There are various ways in which as saints we are tried, but through all circumstances our Father is threading our way, occupying Himself with us personally, our particular characters, etc., in order to develop and mature us spiritually. What we want is to realize that our Father loves us so much, we are of such value to Him as that He should take such pains to make us “partakers of His holiness….” We are apt not to believe the activity of his love. Some trouble comes upon us; our Father has been watching us individually for weeks, months, and years, watching us to bring this trouble which He sees is needed for our spiritual growth.
Everything that makes the condition of the heart better is good, and all is grounded on grace. Grace puts us in the Father’s presence, makes us partakers of His holiness; then He says, “looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace,” i.e., do not lose this entire confidence in My love. This is the present practical enjoyment of what the Father is for you. If you lose that, you fail. There is nothing that links up the heart with God but grace. “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace.”
Walk in the sanctuary of the Father’s presence. You are not come to the terrible mountain Sinai; but having come to the perfect grace of the Father in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, take care how you walk. Grace must be the character of our walk. This is true blessedness. There is no hindrance of evil by terror. The effect of the fire from Sinai was that they “entreated the word should not be spoken to them anymore.” Was that getting on with God? But we come to a different thing. We may speak of the law, but that is not where we are. Now we must be living witnesses of what we are, and where we are. We are come unto Mount Zion, which represents grace.
We are come “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.” We are not come to the new covenant, but to Jesus the Mediator of it. I am in living union with Him who is the Mediator; that is a higher thing than if merely come to the covenant. He will make this new covenant with Israel on earth.
Having come to the Mediator, I am come to the prospect of all the blessedness for earth. It is sweet to know earth will have it, but ours is the far better part. We are to be witnesses of whence we are. We come from heaven. In spirit it is true now. What is true in spirit is more real and palpable than what we see. What is passing in our hearts and minds is more what we are really, than what our bodies are occupied in. The Lord Jesus was a carpenter (as really as any other carpenter), but that was not what He was. So with us, we are brought into all these things with our Father.
Then the thing is to be always a witness of the place to which He has called us in grace. We are come; then we have the Father dealing with us in respect of this place to which He has brought us. Do you say, This trial or that is enough to discourage me? But no; it is the Father who is bringing you into it, and He is with you in the place, dealing with you in grace and love, according to the place He has brought you into. In the midst of the company of heaven, each one is singled out—that is, ourselves. Surely this is enough to make us humble and restful.
1)”And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Deut. 8:2
2)” Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” Psalm 26:2
3)”And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.” John 6:6
4)”For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.” Ps. 66: 10
5)”And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blame-less.” 1 Tim. 3:10
6)”That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ..” 1 Peter 1:7
“For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God.” John 16:27
Our Lord Jesus Christ received these precious words from the Father who commanded Him to speak them for our comfort. (John 12: 49) They sweetly assure us of the Father’s love. We read of God’s love — “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16. We read also of Christ’s love — “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5: 25) and of the Father’s love,which is exercised toward those who, through grace, have been brought into relationship with Himself — “the Father Himself loveth you.”
The Father’s love has wrought for us in accomplishing redemption through the death of His Son, and in Him risen and ascended, according to His eternal purpose; thus giving us life in Christ, and bringing us into the relationship of children, as well as uniting us to Christ by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
The Father’s love has wrought in us in revealing His Son unto us. When our Lord said to Peter, “Whom say ye that I am?” and he replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus immediately said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16: 15-17) Thus we see that every one who has apprehended the person of “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” has only done so because of a distinct revelation of the Father to him. Without this, whatever else we may have known, we should have been in darkness as to the person of the Son; concerning whom it is said, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5: 12). To apprehend the person of the Son of God is entirely beyond the scope of the natural man. He may have heard of His name and of His works, he may be acquainted with the external circumstances of His death on Calvary, and of the fact of His resurrection, and yet not know Him. Though to the natural eye Jesus was like another man, “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” yet Peter saw, by the revelation of the Father, that He was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The Father has also wrought in us in having drawn us to Christ as sinners to a Saviour. It is only by the working of the Father’s grace in our hearts that we have thus had to do with Him whom the Father sent. Unless the Father had specially wrought in us in this way, it is certain we should never have found our true place, as hell-deserving ones, at the feet of a gracious Saviour. It is well to have the sense of this fact constantly fresh in our souls; for Jesus said, “No man can come to Me,except the Father which hath sent Me draw Him;” and again, “No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.” (John 6:44, 65) Thus we see that the Father’s love has accomplished redemption for us, brought us into nearness to Himself, called us into the relationship of children given us the Spirit, revealed His Son to us, and drawn us to Him as our Saviour. How sweet to think of the various yet distinct actions of the Father’s love! Well might an inspired servant cry out, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us!”
How astonishing then is the fact that there are those on the earth who, though poor and feeble in their own eyes, sensible too of much failure, coldness, and forgetfulness of Him, are the constant objects of the Father’s love those on whom He ever looks with a Father’s watchful eye, and ministers unto with Fatherly care. He is the perfect Father. He knows the state of heart, as well as the need, peculiarities, and circumstances of each child; and withholds or gives, sends adversity or prosperity, as is most for our real good. He disciplines and chastens for our profit, that we may be in subjection to Him, and be partakers of His holiness. It is well that we should receive all from Him, for all is dealt out in infinite wisdom by the hand of perfect love; for:
“A father’s heart can never cause
His child a needless tear.”
