“And it shall turn to you for a testimony.”
During all the ages that have passed in time many stirring and important events have taken place, both in the world and in the church; the rise and fall of nations has been a theme for historians from ancient times until the present. “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever,” are the words of the Preacher. Wars and fightings with an interval of peace have been the order of the day in every generation; darkness and gross darkness hath covered the earth, with an occasional gleam of light from heaven, only a rift in the cloud, and the clouds come together, making the darkness more dense than before. In all this darkness and uncertainty the natural man, (the creature of earth) rears his lofty head, and thinks within himself that he is the light of the world, and the master thereof. But through that little rift in the cloud the faith of God appears, and with its clear shining of divine truth levels all created things, and man, the creature of mighty thoughts, and filled with self-esteem, comes into the whirlwind of the declaration of God, who said: “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance.” Again, “All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.” Then what is the end of man in this natural world of ours? With natural eyes we behold him to-day coining into the light of this world, and he performs his little part on the stage of life, to-morrow we look for him and he is gone, while his place is taken by him that cometh after. Yet notwithstanding the great and wide contrast between the Creator and the creature, the things that make up his life are to him of vast importance, and to God they are essential in the economy and distribution of his grace. Nothing that has been created from the greatest to the most infinitesimal has been in vain. God did not call this world into existence and leave it to accomplish its own purpose within itself, but he fulfilled his own purpose in all things that have transpired in time, while the object of it all was most surely for his own glory, in the salvation of his people by grace, and in the building and completion of his unrivalled temple of mercy. Now, these occasional rifts in the cloud through which comes the light of faith, are composed of wondrous things in righteousness. The cloud separates between the finite and incomplete things of time and sense, all of which belong to the earth and are shrouded in darkness, and the perfect wisdom and knowledge of God, which is exalted far above all principalities and powers of earth. This light of divine faith illuminating the cloud shines into the hearts of the people of God’s election, giving unto them the light of the knowledge, of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, by which they emerge from the darkness and walk evermore in the light. The transition from darkness into God’s marvelous light causes them to continually search for evidence and for testimony of their acceptance in the Beloved. Where do we go to search for the evidences of the work of the Spirit of Christ in our heart? Surely in that very darkness wherein we have traversed so long and so painfully. In this twenty-first chapter of Luke Jesus has rehearsed many of the temptations into which the unwary child shall fall, and many of the adverse circumstances which surround him; he shows how all the evil influences of your vile, carnal nature shall rise up against you to draw you away from the light that shineth in you. Out of your own flesh conies a lying, subtle voice, saying, “I am Christ.” Contradictions, bringing with them doubts and fears, contend within you, confusing your mind and clouding your heart so that you are made to cry out with the apostle, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ‘“These same enemies shall persecute you, bind you and cast you into prison, and that which should in you be a house of prayer has become a den of thieves. Yet as the Master has promised, all these things “shall turn to you for a testimony.” There is nothing in all the experience of your travel through the wilderness of this world but what shall bear witness of the work of grace in your heart, “it shall turn to you for a testimony,” for in the dungeon, in the midst of your most hateful persecutions, Christ is your life, and his life is the light by which you are guided in the way of all truth. Ofttimes the very things which you feel sure are dragging you down to destruction, and they are, as far as they can do so, but at the same time they turn to you for a testimony of the love of God that is in your heart. The testimony of Jesus can only be made manifest when the Spirit of Christ produces the evidences, and when the power of it is felt in the bosom of the witness. Testimony is without weight except when its object is both seen and felt. Experience in the things which control our life and action is the revelation of Jesus Christ in the work which shows unto us that we are children of the kingdom, for this is the work of faith, and not of sight. In the early morning of our experience faith suggests a supernatural tendency in the course of our whole life. Naturally we never willingly deny self, but in the christian walk we continually deny ourselves, having lost confidence in the works of the flesh. No man can ever deny self except by the power of faith. We must be killed to all love and desire for the things pertaining to the natural life. The man who abhors himself and repents in dust and ashes is not far from the kingdom of God; it is an evidence that he has seen the Lord of life and glory. In denying self he must necessarily take up the cross of Christ. It means the putting away of one life, that another life may be embraced. Former things have passed away and have been replaced by precious jewels, which consist of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, deliverance from death by sin and its consequences, the mercy, love and forgiveness of God in salvation, and these all turn to us for a testimony. The testimony of Jesus Christ, as it comes to us in the dark and cloudy day, while we are passing through sore trials and afflictions on account of our lost and ruined condition, when it would seem that all the waves and billows of persecution in the depravity of our vile heart were about to swallow us up, and now, clearly as the bright shining after rain, Jesus is revealed right in that experience, and the very horrors of the night turn to us as a sweet and sure testimony. We are taught doctrine, but how does that teaching reach us? Surely not through any natural avenue. Our natural senses cannot grasp the things which faith points out: the riches of Christ are unsearchable, yet the natural senses are made alive to the heavenly secrets by being made subject to the higher powers. God works in the heart, revealing the secrets of his treasure-house, setting forth the life and death of our gracious Redeemer in the atonement which bringeth salvation to fallen, sinful man, and all this is made manifest in our mortal bodies: our eyes, our tongue, our hands, our feet, all show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, and, as in all other things which make up our daily life of christian experience, they shall turn to us for a testimony.
B. F. COULTER
Signs Of The Times
Volume 78., No. 22.
NOVEMBER 15, 1905.