessed oveflowingly
yourself. (Ps. 112:5,9; Prov. 11:24,25; Matt. 25:40; 1 Cor. 15;58; 2 Cor. 9:6;
The power for this work will
be given. `Be a blessing': `I will bless thee,' says the Lord. You are to be
personally blessed yourself, personally sanctified and filled with the Spirit,
and peace, and power of the Lord: then you have power to bless. (Luke 24:49;
John 7:38; 14:12) In Christ God has `blessed us with all spiritual things':
let Jesus fill you with these blessings, and you shall certainly be a
blessing: you need not doubt or fear. The blessing of God includes in it the
power of life for multiplication, for expansion, for communication. See in the
Scriptures how blessing and multiplication go together. (Gen. 1:22,28; 9:1;
22:17; 26:24) Blessing always includes the power to bless others. Only give
the word of the Almighty God, `I will bless Thee,' time to sink into your
spirit. Wait upon God, that He Himself may say to you, `I will bless thee.'
Let your faith cleave fast to this. God will make it truth to you above all
asking and thinking. (2 Cor. 9:8,11; Eph. 1:3; Heb. 6:14)
But for this end you must also betake
yourself to the place of blessing: the land of promise, the simple life of
faith in the promises. `Get thee out thy land and thy father's house,' says
the Lord. Departure, separation from the life of nature and the flesh, in
which we were born of our father Adam, is what God would have. The offering up
of what is most precious to man is the way to the blessing of God. (Luke
28:29,30; John 12:24,25; 2 Cor. 6:17,18) `Get thee to a land that I will show
thee,' says the Lord, out of the old life to a new life, where I alone am your
guide; that is, a life where God can have me wholly for Himself alone, where I
walk only on the promises of God -- a life of
Christian, God will in a Divine
fashion fulfil to you His promise, `I will bless thee.' O go, pray, out of
your land and your father's house, out of the life of nature and the flesh,
out of intercourse with the flesh and this world, to the New Life, the life of
the Spirit, the life in fellowship with God to which He will lead you. There
you become receptive of His blessing; there your heart becomes open to full
faith in His word, `I will bless thee'; there He can fulfil that word to you,
and make you full of His blessing and power to be a blessing to others. Live
with God, separated from the world: then shall you hear the voice of God speak
with power: `I will bless thee'; `Be thou a
O my Father, show me the way
to that promised land where Thou bringest Thy people to have them wholly for
Thyself. I will abandon everything to follow Thee, to hold converse with Thee
alone, in order that Thou mayest fill me with Thy blessing. Lord, let Thy
word, `I will bless thee,' live in my heart as a word of God: then shall I
give myself wholly to live for others and to be a blessing. Amen.
1. God is the great, the only Fountain
of blessing: as much of God as I have in me, so much blessing can I bring. I
can work much for others without blessing. Actually to be a blessing, I must
begin with that word, `I will bless thee': then the other, `Be a blessing'
2. In order to become a
blessing, begin on a small scale: yield yourself up for others. Live to make
others happy. Believe that the love of God dwells in you by the Spirit, and
give yourself wholly to be a blessing and a joy to those who are round about
you. Pray God to shed abroad His love in you still further by the Spirit. And
believe very firmly that God can make you a greater blessing than you can
think, if you surrender yourself to Him for this
3. But this surrender must have
time in solitary prayer, that God may obtain possession of your spirit. This
is for you the departure from your father's house: separate yourself from men
that God may speak with you.
think you? Was Abraham ever filled with regret that he placed himself so
entirely under the leading of God? Then do you
5. Do you now know the two
words which are the source of all promises and all commands to the children of
believing Abraham? The promise is: `I will bless thee.' The command is: `Be a
blessing.' Pray, take them both firmly for
6. And do you now understand
where these two words to Abraham are fulfilled? In separation from his
father's house -- in the walk in fellowship with God.
XXX. PERSONAL WORK
`Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation:
and uphold me with a free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways;
and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.' -- Ps.
`I believe, for I will speak.'
-- Ps. 116:10
`But ye shall receive
power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you.' -- Acts.
Every redeemed man is called to be a
witness for his Lord. Not only by a godly walk, but by personal effort must I
serve and make known my Lord. My tongue, my speech, is one of the principal
means of intercourse with others and influence upon them. It is but a half
dedication, when I do not also bring the offering of the lips, to speak for
the Lord. (Ps. 40:10,11; 66:16; 71:8,15,24; Heb
Of this work there is
inconceivably real need. There are thousands of Christians who continually
enjoy the preaching of the word, and yet do not understand the way of
salvation. The Lord Jesus not only preached to the multitudes, but also spoke
to individuals according to their needs. (Luke 7:40; John 3:3; 4:7) Scripture
is full of examples of those who told to others what the Lord had done for
them, and who thus became a blessing to them. (Ex. 18:8,1; 2 Chron. 5:3) The
teacher alone cannot do this work of personal speaking: every ransomed soul
must co-operate with him. He is in the world as a witness for his Lord. His
own life cannot come to its full healthy increase, if he does not confess his
Lord and work for Him.
That witness for
the Lord must be a personal witness. We must have the courage to say, `He has
redeemed me: He will also redeem you: will you not accept this redemption?
Come, let me show you the way.' (John 1:42,46; 4:28,39; Acts. 11:19) There are
hundreds who would be glad if the personal question were put to them, `Are you
redeemed? What keeps you back? Can I not help you to go to the Lord?' Parents
ought to speak personally with their children, and put the question, `My
child, have you already received the Lord Jesus?' Teachers in Sabbath schools
and in day schools, when they teach the word of God, ought to bring forward
the personal question, whether the children have really received salvation,
and ought to seek the opportunity of also putting the question to them
separately. Friends must speak with their friends. Yes: before all else should
this work be done.
Such work must be the
work of love. Let souls feel that you love them tenderly. Let the humility and
gentleness of love, as this was to be seen in Jesus, be seen also in you. At
every turn surrender yourself to Jesus to be filled with His love: not by
feeling, but by faith in this love, can you do your work. `Beloved, keep
yourselves in the love of God. And on some have mercy who are in doubt; and
some save, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear.'
The flesh often thinks that strength and force do more than love and patience.
But that is not so: love achieves everything: it has overcome on the cross.
(Heb. 3:13; 10:24; Jude 21:23)
must be the work of faith, of faith working by love: faith that the Lord
desires to use you and will use you. Be not afraid on account of your
weakness: learn in the Scriptures what glorious promises God from time to time
gave to those who had to speak for Him. (Ex. 4:11,12; Josh. 1:9; Isa. 50:4,11;
Jer. 1:6,7; Matt. 10:19,20) Surrender yourself continually to God to be used
for the rescue of souls, and take your stand on the fact that He who has
redeemed you for this end, will for this end bless you. Although your work is
in weakness and fear, although no blessing appears to come, be of good
courage: at His time, we shall reap. (2 Chron. 15:7; Ps. 126:6,7; Hag. 2:5;
Gal. 8:9; 1 John 5:16) Be filled with faith in the power of God, in His
blessing upon you, and in the certainty of the hearing of prayer. `If any man
see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give
him life.' Whether it be the most miserable and neglected, or whether it be
the decent but indifferent who does not know his sin, take courage, the Lord
is mighty to bless: He hears prayer.
above all, -- for this is the principal point, -- carry out this work in
fellowship with Jesus. Live closely with Him -- live entirely for Him -- let
Jesus be in all your own life and He will speak and work in you. (Acts. 4:13;
2 Cor. 3:5; 8:3) Be full of the blessing of the Lord, full of His Spirit and
His love, and it cannot be otherwise than that you should be a blessing. You
shall be able to tell what He is continually for you. You shall have the love
and the courage, with all humility, to put to souls the question, `Is it well
with you? Have you indeed the Lord Jesus as your Saviour?' And the Lord will
made you experience the rich blessing which is promised to those who live to
Young Christian, be a
witness for Jesus. Live as one who is wholly given away to Him to watch and to
work for His honour.
Blessed Lord, who
hast redeemed me to serve the Father in the proclamation of His love, I will
with a free spirit offer myself to Thee for this end. Fill my heart for this
end with love to Him, to Thee, and to souls. Cause me to see what an honour it
is to do the work of redeeming love, even as Thou didst do it. Strengthen my
confidence that Thou art working with Thy power in my weakness. And let my joy
be to help souls to Thee. Amen.
question is often asked, `What can I do to work for the Lord? Can you not take
a class in the Sabbath school? Perhaps you live in the country where there are
children that have no hour of the Sabbath devoted to them. Perhaps there are
heathen children, or even grown-up people of the farms, who do not go to
Church. See whether you cannot gather them together in the name of Jesus. Make
it a matter of prayer and faith. Although you do this work with trembling, you
may be sure that to begin to work will make you
Or can you do nothing for the
circulation of books and tracts? When you have a book that has been useful to
you, order six or twelve copies of it. Speak of it, and offer it for sale: you
can do great service by this means. So also with tracts: if you are too poor
to give them for nothing, have them to sell: you may procure blessing by this
method. It will especially help you to speak to others, if you begin with
telling what is in a book.
2. But the
principal thing is personal speaking. Do not hold back because you feel no
freedom. The Lord will give you freedom in His own time. It is incredible how
many are lost through ignorance. No one has ever personally made it clear to
them how they can be saved. The thought that a change must first be sought and
felt is so deeply rooted that the most faithful preaching is often of no avail
against it. By their erroneous ideas, people misunderstand everything. Begin
then to speak and to help souls to understand that they are to receive Jesus
just as they are, that they can certainly know that He receives them, and that
this is the power of a new and holy life.
XXXI. MISSIONARY WORK
`And He said unto them, Go ye into all the
world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. And they went forth, and
preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by
the signs that followed.' -- Mark
Every friend of Jesus is a
friend of missions. Where there is a healthy spiritual life, there is a love
for the missionary cause. When you consider the reasons of this, you obtain an
insight into the glory of missions, and into your calling to embrace this
cause as apart of your soul's life. Come and hear how much there is to make
missionary work glorious and precious.
1. It is the cause for which Jesus left the throne of heaven. The heathen are
His inheritance, given to Him by His Father. It is in heathendom that the
power of Satan has been established. Jesus must have Himself vindicated as the
conqueror. His glory, the coming and manifestation of His kingdom, depend on
missions. (Isa. 2:8; Matt. 24:14; 28:18,28; Mark 13:10; Luke 21:24; Rom.
2. Missionary work is the
principal aim of the church on earth. All the last words of the Lord Jesus
teach us this. (Mark. 26:15; Luke 24:47; John 27:18; Acts 1:8) The Lord is the
head and He has made himself dependent upon His body, upon His members, by
whom alone He can do His work. (1 Cor. 7:21) As a member of Christ, as a
member of the church, shall I not give myself to take part in the work, that
this goal may be reached?
3. It is the
work for which the Holy Spirit was given. See this in the promise of the
Spirit: in the leading of the Spirit vouschafed to Peter and Barnabas and
Saul. (Acts 1:8; 11:12,23,24; 8:2,4; 22:21) In the history of the Church we
find that times of revival go hand in hand with new zeal for the missionary
cause. The Holy Spirit is always a holy enthusiasm for the extension of the
4. Missionary work brings
blessing on the Church. It rouses to heroic deeds of faith and self-denial. It
has furnished the most glorious instances of the wondrous power of the Lord.
It gives heavenly joy over the conversion of sinners to those who watch for it
with love and prayer. It cleanses the heart to understand God's great plans,
and to await the fulfilment of them in supplication. Missionary work is a
token of life in a Church, and brings more life. (Acts 14:287; 15:4,5; Rom.
11:25,33; 15:10; Eph. 3:5,8,10)
a blessing it is for the world. What would we have been, had not missionaries
come to our heathen forefathers in Europe? What a glorious blessing has onto
missionary work already won in some lands? What help is there for the hundred
millions of heathen, if not in missions? (Isa. 49:6,12,18,22; 54:1,2) Heaven
and hell look upon missions as the battlefield where the powers of Satan and
of Jesus Christ encounter one another. Alas! that the conflict should be
carried on so feebly.
6. There will be a
blessing for your own soul in love for missionary work. (Prov. 11:24,25; Isa.
You will be exercised in faith.
Missionary work is a cause for faith, where everything goes on slowly, and not
according to the fancy of men. You will learn to cleave to God and the
Love will be awakened. You will
learn to go out of yourselves and your little circle, and with an open eye and
a large heart to live in the interests of your Lord and King: you will feel
how little true love you have, and you will receive more
You will be drawn into prayer.
Your calling and power as an intercessor will become clearer to you, and
therewith the blessedness of thus co-operation for the kingdom. You will
discern how it is the highest conformity to Him who came to seek the lost, to
give up your own ease and rest to fight in love the fight of prayer against
Satan in behalf of the heathen.
Christian, missionary work is more glorious and holy than you suppose. There
is more blessing in it than you are aware of. The new life in you depends upon
it more than you can as yet understand. Yield yourself up anew in obedience to
the word to give missions a large place in your heart; yes, in your heart. The
Lord Himself will further teach and bless
And if you would know how to have
your love for missions, as the work of your Lord, increased, attend to the
following hints: - Become acquainted with the missionary cause. Endeavour by
writings and books to know what the condition and need of heathendom is; what,
by the blessing of the Lord, has been already done there; what the work is
that is being done now. Speak with others about this cause. Perhaps there
could be instituted in your neighbourhood a little missionary society. Perhaps
one of your prayer-meetings, say, once a month, could be set apart for prayer
in behalf of the missionary cause. Pray also for this in secret. Let the
coming of the kingdom have a definite place in your secret prayers. Endeavour
to follow the material for prayer in the promises of the word about the
heathen, in the whole Scriptures, especially in the prophet Isaiah. (Isa.
49:6,18,21,22; 54:1,3; 60:1,3,11,16; 62:2) Give also for missions: not only
when you are asked; not merely what you can spare without feeling it; but set
apart for this cause a portion of what you possess or earn. Let the Lord see
that you are in earnest with His work. If there is missionary work that is
being done in your neighbourhood, show yourself a friend to it. Although there
be much imperfection in that work, -- and where is there work of man that is
perfect? -- complain not of the imperfection, but look upon the essence of the
cause, the endeavour to obey the command of the Lord, and give your prayer and
your help. A friend of Jesus is a friend of missions. Love for missionary work
is an indispensable element of the new
Son of God, when Thou didst breathe
Thy Spirit upon Thy disciples, saying, `Receive ye the Holy Ghost,' Thou didst
add: `As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.' Lord, here am I: send
me also. Breathe Thy Spirit into me also, that I may live for Thy kingdom.
1. `Unknown makes unbeloved,' is
a word that is specially true of missionary work. He who is acquainted with
the wonders that God has wrought in some lands, will praise and thank God for
what the missionary enterprise has achieved, and will be strengthened in his
faith that missionary work is really God's own
Among the books that help to
awaken interest in missions are biographies of missionaries. `The life of
Henry Martyn' is one, formerly issued by the Book Society. `Uncle Charles' is
the name of a book with an account of missionary work in South Africa. Some
books on missions are generally to be found in our Sabbath school
2. We should never forget
that the missionary cause is an enterprise of faith. It requires faith in the
promises of God, in the power of God. It has need of love -- love to Jesus,
whereby the heart is filled with desire for His honour, and love to souls,
that longs for their safety. It is a work of the Spirit of God, `whom the
world cannot receive': therefore the world can approve of missions only when
they go forward with the highest
3. Let no friend of missions
become discouraged when the work proceeds slowly. Although all baptized men
are not converted, although even amongst the converts there is still much
perversity, and some fall back after a fair professions. Amongst our
forefathers in Europe, a whole century was occupied with the introduction of
Christianity. Sometimes a nation received Christianity to cast it off again
after thirty or forty years. It required a thousand years to bring them up to
the height at which we now stand. Let us not expect too much from the heathen
at once, but with love and patience and firm faith, pray and work, and expect
the blessing of God.
XXXII. LIGHT AND JOYFULNESS
`Blessed is the people that know the joyful
sound: they walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy Continence. In Thy name do they
rejoice all the day.' -- Ps. 89:15,16
`Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.' --
`I am the Light of the world:
he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light
of life.' -- John 8:12
`I will see you
again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh away from
you.' -- John 16:22
`As sorrowful, yet
always rejoicing.' -- 2 Cor. 6:10
father will always be eager to see his children joyful. He does all that he
can to make them happy. Hence God also desires that His children should walk
before Him in gladness of heart. He has promised them gladness: He will give
it. (Ps. 89:16,17; Isa. 29:29; John 26:22; 1 Pet. 1:8) He has commanded it: we
must take it and walk in it at all times. (Ps. 32:1; Isa. 12:5,6; 1 Thess.
5:16; Phil. 4:4)
The reason of this is
not difficult to find. Gladness is always the token that something really
satisfies me and has great value for me. More than anything else is gladness
for what I possess a recommendation of it to others. And gladness in God is
the strongest proof that I have in God what satisfies and satiates me, that I
do not serve Him with dread, or to be kept, but because He is my salvation.
Gladness is the token of the truth and the worth of obedience, showing whether
I have pleasure in the will of God. (Deut. 28:47; Ps. 40:9; 119:11) It is for
this reason that joy in God is so acceptable to Him, so strengthening to
believers themselves, and to all who are around the most eloquent testimony of
what we think of God. (Neh. 8:11; Ps. 68:4; Prov. 4:18)
In the Scriptures light and gladness
are frequently connected with each other. (Esth. 8:16; Prov. 13:9; 15:30; Isa.
