Unwarrantable Interferences 11


Times We Must Leave Men Alone

If there are times when we must leave God alone, there are times when we must let men alone. And that is our second thought; there are times when we must let men alone.

And here again, as was the case with God, these times are rarely the times when men would like it. The very hour when a man cries to be let alone may be the very hour when I dare not do so. The Bible is full of instances of that. One notable one springs up, and it is this. It is the morning when Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum, and there was a man with an unclean spirit there. And the man cried, “Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?” And Jesus? Jesus rebuked him saying, “Hold thy peace and come out of him.” It was impossible for Christ, just because He was the Christ, to let that devil-ridden soul alone. And wherever men are living on in sin, helpless and bound, strangers to peace and God, the Church of Jesus Christ cannot let them be. A sinful soul may cry, Let me alone! But with a sweet and masterful intolerance, Christ is still deaf to that; and we must help, and we must save mankind, even against their own wishes.

This grace, then, of letting alone, frees no man from his moral responsibility either towards his wandered or his heathen brother. Where, then, does it enter into human life? We shall take another Gospel incident and see. I find Christ sitting at Simon the leper‘s table, and the woman who was a sinner is kneeling there, and she has broken the alabaster box and is pouring the precious ointment on the feet of Jesus. And the disciples murmur and are indignant. They cannot understand this gross extravagance. “Might not this ointment have been sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?” Let her alone, says Jesus, why trouble ye the woman? Let her alone, you do not understand. She is serving with a service of her own, moved by the passion of an all-pardoning love: there is one work; there is one character for her; there is another service and another life for you.

And that is one glory of the Gospel. It does not crush men into one common mould, but it gives the greatest freedom to individuality and perfects and crowns each struggling soul uniquely. You are never yourself till you are Christ’s, and woe to that preaching of an exalted Lord that forces men’s service into a common type! It is not because I want to be original, it is because I want to be a Christian, that I say to all murmuring disciples, let me alone; I have my box to break; it is not yours. I want to see the keen man, the man who is honorable and Christian in his business. And I want to see the philanthropist, the man who is eagerly bent on doing good. And I want to see the dreamer, the man who feels the beauty of the world, and never does anything, perhaps, except reflect it. And I wish to say to the philanthropist, Do not upbraid the merchant. And I wish to say to the keen man of business, Do not despise the dreamer. Let him alone. He too is serving God. There is need for the purification of the market. There is need for heroic work among the poor. There is need that the beautiful should be interpreted. And when all is over and the morning breaks and the manifold service of a million hearts is unified in Christ, you will be thankful that you let others alone, for there will be more “well done” than you have ever dreamed!

In the meantime, let us all and individually work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

Pray That God Never Lets You Alone

There are times, then, when we must leave God alone. There are times when we must let man alone. I just want to say this in closing: Heaven grant it that God never lets you or me alone.

There is a terrible text in the Old Testament: “Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone.” I have pleaded with Ephraim, says God, for years. I have pleaded with Ephraim as a father with his child. But Ephraim has spurned Me; he has given his heart to his idols; and Ephraim is reprobate. His day of grace has set. “Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone.” Drive on thy chariot, Ephraim, to thy hell. There is a terrible text in the New Testament. It is when Jesus says to Judas, “What thou doest, do quickly.” For I have pleaded with thee, O Judas; I have prayed with thee. And now his doom is sealed; let him alone. Out, Judas, get it over, get it done, and to thine own place, hastily.

The hour then comes when God really lets us alone. May that not be your portion.

Do you say that hour will never come to you? Watch! For it is not by a desperate career, and it is not by one black and awful deed, that a man shall sin away the grace of God. It is by the silent hardening of our common days, the almost unnoticed tampering with conscience, the steady dying-out of what is best under the pressure of a worldly and adulterous city; it is by that the spiritual dies, it is by that men become castaways.

Better the harshest discipline than that.

Great God of mercy, let none of us alone! Deal with us, lead us, chasten us as Thou wilt, if only we be sanctified, ennobled, and drawn out of self into the light of Him who is chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely.

As I close, I pray that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened and may we desire the patience and mind of Christ Amen.

