How much the Word has to say about the King and His Glory; and we have never yet taken hold of it with our dull hearts! Take the Book of Psalms, for instance, that book which has been so belittled by the destructive criticism. While we read so much in those precious productions of the Holy Spirit of Christ's sufferings, His humiliation, His prayers, His death, we may find there much more about Him as King and His coming manifestation.
The tumult of the nations, as predicted in the Second Psalm, and about to be realized in our own times, the tumult of the nations against the Lord and His Anointed, will be silenced by the coming of the King. "I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion;" this is what God declares. The God-man Christ Jesus, the Man, who is with Him now is, His King. His destiny is the government of the nations, with a rod of iron.
The entire Twenty-first Psalm tells out the Glory of the King. Christian expositors have rarely discovered this. But Jewish exponents always knew it. Saith a leading Jewish authority of the middle ages: "Our old teachers have always applied this Psalm as meaning the King Messiah." Read its stanzas:
"The King shall joy in Thy strength, Jehovah; And in Thy salvation, how greatly shall He rejoice. Thou hast given Him His heart's desire, And hast not withholden the requests of His lips. For Thou hast met Him with the blessings of goodness; Thou hast set a crown of pure gold on His head. He asked Life of Thee; Thou gavest Him length of days forever and ever. His Glory is great through Thy salvation; Majesty and splendor hast Thou laid upon Him. For Thou hast made Him to be blessings forever; Thou hast filled Him with joy by Thy countenance. For the King confideth in Jehovah. Through the loving kindness of the Highest He shall not be moved."
Then comes His future action, when He whom faith sees now crowned with Majesty and Splendor, who rejoices in the Presence of God, appears to execute the judgments of God.
"Thy hand shall find out all thine enemies; Thy right hand shall find out those that hate Thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery furnace In the time of Thy presence. Jehovah shall swallow them up in his anger, And the fire shall devour them. Their fruit shall Thou destroy from the earth, And their seed from among the children of men. For they intended evil against Thee, They imagined a mischievous device, Which they could not execute. For Thou wilt make them turn their back, Thou wilt make ready Thy bowstring against their faces. Be Thou exalted Jehovah in Thine own strength; We will sing and celebrate Thy power."
And in the Twenty-fourth Psalm we have prophetically that triumphant shout, which will be heard when the King comes back to enter His City, Jerusalem, again.
"Lift up your heads, ye gates And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle."
The Forty-fifth Psalm is a song of the Beloved, touching the King. He is described as coming in His Majesty and Splendor, how He deals with His enemies and that He will be surrounded by His own redeemed ones.
The Glory and dominion of His Kingdom He will receive is described in the Seventy-second Psalm. "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." And other Psalms enlarge upon these glorious visions, which will all be true when the King comes. Then Jerusalem will be a praise in the earth. "Also I will make Him, my Firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth" (Ps. lxxxix:27).
And how rich are the prophets in telling us of the Glory of the King and the glories of His kingdom. "Behold a King shall rule in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Isaiah xxxii:1). "Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is afar off" (Isaiah xxxiii:17). "A King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" (Jerem. xxiii:5). "And there was given Him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages, should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom, that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. vii:14). "The King of Israel, the Lord, is in the midst of thee (the earthly Jerusalem); thou shalt not see evil any more" (Zeph. iii:15). "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth" (Zech. xiv:6).
These and many, many more utterances of God's blessed prophets give us a vision of the King, of the Glory of Him, who was crowned with a crown of thorns, the thorns of man's curse, and over whose cross it was written, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
And the New Testament fully brings out the same Glory of Him as King. He is "King of Peace" (Heb. vii:2); "King of saints" (Rev. xv:3); "The Lord of lords and King of kings" (Rev. xvii:14).
At last the unfulfilled message of Gabriel will be gloriously fulfilled. "The Lord God shall give unto Him the Throne of His father David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke i:32).
But nowhere is He called "King of the church," nor are we authorized as believers to address Him "Our King." He will be King, but then He will not be our King, but we shall be Kings with Him. He is not King of the church, but the Head of the Body, the church; Head and Body together, Christ and His church, will rule and reign over the earth. Glory to His Name! In loving tenderness He looks upon us, who possess His life, He is not ashamed to call us "brethren," for He is Man, the second Man, and He beholds in us those, who will ere long share His Kingly Glory, His Kingly rule.
Oh, Beloved readers! does it not warm our hearts! Does it not make us feel like falling down on our faces and confess to Him our indifference and our nothingness, and humble ourselves in the dust. How little, oh how little we enter into all this. The Lord help us to have through His Word and in the power of His Spirit a greater vision of the King and our blessed, eternal lot with Him.
They crown Him King on high; Shall we not crown Him here, The blessed Christ of Calvary, To ransomed sinners dear?
They worship Him above, Shall we not worship too, The Son of God, the Lord of love, To whom all praise is due?
Up there they see His Face, The Lamb who once was slain, And in a new song praise His Grace; Shall we not join the strain?
Yonder His servants still Serve as their Lord commands; Oh may we also do His will With loving hearts and hands.—M. F.
The Fellowship of His Son.
"GOD is faithful, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. i:9). A blessed word this is. By nature the Corinthians were in another fellowship. The same Epistle (vi:9-11) tells us what some of them were. Like ourselves by nature they were in the fellowship of sin and death and in fellowship with him, who is the author of sin and the enemy of God, Satan. But a faithful God called them and has called us by the Gospel into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. If we have obeyed the Gospel and accepted the gift of God we are brought through the Grace of God into the fellowship of the Son of God. All believers are in the same fellowship, one with the Lord.
But that is a truth and a blessed revelation far deeper than our mind can fathom or our pen could describe. No saint has ever sounded the depths of this wonderful call of God nor can God's saints fully know what that fellowship all means, until the blessed day comes when we shall see Him as He is and when joined to Him we shall be like Him.
And yet we can remind ourselves of the little we know and through it encourage our hearts. Faith loves to dwell upon the blessed Person, whom faith alone through the Spirit's power can make a living reality. And God, the faithful God, loves to hear His children speak much of Him, whom He loves, the Son of His Love, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Fellowship means to have things in common. And that is what God has done. He has taken us through His Grace out of the fellowship in which we are by nature, the things we have in common as enemies and children of wrath and has called us into the fellowship of His Son. And now called of God into this fellowship we have things in common with His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. This brings before us once more the old story, which never grows old, but is eternally new and becomes more blessed the more we hear it. The Son of God, He who is the true God and the eternal Life, came to this earth and appeared in the form of Man. "The Life was manifested; and we have seen, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (1 John i:2). And He who is the true God and the eternal life, by whom the worlds were made, gave Himself for our sins. He came to give His life as a ransom for many, to make propitiation for the whole world. He who knew no sin was made sin for us and on the Cross peace was made. There in His own body on the tree He bore our sins. All who believe on Him, who have accepted Jesus as their Saviour, are taken out of that in which they are by nature and are brought into Christ. And here we can with praising hearts and full assurance sing of our blessed position in Him.
Lord Jesus, are we one with Thee? Oh height, oh depth, of love! And crucified and dead with Thee, Now one in heaven above.
Such was Thy grace, that for our sake Thou didst from heaven come down; With us of flesh and blood partake, And make our guilt Thine own.
Our sins, our guilt, in love divine, Confessed and borne by Thee; The gall, the curse, the wrath, were Thine, To set Thy ransomed free.
Ascended now, in glory bright, Life-giving Head Thou art; Nor life, nor death, nor depth, nor height Thy saints and Thee can part.
But the fellowship of His Son into which the Grace of God has brought us means more than this blessed new relation and the positional truth that as believers we have been crucified with Christ and that we are risen with Him. The life we possess as born again is His own life. We possess the life of Him, who died in our stead. Christ is our life. This means fellowship of His Son, we are one with Him. We also possess His Spirit. The Spirit of Christ dwelleth in us and we are "one Spirit with the Lord."
