Love Put to the Proof

by James Smith, 1860

It is not every man's religion, which will stand the test. Many a man's profession has looked fair enough until it has been tried, and then it has proved to be counterfeit. How important then is self-examination and looking well to our foundation. Unless founded on Christ the fabric will fall. Unless our religion is the work of God it will fail us in the day of trial. God's religion . . .
captures the heart for Him,
  devotes the life to Him, and
  prepares us to part with whatever is called for by Him.

Such was Abraham's religion, which God put to so severe a test; and to whom when he was tried, the angel said, "Now I know that you fear God seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me!" Genesis 22:12.

The Principle. Godly fear. "You fear God."

In order to fear God, with a holy, filial fear we must KNOW Him. Know Him as a gracious, merciful, covenant God. Know Him as revealed in Jesus. Know Him as a Father the Father of mercies, the God of all grace.

We must BELIEVE Him. In order to which we must have His Word, especially His precious promises. Exercising faith in them we shall have confidence in Him, and trust Him to make them good.

We must LOVE Him. Our love to Him will be regulated by our knowledge of Him, and our faith in Him. Just in proportion as we receive into our minds, the lovely representations of Himself which God has given in His Word, and by His Son, and according to the degree of faith we exercise in Him will be our love to Him.

Love will lead us to FEAR Him, filling our hearts with profound reverence, and making us afraid to offend Him, or grieve Him, or disobey Him, or withhold anything from Him and that, just because we love Him. The one ruling desire of our souls will be to please God. This was Abraham's case, therefore when God tried him he came off victorious.

The Proof. "You have not withheld your son your only son from Me." God requires proof of the sincerity of our profession, when we profess to prefer Him to all besides.

The proof that God requires, is sometimes COSTLY. We must sacrifice our best that which we love most, that which we prefer to all we have besides.

The proof that God requires, is often PAINFUL. We must pluck out the right eye, and cut off the right hand or lay our beloved Isaac upon the altar!

The proof that God requires, is also at times, the most UNLIKELY. Who would have thought that God would have required such a sacrifice from Abraham? Would not any of his flocks or herds do? Would not a favorite servant do? Would not Ishmael do? No! It must be his dear son Isaac! This was God's requirement.

Abraham listened to God's voice, he bowed to God's authority, he yielded to God's requirement, he determined to obey God's command. Noble deed! Worthy of the friend of God.

Now he prepares for the deed he takes his son, he travels to Mount Moriah, he builds the altar, he binds the lad, he takes the knife, he is just about to slay his son! In his intention he had sacrificed him. Now the angel calls to him, "Lay not your hand upon the lad!" Why?

The Testimony. "Now I know that you fear God seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me." I have proved you now. You have manifested your sincerity. I acknowledge what I knew before and will hold you up as an example to My church, in all future generations.

God will try our principles! Sooner or later He will bring us to the test. Let us therefore seek grace to prepare us to stand the test as Abraham did. God will approve of our ready obedience. He did in the case of Abraham He does in every case. Let us therefore promptly do whatever appears to us to be the will of God. Let us imitate David, who said, "I made haste, and delayed not, to keep Your precepts!"

God will publish the proof of our faith and love! He published Abraham's in His holy Word and He will publish ours before an assembled world. "Whoever shall confess Me before men him I will confess also before My Father who is in heaven."

Let us now turn the subject, and standing before Calvary's cross, look up to God, and say, "Now I know that You love me seeing You have not withheld Your son, Your only son from me!"

Did Abraham furnish a costly proof of his love to God, when he offered up his Isaac? What a proof of His love, has God given us in that He spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all!

Did Abraham sacrifice his own son, with his own hand, at least in intention? God did so in reality and in fact! It pleased the Lord to bruise Him! He has put Him to grief. It was His own sword, in His own hand which pierced His beloved Son to His heart! Therefore Jesus cried, "Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from Me!" O what love! O what a costly proof of God's love!

As God has not withheld from us His Son but has sacrificed Him for our sins, and by His death made an atonement for our transgressions can He then withhold from us any inferior good? Will He not with Him also will He not after having given Jesus freely give us all things. O Holy and ever blessed Spirit, impress this glorious truth upon my mind, and daily bring it to my remembrance that my heavenly Father, having given His Son to die for me will withhold no good thing from me! Well, well may I say as I stand on Calvary, and gaze on the slaughtered Lamb, "Now I know that You love me seeing You have not withheld Your son, Your only son from me!"