Wisdom

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice, set things right, be encouraged, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.

[2 Cor 13:11 NET]

To fare well, spiritually understood, is to have everything that God can make us happy in. All God’s people will eventually fare well. They all stand complete in Christ—nothing can touch their eternal safety; for they are all complete in him, “without spot, or blemish, or any such thing.” In this point of view, they must all in the end and for ever fare well.

But when we come to the matter of experience, we often find that those very times when God’s people think they are faring ill, may be the seasons when they are really faring well; and again, at other times, when they think they are faring well, then they are really faring ill. For instance, when their souls are bowed down with trouble, it often seems to them that they are faring ill. God’s hand appears to be gone out against them—he has hidden his face from them; they can find no access to a throne of grace; they have no sweet testimonies from the Lord that the path in which he is leading them is one of his choosing, and that all things will end well with them. This they think is indeed faring ill, and yet perhaps they never fare better than when under these circumstances of trouble, sorrow, and affliction.

These things wean them from the world. If their heart and affections were going out after idols, they instrumentally bring them back. If they were hewing out broken cisterns, they dash them all to pieces. If they were setting up, and bowing down to idols in the chambers of imagery, affliction and trouble smite them to pieces before their eyes, take away their gods, and leave them no refuge but the Lord God of hosts.

If you can only look back, you will see that your greatest sweets have often sprung out of your greatest bitters, and the greatest blessings have flowed from the greatest miseries, and what at the time you thought your greatest sorrows—you will find that the brightest light has sprung up in the blackest darkness, and that the Lord never made himself so precious as at the time when you were sunk lowest, so as to be without human help, wisdom, or strength.

So that when a child of God thinks he is faring very ill, because burdened with sorrows, temptations, and afflictions, he is never faring so well. The darkest clouds in due time will break, the most puzzling enigmas will sooner or later be unriddled by the blessed Spirit interpreting them, and the darkest providences cleared up; and we shall see that God is in them all, leading and guiding us “by the right way, that we may go to a city of habitation” (Psalm 107:7).

Blessings

May grace and peace be lavished on you as you grow in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!

[2 Pet 1:2 NET]

If we do not know Jesus for ourselves, by some spiritual discovery of his Person and work, what testimony have we of a saving interest in his grace? Because, there is no grace except that which flows through him, for “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” This is what we should ever labor after.

Our daily, hourly desire and prayer should be, to have spiritual discoveries of Christ; to see him by the eye of faith; to enter into his glorious Person and finished work; to realize his presence, taste his love, and know him and the power of his resurrection. This is what Paul so earnestly labored after (Phil. 3:10); and for the excellency of this knowledge he suffered the loss of all things, and counted them but dung that he might win Christ. To know him as our Surety and Sin-bearer, our Advocate and Intercessor, our Friend, Husband, and Brother; to know our saving interest in him, and our union with him; our place in his heart, our name on his breast, our memorial on the palms of his hands—what can surpass the blessedness of such a knowledge as this?

Through this spiritual, experimental knowledge of him, grace flows. As a watercourse opening upon a river brings down its irrigating stream into the parched meadow, so a knowledge of Christ opens up a channel through which the grace that is in him flows into the barren, parched soul. Thus, as through grace alone we know him, so every fresh communication of grace not only makes him better known, but flows in through that very knowledge.

The grace that comes through this knowledge of him brings also peace; for he is “our peace.” He has “broken down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of two, one new man, so making peace.” He, therefore, came and preached peace “to those who were afar off and to those who were near.” His blood speaks peace to a guilty conscience; his voice says peace to the winds and waves of the surging heart; his last legacy was, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you;” his dying promise was, “In me you shall have peace;” and, as the Prince of peace at God’s right hand, he is able to fill us with “all joy and peace in believing,” for his kingdom is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” And thus, through a knowledge of him as our Lord, “grace and peace” are both “multiplied.”

