“He is our peace…”. Hebrews 12:25-28. Especially: “that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” He remains..His promises remain. We may lose everything dear..but never lose Him. Thus, we have everything when we have Him. I remember an experience Isabel Kuhn had in China. Her only child, a daughter, was going away across China to start school. The school was run by wonderful missionaries so she would be in good hands but it was a sore trial for Isobel to let her go. The Lord taught her surrender…she gave a picture of our open palms with our dearest treasure held there. She learned that fingers clenched tight around the treasures meant a painful trial for those fingers to release..one by one. Rather should we always keep that open palm. He teaches us this lesson in one way or another…death of loved one, a prodigal child, etc. But we make that turn toward Him..we never lose Him. Years ago most of a group of friends we enjoyed fellowship with moved away. I wrote an older believer about this loss…he wrote back saying God is a jealous God..He wants fellowship with each of His children. Through the years many more things were shaken in my life..but He remains. He is our life..our peace.
There are three things the law could not do. It could not give life, and, even supposing we got life, it does not give strength; and, another thing of deepest moment for our souls, it does not give us an object. But in Christ I find my life, my strength, and my object. “They that are after the Spirit, do mind the things of the Spirit”; they have the true object. I get in Christ an object that is sufficient to delight God Himself.
– Attributed to Brian Deck, Motueka New Zealand (1912-1991)
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. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:10,11)
This fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians is the apostle Paul’s statement of power for ministry. He shows us in these stirring verses that God is not looking for brilliant men, is not depending upon eloquent men, is not shut up to the use of talented men in sending His Gospel out in the world.
God is looking for broken men, for men who have judged themselves in the light of the Cross of Christ. When He wants anything done, He takes up men who have come to an end of themselves, and whose trust and confidence is not in themselves but in God.
There were those who were calling in to question the apostleship of Paul himself, for he did not seem to them to be what an apostle, according to their estimation of the office, ought to be. There was not the pomp nor the dignity they would expect; he did not come to them with great swelling words, there was no making anything of what he was after the flesh, no drawing attention to his natural ability or education; and in this the method of the apostle Paul was in very vivid contrast to the method pursued by many today who pose as servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. This man went through the world a broken man, a lowly man, a man seeking only the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessing of souls, a man who might have occupied a very high place among the great and distinguished of earth. But he was a man who for Jesus’ sake had turned his back upon all that and could say:
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. (Galatians 6:14)
That Cross spoke of the deepest shame and ignominy, and Paul gloried in it because through the work that took place upon it, his soul had been saved, and he had learned that the preaching of the Cross, while it is “to them that perish foolishness,” is “unto us which are saved . . . the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). And so he went forth, content to be broken in order that the light of the grace of God might shine out. You will notice in verse 6 that
. . . God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:6,7)
It is easy to see what he has in mind. He is thinking undoubtedly of that very striking incident of which we read in Judges, when Gideon and his three hundred men took their lives in their hands, were delivered unto death, as it were, and went forth against the vast armies of the Midianites. Surely, no other army was accoutered [equipped] as this one. They carried in one hand a trumpet and in the other a pitcher, and in this pitcher was a lamp. The light of the lamp was not seen though it was already lit. It was not seen as long as it was in the earthen jar. They surrounded the army of the Midianites in the middle of the night, and suddenly at the command of their leader, the jars were crashed to earth, and the light shone out, and the Midianites sprang up startled. They heard the crash and saw the light, and thought they were surrounded by a tremendous army, and they turned their swords upon one another. It was God through Gideon that led the army to victory. A broken pitcher in order that light might shine out! The apostle says, as it were, “That is it! If you want to be a light for God in a world like this, be content to be broken, to have your hopes, your ambitions, all dashed to pieces, and then God can take you up and use you in order to carry the light of Christ to darkened hearts.”
