Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1
The entire 136th Psalm is a series of thanks and praise for God’s faithfulness, followed by the phrase, His love endures forever. In the midst of the chaos of the coming close of the school year, accompanied by various other challenges, my heart is stirred to simply create my own list of thanks for His faithfulness, acknowledging how His love, does indeed, endure forever. Perhaps you too, might take a moment to reflect upon His faithfulness, and how His love endures forever.
His love endures forever.
Protected my babies before their birth,
His love endures forever.
Who provided a house that is our home,
His love endures forever.
Placed us in a loving church of our own,
His love endures forever.
Whom we can fully trust and call upon,
His love endures forever.
Who provides a place to teach and grow strong,
His love endures forever.
Supplies faithful colleagues, whom I call friends,
His love endures forever.
Granted family, Faithful knows no end,
His love endures forever.
To Him who lifts me each time that I fall,
His love endures forever.
And to the Holy, whom hears every call,
His love endures forever.
To the One who sees every tear that’s shed,
His love endures forever.
And to Him who’s leading this life I’ve led,
His love endures forever.
To the One who forgives my every wrong,
His love endures forever.
And to Him who deserves my every song,
His love endures forever.
All praise unto You, Mighty, Righteous One,
Your love endures forever.
To the blessed Savior, Jesus, the Son,
Your love endures forever.
To His Spirit, who shows what need be done,
Your love endures forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You thank Your love lasts forever. Thank You that it is a gift that You give to us, not because we are worthy, but because we are Your created, whom You love. Thank You that when we come to You and surrender ourselves unto You, You meet us where we are, and exchange our sinfulness for Your righteousness, making it possible for us to enter into Your Holy presence, always. Forgive us for not thanking You often enough for Your great faithfulness. Teach us to have an attitude of gratitude, always. Thank You that no matter what is going on around us, our hope is secure in You. May we live and love as You so faithfully and lavishly love us, and may many come to know Your eternal love, personally, as they enter into a lifelong relationship with You. Be exalted, Lord God, as our lives express songs of praise unto You. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” – (Hebrews 13:16)
Community is critical, and I am so thankful that both my school and church community are heavily invested and committed doing good and sharing with others, as these two arenas are the areas where both my boys and I spend the majority of most of our days. Teaching kids the importance of looking outside of themselves to see that there are needs right here in our own community, and empowering them to rise up and take action, is a common occurrence throughout the year, as my school holds a food drive prior to Thanksgiving, and then sponsors families in need prior to the Christmas break, so that children will have gifts to open and families will have meals to share. Similarly, our church creates Thanksgiving baskets for families in need in the community, and then holds an incredible evening event where many businesses and the police department partner with our church to turn the sanctuary into a space where parents are able to come in and select several gifts for each of their children, and then have them wrapped and tagged, while their kiddos are being cared for in another area, unaware of the surprises that will soon be theirs to open.
The good and sharing that we do with others, goes beyond big events. Our time, our resources, and ourselves – these are what He is asking us to share with others, so that they too, may come to call Him King this Christmas. For the time that you have invested in others, even when it was not convenient, know that He is pleased. As you chose to give, even when it meant you did not get something that you may have wanted, He is pleased. Each time you truly listened and heard the heart of another, He has seen you, and with you, He is well pleased.
Forget not to do good,
and give yourself away;
as we extend our hearts,
that’s the choice to obey.
Giving that which we have,
of our talent and time;
God sees and He honors,
each kindness to mankind.
May we go forth and give,
as we have been given;
may His Name be made known,
on earth as in heaven.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have done the ultimate good for us, as You shared Your Son so that we might have the hope of eternal life. Thank You that this is a season, more than any other, that people are receptive to receive the good and sharing that others extend. Forgive us for not making the most of the opportunities You provide, and help us to have open hearts, so that we will hear and obey whatever You ask of us. Teach us to trust You completely, knowing that You are good, and that You are pleased each time we choose to do as You ask of us. Just as a parent is proud of their child when they share and are kind to others, help us to remember that You too, see us through the eyes of a loving Father. May we share with others and do good, not only in this sacred season, but throughout the year – as an offering unto You. May many come to know You as their Savior, as we seek to serve You with our lives. Be exalted, O God. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
Rain, Rain and more Rain…It has been definite monsoon time, early, but trying to not let us slow us.Went to first village Jaganath Thanda and pastor was leading us in along canal bank–only way into village. Came to place the bank washed out and a 3 wheeled auto fell into the torrent of water… We will have to come in February!All along the roads, low water places are covered and is quite an adventure…Midtanpalli–Came to dedicate a good church given by Canyon DEl Oro AG in Tuscon, AZ. One young woman “Rupika” stood to share with huge smile. Since coming to Christ 9 months ago at age 22 life has been so blessed!! She took us to homes!!I asked her what Rupika meant? “It is the name you only gave me 9 months ago when you baptized me!!”We named her Rebecca!! Ha!! Translation…We went to her house… Rebecca married at age 13, her husband died when she was 16, and now 22 has found Christ and no more fear or sickness that plagued her. Many had seen the difference in her and today, her mother, aunt and several others made firm commitments to follow Christ and pull the deities-gods out of their houses!!Kotapahad “Kings house Destroyed” village–Mud and water everywhere.They harnessed a team of oxen to oxcart and we all climbed on and walked 1/3 of mile thru muck and mire with all the Christians following in a long line to the place a nice church is being built. Incredible memory as we watch those 10 year old oxen dip their horns to get under the yoke and such strength to pull…As the Christians all got a brick to sit on, on the foundation of a beginning of a church under stormy clouds, we taught and prepared hearts. Every person joyfully gave for the church 111,250 rs and we match to build!!Oxcart man in his dirty, simple lungi, gave 40,000. What an awesome memory with laughter and joyful people to build Gods house and 7-10 hindus were among the gathered that accepted Christ and also gave. Whole village is less than 10 years old in Christ!!Sublade Village–“Sharp Blade” village–All are 8 years or less in Christ and together we taught and challenged and they gave 175,000rs and we matched to build a strong first church in the village! These are spirit filled people who know how to come into the presence of God!!By Pastor Kerry MauldinOn 21/2 hour drive back to our cots (55 miles) We had an exhibition. We came to place where torrents of water were crossing the road and in dark, holes were washed and people were trying to stand in knee deep water and direct motorcycles across with their loads.We set in jeep watching and learning. No one got hurt, but watching made you want to laugh, but was not funny…Lord help us….We made it back and it has poured all night! I think of so many multitudes we see everyday who live under little plastic tarps over thatch with dirt floor. Several sleep in the church beside us when they as travelers are stranded…So thankful for your prayers and standing with us!!Melody, Jim, Joshua and Kerry
By Pastor Kerry MauldinThis mission has been so awesome in many ways, and had challenges in others!We are healthy and blessed, but this area had political turmoil and all buses shut down and we struggled to find reliable transportation. We got a taxi (5 plus 1) and 9 of us and all our luggage inside. Has no shocks and so so slow to go hundreds of miles… Opportunity to send email for prayer cover has been so challenged!!However:We went to remote area of villages near the quarries.We pull up to Chinthalapeta (Sorrow Village) and are greeted by some villagers.We follow these bare footed friendly people into a thicket of scrubby trees where they had cleared out an area and swept it clean and put a circle of plastic folding chairs.It was like as a kid when we had a secret place to go make a fort…This is where they met for service and the land is given for a church.30 adults and children set crosslegged on the tarp as we share about Christ and taught. They so much want a church as there is no church at all here.These are hard working people. One young woman started with 1 goat 7 years ago and now has 25 to go with a captivating smile that filled her face as it flowed out of a heart full of hunger for Jesus.We gave matching amount and these people gave for the church!Many were watching from around in front of their small houses and we went and shared. One woman said “NO” she would not leave here gods and pray to Jesus, but by end of visit, she and all were waving with huge smiles as we left…“Our parents named this SORROW VILLAGE”… but these people are choosing joy!Lord help us that we choose JOY every day as the choice is ours!!Today built 3 churches by Tyler TX First AG all in same region.Jim, a Baptist from Alabama, did baptisms and plunges right in to the water to get the job done! Joshua, Youth pastor from Fairland OK AG makes friends so easy and is always right there….Praveen and Veena Bunyan interpreting and a blessing!!Great Team and so much to be done!!Thanks so much for praying!!!Melody, Kerry, Jim and Josh
to do continual good;
for those who do as Jesus,
the word of God, understood.