This oneness with Christ, the fellowship of His Son, that we belong to Him and He to us, that we have an inheritance in Him and He has an inheritance in us, is a great truth. Like every other revealed truth it must be a reality in our lives. We are called by God to walk in this fellowship. We know we are in Him, and through Grace we abide in Him. But it is also written, "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked." His own life must be manifest. In this fellowship of His Son we have the strength to walk as He walked, because we have His life and His Spirit. There is no need to walk after the flesh, but we can always walk in the Spirit and walking thus we walk as He walked. And this spiritual walk becomes possible as our hearts dwell in faith on the fact that we are called into the fellowship of His Son. We must have this wonderful fact constantly before our hearts as a real thing. Then all we do will be governed by it.
If this is real how can we be conformed to this world? The world in all its aspects is the enemy of God. In that fellowship we walked once "according to the course of this world." Should we then turn back to it and enjoy its pleasures and ambitions? If we do, we walk in the flesh and then we do not know the joy and peace of the fellowship of His Son, but are joyless and miserable. But if the fact of the fellowship of God's Son is a reality in power, it will keep us from being conformed to this world.
We believe the Spirit of God presses this home to the consciences of His people and calls us to a separated walk.
And this must lead to another phase of the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ. It is written "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2 Cor. iv:10). This stands in connection with persecution and suffering. Walking in the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ the Apostle had one great desire, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death" (Phil. iii:10). To the Colossians he wrote "who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the church" (Col. i:24). He suffered and bore His reproach. His heart in the enjoyment of the fellowship desired the fellowship of His sufferings. We know little of these because we are conformed to this world and not loyal to our Lord and God's calling. But if we walk in conscious fellowship with Him and are loyal to Him we too will know a little of the fellowship of His sufferings. Then our hearts long that we may "bear His reproach." The blessed One of God is rejected, can our hearts be satisfied with anything less than being rejected too? Perhaps if we were to lift up our voices now against the Christ dishonoring things, both in doctrine and practice, which are the leading features of the present-day religious world, we would know a little more of this fellowship.
Called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord means also to share His work. We are called to serve. He was here as One that serveth, and we are "to serve one another in love." "Whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matt. xx:26-27). We can be servants with Him. He is intercessor and burden-bearer and we have a share in this likewise.
And there is the fellowship of His Son in its eternal aspect. God's calling is to be like His Son. "For whom He did foreknow, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans viii:29). We shall be with Him forever and like Him.
And is it so—I shall be like Thy Son? Is this the grace which He for me has won? Father of glory, (thought beyond all thought!)— In glory, to His own blest likeness brought!
Oh, Jesus, Lord, who loved me like to Thee? Fruit of Thy work, with Thee, too, there to see Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll, Myself the prize and travail of Thy soul.
Yet it must be: Thy love had not its rest Were Thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest. That love that gives not as the world, but shares All it possesses with its loved co-heirs.
May the Holy Spirit hold these great truths before our hearts and in His power may we be consciously and constantly enjoying the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, till we are called by Himself to be with Him.
Out of His Fulness.
"AND of His fulness have all we received, and grace upon grace" (John i:16). This precious word was not spoken by John the Baptist. It must be looked upon as an outburst of praise, similar to the one which stands in the beginning of Revelation (Rev. i:5-6). It is the adoring utterance of all believers acknowledging the reception of that unfathomable and never failing grace, which flows from the eternal fountain, the Son of God. Out of the fulness of Himself believing sinners receive grace upon grace. His own fulness is the source, which supplies all the need of those, who by Him believe on God, that raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory (1 Pet. i:2). That exhaustless fulness is always ready to sustain, to help, to comfort, to strengthen and to fill those, who are in Christ, one with Him.
But what is this fulness of which we receive and receive so abundantly? The blessed Son of God possessed in all eternity fulness. The Holy Spirit in this chapter bears a testimony to this fact by a great revelation. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made 'that was made.' In Him was life; and the life was the light of men" (John i:1-4). What a wonderful revelation this is! The Word which was in the beginning, which ever was God, by whom all was made, without whom nothing came into existence, is the Son of God. The fulness of the Godhead was His before the world was made, for He is God. Then we read in this chapter, "and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." He came to this earth, He took on the form of man, the eternal Word was made flesh, God manifested in the flesh. And as He walked on the earth the fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell in Him (Col. i:19). But before we could ever receive out of His fulness grace upon grace, the Son of God had to die. If He had not died and accomplished the great work for which He came into the world, His fulness would have been forever inaccessible to sinners. But He went to the cross and finished there the great work. Christ died for us; He who knew no sin was made sin for us. And now it is written of Him, the glorified One, the Man in Glory. "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power" (Col. ii:9-10). He, who possessed eternally all fulness, who came to this earth and in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt, who died on the cross the just for the unjust, who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, is now as Man in glory and there dwelleth in Him bodily the fulness of the Godhead. It is all for us; we can now receive grace upon grace, because of Him who is the Second Man, the Head of the new creation and with whom God has made us, who believe, one. This is the deep and yet simple Gospel. God gave His blessed Son, who was forever one with Him, that through Him we might receive of the fulness of the Godhead, grace upon grace. Brought to God in such a way, washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, we are receiving all we need. We receive it not on our merit, because we labor or agonize for it, but we receive of His fulness. But who can begin to tell out what that is, grace upon grace? Pages upon pages might be written and filled with the good things, the spiritual blessings, the joy, the peace, the comfort, the power and the wisdom and many other things, which are included in "grace upon grace." And after we mentioned all these precious things, we would have to put the pen down and confess our insufficiency to tell out the riches, the fulness and vastness of "grace upon grace."
This expression brings a great cataract like Niagara to our mind. Here we stand and behold the mighty waters rushing down. Oh! the mighty rushing waters, who can measure them! What a vast, inexhaustible supply! Water upon water dashing down. For ages this has gone on. Hundreds of years, more than that, thousands of years have witnessed the same mighty waters. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second, every fraction of a second—incessantly mighty rushing waters upon waters!
In the same way there is pouring forth out of His fulness, the fulness of the Lord in Glory—grace upon grace. There is an unlimited, inexhaustible supply of the water of life from Him who is the life. For ages the saints of God, saved by grace, have received grace upon grace. A never ceasing stream of grace has been flowing forth and it has not impoverished the marvellous eternal supply. Still it flows undiminished—still there is grace upon grace. Yea it is grace upon grace by which God's people live. Every hour, every minute, every second, every moment it is His grace, grace upon grace which keeps us, surrounds us, flows upon us and overshadows us. And the more we take and enjoy the more we learn to sing.
More and more, more and more, Always more to follow! Oh, His matchless, boundless Grace, Still there's more to follow!
Will it ever stop? No, never! We shall keep on singing in all eternity "still there's more to follow!—still there's more to follow." Hallelujah! "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His Grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. ii:7). Always more to follow! Still there's MORE to follow. All Praise to Him who died to have it so for us poor lost sinners, whose lot should have been, as it is the lot of all who reject this marvellous grace—always more to follow—in eternal darkness and despair.
And how simple it is to receive "of His fulness grace upon grace." Look at this never ceasing spring of pure water, it never fails. You approach it a weary, thirsty, dustladen traveler. You need to be refreshed. You need the cooling drink. You need washing. What then is necessary? Oh! to fill your cup. Just to take for it is for you. And so this wonderful grace which flows out of His fulness. It is for you, just come and take. Fill your cup, fill it again! Drink oh drink! "Of His fulness have all we received, grace upon grace."
The Twenty-second Psalm.
The Cross of Christ.
