Which Class Are YOU Traveling?
WHAT AN OFT-REPEATED QUESTION! Let me put it to you, my reader: for traveling you most certainly are — traveling from Time into Eternity and who knows how very, very near you may be at this moment to the GREAT TERMINUS?
Let me ask you then in all kindness, "Which class are you traveling?" There are but three. Let me describe them that you may put yourself to the test as in the presence of "Him with whom we have to do."
First Class — Those who are saved and who know it.
Second Class — Those who are not sure of salvation, but anxious to be sure.
Third Class — Those who are not only unsaved, but totally indifferent about it.
Again I repeat my question — "Which class are you traveling?" Oh, the madness of indifference when eternal issues are at stake!
A short time ago, a man came rushing into the railway station and while scarcely able to gasp for breath took his seat in one of the carriages just on the point of starting.
"You've run it fine," said a fellow-passenger.
"Yes," replied he, breathing heavily after every two or three words, "but I've saved four hours, and that's well worth running for."
"Saved four hours!" I couldn't help repeating to myself — "four hours" well worth that earnest struggle! What of eternity? What of eternity? Yet are there not thousands of shrewd, farseeing men today, who look sharply enough after their own interests in life, but who seem stone blind to the eternity before them? In spite of the infinite love of God to helpless rebels, told out at Calvary; in spite of His pronounced hatred of sin; in spite of the known brevity of man's history here; in spite of the terrors of judgment after death, and of the solemn probability of waking up at last with the unbearable remorse of being on hell's side of a "fixed" gulf, man hurries on to the bitter, bitter end, as careless as if there were no God, no death, no judgment, no heaven, no hell! If the reader of these pages be such an one, may God this very moment have mercy upon you, and while you read these lines, open your eyes to your most perilous position, standing as you may be on the slippery brink of an endless woe.
Oh friend, believe it or not, your case is truly desperate! Put off the thought of eternity no longer. Remember that procrastination is like him who deceives you by it — not only a "thief," but a "murderer."There is much truth in the Spanish proverb which says, "The road of 'By-and-by' leads to the town of 'Never.'" I beseech you, unknown reader, to travel that road no longer. "Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
"But," says one, "I am not indifferent as to the welfare of my soul. My deep trouble lies wrapped up in another word —
I am among the second-class passengers you speak of."
Well, reader, both indifference and uncertainty are the offspring of one parent — unbelief. The first results from unbelief as to the sin and ruin of man, the other from unbelief as to God's sovereign remedy for man. It is especially for souls desiring before God to be fully and unmistakably SURE of their salvation that these pages are written. I can in a great measure understand your deep soul-trouble, and am assured that the more you are in earnest about this all important matter, the greater will be your thirst, until you know for certain that you are really and eternally saved. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)
The only son of a devoted father is at sea. News comes that his ship has been wrecked on some foreign shore. Who can tell the anguish of suspense in that father's heart until, upon the most reliable authority, he is assured that his boy is safe and sound?
Or, again, you are far from home. The night is dark and wintry, and your way is totally unknown. Standing at a point where two roads diverge, you ask a passer-by the way to the town you desire to reach, and he tells you he thinks that such and such a way is the right one, and hopes you will be all right if you take it. Would "thinks," and "hopes," and "may be's" satisfy you? Surely not. You must have certainty about it, or every step you take will increase your anxiety. What wonder, then, that men have sometimes neither been able to eat nor sleep when the eternal safety of the soul has been trembling in the balance!
"To lose your wealth is much,
To lose your health is more,
To lose your soul is such a loss
As no man can restore."
Now, dear reader, there are three things I desire, by the Holy Spirit's help, to make clear to you, and to put them into scriptural language, they are these:
1. The Way of Salvation (Acts 16:17).
2. The Knowledge of Salvation (Luke 1:77).
3. The Joy of Salvation (Psalm 51:12).
We shall, I think, see that though intimately connected, they each stand upon a separate basis; so that it is quite possible for a soul to know the way of salvation without having the certain knowledge that he himself is saved; or, again, to know that he is saved, without possessing at all times the joy that ought to accompany that knowledge.
First then, let me speak briefly of
THE WAY OF SALVATION.
Please open your Bible and read carefully the 13th verse of the 13th chapter of Exodus; there you find these words from the lips of Jehovah — "And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem."
