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Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 59

The Triumphant Christ and His People (continued)

e. Triumph In Glorification

I pass over this very rapidly and in a general way. After all, glorification is only the manifestation of that life in fullness. It is the very nature of that Divine life brought out to fullness; and with that, the great cosmic battle ends. When we are manifested with Him in glory the fight is finished, the war is at an end, satan has no more ground and no more place, and the new Jerusalem comes down from God out of heaven.

That is a lot said. I am only concerned that our breadth, expansiveness of thought, and many words, may not take away from the immediate challenge and import. That is the thing that we are in now. It is a grim business. There are tremendous issues hanging upon this whole matter of our setting - from our spiritual birth to our manifestation in glory; tremendous things hanging upon our spiritual life - upon what is going on in us, how we are learning, how we are growing, how that life is having its way, how we are coming to know the Lord, and how we are counting in the unseen. True value does not attach to us merely as people belonging to a religion called Christianity, who believe and do certain things, but our real value is as living men and women who count, just as our Lord counted, out there in the realm far beyond this earth surface. If we do not count there it is all a caricature, it does not mean anything at all. The Lord make us count for Him in that way!

The Crowning

2 Timothy 4:7, 8; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10; 1 Peter 5:4; Hebrews 2:9

The above passages bring into view and sum up practically all that we have been dealing with in our earlier meditations. Three words compass all - righteousness, life, glory. You will notice that there are said to be three crowns at the end - the crown of righteousness, the crown of life, the crown of glory. Of course, what is meant by "crown" is the sealing of a course in triumph, with honor, with exaltation, the crown being the symbol both of victory and victorious honor.

Crowning In Relation to An Ordeal

You will notice this common feature in all the passages - in every case the relationship was to an ordeal. The Apostle Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith"; an ordeal expressed by three metaphors - a fight, a race, a trust - all indicating that something very serious was at issue. The other two passages, from James and from Revelation, suggest an ordeal, a time of severe trial and testing. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (trial)". "Be thou faithful unto death." And similarly also with Peter. You know that Peter's writings can very largely be summed up in the words "suffering" and "glory." It is he who writes so much about the trial of faith, but he also writes much about the glory after the trial. Here it is in Peter - the crown of glory. " "When the Chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 60)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 58

"The Triumphant Christ and His People (continued)

b. Triumph In Transformation of Character

We go on to transformation. What is the transformation of the believer? In a word, it is simply breaking down on the one hand and building up on the other. In the physical realm that is going on in the body of everyone of us. There are two things going on, one breaking down the food we eat and extracting the food properties. This is called katabolism. The other activity is the positive building up of the body by means of breaking down of the food compounds and the liberation of their potential energies. This is called "anabolism". The word which covers both of these processes is metabolism, which means, change of life. We all know how changed we feel after healthful food when the body is needing it. It is like that spiritually. Transformation in the Christian life is like that. This life process in us is breaking down and getting rid of what is poison and not required; saying, 'No, that is not good, we do not want that, that must go'; on the other hand, there is the inward witness, "This is what we need, what we want, this builds up.' If Christians do not know and are not bearing consciously what is good and what is not good for them spiritually, there is something wrong with their spiritual health. If the life of God is having its way in us, those two things are going on. We are getting more intelligent to things that will not help us, and we cast them off, on the other hand, we do know what is good, what is of value spiritually, and we say, 'That is what I am after.' It is spiritual intelligence, and by this twofold process of breaking down and building up we are being changed. It is a life action. The transformation of believers comes along that line.

c. Triumph In Learning Christ Through Trial

And you gather into that all the New Testament has to say about spiritual understanding - being "filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Our Christian education, then, lies in that direction, but it comes along the line of testing, trial, adversity, suffering. If we know anything at all, we have learned it through suffering, through trial, through adversity. If we know the Lord, how do we know Him? Well, our real knowledge of the Lord is NOT book knowledge, but just what we have learned in the fires, in the trials. We come to knowledge when we have been really up against things with the enemy.

d. Triumph in Manifestation of Secret Victories

We pass on for a word on the manifestation of believers. What do we mean? I am putting this all in that fuller, higher, spiritual realm. The manifestation? - well, Romans 8 tells us all about that. "The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God" (8:19). When the education is complete and the graduation takes place, that which has been going on unsuspected by even those nearest at hand - all those conflicts in which we have to get away alone and seek the Lord for grace, victory and strength. The whole cumulative conflict of the spiritual life, though so largely hidden from view, has been having an effect, it has been doing something, it has been changing us, making us different, making us more Christlike, more gentle, more humble, more dependent. It has all come out of the secret education, but it is still going to be manifested; sons are going to be manifested, and with their manifestation it is going to be found that that is what the whole creation has been waiting for. Why, the creation was made for this, for a people to occupy it who are like the Lord - full of His glory. And when that is wrought out, then the creation's meaning is explained, and the creation itself is delivered from the bondage of corruption. That brings us to our final word - glorification.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 59 - (Triumph In Glorification)

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the KIngdom # 57

The Triumphant Christ and His People (continued)

Believers In the Sphere of His Triumph

There is a third thing to be mentioned - a multiplied seed. This is His way - a corn of wheat passing its life through death into a hundred, a thousand, other corns, multiplying and multiplying. That is, the union, the organic and vital union, of believers with Christ by which is fulfilled in a spiritual sense the ordinance - "Be fruit fulled in a spiritual sense the ordinance - "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:22); by Divine life transmitted through His death, a multiplied seed. That is the way to the undoing of the kingdom of satan, that is the vessel set in the midst of the whole universe scene.

a. Triumph In a New Life Imparted

Now what is true of Christ is true of believers, because we have simply passed from His personally to Him corporately. We have to see that, just as much in our case as in His, we are set in that cosmic setting. Our lives as believers, as children of God, are set in and given that universal significance. What is the meaning of new birth? We have reduced that and limited it far too much to a matter of our personal avoidance of hell and entrance into heaven, of escaping the misery of our sins and coming into salvation and therefore into peace, and when we have got there, well, perhaps we shall learn a few things and grow in grace a little; but it remains very largely for a multitude of people quite a personal matter - their salvation and the salvation of a lot of other persons as such - and it all ends with the persons. But is that all? What is new birth? Well, it is what we have just been saying: this new life, which cannot be overcome of death, introduced to a new organism - "quickened"... together with Christ ... and raised ... up with Him" (Ephesians 2:5, 6) - a new organism with a new life, this Divine life, imparted. And then the battle starts. Why do we not understand the elementary conflicts of a newborn child of God? It is not until a child is born that the battle starts; and the battle starts inside. Why? Because with the birth of the child, it is set in a world of other relationships where it is no longer just an individual with a world to itself. It is now set in another world; there must be other wills and other ideas; and it finds itself up against something more. Its own life comes into conflict with the life of that world. If you try to perpetuate the conditions of the life of the newborn child afterward, and make the whole world belong to that child, you will ruin it. We speak of spoilt children; what do we mean? We mean that we have made them the center of the world, as though the world was created for them and they are to have everything they ask for, and to be denied nothing. By such treatment we are countering the whole principle of life in a child, that of responsibility.

Carry that over to the spiritual, for it is only a parable. When we are born anew, and that Divine life is found within, we are introduced into a world which is a world of conflict; that life in us is at once thrown out into a realm of conflict, of contending wills, and our spiritual education begins along that line and that life has got to find its own inherent, natural potentialities of overcoming. That is exactly why satan has been left here. You may ask yourself often why, when the Lord Jesus met him in the Cross, did He not utterly wipe him out? If only He had done that, look what a lot would have been prevented! Look at all the centuries of trouble for which he is responsible! Why did not the Lord Jesus finish him there and then? The answer is that in doing as He did the Lord is going to get much more than He would have done by finishing him. He has given us a chance of proving the tremendous potency of Divine life, even to the point where that life is ultimately triumphant over all the power of death. It begins a new birth. Birth from above is a tremendous thing in all it points to and includes.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 58 - (b. Triumph In Transformation of Character)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 56

The Triumphant Christ and His People (continued)

The Dynamic Power of His Life

The second thing is that which is gathered into the word "life." That was the focal point, that was where the issue was really centered. Life! The Lord Jesus knew that He had come with a dynamic force and virtue which would answer everything. "I came that they may have life" (John 10:10). "I give unto them (My sheep) eternal life" (John 10:28). He knew that He had in His possession a dynamic force, the nature and the power of which would solve everything - what we call Divine life. It is not only a force, it is a force because it is a nature; its power is found in its nature. It is Divine, it is life. One thing against which the enemy is set is that. All his activities are centered upon that life - firstly to prevent men receiving it. And what lengths he will go to in offering alternatives and substitutes and imitations rather than that they should have the real, the genuine, thing! What colossal systems of religions he will build up just to get in the way of one thing - to prevent the reception of Divine life, the very life of God Himself. And then, when he has been outwitted and the life is received and within, if he can by any means do so he will throttle that life. He will set himself to destroy the vessel of that life, the very body in which it exists; and how many arts there are to do that! How much wisdom is needed by the children of God to see to it that they do not violate the laws of Divine life! If that life can be by any means suppressed, thwarted, hindered, limited, then that is the enemy's object - to do it.