THE Twenty-second Psalm contains a most remarkable prophecy. The human instrument through whom this prophecy was given is King David. The Psalm does not contain the experience of the King, though he passed through great sufferings, yet the sufferings he speaks of in this Psalm are not his own. They are the sufferings of Christ. It is written in the New Testament that the prophets searched and enquired diligently about the coming salvation. The Spirit of Christ, which was in them testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter i:10-11). David was a prophet, and in this great prophecy the Spirit of Christ testified of the sufferings of Him, who is both David's Lord and David's son.
The book of Psalms, so rich and full of Himself, so inexhaustible in description of our ever blessed Lord, is divided into five books, which correspond to the five books with which the Bible begins, the Pentateuch. The first book (Psalm i-xli) contains some of the great prophecies about the Christ of God; these prophecies are in the so-called messianic Psalms. Perfect and divine is the order in which they are revealed. Son of God—The Second Psalm. Son of Man —The Eighth Psalm. Obedient One—The Sixteenth Psalm. Obedient unto Death, the Death of the Cross—The Twenty-second Psalm. Highly exalted by God—Revealed in each of these Psalms. This is the order in which the Holy Spirit describes the path of the Lord in Phil. ii:6-11. How perfect the Word of God is!
The Twenty-second Psalm, the center of the first part of the book of Psalms, the Genesis portion, corresponds to the twenty-second chapter in the book of Genesis. There we see Isaac bound upon the altar having been led there and put upon the altar by his Father while he opened not his mouth. Here we behold the true Isaac on the cross. Everything in this Psalm speaks of our blessed Lord; in the first part of His sufferings, in the second part of His Glory and exaltation.
And we must not overlook the two Hebrew words the Holy Spirit has put over this Psalm: Aijeleth Shahar. The margin tells us they mean "the hind of the morning." This has a beautiful, though hidden meaning. Some have thought of the innocent suffering of a wounded hind and the dawn of the morning brings relief. They have applied this to the death and resurrection (in the morning dawn) of the Lord. But the meaning is better still. The oldest Jewish traditions give us the key. They take the expression "Aijeleth Shahar" to mean the Shechina, the glory cloud, which was visible among His people and they speak of "the hind of the morning" as being the dawning of redemption. The dawning of the morning is compared by them with the horns of the hind, on account of the rays of light appearing like horns. According to their tradition the lamb was offered as the sacrifice in the morning as soon as the watcher on the pinnacle of the temple cried out "Behold the first rays of morning shine forth."
But what pen can describe the predictions and the fulfilment of His sufferings, the sufferings of the Holy One! Here we behold what it cost Him to redeem us. Here we have the full description of what His atoning work meant. Here we see the full meaning of the sin-offering.
Well may we bow our heads and hearts here and worship as we gaze upon this picture. The opening word of the Psalm expresses the consummation of all the sufferings of Christ, that word which came from the darkness, which surrounded the cross and in which we are face to face with the unsearchable depths of His atoning work. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me." He who was ever with the Father, one with Him in all eternity, who could say on earth "I am not alone" was left alone. He was forsaken of God. But more than that. Jehovah bruised Him; He put Him to grief. The spotless One bore the wrath of God alone. It was then that He who knew no sin was made sin for us. How significant it is then that the Holy Spirit puts that word of the Lord Jesus Christ before the predictions of His physical sufferings. They tell us what our redemption cost Him —the awful price, forsaken of God. The Psalm also emphasizes what man under the terrible instigation of Satan did unto Him. We glance at some of these sufferings as expressed by His own Spirit.
"But I am a worm, and not man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people" (verse 6). This is His own complaint. No longer a man but writhing on the ground like a worm, the substitute of sinners, thus the Holy One felt when He was numbered among the transgressors. The Hebrew word "worm", means the small insect, the coccus, from which the scarlet color is obtained by death of this worm, that color which was used in connection with the tabernacle. Thus He died as our substitute that our sins though they are as scarlet might be white as snow. Men reproached Him; His own people despised and rejected Him. Then we read how He was mocked and scoffed at. They "laugh me to scorn," they "shoot out the lip," they "shake the head." The very language of the leaders of the people as they surrounded the cross is given by the Spirit of God. "He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him" (verse 7). What depths of the depravity of the human heart they reveal! And in all this, while He suffered thus from man His sole trust was in God (verses 9-10). His whole life was to trust in the Lord to lean upon Him, till that moment came when God could no longer know Him as His own, when the sword, the sword of judgment awoke against the Man, the fellow, the companion of the Lord of hosts (Zech. xiii:7). What that sword did to Him is expressed by the cry of the forsaken One.
And what else do we find here? We can follow the whole story of the cross in the first part of this Psalm. His enemies are described, the bulls and the ravening and roaring lion.—"I am poured out like water."—"All my bones are out of joint."—"My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." Like fire melteth wax so His heart melted in the fire of wrath against sin. The strength of the mighty One, who fainteth not and knows no weariness, failed. His tongue cleaves to His jaws. "Dogs" and "the assembly of the wicked" —Gentiles and Jews were there. "They pierced my hands and feet;" crucifixion, unknown among the Jews when David lived, is here predicted by the Holy Spirit. "I may tell all my bones" as well as the words "all my bones are out of joint" refer to His suffering on the cross. Then after they hung the Prince of Glory at that cross we read "they look and stare upon Me" (verse 17). "They parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." What man did to Him, what He suffered from man and from Satan's power is here described. Yet it was God who bruised Him. Concerning man the sufferer spoke what "they" did unto Him; but He also addresses God "THOU hast brought me into the dust of death."
And thus He suffered and died for us. Our sins were laid upon Him and He bore them in His own body on the tree. At what an infinite cost we have been redeemed! What a price has been paid! The Father did not spare His only begotten Son, but delivered Him up for us all. The Son of God, was made sin for us, smitten, stricken and forsaken of God.
Jehovah bade His sword awake— O Christ, it woke 'gainst thee! Thy blood the flaming blade must slake; Thy heart its sheath must be— All for my sake, my peace to make; Now sleeps that sword for me.
The Holy God did hide His face— O Christ, 'twas hid from thee! Dumb darkness wrapt thy soul a space— The darkness due to me. But now that face of radiant grace Shines forth in light on me.
Wonderful Love! But how unable we are to realize adequately these blessed facts! How little after all we think of these marvellous things and how weak is our devotion to that blessed, loving Lord, who loved us thus!
And what do we behold about us? An ever increasing darkness; a turning away from the blessed Gospel of the Son of God as it centers in the Cross; a greater rejection and neglection of the great salvation which God has so graciously provided in the great sacrifice. It is fearful to see the enemies of the cross increasing and rushing on to their coming doom. What is to be our attitude? It is for us to glory more and more in the cross of Christ. We must exalt and magnify the Person and Work of our blessed Lord as never before. The more He is rejected by the world, His blessed work on the cross disowned in such latter day delusions as the new theology, Christian Science and the numerous other systems, the more we must give Him the pre-eminence.
But it means also for us if we are faithful to Him the fellowship of His sufferings. God has called us into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. This includes the fellowship of His sufferings. Never, of course, suffering from God as He did. But as He is rejected and despised so are we called to share His rejection and take upon us His reproach. He suffered without the gate and the Word exhorts us "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." In these last days we must like Moses "esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (the world)." And if we are faithful to Him, if we walk in separation from the world, including the great "religious world" with its Christ and the Cross rejecting schemes and tendencies, we shall know something of the reproach of Christ and the fellowship of His sufferings. Oh! that we might know more of that in these easy going days. Such a precious Word of God as contained in 1 Peter iv:13-14 ought to make us long for bearing His reproach and for sufferings with Him. "But rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified."
Be true to Christ and to the cross of Christ. Live out the doctrine of the cross "crucified with Christ"—dead to the things here below, then you will have some suffering from the side of men and Satan as well.
