"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
"All the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God."—2 Cor. 1:20
These words are a sacred pledge to the child of God, that his prayers will be heard and answered—that every petition, every longing and desire will be fulfilled, in so far as they may conduce to his present and future happiness.
And why? Because the believer is one with Christ—and of the Savior it is written, "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell." "In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." "In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Now, this fullness, both of wisdom and grace, is intended for the benefit of Christ's Church and people. "All things are yours—for you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
Our Savior frequently dwelt on this precious truth—the oneness which existed between Himself and His followers—in order to assure them that, whatever might be their need—their desire—their emergency—they had only to reveal it unto Him—only to draw near in faith, and with lowly boldness, to a Throne of Grace, and they would receive, out of His infinite fullness, all that was lacking in their sinful selves. Their very existence was bound up with His. "Because I live, you shall live also"—and, if they would be spiritually strong, healthy, and vigorous—if they would, like Him, resist every temptation—do battle with every form of evil—and be able to say as He had done, "My food and drink is to do the will of my Father who is in heaven," then must they "abide in Him," "grow up into Him in all things," follow the example which He left them, and have the "mind which was in Him." It was in this spirit He offered up the prayer in behalf of all His followers, "that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in You, that they also may be one in us;" "I in them and you in me, that they may be made perfect in me."
By various emblems, too, He shadowed forth this truth. He compared Himself to the vine—His people to the branches springing from that vine, and deriving life, nourishment, support from thence. He is represented as "the foundation and the chief corner stone" of the spiritual edifice—His people "the lively stones" built up on Him; and, in order to impress deeply this innermost union of Christ with His people He becomes a "living corner stone," in whom "all the building grows unto an holy temple in the Lord." Again, He is represented as the Head of a mystical body, whereof believers are the component members—as a bridegroom, while His Church is the bride—as a Shepherd, His people the sheep under His watchful care. Thus are the most striking emblems employed, to intimate the closeness—the intimacy—the completeness of this mysterious and most blessed union.
Christian! this is your ground of hope and encouragement in drawing near to the Throne of Grace—in supplicating Divine mercy—in imploring Divine aid—in making known to the Hearer and Answerer of prayer, the longings and desires of your heart. It is in virtue of your union with Christ—that sin is blotted out—guilt is cancelled—the curse is averted—justice is satisfied—God is reconciled. It is in virtue of your union with Christ, that the promises of the covenant of grace are yours—that the riches of heaven's treasury are yours—that all that is Christ's becomes your portion and inheritance. It is in virtue of your union with Christ, that His grace is yours, to strengthen and sustain you—His Spirit is yours, to guide, enlighten, and comfort you—His intercession is yours, to secure for you all needed blessing—His power is yours, to defend you from injury, to secure you against defeat—His heart is yours, into which you may pour all your sorrows, and receive His sympathy—His home is yours, to be your everlasting abode, that where He is, there you may be also.
Oh! what comfort and encouragement in the saddest and darkest hour, amid the sorest ills and the heaviest trials of life—to know that, though unworthy in ourselves to ask anything of God, we may draw near "in Christ Jesus," and feel sure that we have in Him, not only an all-prevailing Intercessor, but One united to us by the closest ties—who is deeply interested in our welfare—One for whose sake the Father will withhold from us no good thing. What more is needed? What more can be desired? Christ as God all-powerful—Christ as Man all-gracious—Christ as God able to save—Christ as Man ready to sympathize—Christ as God alone worthy to present a sufficient atonement and sacrifice for sin—Christ as Man "in all things made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of his people. For, in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to support those who are tempted."
Reader! do you realize the preciousness of this truth—that, to be "in Christ," is to have everything the soul can require, in time and throughout eternity? This is the only real wealth. Earthly possessions pass away—fame, riches, honor—all these are but painted toys—but this is the pearl of great price—the treasure above all treasures—the enduring inheritance. To be "in Christ," is to "have happiness and heaven." He is essential to every soul, and where He is, the root of everything else that is required—truly longed for by a human being—is there too. Henceforth, "there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." The Son of God became the Son of man that He might make us sons of God forever. By His dying He destroyed death, and by His rising to life again, He restored to us everlasting life.