Those who choose to do evil,
have not seen the heart of God;
rather, imitate Jesus,
the trustworthy path to trod.
Be kind to those who teach us,
show much hospitality;
for the sake of the Father,
side by side in unity.
Encourage those who’ve given,
their lives to serve our great Lord;
may He bless them and keep them,
support them in one accord.
To be church, be family,
care for sisters and brothers;
meet the needs that can be seen,
live, love and serve each other.
How we care well for our own,
our very testimony;
living life as a servant,
humble and faithful to Thee.
“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” – (3 John 11)
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to show us how to seek and serve You. He did not come and place Himself on a pedestal, but rather He loved and served others, even unto His death in our place. Thank You that after You rose and ascended into heaven, You sent Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the way we are to go. Thank You too, for Your word that illuminates our path. We have been prepared to pursue You. Forgive us for ignoring known needs that You prompt us to meet, and grant us Your eyes to see others. Teach us to trust You more so that we are quick to care for others, and help us to show hospitality to Your servants. Show us how we are each called to serve. May many come to see You clearly as we walk in obedience to all that You ask. Father, please show us how to pray, love and obey. Amen.Dear friends, please also join me in praying for my dear friend, Anne. She was showing signs of kidney failure in the wee hours of the morning, and has been taken to the ER. Father, please be her Comforter, her Healer, and her Peace. Thank You that You know her need and You hear our prayers. Amen.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”—Acts 4:12
These words are striking in themselves. But they are much more striking if you consider when and by whom they were spoken.
They were spoken by a poor and unpopular Christian, in the midst of a persecuting Jewish Council and it was a wonderful confession about Christ. These words were spoken by the lips of the Apostle Peter. This is the man who, a few weeks before, abandoned Jesus and fled: this is the very man who three times denied his Lord. There is another spirit in him now. He now stands up boldly before priests and Sadducees, and tells them the truth to their face, saying: “[Jesus] is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved” [Acts 4:11-12].
In considering this serious subject there are three things I wish to do:
I. First, to show you the doctrine being declared here by the Apostle.
II. Secondly, to show you some reasons why this doctrine must be true.
III. Thirdly, to show you some consequences that naturally flow from the doctrine.
I. First let me show you the doctrine of the text.
Let us make sure that we correctly understand what the Apostle Peter means. He says of Christ, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Now what is this? This is a very critical statement that we need to clearly understand.
He means that no one can be saved from sin—from its guilt, power, and consequences—except by Jesus Christ.
He means that no one can have peace with God the Father—obtain forgiveness of sin in this world, and escape the wrath of God that is coming after death—except through the atoning death and mediation of Jesus Christ.
Only in Christ will we find God’s rich provision of salvation for sinners. Only in Christ will we find God’s abundant mercies coming down from Heaven to earth.
Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us; only the righteousness of Christ’s can clothe us; Only the sacrifice of Christ can give us a title to heaven. Jews and Gentiles, educated and uneducated, rich and poor—everyone, no matter what their position or standing in life must either be saved by Jesus Christ or lost forever.
And the Apostle emphatically adds, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” There is no other person commissioned, sealed, and appointed by God the Father to be the Savior of sinners, except Christ. The keys of life and death are only found in His hand, and all who want to be saved must go to Him.
There was only one place of safety in the day when the flood came upon the earth, and that was Noah’s ark. All other places and things—mountains, towers, trees, rafts, boats—all were completely useless. Likewise, there is only one hiding place for sinners who want to escape the storm of God’s anger—they must hide their souls in Christ.
There was only one man to whom the Egyptians could go to in the time of famine, when they wanted food—they could only go to Joseph: it was a waste of time to go to anyone else. Likewise, there is only One to whom hungering souls must go, if they don’t want to perish forever—they must go to Christ.
There was only one word that could save the lives of the men of Ephraim in the day when the men of Gilead fought with them, and took control of the fords of the Jordan [Judges 12]—they must say the word “Shibboleth,” or die. Well, in the same way, there is only one name that will save us when we stand at the gate of heaven—we must name the name of Jesus as our only hope, or be thrown into the Lake of Fire forever.
Such is the doctrine of the text. “Salvation is found in no one else but Jesus Christ: in Him is complete salvation—salvation to the uttermost, salvation for the very chief of sinners;—without Jesus there is no salvation at all.” This doctrine is in perfect harmony with our Lord’s own words in the Book of John: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” [John 14:6]. It is the same thing that Paul told the Corinthians: “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” [1 Corinthians 3:11]. And it is the same truth that John tells us in his first Epistle: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” [1 John 5:11-12]. All these texts state the same undeniable truth, that there is no salvation except through the person of Jesus Christ.
Dear friends, make sure that you understand this before you pass from this world. Perhaps you think this is old news. Perhaps you feel, “These are ancient things: who doesn’t know this simple truth? Of course we believe there is no salvation except by Christ.” But listen carefully to what I say: make sure that you understand this doctrine, or else in time you will stumble, and be offended at what I am about to say.
Remember that you are to base your entire salvation on the person of Christ and on Christ only. You are to totally reject and dismiss all other hopes and trusts. You are not to rest partially on Christ—partially on doing all you can—partially on going to church—partially on receiving the Lord’s Supper. In the matter of your justification Christ is to be everything. This is the doctrine of the text before us this morning.
Remember that heaven is standing before you, and Christ is the only door into it; hell is beneath you, and only Christ is able to deliver you from it; the devil is behind you and accusing you of sin, and Christ is the only place of safety from the devil’s wrath and accusations; the law is against you, and only Christ is able to redeem you; sin is weighing you down, and only Christ is able to take it away. This is the doctrine of the text before us this morning.
Now do you see it? I hope you do. But I fear many who think so, may find, before this sermon is over, that they really don’t.
II. Let me show you, in the second place, some reasons why the doctrine of the text, that Jesus is the only way of salvation, must be true.