Rebecca Ajibola

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The Way Of Spiritual Growth


Rembrandt - Apostle Paul - WGA19120

Rembrandt – Apostle Paul – WGA19120 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before we can or will consider the laws of spiritual growth, we need to have a real concern for that growth. There must be in us a strong sense of its importance and necessity. We must realize in a living way that:

1. The measure of our ultimate satisfaction to the Lord will be the measure of the fulness of Christ.

2. The measure of our value to others will depend entirely upon our own spiritual measure: not merely upon what we believe, or think, or say.

3. The measure of our own joy and satisfaction will be according to what fulness of Christ we know and live in.

Because these three things constitute the whole nature of, and reason for, our being called “into the fellowship of His (God’s) Son”, the New Testament is ninety percent occupied with the growth and maturity of believers.

As there are definite laws of growth in the physical and mental man, so there are in that of the “inward man”. Some of these are quite obvious, such as proper and suitable food, pure air, regular exercise, and systematic self-discipline. To violate or neglect any of these laws of body and mind is to arrest development, limit capacity, and open the door to adverse and destructive elements.

There are corresponding laws, the counterpart of the above in the spiritual life, with similar effects for good or ill in observance or neglect. We are not taking up these particular factors here, but are specifying three other although related laws of spiritual growth. The first of these is
That Unattractive thing — Obedience.

No one naturally likes that word. It is unpleasant from infancy onward. It’s very essence seems to imply the presence of at least a peril of disobedience, and the universal natural dislike of it, more than implies, it proves the presence of a wish to be free from any obligation or law.

Yes, that primeval revolt, and break from God which was the beginning of actual sin has entered as the Serpent’s poison into the very blood stream of the entire creation, and the very mention of obedience stirs a secret dislike, if not resentment.

It would take too much space to show how, through all time, the one thing which has been God’s supreme obstacle to man’s relationship with Himself has been this inherent disobedience as the active expression of unbelief. On the other hand, it would take volumes to show fully how every movement into fellowship with God in His great purposes has been based upon a demanded obedience of faith; a test, a challenge and a conflict issuing in a willing capitulation to the Divine will in some general or particular direction.

Here, our only intention is to point out and emphasize the fact that there is no possibility of the slightest true and genuine spiritual progress and growth beyond the point where light received, the Lord showing His mind, has not had a definite response in practical obedience. Time does not change this, and no matter how long we go on or imagine that the matter is passed over, when at length the real question of approval for particular usefulness arises, we shall be brought right back to the hindrance of that reserved obedience. It is like the presence and secret working of some injury in the physical system which flares up when a particular demand is made years after. God does not live in time. All past and future is present with Him.

But there is a realm of obedience which is not law but love, and love transforms the unlovely to delight.

Hence the Apostle Paul, in calling for an obedience which would make possible a spiritual enlargement, puts the matter on the basis of love, and then gives the supreme example of the obedience of love.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ, Who… became obedient” (Phil. 2:5).
It is those whose love for the Lord leads to swift actions in relation to light received, who make swift progress, and are seen to grow up in beauty before the Lord. On the other hand, those who are careless or rebellious when the Lord has spoken, and tardy in response, that is practical response, are marked by repeated defeats, recurrent bouts of spiritual cloudiness, and inability to meet an emergency demand when it arises. Too often this lack of obedience, or positive disobedience, is due to its origin in Satan’s Pride .

The second thing to be mentioned here is

That Unrecognized Thing — Adjusting.

One of the most common causes of spiritual stratification is fixedness (fixed mindset). It is peculiarly common in the realm where Christian truth has been reduced to a fixed form, particular order, system of things, greed and creed. The doctrines of Christianity are such and such; so many says.

The accepted and established ideas of Christian service and methods are so-and-so. Peter had his fixed position as to Jews and Gentiles, and, because of it, came perilously near missing the larger purpose of God, and presented the Lord with a real battleground in his Christianity. It has so very largely resolved itself into a finality of position, which results in a closed-door to fuller revelation as to what God means by His Word.

The fact is, that God only gives us enough light to get us to take the next step, but when that step has been taken, we are in the way of being shown that much more was meant by the Lord than He showed then (this is clearly shown in His dealings and relationship with all listed Heroes of Faith). The first expectations of many servants of the Lord in the Bible, expectations resultant from something said by the Lord to them, were later seen to have been not all that He really meant, but there was something more, and perhaps other than they thought.