Now, come back with me in thought to a supposed scene of three thousand years ago. Two men (a priest of God and a poor Israelite) stand in earnest conversation. Let us stand by, with their permission, and listen. The gestures of each bespeak deep earnestness about some matter of importance, and it is not difficult to see that the subject of conversation is a little ass that stands trembling beside them.
"I am come to inquire," says the poor Israelite, "if there cannot be a merciful exception made in my favour this once. This feeble little thing is the firstling of my ass, and though I know full well what the law of God says about it, I am hoping that mercy will be shown, and the ass's life spared. I am but a poor man in Israel, and can ill afford to lose the colt."
"But," answers the priest firmly, "the law of the Lord is plain and unmistakable: 'Every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb, and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck.' Where is the lamb?" (Exodus 13:13)
"Ah, sir, no lamb do I possess."
"Then go purchase one and return, or the ass's neck must surely be broken. The lamb must die or the ass must die."
"Alas! then all my hopes are crushed," he cries, "for I am far too poor to buy a lamb."
While this conversation proceeds, a third person joins them, and after hearing the poor man's tale of sorrow, he turns to him and says kindly, "Be of good cheer, I can meet your need," and thus he proceeds: "We have in our house on the hill top yonder, one little lamb brought up at our very hearthstone, which is 'without spot or blemish.' It has never once strayed from home, and stands (and rightly so) in highest favour with all that are in the house. This lamb will I fetch." And away he hastens up the hill. Presently you see him gently leading the fair little creature down the slope, and very soon both lamb and ass are standing side by side.
Then the lamb is bound to the altar, its blood is shed, and the fire consumes it.
The righteous priest now turns to the poor man, and says, "You can freely take home your little colt in safety; no broken neck for it now. The lamb has died in the ass's stead, and consequently the ass goes righteously free. Thanks to your friend."
Now, poor troubled soul, can you not see in this God's own picture of a sinner's salvation? His claims as to your sin demanded "a broken neck," that is, righteous judgment upon your guilty head, the only alternative being the death of a divinely approved substitute. Now, you could not find the provision to meet your case; but in the Person of His beloved Son, God Himself provided the Lamb. "Behold the Lamb of God," said John to his disciples as his eyes fell upon that blessed spotless One. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
Onward to Calvary He went, "as a lamb to the slaughter," (Isaiah 53:7) and there and then He "once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). He "was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:25). So that God does not abate one jot of His righteous, holy claims against sin when He justifies (i.e., clears from all charge of guilt) the ungodly sinner who believes in Jesus (Romans 3:26). Blessed be God for such a Saviour, such a salvation! "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?"
"Well," you reply, "I have, as a condemned sinner, found in Him one that I can safely trust. I do believe in Him." Then I can tell you that the full value of His sacrifice and death, as God estimates it, He makes as good to you as though you had accomplished it all yourself.
Oh, what a wondrous way of salvation is this! Is it not great and grand and godlike — worthy of God Himself? The gratification of His own heart of love, the glory of His precious Son, and the salvation of a sinner, all bound up together. What a bundle of grace and glory! Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has so ordered it that His own beloved Son should do all the work and get all the praise, and that you and I, poor guilty things, believing on Him, should not only get the blessing, but enjoy the blissful company of the Blesser for ever and ever. "O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together" (Psalm 34:3).
But perhaps your eager inquiry may be, "How is it that since I do really distrust self and self-work, and wholly rely upon Christ and Christ's work, that I have not the full certainty of my salvation?" You say, "If my feelings warrant my saying that I am saved one day, they are pretty sure to blight every hope the next, and I am left like a ship storm-tossed, without any anchorage whatever."
Ah! there lies your mistake. Did you ever hear of a captain trying to find anchorage by fastening his anchor inside the ship? Never. Always outside.
It may be that you are quite clear that it is Christ's death alone that gives SAFETY, but you think that it is what you feel that gives you CERTAINTY.
Now again take your Bible, for I wish you to see from God's Word how He gives a man
THE KNOWLEDGE OF SALVATION.
Before you turn to the verse which I shall ask you very carefully to look at, which speaks of how a believer is to KNOW that he has eternal life, let me quote it in the distorted way in which man's imagination often puts it. "These happy feelings have I given unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life." Now open your Bible, and while you compare this with God's blessed and unchanging Word, may He give you from your very heart to say with David, "I hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love" (Psalm 119:113). The verse just misquoted is found in 1 John 5:13, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye HAVE eternal life..."