On the other hand, how great is the need of the Lord's people for understanding and education as to the ways of that life, and that they should not touch that in which death is. That is the real battle all the way along. You know, I am sure, what I mean by touching death. You know it in your own heart. If you speak a proud word, if you begin to boast as a Christian of anything that is earthly, personal, if you speak or act in ways which are unseemly for a child of God, what is the feeling? Something seems to have died within you - that is the feeling, as though something had died. Your joy, your rest, your peace, your sense of the Lord's nearness, have gone under a cloud. Something has happened; you know it; you have touched death. The ways of life demand that you should not do that sort of thing. You learn; the Spirit of life is within, teaching in that way. That is anticipating the believer's education, but it is helpful here to see. This is the thing which relates to that great cosmic conflict; it is life. If that life can get in and have its way, and if the Lord's people will learn how to cooperate with and correspond to the laws of that life, why, in them and therefore because of them, satan is losing ground all the time, and the other kingdom of the Son of God's love is gaining ground, because that kingdom also is not an external system; it is a spiritual thing which has to do with our inner life. Let us leave that there.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 57 - (Believers In the Sphere of His Triumph)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 55

The Triumphant Christ and His People (continued)

b. His Triumph In Temptation

The temptation, we know, was in that setting, and the same factors were in that temptation. What were they? - mixture or murder. Does that need threshing out in the three temptations of the Lord Jesus after His baptism? It is quite clear that seduction was the enemy's object - to seduce Him on to his, the enemy's ground. "All these things will I give Thee, if Thou will fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:9). You can have, if ..." Seduction by bribery; and by bribery, corruption. The enemy will even quote Scripture to seduce, urging the Lord to cast Himself down from a pinnacle of the temple on the ground of a certain promise in Scripture. "He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee ... on their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest haply Thou dash Thy foot against a stone." But the Lord's response exposed the snare - "Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God." There are some ways in which God will not preserve us - the ways of presumption. Presumption is the way of the devil. David might well pray, "Keep back Thy servant ... from presuming upon God and His word to have done it at the suggestion of satan. You see the subtlety and depth of the seductive art to corrupt, to murder. God could not have kept Him in that way, and He would have died. How deeply laid was that plan! Yes, His temptation is set in a far bigger world than men have made of it. What a lot we have read about these temptations, purely of an earthly nature and meaning.

c. The Triumph Of His Death

As for the crucifixion - our earlier meditations have been enough to show that the crucifixion was something more than the death of a good man for his convictions. It has very far reaching meaning, far beyond this earth. The Apostles give us very clear indication of what took place out there when He stripped off principalities and powers and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in His Cross (Col. 2:15). That is the setting.

d. The Triumph of His Resurrection and Exaltation

As for His resurrection and exaltation, well, listen to Paul again - "When He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Ephesians 1:20, 21). That is not earthly, that is not just here. We see the setting of Christ's raising and exaltation.

What we have thus far said is only the first of the things included in this great setting- the universal or cosmic relationship of everything where Christ was concerned.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 56 - (The Dynamic Power of His Life)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the kingdom # 54

The Triumphant Christ and His People (continued)

a. The Triumphant of the Incarnation (continued)

"Behold, the handmaid of the Lord" - the servant spirit. You can see in the light of that what is being touched. If pride had had a place...! See what was involved so far as the kingdom of satan was concerned. If self-interest had governed, if there had been rebellion, perversity, unwillingness to let go - well, I expect the Lord would have found another vessel, but we do not know anything about that. What we do see here is the great damage of the ages concentrated in one woman's soul, and the issue is, Will she yield, let go, submit, to the will of God? It was in that self-abandonment that there came about that union of her will with the will of God which brought into being, so far as this earth was concerned, the One Who was going to dethrone satan; and the very dethronement of satan required the undoing of the pride, the rebellion, the perversity, the self-hood, which had asserted itself in God's universe; and the first battle was in that woman's soul. We have the Christmas season and we talk about the birth, but I do not think we have seen the terrible thing which lay behind the very first step in the incarnation, the setting of it right out there in that vast realm. We have been a little afraid of talking too much about Mary because of that wicked, pernicious system which exists, which worships her, and has given an exaggerated and false meaning to the words of her song - "Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" (Luke 1:48); and, of course, we have the phrase 'the blessed Virgin Mary and we are afraid of it. Well, the devil is very cleaver. He has covered up, by that very falsehood, the truth that there in her soul the first steps were taken in the conquest of his kingdom - the overthrow of pride and the absolute surrender of will so that the will of the woman became one with the will of God, to make it possible for Genesis 3:15 to be fulfilled - "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed: He shall bruise thy head ..."

But that is not all, even then, in the incarnation. There is the mystery of the virgin birth. We do NOT accept the theory of the 'immaculate conception' which makes Mary a sinless creature. In the genealogy of Mary there were sinful people and naturally she inherited a sinful nature; but the angels words to her concerning "that holy Thing" meant that Jesus would not inherit a sinful nature, but would be sinless, uncorrupted and incorruptible. By Divine act there was a clean cut between the first Adam and the last as to nature, and the last was an altogether other, which does not belong to this realm but to that which is over there, where God is in His apartness and in His difference, His 'otherness.' Somehow there is a miracle being wrought by the Holy Spirit to separate that Holy One from the unholy inheritance. It was necessary, you see, for the undoing of the kingdom of satan. It is there, in the utter separateness of Christ from the first Adam, that this cosmic battle has its greatest force.

And then see how interested the other forces were in this whole matter. There is a tremendous activity going on, not only in Bethlehem's stable, and in the fields around and in the lands afar - whether it be the land from whence wise men come, or in Judea where Herod is. There is a very much bigger interest being taken in this whole thing. Here, upon that victory in the soul of that woman, with the principles that were involved, and that miracle of the Holy Spirit in cutting in between the stream of Adam's sin and that "holy Thing" - here is focused the whole course of the battle of the ages; yes, Genesis 3:15, not only as a prophecy and a statement, but as something with tremendous, far-reaching consequences immediately arising. Oh, the murderer! The story of Cain and Able shows us the beginning of the battle of the two systems, and that battle of two systems develops, expands, from individuals to tribes, from tribes to nations; and you see it all the way through the Bible, along two lines, on two grounds - murder and mixture. If the adversary cannot kill, as he sought to kill Moses and others of the servants of the Lord who were in the line - if he cannot slay the elect people and destroy them directly, he will entice them, he will ensnare them, he will somehow bring in mixture, by mixed marriages, mixed worship, and accomplish his end. The Bible is just full of that - murder and mixture in order to frustrate the overthrow of the evil kingdom and the coming in of this order; and it is all that universal interest and concern that is focused here upon the incarnation. It is that which lies behind Herod's murderous, iniquitous, barbarous edict to destroy all the male children. We have known that done before to get another in this line - in order to catch one, just one. The devil stands at nothing to get his object. The incarnation is set in that realm. The birth of the Lord Jesus - oh, would to God we could strip it of a lot of that which has come in and simply ruined its spiritual value, these annual festivities! If only we could see what a tremendous thing this is, beyond all that has to do with eating and drinking, and so on, on this earth! I think I have said enough to indicate that in every one of these points the setting is the same.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 55 - (b. His Triumph in Temptation)

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 53

The Triumphant Christ And His People (continued)

The Sphere Of His Triumph

So we will first of all seek to see Christ as in that setting. We must therefore recognize that there was one inclusive thing at the heart of Christ's coming into this world. It had two sides, but it was one thing. On the one side, it was the undoing of the kingdom of satan, in firstly the virtual, and then the ultimate, destruction of that kingdom. Virtual - yes, it was done. Ultimate - it has yet to be done. Demons recognized the significance of His presence. "I know Thee Who Thou art, the Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24). "Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matthew 8:29). That points on to the ultimate destruction. But His presence then, and His Cross, were their virtual destruction. We come into the line of the second, the ultimate, when we come into the virtual; but that is for presently. On the one side, then, it was this destruction of the kingdom of satan which lay right at the heart of Christ's coming; on the other hand, there was the inauguration of the kingdom of the heavens, the kingdom of God - now its virtual inauguration, later its literal establishment. Those are the things, which are central to His coming; not, coming to live the life of a good man, however good, and to propound certain teachings, 'the teachings of Jesus,' and to set a great example of how men ought to live, and then to be the supreme example of how men ought to be willing to die for their principles. How far short all that is of the real meaning!

Now then, there are three aspects of this of which we have just spoken. The first is the universal - what we have called the cosmic - relationship of everything in the life of the Lord Jesus, and that is outlined for us here in the incarnation, the temptation, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the exaltation.

a. The Triumph of the Incarnation

Let us note how from its very commencement - even before it actually happened - the incarnation, that coming in flesh and tabernacling amongst us, touched those cosmic, super-earthly factors of which we have been speaking: the factors which constitute the kingdom of satan, the very nature of satan - that pride, that rebellion, that perversity by which that satanic kingdom is constituted and maintained here. I say, even before His birth that was touched. Listen again to the conversation which took place between the angel and Mary as this great proposition was put to her. It was not imposed upon her - that is the point; it was not something brought to her and of which it was said, "This must be, you must do this, it is required of you." NO; it was a proposition, an intimation, the presentation to her of a great Divine thought and intention, involving her, so far as human life and relationships were concerned, in the most difficult and sensitive position; and that is suspended before her. She looks at it, weighs it up. She sees the implications on the human side. She sees what this could easily lead to - that she might be an outcast of society. We will not follow that. She is alive to it, and as you read that story it is not difficult to see, to feel, that a real battle is going on in her soul - a battle, and, at last, a victory; a victory in her will and a victory which requires the casting down to the earth of pride, of all self-interest. A mighty victory - "Be it unto me according to Thy Word (Luke 1:38) - the absolute self-surrender of Mary to the will of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 54)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 52

The Triumphant Christ And His People

There remains this one section where everything is gathered up into Christ and the believer. I do want that we should really understand what it is that the Lord is bringing us to in these days in which we are living; that is, to understand, and very clearly apprehend, the super earthly setting of all that is going on. (I have before used the word "cosmic.' I do not like that word at all, and I am not sure that everybody understands or grasps the force of it; so perhaps if I say the super-earthly nature and setting of things, you will understand better what I mean.) The significance of that is, that things are not limited to that which is going on on the earth, but there is another setting of everything, a spiritual background, and it is there that things count. That is the realm in which we are moving, and it is what relates to that that is heading up in these times to a final encounter and conclusion, and therefore it is necessary that we should be very much aware of that setting so far as Christ and believers are concerned.

