Radical Enemies of God: The Nature of Man’s Enmity Against God

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled Col 1:21

Introduction

As we consider the past condition of the Colossian Christians, we are faced with one of the most depressing statements of the unsaved man’s state.  Paul states, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.”   The first thing that we must focus upon is the nature of this enmity, which can be summed up in one word—alienation.

A.     Negative Assertion on this Alienation

Well, we need to come to a proper understanding of this. And the best way to do this, as it is often the case, is to say what it cannot mean. It cannot mean that there was a time in the individual lives of any of the Colossians that they were friends of God.  In other words, it does not mean that they had ever been in any other relationship with God than estrangement.

I underscore this fact because of important truth that we are all born into this state of alienation. It is not that all men are innocent and friends of God as they come into this world, but the every one of us is born into this world as those who oppose God. And this is due to our relationship to Adam.  I think that one of the best statements of this fact is found in the  14th Article of the Belgic Confession, wherein it states,

For he transgressed the commandment of life, which he had received, and by his sin he separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his entire nature.

So he made himself guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways. He lost all his excellent gifts which he had received from God, and he retained none of them except for small traces which are enough to make him inexcusable.

Now, this is no small issue.   In order to underscore this, I want to bring out two important applications. On one hand, this teaching is a strike against the notion of the mysticism, which is so prevalent in our day. Mysticism is the attempt to find communion with God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight. Evelyn Underhill wrote on the process through which one goes to find communion with God. While it is not always a good source of accurate information, Wikipedia gives a fairly accurate description of her teaching:

Author and mystic, Evelyn Underhill outlines the universal mystic way, the actual process by which the mystic arrives at union with the absolute. She identifies five stages of this process. First is the awakening, the stage in which one begins to have some consciousness of absolute or divine reality. The second stage is one of purgation which is characterized by an awareness of one’s own imperfections and finiteness. The response in this stage is one of self-discipline and mortification. The third stage, illumination, is one reached by artists and visionaries as well as being the final stage of some mystics. It is marked by a consciousness of a transcendent order and a vision of a new heaven and a new earth. The great mystics go beyond the stage of illumination to a fourth stage which Underhill, borrowing the language of St. John of the Cross, calls the dark night of the soul. This stage, experienced by the few, is one of final and complete purification and is marked by confusion, helplessness, stagnation of the will, and a sense of the withdrawal of God’s presence. It is the period of final “unselfing” and the surrender to the hidden purposes of the divine will. The final and last stage is one of union with the object of love, the one Reality, God. Here the self has been permanently established on a transcendental level and liberated for a new purpose. Filled up with the Divine Will, it immerses itself in the temporal order, the world of appearances in order to incarnate the eternal in time, to become a mediator between humanity and eternity.

This mystical process is a real rejection of Christianity at its core level. God and man have a real alienation and estrangement. It is something that has taken place at the most fundamental level because of the fall, and mediation and self-denial are not the means to find reconciliation with God.

As I said previously, the mystical way is an ever-increasingly accepted way among Americans and even Christians. It is very attractive for this reason; men and women do not have to believe in anything. Garrett Sarley, being interviewed for CBS Sunday Morning, put it like this,

I think people start to look for, ‘How do I produce the experience that I want from my religion, without having to adopt the beliefs that don’t seem to match, or don’t seem relevant, or don’t even seem consonant or resonant with how I’m living my life.

In other words, the idea of mysticism is not really about God, but it is about appeasing the conscience. Indeed, a god is maintained and upheld, but this god is tamed and easily manipulated.  One does not have to deny the existence of God, but one does not have to listen to Him, either. As Kenneth Boa correctly notes, it is a movement that is truly at enmity with the true God of heaven:

What the old materialistic, secular humanism and the new spiritual, religious humanism have in common is the desire to find personal fulfillment and world harmony on our own terms — with God as a source of power or wisdom, perhaps, but not as the standard of truth and values or the ruler of the world. Thus the New Age movement is part of a larger trend in Western culture seeking to find religious meaning and fulfillment apart from submission to the transcendent Creator, Judge, and Savior of biblical Christianity.

On the other hand, this is a repudiation of the age-old idea of man possessing a divine spark.  This is a thought found in many within Protestant liberalism.  When someone remarks that there is a divine spark in every person, usually they mean that there is a bit of God in everyone. Liberals normally refer to the human conscience as the “divine spark.  As one man, identifying a major tenet of liberalism, said, “There is a divine spark in every man and woman. All persons, therefore, are good at heart and need only encouragement and nurturing to allow their natural goodness to express itself.”

This passage cuts the very head off from this false teaching. Men are alienated from God, and this alienation is radical so that God and men are separated spiritually.  As John Laidlaw in his work on The Bible Doctrine of Man, accurately wrote, “The Scripture view of the fall . . . is that it was radical and fatal as regards to ma’s relationship to God.”

Man’s problem is not intellectual, but it is spiritual. Man was created to be the temple of God, but man’s sin has caused God to leave His temple.  He is no longer there.  Many years ago, the puritan minister John Howe, in his work The Living Temple, picturesquely describes this,

You come, amidst all this confusion, as into the ruined palace of some great prince, in which you see here the fragments of a noble pillar, there the shattered pieces of some curious imagery ; and all lying neglected and useless amongst heaps of dirt. He that invites you to take a view of the soul of man, gives you but such another prospect, and doth but say to you, ‘BEHOLD THE DESOLATION! all things rude and waste.’ So that should there be any pretence to the Divine presence, it might be said, if God be here, why is it thus? The faded glory, the darkness, the disorder, the impurity, the decayed state in all respects of this temple, too plainly show the great Inhabitant is gone.

B.     Positive Description of this Alienation

Having considered the negative side of this, let us turn to a positive understanding of this idea of alienation. I have two primary things that I want to say about this alienation.  Both have broad implications.

1.     Disaffection toward God

First, it is disaffection.  It is an inward estrangement.  Let me be very clear about what we are talking about here.  We are very prone to think of this in as overt, unconcealed, and blatant hostility. Without doubt, this alienation involves this; yet, though valid, it is very short-sighted. What is the primary indictment against man here? It is that man has no real love for God at all. Alexander MacLaren’s words at this point are insightful:

The charge is not that of conscious, active hostility, but of practical want of affection, as manifested by habitual disobedience or inattention to God’s wishes, and by indifference and separation from Him in heart and mind.

 

 And are these not the habitual temper of multitudes? The signs of love are joy in the company of the beloved, sweet memories and longings if parted, eager fulfillment of their lightest wish, a quick response to the most slender association recalling them to our thoughts. Have we these signs of love to God? If not, it is time to consider what temper of heart and mind towards the most loving of Hearts and the most unwearied of Givers, is indicated by the facts that we scarcely ever think of Him, that we have no delight in His felt presence, that most of our actions have no reference whatever to Him and would be done just the same if there were no God at all. Surely such a condition is [more like] hostility than love.

Therefore, what we can say about this is that this inward estrangement from God is that it is a want of any practical attention to Him.  Or, in other words, it is found in practical atheism.  Our lives are lived as if He did not exist, though we give theoretical acknowledgement that He exists.

Yet, we live our lives with little to no thought of Him. We think so little of Him that He plays no significant role –if any—in our lives.  This is the indictment of men by God in Psalm 10:4 – “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”  That is the primary meaning of the word godless.  Jamieson, Fausset and Brown define the word as “living without any conscious reference to God, and proper feelings towards Him.” Matthew Henry captures the thought well:

The nature of impiety and irreligion; it is not seeking after God and not having him in our thoughts. There is no enquiry made after him (Job 35:10, Jer. 2:6), no desire towards him, no communion with him, but a secret wish to have no dependence upon him and not to be beholden to him. Wicked people will not seek after God (that is, will not call upon him); they live without prayer, and that is living without God. They have many thoughts, many projects and devices, but no eye to God in any of them, no submission to his will nor aim at his glory.

There are billions that live in this way. They show every day that they alienated by God by their absolute neglect toward Him.  And there are many within the churches that have this mark of impiety branded upon their forehead. They live without any conscious thought of God. They worship God with their lips but their heart is far from Him. 

Do not many of our children show this to us in their habitual neglect of God, no liking for His worship and His word? We will make excuses for them, chalking it up to immaturity or the so-called lack of excitement found in the worship. But is not the real cause found elsewhere? If they do not like the worship of God now, what will they do for eternity, when we worship the Lord day and night? 

What will happen to those who have such little thoughts of God?  They pass from day to day, thinking that this is not a serious matter.  But let us remember the words of Paul on this: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Albert Barnes is correct, when stating,

Many people suppose that if they do not neglect their duty to their fellow-men, if they are honest and upright in their dealings, they are not guilty, even though they are not righteous, or do not do their duty to God; as though it were a less crime to dishonor God than man; and as though it were innocence to neglect and disobey our Maker and Redeemer.

