Christ, the Portion of Believers!
William Nicholson, 1855
Christians! The Redeemer with all His glorious salvation, in all His offices, and under all the characters which He sustains—is yours! You may say, with the fullest assurance, "My beloved is mine—and I am His!" You are the objects of the blessed Redeemer's particular care, given into His hands by His and your Father, to be saved by Him . . .
from the guilt and dominion of sin,
from all the powers of darkness, and
from the vengeance of eternal fire!
He executes all of His offices on your behalf:
As a Priest, He has made an atonement for your sin, and reconciled you to God.
As a Prophet, He teaches you all that you need for life and godliness, from His Word.
As a King, He reigns in His Church, and rules in the heart of every believer.
He is a Physician to heal the diseased.
He is a Shepherd to feed and guide His flock.
He is a Counselor to direct them in all the intricate paths of life.
He is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, and whose friendship is unchangeable and everlasting.
He is an Advocate to plead His people's cause.
He is a Redeemer to emancipate their souls from sin's bondage.
He is . . .
a Sun to enlighten you,
a Shield to defend you,
a Door to admit you to Heaven,
a Tree for fruit to nourish you,
a Balm of Gilead to heal your soul maladies!
Well may Christ be called "the Consolation of Israel;" for . . .
His unchangeable grace and mercy,
His perfect obedience,
His sin-atoning death,
His constant divine intercession,
are replete with comfort to the lost and undone sinner.
By the power of Christ's grace . . .
our unbelief receives a death-wound,
our distracting fears are hushed to silence and
we are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory,
while in ecstasy we exclaim, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world!"
I have found him whom my soul loves!
I've found the pearl of greatest price!
My Christ is first, my Christ is last, my Christ is all in all!
Look, Christians, to your Redeemer, and listen to the gracious words that proceed from his mouth:
"As the Father has loved me—so have I loved you."
"You are my friends, if you do what I command you."
"The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me!"
"I am the Good Shepherd. My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand."
What more could your Lord say? Here he opens his heart to you, and declares that no good thing will he withhold from those who are united to him. Oh! contemplate the great object of your devout desires, and look to the glorious Friend who utters these promises, and guides your feeble steps.
Are your minds depressed? The chief Shepherd is always near you; and he who offered his life for you, will undoubtedly make your present and eternal welfare his care. Rest your faith on the Savior's dying love for you, and then you can trust him for all the darksome things on this side of the grave—and all will appear radiant beyond it. If occasionally you sow in sorrow—then you will undoubtedly reap in joy.
The Redeemer is your portion, and he has said,
"My grace is sufficient for you."
"Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world."
The power of Christ is as infinite, as his love is immeasurable!
"All power is given unto him, in Heaven and in earth." The kingdoms of nature, of providence, and of grace, are totally under his control. He is "the mighty God," the Creator and upholder of all things. With what confidence may the people of Christ repose on such an all-powerful Friend! There are no difficulties into which they can be plunged, from which he cannot extricate them. There are no enemies who can effectually contend with them—for Jesus is by their side to protect them.
Are they afflicted with sickness? He can say to the pestilence, "Go!" and it goes.
Are they oppressed with poverty? He can send his ravens to feed them.
Are they immured in prisons? He can commission his angels to deliver them.
Are they in perils of water? The winds and the waves obey his voice.
Are they exposed to ravenous beasts? He can stop the mouths of lions.
Are they cast into the burning furnace? He can quench the burning of fire.
In spiritual concerns is he less mighty to save? Hear his own declaration: "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" Hear the declaration of his holy apostle, Paul: "I know whom I have believed; and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day." What comfortable declarations to the people of Christ!
Satan may desire to have them, that he may sift them as wheat—but stronger is he who is with them, than he who is against them. In themselves they are weak and ready to fall; but underneath them are the everlasting arms. He who loved them and gave himself for them—is able to save them to the uttermost! He "will keep them by his power, through faith unto salvation."
