But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
There is no mention of a chair or seat of any kind in the sanctuary of old. The work of the priests was never done; they were constantly occupied presenting the many sacrifices offered all day long. But when our Lord Jesus had offered His own all-sufficient sacrifice, never to be repeated, He sat down as evidence that His work was done. In virtue of that propitiatory sacrifice all who are set apart to God through faith in Him are perfected forever. In view of this how blasphemous is the claim that a “continual unbloody sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead” is offered in the celebration of the Mass. This is to ignore the perfection of Christ’s one offering on the cross which has satisfied every claim of God’s righteous throne and never needs to be repeated.
Settled forever! Sin’s tremendous claim!
Glory to Jesus! Blessed be His Name!
No part-way measures doth His grace provide,
Finished the work when Christ the Saviour died.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Faith is taking God at His Word. He who comes to God in prayer must believe in Him, and must have confidence that He hears the petitions addressed to Him and rewards those who earnestly seek His face. Skeptics may sneer when Christians speak of a God who answers prayer, but all the unbelievers’ sneers cannot invalidate what is known by those who trust in Him. He chooses to give in answer to prayer what He will not give apart from prayer, so that His people may have a positive testimony that they have a relationship with the living personal God. Faith honors Him, and He delights to bless those who thus acknowledge His loving care for His own. He honors them who glorify His name.
Giver of every gift,
Thy choice is best;
All-wise Eternal Love—
In Thee I rest.
Yielding to Thy wise hand,
Safe in Thy will—
Not asking why or how,
Let me be still.
Looking on things unseen,
By faith I see
Glory exceeding great
Worketh for me.
—Grace E. Troy
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Little did Moses know when he made his choice what amazing consequences hung upon it. He acted for God as his conscience dictated and God gave him far more than he surrendered for His name’s sake. He renounced the throne of Egypt where providence seemed to have placed him, in order to become a desert wanderer. But God made him the leader of a mighty people and gave him such privileges as none had ever known before him. Nor was it a forced choice on Moses’ part. That expression “choosing rather” tells how he weighed one thing against another and counted the cost; only to decide for a present path of affliction with the Lord’s favor rather than a comparatively easy life in disobedience to the divine voice. May it be ours to emulate him in all this.
Farewell to the world’s fleeting joys
Our home is not below;
There was no home for Jesus here,
And ‘tis to Him we go.
To Him in yonder home of love,
Where He has gone before:
The home He changed for Calvary’s cross,
Where all our sins He bore.
He bore our sins, that we might be
His partners on the throne!
The throne He’ll shortly share with those
For whom He did atone.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
In the latter part of this twelfth chapter of Hebrews we have law and grace set before us in vivid contrast as two distinct circles. One is centered in Sinai, the mount “that burned with fire,” and the other in Mount Zion, which speaks of God’s sovereign grace. Linked with this is the heavenly instead of the earthly Jerusalem, the city of the living God where dwell an innumerable company, a full gathering of angel hosts. Their delight is to serve those who belong to the assembly of firstborn ones—all heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. There God Himself dwells, and there too Old Testament saints now perfected through the work of Jesus, the Mediator of the covenant of grace whose blood speaks not of vengeance but of mercy. This is the circle of God’s favor to which all believers have come.
The gates of heaven are opened wide,
At His name all the angels bow;
The Son of Man who was crucified
Is the King of Glory now.
We love to look up and behold Him there,
The Lamb for His chosen slain;
And soon shall His saints all His glories share,
With their Head and their Lord shall reign.
And now we draw near to the throne of grace,
For His blood and the Priest are there;
And we joyfully seek God’s holy face,
With our censer of praise and prayer.
The burning mount and the mystic veil,
With our terrors and guilt, are gone;
Our conscience has peace that can never fail,
‘Tis the Lamb on high on the throne.
—J. G. Deck
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
The shepherd character of our Lord Jesus suggests loving care for His own. He is Jehovah Ra’ah, “the Lord my Shepherd,” who takes complete charge of His sheep, and undertakes to provide for their every need. He has given us many pictures of His shepherd service. As the Good Shepherd He died for us (John 10). As the great Shepherd He is ever watching over us. As the chief Shepherd He will gather us all about Himself when He comes again (1 Peter 5). His promises are sufficient for every difficulty. Yet in times of stress we forget them all, and worry and fret as though we had to deal with all our problems ourselves, instead of trusting to His love and wisdom to undertake for us. He has promised to see us through.
