The Christian Worker's Power For Service.
Turn with me to the fifth chapter of John's gospel, and read from the thirty-first verse; you will see where our power comes from. "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of Me; and I know that the witness that He witnesseth of Me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man; but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than that of John, for the works which the Father hath given him to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me. And the Father Himself, which hath sent Me, hath borne witness of Me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape. And ye have not His Word abiding in you, for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not. Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me."
Now, our friends have noticed in reading these beautiful verses, that there are four witnesses given to the Lord Jesus Christ. First, given by Himself. "If I bear witness of myself." &c. Every word had to be established. It was not that the words He spoke were not true; but they were not bound to accept them unless there was another sent. Then came John the Baptist; then there were His Own miracles; and then there was the witness His Own Father bore to Him. Now the Lord Jesus Christ says, "If you won't believe My testimony; the testimony of John the Baptist; the testimony of the miracles; My Father's testimony, &c, there is only one other, and that is the Scriptures." When it speaks about the Scriptures, it means the Old Testament Scriptures, because the New Testament was not written. The only book the Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to read was the Scriptures; and the reason is, that we may find Him in them. Do not be going to other books so much, but stick to the Book. The Old Testament Scriptures are just photographs of the Lord Jesus Christ from Genesis to Malachi; and he who gets the Old Testament Scriptures in his mind is just on a rock that all the devils in hell cannot shake him from. There are 530 quotations in the New Testament from the Old. I suppose that one half of the New Testament is just quotations from the first five books of Moses.
The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Search the Scriptures." Sometimes a young man will come to me and say, "What books would you recommend me to read, in order that I may understand the Bible better?" "What part of the Bible do you want to understand better?" "The New Testament?" "Then study the Old; if the Old, then study the New.'' "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts." (2 Peter i. 19) The best exposition of the New Testament is the Old, and of the Old, the New. In verse 18 of this chapter, we have a voice speaking; in verse 19, a more sure word of prophecy, something more sure than a voice. Now, my friends, I think there is great honour set upon God's Word here by God's Holy Spirit. "A more sure word of prophecy." What is that? The Old Testament Scriptures. I tell you, true rest, and true peace, and true assurance, can never be got except by the Scriptures. God teaches me through His Word, and no other way.
We read in Luke iv., how Christ overcame Satan by the Word of God. You know in these three temptations of Satan, Christ conquered with the Scriptures. You know how He said: "It is written," and Satan did not dare to say, "It is not true." I tell you, my friends, Satan is not an infidel. There are men who are worse than Satan. Jesus was hungry, and Satan says: "Command that these stones be made bread." Why was this the first fierce attack that Satan made upon Christ? Where would have been the sin in making the bread? If the Lord Jesus Christ turned into bread every mountain, it would not be wrong; and if He were to turn the river Thames into milk, where would be the sin? Why would it have been sin then to turn the stones into bread? It was to satisfy Himself and what sin would there have been in that? Will you turn to Matthew iii. 16, and read with me. "Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water, and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him, and lo, a voice from Heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Now we see where the sin was. Here was the Saviour baptized—the Father speaks to Him from Heaven—Satan came to Him and said, "If Thou be the Son of God;" it was as if he said: "Don't believe it because your Father said it, but believe it if you have power to work a miracle." Is not this the way Satan tempts us now? Don't believe it because God says it, but because you have some wonderful feeling, some experience. My friends, I tell you to beware of the "ifs" of the devil. When God speaks, let us believe Him, just because He says it: just believe as a little child.
Will you turn to 2 Timothy iii. 14 to the end. ". . . continue thou in the things which thou hast learned . . . and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." See how much we get in Scripture. When you get a house thoroughly furnished, anything else becomes lumber, and it tells us how we are to get our house full. Now, my friends, I tell you, whatever you do, search the Scriptures. Get your mind thoroughly filled with the Word of God. The water cannot flow out of us if it is not in us. We must read the Bible; we must search the Bible, and we cannot make mistakes so long as it is God's Word that we read, and God's Word that we tell.
I want just to tell you a little incident. I went out to America some years ago, and I came in contact with a friend; a Christian man. He used to get up at seven in the morning and work till late at night; most of his evenings were spent at some meetings. When he got home, he was tired out, too tired to read the Bible. I used to say: "My friend, I never see you read the Bible." He used to preach on Sundays, and would just take his Bible on Saturday afternoon, and find a text, and then take all the books about the text, and read what was said on it. (He had a fine library.) "Now," I said; "just you lock up that bookcase, and give the key to your wife, and tell her not to let you have it; and just read your Bible alone." "What for?" "To understand it." "Oh! I shall understand it when I get to Heaven." I left him, but met him again after a certain time. He had been reading the book of Jeremiah for two weeks, and came out of the room with his face beaming, and to everyone he met, he would say: "Did you ever see this in Jeremiah?" &c. When I first met him, he was fighting with a straw, but after this, he had a sword to fight with. It is the weapon that makes all the difference.
When you tell people your opinions, it is like beating the mountain with a feather. What we want is the Bible. "Search the Scriptures," says the Lord Jesus Christ. How we ought to thank the Lord, that we can get a Bible from Genesis to the Revelation for sixpence. Carry one in your pocket, and whenever you have a minute, take it out, and commit a verse to memory, until you get your mind stored with it; and then go out and fight your Master's battles.
"The Gospel Watchman" 1880