I could cut short this part of the subject with one simple argument: “God says so.” “One plain text,” said an old preacher, “is as good as a thousand reasons.”
But I will not do this. I intend to answer the many objections that are ready to rise in many hearts against this doctrine, by pointing out the strong foundations on which it stands.
(1) Let me then say, for one thing, the doctrine, that Jesus is the only way of salvation, must be true, because man is what man is.
Now, what is man? There is one broad, sweeping answer, which takes in the whole human race: man is a sinful creature. All children of Adam born into the world, whatever their name or nation is, are corrupt, wicked, and defiled in the sight of God. Their thoughts, words, ways, and actions are all, more or less, defective and imperfect.
Is there no country on the face of the earth where sin doesn’t reign? Is there no happy valley, no secluded island, where innocence can be found? Is there no tribe on earth, far away from civilization, and commerce, and money, and weapons, and luxury, and books, where morality and purity flourish? No, dear friends: there is none. Look over all the voyages and travels you can lay your hand on, from Columbus down to Capt Cook, and you will see the truth of what I am asserting. The most isolated islands of the Pacific Ocean—islands cut off from all the rest of the world, islands where every person there are all ignorant of Rome and Paris, London and Jerusalem—these islands have been found to be full of impurity, cruelty, and idolatry. The footprints of the devil have been traced to every shore. The truthfulness of the third chapter of Genesis has been established everywhere. Whatever else savages have been found ignorant of, they have never been found ignorant of sin.
But are there no men or women in the world who are free from this corruption of nature? Have there not been high and exalted souls who have every now and then lived faultless lives? Have there not been some, if it is only a few, who have done everything that God required, and thus proved that sinless perfection is a possibility? No, dear friends: there have been none. Look over all the biographies and lives of the holiest Christians; note how the brightest and best of Christ’s people have always had the deepest sense of their own failures and corruption. They groan, they mourn, they sigh, they weep over their own shortcomings: it is one of the common grounds on which they meet. Patriarchs and Apostles, Early Church Fathers and Reformers, Luther and Calvin, Knox and Bradford, Rutherford and Bishop Hall, Wesley and Whitefield, Martyn and M’Cheyne—all are in total agreement in being totally aware of their own sinfulness. The more light they have, the more humble they seem to be; the more holy they are, the more they seem to feel their own unworthiness, and to glory, not in themselves, but in Christ.
Now what does all this seem to prove? In my mind it seems to prove that human nature is so tainted and corrupt that, left to himself, no man could be saved. Man’s case appears to be a hopeless one without a mighty Savior. There must be a Mediator, an Atonement, an Advocate, to make such poor sinful creatures acceptable with God: and I find this nowhere, except in the person of Jesus Christ. Heaven for man without a mighty Redeemer, peace with God for man without a mighty Intercessor, eternal life for man without an eternal Savior—in one word, salvation without Christ—all appear to me to be utter impossibilities.
I lay these things before you, and ask you to consider them. I know it is one of the hardest things in the world to realize the sinfulness of sin. To say we are all sinners is one thing; to have an idea what sin must be in the sight of God is something else. Sin is too much a part of us to allow us to see it as it is: we don’t feel our own moral deformity. We are like those animals in creation which are vile and loathsome to our senses, but are not so to themselves, nor yet to one another: their loathsomeness is their nature, and they don’t perceive it. Our corruption is part and parcel of ourselves, and at our best we have only a feeble comprehension of its intensity.
But this you can be sure of—if you could see your own lives with the eyes of the angels who never fell, you would never doubt this point for a moment. Depend on it, no one can really know what man is, and not see that the doctrine of our text must be true. There can be no salvation except though Christ.
(2) Let me say another thing. The doctrine of our text, that Jesus is the only way of salvation, must be true, because God is what God is.
Now what is God? That is indeed a deep question. We know something of His attributes: He has not left Himself without witness in creation; He has mercifully revealed to us many things about Himself in His Word. We know that God is a Spirit—eternal, invisible, almighty—the Maker of all things, the Preserver of all things—holy, just, all-seeing, all-knowing, all-remembering— infinite in mercy, in wisdom, and in purity.
But, what is sad, is how base and demeaning our greatest ideas are when we come to put down on paper what we believe God to be! How many words and expressions we use whose complete meaning we cannot understand! How many things our tongues say about God which our minds are utterly unable to conceive! How small a part of Him do we really see! How little of Him can we possibly know! How poor and worthless are any words of ours to convey any idea of Him who made this mighty world out of nothing, and with whom “one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day!” How weak and inadequate are our poor feeble intellects to conceive of Him who is perfect in all of His works—perfect in the greatest as well as perfect in the smallest, perfect in appointing the days and hours in which Jupiter, with all its satellites, will travel around the sun—perfect in forming the smallest insect that creeps over a few feet of our little globe! How little can our busy helplessness comprehend a Being who is always commanding and directing all things, in heaven and earth, by universal providence: controlling and directing the rise and fall of nations and dynasties, like Nineveh and Carthage; directing the exact length to which men like Alexander and Napoleon will extend their conquests; directing the smallest step in the life of the humblest believer among His people: all at the same time, all continuously, all perfectly—all for His own glory.
The blind man is no judge of the paintings of Rubens or Titian; the deaf man is insensible to the beauty of Handel’s music; the person who lives in Greenland can have but a faint notion of the climate of the tropics; the Australian savage can only form in his mind a remote conception of a locomotive engine, however well you may describe it: there is no place in their minds to take in these things; they have no set of thoughts which can comprehend them; they have no mental fingers to grab hold of them. And, in just the same way, the best and brightest ideas that man can form of God, compared to the reality which we will one day see, are indeed weak and faint.
But, my friend, the one thing that I think is very clear is this: The more any one considers calmly who God really is, the more they must feel the immeasurable distance between God and themselves: the more they meditate, the more they must see that there is a great gulf between them and God. Their conscience, I think, will tell them, if they will let it speak, that God is perfect, and they are imperfect; that God is very high, and they are very low; that God is glorious majesty and they are nothing but a poor worm: and that if they are ever to stand before Him in judgment with any comfort, then they must have a mighty helper, or they will not be saved.
And what is all this but the very doctrine of our text? What is all this but coming around to the conclusion I am urging you to make? With such a person as God to give account to, we must have a mighty Savior. We must have an Almighty Friend and Advocate on our side—who can answer every charge that can be laid against us, and plead our cause with God on equal terms. We want this, and nothing less than this. Vague notions of mercy will never give true peace. And such a Savior, such a Friend, such an Advocate is nowhere to be found except in the person of Jesus Christ.
I lay this reason before you. I well know that people may have false notions of God as well as everything else, and shut their eyes against the truth; but I say boldly and confidently, no man or woman can really have high and honorable views of who God is, and escape the conclusion that the doctrine of our text must be true. There can be no possible salvation except by Jesus Christ.
(3) Let me say, in the third place, this doctrine must be true, because the Bible is what the Bible is.
All through the Bible, from Genesis down to Revelation, there is only one simple account of the way in which a man or woman must be saved. It is always the same: only by our Lord Jesus Christ—through faith; never by our own works and righteousness.
