The Gift Is God-Given

Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from
the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows.
JAMES 1:17

The conclusion is unavoidable: self-salvation simply does not work. Man has no way to save himself.

But Paul announces that God has a way. Where man fails God excels. Salvation comes from heaven downward, not earth upward. “Every good action and every perfect gift is from God” (James 1:17).

Please note: Salvation is God-given, God-driven, God-empowered, and God-originated. The gift is not from man to God. It is from God to man.

In the Grip of Grace

Jesus: The Son of God

Matthew 16:13-16

What difference does it make who Jesus is? Why should we take Him seriously? The way we answer these questions will deeply impact our belief system, mold our character, and influence our lifestyle. They will also determine where we spend eternity.

Jesus identified Himself as the Son of God and stated that He and the Father are one. In other words, whoever has seen Christ has seen the Father (John 10:30; 14:9). Conversely, those of us who long to know God must draw near to Jesus—He alone reveals the Father.

The Son of God was sent here to give His life as a ransom for many. The purpose was to rescue us from slavery to sin and prepare us for our heavenly home, where we’ll spend eternity. Notice that in describing His mission, Jesus said He “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). Those who belong to Him are to imitate His life of service.

Jesus testified that He does exactly as the Father commands (John 14:31). This, too, is an example for us. His life of obedience shows us how to please God. Jesus knew why He came, and He did what was asked in order to glorify His Father (John 17:1). There’s a plan and purpose for every one of us as well, and we likewise glorify the Lord by our obedience.

Matthew 28:18 gives another reason to obey: since Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” we are to live in submission to Him.

Do you believe Jesus’ testimony? If so, thank Him for the difference He has made in your life. Then share with others how knowing Him has impacted you.

The Triune Comforter

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

One of the titles of the Holy Spirit, especially as used in the King James Version, is His beautiful identification as “the Comforter.” The Greek word is parakletos, meaning literally “one who is called along side to help.” A familiar verse is John 14:26: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.” He is our teacher, our guide, our helper, our Comforter.

The same word is also translated “advocate,” meaning an attorney for the defense. In this capacity, it is applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Though we are guilty and lost sinners, He takes our side before the Judge, pleading the sacrificial offering of His own blood for our sins, and we are saved (1 John 2:2).

Even the Father is our “paraclete,” according to the verses cited above. He is “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (Greek paraklesis), and as we pray to our heavenly Father, He indeed does provide great consolation in every hour of trouble and sorrow.

Thus, each person of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—serves as Comforter (“paraclete”) to the believer, as needed, who also has access to the “comfort of the scriptures” (Romans 15:4). But there is still another “comforter.” Each believer receives such comfort so that we ourselves “may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” HMM

Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me

“Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” (John 16:32.)

IT need not be said that to carry out conviction into action is a costly sacrifice. It may make necessary renunciations and separations which leave one to feel a strange sense both of deprivation and loneliness. But he who will fly, as an eagle does, into the higher levels where cloudless day abides, and live in the sunshine of God, must be content to live a comparatively lonely life.

No bird is so solitary as the eagle. Eagles never fly in flocks; one, or at most two, ever being seen at once. But the life that is lived unto God, however it forfeits human companionships, knows Divine fellowship.

God seeks eagle-men. No man ever comes into a realization of the best things of God, who does not, upon the Godward side of his life, learn to walk alone with God. We find Abraham alone in Horeb upon the heights, but Lot, dwelling in Sodom. Moses, skilled in all the wisdom of Egypt must go forty years into the desert alone with God. Paul, who was filled with Greek learning and had also sat at the feet of Gamaliel, must go into Arabia and learn the desert life with God. Let God isolate us. I do not mean the isolation of a monastery. In this isolating experience He develops an independence of faith and life so that the soul needs no longer the constant help, prayer, faith or attention of his neighbor.

Such assistance and inspiration from the other members are necessary and have their place in the Christian’s development, but there comes a time when they act as a direct hindrance to the individual’s faith and welfare. God knows how to change the circumstances in order to give us an isolating experience. We yield to God and He takes us through something, and when it is over, those about us, who are no less loved than before, are no longer depended upon. We realize that He has wrought some things in us, and that the wings of our souls have learned to beat the upper air.

We must dare to be alone. Jacob must be left alone if the Angel of God is to whisper in his ear the mystic name of Shiloh; Daniel must be left alone if he is to see celestial visions; John must be banished to Patmos if he is deeply to take and firmly to keep “the print of heaven.”

He trod the winepress alone. Are we prepared for a “splendid isolation” rather than fail Him?

Call thy labourers, and give them their hire

“Call thy labourers, and give them their hire.” Matthew 20:8

God is a good paymaster; He pays His servants while at work as well as when they have done it; and one of His payments is this: an easy conscience. If you have spoken faithfully of Jesus to one person, when you go to bed at night you feel happy in thinking, “I have this day discharged my conscience of that man’s blood.” There is a great comfort in doing something for Jesus. Oh, what a happiness to place jewels in His crown, and give Him to see of the travail of His soul! There is also very great reward in watching the first buddings of conviction in a soul! To say of that girl in the class, “She is tender of heart, I do hope that there is the Lord’s work within.” To go home and pray over that boy, who said something in the afternoon which made you think he must know more of divine truth than you had feared!

Oh, the joy of hope! But as for the joy of success! it is unspeakable. This joy, overwhelming as it is, is a hungry thing—you pine for more of it. To be a soul-winner is the happiest thing in the world. With every soul you bring to Christ, you get a new heaven upon earth. But who can conceive the bliss which awaits us above! Oh, how sweet is that sentence, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!” Do you know what the joy of Christ is over a saved sinner? This is the very joy which we are to possess in heaven. Yes, when He mounts the throne, you shall mount with Him.

When the heavens ring with “Well done, well done,” you shall partake in the reward; you have toiled with Him, you have suffered with Him, you shall now reign with Him; you have sown with Him, you shall reap with Him; your face was covered with sweat like His, and your soul was grieved for the sins of men as His soul was, now shall your face be bright with heaven’s splendour as is His countenance, and now shall your soul be filled with beatific joys even as His soul is.

Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love

“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3

Sometimes the Lord Jesus tells His Church His love thoughts. “He does not think it enough behind her back to tell it, but in her very presence He says, ‘Thou art all fair, my love.’ It is true, this is not His ordinary method; He is a wise lover, and knows when to keep back the intimation of love and when to let it out; but there are times when He will make no secret of it; times when He will put it beyond all dispute in the souls of His people” (R. Erskine’s Sermons). The Holy Spirit is often pleased, in a most gracious manner, to witness with our spirits of the love of Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us.

No voice is heard from the clouds, and no vision is seen in the night, but we have a testimony more sure than either of these. If an angel should fly from heaven and inform the saint personally of the Saviour’s love to him, the evidence would not be one whit more satisfactory than that which is borne in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Ask those of the Lord’s people who have lived the nearest to the gates of heaven, and they will tell you that they have had seasons when the love of Christ towards them has been a fact so clear and sure, that they could no more doubt it than they could question their own existence.

Yes, beloved believer, you and I have had times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and then our faith has mounted to the topmost heights of assurance. We have had confidence to lean our heads upon the bosom of our Lord, and we have no more questioned our Master’s affection to us than John did when in that blessed posture; nay, nor so much: for the dark question, “Lord, is it I that shall betray thee?” has been put far from us. He has kissed us with the kisses of His mouth, and killed our doubts by the closeness of His embrace. His love has been sweeter than wine to our souls.