And what will be the awful judgment for the multitudes, the ever increasing multitudes who reject the Cross of Christ, who are either opposing it by their ethical gospel, to whom the preaching of the cross is foolishness, or who are indifferent? The Holy Spirit has told us that where the Gospel, the Cross of Christ is rejected or perverted the Anathema, the curse of God must follow (Gal. i:9; 1 Corinth. xvi:22). Well has one said "Distance from God was the climax of the Lamb's dying sorrow." It is a fearful solemn thought that the world while with heedless selfconfidence it still pursues its way, is no nearer now to God than Jesus was when, under the burden of the world's iniquity, He cried, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" How solemn this is! May we learn to say more fully with Paul, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
The Glory of Christ.
The first twenty-one verses of this Psalm describe the sufferings of Christ. This part closes with an appeal to Jehovah for deliverance. "But be thou not far from me, O Lord; O my strength, haste thee to help me. * * * Save me from the lion's mouth." Then comes the joyful statement that He has been heard. The answer He received to His cry is resurrection. We find therefore that the second part of this great Psalm, which reveals so fully the Cross of Christ, is taken up with the Glory of the forsaken One. God raised Him from the dead, and so we hear at once in this Psalm the notes of triumph coming from the lips of Him who is dead and now liveth. His triumph and His Glory are revealed. All for whom He died, the Church, Israel, the ends of the earth, the nations are mentioned. He is seen in the midst of the church as well as in the midst of the future great congregation. All the ends of the earth are yet to remember and turn unto the Lord. The nations will come to worship before Him; His will be the Kingdom, He will rule among the nations. But we must look at some of these precious predictions a little closer. We need to consider them as much as the Sufferings, the Cross of Christ.
The day of His Resurrection is first mentioned.
"I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren
"In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee."
It is a joyous word which stands at the head of the glory section of this Psalm. Raised from the dead He met His own with an "All hail" —rejoice. In the Gospel of John we see Him meeting her who sought the living One among the dead and telling her "Go and tell my brethren." How literally this prediction has been fulfilled. And what He tells her of "my Father and your Father, my God and your God" declares that intimate relationship which is the result of His death on the cross. Brought through Him to God, we are Sons of God and Heirs of God. "He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one, therefore He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. ii:11). Precious truth! He owns us as brethren. He is the Firstborn among many brethren. The congregation mentioned here is the church. In the midst of the church His praise is heard (Heb. ii:12). It is true the church is not revealed in the Old Testament but it is anticipated. And as we, saved by Grace, in possession of His life, approach God in His worthy Name His own voice is heard; He is the leader of our prayers and our praises. That new and intimate relationship brought about by His atoning death at the cross is mentioned first. He gave Himself for the church (Eph. v:25). In the next place we hear Israel praising Him. "All ye the seed of Jacob glorify Him; and reverence Him all ye the seed of Israel." They who rejected Him, His people who despised Him and had such a part in the suffering of Christ, now own Him. They acknowledge Him, whom they thought afflicted of God, as having been heard of God.
That time will come when He returns in power and glory, when Israel will see the Man in Glory, the First begotten coming in the clouds of Heaven. Then they will realize the full truth of Isaiah liii. The blessed Lord will then have the travail of His soul and be satisfied. But there is more glory still for Him.
A great congregation is mentioned; there too His praises will be heard. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn unto the Lord. Nations will worship before Him.
"For the Kingdom is Jehovah's And He ruleth among the nations" (verse 28).
The great congregation are the nations of the millennial age. Then the ends of the earth will remember Him while He ruleth among the nations. What Glory awaits Him! Now we behold Him, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor. It is a spiritual vision; we see Him there by faith. But a little while longer and He will appear in the Glory of His Father bringing His co-heirs with Him, the Son bringing many sons to glory, the sons He is not ashamed to call brethren, for whom He was forsaken on the cross. What a procession of triumph and glory that will be when the Heavens open and He is coming forth, bringing His church with Him! What will be His Glory when Israel at last owns Him and nations submit under His rule, when His visible Glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea! All hail! Oh blessed, blessed Lord!
And we do need to consider all these precious predictions, so numerous in the Scriptures, the prophecies of His Glory. The God of this age Satan is unfolding the glories of this present age which is almost at the end, with a skilful master hand. He knows how to blind the eyes not only of those who believe not, but of many who are Christians. He makes everything so attractive and many of God's people have fallen into his snares. We need to look through the Word of God upon the brightness of His Glory, the glorious things to come, so that our eyes may be blinded to the miserable playthings of the dust, which the fire of God's vengeance will ere long consume. We need these glorious visions of the great realities so that we can go forward with joyfulness to suffer, be rejected of men and bear the bright and blessed testimony, the Father expects from His beloved children. Take up the watchword of the last days! True to Christ—all in Christ—all for Christ—Onward to Glory. Soon He will call us into His glorious presence.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. viii:18).
"For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. v:17).
Oh what will be the day when won at last The last long weary battle, we shall come To those eternal gates the King hath passed, Returning from our exile to our Home; When earth's last dust is washed from off our feet; The last sweat from our brows is wiped away; The hopes that made our pilgrim journey sweet All met around us, realized that day!
Oh what will be the day, when we shall stand Irradiate with God's eternal light; First tread as sinless saints the sinless land, No shade nor stain upon our garments white; No fear, no shame upon our faces then, No mark of sin—oh joy beyond all thought! A son of God, a free-born citizen Of that bright city where the curse is not!
The Exalted One.
SOME thirty-five years ago, when the so-called "Higher Criticism" had begun its destructive work, a believer living in England, predicted that within thirty years the storm would gather over one sacred head. How this has come true! Satan's work of undermining the authority of the Bible, a pernicious work still going on, is but the preliminary to an attack of the Person of Christ. To-day as never before the glorious Person of our Lord is being belittled in the camp of Christendom. This is done not only in the out and out denials of His Deity but also in more subtle ways. It is for us who "deny not His Name" (Revel. iii:8), whose desire is to exalt Him, ever to remind ourselves of the Blessed One and His Glory. At this time we desire to look briefly at the teachings of the first chapter in Hebrews.
This chapter is divided into two parts. In the first part we find another great description of our adorable Lord, and in the second a description of His exaltation. The beginning of the chapter gives us that solid assurance that God has spoken and that the Old Testament is His Word. "God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in (the person of the) Son." The Old Testament Scriptures are the inspired Word of God; at last God spake in Son, as it is in the Greek. The Old Testament announced that God would speak in the person of the Son. For this reason it is impossible to deny the authority of the Old Testament without denying the authority of Lord Jesus Christ. The written and the living Word stand and fall together.
This is followed by a description of Himself. Seven things are mentioned concerning our Lord. 1. Heir of all Things. 2. By whom He made the worlds. 3. The Brightness of God's Glory. 4. The Express image of His Person. 5. The Upholder of all Things. 6. He has purged our sins. 7. He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. What wonderful seven things these are! Oh that we would meditate more on each, how it would strengthen our faith and deepen our fellowship with Him. It would give us victory when the hosts of the enemy press upon us. Our defeat is the result of losing sight of the object of our faith, Christ.
We also can divide the description of our Lord in the first chapter of Hebrews into three parts. 1. He is the Son of God in eternity; One with the Father, essentially and absolutely God. This is found in these great statements "By whom He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His Glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power." This could never be said of a creature of God. Our Lord is the Creator Himself, the express image of the person of God, the one who upholds all things. What it all means! What a Lord we have! All this harmonizes with the description of His Person in Colossians.
