Devotional: December 3rd
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. - Revelation 14:4.
OUR following the Saviour takes in three things. First, It must be free and voluntary. “My son, give me thine heart.” If it be given to him, nothing will be withholden. If this is withholden, nothing else will be acceptable to him, for
“He abhors the sacrifice
Where not the heart is found.”
What he requires he infinitely deserves; and therefore, to gain the heart,-to make his “people willing in the day of his power,” -he opens the eyes of their understanding, he unveils to their view his personal glory, makes them sensible how much they owe to him, and brings them to his cross and says, “Behold my hands and my feet.” “Thus he draws them with the cords of love and the bands of a man;” and they run after him, and find his yoke easy and his burden light.
Secondly, Our following him must be impartial. Hence it is said, “They follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” It is true that their obedience while here is not perfect, but then it is not partial. They say, “Therefore I esteem thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way.” They come to him, not to bargain, not to prescribe, not to choose. They throw down their will at his feet, and their only question is, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Thirdly, Our following him must be constant. The goodness of Ephraim was as “the morning cloud, and the early dew, which passeth away.” And the Galatians did run well, but they were hindered. “But he only that endureth to the end shall be saved.” When our Saviour was upon earth some followed him for a season only. One day a large number went back and walked no more with him, and our Saviour took occasion then to address his disciples, saying, “Will ye also go away?” But they said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
We may be assured of this:-that what comes from God will also lead to him. Hence, says the apostle, “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” And so it will be with all the subjects of divine grace. Each of them will be able to say, “To the-praise of his glory by whom we have been kept through faith unto eternal salvation;” and with Job, “My foot hath held his steps; his way have I kept, and not declined; neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” Or, with the afflicted church, “Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way; though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons,” and “covered us with the shadow of death.” This is what the apostle enjoins upon the Corinthians:-“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
As the truth is in Jesus. - Ephesians 4:21.
THINGS may be equally true and yet not equally valuable. We are commanded to buy the truth, but we would give much more for some truths than others, as we could turn them into much more account in the Spiritual merchandise. If many of our modern notions were as true as they are erroneous, they would not deserve our most earnest attention. What are they in importance compared with the “excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord,” for the possession of which the Apostle would submit to the loss of all things? What truth can be of so much personal importance as “repentance toward God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we “abound in all knowledge and in all judgment, and approve of the things that are excellent,” we shall discriminate and distinguish things that are diverse; not only between the true and the false, but between the true and the true. There is a great deal of truth in the world, of physical truth, of historical truth, of moral truth, but we may lay our hand upon the Bible, and say, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” This is the truth emphatically, the “truth as it is in Jesus,” truth the most honourable to God, for it brings “glory to God in the highest,” while it proclaims “peace on earth and goodwill toward men;” truth the most suited to man, the most adapted to his state of existence.
He is enslaved, and it brings him relief; he is guilty, and it brings him the righteousness of Christ; he is perishing for want, and it brings him the bread and water of life; he is poor, having nothing, and it brings him the unsearchable riches of Christ. Truth the most influential, reaching the heart as well as the ear; not only convincing and informing, but also sanctifying, dedicating the man entirely to the service of God by its influence. We know that the ancient philosophers, whatever celebrity they had acquired, could not bring over the inhabitants of a single village to live according to their maxims and rules. But at Corinth, at Philippi, at Thessalonica, and other places, after the fishermen of Galilee had been there, how many were there of whom the Apostle could say, but “ye are washed and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God?”
It is the same now, where the truth is received in the love of it. There we find the swearer learns to fear an oath, the Sabbath-breaker learns to calls the Sabbath a delight, the careless become prayerful, the profligate is made moral, the proud humble, the avaricious liberal; they who minded earthly things have their conversation in heaven. Blessed be God, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. This truth is the most excellent, the most beneficent truth. Solomon says, “In much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” But David says, “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.”
If we possess this knowledge we shall be happy, happy in social intercourse, happy in solitude, happy in trouble, and happy even in death. It turns death into an everlasting gain, and enables us to rejoice in the prospect of eternal life. Here is truth that deserves the name, and we do not wonder the Apostle should prize it so as to say, “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”
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