Daily Wisdom

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

~ John 3:3

True religion begins with an entrance into the soul of supernatural light and supernatural life. How or why it comes, the soul knows not; for “the wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it comes or where it goes, so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” The wind itself is not seen, but its effects are felt. The sound of the wind is heard in the tops of the mulberry trees, where God himself is not seen. “The voice of the Lord, powerful and full of majesty. You heard his words but didn’t see his form; there was only a voice,” (Deut. 4:12). Thus effects are felt, though causes are unknown.

Streams flow into the heart from a hidden source; rays of light beam into the soul from an unrisen sun; and kindlings of life awaken in us a new existence out of an unseen fountain. The new-born babe feels life in all its limbs, though it knows not yet the earthly father whence that natural life sprang. And thus new-born souls are conscious of feelings hitherto unpossessed, and are sensible of a tide of life, mysterious and incomprehensible, ebbing and flowing in their heart, though “Abba, Father,” has not yet burst from their lips.

A man’s body is alive to every feeling, from a pin’s scratch to a mortal wound, from a passing ache to an incurable disease. The heart cannot flutter or intermit for a single second its customary beat, without a peculiar sensation that accompanies it, notices it, and registers it. Shall feelings, then, be the mark and evidence of natural life, and not of spiritual? Shall our ignoble part, the creature of a day, our perishing body, our dust of dust, have sensations to register every pain and every pleasure, and be tremblingly alive to every change without and every change within; and shall not our immortal souls be equally endowed with a similar barometer to fluctuate up and down the scale of spiritual life? We must lay it down, then, at the very threshold of vital godliness, that if a man has not been conscious of new feelings, and cannot point out, with more or less precision, some particular period, some never-to-be-forgotten season, when these feelings came unbidden into his heart, he has not yet passed from death unto life. He is not in Christ, if he is not a new creature (2 Cor.5:17).

Daily Wisdom

“Peace, peace to him that is far off.”

~ Isa 57:19

Far off! What does that mean? It means that the soul passing through that experience is separated, in its feelings, and at an infinite distance from God. Now this inward sense of being “far off” is one of the most painful feelings that a quickened soul can experience. The ungodly, who are really afar off, know nothing experimentally of distance from God, for they have never been brought spiritually near. They have felt no “cords of love, no bands of a man” drawing them with sweet attraction to the throne of the most High; they have never sighed after the sweet manifestations of God’s mercy and love; but they live gladly, and wallow wilfully in those things which separate the soul from its Maker.

But those who are “afar off” in their feelings, are such as have seen something of the beauty of the Lord, and felt the evil of sin, who spiritually know Jehovah’s purity and the creature’s impurity, and have experienced the inward curse, bondage, and condemnation of a holy law. A spiritual discovery of his purity and holiness, making manifest their own vileness, has thrust them down from their self-righteous or presumptuous standing, and made them far off from him; not daring to draw near, nor able to approach; not feeling any spiritual access, but sighing and mourning over their evil hearts in the wilderness, in desolate places; and unable to move a single step forward, because the Lord does not draw them by his smile.

A man must know something experimentally of this before he is brought near. How can we know a feeling of nearness if we have not known a feeling of distance? How can we know what it is to be brought “from the end of the earth” (Psalm 61:2) by the manifestation of God’s mercy and love, unless we have been driven there, in our feelings, by some manifestation of the wrath of God against sin? But to see the blessed Lord, and not be able to draw near to him; to view his atoning blood at an infinite distance from us, his glorious righteousness well-near out of sight, and his lovely Person out of the reach of our spiritual view, so as not to enjoy any access to these glorious realities—to know this experimentally and feelingly, is to be “far off” from God. And I believe that God’s people know very much of this feeling. There is not much nearness in our day; not much dandling upon the knees, not much smiling upon the soul, not many love visits, nor love tokens communicated. There is, indeed, a great deal of talking about them; and there are abundance of people who profess to have them; but I fear they are, for the most part, cheats and counterfeits. The real people of God, the true-hearted family are, for the most part, “afar off upon the sea,” for it is a dark and cloudy day in which we live.

