The present age is undeniably that of enquiry. The minds of men are at work, the thirst for knowledge is abroad, and things are being—as far as man’s ability goes—sifted to the bottom.
A moment’s thought will, however, serve to show that at the root of all the enquiry there lies a great question, which is this—what is the source of true happiness?
The question has but to be asked for a perfect Babel of voices to fall upon the ear, theories without number, of every shade of opinion, and often of very opposite nature, are advanced.
Doubtless, my reader, the question is not altogether new to you, and you also have your opinion.
So far so good; but is it not painfully evident that these beautiful theories are a miserable failure when put to the test?
Six thousand years have run their course, and, in spite of all, the millennium desired has not arrived. The anticipated happiness is but a will-o’-the-wisp playing over the gloomy quagmire of sorrow, which fills every page of the history of this world.
Be honest, my reader, and you will confess the truth of this. Is it not high time to seek with all earnestness the divine answer to this question?
There is One who dwells above the storm of human opinion—God—and He has spoken—the question is answered—the enigma is solved.
Matthew 16:16-17 presents a memorable moment. Simon Peter had been for the first time brought into a true personal acquaintance with Christ, “the Son of the living God,” and the Lord Jesus says, “Blessed (or happy) art thou, Simon Barjona.” Carefully note this. True happiness lies in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and of God revealed in Him.
In view of this, let me ask you, unknown reader: Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ, and God revealed in Him?
You may regard this as somewhat out of place, and feel inclined to answer me as a young man of my acquaintance did not long ago when asked if he were a Christian. “A Christian? Why we are all Christians in this place!” By profession this may be so, but nevertheless, Christ, and God, and true happiness are unknown. Let us glance at three Scriptures on this point. Read Acts 14:8-18, where we find ourselves amongst the people of a district which was shrouded in pagan darkness. The passage speaks for itself as to the point before us. The solemn fact lies plainly on the surface. In heathen Lycaonia God was unknown.
Let us turn to Acts 17:22-23.
We are now no longer in degraded Lycaonia, but in cultured Athens, the seat not of ignorant darkness, but of all that is learned, polished, and refined. If God is to be known by the development of man’s mind, then the knowledge of God must assuredly flourish here.
What then means this inscription upon their altar—“To the unknown God.” It means this, that man with his faculties cultivated to the highest pitch is unable to discover God.
Let us now refer to John 8:19-20. We are now brought to the temple at Jerusalem, to the centre not of worldly wisdom, but of worldly religion. Surely here we shall find the knowledge of the true God. Is not the temple of Jehovah Himself their boast, with its altar? Yes; but God Himself is there in the person of the Son, and the religious leaders would not have Him. Despised and rejected He says (v. 19), “Ye neither know Me, nor My Father.”
Truly the Athenian inscription, “To the unknown God,” would have been as appropriate on the altar at Jerusalem. It is plain that God is unknown to man as a lost and ruined sinner, whether he is found in heathen Lycaonia, cultured Athens, or religious Jerusalem.
In the gospel, God has declared Himself in order that He may be known by men, for as we have said, all true happiness lies in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and of God revealed in Him.
In the presence of God, crowned with glory and honour, there sits “the Man Christ Jesus.” Once He was on earth, and God was fully displayed in Him. Every act He performed, every word He spoke, expressed the deep love of the blessed God to the lost sinners of earth. That love carried Him on in divine power through the contradiction of sinners into the shame and suffering of death itself.
God has been glorified, and the work of redemption accomplished, and “this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God.”
Pause once again, beloved reader, and think, I beseech you, of the voice this has for you. Think of the
“Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree.”
expressed in the Lord Jesus Christ; and as you think, bend heart and knee to Him where He is in glory.
For He is there. The God whom He glorified on earth has glorified Him in heaven—and more, for upon the ground of His finished work that scene of endless bliss is opened to the lost and guilty, and to Jesus, GOD’S BELOVED, you are invited to come.
Scattered Seed 1896, p. 74