You see it dimly revealed at first: it looms through the mist of a few promises, but there it is. You see it more clearly later: it is taught by the pictures and symbols of the law of Moses.
You have it still more clearly as time goes by: the Prophets saw in visions many particulars about the Redeemer that was to come.
Finally, you have the complete revelation, in the sunshine of New Testament history: Christ incarnate—Christ crucified —Christ rising again, Christ preached to the world.
But one golden thread runs through the whole Bible; no salvation except by Jesus Christ. The bruising of the serpent’s head predicted in the day of the fall; the clothing of our first parents with animal skins, the sacrifices of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Passover, and all the particulars of the Jewish law—the high priest, the altar, the daily offering of the lamb, the holy of holies entered only by blood, the scapegoat, the cities of refuge—all are many witnesses to the truth set forth in the text: all preach with one voice, salvation only by Jesus Christ.
In fact, this truth appears to me to be the great focus of the Bible, and all the different parts and portions of the book are meant to pour light on it. I can gather from it no ideas of pardon and peace with God except in connection with this truth. If I could read of one soul in it who was saved without faith in the Savior, I might perhaps not speak so confidently. But when I see that faith in Christ—whether in a coming Christ or a crucified Christ—was the prominent feature in the religion of all who went to heaven; when I see Abel owning Christ in his better sacrifice, at one end of the Bible, and the saints in glory in John’s vision rejoicing in Christ, at the other end of the Bible; when I see a man like Cornelius, who was devout, and feared God, and gave to the poor and prayed, told, in effect that in order to be saved, he was to send for Peter, and hear of Christ; when I see all these things I say, I feel bound to believe that the doctrine of the text is the doctrine of the whole Bible. No salvation, no way to heaven, except through Jesus Christ.
I don’t know what use you make of your Bible—whether you read it or whether you don’t—whether you read it all, or whether you only read the parts that you like; but this I tell you plainly, if you read and believe the whole Bible, you will find it hard to escape the doctrine that there is no salvation except through the person and blood of Jesus Christ. I don’t see how you can consistently reject what I have been endeavouring to prove. Christ is the way, and the only way; Christ is the truth, and the only truth; Christ is the life, and the only life.
Such are the reasons which seem to me to confirm the truth laid down in our text. What man is—what God is—what the Bible is—all appear to me to lead us on to the same great conclusion: no possible salvation without Christ. I leave them with you, and move on.
III. And now, in the third and last place, let me show you some consequences which flow naturally out of our text.
This is a critical part of our subject. The truth I have been trying to set before you is absolutely critical for mankind and I must speak of it with urgency. If Christ is the only way of salvation, what are we to feel about the many people in the world? This is the point I am now going to take up.
I believe that many persons would go with me as far as I have gone, and would go no further. They will allow my premises, but they will have nothing to do with my conclusions. They think it unloving to say anything which appears to condemn others. For my part I cannot understand such love: it seems to me the kind of love which would see a neighbor slowly drinking poison, but never intervene to stop him; a love which would allow migrants to embark in a leaky, un-seaworthy vessel, and not intervene to prevent them; a love which would see a blind man walking near a precipice, and think it wrong to cry out, and tell him there was danger.
I believe the greatest love is to tell the greatest quantity of truth. I believe it is a lack of love to hide the legitimate consequences of such a text as we are now considering, or to close our eyes to them. And I solemnly call on every one who really believes there is no salvation in anyone but Christ and no other name, given under heaven whereby we must be saved—I solemnly call on those persons to listen to me, while I set before them some of the tremendous consequences of our text.
One mighty consequence then, which seems to be learned from this text, is the utter uselessness of any religion without Christ.
There are many to be found today who have this kind of religion. They would not like to be called Deists, but they are Deists. They believe that there is a God, that there is what they are pleased to call Providence, that God is merciful, that there will be a life after death—this is about the sum and substance of their creed; and as to the distinguishing tenets of Christianity, they don’t seem to recognize them at all. Now I denounce such a system as a baseless fabric—its foundation is nothing but man’s ideas—its hopes an utter delusion. The god of such people is an idol of their own invention, and not the glorious God of the Scriptures—their god is a miserably imperfect creature: without holiness, without justice, without any attribute but that of vague indiscriminate mercy. Such a religion is nothing but a toy to play with: it is far too unreal to die with. It utterly fails to meet the needs of man’s conscience: it offers no remedy; it affords no rest for the souls of men and women; it cannot comfort, for it cannot save. Beware of it if you love life. Beware of a religion without Christ.
Another consequence to be learned from the text is, the folly of any religion in which Christ is not given the first place.
I need not remind you how many hold to a system of this kind. The Socinian tells us that Christ was a mere man; that His blood had no more efficacy or value than that of another; that His death on the cross was not a real atonement and propitiation of man’s sins; and that, after all, one must work their way to heaven, and not just have faith. I solemnly declare that I believe such a system is disastrous to the souls of men and women. It seems to me to strike at the very root of the whole plan of salvation which God has revealed in the Bible, and practically to nullify the greater part of the Scriptures. It overthrows the priesthood of the Lord Jesus, and strips Him of His office; it converts the whole system of the law of Moses touching sacrifices and ordinances, into a meaningless form; it seems to say that the sacrifice of Cain was just as good as the sacrifice of Abel; it puts a man adrift on the sea of uncertainty, by taking from him the finished work of a divine Mediator. Beware of Deism. If you love life, beware of the least attempt to depreciate and undervalue the person of Christ, and His offices and works. The only name by which you can be saved, is the name that is above every other name, and the slightest contempt poured on it is an insult to the King of Kings. The salvation of your soul has been established by God the Father on Christ, and no other; and if Christ were not God Himself, He never could accomplish it: there could be no salvation at all.
Another consequence to be learned from our text is the great error, committed by those who add anything to Christ, as being necessary to salvation.
It is an easy thing to profess belief in the Trinity, and reverence for our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet to make some addition to Christ as the ground of hope, and so to overthrow the doctrine of the text as really and completely as by denying it altogether.
The Roman Catholic Church does this systematically. She adds things over and above the requirements of the Gospel, by her own invention. She speaks as if Christ’s finished work was not a sufficient foundation for a sinner’s soul, and as if it were not enough to say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” She sends men and women to penances and absolution, to masses and extreme unction, to fasting and bodily mortification, to the Virgin and the saints—as if these things could add to the safety there is in Christ Jesus. And in doing this she greatly sins against our text. Let us beware of any Roman Catholic additions to the simple way of the Gospel.
But I fear the Roman Catholic Church does not stand alone in this matter: I fear there are thousands of professing Protestants who are often erring in the same direction, although, of course, in a very different degree; they begin adding, perhaps without thinking, other names to the name of Christ, or attaching importance to them which they ought never receive. The ultra Churchman in England who thinks God’s covenanted mercies are tied to a system of church government in which bishops are the chief clerics—the ultra Evangelical, who traces every evil in the Church to its connection with the State and denominations, and can talk of nothing but the independent system—the ultra Baptist, who shuts out from the Lord’s table every one who has not received his views of baptism—the ultra Plymouth Brethren, who believes all knowledge resides within his own church, and condemns every one outside as a poor weak babe in Christ;—all these, I say, however unwittingly, appear to me to have a most uncomfortable tendency to add to the doctrine of our text. All seem to me to be practically declaring that salvation is not to be found simply and solely in Christ; all seem to me to be practically adding another name to the name of Jesus whereby men and women must be saved—even the name of their own denomination and sect; all seem to me to be practically replying to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” not merely, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” but also “Come and join us.”