2.     Hostility toward God

The second positive description that we can say about this alienation is that is hostility toward God.  It is enmity, which is the second word that Paul uses to describe.  Again Paul states, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” 

 The word “and” between the words “alienated” and “enemies” has been rightly take to mean that the our alienation from God has led us become hostile toward God.  This is enmity is our hostility toward God, though God is ever angry with the wicked; a topic that we will take up on another occasion.  But here it speaks of man’s active hostility toward God as a result of being alienated in heart for God.  Paul reiterates this same point in Ephesians 4:17-19:

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  (Eph 4:17-19)

Notice the flow of thought. The unsaved have their understanding darkened.  This necessarily involves a alienation from the life of God. But let us go further.  Paul now goes on to say that this alienation is due to the ignorance in them.  As one commentator remarks, “It is not an acquired ignorance that is due to absent of light and information; it is an original ignorance that is in them from the start, the ignorance of inborn sin.” 

Well, how does this come about? It is due to the blindness of man’s heart.  The word translated ‘blindness’ is actually hardness of heart.  The word here is used in extra-biblical writings of the time as a medical term for callous hardening.  It is only found three times in the New Testament: here and Mark 3:5 and Romans 11: 25.

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. (Mar 3:5)

 

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  (Rom 11:25).

This is the real problem with man. While he is blind and ignorant, he has a more serious problem than that! His heart is stone.  He has no feeling and love for God because of his rock-like hardness of heart, as Geoffrey Wilson put it. This is the real source of man’s alienation!  Matthew Henry comments upon the flow of thought and its importance:

They sat in darkness, and they loved it rather than light: and by their ignorance they were alienated from the life of God. They were estranged from and had a dislike and aversion to, a life of holiness, which is not only that way of life which God requires and approves, and by which we live to him, but which resembles God himself, in his purity, righteousness, truth, and goodness. Their willful ignorance was the cause of their estrangement from this life of God, which begins in light and knowledge. Gross and affected ignorance is destructive to religion and godliness. And what was the cause of their being thus ignorant? It was because of the blindness or the hardness of their heart. It was not because God did not make himself known to them by his works, but because they would not admit the instructive rays of the divine light. They were ignorant because they would be so. Their ignorance proceeded from their obstinacy and the hardness of their hearts, their resisting the light and rejecting all the means of illumination and knowledge.

There are two lessons that surface in the light of this. On one hand, we must always remember that man’s main problem is not intellectual. It is a heart issue.  At times we find people seeking to use apologetics as a means of evangelism, as if the very defense of the Scriptures and its truths is settled by arguments.  It is simply not the case.  Men are not neutral as the approach an argument.  Charles Hodge explains this, as he speaks of creation and natural revelation.

The blind cannot see; therefore they are ignorant of the beauty of creation, therefore they are destitute of delight in its glories. You cannot heal them by light. The eye must first be opened. Then comes vision, and then joy and love. This view of the passage is in accordance with the analogy of Scripture; which constantly represents regeneration as necessary to spiritual discernment, and spiritual discernment as necessary to holy affections.

J.C. Ryle concurs and brings this home in a searching way.

A deep principle is contained in this saying of our Lord’s, and one that deserves special attention. True faith does not depend merely on the state of man’s head and understanding, but on the state of his heart. His mind may be convinced. His conscience may be pierced. But so long as there is anything the man is secretly loving more than God, there will be no true faith. The man himself may be puzzled, and wonder why he does not believe. He does not see that he is like a child sitting on the lid of his box, and wishing to open it, but not considering that his own weight keeps it shut. Let a man make sure that he honestly and really desires first the praise of God. It is the lack of an honest heart which makes many stick fast in their false religion all their days, and die at length without peace. Those who complain that they hear, and approve, and assent, but make no progress, and cannot get any hold on Christ, should ask themselves this simple question–”Am I honest? Am I sincere? Do I really desire first the praise of God?”

I recall this being brought home to my own heart recently, when in Alaska.  There was a man by the name of Sean. He mentioned that we would like to have the Christian’s faith, but he simply could not.  After arguing for some time, he said that his basic problem was that he did not want to have a god that was His authority.  Here is a self-proclaimed atheist confessing his real dilemma to me. It is not that men don’t know that God exists; it is not an issue of the mind, but it is really an issue of the heart. They don’t want to retain the knowledge that they possess; in fact, they suppress the knowledge already possessed in unrighteousness.

I am not saying that apologetics have no place. They do, but they have a twofold purpose. First, apologetics removes all intellectual obstacles that have been placed there by the world and the devil.  Second, apologetics removes all excuses and acts as the law to bring out the wickedness of men so the sinfulness of sin is exposed for what it truly is—alienation and enmity against God.

On the other hand, there is a very important lesson concerning the reason for man’s damnation.  It is due to man’s inattention, neglect, and refusal to come to the Lord.  The Lord says, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).  No man can say that his damnation is the fault of God, for the Lord has been more than gracious.  Rather, it is due to a suppressing of truth and knowledge. Men will not come and believe.

 This unwillingness is undoubtedly manifested in many ways. At times, it is manifested by excuses, as in the parable of the Wedding Feast.  It is written that “they all with one consent began to make excuse” (Luke 14:18).  And this is surely happening in our day. I am too old; I am too young. I will later; I am too timid to make a public profession, etc.  Let everyone of us contemplate the following comments by J. C. Ryle:

We have in this part of the parable a vivid picture of the reception which the Gospel is continually meeting with wherever it is proclaimed, Thousands are continually doing what the parable describes. They are invited to come to Christ, and they will not come. It is not ignorance of religion that ruins most men’s souls. It is want of will to use knowledge, or love of this present world.–It is not open profligacy that fills hell. It is excessive attention to things which in themselves are lawful.–It is not avowed dislike to the Gospel which is so much to be feared. It is that procrastinating, excuse-making spirit, which is always ready with a reason why Christ cannot be served to-day.–Let the words of our Lord on this subject sink down into our hearts. Infidelity and immorality, no doubt, slay their thousands. But decent, plausible, smooth-spoken excuses slay their tens of thousands. No excuse can justify a man in refusing God’s invitation, and not coming to Christ.

On other occasions, this unwillingness is manifested by the love of pleasure more than God.  In all of this, they manifested their enmity.  In 2Thess. 2:10, Paul speaks of the “deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”  Again in 2 Thess. 2:12, he says, “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”  John 3:20  asserts, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”

All of these passages show that the reason for man’s ruin and damnation is entirely on man’s side. Again, Ryle rightly states, “His blood will be on his own head, if he makes shipwreck of his soul. The blame will be at his own door, if he misses heaven. His eternal misery will be the result of his own choice. His destruction will be the work of his own hand. God loved him, and was willing to save him; out he ‘loved darkness,’ and therefore darkness must be his everlasting portion. He would not come to Christ, and therefore he could not have life. (John 5:40.)”

Conclusion

Now these are serious matters. And the truth of man’s alienation is real and evident in the course of human events. But it must be seen that it is true of you and me on a persona level.  And you and I must realize that this is the real issue between us and God.  You and I are alienated from Him, and we are at enmity with Him, until we come to Him in Christ.  Unless we begin here, we will never be saved.  

The Fullness of Jesus Christ: An Important Experimental Truth for Every Believer by Timothy A. Williams

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.  (19)  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; Col 1:18-19 

 Introduction

We have come to an important passage for us, though I think that we are very prone to overlook it because of the complex language.  Yet, we must always remember that Paul is missionary theologian, always practical.  And, if we keep this in mind, we will always look for that angel and not be disappointed.

We have seen that Paul is answering the teaching that Christ is important but not everything to the Christian. In fact, say the false teachers at Colossae, Christ is down the stream of created beings.  He is inferior to the angels and other created beings.  Paul demolishes this idea and states that Christ is in no way inferior, seeing that He has a unique relationship to the invisible God as His image, that He has a unique relationship to the created world as its creator and sustainer, and that He has a unique relationship to the Church as its head and source of life.

Now Paul has argued for all of this so that Christ would be recognized as preeminent in everything.  But in order to bring this back to the practical, he gives the reason for this preeminence over all things. He states, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Col 1:19).  I am asserting that this reason given for Christ’s being preeminent over all things is very practical, and I hope to demonstrate that to you.

But, in order to do that, we have to understand Paul’s meaning.  What does he mean by the fact that ‘all fullness’ dwells in Christ?  What does Paul intend by stressing that it pleased the Father that this ‘fullness’ dwells in Christ?  I believe that by considering these two points, we will see the practical nature of this verse to us and be delighted with its teaching. Therefore, let us consider the fullness of the Son and the pleasure of the Father.

 The Fullness of the Son

The term “fullness” was, in all probability, a word used by the false teachers.  They probably meant that Christ was not the fullness of God, like the beings closer to God.  In direct contrast to this, Paul captures the term and underscores that Christ is the real fullness of God. But what exactly does it mean?

