“He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as
he walked.” 1 John 2:6
“What is it “to abide” in Him. Many earnest souls have known much distress
just here. They have been told that “to abide” in Him means to be always
occupied with Him. Now I make bold to say, this is an unattainable
counsel of perfection.
We are in the world, and however [ diligent & dedicated]
we may be to keep the world out of us, we are charged with engrossing
duties calling for the utmost concentration of mind, heart and hand.
We cannot be in conscious constant occupation with Him. I do not so
understand that great word [“abiding”]..
For a moment think of that other phrase—“in Him.” What does that mean?
Ephesians explains it. “In Christ Jesus” is the sphere of the Christian life.
That is where grace has put him. We have not to concern ourselves about
getting that place: we are there. Now, what is “abiding in Him?” Why,
simply having nothing apart from Him, living in the sphere of the things which
interest Christ; bringing Him into the sphere of all our necessary occupations,
joys and innocent pleasures down here; having no business in which He is
not senior Partner; no wedding feast or other feast at which He is not chief
Guest, no failures which are not brought to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.
What is John’s test of such a life? In degree, though not as perfectly, it
will be a walk even as He walked. It will lead along the same road; it will
encounter the same trials, enlist the same sympathies. “
“Knowing about God is one thing: knowing God is quite another. Job’s
confession illustrates this:
“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear:” Job 42:5
and upon the hearing there had come to Job a true faith, a faith which
had withstood tremendous shocks. Well, we all begin there. Our saving
faith is based on testimony. But Job goes on:
“but now mine eye seeth thee.” Job 42:5
A very different matter. Are we then content to remain with a hearsay
knowledge of God? By no means. In the 17th chapter of John, our Lord
tells us that the ultimate end of the gift of eternal life is that we may know
Him. He is our Father, and can our hearts rest with anything short of that
personal knowledge of Him of which John speaks? At this point, John’s
test of spirituality is not to discourage a true knowledge of God, but to
expose a false assumption of such knowledge. What is the test?
“He that saith, I know him, and kept not his commandments, is a liar,”
1 John 2:4
It is not sinless obedience, but it is a heart set to live in the known will
of God. Such a one will have many a failure, but, though often stumbling,
he will keep on. The needle in the compass is often deflected by influences
about it— it trembles and is unquiet, but it resumes its steady alignment with
the object of its devotion. Now a life aligned to the will of God, is in the way
to know God. It is not an arbitrary requirement. In no other way, to
no other man, can God reveal Himself. Paul’s prayer for the Colossians
runs along that road:
“That ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and
spiritual understanding; ….increasing in the knowledge of God; “ Col. 1:9-10
“”If ye, then, be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col.3:1)
THE BOOK OF JOB gives us the saga of a saint in patriarchal days the
account of his trials through which he was to learn the common lesson
according to the common calling that we are a dead and risen people.
Although Job came before Abraham, he did not come before this lesson,
for it had been taught from the beginning; Adam and Abel, and the line
of Seth through Enoch and Noah, had already learned it. And Job, after
them, is set down to the same lesson, only engraved in deeper and darker
The Book of Job exhibits a soul set to learn through trials and sorrows
the common lesson, the power of our calling; that our hopes are neither
in this world nor from the flesh, but in living position with the Lord Jesus
Christ—beyond all that is here.
The events themselves are deeply touching, but they are all ordinary,
or such as are “common to man.” Thieves carry off his oxen and
asses. Lightening destroys his flocks. A high wind blows down his
house and kills his children. And, at last, a sore disease breaks out on
his body from head to foot.
Each of these might have happened to his ungodly neighbor as well
as to him. In the mere matter of these afflictions, there was nothing
that distinguished him as a child of God. They were not the sufferings
of a martyr. but still they were all under the exactest inspection and
measured control of his heavenly Father, all in the way of appointment
and of discipline flowing from heavenly interests and divine relationships.