Now I call upon every true Christian to beware of such extremism. In saying this I don’t want to be misunderstood. I like everyone to be decided in his views of church matters, and to be fully persuaded of their correctness; all I ask is that you will not put these things in the place of Christ, or place them anywhere near Him, or speak of them as if you thought them needful to salvation. However dear to us our own particular views may be, let us beware of thrusting them in between the sinner and the Savior, let us beware, in short, of adding to the doctrine of the text. In the things of God’s Word, let us remember that addition, as well as subtraction, is a great sin.
The last consequence which seems to me to be learned from our text is, the utter absurdity of supposing that we ought to be satisfied with a man’s state of soul if he is simply sincere.
This is a very common heresy indeed, and one against which we all need to be on our guard. There are thousands who say today, “We have nothing to do with the opinions of others. They may perhaps be mistaken, though it is possible they are right and we are wrong: but if they are sincere, we hope they will be saved, even as we are.” And all this sounds tolerant and loving, and people like to believe their own views are also considered as such.
Now I believe such notions are entirely contradictory to the Bible, whatever else they may be. I cannot find in Scripture that any one ever got to heaven merely by sincerity, or was accepted with God if he was only earnest in maintaining his own views. The priests of Baal were sincere when they cut themselves with knives till the blood gushed out; but still that did not prevent Elijah from commanding them to be treated as wicked idolaters. Manasseh, King of Judah, was doubtless sincere when he burned his children in the fire to Moloch; but who doesn’t know that he brought on himself great guilt by doing so. The apostle Paul, as a Pharisee, was sincere while he persecuted the Church, but when his eyes were opened he mourned over this as a special wickedness. Let us beware of allowing for a moment that sincerity is everything, and that we have no right to speak against a man’s spiritual state because of the sincere opinions he holds. On such principles, many atrocities committed in the name of religion might each and all be defended. However, they will not stand: they will not bear the test of Scripture. Once we allow such notions to be true, then you might as well throw your Bible away. Sincerity is not Christ, and therefore sincerity cannot atone for sin.
I am sure that these consequences sound very unpleasant to the minds of some. But I tell you of them advisedly and deliberately. I say calmly that a religion without Christ, a religion that takes away from Christ, a religion that adds anything to Christ, a religion that puts sincerity in the place of Christ—all are dangerous: all are to be avoided, and all are alike contrary to the doctrine of our text.
You may not like this. You may think that I am unloving, narrow-minded, bigoted, and so forth: so be it. But you will not tell me my doctrine is not that of the Word of God. That doctrine is, salvation in Christ to the very uttermost—but without Christ there is no salvation at all.
I feel it a duty to bear my solemn testimony against the spirit of the day in which we live; to warn you against its infection. It is not Atheism I fear so much, in the present times, as Pantheism. It is not the system which says nothing is true, so much as the system which says everything is true; it is not the system which says there is no Savior, so much as the system which says there are many saviors and many ways to peace. It is the system which is so liberal that it dares not say anything is false; it is the system which is so loving that it will allow everything to be true; it is the system which seems ready to honor others as well as our Lord Jesus Christ and to class them all together. The system tells us not to condemn or to treat with disrespect the writings of Confucius and Zoroaster, Socrates and Mohammad, the Hindus of India and the African devil-worshippers, Arius and Pelagius, Ignatius Loyola and Socinus. It is the system which commands us to smile complacently on all creeds and systems of religion: the Bible and the Koran, the Hindu Veda and the old wives’ tales of Rabbinical writers and the rubbish of the Early Church Fathers’ traditions, and the book of Mormon by Joseph Smith—we are told to listen to them all: none are to be denounced as lies. It is the system which is so scrupulous about the feelings of others, that we are never to say that they are wrong; it is the system which is so liberal that it calls a man a bigot if he dares to say, “I know my views are right.” This is the world system, this is the tone of feeling which I fear this very day. This is the world system of today which I desire emphatically to testify against and denounce.
What is it but a bowing down before a great idol specifically called liberality? What is it all but a sacrificing of truth upon the altar of a caricature of love? Beware of it, beware that the rushing stream of public opinion does not carry you away. Beware of it, if you believe the Bible. Has the Lord God spoken to us in the Bible, or has He not? Has He shown us the way of salvation plainly in that Bible, or has He not? Has He declared to us the dangerous state of all those who do not agree with the Holy Scriptures, or has He not? Focus your mind, and look these questions fairly in the face, and give them an honest answer. Tell us that there is some other inspired book beside the Bible, and then we will know what you mean; tell us that the whole Bible is not inspired, and then we will know where to meet you: but grant for a moment that the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is God’s truth, and then I don’t know in what way you can escape the doctrine of the text. From the liberality which says everybody is right, from the love which forbids you to say anyone is wrong, from the peace which is bought at the expense of truth—may the good Lord deliver you!
I speak for myself: I find no resting-place between downright Evangelical Christianity and downright infidelity, whatever others may find. I see no half-way house between them. I can see consistency in an infidel, however much I may pity him; I can see consistency in the full maintenance of Evangelical truth: but as to a middle course between the two—I cannot see it; and I say so plainly. Let it be called intolerant and unloving. I can hear God’s voice nowhere except in the Bible, and I can see no salvation for sinners in the Bible except through Jesus Christ. In Him I see abundance: without Him I see none. And as for those who hold to religions in which Christ is not everything, whoever they may be, I have a most uncomfortable feeling about their safety. I do not for a moment say that none of them are saved, but I say that those who are saved are saved by their disagreement with their own principles, and in spite of their own system. The man who wrote the famous line, “He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right,” was a great poet undoubtedly, but he was a wretched divine.
Let me conclude with a few words by way of application.
First of all, if there is no salvation except in Christ, make sure that you have an interest in that salvation yourself.
Do not be content with hearing, and approving, and assenting to the truth, and going no further. Seek to have a personal interest in this salvation: lay hold by faith for your own soul; do not rest till you know and feel that you have gotten actual possession of that peace with God which Jesus offers, and that Christ is yours, and you are Christ’s. If there were two, or three, or more ways of getting to heaven, there would be no necessity for pressing this matter upon you. But if there is only one way, you will hardly wonder that I say, “Make sure that you are in it.”
Secondly, if there is no salvation except in Christ, then try to do good to the souls of all who do not know Him as a Savior.
There are millions and millions in this miserable condition—millions in foreign lands, millions in your own country, millions who are not trusting in Christ. You ought to feel for them if you are a true Christian; you ought to pray for them; you ought to work for them, while there is yet time. Do you really believe that Christ is the only way to heaven? Then live as if you believed it.