When the Lord has the supreme place in our hearts—not simply the first place—we will not fear all the power of the enemy, for He to whom we have committed the keeping of our souls is more than a match for all that may rise up against us. In all His ways with us He is the unfailing Shepherd, having our best interests in view. His glory and our blessing are indissolubly linked together.
O Thou great all-gracious Shepherd,
Shedding for us Thy life’s blood,
Unto shame and death delivered,
All to bring us nigh to God!
Now our willing hearts adore Thee,
Now we taste Thy dying love,
While by faith we come before Thee—
Faith which lifts our souls above.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
God is the source of all good. Every blessing we enjoy comes down from Him. He is the Father of lights, who is unchanging in His love and grace, and in whose dealings with us there is “no shadow cast by turning,” as the last part of this verse has been translated. His face is ever toward us. In all circumstances we may go to Him in perfect confidence, assured of a welcome and a sympathetic ear as we tell Him all that troubles and perplexes us. It is His joy to undertake for us. He delights to lavish His good and perfect gifts upon His obedient children. If He seems to withhold it is because He has something better for us, or because we need to judge something His holy eye has detected in our ways which makes it necessary to treat us with reserve. When all is right He gives without limit in answer to our prayer.
God answers prayer! the prayer of His dear children!
He’s sure to answer, if they keep His will.
He answers prayer! Yes—prayer concerning all things!
There’s nothing over-much for His great skill.
God answers prayer! Not always when we ask Him;
It may seem good to Him that we should wait.
How long? Ah well, ‘tis only He that knoweth;
But sure, His answer will not be too late.
God answers prayer! Not always as we want Him;
He does not always answer prayer with “Yes;”
He sometimes answers “No!” because He loves us,
And sees the thing we ask could never bless.
And God would have us learn to sweetly trust Him—
To chiefly want His will—not our request;
To know whate’er may be His settled answer,
His will is highest, holiest, and best.
—J. Danson Smith
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
Empty profession is of no profit. He who speaks of faith in Christ is responsible to demonstrate it by his renewed life. In Romans we learn that we are justified before God by faith alone without the deeds of the law. In James 2 we are taught that we are justified before men by works, works that are the fruit of a living faith which is apparent to all. Abraham was justified by faith when he believed God, who spoke of the coming Seed, our Lord Jesus Christ. He was justified by works, when in obedience to the voice of God he offered up his son Isaac upon the altar. Therefore faith shaped his works and by works faith was made perfect. So it must be with us. If we believe God we will yield obedience to His Word, and so our faith will be demonstrated.
All that we are, and all we have,
Shall be forever Thine;
And all a cheerful heart could give,
Our willing hands resign.
And could we yet make some reserve,
And duty did not call,
We love Thee, Lord, with such a love,
That we would give Thee all.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Earthly principles will not do as guidance for heavenly men. The wisdom of this world is utterly opposed to the wisdom of Heaven which is presented in all perfection in the Lord Jesus Christ. Human philosophies center in self. The wisdom that comes from above centers in God as revealed in His Son. It is first pure. The pure in heart see Him who is its source. Impurity blinds the eyes of the heart. “Peaceable, gentle, willing to yield,” this divine wisdom is “full of mercy and good fruits.” It is impartial and honest. There is no two-facedness in it. He who walks according to wisdom walks in righteousness and his life is a testimony to its power to produce all manner of goodness and peace.
Wisdom! Jehovah’s first delight,
The everlasting Son!
Before the first of all His works,
Creation, was begun.
Before the skies and wat’ry clouds,
Before the solid land,
Before the fields, before the floods,
Thou wast at His right hand!
When He adorned the arch of heaven,
And built it, Thou wast there,
To order where the sun should rise,
And marshal ev’ry star.
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
There is nothing to which the human heart is so prone as pride, and yet have nothing to be proud of! Our many sins might well humble us to the lowest depths, yet this evil root persists even in the most devoted saints. Paul needed a thorn in the flesh lest he be exalted above measure. David insisted on numbering the people for his own glory. Peter became lifted up when blessed with special spiritual illumination. By this sin Lucifer fell and carried one third of the angels of Heaven with him, and its virus has infected the whole human race since Eve was seduced by it in Eden. Christ is our supreme example of humility. His was a meekness that never exalted itself but sought only the glory of God. May we follow His steps in this as in all else.