60:20) It is so in nature. The joyful light of the morning awakens the birds
to their song and gladdens the watchers who in the darkness have longed for
the day. It is the light of God's countenance that gives the Christian his
gladness: in fellowship with his Lord, he can, and always will, be happy: the
love of the Father shines like the sun upon His children. (Ex. 10:23; 2 Sam.
23:4; Ps. 36:10; Isa. 60:1,20; 1 John 1:5; 4:16) When darkness comes over the
soul, it is always through one of two things, through sin or through unbelief.
Sin is darkness, and makes dark. And unbelief also makes dark, for it turns us
from Him, who alone is the light.
question is sometimes put, Can the Christian walk always in the light? The
answer of our Lord is clear, `He that followeth Me shall not walk in
darkness.' It is sin, the turning from behind Jesus to our own way, that makes
dark. But at the moment we confess sin, and have it cleansed in the blood, we
are again in the light. (Josh. 7:13; Isa. 58:10; 59:1,2,9; Matt. 15:14,15; 2
Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:8,14; 1 Thess. 5:5; 1 John 2:10) Or it is unbelief that
makes dark. We look to ourselves and our strength; we would seek comfort in
our own feeling, or our own works, and all becomes dark. As soon as we look to
Jesus, to the fulness, to the perfect provision for our needs that is in Him,
all is light. He says, `I am the Light: he that followeth me shall not walk in
darkness, but shall have the light of life.' So long as I believe, I have
light and gladness. (John 12:36; 11:40; Rom. 15:13; 1 Pet.
Christians, who would walk
according to the will of the Lord, hear what His word says: `Finally, my
brethren, rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I will say,
Rejoice.' (Phil. 3:1; 4:3) In the Lord Jesus there is joy unspeakable, and
full of glory: believing in Him, rejoice in this. Live the life of faith: that
life is salvation and glorious joy. A heart that gives itself undividedly to
follow Jesus, that lives by faith in Him and His love, shall have light and
gladness. Therefore, soul, only believe. Do not seek gladness; in that case
you will not find it, because you are seeking feeling. But seek Jesus, follow
Jesus, believe in Jesus, and gladness shall be added to you. `Not seeing, but
believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of
Lord Jesus, Thou are the Light of
the world, the Effulgence of the unapproachable light, in whom we see the
light of God. From Thy countenance radiates upon us the illumination of the
knowledge of the love and glory of God. And thou art ours, our light and our
salvation. O teach us to believe more firmly that with Thee we can never walk
in the darkness. Let gladness in Thee be the proof that Thou art all to us,
and our strength to do all that Thou wouldst have us do. Amen.
1. The gladness that I have in anything
is the measure of its worth in my eyes: the gladness in a person, the measure
of my pleasure in him: the gladness in a work the measure of my pleasure in
it. Gladness in God and His service is one of the surest tokens of healthy
2. Gladness is hindered
by ignorance, when we do not rightly understand God and His love and the
blessedness of His service: by unbelief, when we still seek something in our
own strength or feeling: by double-heartedness, when we are not willing to
give up and lay aside everything for
3. Understand this saying: `He
that seeks gladness shall not find it; he that seeks the Lord and His will,
shall find gladness unsought.' Think over this. He that seeks gladness as a
thing of feeling, seeks himself: he would fain be happy: he will not find it.
He that forgets himself to live in the Lord and His will, shall be taught of
himself to rejoice in the Lord. It is God, God Himself, who is the God of the
gladness of our rejoicing: seek God, and you have gladness. You have then
simply to take and enjoy it by faith.
To thank much for what God is and does, to believe much in what God says and
will do, is the way to abiding gladness.
5. `The light of the eyes gladdens the heart.' God has not intended that His
children should walk in the darkness. Satan is the prince of the darkness: God
is light: Christ is the Light of the world: we are children of the light: let
us walk in the light. Let us believe in the promise, `The Lord shall be to
thee an everlasting light. Thy sun shall no more go down, for the Lord shall
be to thee an everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be
`Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O
Lord, and teachest out of Thy law; that Thou mayest give him rest from the
days of adversity.' -- Ps. 94:12
I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I observe Thy word. It is good for me
that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes.' -- Ps.
`He chastens us for our
profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.' -- Heb.
`Count it all joy, my brethren,
when ye fall into manifold temptations; knowing that the proof of your faith
worketh patience.' -- Jas. 1:2,3
child of God must at one time or another enter the school of trial. What the
Scriptures teach us is confirmed by experience. And the Scriptures teach us
further, that we are to count it a joy when God takes us into this school. It
is a part of our heavenly blessedness to be educated and sanctified by the
Father through chastisement.
trial in itself brings a blessing. (Isa. 5:3; Hos. 7:14,15; 2 Cor. 7:10) Just
as there is no profit in the ground's being made wet by rain or broken up by
the plough, when no seed is cast into it, so there are children of God that
enter into trial and have little blessing from it. The heart is softened for a
time, but they know not how to obtain an abiding blessing from it. They know
not what the Father has in view with them in the school of
In a good school there are four
things necessary -- a definite aim, a good text-book, a capable teacher, a
1. Let the aim of trial
be clear to you. Holiness is the highest glory of the Father, and also of the
child. He `chastens us for our profit that we may be partakers of His
Holiness.' (Isa. 27:8,9; 1 Cor. 11:32; Heb. 2:10; 12:11) In trial the
Christian would often have only comfort. Or he seeks to be quiet and contented
under the special chastisement. This is indeed the beginning; but the Father
desires something else, something higher. He would make him holy, holy, for
his whole life. When Job said, `Blessed be the name of the Lord,' this was
still but the beginning of his school-time: the Lord had still more to teach
him. God would unite our will with His holy will, not only on the one point in
which He is trying us, but in everything: God would fill us with His holy
Spirit, with His holiness. This is the aim of God; this also must be your aim
in the school of trial.
2. Let the word
of God at this time be your reading book. See in our trials how in affliction
God would teach us out of His law. The word will reveal to you why the Father
chastens you, how deeply He loves you in the midst of it, and how rich are the
promises of His consolation. Trial will give new glory to the promises of the
Father. In chastisement have recourse to the word. (Ps. 119:49,50,92,143; Isa.
40:1; 43:2; 1 Thess. 4:8)
3. Let Jesus
be your teacher. He Himself was sanctified by suffering: it was in suffering
that He learned full obedience. He has a wonderfully sympathetic heart. Have
much intercourse with Him. Seek not your comfort from much speaking on the
part of men or with men. Give Jesus the opportunity of teaching you. Have much
converse with Him in solitude. (Isa. 26:16; 61:1,2; Heb. 2:10,17,18; 5:9) The
Father has given you the word, the Spirit, the Lord Jesus your sanctification,
in order to sanctify you: affliction and chastisement are meant to bring you
to the word, to Jesus Himself, in order that He may make you partaker of His
holiness. It is in fellowship with Jesus that consolation comes as of itself
(2 Cor. 1:3,4; Heb. 13:5,6)
4. Be a
willing pupil. Acknowledge your ignorance. Think not that you understand the
will of God. Ask and expect that the Lord would teach you the lesson that you
are to learn in affliction. To the meek there is the promise of teaching and
wisdom. Seek to have the ear open, the heart very quiet, and turned towards
God. Know that it is the Father that has placed you in the school of trial:
yield yourself with all willingness to hear you taught. He will bless you
greatly in this. (Ps. 25:9;39:2,10; Isa. 50:4,5)
`Happy is the man whom Thou chastenest,
and teachest out of Thy law.' `Count it all joy when ye fall into manifold
temptations,' `that ye may be perfect, lacking in nothing.' Regard the time of
trial as a time of blessing, as a time of close converse with the Father, of
being made partaker of His holiness, and you shall also rejoicingly say: `It
is good for me that I have been
Father, what thanks shall I
express to Thee for the glorious light that Thy word casts upon the dark
trials of this life. Thou wilt by this means teach me, and make me partaker of
Thy holiness. Hast Thou considered the suffering and the death of Thy beloved
Son not too much to bring holiness near to me, and shall I not be willing to
endure Thy chastisement to be partaker of it? No: Father, thanks be unto Thee
for Thy precious work: only fulfil Thy counsel in me. Amen.
1. In chastisement it is first of all
necessary that we should be possessed by the thought: This is the will of God.
Although the trial comes through our own folly or the perversity of men, we
must acknowledge that it is the will of God that we should be in that
suffering by means of that folly or perversity. We see this clearly in Joseph
and the Lord Jesus. Nothing will give us rest but the willing acknowledgment:
this is the will of God.
2. The second
thought is: God wills not only the trial, but also the consolation, the power,
and the blessing in it. He who acknowledges the will of God in the
chastisement itself is on the way to see and experience the accompaniments
also as the will of God.
3. The will of
God is as perfect as He Himself: let us not be afraid to surrender ourselves
to it: no one suffers loss by deeming the will of God unconditionally
4. This is holiness: to know and
to adore the will of God, to unite one's self wholly with
5. Pray, seek not comfort in trial
in connection with men. Do not mingle too much with them: see to it rather
that you deal with God and His word. The object of trial is just to draw you
away from what is earthly, in order that you may turn to God and give Him time
to unite your will with His perfect will.
`Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine
inner chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in
secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee.' -- Matt.
The spiritual life with its growth
depends in great measure on prayer. According as I pray much or little, pray
with pleasure or as a duty, pray according to the word of God or my own
inclination, will my life flourish or decay. In the word of Jesus quoted
above, we have the leading ideas of true
Alone with God: that is the
first thought. The door must be shut, with the world and man outside, because
I am to have converse with God undisturbed. When God met with His servants in
the olden time, He took them alone. (Gen. 28:22,23; 22:5; 32:24; Ex. 33:11)
Let the first thought in your prayer be: here are God and I in the chamber
with each other. According to your conviction of the nearness of God will be
the power of your prayer.
presence of your Father: this is the second thought. You come to the inner
chamber, because your Father with His love awaits you there. Although you are
cold, dark, sinful; although it is doubtful whether you can pray at all; come,
because the Father is there, and there looks upon you. Set yourself beneath
the light of his eye. Believe in His tender fatherly love, and out of this
faith prayer will be born. (Matt. 6:8;
Count certainly upon an answer:
that is the third point in the word of Jesus. `Your Father will recompense you
openly.' There is nothing about which the Lord Jesus has spoken so positively
as the certainty of an answer to prayer. Pray, review the promises. (Matt
6:7,8; 11:24; Luke 28:8; John 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24) Observe how
constantly in the Psalms, that prayer-book of God's saints, God is called upon
as the God who hears prayer and gives answers. (Ps. 3:5; 4:4; 6:10; 10:17;
27:6,22,25; 20:2,7,10; 34:5,7,18; 38:16; 40:2; 65:3;
It may be that there is much in
you that prevents the answer. Delay in the answer is a very blessed
discipline. It leads to self-searching as to whether we are praying amiss, and
whether our life is truly in harmony with our prayer. It rouses to a purer
exercise of faith. (Josh. 7:12; 1 Sam. 8:18; 14:37,38; 28:6,15; Prov. 21:13;
Isa. 1:15; Mic. 3:4; Hag. 1:9; Jas. 1:6; 4:3; 5:16) It conducts to a closer
and more persistent converse with God. The sure confidence of an answer is the
secret of powerful praying. Let this always be with us the chief thing in
prayer. When you pray, stop in the midst of your prayer to ask, Do I believe
that I am receiving what I pray for? Let your faith receive and hold fast the
answer as given: it shall turn out according to your faith. (Ps. 145:9; Isa.
30:19; Jer. 33:3; Mal. 3:10; Matt. 9:29; 15:28; 1 John 3:22;
Beloved young Christians, if
there is one thing about which you must be conscientious, it is this: secret
converse with God. Your life is hid with Christ in God. Every day must you in
prayer ask from above, and by faith receive in prayer what you need for that
day. Every day must personal intercourse with the Father and the Lord Jesus be
renewed and strengthened. God is our salvation and our strength: Christ is our
life and our holiness: only in personal fellowship with the living God is our
Christian, pray much,
pray continually, pray without ceasing. When you have no desire to pray, go
just then to the inner chamber. Go as one who has nothing to bring to the
Father, to set yourself before Him in faith in His love. That coming to the
Father, and abiding before Him, is already a prayer that He understands. Be
assured that to appear before God, however passively, always brings a
blessing. The Father not only hears: He sees in secret, and He will recompense
O my Father, who hast so
certainly promised in Thy word to hear the prayer of faith, give to me the
Spirit of prayer, that I may know how to offer that prayer. Graciously reveal
to me Thy wonderful Fatherly love, the complete blotting out of my sins in
Christ, by which every hindrance in this direction is taken away, and the
intercession of the Spirit in me, by which my ignorance or weakness cannot
deprive me of the blessing. Teach me with faith in Thee, the Three-One, to
pray in fellowship with Thee. And confirm me in the strong living certitude
that I receive what I believingly ask. Amen.
1. In prayer the principal thing is
faith. The whole of salvation, the whole of the new life is by faith,
therefore also by prayer. There is all too much prayer that brings nothing,
because there is little faith in it. Before I pray, and while I pray, and
after I have prayed, I must ask: Do I pray in faith? I must say: I believe
with my whole heart.
2. To arrive at
this faith we must take time in prayer: time to set ourselves silently and
trustfully before God, and to become awake to His presence: time to have our
soul sanctified in fellowship with God: time for the Holy Spirit to teach us
to hold fast and use trustfully the word of promise. No earthly knowledge, no
earthly possessions, no earthly food, no intercourse with friends, can we have
without time, sufficient time. Let us not think to learn how to pray, how to
enjoy the power and the blessedness of prayer, if we do not take time with
3. And then there must be not only
time every day, but perseverance from day to day. Time is required to grow in
the certitude that we are acceptable to the Father, and that our prayer has
power, in the confidence which knows that our prayer is according to His will
and is heard. We must not suppose that we know well enough how to pray, and
can but ask, and then it is over. No: prayer is converse and fellowship with
God, in which God has time and opportunity to work in us, in which our souls
die to their own will and power, and become bound up and united with
4. For encouragement in persistent
prayer, the following instance may be of service. In an address delivered at
Calcutta, George Muller recently said that in 1844 five persons were laid upon
his heart, and that he began to pray for their conversion. Eighteen months
passed by before the first was converted. He prayed five years more, when the
second was converted. After twelve years and a half, yet another was
converted. And now he also already prayed forty years for the other two,
without letting slip a single day; and still they are not converted. He was,
nevertheless, full of courage in the sure confidence that these two also would
be given him in answer to his prayer.
XXXV. THE PRAYER MEETING
`Again I say unto you, that if two of you
shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be
done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are
gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.' -- Matt.
The Lord Jesus has told us to
go into the inner chamber and hold our personal converse with God by prayer in
secret, and not to be seen of men. The very same voice tells us that we are
also to pray in fellowship with one another. (Matt. 6:6; Luke 9:18,28) And
when He went to heaven, the birth of the Christian Church took place in a
prayer meeting which one hundred and twenty men and women held for ten days.
(Acts. 1:14) The Day of Pentecost was the fruit of unanimous persevering
prayer. Let every one who would please the Lord Jesus, who desires the gift of
the Spirit with power for his congregation or Church, who would have the
blessing of fellowship with the children of God, attached himself to a prayer
meeting, and prove the Lord whether He will make good His word and bestow upon
it a special blessing. (2 Chron. 20:4,17; Neh. 9:2,3; Joel 2:16,17; Acts.
12:5) And let him give help in it, so that the prayer meeting may be such as
the Lord presented it to us.
blessed prayer-meeting, there must be, first of all, agreement concerning the
thing which we desire. There must be something that we really desire to have
from God; and concerning this we are to be in harmony. There must be inner
love and unity amongst the suppliants, -- all that is strife, envy, wrath,
lovelessness, makes prayer powerless, (Ps. 133:1,3; Jer. 58:4; Matt. 5:23,24;
Mark. 11:25) -- and then agreement on the definite object that is desired.
(Jer. 32:39; Acts. 4:24) For this end it is entirely proper that what people
are to pray for should be stated in the prayer meeting. Whether it be that one
of the members would have his particular needs brought forward, or whether
others would bring more general needs to the Lord, such as the conversion of
the unconverted, the revival of God's children, the anointing of the teacher,
the extension of the kingdom, let the objects be announced beforehand. And let
no one then suppose that there is unanimity whenever one is content to join in
prayer for these objects. No: we are to take them into our heart and life,
bring them continually before the Lord, be inwardly eager that the Lord should
give them: then we are on the way to the prayer that has
The second feature that
characterizes a right prayer meeting is the coming together in the name of
Jesus and the consciousness of His presence. The Scripture says, `The name of
the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.'
(Prov. 18:10) * The name is the expression of the person. When they come
together, believers are to enter into the name of Jesus, to betake themselves
within this name as their fortress and abode. In this name they mingle with
one another before the Father, and out of this name they pray: this name makes
them also truly one with each other. And when they are thus in this name, the
living Lord Himself is in their midst: and He says that this is the reason why
the Father certainly hears them. (John 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24) They are
in Him, and He is in them, and out of Him they pray, and their prayer comes
before the Father in His power. O let the name of Jesus be really the point of
union, the meeting place, in our prayer meetings, and we shall be conscious
that He is in our midst.