How did the firstborn sons of the thousands of Israel know for certain that they were safe the night of the Passover and of Egypt's judgment?
Let us visit two of their houses and hear what they have to say.
We find in the first house we enter that they are all shivering with fear and suspense. What is the secret of all this paleness and trembling? We enquire, and the firstborn son informs us that the angel of death is coming around the land, and that he is not quite certain how matters will stand with him at that solemn moment, "When the destroying angel has passed our house," says he, "and the night of judgment is over, I shall then know that I am safe, but I can not see how I can be quite sure of it until then. I hear they are sure of salvation next door, but we think it very presumptuous. All I can do is to spend the long, dreary night hoping for the best."
"But," we ask, "has the God of Israel not provided a way of safety for His people?"
"True," he replies, "and we have availed ourselves of that way of escape. The blood of the spotless and unblemished first-year lamb has been duly sprinkled with the bunch of hyssop on the lintel and two side-posts, but still we are not fully assured of shelter."
Let us now leave these doubting, troubled ones, and enter next door. What a striking contrast meets our eye at once! Peace rests on every countenance. There they stand, with girded loins and staff in hand, feeding on the roasted lamb.
What can be the meaning of all this tranquility on such a solemn night as this? "Ah," say they all, "we are only waiting for Jehovah's marching orders, and then we shall bid a last farewell to the taskmaster's cruel lash and all the drudgery of Egypt!"
"But hold! Do you forget that this is the night of Egypt's judgment?"
"Right well we know it; but our firstborn son is safe. The blood has been sprinkled according to the wish of our God."
"But so it has been next door," we reply, "but they are all unhappy, because all uncertain of safety."
"Ah!," responds the firstborn firmly, "but we have MORE THAN THE SPRINKLED BLOOD; we have THE UNERRING WORD OF GOD ABOUT IT. God has said: 'When I see the blood, I will pass over you' (Exodus 12:13). God rests satisfied with the blood outside, and we rest satisfied with His Word inside."
The sprinkled blood makes us SAFE.
The spoken Word makes us SURE.
Could anything make us more safe than the sprinkled blood, or more sure than His spoken Word? Nothing, nothing. Now, reader, let me ask you a question. "Which of these two houses, think you, was the safer?" Do you say the second, where all were so peaceful? Nay then, you are wrong. Both are safe alike. Their safety depends upon what God thinks about the blood outside, and not upon the state of their feelings inside.
If you would be sure of your own blessing, then, dear reader, listen not to the unstable testimony of inward emotions, but to the infallible witness of the Word of God. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me HATH everlasting life" (John 6:47).
Let me give you a simple illustration from everyday life. A certain farmer in the country, not having sufficient grass for his cattle, applies for a nice piece of pasture land which he hears is to be let near his own house. For some time he gets no answer from the landlord. One day a neighbour comes in and says, "I feel quite sure you will get that field. Don't you recollect how that last Christmas he sent you a special present of game and that he gave you a kind nod of recognition the other day when he drove past in the carriage?" And with such like words the farmer's mind is filled with sanguine hopes.
Next day another neighbour meets him, and in course of conversation he says, "I'm afraid you will stand no chance whatever of getting that grass-field. Mr. _____ has applied for it, and you cannot but be aware what a favourite he is with the Squire — occasionally visiting with him," and so on. And the poor farmer's bright hopes are dashed to the ground and burst like soap bubbles. One day he is hoping, the next day full of perplexing doubts.
Presently the postman calls, and the farmer's heart beats fast as he breaks the seal of the letter, for he sees by the handwriting that it is from the Squire himself. See his countenance change from anxious suspense to undisguised joy as he reads and re-reads that letter.
"It's a settled thing now," exclaims he to his wife. "No more doubts and fears about it; the Squire says the field is mine as long as I require it, on the most easy terms, and that's enough for me. I care for no man's opinion now. His word settles it!"
How many a poor soul is in a like condition to that of the poor, troubled farmer — tossed and perplexed by the opinions of men, or the thoughts and feelings of his own treacherous heart! And it is only upon receiving the Word of God as the Word of God, that certainty takes the place of doubts and peradventures. When God speaks there must be certainty, whether He pronounces the damnation of the unbeliever, or the salvation of the believer.