He would have us wear beautiful garments—
Those which we may have through grace—
The robe of a tranquil spirit,
The calm of a peaceful face;
The charm of a gentle manner,
The lustre of heaven-lit eyes;
That robe of such sacred splendour,
The spirit of sacrifice.
These, these, and yet other garments,
All beautiful, bright and fair,
We may, by His grace, adorn us,
And unto His glory wear.
—J. Danson Smith
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
Helpful indeed are the lessons which the Holy Spirit has presented for us in the record of Elijah’s life. In some respects he was the greatest of all the prophets from Moses until John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). He appears suddenly upon the page of Scripture with his amazing declaration to King Ahab, “As the Lord…lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). Both the message and the confidence with which it was delivered were the result of a life of prayer. He had learned how to prevail with God, and his prayer shut and opened the heavens in accordance with the will of the Lord. This is most suggestive. Prayer does not cause God to change His mind, but the man who lives in fellowship with Him is guided to pray in accordance with His will. Such prayer is sure to be answered (1 John 5:14-15).
We must learn to know God in secret if we would be courageous for Him in public. The three years that Elijah spent in retirement, proving God’s faithfulness by the brook Cherith and in the widow’s home at Zarephath, gave him a background of practical experience that was of inestimable value when he had to face Ahab and the prophets of Baal. It was because he knew God that he dared to witness for Him so boldly.
Service is good when He asks it,
Labor is right in its place,
But there is one thing better—
Looking up into His face.
—Annie Johnson Flint
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though if is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
l Peter 1:6-8
Ponder that expression, “if need be,” and it will throw a flood of light upon God’s ways with His people which often seem perplexing and even inexplicable. For every trial which His children are called upon to endure He has a reason which will some day be made plain. He is working out some purpose in our lives that can only be created in the crucible of suffering. When all earth’s experiences are passed and,
We stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
we shall see that there was a “need’s be” for every painful testing and every heartbreak we have been called upon to endure. We shall praise Him then for every hard thing as well as for all the joyous experiences which we have known as we trod the pilgrim way.
Helpless tonight, and weary, almost too tired to speak,
Now on Faith’s downy pillow, I lay my fevered cheek;
I have a mighty Keeper, loving, compassionate, true;
Only to rest, He tells me, is all I need to do.
Pain has been my companion many a night and day;
Often the gathering shadows seemed to surround my way;
Yet I press on, not fearing, my Father knoweth best;
I leave to Him the planning, and on Faith’s pillow rest.
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:11-12
There are questions which cannot be properly decided if only the rights and liberty of the individual men are emphasized. Each one is part of the group with which his lot is cast. He is responsible for the effect of his actions upon those who are linked with him. No one lives or dies, we are told, to himself (Romans 14:7). It is therefore gross selfishness to insist on my own liberty if that liberty contributes to the detriment and enslavement of my fellows. To claim the right to certain indulgences which affect others adversely is to act contrary to the law of love, which should govern all who profess to follow Christ, as well as those who lay any claim to altruistic living. My evil example may be the ruin of weaker ones who become emboldened to do as they see me do. My selfish indulgence may make me a liability rather than an asset to society. I am most inconsistent if I claim to be a follower of Him who “did not please Himself” (Romans 15:3), while I am insisting on my personal liberty in matters that are stumblingblocks to my fellow men, whether Christians or not (1 Corinthians 8:9). While I cannot be governed by the consciences of other people, nevertheless I am called upon to avoid all that would unnecessarily stumble others (1 Corinthians 8:12-13).
A pilgrim in a hurried world and flurried,
Where hearts are aching and where hopes are buried;
Where bowers of ease and pleasures are enticing,
Where heedless lives the good are sacrificing;
A world of turmoil and of strife and danger—
Yes, I’m a pilgrim here, and I’m a stranger.
—Wm. M. Runyon
For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than fordoing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:17-18
My sins put Christ on the cross where He suffered in fullest measure. He bore everything I deserved that I might be freed forever from the suffering I had so richly earned. Now I am called to live and witness for Him in the world that rejected Him and to which I once belonged, but out of which He has saved me. Henceforth, holiness and righteousness are to characterize me. I am now to walk as He walked—in fellowship with Him, as enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing else is worthy of one who has been so gloriously redeemed at so great a cost. Nor need I expect mankind to understand. I know I must encounter their enmity and scorn. But I can conquer through Christ.