How are we broken? By affliction, by trouble, by the discipline of the Lord, sometimes by sickness, by pain, and anguish. All these are the divine methods for breaking God’s pitchers in order that the light may shine out to His praise and glory. Men may misjudge us, misrepresent us, persecute us bitterly; we may not have enough food to eat or water to drink; we may be cast down; we may suffer all kinds of sorrows; but it is all right if it breaks us in order that God may be able the better to use us. And so he says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9); for in all these experiences, we are simply “bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our body.” He “came from Godhead’s fullest glory down to Calvary’s depth of woe.”
We sometimes sing a little hymn that always stirs the heart. I remember hearing Dr. Torrey say he believed of all the hymns that were used in his meetings around the world, it was the one that seemed to be most blessed of God to the people. It is:
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
But that hymn never had the appeal it ought to have for my own heart until one day I found myself changing that chorus. I was thinking of Him who though He was
. . . in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)
He surrendered all,
He surrendered all,
All for me, my blessed Savior,
He surrendered all.
And then my heart said, “O Lord, it will be easy to sing it the other way now, for what have I to give up, to surrender, in comparison with what Thou didst give up in order to redeem my guilty soul from going down to the pit?” It is as you and I realize from day to day what it all meant to Him that we can bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. Dying day by day to our own hopes and ambitions, dying to the good opinion of people, dying to human praise and adulation, to everything that the natural heart grasps, dying in the death of Jesus to it all, because He died for us in order that “the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our body.”
You will notice that in 2 Corinthians 4, verses 10 and 11 are very much alike, and yet the great difference is this: verse 10 suggests something that we do deliberately, consciously, whereas verse 11 is something that God does for us. What is it we are called upon to do? “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus”—reminding ourselves every day that Jesus died for us, “bearing about in the body” and because He died for us, we are gladly to put ourselves in the place of death for Him.
Looking back to the Cross, the apostle Paul could say:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
But this has to be put into practice daily by putting my tastes and ambitions in the place of death. That is my part. But here is God’s part:
We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:11)
You tell God that you are willing to take the place of death with Christ, and He will see that it is made good; you tell God you are going to trust Him, and He will test your faith and show you what it means to trust Him; you tell Him that you are ready to surrender everything to Him, and He will put you in the place where you will begin to find out what full surrender really means. I do not know of anything that it seems should have such an appeal to the Christian heart along this line as the frequent remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ in His death, and I think it is because He realized it is so easy for us to forget that He said to His disciples when He gave them this memorial feast,
This do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)
And the Holy Spirit said:
As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come. (1 Corinthians 11:26)
Every time we are called upon thus to remember the Lord, it is a new challenge to ask ourselves, “Am I simply remembering Him in a cold, formal, intellectual way because it is customary, or am I truly in my heart remembering the One who went down beneath the dark waters of death for me, and am I truly ready now to always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus?”
What a poor thing it is to come together in assemblies to participate in the communion of the Lord’s Supper and then go out from the building and forget what it all really means, forget that our Savior died, that we are linked up with the One who died, and that He has left us an example that we should follow His steps—that is, we should always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. This seems to me to be linked very intimately with several Old Testament references to which our attention is drawn in Hebrews 11. We read:
By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)
Did you ever stop and ask why the Holy Spirit selected that particular incident to dwell upon? He has instanced something that you and I would probably have passed over altogether. What did Joseph do? “Gave commandment concerning his bones.” In Genesis 50:25, we read where Joseph, talking to the children of Israel, says:
God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
That is the close of Genesis. What an odd way to close the book! But God wants us to think about the bones of Joseph. They are there in a coffin in Egypt, but they are to be carried to Canaan.
In Exodus 13, we find that the children of Israel who have been sheltered by the blood of the Passover lamb are starting out for Canaan, and we read:
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. (Exodus 13:19)
Who was Joseph? He was the savior of Israel. If it had not been for him, they had all been destroyed in the famine, but he was their savior, and now he says, “When you leave Egypt to go to Canaan, you carry my bones with you.” When they left, they were very careful to do as they were told, and all the way across the sands of the desert wherever that great caravan went, they were always bearing about in the body the dying of Joseph.