Then there is
the third feature of united prayer of which the Lord has told us: our request
shall certainly be done of the Heavenly Father. The prayer shall certainly be
answered. O we may well cry out in these days, `Where is the God of Elijah?'
for He was a God that answered. `The God that shall answer, He shall be God,'
said Elijah to the people. And he said to God, `Answer me, Lord; answer me;
that this people may acknowledge that Thou, O Lord, art God.' (1 Chron.
18:24,37; Jas. 5:16) When we are content with much praying, with continuous
praying, without answer, then there will be little answer given. But when we
understand that the answer as the token of God's pleasure in our prayer is the
principal thing, and are not willing to be content without it, we shall
discover what is lacking in our prayer, and shall set ourselves so to pray
that an answer may come. And this surely we may firmly believe: the Lord takes
delight in answering. It is a joy to Him when His people so enter into the
name of Jesus, and pray out of it, that He can give what they desire. (Acts.
12:5; 2 Cor. 1:11; Jas. 4:8; 5:16,17)
Children of God, however young and weak you may still be, here is one of the
institutions prepared for you by the Lord Jesus Himself to supply you with
help in prayer. Let every one make use of the prayer meeting. Let every one go
in a praying and believing frame of mind, seeking the name and the presence of
the Lord. Let every one seek to live and pray with his brethren and sisters.
And let every one expect surely to see glorious answers to
Blessed Lord Jesus, who hast
given us commandment to pray, as well in the solitary inner chamber as in
public fellowship with one another, let the one habit always make the other
more precious as complement and confirmation. Let the inner chamber prepare
us, and awaken the need for union with Thy people in prayer. Let Thy presence
there be our blessedness. And let fellowship with Thy people strengthen us
surely to expect and receive answers. Amen.
1. There are many places of our country
where prayer meetings might be a great blessing. A pious man or woman who
should once a week or on Sabbath at mid-day gather together the inhabitants on
a farm-place or the neighbours of two or three places that are not far from
one another, might be able to obtain great blessing. Let every believing
reader of this portion inquire if there does not exist in his neighbourhood
some such need, and let him make a beginning in the name of the Lord. Let me
therefore earnestly put the question to every reader: Is there a
prayer-meeting in your district? Do you faithfully take part in it? Do you
know what it is to come together with the children of God in the name of
Jesus, to experience His presence and His hearing of
2. There is a book, `The Hour of
Prayer,' with suitable portions for reading out in such gatherings. Or let
this book, `The New Life,' be taken, a portion read, and some of the texts
reviewed and spoken upon: this will give material for
3. `Will the prayer meeting do
no harm to the inner chamber?' is a question sometimes asked. My experience is
just the reverse of this result. The prayer meeting is a school of prayer. The
weak learn from more advanced petitioners. Material for prayer is given:
opportunity for self-searching; encouragement to more
4. Would that it were more
general in prayer meetings for people to speak of definite objects for which
to pray; things in which one can definitely and trustfully look out for an
answer, and concerning which one can know when an answer comes. Such
announcements would greatly further unanimity and believing
* The Dutch version has --
`and is set in a high room.' -- Translator
XXXVI. THE FEAR OF THE LORD
`Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord.
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings. His heart is established, he shall not
be afraid.' -- Ps. 112:1,7,8
Church, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,
was multiplied.' -- Acts 9:31
Scriptures use the word `fear' in a twofold way. In some places it speaks of
`fear' as something wrong and sinful, and in the strongest terms it forbids us
to `fear.' (Gen. 15:1; Isa. 8:13; Jer. 32:40; Rom. 8:15; 1 Pet. 3:14; 1 John
4:18) In well-nigh one hundred places occurs the word: `Fear not.' In many
other places, on the contrary, fear is praised as one of the surest tokens of
true godliness, acceptable to the Lord, and fruitful of blessing to us. (Ps.
22:24,26; 33:18; 112:1; 115:13; Prov. 28:14) The people of God bear the name:
those that fear the Lord. The distinction betwixt these two lies in this
simple fact: the one is unbelieving fear, the other is believing. Where fear
is found connected with lack of trust in God, there it is sinful and very
hurtful. (Matt. 8:26; Rev. 21:9) The fear, on the other hand, that is coupled
with trust and hope in God, is for the spiritual life entirely indispensable.
The fear that has man and what is temporal for its object, is condemned. The
fear that with childlike confidence and love honours the Father, is commanded.
(Ps. 33:18; 147:11; Luke 12:4,7) It is the believing, not slavish, but filial,
fear of the Lord that is presented by the Scriptures as a source of blessing
and power. He that fears the Lord will fear nothing else. The fear of the Lord
will be the beginning of all wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the sure way to
the enjoyment of God's favour and protection. (Ps. 56:5,12; Prov. 1:7; 9:10;
10:27; 19:23; Acts. 9:31; 2 Cor. 7:1)
There are some Christians who by their upbringing are led into the fear of the
Lord, even before they come to faith. This is a very great blessing: parents
can give a child no greater blessing than to bring him up in the fear of the
Lord. When those who are thus brought up are brought to faith, they have a
great advantage: they are, as it were, prepared to walk in the joy of the
Lord. When, on the contrary, others that have not this preparation, come to
conversion, they have need of special teaching and vigilance, in order to pray
for and awaken this holy fear.
elements of which this fear is composed are many and glorious. The principal
are the following: --
There are holy
reverence and awe before the glorious majesty of God and before the All Holy.
These guard against the superficiality that forgets who God is, and that takes
no pains to honour Him as God. (Job 42:6; Ps. 5:8; Isa. 6:2,5; Hab. 2:20;
There is deep humility that
is afraid of itself, and couples deep confidence in God with an entire
distrust in itself. Conscious weakness that knows the subtlety of its own
heart always dreads doing anything contrary to the will or honour of God. But
just because he fears God, such an one firmly reckons on Him for protection.
And this same humility inspires him in all his intercourse with his
fellow-men. (Luke 18:2,4; Rom. 11:20; 1 Pet. 3:5)
There is circumspectness or vigilance.
With holy forethought, it seeks to know the right path, to watch against the
enemy, and to be guarded against all lightness or hastiness in speech,
resolve, and conduct. (Prov. 2:5,11; 8:12,13; 13:33; 16:6; Luke
And there are also in it holy zeal
and courage in watching and striving. The fear of displeasing the Lord by not
conducting one's self in everything as His servant, incites to being faithful
in that which is least. The fear of the Lord takes all other fear away, and
gives inconceivable courage in the certitude of victory. (Deut. 6:2; Isa.
And out of this fear is then born
joy. `Rejoice with trembling:' the fear of the Lord gives joy its depth and
stability. Fear is the root, joy the fruit: the deeper the fear, the higher
the joy. On this account it is said: `Ye that fear the Lord praise Him;' `Ye
that fear the Lord, bless the Lord.' (Ps. 22:24;
Young disciples of Christ, hear
the voice of your Father, `Fear the Lord, ye His saints.' Let deep fear of the
Lord and dread of all that might displease or grieve Him, fill you. Then shall
you never have any evil to fear. He that fears the Lord and seeks to do all
that pleases Him, for him shall God also do all that he desires. The childlike
believing fear of God will lead you into the love and joy of God, while
slavish, unbelieving, cowardly fear is utterly cast
O my God, unite my heart for the
fear of Thy name. May I always be amongst those that fear the Lord, that hope
in His mercy. Amen.
1. What are some of
the blessings of the fear of God? (Ps. 31:20; 115:13; 127:11; 145:19; Prov. 1,
7,8,13,14,27; Acts 10:35)
2. What are
the reasons why we are to fear God? (Deut. 10:17,20,21; Josh. 4:24; 1 Sam.
12:24; Jer. 5:22; 10:6,7; Matt. 10:28; Rev.
3. It is especially the knowledge
of God in His greatness, power, and glory that will fill the soul with fear.
But for this end, we must set ourselves silent before Him, and take time for
our soul to come under the impression of His
4. `He delivered me from all my
fears.' Does this apply to every different sort of fear by which you are
hindered? There is the fear of man (Isa. 41:12,13; Heb 13:16); the fear of
heavy trial (Isa. 40:1,2); the fear of our own weakness (Isa. 41:10); fear for
the work of God (1 Chron. 28:20); the fear of death (Ps.
5. Do you now understand the
word: `Blessed is the man that fears the Lord. His heart is established, he
shall not be afraid'?
XXXVII. UNDIVIDED CONSECRATION
Ittai answered, As the Lord liveth, surely in what place my lord the king
shall be, whether for death or for life, even there also will thy servant be.'
-- 2 Sam. 15:21
`Whosoever he be of you
that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.' -- Luke
`Come ye out from among them, and
be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive
you, and will be to you a Father.' -- 2 Cor.
`Yea verily, and I count all
things to be loss for Christ Jesus my Lord.' -- Phil.
We have already said that surrender
to the Lord is something that for the Christian always obtains newer and
deeper significance. When this takes place, he comes to understand how this
surrender involves nothing less than a complete and undivided consecration to
live only, always, wholly for Jesus. as entirely as the temple was dedicated
to the service of God alone, so that every one knew that it existed only for
that purpose; as entirely as the offering on the altar could be used only
according to the command of God, and no one had a right to dispose of one
portion of it otherwise than God had said: so entirely do you belong to your
Lord, and so undivided must your consecration to Him be. God continually
reminded Israel that He had redeemed them to be His possession. (Ex. 19:4,5;
Lev. 1:8,9; Deut. 7:6; Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 3:16,17) Let us see what this
There is personal attachment to
Jesus, and intercourse with Him in secret. He will be, He must be, the
beloved, the desire, the joy of our souls. It is not, in the first instance,
to the service of God, but to Jesus as our Friend and King, our Redeemer and
God, that we are to be consecrated. (John 14:21; 15:14,15; 21:17; Gal. 2:10)
It is only the spiritual impulse of a personal cordial love that can set us in
a condition for a life of complete consecration. Continually did Jesus use the
words: `For My sake,' `Follow Me,' `My disciple'; He Himself must be the
central point. (Matt. 10:32,33,37,38,40: Luke 14:26,27,33; 18:22) He gave
Himself: to desire to have Him, to love, to depend on Him, is the
characteristic of a disciple.
is public confession. What has been given to any one, that he will have
acknowledged by all as his property. His possessions are his glory. When the
Lord Jesus manifests His great grace to a soul in redeeming it, He desires
that the world should see and know it: He would be known and honoured as its
proprietor. He desires that every one that belongs to Him should confess Him,
and that it should come out that Jesus is King. (Ex. 33:16; Josh. 24:15; John
13:35) Apart from this public confession, the surrender is but a half-hearted
one. As a part of this public confession, it is also required that we should
join His people and acknowledge them as our people. The one new commandment
that the Lord gave, the sure token by which all should recognize that we are
His disciples, is brotherly love. Although the children of God in a locality
are few, or despised, or full of imperfection, yet do you join them. Love
them: hold intercourse with them. Attach yourself to them in prayer meetings
and otherwise. Love them fervently: brotherly love has wonderful power to open
the heart for the love and the indwelling of God. (Ruth 1:16; John 15:12; Rom.
7:5; 1 Cor. 12:2021; Eph. 4:14,16; 1 Pet.
To complete consecration, there
also belongs separation from sin and the world. Touch not the unclean thing.
Know that the world is under the power of the Evil One. Ask not how much of it
you can retain without being lost. Ask not always what is sin and what is
lawful. Even of that which is lawful, the Christian must oftentimes make a
willing renunciation, in order to be able to live wholly for his God. (1 Cor.
8:13; 9:25,27; 10:23; 2 Cor. 6:16,17; 2 Tim. 2:4) Abstinence even from lawful
things is often indispensable for the full imitation of the Lord Jesus. Live
as one who is really separated for God and His holiness. He who renounces
everything, who counts everything loss for Jesus' sake, shall even in this
life receive an hundredfold. (Gen. 22:16,17; 2 Chron. 25:9; Luke 18:29; John
12:24,25; Phil. 3:8)
And what I
separate from everything, I will use. Entire consecration has its eye upon
making us useful and fit for God and His service. Let there not be with you
the least doubt as to whether God has need of you, and will make you a great
blessing. Only give yourself unreservedly into His hands. Present yourself to
Him, that He may fill you with His blessing, His love, His Spirit: you shall
be a blessing. (2 Tim. 2:21)
Let no one
fear that this demand for a complete consecration is too high for him. You are
not under the law which demands, but gives no power. You are under grace,
which itself works what it requires. (2 Cor. 9:8; 2 Thess. 1:11,12) Like the
first surrender, so is every fresh dedication yielded to this Jesus, whom the
Father has given to do all things for you. Consecration is a deed of faith, a
part of the glorious life of faith. It is on this account that you have to
say: It is not I, but the grace of God in me, that will do it. I live only by
faith in Him who works in me as well the willing as the performance. (1 Cor.
15:10; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 2:13)
Lord, open the eyes of my heart that I may see how completely Thou wouldst
have me for Thyself. Be Thou in the hidden depths of my heart the one power
that keeps me occupied, and holds me in possession. Let all know of me that
Thou art my King, that I ask only for Thy will. In my separation from the
world, in my surrender to Thy people and to Thy will, let it be manifest that
I am wholly, yea, wholly, the Lord's. Amen.
1. There is well-nigh no point of the
Christian life in connection with which I should more desire to urge you to
pray to God that He may enlighten your eyes, than this of the entire
consecration that God desires. In myself and others, I discover that with our
own thoughts we can form no conception how completely God Himself would take
possession of our will and live in us. The Holy Spirit must reveal this in us.
Only then indeed does a conviction arise of how little we understand this. We
are not to think: I see truly how entirely I must live for God, but I cannot
accomplish this: no, we are to say: I am still blind, I have still no view of
what is the glory of a life in which God is all: if I should once see that, I
would strongly desire and believe that, not I, but God, should work it in
2. Let there not be in your mind the
least doubt as to whether you have given yourself to God, to live wholly and
only as His. Express this conviction often before Him. Acknowledge that you do
not yet see or understand what it means, but abide by this, that you desire it
to be so. Reckon on the Holy Spirit to seal you, to stamp you as God's entire
possession. Even if you stumble and discover self-will, hold fast your
integrity, and trustfully aver that the deep, firm choice of your heart is in
all things, in all things, to live to
3. Keep always before your eyes
that the power to give all to the Lord, and to be all for the Lord, arises
from the fact that He has given all for you, that He is all for you. Faith in
what He did for you is the power of what you do for Him.
XXXVIII. ASSURANCE OF FAITH
unto the promise of God, Abraham wavered not through unbelief, but waxed
strong through faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that, what
He had promised, He was able also to perform.' -- Rom.
`My little children, let us not
love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth. Hereby shall we
know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him.' -- 1
`And hereby we know that He
abideth in us, by the Spirit which He gave us.' -- 1 John
Every child of God has need of the
assurance of faith: the full certitude of faith that the Lord has received him
and made him His child. The Holy Scripture always speaks to Christians as
those that know that they are redeemed, that they are now children of God, and
that they have received eternal life. (Deut. 26:27,28; Isa. 44:5; Gal. 4:7; 1
John 5:12) How, pray, can a child love or serve his father, while he is
uncertain whether his father will really acknowledge him as a child? We have
already spoken on this point in a previous chapter; but oftentimes by
ignorance or distrust a Christian again comes into darkness: for this reason
we will now deal with it once again of set purpose.
Scripture names three things by which
we have our certitude: first, faith in the word; after that, works; and then,
in and with both of these, the Holy
First, faith in the word.
Abraham is to us the great exemplar of faith, and also of the assurance of
faith. And what then says the Scripture about the certitude that he had? He
was fully assured that what God had promised He was able also to perform. His
expectation was only from God, and what God had promised. He relied upon God
to do what He had said: the promise of God was for him his only but sufficient
assurance of faith. (John 3:33, 5:24; Acts. 27:25; Rom. 4:21,22; 1 John
There are many young Christians
who think that faith in the word is not sufficient to give full certitude:
they would fain have something more. They imagine that assurance, a sure
inward feeling or conviction, is what is given above or outside of faith This
is wrong. As I have need of nothing more than the word of a trustworthy man to
give me complete certitude, so must the word of God be my certitude. People
err because they seek something in themselves and in their feeling. No: the
whole of salvation comes from God: the soul must not be occupied with itself
or its work, but with God: he that forgets himself to hear what God says, and
to rely upon His promise as something worthy of credit, has in this fact the
fullest assurance of faith. (Num. 23:19; Ps. 89:35) He does not doubt the
promises, but is strong in faith, giving God the glory, and being fully
assured that what was promised God is also able to
Then the Scripture names also
works: by unfeigned love we shall assure our hearts. (1 John 3:18,19) Here
carefully observe this: assurance by faith in the promise, without works,
comes first. The godless man who receives grace knows this only from the word.
But then, later on, assurance is to follow from works. `By works was faith
made perfect.' (John 15:10,14: Gal. 5:6; Jas. 2:22; 1 John 3:14) The tree is
planted in faith; without fruits. But when the time of fruit arrives, and no
fruit appears, then I may doubt. The more clearly I at the outset hold the
assurance of faith, without works, on the word alone, the more certainly shall
And both -- assurance by
faith and by works -- come by the Spirit. Not by the word alone, and not by
works as something that I myself do, but by the word as the instrument of the
Spirit, and by works as the fruit of the Spirit, has a child of God the
heavenly certification that he is the Lord's. (John 4:13; Rom. 8:13,14; 1 John
O let us believe in Jesus as our
life, and abide in Him, and assurance of faith shall never be lacking to
O my Father, teach me to find my
assurance of faith in a life with Thee, in cordial reliance upon Thy promises,
and in cordial obedience to Thy commands. Let Thy Holy Spirit also witness
with my spirit that I am a child of God. Amen.
