Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
A Bible Reading to Christian Young Women.
THE Gospel believed, brings salvation (Mark xvi. 16), forgiveness of sins Luke xxiv. 28), and eternal life (John xx. 32) to the sinner—as the closing words of the first three Gospels tell us, while in the fourth, the same message is said to "make disciples" (Matt, xxviii. 18) for Christ. All are alike true. The sinner gets salvation, and the Master gets a disciple. The latter aspect, which connects itself especially with Christ's Lordship, and the authority which God has given to Him over all (John xvii. 3), is apt to be forgotten in preaching the Gospel, and is less known than it should be, among those won to Christ, and who profess to be saved by its power. When Jesus was here on earth, He was God's obedient Servant (Phil, ii. 5-7). He always did the things that pleased the Father (John viii. 29), never seeking His own, but His Father's glory. When He had become "obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross," then "God highly exalted Him" (Phil. ii. 10), and made that same Jesus, whom men crucified, "both Lord and Christ" (Acts ii. 36). When a sinner is saved, he is taught of the Spirit to acknowledge Jesus the Saviour as his Lord (1 Cor. xiii. 3; Rom. x. 9), and to own His claims over him. This is not a hard thing. Love to Christ makes it easy and delightful, to one whose heart has been won to Christ. Just to do what He says (Matt. vii. 21), to walk in the way He has marked out, in His Word. The path of obedience is the path of happiness and of peace. To own that we are His, just as David's men said, "Thine are we, David, and on thy side" (1 Chron. xii. 18), and then to be ready to do whatsoever the Lord shall bid us, is blessed.
When Saul of Tarsus was met on the way to Damascus and saved, he said, "LORD, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts ix. 6). And after he had been many years in the heavenly race, he was still holding along the same path, counting all things loss "for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil. hi. 8). And it is beautiful to see, that as he began and went on "in the Lord," so he ended his course with joy, "the Lord" standing by him in the hour of his distress, when all had "forsaken him" (2 Tim. iv. 17). If we are true to the Lord, making it our first and highest aim to please and to obey Him, He will never leave us alone, although He may test our faith by trial.
Some of you have had to suffer for your obedience to the Lord's commandments, and you may still have to bear the frowns of those who do not see the blessedness of owning the Lord, and obeying His Word in everything. But you need not be discouraged because of this; it is just what He has promised you (John xv. 19, 20), and what has been "given" to you as a special honour on Christ's behalf (Phil. i. 29). The first place in which we are to own this supreme authority of the Lord Jesus, is in THE HEART, "Sanctify in your hearts, Christ as Lord " (1 Pet. iii. 15, R.V.). As an old hymn we used often to sing when newly saved, has sweetly expressed it—
"Take Thou our hearts and let them be
Forever closed to all but Thee,
Thy willing servants, let us wear
The seal of love forever there."
He died to make us wholly His own, and He desires to have our hearts entirely under His own control. The apostle prayed for the saints in Ephesians, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph. iii. 17). He knew that they were saved, that Christ was already in them, but His desire was that He might dwell—have this abiding place—in their hearts, controlling, ordering, and arranging, as one does who owns and dwells in a house, occupying it according to his will. Then the Lord is to be owned in our lives. That is a very searching and far-reaching verse in Col. iii. 17, "WHATSOEVER ye do, in Word or in deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus." We often hear of the "Whosoevers" of the Bible, and are reminded that they include everybody. Here is one of God's "Whatsoevers," and they include everything. Whatever you cannot do in the Lord's Name, and in obedience to His Word, refrain from doing it, altogether. Wherever you cannot go in the Lord's Name, confessing you belong to Him, and that you obey His Word in going there, do not go there at all. This will prove a guiding principle in all the details of everyday life, and the application of it will settle many a disputed question. In the family, children are to obey their parents "in the Lord" (Eph. vi. 1). That is, in a way worthy of the Lord, rendering hearty obedience. The only exception being, that, if they are asked to do that which is contrary to His Word, to refrain. For then, God must be obeyed, rather than men (Acts v. 29). Your firm loyalty to Christ must honour Him, who has the first claim on your obedience. Servants are to obey their masters, doing their work "heartily as unto the Lord" (Col. iii. 23). What a dignity this puts on the common round of daily life! To sweep a room, to scrub a floor, to nurse a child, to run an errand, as "unto the Lord," to please Him, just as if He were personally looking on as you do it. This is what is meant by doing it "unto the Lord."
Then the Lordship of Christ is to be owned in His people's relation to their CHURCH LIFE. That is in all that concerns the CHURCH, its worship, its ministry, its fellowship, its order, all that God has given in His Word (see 1 Cor. xii., xiv.) for His people's guidance in all ages, is to be acknowledged as "the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. xiv. 27), and not put aside as if they were "out of date," or the mere "opinions" of men. Many true believers seem to think that it does not matter where, how, or with whom they worship, or what kind of church connection they are in, so long as they are personally godly and earnest; that they are left very much to choose their church and their preacher, as they do their dress. But God's Word says differently, and very clearly includes all that concerns His people's Church position, their fellowship with fellow-believers, in that which He has given to be observed.