Daily Wisdom

“Abide in me, and I in you.”

~ John 15:4

The Lord did not use these words as though there were any power in the creature to abide in him. But he was pleased to use them, that they might be blessed to his people when the Holy Spirit applied them to the heart; for he adds, “And I in you.” The one is the key to the other. If we abide in Christ, Christ abides in us. It is by Christ abiding in us, that we are enabled to abide in him.

But how does Christ abide in us? By his Spirit. It is by his Spirit he makes the bodies of his saints, his temple; it is by his Spirit that he comes and dwells in them. Though it is instrumentally by faith, as we read, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;” yet it is through the communication of his Spirit in the soul, and the visits of his most gracious presence. Thus he bids us, encourages us, and influences us to abide in him by his abiding in us.

But his abiding in a child of God may be known by certain effects following. If he abides in you, he makes and keeps your conscience tender. It is sin that separates between you and him. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ, in order that he may abide in you and make you abide in him, makes and keeps your conscience tender in his fear. And this keeps you from those sins which separate between you and him. He may be known, then, to abide in you by the secret checks he gives you when temptation comes before your eyes, and you are all but gone; as one of old said, “My feet were almost gone; my steps had well-near slipped.” He is pleased to give a secret internal check and admonition; so that your cry is, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

And if you go astray and turn from the Lord to your idols, as to our shame and sorrow we often do, he proves that he still abides in you by not giving you up to a reprobate mind, not allowing you to harden your heart against him; but by his reproofs, admonitions, and secret checks in your conscience—by the very lashings and scourgings which he inflicts upon you as a father upon his child, and his secret pleadings with you in the court of conscience—by all these things he makes it manifest that he still abides in you.

Daily Wisdom

“For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

~ Luke 19:10

“The Son of man has come.” What a blessed coming! The Lord Jesus seems to have taken to himself, with the tenderest condescension to our needs, that gracious title, “the Son of man.” He was the Son of God, and that from all eternity; but he delights to call himself the Son of man. We need one like ourselves, wearing the same nature; carrying in his bosom the same human heart; one who has been, “in all points, tempted like as we are, yet without sin;” and therefore able to sympathize with and to support those who are tempted.

A sinner like man, when made sensible of his pollution and guilt, cannot draw near unto God in his intrinsic, essential majesty and holiness. Viewed as the great and glorious Being that fills eternity, Jehovah is too great, too transcendently holy, too formidably perfect for man to approach. He must therefore have a Mediator; and that Mediator one who is a Mediator indeed, a God-man, “Immanuel, God with us.” The depth of this mystery, eternity itself will not fathom.

But the tender mercy of God in appointing such a Mediator, and the wondrous condescension of the Son of God in becoming “the Son of man,” are matters of faith, not of reason; are to be believed, not understood. When thus received, the humanity of the Son of God becomes a way of access unto the Father. We can talk to, we can approach, we can pour out our hearts before “the Son of man.” His tender bosom, his sympathizing heart, seem to draw forth the feelings and desires of our own.

God, as beheld in his wrathful majesty, we dare not approach; he is a “consuming fire;” and the soul trembles before him. But when Jesus appears in the gospel as “the Mediator between God and man,” and “a Arbitrator,” as Job speaks, “to lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33), how this seems to penetrate into the depths of the human heart! How this opens a way for the poor, guilty, filthy, condemned, and ruined sinner to draw near to that great God with whom he has to do! How this, when experimentally realized, draws forth faith to look unto him, hope to anchor in him, and love tenderly and affectionately to embrace him!

Daily Wisdom

“For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us.”

