A Letter to Young Believers.
"GRACE be to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," is the constant desire expressed by the Holy Ghost, through the apostles, for the saints, even the believers in Christ Jesus. This desire should therefore attract our attention, and cause us to examine ourselves as to whether we continually experience and live in the power of this grace and peace.
It was grace in God that gave His Son for us while we were yet sinners. It is grace that has abounded to cover all our sins with the blood of His Own Son; that has crucified our old man with Christ, and quickened us together with Him, raising us up together, and making us sit together in heavenly places in Christ. Yes, it is grace that has breathed into our souls the breath of a new life, even the life that came down in Jesus, which every believer receives, and in the power of which he walks with God. That grace, which has abounded over our sins, and caused us to live through righteousness, now extends to all our need, and every time of it. It is only as we feel weakness, poverty, emptiness, that we can learn the fulness of grace; and our heavenly Father is continually letting us come into trying and difficult circumstances, that we may learn the power of His grace to meet our trials, to succour us in our need, and bring us unharmed through the fire. Be not therefore cast down. Strengthen your feeble knees. You are in the wilderness on purpose that you may learn God as "the God of all grace." Remember the lesson taught to Paul, when he sought by persevering prayer to have his trial removed, and was answered: "My grace is sufficient for thee." And mark how cheerfully he submitted: "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in mine infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . . for when I am weak, then am I strong."
Peace is consequent on grace; it is brought to us through grace, and maintained in us by grace. Jesus brings peace and maintains peace in the conscience. Peace within flows from "peace with God;" indeed, true peace within is peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The first word Jesus spoke when, after His resurrection, He came to His disciples, was, "Peace be unto you." There cannot be peace within where there is doubt or anxiety or care; therefore we are told to cast all our care upon God. "Be careful for nothing." "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also, ye are called." Let us stand in grace, and we shall walk in peace.
Can it be said of you as of the Thessalonians, "But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you; for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." Remember that every one that loveth God will love the children of God. And true love to God is to be increased by realizing in our souls more of His wondrous love to us. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." I trust you fully understand that our love to God does not obtain for us pardon, acceptance, sonship, and heirship of glory; these are all secured in Christ through faith in His finished work.
Your power for fruit-bearing—bringing forth the fruits of righteousness—is another blessing received through faith in Christ. In dying, as to your flesh, with Christ on the Cross, you are become dead to sin, to the Law, and to the world. Being dead with Christ, we are set free from all hindrances to fruitfulness; and through our resurrection with Him, we are brought into the full power of fruit-bearing unto God. This is the newness of life in which we walk. We are married to Him Who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. Being set free from sin by dying with Christ, and made servants to God through rising with Christ, we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end, eternal life. Fruit-bearing, then, is the effect of our union with Christ.
But mark, beloved, the great blessings accompanying an obedient walk and diligent fruit-bearing unto God. It gives much glory unto the Father (John xv. 8); manifests us as Christ's disciples indeed (John viii. 31, 32); obtains for us honour from the Father (John xii. 26); and brings us into close communion with the Father and the Son through the Holy Ghost. It makes us experience how Christ can manifest Himself unto us and not unto the world (John xiv. 21-23), and also brings us into the position of receiving answers to prayer—aye, to have whatsoever we ask—and thus we obtain blessings for other saints. (John xv. 7, 16; 1 John iii. 22)
OUR RELATION TO THE WORLD.
In order to faithful service to God here, in order to please Him in all things, we must learn from the Word what our relation to the world is as risen saints, and what is the extent of blessing the world is to receive through us. It is clear from the Scripture that we are to be witnesses to the evil in the world, and to the judgment coming upon it; and we are to tell of the refuge that God has provided for all who will flee from the wrath to come. The Church will not convert the world, but we are only a "first-fruits unto God," a gathering out of all nations to be a body for Christ, to be glorified and admired when He comes. Seek, therefore, the increase of the body by drawing sinners to Christ out of the ruin around you.
I hope you all walk as "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling;" that you are not seeking rest or pleasure in things of earth, nor laying up treasure, nor seeking respectability or rank or high things in this world which crucified your Lord. I hope also that you are walking in simple faith in Christ, in love to one another; that you are not choking the Word with the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches. Beware of the love of money! It is a root of all evil. If you covet money, you will err or stray from the faith; and though you may be recovered, you will pierce yourselves through with many sorrows.
CHRIST'S PERSON AND THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY GHOST.
Remember the words of our Lord: "The disciple is not above his Master." Walk as He walked. Cleave close to His person, know Him, love Him, talk to Him; lean on Him, take all counsel with Him. The constant sense of His presence and love will banish from your hearts the lusts of other things, and make your hearts burn within you with joy unspeakable. Remember the presence of the Holy Ghost in each member of Christ; acknowledge His presence also in the midst of your assemblies; and while you are delivered from the error of supposing a building of bricks or of wood can be a house of God, do not forget that you are to be builded together as an habitation of God through the Spirit.