There are several views of this. First, there is the view that the fullness of Christ is the body of believers.  In this, Christ is being filled up by those who are converted.   A number of the early fathers held to this.  But this view is does not fit the context. It can and should be dismissed as the right view.

Then there is the view that this refers to the divine essence.  The divine essence is found in Christ.  But there are some serious problems with taking it this way. The primary issue is that Christ possessed the divine nature essentially and not merely by the Father’s consent. He is coeternal and co-substantial with the Father.  His deity does not depend upon God the Father’s assent.  As one man states, “It is in Him in His own right, and not by parental pleasure. Whatever dwells in Christ by the Father’s pleasure is official, and not essential; relational, and not absolute in its nature.

Another issue is that Christ would be mutable and not eternal.  It would indicate that the deity was not found in Christ at some point.  But that God made Him to have the fullness at some point of His existence.  But the Father says of His Son,

(8)  But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.(9)  Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.(10)  And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:(11)  They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;(12)  And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. Heb 1:8-12

Well, what then does Paul mean by “fullness”?  I think that we have to take this to mean a certain type of fullness that is found in Christ—a certain species of fullness, if we may call it that.  It is the fullness of grace, or the saving blessings that dwell in Christ.  And the following verses in Colossians 1 speak of the fullness of grace, specifically the graces that deal with our pardon and reconciliation.  One commentator put in the following way:

Whatever is needed to save a fallen world, and restore harmony to the universe, is treasured up in Him is in Him. It was indispensable that the law should be magnified while its violators were forgiven, lest the circuit of the Divine jurisdiction should be narrowed, or its influence counteracted ; and there is a fullness of merit in the sufferings of Jesus which has shed an imperishable luster on the nature and government of God. That copious variety of gifts connected with the Christian economy has its source in Jesus. Knowledge and faith, pardon and life, purity and hope, comfort and strength, impulse and check, all that quickens and all that sustains, each in its place and connection is but an emanation of this unexhausted plenty. And there is “all” fullness; abundance of blessing, and of every species of blessing, in proper time and order. As the bounties of providence are scattered around us with rich munificence, and consist not of one kind of gift which might become fatal in its monotony, but of an immense variety, which is essential, singly and in combination, to the sustenance of life ; so the blessings which spring out of this fullness are not only vast in number and special in adaptation, by themselves, but in their mutual relations and dependence they supply every necessity, and fill the entire nature with increasing satisfaction and delight. The impartation of knowledge, though it grew to the “riches of the full assurance of understanding,” could not of itself minister to every want; nor yet could the pardon of sin severed from the benefits which flow from it. Therefore, there is secured for us peace as well as enlightenment; renovation along with forgiveness: condition and character are equally changed; the tear of  penitence glistens in the radiance of spiritual joy, and the germs of perfection engrafted now are destined for ever to mature and expand.

I think that this interpretation is confirmed when we look at the whole of Scripture.  Let me give you an example of this same teaching in John 1:14-16, where the Apostle John writes, “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.(15)  John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.(16)  And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

            Now follow the thought here.  Christ manifests the glory of God, and there is a fullness in Him. What is this fullness? It is the fullness of grace and truth.  Ryle comments on the meaning of this phrase grace and truth:

The spiritual riches that Christ brought into the world, when He became incarnate, and set up His kingdom. He came full of the gospel of grace, in contradistinction to the burdensome requirements of the ceremonial law. He came full of truth, of real, true, solid comfort, in contradistinction to the types, and figures, and shadows of the law of Moses. In short the full grace of God, and the full truth about the way of acceptance, were never clearly seen until the Word became flesh, dwelt among us on earth, opened the treasure-house, and revealed grace and truth in His own person.

Putting all of this together with what Paul is saying in Colossians ,we can see that there is an infinite fullness of grace and truth in Christ.  It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell. It is not mere a stream, but it is the fountain.  Again, Ryle is right, when he writes,

There is laid up in Him, as in a treasury, a boundless supply of all that any sinner can need, either in time or eternity. The Spirit of Life is His special gift to the Church, and conveys from Him, as from a great root, sap and vigour to all the believing branches. He is rich in mercy, grace, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Out of Christ’s fulness, all believers in every age of the world, have been supplied. They did not clearly understand the fountain from which their supplies flowed, in Old Testament times. The Old Testament saints only saw Christ afar off, and not face to face. But from Abel downwards, all saved souls have received all they have had from Jesus Christ alone.  Every saint in glory will at last acknowledge that he is Christ’s debtor for all he is. Jesus will prove to have been all in all.

Yet, John adds something here that is very important and precious. Out of this fullness every one of us has received all that there is.  Is this not what Paul is underscoring to the Colossians in Col. 2:9-10, where Paul states that we are complete in Him who has the fullness of the godhead bodily? 

The false teachers were insisting that their spirituality was superior because they did certain things, but Paul says that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of Christ and the position of the Christian in Christ.  You don’t need anything in addition to Christ. He is the fullness, and you are complete in Him. Every Christian receives this fullness at the time of their being united to Christ by faith, though in His wisdom He disperses as He sees wise.

And if this were not enough, John brings home another truth that Paul is also seeking to communicate.  We all receive accumulated grace, abundant grace.  It is grace upon grace.  As one Greek scholar wrote, “Here the picture is ‘grace’ taking the place of ‘grace’ like the manna fresh each morning, new grace for the new day and the new service.”

His love has no limit,

His grace has no measure,
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

It is a new wave of grace rolling upon the other, as the older one soaks into the sands of time. It is “grace in the place of grace, constant, fresh, abundant supplies of new grace, to take the place of old grace, and therefore unfailing, abundant grace, continually filling up and supplying all our need.”

From faith to faith, from grace to grace,

So in thy strength shall I go on;

Till heaven and earth flee from thy face,

And glory end what grace begun.

Therefore, it is not merely for the beginning of our Christian life, but it is for the whole duration of our Christian life. This grace begins in the election of grace, shows itself in the grace of regeneration and justification, and proceeds through the grace of sanctification and perseverance unto the grace of glorification.  All of this is found in Christ, even as the Scottish professor Eadie wrote,

Provision moreover would be inadequate without application. Man is not merely informed that may come to Him and live ; or that Christ has died, and that he may believe and be saved; or that heaven is open, and that he may enter and be happy. Not only is provision ample, but in this fulness appliance is secured. Not only has salvation been purchased, but it is placed within an available reach, for while the cross is erected, the eye is opened, and the vision carried towards its bleeding victim ; not only has atoning blood been shed, but it is sprinkled upon the heart ; not only is there the promise of a heavenly inheritance, but the soul is purified, yea, and ” kept by the power of God through faith.” In short, every grace, as it is needed, and when it is needed, in every variety of phasis and operation ; every grace, either to nurse the babe or sustain the perfect man, to excite the new life or to foster it, to give pardon and the sense of it, faith and the full assurance of it, purity and the felt possession of it ; every blessing, in short, for health or sickness, for duty or trial, for life or death, for body or soul, for earth or heaven, for time or eternity, is wrapt up in that fulness which dwells in Christ.

Let us all join in this confession:

Christ alone shall be our portion;
When we soon shall meet above,
Bathing in the boundless ocean
Of the great Redeemer’s love;
All His fulness, All His fulness
We shall then forever prove.

Let us return to the thought of Paul in Colossians. He states that the ground for Christ having the preeminent position over all things is due to this fullness being in Him.  Well, all of this is for a particular reason—that Christ might have the highest position and honor; he might have the preeminence. Ryle wrote,

And now, after reading this passage, can we ever give too much honour to Christ? Can we ever think too highly of Him ? Let us banish the unworthy thought from our minds for ever. Let us learn to exalt Him more in our hearts, and to rest more confidingly the whole weight of our souls in His hands. Men may easily fall into error about the three Persons in the holy Trinity if they do not carefully adhere to the teaching of Scripture. But no man ever errs on the side of giving too much honour to God the Son. Christ is the meeting-point between the Trinity and the sinner’s soul. “He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which sent Him.” (John v. 23.)

 The Pleasure of the Father

The next thing with which we must grapple is the concept of the pleasure of the Father. We are told that it pleased the Father that this fullness of grace resides in Christ. But why has Paul added this?  There is a real importance to this small addition.

By adding this, Paul is underscoring the fact that God has determined that Christ will be the source of all this grace.  By adding this, Paul is directing our attention to the central truth of Christianity—Christ!  He is saying that if we need grace, then we must come to God through Him for it. It is found nowhere else.  Therefore, we must not seek for these graces elsewhere, for they will not be found by the determination of God. Calvin wrote the following about this truth:

He shews us, however, at the same time, that we must draw from the fullness of Christ everything good that we desire for our salvation, because such is the determination of God — not to communicate himself, or his gifts to men, otherwise than by his Son. “Christ is all things to us: apart from him we have nothing.” Hence it follows, that all that detract from Christ, or that impair his excellence, or rob him of his offices, or, in fine, take away a drop from his fullness, overturn, so far as is in their power, God’s eternal counsel.