Be patient then, with such a rest in view,
Blessed are they who Zion’s ways pursue;
Each faithful pilgrim, through His mighty grace,
Shall there appear, and see Him face to face.
He is their Sun, to chase the shades of night,
And cheer their souls with heavenly warmth and light.
“God of all grace,” each day’s march Hell bestow
The suited grace for all they meet below;
The “God of glory” when their journey’s done,
Will crown with glory what His grace begun,
Rich in the treasures of eternal love,
His watchful goodness all His people prove;
Through time’s short day, and through eternity,
“Blest is the man, O Lord, who trusts in Thee.”
—J. G. Deck
Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7
Do we really believe this? If we do why are we so often troubled by the cares of daily life? God our Father has promised that all shall work for good for those who love Him, and we have the assurance that He feels for us in all our trials. He bids us bring everything to Him in prayer, and He has promised to undertake according to each day’s need. Let us heed the exhortation to cast (or literally, roll) our burdens on the Lord. He is all-sufficient and “He cares” for us. His love and compassion go out to all His suffering saints. We wrong our own souls when we do not refer all our griefs to Him.
Through every moment of the day,
Whate’er may meet thee on life’s way,
This thought shall be thy strength and stay:
When shadows veil the fairest scene,
And pleasures fade that might have been,
On the unchanging Saviour lean:
He marks thy steps, He goes before,
From this time forth, for evermore;
Then from thy heart let praise outpour:
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
2 Peter 1:16-17
It is in this passage that we learn the true significance of the transfiguration. It was the coming kingdom in miniature. Christ Himself appearing in glory was the center of that wondrous scene. In Moses we see pictured the state of those who pass through death, but will be raised in glorified bodies. Elijah pictures the living saints who will be changed and caught up to be with Christ at His coming. The three disciples in their natural bodies set forth the earthly saints who will enjoy the blessings of the kingdom in this world during the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus. Then blessing will flow forth to all mankind from the exalted Savior reigning in righteousness as King of kings and Lord of lords. All this confirmed the word of prophecy and made clearer to the disciples in after days, what God has in store for His saints and the world at large when the hour of Christ’s glory shall come.
Nearly now the last stage trodden
Of the desert way;
All behind us lies the darkness,
All before—the day.
Wondrous day of glowing promise,
Dimming all beside,
When the One who died to win us
Comes to claim His Bride.
And while watching for His coming,
Waiting here below,
He would have us in the desert
Find the waters flow.
Streams of sweet and deep refreshment
Gladdening all the throng,
Giving us, when gathered round Him,
Blessing and a song.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
2 Peter 2:1
The conflict between truth and error has been going on ever since Satan successfully misled our first parents in the garden of Eden with his subtle “Has God indeed said?” thus introducing doubt and questioning into the mind of Eve. Toleration of false teachers in the church of God is treachery to Christ. The false prophets in Israel were the bitter opponents of the revelation given through holy men who wrote and spoke as they were moved by the Spirit of God. The same is true today, except that the basis for all true testimony is now the completed volume of Holy Scripture, by which all teaching is to be tested. Against all false prophets we are to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, as declared in the Epistle of Jude.
The Christ is in Court today;
The World and the Flesh deride Him,
Mankind is jury and judge,
And the right of appeal is denied Him.
Who are His witnesses? Whom will He call
To answer for Him in the judgment hall?
The Christ is in Court today,
The World and the Flesh will try Him,
Mankind is jury and judge,
Shall those He hath loved deny Him?
We are His witnesses, ours is the call,
To speak for our Lord in the judgment hall.
—Annie Johnson Flint
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9
God will never refuse the plea of a seeking soul who comes to Him in the name of Jesus, confessing his sins and asking for forgiveness. The sin question has been settled to the divine satisfaction in the work of the cross. Now God can be just and the Justifier of all who believe in Jesus (Romans 3:26). To look for something worthy in ourselves, to endeavor to satisfy God by imagined works of righteousness, is to fail to recognize our completely lost condition. To acknowledge our sins and to trust His grace gives the happy consciousness of iniquity purged and guilt removed. God’s word to Israel of old was. “Only acknowledge your iniquity” (Jeremiah 3:13). This is ever the gateway to blessing (Hosea 5:15) because “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us air” (Isaiah 53:6).