Resurrection has from the beginning been an article of the faith of God’s
people; and being such, it was also the lesson they had to learn and to
experience–the principle of their life out of death. The Genesis fathers
had learnt the lesson, Moses learnt it, David was in the power of it,
the whole nation of Israel were taught it, again and again.
The Lord Jesus, “the Author and Finisher of our faith,” in His day, realised
this lesson to all perfection. And each of His growing ones is set down
to it every day, that we may “know Him, and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings being made conformable unto his
death.” (Phil. 3:10)
The leading purpose of the Book of Job sets forth a child of resurrection,
in early patriarchal days, learning the lesson of resurrection–life out of death.
His confession tells us that the resurrection was understood by him as a
doctrine, while the whole account tells us that he had still to know the
reality of it in his life. It was an article of his faith, but not yet the principle
of his life.
And a sore trial it was to him, hard indeed to learn and digest. He did not like
(and which of us does?) to take the sentence of death into himself, that he
might not trust in himself, nor in his circumstances in life, nor his condition
by nature—but in God who raises the dead. “I shall die in my nest” (Job 29:18)
was his thought and hope. But he was to see his nest rifled of all with which
nature had filled it, and with which circumstances had adorned it.
This honored and cherished saint had to learn the power of the calling of
all the elect, practically and personally–the life of faith, or the lesson of
resurrection. And it may be a consolation for those of us who know our-
selves to be little among them, to read in the records which we have
of them that all have not been equally apt and bright scholars in that
school; and that all, in different measures, have failed in it as well as
made progress in it.
How unworthily of it, for instance, did Abraham behave; how little like a
dead and risen man, a man of faith, when he denied his wife to the
Egyptian. Yet how beautifully did he carry himself, as such, when he
surrendered the choice of the land to his younger kinsman, Lot.
We are encouraged and consoled to know that our present lesson, as
those who have died and whose life is hid with Christ in God, has been
the lesson of the elect from the beginning–that on many a bright and
hallowed occasion they matriculated in that lesson to the glory of their Lord;
that at times they found it hard, and at times failed in it. This tale of the
soul is well known to us. Only we, living in New Testament truth, are
learning the same lesson in the still ampler page and after the clearer
method in which it is now taught us in our death and resurrection with
the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is some difference (and distance) between a righteous and devoted
believer. The measure of devotedness may be said to be according
to the energy one is exercising as being dead and risen with Lord Jesus.
At the beginning of his history, Job was a righteous man. He was well
spoken of again and again, in the very face of his accuser. But he was
not yet a devoted man. Accepted he was as a sinner who knew his
living and triumphant Redeemer; godly and upright beyond his fellows,
but as to the life that wrought in his soul, he was not a dead and risen
Such also was the writer of Proverbs 20:1-9. He was godly and of a
lowly, self-judging spirit. He makes a good confession of human
blindness and depravity, of the unsearchable glories of God, the
purity and preciousness of His Word, and of the security of all who
trust in Him.
He was a man of God and walked in a good spirit, but he was not a
devoted man. He did not know how to abound and how to suffer need.
He dreaded poverty lest he should steal, and riches lest he should
deny God. He was not prepared for changes. Neither was Job. But
Paul was. He surrendered himself to the Lord Jesus, as they had not.
He was ready to be “emptied from vessel to vessel.” He was instructed
both to be full and to be hungry. He could do all things through Christ
See that devoted man, that dead and risen man in the closing chapters
of Acts (20 to 28). He is in the midst of a weeping company of brethren
at Miletus, and in the bosom of a loving Christian household at Tyre.
But were those able to detain him? No. Even there he carried a heart
thoroughly surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ.
He could not be held, and on from thence he goes, along the coast of
Syria up to Jerusalem and then for two long years, apart from the brethren,
in perils by sea and land, under insults and wrongs, a single heart and
devoted affection bearing him through all. Mere righteousness will
not take such a journey. There must be that singleness of eye to the
Lord Jesus, that principle of devotedness which reckons upon our
death and resurrection in Him.
