Acts iii. 6
“Such As I Have.”
A Bank Holiday Address in Kilburn Hall.
LET me ask you to look at a verse in the Acts of the Apostles, which has more regard to our testimony and service than what we have just heard from our two brethren. Not that service can be separated from the personal communion of the soul. Indeed, you will find in the passage, I ask your attention to an illustration of their essentially intimate and divine connection. "Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have" Acts iii. 6---mark it well, my friends---"such as I have." There is a great deal in having a thing that you are about to give. "Such as I have, give I thee; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
Now the apostles doubtless felt their responsibility, as weighty as it was blessed. They knew the power of the name of Jesus, and they were responsible to use that power in this world of suffering and sin. Our responsibility is the same, in our feeble measure, in regard to accomplishing the will of God in this world. The apostles felt it as being in the city in which their Lord had been crucified a few weeks before. They had heard from His lips, "Ye are witnesses of these things;" and, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." And now, they find themselves face to face with human need and wretchedness in that very Jerusalem where their testimony was to commence.
They were destitute of outward advantages. "Silver and gold have I none." It is distressing to the spiritual mind to see the---
IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO MONEY
in the present day. Scripture calls it "filthy lucre," and I do not know a worse sign than the extent to which it dominates even the Lord’s people. If their pockets were lighter, they would run after Christ more swiftly, and serve Him more earnestly and diligently. Let us lighten them, beloved friends, if such is the case with us; and may God lighten them if we fail to do it. "Silver and gold have I none." That applies equally, as I said, to worldly influence and worldly position. It was not any of these that gave the apostles power; but they did not lack power. They had something, and, through grace, they knew they had it. It was in their hearts as a living power. That something that they had was the---
POWER OF THE NAME OF JESUS.
And it was a great and a mighty power, even their enemies being witnesses. They said, "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." There is power in the name of Jesus to turn the world upside down. There is power in the name of Jesus; aye, there is power to take possession of my poor heart, and to make me a witness for Him in such living power as brings souls to the feet of Jesus; "Such as I have."
Now it is not only a question of apostles such as Peter was, but it is a question of every witness for Christ; and, I take it, every witness for Christ is every individual upon whom God has written the name of Jesus. The apostle calls all Christians, "the epistle [the letter] of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone (as the law was), but in fleshy tables of the heart." It is your privilege, my fellow-believer, young or old, learned or unlearned; it is your privilege to be a witness for Christ in this world. First of all, in that which, perhaps, is noiseless in the state of your heart and your character before Him. But the state of the soul is told out in the face, is seen in the purpose of your life. Let the state of the soul be right. The walk will not be far wrong if the heart is truly right with Christ. If Christ is living—dwelling in the heart by faith, as a present reality, depend upon it that the face, the words, the actions, the whole daily life, will manifest it. There are, no doubt, disturbing influences from within and from without, but the power of Christ is---
AS ETERNAL, LIVING REALITY.
Blessed be His grace, He has gotten the victory, and He can give me power, notwithstanding the weakness of my body. He can give me such power, that every infirmity shall be an occasion of the manifestation of Christ.
"Such as I have." As if to say, "By God’s grace, I know Christ. I once said (frightened by a servant maid) I did not know Him; and I cursed, as if to make it evident that I did not know Him. But I do know Him. He is my Saviour; He is my Lord; He has full power over my soul; He governs from within; He has taken possession of the citadel. Yes, I know Him, blessed be His name, and His power, and His grace. I know His ability, and His gracious readiness to give what you, poor cripple, need; and my Master has sent me into this world to meet your need. My Lord has sent me to meet the need of this world, just as He sees that need to be. I heard my Master say, 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ "
What words were these from the Saviour’s lips standing in the presence of the fruits of sin in this world! Who but He could have uttered them? In the lips of any mortal, they would have been madness. But the Son of God could sound, and did sound, the very depths of human woe, and was there to meet it. Yes, He could give rest, whatever the burden. He presented Himself as God’s answer to every need of every immortal soul in this world. If men were heavy laden about their sins, so much the better; but if they had not found satisfaction in this world, they were to come to Him. If it were poverty, if it were sickness, if it were possession by the Devil, that burdened the soul,—whatever made them weary, heavy-laden, needy souls,—they were to come to God manifest in the flesh, and He would give them rest. But now this Saviour is hidden in God. "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." The disciples are sent into the world to represent Christ and to use the power of His name for the blessing of man.
