The Revelation of God: Part 2

1 John 4:9,16
(Concluded from page 240)
It is in this world—in no world but this—that eternal life is given. It is not to any other world but here that Jesus came. We have not the smallest ground to believe that the Son of God ever came, ever died, in any world but this. God is not looking for great people but for wretched sinners. He is not looking for great worlds any more than people, but a sinful earth! He is seeking wretched sinners. But now that the Son is come and I believe in Him, He is my life, and my sins are sent away. Is that not enough? No; He is coming to take me on high. Would you like to be in heaven? No place you would enjoy so little, if in your sins! You would dread it, although you do not like to say so, more than any spot in God's creation. The light, the love, the holiness of God, would be unbearable to you. But God, who has searched you through and through sent His Son. Why? He has but one Son—the only begotten, yet His Son was sent to sinners. He is the “propitiation for our sins.” Why fear, if you believe on Him?
The glory of His person is maintained. Take a poor guilty woman caught in the vilest sin. The moment Christ speaks a word, they who had accused her were the first to turn from His presence. Thus the glory of the Lord, the light in His person, is far more confounding than in the law. One ray from Him—they fled from His presence! What will it be with you when you stand to give account of yourself to God? Stand and give account now. Faith does not wait for the day of judgment. Those who believe are willing to tell out their sins now. What do they find? Judgment? Life eternal, a new nature, the knowledge and love of God, their sins forgiven. Men say that they believe in the remission of sins. Well, are your sins gone? “Oh no,” you will answer. Is there then no such thing as the certainty of the truth? If I do not know them gone, can I say truly that I know God? It is not a question of activity, or depth, of mind. Thank God the gospel is for the poor, and for persons of feeble mind too, for God has saved many such. It has nothing to do with any particular power of this kind; but I will tell you with what is has to do with my bowing to God's word that condemns me and puts me down as a sinner without life, who yet has his sins; and there they are, crying Out for the judgment of God. My being such a sinner is a shame to me, but to believe in His Son is life and glory. Oh, what delight God has in having souls who believe in His Son! Do you suppose it honors God to wait, to hesitate? Do you suppose that not to receive His word is the way to believe? May God give you to hearken, to believe and to know what this is by the Spirit of God! Naturally you are afraid, and indifferent, or hostile, because you are full of self-will and bent upon pleasing yourself; and this with consciousness of sin, with judgment before you, but in presence of God sending His only-begotten Son to bless you in His love if you bow to Him now.
But there are those who receive Christ, and what is the result? They possess the fullness of God's love. Who are they? Every believer. There is no believer that has not life according to it. It may be very feeble-that is, there may be what is of himself which shrouds and enfeebles—and God has His way of taking down all that thus hinders His own work; but I affirm that every soul thus born of God loves God. The apostle does not say ‘We ought to love God' because we do. It is a necessity of the new nature, of the life of God, in every believer. But he does say, “We ought to love one another” —we love God, but as to one another—well, one sees plenty of faults, and surely (if conscience is in the light of God) most in oneself. Doubtless this hinders, but God has His way of using all for good, while humbling us for our faults. Do you think God loves His children less because they are faulty? You have a child that other people don't think much of, whatever you do. But do you love that child less because of its faults? It may be you spoil the poor child. I scarce ever knew a parent that had not his affections, his heart, drawn out by those faults of the child. God loves us, and this love is so real that our faults only draw out the wonderful resources of His love. If you love a child of yours it is thus with you. I do not mean God makes light of anything wrong: but He never turns aside His love, and people who think so do not know God as He has revealed Himself. They have a very feeble knowledge of who and what He is.
“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” When Christ was here He was the great witness, and now, wonderful to say, Christians are the witness. Oh, how ashamed of I ourselves we ought to be when our levity blots out the testimony God looks for in this world! It is a great deal more than knowing the love. Now if one of us had written these words, he must have been thought most presumptuous. Yet are they true. Hereby we know, “because He hath given us of His Spirit.” I admit it is a very strong word, and that no man could have ever said it or gathered it except by divine teaching. The apostles write it calmly and quietly, as the real truth about the Christian, “because He hath given us of His Spirit.”
It is not merely “the Spirit,” because the Spirit was given occasionally to persons who were not renewed. Mighty power wrought in people said to be partakers of the Spirit who were not born of God. Here it is more than that. “He hath given us of His Spirit” implies, not merely power but communion of nature, and that is the force of the difference. It is what characterizes God's own nature, and that is the force of the difference. It is what characterizes God's own nature and that in divine power, and this is what belongs to the Christian now. It is not only life. The Lord Jesus is eternal life, and we live by Him. Perhaps there is some soul miserable enough here, who yet has eternal life. If I do not give God credit that He has truly blotted out my sins, I cannot have peace. If I really believe God's love that the Savior came down for it, why am I still troubled about my sins?