"For ever, O LORD, Thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89); and to the simple-hearted believer HIS WORD SETTLES ALL.
"Hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19).
"I need no other argument
I want no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died—
And that He died for me."
The believer can add — "And that God says so."
"But how may I be sure that I have the right kind of faith?" Well, there can be but one answer to that question. "Have you placed your confidence in the right Person, in the blessed Son of God?"
It is not a question of the amount of your faith, but of the trustworthiness of the person you repose your confidence in. One man takes hold of Christ, as it were, with a drowning man's grip. Another but touches the hem of His garment, but the sinner who does the former is not a bit safer than the one who does the latter. They have both made the same discovery, namely, that while all of self is totally untrustworthy, they may safely confide in Christ, calmly rely on His Word, and confidently rest in the eternal efficacy of His finished work. That is what is meant by believing on Him. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on ME HATH everlasting life" (John 6:47).
Make sure of it then, my reader, that your confidence is not reposed in your works of amendments, your religious observances, your pious feelings when under religious influences, your moral training from childhood, and the like. You may have the strongest faith in any or all of these, and perish everlastingly. Do not deceive yourself by any "fair show in the flesh." The feeblest faith in Christ eternally saves, while the strongest faith in aught beside is but the offspring of a deceived heart — but the leafy twigs of your enemy's arranging over the pitfall of eternal perdition.
God, in the Gospel, simply introduces to you the Lord Jesus Christ, and says: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17)." "You may," He says, "with all confidence trust His heart, though you cannot with impunity trust your own."
Blessed, thrice blessed Lord Jesus, who would not trust Thee, and praise Thy Name?
"I do really believe on Him," said a sad-looking soul to me one day, "but yet, when asked if I am saved, I don't like to say yes, for fear I should be telling a lie." This young woman was a butcher's daughter in small town in the Midlands [central counties of England]. It happened to be a market day, and her father had not then returned from market. So I said, "Now, suppose when your father comes home you ask him how many sheep he bought today, and he answers 'ten'. After a while a man comes to the shop, and says, 'How many sheep did your father buy today?' and you reply, 'I don't like to say, for fear I should be telling a lie." "But," said the mother (who was standing by at the time), with righteous indignation, "that would be making your father the liar."
Now, dear reader, don't you see that this well-meaning young woman was virtually making Christ a liar, saying, "I do believe on the Son of God, and He says I have everlasting life, but I do not like to say I have it, lest I should be telling a lie," when Christ Himself has said, "He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life!" (John 6:47).
"But," says another, "How may I be sure that I really do believe? I have tried often enough to believe, and looked within to see if I had got it, but the more I look at my faith, the less I seem to have."
Ah, my friend, you are looking in the wrong direction to find that out, and your trying to believe but plainly shows that you are on the wrong track. Let me give you another illustration to explain what I want to convey to you.
You are sitting at your quiet fireside one evening, when a man comes in and tells you that the station-master has been killed that night on the railway. Now it so happens that this man had long borne the character in the place for being a very dishonest man, and the most daring, notorious liar in the neighbourhood. Do you believe, or even try to believe, that man?
"Of course not," you exclaim.
"Oh, I know him too well for that!"
"But tell me how you know that you don't believe him. Is it by looking within at your faith or feelings?"
"No," you reply, "I think of the man that brings me the message."
Presently a neighbour drops in, and says, "The station-master has been run over by a freight train tonight and killed on the spot." After he has left, I hear you cautiously say, "Well, I partly believe it now; for to my recollection this man only once in his life deceived me, though I have known him from boyhood."
But again I ask, "Is it by looking at your faith this time that you know you partly believe it?"
"No," you repeat, "I am thinking of the character of my informant."
Well, this man has scarcely left your room before a third person enters and brings you the same sad news as the first. But this time you say, "Now, John, I believe it. Since you tell me, I can believe it."
Again I press my question (which is, remember, but the re-echo of your own), "How do you KNOW that you so confidently believe your friend John?"
"Because of who and what John is," you reply. "He never has deceived me, and I don't think he ever will."
Well, then, just in the same way, I know that I believe the Gospel because of the One who brings me the news. "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that BELIEVETH NOT GOD HATH MADE HIM A LIAR; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son" (1 John 5:9,10). "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3).
