North Berwick, Maine, Feb. 6, 1906.
Mrs. Mabel Weeks – Dear Sister In The Lord: – I was glad to so soon get a few lines from you, as the theme of our correspondence Las ever been the all important one, the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ. And thou, I trust, our interest in the things of Christ has not been concerning the bare theory of these things, but we have desired to know in all its divine preciousness the power of the revelation of Jesus Christ. As the years of our life pass along, we more and more come to the understanding of Paul’s language: “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” – Phil. iii. 7, 8. We are poor, sinful, so needy, we need the Savior in his all-sufficiency, and to us that believe, he is precious.
“In every office he sustains,
In every victory he gains,
In every counsel of his will,
He’s precious to his people still.”
Those words in Judo that you mentioned in your letter are very gracious, let me pen them: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” As I look at these words I say, This is spiritual, heavenly employment: building, praying, looking. The saints to whom Jude was writing were compassed with adversities and plagued with false teachers who subverted the gospel of Christ, and in their vile doctrines turned “the grace of our God into lasciviousness.” How necessary it was then that those who feared the Lord should hold fast that which they had received and heard of God, and earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. All the false teachers who have in any generation crept in unawares among the beloved of God will eventually find that their damnation slumbereth not, and they shall utterly perish in their own corruption. (2 Peter ii. 3-12.) It is no trifling matter that men untaught of God, “sensual, not having the Spirit,” intrude themselves and their damnable errors among the saints of God. If we are otherwise, if we Lave been drawn to sit at the feet of the Lord, (Deut, xxxiii. 3,) and have been taught of him, it is all of his sovereign kindness.
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith.” The sacred writer may well designate these the beloved. The evidence that they are such is that God hath delivered to them the truth of the gospel of Christ, and thus they are sanctified unto himself. (John xvii. 17-19.) Their most holy faith is the foundation on which they build. All the doctrines of men or devils will never become a sure support and foundation for poor, perishing sinners; but our most holy faith once delivered unto the saints embraces all the glorious revelation of the everlasting gospel. Here our feet stand, (1 Cor. xv. 1,) and here we may build up ourselves, our hopes and expectations, and find ourselves, through God’s mercy, established and unmoved. The storms and winds may beat, trials and false doctrines may assail us; our most holy faith, the eternal, God-given truth, is our rock and everlasting strength, which not all the powers of darkness can ever undermine or overthrow. Happy are we to be found building up ourselves upon this foundation. “Rooted and built up in him and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” I find, my dear sister, that I look with all affection to our most holy faith, for here there is ground for encouragement for a mourning, sighing, helpless, vile sinner. In this faith our covenant God is known; he who hath loved his people with an everlasting love, who hath chosen his own in Christ Jesus, and hath so freely, most lovingly blessed them in him with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Here we have revealed the redemption and forgiveness of sins by the shedding of the blood of God’s own dear Son, Jesus, our dear One, our Savior, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. In our “most holy faith” all the attributes of the blessed God are comfortingly and gloriously revealed, his justice and grace, his mercy and truth, his loving-kindness and faithfulness, all in divine harmony they dwell in our most holy faith. Here may our desires root themselves. As poor, frail creatures, so sinful, unworthy, may we trust in, lean upon, east ourselves upon our most holy faith and find there is a building up, that we are encouraged, that we are edified. Truly it is well that we are not moved away from the hope of the gospel, for other foundation can no man lay than is laid, that is, our precious Christ. Others may build up themselves in their vain conceits, in self-righteousness and fleshly, pleasing doctrines, but all such things will prove to be only quicksands, and the end can only be everlasting disaster, confusion and wrath. But our most holy faith, so sacred, so dear, so firm, so sustaining and comforting, abides to bear us up in holy confidence before the Lord our God. Then though troubles be our portion, and temptations assail us, though others depart from the truth and give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, if through God’s grace we are found building up ourselves on our most holy faith, we shall find ourselves strong and well fortified to withstand all afflictions, and we shall be found to the praise and honor and glory of God.
“Praying in the Holy Ghost.” Did not our Savior say that men ought always to pray and not to faint? (Luke xviii. 1.) One of the consoling thoughts in the believer’s heart is that the Lord beareth prayer. (Psalms lxv. 2.) He bears the cry of the humble and does not despise their prayer. The Holy Ghost is the inspirer of all true prayer, his divine operations move our hearts to look up to the mighty God for succor, and thus in our necessities we pour out our hearts before the Lord, who graciously inclines unto us and hears our cry. The Scriptures abound with encouragements to pray, and none who fear the name of the Lord shall ask in vain. (Isaiah xlv. 11).) God will avenge his own elect that cry unto him day and night. (Luke xviii. 7.) The answer to all our supplications he has already stored up for us, and in the set time to favor us he will bring us relief and shed upon us abundantly his tender mercies. He delighteth in mercy, therefore he says, “Before they call, I will answer: and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” – Isaiah lxv. 24.
