I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Is this thy kindness to thy friend. II. Samuel xvi. 17.
John Newton (1725–1807)
Poor, weak, and worthless tho’ I am,
I have a rich almighty friend;
Jesus, the Saviour, is his name,
He freely loves, and without end.
He ransom’d me from hell with blood,
And by his pow’r my foes controll’d;
He found me, wand’ring far from God,
And brought me to his chosen fold.
He cheers my heart, my wants supplies,
And says that I shall shortly be
Enthron’d with him above the skies,
O! what a friend is Christ to me.
But ah! I my inmost spirit mourns,
And well my eyes with tears may swim,
To think of my perverse returns;
I’ve been a faithless friend to him.
Often my gracious Friend I grieve,
Neglect, distrust, and disobey,
And often Satan’s lies believe,
Sooner than all my Friend can say.
He bids me always freely come,
And promises whate’er I ask:
But I am straitened, cold and dumb,
And count my privilege a task.
Before the world that hates his course,
My treach’rous heart has throbb’d with shame;
Loth to forego the worlds applause,
I hardly dare avow his name.
Sure were not I most vile and base,
I could not thus my friend requite!
And were not he the God of grace,
He’d frown and spurn me from his sight.
—from Olney Hymns. Book I: On select Passages of Scripture.
And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
These verses throw light on two subjects which we can never understand too well. Our daily peace and our practice of daily watchfulness over ourselves are closely connected with a clear knowledge of these two subjects.
One thing shown in these verses is, the dignity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find Him saying, “He that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent Me. I am come a Light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness.” Christ’s oneness with the Father, and Christ’s office, are clearly exhibited in these words.
Concerning the unity of the Father and the Son, we must be content to believe reverently what we cannot grasp mentally or explain distinctly. Let it suffice us to know that our Saviour was not like the prophets and patriarchs, a man sent by God the Father, a friend of God, and a witness for God. He was something far higher and greater than this. He was in His Divine nature essentially one with the Father: and in seeing Him, men saw the Father who sent Him. This is a great mystery; but a truth of vast importance to our souls. He that casts His sins on Jesus Christ by faith is building on a rock. Believing on Christ, he believes not merely on Him, but on Him that sent Him.
Concerning the office of Christ, there can be little doubt that in this place He compares Himself to the sun. Like the sun, He has risen on this sin-darkened world with healing on His wings, and shines for the common benefit of all mankind. Like the sun, He is the great source and center of all spiritual life, comfort, and fertility. Like the sun, He illuminates the whole earth, and no one need miss the way to heaven, if he will only use the light offered for his acceptance.
Forever let us make much of Christ in all our religion. We can never trust Him too much, follow Him too closely, or commune with Him too unreservedly. He has all power in heaven and earth. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him. None can pluck us out of the hand of Him who is one with the Father. He can make all our way to heaven bright and plain and cheerful; like the morning sun cheering the traveler. Looking unto Him, we shall find light in our understandings, see light on the path of life we have to travel, feel light in our hearts, and find the days of darkness, which will come sometimes, stripped of half their gloom. Only let us abide in Him, and look to Him with a single eye. There is a mine of meaning in His words, “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matt. vi. 22.)
Another thing shown in these verses is, the certainty of a judgment to come. We find our Lord saying, “He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not my words, has One that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
There is a last day! The world shall not always go on as it does now. Buying and selling, sowing and reaping, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage,—all this shall come to an end at last. There is a time appointed by the Father when the whole machinery of creation shall stop, and the present dispensation shall be changed for another. It had a beginning, and it shall also have an end. Banks shall at length close their doors forever. Stock exchanges shall be shut. Parliaments shall be dissolved. The very sun, which since Noah’s flood has done his daily work so faithfully, shall rise and set no more. Well would it be if we thought more of this day! Pay-days, birth-days, wedding-days, are often regarded as days of absorbing interest; but they are nothing compared to the last day.
There is a judgment coming! Men have their reckoning days, and God will at last have His. The trumpet shall sound. The dead shall be raised incorruptible. The living shall be changed. All, of every name and nation, and people and tongue, shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. The books shall be opened, and the evidence brought forth. Our true character will come out before the world. There will be no concealment, no evasion, no false colouring. Every one shall give account of himself to God, and all shall be judged according to their works. The wicked shall go away into everlasting fire, and the righteous into life eternal.
These are awful truths! But they are truths, and ought to be told. No wonder that the Roman governor Felix trembled when Paul the prisoner discoursed about “righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.” (Acts xxiv. 25.) Yet the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has no cause to be afraid. For him, at any rate, there is no condemnation, and the last assize need have no terrors. The bias of his life shall witness for him; while the shortcomings of his life shall not condemn him. It is the man who rejects Christ, and will not hear His call to repentance,—he is the man who in the judgment-day will have reason to be cast down and afraid.
Let the thought of judgment to come have a practical effect on our religion. Let us daily judge ourselves with righteous judgment, that we may not be judged and condemned of the Lord. Let us so speak and so act as men who will be judged by the law of liberty. Let us make conscience of all our hourly conduct, and never forget that for every idle word we must give account at the last day. In a word, let us live like those who believe in the truth of judgment, heaven, and hell. So living, we shall be Christians indeed and in truth, and have boldness in the day of Christ’s appearing.
Let the judgment-day be the Christian’s answer and apology when men ridicule him as too strict, too precise, and too particular in his religion. Irreligion may do tolerably well for a season, so long as a man is in health and prosperous, and looks at nothing but this world. But he who believes that he must give account to the Judge of quick and dead, at His appearing and kingdom, will never be content with an ungodly life. He will say, “There is a judgment. I can never serve God too much. Christ died for me. I can never do too much for Him.”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.