~ Eph 2:14

“He is our peace.” This necessarily springs from being reconciled and brought near by the blood of Christ. Sin has not only made us enemies to God; but made God an enemy to us. What peace, then, can there be between us while thus mutual enemies? Peace is between friends, not between foes. During this state of hostility and warfare, as there is no real peace, so there can be no felt or enjoyed peace. But the removal of the cause of the war brings about peace, first really and then experimentally. Christ has made peace through the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20). There is now no enmity on the part of God, for it was a ‘legal’ enmity. God always loved his people in Christ; and as he is unchanging and unchangeable, he never could or did hate them. But as a judge is an enemy to a criminal, even were that criminal his own son, so, as Judge and Lawgiver, God was an enemy to his own elect, viewed as law-breakers.

But when the law was fulfilled, and all the breaches of it atoned for by the obedience and death of his dear Son, then this law enmity was removed, and the anger of God against sin and the sinner pacified. Sin, therefore, being put away, the whole cause of that ‘legal’ enmity is removed.

And when we believe in the Son of God, and receive the atonement by his precious blood, then there is no enmity on OUR side; for the goodness, mercy, and love of God melt the heart into the sweetest humility, affection, and love to and before him.

Daily Wisdom

“And floods upon the dry ground.”

~ Isa 44:3

How often does the soul, born and taught of God, feel that it is this “dry ground!” It would gladly be fruitful in every good word and work; it would be adorned with every grace of the Spirit within, and with every good and godly fruit without. Let no one think that the child of God is careless or indifferent either as to inward or outward fruit. There is nothing too holy, too heavenly, too spiritual, or too gracious which the child of grace would not desire inwardly to experience and outwardly produce.

But he feels that he cannot by any exertion of his own produce this fruitfulness after which he sighs. As well might a barren field convert itself into a fruitful garden without being tilled by human hand or without rain from the sky, as a soul that feels and knows its own barrenness produce by its own exertions a crop of the fruits of righteousness.

But the Lord that knows the desire of the heart, and its inward mourning over its own barrenness, has given in the text a sweet and gracious promise, “I will pour floods upon the dry ground.” A partial shower would not be enough. The dry ground would soon absorb only a few drops of summer rain. Floods must come, either from the skies or from the streams of that river which makes glad the city of God, to produce this mighty change. These “floods” are the promises poured into the soul, the love of God shed abroad in the heart, the manifestations of Christ and of his atoning blood, the inflowings of grace as super-abounding over all the aboundings of sin, and the flowing of peace as a river into the contrite spirit.

Wisdom Today

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

~ Phlm 1:25

It is the regenerating breath of the Lord Jesus Christ which makes the soul alive unto himself. This is manifest from his own language—“It is the Spirit who quickens; the flesh profits nothing—the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). Then for the first time “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with our spirit.” For you will observe that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is not with our carnal mind—that ever remains the same, a body of sin and death, flesh—corrupt flesh, “in which dwells no good thing,” and therefore not the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

His grace is with our spirit, that “new man” of which we read that “it is after the image of God” created in righteousness and true holiness.” This is called our “spirit,” because it is born of the Spirit, as the Lord himself unfolded the solemn mystery to Nicodemus—“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” This is no subtle, thinly-drawn distinction, but a very important truth; for unless we see the difference between the two natures, the spirit and the flesh, the law in the members and the law of the mind, we shall always be in bondage, as looking for holiness in the flesh.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ being thus with our spirit, it breathes from time to time upon that spirit, moves and acts in it and upon it; for there is what I may call a gracious or spiritual union between the two. Thus we can no more live without the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ than the earth can live without the sun. He must shine, or we have no light; he must revive, or we have no warmth; and he must fertilize, or we bring forth no fruit. Thence time after time there is an outgoing of the single desire of the soul to the Lord Jesus Christ that his grace would be with our spirit; that this grace may be ever flowing forth into us, so as to make us new creatures, dispel all doubt and fear, break to pieces all bonds and fetters, fill us with love and humility, conform us to his suffering image, produce in us every fruit that shall redound to his praise, be with us in life and death, and land us safe in eternity.