We have all read accounts of the life of Christ, and we have found them more or less interesting and, in a way, profitable. We have found it interesting to know who the Roman rulers were in His days: what sort of place it was in which He was born: what Nazareth was like: the features of the Lake of Galilee: what sort of men the fishermen were; and a thousand and one other things like that related to His earthly life, all very informative and of a certain kind of value; but is that the life of Christ? Is that all? Is that the story of Jesus? You see what I mean. The real life of Christ was not in Galilee or Judea, not in this place or in that, admist these scenes or those. The real life of Christ was altogether outside of that realm. The story of Jesus is a story which can never be written in terms of places and things and people. The real life, the real story, is back of all that. It is set in the super-earthly realm. Really, the interest is supernatural interest, not merely human. The whole thing has a meaning which may be entirely missed by studying only what He did and where He went, what He said and what happened to Him. It is that other that matters - the setting of it all as in eternity, as at the center of a great universe, in the presence of spiritual and unseen intelligences and forces. That is where the life of Christ is written, that is where it is alone truly known, and, although we may have all the other information, with all its interest or even fascination, it does not get us very far.  I ask you, how far will it get you, in your desperate and terrible conflict with sin and the powers of evil, to know that Jesus was born in a little village called Bethlehem with its terraces of houses, and so on? It does not get you very far, does it? But see that other scene and know what is happening there, and you may find that it has a very great bearing upon your deepest spiritual experience. That is what I mean by the super-earthly setting of it all, and it is with that that we are concerned for a little while now.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 53 - (The Sphere of His Triumph)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 51

The Triumph of Righteousness (continued)

The Kingdom Established Within By the Tests of Faith

Why is He treating us as He does? Why does He lead us through the experiences that we go through? Do you ever have the slightest sense that the Lord has left you? In spite of what we have said about Christ bearing all for us, do we not from time to time feel the Lord far away? Why? Oh, we have puzzled over that! He has said, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the age" (Matthew 28:20); "I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee" (Hebrews 1:3:5). "Then where art Thou, Lord today? Thou dost seem to be a thousand miles away today, I have no sense of Thy presence." Why? Just this: God's fact is that He is not far away. What about your faith in God's fact? Are you living on facts or feelings? by faith or by sight? - for everything has to be established by faith. Faith must rise up and say, 'Lord, Thou dost seem to be a thousand miles away today, but Thou art not, Thou art here, according to Thy promise. I repudiate the devil's suggestion that Thou hast left me, and that I have grieved the Holy Spirit and Thou hast forsaken me; I repudiate it on the ground of all that Thou hast done to bridge that gap by the Cross.' When faith thus asserts its position things are restored, the trouble is cleared up.

And as it is with that matter, so it is with all others. We are in the school, where we are to learn that we are not just living on the Bible in an objective way, and that there is a sense in which the Bible merely as a book cannot help us or do us any good. Somehow or other, there has to be something done between us and that which God has said, in order to make it real, and that is done through testing and trial; and thus the spiritual reality - the Kingdom - is established within us, and we learn to reign over that other kingdom. The Lord help us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 52 - (The Triumphant Christ and His People)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Cross, The Church, and the Kingdom # 50

The Triumph of Righteousness (continued)

The Effects Of Sin Negated By Righteousness

What is the result of all this meekness, yieldedness, obedience, dependence, selflessness? Well, just the opposite of what sin was on the other side. Sin was enmity against God; the result here is love, the love of God in Christ shed abroad in our hearts, destroying the enmity. Sin put at a distance; this nature of Christ brings nearness and likeness to God. Instead of impotence comes power with God and the power of God.

The Issue of Righteousness - Life

Now if you turn to the Book of Revelation - where all things in the Bible are brought to a consummate expression - you find there that the end of movements in the cosmos is the hurling from his height of  "the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and satan"; hurled down at last, with all his, to his destruction; and then the coming down out of heaven of the New Jerusalem to take his place. But how has it come about? "The Lamb shall overcome ..." (Revelation 17:14). John at one point said he saw in the vision a book sealed with seven seals and he heard a voice saying, "Who is worthy to open the book...?" and there was none found to open it. And he said, "I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open the book." But the angel said, "Weep not; behold the Lion that i of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath overcome to open the book." And John turned to see this Lion, and being turned, he beheld "a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain" (Revelation 5;1-6). You are familiar with that. A Lion? - power, majesty, dominion? Yes, all that. Where? - "a Lamb ... as though it had been slain"; a slain Lamb, the embodiment of all the features of the Lion of the tribe of Judah. "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 12:11). Oh, there is spiritual meaning in all that! It ought to find us out, it ought to pierce our hearts! How shall the enemy be overthrown? How shall his kingdom be destroyed? By the nature of the Lamb being so developed in us, the people of God, that all that other kingdom of satan is undone in principle. And the power of this kingdom, which is an everlasting kingdom, is the power of the nature of Him of Whom it is said, "Thy kingdom ..." It is His nature. "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore ... " And this is life triumphant over death; and when the Lamb has made war and has prevailed, and the Church has come into the good of that in fellowship with Him because of the blood of the Lamb, because of the word of their testimony, having loved not their own lives unto the death, they the way is opened for the final scene - the new-Jerusalem; and from the midst of the city issues the river, the water of life. That is life!

What is life? It is letting go to God; it is meekness, it is all this that we have been speaking of, it is Christ, the Life. We are not dealing with things - although there may well be a very liberal side to all this and it is not simply all principles and abstract ideas: yet behind all else there are spiritual features. We are not thinking of going to heaven until heaven has come to us. We are not thinking of a kingdom which is going to be given to us until that kingdom has already been constituted in us. All that depends upon what the Lord does inside us now and our intelligent cooperation with Him in what He is after.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with #51 - (The Kingdom Established Within By the Tests of Faith)

Redefining the Nature of God

Exodus 32:7-10

(7) And the LORD said to Moses, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. (8) They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"" (9) And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! (10) Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation."
New King James Version   

These people were undoubtedly sincere, but God did not care for their sincerity one bit. Why? God saw this as an attempt by these people to control Him through redefining His nature.

When we turn aside from the path, whether we realize it or not, we are beginning to redefine what He is according to our own thinking. If we think this is not a prevalent sin, Jesus says in Mark 7:7, "In vain do you worship Me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." He is not saying that these people are not sincere, but they are not following the way of God. Like these Israelites, they proclaim their religion in the name of God though. Jesus also says in Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not the things that I say?" That is what they were doing in Exodus 32.
What was their motivation? Does this have an end-time application to the church of God? The answer is in verse 1:
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."
Moses, the charismatic leader, the type of Jesus Christ, delayed his coming! That is alarming! What motivated Saul to make the sacrifice in I Samuel 13? Because Samuel's coming was delayed, Saul presumptuously took it into his own hands to do something he had not been commanded to do—to make the sacrifice. The problem was the delay he perceived.

Do we understand why Christ says, "Do not say in your heart, 'The Lord delays His coming'"? He knows from the experiences from the Old Testament that, if we begin to think that Christ is delaying, then we will turn aside toidolatry because we will use it as a justification for adjusting ourselves to the spirit of the times we live in. This has alarming ramifications.

What did the Israelites do here? Redefining the nature of God is merely the sin that led to them adjusting their lifestyle, to fall into idolatry. Will that be a problem for this generation? Are we going to think that Christ is delaying His coming?

Sincerity is good, but truth is needed with it. Jesus says inJohn 4:24 that God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. We need to examine ourselves to see whether we are making adjustments in our way of life to be in harmony with the spirit of the age. Do we keepSabbath just like the world keeps Sunday? If we do, we have adjusted already. Are we careful in tithing? Are we concerned God will not come through with prosperity? If so, we are already beginning to make adjustments. Who is the idol? We are.

We change the image of God by saying, "He won't mind. He understands." He does understand, but He wants us to trust Him. He knows we are under pressure, but He knows we need to learn to do without, to suffer, to wait. Do we believe that?

— John W. Ritenbaugh~

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Cross, The Church, and the Kingdom # 49

The Triumph of Righteousness (continued)

c. Dependence (continued)

Were not many of these things all of a piece with that threefold temptation in the wilderness? "Command that these stones become bread"; "Cast Thyself down"; "...if Thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matt. 4:3, 5, 9). What is behind it? - 'Act on Your own initiative, do something out from Yourself, take the matter into Your own hands!' But He refused, knowing that He had been committed to the Father and that He was the Father's bond-slave. "Behold, My servant" (Isaiah 42:1). This was dependence indeed.

