Great and wonderful is the change which takes place in the believer in Christ, in his moral being, in his spirit, mind, and affections, when his thoughts are elevated in the power of the Spirit to view the truth of God from the divine side, from the heavenly standpoint; no longer to view it only from the side of man and his responsibility, but to see the grace of the Lord in activity, for the joy and satisfaction of His own loving heart in our eternal blessing.
Repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, are rightly and necessarily pressed in the preaching: God now commands all men everywhere to repent. Works meet for repentance are rightly looked for. The joy of God’s great salvation can only thus be known; but what a change takes place with the one who knows this, when he discovers that the very God he had sinned against took the initiative in his salvation and blessing, and that for His own pleasure. His joy in this is infinitely greater than ours can be. His redeeming love has been made manifest not simply to meet our need, but according to His own good pleasure, and to the praise of the glory of His grace.
The fifteenth chapter of Luke is the chapter of divine merrymaking. We read there of the joy of the Shepherd, and of the woman, and of the father, over that that was lost. These show to us the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Father, the Persons of the ever blessed Godhead, all having their part in our blessing. “It is meet that we should make merry,” says the Father. It is the expression of God’s great joy over the one who was lost and is found, was dead and is alive again; and though the son’s joy is doubtless full, God’s joy must be immeasurably greater. The Lord sought and found us; He put us on His shoulders rejoicing, and He sets us in liberty before the Father’s face, in all the value of His own precious blood. To see this in the power of the Spirit of truth, who is here to lead us into all truth, works a mighty change with the believer, and nullifies for him the subtleties of many temptations; giving his soul to rise up and find its joy in His joys, to find its triumph in the Lord’s triumphs; its satisfaction in that in which He finds His.
I witnessed the wonderful effect of this in a dear old believer who had passed the three score and ten years, known as one who loved our Lord Jesus Christ, and who rejoiced in the preaching of the word to the unsaved. I was only able to see him occasionally, for he lived in an out-of-the-way country district.
On one of these visits the old saint had something very special to tell me. A copy of “Scripture Truth” had been sent to him, and from it he had learned that it was the Lord who had sought him; that it was the Lord who gave all to have him, and not he who gave all to have the Lord. He had learned that it was our blessed Saviour who was the Seeker and the Merchant Man of the thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, who gave all for the treasure hid in the field, and for the pearl of great price. He saw that the treasure and the pearl were not our salvation, but ourselves; not our blessing, but the church—the assembly, the body and bride of Christ. He had discovered that he was part of this for which Christ gave all that He had; yea, for which He gave Himself—Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Eph. 5:25). His delight knew no bounds as he spoke of his great joy in this wonderful discovery.
Such incidents have their value, not simply in the interest which their relating inspires, but in the encouragement they impart to those who minister the truth of God from the divine standpoint, as that which produces such much to be desired results, such holy and happy changes for God’s praise and glory.