Lord’s Day 43, 2010
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Christ the Beloved
Samuel Davies (1723–1761)
Let others let their passions rove
Round all the earth, from shore to shore;
Since Jesus is my friend and love,
My utmost wish can grasp no more.
His glories have allured my eye,
And into love transformed my heart;
To Him my tenderest passions fly;
Jesus, nor shall they e’er depart.
Upon His friendship I rely,
Still of His tender care secure;
My wants are all before His eye!
Nor can they overcome His pow’r.
His presence fills unbounded space;
My heavenly friend is always nigh.
Full of compassion, rich in grace;
Touched with the tenderest sympathy.
Faithful and constant is His love,
And my ungrateful conduct hides;
Safe to the happy world above,
The meanest of His friends He guides.
Amid the agonies of death,
and terrors of the final doom,
He saves them from almighty wrath,
And leads the helpless pilgrims home.
Oh, may an everlasting flame
Of love possess my grateful mind!
And my last breath adore His name,
Who condescends to be my friend!
—Worthy Is the Lamb (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004).
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. 25 These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
We learn from these verses that keeping Christ’s commandments is the best test of love to Christ.
This is a lesson of vast importance and one that needs continually pressing on the attention of Christians. It is not talking about religion, and talking fluently and well too, but steadily doing Christ’s will and walking in Christ’s ways, that is the proof of our being true believers. Good feelings and desires are useless if they are not accompanied by action. They may even become mischievous to the soul, induce hardness of conscience, and do certain harm. Passive impressions which do not lead to action, gradually deaden and paralyze the heart. Living and doing are the only real evidence of grace. Where the Holy Ghost is, there will always be a holy life. A jealous watchfulness over tempers, words, and deeds, a constant endeavor to live by the rule of the Sermon on the Mount, this is the best proof that we love Christ.
Of course such maxims as these must not be wrested and misunderstood. We are not to suppose for a moment that “keeping Christ’s commandments” can save us. Our best works are full of imperfection. When we have done all we can, we are feeble and unprofitable servants. “By grace are you saved through faith,—not of works.” (Ep. ii. 8.) But while we hold one class of truths, we must not forget another. Faith in the blood of Christ must always be attended by loving obedience to the will of Christ. What the Master has joined together, the disciple must not put asunder. Do we profess to love Christ? Then let us show it by our lives. The Apostle who said, “You know that I love You!” received the charge, “Feed my lambs.” That meant, “Do something. Be useful: follow my example.” (John xxii. 17.)
We learn, secondly, from these verses, that there are special comforts laid up for those who love Christ, and prove it by keeping His words. This, at any rate, seems the general sense of our Lord’s language: “My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
The full meaning of this promise, no doubt, is a deep thing. We have no line to fathom it. It is a thing which no man can understand except he that receives and experiences it. But we need not shrink from believing that eminent holiness brings eminent comfort with it, and that no man has such sensible enjoyment of his religion as the man who, like Enoch and Abraham, walks closely with God. There is more of heaven on earth to be obtained than most Christians are aware of. “The secret of the Lord is with them who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.”—“If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with Me.” (Ps. xxv. 14; Rev. iii. 20.) Promises like these, we may be sure, mean something, and were not written in vain.
How is it, people often ask, that so many professing believers have so little happiness in their religion? How is it that so many know little of “joy and peace in believing,” and go mourning and heavy-hearted towards heaven? The answer to these questions is a sorrowful one, but it must be given. Few believers attend as strictly as they should to Christ’s practical sayings and words. There is far too much loose and careless obedience to Christ’s commandments. There is far too much forgetfulness, that while good works cannot justify us they are not to be despised. Let these things sink down into our hearts. If we want to be eminently happy, we must strive to be eminently holy.
We learn, lastly, from these verses, that one part of the Holy Ghost’s work is to teach, and to bring things to remembrance. It is written, “The Comforter shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance.”
To confine this promise to the eleven Apostles, as some do, seems a narrow and unsatisfactory mode of interpreting Scripture. It appears to reach far beyond the day of Pentecost, and the gift of writing inspired books of God’s Holy Word. It is safer, wiser, and more consistent with the whole tone of our Lord’s last discourse, to regard the promise as the common property of all believers, in every age of the world. Our Lord knows the ignorance and forgetfulness of our nature in spiritual things. He graciously declares that when He leaves the world, His people shall have a teacher and remembrancer.
Are we sensible of spiritual ignorance? Do we feel that at best we know in part and see in part? Do we desire to understand more clearly the doctrines of the Gospel? Let us pray daily for the help of the “teaching” Spirit. It is His office to illuminate the soul, to open the eyes of the understanding, and to guide us into all truth. He can make dark places light, and rough places smooth.
Do we find our memory of spiritual things defective? Do we complain that though we read and hear, we seem to lose as fast as we gain? Let us pray daily for the help of the Holy Ghost. He can bring things to our remembrance. He can make us remember “old things and new.” He can keep in our minds the whole system of truth and duty, and make us ready for every good word and work.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.