Look around the circle of your own relatives and friends: count them up one by one, and think how many of them are not yet in Christ. Try to do good to them in some way or other: act as a man or woman should act who believes his friends to be in danger. Do not be content with their being kind and sociable, gentle and good-tempered, moral, and courteous; be unhappy about them till they come to Christ, and trust in Him: for you ought to be distressed over their condition. Leave no one alone who is without Christ—take every opportunity to reaching them. I know all this may sound like enthusiasm and fanaticism. I wish there was more of it in the world: anything, I am sure, is better than a quiet indifference about the souls of others, as if everybody was on their way to heaven. Nothing, to my mind, so proves our little faith, as our lack of feelings about the spiritual condition of those around us.
Thirdly, if there is no salvation except in Christ, let us love all who love the Lord Jesus with sincerity, and exalt Him as their Savior, whoever they may be.
Let us not draw back, because they do not see eye to eye with us in everything. Whether a person is an Independent, a Wesleyan or a Baptist, let us love them if they truly love Christ, and gives Christ His rightful place. We are all traveling fast towards a place where names and forms and Church government will be nothing, and Christ will be everything: let us get ready for that place now, by loving all who are in the way that leads to it.
This is true love: to believe all things and hope all things, so long as we see Bible doctrines maintained and Christ exalted. Christ must be the single standard by which all opinions must be measured. Let us honor all who honor Him: but let us never forget that the same apostle Paul who wrote about love, also says, “If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be cursed.” If our love and tolerance are wider than that of the Bible, they are worth nothing at all: indiscriminate love is no love at all, and indiscriminate approval of all religious opinions, is only a new name for infidelity. Let us hold out our right hand to all who love the Lord Jesus, but let us beware how we go beyond this.
Lastly, if there is no salvation except by Christ, then you must not be surprised if ministers of the Gospel preach a lot about Him.
We cannot tell you too much about the name which is above every name: you cannot hear of Him too often. You may hear too much about controversy in our sermons—you may hear too much of men and books, of works and duties, of forms and ceremonies, of sacraments and ordinances—but there is one subject which you never hear too much of: you can never hear too much of Christ.
When we become tired of preaching Christ, then we are false ministers: when you are wearied of hearing of Him, your souls are in an unhealthy state. When we have preached Him all our lives, the half of His excellence will remain untold. When you see Him face to face in the day of His appearing, you will find there was more in Him than your heart ever conceived.
Let me leave you with the words of an old writer, to which I desire humbly to subscribe. “I know no true religion but Christianity; no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ: the doctrine of His divine person, of His divine office, of His divine righteousness, and of His divine Spirit, which all that are His must believe. I know no true ministers of Christ but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in His saving fullness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men and women; no true Christian but one united to Christ by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauty of Gospel holiness. Ministers and Christians of this spirit have been for many years my brothers, sisters, and friends, and I hope shall ever be, wherever the hand of God shall lead me.” Amen.
The human body has been called the microcosm of the universe, a little world of wonders and a monument of divine wisdom and power, sufficient to convince the most incredulous mind of the existence of the Great Designer. There are enough evidences of supreme skill in the structure of the human hand alone to prove the existence, intelligence and benevolence of God in the face of all the sophistry of infidelity. The records of creation teach the importance and dignity of the human body. When God had made all other parts of the material universe, before He formed the human frame He called a solemn council of the Trinity, and with the most majestic deliberation He decreed, “Let us make man in our image after our likeness,” and it is added, “The Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” All the infinite wisdom of the Trinity was concentrated in his creation and the kiss of the Almighty awoke his higher nature into consciousness and life.
The reason why God has so honored the human frame is made very clear in the subsequent revelation of Jesus Christ and the great mystery of the incarnation. It was because the human body was designed to be the ultimate climax of the whole creation and the eternal form of the incarnate God Himself. Always, it would seem, that the Lord Jesus Christ had purposed to become embodied in a human form, and to link the creation with the Creator in His own wonderful Person. Therefore, the human body was designed, in the beginning, as the pattern and type of this sublimest form of being which ever should exist. Have we ever fully realized the stupendous fact that, down to the latest ages of eternity, as often as from the distant worlds of space, another and another new inhabitant shall come to the great metropolis of the universe to gaze upon the face of its Lord and to behold the wonderful God to whom all creation owes its existence, and to celebrate His yet more wonderful glory and grace in the redemption of a sinful race of which those ages and realms are forever to hear as the most marvelous story of the eternities, they shall gaze as they enter the celestial gates and approach the jasper throne upon the face of a man, upon a form like yours and mine, upon the human frame and countenance of Jesus! Oh! may we not still say, “Lord, what is man that Thou hast set such honor upon him!“ Our hearts sink in amazement and adoration at the infinite grace which has so glorified the human body. Shall we wonder, therefore, beloved, that God should require it to be made worthy of such a destiny and sanctified wholly unto its high calling! For, seated by the side of that wondrous Man, we, too, shall share His glory, and be the objects of the wonder and love of the ages to come.
One of the gravest errors of all the centuries has been to depreciate the body. Today the old form of Gnosticism has been trying to establish the doctrine that matter is not real, that the human body is not real but a fiction, or, as they are pleased to phrase it, “a wrong belief,” and this “wrong belief” is the cause of all our physical troubles. The aim, therefore, of their long-ago exploded philosophy is to do away with the body, or, rather, the belief of the body, and to reduce man to a simple combination of mental faculties.
This is wholly contrary to the teachings of Scripture, and, in fact, would seem to be the antichrist of which the Apostle John declared that it should deny that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. Another ancient error was that the body was essentially evil and the great source of temptation and sin, so that the true aim of life in the struggle after sanctity was to get rid of the body, or, at least, to reduce it to the lowest possible condition and render it as incapable as possible of injuring the soul and spirit. One of their favorite methods was the mortification of the body through physical penances and privations until it became reduced and emaciated, so as to cease to be the instigator of evil. The ascetic idea grew out of this delusion, the essential principle of monasticism being the denying of the body in order to the higher culture of the spiritual life. A still grosser form of delusion taught that the true way to purify the body was to indulge its grossest passions to the utmost excess, thus wearing them out by their own abuse and making their theory prove its extreme folly in the fact that while professing sanctity it really led to every kind of sin.
The blessed Holy Spirit has taught us a more excellent way, and Christ has made provision for the sanctification of the body as well as the soul and spirit. Let us ask once more what is a sanctified body, and the first answer will be
I. IT IS A SEPARATED BODY.
It is essential in order to the true sanctification of the body that it be cleansed from all impurity and physical sin. There are bodily transgressions as distinct as those of the soul and spirit.
Surely it is not necessary to say that a sanctified body is a body cleansed from gross, sensual indulgences. And yet this is one of the things of which the Apostle most frequently speaks in those epistles which rise to the sublimest heights of spiritual exultation, and speak most freely of our high place in the fellowship of Christ and the life of the Spirit. Those who dwell in heavenly places are not exempt from watching diligently against the sins of the flesh.
Beloved, are your bodies thus separated from all unholy use and all abuse?