Can anyone really dispute that full light very often means a shedding of things and ideas that we thought were of God? Is it not true that, as we go on, we find that certain leading of the Lord were tactical, intended to get us to a certain place where alone we could learn of a greater necessity? There is very much of this kind of thing in relation to both doctrine, practice, and service its nature and ways, and while Divine principles will never change to all eternity, the clothing of those principles may vary and change with both dispensations and generations and stages of our own lives.

In all this, while Truth remains unalterable the only way to grow is to be adjustable and not static and fixed.

Do your religious traditions bind you in such a way that you are not free to move with God? If He sees this to be so, He may not give you the light necessary for enlargement. But if He sees that, although you may be in a comparatively false position, your heart is really set on His fulness at any cost, He may present you with light which will test your comitment severely.

See the case of the disciples of John the Baptist transferring their discipleship to Christ. See the case of Peter and what happened in the home of Cornelius. See also the case of Apollos in Acts 18:24–28; as also the disciples mentioned earlier in that chapter.

Our third principle of growth is: That Critical Point Of Committal.

Very often the whole mounting avalanche of Divine working in our lives, an avalanche built up as silently and slowly as the added snowflakes in the Alps, just waits to move with power and overwhelming for that final yet all-inclusive act of committal. We wait; we think, wrestle, contemplate, analyze, go round and round; we reason and argue; we recognize that there is nothing else for it, and even say so; we even come to the point when the matter is settled in our conviction and acceptance, and we think that we are over the hedge, but nothing happens, nothing eventuate. Why is it?

The Lord knows more than we do about the deceitfulness of our hearts.

A covenant has two sides, and in the Old Testament two sacrifices were connected with a covenant; one representing God, the other the offerer; both were killed and the two parties to the covenant were represented as passing between the two (See Abraham in Gen. 15).

There has to be a slaying of something on our side! In other words, God is waiting until we have burned our boats behind us. Though we may have approached the shore of His will and way for us, there will be nothing from God’s side while our boats are just left on the shore so that, if things don’t go quite as we expect, we still can retreat. That boat is an evidence of doubt or reservation. It must be burned, so that whatever the consequences we have no alternatives.

The young believer will not grow unless he or she makes a committal in testimony, so letting others know where they stand. The law holds good in every stage of development and progress. If policy governs, or fear, or how such a step will affect our prospects, or any consideration which conflicts with what we know in our deepest hearts is the way indicated for us, for us, those things are boats or bridges representing a false “Safety first” policy. As when the bleating lambs were preserved by Saul the finger of God will point to them and say, What is the meaning of those boats?

God will wait for the full and final capitulation without a reservation, and to defer is only to be involved in confusion, and either becoming a misfit, having missed God’s first best, or losing out altogether.

I leave you at this stage with the revelation in Ephesians 1: 15 – 19.
Shalom
Rebecca

Reference: T Sparks

The Riches of HIS Grace


“In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).
In his Letters the Apostle Paul uses the word ‘riches’ some thirteen times. Each occasion has a context which is deeply valuable. From these we take this one: “The riches of His grace”, and we are going to let David and Solomon be our example of this superlative grace. I would just like that you look at one or two fragments in the first book of the Chronicles, chapter 28, verses 1-6:

“And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that served the king by course, and the captains of thousands, and the captains of hundreds, and the rulers over all the substance and possessions of the king, and of his sons, with the officers and the mighty men, even all the mighty men of valour, unto Jerusalem. Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: as for me, it was in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God; and I had made ready for the building. But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou art a man of war, and hast shed blood. Howbeit the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me out of all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be prince; and in the house of Judah, the house of my father: and among the sons of my father he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel: and of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.”
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 3:1).
“And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (2 Chronicles 1:1).


We have said that the summit of Old Testament fullness was reached in Solomon, and we shall find that Solomon will lead us to Christ, and then Solomon will be eclipsed, as out of view, when the Greater than Solomon is here. Solomon’s wealth and wisdom and glory and heritage are proverbial and fabulous, renowned, and far famed. He does represent the summit of kingship and glory in the Old Testament. Jesus Himself acknowledged the greatness of Solomon on two occasions, you remember. He pointed to the flowers in the field and said: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Solomon in all his glory was proverbial, even in those days; Jesus Himself acknowledged it. On another occasion He said: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon,” acknowledging the great place that Solomon had in the world of wisdom. But then Jesus added after that, “Solomon in all his glory”, and ‘Solomon in all his wisdom’, that “a greater than Solomon is here”. Solomon fades when Jesus arrives. The unsearchable riches of Christ! We have, then, to consider how in various respects Jesus is greater than Solomon.