I think I see that great procession winding its way up over the hills; and the Amalekites and the Midianites looking at them in wonder say, “What is that strange dark casket?”
Presently, they call an Israelite and ask him, and he says, “We were once in greatest distress; if God had not had mercy upon us we would have been left to die, but He raised up a savior for us, one of our own people; his name was Joseph and he delivered us; Joseph saved us. But our savior died, and we are marching on to the land that our God has given us, and until we get there, we carry with us the memorial of death, the bones of Joseph. We can never forget him; he died, but we have the memorials still.” And by-and-by when they reached the land, when they arrived at the place that God Himself had selected for them, we are told that after everything else was properly attended to,
The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. (Joshua 24:32)
There was no need to carry the bones of Joseph through the wilderness any more, for they were at home now. And, beloved, you and I are passing on through the wilderness of this world, we will soon be at Home, but until we reach there, we are called upon to bear about in the body the dying of Jesus, and as we remember Him in the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup, we should challenge our own hearts: Are we simply looking objectively toward that Cross and saying, “There our Savior died,” or are we seeking day by day to practically make it manifest that His death means more to us than all that this world glories in?
“That in me ye might have peace” (John 16:33).
HOW long it takes many of us to learn that peace is found in Christ
alone. We seek for it everywhere else, but seek in vain, until at last,
disappointed, disheartened and distressed in soul, we come to the Lord
Jesus, and lo, at His feet our quest is ended!
Peace Better Than Happiness
Peace is far better than happiness. Happiness is primarily that which
comes from a good “hap.” “Hap” is an old English word for chance.
Tennyson wrote of one “who grasps the skirts of happy chance.” This
expresses it exactly. If the “haps” are good, the worldling is happy; if
evil “haps” befall him, he is unhappy. But peace is something deeper.
It is the opposite of struggling, of warfare and of soul unrest. It is
freedom from strife, or from mental agitation. It is spiritual content
such as the Lord promised to the heavy laden, when He said: “Come
unto me and I will give you rest.”
“O God,” said Augustine, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our
souls will never be at rest until they rest in Thee.” And yet most of us
spend years in restless seeking before we learn this lesson.
No Peace to the Wicked
This message is twice repeated in the book of Isaiah; “There is no
peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” In chapters forty to forty-eight
of this marvelous book, we have Jehovah’s controversy with idolatry.
His people had sought in vain for peace, because they turned from
Him, the true and living God, unto the senseless works of their own
hands. Jehovah, the covenant-keeping God, stands in contrast to all the
idols of the heathen. Therefore at the end of the forty-eighth chapter,
there is this plain statement: “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto
the wicked.” Then in chapters forty-nine to fifty-seven we have the
great Messianic section of Isaiah, and we see the true Servant of
Jehovah, the anointed Saviour, coming in lowly grace to His own, to
open prison doors, to unstop deaf ears, to impart strength to feeble
knees, and to give new life to those who are dead in trespasses and
sins. But, also, we see Him spurned and rejected by those whom He
loved so dearly, and in chapter fifty-seven, we hear the grave
pronouncement: “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”
How solemn all this is! No peace for the man who puts aught else in
place of the Lord Jehovah in his heart and life! No peace for the selfwilled rejecter of God’s blessed Son! In the New Testament, where we
have the entire world brought in guilty before God, the solemn
declaration concerning all who turn away from the Word of the Lord is
this: “The way of peace have they not known.”
A False Peace
There is also a false peace by which many are deceived. They mistake
their ease of mind for peace of heart. Deluded by a false peace, and
daubing their consciences with the untempered mortar of their own
vain imaginings, they cry: “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”
These are they who drift down the river of time, unaware of the awful
precipice over which it will sweep them at last into the great sea of
eternity, where they will be forever without peace and without hope.
Of all such it is written: “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then
sudden destruction cometh upon them…and they shall not escape” (I
If you try to awaken such from their deadly sleep and their false
security, they are likely to turn on you with indignation. They do not
want to be disturbed. Like the slothful man in the book of Proverbs,
they cry: “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the
hands to sleep.” Alas, alas! If not awakened soon they will find out too
late the folly of their assumed self-confidence.
