How May Christ Become a Living Reality to the Soul? Second Series of Replies

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 9
H. D. R. Jameson
Second Series of Replies.
Answer (3)
That which makes Christ a reality to the soul is faith, for faith it is which is the evidence, or conviction, of things unseen (Heb. 11:11Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)) and are our Lord departed from the realm of sight, He said to His disciples “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:11Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1)); that is to say Christ is now, on high, an object for faith.
When, then, faith has become dimmed in the soul, and Christ no longer shines personally before the Christian, we do well to see first, whence faith is in its source, and second, what are the things which directly tend to the overthrow of that faith, and bring in darkness where light once shone.
As to the source of faith, it comes, as indeed does every good gift, from God (James 1:1717Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17) and Eph. 2:88For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8)), but mediately it becomes ours through the Word of God, for “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:1717So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)). This scripture relates no doubt to the first dawn of faith within the human soul; but, if that be its source, need we wonder that where there is neglect of private reading of God’s precious Word, or of tarrying in the presence of Him of whom that Word speaks, and who is Himself the Word, faith becomes dim within, and Christ seems to fade from before the vision of the careless Christian?
But to pursue the subject and take up the question of the positive hindrances to faith, it is remarkable that the epistle which is especially concerned with the subject of personal piety (1 Timothy) brings before us three well defined practical reasons for that darkness of soul which many have now to deplore. Each of the following passages brings before us that which practically means the overthrow of faith, but in connection with different causes; affecting first, the conscience; second, the heart; and third, the mind.
(1). “ Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Tim. 1:1919Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: (1 Timothy 1:19)).
The first and most effective blow at faith is struck when a good conscience is surrendered, for sin and Jesus are diametrically opposed; there is therefore no limit to the darkness which may overtake a soul when once it begins to give up the practical maintenance of a good conscience.
(2). “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:1010For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)).
Here we see how departure from faith is brought about through the avenue of the heart — the lust of other things entering in. Christ must be supreme. If He be not given the first place He can no longer shine brightly before the vision of our souls, and darkness must follow. How earnestly then should we hearken to the exhortation, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”! (Prov. 4:2323Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)).
Here the mind comes in. Man has been made in God’s image and likeness, an intelligent being, and the mind has accordingly a wonderful place in Scripture. We are not to despise it; but it is to be a mind formed by the Truth, that is, the testimony of things as they really are, which is what we get in the inspired Word. A mind, on the other hand, distracted by the ever changing theories of that which cannot truly be called science, or knowledge, for it is not the truth, is in very real danger, of which God in His goodness gives us solemn warning here, for that way lies thick darkness.
Our wisdom as Christians will most assuredly be to hearken earnestly to these divine instructions; and guarding mind, heart and conscience, to give time to daily study in His own presence of those words of spirit and life which are the food of faith; thus shall Christ Himself be, and abide, a blessed reality to our souls!
Answer (4)
W. Bramwell Dior
We may learn a lesson and receive a warning in what is recorded of one to whom Christ had ceased to be a living reality. Casting our eye on 2 Timothy 4:1010For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10), we read — “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” In this pregnant sentence we have the story of the spiritual downfall of a child of God. That he was such, we cannot doubt. In Colossians 4:1414Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. (Colossians 4:14), Paul sent greetings from Demas, while in writing to Philemon he referred to him as his “fellow-laborer” (Philem. 1:2424Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlaborers. (Philemon 24)). We feel sure that he who wrote “lay hands suddenly on no man” (1 Tim. 5:2222Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22)) would not have alluded in such terms to Demas, had he not at that time been a fellow-laborer in the true sense of the word. There must have been a time, we conclude, when to him Christ was a living reality, and when to serve Him was his desire. What, then, caused his declension? He “loved this present world.”
The world, we understand, is looked at in Scripture in, at least, four ways: the material earth (Acts 17:2424God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (Acts 17:24)); the people in the world (John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)); the world system (1 John 2:1616For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:16)); and the present age, or present course of things (Gal. 1:44Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:4)), This last, we believe, is what is meant in the verse now under consideration. We are not told that Demas fell into gross sin, he might not be termed by others a backslider; he may have continued the outward observance of things religious, but he was affected by the spirit of the age. Instead of observing the clear line of demarcation marked out by Paul, (on account of which, we judge, he was deserted by all in Asia), Demas, it may be, thought that by compromising with the world, he could elevate his fellow-men; his presence amongst them might have a restraining influence upon them, and thus he could do more to further the interests of Christ than Paul who, bound with a chain, lay a helpless captive in prison. This reasoning sounds plausible, but God’s thoughts are not as our thoughts (Isa. 55:88For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)).
It is written, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:44Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)); and “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:1515Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)).
To touch pitch is to be defiled, and to go into the world, even though it be with the best intentions, is to be degraded to its level, and to be no longer of any service to Christ. Whatever was Demas’s motive when he started, once on the down grade, descent was rapid. And the last word recorded of him is that he “loved this present world.” Christ was obscured by the world; his love for Christ was eclipsed by his love for the world, his desire for Christ’s appearing was extinguished by his desire to be distinguished in the world, and his testimony was in vain.
Thus there passes from our view this erstwhile soldier, who, in the day of battle, proved false to his Lord, forsook the standard and went over to the enemy. Surely there is a reason for this sad verse being placed on the page of holy Scripture. Are we not in danger today of going in the way of Demas? The world bids for our friendship. “Come to us,” it says, “and you will do us good. Give up your puritanical notions, and adopt our ways and methods. Countenance our amusements and join in our pursuits, then will we consider your views, and religion will suit us.” The spirit of the age is to acquiesce in this semi-worldly, quasi-religious state of things, and those who do not fall in with this are considered bigoted and narrow-minded.
How many Christians have been caught in this current, and, carried out of their true course, are, so far as testimony for Christ is concerned, but useless derelicts stranded on the rocks of “this present world.”
Ere we conclude we venture to call attention to all that we are permitted to know of the close of Paul’s history as recorded in this same chapter. He who, being a man of like passions with ourselves, could write “be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:11Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)), is a pattern man. He had now reached the end of his journey. He knew that his work was finished, and that, not on account of Nero’s sentence, but because of his loved Master’s call, the supreme moment was just at hand. Let us hearken to his closing words, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Tim. 4:7-87I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7‑8)).
The valiant warrior put off his armor, laid aside his sword, resigned his commission into His hands from whom he had received it, and was ready to pass from the prison-house of Nero to the presence chamber of the King. He was about to step up even then, in anticipation of a day yet to come, when he should receive the “crown of righteousness” from the Lord, “the righteous Judge.” We believe this title indicates the delight the Lord will have in that day, in showing how much He appreciates the loyalty of those who, in this day are true to Him, and who love and long for His appearing.
Thus the curtain drops upon the history of one to whom Christ was a living reality from first to last. Whether in the flush of the joy of first acquaintance with Christ, or in the severe test of endurance throughout a long and chequered career, or with the prospect, as in this chapter, of early martyrdom, it was Christ, only Christ, and nothing but Christ.
May it be so with us, assured that as our eye is fixed upon, and our heart is engaged with that living Person at God’s right hand, so will He become a living reality to us; He will command our affections; He will dominate our lives; “to live unto Him who died for us, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:1515And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)), will be our constant wish while to see His face will be our profound desire.
“Jesus! Thou art enough
The mind and heart to fill;
Thy patient life to calm the soul;
Thy love its fear dispel.
O fix our earnest gaze
So wholly, Lord, on Thee;
That with Thy beauty occupied,
We elsewhere none may see.”