One thing that we have been saying, and that is in our hearts in this time together, is our great need for a new apprehension of the Lord Jesus to adjust everything for us. But there are two preliminary considerations before we can proceed with this matter. Why did God magnify Solomon? For it says that “the Lord magnified Solomon above all that have been before him”. The Lord endowed Solomon with this fabulous, proverbial greatness of wealth, dominion and wisdom. Why did He do it? God from eternity has only one person in view, and that person was not Solomon, nor any other one but His Son, and if the Lord so magnified Solomon, it was to bring His Son, the still greater, into view. Through the greatest thing He could do here on this earth to lead on to the much greater of the heavenly. God had His Son in view, the other One, the Greater than Solomon, and that is why He did it. I wish Solomon had known that! It would have saved him a great deal of historic tragedy. If we really saw that, and this One, this only One, were ever filling our vision, all these tragedies, mistakes and blunders that we make – or that Solomon did later – would be obviated.

Oh, the wonderful things that God said seemingly about Solomon could never possibly have been fulfilled in Solomon himself. They were quite beyond him! God was reaching beyond this man in the things that He seemingly said about him, and to him, and you have to pick up your New Testament in order to discover to Whom they really applied. Well, we may come on that as we go on, but the point is that we must not see Solomon as just the end in himself. We must look through him to Another and see that God in His sovereignty magnified and glorified this Solomon only with another One in view, and in the long run we shall see the Greater than Solomon, the Greater than the greatest that God has ever done on this earth.

Another thing we must remember in this preliminary consideration is that Solomon was not really himself. I mean this: Solomon was his father, David. Solomon was the fullness of his father, David, and you can never see Solomon without seeing David. That is, it was not so much the person as the significance of the person that is present in contemplating Solomon. When you turn to the New Testament, Solomon is only referred to, at most a half a dozen times, almost in a casual way, but David is referred to in a very positive way over thirty times. That is a statement you must dwell upon, of course, to verify. When you open your New Testament at the first book, the Gospel by Matthew, you find that you have read but a few words and you are on David. He comes there, in that place of priority, right at the beginning of the New Testament. You go through the New Testament and, as I have said, you will find yourself with David more than thirty times. Right on the last page, in the twenty-second chapter of the book of the Revelation, David creeps up again. This man is something very wonderful, very full, and he has a very large place. There is one clause in Isaiah 55, and repeated in the New Testament, which defines this as “the sure mercies of David”. Oh, to be able to plumb the depth of that! This morning we shall see a little of it – “the sure mercies of David”.

All that pertained to Solomon was “the sure mercies of David”, and that brings us to the first of the greatnesses, the first of the “unsearchable riches of Christ”, the first in Ephesians, and everywhere and always: The riches of His grace. Have you seen the riches of His grace as conveyed to us by Solomon? Having seen the great eminence of glory, of wealth, of wisdom to which God brought this man Solomon, we have to look to see where it all began. Where did all that begin?

There is a very dark background indeed to Solomon’s birth and life. We have said that he was the fullness of his father, David. Solomon was the son of David’s old age. He was not the only son – we read: “God hath given me many sons”. We know some of them, and one in particular – Absalom. But Solomon was the son of David’s old age, and it was an old age full of shadows: the shadows of tragedies, of sorrows, and of great mistakes. Solomon was related to the darkest clouds in David’s life.