1. The importance of the assurance of
faith lies in the fact, that I cannot possibly love or serve as a child a God
of whom I do not know whether He loves and acknowledges me as His
2. The whole Bible is one great
proof for the assurance of faith. Just because it thus speaks of itself, it is
not always named. Abraham and Moses knew well that God had received them:
otherwise they could not serve or trust Him. Israel knew that God had redeemed
them: for this reason they had to serve God. How much more must this be the
case in the greater redemption of the New Testament? All the Epistles are
written to men of whom it is presupposed that they know and confess that they
are redeemed, holy children of God.
Faith and obedience are inseparable, as root and fruit. First, there must be
the root, and the root must have time without fruits; then later on come
surely the fruits: first assurance without fruits by living faith in the word;
then, further assurance from fruits. It is in a life with Jesus that assurance
of faith is exalted firmly above all
4. Assurance of faith is much
helped by confession. What I express becomes from me more evident; I am bound
and confirmed by it.
5. It is at the
feet of Jesus, looking up into His friendly countenance, listening to His
loving promises, it is in intercourse with Jesus Himself in prayer, that all
doubtfulness of mind falls away. Go thither for the full assurance of
XXXIX. CONFORMITY TO JESUS
`Foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son.' -- Rom.
`I have given you an example, that
ye also should do as I have done to you.' -- John
The Bible speaks of a twofold
conformity, a twofold likeness that we bear. We may be conformed to the world
or to Jesus. The one excludes and drives out the other. Conformity to Jesus,
where it is sought, will be secretly prevented by conformity to the world more
than anything else. And conformity to the world can be overcome by nothing but
conformity to Jesus.
the new life of which you have become partaker is the life of God in heaven.
In Christ that life is revealed and made visible. What the workings and fruits
of eternal life were in Jesus, they shall also be in you: in His life you get
to see what eternal life will work in you. It cannot be otherwise: if for this
end you surrender yourself unreservedly to Jesus and the dominion of eternal
life, it will bring forth in you a walk of wonderful conformity to that of
Jesus. (Matt. 20:27,28; Luke 6:40; John 6:57; 1 John 2:6;
To the true imitation of Jesus in
His example and growth in inward conformity to Him, two things especially are
necessary. These are a clear insight that I am really called to this, and a
firm trust that it is possible for me.
One of the greatest hindrances in the spiritual life is that we do not know,
that we do not see, what God desires that we should be. (Matt. 22:19; Luke
24:16; 1 Cor. 3:1,2; Heb. 5:11,12) Our understanding is still so little
enlightened, we have still so many of our own human thoughts and imaginations
about the true service of God, we know so little of waiting for the Spirit who
alone can teach us. We do not acknowledge that even the clearest words of God
do not have for us the meaning and power that God desires. And so long as we
do not spiritually discern what likeness to Jesus is, and how utterly we are
called to live like Him, there can be but little said of true conformity.
Would that we could only conceive our need of a special heavenly instruction
on this point. (1 Cor. 2:12,13; Eph. 1:17,18)
Let us for this end earnestly examine
the Scriptures in order to know what God says and desires about our conformity
to Christ. (John 13:15; 15:10,12; 27:18; Eph. 5:2; Phil. 2:5; Col. 3:18) Let
us unceasingly ponder such words of Scripture, and keep our heart in contact
with them. Let it remain fixed with us that we have given ourselves wholly to
the Lord, to be all that He desires. And let us trustfully pray that the Holy
Spirit would inwardly enlighten us and bring us to a full view of the life of
Jesus so far as that can be seen in a believer. (1 Cor. 11:1; 2 Cor. 3:18) The
Spirit will convince us that we, no less than Jesus, are absolutely called to
live only for the will and glory of the Father: to be in the world even as He
The other thing that we have need of
is the belief that it is really possible for us with some measure of exactness
to bear the image of our Lord. Unbelief is the cause of impotence. We put this
matter otherwise. Because we are powerless, we think we dare not believe that
we can be conformed to our Lord. This thought is in conflict with the word of
God. We do not have it in our own power to carry ourselves after the image of
Jesus. No: He is our head and our life. He dwells in us, and will have His
life work from within, outwards, with divine power, through the Holy Spirit.
(John 14:23; 2 Cor. 13:3; Eph. 3:17,18)
Yet this cannot be apart from our faith. Faith is the consent of the heart,
the surrender to Him to work, the reception of His working. `Be it unto you
according to your faith,' is one of the fundamental laws of the kingdom of
God. (Zech. 8:6; Matt 8:29; Luke 1:37,45; 28:27; Gal. 2:20) It is something
incredible what a power unbelief has to hinder the working and the blessing of
the Almighty God. The Christian who would be partaker of conformity to Christ
must specially cherish the firm trust that this blessing is within his reach,
is entirely within the range of possibility. He must learn to look to Jesus as
Him to whom he by the grace of God Almighty can, in his measure, be really
conformable. He must believe that the same Spirit that was in Jesus is also in
him; that the same Father that led and strengthened Jesus also watches over
him; that the same Jesus that lived on earth now lives in him. He must cherish
the strong assurance that this Three-One God is at work in changing him into
the image of the Son. (John 14:19; 17:19; Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph.
He that believes this shall
receive it. It will not be without much prayer: it will require especially
converse, ceaseless intercourse with God and Jesus. Yet he that desires it and
is willing to give time and sacrifice to it, certainly receives
Son of God, Effulgence of the glory
of God, the very image of His substance, I must be changed into Thine image.
In Thee I see the image and the likeness of God in which we are created, in
which we are by Thee created anew. Lord Jesus, let conformity to Thee be the
one desire, the one hope of my soul. Amen.
1. Conformity to Jesus: we think that
we understand the word: but how little do we comprehend that God really
expects we should live even as Jesus. It requires much time with Him, in
prayer and pondering of His example, at all rightly to conceive it. The writer
of these precepts has written a book on this theme, has often spoken of it,
and yet he sometimes feels as if he must cry out: Is it really true? Has God
indeed called us to live even as Jesus?
2. `Like Jesus: Thoughts on the image of the Son of God and our conformity to
Him,' is the title of a book in which the various features of the image of
Jesus and the sure way of receiving them are set
3. Conformity to the world is
strengthened especially by intercourse with it: It is in intercourse with
Jesus that we shall adopt His mode of thinking, His disposition, His
4. The chief feature of the
life of Jesus is this: He surrendered Himself wholly to the Father in behalf
of men. This is the chief feature of conformity to Him: the offering up of
ourselves to God for the redemption and blessing of the
5. The chief feature His inner
disposition was -- childlikeness: absolute dependence on the Father, great
willingness to be taught, cheerful preparedness to do the will of the Father.
Be specially like Him in this.
LIFE Words of God for Young Disciples of Christ Chapters 40-
BY Rev. Andrew
"They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appeareth
before God in Zion"
XL. CONFORMITY TO THE
WORLD `I beseech you, brethren, to present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. And be not fashioned
according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.' --
Be not conformed to this
world. But what is conformity to the world? The opposite of conformity to
Jesus: for Jesus and the world stand directly opposed to each other. The world
crucified Him. He and His disciples are not of the world. The spirit of this
world cannot receive the Spirit of God, for it sees Him not and knows Him not.
(John 14:17; 17:14,16; 1 Cor. 2:6,8)
what is the spirit of this world? The spirit of this world is the disposition
that animates mankind in their natural condition, where the Spirit of God has
not yet renewed them. The spirit of this world comes from the Evil One, who is
the prince of this world, and has dominion over all that are not renewed by
the Spirit of God. (John 14:30; 16:11; 1 Cor.
And in what does the spirit of
this world, or conformity to it, manifest itself? The word of God gives the
answer: `All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the
eyes, and the vainglory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.'
The craving for pleasure or the desire to enjoy the world; the craving for
property, or the desire to possess the world; the craving for glory, or the
desire to be honoured in the world: these are the three chief forms of the
spirit of the world. (1 John 2:15,16)
And these three are one in root and essence. The spirit of this world is, that
man makes himself his own end: he makes himself the central point of the
world: all creation, so far as he has power over it, must serve him; he seeks
his life in the visible. This is the spirit of the world: to seek one's self
and the visible. (John 5:44) And the Spirit of Jesus: to live not for one's
self and not for the visible, but for God and the things that are invisible.
(2 Cor. 4:18; 5:7,15)
It is a very
terrible and serious thought that once can carry on a busy fashionable life,
free from manifest sin or unrighteousness, and yet remain in the friendship of
the world, and thereby in enmity against God. (Jas.
Where the care for the earthly, for
what we eat and what we should drink, for what we possess or may still get
into possession, for what we can have brought forth in the earth and made to
increase, is the chief element in our life, there we are conformed to this
world. It is a terrible and a very serious thought that one can maintain to
all appearance a Christian life and think that one is trusting in Christ,
while yet one is living with the world for self and the visible. (Matt.
6:32,33) For this reason the command comes to all Christians with great
emphasis: Be conformed, not to this world, but to
And how can I, for this end, come
to be not conformed to the world? Read our text over again with consideration:
we read there two things. Observe what goes before. It is those that have
presented their bodies to God as a sacrifice on the altar that have it said to
them: Be not conformed to the world. Offer yourself to God -- that is
conformity to Jesus; live every day as one that is offered up to God,
crucified in Christ to the world: then you shall not be conformed to the
world. (Gal. 6:14)
Observe also what
follows: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what
is the perfect will of God. There must be a continuous growing renewal of our
mind. This takes place by the Holy Spirit, when we let ourselves be led by
Him. Then we learn to judge spiritually of what is according to the will of
God and what is according to the spirit of the world. A Christian who strives
after the progressive renewal of his whole mind shall not be conformed to the
world: the Spirit of God makes him conformed to Jesus. (2 Cor. 6:14,16; Eph.
5:17; Heb. 5:14)
Christians, pray, do
believe that Jesus has obtained for you the power to overcome the world, with
its deep hidden seductions to living for ourselves. Believe this: believe in
Him as Victor: and you also have the victory. (John 16:33; 1 John
Precious Lord, we have presented
ourselves to Thee as living sacrifices. We have offered up ourselves to God.
We are not of the world, even as Thou art not of the world. Lord, let our mind
be enlightened by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, that we may rightly see what
the spirit of this world is. And let it be seen in us that we are not of this
world, but are conformed to Jesus. Amen.
1. Worldly pleasures. Is dancing sin?
What harm is there in playing billiards? Why may a Christian not go to the
play? One has sometimes wished that there were in the Scriptures a distinct
law to forbid such things. God has intentionally not given this. If there were
such a law, it would make men only externally pious. God would put each one
upon trial whether his inner disposition is worldly or heavenly. Pray, learn
Rom. 12:1,2 by heart, and ask the Spirit of God to make it living in you. The
Christian who offers himself up to God, and becomes transformed by the
renewing of the mind to prove the perfect will of God, will speedily learn
whether he may dance or play billiards. The Christian who is afraid only of
hell, but not of conformity to the world, cannot see what the Spirit of God
gives His children to see.
2. It is
remarkable that the trinity of the god of this world, in John's Epistle, is
seen as well in the temptation in Paradise as in that of the Lord
The lust of the
The woman saw that the tree was
good for food.
Command that those stones
The lust of the
And that it was a delight to the
The devil showeth Him all the
kingdoms of the world.
And the vainglory
And that the tree was to be
desired to make one wise.
3. Consider what I say to you: It
is only conformity to Jesus that will keep out conformity to the world. Let
conformity to Jesus be the study, the endeavour of your soul.
XLI. THE LORD'S DAY `And God blessed the seventh
day, and hallowed it: because that in it He rested from all His work which God
had created.' -- Gen. 2:3
`On that day,
the first day of the week, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto
them, Peace be unto you.' -- John 20:19
`I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day.' -- Rev.
Man abides under the law of time.
He must have time for what he would do or obtain. In a wonderful way God gives
him time for intercourse with Himself. One day in seven God separated for
fellowship with Himself.
object of God's gift of this day is said to be, that it may serve as a token
that God desires to sanctify man. (Ex. 31:13,17; Ezek. 20:12,20) Endeavour,
pray, to understand well that word `holy:' it is one of the most important
words in the Bible. God is the Holy One: that alone is holy to which God
communicates His holiness by revealing Himself thereby. We know that the
temple was holy, because God dwelt there. God had taken possession of it. He
gave Himself to dwell there. So would God also sanctify man, take possession
of him, fill him with Himself, with His own life, His disposition, His
holiness. For this end, God took possession of the seventh day, appropriating
it to Himself: He sanctified it. And He calls man also to sanctify it, and to
acknowledge it as the Lord's day, the day of the Lord's presence and special
working. He that does this, that sanctifies this day, shall, as God has
promised, be sanctified by Him. (Read with attention Ex. 31:12-17, especially
God blessed the seventh day
by sanctifying it. The blessing of God is the power of life, lodged by Him in
anything, whereby it has a result full of blessing. Grass, and cattle, and man
He blessed with power to multiply. (Gen. 1:22,28; 22:17) And so He lodged in
the seventh day a power to bless: the promise that every one that sanctifies
this day shall be sanctified and blessed by it. We must accustom ourselves
always to think of the Sabbath as a blessed day, that certainly brings
blessing. The blessing bound up with it is very great. (Isa. 46:4,7;
There is still a third word
that is used of the institution of the Sabbath: `God rested on the seventh
day,' and, as it stands in Exodus, `was refreshed' or gladdened. God would
sanctify and bless us, by introducing us into His rest. He would bring us to
see that we are not to burden ourselves with our cares and weakness: we are to
rest in Him, in His finished work, in His rest, which He takes because all is
in order. This rest is not the outward cessation of employments; no: it is the
rest of faith, by which we cease from our works as God did from His, because
all is finished. Into this rest we enter by faith in the finished work of
Jesus, in surrender to be sanctified by God. (Heb.
Because Jesus finished the
second creation in His resurrection, and we, by the power of His resurrection,
enter into life and rest, the seventh day is changed to the first day of the
week. There is no specific statement on this point: under the New Testament,
the Spirit takes the place of the law. The Spirit of the Lord led His
disciples to the celebration of this day. It was the day, not only on which
the Lord was raised, but also on which, in all likelihood, the Spirit was
poured out: not only on which the Lord manifested Himself during the forty
days, but on which the Spirit also specially worked (John 20:1,19,26; Acts.
1:8; 20:7: 1 Cor. 26:2; Rev. 1:10)
chief lessons that we have to learn about this day are the following:
The principal aim of the Sabbath is
to make you holy, as God is holy. God would have you holy: this is glory, this
is blessedness: this is His blessing, this His rest. God would have you holy,
filled with Himself and His holiness. (Ex. 29:43,45; Ezek. 37:27,28; 1 Pet.
In order to sanctify you, God
must have you with Him, in His presence and fellowship. You are to come away
from all your struggling and working to rest with Him: to rest quietly,
without exertion or anxiety, in the certitude that the Son has finished
everything, that the Father cares for you in everything, that the Spirit will
work everything in you. In the holy rest of a soul that is converted to God,
that is silent towards God, that remains silent before His presence to hear
what God speaks in him, that reckons upon God to achieve all, God can reveal
Himself. (Ps. 52:2,6; Hab. 2:20; Zech. 2:13; John 19:30) It is thus that He
We sanctify the day of
rest, first by withdrawal from all external business and distraction; but then
especially by employing it as God's day, belonging to the Lord, for what He
destined it, fellowship with Himself.
Take heed, on the other hand, that you do not use the day of rest only as a
day for the public observance of divine worship. It is especially in private
personal intercourse that God can bless and sanctify you. In the church, the
understanding is kept active, and you have the ordinances of preaching, united
prayer and praise, to keep you occupied. But we do not there always know
whether the heart is really dealing with God, is taking delight in Him. This
takes place in solitude. O, accustom yourself, then, to be alone with the Lord
your God. Not only speak to Him: let Him speak to you: let your heart be the
temple in whose holy silence His voice is heard. Rest in God: then will God
say of your heart: This is my rest, here will I dwell. (Ps.
Young Christian, set great
store by the holy, the blessed day of rest. Long for it. Thank God for it.
Keep it very holy. And, above all, let it be a day of inner fellowship with
your God, of a living converse with His
Holy God, I thank Thee for the holy
day which Thou givest me as a token that Thou wilt sanctify me. Lord God, it
is Thou who didst sanctify the day by taking it for Thyself: sanctify me in
like manner by taking me for Thyself. Teach me so to enter into Thy rest, so
to find my rest in Thy love, that my whole soul shall be silent before Thee,
in order that Thou mayest make Thyself and Thy love known in me. And let every
Sabbath be to me a foretaste of the eternal rest with Thee.
1. The Sabbath was the first of
all the means of grace, instituted even before the Fall. You cannot see too
high a value upon it.
2. Observe how
specially the Three-One God has revealed Himself upon the day of rest. The
Father rested on this day. The Son rose from the dead upon it. The Spirit
sanctified this day by His special workings. You may on this day expect the
fellowship and the powerful workings of the
3. What is meant by the word
`holy'? Of what is the day of rest a token, according to Ex. 31:13? How did
God sanctify the day of rest? How does He sanctify
4. There are in this country
peculiar difficulties in the way of the quiet celebration of the day of rest
in a village, where the church is often very full. Yet one can lay aside that
which is unnecessary and receive the influx of company. We can fix an hour in
which there shall be reading and
5. It is a matter of great
importance to bring up children aright, for the sanctification of the Sabbath
day, by avoiding worldly society and conversation, by accustoming them to read
something that may be useful for them. For the younger children, there should
be in every place a Sabbath school. For the older children, it would be well
to come together in connection with such a book as this, every one with a
Bible, and to review texts.
