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Lords Day 39, 2010


I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord.

The Dark Guest

O Lord,

Bend my hands and cut them off,
for I have often struck thee with

a wayward will.

when these fingers should embrace thee by faith.
imageI am not yet weaned from all created glory,

honour, wisdom, and esteem of others,

for I have a secret motive to eye my name

   in all I do.
Let me not only speak the word sin, but see

the thing itself.
Give me to view discovered sinfulness,

to know that though my sins are crucified

   they are never wholly mortified.
Hatred, malice, ill-will,

vain-glory that hunts for and hungers after,

mans approval and applause,

all are crucified, forgiven,

but they rise again in my sinful heart.

O my crucified but never wholly mortified
   sinfulness!
O my life-long damage and daily shame!
O my indwelling and besetting sins!
O the tormenting slavery of a sinful heart!
Destroy, O God, the dark guest within
   whose hidden presence makes my life a hell.
Yet thou hast not left me here without grace;
The cross still stands and meets my needs
   in the deepest straits of the soul.
I thank thee that my remembrance of it
   is like Davids sight of Goliaths sword
      which preached forth thy deliverance.
The memory of my great sins, my many
   temptations, my falls,
   bring afresh into my mind the remembrance,
      of thy great help, of thy support from heaven,
      of the great grace that saved such a wretch
         as I am.
There is no treasure so wonderful
   as that continuous experience of thy grace
      toward me which alone can subdue
         the risings of sin within:
Give me more of it.

The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, editor (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002).

image

The Gospel According to John

14 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

image   The three verses we have now read are rich in precious truth. For eighteen centuries they have been peculiarly dear to Christs believing servants in every part of the world. Many are the sick rooms which they have lightened! Many are the dying hearts which they have cheered! Let us see what they contain.

We have, first, in this passage a precious remedy against an old disease. That disease is trouble of heart. That remedy is faith.

Heart-trouble is the commonest thing in the world. No rank, or class, or condition is exempt from it. No bars, or bolts, or locks can keep it out. Partly from inward causes and partly from outward,partly from the body and partly from the mind,partly from what we love and partly from what we fear, the journey of life is full of trouble. Even the best of Christians have many bitter cups to drink between grace and glory. Even the holiest saints find the world a valley of tears.

Faith in the Lord Jesus is the only sure medicine for troubled hearts. To believe more thoroughly, trust more entirely, rest more unreservedly, lay hold more firmly, lean back more completely,this is the prescription which our Master urges on the attention of all His disciples. No doubt the members of that little band which sat round the table at the last supper, had believed already. They had proved the reality of their faith by giving up everything for Christs sake. Yet what does their Lord say to them here? Once more He presses on them the old lesson, the lesson with which they first began: Believe! Believe more! Believe on Me! (Isai. xxvi. 3.)

Never let us forget that there are degrees in faith, and that there is a wide difference between weak and strong believers. The weakest faith is enough to give a man a saving interest in Christ, and ought not to be despised, but it will not give a man such inward comfort as a strong faith. Vagueness and dimness of perception are the defect of weak believers. They do not see clearly what they believe and why they believe. In such cases more faith is the one thing needed. Like Peter on the water, they need to look more steadily at Jesus, and less at the waves and wind. Is it not written, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee? (Isai. xxvi. 3.)

We have, secondly, in this passage a very comfortable account of heaven, or the future abode of saints. It is but little that we understand about heaven while we are here in the body, and that little is generally taught us in the Bible by negatives much more than positives. But here, at any rate, there are some plain things.

Heaven is a Fathers house,the house of that God of whom Jesus says, I go to my Father, and your Father. It is, in a word, home: the home of Christ and Christians. This is a sweet and touching expression. Home, as we all know, is the place where we are generally loved for our own sakes, and not for our gifts or possessions; the place where we are loved to the end, never forgotten, and always welcome. This is one idea of heaven. Believers are in a strange land, and at school, in this life. In the life to come they will be at home.

Heaven is a place of mansions,of lasting, permanent, and eternal dwellings. Here in the body we are in temporary lodgings, tents, and tabernacles, and must submit to many changes. In heaven we shall be settled at last, and go out no more. Here we have no continuing city. (Heb. xiii. 14.) Our house not made with hands shall never be taken down.

Heaven is a place of many mansions. There will be room for all believers and room for all sorts, for little saints as well as great ones, for the weakest believer as well as for the strongest. The feeblest child of God need not fear there will be no place for him. None will be shut out but impenitent sinners and obstinate unbelievers.

Heaven is a place where Christ himself shall be present. He will not be content to dwell without His people:Where I am, there ye shall be also. We need not think that we shall be alone and neglected. Our Saviour,our elder Brother,our Redeemer, who loved us and gave Himself for us, shall be in the midst of us forever. What we shall see, and whom we shall see in heaven, we cannot fully conceive yet, while we are in the body. But one thing is certain: we shall see Christ.

Let these things sink down into our minds. To the worldly and careless they may seem nothing at all. To all who feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of God they are full of unspeakable comfort. If we hope to be in heaven it is pleasant to know what heaven is like.

We have, lastly, in this passage a solid ground for expecting good things to come. The evil heart of unbelief within us is apt to rob us of our comfort about heaven. We wish we could think it was all true.We fear we shall never be admitted into heaven.Let us hear what Jesus says to encourage us.

One cheering word is this,I go to prepare a place for you. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people: a place which we shall find Christ Himself has made ready for true Christians. He has prepared it by procuring a right for every sinner who believes to enter in. None can stop us, and say we have no business there.He has prepared it by going before us as our Head and Representative, and taking possession of it for all the members of His mystical body. As our Forerunner He has marched in, leading captivity captive, and has planted His banner in the land of glory.He has prepared it by carrying our names with Him as our High Priest into the holy of holies, and making angels ready to receive us. Those who enter heaven will find they are neither unknown nor unexpected.

Another cheering word is this,I will come again and receive you unto myself. Christ will not wait for believers to come up to Him, but will come down to them, to raise them from their graves and escort them to their heavenly home. As Joseph came to meet Jacob, so will Jesus come to call His people together and guide them to their inheritance. The second advent ought never to be forgotten. Great is the blessedness of looking back to Christ coming the first time to suffer for us, but no less great is the comfort of looking forward to Christ coming the second time, to raise and reward His saints.

Let us leave the whole passage with solemnized feelings and serious self-examination. How much they miss who live in a dying world and yet know nothing of God as their Father and Christ as their Saviour! How much they possess who live the life of faith in the Son of God, and believe in Jesus! With all their weaknesses and crosses they have that which the world can neither give nor take away. They have a true Friend while they live, and a true home when they die.

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Baker Books, 2007) [Westminster (PB) | Amazon (HC)].

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation
if you can possibly help it.
But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these.



Posted 2010·09·26 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Expository Thoughts on the Gospels · Gospel of John · J C Ryle · Lord’s Day · The Valley of Vision
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