We know the story of David’s great sin with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah. David, relaxing wrongly at the time when kings go out to battle, went up to the housetop (there are relaxations which are very dangerous!) and from the housetop he espied that beautiful woman, Bathsheba, and coveted her. His passions rose and he said: ‘I must have her.’ Passion is a very, very fertile thing in evil, and so he schemed to get her. You know the rest of the story – how he planned, plotted, to get her husband, Uriah, in the forefront of the battle, and then told the other fighters to retire and leave him alone to the enemy, which they did. Uriah was left and slain according to David’s precalculated plan, and they came back to David and told him: ‘It has succeeded. Uriah is dead.’ Then David sent to fetch Bathsheba, and he took her. The child born of that iniquitous union was smitten by God. He languished for days and then he died. Nathan, the prophet, went to David with a message from God and wrapped it up in a parable about something that happened in the city, and he painted it in such lurid pictures that David rose in anger, in wrath, and said: ‘The man who has done such a thing shall die.’ Nathan pointed at him and said: “Thou art the man!” Nathan brought home the accusation in a smashing, crushing blow, and then added: “Thou shalt not die.” We will see the point of that in a moment.

The depth and greatness of David’s sin is seen in those terrible confessions, heart-brokenness and sorrows. We have to look at the Psalms, for they are touched here and there with this. In Psalm 32: “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.” Psalm 38 verse 18: “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” And then a whole Psalm – Psalm 51 – one of the most terrible bits of literature in existence. Look at the heading of this Psalm: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” … “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in thy sight.” So the whole Psalm, which we will not read, but one more fragment: “Deliver me, O God, from bloodguiltiness.” Here we are; broken-hearted, penitent, standing at God’s tribunal, pleading for mercy, full of self-condemnation, a conscience stained with iniquity, and God’s face turned away, a desolation of heart. He cries: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, have mercy upon me.”

David had sinned the sin which put him beyond the pale of the virtue of all the Levitical sacrifices. If you read the sacrifices and the conditions, you will find that they do not cover this sin, they have no provision for this. Even the cities of refuge which provided for the man-slayer would not take in David, because the man-slayer who found refuge there was the man who had caused someone to die inadvertently, without premeditation, by accident. So there was no provision for him, a man who had premeditated, planned, schemed, and brought about a death; the city of refuge had no place for him. No sacrifice is provided for him, therefore. In this Psalm 51, David says: “Sacrifice and offering and burnt offering thou desirest not” – ‘It is no good. I have not any.’ He was out of the pale of all their sacrifices and their virtue by premeditation. Oh, how far this man had gone! No wonder his conscience made him cry out like this! Uriah’s death – murder – lies at David’s door, and the little innocent babe’s death lies at his door. What are you going to do with a man like that? What are you going to do with a sin like that? It is outside the pale of all God’s Mosaic prescribing. What answer have we got to this? How can this man escape? How can glory be the end of that? There is only one answer, and there is an answer: Grace! Grace goes beyond all Old Testament limits.

David is the greatest Old Testament example of pardon through Grace. Remember that! That is why he is brought into view so much. That is the meaning of “the sure mercies of David”. Why of David? Unsearchable riches of His grace! The son gathers into himself all that meaning of Divine grace, what grace can do in relation to a situation like that. How glorious! Glory can follow grace. “The glory of HIS grace” is a phrase in Ephesians. My, how deep!

You ask: Can there be anything greater, a greater demonstration of grace than that toward David represented in a temporal way in Solomon? (Underline that word ‘temporal’.) Can there be anything greater than that? Is there greater grace than that represented by Solomon? Oh, yes: “A greater than Solomon is here!” As Son of Man, God’s Son came into the inky darkness and blackness of the sin of the whole race, not of one man. He bore the judgment of that sin upon the whole race and brought God’s infinite grace to the world – to the world!

Look again at that cross on Calvary’s hill! Take another look, and listen. Listen to that bitter, heartbroken cry: “Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani?” … “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The word embracing all time and eternity: “forsaken… forsaken”, David may have tasted something of that. Dear friends, when you look at that cross and hear that cry, you touch the deepest, deepest depth of human tragedy, that is, that the race, but for the grace of God, is God-forsaken eternally. If you have ever tasted a deep, deep sorrow within the compass of human capacity, you know that that hour of darkness is like an eternity. It is not momentary; it is like an eternity. It seems that an end of things for ever has been touched. In that moment when Jesus cried “forsaken, forsaken”, He touched the eternity of man’s destiny outside of God. That cry with that word “forsaken” is the measure of human depravity. We have yet to feel the tremendous impact of the Cross in this sense – that if Jesus had not gone there for us, we would be eternally forsaken of God. The face of God is turned away. The blackness and darkness of eternal doom rests upon the race – but for the Cross of Jesus Christ and what He has done there as forsaken.