No wonder, the apostle, when contemplating this wondrous truth, should exclaim, "You are complete in Him." Yes, believers are complete—they have a fullness in Christ which nothing can exhaust—a love which passes knowledge—a strength which is omnipotent—and a faithfulness which cannot be questioned. And the more they dwell upon it, the deeper becomes the conviction of their own weakness and Christ's sufficiency—their own emptiness and His fullness—their own ignorance and His wisdom—their own utter inability to keep the path of duty, and their daily, hourly need of Christ to animate, sustain, and guide them.
You are complete in Him. Yes, it is absolute; unconditional; perfect; eternal—for "the word of the Lord endures forever"—"perfect in Christ Jesus." What words are these, from the same man, who says, "In me dwells no good thing?"—"When I would do good, evil is present with me." May we understand this more frequently, and learn to rejoice in Christ Jesus, while we learn, also, to have no confidence in the flesh. It was so with the apostle. He felt that anything was too hard, the simplest thing too difficult, without Christ; the work before him only became possible—easy—when the promise was fulfilled—"My grace is sufficient for you; and my strength is made perfect in weakness." Then he could confidently say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
And the same lesson, namely, that of his own weakness and Christ's sufficiency, is frequently brought home to the believer. By painful and pressing trials—by reverses and misfortunes—by humiliating defeats in the conflict against temptation, is he reminded, that "in him dwells no good thing"—that his own strength is weakness—his own wisdom, folly. He is driven away from self—from all confidence in the flesh, to Him who alone can guide and sustain him. He is rendered more suspicious of inward pride, and, therefore, more earnest in prayer.
And this is the secret of all Christian progress—more earnest in prayer, for supplies of grace—and such supplies of grace will ever be found sufficient. Yes, Christian, although in your daily course you seem to struggle in your duty, and though nothing seems to go on satisfactorily, be assured of this, so long as you are really looking to Christ and relying upon Him—so long is He working in you by His Spirit—however difficult may be your tasks, you will make progress. You perhaps may never perceive it—you may not appear to make a step in advance—but, be not discouraged. Remember, "All the promises of God in Christ are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God;" and these promises are yours.
Suffering Christian! take comfort, and, painful as your trials may be, still come to the Throne of Grace, and humbly claim the fulfillment of those promises, which are yours in Christ Jesus. You will not be sent empty away, but will assuredly receive "grace sufficient" for you. Such has ever been the experience of God's children. Faith has achieved its grandest conquests on straitened and sorrowed fields. God leads His people to Himself through ways that they know not. He sets before them, sometimes, in His deepest love, larger and harder tasks. He beckons them on to steeper heights—with sharper rocks, where they must climb with pain and difficulty. He calls them on and upward, with His own animating voice, to some more splendid, because more grievous sacrifices; but, even when the gloom of darkness seems to have enwrapped them in its folds, they are reminded, that "all the promises of God in Christ are yes, and Amen"—that these promises are theirs, in virtue of their union with Christ. A hand of love is outstretched, and with Jesus by their side, they advance more rapidly, and with firmer step, towards their heavenly home. On the heads of some of His children, God sets special sufferings as crowns of honor—as signs of what great things He has yet in reserve for them, because He will make these crosses, ladders of light, whereby they shall ascend nearer to Himself.
One of the hardest lessons which the children of God have to learn by the seeming rejection and refusal of their requests, is the wisdom and the love of God, in thus apparently thwarting their wishes and desires, and crushing hopes which they fondly cherish. Hard it is to find out the wisdom of such apparent hindrances—how are we to be put forward and upward, by being put back and cast down—encouraged, by being rebuked—prospered, by being baffled. When the company in the "Pilgrim's Progress" had to sit up all night watching at the house of Gaius, Great-heart kept them awake with this riddle—"He that would kill must first be overcome," and, the truth in it has been practically dug out—by trials that broke sleep—through many a hard fortune—in every Christian experience since. It needs wakeful watchers, spiritual eyesight, to read that riddle of life—how defeat helps progress, how a compulsory standing still speeds on—how humiliation exalts—how putting a cross upon the shoulders lightens the burden of the race.
But, Christ has solved the wonder in His own cross—and, in virtue of their union with Him, believers are enabled to do so likewise. They discover that, standing still at the right time—in the right way—is the right purpose—is the surest advance—that waiting on God, enables them to surmount obstacles too great for their own feeble powers, and that the failure of their favorite plans has often proved the richest success of the soul. Let the 'pressure of trouble' drive them down from their own giddy heights of pride and self-confidence and they will come upon the primary foundation, and grow strong out of the rock.