2. He is the Son of God in incarnation. This is found in the following sentence "When He had Himself purged out sins" or as it is literally "Having made by Himself the purification of sins." For this great purpose He entered His own world. The mighty Creator, the eternal Son of God, the Holy One is our Redeemer. As Son of God He walked on the earth in the Spirit of holiness, the holy, spotless One, God manifested in the flesh. And this wonderful Being was made Sin for us, went as the willing sacrifice to the cross. Oh what a record! "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who when reviled, reviled not again: when suffering threatened not; . . . . . . . who Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, . . . . by whose stripes ye have been healed." What a foundation for our faith, what assurance! He Himself has accomplished the work for us and has made peace in the blood of His cross. He only could do it.
3. The Son of God in resurrection. "He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, being made so much better than the angels as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." And in verse 2 we read "Whom He (God) hath appointed heir to all things."
All this is spoken of Him who had died on the cross and who raised from the dead as glorified Man is at the right hand of the majesty on high. What He is in that resurrection Glory we shall be with Him. His Love does not stop short of this. The Glory the Father gave to Him, He has given to us. He is the image of the invisible God, because He is God. His redeemed people shall be transformed into His image, that He might be the first born among many brethren. What a thought this is! We shall image Him forth in all eternity, as He images the invisible God. Into what depths we gaze!
Then in the second part of this chapter we find a description of His exaltation and Glory. The Holy Spirit shows this marvelous theme from His Word. He quotes from seven Psalms, that book which is one of the most attacked in the present day. The Holy Spirit gives us a key in these quotations how we should look for Christ in the Psalms. What wickedness in face of such Scriptures to deny the messianic prophecies contained in the Psalms. The Psalms quoted are the following: "The ii; lxxxix (2 Sam. vii:14); xcvii; civ; xlv; cii and cx." They reveal His Glory and in what His future Glory will exist. And we shall share that exaltation with Him. We are destined to be His Co-heirs. We shall rule with Him and shall be priests with Him. He is higher than the angels in His resurrection Glory. He was made a little lower than the angels that He could take us with Himself into that place above the angels. All Glory and Praise to His Holy Name. We worship and adore Thee, Thou Son of God, our Saviour and Lord! What Glory awaits us! What dignity is ours! Oh, child of God, you need just this one thing, to know Him better, to have the Holy Spirit make Christ and the things of Christ, the future Glory more real to your souls. Let Him do it. And soon we shall be with Him.
Lamb of God, Thy faithful promise Says, "Behold, I quickly come;" And our hearts, to Thine responsive, Cry, "come, Lord, and take us home." Oh, the rapture that awaits us When we meet Thee in the air, And with Thee ascend in triumph, All Thy deepest joys to share!
A Glorious Vision.
THE Epistle to the Hebrews, this profound and blessed portion of the Holy Scriptures, unfolds a most wonderful vision of the Person, the Glory and the great Redemption work of our adorable Lord. The portion of the Epistle which is the richest in this respect is the Second Chapter. Here is a vista for the eyes of faith which is sublime. Our Lord in His Person, in His humiliation and exaltation, in His suffering and glory, stands out in a way which makes the believing heart rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of Glory. What He has accomplished for us, His present place in Glory and intercessory work, His future and dominion over the earth, all are mentioned by the Holy Spirit in this brief chapter. His humiliation by incarnation is mentioned in these words "Thou madest Him a little lower than the angels." "Forasmuch, then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same." And He is the One "by whom are all things" (verse 10).
His suffering and death and its blessed results are given in this chapter. "By the grace of God He should taste death for every man." "That through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil." He made "reconciliation for sins of the people."
We read of the gracious relations into which all believing sinners are brought in virtue of His work on the cross. "For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." It is that blessed, deep, eternal relationship of being One with Him and One with God. Then we find here His presence as Man in Glory. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor."
In that attitude He is now "the merciful and faithful high Priest." "For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted."
The ultimate result of His work is also stated. He is "bringing many sons unto glory." And that glory will be His own glory. Not only now but in that future day of glory He will declare "Behold I and the children, which God hath given me."
Furthermore we have the fact of His earthly dominion, that He is to have possession of the earth. "The world to come," that is the habitable earth, not heaven, is to be put in subjection under Him. "Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet." All these blessed truths are stated in this chapter of Hebrews.
In regard to a subdued earth we read: "But now we see not yet all things put under Him." That was true when the Holy Spirit penned these words. This is still true and it will be true until the Father bringeth in the First begotten into the world, when not alone all the angels of God will worship Him (Heb. i:6), but when God will make His enemies the footstool of His blessed feet (Psalm cx:1).
However this coming triumph for Him who was made a little lower than the angels is not the glorious vision of this chapter. It is time by faith we may behold the glorious consummation as revealed in the prophetic Word, but here another vision for our present rejoicing and present help is put before us. While we see not yet all things put under His feet "we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor."
This is the great vision for the present. This is what the Holy Spirit wants us to behold more than anything else. Of Stephen it is written: "He being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts vii:55). And whenever the Holy Spirit fills us He will direct the vision of the eyes of our heart to Him who was made a little lower than the angels and who is now in heaven crowned with glory and honor. And only the power of the Holy Spirit filling us can make this great fact and vision a reality.
But what does this glorious vision mean to us? What does it teach us? Oh, much more than the weak pen of the writer can tell out.
The blessed One who is there crowned with glory and honor is the One who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death; He bore our sins on the cross and died for us. What a blessed, blessed proof then it is, as we behold Him there, that our sins are completely and forever gone!
But more than that. In seeing Him there we behold ourselves. The deliverer of our souls at the right hand of God, the second man, crowned with glory and honor, is the pattern and forerunner of all who belong to Him and whom He is not ashamed to call brethren. Grace has raised us up together, and has made us sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (Eph. ii:5, 6).
Our eternal destiny, beloved in the Lord, is to be like Him, with Him and to share His marvelous inheritance as His co-heirs. That glorious vision is the evidence of our coming glory, when we shall be transformed into His image that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. As we gaze in the Spirit on Him who is crowned with glory and honor we can see ourselves.
And as the age darkens, as the Laodicean state becomes more prevalent, temptations and snares increase, the enemy's powers and activities more marked, we need to open our eyes and hearts wider, to take in the vision of our blessed head in Glory. Only in this way can we be kept in these evil days. The only way of spiritual progress, spiritual enjoyment, spiritual worship is to "behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord," and beholding that glorious vision we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. vii:18).
This glorious vision will keep us in the place of separation. It will make us heavenly-minded and produce in our lives the practical results of the cross of Christ "crucified unto the world and the world crucified unto me." Why do real Christians, who know the truth and even know and speak of His Second Coming go along with the world and delight in its ways? It is because the heart is departed from Christ and has lost sight of the blessed and glorious vision. Years ago a saint of God, who is now present with the Lord, made the following statement:
"It sometimes happens that Christians have got so far away from Christ in heart, that they become engrossed in the affairs of this life, and some can even visit and enjoy the poor empty, tinselled shows of this world's vanity. What could be more lamentable? They forget that death's stamp is deeply graven on everything this side of resurrection. But such actions clearly prove that the heart must have been away from Christ for some time."
Reader! if this means you return unto thy rest. Arise now and seek His face and behold your Saviour, who was made a little lower than the angels crowned with glory and honor.
May all our hearts, dear children of God, cry out with him, who knew Him so well, the prisoner of the Lord "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil. iii:10). Soon we shall know Him and all His glory.
I see a Man at God's right hand, Upon the throne of God, And there in seven-fold light I see The seven-fold sprinkled blood; I look upon that glorious Man, On that blood-sprinkled throne; I know that He sits there for me, The glory is my own.
The heart of God flows forth in love, A deep eternal stream; Through that beloved Son it flows To me as unto Him. And, looking on His face, I know— Weak, worthless, though I be— How deep, how measureless, how sweet, That love of God to me.