The sanctified body, we need scarcely add, is a body cleansed from the indulgences of the appetites in every excessive or unnatural form. It is a body that abhors the coarse sin of gluttony and the pampering of its tastes. It is a body that regards the question of eating and drinking, not as a matter for the delectation of the palate, but as a natural and divine provision for its strength and nourishment, that it may glorify God by the use of its powers for Him. It is a body that abstains from the gross and abominable indulgence of the drunkard. And we believe truly, that, in this day, a wholly sanctified body will be kept from even using that which becomes to such multitudes the very poison of hell and the cause of wreck for time and eternity. It is a body that avoids unnatural physical appetites, whether they be the opiate, the cigar or the wine-cup.
Beloved, are your bodies thus sanctified and separated from all evil?
The sanctified body is one whose hands are clean. The stain of dishonesty is not on them, the withering blight of ill-gotten gain has not blistered them, the mark of violence is not found upon them. They have been separated from every occupation that could displease God or injure a fellow-man.
A sanctified body is one whose feet are cleansed from every false way and unhallowed step. They go not in the paths of sinners and the promenades of worldliness and folly. They are not found in the great procession that throngs the theaters and keeps time in the dance to the carnival of folly and earthly pleasure. They walk not in the broad road that leads to destruction, but have turned aside from every forbidden way to walk in the footprints of the Lord, to carry His messages and to do His will.
A sanctified body is known, as physical health is known, by the appearance of the tongue. Your physician asks to see your tongue when he calls, and there is no surer test of a sanctified body than the condition of its tongue. A sanctified tongue is a true tongue. It is cleansed from every form of falsehood, equivocation, deception, and lying, whether it be the daring perjury of the criminal, or the polite prevarication of fashionable society. Along with this it has also abandoned profanity in every form, the oath of the blasphemer or the polite jest that plays and puns on sacred things and makes light of the holy and the divine. It is a tongue that is free from folly and frivolity. It does not shrink from the spirit of genial and innocent humor when it is controlled by sense and kindness, but it has repudiated foolish talking which is not convenient, and seeks, in everything, to speak in the sight of God as the instrument of His thought and will. And, above all other forms of abuse of the tongue, it has put away evil speaking, the abominable gossip of society, the habit of repeating all that one hears, and especially the evil that affects another. It dare not give publicity to an unkind report or an unfavorable whisper respecting another’s character, or even utter that which it knows to be false, unless under the stern necessity of protecting another’s soul from danger, and then only when it has first spoken freely and plainly to the offending one directly. A sanctified tongue is also cleansed from all needless speaking. It has learned the golden habit of stillness and finds its greatest blessing in its own supression and habit of silence and communion with God.
Beloved, has God sanctified your tongue? Are you willing that He should? Will you give to Him the reins of this member, and, henceforth, relinquish to Him the right to hold it in suppression, to keep it from idle, evil, false or foolish speech, and use it wholly as the instrument of His will and service? Solemnly and forcibly has the Apostle James said: “The tongue is a world of iniquity, it setteth on fire the whole course of nature and is set on fire of hell.” Almost every chapter in the book of proverbs flashes with sentences of fiery warning against this lively member of the human body, whose control the Apostle has said is the real test of perfection and entire sanctification. “For if any man offend not in tongue, the same is a perfect man and able also to bridle the whole body.”
The sanctified body has also been cleansed from the sins of the eyes. It has purposed that it will not look on evil nor on vanity. It refuses to see the faults of others or to dwell upon the spectacle of temptation or the fascinations of vice. It declines to read the doubled-leaded or double-inked lines that flash, through our daily press, the foul deed of a fallen world before the eyes of the public, and keeps the spirit pure by closing the shutters of vision and keeping out the foul images that pass before the windows of the heart for all that will allow them to attract their attention. It is a great thing to learn to turn away your eyes from beholding vanity and to remember the injunction of the wisest preacher: “Let thine eyes look right on and thine eyelids straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet and let all thy ways be established.”
Beloved, have you sanctified your eyes and separated them from evil unto the Lord, or will you do so from this moment as the light of conviction is passing even now through your soul? Shall you not say,
“Take my eyes and let them see
Only that which pleases Thee”?
A sanctified body has cleansed its sense of hearing and put up the curtains upon its ears against all the sin that assaults our senses from without. It refuses to hear evil as much as to speak it, and puts gossip and slander to flight by looking boldly in its face, and demanding, “How dare you?“
Beloved, are you one of those of whom it is written, “He that shutteth his eyes to the seeing of evil, and his ears from the hearing of evil, he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks”? Thine “eyes shall see the King in his beauty, they shall behold the land that is very far off.”
The sanctified body is one whose dress is free from worldliness and sin, and marked by that modesty and simplicity which neither attracts attention by its being either excessive or defective. The truest dress is that which the ordinary observer is less likely to notice, and so controlled by simplicity and propriety that most persons should fail to remember anything special in the appearance of the wearer, and of which it could be as truly said that the wearer was equally unconscious of her dress. There is much in this that speaks for God or the world. Dear friends, is your dress sanctified to the Lord? Is your person a simple, earnest, modest witness for Christ?
The sanctified body is one that has been purified from intemperate work, and immoderate and excessive service of any kind, and also from the needless neglect of the simple laws of nature and of health. While these efforts should not bind us where God’s work or will requires us to go to the extreme of toil and self-sacrifice and self-denial, yet where such denials are needless, they are wrong; and especially is it a physical sin for men and women to violate every principle of prudence in the pursuit of pleasure or selfish gain, and receive the sad retribution in worn-out bodies and premature disease and death, in pursuit of the fancied prize.
The sanctified body has been, or at least should be, separated from disease. We do not say that disease is a voluntary sin, but we do say that it is a blemish and a physical impurity. It is a form of corruption in the flesh. Under the ancient dispensation it disqualified priests from ministering at the altar. It was a defilement or blemish, and so still it is a hindrance to the highest spiritual state and to the most effective service for God. No doubt He can overrule it for much good. He can make the invalid’s chamber a beautiful example and testimony. But this does not make the disease the more pleasing to Him nor the less a blemish; an abnormal condition; an impurity in the human system; something from which Christ has come to separate His people; something which He bore upon the cross that we might not bear it, but “by his stripes be healed.”
Beloved, have you been separated from disease, from the malarias and humors that defile your blood, depress your liver, drag down your spirits, cloud your brain, irritate your temper and overshadow all your future life and work, besides holding you back from service for God, and occupying your existence with a morbid self-consciousness and a struggle that is dragging you down when God wants every power engaged in service for a suffering world? Are you willing to be sanctified from disease, and is it valuable enough for you to throw your prejudices away and accept the salvation which Christ has come to bring for spirit, soul and body?
II. A SANCTIFIED BODY IS A DEDICATED BODY.
In the twelfth chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul beseeches us to present our body a living sacrifice, and in a later epistle he speaks to the Corinthians as not their own but bought with a price, therefore expected to glorify God in their bodies which are His. It is impossible for the spirit and soul to be consecrated to God while the body is still held in our own hands, in some measure at least. This is as incongruous as a house presented to a friend while we retain the title deed to the lot on which it stands, or a precious jewel while we retain the key of its casket. The dedication of the body implies the setting apart of our entire physical being, with every organ and member, as the property of God, to be the object of His special care and the instrument of His special will and service. While it may be done in one great comprehensive act, once for all, yet it adds great force and definiteness to it to make it explicit and to recognize every individual member as particularly yielded to His ownership and control. Millions have probably been helped to such a consecration by the eloquent but yet simple hymn of Frances Ridley Havergal:
“Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.”
