Thursday, 22 September 2011

WHAT IS IT TO WALK TOGETHER?

There was a time, child of God, when the world held in your heart the chief place.

It was not so in God's heart.

You and he were therefore at variance. But now, through grace, you are brought to make eternity your chief concern. You and God are agreed there; for in the mind of God eternity as much outweighs time as the stars in the midnight sky outweigh a grain of dust.

There was a time when you loved the world and the things of time and sense; and earth and earthly things were your element and home. You and God disagreed upon that matter; because the Lord saw that the world was full of evil, whilst you saw it full of good.

The Lord saw the world under His curse, and you loved its favour and its blessing-seeking madly and wickedly to enjoy that which God had denounced; therefore you could not agree.

Thus you see that in order to be agreed with God, we must have God's thoughts in our heart, God's ways in our soul, and God's love in our affections.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."
(Isaiah 55:8)

But they must become such; and when once God's thoughts become our thoughts and God's ways our ways; when once we have the mind of Christ and see with the eyes of God, then God and we become agreed, and being agreed, we can walk together.

What is it to walk together?

Why, it is to enjoy union, communion, fellowship, and friendship.

Now as we are brought to agree with God, we walk with God.

He has set up a mercy-seat on high, and when they thus agree, God and man may meet at the mercy-seat of the Redeemer.

As the eyes are enlightened to see the truth of God; as the heart is touched to feel the power of God; and as the affections are drawn forth to love the things of God, we meet at the mercy-seat.

It is sprinkled with blood; it contains and hides from view the broken tables of the law. There God meets man in gracious amity, and enables him to pour out his soul before him and to tell him his troubles, trials, and temptations.

And every now and then he sweetly relieves by dropping in a gracious promise, applying some portion of his sacred truth, encouraging him to believe in his dear Son, and still to hope in his mercy.

By J.C. Philpot

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

THE BLOOD AND THE WATER

QUESTION

Being a constant reader of the Standard, and I hope not without spiritual instruction, consolation and edification, I take the liberty of calling your attention to 1 John 5:6 (“This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth”), humbly begging the favour of a few remarks in the Standard, which I hope, under the teaching and blessing of God the Spirit, may comfort and strengthen some of the household of faith.



ANSWER

John here evidently refers to what his own eyes saw as Jesus hung on the cross.

“But one of the soldiers pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
(John 19:34)

He therefore declares in the passage before us, “This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6).

“Water” here, as elsewhere, signifies that which washes and purifies from defilement, and especially “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” We read, therefore, that “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27).

The Apostle Paul in these words is speaking not of the work of Christ in redemption, but in sanctification, “the washing of water by the Word,” and this corresponds with the Lord’s own words: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3) and again, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).

Thus Christ “came by water,” to regenerate and renew, to sanctify and cleanse His church. So says the apostle, “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

This is being “born of water and of the Spirit,” without which no man can see or enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). And it is the fulfilment of the ancient promise, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you” (Ezekiel 36:25).

It is to do all this by virtue of His holy life and death, by His sufferings, resurrection and intercession, that Jesus Christ is said to come by water.

But the blessed Redeemer “came not by water only”!

He came to redeem as well as regenerate, to wash in His blood as well as cleanse by sanctifying grace.

“Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.”
(Revelation 1:5)

“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
(Revelation 7:14)

Therefore holy John says, “He came not by water only.” Something more than water, something distinct from and prior to the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) was needed to save the church from her sins. The Son of God, therefore, came by blood, that precious blood which “cleanseth from all sin.”

In order clearly to understand the apostle’s peculiar and powerful language here, we must see that his object is most positively to insist that redemption and regeneration necessarily and unalterably go together, and must not be separated; that those whom Christ regenerates He redeemed, and those whom He redeemed He regenerates; that He did not come to wash and sanctify by His grace those whom He left under the curse of the law and the guilt of sin; nor to save by His blood from the punishment of their sins those whom He would never regenerate by His Spirit.

In His day, as in ours, heretics and erroneous men laboured to separate these two vital blessings. “Christ came by water only,” say the self-righteous, and those who feel no need of atoning blood. “A holy life is the main thing. His life and death are our example, and if we are holy and do the things which are right, we shall be saved.” Such, whether open or secret Socinians, allow the water, but slight the blood. Others again, of an Antinomian turn, exalt the blood, but slight the water. “If Christ died for you,” say they, “you will be saved, let your life be what it may. What is all this talk about a godly life, a tender conscience, and walking in the ordinances of the Lord’s house? What do they mean by all this legal stuff? If I am redeemed, that is enough.”

But out of the same pierced side came both blood and water; blood to redeem, water to regenerate; blood for justification (Romans 5:9), water for sanctification; blood to cleanse from guilt, water to wash from filth; blood to give a title to heaven, water to produce a meetness for heaven (Colossians 1:12); blood to purge the conscience (Hebrews 9:14), water to shed the love of God abroad in the heart. Thus Moses, the typical mediator, washed Aaron and his sons with water, and sprinkled them with blood when he consecrated them as priests unto God (Leviticus 8:6; Leviticus 8:30) And so Jesus, the true Mediator, in consecrating His people “a royal priesthood,” redeemed them by His blood, and washed them, in the time appointed, by His regenerating grace.