OUR Lord Jesus Christ calls those for whom He died and who have believed on Him "My Brethren." What a word it is! The Brethren of the Man in Glory! Brethren of Him who is at the right hand of God, the upholder and heir of all things! Pause for a moment, dear reader. Let your heart lay hold anew of this wonderful message of God's Grace; Brethren of the Lord Jesus Christ! What depths of love and grace these words contain! What heights of glory they promise to us, who were bought by His own precious blood! His Brethren now; His Brethren forever. One with Him, one with His Father and His God. Sharers of His life, sharers of His Spirit, sharers of His glory and His inheritance. Blessed, glorious truth, He calls us His Brethren.
It is in the twenty-second Psalm where we find this truth revealed prophetically for the first time. That Psalm begins, as we have seen before, with the utterance of the deepest distress. It closes with the shout of victory and of triumph. He who was forsaken of God on the cross, the blessed sin bearer, has received glory. In the midst of the congregation, His redeemed people, He praises God, who has delivered Him and who gave Him Glory. In God's own time, in the coming day of His visible manifestation, all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Him. Then the Kingdom will be the Lord's.
He who suffered on the cross was heard "from the horns of the unicorn" (Ps. xxii:21). Resurrection was the answer from God; the power of God raised Him from the dead. At once, after the great work had been accomplished, there follows the triumphant declaration of Him whose voice had cried so bitterly in death, "I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee." And blessed was the fulfilment on that day of joy, when the tomb was empty and He had come forth, the risen Christ. To Mary Magdalene He said on that glorious resurrection morning, "But go and tell my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God" (John xx:17). What joy must then have filled His loving heart. From His gracious lips there bursts forth a message such as He never gave to His own before His resurrection.
The great work on the cross had been accomplished, sin had been put away by the sacrifice of Himself. The Only Begotten of the Father, God's holy Son, one with God, became Man; then passing through death, in which He fully glorified God, God raised Him from the dead. And now He gives the blessed results of His own work for those who believe on Him. He has brought us into the same relationship with His Father and His God, which He Himself holds, as the Man Christ Jesus, raised from the dead. His Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is our Father; His God is our God. And again we pause as we write this. Let our hearts repeat it: "My Father, your Father; my God, your God." He has brought us into fellowship with His Father; He has brought us to God and the place He has with the Father and with God, is the place God's fathomless Grace has given to us. How little our hearts take it in! How little reality we possess of all this! And yet He wants us to enjoy it as He enjoys the fulness of joy in His Father's and His God's own presence. May the Holy Spirit work in us unhindered, that through His power we may lay hold in faith of this mighty truth and have it as a practical power in our daily lives. My Father, your Father; my God, your God and Christ, who loved me and gave Himself for me, Christ, who loveth us, is with His Father and His God. In such relationship, brought to the Father and to God through the Lord Jesus Christ and kept there by His own Grace and Power, how happy we should be.
And because we possess now in virtue of Christ's work this blessed relationship, He owns us joyfully as His brethren. Hebrews ii:11-12 puts this more fully before our hearts: "For both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Saying, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee." The Lord Jesus Christ is He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified by His great work and are in Him, are believing sinners, reconciled to God by His blood. Both He that sanctifieth and we are all of One and this One is God, the Father. Therefore He is not ashamed to call them brethren. It is true we possess this relationship with the Man in Glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, because we are born of God. We have eternal life, His own life, and that makes us One with Him. But this is not the truth in view here. It is the truth that He has identified Himself with us and through His death and resurrection we are identified with Him. And what it means "in the midst of the church will I sing praises unto Thee" we shall not follow at this time.
But let us keep it before our hearts a little while longer. The Lord of Glory calls us "My Brethren." He who is there in the Father's house, in the Father's presence and on the Father's throne is not ashamed to call us brethren. He knows all about us. He knows all the depths of sin in which we are by nature; that by nature we were enemies by wicked works and children of wrath, but He took it all upon Himself and has taken it out of the way and now He looks upon us and all who have accepted Him by personal faith as being one with Him and one with His Father; therefore He is not ashamed to call us brethren. What a comfort it should be to our hearts! What joy it should create in our souls! He Himself received from God, His heart's desire and the request of His lips (Ps. xxi:2). And all His desire and request was in our behalf, that He might bring us, His many sons, to glory. And now He rejoices in us, for we are His inheritance. He wants us to rejoice in Him and with Him in an unspeakable joy and full of glory. Our souls entering into all this and rejoicing with Him in His salvation, enjoying the comfort of it; this honors Him and honors God.
It should end the discouragement and unbelief from which we so often suffer. Though we are weak and erring, imperfect in all our ways, yet He is not ashamed to call us brethren. Such a fellowship and relation into which we are brought once and, for all by the Son of God, should, if accepted in faith, dispel any doubt about ourselves and free us from all gloom and discouragement. Alas! how dull we are not to enter fully into the joy and comfort Grace has bestowed upon us!
And then think of the dignity and honor which is ours. Sons of God with Him; Heirs of God with Him; one with Him, perfectly identified with the blessed One in God's presence. Therefore He is not ashamed to call us brethren. To walk worthy of the Lord is our calling; and worthy of the Lord we shall walk if we have the great fact of our fellowship with the Son of God as a reality before our souls. It is a sad state to speak theoretically of our position in Christ, to know all this with our intellects and not to manifest it in our lives and show forth the excellencies of Him, who has called us from darkness into his marvellous light.
He is not ashamed to call us brethren. It should strengthen the love for the brethren. Love one another. The weakest, the most imperfect believer, that one who appears to us so unlovable and so ignorant, is nevertheless owned by him. Just let us remember in looking upon all believers, that he is not ashamed to call them brethren, that no matter where they belong, what their knowledge in the Scriptures might be, they belong to Christ, and are equally beloved of God. How we need it in a day when Satan goes about dividing the people of God. Love for the brethren, a deep, real heart love, will possess us as our hearts feed upon the fact of our oneness with him and with His Father and His God.
He is not ashamed to call them brethren. It will be an incentive to witness for Him. Dishonored as He is, it falls upon us to honor Him by our personal witness. While in the Father's presence He sings and is the leader of the praises of His people, we must sing of Him here and utter His praise on earth. He is not ashamed of us; how could we ever be ashamed of Him? What an honor to speak His worth, to tell out, though in feeble way, His glory and exalt His name. And yet we must beware of an unscriptural familiarity with Him, which the Holy Spirit does not sanction in the Scriptures. We must not address Him, as it is so often done, as "my brother," or other sentimental terms, which our pen is reluctant to repeat. In all this we must not forget His dignity and glory. While He thus identified Himself with us and is not ashamed to call us brethren, He is nevertheless the holy Son of God, the Lord of all. As such we must adore and worship Him. Some blessed day we shall be just like Him. We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren (Rom. viii:29). That will be in the glorious day when we shall meet Him face to face. "We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (John iii:2). What it all will mean? What day of joy and triumph for Him, when He stands as the leader of all whom the Father has given unto Him, when all according to His prayer will be the sharers of His Glory. Then He will be glorified in His saints for they will bear His image and reflect His glory. What a destiny! Like Him and with Him. And this future of perfect conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ and possession of the wonderful inheritance, which, in its riches we cannot grasp now with out finite minds, is rapidly approaching. How soon it may burst upon us!
Oh, friends, beloved in the Lord! Do we all enjoy this now in faith? Is it so that the Lord Jesus Christ becomes daily more real and precious to us? Do we live in the power of all this?
The Patience of Christ.
"BUT the Lord direct your hearts into the Love of God and into the Patience of Christ" (2 Thess. iii:5). With these words Paul exhorted the Thessalonian believers. They had many trials and difficulties. They suffered persecutions and were troubled. False alarms had affected their patience of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. The inspired exhortation puts before their hearts the Patience of Christ. Comfort and joy, encouragement and peace, would surely come to their hearts and strengthen them, if they remembered and entered into the Patience of Christ.
