Last Updated on : Saturday, October 11, 2014


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Seasons of Comfort (Volume 1)

Robert Roberts


Sunday Number

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Book Contents  
Vol 2  


The Blessedness Of Knowing The Truth

The blessedness of believing in Christ. -- The work of God. -- The blessedness principally future. -- The reason of evil on earth. -- The greatness of God and of sin. -- The sacrifice of Christ. -- Our approach to God. -- Forgiveness and the coming change. -- The purpose of evil. -- Taking up the cross. -- Hearers of the word, and doers. -- God sends evil to punish and to correct. -- The coming inspection. -- The principle of its conduct. -- The measure of obedience. -- Many commandments. -- Covering every action of life. -- Scripture reading the antidote to the natural man. -- Waiting for God. -- What it consists in. -- Faith only can act such a part. -- Contravention of political econony. -- Bible neglecters. -- Waiting for God a painful part, soon to be no more.

JESUS said to his disciples, "Blessed are the eyes that see those things that ye see, and the ears that hear those things that ye hear." In a sense this is true of all who are assembled as we are this morning in faith and hope of our Lord Jesus, around the memorial table of his appointment. We have not seen with our own eyes or heard with our own ears the things referred to by Jesus; but we have seen through the eyes and heard through the ears of the disciples, in believing their testimony, and in this consists the blessedness. We believe on Christ through their word; and him having not seen, in this way we love. This is the most acceptable thing we can perform towards God. It is in fact, pre- eminently, the work that God has required of men that they believe on him whom He hath sent, always taking it for granted that such belief ripens into love and obedience; for a belief that does not lead to works, is unfruitful and not accepted. Christ's summary of the matter is contained in the words, "Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and do it."

Wherein consists the blessedness? Does it consist in present results? Partly, but principally, it is future. The blessedness is not yet manifest. The manifestation of it is only a matter of time, and that time a short time. It seems long to us because of present evil, but in relation to the great facts around us, it is but a short time. At the longest, it cannot be longer than a human life, because there is no time to the dead. And what is our life? "It is even a vapour," as James says, "that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." We realize this when we look back upon the ages that are past. These bore in their bosom multitudes of busy people that are now but a memory. Our turn in the great procession has come, and we are busy, like our predecessors, walking off the scene. But we cannot, like them, look forward to ages of the same unceasing vanity. We are at the time of the end when the mystery of God is about to be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets. Nevertheless, in itself our life is a transitory thing. Few and evil are the days of the years of our pilgrimage. We are strangers and sojourners as all the fathers are. At last will come great blessing and joy.

Meanwhile, we must endure our evil lot with patience. It is a necessary part in God's great plan. And it yields its own great lessons to every truly reflective mind. Why has the world for so many ages groaned in an evil state? Why have weakness, pain, misery and death prevailed so long? There is a reason. God's ways are not as man's ways: they are larger than man's ways, as heaven is higher than the earth; and aim at far greater results, and are founded upon principles that do not enter into human calculation. God could have peopled the earth with human immortals at the start, as easily as He produced the insect swarms that plagued Egypt; but two things would have lacked -- human joy and divine honour. It is necessary to know evil to appreciate good, and God gives not His highest gift unless He be glorified. An experience of evil upon earth was necessary to prepare the way for the right reception and enjoyment of that blessing of all families of the earth which was covenanted to Abraham. But perhaps this is the smallest lesson. We easily learn this. The other and the highest lesson is the most difficult for the natural man to learn. The reign of evil tells us that God is great -- that man cannot trifle lightly with His word. Six thousand years ago He was disobeyed, and this was the cause of the curse that has blighted all things. It was but one offence: behold the ocean of mischief that has come from so small a spring, and we learn the greatness of the crime of insubordination to the will of God. The greatest work of the truth is to teach men this. Man is mortal for this. Christ died for this. We break not this bread and drink not this wine discerningly unless we see in Christ crucified the vindication of the honour of God, in the condemnation of sin in the flesh of sin as the basis of our acceptable approach to God, and our forgiveness unto life eternal. We come this morning with the Slain Lamb in our hands, so to speak; the priest, the risen Christ, takes it at our hands, and asks the Father for our acceptance, and the blessing comes forth in our forgiveness, and by and by, in the redemption of our body, which is the great consummation of our adoption. This corruptible, in God's good time, will taste the sweet experience of a sudden change to incorruptible health. It is only a question of time. Let us wait patiently. There shall be no more curse -- no more death, by and by. God will wipe away every tear at the time appointed. For everything there is a season and a time. There is a time for sorrow; a time for evil. We have not done with evil yet, though called to be sons of God. Evil is a part of the means by which we are trained for the final adoption. Even the Lord Jesus, though he were a Son, learned obedience through the things which he suffered; and we have all to follow in his steps; for he was no substitute, but our forerunner, our Elder Brother. "What son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?" Not one: ALL are partakers of needed chastisement by which we are made partakers of His holiness. In this way we suffer with him. If we suffer not, we are bastards and not sons. A man may run away from it. There is such a thing as "taking up" the cross, and not taking it up. Moses "chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God," and he is a specimen of the true family. Men of this class do not make the preservation of their worldly well-being the first rule of their action. They know that if in this sense they save their lives, they will lose them. They make choice of Christ as the object of their life, which means a great deal that is disagreeable and self-sacrificing as regards present experience in personal surroundings and companionship. All are not wise in this matter. The wise only shall inherit glory. Each man will reap as he sows. If he serve himself, he will get the only wages that a man can give to himself. If he serve Christ, he will have the reward that Christ comes to give to every man who faithfully serves him. There is no respect of persons with God. "Whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same he shall receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." These are the utterances of the Spirit of Truth. Men listen and say, "Beautiful!" but only a few are "doers of the word"; the others deceive their own selves, as they will discover when the judgment is set and the books opened under the presidence of him who said while on earth, "He that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not, shall be likened to a foolish man that built his house upon the sand." If any man say, "It is the same thing over and over again," let him remember that so it is with the Scriptures. There is a "sameness" about them all, but it is the sameness of the corn that is gathered every autumn -- the same sound and healthy thing that gives life to the eater.