6. There is
no better day than the Lord's day for doing good to body and soul. Let the
works of Satan on this day come to an end, and work for the heathen and the
ignorant be carried forward.
principal point is this: the day of rest is the day of God's rest, of rest in
and with God, and of intercourse with Him. It is God that will sanctify us. He
does this by taking possession of us.
XLII. HOLY BAPTISM `Go ye therefore, and make
disciples * of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I commanded you.' -- Matt.
`He that believeth and is baptized
shall be saved.' -- Mark. 26:16
words of the institution of baptism, we find its meaning comprehended as in a
summary. The word `teach' means: `make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
them.' The believing disciple, as he is baptized in the water, is also to be
baptized or introduced into the name of the Three-One God. By the name of the
Father, the new birth and life as a child in the love of the Father are
secured to him: (Gal. 3:26,27; 4:6,7) by the name of the Son, participation in
the forgiveness of sins and the life that is in Christ: (Col. 2:12) by the
name of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling and progressive renewal of the Spirit.
(Tit. 2:5,6) And every baptized believer must always look upon baptism as his
entrance into a covenant with the Three-One God, and as a pledge that the
Father, the Son, and the Spirit will in course of time do for him all that
they have promised. It requires a life-long study to know and enjoy all the
blessing that is presented in baptism.
In other passages of Scripture the thrice two-fold blessing is again set forth
separately: thus we find bound up with it the new birth required to make a
child of God. `Except a man be born of water and the Sprit, he cannot enter
into the kingdom of God.' The baptized disciple has in God a Father, and he
has to live as a child in the love of this Father. (John
Then, again, baptism is brought
more directly into connection with the redemption that is in Christ.
Consequently, the first and simplest representation of it is the forgiveness
or washing away of sins. Forgiveness is always the gateway or entrance into
all blessing: hence baptism is also the sacrament of the beginning of the
Christian life; but of a beginning that is maintained through the whole life.
It is on this account that in Rom. 6 baptism is represented as the secret of
the whole of sanctification, the entrance into a life in union with Jesus. `Or
are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized
into His death?' And then follows in verse 4-11, the more precise explanation
of what it is to be baptized into the death of Jesus, and to arise out of this
with Him for a new life in Him. This is elsewhere very powerfully comprehended
in this one word: `As many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on
Christ.' This alone is the right life of a baptized disciple: he has put on
Christ. (Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12) As one is plunged into water and
passes under it, so is the believing confessor baptized into the death of
Christ, in order then to live and walk clothed with the new life of
And there are other passages
where again there is connected with baptism the promise of the Spirit, not
only as the Spirit of regeneration, but as the gift bestowed from heaven upon
believers for indwelling and sealing, for progressive renewal. `He saved us
through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He
poured out upon us richly.' Renewal is here the activity of the Spirit,
whereby the new life that is planted in the new birth penetrates our whole
being, so that all our thinking and doing is sanctified by Him. (Rom. 12:2;
Eph. 4:23; Tit. 2:5,6)
And all this rich
blessing which lies in baptism is received by faith. `He that believeth, and
is baptized, shall be saved.' Baptism was not only a confession on man's part
of the faith that he who would be a disciple already had, but equally on God's
part a seal for the confirmation of faith, a covenant token in which the whole
treasury of grace lay open, to be enjoyed throughout life. As often as a
baptized believer sees a baptism administered, or reflects upon it, it is to
be to him an encouragement to press by an over-growing faith into the full
life of salvation that the Three-One desires to work in him. The Holy Spirit
is given to appropriate within us all the love of the Father and all the grace
of the Son. The believing candidate for baptism is baptized into the death of
Christ, has put on Christ: the Holy Spirit is in him to give him all this as
his daily experience. (Eph. 4:14,15; Col
Lord God, make Thy holy baptism
always operative in my soul as the experience that I am baptized into the
death of Christ. And let Thy people everywhere understand by Thy Spirit what
rich blessing lies thrown open in the baptism of their children. Amen.
And what are we now to think of Infant
Baptism? With the assurance that those who cleave only to God's word, namely,
the Baptists, will say to us: You cannot adduce a single passage in Scripture
where the baptism of little children is spoken
Our answer is that this is
thoroughly taught us in Scripture, not indeed by separate texts, but by its
whole tenor. The reason why the Lord Jesus did not name children specially,
was that this was altogether unnecessary. From the time of Abraham onwards God
had engrained it in His people, that in His covenant He always reckoned
parents and children together. He deals, not with separate individuals alone,
but with households: the faith of a father held good for the child, so long as
the child did not violate the covenant.
a. In Abraham, Isaac obtained part; in every father amongst the people of
Israel his child obtained part in the covenant between Me and thee, and thy
seed after thee, to be a God unto thee, and thy seed after thee.' (Gen.
b. Even so in connection with the
Passover, it was ordained that, when a stranger would join the people, all his
males should be circumcised. (Ex. 12:48)_ Up to the time of Christ it was
unquestionably the case that, when any one belonged to the people of God or
desired to become attached to them, his little children were received along
with him. If the Lord had desired to change this, a very express injunction
was needed for the purpose.
expressly did the Lord Jesus declare of children: `Of such is the kingdom of
God.' And under the kingdom should he not have as a Christian the privilege
that he had as a Jew? Yes: the covenant of Abraham is still confirmed from
child to child.
d. The answer of Paul to
the goal-keeper confirms the continuance of what God had instituted: `Believe
in the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.' Although there were
no children in that house, this promise confirms the principle that God deals,
not merely with individuals, but with
e. `Therefore are your
children holy.' Since the child itself is holy, it has of itself a right to
the holy token of the covenant.
Dutch version, like our Authorized, has `teach' here.
XLIII. THE LORD'S SUPPER `The cup of blessing which we
bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break,
is it not a communion of the body of Christ?' -- 1 Cor.
`He that eateth My flesh and
drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I in him. He that eateth Me, he also
shall live because of Me.' -- John
All life has need of food: it is
sustained by nourishment which it takes in from without. The heavenly life
must have heavenly food; nothing less than Jesus Himself is the bread of life:
`He that eateth Me shall live by Me.' (Ps. 42:3; Matt. 4:4; John
This heavenly food, Jesus, is
brought near to us in two of the means of grace, the word and the Lord's
Supper. The word comes to present Jesus to us from the side of the
intellectual life, by our thoughts. The Lord's Supper comes in like manner to
present Jesus to us from the side of the emotional life, by the physical
senses. Man has a double nature: he has spirit and body. Redemption begins
with the spirit, but it would also penetrate to the body, (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor.
6:13, 15,19,20; Phil. 3:21) Redemption is not complete until this mortal body
also shall share in glory. The Supper is the pledge that the Lord will also
change our body of humiliation and make it like His own glorified body by the
working whereby He subdues all things to Himself. It is not simply because all
that is corporeal is more clear and intelligible for us, that the Lord gives
Himself in the bread of the Supper. No: by the body, Scripture often
understands the whole man. In the Supper, Christ would take possession of the
whole man, body and soul, to renew and sanctify it by the power of His holy
body and blood. Even His body shares in His glory: even His body is
communicated by the Holy Spirit. Even our body is fed with His holy body, and
renewed by the working of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 26:26; John 6:54,55; Rom.
This feeding with the body of
Christ takes place, on the side of the Lord by the Spirit, on our side by
faith. On the side of the Lord by the Spirit: for the Spirit communicates to
us the power of the glorified body, whereby even our bodies, according to
Scripture, become members of His body. (1 Cor. 6:15,17; 12:13; Eph. 5:23,30)
The Spirit gives us to drink of the life-power of His blood, so that that
blood becomes the life and the joy of our soul. The bread is a participation
in the body: the cup is a participation in the
And this takes place on our side
by faith: a faith that, above what can be seen or understood, reckons on the
wonder-working power of the Holy Spirit to unite us really, alike in soul and
body, with our Lord, by communicating Him inwardly to us. (Luke 1:37; 1 Cor.
This is what the Heidelberg
Catechism intends in Question and Answer
`What is it to eat the glorified
body of Christ and to drink His shed
`It is not only to receive with
a believing heart the whole suffering and dying of Christ, and thereby to
obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but also therewith, by the Holy
Spirit, who dwells alike in Christ and in us, to be so united more and more
with His blessed body, that we, although He is in heaven and we are upon
earth, are nevertheless flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone, and so live
and are governed eternally by one Spirit, as the members of our body by a
This deeply inward union with
Jesus, even with His body and blood, is the great aim of the Lord's Supper.
All that it teaches and gives us of the forgiveness of sins, of the
remembrance of Jesus, of the confirmation of the divine covenant, of union
with one another, of the announcement of the Lord's death till He comes, must
lead to this: complete oneness with Jesus through the Spirit. (Matt. 26:28;
Luke 22:19; John 6:56; 25:4; 1 Cor. 10:17; 11:25; Rev. 3:20) `He that eateth
My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I in him. He that eateth Me,
he shall live by Me.'
It is readily
understood that the blessing of the Supper depends very much on preparation
within the inner chamber, on the hunger and thirst with which one longs for
the living God. (Job. 11:13; Isa. 45:1,3; Matt. 5:6; Luke 1:53; 1 Cor. 11:8)
Do not imagine, however, that the Supper is nothing but an emblematic token of
what we already have by faith in the word. No: it is a spiritual actual
communication from the exalted Lord in heaven of the powers of His life: yet
this, only according to the measure of desire and faith. Prepare for the
Lord's Supper, therefore, with very earnest separation and prayer. And then
expect that the Lord will, with His heavenly power, in a way to you
incomprehensible, yet sure, renew your
Blessed Lord, who didst institute
the Supper in order to communicate Thyself to Thy redeemed as their food and
their power of life, O teach us to use the Supper. Teach us at every
opportunity to eat and to drink with great hunger and thirst for Thyself and
for full union with Thee, believing that the Holy Spirit feeds us with Thy
body and gives us to drink of Thy blood. Amen.
1. In connection with the Supper let us
be especially on our guard against the idea of a mere divine service of the
congregation or transitory emotion. Preaching and addresses may make an
edifying impression, while there is little power or
2. For a meal, the first
requisite is hunger. A strong hunger and thirst for God is
3. In the Supper, Jesus
desires to give Himself to us, and would have us give ourselves to Him. These
are great and holy things.
lessons of the Supper are many. It is a feast of remembrance; a feast of
reconciliation; a covenant feast; a love feast; a feast of hope. But all these
separate thoughts are only subordinate parts of the principal element: the
living Jesus would give Himself to us in the most inward union. The Son of God
would descend into our inmost parts; He would come in to celebrate the Supper
with us. `He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, let him abide in Me,
and I in him.'
5. And then union with
Jesus is union with His people in love and
6. The preparatory address is
not itself the preparation: it is only a help to the private preparation which
one must have in intercourse with Jesus.
7. To hold festival with God at His table is something of unspeakable
importance. Pray, do not suppose that, because you are a Christian, it is easy
for you to go and sit down. No: betake yourself to solitude with Jesus, that
He may speak to you and say how you are to prepare you heart to eat with Him,
yea, with Himself.
It is very useful to
take the whole week before the Supper for preparation and the whole week after
* `Der Heidelbergische
Catechismus,' 28, 5:76.
XLIV. OBEDIENCE `Now therefore, if ye will
obey My voice indeed, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me from among all
peoples.' -- Ex. 19:5
`The Lord will
surely bless thee, if thou only diligently hearken unto the voice of the Lord
thy God.' -- Deut. 25:4,5
Abraham obeyed. -- Heb. 11:8
obedience by the things which He suffered; and having been made perfect, He
became unto all them that obey Him the author of eternal salvation.' -- Heb.
Obedience is one of the most
important words in the Bible and in the life of the Christian. It was in the
way of disobedience that man lost the favour and the life of God: it is only
in the way of obedience that that favour and that life can again be enjoyed.
(Rom. 5:19; 6:16; 1 Pet. 1:2,14,22) God cannot possibly take pleasure in those
who are not obedient, or bestow His blessing upon them. `If ye will obey My
voice indeed, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me;' `The Lord will surely
bless thee, if thou only diligently hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy
God.' These are the eternal principles according to which alone man can enjoy
God's favour and blessing.
We see this
in the Lord Jesus. He says: `If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My
love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love.' He
was in the love of the Father, but could not abide there otherwise than by
obedience. And He says that this is equally for us the one way to abide in His
love: we must keep His commandments. He came to open for us the way back to
God: this way was the way of obedience: only he that through faith in Jesus
walks in this way shall come to God. (Gen. 22:17,18; 26:4,5; 1 Sam. 25:22;
How gloriously is this
connection betwixt the obedience of Jesus and our own expressed in Heb. 5: `He
learned obedience, and became unto all them that obey Him the author of
eternal salvation.' This is the bond of unity between Jesus and His people,
the point of conformity and inward unanimity. He was obedient to the Father:
they, on the other hand, are obedient to Him. He and they are both obedient.
His obedience not only atones for, but drives out their disobedience. He and
they bear one token: obedience to God. (Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 10:5; Phil.
This obedience is a characteristic
of the life of faith. It is called the obedience of faith. (Acts. 6:7; Rom.
1:5; 16:26) There is nothing in earthly things that so spurs on men to work as
faith: the belief that there is advantage or joy to be found is the secret of
all work. `By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed:' according to what I
believe shall my works be. The faith that Jesus made me free from the power of
sin for obedience and sets me in a suitable condition for it, has a mighty
power to make me obedient. Faith in the overflowing blessing which the Father
gives to it, faith in the promises of the love and indwelling of God, of the
fulness of the Spirit which comes by this channel, strengthens for obedience.
(Deut. 28:1; Isa. 63:5; John 14:15,11,23; Acts.
The power of this faith, again, as
also of obedience lies especially in intercourse with the living God Himself.
There is but one Hebrew word for `obeying voice' and `hearing voice:' to hear
aright prepares to obey. It is when I learn the will of God, not in the words
of a man or a book, but from God Himself, when I hear the voice of God, that I
shall surely believe what is promised and do what is commanded. The Holy
Spirit is the voice of God: when we hear the living voice speak, obedience
becomes easy. (Gen. 12:1,4; 31:13,16; Matt. 14:28; Luke 5:5; John 10:4,27) O
let us then wait in silence upon God, and set our soul open before Him, that
He may speak by His Spirit. When in our Bible-reading and praying we learn to
wait more upon God, so that we can say: My God has spoken this to me, has
given me this promise, has commanded this, then shall we also obey. `To listen
to the voice' earnestly, diligently, is the sure way to
With a servant, a warrior, a
child, a subject, obedience is indispensable, the first token of integrity.
And shall God, the living, glorious God, find no obedience with us? (Mal. 1:6;
Matt. 7:21) No: let cheerful, punctual, precise obedience from the beginning
be the token of the genuineness of our fellowship with the Son whose obedience
is our life.
O Father, who makest us Thy
children in Christ, Thou makest us in Him obedient children, as He was
obedient. Let the Holy Spirit make the obedience of Jesus so glorious and
powerful in us, that obedience shall be the highest joy of our life. Teach us
in everything only to seek to know what Thou desirest and then to do it. Amen.
For a life of obedience these things
are required: --
1. Decisive surrender.
I must no longer have to ask in every single case: Shall I or shall I not,
must I, can I, be obedient? No: it must be such an unquestionable thing, that
I shall know of nothing else than to be obedient. He that cherishes such a
disposition and thinks of obedience as a thing that stands firm, shall find it
easy, yea, shall literally taste in it great
2. The knowledge of God's will
through the Spirit. Pray, do not imagine that, because you know the Bible in
some sort, you know the will of God. The knowledge of God's will is something
spiritual: let the Holy Spirit make known to you the knowledge of God's
3. The doing of all that we know
to be right. All doing teaches men: all doing of what is right teaches men
obedience. All that the word, or conscience, or the Spirit tells you is right,
actually do it. It helps to form doing into a holy habit, and is an exercise
leading to more power and more knowledge. Do what is right, Christian, out of
obedience to God, and you shall be
4. Faith in the power of
Christ. You have the power to obey: be sure of this. Although you do not feel
it, you have it in Christ your Lord by
5. The glad assurance of the
blessing of obedience. It unites us with our God, it wins His good pleasure
and love, it strengthens our life, it brings the blessedness of heaven into
XLV. THE WILL OF GOD `Thy will be done, as in
heaven so on earth.' -- Matt. 6:10
glory of heaven, where the Father dwells, is that His will is done there. He
who would taste the blessedness of heaven must know the Father who is there,
and do His will, as it is done in heaven. (Dan.
`Heaven is an unending holy
kingdom, of which the throne of God is the central point. Around this throne
there are innumerable multitudes of pure, free beings, all ordered under
powers and dominions. An indescribably rich and many-sided activity fills
their life. All the highest and noblest that keeps man occupied is but a faint
shadow of what finds place in this invisible world. All these beings possess
each their free personal will. The will, however, has in self-conscious
freedom, by its own choice, become one with the holy will of the holy Father,
so that, in the midst of a diversity that flashes out in a million forms, only
one will is accomplished -- the will of God. All the rich, blessed movement of
the inhabitants of heaven has its origin and its aim in the will of God.'
