Blessings

For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.

[2 Cor 4:6 NET]

When a man is walking in the darkness and death of unregeneracy, he has no true light. He may indeed have a false light, as the light of presumption, delusion, or vain-confidence; but all such borrowed light is worse than darkness; as the Lord says, “If the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

The only saving light is the light of God shining into the soul, giving us to see and know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.” A man may have the clearest light in his judgment, and yet never have the penetrating light of the Spirit producing conviction in his soul; he may have the soundest knowledge of the doctrines of grace, and see the harmonious scheme of salvation; and yet never have seen a holy God by divine teaching, nor have ever felt the spirituality of God’s righteous law condemning him as a transgressor. But “the light of life,” as the Lord calls it, is sure to guide its possessor aright. If we have it not, we shall be sure to go astray; we shall be entangled in some error, plunge into some heresy, imbibe some doctrine of devils, drink into some dreadful delusion, or fall into some dreadful sin, and “concerning faith make shipwreck.”

A false light is something like the lights which pirates hold up to entrap ships to their destruction; or like the fires, which the “wreckers,” those dreadful characters in Cornwall, used to kindle on their iron-bound coast, in order that the mariner might mistake them for some friendly light-house, and run his vessel on the rocks, where those heartless wretches plundered it. A false light can but wreck us on the rocks of presumption or despair. But the light of divine life in the soul is accompanied with all the graces of the Spirit. It is the light of the glory of God, the light of Jesus’ countenance, and the light of the Spirit’s teaching, and therefore an infallible guide and guard; as the Apostle says, “You have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things.” And this infallible pilot will guide the soul to whom it is given safe into the harbor of endless rest and peace.

Blessings

By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit.

[1 John 4:13 NET]

A right knowledge and living experience of the Person, graces and operations of the Holy Spirit upon the soul, is a very essential thing. Man is so deeply sunk, so utterly fallen, so unable to bring himself back, that he needs this holy Teacher to lead him into a saving, experimental knowledge of the truth of God; for we know nothing but by his teaching, have nothing but by his giving, and are nothing but by his making. The more clearly, then, that we are led to see, and the more deeply we are taught to feel what we are as fallen sons and daughters of Adam, the more shall we feel our need of, and the more shall we value when realized, his blessed operations upon the heart and conscience.

Now, in the case of Aaron, (viewed not only as a type of Christ, but as personally ministering at the altar of the tabernacle, and thus consecrated to the office of high priesthood,) it was not sufficient that he was washed, nor that he was clothed; he must be also anointed by the holy anointing oil before he could stand in the sanctuary of God. So it is with a son of the Most High, one of “the kings and priests” that form “the royal priesthood;” it is not sufficient for him to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, and clothed in his justifying righteousness; he must be consecrated to God’s service by the holy anointing; in other words, be sanctified, regenerated and renewed in the spirit of his mind, that, by being made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), he may enter into a spiritual experience of the truth of God here, and enjoy the eternal pleasures which are at God’s right hand hereafter.

From the very nature of the fall, it is impossible for a dead soul to believe in God, know God, or love God; it must be quickened into spiritual life before it can savingly know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. And thus there lies at the very threshold, in the very heart and core of the case, the absolute necessity of the regenerating operations of God the Holy Spirit upon the soul. The very completeness and depth of the fall render the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit as necessary, as indispensable as the redeeming work of the Son of God. The Apostle therefore puts them together. “But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” If, therefore, the soul is to enter into eternal glory, it must be prepared for glory by being made a partaker of grace. It must, in this present life, this time state, be made fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, be capacitated while here below for the eternal fruition of the Triune God, by receiving a new and heavenly nature begotten of the Holy Spirit, which as a pure spirit (for “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”) is capable of seeing, enjoying, and eternally delighting in the open vision of the Deity as manifested in the glorious Person of the God-man.

Blessings

“I withheld rain from you three months before the harvest. I gave rain to one city, but not to another. One field would get rain, but the field that received no rain dried up.

[Amos 4:7 NET]

How powerless we are as regards the rain that falls from the sky! Who can go forth when the sun is shining in its brightness and bid the rain to fall? Or when rain is falling, who can go forth and restrain the bottles of heaven? He who gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness, also turns a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of those who dwell therein.

Equally sovereign is the blessing that God gives to the preached gospel. He holds the blessing in his own hand; it is his to give, and his to withhold. If he blesses, it is because he has promised it; but when, where, and to whom it shall come, is at his own sovereign disposal. Yet what do we naturally desire when the earth is parched up for lack of rain? Knowing that there is rain stored up in the clouds above, and that when it does come it will produce beneficial effects—desires, if not prayers, go up that it may fall. In fact, the earth itself, parched and dried up by heat, the very ground itself, by the fissures and clefts which are made in the soil by a burning sun, silently, mutely, but still imploringly calls upon the rain to fall. Every crack you see in July is a silent mouth asking the rain to come down. The withered herbage, the cattle lowing in the field, the dried-up ponds and brooks, are all imploring, though not a word is uttered, that rain may fall.