Now our whole being revolts naturally against the idea of dependence. Our pride will not let us be dependent by nature. Yes, that is the poison of satan in us.  If that comes into the spiritual realm, it is in principle the kingdom of satan

But dependence is the way of power. Why? - because it is the way along which the Lord comes. It is the meek, the dependent, to whom the Lord looks. "To this man will I look ..." (Isaiah 66:2). Power results from having the Lord with us. We may presume and assume and go on with some activity, but what is the good if the Lord is not with us?

d. Selflessness Born of Love

All this is summed up in selflessness, which is not simply negative - self-abnegation, the cessation of desire,such as seen in Buddhism. Selflessness is the fruit of love, and love is a very positive thing. Why did the Lord Jesus take that position and hold to it and fight out that battle right to the end, even to great drops of blood, against all the pressure brought upon Him from the spiritual world? Why did He say, "Not My will, but Thine, be done?" Why? Because of His love for His Father. Love was the positive factor, and selflessness is positive when it comes into this realm. It is love, the love of Christ constraining. When love comes in, self goes out. So we are not going to take the negative side in this matter; we are going to ask the Lord to fill us with His love, and self will go out. Those two things can never hold the throne together. Selflessness - that is how love shows itself; that is the fruit of love.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 50 - (The Effects of Sin Negated by Righteousness)

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Matthew 5:4

(4) Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

New King James Version   

Those of us in this end-time age may have difficulty comprehending some aspects of the mourning God expects and respects in His children. Our conscience, unless we carefully guard it, can easily adapt itself into accepting its cultural environment. Society's ethics and morals are not constants. There exists a very real pressure for them to decline from God-established standards; what one generation considers immoral or unethical might not be by the next. For instance, what appears on public movie screens over the past thirty to forty years has changed dramatically.

In 1999, the President of the United States went on trial for clearly breaking God's commandments and for crimes for which lesser people are presently serving time. The public, however, gave him high approval ratings, perceived his adulteries and sexual perversions as private affairs, and considered his perjury before a grand jury as deplorable but "no big deal."
Paul warns us in Hebrews 3:12-15:
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
The mourning Jesus desires is the kind that exhibits a softness of heart that is ready for change in a righteous direction, one that knows it has done wrong and is eagerly willing to have it cleansed into holiness. We of this generation face an uphill battle because, through such media as television and movies, we have vicariously experienced the breaking of God's law in unparalleled frequency and in vividly sympathetic ways. On the screen life is cheap, property is meaningless, sexual purity is scoffed at, stealing is fine "if it's necessary," andfaithfulness is nerdish and corny. Where is God in it? How much of this world's attitudes have we unwittingly absorbed into our character? Is our conscience still tender? Is mourning over sin—ours and others'—a vital part of our relationship with God?

Godly mourning plays a positive role in producing the changes God desires to produce His image in us. We need to pray with David, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). He asks God to give him what did not exist before, that his affections and feelings might be made right, and that he might not have the callused attitude that led him toadultery and murder. A plea of this kind is one that God will not deny. If we are truly serious about overcoming and glorifying God, it is well worth the effort.

— John W. Ritenbaugh~

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Cross, The Church, and The Kingdom # 48

The Triumph of Righteousness (continued)

b. Yieldedness and Obedience (continued)

Now again, it is not a matter of introspective self-examination and analysis. It is a matter of knowing what is the meaning of having the Spirit of Jesus resident within us in order to make us Christlike; and the thing to be kept in view is not only our need of being Christlike but the reason for that need, namely, that there is a great kingdom to be overthrown. Yieldedness is the way to it.

And yieldedness includes and issues in obedience - the opposite of rebellion. In view of what we have been saying, I do not think we need dwell in more detail upon this; but it is well that we ponder the specific statement that concludes and crowns the declaration concerning the yieldedness of the Lord Jesus - "becoming obedient even unto death ... wherefore also God highly exalted Him ..." (Phil. 2:8, 9).

c. Dependence

Then dependence; the opposite of independence, with all its many forms of outworking, of which we were speaking earlier - either throwing God over altogether, seeking to realize our destiny without calling upon Him, or through the various less blatant expressions of independence on to the place where even the sanctified man begins to show signs of spiritual pride because the Lord blesses him. It is so easy to assume that, because He has blessed, a step taken can be repeated without the need for going back to the Lord and saying, 'Lord, even though the last hour was a mighty hour, nothing can be for the next hour unless it comes from Thee.' That subtle movement, the taking of a second step because the first one has been blessed, springs from spiritual pride - presumption.

Look at the Lord Jesus. If there is one thing that stands right out as you follow Him in those years here on the earth, it is this matter of His dependence upon the Father. "The Son can do nothing of Himself" (John 5:19). Very often you can almost feel Him waiting, poised, suspended between doing and not doing, going and not going, with constraints and influences being brought to bear upon Him to cause Him to act. You recall His mother's words, "They have no wine" (John 2:3), with their suggestion of an opportunity for Him to save from embarrassment in a very unhappy situation, to do something quite kind. But He is the the moment poised. "Mine hour is not yet come." He cannot, He will not, do it simply at their suggestion. His brethren urged Him to go up to Jerusalem at the time of the feast of tabernacles, but His answer was "Go ye up unto the feast; I go not up unto this feast" (John 7:1-10). Then, when they were gone up, He Himself went up. All through His life it was like that. Not because other people did it, not because it was the recognized thing to do, not because of any consideration, sentimental or otherwise, did He act in any matter. It was - 'Father, do You want this?' He would not act apart from the Father. He was absolutely dependent on the Father. Was not satan's kingdom overthrown in that way?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 49)

Our Perspective Matters

Our Perspective Matters

The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness. Isaiah 57:1-2

A friend of ours went home to be with the Lord recently. God had blessed her with a heart of wisdom as she served Him in ministry as well as in the company of those in the world. We, as a church, prayed fervently for her healing and for extended life but the Lord took her home a few months after her diagnosis.

It is difficult to understand why the Lord would want to take someone home to be with Him when she was serving Him so faithfully and fully here. Thinking in the earthly perspective, she was too young to die, still had too much left she could do and was too much of a godly model. When I think about her from this perspective, I am stumbled by God’s will and confused by God’s ways. And I just want her back. However, when I pull myself back enough to see it from an eternal perspective, I am sincerely envious that I am not in the presence of the Lord with her right now too. Our hearts should groan for heaven even though our flesh refuses to accept death. The dichotomy of life and death is a continual reminder that earth is not our home. We are just passing through. The goal of each Christian should be that our walk with Him doesn’t change from here to there. The place changes but not the relationship.

Our perspective matters. If we chose to continually see things from man’s perspective, we will be discouraged and disappointed with the Lord. If we choose to get into the Word and see life from His perspective, we find joy peace and excitement by drawing closer to Him. I am saddened by my loss of a sister in Christ but I am also thankful that we will remain friends for eternity.
Oh Lord, bring us home as dedicated and committed to You as our friend was.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Cross, The Church, and The Kingdom # 47

The Triumph Of Righteousness (continued)

b. Yieldedness and Obedience (continued)

Because of that principle of possessiveness at work, the Father asked the Son, 'Will You be made sin? Will you allow all the consequences of that evil to be laid upon You to the extent that the great divide takes place between You and Myself, and You go out into the land of forgetfulness, far, far from Me, where You will cry and not be heard?' - and much more than that. And, He became obedient. He said, 'Yes, I will'; and He died of a broken heart because of all that. Paul says to Euodia and Syntyche, two people on this earth - 'That is the range of this situation between you, that is the significance of it; this thing has got to come to its right relationship and focus.' "I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord." "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). 'Yield! This devil is in this; he has a foothold here and is aiming through you two to disrupt the very Church of God, to do here what he did in heaven long ago, and what he has done on earth all through the centuries. It is the kingdom of satan that is here. The only way to undo it is by yieldedness." So (keeping in mind that setting) a little later in the letter the Apostle says, "Let your forbearance (yieldedness) be known unto all men." The translation in the Authorized Version - "moderation" - is unfortunate and weak. "Let your yieldedness be known unto all men." The Lord Jesus was the great Master of the art of letting go. There is a sense in which His whole life on this earth was a life of letting go. All the time He knew how to let go; in that way He came to possess. "Thou hast ... hated iniquity," goes to the heart of the whole thing. "Therefore God ... hath anointed Thee." You have the Kingdom because You let go.

He was "as a lamb that is led to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7). There can be no more perfect picture of yieldedness. "As a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." You remember that when He was before His accusers, before those who were to slay Him, they did everything they could to get Him to open His mouth in self-defence, but "He gave ... no answer, not even to one word" (Matthew 27:14). That was yieldedness. But oh, that we knew something more of the power of yieldedness, the spiritual power of that kind of thing! We ought to dwell upon it long, we ought to search our hearts. We are not naturally made that way. We are very ready to give a back answer, to justify ourselves, to vindicate ourselves, to stand up for our rights, to take offence, to be very upset if in any way our interests are challenged or cut across. Yes, in the bus, in the train, when things do not go easily and people do not treat us as we think they ought to treat us, we are up in a moment. It is so easy to be caught; the spirit of meekness is not always there. We have a lot to learn.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 48)



(Hannah More, "PRAYER")

Prayer is . . .
  the application of need, to Him who alone can relieve it,
  the confession of sin, to Him who alone can pardon it,
  the urgency of poverty,
  the prostration of humility,
  the fervency of penitence,
  the confidence of trust.

