Unspeakable Things

God's Unspeakable Gift

"God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son" (John 3:6).
"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Paul knew how to use acceptable words, wise preacher that he was, and when occasion required, he could pile superlative upon superlative, as when he wrote of "the exceeding greatness of God's power" and "the exceeding riches of His grace," and of His ability to do "exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think," and of "a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory." Moreover, when the deep things of God were to be expressed in words, he was not left to labour with his own vocabulary, for he tells us that he spoke of the things that are freely given us of God in the very words that the Holy Spirit taught him. He was not permitted to express Divine thoughts in words that human wisdom would have selected, else would his Epistles have been faulty and unreliable, it was the work of the Holy Spirit not only to fill his heart and mind with the truth of God and to reveal to him things never known before, but also to give the very words by which the divine revelation was to be made intelligible to others. In this, of course, the Holy Spirit was limited to available human language, which is evidence of the greatness of His grace, but he selected and chose the language. Hence Paul's writings, and all the Scriptures, were God-breathed, inspired by the Holy Ghost; the very words were Divinely given and could not be replaced by others; we speak, of course, of the Scriptures in their original form.

But when Paul wrote of God's gift there were no words that could describe it. If there had been any in human language that could have conveyed to the human intelligence the immensity of it, the Holy Spirit would have known them and given them to him, but there were none. We may try to encompass that gift with words, and call it great, ineffable, wonderful, incomparable, boundless, perfect, but none nor all of these words will do. All these, or their equivalents in the language of the day, were rejected by the Divinely inspired writer. Overwhelmed by the character of the gift, he tells us in one brief sentence that it defies definition, baffles all description, that it is inexpressible, unspeakable.

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son."

The gift is the proof and measure of God's love. We may consider it, but never comprehend it; we may know it, but it surpasses all knowledge; we may speak of it, but it is unspeakable; we may search the breadth, length, depth and height of it, but all dimensions and magnitudes fail to supply plummet or compass by which we may tell the extent of it. His gift is unspeakable. The incarnation and the cross; the rough way that Jesus trod, His sighs and sorrows, the suffering and shame of Gethsemane and Golgotha, the darkness, the woe, His death and blood shedding were all God's voice to men, speaking with growing intensity; it was God's utterance of an unutterable love; His love declared by His unspeakable gift. Whether we think of the love that gave the gift, or the gift which the love gave, or the flood of life and blessing that flows and will yet flow to us as a result of it, there is but one thing we can do — give "thanks unto God for His unspeakable gift."

"Unto me, the vile, the guilty,
  Flows the living flood
I, Thine enemy, am ransomed
  By the precious blood.
Prostrate at Thy feet I lie,
  Lost in love's immensity."

Unspeakable Joy

"Ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).

An unspeakable gift must produce unspeakable joy. Appreciate the gift, let it be kept by the Spirit's power before the heart, and the answering joy will be there; a joy the heart knows for itself, deep, silent, unspeakable. Every earthly pleasure is speakable. Natural sensations may be expressed in human words, the most exquisite thrills of earthly joys that the heart may know may be seized by the poet and poured forth in rhythm and song, but God's unspeakable gift carries us outside earth and nature, and, human though we are, makes us thrill with divine joy, full of glory, unspeakable in human speech. It is the joy of faith, the joy of love, not natural but divine. And strange though it may seem, this unspeakable joy is not inconsistent with, but goes along with, "heaviness through manifold temptations."

If we understood this we should not be so afraid of trials and tests, indeed we should glory in tribulation, for these things wean the heart from the earth, and remove the dross and dirt of it from the soul, and set it free from the speakable to enjoy that that no words can express. On the earthly side, trial and sorrow; on the heavenly side, joy and glory. On the earthly side, "light affliction"; on the heavenly side, "a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory." And though we have not reached the latter, yet we know by faith, and love the One who has reached it, and it is in Him that our joy is found, a joy that cannot be measured, for His love is immeasurable, without taint of selfishness or mortal failure, and He Himself is unspeakably precious, and in Him we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. We might dwell long and dolefully upon the absence of this joy amongst the children of God, but that is not our purpose. If it is not known it may be, for God can fulfil every word that He has spoken, and He will fulfil this word to all who seek after it.

Unspeakable Groanings

"The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26).

