“For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of them that believe.” - Paul
THE God in whom the apostles trusted, is emphatically the living God. First, in contradistinction from all the gods which are known or worshiped by the deluded children of men. Among the numerous idols of human invention, none are found possessing life in themselves; and frequently have men formed gods for themselves of inanimate substances; as gold, silver, and other metals; while those who are impoverished among them, choose to them a tree that will not rot, and seek a cunning workman to give it the appearance of a god, according to the form and goodliness of man, &c. Others again, make them gods of their works, creeds, resolutions, benevolence, &c.; but all these are gods without life; the prophet says, There is no breath in the midst of them. Any object, whether material or immaterial, whether mentally or by manual labor served, whether composed of gold in the form of a calf, or in the form of eagles, or smaller coins, if we ascribe to it what properly belongs to Jehovah, we make it our god; to ascribe the works of creation, providence or grace, to any created power or substance, can be nothing short of idolatry. But again, he is called the living God, because he is self-existent and eternal, the source and giver of all life, natural and spiritual, to men, angels, brutes or devils.
The God in whom primitive christians trusted, is farther distinguished from all other gods, in that he is a Savior, and the only Savior. His own declaration is, “I am God, and beside me there is no Savior.” And again, “A just God, and a Savior.” And the apostle Peter declares, “There is salvation in no other.” Whether we speak of that salvation which is common, having respect to the providence of God, by which his rain is sent alike upon the just and unjust, or that special salvation which is peculiar to believers, in all cases, salvation, whether spiritual or temporal, is of the Lord. To ascribe salvation, therefore, to a system of means, efforts, personal virtues, human righteousness, protracted meetings, anxious benches, mission societies, preaching or praying, is as absolutely idolatrous, in a scriptural sense of the term, as to deny the existence of Jehovah, and to worship a calf.
In this living God and only Savior the saints of the Lord trust; and because they trust in him, they both labor and suffer reproach; not to procure a confidence or trust in God, but because they are in possession of this, they labor and suffer as a consequence; and in the cause, nature and object of their labors and reproaches, the people of the living God are as clearly distinguished from nominal professors and deceived hypocrites, as are the gods they severally serve by the exhibition of their respective attributes.
It must not be denied that hypocrites and false professors labor; yet their labor is not connected with reproach: they labor for that which is not bread; and like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, but continually cast up mire and dirt, foam out their own shame, and glory in their shame. They labor because they do not trust in the living God. If the popular religionists of our day could trust in the living God, they would cease to tell us of thousands going to hell for want of our money, our efforts, our missionaries, or our prayers; for all they who truly trust in God, feel perfectly safe in leaving the work of salvation in the hands of him who is mighty and able to save; relying on his faithful promise to call his sons from afar, and his daughters from the ends of the earth. As an evidence that Abraham believed and trusted in God, it is said, “He staggered not at the promise;” but the popular worshipers of our day do stagger at the promises; and as one of their Aarons (whose surname is Perkins) once declared, at the Warwick Association, It was admitting too much, to say that God could convert or quicken a sinner without the use of means. Even so all those who worship the works of their own hands, subscribe to the same sentiment, that God cannot save sinners without our help. Can those who would limit the power of Omnipotence on the one hand, and assert the power of man on the other, denying that God is able to save sinners of himself, and asserting that men have power to save the heathen and convert the world, can these trust in the living God? If so, what do they trust to him? not the work of salvation, for this they have undertaken to perform themselves. They trust not his wisdom, or they would not wreck their brains to improve his plan of grace; nor do they trust his truth, or they would believe what he has declared, viz: All that the Father has given to Christ shall come to him; and they that come to him he will in no wise cast out. But they can, and do trust in themselves, and made flesh their arm; notwithstanding the curse pronounced on those who trust in men, and make flesh their arm.
But how very different it is with those who trust in the living God. They shall be like Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever. Their labor is on very different grounds; it is because they do trust in God; and although their labor is invariably connected with reproach, they know in whom they have believed, and that their labor is not in vain in the Lord. They trust in the living God to quicken whom he will, without the least fear that the work will fail; and when his people are quickened, they labor to feed the flock of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood;. they labor to exhibit the truth as it is in Jesus, and to oppose those God-dishonoring doctrines of men and devils which are so constantly belched forth from the enemies of the truth. As christians, they labor to follow their divine Leader through evil as well as good report, and to observe all things whatsoever he has commanded them. As church members, they labor to bear one another’s burdens, and keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace; and all this labor is performed by them, because they trust in God. For the same cause also they suffer reproach. They are reproached for-trusting in the living God; called antinomians, and many other epithets are employed to reproach them for the same cause. If they could, and would abandon their confidence in God, and repose their confidence and trust in human inventions, cease trusting in God to preserve them through grace unto glory, and in lieu thereof, apply to a temperance pledge to secure them from a drunkard’s grave, to a Seventh-commandment Society to secure them from adultery, to Theological Seminaries to supply the church with ministers, to Mission Boards to sustain the ministry when provided, to Tracts, Sabbath Schools, anxious benches, arminian lectures, &c., to supply the church with members, then would they escape reproach. But as long as they will live godly in Christ Jesus they shall suffer persecution; for unto us it is given on the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on his name, but also to suffer for his sake. And all this they are enabled to bear and glory in, because they trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of them that believe.
ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 502 – 506