“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
Beloved of God:
Amidst the trials, conflicts, vicissitudes of life, for myself, I find a little ease of mind when I find myself graciously inclined unto the Lord, our Almighty, gracious, covenant-keeping God, and I have hope that I am in truth of the number that worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
Some (multitudes) think they worship God when they have a hymn book in their hands and join in singing at a place of the professed worship of God.
But those who are the true worshippers of God are those who in their very spirit acknowledge Him, fall down before Him, reverence Him, and in their hearts say, “Hallowed be Thy name.” They supplicate His mercies, sigh and moan themselves at His feet; sometimes with their mouths in the dust, if so be there may be hope. And then, when the Lord smiles, they smile upon Him filled with unutterable comfort, with adorations, with praises. With our God we have to do (Heb. 4:13), and our hearts desire to acknowledge Him in all our ways. It is written that the saints believe according to the work of His mighty power (Ephes. 1:19), through grace (Acts 8:27); and Oh, amidst my soul’s perplexities I have implored of our God, that grace, that mercy, that I might, in my very heart, be a believer. O, I know the experience of that one who, with tears, cried out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
I find I must have very much of Jehovah’s graciousness to be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). How could he write such a word as that? If any mortal man knew the ups and downs, and tribulations of this earthly pilgrimage, he did. See what he mentions in 2 Cor. 11:23-33: “Without were fightings, within were fears.” See also 2 Cor. 6:4-10: “And we were pressed out of measure above strength, inasmuch that we despaired even of life.” And yet he writes, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” How could he know? How can we know such a matter? Not by natural observation, not by finite reasonings.
Job loved God, and was one of God’s called according to His purpose; and yet to see him in his afflictions and temptations, when he was laid in the deeps, a brother of owls, and companion of dragons, in the darkness, under the hidings of God’s face, can it be seen, be understood, and known that all things are working together, working for His good? The wisdom of this world could never discern this to be so. In Job’s case it could clearly be seen that things were working, it might be traced that they were in league, in powers and being, working together. But how could it be known they were working together for good, when every indication to our sight, and in man’s natural reasoning said, They are all against him, they are all working together for evil unto Job?
Christ saith, “Verily, I say unto you, Among those that are born of woman, there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist. Notwithstanding this he was cast into prison, and departed this life by having his head cut off.
The only way we can know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to us purpose, is by the revelation of the Holy Ghost to our faith, and thatour faithbeing of the operation of God (Col. 2:12). The Apostle Paul, after declaring that we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, says, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified,” and so on to the end of the chapter. Our faith, of the operation of God, embracing the revelation of the gospel of Christ, sees “the end of the Lord” (Jas. 5:11), not only with regard to Job, not only as seeing the outcome of this life of chastenings, the discipline, the furnace of affliction (Isa. 48:10), but our faith lays hold of, contemplates the ultimate end of His purpose, according to which He hath called us, according to which we are born again, born of incorruptible seed, born of God.
And that eternal purpose in Christ Jesus in its ultimate height is that the foreknown, the loved, the chosen of God are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the dear Incarnate Son of God, and glorified together with Him. And as God our Savior is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords, working all things after the counsel of His own will, so all things, therefore, are working together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
“Work together.” This with that; tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword, “For I am persuaded (saith the Apostle) that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “Our Lord!” That appealed to my heart, I gratefully embraced it as I penned the words. I am His. His is the dominion, He is my gracious, glorious King, the scepter of His Kingdom is a right scepter.
“Majestic sweetness sits enthroned,
Upon the Savior’s brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned.
His lips with grace o’er flow;
No mortal can with Him compare,
Among the sons of men,
Fairer is He than all the fair
That fill the heavenly train.”
Christ is our Lord, and we worship Him, the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. Yes, our Lord reigns over us, and in us, and in our behalf. He is the Head of all principality and power, might and dominion, and every name that is named. So we shall reign in life with Him, in all things more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Ah, to our natural senses, to natural reasonings it doth not appear so; and in very truth it does not yet appear what we shall be, but our faith in Christ’s gospel enables us to say, “But we know when Christ shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. We shall be conformed to the image of God’s dearly beloved Son; we shall bear the image of the Heavenly One. Mortality shall be swallowed up of life; we shall then have put on incorruption, and we shall reign with Christ in heaven, in eternal glory. Is this my eternal destiny? If so, it is all of the Sovereign, eternal, electing graciousness of the Lord. Oh! all my hope is in the Lord who saith, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” (Exod. 33:19).
Now, for the present if need be (according to the all-wise and gracious counsel of His will) we are in heaviness through manifold temptations, we are cast down, we are wounded, and lie half dead upon the field of our conflicts. Sometimes, with me, I am so burdened, if I stand I feel my knees are feeble, and if I move forward it is with staggering steps. With me there are conflicts between the flesh and the spirit: there are cares, crosses, disappointments, often to me all is obscurity, and I am cast down, feeling sometimes to be without faith, without hope, and I fear that God has forsaken me. Ah! Sometimes it is far worse, I tell it to my shame, it is I am murmuring, devilish. Is there any hope and help for such a being? for a base, despised thing, a nothing? (1 Cor. 1:28).
Job exclaims, “Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?” (Job 13:25). O, I think I have had fellowship with Job in this verse a number of years. I have many times in that secret life (that life known only to myself and my God) felt I was the faded leaf, dropped from the tree, a worthless, dead thing, driven to and fro by every breath of wind. And wilt Thou break me? Wilt Thou by Thy providences, in Thy displeasure, break me to pieces, reduce me to powder?
I have known I was only a dried up leaf, I knew I was only worthless, dry stubble. With my mouth in the dust I have confessed this unto my God. And wilt Thou break me, a leaf driven to and fro? I was not murmuring. No, I have felt in these, such dreadful, yet sacred times, thus my crushed and broken spirit was thus entreating my God to show me His mercy. I was imploring His pity. “He is very pitiful and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).
“Lord, why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
Oh! Do not pursue Thy worm to death. What a mystery is the life of my spirit with my God. All fleshly religionists are strangers to it. The hypocrite knows nothing of the Spiritual life, the way and the fare of the called of God. Hezekiah says, “O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit” (Isaiah 27:16). The spirit of the child of God lives on through all adversities unto God. Yes, it is with our God we have to do; and very blessedly and hopefully so through Christ our blessed Surety, Mediator, High Priest and Savior. Our access into all this grace wherein we stand before our God, is by our dear and lovely Friend, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul and Silas in prison, with lacerated backs, with their feet in the stocks, amidst the midnight gloom of that innermost prison, prayed and sang praises unto their God. The same miracle of grace must be wrought in us that we should glory in tribulations also ( Rom. 5:3). This is that miracle by which such exploits are accomplished, “The love of God is shed abroad in or hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
“A single smile from Jesus given,
Will lift a drooping soul to heaven.”
So I have found it, and therefore though heaviness in the heart maketh it stoop, a good word maketh it glad, and that good word is from Jesus’ lips.
“His lips are like lilies, drooping sweet smelling myrrh; let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Thy love is better than wine.”
FREDERICK W. KEENE,
THE LONE PILGRIM,
Volume 9, No. 12,
December 15, 1931