Prayer is . . .
  not eloquence, but earnestness,
  not the definition of helplessness, but the feeling of it, 
  the "Lord, save us--or we perish!" of drowning Peter,
  the cry of faith, to the ear of mercy.

Adoration is the noblest employment of created beings.

Confession is the natural language of guilty creatures.

Gratitude is the spontaneous expression of pardoned sinners. 

Prayer is desire--it is . . . 
not a mere conception of the mind, 
not an effort of the intellect, 
not an act of the memory.

Prayer is . . .
  an elevation of the soul towards its Maker, 
  a pressing sense of our own ignorance and infirmity, 
  a consciousness . . .
      of the perfections of God, 
      of His readiness to hear, 
      of His power to help,
      of His willingness to save. 

Prayer is not an emotion produced in the senses, nor an effect wrought by 
the imagination--but a determination of the will, an effusion of the heart.

Sincere prayer gives . . .
  a tone to our conduct, 
  a law to our actions, 
  a rule to our thoughts, 
  a bridle to our speech, 
  a restraint to wrong passions, 
  a check to ill tempers.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Heirs of God!

Heirs of God!

J.C. Ryle
"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:14-17

The people of whom Paul speaks in the verses before our eyes, are the richest people upon earth. It must needs be so. They are called "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ."
The inheritance of these people is the only inheritance really worth having. All others are unsatisfying and disappointing. They bring with them many cares. They cannot cure an aching heart, or lighten a heavy conscience. They cannot keep off family troubles. They cannot prevent sicknesses, bereavements, separations, and deaths. But there is no disappointment among the "heirs of God."
The inheritance I speak of is the only inheritance which can be kept forever. All others must be left in the hour of death, if they have not been taken away before. The owners of millions can carry nothing with them beyond the grave. But it is not so with the "heirs of God." Their inheritance is eternal.
The inheritance I speak of is the only inheritance which is within everybody's reach. Most men can never obtain riches and greatness, though they labor hard for them all their lives. But glory, honor, and eternal life, are offered to every man freely, who is willing to accept them on God's terms. "Whoever will," may be an "heir of God, and joint heir with Christ."
If any reader of this paper wishes to have a portion of this inheritance, let him know that he must be a member of that one family on earth to which it belongs, and that is the family of all true Christians. You must become one of God's children on earth--if you desire to have glory in Heaven. I write this paper in order to persuade you to become a child of God this day, if you are not one already. I write it to persuade you to make sure work that you are one, if at present you have only a vague hope, and nothing more. None but true Christians are the children of God! None but the children of God are heirs of God! Give me your attention, while I try to unfold to you these things, and to show the lessons contained in the verses which head this page.
I. Let me show the relation of all true Christians to God. They are "sons of God"
II. Let me show the special evidences of this relation. True Christians are "led by the Spirit." They have "the Spirit of adoption." They have the "witness of the Spirit." They "suffer with Christ".
III. Let me show the privileges of this relation. True Christians are "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ".