Grief after grief brings us to joy—broken in spirit, we are made whole—humbled, we are exalted—often defeated, we yet gain the victory—and our progress heavenward, is hastened by the very things which we imagine would certainly retard it. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." "In six and in seven troubles," the believer is tried, but in six and in seven troubles, the believer is strengthened; and the various changes and trials of life—the apparent non-fulfillment of God's promises—are all intended to work together for his good—that he may be driven from man to God—from earth to heaven—from broken cisterns to the true fountain—that he may be brought to feel "what is there here to trust in?—where is the arm on which I can lean?—where can I go for support? I have found everything earthly to be unstable, changing, evanescent. In You, O God, and in You alone, can there be no change—Your Word is truth—great is Your faithfulness—therefore to You I fly for refuge, comfort, strength, holiness, and peace.
Reader! as now we draw our meditations to a close, we would, earnestly and affectionately, press upon you the solemn truth, that if you would make progress in the divine life—if you would enjoy inward peace, comfort, hope—if you would "abide in Christ," and glorify your Father in heaven by "bearing much fruit," then you must cultivate the daily habit, of revealing all your longings and desires, to your God and Savior at the Throne of Grace. In this respect, it is not one act of faith that makes us "complete in Him." "We grow up into Him." We are not molded all at once into the image of Christ, we must be "renewed day by day." The divine life of the soul is a breathing life, and its breath is drawn from "fellowship with Christ". Christ is as needful every moment, as He is the first hour of conscious believing on Him. We need Him every night and morning, every struggling, toiling day, as much as when at the beginning of our spiritual history, He makes the sense of His grace and truth dawn upon the soul.
Oh! strive to apprehend this glorious truth—to realize more of a personal, abiding union with Christ, by living near to the Throne of Grace, and by a daily conformity to His image. It is God's declared purpose to give you success in your effort. Rest upon this thought—carry it ever in your heart—do not forget you are called to this glorious work—to go on, from day to day, into more entire conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ. This must be your constant aim, and effort—to part with and to master, every evil desire and passion, until it might with truth be said of you—"He is a Christian, because he is like to Christ." This is your "calling" always to make progress in it, until the last moment of your earthly existence—yes—when your faculties fail you, and you are confined to the bed of sickness, or it may be, the bed of death—the period of active service passed—and, nothing left for you but to bear the will of God—even then will the transformation grow more rapid and complete, up to the last moment, and each of the disciples of Christ shall, in the last faltering moments of death, become like his Master, before he soars away to participate in that Master's glory.
And, Christian, if it would strengthen your faith in the promises of God, and in the efficacy of earnest prayer—if it would encourage you in your difficulties and struggles against sin, to know that Christ is near—to hear Him speak—to take hold of His strengthening hand—know that He is nearer still than this. Every pure thought that rises in your bosom is Christ's suggestion—every holy desire and resolution, the proof that He is at hand—every kindling of the spirit into devotion, the unconscious recognition by the spirit of His heavenly presence. Open the door of the heart to Him, and the very mind and soul of Jesus will pass into yours—your spirit will be suffused with His—the very heart of Jesus will be beating within your bosom. Christ will be in you "the hope of glory," and "beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, you will be changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Most gracious God, in whom alone dwells all fullness of light and wisdom, illuminate our minds, we beseech You, by Your Holy Spirit, in the true understanding of Your Word. Give us grace to receive it with reverence, and humility, and sincere faith. We bless You for the gracious promises which You have given us in Christ Jesus. Dispose us cheerfully to cast upon You all our cares, humbly to commit to Your keeping all our interests, and earnestly to seek the aid of Your strength, and the guidance of Your wisdom, in all our undertakings. Show us more and more the divine fullness and sufficiency of our Lord and Savior, for our spiritual needs. May we receive and rest upon Him alone, as able and willing to save us unto the uttermost. Give us grace continually to abide in Him, that we may bear much fruit. May He be formed within us the hope of glory. As we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so may we walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith, and abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Blessed Savior, do abide in us, and make us wholly Yours. Enable us more faithfully to live as in Your presence. In every season of danger and of trouble, may we look up to You as our very present help. In every hour of trial or temptation may we stand in awe, lest in anything we offend You. And when our course on earth is finished, grant, O Lord, that we may be supported and comforted with Your presence in the valley of the shadow of death, and may at last come to the glories of Your heavenly kingdom, and there be made perfectly blessed in seeing, serving, and enjoying You forever. Amen.
Rejoice, believers, in the Lord;