Blessings

Proud men will be brought low, arrogant men will be humiliated; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

[Isa 2:11 NET]

How does the Lord humble? By discovering to man what he is; by opening up the depth of his fall; by making him feel what a vile and guilty wretch he is before the footstool of mercy; by breaking him to pieces; by slaughtering and laying him low; by making him abhor himself in dust and ashes. Was not that the way the Lord took with the saints of old? How did he humble Isaiah? Was it not by some discovery of his divine Majesty, to make him cry, “I am a man of unclean lips!” How did he humble Daniel? Was it not by manifesting himself in his almighty purity, and turning Daniel’s loveliness into corruption? How did he humble Hezekiah? By laying him upon a sick-bed, and laying his sins and iniquities with weight and power upon his conscience. None of these men produced humility in themselves. How did the Lord humble Job? By sifting him in Satan’s sieve, and discovering as that riddle moved to and fro in Satan’s hands the pride, peevishness, and self-righteousness of his carnal mind.

There are many who cannot bear to hear the malady touched upon. They cannot bear to hear the corruptions of the heart even hinted at. But what real humility can a man have except through a knowledge of himself? How can I be humbled except I feel that in myself which covers me with shame and confusion of face, and makes me loathe and abhor myself before the eyes of a heart-searching God? Therefore the more the glorious majesty of heaven is pleased to unfold itself in all its divine purity in my conscience, and the deeper discovery I have of what I am as a fallen wretch, a guilty sinner, the more will my heart be humbled, the more shall I be lowly and abased, the more shall I loathe myself in dust and ashes.

Wisdom

Because of our God’s tender mercy the dawn will break upon us from on high [Luke 1:78 NET]

By “day-spring” is meant the day-dawn, the herald of the rising sun, the change from darkness to light, the first approach of morn, in a word, the spring of the day. But what is this “day-spring” spiritually? It is the intimation of the rising of the Sun of righteousness. It is not the same thing as the Sun of righteousness; but it is the herald of his approach; the beams which the rising sun casts upon the benighted world, announcing the coming of Jesus, “the King in his beauty.”

This expression was singularly applicable in the mouth of Zacharias. The Lord of life and glory had not then appeared; he was still in the womb of the Virgin Mary. But his forerunner, John, had appeared as the precursor, the herald of his approach, and was sent to announce that the Sun of righteousness was about to arise. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (John 1:6-8). All nations at that time lay in darkness. “Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people.” But when the Lord of life and glory was about to appear upon earth, when he had already taken the body which was prepared for him, the very flesh and blood of the children, which he was to offer as a propitiation for sin, “the dayspring from on high” had begun to dawn. God’s mercy, in the face of his dear Son, was just visiting the benighted world.

But there is another, an experimental meaning, connected with these words. “The day-spring from on high” is not to be confined to the approach of the Son of God in the flesh; but it may be extended to signify the appearance of the Son of God in the heart. I cannot be benefited by the appearing of Jesus in the flesh eighteen hundred years ago, unless he comes and dwells in my soul. “The day-spring from on high” which visited the benighted Jewish church will not profit us except that same day-spring visits our benighted heart. “The day-spring from on high” is the manifestation of God’s mercy in the face of the Savior. And when this “day-spring from on high” visits the soul, it is the first intimation, the dawning rays of the Sun of righteousness in the heart.

Wisdom

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

[John 15:4 NET]

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.

Blessings

Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him.

[1 John 2:27 NET]

All the powers of earth and hell are combined against this holy anointing, with which the children of God are so highly favored. But if God has locked up in the bosom of a saint one drop of this divine unction, that one drop is armor against all the assaults of sin, all the attacks of Satan, all the enmity of self, and all the charms, pleasures, and amusements of the world. Waves and billows of affliction may roll over the soul; but they cannot wash away this holy drop of anointing oil. Satan may shoot a thousand fiery darts to inflame all the combustible material of our carnal mind; but all his fiery darts cannot burn up that one drop of oil which God has laid up in the depths of a broken spirit. The world, with all its charms and pleasures, and its deadly opposition to the truth of God, may stir up waves of ungodliness against this holy anointing; but all the powers of earth combined can never extinguish that one drop which God has himself lodged in the depths of a believer’s heart.

JONAH had it locked up in the depths of his soul when he was in the whale’s belly; but not all the waves and billows that went over his head, nor even the very depths of hell itself, in whose belly he felt he was, could wash away that drop of anointing oil which God had lodged in his soul. DAVID sank deep into sin and remorse; but all his sin and misery never drank up that drop of anointing oil that God the Spirit had dropped into his heart. The PRODIGAL SON goes into a far country; but he never loses that drop of anointing oil, though he wastes his substance in riotous living. HEMAN complains out of the depths of his affliction; but all his troubles never drank up that holy anointing oil that God had put into his soul. HEZEKIAH on his apparent death-bed, when he turned his face to the wall, was severely tried, and almost in despair; yet all his affliction and despondency never drained the holy drop of anointing oil.