One day, when walking along Broadway in Oakland, California, I saw
ahead of me a man whom I knew was blind, making his way through
the crowds with remarkable dexterity. He did not even have a stick, or
a dog, to guide him. He had been over the same route so often that he
felt sure he needed no help. Suddenly, I saw a cellarway opened just in
front of him. In another moment he would have stepped down into the
yawning mouth of a store basement. I sprang forward, caught him by
the shoulder, and told him of his danger. Do you think he was angry
with me for disturbing his false peace? Not at all! He thanked me
profusely. But how different it often is with the unsaved man and
woman. They go on heedless of their danger, and often resent the
warnings of God’s servants, until the Spirit of God awakens them to a
realization of their true condition, and leads them to accept peace
through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two Aspects of Peace
In the fourteenth chapter of John, we learn that our blessed Lord,
before He left this earth, said to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give unto you.” Here we have two very distinct aspects of
peace. One is that which He left as a settled thing when He went to the
Father’s right hand, and is the result of His sacrificial work upon the
cross, while the other is that which He imparts from day to day to
those believers who live in fellowship with Him.
Sometimes people use expressions that will not always bear the test of
Scripture. Let me give an instance of this: A number of years ago an
earnest young Christian and I went to a mission in San Francisco. At
the close of the meeting, a kind, motherly woman came to me, and
asked: “Are you a Christian, sir?”
I replied immediately, “Yes, I am.”
“Thank God,” she said, and then turning to my friend, she asked: “And
have you made your peace with God, sir?”
Rather to my astonishment, he answered, “No, madam, I have not.”
I knew he was a Christian, and I wondered at his replying in that way.
She said to him rather severely, “Well, if you don’t make your peace
with God, you will be lost forever.”
With a bright, happy smile on his face, he replied, “Madam, I can
never make my peace with God, and I never expect to try; but I am
thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ has settled that for me, and through
what He did for me I shall be in heaven for all eternity.” He then put
the question to her, “Have you never read that remarkable passage:
‘Having made peace through the blood of his cross’?”
As he went on to explain it to her, the truth gripped my own soul. I
saw then, and have realized it ever since, that sinners are saved
through the “peace” which He made at the cross. And so we read in
Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with
God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This peace is not of our making,
and is not of our keeping either. We enjoy the peace He made as we
accept by faith the testimony of His Word.
His Peace is Given
But we also read, “My peace I give unto you.” What does the Lord
Jesus mean by this? It is another aspect of peace altogether. It is that
quiet rest of soul which was ever His in the midst of the most trying
circumstances. He shares His peace with us. It is of this we read in
Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be careful for nothing [or, In nothing be anxious,
R. V.]; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus.” “The peace of God,” you see, is very different
from “peace with God.” The latter has to do with the sin question, the
former with the trials of the way. It is the believer’s privilege to bring
everything that troubles and distresses his soul to God in prayer; to lay
down every burden at the feet of the blessed Lord, and to exchange
them all for this wonderful “peace” which is the portion of all who live
in communion with Him.
“Oh, the peace my Saviour gives,
Peace I never knew before;
And the way has brighter grown,
Since I learned to trust Him more.”
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation [trouble]: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
begin the experience of good cheer and that means there will be joy in our lives. Peace & joy.”
CHlNKlANG, October 17th, 1869
MY own dear Sister – So many thanks for your long dear letter…I do not think you have written me such a letter since we have been in China. I know it is with you as with me – you cannot, not you will not. Mind and body will not bear more than a certain amount of strain, or do more than a certain amount of work. As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult: but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been, perhaps, the happiest of my life: and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it,for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful – and yet, all is new! In a word: “Whereas I was blind. now I see”.
Perhaps I shall make myself more clear if I go back a little. Well, dearie, my mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally, and for our Mission, of more holiness, life, and power in our souls. But personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God, prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for retirement and meditation – but all was without avail. Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me. I knew that if I could only abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not. I began the day with prayer, determined not to take my eye from Him for a moment; but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, often caused me to forget Him. Then one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control. Each day brought its register of sin, failure and lack of power. To will was indeed present with me, but how to perform I found not.