Job was righteous but he was not prepared for such shifting scenery as
this. He loved the green spot and the feathered nest. Changes come,
and changes are too much for him. But God, in the love wherewith He
loved him as his heavenly Father , puts him in school to learn the lesson
of a child of resurrection–to be a partaker of His holiness, the holiness
not merely of a right or pure-minded man, but the holiness that suits
the call of God, the holiness of a dead and risen man; one of the pilgrim
family, one of God’s strangers in the world. (Heb. 12:9,10)
Job was chastened to be partaker of such a holiness as this. Not that
trials and troubles, like this, are essential to the learning of this lesson.
A very common method it is with our heavenly Father in His love and
wisdom. But Paul set himself daily to learn and live that lesson,
without the instructions of griefs and losses in either body or estate. (Phil.3)
A dead and risen believer will have neither his springs nor his objects here.
His principles of action will be found in the Lord Jesus. He is taken out
of all the advantages and adornings of the flesh into the righteousness
and life of God in Christ–and then, livingly and practically, progresses
up the hill, having in spirit left the low level of the world. He has taken leave
of the course of the world. He has taken leave of the plain beneath, and
has ascended in spirit above–hid with Christ in God.
He lets the world know that it could never provide him with his object. In
the midst of its kingdoms and delights he is a stranger still. He can, like
his Master, hide the glory to which God has appointed him and be nothing
in the present scene here below. Abraham did not tell every Canaanite
whom he chanced to meet that he was the heir of the country.
–J.G. BELLETT (Selections from the Patriarchs)
“They shall run, and not be weary.” Isaiah 40:31
“They shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“What! must we come down and run and walk here on
this stupid, prosaic earth after these eagle flights?
Yes, precisely. We go up there that we may serve
down here, and we never can serve down here
according to God’s thought of service….until we….
come down from interviews with God…[and] can
touch human lives with the power of God.
Yes, we must run down here, and walk down here, but
only in the degree in which we know the inspiration
of the upper air can we either run without weariness,
or walk without fainting.
What is the “walk”? It is the everyday life. It is
the getting breakfast, dressing the children, getting
them off to school; it is going down and opening
the store; it is going out and feeding the herds;
it is going into the study and opening the Word of God.
It is whatever our appointed task may be. It is doing
this all day, in heat and cold, dull days and bright days–
the common life. It is this, the everyday walk, that tests and tries.
But we may
“walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 31
under the wear and petty vexations and frictions of everyday life,
only on condition that we have been “waiting upon God.” The
man who does that will be a reservoir of sweetness, quietness
(“Waiting on God”, a sermon by C.I. Scofield)
“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” Ps. 116:12
The answer: “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name
of the Lord.” Ps. 116:13
It is all we can do. Gratitude should move every one of us to get right
with God. There can be no enduring happiness in a life which is out
of harmony with God. And we all want to be happy, do we not?
What must we do to get right with God? What must we —all out
of harmony in our selfishness, with His unselfishness, in our hatred,
with His love, in our sins, with His holiness –what must we do to
come into harmony with Him…He makes one simple, definite
proposition to us, and it is wrapped up, not in doctrine, but in a
person. His one proposition is Jesus Christ.
Right with God, we are right with humanity. Right with God, through
Jesus Christ, we are right for the next world as well as for this.
All the problems of life, the whole meaning of life, centers on that
one thing—what is Christ to me and what am I to Him? I can not
go back to the law –it only curses me, for I have broken it. I can not
begin today, if it were possible for me to do so, to live so that every
act of my life shall be pleasing to a holy God, for first of all I have no
power to do it, and secondly, there is my record up to today.
To do the thing He has commanded me—believe on Jesus Christ
whom he hath sent. Trust Him. Give myself away to Him. Put my
whole case into His hands. Let Him take this life, so full of evil,
and put the evil out of it. Let Him take this life so full of weakness
and fill it with strength. Let Him take this life so selfish and
self-centered, and let it flow out in all its breadth to humanity. Let
Him make it over. Let Him purify it. Let Him solve all its problems.
Let Jesus Christ fill it.”
(Is Life Worth Living? a Sermon by C.I.Scofield)