In another place, Calvin writes,

He warns us that, as soon as we have departed from Christ, it is ill vain for us to seek a single drop of happiness, because God hath determined that whatever is good shall reside in him alone. Accordingly, we shall find angels and men to be dry, heaven to be empty, the earth to be unproductive, and, in short, all things to be of no value, if we wish to be partakers of the gifts of God in any other way than through Christ.

Should we not all say,

Closer and closer let us cleave

To his beloved embrace,

Expect his fullness to receive,

And grace to answer grace.

There is another reason for adding this, too. It is added to underscore that the eternal plan of the Father was to place this in Christ so that those who are connected to Christ would have these graces always at their disposal. And this is due to the fact that there is none so qualified and so worthy as Christ.  John Gill comments on this beautifully.

“It pleased the Father” to place it here for them; it was owing to his good will to his Son, and therefore he puts all things into his hands; and to his elect in him, for, having loved them with an everlasting love, he takes everlasting care of them, and makes everlasting provision for them; it was his pleasure from all eternity to take such a step as this, well knowing it was not proper to put it into the hands of Adam, nor into the hands of angels, nor into their own at once; he saw none so fit for it as his Son, and therefore it pleased him to commit it unto him; and it is his good will and sovereign pleasure, that all grace should come through Christ, all communion with him here, and all enjoyment of him hereafter; which greatly enhances and sets forth the glory of Christ as Mediator, one considerable branch of which is, that he is full of grace and truth; this qualifies him to be the head of the church, and gives a reason, as these words be, why he has, and ought to have, the preeminence in all things.

God and Father of our Saviour,
Praise for glories of Thy grace.
Ev’ry blessing purposed favor,
Granted in Thy Son’s embrace.

Refrain:
God and Father, we would bless Thee;
Help us praise Thee in this place.
Hallelujah, blessed Father,
Praises for Thy glorious grace.

 Conclusion

There are three main lessons that we can draw from this text. First, we must learn that if we are to be saved we must come to Christ.  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 ). In a day where pluralism reigns, we must always remember that this is the decree of God.  God has placed all of this in His Son that is may available to all and unto all who come to Him by Christ. Therefore, the question before each of us is this: have we come to Christ for the saving grace of God?

Grace is flowing like a river,
Millions there have been supplied;
Still it flows as fresh as ever
From the Saviour’s wounded side.
None need perish, None need perish,
All may live for Christ hath died.

Second, there is the lesson that we must continue to come to Christ. We receive both redeeming grace as well as sanctifying grace from Him.  And in Him we find the grace that is sufficient for all our needs, for it has pleased the Father that in Him shall all the fullness dwell.  “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Then boldly let our faith address
The throne of grace and pow’r:
We shall obtain deliv’ring grace
In ev’ry needy hour.

Third, there is the lesson that we must place Christ preeminently in our worship.  Since the Father was pleased to place all His gifts to men in Christ, we must honor the son even as we honor the Father. We must crown Him in our lives and worship.

Crown the Saviour! angels, crown Him!
Rich the trophies Jesus brings:
In the seat of pow’r enthrone Him,
While the vault of heaven rings:
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown the Saviour King of kings.

Greater Faith: A Necessary Virtue in the Christian’s Life by J. C. Ryle

1. A Greater Faith Brings Greater Peace with God.

“Make it then your daily prayer that you may have an increase of faith. According to your faith will be your peace. Cultivate that blessed root more, and sooner or later, by God’s blessing, you may hope to have the flower. You may not perhaps attain to full assurance all at once. It is good sometimes to be kept waiting: we do not value things which we get without trouble. But though it tarry, wait for it. Seek on, and expect to find.” 

2. A Greater Faith Brings Greater Work for God.

‘I believe that we are all apt to err on this point. We think too much, and talk too much, about graces and gifts and attainments and do not sufficiently remember that faith is the root and mother of them all. In walking with God, a man will go just as far as he believes, and no further. His life will always be proportioned to his faith. His peace, his patience, his courage, his zeal, his works—all will be according to his faith.

You read the lives of eminent Christians, of such men as Wesley or Whitefield or Venn or Martyn or Bickersteth or Simeon or M’Cheyne. And you are disposed to say, “What wonderful gifts and graces these men had!” I answer, you should rather give honor to the mother grace which God puts forward in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews; you should give honor to their faith. Depend on it, faith was the mainspring in the character of each and all.

I can fancy someone saying, “They were so prayerful; that made them what they were.” I answer, why did they pray much? Simply because they had much faith. What is prayer, but faith speaking to God?
Another perhaps will say, “They were so diligent and laborious; that accounts for their success.” I answer, why were they so diligent? Simply because they had faith. What is Christian diligence, but faith at work?
Another will tell me, “They were so bold; that rendered them so useful.” I answer, why were they so bold? Simply because they had much faith. What is Christian boldness, but faith honestly doing its duty?
And another will cry, “It was their holiness and spirituality; that gave them their weight.” For the last time I answer, what made them holy? Nothing but a living realizing spirit of faith. What is holiness, but faith visible and faith incarnate?

If you would be like Moses, making it clear as noonday that you have chosen God before the world, what does Christ ask of you? Would you bring forth an abundance of fruit? Do you want to be eminently holy and useful? I dare to be sure that every believer would reply with a resounding, “Yes! This is my desire!”

Then take the advice I give you this day: go and cry to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the disciples did, “Lord, increase our faith.” Faith is the root of a real Christian’s character. Let your root be right, and your fruit will soon abound. Your spiritual prosperity will always be according to your faith. He that believes shall not only be saved, but shall never thirst, shall overcome, shall be established, shall walk firmly on the waters of this world and shall do great works.’

Source: Statements are found in Ryle’s work on Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots

 

 

Why Some Will Not Be Saved!

Why Some Will Not Be Saved!

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:  (2)  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Isa 59:1-2 

Introduction

Salvation and prayer go hand in hand. It begins with prayer: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isa 55:6). In Romans 10:13, Paul says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” This is said by Peter, too, in his great sermon in Acts 2.

We also say on the authority of Scripture that prayer is one of the vital marks or evidences of being a Christian. In 1 Cor. 1:2, Paul identifies true Christians as those who call upon the name of the Lord. And the Lord even said about Pau in Acts 9:11: “Behold, he prayeth.”  Charles Spurgeon is spot on here:

To the children of God. The best mark of our being sons of God is to be found in our devotion, and as a natural consequence the more we are found in prayer the brighter will our evidences be. Perhaps you have lost your evidence, and I will tell you where, in your closet. Prayer is the ship which bringeth home the richest freight–the soil which yields the most abundant harvest.

 

To the ungodly. A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. I beseech you, as you love yourselves, contemplate what will become of you if you should at last die without prayer.

Well, let us stop right here. There is something vitally important here; it is implied that we call upon Him with right feelings; that is, with a humble sense of our sinfulness and our need of pardon, and with a willingness to receive eternal life as it is offered us in the gospel. And if this be done, this passage teaches us that all may be saved who will do it. He will cast none away who come in this manner. The invitation and the assurance extend to all nations and to people of all times.

Well, I say all of this because it is very pertinent to our passage. In chapter 57 Isaiah condemned adulterous paganism,  and then in chapter 58 he condemns the hypocritical fasting, while here in the 59th  it is chiefly injustice that calls forth his condemnation. But there is something interesting in all of this. Each of these chapters speaks about prayer. In chapter 57 it was not answered because it was not addressed to the true God – “When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain” (Isa. 57:13)  in chapter 58 because the petitioners are hypocrites – “Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high” (Isa58:4); while here in Isa. 59:1-2, it is because of their sins and particularly, as later verses indicate, their injustice.

Or, let me put this in another way.  Chapter 57 dealt with Israel’s inability to break with idolatry in their own strength, but chapters 58 and 59 deals with the relationship of righteousness and ritual (chapters 58-59). The people were complaining that God was not answering their prayers (cf. Isa. 58:1-3). Isaiah assured them that His silence was not due to His inability to help them (a shortened hand) or to His disinterest in them (an insensitive ear). There must another reason why God will not save them from their enemies.

Now, it is here that we are able to extract a central truth that applies to every man in every place over all times.  Notice the first word of our text: “Behold! “ This has the idea of “mark well,” “turn your eye this way.” And what are to mark well? What is it that we should turn our eye toward? It is this: if you are not saved, it is not because God is unable to save you, nor is it because He is unwilling to hear your prayers.  And why is this? Because of sin!  Calvin captures the universal truth of this passage well:

The amount of what is said is, that they cannot say that God has changed, as if he had swerved from his natural disposition, but that the whole blame lies with themselves; because by their own sins they, in some measure, prevent his kindness, and refuse to receive his assistance. Hence we infer that our sins alone deprive us of the grace of God, and cause separation between us and him; for what the Prophet testifies as to the men of his time is applicable to all ages; since he pleads the cause of God, against the slanders of wicked men. Thus God is always like himself, and is not wearied in doing good; and his power is not diminished, but we hinder the entrance of his grace.