We are so prone to generalize things that it is extremely wholesome for us to make our spiritual acts explicit. A consecrated body is one that recognizes itself as the property of God and recognizes Him as the Guardian and Keeper of all its interests and needs. He is responsible to take care of us, and, like little children, we look to Him for all. It is a body which has learned to regard every sense and organ, not as a minister of our own pleasure, but a channel for His life and a weapon for His work. This, indeed, is the word used by the Apostle when he says, “Yield yourself unto God as those who are alive from the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness unto God.” The hands are presented to Him to work for His glory, whether it be in our secular calling or in our ministry for others. This, of course, implies that our works are consecrated, that our greetings are consecrated, and that even the grasp of our hand speaks for Christ.
It means that our tongues speak only at His bidding and for His glory; that we regard every word as a trust or service, and that our speech is always with grace seasoned with salt and for the edification of others. A consecrated tongue will not speak even the commonest word without waiting upon God for His direction, and looking to Him for His approval. Consecrated ears will be very attentive to all that He would have us hear, as well as dead to all other voices. Consecrated eyes will see a thousand opportunities which others pass by unheeded, a thousand beauties and meanings in things which others miss. Consecrated feet will find the path of duty always easy; the highest stairs, the most lonely walks, the most repulsive journeys, the most self-denying tasks a willing service for their Lord; and the errands on which they run will be doubly effectual because they are the Lord’s feet which carry the Lord’s messages. A consecrated voice will have a new power to sing and speak, which natural tones and cultured elocution or music could never accomplish.
Beloved, are your bodies thus consecrated with all their powers to work and walk and speak, to see and hear, to give of your means and to use your whole external life as a glad and sacred ministry for Christ?
III. A SANCTIFIED BODY IS A BODY FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.
“Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost?” So the Master is asking of us all, and there are many who have received Him into their hearts whose flesh has not become His entire abode. None of us yet fully realize to how great an extent our physical frame may become the abode of the Lord Jesus. We have sometimes seen a human face light up with the glory of God in some hour of spiritual elevation, on some mountain top of spiritual experience, or in the light of the borderland, until it seemed as if the body had become transparent and the light of heaven within was shining through the windows of a palace. This may give us some conception of how God can fill even this earthly vessel with Himself. We are told in the New Testament Scriptures the reason is that Christ has become the Head of the human body, and that even in this life “the Lord is for the body and the body for the Lord.” He is, it is true, the source of physical strength and health, but there is something far higher than divine healing, and that is divine health. It is one thing to have the Lord touch us until we are delivered from our infirmities, but it is another thing to have Him possess us with His life, and our life become His life manifest in our mortal flesh.
This is the teaching of the Apostle in the fourth chapter of the Second Corinthians: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” The vessel may be very frail, but if the life of Christ possesses us it fills it with strength as well as divine sacredness. This is what he means when he speaks in the verses that follow of being cast down but not destroyed, perplexed but not in despair, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also might be made manifest in us. This life will carry us above our physical infirmities on the high tide of a supernatural vitality which is not dependent upon our organic conditions, but elevates us above them and becomes a heavenly nourishment to all our conscious life and work, so that we can truly say, “We live not by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” and that “in him we live and move and have our being.”
This is really a foretaste of the future life. The frail vessel of clay cannot bear it all as the resurrection body will be able, but we can receive and reflect all that we can hold, in this present mortal life, of the very life of our living, immortal Head, the Second Adam who has been made a quickening Spirit.
Beloved, have you received this mystery, this new and glorious secret, which all may receive in a cleansed, consecrated, and receptive vessel? It is waiting, like the light, to come in wherever there is room to receive it. And this blessed filling not only holds and strengthens, but it endues with power for service, and enables our body to become a vehicle of the Spirit and the instrument of the higher nature for the noblest ends.
This great and glorious truth which we have been unfolding is not without a parallel and a parable even in the natural realm. We can often see in the lower world how a piece of clay can be so filled with a higher principle as to be transformed and to be endued with higher properties than its own nature was capable of expressing. Take, for example, that rough mass of iron ore out of the dark mine. It is but a lump of earth.; but smelt it, and melt it, and cleanse it from all its dross, and draw it out in malleable form into the supple wire which girds, in millions of miles, the whole circle of the globe today, and then fill it with the electric fire, and lo! the earthen vessel becomes the electric wire and speaks the messages of business and affection to all mankind. What a mighty power a piece of clay has become! So God can take your vessel of earth and cleanse, develop and prepare, and then fill with His holy presence until it shall speak to the millions of earth and the ages of eternity of Him and for Him.
Or, look at these two or three chemicals: prepare them, and bring them into chemical adjustments and positions, and then attach suitable wires to form your circle; then let the battery play, and lo! you have the magnificent system of the electric light; and those two little bits of clay suspend between them that most perfect form which science knows today, and which is illuminating our streets, our factories, our buildings, with a radiance which defies the revolving earth, or the changes of day and night, to affect man’s luxury or comfort. So God can take the earthen vessel, and illuminate it with a touch of His glory until it becomes itself the very light of the world.
Or, again, take this little handful of sand and melt it, and cast it into your mould, let it cool, then polish it into a concave lens, and then take it to yonder splendid observatory on Mount Hamilton and put it into the greatest telescope in the world, and then look into the converging lines of heaven which meet in its bosom, and lo! the whole heavens are revealed, the distant worlds of space have stooped down to meet your eye, and that little bit of clay is filled with the vision of immensity. You can see the distant hills of the moon, the rings of Saturn, the nebulous clouds of space, divided up into their innumerable stars and systems; and the whole universe becomes a wonder all through a little bit of clay filled with something higher than itself.
So, beloved, you can be polished and filled until you, too, shall shine with the reflected glory of heaven and become a channel for the Spirit of vision and revelation, disclosing the very secrets of the Lord and the wonders of His Word and works. Or, shall we take another example in that piece of common charcoal? Shall we carry it through all the stages of mineralogy until it becomes crystallized carbon and the rough diamond? Shall we then take it and cut down its rough sides and polish it into facets until from a hundred angles it flashes back the rays of light and the glories of color like a little sun or like a rainbow and sun all combined? It is but a bit of clay filled with light.
So, beloved, these bodies of ours, these earthen vessels, may receive a treasure, too, that will so shine from them, when cleansed and completely sanctified, and when all the Master’s discipline has been completed, that will make them like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. For the day is coming when the wondering universe shall look upon us in the image of our glorious Lord, and shall wonder which most to wonder at, the Heavenly Bridegroom or the Heavenly Bride, which has received all her glory, from her more glorious Head, and is all the more wonderful because of her humble origin and because of her dark and sinful past. Oh, let us yield ourselves unto God; let us receive Him into every pore and fibre of our being; let every chord and every member be a channel for His indwelling and inworking, and our whole spirit, soul and body sanctified wholly and presented blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then shall these bodies leap into that higher plane and rise to that nobler destiny of which He has given us now the earnest and the foretaste even in this mortal flesh.