I. First let me show the relation of all true Christians to God. They are God's "SONS."
I know no higher and more comfortable word that could have been chosen. To be servants of God, to be subjects, soldiers, disciples, friends--all these are excellent titles; but to be the "sons" of God is a step higher still. What does the Scripture say? "The servant abides not in the house forever--but the Son abides ever." (John 8:35.)
To be son of the rich and noble in this world, to be son of the princes and kings of the earth--this is commonly reckoned a great advantage and privilege. But to be a son of the King of kings, and Lord of lords, to be a son of the High and Holy One, who inhabits eternity--this is something far higher. And yet this is the portion of every true Christian.
The son of an earthly parent looks naturally to his father for affection, maintenance, provision, and education. There is a home always open to him. There is a lovewhich, generally speaking, no bad conduct can completely extinguish. All these are things belonging even to the sonship of this world. Think then how great is the privilege of that poor sinner who can say of God, "He is my Father."
But HOW can sinful men like ourselves become sons of God? When do we enter into this glorious relationship? We are not the sons of God by nature. We were not born so when we came into the world. No man has a natural right to look to God as his Father. It is a vile heresy to say that he has. Men are said to be bornpoets and painters--but men are never born sons of God. The Epistle to the Ephcsians tells us, "You were by nature children of wrath, even as others." (Ephesians 2:3.) The Epistle of John says, "The children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God." (1 John 3:10.) The Catechism of the Church of England wisely follows the doctrine of the Bible, and teaches us to say, "By nature we are born in sin, and children of wrath." Yes, we are all rather children of the devil--than children of God! Sin is indeed hereditary, and runs in the family of Adam. Grace is anything but hereditary, and holy men have not, as a matter of course, holy sons. How then and when does this mighty change and translation come upon men? When and in what manner do sinners become the "sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty? "(2 Corinthians 6. 18.)
Men become sons of God in the day that the Spirit leads them to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation, and not before. What says the Epistle to the Galatians? "You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26.) What says the first Epistle to the Corinthians? "Of Him are you in Christ Jesus." (1 Corinthians 1:30.) What says the Gospel of John? "As many as received Christ, to them He gave the privilege to become the sons of God, even to those whobelieve on His name." (John 1:12.)
Faith unites the sinner to the Son of God, and makes him one of His members. Faith makes him one of those in whom the Father sees no spot, and is well-pleased. Faith marries him to the beloved Son of God, and entitles him to be reckoned among the sons. Faith gives him "fellowship with the Father and the Son." (1 John 1:3.) Faith grafts him into the Father's family, and opens up to him a room in the Father's house. Faith gives him life instead of death, and makes him, instead of being a servant, a son. Show me a man who has this faith, and, whatever be his church or denomination, I say that he is a son of God.
This is one of those points we should never forget. You and I know nothing of a man's sonship--until he believes. No doubt the sons of God are foreknown and chosen from all eternity, and predestined to adoption. But, remember, it is not until they are called in due time, and believe--it is not until then, that you and I can be certain they are sons. It is not until they repent and believe, that the angels of God rejoice over them. The angels cannot read the book of God's election: they know not who are "His hidden ones" in the earth. They rejoice over no man, until he believes. But when they see some poor sinner repenting and believing, then there is joy among them, joy that one more brand is plucked from the burning, and one more son and heir born again to the Father in Heaven. (Luke 15:10.) But once more I say, you and I know nothing certain about a man's sonship to God--until he believes on Christ.
I warn you to beware of the delusive notion that all men and women are alike children of God, whether they have faith in Christ or not. It is a wild theory which many are clinging to in these days--but one which cannot be proved out of the Word of God. It is a perilous dream, with which many are trying to soothe themselves--but one from which there will be a fearful waking up at the last day.
That God in a certain sense is the universal Father of all mankind, I do not pretend to deny. He is the Great First Cause of all things. He is the Creator of all mankind, and in Him alone, all men, whether Christians or heathens, "live and move and have their being." All this is unquestionably true. In this sense Paul told the Athenians, a poet of their own had truly said, "we are His offspring." (Acts 16:28.) But this sonship gives no man a title to Heaven. The sonship which we have by creation is one which belongs to stones, trees, beasts, or even to the devils, as much as to us. (Job 1:6.)
That God loves all mankind with a love of pity and compassion, I do not deny. "His tender mercies are over all His works." "He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." "He has no pleasure in the death of him that dies." All this I admit to the full. In this sense our Lord Jesus tells us, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish--but have eternal life." (2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:32; John 3:16.)
But that God is a reconciled and pardoning Father to any but the members of His Son Jesus Christ, and that any are members of Jesus Christ who do not believe on Him for salvation--this is a doctrine which I utterly deny! The holiness and justice of God are both against the doctrine. They make it impossible for sinful men to approach God, excepting through the Mediator. They tell us that God out of Christ is "a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:29.) The whole system of the New Testament is against the doctrine. That system teaches that no man can claim interest in Christ--unless he will receive Him as his Mediator, and believe on Him as his Savior. Where there is no faith in Christ--it is a dangerous error to say that a man may take comfort in God as his Father. God is a reconciled Father to none but the members of Christ!
It is unreasonable to talk of the view I am now upholding as narrow-minded and harsh. The Gospel sets an open door before every man. Its promises are wide and full. Its invitations are earnest and tender. Its requirements are simple and clear. "Only believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and, whoever you are, you shall be saved." But to say that proud men, who will not bow their necks to the easy yoke of Christ, and worldly men who are determined to have their own way and their sins--to say that such men have a right to claim an interest in Christ, and a right to call themselves sons of God--is to say what never can be proved from Scripture. God offers to be their Father; but He does it on certain distinct terms--they must draw near to Him through Christ. Christ offers to be their Savior; but in doing it He makes one simple requirement--they must commit their souls to Him, and give Him their hearts.
They refuse the terms--and yet dare to call God their Father! They scorn the requirement, and yet dare to hope that Christ will save them! God is to be their Father--but on their own terms! Christ is to be their Savior--but on their own conditions! What can be more unreasonable? What can be more proud? What can be more unholy than such a doctrine as this? Let us beware of it, for it is a common doctrine in these latter days. Let us beware of it, for it is often speciously put forward, and sounds beautiful and charitable in the mouth of poets, novelists, sentimentalists, and weak-hearted women. Let us beware of it, unless we mean to throw aside our Bible altogether, and set up ourselves to be wiser than God. Let us stand fast on the old Scriptural ground: No sonship to God without Christ! No saving interest in Christ without faith!
I wish there was not so much cause for giving warnings of this kind. I have reason to think they need to be given clearly and unmistakably. There is a school of theology rising up in this day, which appears to me most eminently calculated to promote infidelity, to help the devil, and to ruin souls! It comes to us like Joab to Amasa, with the highest professions of love, liberality, and love. "God is all mercy and love," according to this theology; His holiness and justice are completely left out of sight! Hell is never spoken of in this theology--its talk is all of Heaven! Damnation is never mentioned--it is treated as an impossible thing: all men and women are to be saved! Faith, and the work of the Spirit, are refined away into nothing at all! "Everybody who believes anything has faith! Everybody who thinksanything has the Spirit! Everybody is right! Nobody is wrong! Nobody is to blame for any action he may commit! It is the result of his position--it is the effect of circumstances! He is not accountable for his opinions, any more than for the color of his skin! He must be what he is! The Bible is a very imperfect book! It is old-fashioned! It is obsolete! We may believe just as much of it as we please, and no more!"
Of all this theology I warn men solemnly to beware. In spite of big swelling words about "liberality," and "love," and "broad views," and "new light," and "freedom from bigotry," and so forth--I do believe it to be a theology that leads to Hell.
(a) Facts are directly against the teachers of this theology. Let them visit Mesopotamia, and see what desolation reigns where Nineveh and Babylon once stood. Let them go to the shores of the Dead Sea, and look down into its mysterious bitter waters. Let them travel in Palestine, and ask what has turned that fertile country into a wilderness. Let them observe the wandering Jews, scattered over the face of the world, without a land of their own--and yet never absorbed among other nations. And then let them tell us, if they dare, that God is so entirely a God of mercy and love--that He never does and never will punish sin.
(b) The conscience of man is directly against these teachers. Let them go to the bedside of some dying child, and try to comfort him with their doctrines. Let them see if their vaunted theories will calm his gnawing, restless anxiety about the future, and enable him to depart in peace. Let them show us, if they can, a few well- authenticated cases of joy and happiness in death without Bible promises, without conversion, and without that faith in the blood of Christ, which old-fashioned theology enjoins. Alas! when men are leaving the world, conscience makes sad work of the new systems of these latter days. Conscience is not easily satisfied, in a dying hour, that there is no such thing as Hell.
(c) Every reasonable conception that we can form of a future state is directly against these teachers. Imagine a Heaven which should contain all mankind! Imagine a Heaven in which holy and unholy, pure and impure, good and evil, would be all gathered together in one confused mass! What point of union would there be in such a company? What common bond of harmony and brotherhood? What common delight in a common service? What concord, what harmony, what peace, what oneness of spirit could exist? Surely the mind revolts from the idea of a Heaven in which there would be no distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between Pharaoh and Moses, between Abraham and the Sodomites, between Paul and Nero, between John and Judas Iscariot, between the man who dies in the act of murder or drunkenness, and men like Baxter, George Herbert, Wilberforce, and M'Cheyne! Surely an eternity in such a miserably confused crowd would be worse than annihilation itself! Surely such a Heaven would be no better than Hell!
(d) The interests of all holiness and morality are directly against these teachers. If all men and women alike are God's children, whatever is the difference between them in their lives, and all alike going to Heaven, however different they may be from one another here in the world--then where is the use of laboring after holiness at all? What motive remains for living soberly, righteously, and godly? What does it matter how men conduct themselves, if all go to Heaven, and nobody goes to Hell? Surely the heathen poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome could tell us something better and wiser than this! Surely a doctrine which is subversive of holiness and morality, and takes away all motives to exertion, carries on the face of it the stamp of its origin. It is of earth, and not of Heaven. It is of the devil, and not of God.
(e) The Bible is against these teachers from first to last. Hundreds of texts might be quoted which are diametrically opposed to their theories. These texts must be rejected summarily, if the Bible is to square with their views. There may be no reason why they should be rejected--but to suit the theology I speak of, they must be thrown away! At this rate, the authority of the whole Bible is soon at an end. And what do men give us in its place? Nothing, nothing at all! They rob us of the bread of life, and do not give us in its stead so much as a stone!
Once more I warn all into whose hands this volume may fall to beware of this theology. I charge you to hold fast the doctrine which I have been endeavoring to uphold in this paper. Remember what I have said, and never let it go. No inheritance of glory--without sonship to God! No sonship to God--without an interest in Christ! No interest in Christ--without your own personal faith! This is God's truth. Never forsake it.
Who now among the readers of this paper desires to know whether he is a son of God? Ask yourself this question, and ask it this day, and ask it as in God's sight, whether you have repented and believed. Ask yourself whether you are experimentally acquainted with Christ, and united to Him in heart. If not, you may be very sure you are no son of God. You are not yet born again. You are yet in your sins. God may be your Father in creation--but He is not your reconciled and pardoningFather. Yes! though Church and world may agree to tell you to the contrary, though clergy and laity unite in flattering you--your sonship is worth little or nothing in the sight of God. Let God be true and every man a liar. Without faith in Christ you are no son of God--you are not born again.
Who is there among the readers of this paper who desires to become a son of God? Let that person see and feel his sins, and flee to Christ for salvation, and this day he shall be placed among the children. Only acknowledge your iniquity, and lay hold on the hand that Jesus holds out to you this day, and sonship, with all it privileges, is your own! Only confess your sins, and bring them unto Christ, and God is "faithful and just to forgive you your sins, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9.) This very day, old things shall pass away, and all things become new. This very day, you shall be forgiven, pardoned, "accepted in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1:7) This very day, you shall have a new name given to you in Heaven. You took up this book as a child of wrath--but you shall lie down tonight as a child of God! Mark this, if your professed desire after sonship is sincere, if you are truly weary of your sins, and have really something more than a lazy wish to be free, there is real comfort for you. It is all true. It is all written in Scripture, even as I have put it down. I dare not raise barriers between you and God. This day I say, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be "a son," and be saved.
Who is there among the readers of this paper that is a son of God indeed? Rejoice, I say, and be exceeding glad of your privileges! Rejoice, for you have good cause to be thankful. Remember the words of the beloved apostle: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." (1 John 3:1.) How wonderful that Heaven should look down on earth, that the holy God should set His affections on sinful man, and admit him into His family! What though the world does not understand you! What though the men of this world laugh at you, and cast out your name as evil! Let them laugh if they will--God is your Father! You have no need to be ashamed. The Queen can create a nobleman. The Bishops can ordain clergymen. But Queen, Lords, and Commons, bishops, priests, and deacons--all together cannot, of their own power, make one son of God, or one of greater dignity than a son of God. The man that can call God his Father, and Christ his elder brother--that man may be poor and lowly, yet he never need be ashamed.