But besides the trouble a man may take, God sends trouble, as He sent to job, that men may be tried and purified and made white. We may even receive a present punishment that we may escape the judgments of the wicked. Thus it was with the Corinthians to whom in their affliction Paul wrote (1 Cor. 11:32): "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." When this trouble comes, it is sure to be something hard to bear; for this is the nature of trouble. You cannot have trouble that shall be pleasant; as Paul says, "No chastisement for the present is joyous, but grievous." The consolation is that if we be such as God regards (and He regards every man who knows Him and who, in a broken and contrite heart, trembles at His word) we can take thankfully from the hand of God whatever comes, whether trouble or blessing. If we commit our way to Him, He will direct our steps. This is a matter of revelation, and a thing to be realized and acted upon to the full. Jesus has told us that the hairs of our head are numbered, and that a sparrow cannot fall without the Father's knowledge. Faith tells a man, in view of this, to surrender himself without carefulness into the hands of God, committing the keeping of his soul to Him in well-doing as unto a faithful Creator.

By and by, the Lord who was the sacrifice for the sins of the world comes also as a judge. It is a beautiful arrangement. Through him the way was opened, and he is the way to its ultimate issues. God accepted him, and leaves him to administer the results as regards others. All judgment is committed to him. It, rests with him at his coming as to which of us shall enter into life eternal. And of whom will he make choice. Will it depend on "influence"? Will he be influenced by favouritism? Nay, verily. just will be his judgment, and without respect of persons. Yet his selection will be made on a definite principle. He has himself been made perfect through obedience; and being made perfect, he has become the author of eternal salvation to all them that OBEY him (Heb. 5:9). This is the class that will be chosen: those who obey him. We are here this morning in obedience of him.

We are believers in obedience of him; for this is the last great commandment that has come forth to men. Before his departure, he stood in presence of his disciples, and said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." We have heard the Gospel preached by the apostles in obedience to that command: we have been baptized, and we come here on the first day of the week to break bread in remembrance of him, in obedience of his commandment. Thus far we obey him; but it needs not be said to those who are enlightened in the word, that this is very far from being the full measure of our obedience. He told the disciples to teach believers to observe "all things whatsoever he had commanded them." We have therefore to find out what all his commandments are. There are many, though they are not grievous. In their bearing, they cover every action of life, every hour of the day. We shall forget them unless we give earnest heed to the source of information. This earnest heed, to be profitable, must take the form of daily and attentive Scripture reading. By this practice alone, we shall come to belong to the blessed class described by David, who meditate on His law day and night. Any other course will leave us out in the cold. By constant and methodical reading, the law of God will come to be graven on our hearts, and we shall be able to say with the Psalmist, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Beware of the danger of supposing that because we have once known, it is no longer necessary to read diligently. A greater or more fatal mistake could not be made. While we are in the flesh, the natural mind is ever with us, spontaneously generating its own godless maxims, principles and feelings. Unless we oppose to these the constant antidote of Scripture reading, the natural mind will obtain the ascendant, even after we have known the way of righteousness. The mind is weak, the memory of divine things treacherous. If we are earnestly bent on working out our own salvation, we shall be earnestly devoted to the practice of daily devoting a portion of time to those things which have been written aforetime for our learning and profit. The neglect of this will ensure the decay of the best spiritual health that was ever enjoyed. This lesson cannot be too strongly insisted upon. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with it. It is our health -- our life -- our salvation. Give in to the likes of the natural man in this matter, and it will at last be your death. Give place to the demands of the Spirit in this matter, and it will be at last to your great peace and joy.