Then came the question, “Is there no rescue? Must it be thus to the end -constant conflict and, instead of victory, too often defeat?” How, too, could I preach with sincerity that to those who receive Jesus,”to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (i.e., God-like) when it was not so in my experience? Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin, and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting very low. I hated myself; I hated my sin; and yet I gained no strength against it. I felt I was a child of God: His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all, “Abba. Father”; but to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless. I thought that holiness, practical holiness was to be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of grace. I felt that there was nothing I so much desired in this world, nothing I so much needed. But so far from in any measure attaining it, the more I pursued and strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp; till hope itself almost died out, and I began to think that, perhaps to make heaven the sweeter, God would not give it down here. I do not think I was striving to attain it in my own strength. I knew I was powerless. I told the Lord so, and asked Him to give me help and strength; and sometimes I almost believed He would keep and uphold me. But on looking back in the evening, alas! there was but sin and failure to confess and mourn before God.
I would not give you the impression that this was the daily experience of all those long, weary months. It was a too frequent state of soul; that toward which I was tending, and which almost ended in despair. And yet never did Christ seem more precious – a Savior who could and would save such a sinner!….And sometimes there were seasons not only of peace but of joy in the Lord. But they were transitory, and at best there was a sad lack of power. Oh, how good the Lord has been in bringing this conflict to an end!
All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was how to get it out. He was rich, truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I was weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness; but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question. As gradually the light was dawning on me. I saw that faith was the only prerequisite, to laying hold of His fullness and make it my own. BUT I HAD NOT THIS FAITH. I strove for it, but it would not come; tried to exercise it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our precious Savior – my helplessness and guilt seemed to increase. Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which could not or would not take God at His word, but rather made Him a liar! Unbelief was, I felt, the damning sin of the world – yet I indulged in it. I prayed for faith but it came not. What was I to do?
When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory):
“But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith. but by resting on the Faithful One.”
As I read I saw it all! “If we believe not, He abideth faithful.” I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed) that He had said, “I will never leave you.” “Ah. THERE is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has He not promised to abide with me – never to leave me, never to fail me?” And, dearie, He never will!
But this was not all He showed me, nor one half. As I thought of the vine and the branches. what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in having wished to get the sap, the fullness OUT of Him. I saw not only that Jesus would never leave me, but that I was a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine now I see is not the root merely, but all – root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit; and Jesus is not only that; He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.
Oh, my dear sister, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Saviour; to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves. Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and the left poor? Or your head be well fed while your body starves? Again, think of its bearing on prayer. Could a bank clerk say to a customer, “It was only your hand wrote that cheque, not you,” or “I cannot pay this sum to your hand, but only to yourself?” No more can your prayers, or mine, be discredited IF OFFERED IN THE NAME OF JESUS (i.e., not in our own name, or for the sake of Jesus merely, but on the ground that we are His; His members) so long as we keep within the extent of Christ’s credit – a tolerably wide limit! If we ask anything unscriptural or not in accordance with the will of God, Christ Himself could not do that: but “If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and…we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.”
The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the REST which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out HIS WILL, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money, and brings me his purchases. So, if God places me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for HE is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. All this springs from the believer’s oneness with Christ. And since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been! I wish I could tell you instead of writing about it.
I am no better than before (may I not say, in a sense, I do not wish to be, nor am I striving to be); but I am dead and buried with Christ – aye, and risen too and ascended; and now Christ lives in me, and “the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” I now BELIEVE I am dead to sin. God reckons me so, and tells me to reckon myself so. He knows best. All my past experiences may have shown that it was not so; but I dare not say it is not now, when He says it is. I feel and know that old things have passed away. I am as capable of sinning as ever, but Christ is realized as present as never before. He cannot sin; and He can keep me from sinning. I cannot say (I am sorry to have to confess it) that since I have seen this light I have not sinned; but I do feel there was no need to have done so. And further – walking more in the light, my conscience has been more tender; sin has been instantly seen, confessed, pardoned; and peace and joy (with humility) instantly restored; with one exception, when for several hours peace and joy did not return – from lack, as I had to learn, of full confession, and from some attempt to justify self.