II. Let me show, in the second place, the special evidences of the true Christians relation to God.
How shall a man make sure work of his own sonship? How shall he find out whether he is one that has come to Christ by faith and been born again? What are themarks and signs, and tokens, by which the "sons of God" may be known? This is a question which all who love eternal life ought to ask. This is a question to which the verses of Scripture I am asking you to consider, like many others, supply an answer.
(1) The sons of God, for one thing, are all led by His Spirit. What says the Scripture which heads this paper? "As many as are led by the Spirit of God--they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14.)
They are all under the leading and teaching of a power which is Almighty, though unseen--even the power of the Holy Spirit. They no longer turn every man to his own way, and walk every man in the light of his own eyes, and follow every man his own natural heart's desire. The Spirit leads them. The Spirit guides them. There is a movement in their hearts, lives, and affections, which they feel, though they may not be able to explain; and a movement which is always more or less in the same direction.
They are all led . . .
away from sin,
away from self-righteousness,
away from the world!
This is the road by which the Spirit leads God's children. Those whom God adopts as His children--He teaches and trains. He shows them their own hearts. He makes them weary of their own ways. He makes them long for inward peace.
They are all led to Christ.
They are all led to the Bible.
They are all led to prayer.
They are all led to holiness.
This is the beaten path along which the Spirit makes them to travel.
Those whom God adopts--He always sanctifies.
He makes sin very bitter to them.
He makes holiness very sweet.
It is the Spirit who leads them to Sinai, and first shows them the law--that their hearts may be broken. It is He who leads them to Calvary, and shows them thecross--that their hearts may be bound up and healed. It is He who leads them to Pisgah, and gives them distinct views of the promised land--that their hearts may be cheered. When they are taken into the wilderness, and taught to see their own emptiness--it is the leading of the Spirit. When they are carried up to Tabor orHermon, and lifted up with glimpses of the glory to come, it is the leading of the Spirit. Each and all of God's sons is the subject of these leadings. Each and every one is "willing in the day of the Spirit's power," and yields himself to it. And each and all is led by the right way, to bring him to a city of habitation. (Psalm 110:3; 107:7.)
Settle this down in your heart, and do not let it go. The sons of God are a people "led by the Spirit of God," and always led more or less in the same way. Their experience will tally wonderfully when they compare notes in Heaven. This is one mark of sonship.
(2) Furthermore, all the sons of God have the feelings of adopted children towards their Father in Heaven. What says the Scripture which heads this paper? "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father!" (Romans 8:15.)
The sons of God are delivered from that slavish fear of God which sin begets in the natural heart. They are redeemed from that feeling of guilt which made Adam "hide himself in the trees of the garden," and Cain "go out from the presence of the Lord." (Genesis 3:8; 4:16.) They are no longer afraid of God's holiness, and justice, and majesty. They no longer feel as if there was a great gulf and barrier between themselves and God, and as if God was angry with them, and must be angry with them, because of their sins. From these chains and fetters of the soul--the sons of God are delivered.
Their feelings towards God are now those of peace and confidence. They see Him as a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. They look on Him as a God whose attributes are all satisfied by their great Mediator and Peacemaker, the Lord Jesus, as a God who is "just--and yet the Justifier of every one that believes on Jesus." (Romans 3:26.) As a Father, they draw near to Him with boldness--as a Father, they can speak to Him with freedom. They have exchanged the spirit of bondage--for that of liberty, and the spirit of fear--for that of love. They know that God is holy--but they are not afraid; they know that they are sinners--but they are not afraid. Though holy--they believe that God is completely reconciled; though sinners--they believe they are clothed all over with Jesus Christ. Such is the feeling of the sons of God.
I allow that some of them have this feeling more vividly than others. Some of them carry about scraps and remnants of the old spirit of bondage to their dying day. Many of them have fits and paroxysms of the old man's complaint of fear, returning upon them at intervals. But very few of the sons of God could be found who would not say, if cross-examined, that since they knew Christ they have had very different feelings towards God from what they ever had before. They feel as if something like the old Roman form of adoption had taken place between themselves and their Father in Heaven. They feel as if He had said to each one of them, "Will you be my son?" and as if their hearts had replied, "I will."
Let us try to grasp this also, and hold it fast. The sons of God are a people who feel towards God, in a way that the children of the world do not. They feel no more slavish fear towards Him--they feel towards Him as a reconciled parent. This, then, is another mark of sonship.
(3) But, again, the sons of God have the witness of the Spirit in their consciences. What says the Scripture which heads this paper? "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." (Romans 8:16.)
The sons of God have got something within their hearts, which tells them there is a relationship between themselves and God. They feel something which tells them that old things are passed away, and all things become new; that guilt is gone, that peace is restored; that Heaven's door is open, and hell's door is shut. They have, in short, what the children of the world have not--a felt, positive, reasonable hope. They have what Paul calls the "seal" and "pledge" of the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13.)
I do not for a moment deny that this witness of the Spirit is exceedingly various in the extent to which the sons of God possess it. With some it is a loud, clear, ringing, distinct testimony of conscience: "I am Christ's, and Christ is mine!" With others it is a little, feeble, stammering whisper, which the devil and the flesh often prevent being heard. Some of the children of God speed on their course towards Heaven, under the full sails of assurance. Others are tossed to and fro all their voyage, and will scarcely believe they have got any faith.
But take the least and lowest of the sons of God. Ask him if he will give up the little bit of hope which he has attained? Ask him if he will exchange his heart, with all its doubts and conflicts, its fightings and fears--ask him if he will exchange that heart for the heart of the downright worldly and careless man? Ask him if he would be content to turn round and throw down the things he has got hold of--and go back to the world? Who can doubt what the answer would be? "I cannot do that," he would reply. "I do not know whether I have faith, I do not feel sure I have got grace; but I have got something within me I would not like to part with!" And what is that "something"? I will tell you. It is the witness of the Spirit.
Let us try to understand this also. The sons of God have the witness of the Spirit in their consciences. This is another mark of sonship.
(4) One thing more let me add. All the sons of God take part in suffering with Christ. What says the Scripture which heads this paper? "If children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ--if so be that we suffer with Him." (Romans 8:17.)
All the children of God have a cross to carry. They have trials, troubles, and afflictions to go through for the Gospel's sake. They have . . .
trials from the world,
trials from the flesh,
and trials from the devil.
They have sharp trials from relations and friends--hard words, hard treatment, and hard judgment.
They have trials in the matter of character: slander, misrepresentation, mockery, insinuation of false motives--all these often rain thick upon them.
They have trials in the matter of worldly interests. They have often to choose whether they will please man and lose glory--or gain glory and offend man.
They have trials from their own hearts. They have each generally their own thorn in the flesh, their own home-devil--who is their worst foe!
This is the experience of the sons of God.
Some of them suffer more, and some less. Some of them suffer in one way, and some in another. God measures out their portions like a wise physician, and cannot err. But never, I believe, was there one child of God who reached paradise without a cross.
Suffering is the diet of the Lord's family. "Whom the Lord loves--He chastens." "If you are without chastisement--then are you bastards, and not sons." "Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God." "All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (Hebrews 12:6, 8; Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12.)
Suffering is a part of the process by which the sons of God are sanctified. They are chastened to wean them from the world, and make them partakers of God's holiness. The Captain of their salvation was "made perfect through suffering," and so are they. (Hebrews 2:10; 12:10.) There never yet was a great saint who had not either great afflictions--or great corruptions. Well said Philip Melancthon: "Where there are no cares--there will generally be no prayers."
Let us try to settle this down into our hearts also. The sons of God have all to bear a cross. A suffering Savior--generally has suffering disciples. The Bridegroom was a man of sorrows. The Bride must not be a woman of pleasures and unacquainted with grief. Blessed are those who mourn! Let us not murmur at the cross. This also is a sign of sonship.
I warn men never to suppose that they are sons of God--unless they have the scriptural marks of sonship. Beware of a sonship without evidences. Again I say, Beware! When a man has . . .
no leading of the Spirit to show me,
no spirit of adoption to tell of,
no witness of the Spirit in his conscience,
no cross in his experience--
is this man a son of God? Whatever others may think, I dare not say so! His spot is "not the spot of God's children." (Deuteronomy 32:5.) He is no heir of glory.
Tell me not that you have been baptized and taught the catechism of the Church of England--and therefore must be a child of God. I tell you that the parish registeris not the book of life! I tell you that to be called a child of God, and regenerate in infancy is one thing; but to be a child of God indeed, another thing altogether. It is the "death unto sin and the new birth unto righteousness," which makes men children of grace. Except you know these by personal experience--you are no child of God.
Tell me not that you are a member of a church, and so must be a son. I answer that the sons of the church--are not necessarily the sons of God. Such sonship is not the sonship of the eighth of Romans. That is the sonship you must have if you are to be saved.
And now, I doubt not, that some reader of this paper will want to know if he may not be saved without the witness of the Spirit.
I answer, If you mean by the witness of the Spirit, the full assurance of hope--you may be so saved, without question. But if you want to know whether a man can be saved without any inward sense, or knowledge, or hope of salvation, I answer--that ordinarily He cannot. I warn you plainly to cast away all indecision as to your state before God, and to make your calling sure. Clear up your position and relationship. Do not think there is anything praiseworthy in always doubting. Leave that to the Papists. Do not imagine it wise and humble to be ever living like the borderers of old time, on the "debatable ground." "Assurance," said old Dod, the puritan, "may be attained: and what have we been doing all our lives, since we became Christians, if we have not attained it?"
I doubt not, that some true Christians who read this paper will think their evidence of sonship is too small to be good, and will write bitter things against themselves. Let me try to cheer them.
Who gave you the feelings you possess?
Who made you hate sin?
Who made you love Christ?
Who made you long and labor to be holy?
Whence did these feelings come?
Did they come from nature? There are no such products in a natural man's heart. Did they come from the devil? He would gladly stifle such feelings altogether. Cheer up, and take courage. Fear not, neither be cast down. Press forward, and go on. There is hope for you after all. Strive. Labor. Seek. Ask. Knock. Follow on. You shall yet see that you are "sons of God."

