Brethren Archive

Some Christian Blessings (1 John 1-3)

by Inglis Fleming


The basis of all our blessings as Christians is found in the glorious person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There is the only sure

FOUNDATION

on which we may build for soul salvation and blessing. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). He is the God-given Saviour of sinners. God knew the depth of our guilt and ruin and He gave His Son, His only Son, in His great love, and we hear Him, Himself, saying, “Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation. He that believeth shall not make haste” (Isa. 28:16). That God-laid foundation is a secure refuge. None who believe upon Christ will need to “make haste” for fear of the overwhelming judgment, soon to be outpoured. “He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.”

Thus it is in 1 John 1:7 we find the comforting and assuring words, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”

We are now in the light of the full revelation of all that God is. It is in that light we walk It is in that light we Christians have fellowship one with another. But how can we be there in peace? How can we bear the light of the full glory of God to rest upon us? how can we be happy in the presence of God? It is because we know the cleansing value, the abiding cleansing value, of the blood of Jesus Christ His Son. It cleanses us from all sin. Its very nature and character is that. It removes, and removes for ever, every sin.

“Ah! Geordie,” said a young Christian to a fellow-believer, “the more the light of God shines upon me the more it shows how perfect is the work of Christ.”

And so it was with the well-known Dr. Doddridge, the author of “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul.” He used to tell of a dream he had. He thought that he entered heaven as a sinner cleansed from sin through Christ’s precious blood. As he passed through the gate there were praises to God, from a white-robed throng, that another redeemed one could be received and welcomed there. Then going on where the light grew brighter the praises were louder, until at last when he drew near to the very inmost and brightest glory of all, there in the fullest blaze of light the acclamations were loudest of all. God was glorified in saving a sinner such as he.

We have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” In the brightest spot of that glory, of which we had come short, and which we dreaded, we see Jesus the Son of God our Saviour, and we see Him seated there as the One who by Himself purged our sins. The work of Calvary is a finished work, and He who completed it took His seat “on the right hand of the majesty on high.” He has entered and seated Himself there in the power of His own blood. And in virtue of that once-for-all-shed blood we may enter too—in spirit now, and soon actually—and then in the very likeness of Him, our Saviour, conformed to His image, “that He may be the firstborn among many brethren.”

The word of God in the gospel message assures us that the sins of the believer are remembered “no more,” and the Holy Spirit who Himself indites the assuring words, dwells in our hearts and witnesses with our spirits that we are now the children of God.

Happy is he who “takes the guilty sinner’s place and claims the guilty sinner’s Saviour” as his own. The work of Christ for him, for his salvation, and the word of the Holy Spirit to him, give confidence and “boldness in the day of judgment.”

To him the epistle of John is addressed, as to one of the believers, for the assurance of his heart before God. The apostle speaking of his letter says: “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.” Blessed testimony indeed for every one who has

FAITH

in the Lord Jesus! Eternal life is his, and is his now. The full enjoyment of that blessing will be his when he is with and like his Lord, in the Father’s house, the home of eternal life. But now his portion is in the power of the Holy Spirit, to enjoy the nearness and dearness of which the wondrous blessing, “eternal life,” speaks.

Giving up all hope in himself the repentant sinner receives with meekness the word of the glad tidings, and receiving it receives present and everlasting good. He can say:

Forsaking

All

I

Trust

Him

He looks away from his sins and sinful self and his eyes rest upon a seated Saviour at God’s right hand. A satisfied conscience is the result. Then being at “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” he is free to enjoy the feast of fat things provided for him in the great grace of God. Faith

Fully

Accepts

In

The

Heart

all that the word of God unfolds, and finds its enjoyment in God Himself, the Spring and Source of all his blessing. He can join with others and say, “We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation.” The God of holiness whom we feared and from whom we would fain have fled is found to be our best Friend, and “if God be for us who can be against us?” He justifies from every sin. Who then shall lay anything to our charge?

Faith builds upon the foundation which a Saviour-God provided, and builds upon it alone, and sings;

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word;

What more can He say than to you He hath said,

To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”

Resting in faith on the foundation of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus, the believer knows that his sins, his many sins, are blotted out. He has the

FORGIVENESS

of sins through Christ’s blood, according to the riches of God’s grace. So the apostle says, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His Name’s sake.”

Some there are who are presumptuous enough to say that no one can know that his sins are forgiven. But the word of God is explicit. The apostle writes his letter and puts it into an envelope, to speak, and then addresses it:

To those whose sins are forgives

For His name’s sake.

It is only to such that the epistle is written. Every believer is one of the children. Every one of the children is entitled to know that his sins are forgiven.

