North Berwick, Maine.
Dear Sister In The Lord: – I am glad you wrote me a few lines, for it is good and profitable for Zion’s pilgrims to commune with one another by the way. As you intimate, the path in which we are journeying is one that we had not known, (Isaiah xlii. Hi,) but though poor and frail, blind and sinful, we have a compassionate, faithful and almighty Guide, who will lead us on safely to everlasting glory. (Psalm lxxxviii. 53.) It was the Lord who caused us to take up this pilgrimage; his almighty grace called us and drew us forth to walk in the way of life. Abraham says, “God caused me to wander from my father’s house,” and by faith in the Lord his God he went forth, not knowing whither he went. (Heb. xi. 8.) He journeyed by faith, desiring a better country, that is an heavenly, and truly blessed are we if found walking in the steps of the selfsame faith of our father Abraham. (Romans iv. 12.) Christ Jesus our Lord is the hope and salvation of believers, and by faith we live and walk in him. There is no path to eternal life and glory only by Christ Jesus; so we live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us. O how unspeakably favored are we poor sinners that the Holy Spirit has wrought in our souls this faith in the incarnate Son of God. His sacrifice and precious blood is what we lean upon, for nothing else can cleanse us from our dreadful guilt, and present us faultless before the Majesty in the heavens. It is very comforting to ponder over the sufferings of Christ, to look into his pains and griefs which he endured as our covenant Head, our precious, sin-bearing Surety. Jesus descended in sufferings beneath our sins and the curse of the law, even unto the grave. He died unto sin once. Once was enough; how blessed is this. He hath full atonement made, he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. (Heb. x. 12-14.) He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Truly it is blessed to contemplate that our ascended Redeemer is now crowned with glory and honor, and he that ascended is our same dear Savior that first descended into the lower parts of the earth. (Ephesians iv. 9, 10; Hebrews ii. 9.) Therefore it is that all our heart is centered upon the life, obedience, sufferings and sacrifice, the blood, the death and burial, the resurrection and ascension to glory of our precious Lord Jesus Christ. We are very dependent upon the Lord for all our spiritual consolations. The Comforter testifies of Jesus, takes of the things of Christ and shews them unto us, and beneath the gracious power of the communion of the Holy Ghost, in faith we reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God by Jesus Christ our Lord. We are dead to the law by the body of Christ, that we should be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead. In our baptism there is the likeness, and therein it is signified that we are buried and are risen with Christ through the faith of the operation of God. (Colossians ii. 12.) Now, while we are passing through this world in our pilgrimage, all that we apprehend and experience of the life and obedience, sufferings and blood, death, resurrection and ascension of our Savior, is by faith, and our precious faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen; it is our blessed foretaste; the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts; the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of Christ’s glory. As we contemplate our present estate we have to join with the apostle John and say, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Now we feel we are sinful; now we groan being burdened with this mortal body, but how blessed the hope of the resurrection to which we shall attain, (Phil. iii. 10-14,) and which better resurrection we shall obtain because Christ our Head has ransomed us from death and the grave. Christ is risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept, and he will raise us up again at the last day. (John vi. 40.) “We shall be changed,” how blessed! We look for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven; he will come the second time without sin unto salvation, and he shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. The Spirit of Christ in us is the divine assurance of this “better resurrection.” (Heb. xi. 35.) Yes, we shall attain unto the resurrection of life, (John v. 59,) for thus the apostle Paul very blessedly declares our hope, saying, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also [this is a very precious “also “] quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” – Romans viii. 11. “We shall not all sleep, [some of the saints will remain and be alive upon the earth when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, 1 Thess. iv. 15-18,] but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory!” – 1 Cor. xv. 51-55. This glorious hope of the resurrection is that to which we hope to come, (Acts xxiv. 15; xxvi. 7, 8,) for then we shall bear the image of the heavenly. We shall awake in his likeness and be satisfied; we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. The Son of God hath bought us with the price of his sacred blood, and body and spirit we are his, (1 Cor. vi. 20,) and in body and spirit we shall be conformed to the image of Christ. (Romans viii. 29.) But, beloved, to this we have not already attained, but God hath wrought us for this selfsame thing. Now, in my pilgrimage I often pine as absent from my Lord; I roam, I am sinful, beset with temptations, and as I look upon myself I see such unlikeness to Christ I often sigh and groan in this frail, sinful, dying body of mine. I am glad it is a dying body, and when in all its weakness, sinfulness, mortality and dishonor, it dies and returns to the dust again, what then? God shall build it again, he shall re-erect it, he will raise it up again at the last day. (John vi. 39, 40, 44.)
