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A PRECIOUS EPISTLE OF FAITH

Mrs. Mabel Berry, dear sister in our precious Lord Jesus Christ, - I sat with my pen in my hand saying to myself, what shall I write? The following verses came into my mind, and I thought they tell much of the story:

"How strange is the course that a Christian must steer,
How perplexed is the path he must treat!
The Hope of his happiness rises from fear,
And his life he receives from the dead.
His fairest pretensions must wholly be waived,
And his best resolutions be crossed;
Nor can he expect to be perfectly saved,
Till he finds himself utterly lost.
When all this is done, and his heart is assured
Of the total remission of sins,
When his pardon is signed, and his peace is procured,
From that moment his conflict begins."     J. Hart

Though ever so paradoxical it is the paradox of the life of the chosen of God. The quickened sinner, the called of God, very soon begins to experience those paradoxical matters, the divine paradox which only "the very elect" (Matt. 24:24) know. Let me cite a few paradoxes: "As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (II Cor. 6:9-10; compares II Cor. 4:9-12). "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). See also Romans 7:14-25.

What do I know of all this divine mystery? I am fully persuaded that a man may be very well informed, be able to quote the scriptures upon every point of the doctrine, and tell what the Holy Scriptures teach, speak of all the varied vital experiences of the children of God; he may scripturally set forth the way and the fare of the pilgrims to Mount Zion, to the City of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and never vitally have taken one step therein. I have met such characters. They know nothing of God, of Christ in their hearts. They had never felt themselves to be poor lost sinners, never had a humble and contrite heart, never, out of their sin-distressed heart, cried for mercy, never tasted the forgiveness of their sins in Jesus' blood. They did not know that our Lord Jesus is precious to the believer, and that His redeeming blood is precious "as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world" (I Peter 1:19-20).

In our pilgrimage it is not all fair weather, there are "cloudy and dark days," there are "fightings within and fears without." But when the Holy Ghost, the Comforter whom the Father, according to that "covenant ordered in all things and sure," sendeth in Christ's name, takes of the things of our precious Lord Jesus Christ and shows them unto us – then thus equipped, empowered, and with our armor on and our weapons in our hands of faith, we can run through a troop of our foes and leap over a wall. Thus, though a host should encamp against us, our hearts shall not fear. We feel persuaded that ultimately we shall be "more than conquerors" through Him that loveth us.

Oh, it is something more than a letter-knowledge of what the scriptures say about these matters, but it is that by Divine Instruction these sacred realities are wrought in our souls, handled and tasted and felt. Oh, that divine mystery! Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith, to be rooted and grounded in Him. "Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20). "As God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (II Cor. 6:16). Oh, my sister, I am so often, continually knowing the plague of my own heart (I Kings 8:38). So many are the trials of my life, my conflicts, that I find I have need of much grace to be in prayer and supplication unto our God, who knows my weaknesses, my oft felt destitution of all spiritual exercises of soul unto His holy and gracious name. I am so distrustful, so unbelieving; I speak this to my shame, but I frequently tell the Lord of my unbelief; and I say, Thou knowest that to truly trust in Thee, to cast myself and my cares upon Thee; to withstand all the adversaries of my soul, to endure these straits, to hold on my way in tribulation's paths, that I may in very truth believe in Thee – that I can only do according to the workings of Thy mighty power in me. Oh, it is only by the graciousness of the Lord working in my soul that I am a believer (Acts 18:27)!

There are sacred, blessed times that my soul knows, when my soul is so wrought by the operations of the Holy Ghost that I am in very truth "looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of my faith." And I am confiding in Jesus who has magnified the Law, who has given Himself a sacrifice for the sins of His chosen, and then I can sing, "Who is he that condemneth? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" (Rom. 8:33-34). The accuser is then cast down: "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 12:11). In such sacred moments, Christ is feelingly dwelling in me, I live in Him and He in me, "my Beloved is mine and I am His" (Solomon's Song 2:16). And I can sing and have melody in my heart unto the Lord – I can sing, "Happy art thou, O Israel, who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places" (Deut. 33:29).

May you be blessed with a heart to be found in much prayer to the Lord. That professor of Christ's name who lives a prayerless life is dead in trespasses and sins. But unto you that believe in Jesus He is precious.

"To them He is more precious far
Than life and all its comforts are;
Whatever things men precious call,
Christ is more precious than them all.

He's precious in His precious blood,
That pardoning and soul-cleansing flood;
He's precious in His righteousness,
That precious, holy, heavenly dress."

I am your brother, I trust, in our sweet Lord Jesus Christ,
FREDERICK W. KEENE, 1936

Taken from "Truth For Today" July-Aug. 1995