And so it has been with thousands and tens of thousands of the dear saints of God. Not all their sorrows, I may say more, not all their sins, backslidings, slips, falls, miseries, and wretchedness, have ever, all combined, drunk up the anointing that God has bestowed upon them. If sin could have done it, we would have sinned ourselves into hell long ago; and if the world or Satan could have destroyed it or us, they would long ago have destroyed both. If our carnal mind could have done it, it would have swept us away into floods of destruction. But the anointing abides sure, and cannot be destroyed; and where once lodged in the soul, it is secure against all the assaults of earth, sin, and hell.

The saints of God feel that it abides; for it springs up at times in prayer and desires after the living God; and it breaks forth into faith, hope, and love. Thus it not only abides as a divine reality, but as a living principle, springing up into eternal life. Were it not so, there would be no revivals, no fresh communications, no renewed testimonies, no breakings forth, no tender meltings, no breathings out of desire for the Lord’s presence, no mourning over his absence. But the anointing abides, and this preserves the soul from death, and keeps it alive in famine.

Blessings

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service.

[Rom 12:1 NET]

If the Son of God has redeemed us by his blood, all that we are and have belongs to him; our body, soul, and spirit are his. Nothing is our own; we are bought with a price. In laying down his precious life for us, he has redeemed us unto himself, that we should be his peculiar people, and not only render to him the calves of our lips, but give him body, soul, spirit, substance, life itself; all that we are and have being his by sovereign right. He lays claim to them all, not only as our Creator, but as our Redeemer, having bought them by his precious blood. When we feel his mercy warm in our soul, can we keep body or soul back? Look at Abraham. When God called to him, and said, “Abraham!” what was his answer? “Here I am—Here is my body, here is my soul, here is my substance, here is my wife, here is my son; all are at your disposal. What shall I do, Lord? Take them; they are all yours. You have a right to them, and you must do with them, and you must do with me, what seems good in your sight.”

Under these feelings, then, we should “present our bodies,” not, indeed, leaving our souls behind. For what is the casket without the jewel? What is the body without the soul? Will God accept the body if the soul be left behind? That is popery; to give the body, and keep back the soul. Not so with the dear family of God; they present their bodies, but with their bodies they present the soul that lodges in their body—the house with its tenant, the jewel-case with the jewels in it. But what is it to present their bodies? They must be presented as “a living sacrifice.” God accepts no dead sacrifices. You will recollect, under the Jewish law the sacrifice was to be a living animal, and that without spot or blemish. No dead lamb, but a living animal, perfect in its kind, was to be the victim sacrificed. So if we are to present our bodies, there must be “a living sacrifice.” It may well be asked, What have we sacrificed for the Lord’s sake? Have we been called upon to sacrifice our property, prospects, idols, affections, name, fame, and worldly interests; and have we obeyed the call? Abraham did not offer Isaac until the voice of the Lord called him to make the sacrifice; but when the Lord called him to do so, Abraham at once rendered obedience to the voice. So must it be with those that walk in the steps of faithful Abraham. If they are called upon, as all are, sooner or later, to make sacrifices, those sacrifices they must make.

Now, in thus presenting our bodies “a living sacrifice,” it becomes also a “holy” offering, because what is done in faith is accepted by God as being sanctified by his blessed Spirit. If we make a sacrifice without the blessed Spirit’s operation upon our heart, it is a dead sacrifice. Men go into monasteries, deluded women enter convents, become sisters of mercy, and what not, offer their bodies a sacrifice to God, but it is not a living sacrifice, because there is no spiritual life in either offerer or offering. But when we sacrifice our warmest affections, our prospects in life, everything that flesh loves, because the gospel claims it at our hands, and we do it through the constraining love of Christ, that is a living sacrifice, and is “holy,” because springing out of the sanctifying influences and operations of the Holy Spirit.

We indeed, looking at ourselves, see nothing holy in it, for sin is mingled with all we do, but God’s eye discerns the precious from the vile. He sees the purity of his own work; and he can separate what we cannot, the acting of the spirit and the working of the flesh. God looks at that which his own Spirit inspires, and his own grace produces, and he accepts that as holy.