Wash’d in Thy blood, from all my guilt made clean
In Thee, my Righteousness, alone I’m seen:
Thy home my home—Thy God and Father mine!
Dead to the world—my life is
hid with Thine:
Its highest honors fade before my view—
Its pleasures, I can trample on them too.
Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
1 John 2:8-9
The new commandment tests man as nothing else could. It reveals the latent evil hidden in every heart. Christ’s standard and ideals are too high for men of this world, who have their portion in this life. Only he who has received eternal life, through faith in the Lord Jesus (John 5:24) will be able to exemplify the love here instilled. He who gave the command to love one another proved His own love for mankind by dying for our sins. When He dwells in the heart by faith, His love is reproduced in others. It is not something that has to be pumped up as from an almost dry well. It is an ever-rising, overflowing stream coming from the renewed hearts of those who have been born of God and whose very nature it is to love as He loved us (1 John 4:7) .
Love of God, so pure and changeless;
Blood of Christ, so rich and free;
Grace of God, so strong and boundless,—
Magnify it all to me,
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should he called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.
1 John 3:1-3
The manner of love spoken of in these verses is something more than the general love of John 3:16. There it is love for the world. Here it is the Father’s love for His own children. He will never be fully satisfied until He has them all in glory with Himself. Now they are living in a scene where failure and temptations abound. When the Lord Jesus returns again they will be translated into His blessed image—to be like Him physically and spiritually, and to dwell with Him and all the redeemed in the Father’s house forever. With such an expectation controlling us we should become more and more like Him as the days of waiting go by.
Now with this hope to cheer us,
And with the Spirit’s seal,
That all our sins are pardoned,
By Him whose stripes did heal.
As strangers and as pilgrims,
No place on earth we own,
But wait and watch as children,
Until our Lord shall come.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
1 John 4:8-9
The practical evidence of the new birth is love for the children of God. He has demonstrated His perfect love toward us in the gift of His only begotten Son. Now we show our love to Him by our care for and interest in His own. Christ was sent that He might give life to those who were dead in trespasses and sins. That life is divine and he who possesses it loves others because God has so loved him. The next verse tells us that Christ also came to be the propitiation for our sins. On the basis of this we are justified freely by His grace. When one is converted to God the two things are true. He is both regenerated and justified. The child of God stands before His Father as free from guilt as if he had never sinned at all. Such is the fullness of God’s salvation which calls forth our adoring gratitude manifested in unselfish love.
Though higher than the highest,
Most mighty King Thou art,
Thy grace, and not Thy greatness,
First touched my rebel heart.
Thy sword, it might have slain me;
Thine arrows drunk my blood,
But ‘twas Thy cross subdued me,
And won my heart to God.
Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
2 John 8
We should be careful to distinguish between reward for service and salvation by grace. All who trust in the Lord Jesus are saved, and this completely apart from human merit. But all who profess to believe in Him are responsible to serve Him and to use whatever gift, ability, or means they have for His glory and to further His interests in this world. There are those who profess to be servants who are not even born of the Spirit. But God holds men accountable for what they know and profess. It is incumbent on all who believe His Word to serve whole-heartedly in view of the day when every one of us shall give an account. In that solemn hour no one will regret having been overly concerned about living for Him, but many will regret the hours spent in selfishness and folly which might have been used for His glory. Many will regret talents wasted or hidden away that, if properly invested in the light of eternity, would have earned Christ’s “Well done.” He will reward all that is in accordance with His Word (1 Corinthians 3:13).
A group of boys and girls may be
My God-appointed task;
Help me to lead each one to Thee—
What greater could I ask?
I ask no place of prominence
Where all the world can see,
But in some needy corner, Lord,
There let me work for Thee.
No task too great, no task too small,
Sufficient is Thy grace;
The darkened heart, my mission field,
My light, the Saviour’s face.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
3 John 4
To walk in truth is to live in accordance with the mind of God as revealed in His inspired Word. In order to do this we need to know our Bibles; not only to have a casual knowledge of the great outstanding facts of Scripture, but to so feed upon the Word that we take it into our very being, and thus be formed by the truth. This is practical sanctification and it is this that gives joy to the heart of God. For when we read such words as those quoted above we should think of them not simply as expressing the feelings of the inspired writer, the apostle John, but rather of the One who controlled His servant’s pen and guided his thoughts. It is God our Father who finds such joy when His children, those who have been born from above, walk in obedience to His Word.