Faith, I now see, is “the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for,” and not mere shadow. It is not less than sight but MORE. Sight only shows the outward forms of things; faith gives the substance. You can rest on substance, FEED on substance. Christ dwelling in the heart by faith (i.e.. His word of promise credited) is power indeed, is LIFE indeed. And Christ and sin will not dwell together; nor can we have His presence with love of the world or carefulness about “many things”.
And now I must close. I have not said half I would nor as I would had I more time. May God give you to lay hold on these blessed truths. Do not let us continue to say, in EFFECT, “Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above.” In other words. do not let us consider Him as afar off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body. Nor should we look upon this experience, these truths, as for the few.
They are the birthright of every child of God, and no one can dispense with them without dishonour to our Lord. The only power for deliverance from sin or for true service is Christ.
Your own affectionate brother,
J. HUDSON TAYLOR
“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” — Philippians 4:11.
“I HAVE learned.” The Apostle doth not say, “I have heard, that in every estate I should be content,” but, “I have learned.” It is not enough for Christians to hear their duty, but they must learn their duty. It is one thing to hear, and another thing to learn; as it is one thing to eat, and another thing to digest food. Christians bear much, but, it is to be feared, learn little.
If your estate be small, yet God can bless a little. It is not how much money we have, but how much blessing. He that often curses the bags of gold, can bless the meal in the barrel, and the oil in the cruse. What if thou hast not the full flesh-pots? yet thou hast a promise, I will “bless her provision” (Ps. 132:15), and then a little goes a great way. Be content, that thou hast the dew of a blessing distilled: a dinner of green herbs, where love is, is sweet; I may add, where the love of God is. Another may have more estate than you, but more care; more riches, less rest; more revenues, but withal more occasions of expense: he has a greater inheritance, yet perhaps God doth not give him “power to eat thereof” (Ecc. 6:2); he holds more, but enjoys less; in a word, thou hast less gold then he, perhaps less guilt.
Discontent keeps a man from enjoying what he doth possess. A drop or two of vinegar will sour a whole glass of wine. Comfort depends upon contentment. It is not trouble that troubles, but discontent; it is not the water without the ship, but the water that gets within the leak which sinks it; it is not outward afflictions that can make the life of a Christian sad; a contented mind would sail above these waters; but when there is a leak of discontent open, and trouble gets into the heart, then it is disquieted and sinks.
The discontented person thinks everything he doth for God too much, and everything God doth for him too little.
There are no sins God’s people are more subject to than unbelief and impatience; they are ready, either to faint through unbelief, or to fret through impatience. When men fly out against God by discontent and impatience, it is a sign they do not believe “that all things work together for good, to them that love God.” Discontent is an ungrateful sin, because we have more mercies than afflictions; and it is an irrational sin, because afflictions work for good. Discontent is a sin which puts us upon sin. “Fret not thyself to do evil” (Ps. 37:8). He that frets will be ready to do evil: fretting Jonah was sinning (Jonah 4:9). The devil blows the coals of passion and discontent, and then warms himself at the fire.
“All things work together for good to them that love God.” Shall we be discontented at that which works for our good? If one friend should throw a bag of money at another, and in throwing it, should graze his head, he would not be troubled much, seeing by this means he had got a bag of money. So the Lord may bruise us by afflictions, but it is to enrich us; these afflictions work for us a weight of glory; and shall we be discontented?
Immoderate care takes the heart off from better things; and usually while we are thinking how we shall do to live, we forget how to die. We may sooner by our care add a furlong to our grief, than a foot to our comfort.
Remember thou art to be here but a day; thou hast but a short way to go, and what need a long provision for a short way? If a traveller has but enough to bring him to his journey’s end, he desires no more.