So in grace. The parched, withered, dried-up feelings of the soul are all so many mute mouths imploring God’s blessing to come down. No, the very hardness, barrenness, and sterility felt in our heart when the blessing of God does not rest upon the word, are so many mute appeals to the God of all grace that his blessing would attend the word to our conscience. I say this because you may think sometimes that you are not praying for the blessing of God to rest upon the word, because you may not be using vocal prayer, or are not favored with a spirit of grace and supplications. God sees your needs, and to those needs he has a kind regard. The babe need not, and indeed cannot ask in so many words for food. The cry of hunger is enough. Or even if too weak to cry, the mother knows the child is hungry by its restless movements; and she is as pleased to give the nutritious food as the babe is to receive it.

So you must not always measure the strength of your prayers by the mere vocal utterance you may give to them. The heart-searching God reads your needs, knows your desolate case, and sees your barren condition. As in the kingdom of his providence he views from his holy throne the parched ground, and sends down showers because he sees its need; so in the kingdom of his grace he looks upon the parched condition of his people, and gives the spiritual rain because he knows they need it.

Wisdom

For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.

[1 Cor 6:20 NET]

How deep, how dreadful, of what alarming magnitude, of how black a dye, of how ingrained a stamp must sin be, to need such an atonement—no less than the blood of him who was the Son of God—to put it away. What a slave to sin and Satan, what a captive to the power of lust, how deeply sunk, how awfully degraded, how utterly lost and undone must guilty man be to need a sacrifice like this! “You are bought with a price.” Have you ever felt your bondage to sin, Satan, and the world? Have you ever groaned, cried, grieved, sorrowed, and lamented under your miserable captivity to the power of sin? Has the iron ever entered into your soul? Have you ever clanked your fetters, and as you did so, and tried to burst them, they seemed to bind round about you with a weight scarcely endurable?

But have you ever found any liberty from them, any enlargement of heart, any sweet going forth from the prison-house, any dropping of the manacles from your hands, and the fetters from your feet, so as to walk in some measure of gospel liberty?

“You are bought with a price.” You were slaves of sin and Satan; you were shut up in the dark cell, where all was gloom and despondency; there was little hope in your soul of ever being saved. But there was an entrance of gospel light into your dungeon; there was a coming out of the house of bondage; there was a being brought into the light of God’s countenance, shining forth in his dear Son. Now, this is not only being bought with a price, but experiencing the blessed effects of it.

Blessings

Many say, “Who can show us anything good?” Smile upon us, Lord!

[Ps 4:6 NET]

The cry of the Church has always been, “Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon us.” You may often feel as if immersed in the very shadow of death, and say with Heman, “I am counted with those who go down into the pit; I am as a man that has no strength” (Psalm 88:4); but the very feelings of death, the chill at your heart, and the cold sweat upon your brow, make you long for the appearance of him who is the Resurrection and the Life; and who can in one moment whisper, “Fear not; I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death.” You may be pressed down at times with the power of unbelief, and think and say there never was a heart like yours, so unable to believe, so doubting at every step; but this deep conviction of your wretched unbelief, which is the Spirit’s work to show (John 16:9), only makes you long for that living faith of which Christ himself is not only the Object, but the Author and Finisher. You may be sunk at times in despondency, as to both your present and future state; but that makes you the more desire to have a good hope through grace, as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. You may feel at times the guilt, and not only the guilt, but the dreadful power and prevalence of sin; but that only makes you long the more earnestly for manifestations of pardon and peace, and that no sin may have dominion over you. “The mouth of the Lord has spoken it,” that sooner or later you shall have every needful blessing. The valley you now feel to be in shall be exalted; the mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain, and your eye shall see the glory of the Lord; Christ shall be made precious to your heart; he will come sooner or later into your soul; and then when he comes he will manifest himself as your Lord and your God. And so you keep hanging, and hoping, and looking up until he appears; for your heart is still ever saying, “None but Jesus, can do helpless sinners good.”