And why is it then that His children on
earth do not regard this will as their highest joy? Wherefore is it that the
petition, `Thy will be done as in heaven,' is for the most part coupled with
thoughts of the severe, the trying elements in the will of God, of the
impossibility of our always rejoicing in God's will? The cause is this: we do
not take pains to know the will of God in its glory and beauty, as the
emanation of love, as the source of power and joy, as the expression of the
perfection of God. We think of God's will only in the law that He gave and
that we cannot keep, or in the trials in which this will appears in conflict
with our own. O let us no longer do this, but take pains to understand that in
the will of God all His love and blessedness are comprehended and can be
apprehended by us. (Gal. 1:4; Eph. 1:5,9,11; Heb.
Hear what the word says about the
will of God: and the glorious things that are destined for us in this
`This is the will of my Father,
that every one that beholdeth the Son and believeth on Him should have eternal
life.' The will of God is the rescue of sinners by faith in Christ. He that
surrenders himself to this glorious will to seek souls shall have the
assurance that God will bless his work to others; for he carries out God's
will, even as Jesus did it. (John 4:35; 5:30;
`It is not the will of your
Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.' The
will of God is the maintenance, the strengthening, the keeping of the weakest
of His children. What courage shall he have who unites himself cordially with
this will. (Matt. 28:14)
`This is the
will of God, even your sanctification.' With His whole heart, with all the
power of His will, is God willing to make us holy. If we but open our heart to
believe that it is not the law, but the will of God, something that He
certainly gives and does where we permit Him, then shall we rejoice over our
sanctification a stable and sure. (1 Thess. 4:3;
`In everything give thanks: for
this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.' A joyful, thankful life
is what God has destined for us, is what He will work in us: what He desires,
that He certainly does in those who do not withstand Him, but receive and
suffer His will to work in them. (1 Thess.
What we require then is to
surrender our spirit to be filled with the thought, that what God would have
He will certainly bring to pass when we do not resist Him. And if we further
consider how glorious, and good, and perfect the will of God is, shall we not
then yield ourselves with the whole heart, that this will may bring itself to
accomplishment in us? (Rom. 12:2)
this end, let us believe that the will of God is His love. Let us see what
blessings in the word are connected with the doing of this will. (Matt. 7:21;
12:50 John 7:17; 9:31; Eph. 5:17; 6:6; 1 John 2:17) Let us think of the glory
of heaven as consisting in the doing of God's will, and make the choice that
that our life on earth shall be. And let us with prayer and meditation suffer
ourselves to be led of the Spirit to know this will aright. (Rom. 12:2; Col.
1:9; 4:12; Heb. 10:36; 13:21)
have thus learned to know the will of God on its glorious heavenly side in the
word, and have done it, it will not be difficult for us also to bear this will
where it appears to be contrary to our nature. We shall be so filled with the
adoration of God and His will, that we shall resolve to see, and approve, and
love this will in everything. And it will be the most glorious thought of our
life that there is to be nothing, nothing, in which the will of God must not
be known and honoured. (Ps. 42:9; Matt. 26:39; Heb.
O my Father, this was the glory
of the Lord Jesus, that He did not His own will, but the will of His Father.
This His glory I desire to have as mine. Father, open mine eyes and my heart
to know the perfection, the glory of Thy will, and the glory of a life in this
will. Teach me to understand Thy will aright, then willingly and cheerfully to
execute it; and where I have to hear it, to do this also with filial
1. To do the will of
God from the heart in prosperity is the only way to bear this will from the
heart in suffering.
2. To do the will of
God, I must know it spiritually. The light and the power of the Spirit go
together: what He teaches to see as God's will, He certainly teaches all to
do. Meditate much on Rom. 12:2, and pray earnestly to see God's will
3. Learn always to adore the
will of God in the least and the worst thing that man does to you. It is not
the will of God that His child should be proved thereby. Say then always in
the least as well as the greatest trials: It is the will of God that I am in
this difficulty. This brings the soul to rest and silence, and teaches it to
honour God in the trial. On this point read the chapter, `Is God in
everything?' In the excellent little book, `The Christians Secret of
4. When God gave a will to
man, He gave him a power whereby he could accept or reject the will of God.
Child of God, pray, open your will to receive the will of God with its full
power, and to be filled with it. This is heavenly glory and blessedness, to be
conscious every day: my will is in harmony with God's will; God's will lives
in me. It is the will of God to work this in
* [The Christian's Secret of a
Happy Life, by H .W. S. F. E. Longely, chap. 8 p. 83. --
XLVI. SELF-DENIAL `Then said Jesus unto His
disciples, If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross and follow Me.' -- Matt. 16:24
Self-denial was an exercise of which the Lord Jesus often spoke. He mentioned
it several times as an indispensable token of every true disciple. He connects
it with cross-bearing and losing life. (Matt. 10:38,39; Luke 9:23; 14:27; John
12:24,25) Our old life is so sinful, and remains to the end so sinful, that it
is never in a condition for anything good. It must therefore be denied and
mortified, in order that the new life, the life of God, may have free dominion
over us. (Rom. 6:6; 8:13; Gal. 2:20; 5:24; 6:14; Col. 3:5) Let the young
Christian resolve from the very beginning to deny himself wholly, in
accordance with the injunction of his Lord. At the outset, it seems severe: he
will find that it is the source of inconceivable
Let self-denial reach our
carnal understanding. It was when Peter had spoken according to the thought of
the natural understanding, that the Lord had to say to him: `Thou mindest not
the things of God, but the things of men.' You must deny yourselves and your
own thoughts. We must be careful that the activity of our understanding with
the word and prayer, in endeavouring to reach the knowledge of what is God's
will, does not deceive us with a service of God that is not in spirit and in
truth. Deny your carnal understanding; bring it to silence; in holy silence
give place to the Holy Spirit; let the voice of God be heard in your heart.
(Matt. 26:21; 1 Cor. 1:17,27; 2:6; Col.
Deny also your own will, with all
its lusts and desires. Let it be once for all unquestionable that the will of
God in everything is your choice, and that therefore every desire that does
not fall in with this will, must be mortified. Pray, believe that in the will
of God there is heavenly blessedness, and that therefore self-denial appears
severe only at the outset, but, when you exercise yourself heartily in it,
becomes a great joy. Let the body with all its life abide under the law of
self-denial. (Matt. 26:39; Rom. 6:13; 1 Cor.
Deny also your own honour. Seek
not it, but the honour of God. This brings such a rest into the soul. `How can
ye believe,' says Jesus, `which receive glory one of another?' Although your
honour be hurt or reviled, commit it to God to watch over it. Be content to be
little, to be nothing. `Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom.' (John 5:44; 7:18; 8:50; 1 Thess.
Deny, in like manner, your own
power. Cherish the deep conviction that it is those who are weak, those who
are nothing, that God can use. Be very much afraid of your own endeavours in
the service of God, however sincere they may be. Although you feel as if you
had power, say before God that you have it not, that your power is nothing:
continuous denial of your own power is the way to enjoy the power of God. It
is in the heart that dies to its own power, that the Holy Spirit decides to
dwell and bring the power of God. (2 Cor. 3:5;
Deny especially your own
interests. Live not to please yourself, but your neighbour. He that seeks his
own life shall lose it; he that would live for himself shall not find life.
But he that would really imitate Jesus, to share in His joy, let him give his
life as He did, let him sacrifice his own interests. (Rom. 15:1,3; 1 Cor.
10:23,24; Eph. 2:4)
at conversion you had to make a choice betwixt your own self and Christ, which
you should obey. You then said: `Not I, but Christ' Now you are to confirm
this choice every day. The more you do so, the more joyful and blessed will it
be for you to renounce the sinful self, to cast aside unholy self-working, and
suffer Jesus to be all. The way of self-denial is a way of deep heavenly
There are very many
Christians that observe nothing of this way. They would have Jesus to make
them free from punishment, but not to liberate them from themselves, from
their own will. But the invitation to discipleship still always rings: `If any
man would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and
The reason as well as the
power for self-denial, we find in the little word Me. `If any man would come
after Me, let him deny himself, and follow Me.' The old life is in ourselves:
the new life is in Jesus: the new life cannot rule without driving out the
old. Where one's own self had everything to say, it must be nothing. This it
would fain not be: on this account there must be all the day denial of one's
self, imitation of Jesus. He, with His teaching, His will, His honour, His
interests, must fill the heart. But he that has and knows Him, willingly
denies himself: Christ is so precious to him, that he sacrifices everything,
even himself, to win Him. (Gal. 2:20; Phil.
This is the true life of faith.
Not according to what nature sees or thinks to be acceptable, do I live, but
according to what Jesus says and would have. Every day and every hour I
confirm the wonderful bargain: `Not I, but Christ:' I nothing, Christ
everything. `Ye died,' and no longer have power, or will, or honour; `your
life is hid with Christ in God:' Christ's power and will alone prevail. O
soul, cheerfully deny that sinful wretched self, in order that the glorious
Christ may dwell in you.
Saviour, teach me what self-denial is. Teach me so to distrust my heart that
in nothing shall I yield to its fancy. Teach me so to know Thee that it shall
be impossible for me to do anything else than to offer up myself to possess
Thee and Thy life. Amen.
1. Of the
denial of the natural understanding Tersteegen says: `God and His truth are
never known aright, save by such an one as, by the dying of his carnal nature,
his inclinations, passions, and will, is made very earnest and silent; and by
the abandonment of the manifold deliberations of the understanding, has become
very simple and childlike. We must give our heart and our will entirely to
God, forsaking our own will in all things, releasing ourselves especially from
the manifold imaginations and activities of the understanding, even in
spiritual things, that it may collect itself silently in the heart, and dwell
as in the heart with God. Not in the head, but in the heart is found the
living truth itself, the anointing that teaches us all things. In the heart is
found the living fountain of light. Any one that lives in a heart entertained
with God, will often with a glance of the eye discern more truth than another
with the greatest exertion.'
2. Read the
above passage with care: you will find in it the reason why we have several
times said, that when you read or pray you must at every opportunity keep
quiet for a little and set yourself in entire silence before God. This is
necessary, to bring the activity of the natural understanding to silence and
to set the heart open before God, that He may speak there. In the heart is the
temple where worship in spirit and truth takes place. Distrust, deny your
understanding in spiritual things. The natural understanding is in the head:
the spiritual understanding is in the heart, the temple of God. O preserve in
the temple of God a holy silence before His countenance: then He will
3. `The peculiar mark of
Christian self-denial is inward cheerfulness and joy in the midst of
privation. The word of God makes unceasing joy a duty. This gladsome
disposition, which, hailing from eternity, has all change and vicissitude
under foot, will hold its ground, not only in times of severe suffering, but
also in the self-denial of every day and hour that is inseparable from the
4. What all am I to
deny? Deny yourself. How shall I know where and when to deny myself? Do so
always and in everything. And if you do not rightly understand that answer,
know that no one can give you the right explanation of it but Jesus Himself.
To imitate Him, to be taught of Him, is the only way to self-denial. Only when
Jesus comes in, does self go out.
XLVII. DISCRETION `For wisdom shall enter into
thine heart, and knowledge shall be pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall
watch over thee, understanding shall keep thee.' -- Prov.
`My son, keep sound wisdom and
discretion: so shall they be life unto thy soul.' -- Prov.
`Ye ought to be quiet, and to do
nothing rash.' -- Acts. 19:36
Indiscretion is not merely the sin of the unconverted: amongst the people of
God, it is often the cause of much evil and misery. We read of Moses: `They
angered him also at the waters of Meribah, so that it went ill with Moses for
their sakes: because they were rebellious against his spirit, and he spake
unadvisedly with his lips.' So of Uzzah's touching the ark: `And God smote him
there for his error' (margin, rashness). (2 Sam. 6:7; Ps. 106:38; Prov.
What discretion is, and why it is
so necessary, may be easily explained. When an army marches into the province
of an enemy, its safety depends on the guards which are set, which are to be
always on the watch, to know and to give warning when the enemy approaches.
Advance guards are sent out that the territory and power of the enemy may be
known. This prudence, which looks out beforehand and looks round, is
The Christian lives in
the province of the enemy. All that surrounds him may become a snare or an
occasion of sin. Therefore his whole walk is to be carried out in a holy
reserve and watchfulness, in order that he may do nothing indiscreet. He
watches and prays that he may not enter into temptation. (Matt. 26:41: Luke
1:36; Eph. 6:18; 1 Pet. 4:7; 5:8) Prudence keeps guard over him. (1 Sam.
18:14; Matt. 10:16; Luke 1:17; 16:8; Eph. 5:15; Tit.
Discretion keeps watch over the
lips. O what loss many a child of God suffers by the thought that if he only
speaks nothing wrong, he may speak what he will. He knows not how, through
much speaking, the soul becomes ensnared in the distractions of the world,
because in the multitude of words there is not wanting transgression.
Discretion endeavours not to speak, save for the glory of God and blessing to
neighbours. (Ps. 39:2; 141:3; Prov. 10:19; Eccles.
Over the ear also discretion
keeps guard. Through the gate of the ear comes to me all the news of the
world, all the indiscreet speech of others, to infect me. Very hurtful for the
soul is eagerness for news. One can afterwards no more look into one's self:
one lives wholly in the world round about. Corinth was much more godless than
Athens; but in this last place, where they `spent their time in nothing else
but either to tell or to hear some new thing,' very few were converted. Take
heed, says Jesus, what ye hear. (Prov. 2:2; 18:15; Mark 4:24; Acts.
On this account, discretion keeps
watch over the society in which the Christian mingles. `He that separateth
himself seeketh his own desire.' The child of God has no the freedom to yield
himself to the society of the world so much and so long as he would: he must
know the will of his Father. (Ps. 1:1; Prov. 28:1; 2 Cor. 6:14; 2 Thess. 3:14;
2 John 10,11)
Discretion keeps watch
over all lawful occupations and possessions. It knows how gradually and
stealthily the love of money, worldly-mindedness, the secret power of the
flesh, obtains the upper hand, and that it can never reckon itself free from
this temptation. (Matt. 13:22; Luke 21:34; 1 Tim.
And, above all, it keeps watch
over the heart, because there are the issues of life, there is the fountain
out of which everything springs. Remembering the word, `he that trusteth in
his own heart is a fool,' it walks in deep humility, and it works out
salvation with fear and trembling. (Prov. 3:21,23; 4:23; 28:16; Jer.
And whence has the soul the power
to be with a never-resting watchfulness on its guard against the thousand
dangers that surround it on all sides? Is it not fatiguing, exhausting,
harassing, to have thus to watch always and never to be at rest in the
certainty that there is no danger? No: absolutely not. Discretion brings just
the highest restfulness. It has its security and strength in its heavenly
Keeper, who slumbers not nor sleeps. In confidence in Him, under the
inspiration of His Spirit, discretion does its work: the Christian walks as
one that is wise; the dignity of a holy prudence adorns him in all his
actions. The rest of faith, the faith that Jesus watches and guards, binds to
Him in love, and holy discretion springs as of its own accord from a love that
would not grieve or abandon Him, from a faith that has its strength for
everything in Him.
O Lord my God, guard
me, that I may not be of the indiscreet in heart. Let the prudence of the
righteous always characterize me, in order that in everything I may be kept
from giving offense. Amen.
1. To one
who bestowed great care on having his horse and cart in thoroughly good order,
it was once said: Come, it is not necessary to be always taking so much pains
with this. His answer was: I have always found my prudence paid. How many a
Christian has need of this lesson. How many a young Christian may well pray
for this -- that his conversion may be, according to God's word, `to the
prudence of the righteous.'
Discretion has its root in self-knowledge. The deeper my knowledge of my
impotence and the sinfulness of my flesh is, the greater is the need of
watchfulness. It is thus our element of true
3. Discretion has its power
in faith: the Lord is our Keeper, and He does His keeping through the Spirit
keeping us in mind. It is from Him that our discretion
4. Its activity is not limited to
ourselves: it reaches out especially to our neighbour, in the way of giving
him no offense, and in laying no stumbling-block in his way. (Rom. 14:13; 1
Cor. 8:9; 10:32; Phil. 1:10)
5. It finds
great delight in silence, so as to commit its way to the Lord with composure
and deliberation. It esteems highly the word of the town-clerk of Ephesus: `Ye
ought to be quiet, and to do nothing
6. In great generals and their
victories, we see that discretion is not timidity: it is consistent with the
highest courage and the most joyful certitude of victory. Discretion watches
against rashness, but enhances the courage of faith.
XLVIII. MONEY `Money answereth all things.' -- Eccles.
`I verily dedicate the silver unto
the Lord from my hand.' -- Judg. 17:3
`Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming
I should have received back mine own with interest.' -- Matt.
It is in his dealing with the
world and its possessions, that the Christian finds one of the opportunities
in which he is to manifest his self-denial and the spirit of discretion. (John
17:15,16; 1 Cor. 7:31) Since it is in money that all value or property on
earth will finds its expression, so it is especially in his dealing with money
that he can show whether he is free from worldliness to deny himself and to
serve his God. In order rightly to comprehend this, we must consider for a
little what falls to be said about
What is money the token of? It is
the token of the work by which a man earns it: of his industry, and zeal, and
ability in that work: of his success and the blessing of God upon the work. It
is also the token of all that I can do with money: the token of the work that
others would do for me, of the power that I thereby have to accomplish what I
desire, of the influence which I exercise on those that are dependent upon me
for my money: a token of all the possessions or enjoyments that are to be
obtained by money: a token of all upon earth that can make life desirable:
yea, a token of life itself, which without the purchase of indispensable food
cannot be supported.