But some one may ask, “Is it not assuming great holiness to declare that your sins are forgiven? How can any sinful being take it upon him to utter such words.”

Such an enquirer is forgetting the closing words of the verse, “For His Name’s sake.” It is wholly because of who Christ is and what He has done that the believer is pardoned.

Years ago three soldiers of the “Black Watch,” a Scots regiment, mutinied. They were tried and condemned to die. The firing party was drawn up and waiting the command, “Fire!” Then the Colonel of the regiment stepped forward. He drew from his pocket a paper. It was a full pardon for the condemned men. For the honour of the regiment, because of its name for valour on a hundred fields, those three men were to be set free. They were forgiven—freely, fully forgiven—for the regiment’s name’s sake. For their sins, for their names’ sake, they had been sentenced to death. They were liberated on account of what others had done.

So it is that while for our own name’s sake as sinners we deserve the judgment of God, for Christ’s name’s sake our sins are pardoned. And notice it is our “sins”—not some of them, but our sins; not many of them, but “our sins.” Yes, all of them. Great or small, as we have thought them, all are great in God’s sight; but,

“All our sins so great, so many,

In His blood are washed away.”

Perhaps we best learn the seriousness of our sins as we gaze at the Son of God on the cross of Calvary. Apart from His atoning sacrifice any one of our sins would have shut us out from God. In no other way could our guilt be erased, in no other way could our sins be forgiven.

“All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him (hath caused to meet upon Him) the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). Glorious words of peace-giving power for every one who enters by the first “all” of that wonderful sentence. Such come out by the last “all.” Our sins, our many sins, our mighty sins, were made to meet upon the suffering Son of God at Calvary. For us His bosom was bared to the storm of wrath. For us He endured the cross. For us He died and rose again.

On account of all this, and only for that reason, our sins are forgiven. The sins were ours; the suffering was His. The forgiveness is ours; the glory is His. The blessing is ours now, but the honour and the praise are His alone. And so with glad hearts we cry: “Unto Him that loves us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:5-6).

But much more than forgiveness is ours. God is not only a forgiving God, He is a giving God. And in His boundless grace Heaven’s treasury has been opened that upon us may be heaped eternal good and privilege.

Thus the apostle shows in chapter 2:13 that it is the portion of even the babes to know the

FATHER.

Christians are seen all together in verse 12. Their sins are forgiven. In the next verses they are distinguished. If the word “little” is omitted in verse 12, and that same word is underlined in verse 13, the meaning of the passage will be made clearer. All believers are “children,” but all are not little children or babes.

Three classes are spoken to in verse 13, and also afterwards. They are “fathers,” “young men,” and “little children” (or “babes”).

The “fathers” know Christ—“Him that is from the beginning.” He is their heart’s delight and occupation. The “young men” have overcome the world by the word of God abiding in them. Their danger is from the world, lest they should love it and the things which are in it. The “babes” know the Father. They are brought into the most blessed and happy relationship as children of God. This is the portion of the youngest as well as of the oldest believer upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only should such rejoice that they are delivered from the fear of judgment, they should know and delight in that into which they are introduced.

“Behold,” says the apostle exultantly, “what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons (the children) of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.”

The Father in His especial and peculiar love has called believers into this new relationship with Himself. Thus the distinction between Christians and the world is sharp and clear. We are not of the world. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (or, in “the wicked one”). It is controlled by the devil—the wicked one. It is still in relationship with him. He is its prince and its god.

But believers are born of God. Through this divine act and through the death of our Lord Jesus our link with the world is broken. We are cleared, entirely cleared, from all that association. We are brought into a new association altogether. The world is “not of the Father,” by His grace we are of Him. Brought into this nearness and dearness we cry, “Abba, Father.” These same words which fell from the holy lips of our Lord Jesus in Gethsemane’s dark garden, are now to sound from our lips as begotten in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. In agony of soul He cried, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me.” But the cup of judgment could not pass from Him if the will of God were to be done and if we were to be brought into favour and relationship with God as our Father. So we hear Him add, in His perfection of obedience, “Nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).

Blessed Lord! It was for us He endured the judgment. The cup of wrath was taken to the cross and drained by Him there in order that He might hand to us the cup of everlasting joy and blessing, a cup which we can never drain.

Now we rejoice in the sense of the relationship which is ours. In our hearts the Spirit of God’s Son abides, and is crying, “Abba, Father,” and He witnesses with our spirits that we are children of God. Our Father’s care is over us every day and all the day. He ever acts for our good and blessing, and delights in having us near Him, and to hear us pour out our praises and our worship.

We “know the Father.” This is our common heritage. In His presence we speak into His ear and “Father” is on our lips. And the Spirit of God ever leads us into fuller and deeper knowledge of that which is ours.