I heard His call, “Come, follow!”
That was all.
My gold grew dim,
My soul went after Him,
I rose and followed:
That was all.
Who would not follow
If they heard Him call?
—William R. Newell
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.
3 John 11
The epistles of John insist upon reality. Mere lip profession that is not backed by love and righteousness cannot suit the holy One with whom we have to do. God is good. Both words come from the same root. Those who are born of God will be characterized by goodness. He who takes the name of Christ but who practices evil, is a stranger to God. Whatever his profession he has not seen Him. In this short letter the aged apostle scathingly denounces those who would dishonor the name of Christ by an apparent jealousy for the principles of church fellowship, while acting unkindly and unrighteously toward others who come in the same blessed name. We show how much we love the Lord by the way we treat our fellow believers.
That I am so beloved of God,
Must form my manners on the road
I journey, till I meet Thy Son,
My Lord, who all Thy love has shown;
Must separate from world and sin,
From every path that He’s not in;
Incite to toil, bring victory;
The only power, Thou lovest me!
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
This passage stresses four things which characterize a consistent Christian faith.
First: Building up on the faith. That is finding edification in the careful study of the Word of God. The “faith” here is not the faith by which we lay hold of God for salvation, but the faith once for all delivered to the saints by which they live.
Second: Praying in the Holy Spirit. We can only do this as we walk in the Spirit. Then He who dwells within us encourages our prayers and guides us as we present our supplications.
Third: We are to keep ourselves in the conscious enjoyment of God’s unchanging love. This is the place of blessing and of spiritual repose.
Fourth: The hope of our Lord’s return must be kept before our souls as the beacon light which leads us on to the Father’s house.
The Word, prayer, divine love, and the blessed hope sustain all along the way.
Everlasting arms uphold thee,
Love divine surrounds thy way;
Why should earthly fears distress thee
Or thy trembling heart dismay?
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Each recurring Christmas gives occasion to emphasize anew the wonderful story of the love of God—a love that led Him to send His one and only Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Christianity rests on three great pillars: the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Incarnation alone could not redeem sinful men. But apart from the incarnation there could be no propitiatory sacrifice that would avail to put away sin. God became man in order to die. We cannot make too much of the mystery of the union of the human and the divine in Jesus who was both Son of God and son of Mary. In Him we have the mediator for whom the patriarch Job longed, one who can lay His hand upon both God and man (Job 9:33) because He combines the natures of both in one glorious person. Bethlehem, Calvary, and the empty tomb, all alike should stir our souls and draw our hearts out to God in wonder, love, and praise.
Peace On Earth
Here Peace alighted once,
But could not find a home,
To Him who brought it, earth
Could give no room.
Him and His peace man would not have,
And in this Child of peace
Man saw no heavenly excellence,
No grace, no comeliness.
Peace in that cradle lay,
The Prince of Peace was there;
The fulness of His Peace
He brought with man to share.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
It is really the present tense in the first clause—“Him who loves us.” His love is unchanging and eternal. Saints in glory will take up this hymn of praise which will sound through endless ages through the courts of Heaven. But they who sing up there must learn to use the words down here. For God has willed that those who believe on His Son should know that their sins have been washed away by the precious blood of Christ. They are even now constituted a kingdom of priests unto God the Father to be adoring worshippers for all eternity.
When the heavenly hosts shall gather,
And the heavenly courts shall ring
With the rapture of the ransomed
And the new song they shall sing,
Though they come from every nation,
Every kindred, every race,
None can ever learn that music
Till he knows God’s pardoning grace.
All those vast eternities to come
Will never be too long
To tell the endless story
And to sing the endless song:—
“Unto Him who loved us,”
And who “loosed us from our sin”—
We shall finish it in heaven,
But ‘tis here the words begin.
—Annie Johnson Flint
I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
The gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16) is the glad tidings of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). To believe and proclaim the death of the Son of God is not enough. It is the resurrection that tells us that His propitiation has been accepted, and God can now justify all who put their trust in Him (Romans 4:25). Everywhere that the apostles of the new dispensation went, they preached Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 2:24, 32; 17:18, 31). This implies nothing short of the actual resurrection of the physical body of our Savior, Making this a spiritual resurrection alone is a denial of the truth revealed in Scripture. If Christ is not risen, our hope is futile, we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). But thanks be unto God, He has indeed been raised from the dead and become the firstfruits of those who sleep.
