Everlasting Consolation!

George Everard, 1882
 

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work!" 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Everlasting consolation! What a resting-place is here for the anxious, troubled heart! What a sweet thought for the children of Zion! Seasons of sorrow, and loss, and hardship come from time to time and try our faith. The stormy deep engulfs vessels small and great. The wreck chart for each year tells its sad tale of life sacrificed and cargoes lost. Many a home loses its stay. Hard times, broken banks, bankruptcies, failing crops, and what not, bring many a one to the brink of poverty and need. Coming years will have their troubles also. In many quarters, the horizon looks dark and lowering. Perhaps to some reader the heaviest burden you have yet known may not be far off. But if God is your refuge and strength, and the Lord Jesus Christ is your stay, you need not fear. The God of all power and might, the faithful God, the God of Providence, and the God of peace He is on your side; and if God is for you, who can be against you? You have "everlasting consolation."

"Everlasting consolation!" Whence does it arise? In a world so full of trouble, whence can come comfort and hope and peace that can never end? It is the fruit of God's everlasting love. It flows down to us from the heart of God. It is the gift of Him who is "the Father of mercy and the God of all comfort," who "comforts those who are cast down," who has promised that as "one whom his mother comforts," so will He comfort His people. God loves to comfort those who trust in Him. He bids His ministers "speak comfortably to Jerusalem." He has given His Word, that we "through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."

So He gives "everlasting consolation." In His tender mercy, He marks every sorrow that weighs upon the heart of His redeemed child. He can see the conscience wearied with the burden of guilt, and the mind oppressed by life's cares, and the spirit broken and dejected by bereavement, or poverty, or disappointment. He sees it all. He does not despise the sighing of a contrite heart, nor the desire of such as are sorrowful; and so He provides Heavenly consolation to cheer, and refresh, and uphold us. It all springs from His fatherly love. In His everlasting love, He gave His Well-Beloved Son for us. In love He has drawn us to Himself. In love He numbers us with His own children. In love He opens wide His hand, and gives us everlasting consolation.

"Everlasting consolation!" In what does it consist? Who shall utter it? Who shall tell out the countless streams of joy which our Father has provided to gladden the hearts of His children? Eternity alone can reveal yet will never exhaust the glorious theme. Ages and ages will roll by, yet will there be "more to follow" more manifestations of God's love; more cause for rejoicing in all that He provides for us.

But though as yet we know but little, let me endeavor to touch on six unspeakable benefits bestowed upon us in the Gospel, each one of which will furnish matter for praise and thanksgiving throughout our earthly pilgrimage, and for evermore in the kingdom of our Father.
 

1. We have in Christ, an unalterable, abiding justification. Sin, unworthiness, failure of every kind, neglect, shortcoming, backsliding we have continually to confess with shame and sorrow before God. But in Christ we stand justified and accepted evermore. He has made a blessed exchange with us. He has taken our sin and given us His righteousness! Our guilt and iniquity was laid at His door and borne by Him on the cross and His merit and worth was reckoned to us as if it were our own. Hence, before God a believer stands as if he had never sinned. Nay, more, he is as righteous and well-pleasing to the Father as His only-begotten Son. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8.1). "By Him all who believe are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13.39). What a spring of joy is here! What an antidote to a troubled conscience! What a blessed help in trusting God and in serving Him gladly!

To be freely, perfectly justified,
to be clear from every charge of transgression,
to have "nothing but love between God and the soul"
  is the beginning of Heaven upon earth!
 

2. An unfettered access to the mercy-seat. When justified, there is no barrier in our approach to the throne of grace. The veil is rent, and the way into the holiest lies open to the least of the household of grace. By the blood of Christ, we have boldness to draw near. By Him as our Advocate and High Priest, we may come and pour out our hearts before God. It is reckoned a privilege to have constant access to an earthly sovereign, to have the run of the palace, to be able to go and ask a favor at any time of a King, Queen, or Emperor. But the Christian has a right of access to the Great King who rules both Heaven and earth! He can go to Him as a little child. He can go with the fullest assurance that every request shall be answered "in kind, or in kindness." The least sigh of a broken heart, the least breathing of a troubled spirit reaches the Father's ear. He is ever more ready to hear than we to pray, and is accustomed to give more than we desire or deserve.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
 

3. The unfailing promises of a God of power and truth. Look at those ten thousand lamps hanging out from beneath the canopy of Heaven. Look at those glorious stars shining out so brightly in the firmament. But what are these compared to the numberless promises shining out so clearly in the sky of revealed truth? We have "exceeding great and precious promises." They are all sure, "Yes and Amen in Christ Jesus." They bear the signature of Him who cannot lie, and "with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning." They concern the past, the present, and the future. They remind us . . .
that all that is past is freely forgiven,
that for the present every need shall be met, and
that in the future nothing shall separate us from God's love.

There is not a fear we can cherish, no doubt that may trouble or perplex, no temptation that may beset us but in the promise there is an answer of peace. Read but a few of them.

"I the Lord your God will hold your right hand, saying unto you: Fear not, I will help you."

"Those who fear the Lord shall not lack any good thing."

"He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Study these promises. It is said that there are no less than thirty thousand of them scattered through the pages of Holy Scripture. By the aid of God's Spirit, ponder them, live upon them, delight yourself in them, and you will never lack the comfort you require.
 