Only in this way can we now become properly of those who "wait for him." Waiting for God does not consist merely in lasting out the time of the tarrying. Millions will be alive at the Lord's coming who will "wait" in this way, but who will no more belong to the waiting class than the horses in the field. The nature and the manner of the waiting attitude is beautifully defined in the song to be sung in the land of Judah (Isa. 26). "In the way of Thy judgments have we waited for Thee." "Judgments is here equivalent to commandments and ordinances. The idea is that those who will rejoice in that day, saying, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him," are those who now "wait" in the patient performance of what God has appointed. The expression is borrowed from the figure of one person waiting expectantly for the movements of another, as when a son patiently waits some kindness of his father which has been predicated on the son's pursuance of a certain course. Waiting for God is to wait the blessing He has promised, and not seek to secure it for ourselves. Thus we wait for Him in "giving place unto wrath, not avenging ourselves," because He has said, "I will repay." We wait for Him in not prosecuting at law, in not mixing in the world's politics, in not taking up the sword in obedience to the conscription laws that may come along, because He has commanded us to submit to evil, to take not the sword, to accept the place of strangers and pilgrims in an evil world, against the time when He will break in pieces the oppressor, place the sword of judgment in the hands of the saints, and give them the earth to inherit. There are some other things in which we wait for Him. We wait for Him in using what we have for His sake, instead of hoarding it, as the fearful and unbelieving do. We wait for Him in seeking not our own. We wait for Him in giving to the poor. We wait for Him in labouring not to be rich. We wait for Him in ministering the gift as every man has received, instead of bestowing it on our own exclusive comfort and good. We wait for Him in these things, because He has required them at our hands in test of our obedience, under promise of the day when He will transfer the wealth of the sinner to the just, and feed the hungry with good things when the rich are sent empty away. Obviously, it is only faith can accept such a part. A certain young man went away very sorrowfut at the Lord's doctrine because he had great possessions, which caused the Lord to remark that it was almost a matter of impossibility for the rich to be saved. True, we are not called upon to do what the young man was asked to do, but the principle of the calling to which we are called is the same. We are called to be the Lord's property and the Lord's servants in the doing of the Lord's work in the day of his dishonour, in contravention of all known principles of "political economy." We are called to do it on a principle which political economy does not recognize - faith. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. The trial is great. Some are equal to it; some not. The latter class would run eagerly if the Lord himself appeared to them and said, "Do this and do that." But they are as insensible as oysters to the actual obligations before their eyes. They are those who say when he comes, "Lord, when saw we thee naked, and clothed thee not?" They are not aware of their opportunities; they know not the day of their visitation; and they would hinder the course of those who are otherwise minded by cries of "extreme" "indiscreet," "extravagant." They will bewail their folly when it is too late. The man waits not for God who avenges himself, pursues debtors in a court of law, takes part in the politics of an evil world, draws the sword at the bidding of the powers that be, or who lives for his own comfort and well-being, or lays up treasure for himself. The men who do these things are the Bible neglecters, not that they neglect the Bible professedly and openly, but practically they neglect the diligent study of the word, on some plea of moderation or other worldly-wise maxim. These men are most diligent in their attendance on the things of their body; no amount of attention in this line is "indiscreet," but the things of God are considered out of their place if made the subject of even a fourth part of the thought and attention bestowed on wives, children, land, and houses. The reading of the Scriptures keeps in play a class of mental forces which enable a man to conquer, and to live as a good steward of the manifold race of God. Assuredly none else will be invited to possess and administer the great trusts of the kingdom of God.

Waiting for God is a painful part meanwhile. It never was intended to be anything else. It involves self-denial on all hands. It makes those who accept it the poor, the sorrowful, the meek, the weeping, the weary, the hungry and thirsty, the broken down, the persecuted, the defamed, the disliked, and (in past times) the killed; but the future of this class is so glorious that Jesus tells them to rejoice and be exceeding glad in the midst of their tribulations. Theirs is the turning of weeping into laughter; theirs is the great joy of being, in the great day at hand, the manifested children of God with glory, honour, and immortality. Who would not, in view of such a coming reversal of position, choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season!





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