And who can describe or speak fully and worthily of the Patience of our blessed Lord! It includes so much. All His moral Glory and Divine perfections are concealed and revealed in this Word. The word patience has a wide meaning. It means more than we generally express by it. Submission, endurance in meekness, waiting in faith, quietness, contentment, composure, forebearance, suffering in calmness, calmness in suffering; all and more is contained in the one word, Patience. And such patience in all its fulness and perfection the Son of God exhibited in His earthly life. Whenever we look in the Gospels, we behold this calm, quiet, restful patience. His whole life here on earth is but a continued record of patience. In patience His childhood was spent, and when in His twelfth year the Glory of His Deity flashed forth we read "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them." In patience, He whose mighty power had called the universe in existence, toiled on, content in Nazareth, submissive to the Father, till after many years the day would come, when the work He had come to do should be begun and finished. To describe that Patience during His public ministry from Nazareth, where He had been brought up, to Golgotha, would necessitate a close scrutiny of every step of the way, every act and every utterance which came from His holy lips. What discoveries of His Grace and moral Glory we make, if under the guidance of His Spirit we meditate on His life here below. Humility and submission under God, patient waiting on Him, utter absence of all haste, perfect calmness of soul and every other characteristic of perfect patience, we can trace constantly in that wonderful life. What patience is revealed in the forty days in the wilderness, when He hungered and was with the wild beasts (Mark i:13). When Satan tempted Him and asked for stones to be made bread, He exhibited still His patience. In His service, that marvellous service rendered by the perfect servant, no ambitiousness or ostentatiousness can ever be discovered. He pleased not Himself but Him who sent Him. He was constantly going about doing the Father's will. His kindness and love were rewarded by rejection and insults, yet no complaint or murmur ever came from His lips. He was always trusting in God, perfectly calm, perfectly satisfied.
And how His patience shines out in dealing with men. What patience He had with His disciples and how He bore with them in love. They were slow learners. What patience and tenderness in his conversation with her, whom He had sought, the woman at Samaria's well. And greatest above all His patience in suffering. He endured the cross. When He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously. (1 Pet. ii:23). He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. All the buffetings, shame, dishonors, griefs, pains and sorrows He patiently endured. Oh! the patience of Christ, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame!
And into this patience of Christ our hearts are to be directed. It is to be the object of our contemplation and to be followed by us, who belong to Him. The patience of Christ must be manifested in our lives. For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps. His humility, submissiveness, contentment, calmness, patience in endurance, in doing and suffering the will of God, must be reproduced in our lives. But how little we know of it in reality. Impatience is the leading characteristic of the closing days of this present evil age. It is alas! but too prominently seen among God's people who are influenced by the present day currents. How little true waiting on the Lord and for the Lord is practiced! How much reaching out after the things which are but for a moment and which will soon perish! In consequence there is but little enjoyment of that which is the glorious and eternal portion of the Saints of God. How great the haste and hurry of present day life! How little quietness and contentment! In suffering and loss, murmurings, fault-finding and words of forced resignation are more frequently heard than joyful songs of praise. Unrest instead of rest, discontent instead of contentment, anxiety instead of simple trust, self exaltation instead of self abnegation, ambitiousness instead of lowliness of mind are found on all sides among those who name the name of Christ and who carry His Life in their hearts. And why? Your heart, dear reader, is so often out of touch with Christ. You lose sight of Him. His Spirit is grieved and in consequence there is failure and the impatience of the flesh. Return, oh my soul, unto thy rest! Direct, O Lord, our hearts into the Patience of Christ.
The Patience of Christ. He is still the patient Christ. Rejected by the world He has taken His place upon the Father's throne. There He waits until His enemies are made His footstool. Long ago, in our human reckoning, He entered there. Long ago the Father said to Him, "Ask of Me and I will give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for Thy possession" (Ps. ii:8). Up to now He has not yet asked the Father. When He asks it will mean judgment for this world. In infinite patience He has waited and waited in the presence of God. And all this time He has carried on His work as the Priest and Advocate of His people who live on earth. With what tenderness and patience He has dealt with all who lived in the past centuries. His mighty power kept them and now they are at home with Him. The same patience He manifests towards us. How often we have failed Him and walked in the flesh instead of walking in the Spirit. We came to Him and confessed and then we found Him so loving towards us. But ere long we failed again and in His loving patience His arms were again around us. And thus a hundred times. He changeth not. He is the same loving, patient Lord towards His own in Glory as He was on earth. "He shall not be discouraged," the prophet declared. Even so His Patience knows no discouragement.
In all the dishonor done to His holy, worthy Name, He endures patiently. He is silent to all what is done by His enemies. The Patience of Christ. May the Lord grant us His Patience. John said to himself, "I am your brother and companion in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ" (Rev. i:9). To that kingdom and Patience of Jesus Christ of which John speaks of belonging we belong. The martyrs belonged to it. Afflictions, persecutions and sufferings were their part. They are ours. In humility, in endurance, unflinching courage, in the patience of Christ, let us suffer with Him, share His reproach until His Glory is revealed.
He Shall Not Keep Silent.
THE heavens have long been silent. It is one of the leading characteristics of this present age, the closed, the silent heavens. But they will not be silent forever. "Our God shall come and shall not keep silence" (Ps. i:3). In His divine Patience the Lord has been at the right hand of God for nearly two thousand years. He will not occupy that place forever. It is not His permanent station to be upon the Father's throne. He has the promise of His own throne, which He as the King-Priest must occupy. Nearly two thousand years have gone since He passed through the heavens and during that time He has been rejected by the world. Every possible dishonor, insult and shame has been heaped upon His holy head through the instrumentality of the enemy, the devil. Never before has the rejection of the Man in Glory been so pronounced, so radical, so blasphemous as now. Those who love the Lord Jesus Christ are constantly seized by an unspeakable grief on account of these awful denials of the Christ of God and an horror as well. And still He patiently waits. But He will not always wait. His Patience will some day be exhausted. He will pray His unprayed prayer in Glory and ask of the Father the nations and the uttermost parts of the earth. The Father will then send the Firstborn back to this earth. When He comes in visible Glory to this earth it will mean the day of vengeance. The vengeance of God will fall upon His enemies. All the Christ rejecters, the wicked men and women who received not the love of the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness, the enemies of the cross of Christ, though they lived amiable lives (one of Satan's pet phrases), will meet Him not as the patient lamb, but the Judge, the lion of the tribe of Judah. What will it be when His Patience is ended? What will it be when the kingdom and the Patience of Jesus Christ give way to the kingdom and Glory of Jesus Christ? Rapidly the day is nearing when the Lord Jesus Christ will be completely rejected. As long as the true church is still here this complete rejection is an impossibility. But the church will some day leave this earth. Then conditions are ripe for the complete rejection of the Christ and the reception of Antichrist who will then appear. And when the beast is worshipped (Rev. xiii) and the world defies God and His anointed as never before, when the nations of apostate Christendom stand in battle array (Rev. xix:19), then He will come as the King whose patience is ended and claim His Kingdom. What will it mean when His Patience is ended? Who can describe it? What judgments will fall then upon a wicked world and be meted out upon the enemies of Christ? The day of vengeance is rapidly approaching. It is the day of vengeance for the world. It is the day of the Glory of Christ. It is the day of the Glory of the Saints. It is the day of your Glory as a believer.
Let us suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Let us be patient as long as He is patient. "Be ye also patient; establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned; behold the Judge standeth before the door" (James v:8, 9).
In His Patience pray for the unsaved. Preach the Gospel, give out the Gospel, send the Gospel, give for the Gospel, live the Gospel. A little while longer and His patience will end.