Beloved friends, you can stand in this world, and testify this of your Master now: HE IS THE MIGHTY ANSWER OF GOD TO EVERY NEED OF THE IMMORTAL SOUL. There are millions of your fellow-creatures that have never heard His name. There are hundreds of square miles where His name has never been proclaimed. Oh! we have all a responsibility, and a very great responsibility, about this. Christ is God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. To many, He is now saying, "Depart; for I will send thee far hence to the Gentiles." His commission is still, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth." You may be called to go personally and take the name of Jesus to some of these poor hungry souls.
Trouble comes upon us; we have an unfailing resource in Christ.
"I lay my griefs on Jesus,
My burdens and my cares;
He from them all releases,
He all my sorrow shares."
Thank God, the believer is---
The apostle Paul says, "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions." A strange list of things for any man to take pleasure in! It is not "I bear," but "I take pleasure." You cannot get at such a man. If you give him a joy, he thanks God for it, and passes on. If you give him a sorrow, he glories in it. The power of Christ rests upon him. But sorrows come upon the poor African, upon the poor Chinese, upon the poor Hindoo. You can get at him. He has nowhere to turn for comfort, for help, for blessing. He knows no Christ to comfort or to sympathize; no God to make all work now for his good; and, if he looks beyond this present life, it is a terrible and awful blank. He sees no Father’s house as his eternal home, and no Saviour in Whose presence is fulness of joy.
Beloved friends, remember your responsibilities, and may I remember mine, with regard to these poor desolate souls. I cannot go to them, I am sorry to say; I am too old, and much too weak. But, beloved friends, how many of the twenty-four hours of the day do we spend upon our knees for the beloved ones who have gone out to take the name of Jesus to those that are perishing? It is our work. It is yours and mine. If they meet with sickness, as our brother Arnot and his party have, on the coast of Africa,---if they meet with difficulties, with impossibility of transport,—are not all these things your concern and my concern? Oh! let us bear them before the Lord. Let us carry their sorrows and difficulties before the Lord always, every day, even while we are occupied in our own personal sphere, and are seeking to make the savour of Christ’s name known in the desolate hearts around us.
"SUCH AS I HAVE."
The name of Jesus just meet the needs of the men and women that you and I meet with; it just fits the circumstances that we have personally to deal with. In order to meet the need that we see around us, we must be in the power of the name of Jesus. The Holy Ghost, in His ever-fresh ministry of Christ, is the power that is spoken of in the first chapter (verse 8), the only power the apostles had. We have, thank God, the same mighty power working in us (see Eph. iii. 20). The power by which Peter said, "Rise up and walk," was the power of the Holy Ghost—"the mighty power of God." He is the well-spring of satisfaction in the heart. He is the power of service in this world. He is the One Who ministers Christ in freshness to the soul and keeps it above the circumstances through which we pass. This is the "power from on high."
Now that the Holy Ghost has come, He has taken possession of each Christian's body---the child that is a Christian, the woman that is a Christian, the man that is a Christian—He has taken possession of our bodies, and made each body to be His temple. He is the living power for making us like Christ, so as to be His witnesses. He is the power for making us evidently, consciously, always satisfied; and, by that very satisfaction of heart, we testify to this poor world what Christ can be to the soul. "Such as I have." That power within, maintained by the ever-present Spirit of God, is the only fitness for service. God keep us from any other power, from seeking any other power, but this one living minister and representative of Christ!
God often finds a great many things in the vessel that hinder His power. God’s work through us is not the absolute thing that persons sometimes represent it to be. An illustration will show you what I mean. When Israel had been but a little while out of Egypt, Amalek met the people. It needed a great deal more power than Israel had to bring Amalek under; but it must be done, for he was God’s enemy. God had to beat Amalek by means of Israel, therefore He says, "The Lord shall have war with Amalek from generation to generation." One would say, "If the Lord has war with Amalek, it will soon be over." But the Lord has war with Amalek through His people, and, alas! we are slow to let God conquer through us—we bring in so many things to hinder. If the war were simply between God and His enemies, it would soon be over; and the day is coming when it will soon be over, but now He is working in us that we may overcome.
