The Gospel and the Church: 7. the Gospel

The end of the gospel is the saving of the believer's soul, as present and everlasting, and that of his body as a future and equally everlasting thing, called the “adoption, to wit, the redemption of our “body” (Romans 8:23; 13:1123And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
11And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11)
; Philippians 3:20, 2120For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20‑21); Hebrews 9:2828So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)). Its final result will appear in glory, when He who died to bring many sons to glory will have safely brought them there, and say, “Behold, I and the children which God hath given to Me.” Then all the three classes of believers having part in the “First Resurrection” will be seen around Christ, being the fruits of the corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died. Then He, the Just, Who suffered and died for us to bring us to God and finally to glory,” shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied,” and we “shall be satisfied” when we “awake in His likeness.”
I need not say that the present salvation of the soul, as well as the future salvation of the body (now so near at hand) is a final and eternal result for believers in the gospel. God in His perfect grace places every believer on a divinely solid everlasting foundation. He that believeth in His Son hath life, even life eternal. His salvation rests on the work of an eternal redemption accomplished on the cross. The Lord always means what He says. When He says, “My sheep shall never perish,” He means “never.” And when He says as to the final doom of unbelievers, i.e. rejecters of Christ and the gospel, that “their worm, (i.e. repentance which is too late),1 dieth not and the fire is not quenched,” He again means what He says, “is not.” Would any man of common honesty mean the opposite of what he says? And yet there are such, nay, Christian teachers and preachers of the gospel (such as it is) who would fain make you believe that God does so! Oh, the patience and long-suffering of Him Who is “the God of patience” with this faithless and perverse generation of ours!
Again, when the Good Shepherd says of His sheep, “None shall pluck them out of My hand,” and again, “None (not no man, but “none” —αὺδείς) is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand,” does He not mean “none?” None means neither Satan nor yourself nor anybody else. (The Father's discipline with disobedient or backsliding children has nothing to do with their eternal safety in Christ which is as sure and enduring as the Bock of Ages cleft for us, in Whom every believer is hidden from judgment forever). Suppose Noah had gone mad in the ark, and wanted to jump into the surging waters of the deluge, he could not get out for the Lord who had shut him in possessed the key.
What a wondrous end is that of the gospel of God, and how eternally safe now already, are its blessed results for the believer, amidst the changing scenes of this restless, sinful, sorrowful, unruly and God-alienated world, and afterward with Christ in unfading glory. There an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance awaits every child of God. But above all, and better than all, Jesus Himself is waiting for the Father's word, bidding Him to leave once more His seat of rest, honor, and glory to descend into the air, and to call up thither the dead and living saints, and receive them up unto Himself and lead them into those mansions in the Father's house, whither He has gone before to prepare a place for us.
“ There made ready are the mansions, glorious, bright and fair,
But the bride the Father gave Him still is wanting there.
Who is this that comes to meet me 'bove the desert way,
As the Morning Star foretelling God's unclouded day?
He, it is, Who came to win me on the cross of shame;
In His glory shall I know Him, evermore the same.
Oh, the blessed joy of meeting, all the desert past!
Oh, the wondrous words of greeting He shall speak at last!
He and I together entering those bright courts above;
He and I together sharing all the Father's love.
Where no shade nor stain can enter, nor the gold be dim;
In that holiness unsullied I shall walk with Him.
Meet companion then for Jesus, from Him, for Him made;
Glory of God's grace forever there in me displayed.
He Who in His hour of sorrow bore the curse alone,
I who through the lonely desert trod where He had gone,
He and I in that bright glory one deep joy shall share:
Mine, to be forever with Him; His, that I am there.”
But fain as one would dwell longer on these” brighter things above,” we now must turn to a. more serious and solemn subject. I mean
THE SNARES THAT BESET THE PATH OF THE EVANGELIST.
The enemy of God and of His people and testimony in the gospel and in the church has always his snares and temptations ready for every servant of Christ. But the evangelist is, even more than others of his fellow laborers in the Lord's work, exposed to temptations peculiar to gospel work. It is, therefore, not in any spirit of disparagement that the writer of these lines (who has been interested, and, in his poor way, been active for more than forty years in the blessed work of the gospel) would offer a few suggestions which might serve, under God's blessing, to guard against failures in that important part of the Lord's service, and thus save them experiences which he had to pass through, very humbling to himself, while he can but praise God's preserving grace, which alone could keep and deliver, as it has saved him.
The first of the dangers for the evangelist is of an inward, and therefore all the more serious, nature. I mean the want of balance of character, which appears where the laborer's inward communion with God lags behind his outward engagement in the gospel service. Much sail with little ballast. produces capsizing. The “not chewing the cud,” with the “undivided hoof,” is unclean. “Meditate on these things,” wrote the apostle to his young fellow-laborer and son in the gospel. “Give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all.” Absence of “fins” (the propelling power), and of “scales” (the protecting power), was to be “abomination” (Leviticus 11). “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine (? the “scales”), continue in them, for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee” (? the “fins”).2 I know that the lack of balance between communion with God and public service is a danger against which all servants of Christ have constantly to be on their guard. But it attaches in an especial way to the work of an evangelist, on account of its more public and absorbing character. His service keeping him continually in the presence of men, he even more than others of his fellow-servants needs to be much “alone with God.”
Our great Divine Master of service, the Pattern of all servants, had the ear of the learned, and therefore He had the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to them that were weary. And is not the blessed gospel a “word in season to him that is weary?” He indeed could say, “Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest “; and “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”
“ Cold mountains in the midnight air
Witnessed the fervor of His prayer.”
Mary sat at her Master's feet before her hands performed on His Person that service, the odor of which filled the whole house, and ascended higher still because it came from a heart filled with Christ, and was done to Christ. In the same measure as Christ is the evangelist's daily food, will the Christ preached by him enter in saving and delivering power into the hearts of his hearers, however true it may be that the gospel of Christ is in itself the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.
It is the heart's prayerful study of the “word of Christ,” at the “feet of Christ,” that makes us imbibe the “mind of Christ.” The ascended and glorified Christ and the written Christ are closely connected. The same Spirit Who is the author of “Holy Writ” has linked us with our Head above. He glorifieth Christ, receives of His and shows them unto us. If we get away from the Christ above, we soon lose the relish for the written Christ; or vice versa, if we neglect the word of God, which reflects Christ's glories and beauty, we soon shall neglect communion with Christ above. And every believer knows that the early morning is the best and proper time to render unto God, after the mercies of another night, the firstfruits of the day in praises and adoration, and for the prayerful reading of His word at the feet of His dear Son, Who has not only declared Him, but brought us to God by the sufferings of His cross. In the morning our mind is like a blank sheet of paper, open to the searching power and comfort of Holy Writ; while at the close of the day our mind is like a sheet filled with the impressions of the day. Hence the power and freshness of the blessed Divine Book are most felt and recognized in the early morning. It is in the morning that we want the hath, more than in the evening. We do not know what temptations a day may bring, and forewarned is to be forearmed. And as to every day's needed encouragement of faith and cheering of the spirit,
“Thy morning smiles bless all the day.”
Have not we all experienced the truth of it? The evangelist needs in an especial way these blessed “morning smiles” of his heavenly Master as well as His warning voice. His place during the daytime is not the quiet solitude of the study, but the “going out unto all the world, preaching the gospel unto every creature.” The gates of the city, the market place or the town-hall, and the tent and the mission room, are his wider sphere of activity.