A Different Bible
by G.J. Stewart
“That man has a different Bible to what I have.” Such was the reflection of a man, as he said afterwards, who listened while for the first time I was privileged to preach the gospel at a place in the bush on the river Mary in Queensland, from the much-used passage, John 5:24.
The place was romantic, the circumstances new to the one who spoke, although they who listened were well accustomed to the surroundings. The building was a small weatherboard one, put up by the Orangemen of the neighbourhood, and lent by them for the preaching of the Word of God. It stood just close to the township of T—, and was lighted by oil lamps. A brief notice had brought together a fair company of the settlers on the river and adjacent thereto.
The Lord was evidently moving upon hearts at the time, and the company consisted for the most part of earnest souls, though in different conditions, all unknown to the speaker, but all known to Him before whom all hearts are naked and open.
Some were accustomed to read the Word of God to their families, having been educated with a reverence for it, although with not sufficient simplicity to accept the plain and blessed statements of it as addressed to themselves. How many souls there are today in this condition! And what a wonderful thing it is when such see for the first time that God speaks directly to them in His Book.
The one who mentally uttered the sentence at the head of this paper was such a man. He had never allowed himself to think when reading His Word that God meant what He said in the matter of judgment, and of the possibility of knowing before the judgment seat was an accomplished fact, that one was clear from it.
The portion pressed was the 24th verse, where it is said of the one who hears His Word, and believes on Him that sent him, that he “HATH eternal life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life.”
This led him to exclaim as above, “That man has a different Bible to what I have;” and he added, “I looked into my book to see if what he said was there, and there sure enough it was—’Hath eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation or judgment,’ and I had read it again and again, yet never saw the force of the words I read; it was like a flood of light upon the Word and in my soul; and I had nothing to say against it, but every reason to thankfully accept it.”
And now, my reader, have you accepted it? Is it not important in such a day to understand what one reads, and understanding it to let it speak with all its living force to one’s soul?
Satan’s object is to keep souls back from the realisation of the truth, in order to hinder the expression of what has been communicated to them. Let us examine a little what it is.
Man naturally has not eternal life. Mark, eternal life is not immortality. This latter man has, though as imparted, not inherently; God only has it thus.
Man is in danger of the judgment. “After death the judgment.” He is in a state of death—spiritual death before God.
Such a being cannot by his own efforts obtain eternal life; nor escape judgment, nor deliver himself from the state of death in which by nature he is found.
If this is ever to be true of him, it must be through the act of another.
Is there another who can accomplish this mighty transposition, and who is he?
There is another; but not a mere son of Adam. He is, beside being the true Son of man, also the Son of the living God.
He came to communicate to man what he had not naturally, to deliver him from the judgment he deserved, and from the condition in which he was found.
Before He could do that He Himself must bear the judgment due to man.
This He has done, and has exhausted it for ever, but for whom?
For all who hear His word, and believe Him that sent Him.
This is the link with His work, this, the moment of the reception of eternal life, though God has wrought in the soul before.
There are many who honestly have this faith, but do not accept the results of it, i.e., they have not implicit faith in ALL HE says. And why?
Satan does not wish them to live the life that has been thus communicated to them.
That life is eternal life?!
It has its own law of life as well as its own motives and principle of action, and its own object.
The man who possesses it must live it, for life will manifest itself.
But the man that believes His Word has it as communicated to him at the moment he believes.
Why is it thus communicated?
In order that he may live eternal life here in this scene, and enjoy it eternally with Him who is its source.
Such a man shall not come into judgment. Why?
Because He who communicates the life has Himself borne the judgment; and
“Payment God will not twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.”
Moreover, he has passed from the state of death, in which he was, unto life.
What more can faith need?
Upon leaving the building to go to the Bush Inn, the resting-place for the night, the speaker was accosted by three men who had been at the meeting, the one mentioned above being with them, who, having expressed their thankfulness for the Word spoken, made some further inquiries through the oldest of the three, himself a believer, as to the truth proclaimed.
All the three afterwards rejoiced by faith in Christ as their Saviour and Lord, accepting the force of the words spoken by the Son of God.
May the Lord give my reader to see the force of these words, that they may be to you as a flood of light in your soul; that you too may say nothing against it, but thankfully accept it.
The Gospel Messenger 1901, p. 68