Perhaps the first thought in the mind of many believers connected with this relation was this, that the Father’s hand was about us. The Lord Jesus said (in John 10:29 it is recorded) of His sheep, “My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” In that all-powerful grasp is perfect security. No one, devil, demon, or man, can pluck the believer from that mighty and merciful clasp. The Father’s hand speaks of perfect safety.

Then with many the next thought is of the great terminus to which by the Father’s grace we go—the Father’s house opens for us. Our Lord Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us there. His presence there, as the Risen One from among the dead, He having accomplished redemption for us, prepares the place for all His own. He has pledged Himself to return and gather them to be with Him for ever. The Father’s house speaks of perfect satisfaction.

Lastly we learn, in our pathway here, the Father’s heart in all its deep affection and its abiding love. That love rests upon us now with delight. Our Lord says, “The Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:27).

And we may notice that in the previous verse our loving Lord declares, “I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you.” He does not promise to go to the Father on their behalf. He wishes to lead them close to the Father’s heart that they may delight in the Father’s love, even while they are in a world of difficulty and opposition. “The Father Himself loveth you.” Happy are we who know this, and who abide in His love, refusing all that would come between Him and ourselves. “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21), is the exhortation to us who believe. Walk on the sunny side of the road, refuse the invitation of the world to come across into the shadow. Abide in the light and warmth of the special affection of the Father. True happiness and usefulness are found as we do so, and only found thus in Him whose

“. . . hand and heart, and house are free,

Because Christ’s work is done.”

Then the believer who is on the foundation of the Person and work of Christ by faith learns that he is not only forgiven and that God is his Father, but that there are others who enjoy the blessings he enjoys, in like manner. He is one, only, in the great

FAMILY

of God our Father. He is not left to tread an isolated pathway. He is privileged to have others to walk with whose love and joy and peace are like his own. With these he can commune and find encouragement by their mutual faith and hope.

In a time of darkening apostasy such as this, and as “we see the day approaching,” we do well to give full heed to the word of exhortation: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting (encouraging) one another” (Heb. 10:25). We rob others if we withhold our presence from the gatherings together of Christians. They need us as we need them. And unless compelled to do so by circumstances over which we have no control, we should find out and company with our fellow-believers.

It is written that, in a period of increasing difficulty, “They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name” (Mal. 3:16).

In the family of God, composed, as we have seen, of the three classes—fathers, young men, and babes—we should seek the most spiritual companionship we can find. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise,” it has been said. Our company will form us. Unconsciously, we shall be moulded after the fashion of those with whom we walk. And in our turn we affect others, casting a shadow of good or bad upon all around us. Our influence, our unconscious influence, is always telling on the lives of all about us in the family of God. Let us watch our spirits, our words, our goings, and see to it that ours is an example which can be followed in safety by others. So shall we be of profit to our fellow-Christians. God has set us in His family for mutual support, and in the power of the Holy Spirit given to us we may be for the good of our brethren in Christ all around us.

Our highest Christian privilege is that of which the apostle writes in the first chapter of this epistle: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (v. 3).

FELLOWSHIP

one with another is our family privilege. But the highest form of fellowship is fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Fellowship is common thought, desire, delight. Wonderful it is, indeed, that we should be called to have common delight with the Father in the Son. He calls us to share with Him in His joy. We hear Him say: “This is My beloved Son in whom is all my good pleasure.” He tells us of His joy in Him. We, responsive, may say, “He is our beloved Saviour, and In Him is all our delight.” The Father has made known in the Scriptures, by the Holy Spirit, His thoughts of our Lord Jesus, His beloved One. And we are called to think His thoughts after Him as we read the Word of our God.

And the Son of God delights in the Father and unfolds to us all that is in His heart concerning Him. In the Gospel of John the Son is found speaking of and to the Father. He accustomed the disciples to that precious title. He told them of the Father. He prayed in their presence, saying, “Father,” “Holy Father,” “Righteous Father.” Then in resurrection, when His work of redemption was finished, He sent to them the message of victory and of the spoils He had won for them, saying to Mary Magdalene: “Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God and your God” (John 20:17). He would have them enjoy His place before His Father and His God. And this fellowship will be our highest joy in the Father’s house eternally.

In the power of an ungrieved Holy Spirit we shall have unbroken, unbreakable communion one with another in fellowship with the Father and the Son. And heaven begins below as we “walk in the Spirit” and are led by Him into an ever-deepening knowledge of that which is ours by the grace of our God.

May we go on to fuller, richer delight until the glorious consummation is reached, and our bodies are changed, and we are able unhinderedly to rejoice in the fullness of blessing eternally.

I.Fleming

Help and Food 1929






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