There are times when the manifold testings increase in their severity until the Christian knows not what to ask for. And the heaviness of his spirit becomes so great that he cannot pray, and all language fails to express the deep exercises of his soul. Is he forsaken then? Because no prayer rises from his heart and lips, does intercession cease? No, it continues with greater intensity because the need is greater. The Holy Spirit takes up the case and He can make articulate in groanings the need that is too deep to be uttered in mortal words. The passage opens up for us the wonderful love and interest that the Holy Spirit takes in our welfare.

A mother bends her knees in earnest supplication for an only son. He is exposed to many dangers in the great city where he toils, and the greater her knowledge of this the more she prays, until prayers merge into groans, and the groans are the evidence of the depth of her love. So the Spirit intercedes for us. It does not say here that we groan; what is said of us is that we do not know what to pray for as we ought. It is the Spirit that intercedes with groanings, and these groanings are unutterable. So completely has the Spirit identified itself with our need that the full weight of it is carried in these groanings before God, and God hears the unutterable groanings of the Spirit, and He understands them, and answers them so blessedly, that all things work together for the good of them that love God, and we may know it. That is the answer to the unutterable groanings of the Spirit. The very things that might appear to be against us are the very things that will help us in our journey to the full manifestation of the purpose of God.

Unspeakable Words

"Heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Corinthians 12:4).

In the revelation that has come to us in the Holy Scriptures, the Holy Ghost was necessarily limited to the language of mortal men, we could understand no other. But as we have already said, He selected the very words by which the thoughts of God were to be expressed. In doing this He purified these words, amplified them, and often clothed them with meanings that they had not hitherto worn. And as having become the expression of God's thoughts, they are now God's words, possessing a power and purity that no other words possess. They are pure words, perfect words, converting the soul and making wise the simple. They have Divine authority, and should be instantly, implicitly, and constantly obeyed. Still they are human words, and suited to our condition here, while there are yet things to be known and glories to be revealed that could not and never will be expressed in this language, and in view of this, and as we look on to the glorious future, we may truly say and sing —

"With joyful wonder we'll exclaim,
  The half has not been told."

If we think of the life of the Lord here, we read, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book" (John 20:30). And again, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21:25). But if these things have not been written in the Scriptures for us to read and know in this mortal life, their record is on high, and we shall surely know them when we reach the glory of God. It may be said that these things were too numerous to be written; that may be so, but I prefer to think of them as inscrutable, so infinitely blessed in their nature and character, that no language of men could describe them; they could not be written, or contained if written in this world. What is written is enough to give us the full knowledge of God and to give us fullness of joy in that revelation, and what we have yet to know and absorb of the glories of the triune God will in no wise be contrary to that that we have already learnt.

But there are themes in heaven that we cannot hear or understand in this earthly, mortal condition, and these things Paul heard, but could not communicate. And not until we are clothed upon with our house which is from heaven shall we be able to enter into them; then they will become the subjects of our conversation. We shall not then hear, and speak, and know in a partial way, as 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 tells us. All that is imperfect, and belongs to our present state of mortality, will be swept away by the power of immortality, and heaven's language will become our familiar tongue, and we shall have the unfettered capacity to enter into the full life of all that is expressed by it. Wonderful prospect! Glories too bright for mortal eyes shall pass before our ransomed vision, and as glory flows on glory throughout the generations of the ages, as now grace flows upon grace, we shall speak a language that will express our full appreciation of if all. No more with lisping, stammering tongues," but our whole beings strung and tuned by Divine power to bless, and praise, and worship God our Father and His Christ.

The unspeakable gift has reached us in our sin and infirmity and mortality, and that gift was God's pledge to us that He would bring us out of all the degradation of our mortality to a sphere of life where neither sin, nor fear, nor death can come. The glories of that scene of incorruptibility and life will be new to us, for it will be a scene into which flesh and blood cannot enter, and bodies like unto our Lord's own glorious body we must have for it. But what a joy to us now, and an encouragement to us to reach forward to those bright and blessed scenes, it is to know that He who in that place shall greet us will "greet us with a well known love." God will not be any other to us than Him whom we have seen revealed in Jesus in perfect love. Him we know now, for nothing is wanting in God's revelation of Himself for this, and this is life eternal, to know the only true God and Jesus Christ His sent One.