This leads us to consider– 

The Nature of Sin

We cannot fathom the mystery of sin; we may not even ask the questions, How? and Why? But we may contemplate the terrible fact, and remind ourselves of what it is. All sin, in its degree, separates the soul from God: and whatever separates from God is sin.

All sin in its degree separates the soul from God, ‘and sin, when it is perfected, bringeth forth death’. For as the separation of the body from the soul is the death of the body, so the utter separation of the soul from God is the death of the soul. Absolute separation from God must be eternal death. Let me always remember that sin is the great separation of the soul from Him Who is our Life.

We talk of degrees of sin, of little sins and great ones, of sins mortal and sins venial. And though there is a sense in which all sins are mortal, we may also say that not all sins are the same. Some sins tend more directly than others to widen the breach between the soul and God; they have more power to weaken the will and to blind the conscience; or because they imply a greater rejection of God’s love, or estrange us more entirely from holy things, or bow us down more closely to the earth.  The Catechism is right, when it says, “Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.”

And yet the little sins play a more terrible part than we know in the soul’s tragedy. A great sin often brings its own visible punishment, its own recoil. We see its loathsomeness. But the little sins are so little we hardly notice them. They are like the drizzling rain which wets us through before we think of taking shelter.  In the words of Solomon, we may say that these little sins are “the little foxes, that spoil the vines.” The following is from a sermon preached by T. T. Shore to children, but its message is one that should be heard by all:

I remember one day passing through one of our London squares. I saw two cruel dogs chasing a eat–indeed, it was only a kitten. The poor little thing ran for its life, and the two dogs after it, a big fellow foremost, and a smaller one coming on as fast as it could behind. The kitten got safe to the railings of the square, and it jumped in through them; and when the big dog, almost touching it as it went through, tried to follow, he couldn’t get in after it–the railings were too close together, and so the little kitten thought itself safe. But up came the little dog, and he was able to get through when the big fellow couldn’t; but I’m glad to say a gardener, who was working inside, drove it back again, and so the little kitten was rescued. Do you see what I mean by that story? It shows us how small things are often more dangerous than big things, for they can get in through small openings

You often could not let a great big sin come into your heart, but a little one creeps in almost without your knowing it. And the worst of it is these little fellows come into the vineyard of your heart, and stay there, and grow big there. A little untruth, so innocent-looking that we don’t think it can do harm, gets in first, and it grows and grows so gradually, that we don’t notice it, and at last it is a big lie! Ah! be on your guard against the small things–the small unkindness, the first bad word, the first untruth, the first disobedience. Take care of the little foxes, or they’ll get in and destroy the tender grapes. Don’t be taken in by their looks. One time, when our soldiers were fighting against Indians in America, a sentry at a very important point was found one morning dead at his post. The guard had heard no sound, and they could not imagine how any one could have come so close to the sentry as to kill him. They thought he must have fallen asleep at his post. Another man was put in his place, and next morning he, too, was found dead there. They were greatly surprised, for he was a very steady man, and had been warned to be on the look-out. So the officer selected another soldier, and said to him, “Now, let nothing escape you; if it’s only a dog tries to get near you, shoot him.” The man promised his officer to obey him. Well, an hour passed, and not a sound reached the sentry. He thought then that lie heard a very little noise, as of something walking on the dead leaves. He called out, “Who goes there?” and there was no answer. So he looked, and listened; and he saw a slight movement of a branch some few yards off. “If you don’t answer, I’ll fire,” said he, and raised his rifle to his shoulder. He was just going to pull the trigger, when he saw a small bear passing away from him beside a bush. So he lowered his gun, saying to himself, “What a fool I should have looked to have startled all the camp by shooting that poor animal!” Still, he remembered his promise to his officer that he’d shoot even a dog; so saying to himself, “I know they’ll all laugh at me, but I’ll keep my word like a good soldier,” he fired. The bear fell, and out rushed the guard at the sound of the shot. They ran over to where the bear lay dead, and they found it was only a bear’s skin and an Indian dead inside it! The Indian had night after night approached the sentry, walking on hands and feet, and concealed in the skin of a bear, and when he got close to the soldier he had killed him. So, boys and girls, be on your guard. No matter how innocent, no matter how small the untruth, the unkindness, the deceit, the dishonesty may look, don’t let them pass in that way. They are enemies, after all: they’ll kill you, if you don’t kill them. Beware of the foxes that spoil the tender grapes

Now, this leads us to consider the –

The Effect of Sin

Let us never forget that sin hinders our prayers from coming up unto God; it provokes God to hide His face so that He will not hear, as he has said, Isa. 1:15 – “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” Oh that we might remember that if we regard iniquity in our heart, if we indulge it and allow ourselves in it, God will not hear our prayers (Psa. 66:18). We cannot expect that he should countenance us while we go on to affront him.

Now, it is here that we find great help. It is not we are sinners. If that were the case, no man or woman would be saved.  Rather, it is found in the fact that we regard it in our hearts.  When may it be said that iniquity is regarded in the heart? 1. When it is permitted to reign in the life. 2. When we offer apologies for its existence. 3. When we evince no concern for its destruction. 4. When we make provision for its desires.

When we put these thoughts together, we see this thought appearing: “You thought that God’s hand was shortened, that it could not save; but it is your hand that is shortened, for you have not laid hold upon Christ. The real reason why you have not found peace is sin.” 

This is the same truth of our Lord in John 3:19: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  How explicitly our Lord brings the responsibility of men’s perdition home to themselves. How sad that condemnation should be the portion of those who occupy a position so near salvation. Bunyan says there is a way to hell from the very gate of heaven! On this Ryle states,

The verse is one which deserves special notice, because of the deep mystery it unfolds. It tells us the true reason why men miss heaven and are lost in hell. The origin of evil we are not told. The reason why evil men are lost, we are told plainly. There is not a word about any decree of God predestinating men to destruction. There is not a syllable about anything deficient or wanting either in God’s love, or in Christ’s atonement. On the contrary our Lord tells us that “light has come into the world,” that God has revealed enough of the way of salvation to make men inexcusable if they are not saved. But the real account of the matter is that men have naturally no will or inclination to use the light. They love their own dark and corrupt ways more than the ways which God proposes to them. They therefore reap the fruit of their own ways, and will have at last what they loved. They loved darkness and they will be cast into outer darkness. They did not like the light and so they will be shut out from light eternally. In short, lost souls will be what they willed to be, and will have what they loved.

 

Let the ungodly be alarmed: if it is only regarding iniquity in the heart that causes men to be rejected of God, how shall you appear who are living in open and gross sin? Let us each and all examine ourselves whether we be of those spoken of here. Do we mourn over secret sins, and grieve because of the sin of others? Ask God to search and try your ways. Guard against your besetting sins and live continually as in the presence of God.

 

Conclusion

 Having considered this text, let me address two classes of people in this place. First, let me address those of you who do not know the Lord. Every man who is without the Lord lives in sin. But, I call upon you to leave your sin and come to Christ.  One older writer well said, “The greatest misfortune of men does not consist in their being subject to sin, corruption, and blindness; but in their rejecting the Deliverer, the Physician, and the Light itself” (Quesnel).

There is one prayer that God does hear. If men shall call upon the name of the Lord, He has promised to save them. This call is not an artificial call. The mere saying of prayers is an act of gross superstition; the form is useless unless your heart feels and prompts the expression. This call is not a call for form’s sake, but a dying cry for help.

A Frenchman going to the chapel to pray, found that workmen were in the chapel, and the altar covered up with a dirty cloth. So walking quietly up the center of the chapel and making a courteous bow, he placed his card upon the altar and retired. But there was also in the place a poor woman, who had been led, perhaps by poverty and cruel temptation, into sin. Crouching upon the floor, her tears fell upon the sawdust, and her soul cried to God. In the one case it was a matter of form, in the other it was an earnest desire for the forgiveness and peace of God.

This call is intensely earnest. The call that shall move God to save us is not a mere chanted prayer, but the cry within the heart, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” It is the call of the helpless one, who is broken down under the load of sin. It is the call of a captive. It is a call of the despairing soul. It is a crying for salvation.