The witnesses to the resurrection, as given in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 15, were many and varied. There was no possibility that so many people were deceived or suffered from hallucinations. Moreover, the change that came over the apostles and the new spirit of boldness infused into the members of the early church all bore witness to the certainty of the disciples that their Lord had overcome the power of death.
If through the darksome vale of death
We pass, we need not fear:
Our Saviour, He who gave us breath,
Brings light and triumph there.
Surely Thy sweet and wondrous love
Shall measure all our days;
Thy Father’s house, our home above,
Where dwells eternal praise.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
We need to distinguish between the church, the body of Christ which includes all God’s children in this dispensation of grace, and local churches of God which are responsible groups of believers meeting together for Christian fellowship and testimony. Christ Himself builds what He calls “My church” (Matthew 16:18). The building of local churches is committed largely to His servants (1 Corinthians 3:10). As Paul went from place to place, he was used of God to gather believers into the fellowship of the churches where they would be nurtured and edified and could maintain a testimony in their respective communities. These churches were directly responsible to Christ Himself, while they maintained communion with each other as representatives of the one glorified Head. (See 1 Thessalonians 2:14). In the beginning there was only one great circle of Christian fellowship. Throughout the centuries, however, many divisions have come in through human weakness. The closer the churches keep to the divine pattern laid down in the New Testament, the more they will have the Lord’s approval and blessing. We cannot undo the mistakes of the past, but we can cling to the Lord and the Word of His grace, and be kept from much that is unscriptural and divisive.
Head of the Church triumphant,
We joyfully adore Thee!
Till Thou appear, Thy members here
Would sing like those in glory.
We lift our hearts and voices,
In blest anticipation,
And cry aloud, and give to God
The praise of our salvation.
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”
The new song is the song of redemption. When God created the universe it was so beautiful that the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. But that old song was soon hushed when sin came in to mar God’s wondrous handiwork. Now that His own Son has wrought our redemption, we who once were lost ruined sinners take up the new song and praise the Lamb once slain, who has washed us from our sins and made us to be a royal priesthood. Angels cannot sing this song. They have never known what it is to be thus redeemed. It is for the sons of God by faith to lift their voices in this glorious anthem which will fill the courts of Heaven with melody. But only those who learn it here can sing it there.
For Him who washed us in His blood
Let us our sweetest songs prepare;
He sought us wand’ring far from God,
And now preserves us by His care.
One string there is of sweetest tone,
Reserved for sinners saved by grace;
‘Tis sacred to one class alone,
And touched by one peculiar race.
Though angels may with rapture see
How mercy flows in Jesus’ blood,
It is not theirs to prove, as we,
The cleansing virtue of this flood.
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Scripture distinguishes between the resurrection of life, which will take place at our Savior’s pre-millennial advent (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), and the resurrection of judgment, which takes place at the end of time, just prior to the setting up of the great white throne where all the wicked must give account before God. Those who participate in the resurrection of the just have been saved by grace. Theirs will be a blessed part indeed. They are holy, set apart to God in Christ. They will never know the second death, which is final separation from God, for they are possessors of eternal life received by faith in Christ. For eternity they will have access as priests into the immediate presence of God and the Lamb. When the kingdom is set up over this earth they will reign with Him for whom once they suffered in the time of His rejection. Best of all, they shall see and be with Him forever.
Ah, this is what I’m wanting—
His lovely face to see,
And, I’m not afraid to say it,
I know He’s wanting me!
He gave His life a ransom
To make me all His own,
And He can’t forget His promise
To me, His purchased one.
—J. G. Deck
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you alt. Amen.
The last word ever heard from Heaven, the last that shall be heard until the Lord’s return, was the promise of His coming again, and that quickly, God does not count time as we do. According to His reckoning not even two days have elapsed since Jesus went away (2 Peter 3:8). Soon He will fulfill His promise. The heart that loves Him looks for Him, and responds, “Even so, come”! Till then there is grace for every moment of the way. The Old Testament closed with “a curse” because of man’s failure to keep God’s holy law. The New Testament closes with “grace,” because of Calvary. On the basis of the work accomplished there grace flows out in abundant fullness.
Grace is flowing like a river,
Millions there have been supplied;
Still it flows as fresh as ever,
From the Saviour’s wounded side;
None need perish,
All may live since Christ has died.