An anxious soul once said to a servant of Christ, "Oh, sir, I can't believe!" To which the preacher wisely and quietly made reply, "Indeed, WHO is it that you cannot believe?" This broke the spell. He had been looking at faith as an indescribable something he must feel within himself in order to be sure he was all right for heaven, whereas faith ever looks outside to a living Person and His finished work, and quietly listens to the testimony of a faithful God about both.
It is the outside look that brings the inside peace. When a man turns his face towards the sun, his own shadow is behind him. You cannot look at self and a glorified Christ in heaven at the same moment.
Thus we have seen that the blessed Person of God's Son wins my confidence. HIS FINISHED WORK makes me eternally safe. GOD'S WORD about those who believe on Him makes me unalterably sure. I find in Christ and His work the way of salvation, and in the Word of God the knowledge of salvation.
"But, if saved," you may say, "How is it that I have such a fluctuating experience — so often losing all my joy and comfort, and getting as wretched and downcast as I was before my conversion?" Well, this brings us to our third point;
THE JOY OF SALVATION.
You will find in the teaching of Scripture, that while you are saved by Christ's work and assured by God's Word, you are maintained in comfort and joy by the Holy Spirit who indwells every saved one's body.
Now you must bear in mind that every saved one has still "the flesh" within him, that is, the evil nature he was born with as a natural man, and which perhaps showed itself while still a helpless infant on his mother's lap. The Holy Spirit in the believer resists the flesh, and is grieved by every activity of it, in motive, word or deed. When he is walking "worthy of the Lord," the Holy Spirit will be producing in his soul His blessed fruits — "love, joy, peace ..." (see Galatians 5:22). When he is walking in a carnal, worldly way, the Spirit is grieved, and these fruits are wanting in greater or less measure.
Let me put it thus for you who do believe on God's Son:
Christ's Work and Your Salvation > stand or fall together.
Your Walk and Your Enjoyment > stand or fall together.
If Christ's work could break down (and, blessed be God it never will), your salvation will break down with it. When your walk breaks down (and be watchful, for it may), your enjoyment will break down with it.
Thus it is said of the early disciples (Acts 9:31), that they were "walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost." And again in Acts 13:52: "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost." My spiritual joy will be in proportion to the spiritual character of my walk after I am saved.
Now do you see your mistake? You have been mixing up enjoyment and your safety — two widely different things. When, through self-indulgence, loss of temper, worldliness, etc., you grieved the Holy Spirit and lost your joy, you thought your safety was undermined. But again I repeat it—
Your safety hangs upon Christ's work FOR you.
Your assurance upon God's Word TO you.
Your enjoyment upon not grieving the Holy Spirit IN you.
When as a child of God, you do anything to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, your communion with the Father and the Son is for the time practically suspended; and it is only when you judge yourself and confess your sins, that the joy of communion is restored.
Your child has been guilty of some misdemeanour. He shows upon his countenance the evident mark that something is wrong with him. Half an hour before this he was enjoying a walk with you around the garden, admiring what you admired, enjoying what you enjoyed. In other words, he was in communion with you, his feelings and sympathies were in common with yours.
But now all this is changed, and as a naughty, disobedient child he stands in the corner, the very picture of misery.
Upon penitent confession of his wrong-doing you have assured him of forgiveness, but his pride and self will keep him sobbing there.
Where is now the joy of half an hour ago? All gone. Why? Because communion between you and him has been interrupted.
What has become of the relationship that existed between you and your son half an hour ago? Is that gone too? Is that severed or interrupted? Surely not. His relationship depends upon his birth; his communion depends upon his behaviour.
But presently he comes out of the corner with broken will and broken heart confessing the whole thing from first to last, so that you see he hates the disobedience and naughtiness as much as you do, and you take him in your arms and cover him with kisses. His joy is restored because communion is restored.
When David sinned so grievously in the matter of Uriah's wife, he did not say, "Restore unto me Thy salvation," but "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation" (Psalm 51:12).
But to carry our illustration a little farther. Supposing while your child is in the corner there should be a cry of "House on fire!" throughout your dwelling, what would become of him then? Left in the corner to be consumed with the burning, falling house? Impossible! Very probably he would be the very first person you would carry out. Ah, yes, you know right well that the love of relationship is one thing, and the joy of communion quite another.