How hard it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven! (Luke 18:24). His golden weights keep him from ascending up the hill of God. Be content then with a little; if you have but enough to pay for your passage to heaven, it sufficeth.
Humility is like the lead to the net, which keeps the soul down when it is rising through passion; and contentment is like the cork, which keeps the heart up when it is sinking through discouragement.
Is not many a man contented to suffer reproach for maintaining his lust? and shall not we for maintaining the truth? Some glory in that which is their shame (Phil. 3:19); and shall we be ashamed of that which is our glory?
What need he complain of the world’s emptiness that has God’s fulness? “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance,” says David (Ps. 16:5); then let the lines fall where they will, in a sick bed, or prison, I will say, “The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”
“The God which fed me all my life long to this day” (Gen. 48:15). Hath not God provided liberally for you. Thou never feedest, but mercy carves for thee; thou never goest to bed, but mercy draws the curtains, and sets a guard of angels about thee.
“The Lord is good to all” (Ps. 145:9). Sweet dewdrops are on the thistle, as well as on the rose. God’s mercy is free. To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy, nor force it. We may force God to punish us, but not to love us. “I will love them freely” (Hosea 14:4). Every link in the chain of salvation is wrought and interwoven with free grace. Election is free. “He has chosen us in Him . . . according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:4-5). Justification is free, “Being justified freely by His grace” (Rom. 3:24). Salvation is free, “According to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). Say not then, I am unworthy; for mercy is free. If God should show mercy to such only as are worthy, He would show none at all. . . . God’s mercy is an overflowing mercy; it is infinite: “Plenteous in mercy” (Ps. 86:5). “Rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4). “Multitude of Thy tender mercies” (Ps. 51:1). The vial of wrath drops, but the fountain of mercy runs. . . . God has morning mercies, His mercies “are new every morning” (Lam. 3:23). He has night mercies, “In the night His song shall be with me” (Ps. 42:8). God’s mercy is eternal, “The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 103:17). As His mercy is overflowing so it is everflowing.
Doth God give us a Christ, and will He deny us a crust? If God doth not give us what we crave, He will give us what we need.
Prosperity often deafens the ear against God. “I spake to thee in thy prosperity, but thou saidst, I will not hear” (Jer. 22:21). Soft pleasures harden the heart. Prosperity has its honey, and also its sting. Anxious care is the evil spirit that haunts the rich man; when his chests are full of money, his heart is full of care. Sunshine is pleasant, but sometimes it scorches. The spreading of a full table may be the spreading of a snare. Many have been sunk to hell with golden weights. “They that will be rich fall into many hurtful lusts, which drown men in perdition” (1 Tim. 6:9). The world’s golden sands are quicksands. What if we have less food we have less snare; if less dignity, less danger. As we lack the rich provisions of the world, so we lack the temptations. To give us Christ is more than if God had given us all the world. He can make more worlds, but He has no more Christs to bestow. If you have but daily bread enough to suffice nature, be content. Consider it is not having abundance that always makes life comfortable. A staff may help the traveller, but a bundle of staves will be a burden to him. The world is but a great inn. If God give you sufficient to pay for your charges in your inn, you may be content, you shall have enough when you come to your own country.
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (Ps. 56:3). Faith cures the trembling in heart; it gets above fear as oil swims above the water. To trust in God makes Him to be a God to us. God will turn all evils to our good (Rom. 8:28). Joseph’s imprisonment was a means for his advancement. Out of the bitterest drug He will distil His glory and our salvation. In short, He will be our guide to death, our comfort in death, and our reward after death. “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 144:15).
(Numbers 13: 17-25)reality of being over is not known until by faith we accept it as having died and risen with Christ; and that therefore heaven is our position, we know it to be our place, and that this side is not our place, and we know that it is not.)
The more you are with the Lord in spirit on the other side, the less disappointed you will be here, for when you are there you import new joys and new hopes into this old world, from an entirely new one, and you therefore in every way surpass the inhabitants of this judged world. May this be more and more your happy song.”