Money is thus,
indeed, of earthly things, one of the most desirable and fruitful. No wonder
that it is thus esteemed by all.
the danger of money? What is the sin that is done with it, that the Bible and
experience should so warn us to be prudent in dealing with it? There is the
anxiousness that knows not if there will be sufficient money. (Matt. 6:31)
There is the coveteousness that longs too much for it. (1 John 2:16) There is
the dishonesty that, without gross deception or theft, does not give to a
neighbour what belongs to him. (Jas. 5:4) There is the lovelessness that would
draw everything to one's self and does not keep another. (Luke 16:21) There is
love of money, which seeks after riches and lands in avarice. (1 Tim.
6:9,10,17) There is robbery of God and the poor in withholding the share that
belongs to them. (Prov. 7:24,26; Ma.
What is the blessing of money? If
the danger of sin is so great, would it not be better if there were no money?
Is it not better to be without money? No: even for the spiritual life money
may be a great blessing: as an exercise in industry and activity, (Prov. 13:4;
18:19) in care and economy: as a token of God's blessing upon our work: (Prov.
10:4,22) as an opportunity for showing that we can possess and lay it out for
God, without withholding it or cleaving to it; that by means of it we can
manifest our generosity to the poor and our overflowing love for God's cause:
(Isa. 47:7,8,10,11; 2 Cor. 8:14,15) as a means of glorifying God by our
beneficence, and of spreading among men the gold of heavenly blessing: (2 Cor.
9:12,13) as a thing that, according to the assurance of Jesus, we can exchange
for a treasure in heaven. (Matt. 19:21; Luke
And what is now the way to be
freed from the danger and to be led into the right blessing of
Let God be Lord over your money.
Receive all your money with thanksgiving, as coming from God in answer to the
prayer: `Give us this day our daily bread.' (1 Chron.
Lay it all down before God as
belonging to Him. Say with the woman: `I verily dedicate the silver unto the
Lord.' (1 Tim. 4:4,5)
Let your dealing
with your money be a part of your spiritual life. Receive, and possess, and
give out your money as one who has been bought at a high price, redeemed, not
with silver and gold, but with the precious blood. (Luke
Make what the word of God says of
money, of earthly good, a special study. The word of the Father alone teaches
how the child of the Father is to use
Reflect much on the fact that
it is not given to you for yourself alone, but for you and your brethren
together. The blessing of money is to do good to others, and make them
Remember especially that it can
be given up to the Father and the service of His kingdom for the upbuilding of
His spiritual temple, for the extension of His sway. Every time of spiritual
blessing mentioned in Scripture was a time of cheerful giving for God's cause.
Even the outpouring of the Holy Spirit make itself known in the giving of
money for the Lord. (Ex. 36:5; 1 Chron. 29:6,9; Acts. 2:15;
Christian, understand it: all the
deepest deliberations of the heart and its most spiritual activities can
manifest themselves in the way in which we deal with our money. Love to God,
love to our neighbour, victory over the world by faith, the hope of
everlasting treasure, faithfulness as steward, joy in God's service, cheerful
self-denial, holy discretion, the glorious freedom of the children of God, can
all be seen in the use of money. Money can be the means of the most glorious
fellowship with God, and the full enjoyment of the blessedness of being able
to honour and serve Him.
Lord God, make
me rightly discern in what close connection my money stands with my spiritual
life. Let the Holy Spirit lead and sanctify me, so that all my earning and
receiving, my keeping and dispensing of money may always be well-pleasing to
Thee and a blessing to my soul. Amen.
1. John Wesley always said that there were three rules about the use of money
which he gave to men in business, and by which he was sure that they would
Make as much money
as you can. Be industrious and diligent.
Save as much money as you can. Be no spendthrift, live frugally and
Give away as much money as
you can. That is the divine destination of money; that makes it an everlasting
blessing for yourselves and others.
Acquaint yourself with the magnificent prayer of David in 1 Chron. 29. Receive
it into your soul; it teaches us the blessedness and the glorification of God
that spring from cheerful giving.
XLIX. THE FREEDOM OF THE
CHRISTIAN `Being made free from sin, ye became
bond-servants of righteousness. Being made free from sin, ye have your fruit
unto sanctification.' -- Rom. 6:18,22
`But now we have been discharged from the law.' -- Rom.
`The law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.' -- Rom.
Freedom is counted in Scripture as
one of the greatest privileges of the child of God. There is nothing in
history for which nations have made great sacrifices except freedom. Slavery
is the lowest condition into which man can sink, for in it he can no longer
dispose of himself. Freedom is the deepest need of his
To be free, then, is the
condition in which anything can develop itself according to the law of its
nature, that is, according to its disposition. Without freedom nothing can
attain its destiny or become what it ought to be. This is true alike of the
animal and man, of the corporeal and the spiritual. It was for this cause that
God in Israel chose the redemption out of the slavery of Egypt into the
glorious liberty of God's people, as the everlasting type of redemption out of
the slavery of sin into the liberty of the children of God. (Ex. 1:14; 4:23;
6:5; 20:2; Deut. 24:8) On this account, Jesus said on earth: `If the Son shall
make you free, ye shall be free indeed.' And the Holy Scriptures teach us to
stand fast in the freedom with which Christ made us free. A right insight into
this freedom opens up to us one of the greatest glories of the life that the
grace of God has prepared for us. (John 8:32,36; Gal. 4:21,31;
In the three passages, from the
Epistle to the Romans, in which sanctification is dealt with, a threefold
freedom is spoken of. There is freedom from sin in the sixth chapter, freedom
from the law in the seventh, freedom from the law of sin in the
There is freedom from sin (Rom.
6:7,18,22). Sin is represented as a power that rules over man, under which he
is brought and taken captive, and that urges him as a slave to evil. (John
8:34; Rom. 7:14,23; 2 Pet. 2:19) By the death of Christ and in Christ of the
believer, who is one with Him, he is made entirely free from the dominion of
sin: it has no more power over him. If, then, he still does sin, it is because
he, not knowing his freedom by faith, permits sin still to rule over him. But
it by faith he fully accepts what the word of God thus confirms, then sin has
no power over him: he overcomes it by the faith that he is made free from it.
(Rom. 5:21; 6:12,14)
Then there is
freedom from the law. This leads us deeper into the life of grace than freedom
from sin. According to Scripture, law and sin always go together. `The
strength of sin is the law:' The law does nothing but make the offense
greater. (Rom. 4:15; 5:13,20; 7:13; 1 Cor. 15:56) The law is the token of our
sinfulness, cannot help us against sin, but with its demand for perfect
obedience gives us over hopeless to the power of sin. The Christian who does
not discern that he is made free from the law will still always abide under
sin. (Rom. 6:15; 7:5) Christ and the law cannot rule over us together: in
every endeavour to fulfil the law as believers, we are taken captive by sin.
(Rom. 7:5,23) The Christian must know that he is entirely free from the law,
from the you must that stands without us and over us: then for the first time
shall he know what it is to be free from
Then there is also freedom from the
law of sin, actual liberation from the power of sin in our members. What we
have in Christ, freedom from sin and from the law, is inwardly appropriated
for us by the Spirit of God. `The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
made me free from the law of sin and of death.' The Holy Spirit in us takes
the place of the law over us. `If ye are led of the Spirit, ye are not under
the law.' Freeing from the law is not anything external, but takes place
according to the measure the Spirit obtains dominion in us and leads us.
`Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' According as the law of
the Spirit rules in us, we are made free from the law, from the law of sin. We
are then free to do what we, as God's children, would fain do, free to serve
God. (2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:18)
expresses a condition in which nothing hinders me from being what I would be
and ought to be. In other words, free is to be able to do what I would. The
power of sin over us, the power of the law against us, the power of the law of
sin in us, hinder us. But he that stands in the freedom of the Holy Spirit, he
that is then truly free, nothing can prevent or hinder him from being what he
would be and ought to be. As it is the nature of a tree to grow upwards, and
it also grows as it is free from all hindrances, so a child of God then grows
to what he ought to be and shall be. And according as the Holy Spirit leads
him into this freedom, there springs up the joyful consciousness of his
strength for the life of faith. He joyfully shouts: `I can do all things in
Him that strengtheneth me.' `Thanks be unto God which always leadeth us in
triumph in Christ.'
Son of God, anointed
with the Spirit to announce freedom to the captives, make me also truly free.
Let the Spirit of life in Thee, my Lord, make me free from the law of sin and
of death. I am Thy ransomed one. O let me live as Thy freed one, who is
hindered by nothing from serving Thee. Amen.
1. The freedom of the Christian extends
over his whole life. He is free in relation to the institutions and teachings
of men. `Ye were bought with a price: become not bond-servants of men.' ( 1
Cor. 7:23; Col. 2:20) He is free in relation to the world, and in the use of
what God gives: he has power to possess it or to dispense with it, to enjoy it
or to sacrifice it. (1 Cor. 8:8; 9:4,5)
2. This freedom is no lawlessness. We are free from sin and the law to serve
God in the Spirit. We are not under the law, but give ourselves, with free
choice and in love, to Him who loved. us. (Rom. 6:18; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16)
Not under the law, also not without law; but in the law; a new, a higher law,
`The law of the Spirit of life,' `the law of liberty,' the law written in our
hearts, is our rule and measure. (1 Cor. 9:21; Jas. 1:15; 2:12) In this last
passage the translation ought to be: `bound by a law to
3. This freedom has its
subsistence from the word and also in it: the more the word abides in me, and
the truth lives in me, the freer I become. (John
4. Freedom manifests itself
in love. I am free from the law, and from men, and from institutions, to be
able now like Christ to surrender myself for others. (Rom. 14:13,21; Ga. 5:13;
5. This glorious liberty to serve
God and our neighbour in love is a spiritual thing. We cannot by any means
seize it and draw it to us. It becomes known only by a life in the Holy
Spirit. `Where the Spirit of the Lord is there liberty.' `If ye are led by the
Spirit, ye are not under the law.' It is the Holy Spirit that makes free. Let
us suffer ourselves to be introduced by Him into the effectual glorious
liberty of the children of God. `The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus freed me
from the law of sin and of death.'
the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed upon the earth; and should
sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he
knoweth not how. The earth beareth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the
ear, then the full corn in the ear.' -- Mark
`The Head, from whom the whole
body increaseth with the increase of God' -- Col.
`That we may grow into Him which is
the Head, even Christ, from whom the whole body maketh the increase.' -- Eph.
Death is always a standing
still: life is always movement, progressiveness. Increase or growth is the law
of all created life; consequently, the new life in man is destined to
increase, and always by becoming stronger. As there are in the seed and in the
earth a life and power of growth by which the plant is impelled to have its
full height and fruit; so is there in the seed of the eternal life an
impelling force by which also that life always increases and grows with a
divine growth, until we come to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature
of the fulness of Christ. (Eph. 4:12; 2 Thess.
I this parable of the seed that
springs up of itself, and becomes great and bears fruit, the Lord teaches us
two of the most important lessons on the increase of the spiritual life. The
one is that of its self-sufficiency, the other that of its
The first lesson is for
those that ask what they are to do in order to grow and advance more in grace.
As the Lord said of the body: `Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit
unto his stature? consider the lilies of the field how they grow;' so He says
to us here that we can do nothing, and need to do nothing, to make the
spiritual life grow. (Hos. 14:16; Matt. 6:25,27,28) Do you not see how, while
man slept, the seed sprang up and became high, he knew not how, and how the
earth brought forth fruit of itself? When man has once sowed, he must reckon
that God cares for the growth: he has not to care: he must trust and
And must man then do nothing? He
can do nothing: it is from within that the power of life must come: from the
life, from the Spirit implanted in him. To the growth itself he can contribute
nothing: it shall be given him to grow. (Ps. 92:14; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3)
All that he can do is to let the life
grow. All that can hinder the life, he must take away and keep away. If there
are thorns and thistles that take away place and power in the soil which the
plant should have, he can take them away. (Jer. 4:13; Matt. 13:22,23) The
plant must have its place in the earth alone and undivided. For this the
husbandman can care: then it grows further of itself. So must the Christian
take away what can hinder the growth of the new life: to surrender the heart
entire and undivided for the new life, to hold it alone in possession and to
fill it, so that it may grow free and unhindered. (Son. 2:15; Heb.
The husbandman can also bring
forward what the plant requires in the way of food or drink: he can manure or
moisten the soil as it may be needful. So must the believer see to it that for
the new life there is brought forward nourishment out of the word, the living
water of the Spirit, by prayer. It is in Christ that the new life is planted:
from Him it increases with divine increase: abide rooted in Him by the
exercise of faith: the life will grow of itself. (2 John 15:4,5; Col. 2:6,7)
Give it what it must have: take away what can hinder it: the life will grow
and increase of itself.
Then comes in
the second lesson of the parable: the gradualness of the growth: `first the
blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.' Do not expect everything
at once. Give God time. By faith and endurance we inherit the promises: the
faith that knows that it has everything in Christ: the endurance that expects
everything in its time according to the rule and the order of the divine
government. Give God time. Give the new life time. It is by continued abiding
in the earth that the plant grows: it is by continuous standing in grace, in
Christ Himself, in whom God has planted us, that the new life grows. (Heb.
3:13; 6:12,15; Jas. 5:7)
Yes: give the
new life only sufficient time: time in prayer: time in intercourse with God:
time in continuous exercise of faith: time in persistent separation from the
world. Give it time: slow but sure, hidden but real, in apparent weakness but
with heavenly power, is the divine growth with which the life of God in the
soul grows up to the perfect man in
Lord God, graciously strengthen
the faith of Thy children, that their growth and progress are in Thy hands.
Enable them to see what a precious, powerful life was implanted in them by
Thyself, a life that increases with a divine increase. Enable them by faith
and patience to inherit the promises. And teach them in that faith to take
away all that can hinder the new life, to bring forward all that can further
it, so that Thou mayest make Thy work in them glorious. Amen.
1. For a plant, the principal thing is
the son in which it stands and out of which it draws its strength. For the
Christian, this also is the principal thing: he is in Christ. Christ is all:
he must grow up in Him, for out of Him the body obtains its increase. To abide
in Christ by faith -- that is the main
2. Remember that faith must set
itself towards a silent restfulness, that growth is just like that of the
lilies on God's hands, and that He will see to it that we increase and grow
3. By this firm and joyful
faith, we become `Strengthened with all power according to the might of His
glory, unto all patience and long-suffering with joy.' (Col.
4. This faith, that God cares for
our growth, takes away all anxiety, and gives courage for doing the two things
that we have to do: the taking away of what may be obstructive to the new
life, the bringing forward of what may be serviceable to
5. Observe well the distinction
betwixt planting and growing. Planting is the work of a moment: in a moment
the earth receives the seed: after that comes the slow growth. Without delay
-- immediately must the sinner receive the word: before conversion there is no
delay. Then with time follows the growth of the
6. The main thing is Christ: from
Him and in Him is our growth. He is the soil that of itself brings forth
fruit, we know not how. Hold daily intercourse with
There is a book `Abide in Christ'
(Nisbet & Co.), with meditations for a month on the blessed life of
continued fellowship with Him.
LI. SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES
love I Thy law: it is my meditation all the day.' -- Ps.
`Ye search (or search ye) the
Scriptures: and these are they which bear witness of Me.' -- John
`The word did not profit them,
because they were not united by faith with them that heard.' -- Heb.
At the beginning of this book there
is more than one passage upon the use of God's word in the life of grace. Ere
I take leave of my readers, I would fain once again come back to this
all-important point. I cannot too earnestly and urgently address this call to
my beloved young brothers and sisters: Upon your use of the word of God your
spiritual life in great measure depends. Man lives by the word that proceedeth
from the mouth of God. Therefore seek with your whole heart to learn how to
use God's word aright. To this end, receive the following
Read the word more with the heart
than with the understanding: with the understanding I would know and
comprehend; with the heart I desire, and love, and hold fast. Let the
understanding be the servant of the heart. Be much afraid of the understanding
of the carnal nature, that cannot receive spiritual things. (1 Cor. 1:12,27;
2:6,12; Col. 2:18) Deny your understanding, and wait in humility on the Spirit
of God. On every occasion, still keep silent amidst your reading of the word,
and say to yourselves: this word I now receive in my heart, to love and to let
it live in me. (Ps. 119:10,11,47; Rom. 10:8; Jas.
Read the word always in fellowship
with the living God. The power of a word depends on my conviction regarding
the man from whom it comes. First set yourself in loving fellowship with the
living God under the impression of His nearness and love: deal with the word
under the full conviction that He, the eternal God, is speaking with you; and
let the heart be silent to listen to God, to God Himself. (Gen. 17:3; 1 Sam.
3:9,10; Isa. 50:4; 52:6; Jer. 1:2) Then the word certainly becomes to you a
Read the word, as a
living word in which the Spirit of God dwells, and that certainly works in
those that believe. The word is seed. Seed has life, and grows and yields
fruit of itself. The word has life, and of itself grows and yields fruit.
(Mark 4:27,28; John 6:63; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:23) If you do not wholly
understand it, if you do not feel its power, carry it in your heart; ponder it
and meditate upon it: it will of itself begin to yield a working and growth in
you. (Ps. 119:15,40,48,69; 2 Tim. 3:16,17) The Spirit of God is with and in
Read it with the resolve to
be, not only a hearer, but a doer of the word. Let the great question be: What
would God now have of me with this word? If the answer is: He would have me
believe it and reckon upon Him to fulfil it: do this immediately from the
heart. If the word is a command of what you are to do, yield yourself
immediately to do it. (Matt. 5:19,20; 7:21,24; Luke 11:28; Jas. 1:21,25) O
there is an unspeakable blessedness in the doing of God's word, and in the
surrender of myself to be and to act just as the word says and would have it.