‘But I don't walk as I ought.' Well, my dear friend, let us settle one thing at a time. There is no such encouragement for walk afterward as that all is secured between God and the soul. The Holy Ghost is given, sealing the person and working in this new divine nature. That is what I call the communion of nature, the Holy Ghost being the power. Now the result of this is, that we not only go to God, but we dwell in God. Is not this much more than going to Him in time of trouble? It is not merely occasional visits, nor merely that life is eternal, but as the Holy Ghost dwells in us, so we dwell in God.
“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (ver. 14). That is the effect of being thus blessed of God. We have a special testimony to which we are called. The apostle does not speak about the law; God has put the Christian on an entirely different ground. It is not commandments, though there are commandments that are most suited, because there is a Living Person to obey. There is a Divine Person that has quickened us, sealed us, and come down as power; not merely to cheer us, not merely as Comforter. The Holy Ghost is always the Spirit of power. It is in communion with God, with His mind and His affections; and this is what characterizes the Christian. “We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” “We have seen” —what a sight! Greater than Moses ever saw! It was never made known till He came (the Lord Jesus) that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Now it is the testimony of every Christian. The believer who does not testify this does not under-stand Christianity. The truth has been spoiled; there is that which is wrong mixed up with it. Half Jewish, half Christian, are their thoughts; but here it is Christian testimony, that “the Father sent the Son to be the Savior,” not merely of Israel, but “of the world.” No matter how bad, how distant, how dark, the individual sinner might be found, He is the Savior; and such a Savior could not be confined to any portion of mankind.
“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (ver. 15). Whosoever shall confess! Oh, weigh it well, you that have never yet confessed. Here is what will save your soul. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God (not merely shall be saved, but) God dwelleth in him and he in God.” Oh, what a wonderful thing! Is this true? Nothing more so. How is it made true? The Holy Ghost has taken His place in that man, that woman, that child. “God dwelleth in him,” and as a consequence of it, “he in God.” The heart has an abiding rest in God. I am certain of God; I can be certain of no one else. You may have perhaps that most faithful, blameless, devoted friend: Ah, you are not always certain of your friend. There may come the moment when you will be disappointed; but never in God. The simplest Christian knows it. I do not say they may not be foolish and forget, but they know it is their folly. The apostle is looking at the consequence of thus confessing that Jesus is the Son of God. It is. there that God dwells. It was not miraculous outward power, but what was always greater, what could not be seen. “Jesus died and rose again.” Is that all? “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (ver. 16). He goes back to the same great truth. “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Now, observe the change of order here.
The reason is this. Where he is speaking of the confession of Christ, the object is to give the soul confidence in Him who fills the soul with His own pure grace. He has received the Spirit. The consequence is that his heart goes out to God. But now he is walking like a Christian; he is dwelling in love. Instead of being occupied with evil he is occupied with love, and dwelling in love. What is the consequence? “He dwelleth in God,” he rises above all that is here, and the result is that God puts fresh blessing upon him, working in power, God dwells in him.
Not merely is it the fact of the Holy Ghost dwelling in him, true as it is. First of all, God gives him the Spirit. God dwells in him and he in God. “Hereby we know that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” Then, as the effect of that, my heart goes out to Him; I have confidence in Him; I spread out great and small into His bosom. But if I am walking in love, in the midst of all that is calculated to act upon the flesh and distract, God makes me enjoy fresh blessing, acting in me by the Spirit. It is not merely the fact of having the Holy Ghost, but God working in us by it—and not less than this is the Christian's portion. The least Christian should say that God dwells in him and he in God; but the most spiritual cannot rise beyond this, that, as he dwells in God, God dwells in him. This is the privilege of communion, as that is of faith. And if I know the one, I ought to seek the other. If blessed by grace let us walk in the fellowship of His love (Galatians 5:2525If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)).
Oh, may those that confess Jesus to be the Son of God not fear to take their stand, that this is the truth, that this is their portion. Blessed portion! for if God dwells in me, and I in Him, He is training me in that which will be the greatest joy for eternity. Of course then only will all the hindrances be gone, and the circumstances in which we now are; but I am not speaking of circumstances, but of God dwelling in me and I in Him. This is the portion that grace gives to the simplest confessor of Jesus. Fear not then to take it, fear not to confess Him. This honors God if I speak and act upon the truth of God. If this be the case, I can confide in Him for every-thing. It is not only a hope; it is not merely cherishing desires. It is a great glorious, divine fact for faith only. It is not that blessedness first, and then I believe: I believe first, and then the blessedness comes. Next follows deep enjoyment, which becomes powerful in our dependence on God, and works according to God.
May the Lord bless His own word, both to those who do confess, and to those who have never yet confessed, that Jesus is the Son of God! Amen.
W. K.