“Corruption, earth and worms shall feed upon this flesh,
Till my triumphant spirit comes to put it on afresh.
God my Redeemer lives, and always from the skies,
Looks down and watches all my dust till he shall bid it rise.”
Comforted in this delightful hope I am enabled at times to sing,
“No, I’ll repine at death no more,
But with a cheerful gasp resign
To the cold dungeon of the grave,
These dying, withering limbs of mine.
Let worms devour my wasting flesh,
And crumble all my bones to dust,
My God shall raise my frame afresh,
At the revival of the just.”
It will appear, beloved of God, from what I have attempted to present unto you, that all experience while we are in the earth is by faith and love in Christ Jesus. Thus when we are divinely exercised by faith in our hearts, to live, to eat, to drink and walk, then it is that we are enabled to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God by Jesus Christ our Lord. Our faith even looks beyond the obedience, the sufferings and blood, the death and burial and resurrection of Christ, to behold him ascended far above all heavens, crowned with glory and honor, and glorified with the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God we can say, “Herein is our love made perfect that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is so are we in this world.” – 1 John iv. 17. Our faith embraces this comforting revelation; our faith looks to Christ, the ascended and glorified Head of the church, and says, So are all the members of his body. They are saved and justified and glorified in their Head. This is the hope of believers. As we look by faith at the Head of the church all is perfected, all is consummated. Christ our Head the first-fruits is risen, ascended and glorified, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Christ our Surety magnified the law, and in him all his members have magnified the law. He died unto (tin once, and in him all the church are dead indeed unto sin, and dead to the law by the crucified body of Christ. Our faith looks to, clings to the Son of God who came forth from the tomh, and in his resurrection we see our dear Redeemer walking in newness of life. He is no more bowed down with our sins, no more baptized in anguish, no more is he bruised beneath the curse of the law for our sakes. O no, he has made an end of sin, he has vanquished death, he has triumphed gloriously, he has risen again from the dead for our justification, and as our hearts in faith and love are centered upon him, we also feel to have a good hope that we are freely justified from all our offenses in the sight of our God. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Thus by faith we are tasting the power of his resurrection, and are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God. This is the way of holiness, the path of life, and the foretaste and the earnest of all this blessedness which is laid up for us in heaven, is our blessed experience by faith in the Lamb. The Scriptures teach us that what we now experience in our souls as believers in Christ Jesus, is only the earnest. All our knowledge of salvation, of redemption from our guilt and the curse of the law, of righteousness and justification, of sitting together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, is by faith, and faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. How well we know that it is only while we are graciously exercised by this precious faith of the operation of God that we are experiencing the comfort and peace of the hope of salvation; (1 Thess. v. 8,) the hope of righteousness; (Gal. v. 5,) the hope of the gospel; (Col. i. 23,) the hope of the resurrection from the dead; (Acts xxiii. (,,) the hope of eternal life; (Titus i. 2,) the hope that is laid up for us in heaven. (Col. i, 4.) For all this we have been apprehended of Christ Jeans, and unto this we shall attain. “Mortality shall he swallowed up of life. Now tie that hath wrought us for this selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” – 2 Cor. v. 4,5.
I love to think of the glorified believers in Christ Jesus. When they depart this life to be with Christ their ransomed spirits are present with the Lord, and glorified. Sometimes even now I am enabled to sing,
“Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sine as the earnest is given,
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven.”
Then not only is the sacred holy body of the Son of God that was raised from the dead, glorified in heaven, but Enoch and Elijah are there also in their glorified bodies; God graciously and sovereignly translated them that they should not see death. (Heb. xi. 5.) They were changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the Lord translated them from earth to heaven. In like manner the bodies of the saints that are alive and remain upon the earth when Christ shall come, shall be changed in a moment, without dying; they shall be fashioned like unto the glorious body of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. O, my soul, ponder over the glorious hope of the gospel. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
In this faith I live, and when I come to die, may I be accounted among those of whom it can be said, “These all died in faith.”
I am, I hope, your brother and companion in the gospel of Christ,
FRED. W. KEENE
Signs Of The Times
Volume 69., No. 12.
JUNE 15, 1901.