Yes, my brethren, we have to overcome; that is, Christ is to overcome in us and through us. That is what makes it "from generation to generation." We need to keep close to the Fountain of strength. All the power of Satan is working upon, and in concert with, the flesh. We need to keep every thought, every faculty of the mind, earnestly under the control of Christ. Then shall we know the power that works in us, and we shall know it as a divinely energetic power, that fills the soul with satisfaction in every drought of this world, while it flows in streams of blessing to those around us.
Look at this poor man. His limbs did not seem likely ever to be equal to carry him. He was more than forty years old. His limbs were far beyond human skill in healing. If the man over forty who has never walked is to walk, and leap, and praise God, it must be the power of God which enables him. That power dwells in the name of Jesus; and the exalted Christ has sent His witnesses to use His power for the blessing of this poor cripple. And Peter announces, "Such as I have"---that is, such as Christ had furnished him with for his own blessing and that of other needy ones; that which Christ had called him into fellowship with—"such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." Oh! beloved friends, that which the apostle had, we have.
May God grant that it may be as ready to be used as it was in Peter’s case! Oh that our hearts may be in the power of an ungrieved Holy Ghost, to use the fulness that is in Christ for all the need that is around us! May we be---
We have many instances in Scripture of God preparing His vessels. In the case of Gideon, God addresses him as a "mighty man of valour," because he was little in his own eyes. He answers his faith and rebukes his unbelief in a manner full of grace. He is about to deliver Israel by his means, but He first teaches him that he is only "a cake of barley bread." He has 32,000 men, but these God declares to be too many. We might have thought them too few. But if Israel is "out of weakness to be made strong," they are too many. At a stroke, the number is reduced to 10,000. But even that is too many, "for by strength shall no man prevail." And although the hosts of Midian were like grasshoppers in number, the army by which God is going to overcome them is reduced to 300 men. And how is this handful of men equipped? They are to get pitchers, and put a light in each pitcher---arms which through God are mighty. Lights inside pitchers! That was God’s way, and it was an effectual way. When the pitchers were broken, and the light shone forth, God left the enemy to do the work, and they destroyed one another. Oh! may we learn this blessed lesson, and have confidence in God, that He may work through us day by day.
David, in his day, was prepared by God in secret for meeting Goliath. By encountering the lion and the bear in the strength that is ever made perfect in weakness, he learned how to use the power of God when in presence of the giant. He cannot trust Saul’s armour, for he had not tried it. But the power of God, he had tried—he had well proved. "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." To the Philistine taunt, "Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?" He replies, in the true dignity of faith, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield, but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied." A smooth stone out of the brook, from David’s sling, lays the Philistine low.
The apostle Paul is perhaps the most striking instance of this preparedness of the vessel for the Master’s use that Scripture affords. The thorn in the flesh was a terrible trial to him. Chiefly so because he felt it would hinder his service for Christ. Ah! but the Lord says, "My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in weakness." No wonder that Paul, whose single desire was that Christ should be magnified in His body, should exclaim, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Now we may all know this blessed secret. I pray God that we may have a fresh ministry of Christ to our souls, which will make Him the same living reality to us that He was to Paul. Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness. We may be too strong to bring blessing down on the Church of God in this world; we cannot be too weak to do so. "We may be too strong to be used in blessing to souls in the world, but we cannot be too weak for that purpose. For it is when we are empty vessels and broken pitchers, that the power of Christ rests upon us.
Be much in your closets, my brethren; be much on your knees. Bear all God’s work before Him. Seek Him earnestly, that you may be entirely with Him in the work of His grace so dear to His heart, and that that work may be abundantly blessed.
May it be thus with us until the eternal day that is so soon coming, when Christ will own, and "the Father Himself will honour," those who have thus served and followed Christ in the time of His rejection. May He help us!