He desires us to cast all our care upon Him, for He careth for us, to make all our requests known unto Him by prayer and supplication; and in this our Lord encouraged us by saying, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father, which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matt. 7: 11)
But one of the children of God may inquire, “How much does the Father love me?” We are told that the Father loves us as He has loved Jesus. (John 17: 23) Our blessed Lord said to His disciples, “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you.” His love to us then is the same as the Father’s love to Him; and elsewhere we find He prayed that by-and-by the world may know that the Father loves us as He has loved Him. Thus we find that the infinite, eternal, unchanging love of the Father to the Son is the measure of His love to us His children. This, too, will be manifested ere long in answer to His prayer, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word . . . and the glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me.” (John 17: 20-23)
In perfect keeping with the activity of this infinite, eternal, unchanging love, the Father hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Eph. 1: 3) Thus we are always before His eye in all the nearness, acceptance, righteousness, and life of Christ, and blessed in Him with all spiritual blessings; and all this, and more, to be known now for our present enjoyment, and power for service and conflict. What a precious assurance for our poor hearts are these few words of our adorable Lord, “The Father Himself loveth you.” It is, indeed, a great secret for our souls when such words are received in faith, and we grasp them as infallible and settled for ever. We shall then be able to say in the hour of deepest sorrow and affliction:
“Although my cup seems filled with gall,
There’s something secret sweetens all.”
But why do we not enjoy the Father’s love more than we do? Because the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, is grieved. When we walk obediently we abide in His love, and enjoy the presence of the Father and the Son. To be loved by the Father is a precious fact for every child of God; but to enjoy the Father’s love and presence is the privilege of those only who are walking obediently to His will. Jesus said, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14: 23) Let no believer imagine then that he will have the comfort of the Father’s love, if he is not walking in the truth according to the Father’s will. In the path of disobedience the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is grieved, and we are not in the place where the Father’s presence can be known. Our blessed Lord said to His own loved ones for their encouragement, “I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” (John 5: 10)
We are told here who are the objects of the Father’s love. They are those who have loved Jesus, and have believed that He came out from God. Not those who say this and that, but those who have the two grand cardinal points of vital Christianity — faith and love. They always go together when there is a divinely-wrought work in the soul, for faith worketh by love. Every true believer loves. He loves the Lord Jesus, and all that are His. He loves the brethren, the truth, the service of the Lord, and all that is in association with Him. The believer loves, and he who loves, believes. Without this love, whatever else he may boast of, he is as “a sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal.” Love is a vitally important point; for “if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1 Cor. 16:22) We love, because we believe the love of God to us. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” We most certainly believe that Jesus came out from God; we have no doubt of it. We grasp the divine love that gave Him, and we cannot but love Jesus.
We believe and love. Oh, the preciousness of the Saviour’s words, “The Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”
The more we ponder this precious subject, the more our hearts become melted, and our ways moulded, according to this elevated and eternal relationship. To be “children of God” now, while in mortal bodies, and in a world where sin reigns unto death, is indeed a glorious fact; and, because we are sons, to have the Holy Spirit sent into our hearts, crying, Abba Father, is love so rich, so free, and so abundant, as never could have entered into the heart of man to conceive. And yet, how true it is. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Wondrous grace! All “to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” While looking then to our glorified Lord, we can say:
“Yea, in the fulness of His grace,
God put me in the children’s place,
Where I may gaze upon His face,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!
“Not half His love can I express;
Yet, Lord, with joy my lips confess
This blessed portion I possess,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!
“And when I in Thy likeness shine,
The glory and the praise be Thine,
That everlasting joy is mine,
O Lamb of God, in Thee!”
Nothing can exceed the importance that our Lord and the servants of God in all ages have given to scripture. Our Lord exposed the infidelity of the Sadducees as to resurrection, by saying to them, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God,” and by a quotation from Exodus 3: 6. He also put the Pharisees to silence as to His Person, by quoting Psalm 110: 1. We are told that the disciples were perplexed, because “they knew not the scripture that he must rise again from the dead.” The Lord also sharply rebuked the two unhappy ones walking to Emmaus, by saying unto them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” What an exposition of the Old Testament this must have been! Is it astonishing that they said, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”
The Corinthian believers were sadly wrong, because they knew not the scripture as to the resurrection of the body. The Galatian believers got wrong because they were adding “circumcision” to the work of Christ, in order to make their salvation more secure; and the Apostle, by the Spirit, uses scripture to set them right. The Colossian saints were not quite free as to ritualism and rationalism, because they got away from scripture, and therefore were “not holding the Head” not in communion with the Lord Jesus Christ as Head of the body, the assembly. The Thessalonian believers were not clear on some points as to the Lord’s coming, and were therefore sorrowful, which they would not have been had they known the truth as to the resurrection of the bodies of those who are Christ’s, the change of the living, and the rapture to meet the Lord in the air.
The Hebrew saints were some of them in danger of giving up Christianity, and going back to Judaism, because they knew not the truth which the scriptures teach as to the eternal efficacy of the one offering of Christ once for all, and the liberty to enter into the holiest with boldness by the blood of Jesus since the veil was rent, and Jesus appears in the presence of God for us as our great High Priest. Could anything more be required than the consideration of these facts, to induce us to read and meditate on the word of God for soul-blessing, and guidance as to life and walk? Thank God, the Holy Ghost indwells us, is able to teach us, and guide us into all the truth, so that an Apostle could say of believers, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
Read this article by H.H. Snell (1815 – 1891) at our Bookshelf site: