Pauls's Epistle to the
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power." - EPH. i. 18, 19.
THE apostle not only tells the Ephesians that he prays for
them (ver. 16); he specifies also what he prays for on their behalf (ver. 18).
It is knowledge or enlightenment; "the eyes of your understanding being
enlightened; that ye may know" (ver. 18). In the preamble (ver. 17) he
indicates the source of this enlightenment; the agency employed in imparting
it; and the end to be gained by it.
As to its source, it comes from God; and from God viewed as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory. All knowledge, all enlightenment, is from God. The light that shines in creation and providence is divine: divinely originated and divinely communicated. But here, it is not as the God of nature and providence merely that he is invoked; but as the God of redemption; of redeeming grace and glory. As such he is asked to give knowledge of himself. The agency is that of the Holy Spirit. The prayer is that he may be given. And it is that he may be given with a view to the double office which he has to discharge as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation ; the Spirit of wisdom, imparting inward spiritual discernment; the Spirit of revelation, presenting, opening up, and applying the things that are to be spiritually discerned.
The end sought is the owning of the glory of God. For the marginal reading seems preferable here. "For the acknowledgment" of God; that in this whole matter he may be known, owned, acknowledged, glorified, is this prayer for the enlightenment of his people offered.
But now, what is it that in terms of this apostolic prayer we are thus to know? Three things are specified, embracing three aspects of the religious life.
I. "What is the hope of his calling." This phrase should surely be taken in its simplest sense: that ye may know the hopefulness of God's calling ; what hope there is in it; how full of hope it is. Thus regarded, the hope of it may be put in different lights.
Consider who it is who calls, and in what character. It is God, and God in the character of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory; the God who gives grace and glory. It is not every or any calling of God that is hopeful. When he calls as the God of judgment; sitting on the great white throne and summoning into his presence the workers of iniquity, to give account of their deeds and receive their everlasting doom, what then is the hope of that calling of his? It awaits you; the day of wrath is near; the trumpet-call is about to sound, you know not how soon. But nearer, sooner, is the trump of jubilee. God calls now as God in Christ reconciling you to himself. From the mercy seat, over the sacrifice of the bleeding Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world, he calls : and that calling of his is full of hope.
Consider who are called. To whom is the call addressed? Is it not to men? To men as such, to all men, as such, as they are. "Unto you, 0 men, I call, and my voice is unto the sons of man." Is not this a primary and indispensable element and condition of the hope that there is in God's calling? Were it otherwise, what hope could there he in it? The calling is to men. Not to men as elect: there could be no hope in such a calling for me, unless I could ascend to heaven and find my name written in the book of God's eternal decree. Not to men as righteous; were it so, I am undone; thanks for that word, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Not to men as penitents. "I call sinners to repentance." Thanks for that word also for never as a penitent could I hopefully appropriate the calling. Not to men as believers; how as a believer could I ever accept the calling as a hopeful calling to me; I who can but venture to say, in my very acceptance of the calling, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief "? But not to men as elect; not to men as righteous; not to men as penitent; not to men as believing, is this call addressed; but widely and universally to men; to men as such; to men as they are, sinners. Therefore there is hope in it for you, sinners, and for me. But it is chiefly the nature of this calling that is to be considered : and in considering it, its qualities may best be set forth in pairs.
1. The calling of God is hopeful; there is hope in it for sinners, of whom I am chief, because it is on the one hand absolutely free, and on the other hand peremptorily sovereign and commanding. It is free beyond all possibility of restriction or qualification; so free as to preclude the very idea of any condition to be fulfilled, or any title made good on the part of the called. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isa. Iv. 1). "The Spirit and the bride say, I Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come: and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely" (Rev. xxii. 17). And it is not less authoritative than it is free. It is a free offer; but it is also a peremptory command. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John vi. 29). "This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment" (1 John iii. 23). "God comrnandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts xvii. 30). I put these two qualities or conditions of this calling of God together, because it is only thus that they can minister to its hopefulness. I speak to spiritually awakened and anxious souls; for it is you chiefly who need to be satisfied as to the hope of God's calling. I ask any of you who have undergone anything of a deep and searching movement of the Spirit convincing you of sin, and very specially of the sin of unbelief, if you have not found, perhaps more than once, that what has at last got you over the seemingly insuperable barrier to your at once closing with Christ and rejoicing in him, has been, not merely your being most freely and graciously invited, but your being shut up by a stern, authoritative, peremptory order, which you could no longer misunderstand or evade, and which you dared no longer disobey. It is not "I may," but "I must;" I cannot make God a liar.
2. The calling of God is hopeful, because it is on the one hand earnest, in the way of persuasion; and on the other hand effectual, as implying a divine work of renewal in the will within. No calling can tell on me as an intelligent and moral being that does not come to me with motives fitted to convince my reason and move my heart. Hence the affectionate expostulations and pleadings of God. "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" (Ezek. xxxiii. 11). "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa. i. 18). "We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. v. 20). But be these motives ever so sufficient, they avail nothing, unless a divine power is directly and immediately put forth upon my inner man, making me responsive to their influence. "I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh" (Ezek. xi. 19) ; that is the kind of promise, and there are many promises to the same effect, fitted to meet my case. And it must be thus met. For "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God " (John iii. 3). Therefore I rejoice in this harmony of the outward appeal of the Gospel and the corresponding inward work of the Spirit. Together they make this calling of God a calling full of hope to me. The command, "Take up thy bed;" the call, "Lazarus come forth;" are such as are most seasonably persuasive. But they must be vain unless they are the command and call of him who can impart strength to the impotent to obey the command, life and hearing to the dead to respond to the call.
3. The calling of God is hopeful, because it is, on the one hand, righteous, and on the other hand holy: righteous, as proceeding upon provision made for the righteousness of God, the righteousness of his character and government being maintained without compromise; holy, as making provision for our becoming personally righteous; upright, pure, holy. Here, very specially, I must address you as spiritual men; having some spiritual sense and apprehension both of God's just claims upon you, and of your own true character in his sight.
To ordinary men, to me as a merely natural man, the necessity of these conditions or qualities meeting in this calling of God as ministering to its being hopeful, is not palpably apparent. Some calling of God, some gospel of some sort that may minister hope, or at least keep despair at bay, I may, upon an occasion, need I am at the point to die. By that, or by some startling providence, under some spiritual visitation, I am roused to serious thought. It seems as if I could be content with nothing but the God-glorifying and conscience-satisfying work of Christ, and could have hope in no calling not based on that. But, alas, my deep convictions and lively impressions fade away. I begin to acquiesce in the old devil's gospel, which is the world's and mine naturally: "Ye shall not surely die." I embrace a notion of impunity, a scheme of mercy, easy and indulgent. No matter though it makes God the judge of all unrighteous, and leaves me unholy and unclean. It may imply the surrender, on my account, and for my relief, of all that is just in the divine authority and law; and it may suffer me to continue as godless, as selfish, as sensual as ever. I have little or no care about any such bearings of the way of mercy, if only I may fashion it into a calling that may not be quite hopeless for me in the end; let righteousness and holiness fare as they may.
But no such calling of God will meet my case, if I am moved by the Spirit to take a spiritual view of what it really is. Then I am not at all so easily soothed. I see my sin, my guilty and sinful state, in a far more serious light; in its bearing both upon the character and claims of God and upon my own nature, as seen by his holy eye. Ah me! How ever can the righteous and holy God hopefully call one so unrighteous and unholy as I am? How can God, consistently with his own righteous- ness, and in the view of my unholiness, address to me a calling full of hope, or indeed having in it any hope at all? Let no man say that this is a rare question to be raised by a spiritually exercised soul. If it be so with us now, so much the worse for us. It was not so in days of deeper spiritual experience. It is not so in your spirit, brother, or in mine, if our sin has really found us out. We cannot rest in a vague presumption of indulgence. We cannot take so easily on trust the settlement of our peace with God. We see and feel the double difficulty: God's righteousness and our unholiness, standing in the way of our acceptance and reconciliation. How ever can the just and holy God forgive and call hopefully me so guilty; so impure and vile? Oh! How blessed a result is it for us to be brought by the Spirit, it may be through much darkness, into the clear light of that cross which shows how guilt of deepest dye is righteously atoned for by Christ's infinitely sufficient propitiation, and all uncleanness is washed away by the cleansing virtue of his blood, and the renewing work of the Spirit applying it; and how, therefore, there is hope in God's calling as a calling thus approved to be both righteous and holy.
4. There is hope in this calling of God; as being on the one hand sure on his part, and on the other hand capable of being made sure on our part. Thus, on God's part, "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom. xi. 29). There is no change of mind in him with regard to this calling. Again, on our part, we are commanded to "make our calling and election sure" (2 Pet. i. 10). It is our privilege and duty "to assure our hearts before God" (1 John iii. 19). The assurance, in both views of it, objectively and subjectively, turns upon the calling being a filial one; our being called to be the sons of God in Christ.
Thus, as to the calling being sure on the part of God, the caller, we find the Lord Jesus expressly putting it upon that footing (Jn viii. 35, 36) "the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." The calling of God is in and through his beloved Son. It is your being called to nothing short of participation with the Son in the footing which he has himself in the house or household of the Father, as the Son abiding ever. It is with that freedom that the Son makes you free; it is to oneness with the Son in that freedom that you are called; to oneness with him as the Son abiding ever. No other position could make God's calling absolutely and infallibly sure.
Called to be servants merely, you might be put again upon your probation, with old scores cancelled, and a new opportunity given of profiting by past experience, and starting afresh upon a new experiment. Still, your standing would be conditional and precarious; depending, after all, on your own fulfilment of the terms of service, and liable therefore to failure and forfeiture. It is your being called to be not merely servants but sons, in him who, himself entering into your service, in all the breadth of its obligation and all the depth of its penal liability, would have you to enter into his sonship in all its grace and glory - it is that which establishes beyond all question the irrevocable certainty of this calling of God. Whom he thus calls he justifies, and whom he justifies he glorifies.
And on your part the calling of God is made sure by your realising it as a calling to sonship, "for ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Rom. 8 15-17). "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Ga. 4 6). That is the seal of this hopeful calling of God; the seal of its hopefulness, as sure in itself, and meant by God to be sure in your spiritual sense and experience.
For he intends, he really does intend, his calling of you to be hopeful; thoroughly, brightly, clearly, and cloudlessly hopeful. Therefore he presses it upon you as free and peremptory; free, because he cannot and would not make terms or conditions with you; peremptory, because he would shut you up, as in a vice, to instant, dutiful compliance. Therefore he brings it home to your conscience, mind, heart, your whole inner man, by arguments, appeals, persuasive expostulations, sufficient to break the very stones and melt the coldest iron; and because you are very stone and very iron, puts forth his hand, in the power of his Spirit, to create you anew, that you may understand and respond to his appeals. Therefore he takes pains to satisfy you, that, guilty as you are, he is righteous in calling you ; and corrupt and carnal as you are, his calling provides for your cleansing from pollution as well as from guilt; for your holiness as well as your peace. And therefore he assures you, that being called to be sons, and to receive the Spirit of his Son, you may hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
II. "What the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints;" its rich glory; its glorious richness. This expression, "his inheritance in the saints" is remarkable. It is not the inheritance which they receive from him; it is not the inheritance which they have in him; it is the inheritance which he has in them. It is an Old Testament thought, used often as an argument in prayer, or a motive or encouragement to faith: "The Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance" (Deut. 22. 9). " Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever" (Ps. 28:9). "For the Lord will not cast off his people; neither will he forsake his inheritance" (Ps. 94: 14). "Remember me, 0 Lord, with the favour which thou bearest unto thy people. 0 visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance" (Ps. cvi. 4, 5). "Blessed be Israel mine inheritance" (Isa. xix. 25). "Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance" (Isa. 63: 17). It is only here that it occurs in the New Testament; being, as I believe, merged for the most part in the New Testament's fuller and clearer discovery of the fatherly and filial relation between God and us. It is a great thought; that God should not merely give us an inheritance, or even give us himself as our inheritance; but that he should take us to be his inheritance! Well may it be associated with richness of glory.
Let me be the occupier, upon lease or upon annual rent, of an estate, a house and grounds, lent or hired out to me. I am bound to fulfil the conditions of my temporary possession, and I may make the most I can of it for present use, in consistency with these conditions. I have no inducement, however, to take pains, or spend time, money, and thought, in order to its future and permanent amelioration in respect of fruitfulness and beauty. But let it be mine; my personal property; my own peculiar possession. Let me have my inheritance in it; as coming to me through a long ancestral line ; from an unknown, almost dateless antiquity; and perhaps, recovered and redeemed by me from a sad forfeiture and bankrupt alienation ; how rich and glorious is it in my esteem! How rich and glorious would I have it to be in the esteem of all! I will lavish all my wealth, I will apply my whole mind, to have it brought to the highest pitch of culture and of beauty. I take pleasure, I take pride, in it. I delight in furnishing, fertilising, and adorning it. I love to increase to the utmost the riches of the glory of my inheritance in it. But I do not seek or expect the rich glorifying of the inheritance I have in my house and grounds to come, as it were, at random, or by chance, upon the mere expenditure of my means and time and thought, as the process happens at haphazard to go on. I have a definite aim and object from the beginning. And what is that? It is to realise my own ideal of what is rich and what is glorious. To arrange and mould the materials I have to work upon, the house and grounds in which I have my inheritance, in conformity with the architectural form and image in my own soul of the fulness of perfect beauty in art and nature. It is to stamp an impress of myself on my whole estate and every part of it; "to hang a thought of mine on every thorn," and make every bed of flowers and field of grain abroad responsive to my taste; and every room and passage at home suggestive of my character and will. I so identify the inheritance I have in these material possessions with myself, that I would have them to express me, to represent me; to express and represent me at my best.
In aiming at this result, I do not hesitate about having recourse to rough and severe treatment. Suppose you come to look at the house and grounds in which I have my inheritance, shortly after I have redeemed it from long alienation at a great price, and recovered it from recent forfeiture by a seasonable exercise of power, what do you see? Disorder, perhaps, and derangement, everywhere; the house turned upside down; the grounds rudely bared by the cruel axe; deeply wounded and cut by the horrid plough; little sign or symptom, as it would seem, anywhere, of rich fertility or glorious beauty; nothing but breaking down and breaking up; overturnings and upturnings; breaches, cuttings, diggings, manifold everywhere. What, one says to me, is this what we are to regard and own as the riches of the glory of the inheritance you have in the old ancestral estate which you have so dearly bought back and recovered? Yes, friend, I reply. It is the very riches of its glory. It is the process by which I am really enriching and glorifying it to the utmost perfection of riches and glory of which it is capable. Come again, ere another autumn closes, and see how things look then. You will admit then, that in all my unsparing use of instruments and implements of architectural and agricultural torture, I was keeping steadily in view the richness of the glory of my inheritance.
The Lord's inheritance is in his saints; in those that have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. Called as sinners, you are called to be saints; the Lord's saints; his holy ones; consecrated to him by the sprinkling upon you of atoning blood, and the indwelling in you of the sanctifying Spirit. As his holy ones you are precious in his sight; dear to his heart; kept by him as the apple of his eye; "he that toueheth you touches the apple of his eye." He has in you his inheritance. He takes pleasure in you as his inheritance; his redeemed and purchased possession. "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy" (Ps. cxlvii. 11). "He taketh pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with salvation" (Ps. cxlix. 4).
Yes, ye meek, whose blessedness it is that you shall inherit the earth, the Lord choosing you for his heritage, takes pleasure in you, and will beautify you with salvation. You are of infinitely more value in his esteem than the whole earth which you are to inherit can ever be in. yours. How then may he be expected to enrich and glorify, gloriously to enrich, richly to glorify, the inheritance he has in you, his holy ones; in you, the meek ones! He cannot but take pleasure; in a sense he cannot but feel pride in doing so.
All the rather since you, in whom he has his inheritance, are capable of being enriched and glorified in the way most honouring to his name and most gratifying to his heart. In you he can realise his own perfect ideal. On you he can impress his own image. With you he can so deal as to make you truly reflect himself. When the materials of my inheritance are houses and lands, be the houses ever so palatial, and the lands ever so wide and fertile, it is only very imperfectly and quite inadequately, at the best, only as it were in a figure, that I can succeed in so adorning it that it shall bear the stamp and impress of my character; that it shall express my intelligence and taste, my mind and soul, and show what manner of man I am. Dead stone and lime, dull earth and clay, can by no process, let it be ever so careful and costly, be moulded into real conformity to my living self. But God's inheritance is in you; you are the materials of which it is composed; materials of such a sort as to admit of closest fellowship; exactest likeness; completest union. Especially since it is in you as one with his own dear Son that he has the inheritance which he delights to enrich and glorify; loving you as he loves him, glorifying you as he glorifies him. He may well, therefore, hope to succeed in adorning you with all his own moral beauty; the beauty of his holiness and love. Yes. It is that on which the Eternal Father's heart is set; it is for that that the Holy Spirit is given to bring you into living oneness with the Son, and keep you ever one, that in you as in him he may be well pleased, beholding, if one may dare to say so, in you as in him the brightness of his own glory and the express image of his own person.
Oh what riches of glory is the Father bestowing upon you, in whom he has his inheritance! The entire fulness of it may not appear now. On the contrary, God's heritage here may present an aspect apparently anything but rich and glorious. "The ploughers ploughed upon my back, they made long their furrows," so with the Psalmist you may be ready to complain. Rough may be the treatment, hard the discipline, to which you are subjected. Many a sharp stroke of the keen-edged axe may be painfully cutting away old familiar trees in field and garden. Many a rude breach may be made in the house; and there be much upturning and overturning in all the premises. He who has his inheritance in you may cause your visage to be marred as was the Master's; your soul to be troubled as his was; your hands and feet, like his, to be nailed to a cross; your side to be pierced with a spear. His sharp arrows may enter your soul. His hand may be heavy upon you, turning your moisture into the drought of summer. Sorrows from without, sins within, may trouble you; and instead of the bravery of riches and glory there may be poverty and shame ; the grief of a wounded spirit and the groaning of a broken heart.
But courage, ye fainting souls. Believe and know that all these experiences are part of the process by which even now the Spirit, is enriching and glorifying you, and is preparing you for the riches and glory of eternity. Yes. Even now is he not enriching you with frequent communications of his grace; visiting you with tokens of his continued care; causing his Spirit to dwell in you as he dwelt in his beloved Son; and enabling you to say, as he said, "Father, thy will be done" What wealth can compare with such a meek submissive mind as that? And is he not perfecting you, as the Captain of your salvation was perfected, through sufferings? "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, you are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." And it is but a little while. "When Christ, our life, shall appear, then shall ye also, appear with him in glory." For it is a faithful saying : "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him."
III. "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe?"That is the third thing to be known. And here the apostle gives us a measure. It is "according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." It is a measure of amazing compass. It is nothing short of this, that you who believe may rely and reckon upon the power of God as available on your behalf, to the full extent of its exercise on behalf of Christ; in his victory over death, his resurrection to life, his ascension to the right hand of God, and his investiture with dominion over all. That is the exceeding greatness of his power to you-ward who believe. It is a power which prevails over death; death, the wages of sin; for it was from that death, penal and retributive, that Christ was raised. It is a power which sets you, once sinking in guilt and condemnation, high in the favour of God; exalted, as justified in and with Christ, to God's own right hand in the heavens. It is a power which enables you, in and with Christ, to assert your sovereignty over all outward influences; all claims and assaults of the world and its prince; of hell and its inmates ; putting all things under your feet, as they are all under the feet of him who is given to be "head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
Such, briefly, is the exceeding greatness of God's power to you-ward who believe. And you do indeed need to know it. Yes! You need to know it, if you would know these two things going before.
To know the hope of his calling, personally and experimentally, requires the putting faith in you and upon you, of a divine power, not only equal and equivalent to that great faith in the raising of Christ from the dead, but in a most vital sense, identically the same. It is as sinners that you are called; sinners doomed, and lying under the sentence of death. Can any calling, even a calling of God, have hope in it for you unless it gives you assurance of a power that can reach to the reversal of the doom and the destruction of death? Such power has been put forth in the case of Christ: not violently, as if it were a mere act or fiat of omnipotence; but legally and judicially; through the endurance and exhaustion of the death sentence. And such power is put forth in your case, when you are hopefully called. The hopefulness of God's calling of you depends on the assurance that the very power which raised Christ from penal death to justified life is available for you; when you gladly and gratefully say, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. ii. 20).
To know the riches of the glory of his inheritance in his saints is a privilege closely connected with knowing the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. For it implies your entrance into a school of trial in which no human power can avail. You are brought into contest with agencies and influences too strong for you. While you went along with them contentedly, you did not perceive their strength. But you feel it now, when you break with them and go against them, because you know, and desire more and more to know, the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in his saints. That knowledge, and the growing thirst for more of it, must bring you into mortal strife with all the forces of nature, physical, mental, and moral. These have been wont to sway and command you. There is a rebellion against them now in your bosom, alive to some apprehension of the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in his saints; there is a death struggle between them and you. Either they must out and out succumb to you, or you must more or less give in to them. There can be no compromise. You are still at their mercy unless you assert your victory over them; subjecting them to your command; and using them as God's creatures placed under your control. Can you hope to do so, otherwise - than by entering into Christ's risen sovereignty and dominion over all things? Is it not as being one with him in the justifying virtue of his resurrection, and the victory of his ascension, that you emancipate yourselves from the bondage of corruption and taste the glorious liberty of the children of God; knowing "what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe" ?
Some practical reflections, suggested by the subject we have been considering, may close this discourse.
I. The knowledge for which Paul prays is altogether divine; coming from a divine source, through a divine agency, for a divine end. It is meant to be a knowledge both assured and assuring. But it cannot be so unless these conditions of it are duly observed. You long for this assured knowledge of these things, and complain that you have it not. You are trying to have it, and you think that if you had it all would be well. But how would all be well? You would be at ease and at rest. No more anxious soul-concern; no more fear or trouble about your spiritual state and prospects; but only quiet peace. Yes ! and if a voice from heaven told you all this at once, you would be satisfied and pleased. But would it be for your good? No. If you would have this assured knowledge communicated by some comfortable sign, merely for your own personal relief and rest, my prayer is that God may not grant it to you. Better far a lifetime of doubt than an hour of such security as that. But if you seek this assured knowledge of these things as the gift of God, and seek it for the glory of God; that, being established and enlarged, you may the better own, and serve, and testify for him, then doubt not that Paul's apostolic pleading is available for you. Use it as yours. Hold on. "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God" (Isa. 1. 10).
II. The highest point in this threefold knowledge of God is the centre, and that implies your being his saints, his holy ones. It must be as his holy ones that you reach and realise the knowledge of the riches of the glory of his inheritance in you. Let no false humility come in here. There might be room for that, if the holiness were a personal virtue or qualification of your own. But it is not so. It is altogether of God, and of God not so much giving you a right to call him yours as claiming you to be his. It is only when you own this claim; when you feel and acknowledge yourselves to be holy unto the Lord, not common or unclean, but separated, set apart, consecrated, sealed, as a peculiar people; that you can expect to apprehend the rich and glorious blessedness of his having his inheritance in you. "What I know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price : therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20).
III. The exceeding greatness of God's power is put forth in your exercising faith; it is "to us-ward who believe." "You are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation." It is by the ever-present exercise of faith that you realise that power as available for you, and make it practically yours. The power is exceeding great. The working of it is mighty; mighty to raise you now from the death of sin and guilt to the life of holiness and peace; and to raise you at last from the grave to glory. But it is not communicated or given to you. It is not lodged in your hands. It is all in Christ; "wrought in Christ." And it is yours only as you are in Christ by faith; "quickened together with Christ; raised up together with Christ; made to sit together, in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." It is all of faith.
IV. But not as God's saints; not as believers, are you, all of you, hopefully called. Let me close as I began. Let me press this blessed gospel message, wide, universal, full, and free. Not to his holy ones, not to the faithful, is the hopeful calling of God addressed. It is his holy ones, his saints, who are to know the riches of the glory of his inheritance in them. It is the faithful, those that believe, who are to know the exceeding greatness of his power, working in them as in Christ, to quicken them, and raise them up, and set them in the heavenly places. But holiness and faith apart, the hopeful calling of God is to you, 0 sinners; to each and all of you; without exception and without reserve. Will you not make trial for yourselves of its hopefulness? Will you not taste and see that the Lord is good?
Go To Chapter Four
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