Now, when the believer sins, communion for the time is interrupted, and joy is lost until, with a broken heart, he comes to the Father and confesses his sins. Then, taking God at His Word, he knows he is forgiven, for His Word plainly declares that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Oh, then, dear believer, ever bear in mind these two things, that there is nothing so strong as the link of relationship; and nothing so tender as the link of communion.
All the combined power and counsel of earth and hell cannot sever the former, while an impure motive or an idle word will break the latter.
If you are troubled with a cloudy half-hour, get low before God, consider your ways. And when the thief that has robbed you of your joy has been detected, drag him at once to the light, confess your sin to God your Father, and judge yourself most unsparingly for the unwatchful careless state of soul that allowed the thief to enter unchallenged. But never, never, NEVER, confound your safety with your joy.
Do not imagine, however, that the judgment of God falls a whit more leniently on the believer's sin than on the unbeliever's. He has not two ways of dealing judicially with sin, and He could no more pass by the believer's sin without judging it, than He could pass by the sins of a rejecter of His precious Son. But there is this great difference between the two, namely, that the believer's sins were all known to God, and all laid upon His own provided Lamb when He hung upon the cross at Calvary, and that there and then, once and for ever, the great "criminal question" of his guilt was raised and settled — judgment falling upon the blessed Substitute in the believer's stead, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24).
The Christ-rejecter must bear his own sins in his own person in the lake of fire for ever. But, when a believer fails, the "criminal question" of sin cannot be raised against him, the Judge Himself having settled that once for all on the cross; but the communion question is raised within him by the Holy Spirit as often as he grieves the Spirit.
Allow me, in conclusion, to give you another illustration. It is a beautiful moonlight night. The moon is full, and shining in more than ordinary silvery brightness. A man is gazing intently down a deep, still well, where he sees the moon reflected, and thus remarks to a friendly bystander, "How beautifully fair and round she is tonight! How quietly and majestically she rides along!" He has just finished speaking when suddenly his friend drops a small pebble into the well, and he now exclaims, "Why, the moon is all broken to pieces and the fragments are shaking together in the greatest disorder!"
"What gross absurdity!" is the astonished rejoinder of his companion. "Look up, man! The moon hasn't changed one jot or tittle. It is the condition of the well that reflects the moon that has changed."
Now, believer, apply the simple figure yourself. Your heart is the well. When there is no allowance of evil the blessed Spirit of God takes of the glories and preciousness of Christ, and reveals them to you for your comfort and joy. But the moment a wrong motive is cherished in the heart, or an idle word escapes the lips unjudged, the Holy Spirit begins to disturb the well, your happy experiences are smashed to pieces, and you are all restless and disturbed within, until in brokenness of spirit before God you confess your sin (the disturbing thing) and thus get restored once more to the calm, sweet joy of communion.
But when your heart is thus all unrest, need I ask, Has Christ's work changed? No, no. Then your salvation is not altered.
Has God's Word changed? Surely not.
Then the certainty of your salvation has received no shock.
Then, what has changed? Why, the action of the Holy Spirit in you has changed, and instead of taking of the glories of Christ, and filling your heart with the sense of His worthiness, He is grieved at having to turn aside from this delightful office to fill you with the sense of your sin and unworthiness. He takes from you your present comfort and joy until you judge and resist the evil thing that He judges and resists. When this is done, communion with God is again restored.
The Lord make us to be increasingly jealous over ourselves lest we grieve "the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).
Dear reader, however weak your faith may be, rest assured of this, that the blessed One who has won your confidence will never change. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and FOR EVER" (Hebrews 13:8). The work He has accomplished will never change. "Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be FOR EVER: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it" (Ecclesiastes 3:14). The word He has spoken will never change. "The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth FOR EVER" (1 Peter 1:24,25). Thus the object of my trust, the foundation of my safety, and the ground of my certainly, are alike ETERNALLY UNALTERABLE.
"My love is oft-times low,
My joy still ebbs and flows,
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change Jehovah knows.
"I change, He changes not;
My Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting-place;
His truth, not mine, the tie."
Once more, let me ask, "WHICH CLASS ARE YOU TRAVELING?" Turn your heart to God, I pray you, and answer that question to Him.
"Let God be true, and every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). "He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true" (John 3:33).
May the joyful assurance of possessing this "great salvation" be yours, dear reader, now, and "till He come."
"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life..." 1 John 5:13
Published ca. 1900.