III. Let me show, in the last place, the PRIVILEGES of the true Christians relation to God.
Nothing can be conceived more glorious than the prospects of the sons of God. The words of Scripture which head this paper contain a rich mine of good and comfortable things. "If we are children," says Paul, "then we are heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, to be glorified together with Him." (Romans 8:17.)
True Christians then are "heirs." Something is prepared for them all which is yet to be revealed.
They are "heirs of God." To be heirs of the rich on earth, is something. How much more then is it to be son and heir of the King of kings!
They are "joint heirs with Christ." They shall share in His majesty, and take part of His glory. They shall be glorified together with Him.
And this, we must remember, is for all the children. Abraham took care to provide for all his children, and God takes care to provide for His. None of them are disinherited. None will be cast out. None will be cut off. Each shall stand in his lot, and have a portion, in the day when the Lord brings many sons to glory.
Who can tell the full nature of the inheritance of the saints in light? Who can describe the glory which is yet to be revealed and given to the children of God? Words fail us. Language falls short. Mind cannot conceive fully, and tongue cannot express perfectly--the things which are comprised in the glory yet to come upon the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty! Oh, it is indeed a true saying of the Apostle John: "It does not yet appear what we shall be!" (1 John 3:2.)
The very Bible itself only lifts a little of the veil which hangs over this subject. How could it do more? We could not thoroughly understand more, if more had been told us. Our mental constitution is as yet too earthly, our understanding is as yet too carnal to appreciate more, if we had it. The Bible generally deals with the subject in negative terms, and not in positive assertions. It describes what there will not be in the glorious inheritance, that thus we may get some faint idea of what there will be. It paints the absence of certain things, in order that we may drink in a little the blessedness. It tells us that the inheritance is "incorruptible, undefiled, and fades not away." It tells us that "the crown of glory fades not away." It tells us that the devil is to be "bound," that there shall be "no more night and no more curse," that "death shall be cast into the lake of fire," that "all tears shall be wiped away," and that the inhabitant shall no more say, "I am sick."
And these are glorious things indeed.
No corruption!
No fading!
No withering!
No devil!
No curse of sin!
No sorrow!
No tears!
No sickness!
No death!
Surely the cup of the children of God will indeed run over!
But there are positive things told us about the glory yet to come upon the heirs of God, which ought not to be kept back. There are many sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comforts in their future inheritance, which all true Christians would do well to consider. There are cordials for fainting pilgrims in many words and expressions of Scripture, which you and I ought to lay up against time of need.
(a) Is knowledge pleasant to us now? Is the little that we know of God and Christ, and the Bible precious to our souls, and do we long for more? We shall have it perfectly in glory. What says the Scripture? "Then shall I know--even as also I am known." (I Corinthians 13:12.) Blessed be God, there will be no moredisagreements among believers! Episcopalians and Presbyterians, Calvinists and Arminians, Millennarians and Anti-millennarians, friends of Establishments and friends of the Voluntary system, advocates of infant baptism and advocates of adult baptism--all will at length see eye to eye. The former ignorance will have passed away. We shall marvel to find how childish and blind we have been!
(b) Is holiness pleasant to us now? Is sin the burden and bitterness of our lives? Do we long for entire conformity to the image of God? We shall have it perfectly in glory! What says the Scripture? "Christ gave Himself for the Church," not only that He might sanctify it on earth--but also "that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Ephesians 5:27.) Oh, the blessedness of an eternal goodbye to sin! Oh, how little the best of us do at present! Oh, what unutterable corruption sticks, like birdlime--to all our motives, all our thoughts, all our words, all our actions! Oh, how many of us, like Naphtali, are goodly in our words--but, like Reuben, unstable in our works! Thank God, all this shall be changed. (Genesis 49:4, 21.)
(c) Is rest pleasant to us now? Do we often feel "faint though pursuing?" (Judges 8:4.) Do we long for a world in which we need not to be always watching and warring? We shall have it perfectly in glory. What says the Scripture? "There remains a rest for the people of God." (Hebrews 4:9.) The daily, hourly conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil--shall at length be at an end. The enemy shall be bound. The warfare shall be over. The wicked shall at last cease from troubling. The weary shall at length be at rest. There shall be a great calm.
(d) Is service pleasant to us now? Do we find it sweet to work for Christ--and yet groan being burdened by a feeble body? Is our spirit often willing--but hampered and clogged by the poor weak flesh? Have our hearts burned within us, when we have been allowed to give a cup of cold water for Christ's sake, and have we sighed to think what unprofitable servants we are? Let us take comfort. We shall be able to serve perfectly in glory, and without weariness. What says the Scripture? "They serve Him day and night in His temple." (Rev. 7:15.)
(e) Is satisfaction pleasant to us now? Do we find the world empty? Do we long for the filling up of every void place and gap in our hearts? We shall have it perfectly in glory. We shall no longer have to mourn over . . .
in all our earthen vessels,
and thorns in all our roses,
and bitter dregs in all our sweet cups!
We shall no longer lament with Jonah over withered gourds. We shall no longer say with Solomon, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit!" We shall no longer cry with aged David, "I have seen an end of all perfection." What says the Scripture? "I shall be satisfied when I awake with Your likeness!" (Eccles. 1:14; Psalm 119:96; 17:15.)
(f) Is communion with the saints pleasant to us now? Do we feel that we are never so happy as when we are with the "excellent of the earth?" Are we never so much at home as in their company? (Psalm 16:3.) We shall have it perfectly in glory. What says the Scripture? "The Son of man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all they that offend, and them which work iniquity." "He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds." (Matthew 13:41; 24:31.) Praised be God! We shall see all the saints of whom we have read in the Bible, and in whose steps we have tried to walk. We shall see apostles, prophets, patriarchs, martyrs, reformers, missionaries, and ministers, of whom the world was not worthy. We shall see the faces of those we have known and loved in Christ on earth, and over whose departure we shed bitter tears. We shall see them more bright and glorious than they ever were before. And, best of all, we shall see them without hurry and anxiety, and without feeling that we only meet to part again. In the coming glory there is no death, no parting, no farewell!
(g) Is communion with Christ pleasant to us now? Do we find His name precious to us? Do we feel our hearts burn within us at the thought of His dying love? We shall have perfect communion with Him in glory. "We shall ever be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:17.) We shall be with Him in paradise. (Luke 23:43.) We shall see His face in the kingdom. These eyes of ours will behold those hands and feet which were pierced with nails, and that head which was crowned with thorns!
Where He is, there will the sons of God be. When He comes, they will come with Him. When He sits down in His glory, they shall sit down by His side. Blessed prospect indeed!
I am a dying man in a dying world. All before me is dark. The world to come is a harbor unknown. But Christ is there, and that is enough. Surely if there is rest and peace in following Him by faith on earth, there will be far more rest and peace when we see Him face to face. If we have found it good to follow the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness--we shall find it a thousand times better to sit down in our eternal inheritance, with our Joshua, in the promised land.
If anyone among the readers of this paper is not yet among the sons and heirs, I pity you with all my heart! How much you are missing! How little true comfort you are enjoying! There you are . . .
struggling on, and toiling in the fire,
and wearying yourself for mere earthly ends,
seeking rest and finding none,
chasing shadows and never catching them,
wondering why you are not happy,
and yet refusing to see the cause,
hungry, and thirsty, and empty--and yet blind to the plenty within your reach. Oh, that you were wise! Oh, that you would hear the voice of Jesus, and learn of Him!
If you are one of those who are sons and heirs, you may well rejoice and be happy. You may well wait, like the boy Patience in Pilgrim's Progress--your best things are yet to come! You may well bear crosses without murmuring--your light affliction is but for a moment. "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which is to be revealed!" "When Christ our life appears, then you also shall appear with Him in glory!" (Romans 8:18; Colos. 3:4.)
You may well not envy the transgressor and his prosperity. You are the truly rich! Well said a dying believer in my own parish: "I am more rich than I ever was in my life!" You may say as Mephibosheth said to David: "Let the world take all--my king is coming again in peace." (2 Sam. 19:30.)
You may well not be cast down by sickness--the eternal part of you is safe and provided for, whatever happens to your body. You may well look calmly on death--it opens a door between you and your eternal inheritance. You may well not sorrow excessively over the things of the world, over partings and bereavements, over losses and crosses--the day of gathering is before you. Your treasure is beyond reach of harm. Heaven is becoming every year more full of those you love--and earth more empty. Glory in your inheritance. It is all yours, if you are a son of God: "If we are children--then we are heirs!"
(1) And now, in CONCLUDING this paper, let me ask every one who reads it Whose child are you? Are you the child of nature--or the child of grace? Are you the child of the devil--or the child of God? You cannot be both at once. Which are you?
Settle the question without delay, for you must die at last--either one or the other. Settle it, for it can be settled, and it is folly to leave it doubtful. Settle it, for time is short, the world is getting old, and you are fast drawing near to the judgment seat of Christ. Settle it, for death is near, the Lord is at hand--and who can tell what a day might bring forth? Oh, that you would never rest until the question is settled! Oh, that you may never feel satisfied until you can say, "I have been born again! I am a son of God!"
(2) If you are not a son and heir of God--let me entreat you to become one without delay. Would you be rich? There are unsearchable riches in Christ! Would you be noble? You shall be a king! Would you be happy? You shall have a peace which passes understanding, and which the world can never give and never take away. Oh, come out, and take up the cross, and follow Christ! Come out from among the thoughtless and worldly, and hear the word of the Lord: "I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you--and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:18.)
(3) If you are a son of God, I beseech you to walk worthy of your Father's family. I charge you solemnly to honor Him in your life; and above all to honor Him byimplicit obedience to all His commands, and hearty love to all His children. Labor to travel through the world like a child of God and heir to glory. Let men be able to trace a family likeness between you and Him who begat you. Live a Heavenly life. Seek things that are above. Do not seem to be building your nest below. Behave like a man who seeks a city out of sight, whose citizenship is in Heaven, and who would be content with many hardships until he gets home.
Labor to feel like a son of God in every condition in which you are placed. Never forget you are on your Father's ground, so long as you are here on earth. Never forget that a Father's hand, sends all your mercies and crosses. Cast every care on Him. Be happy and cheerful in Him. Why indeed are you ever sad--if you are the King's son? Why should men ever doubt, when they look at you--whether it is a pleasant thing to be one of God's children?
Labor to behave towards others like a son of God. Be blameless and harmless in your day and generation. Be a "peacemaker among all you know." (Matthew 5:9.) Seek for your children sonship to God, above everything else. Seek for them an inheritance in Heaven, whatever else you do for them. No man leaves his children so well provided for--as he who leaves them sons and heirs of God!
Persevere in your Christian calling, if you are a son of God, and press forward more and more. Be careful to lay aside every weight, and the sin which most easily besets you. Keep your eyes steadily fixed on Jesus. Abide in Him. Remember that without Him you can do nothing--and with Him you can do all things. (John 15:5; Philip. 4:13.) Watch and pray daily. Be steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Settle it down in your heart that not a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple shall lose its reward, and that every year--you are so much nearer home.

"Yet a little time and He who shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Hebrews 10:37.) Then shall be the glorious liberty, and the full manifestation of the sons of God! (Romans 8:19, 21.) Then shall the world acknowledge that they were the truly wise. Then shall the sons of God at length come of age, and be no longer heirs in expectancy--but heirs in possession. Then shall they hear with exceeding joy those comfortable words: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father--inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" (Matthew 25:34.) Surely, that day will make amends for all!