Some years ago a vessel struck on the rocks. They had only one lifeboat. In that lifeboat the passengers and crew were getting ashore. The vessel had foundered, and was sinking deeper and deeper, and that one boat could not take the passengers very swiftly. A little girl stood on the deck waiting for her turn to get into the boat. The boat came and went, came and went, but her turn did not seem to come. After awhile she could wait no longer, and she leaped on the taffrail and then sprang into the sea, crying to the boatman, “Save me next! Save me next!” Oh, how many have gone ashore into God’s mercy, and yet you are clinging to the wreck of sin! Others have accepted the pardon of Christ, but you are in peril. Why not, this moment, make a rush for your immortal rescue, crying until Jesus shall hear you, and heaven and earth ring with the cry, “Save me next! Save me next!”

Now, let me address those here who are Christians. What I have said up to this point has been mostly for those who are without Christ, though there are important lessons for the people of God.  Now, I want to quickly address you by reminding all of us that there is a throne of grace is now open to us; and “we may ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us.” God assumes to himself the very title of “a God that heareth prayer.” And he bids us to open our mouths wide, that he may fill them. Moreover, “we have an Advocate with the Father, even the Lord Jesus Christ himself,” “whom the Father heareth always;” and who has so loved us, as to “give himself a propitiation for our sins.”

O, what might we not receive, if only we were upright before God! for “the prayer of the upright is his delight.” Suppose now at this time we had all been really praying to God, in the very spirit of the prayers which we have offered; what blessings would not be flowing down into our souls, even as “showers of blessings,” as God himself has promised! Truly, if our eyes were opened to see what was passing, we should behold Almighty God taking loads of guilt from multitudes among us, and casting it all into the very depths of the sea. We should see the Holy Spirit resting on the heads of all, as on the day of Pentecost, for the purpose of enlightening, comforting, and sanctifying our souls. We should see angels ascending and descending upon us, in order to receive from God, and execute for us, their several commissions adapted to our necessities.

I do not hesitate to say, that, if we had all been as much in earnest in our prayers as our words have given reason to expect, this very place would resemble the temple of old, when the glory of God so filled it, that the priests could no longer abide there to minister before the Lord. Yes, our souls would be too full for humanity to sustain it. Dear Brethren, why should we not behold at least a measure of this sacred effusion, and taste a measure of this heavenly grace? God is willing to renew the Pentecostal scenes, if only we were in a state to receive them. It is in ourselves that we are straitened: we are not straitened in our God: he is as able as ever, yea, and as willing too, “to do exeeding abundantly for us, above all that we can ask or think.” Truly, if we were even one half as earnest as we have professed to be, he would fill every hungry soul, and replenish every sorrowful soul, with his richest communications of grace and peace. Let us arise and call upon our God: and let not “our prayer go forth out of feigned lips.” And let us remember, for our comfort, that it is not the existence of sin in the soul that will prevent the acceptance of our prayers, (for who then would ever be heard?) but the indulgence of it. Seek truly to have the whole body of sin mortified within you: seek to be “pure, as God is pure,” and “holy, as God is holy.” Then will God delight himself in you; and you, according to your measure, shall “be filled with all the fulness of your God.”

GOD’S WILL and MAN’S WILL Horatius Bonar 1851

GOD’S WILL and MAN’S WILL
Horatius Bonar 1851

“Cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel.”—Jer. 18:6

MUCH OF THE present controversy is concerning the will of God. On this point many questions have arisen. The chief one is that which touches on the connection between the will of God and the will of man. What is the relation between these? What is the order in which they stand to each other? Which is the first? There is no dispute as to the existence of these two separate wills. There is a will in God, and there is also a will in man. Both of these are in continual exercise: God willeth, and man willeth. Nothing in the universe takes place without the will of God. This is admitted. But it is asked: Is this will first in everything?
I answer, yes. Nothing that is good can exist which God did not will to be, and nothing that is evil can exist which God did not will to allow. The will of God goes before all other wills. It does not depend on them, but they depend on it. Its movements regulate them. The “I will” of Jehovah, is the spring and origin of all that is done throughout the universe, great and small, among things animate and inanimate. It was this “I will” that brought angels into being, and still sustains them. It was this “I will” that was the origin of salvation to a lost world. It was this “I will” that provided a Redeemer, and accomplished redemption. It was this “I will” that begins, and carries on, and ends salvation in each soul that is redeemed. It is this “I will” that opens the blind eye, and unstops the deaf ear. It was this “I will” that awakens the slumberer, and raises the dead. I do not mean that, merely generally speaking. God has declared His will concerning these things: but each individual conversion, nay, and each movement that forms part of it, originates in this supreme “I will”. When Jesus healed the leper, He said, “I will, be thou clean;” so when a soul is converted, there is the same distinct and special forthputting of the Divine will. “I will, be thou converted.” Everything that can be called good in man, or in the universe, originates in the “I will” of Jehovah.
I do not deny that in conversion man himself wills. In everything that he does, thinks, feels, he of necessity wills. In believing he wills; in repenting he wills; in turning from his evil ways he wills. All this is true. The opposite is both untrue and absurd. But while fully admitting this, there is another question behind it of great interest and moment. Are these movements of man’s will towards good the effects of the forthputting of God’s will? Is man willing, because he has made himself so, or because God has made him so? Does he become willing entirely by an act of his own will, or by chance, or by moral suasion, or because acted on by created causes and influences from without?

I answer unhesitatingly, he becomes willing, because another and a superior will, even that of God, has come into contact with his, altering its nature and its bent. This new bent is the result of a change produced upon it by Him who alone, of all beings, has the right, without control, to say, in regard to all events and changes, “I will.” The man’s will has followed the movement of the Divine will. God has made him willing. God’s will is first in the movement, not second. Even a holy and perfect will depends for guidance upon the will of God. Even when renewed it still follows , it does not lead . Much more an unholy will, for its bent must be first changed; and how can this be, if God is not to interpose His hand and power?

But is not this to make God the author of sin? No. It does not follow that because God’s will originates what is good in man, that it must therefore originate what is evil . The existence of a holy, happy world, proves that God had created it with His own hand. The existence of an unholy, unhappy world, proves that God allowed it to fall into that state—but it proves nothing more. We are told that Jesus was delivered by “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” God’s will was there. God permitted that deed of darkness to be done; nay, it was the result of His “determinate counsel.” But does that prove that God was the author of the sin of either Judas or Herod? Had it not been for the eternal “I will” of Jehovah, Christ would not have been delivered up; but does this prove that God compelled either Judas to betray, or Herod to mock, or Pilate to condemn, the Lord of Glory? Still further, it is added in another place, “Of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and people of Israel, were gathered together for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done .” Is it possible to pervert this passage so as to prove that it has no reference to predestination? Does it make God the author of the deed referred to? Must God be the author of sin, because it is said that Israel and the Gentiles “were gathered together to do what His counsel had determined”? Let our opponents attempt an explanation of such a passage, and tell us how it can be made to harmonize with their theory.

It may be argued that God works by means , in changing the will. “There is no need,” it will be said, “that there should be this special and direct forthputting of His will and strength. He has ordained the means, He has given His Word, He has proclaimed His Gospel, and by these means He effects the change. His will does not come directly into contact with ours. He leaves it to these instruments to effect the change.” Well, let us see what amount of truth there may be in this. I suppose no one will say that the Gospel can produce the alteration in the will so long as the will rejects it . No medicine, however excellent, can operate unless it be taken. The will of man then rejects the Gospel; it is set against the truth of God. How then is it made to receive it? Granting that in receiving it there is a change, yet the question is, how was it so far changed already as to be willing to receive it? The worst feature of the malady is the determination not to touch or taste the medicine; and how is this to be overcome? Oh! It will be said, this resistance is to be overcome with arguments. Arguments! Is not the Gospel itself the great argument? and it is rejected. What arguments can you expect to prevail with a man that refuses the Gospel? Admit that there are other arguments, yet the man is set against them all. There is not one argument that can be used which he does not hate. His will resists and rejects every persuasive and motive. How then is this resistance to be overcome—this opposition to be made to give way? How is the bent of the will to be so altered as to receive that which it rejected? Plainly by his will coming into contact with a superior one—a will that can remove the resistance—a will such as that which said: “Let there be light, and there was light.” The will itself must undergo a change before it can choose that which it rejected. And what can change it but the finger of God?

Were man’s rejection of the Gospel simply occasioned by his misunderstanding it, then I can see how, upon its being made plain, resistance would cease. But I do not believe that such is the case; for what does it amount to but just that the sinner never rejects the truth , it is only error which he rejects, and were his mistake rectified, he would at once embrace the truth! The unrenewed man, then, so far from having enmity to the truth, has the very opposite! So little of depravity is there in his heart, and so little perversity in his will—such instinctive love of truth and abhorrence of error is there in him, that as soon as the truth is made plain to him, he embraces it! All his previous hesitation arose from the errors which had been mingled with the truth presented! One would think that this was anything but depravity. It might be ignorance, but it could not be called enmity to the truth, it is rather enmity to error. It would thus appear that the chief feature of the sinner’s heart and will is not enmity to truth, but hatred to error and love of truth!