Have you ever tasted the slightest drop of death? Oh, yes, it is possible, even in our Christian, spiritual life. I confess that there have been times when I wondered if the Lord had gone out of my universe, if He was really still alive and if He had not forgotten me. I cried: ‘Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious?’ It was as though the Lord had gone. I could not find Him. I would pray, but I could not touch Him. A little experience like that is not God forsaking us, thank God! It never is, for He said: “I will never forsake you”, but a little consciousness of the remoteness of the Lord from us is the worst experience of tragedy in our life. Oh, it is the most awful thing to have to go for a little while without the realization of the Lord, to be groping for the Lord and not finding Him, like Job, a righteous man: “I go on the right hand, he is not there; on the left, he is not there; I go forward, he is not there. Oh, that I knew where I might find him!” Have you had any experience at all like that? I do not want you to have it if you have not. Do not covet it. But some of you might just know a day, or a few days or more, of: ‘Oh, where is the Lord? Where is the Lord?’ It may be that the Lord lets us know something about that to bring us into that fellowship of His suffering and to make us understand how great a thing He has done for us, for He does not believe in theories and doctrines. The Lord is very practical. Experience is His school, and He will teach us in that heavy school of experience.

Yes, a greater than Solomon or David is here. He came, and He touched the deepest depth of human depravity which is found in that word “forsaken”. Anybody who does not believe in the depravity of human nature, and a total depravity, has not yet seen the Cross of the Lord Jesus, and seen us there, forsaken of God, on the one side. Yes, grace reaches the deepest point of human tragedy, and that is man’s forsakenness, but for Christ. Grace! What a word this is! If Solomon, in all his glory, was brought out of that terrible iniquity, judgment, outside of the pale of Levitical provision; if all his glory comes out of that, what can you say about it? What word is there to explain it? Only this one: Grace! We will go around that word for all time and all eternity.

Dr. J. H. Jowett, who was one of the greatest preachers of the last century, said this: “There is a word I have wrestled with so much. There is no word with which I have wrestled more than this one: Grace! It is like expressing a great American forest in a word. No phrase can express the meaning of grace. Grace is more than mercy, it is more than tender mercy, it is more than a multitude of tender mercies. Grace is more than love, it is more than innocent love. Grace is holy love, but it is holy love instantaneously going out in eager quest toward the unholy and the unlovely. It is the ministry of a great sacrifice, to redeem the unholy and unlovely into the beauty of God. The grace of God is holy love on the move to thee and to me and the like of me and thee. It is God’s unmerited, undeserved going out toward the children of man that He might bring them into the glory and brightness of His own likeness.” Well, that is an attempt to define this word.

Was not Paul right in speaking of the unsearchable riches of His grace? And Paul knew what he was talking about. There was a background to this man’s life. ‘I am not worthy,’ said he, ‘to be called an apostle. I persecuted the church.’ He was on his knees before the Lord, and the Lord was showing him His grace and His mercy. He said: ‘But, Lord, when Your servant Stephen was martyred, I was there, giving my consent. What ground have I for apostleship? What ground have I to be anything at all? My hands are stained with bloodguiltiness, all premeditated, designed and enacted with terrific force. How dare I look up into Thy face and be a disciple, a child of God, to say nothing about being an apostle!’ “But unto me, who am less than the least of all the saints, was this grace given to preach among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
If you cannot comprehend me, may the Lord register the impression upon us!

Prayer: How easily, with facile speech, we repeat: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Oh, Lord, challenge us with that word, lift us with that word, save us with that word. Can we dare to say, glorify us with that word? Oh, if all the words are forgotten, and our human efforts to convey it fail entirely, leave the impression! The grace of God is indeed the greatest thing in this universe for humans such as we are. We commit it to Thee; oh, give us to glory in Thy grace, for Thy Name’s sake. Amen.