O Christian, every attractive excellence meets in the Redeemer. His heart overflows with compassion to all his people; for in his pity and in his love he redeemed them. Though he is invested with infinite majesty—still he is meek and lowly in heart. The compassion which dwelt in his heart when dying upon the cross, is still existing there. Your friend is "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."
The progress of time changes man; but the revolution of eternal ages will not alter the compassion of God, who is of one mind; and who can turn him? Read his life, mark his conduct, behold him wounded, bleeding, and dying; then listen to his heart, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do;" and it will be acknowledged that,
His heart is made of tenderness,
His affections melt with love.
In accordance with this representation, the Redeemer is said to nourish and cherish the church, "For we are members of his body, and of his flesh, and of his bones." Beautiful and apt representation!
You naturally feel interested in the welfare of your body. You are concerned . . .
to supply it with food,
to shield it from injury and pain,
and to promote its comfort and welfare.
This assiduous and anxious care is declared to be like the care of the Redeemer to nourish and cherish his redeemed people—but how faint the comparison! With a greater fondness than that of a parent bird fostering her young; with more than the tenderness of a compassionate mother nourishing her newborn infant; with a love stronger than that self-love which induces a man to feel for his own body—does Christ care for his church, and feed and bless his flock!
Believers are the peculiar property of Christ. "If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."
We are His, through the purchase of His blood—we are bought with an inestimable price! Delightful thought! The believer can confidently say, "I am the Lord's!" What more can my soul desire, in order to secure its happiness? I am the Lord's—delightful words, as sweet as the harmony of Heaven! Thousands of times might the charming announcement be made, and yet . . .
not all its power is felt,
not all its worth is comprehended,
nor all its glory seen!
I am the Lord's! Then welcome . . .
poverty with all its toils,
persecution with all its frowns,
labors with all their arduousness,
death which will end all my conflicts here, and lead me home to Him whose I am—who loved me, and gave Himself for me!
I am the Lord's! Then against me death can have no power, and for me Satan can produce no claim. I am washed in the blood of Christ, sanctified by his Spirit, stamped with his glorious image, and shall never, never perish!
I am the Lords! Then while eternal ages last, the diadem of glory shall glitter on my brow.
Jesus Christ is the believer's portion—his Redeemer—his brother—his friend! How wonderful the love which applies such endearing names for the comfort of the chief of sinners.
All that is valuable in earthly friendships, and infinitely more—is comprehended in Jesus' friendship to his redeemed people. Earthly friendships are mutual expressions of love, by which each receives, and each gives.
But Oh! how different is the friendship of him who died for us, when we were his enemies by wicked works.
The Savior is an Almighty Friend—but the dearest friends on earth are frail as the flowers of the field. When they have a willing heart—they have often a feeble hand. But Jesus' means are not thus limited. When earthly friends can only weep with those that weep—this Almighty Friend can drive those sorrows away; and when all other friends fail you—he will show himself "a friend that sticks closer than a brother."
O Christians, is Christ your Friend? Is Christ your all? Are you united to him, and he to you? If so, then immense and countless blessings, for time and eternity, result from such a union. Here is enough to alleviate your distress, and to heighten your happiness. This is a sovereign antidote to every human ill. This exalted privilege is calculated to render even mourners happy. Possessed of this privilege, you may calmly look forward to a world where the friendship and love of Jesus shall be enjoyed in higher perfection, through eternal ages. Yes, and in every future season of distress—when the earthly frame shall give symptoms of its decay—in the valley of the shadow of death—amid all the solemnities of judgment, Christ, your friend, will be with you, with all his power, and love, and consolation—as a friend that sticks closer than a brother!
Poor, weak, and worthless, though I am,
I have a rich Almighty Friend!
Jesus, the Savior, is his name,
He freely loves, and without end!
He ransomed me from Hell, with blood,
And by his power my fears controlled,
He found me wandering far from God,
And brought me to his holy fold.
He cheers my heart, my wants supplies,
And says that I shall shortly be,
Enthroned with him above the skies,
Oh! what a friend is Christ to me!