Man’s heart is enmity to God—to God as revealed in the Gospel—to God as the God of grace. What truth can there be in the assertion that all the sinner’s distrust of God and darkness of spirit arise from his not seeing God as the God of grace? I grant that oftentimes this is the case. I know that it is very frequently misapprehension of God’s merciful character, as seen and pledged in the cross of Christ, that is the cause of darkness to the anxious soul, and that a simple sight of the exceeding riches of the grace of God would dispel these clouds; but that is very different from saying that such a sight, apart from the renewing energy of the Spirit upon the soul, would change man’s enmity into confidence and love. For we know that the unrenewed will is set against the Gospel; it is enmity to God and His truth. The more closely and clearly truth is set before it, and pressed home upon it, its hatred swells and rises. The presentation of truth, however forcible and clear, even though that truth were the grace of God, will only exasperate the unconverted man. It is the Gospel that he hates; and the more clearly it is set before him he hates it the more. It is God that he hates; and the more closely God approaches him, the more vividly that God is set before him, the more does his enmity awaken and augment. Surely, then, that which stirs up enmity cannot of itself remove it. Of what avail, then, are the most energetic means by themselves ? The will itself must be directly operated upon by the Spirit of God: He who made it must remake it. Its making was the work of Omnipotence: its remaking must be the same. In no other way can its evil bent be rectified. God’s will must come into contact with
man’s will, and then the work is done. Must not God’s will then be first in every such movement? Man’s will follows; it can not lead.

Is this a hard saying? So some in these days would have us to believe. Let us ask wherein consists its hardness. Is it hard that God’s will should take the precedence of man’s? Is it hard that God’s will should be the leader and man’s the follower in all things great and small? Is it hard that we should be obliged to trace the origin of every movement of man towards good to the will of a sovereign Jehovah?

If it be hard, it must be that it strips man of every fragment of what is good, or of the slightest tendency to good. And this we believe to be the secret origin of the complaint against the doctrine. It is a thorough leveller and emptier of man. It makes him not only nothing, but worse than nothing—a sinner all over— nothing but a sinner, with a heart full of enmity to God, set against Him as the God of righteousness, and still more set against Him as the God of grace, with a will so bent away from the will of God, and so rebellious against it, as not to have one remaining inclination to what is good and holy, and spiritual. This he cannot tolerate. Admit that a man is totally worthless and helpless, and where is the hard saying? Is it hard that God’s blessed and holy will should go before our miserable and unholy wills, to lead them in the way? Is it hard that those who have nothing should be indebted to God for everything? Is it hard, seeing that every movement of my will is downwards, earthwards, that God’s mighty will should come in and lift it omnipotently upwards, heavenwards?

If I admit that God’s will regulates the great movements of the universe I must admit that it equally regulates the small. It must do this, for the great depend upon the small. The minutest movement of my will is regulated by the will of God. And in this I rejoice. Woe is me if it be not so. If I shrink from so unlimited control and guidance, it is plain that I dislike the idea of being wholly at the disposal of God. I am wishing to be in part at my own disposal. I am ambitious of regulating the lesser movements of my will, while I give up the greater to His control. And thus it comes out that I wish to be a god to myself. I do not like the thought of God having all the disposal of my destiny. If He gets His will, I am afraid that I shall not get mine. It comes out, moreover, that the God about whose love I was so fond of speaking, is a God to whom I cannot trust myself implicitly for eternity. Yet, this is the real truth. Man’s dislike at God’s sovereignty arises from his suspicion of God’s heart . And yet the men in our day, who deny this absolute sovereignty, are the very men who profess to rejoice in the love of God who speak of that love as if there were nothing else in God but love. The more I understand of the character of God, as revealed in Scripture, the more shall I see that He must be sovereign , and the more shall I rejoice from my inmost heart that He is so.

It was God’s sovereign will that fixed the time of my birth. It is the same will that has fixed the day of my death. And was not the day of my conversion fixed as certainly by the same will? Or will any but “the fool” say that God has fixed by His will the day of our birth and death, but leaves us to fix the day of our conversion by our own will; that is, leave us to decide whether we shall be converted or not, whether we shall believe or not? If the day of conversion be fixed, then it cannot be left to be determined by our own will. God determined, where and when, and how we should be born; and so He has determined where, and when, and how we shall be born again. If so, His will must go before ours in believing; and it is just because His will goes before ours that we become willing to believe. Were it not for this, we should never have believed at all. If man’s will precedes God’s will in everything relating to himself, then I do not see how any of God’s plans can be carried into effect. Man would be left to manage the world in his own way. God must not fix the time of his conversion, for that would be an interference with man’s responsibility. Nay, He must not fix that he shall be converted at all, for that must be left to himself and to his own will. He must not fix how many are to be converted, for that would be making His own invitation a mere mockery, and man’s responsibility a pretence! He may turn a stray star into its course again by a direct forth-putting of power, and be unchallenged for interference with the laws of nature. But to stretch out His arm and arrest a human will in its devious course, so as to turn it back again to holiness, is an unwarrantable exercise of His power, and an encroachment upon man’s liberty! What a world! where man gets all his own way, where God is not allowed to interfere, except in the way that man calls lawful! What a world! where everything turns upon man’s will—where the whole current of events in the world or in the church is regulated, shaped, impelled by man’s will alone. God’s will is but a secondary thing. Its part is to watch events, and follow in the track of man’s! Man wills, and God must say—Amen!

In all this opposition to the absolute will of God, we see the self-will of the last days manifesting itself. Man wanted to be a god at the first, and he continues the struggle to the last. He is resolved that his will shall take the precedence of God’s. In the last Antichrist, this self-will shall be summed up and exhibited. He is the king that is to do “according to his will.” And in the freewill controversy of the day, we see the same spirit displayed. It is Antichrist that is speaking to us, and exhorting us to proud independence. Self-will is the essence of anti-christian religion. Self-will is the root of bitterness, that is springing up in the churches in these days. And it is not from above, it is from beneath. It is earthly, sensual, devilish.

THUS SAITH THE LORD:
“I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” —Exodus 33:19

“I, even I, am He, and there is no God with Me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand.” —Deut. 32:39

“Behold He breaketh down, and it cannot be built again; He shutteth up a man and there can be no opening.” —Job 12:14

“He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” —Dan. 4:35

“Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace , given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” —2 Tim. 1:9

THE HEAVENLY BRIDEGROOM by Henry Law

“This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

Genesis 2:23

Our Bible is a very Paradise of each sweet flower and each regaling fruit. But the believer sits down most gladly in those choice spots, which are thickly set with tokens of the Savior’s tenderness. Surely happiness mounts up to heaven, when on Scripture’s ground, and under the Spirit’s light, the soul discerns that Jesus loves with an everlasting love. Reader! this humble tract will visit you in a favored hour, if it should lead you to drink deeply of such joy.

We cannot move far amid the pages of the Word, without hearing the silver voice—Give ear unto Me, that I may tell you of My love. For this purpose each tender image speaks by turn. Does a father love with strength of manly love? Jesus is the Everlasting Father. Is a mother gentle in her soft caressings? Jesus is more constant—”they may forget, yet will I not forget you.” Is a brother generous in his affections? Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren. Is the sisterly union as the intertwining of hearts’ fibers? The Church is “His sister, His spouse.” Is a friend noble in his sympathies? We read, “Henceforth I call you not servants, but I have called you friends.”

Will not these parallels suffice? No! not if another can be added. As all colors combine to form pure light—so all tints must join to form the full portrait of a loving Savior. There remains the full-blown endearment, when heart flows into heart in bridal-union—and will Jesus claim His people as His bride? It is so! This is the emblem, which is the Spirit’s choice delight. It meets us in the garden of Eden. It walks by our side throughout the green pastures of the word. It only leaves us, when Revelation writes no more. “The Spirit and the Bride say Come.” Echo replies to echo, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” “I will betroth you unto Me forever; yes, I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies.”

Following such holy guidance, let us now seek Jesus in that pure feeling, which innocently played in Adam’s heart, before sin entered with unhallowing touch. The narrative is simple. “So the Lord God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. He took one of Adam’s ribs and closed up the place from which He had taken it. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib and brought her to Adam.” But the mystery is deep. A greater than Adam and the first spouse are in this history of sinless union. Faith has been taught, and quickly learns, that the spiritual Bridegroom and the mystic bride are here! Earth’s first espousals are but the shadow of heaven’s far earlier love.

The second Adam sleeps a sleep—even the sleep of death; but not in Eden’s innocent delights, but on the hard altar of His ignominious cross. His side is pierced. There flow thence the means to constitute the Church. There is blood to expiate every sin—and water to wash from every stain. The Father presents the bride to Adam. The same Father gives the favored bride to Christ. Adam receives her as portion of himself. Christ’s word takes up the same welcome. They “are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.”