Philip and the Ethiopian


And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert— Act_8:26

God Removed Philip from the Middle of Evangelistic Success

Philip was in the full tides of work for Christ when the message came from God that he must leave it. He had been preaching in Sebaste, the old city of Samaria, and his preaching had been crowned with wonderful success when suddenly there came the angel of the Lord with this summons to get southward towards Gaza. It was a strange command, swiftly and well obeyed. There was nothing of the spirit of Jonah about Philip. Perhaps Philip remembered Jesus in the desert and thought he was going to meet his Master there. Then came the hour when the chariot rolled by. It was a very picturesque and lordly equipage. Its occupant was the chancellor of the Nubian exchequer, and he was reading aloud, as the Eastern custom is. A few broken syllables fell on Philip’s ear in the brief respite of the jolting and the jarring, and Philip (to whom the Old Testament was doubly precious now) recognized the priceless chapter of Isaiah. Did he remember the prophecy of the psalms, Ethiopia soon shall stretch out her hands to God” (Psa_68:31). Here was the stretched-out hand of Ethiopia, and God had so ordered it that it was not stretched in vain. Philip ran up to the side of the chariot— it was going very slowly on that rough desert road. He asked the courtier if he understood the chapter. The answer came, “How can I, without a guide?” And the passage closes with the preaching of a Savior, and with the conversion, baptism, and joy of this true seeker from afar for God.

From Crowds to an Individual: the Value of an Individual

Note then the value of a single soul. It must have seemed very strange and dark to Philip that he should be summoned from his Samaritan work. The tide was with him; enthusiasm was heightening vast crowds were moved by the preaching of Christ crucified. It would have been hard to leave all that through sickness; it was doubly hard to do it when well and strong. Could no one else be found for that desert work? Was it right to leave the thousands in Samaria for the single chariot of a southern courtier? I am sure that Philip had many a thought like that, for he was a man of like passions with ourselves. Then gradually it would grow very clear to him that a single soul must be very dear to God. He would remember how the shepherd had left the ninety and nine that the one sheep in the desert might be found. From that hour on to the day he died, Philip held fast in all his work for Christ to the infinite worth, in the eyes of Christ, of one. We must never forget that in a busy city. Where God is, we are not lost in any crowd. We are separately precious and separately sought. In the love of Jesus we all stand alone. One by one we are found and led and humbled till the day break and the shadows flee away.

Disappointed in Jerusalem, the Courtier Did Not Quit

Again observe that the earnest do not despair when disappointed. There is something very noble in this courtier. There is a touch of true greatness in the man. In a heathen court and with everything against him, his life had grown into a great cry for God. Somehow, he had got his hands on the Old Testament. Never a Jewish trader came to Meroe but the chancellor had earnest converse with him until at last nothing would ease his heart but the resolve to journey to Jerusalem. The Temple was there, and the priests and scribes were there—would he not learn all that he craved for there? And now he is returning homeward, a weary, baffled, disappointed man. He had craved for bread— they had given him a stone. He had cried, like Luther when he first saw Rome, “Hail, Holy City“; and the holy city had brought no solace to him. How many a man, in such a disappointment, would have cast his Scripture to the winds of heaven? But the eunuch was of another mould than that. His was too great a heart to nurse despair. He must still seek; he must still read; he must still study. He was deep in Isaiah on that desert road. And it was in that hour when his journey seemed so useless and his hope was quenched and his heart was sick and weary— it was then that he stepped into the light of Christ. We must remember there are disappointments in all seeking  There come times when we all seem baffled in our quest. We are tempted to ask,  What is the use of it? Is it worth while? Had we not better give in? We are often brought to the point of losing heart. In such moods recall the Ethiopian. He would still hold to it in spite of all failure. And on the day when everything seemed vain, the footsteps of the dawn were on the hills.

God Ordained What He Thought a Chance Meeting

Then lastly, God is behind many a chance meeting. I think that the driver of this Nubian chariot was not a little startled to see Philip; it was an unlikely place to light on any traveler. And when he got home to the stables of his master and told the story by the fire at night, all would agree that this accidental meeting had been one of the strange chances of the road. But we know that the meeting was not that. The hand of God had ordered and prepared it. It had been arranged for in the plans of heaven, though it seemed an accident to the dusky charioteer. We must believe that it is often so. Our friendships and comradeship’s do not begin haphazard. We seem to be thrown across each other’s path, but the hand of God has been ordering the way. Two people meet— we call the meeting chance. But life will be different evermore for both. It were well to strike out chance from our vocabulary, and in its place to put the will of God.

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