By the Editor of Scripture Truth before J.T. Mawson
In thinking over the Scripture, "as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him; rooted and built up is Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving" (Col. 2 : 6, 7), I was carried back in thought to my own real start with the Lord. I had from my earliest knowledge of anything known the Gospel, but the time came when I definitely received Him — "You'll trust Him?" was the question put to me and I said "Yes." I remember the following day that the name Jesus was continually before me. I printed it in large letters and set it where I could see it continually. It was just Himself — not the blessing that I had received — but Himself.
I could not have explained it all then, but now I see that the Spirit of God had led me to Him, it was not belief in a text of Scripture, but the reception of a Person about whom the Scriptures speak, and He was very real to me. I realised a personal link between myself and the Lord and longed to remember Him in His death, but I was afraid to make my desire known. After much faltering, I awoke to the fact that I was losing time and slipping back for I was not keeping His word. I had not advanced in this desire beyond what was individual, it was simply the Lord's love to me and my response to His love, but so far it was very real — and it was Himself and my desire to keep His commandments.
Then followed the desire to serve Him. I felt that to serve Him who had done so much for me would be a great honour and I have no doubt that He then gave me a definite call to preach the Gospel. The opportunity came for me to preach, and I spent some days in careful preparation of a sermon on the wisdom of building on the rock and the folly of building on the sand. As I walked to the preaching room, 3 miles away, there rang insistently in my ears "Behold the Lamb of God" and all my sermon slipped out of my memory. I passed through an agony of exercise and the more so because on arriving at the meeting I could not find the passage of Scripture that I had studied so carefully. And still the voice continued within me, "Behold the Lamb of God."
It was time to begin and I was reminded of this by a brother sitting near to me. I picked up my hymn book and the first hymn that my eyes alighted upon was "Behold the Lamb, 'tis He who bore my burden on the tree." I was greatly comforted and felt that I could trust the Lord to give me words to speak upon the text "Behold the Lamb of God." While I spoke an old man of 74 who had been long anxious, believed the Word, and passed from darkness to light. I was greatly cheered and began to see the way of the Lord. It was as though He said by the exercise I had passed through, "If you are to serve Me you must speak about Me, you must begin with Me. I must be your theme." It was Himself again.
Zeal for the Gospel laid hold of me, and day and night my thoughts were filled with the Gospel and my service in it. On reading C. H. Spurgeon's very helpful and delightful "Lectures to my Students" I longed to get the help I felt he could give, that I might be more efficient in the preaching. But just then the Lord came in and led me one step further. A servant of God visited our town and in the first address that he gave he spoke on Matthew 18:20, pressing the reality of the Lord's presence in the midst of His assembly. It was a revelation to me. It was not the brethren, whether nice or otherwise who made the meeting what it was, it was Him — He gave character to the place. If I went it was to meet Him in His own circle, where He gathered His own about Him according to His own divine right.
I shall never forget the light that this was to my soul. I had to get away from everybody to dwell upon it with the Lord. From that time I have been unable to understand brethren saying "I will not go to the meeting, if such and such a Christian is permitted there; or threatening to withdraw, if what they think right is not done. To me everything lies in the Lord being there, and if He is there I must be.
This was a great joy, but it soon involved me in further exercise, for, I had to face the fact of failure, I discovered that confusion and division had wrought much havoc in that which appeared to me so blessed and which I had considered to be above the failure of men. Moreover I discovered that even those who I believed held or, to the truth, had sadly failed in the way they had done it, and the spirit that had been displayed. That party spirit could have entered that sacred enclosure with such disastrous results was to me a heart-breaking surprise. I was greatly shaken and I wondered whether it would not be better to devote myself exclusively to the Gospel, and let all else go as being impossible to carry out.
But I could not do this. I had tasted me joy of Christ and His assembly; to that I felt I must cling, and I went a step further and learned that everything was established and secured in Him. I learnt this from 2 Timothy, and I found from that Epistle that I could hold fast that which I had learnt and that it would be as a light and guide to me in the perilous times; I had got the clue to the maze. It meant that I must turn my eyes from the confusion and be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, remembering Him, raised from the dead according to Paul's Gospel, and test things henceforth by His word and authority. It was Himself again as meeting the exercise arising from our great failure in the truth.
I can see how falteringly I have followed these things so clearly shown to me. Known only to the Lord and myself has been the continual failure in walk according to that which I see and know to be the way of truth. But to these things in His great grace He has held me, and how patient He has been. I realize that, in every recovery of soul that I have known, He has brought me back to the joy of these things. They abide and will so long as the Spirit of Truth abides on earth.
It is plain to me that everything depends upon Christ personally having His place. We are to receive Him, walk in Him, be rooted and built up in Him, every advance is in Him. We may have doctrine and fight for "principles" and maintain a legal separation from what is wrong, but if that is all we shall become withered ourselves and a menace to the peace of our brethren. We shall abound in thanksgiving as together we continue in Him.
There have been many crises in my life, too intimate, too sacred, to commit to writing, but I have found that if He has drawn near to me in them I have gained in spiritual substance, no matter what else I have lost, and I have feebly learnt that for my own blessing as for His glory He must be all and in all, He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He is this for God, and He must be this for every creature that is to be finally and eternally blest. This is the lesson that the Spirit of God is teaching us today. Happy will all those be who learn it.