“The christian’s heart his prayer indites,
He speaks as prompted from within;
The Spirit his petition writes,
And Christ receives and gives it in.
‘Tis prayer supports the soul that’s weak,
Though thought be broken, language lame;
Pray, if thou canst or canst not speak,
But pray with faith in Jesus’ name.
Depend on him, thou canst not fail,
Make all thy wants and wishes known;
Fear not, his merits must prevail,
Ask what thou wilt, it shall be done.”
As I muse upon the words, “building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,” I feel my insufficiency to nourish myself in divine things, and I find longings within; my heart going forth that I may in very truth be grounded, nourished and built up upon the precious doctrine of Christ our Redeemer, for I know no other foundation than the faith of God’s elect can encourage and build up a poor sinner. “Praying in the Holy Ghost.” Yes, while we are building we are praying. I would that the Holy Ghost would teach me more and more my need, and open up to me the preciousness and glories of our most holy faith. O that he would animate my soul with fervent supplications that in all blessedness and comfort I may be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in my heart by faith; that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that I might be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. iii. 16-19.) What a prayer for an unworthy, vile sinner to pray! I ponder over it, and though I know I am asking all, my humbled yet yearning heart says, I cannot ask for less, less than this will not suffice me. It is very agreeable to know that you and others are exercised with like precious longings, and as such aspirations do not arise from our depraved natures, but are wrought in us by the Spirit of God, these cries and sighs and yearnings declare us to be those found “praying in the Holy Ghost.” So much we need divine help that we are instructed to be found “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” – Eph. vi. 18. The next words in these verses we are considering are, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” “The love of God.” Here let us retreat, this is the sanctuary of believers. That love is everlasting, and immutable, and so mighty a hold it has upon us that it will not let us go, and no power in earth or bell can sever us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. viii. 35-39.) Let us, the Holy Ghost enabling us, keep ourselves in this sacred sanctuary, in this mighty, unwavering, eternal love of God.
“In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear,
And safe in such confiding, for nothing changes here;
The storm may roar without me, my heart may low he laid,
But God is round about me, and can I he dismayed?”
O to believe the love of God, for God in his tender mercy speaketh most comfortingly to the. poor and needy. He knows that we are weak and sinful, and that we are sometimes discouraged by our temptations, but he who in love and pity redeemed us will surely shelter us from every ill, and he will carry us in his embrace until the pilgrimage is done. Jesus, “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” Let us therefore keep ourselves in the love of God, that is, that we be found not distrusting, not having mean thoughts of Jehovah’s affection for poor sinners, but be found believing and knowing the love that he hath to us. (1 John iv. 10.)
“Keep yourselves in the love of God.” This embraces that heavenly teaching of Christ, wherein he says, “he that hath my commandments, [written in his heart, Jer. xxxi. 33,] and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my command men is, ye shall abide in my love.” “Even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” – John xiv. 21; xv. ‘.), 10. I know that your heart, and mine also, hath much affection for the commandments of the Lord, and much we crave that enabling grace that we may ever be found walking as his obedient children, not fashioning ourselves according to the former lusts in our ignorance; but as he which hath called us is holy, so would we be holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy. (1 Peter i. 1416.)
“Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Mercy, this we constantly need, and our God is rich in mercy. Looking for mercy. This describes us.
“Without thy sweet mercy I could not live here,
Sin soon would reduce me to utter despair;
But through thy free goodness my spirits revive,
And he that first made me still keeps me alive.”
“Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That mercy that flows through his atoning sacrifice and justifying obedience. Looking for mercy to he shed upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus iii. 5, 6.) Looking for mercy, we shall not look in vain, our God will shew us his kindness, he will be merciful to our transgressions, our sins and iniquities he will remember no more. “Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” This is the crowning expectation of the believer in Christ Jesus: that mortality should be swallowed up of life. “Now he that hath wrought us for this selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” We are now tasting it, for “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John xvii. 3. Our poor earthly life, derived from Adam, is sinful, corruptible, abounding in miseries. O such a life, I would not live alway, I loathe it. (Job vii. 15, 10.) I should indeed be miserable. (1 Cor. xv. 19.) But the hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began, lifts up a poor, sin-plagued sinner to hopeful blessedness and peace. Eternal life; this is to live in friendship with God and Christ Jesus, the Head of the church. Eternal life; this is freedom from all iniquity, all impurity, to be in spotless beauty, to be holy and without blame before God in love. This is to live in communion with the Lord, to reign in incorruption, immortality, glory and power with Christ Jesus our Lord. O to be like him, to see him as he is. (1 John iii. 2.) Then there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. This is our destiny, the destiny of all the blood-bought saints of God, and even now how sweet it is to be tasting the earnest of our predestined inheritance to which God our Father hath predestinated us. (Eph. i. 11.) “Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” May the Lord give us eyes to be ever found so looking, and his name we will praise forever.
FREDERICK W. KEENE.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 74, No. 12
June 15, 1906