We are thus emboldened to draw with reverential pen some lines of likeness. Marriage can only be in kindred race. Here the bride is low in lowly origin. Her coarse material is clay. But Jesus dwells in heaven’s bright palace, bright in all the brightness, glorious in all the glories of His own Deity. How can union be? He leaves His home. He veils His Almighty might. He seeks our cell. He scorns not our loathsome rags. He is born a child of man in Bethlehem. He lives the Son of Man in human nature.

O my soul! did your Lord thus stoop to make you His forever? He did. Infinite was the distance—but He came with lightning-speed on wings of love—and rested not, until He rested in your far-off abode. The bridegroom counts all efforts light to win the bride’s regard. Can it be, that Jesus strives to gain unlovely souls? It is so! He lives, when we love. He scarcely seems to reign, until the heart presents her throne. Hence in the Scriptures He sends letter upon letter, each burning with the pure flame of tenderness. Hence He follows with the fond call—Turn! turn! Look unto me. Come unto Me. Return unto Me. Follow Me. Abide in Me. Hence He sends His faithful ministers—the friends of the Bridegroom—to plead His cause—to appeal in His behalf—to beseech in His name—to set forth His matchless charms—to show that His love is strong as death, and pure as the light, and boundless as eternity. That ministry is most true to Christ—most rich in everlasting fruits, which paints most vividly the mind of Christ.

But more than this. The Holy Spirit comes commissioned by the Father and the Son. He reveals the Lord in all the beauties of His person—all the wonders of His grace—all the glories of His work. He subdues all prejudice—turns the stream of opposing will—and kindles a blazing torch in the dark corners of the soul. Thus union is achieved. The faithful soul forgets her own people and her father’s house. She casts out the former rivals, which bewitched her thoughts. She comes out and is separate from a once-fondled world. She leaves all, and cleaves to Christ.

In nuptial bonds the bride rejects the distinction of her former name. A new address attests that she is no more her own. It is just so in spiritual union. What! though the nature of Jesus proclaims essential Deity—that very nature is the Church’s diadem. We are first told, that “The Lord our Righteousness” is His name. The same is her portion, for it is added, “The Lord our Righteousness” is her name too.

The bridegroom courts the closest communion. It is even so with Jesus. By His Word, and through His messengers, He allures His people to His side. He opens to them the purposes of His grace—the secrets of His kingdom. He encourages them to tell out their every need, and fear, and desire, and hope. He tenderly invites, “Let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice, for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely.”

Who can portray a bridegroom’s sympathy? It is, however, but a drop compared to the full ocean of a Savior’s care. “We have not a High Priest, who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” “He who touches you, touches the very apple of His eye.” “In all our affliction He is afflicted.” No suffering member can be pained on earth, but the participating Head cries out in heaven, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Reader! you have often heard these truths. Do they touch a responsive chord within? If not, yours is not the bride-like spirit.

The bridegroom brings his dowry. And does not Christ enrich with gifts? Angels may marvel, dazzled by the Church’s wealth. He holds back nothing from her. All His attributes are her grand inheritance. His wisdom is hers to guide. His power is hers to uphold. His love is as the sun to cheer. His faithfulness and truth are her shield and support. His Spirit is poured down in unfailing measure to teach, to solace, and to bless her. His righteousness is hers, to be her spotless robe. His heavens are hers, to be her home. His throne is hers, to be her seat. His glory is hers, to be her crown. His eternity is hers, that she may joy forever. Happy the soul, which responds—All this I steadfastly believe!

The bridegroom shrinks from no labors, which bring support and plenty to his beloved. Thus Jesus lives a life of watchful work. He rests not night and day. His outstretched hands are ever pleading, and ever pouring down supplies of grace. He purchased all Heaven’s blessing, that His people may never lack. And as each need arises, He is all vigilance to see—all bounty to bestow. Earthly union often knows the pang of separation. Duty’s stern voice may say—Depart. Necessity may force to lonely distance. But nothing in heaven, or earth, or hell, unlocks the arms which cling around a divine Bridegroom! At each moment He is nearer than the shadow to the side. Life is but leaning on His arm. Death is but sleeping on His breast. There is a never-failing bond in the sure world, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

In this cold world, affections cool. The day, which dawns in love, may close in hate. Tastes vary and cause variance. Discordant tempers make discordance. Far otherwise is the heavenly wedlock. It is ever true, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”

When Jesus calls in love, He changes by His spirit. He imparts a new nature, whose every pulse is unison with Himself. It is heaven’s own harmony, when Christ is all. Here a house is often tears, because of godless offspring. Many a one has sighed, “O Absalom, my son, my son!” But from heavenly union nothing springs but heavenly seed. Believers are married to Christ, that they should bring forth fruit unto God. Apart from Him, the heart is the hotbed of evil. United to Him, it is the holy parent of each holy grace.

But at present the Church sees her Bridegroom only by the eye of faith. The veil of flesh impedes the meridian gaze. But yet a little while and the day of visible espousals will arrive. A startled universe will hear the shout, “Behold the Bridegroom comes.” There will resound, “as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honor to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Then shall He shine forth, “to be admired in His saints, and to be glorified in all those who believe.” The bride “shall be brought unto the king in clothing of needlework; with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought, they shall enter into the king’s palace.” The nuptial song shall be one ceaseless Hallelujah. Happy soul, which responds—All this I confidently expect!

Reader! is it your happy privilege to know that a union, which thus lives forever, cements your heart to Christ, and Christ to you? Remember, then, that this blessed relationship demands your faithfulness. The Lord is jealous of His people’s love. You must not stray from Him for one single moment, or in one single thought. The caution is needful; for days are come, in which strangers are gone forth, professing to be the Bridegroom’s friends. They even stand in pulpits, and give instruction in His name. By this sign you may know them. They exalt the bride rather than her Lord. They magnify His ordinances rather than Himself. They beguile her to admire herself, to lean on herself, to trust in herself, and to decorate herself in the mock robes of false humility and superstition. Take heed; the ground is slippery. It may seem pleasant to self-loving nature; but it slopes towards Antichrist!

It may be that some worldling reads this whose life is wedded to another lord. Would that such may turn and burst their fearful bonds! There is indeed the prince of this world. His promises are lies. His dowry is anguish. His embrace is death. His chamber is darkness. His bed is flames of fire. His marriage-wail is agony’s wild shriek. Worldling, can you love this spouse?

Casting Our Care Upon Christ by A. W. Pink

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”—1 Peter 5:7 

This means just what it says. Christian reader, there ought to be no restraint between you and the Lover of your soul. He would have you be on, and maintain, more intimate terms with Himself, than with any human creature. He is always accessible, and never changes in His feelings toward you. He would have you make Him your “Friend”: not only your Counselor, but your Confident—the One into whose ear (and the only one) you are to pour the very secrets of your heart. He would have you be quite artless and natural, just like a little child coming to its mother, pouring into her ear its every little woe, trouble, and disappointment. When harassed by any soul-troubles, such as a feeling of coldness of heart toward Him, burdened about a lack of faith, or because your thoughts so often wander when you try to meditate on Divine things, or in prayers;—come to Him, tell Him all about it, unburden yourself to Him: cast “all your care upon Him,” keep back nothing.

When something has irritated you, disturbed your composure of mind and peace of soul; when someone has said or done something which causes a resentment to rise within you, and you find it hard to forgive them; go and tell the Lord about it: confess to Him that this ought not to be, that you are ashamed of yourself, and ask Him to lay His calming hand upon you, and to give you a forgiving spirit. Or suppose something in the household arrangements has “gone wrong,” something which you could not help: perhaps the milkman or the baker late, or the stove not cooking as you wish, and you are disturbed; go to Him, tell  Him about it; cast this “care” upon Him. You can never “weary” the Lord.

It is the Christian’s holy privilege to cultivate the most familiar converse with Christ. Nothing more honours Him, nothing more delights Him, for this is giving Him His true place in your daily life. The “Christian life” is not the vague and mystical thing which the unsaved deem it to be, and which some preachers have made people think it is. No, it is an intensely practical and blessed thing. It is pride (quite unsuspected) which hinders so many from maintaining this simple and childlike converse and communion with Christ. People are ready to call upon Him when some big thing (as they think it) confronts them, some really urgent need comes up; but the little (?) things they seek to carry and work out themselves. But God’s Word says, “in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). 

Above, we have said that it is “pride” which keeps back the Christian from casting all (every) his care upon Christ from casting all (every) his care upon Christ. The proof of this is intimated in the verse immediately preceding (1 Peter 5:7): for there we read, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” It is an humbling thing to our haughty flesh, our self- sufficiency, our proud reason, to be made to feel the truth of Christ’s words “without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5)- -acceptably to God. But it is a blessed thing for the heart when we are brought to the place of complete conscious dependency upon the Lord for everything. That is the place of rest, joy, victory. May the Lord be pleased to add His blessing to these few lines.