Be not hearers, but doers of the word.
Read the word with time. I see more and more that one obtains nothing on earth
without time. Give the word time. Give the word time, at every occasion on
which you sit down to read it, to come into your heart. Give it time, in the
persistence with which you cleave to it, from day to day, and month after
month. (Deut. 6:5; Ps. 1:2; 119:97; Jer. 15:16) By perseverance you become
exercised and more accustomed to the word: the word begins to work. Pray, be
not dispirited when you do not understand the word. Hold on: take courage:
give the word time: later on the word will explain itself. David had to
meditate day and night to understand it.
Read the word with a searching of the Scriptures. The best explanation of the
Bible is the Bible itself. Take three or four texts upon a point: set them
close to one another and compare them. See wherein they agree and wherein they
differ; where they say the same thing or again something else. Let the word of
God at one time be cleared up and confirmed by what He said at another time on
the same subject: this is the safest and the best explanation. Even the sacred
writers use this method of instruction with the Scriptures: `and again.' (Isa.
34:16; John 19:37; Acts. 17:11; Heb. 2:13) Do not complain that this method
takes too much time and pains: it is worthy of the pains: your pains will be
rewarded. On earth you have nothing without pains. (Prov. 2:4,5; 3:13,18;
Matt. 13:44) Even the bread of life we have to eat in the sweat of our face.
He that would go to heaven never goes without taking pains. Search the
Scriptures: it will be richly recompensed to
Young Christian, let one of my last
and most earnest words to you be this: on your dealing with the word of God
depend your growth, your power, your life. Love God's word then; esteem it
sweeter than honey: better than thousands of gold or silver. In the word, God
can and will reveal His heart to you. In the word, Jesus will communicate
Himself and all His grace. In the word, the Holy Spirit will come in to you,
to renew your heart and all your thoughts, according to the mind and will of
God. O, then, read not simply enough of the word to keep you from declension,
but reckon it one of your chief occupations on earth to yield yourself that
God may fill you with His word, that He may fulfil His word in
Lord God, what grace it is that Thou
speakest to us in Thy word, that we in Thy word have access to Thy heart, to
Thy will, to Thy love. O forgive us our sins against Thy precious word. And,
Lord, let the new life become so strong by the Spirit in us, that all its
desire shall be to abide in Thy word.
1. Ps. 119. In the middle of the
Bible stands this psalm, in which the praise and the love of God's word are so
strikingly expressed. It is not enough for us to read through the divisions of
this psalm successively: we must take its principal points, and one with
another seek what is said in different passages upon each of these. Let us,
for example, take the following points, observing the indications of the
answers, and seek in this way to come under the full impression of what is
taught us of the glory of God's word:
1. The blessing that the word gives.
Verses, 1,2,6,9,11,14,24,45,46,47, and so on. 2. The appellations that in this
psalm are given to God's word. 3. How we have to handle the word. (Observe --
walk -- keep -- mark -- and so on.) 4. Prayer for divine teaching. Verses
5,10,12,18,19,26. 5. Surrender to obedience to the word. Verses
93,105,106,112,128,133. 6. God's word the basis of our prayer. Verses
41,49,58,76,107,116,170. 7. Observance as the ground of confidence in prayer.
Verses 77,159,176. 8. Observance as promised upon the hearing of prayer.
Verses 8,17,33,32,44. 9. The power to observe the word. Verses
32,36,41,42,117,135,146. 10. The praise of God's word. Verses
54,72,97,129,130,144. 11. The confident confession of obedience. Verses
102,110,121,168. 12. Personal intercourse with God, seen in the use of Thou
and I, Thine and Mine.
I have merely
mentioned a few points and a few verses. Seek out more and mark them, until
your mind is filled with the thoughts about the word, which the Spirit of God
desires to give you.
Read with great
thoughtfulness the words of that man of faith, George Mueller. He says: `The
power of our spiritual life will be according to the measure of the room that
the word of God takes up in our life and in our thoughts.' After an experience
of fifty-four years, I can solemnly declare this. For three years after my
conversion I used the word little. Since that time I searched it with
diligence, and the blessing was wonderful. From that time, I have read the
Bible through a hundred times in order, and at every time with increasing joy.
Whenever I start a fresh with it, it appears to me as a new book. I cannot
express how great the blessing is of faithful, daily, regular searching of the
Bible. The day is lost for me, on which I have used no rounded time for
enjoying the word of God.
sometimes say: I have so much to do, that I can find no time for regular Bible
study. I believe that there are few that have to work harder than I have. Yet
it remains a rule with me never to begin my work until I have had real sweet
fellowship with God. After that I give myself heartily to the business of the
day, that is, to God's work, with only intervals of some minutes of prayer.'
LII. THE LORD THE PERFECTER
cry unto God most High; unto God that performeth all things for me.' -- Ps.
`The Lord will perfect that which
concerneth me.' -- Ps. 138:8
confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will
perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.' -- Phil.
`For of Him, and through Him, and
unto Him are all things. To Him be the glory for ever and ever.' -- Rom.
We read that David was once
dispirited by unbelief, and said: `I shall one day perish by the hand of
Saul.' So even the Christian may indeed fear that he shall one day perish.
This is because he looks upon himself and what is in him, and does not set his
trust wholly upon God. It is because he does not yet know God as the
Perfecter. He does not yet know what is meant by His name being: `I am the
Alpha and the Omega: the Beginning and the End: the First and the Last.' If I
really believe in God as the beginning out of whom all is, then must I also
trust Him as the continuation by whom, as also the End to whom, all
God is the beginning: `He who began
a good work in you:' `Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.' It is
God's free choice, from before the foundation of the world, that we have to
thank that we became believers, and have the new life. (John 15:16; Rom.
8:29,30; Eph. 1:4,11) Those that are still unconverted have nothing to do with
this election: for them there is the offer of grace and the summons to
surrender. Outside, over the door of the Father, stands the superscription:
`Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.' This every one can see
and understand. No sooner are they inside the door than they see and
understand the other superscription: `All that the Father giveth Me shall come
to me.' (John 6:37) Then they can discern how all things are of God: first
obedience to the command of God, then insight into the counsel of
But then it is of great moment to
hold fast this truth: He has begun the good work. Then shall every thought of
God strengthen the confidence that He will also perfect it. His faithfulness,
His love, His power, are all pledged that He will perfect the good work that
He began. Pray, read how God has taken more than one oath regarding His
unchangeable faithfulness: your soul will rest in this and find courage. (Gen.
28:15; Ps. 89:29,34,35,36; Isa. 54:9,10; Jer.
And how shall He finish His
work? What has its origin from Him is sustained by Him, and shall one day be
brought to Him and His glory. There is nothing in your life, temporal or
spiritual, for which the Father will not care, because it has influence upon
you for eternity. (Matt. 6:25,34; 1 Pet. 5:7) There is no moment of day or
night in which the silent growth of your soul is not to go forward: the Father
will take care of this, if you believe. There is no part of your destiny as a
child of God, perhaps in things of which you have as yet not the least
thought, but the Father will continue and complete His work in it. (Isa.
27:2,3; 51:12,13) Yet upon one condition. You must trust Him for this. You
must in faith suffer Him to work. You must trustfully say: The Lord will
perfect that which concerneth me. You must trustfully pray: I will cry unto
God that performeth all things for me. Christian, pray, let your soul become
full of the thought: The whole care, for the continuation and the perfecting
of God's work in me, is in His hands. (Heb. 10:35; 13:5,6,20,21; 1 Pet
And how glorious shall the
perfecting not be. In our spiritual life, God is prepared to exhibit His power
in making us partakers of His holiness and the image of His Son. He will make
us fit, and set us in a condition for all the blessed work in His kingdom that
He would have from us. Our body He will make like to the glorious body of His
Son. We may wait for the coming of the Son Himself from heaven to take His own
to Him. He will unite us in one body with all His chosen, and will receive and
make us dwell for ever in His glory. O how can we think that God will not
perfect His work? He will surely do it, He will gloriously do it, for every
one that trusts Him for it.
God, pray, say in deep assurance of faith: The Lord will perfect that which
concerneth me. In every need say continually with great boldness: I will call
on God, that performeth all things for me. And let the song of your life be
the joyful doxology: `From Him, and through Him and to Him are all things: to
Him be the glory for ever. Amen.
God, who shalt perfect that which concerneth me, teach me to know Thee and to
trust Thee. And let every thought of the new life go hand in hand with the
joyful assurance: He who began a work in me will perfect it.
1. `He that endureth to the end,
the same shall be saved.' It brings but little profit to begin well; we must
hold the beginning of our hope firm unto the end. (Matt. 10:27; 24:13; Heb.
2. The perseverance of
the saints -- in holiness -- is one of the characteristic articles of doctrine
of the Reformed Church. The grace of regeneration is inadmissible.
3. How do we explain the falling away
of some believers? They were only temporary believers: they were partakers
only of the workings of the Spirit. (Heb.
4. How do I know whether I am
partaker of the true new birth? `As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they
are the sons of God' (Rom. 8:14). The faith that God has received me is
matured, is confirmed, by works, by a walk under the leading of the Spirit. 5.
How can any one know for certain that he will persevere unto the end? By faith
in God the Perfecter. We may take the Almighty God as our keeper. He that
gives himself in sincerity to Him, and trusts wholly in Him to perfect His
work, obtains a divine certitude that the Lord has Him, and will hold him fast
unto the end.
Child of God, live in
fellowship with your Father: live the life of faith in your Jesus with an
undivided heart, and all fear of falling away shall be taken away from you.
The living sealing of the Holy Spirit shall be your assurance of perseverance
unto the end.
at the pages of this little work will show that it is more elementary than the
other writings of its honoured author. The reason is that is specially
designed for young disciples who have but recently chosen the better part, and
consequently need nothing so much as just to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear
His word. Every minister of a congregation in which young people have been
brought to the Lord, will remember the keen feeling of anxiety that swept over
his heart as he contemplated their entrance on the duties and responsibilities
of a public Christian confession. The supreme question at such a time is: How
shall these young converts be built up in the knowledge of the truth? How
shall they be best taught the real nature of the new life they have received,
the dangers by which it is beset, and the directions in which its energy may
safely go forth?
The desire to give a
fitting answer to these questions has given rise to many excellent manuals. In
connection with every time of revival, especially, new books for this circle
of readers always make their appearance. As Mr. Murray indicates in the
Preface, it was in the midst of such a happy period that the following
chapters were written. The volume came under my notice whilst I was recently
traveling in Holland. A brief inspection showed me that it was one of the most
simple, comprehensive, and suggestive of its class. It is now translated into
English from the latest Dutch edition, that the many thousands who have
profited by Mr. Murray's other admirable works may have a suitable book to
give or recommend to those who are setting their faces towards an earnest and
fruitful Christian life.
That it will be
very helpful to this end I cannot doubt: especially if the directions the
author himself has given are faithfully adhered to. It will be noticed that
the chapters are comparatively short; but every one of them has a considerable
number of Biblical references. Let no reader be content to read what is
written here without turning up and examining the texts marked This practice,
if persistently carried out, cannot fail to yield much recompense. There are
just as many chapters in the book as Sabbaths in the year. What an additional
blessing it would bring, if the members of a family who have had access to the
book during the week, were to hear a chapter read aloud every Sabbath evening,
and were encouraged to quote the texts in each that my have struck them
I have only to add that the volume
is now translated and issued with Mr. Murray's cordial sanction. It has been
to me a very pleasant task to put t into an English dress for my younger
brethren throughout the country. Beyond this point, of course, my
responsibility does not go. Should the book prove useful in guiding the feet
of those who have come to the Lord yet further into the way of peace and
holiness, it will be, both for author and translator, the answer to many a
intercourse with young converts, I have very frequently longed for a suitable
book in which the most important truths that they have need of for the New
Life should be briefly and simply set forth. I could not find anything that
entirely corresponded to what I desired. During the services in which, since
Whitsuntide 1884, I have been permitted to take part, and in which I have been
enabled to speak with so many who professed to have found the Lord, and who
were, nevertheless, still very weak in knowledge and faith, this want was felt
by me still more keenly. In the course of my journey, I felt myself pressed to
take the pen in hand. Under a vivid impression of the infirmities and the
perverted thoughts concerning the New Life, with which, as was manifest to me
from conversations I had with them, almost all young Christians have to
wrestle, I wished, in some words of instruction and encouragement, to let them
see what a glorious life of power and joy is prepared for them in their Lord
Jesus, and how simple the way is to enjoy all this
I have confined myself in
these reflections to some of the most important topics. The first is the Word
of God as the glorious and sure guide, even for the simplest souls that will
only surrender themselves to it. Then, as the chief element in the word, there
is the Son, the gift of the Father, to do all for us. Thereupon follows what
the Scriptures teach concerning Sin, as the only thing that we have to bring
to Jesus, as that which we must give to Him, and from which He will set us
free. Further, there is Faith, the great word in which is expressed our
inability to bring or to do anything, and that teaches us that all our
salvation must be received every day of our life as a gift from above. With
the Holy Spirit also must the young Christian make acquaintance, as the Person
through whom the word and Jesus, with all His work, and faith in Him, can
become power and truth. Then there is the Holy Life of obedience and of
fruitfulness, in which the Spirit teaches us to walk. It is to these six
leading thoughts of the New Life that I have confined myself, with the
ceaseless prayer that God may use what I have written to make His young
children understand what a glorious and mighty life it is that they have
received from their Father. It was often very unwillingly that I took leave of
the young converts who had to go back to lonely places, where they could have
little counsel or help, and seldom mingle in the preaching of the word. It is
my sure and confident expectation that what the Lord has given me to write
shall prove a blessing to many of these young
[I have, in some instances,
attached the names of the places where the different portions of this manual
were written; in others, the names of the towns where the substance of them
was spoken, as a remembrance to the friends with whom I had
While writing this book I
have had a second wish abiding with me. I have thought what I could possibly
do to secure that my little book should not draw away attention from the word
of God, but rather help to make the word more precious. I resolved to furnish
the work with marginal references, so that, on every point that was treated
of, the reader might be stirred up still to listen to the Word itself, to GOD
I am hopeful that this
arrangement will yield a double benefit. Many a one does not know, and had
nobody to teach him, how to examine the Scriptures properly. This book may
help him in his loneliness. If he will only meditate on one and another point,
and then look up the texts that are quoted, he will get into the way of
consulting God's word itself on that which he wishes to understand. But it may
just as readily be of service in prayer meetings or social gatherings for the
study of the word. Let each one read the portion fixed on at home and review
those texts that seem to him the most important. Let the president of the
meeting read the portion aloud once. Let him then request that each one who
pleases should announce one and another text on that point which has struck
We have found in my
congregation that the benefit of such meetings for bringing and reading aloud
texts on a point previously announced, is very great. This practice leads to
the searching of God's word, as even preaching does not. It stirs up the
members of the congregation, especially the young people, to independent
dealing with the word. It leads to a more living fellowship amongst the
members of Christ's body, and helps also their upbuilding in love. It prepares
the way for a social recognition of the word as the living communication of
the thoughts of God, which with Divine power shall work in us what is pleasing
to God. I am persuaded that there is many a believing man and woman that asks
what they can accomplish for the Lord, who along this pathway could become the
channels of great blessing. Let them once a week bring together some of their
neighbours or friends (sometimes two or three household live on one farm) to
hear read out texts for which all have been previously searching: the Lord
shall certainly give His blessing there.
With respect to the use of this book in retirement, I would fain request one
thing more. I hope that no one will think it strange. Let every portion be
read over at least three times. The great bane of all our converse with Divine
things is superficiality. When we read anything and understand it somewhat, we
think that this is enough. No: we must give time, that it may make an
impression and wield its own influence upon us. Read every portion the first
time with consideration, to understand the good that is in it, and then see if
you receive benefit from the thoughts that are there expressed. Read it the
second time to see if it is really in accordance with God's word: take some,
if not all, of the texts that are adduced on each point, and ponder them in
order to come under the full force of what God has said on the point. Let your
God, through His word, teach you what you must think and believe concerning
Him and His will. Read it then the third time to find out the corresponding
places, not in the Bible, but in your own life, in order to know if your life
has been in harmony with the New Life, and to direct your life for the future
entirely according to God's word. I am fully persuaded that the time and pains
spent on such converse with the word of God under the teaching of this or some
book that helps you in dealing with it, will be rewarded
I conclude with a cordial
brotherly greeting to all with whom I have been permitted to mingle during the
past year, in speaking about the precious Saviour and His glorious salvation:
also to all in other congregations, who in this last season have learned to
know the beloved Lord Jesus as their Redeemer. With a heart full of peace and
love, I think of you all, and I pray that the Lord may confirm His work in
you. I have not become weary of crying to you: the blessedness and the power
of the New Life that is in you are greater than you know, are wonderfully
great: only learn to know aright and trust in Jesus, the gift of God and the
Scriptures, the word of God. Only give Him time to hold converse with you and
to work in you, and your heart shall overflow with the blessedness of
Now to Him who is able to do more
than exceedingly above all that we can ask or think, to Him be glory in the
Church to all eternity.
Wellington, 12th August 1885