Nay more, holy John would show by these striking words that from the same cross, from the same pierced side of Jesus, at the same moment, though in two separate streams, came sanctification as well as redemption; that not only does His precious blood atone for sin, but that His dying love supplies motives and strength to all godliness; that pardon and peace, salvation from the guilt of sin and deliverance from the power of sin, are linked together; that at the foot of the cross, from the heart of Jesus, the stream of sanctification flows; that true repentance comes from looking to Him whom we have pierced; and that as the blood of His heart sufficed for full atonement, so the water of His heart suffices for full sanctification.

We feel that we have expressed our views and feelings but feebly and imperfectly. We close, therefore, with a verse which seems to embody the whole truth in a short compass:

“This fountain so dear, He’ll freely impart;
Unlocked by the spear, it gushed from His heart,
With blood and with water; the first to atone,
To cleanse us the latter; the fountain’s but one.”


By J.C. Philpot

UNITY OF THE SPIRIT

“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
(Ephesians 4:3)

“The unity of the Spirit” signifies that secret bond of divine union which knits together all the living members of Christ’s mystical body, not only to Him as their risen Head, but to each other also by virtue of the same indwelling Spirit.

It is, therefore, not a mere unity of opinion, of church membership, of outward profession, or any mere external bond; for all these may subsist in the highest degree, and yet there be no spiritual union.

The word translated “unity” means literally “oneness,” and therefore implies that oneness of faith, hope and love which pervades every member of the mystical body. It is, therefore, called “the oneness of the Spirit,” that is, that oneness of heart and soul, love and affection, of which the Holy Ghost is the sole and immediate Author.

This oneness of Spirit is, so to speak, kept together and maintained in its place by “the bond of peace,” which is wrapped round it. All strife and contention tend to break this oneness of Spirit; but when “the bond of peace” is twined round it, it is not only preserved from outward assaults, but like the blood within the artery, or like the marrow within the spine, is free to move and act.

As therefore this “oneness of spirit” can only be maintained in living exercise as surrounded by “the bond of peace,” the apostle bids us to endeavour “to keep” it within this bond.

It is in itself a thing so tender, and yet so essential to the comfort of the church, that we should never, so to speak, take that bond off which preserves it uninjured.

By “peace,” therefore, we may understand not only peace of conscience, peace with God through the atoning blood of the Lamb, but peace also with the brethren.

In other words, a quiet, peaceable, affectionate and loving spirit manifested to the people of God, and especially to those with whom we are brought into church fellowship, is indispensable to the lively maintenance of spiritual union. It is true that spiritual union, once felt, can never be utterly lost, but it may be sadly weakened.

Next then to our own soul’s peace and establishment in the truths of the gospel, next to our own union with Christ as sensibly realised and spiritually maintained, should we seek to keep up oneness of spirit with the saints of God; and so far as we aim at this by showing a quiet, peaceable and affectionate spirit, do we fulfil the apostolic injunction, and “endeavour,” for we cannot always or often succeed, “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

By J.C. Philpot

Saturday, 10 September 2011

THE ASCENDED SAVIOUR

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.”
(Mark 16:19)

The right hand of God means the right hand of power, of dominion, of authority and of acceptance. When our blessed Lord went back to the courts of bliss, and the gates of heaven lifted up their heads, and the everlasting doors were lifted up, and the King of glory went in, He sat down at once at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

But what did this place of pre-eminence imply?

It certified to principalities and powers, and the whole bright and glorious throng of angelic hosts, that God had accepted His work and given Him for His reward that exalted place of power, of honour and of dignity. For remember this, that our gracious Lord went up to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God in His human nature.

He did not go up to heaven as He came down from heaven only as the Son of God. He went up to heaven as the Son of man as well as the Son of God. He went up to heaven in a human nature united to the divine, and therefore entered the courts of bliss as the God-man, Immanuel, God with us.

It is a point of great importance, and to be ever borne in mind by every spiritual worshipper, and by every true believer in the Son of God, that our blessed Lord sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high in the same human body which He wore upon earth – glorified indeed beyond all thought or utterance, but the same pure, spotless, holy, and immortal humanity which He assumed in the womb of the virgin, and which He offered as a sacrifice upon the cross.

To this point the apostle would specially direct our thoughts, and bring it before us as the object and food of our faith (Romans 8:34). And what an object of faith it is, for, as viewing Jesus at the right hand of God, we see there a Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; we see an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; we see a Brother, a Friend, a Husband enthroned in glory, there ever living, ever reigning, ever ruling, until God shall have put all enemies under His feet.

By J.C. Philpot