Blessings

Thus I grant to you a kingdom, just as my Father granted to me,

[Luke 22:29 NET]

For whom is this kingdom appointed? For the presumptuous, the proud, the hypocritical, and the self-righteous? No; not for these. “I appoint unto you,” you that “have continued with me in my temptations;” you that are tempted and exercised; you that walk in the paths of tribulation; you that follow in the print of the footsteps of a suffering Jesus; you that know the painful exercises of temptation, and yet are strengthened with strength in your inner man, to “resist even unto blood, striving against sin,” so as not to be carried away or overwhelmed by it. What kingdom is this? It is the same kingdom that the Father has given to Jesus. “I appoint unto you a kingdom, just as my Father has appointed unto me.”

Now what is the kingdom which God the Father appointed unto his dear Son? Is it to sit upon a throne like an earthly monarch? To wear a diadem, and carry a scepter? “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). The kingdom of the Lord of life and glory was to make an end of sin, to abolish death, and “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” to reign spiritually in the hearts of his chosen; to be King and Lord in Zion, and to rule over the willing affections of his subjects; a kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit; a kingdom of grace set up by the blessed Spirit in the heart; a spiritual kingdom which none can see or enter into but those who are born of the Spirit.

His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, and consists in having a people to see him as he is, a people to glorify him, a people to love him, and a people for him to love. A kingdom cannot be the same to sovereign and subject, when it is of an earthly and temporal nature. Were the earthly monarch to impart his kingdom to his subjects, it would cease to be a kingdom, and become a republic. But not so with a spiritual kingdom. Jesus does not diminish his own grace by imparting it to his people, nor lessen his own joy by shedding it abroad in their hearts, nor sully his own glory by communicating of it to them. The sun has lost no light nor warmth by the countless millions of rays that have issued from it since it was first created. Nor does the glorious Sun of righteousness lose the fullness that is in him by communicating of his grace and glory. In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, unexhausted and inexhaustible. Then this kingdom which he appoints to his tried and tempted disciples is the kingdom of grace in the heart; the kingdom of God in the soul; the presence of Jesus within; the manifestation of that kingdom which is spoken of in Daniel 2:44, as set up on the ruins of all the other kingdoms, when it has broken them in pieces.

Blessings

“You are the ones who have remained with me in my trials.

[Luke 22:28 NET]

Satan brought all his artillery to bear upon the Son of God. He was permitted to try him to the utmost. It was the purpose of God, that his well-beloved Son should be tempted like as we are; and if you are God’s, not a single temptation has beset you which did not beset the Lord of life and glory. Are we tempted sometimes to doubt a God of providence? The Lord Jesus was similarly tempted, when Satan said to him, “Command these stones to be made bread.” Are we tempted to vain confidence and presumption? The Lord of life and glory was similarly tempted, when the prince of darkness said to him, “If you be the Son of God, cast yourself down from hence.” Are we often tempted to disbelieve that we are the children of God, and exercised at times with distressing suspicions and fears lest we have only a profession of religion, without its experimental power in our hearts? Satan brought the same temptation against the Lord, when he said, “If you are the Son of God;” as Deer says, “O, what an IF was there!” Are we tempted to turn our backs upon the Lord for the sake of what the world offers? The Lord Jesus was similarly tempted when Satan said that he would give him all that he presented before his eyes when he took him upon the mountain top. Are we ever tempted to turn from the true God and worship idols? The Lord of life and glory was similarly tempted when Satan with his infernal pride and cursed impudence proposed to the Son of God to worship him. The Son of God worship Satan!

But some may say, “Was Jesus tempted like I am? How can that be? He was pure, spotless, and holy; but I am full of corruption from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. The Lord of life and glory had a perfect, unfallen nature, a holy human body, and a holy human soul, taken into union with Deity; but I have a fallen nature, defiled in body and polluted in soul. Can there be a resemblance in our temptations?” I would ask, what is it in you that feels the burden of temptation when Satan injects his blasphemies into your mind? Is there not a something in you which is grieved, I was going to say tortured, by these fiery darts? Is it not the new nature? and is not that nature spotless and holy? Is it not born of God, and therefore as holy as God is holy, and pure as God is pure?

Thus just in the same way as your pure and holy nature that is born of God is grieved and distressed by the fiery darts of Satan, so was the holy soul of the Lord Jesus ten thousand times more grieved and tortured by the temptations of Satan presented before his pure and spotless mind. The disciples did not forsake their Lord, though so severely buffeted with these temptations; no more, they, according to the measure of their faith, partook of them individually and personally, suffering as well as sympathizing with him, and wounded, though in a far less degree, by arrows from the same bow.

And thus disciples now continue with Jesus in his temptations by suffering as members with their covenant Head, walking, most of them, in a daily path of trouble and sorrow, daily tempted by Satan, by the world, and by their own evil hearts; day by day tempted to do everything from which their spiritual nature recoils; day by day tempted to do things which are hateful in the eyes of a pure God, and to them also when in their right mind.