Trusting in the Lord thy God, Onward go. Holding fast His faithful word, Onward go. Not denying His worthy name, Though it brings reproach and shame, Spreading still His wondrous fame, Onward go.
Has He said the end is near? Onward go. Serving Him with holy fear, Onward go. Christ thy portion, Christ thy stay— Heavenly bread upon the way, Leading on to glorious day— Onward go.
The Love of Christ.
THE Patience of Christ was recently the object of our meditation in these pages. Blessed and inexhaustible it is. And now a still greater theme is before our hearts. The Love of Christ. The heart almost shrinks from attempting to write on the matchless, unfathomable love of our blessed and adorable Lord. All the Saints of God who have spoken and written on the Love of Christ have never told out its fulness and vastness, its heights and its depths. "The Love of Christ which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians iii:19). And yet we do know the Love of Christ. While we cannot fully grasp that mighty, eternal Love our hearts can enjoy it and we can ever know more of it. And He Himself whose Love is set upon us wants us to drink constantly of the ocean of His never-changing Love and receive new tokens, new glimpses of it. Surely His own blessed Spirit, though one feels so insufficient for such an object, will guide us in our meditation. He is with us and in us to glorify Him and take of the things of Christ to show them unto us. The Love of Christ, the Holy Spirit ever longs to make known and to impart to our poor and feeble hearts.
The Love of our Lord is an eternal Love. It is not a thing of time. It antedates the foundation of the world.
"His gracious eye surveyed us Ere stars were seen above."
He as the Son of God in the bosom of God was the object of Love. "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (John xvii: 24). And then He knew us and His Love was even then set upon us, before we ever were in existence. He knew our sinfulness, our enmity, our vileness, and in Love which passeth knowledge He looked forward to the time, when He would manifest this Love to us His fallen creatures. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high I cannot attain unto it" (Psalm cxxxix:6).
It was Love which brought Him down from the Glory, which He had with God. What Love to come into this dark, sin-cursed world, a world full of enemies. What Love to leave that bright and glorious home and appear as man, made of a woman entering this world He had called into existence. And there was no room for Him in the inn. It passeth knowledge.
And then that life, which He lived on earth, was lived in that mighty Love.
"A love that led Thee here below To tread a lonely path in grace, To pass through sorrow, grief and woe, The portion of a ruin'd race."
What Love we see in Him, in every step of that lonely path! What compassion, what tenderness in every action in every word we discover, ever new and fresh, in that blessed life of God's unspeakable gift. Wherever we look we behold that Love. Loving compassion rested upon the multitudes; with Love He compassed the poor, the sinful, the oppressed, the heartsick and the outcast. Love carried the weak and failing men, who had believed on him, His disciples. A blessed word it is, which stands in the beginning of the thirteenth chapter in the Gospel of John. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." His Love for His own was expressed by serving them. He pleased not Himself but had come to minister. He then girded Himself and began to wash the disciples' feet. What humiliation! Yet it was the fruit of Love. All He did was born of Love. His was on earth a constant, a never-tiring, an enduring Love. All the selfishness of His disciples could not quench that Love. Nothing could quench His Love for His own. Nothing will ever quench it. Peter denied Him. "And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter" (Luke xxii:61). Was it a look of reproach? Was it a frown of displeasure which Peter saw in that beloved face? Far from it. Love in its divine perfection shone out of the eyes of the Son of God. And after His resurrection that Love was still the same. There was no reproach connected with the restoration of Peter to service. In the greatest tenderness and Love He committed to His disciple, who had so shamefully denied Him, the lambs and sheep so dear to His own loving heart.
Again we say, that Love passeth knowledge. How could man's imagination and invention ever have produced such a loving Person as our Lord, revealing the perfection of divine Love!
But there is greater Love than the Love which we behold in His blessed Life on earth. The greater Love is manifested when He laid down His life. He came into the world to die, to be the propitiation for our sins. He came to take our place on the cross. He came to drink the cup of wrath in our stead and suffer the awful penalty of our sins.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
God in Love gave thus His Son, and He gave Himself in Love. From shame to shame, from suffering to suffering, from pain to pain and agony to agony that Love went on to plunge into the deepest sorrow, to reach at last the place where His loving lips had to cry "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
"To death of shame Thy love did reach, God's holy judgment then to bear; Ah, Lord, what human tongue can teach Or tell the love that brought Thee there."
Ah! what human tongue can teach or tell the Love that brought Thee there! It passeth knowledge. But with loving, praising hearts, in worship and adoration we can look up to that cross on which the Prince of Glory died and say with Paul, "He loved me, He gave Himself for me." And again we join with the innumerable hosts of His own redeemed in the Glory song. "Unto Him that loveth us and washed us from our sins in His own blood and hath made us Kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be Glory and dominion forever. Amen." And beloved reader, that Love which knew you and us all before we ever existed, that Love which came from Glory for you, that Love which went into the jaws of death, endured the cross and despised the shame, that Love which gave so willingly, gave as we can never give, that Love is still the same. It changes not. His Love knows no fluctuations. That perfect Love cannot grow cold or indifferent. We all had our first love; when first we saw Him with the eyes of faith, how our hearts were enraptured. How soon that Love began to grow cold and decreased instead of increased. Then our walk and service became affected for thus it must ever be when the heart is not responding to His Love and not in living, loving touch with Himself. Oh! the weeks and months and years of our Christian experience spent without the full enjoyment of His Love and Presence. But has this changed His Love? Has our unfaithfulness, our waywardness, our failure and backsliding affected His Love? No. He is the same loving Lord, the same loving Christ who has borne us and yearned over us, who has prayed for us and kept us. Whenever we turn to Him with broken hearts, confessing our sins, when in shame we hide our faces and tell Him all our failures, we find Him still the same loving Lord as He was when His loving eyes rested upon Peter. Oh! how He must love us! How He must love us, with that Love which passeth knowledge. What treasures that Love contains! Exhaustless it is ever flowing full and free towards His own.
How it must grieve Him to see us so indifferent, neither hot nor cold. How it must grieve Him that we enjoy this Love so little that we permit that Love so little to serve us and give Him so little opportunity to manifest His mighty Love towards us. Alas! We even mistrust that Love. When suffering and loss overtake us, when instead of prosperity adversity is our lot, we doubt that Love. Fears and anxieties are nothing less than an impeachment of the Love, which passeth knowledge. His Love will never fail. He will see us safe home. Let the forces of the enemy roar, let trials and troubles come, His Love will keep us. His Love is our eternal portion.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
And soon He will have us with Himself. The church He loved, for which He gave Himself, the church He sanctified by the washing of water, this church He will present to Himself a glorious church (Eph. v:24-27). Even while on earth He made known His loving purpose, for He prayed, "The Glory, which Thou hast given me I have given to them."
It is His Love which will make us sharers of His own Glory and Inheritance. What that Love will do then! How we shall drink deeper of that Love, than we ever could drink here! Oh the depths of the Love to be fathomed in all eternity! Oh the length and breadth and height to be measured! It can never, no never be exhausted.
O, child of God, is not thy poor wandering heart beginning to be warmed? Is the warmth of His Love, the Love of Christ refreshing your soul? Thank God for it. It is but a demonstration of His Love. And do we not want more of it? Do we not need it?
All our indifference, our cold heartedness, our prayerlessness, our self indulgences, our inactivity and all else which mars our Christian lives, is because we do not have the Love of Christ before our hearts. If we were constantly enjoying His Love and this mighty Love would constrain us, what self-sacrificing lives we would live! How we would love one another and in love serve one another. What peace there would be among those of like precious faith. With a better heart knowledge of the Love of Christ, what joy would be ours in all trials and suffering and with what boldness we would approach the throne of Grace and make constant use of our God-given privilege, prayer.