4. The unshaken security of God's protecting care. When the English army was in the Peninsula, Wellington was most anxious to provide for them a sure retreat in case of peril, so he provided for them the three lines of defense at Torres Vedras. Altogether there were fifty-nine miles of fortified heights, mounted by about six hundred guns, and here the British army was safely shielded, so that their adversaries could not reach them.

Just so, what lines of defense has the Almighty Jehovah provided as a shelter and fortress for His people!

His counsel and purpose, which never can be overthrown;
His presence and the omnipotence of His arm;
His solemn oath, confirming every promise which He has made.

What a defense is here! Never need the child of God be afraid.

"If God is for us then who can be against us?" Is it true that we have many against us? Is it true that foes and enemies and slanderers would injure us if they could? Is it true that human tempters, flatterers, and enticers would turn our feet into forbidden paths? Is it the great adversary who sorely attacks our souls? Is it that armies of troubles, cares, difficulties, home discomforts, short trade, bad debts it may be twenty or thirty things on which you could put your finger are ever against you? Is it your own sinful self, your own naughty heart, that is always making you go wrong, and bringing you into distress?

Look at and survey them all look at them in all their craft, violence, power; and then over against them set one name GOD, OUR God His arm, His strength, His wisdom, His unfailing resources; myriads of angels at His bidding to uphold; ways of deliverance that He can provide when to your eye there is no possible means of escape; grace here, and glory in sure and blessed confidence of God's protection.
 

5. The unchanging friendship of the Lord Jesus. "There is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother." This friend is Jesus, and He never fails those who lean on Him. He is ever with them.

By night and by day,
on the mount and in the valley,
at home and abroad
He is ever near at hand, always within call, so that no look of distress nor cry for aid is disregarded. He is always kind kinder than the kindest; forbearing and forgiving.

A widow was once telling her trouble to a clergyman: "I have only one brother left to care for me, and his heart has grown cold towards me, and he will help me no more." But there is One whose heart never grows cold; who, loving once, will love forever. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." He never fails to help. In darkest hours, He comes to cheer the fainting heart.

One who had been left all alone in the world, bereaved of those who had been her stay, could say, "When I go to rest at night, the Savior comes so near to me that it seems as if He were walking by my side." Here is the sweetest consolation it is possible to enjoy this side the grave. When the north wind of adversity blows, when the bitter east wind of desolation or disappointment chills the heart then lean on the Best Friend, the Brother, the Bridegroom of the soul. Trust His kindness and His help, and think of Him as always by you.

And here the very Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, will assist you. He will manifest Christ to you, and make His presence a felt reality; so that He shall indeed be to you . . .
nearer than the nearest,
dearer than the dearest,
a shelter from every stormy blast, and
an unfailing habitation in a changing, dying world.
 

6. The unclouded glory of the Celestial City. Now we have Christ with us then we shall go and dwell with Him, to behold His glory, and never more to go out from His presence.

All tears wiped away,
all cares and fears hushed to rest on His bosom,
all life's sorrows and sufferings left behind,
disease and death no more known
what this will be after our life of trial here, who can tell?

All joys meet here. There will be the joy of perfect deliverance from former ills. If Israel rejoiced standing on the borders of the Red Sea, and seeing the enemy dead on the shore then what will be the joy of the Christian in bidding an everlasting farewell to every sin, sorrow, and temptation? There will be the joy of reunion. Great is often the joy of welcoming home a long-absent husband, a brother, or friend but what will the joy hereafter be of meeting again those who have fallen asleep in Christ, once dearly loved, but long parted from us? There will be the joy of the Master's approval. To serve Him has been the desire of the heart now; what will it be to hear from His lips the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

There will be the joy of harvest. The sheaves will be gathered in. All faithful toil, all believing intercessions, all cheerful gifts and hearty efforts in the Lord's service, will have their reward in souls saved, in manifest fruit to the praise and glory of God.

We may catch some glimpses of the joy of that day, but it lies far beyond our thoughts. It is true of a believer's joy now, but much more hereafter, "Eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

"Everlasting consolation!" What various streams meet to fill to overflowing the river of God's pleasures for a season here, then above at the Father's right hand!

Shall it be yours?

Is it yours today?

Is the record of your sins forever blotted out through the blood of the Lamb?

Is the image and the mind of Christ the object you truly seek?

Is there in your heart a true love to the Savior's name?

Are you confessing Him before men by a holy life, and by your zeal in advancing His kingdom?

Remember, it is written, "If any man has not the spirit of Christ, he is none of His." "He who is not with Me, is against Me." "If any man loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha" that is, accursed at the Lord's coming.

"Everlasting consolation!" Is it yours? Have you a good hope through grace? Have you eternal life through faith in Christ? If not, what is the alternative?

If you are yet without Christ, unpardoned, living in the world, and for the world, and like the world to what must it lead? Is it not this everlasting condemnation? One or other must be yours:

Everlasting Consolation in Christ or out of Christ everlasting condemnation. Which will it be? Judge your own self. Let there be no uncertainty. If you have never before come to the Savior, come to Him now, and yield up yourself to his care and keeping. Cast yourself on His free mercy, and give your heart and life to Him for evermore.

Return, and come to God,
Cast all your sins away;
O seek the Savior's cleansing blood,
Repent! believe! obey!