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LOVE – OBEDIENCE.

“LOVE is the fountain, whence
All true obedience flows;
The christian serves the God he loves,
And loves the God he knows.”

What a vast field for thought and consideration is couched in the above verse! Often in reading such hymns we wonder how the writers must have felt when, undoubtedly, under such influence of the Holy Spirit. Preaching, praise and prayer are embraced in the songs of Zion, hence their writers were made to love God and to know his power to save. Each vessel of mercy is prepared to honor and glorify God as it hath pleased him, he working in them to will and to do. All men are not prophets nor apostles; all men are not pastors and teachers, nor are all evangelists; all men are not poets, nor have all men the gift of prayer, nor of healing, nor can all the children of God sing,but the whole body, the church, has every gift necessary to the praise and glory of God and for the edifying of the body of Christ until time is no more. These are among the spiritual blessings in heavenly places; these are the talents given by the Master of the house, and all who have them are required to use them well while He is in the far country. We know of no gift in the church which does not increase in the exercise thereof, therefore let none be buried in the earth.

Love is the fountain whence every blessing flows, and so deep is it that with all our powers we utterly fail to fathom its depth, yet what a mercy to feel it at times shed abroad in our poor, sinful hearts; yes, the very love of God. While “there is nothing impossible with God,” were it not that he is “Love” we cannot conceive how he could love such rebels as we all are by nature. We often think the truth that he does not love men because they are sinners, should be emphasized. He hates sin, and cannot look upon iniquity; then how is it that he loves sinners? might be asked. In this way: He loved the fallen sons of Adam, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, and their transgression and death by sin had no effect upon his great love wherewith he loved them. Their absolute need of him, because of sin, did not increase his love for them, but caused the manifestation of his love in the gift of his Son to die in order that they might live. In the gift of Christ all other gifts were embraced, and are brought into manifestation in due time. In this explanation of why God loves sinners is presented the faithfulness of Him who promised eternal life before the world began. Not one promise has he ever broken, nor will he ever, because he cannot deny himself. Men quickened into divine life love God, because he first loved them, and with the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto them. Natural love and affection are in nowise acceptable to God; all such belong to earth, and are only a part of the Adamic nature, which in every sense passes away, being of the earthy man. How foolish, then, to try to teach men, women and children to love God and one another. “As touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you; for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” Hence the poet shows forth his love to the Father and brethren in his poetry, the minister in his ministry, the singer in his songs and the man of prayer in his prayers. Others manifest their love in assembling themselves together for the worship of God. Paul called upon his brethren to show forth their love by presenting their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto him. Paul lived just such a life himself, counting all things but dung, that he might win Christ. He coveted no man’s gold and silver, but his own hands ministered unto his necessities, and died in honor to the worthy name of Jesus Christ. Other incentive than “love” to obey the righteous law of God could never be acceptable to him. Thousands in the world to-day are making vain attempts at obedience through fear of eternal torment, and were not this horrible punishment constantly before them there would be no thought of obedience to the law of the Lord. This slavish fear is, however, among the all things that work together for the good of them that love God, as it has a tendency to morality, making better men than they would otherwise be. Yet with all their morality there is most positively no service or worship of God by them. Often the tender minds of children are so wrought upon by the horrible picture of hell, with its lake of fire and brimstone, that many wakeful nights are spent, and if, through weariness, sleep overtakes them, the most dreadful nightmares torment them. O how different the teachings of grace, love and mercy! How comforting, how soothing, how pleasant the dreams of free grace; how refreshing the calm sleep under its influence; how peaceful the waking to behold the glory of God in the forgiveness of sins. By these things the church discerns “between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.” Then again many are endeavoring to serve the Lord in order to bring him into their debt, so that they, in their vain imaginations, can demand entrance into heaven. All such as say, We have done many wonderful works in thy name, shall be turned away with the abiding words of the great Judge, Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you. O how blessed to become as a little child – helpless, dependent upon the Lord for life, walk and being, for “in him we live, move and have our being.” Still further, many who profess faith in the Giver of every good and perfect gift, claim that spiritual blessings are conditional upon the part of the saints of God, and are laboring to that end, viz., to obtain the blessings. Along this line we have sometimes wondered how a natural father would manage, with reference to laying up in store comforts and blessings for his children, if he did not know beforehand how much obedience, and by whom, it would be rendered to his will, or law, regulating the members of his family. If only a few comforts and blessings were stored and much obedience rendered, there would be a scarcity of blessings. On the other hand, if be stored many blessings and little obedience was rendered, there would be a surplus, or more blessings than needed. Would not the result be exactly the same with the heavenly Father if spiritual blessings are conditional? But, says the brother laboring for the blessings, we admit and also believe that God foreknew just how many blessings would be needed, or necessary, for his children while here below. Now if it be true that God did foreknow exactly how many blessings would be necessary for his children, does it not follow that all spiritual blessings in heavenly places were given in Christ before the world began, and that not one son or daughter will ever be short one blessing? If this be true, every blessing flows from him because of his predestinated mercy and purpose in this direction. Hence all the obedience-of the whole family can never add one blessing to the foreknown number, nor will all the disobedience of the family ever make the number one less. Therefore it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is our example in this doctrine. No man ever suffered as he did; no man ever felt the weight of sin as did he, nor did ever one of the Lord’s children suffer the darkness and fear that he did, yet obedient in all things, even unto the death of the cross. All his obedience did not bring for him one more spiritual blessing than the, Father had in store for him. If such were the case with him, why should any one now think that by certain obedience to the law of Christ he will receive blessings he would not otherwise receive? This doctrine of fixed blessings to and for the children of God does not in any sense license them to live as they list, nor could any one with the grace of God in the heart so live, neither could any give the slightest encouragement to crucify the Son of God afresh and trample under foot the blood of the new testament as an unholy thing. “To fear God and keep his commandments is the whole duty of man;” not for reward, but for the love he bears to the God of his salvation. “If ye love me keep my commandments;” “and his commandments are not grievous.” All the law and the prophets are hinged upon “love.” To deal justly, love mercy and walk humbly is to keep the law of God, and salvation for time and eternity is of him through Jesus Christ our Lord. K.

Elder H. C. Ker
Editorial

Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 23
December 1, 1914