Adorning The Doctrine

What is this doctrine of God our Saviour of which Titus 2:10 speaks? It is the Gospel, that wonderful message that has come to us from our Saviour God and that has brought peace and life into our once troubled and dead souls.

But how can we adorn that? It is already perfect and all-beautiful. It has not only met our souls' deep need, but has given us the Lord Jesus as a living and glorious Object to satisfy our hearts. Surely that gospel needs no adorning!

But while it is beautiful in our eyes, it is not beautiful in the eyes of the world. To those who know not God it has neither form nor comeliness; they prefer their own "dead works," their vain philosophies, their "science falsely so-called," their pleasures and lusts, to the very revelation of God Himself, which the gospel is. And just as they despised and rejected the Son of God when He was here, so now they despise and reject the Gospel of God which bears witness to Him. It is for us who believe it to bring out its beauties, to adorn it in all things, to show the value of it in our lives, to demonstrate that it is not empty words or unpractical doctrine, but that those words have a living power, give life to the soul and can so transform a man that his life is fruitful and fragrant in all things.

This seems a great thing, and impossible for us to accomplish. It is indeed impossible with men. If men could do it there would be no need for faith or the Holy Ghost. Everything that the Christian is asked to do is impossible with men, but not with God, and when we have believed the Gospel the grace of God delivers us from iniquity, and from our sinful wills that make it impossible, and gives us a new life and power, so that the very slaves who had believed could adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, and this is the normal life of all who have been saved by God's grace.

A hyacinth bulb shall illustrate it. Nothing could be less attractive than a hyacinth bulb. The gardener knows its value, he understands well the beauties that lie hidden in it. But a man who saw one for the first time would not go into raptures about it, nor set it as an ornament amongst the treasures in his drawing-room. He might treat it as a certain servant-maid of whom I heard treated a parcel of them that the master of the house brought home one day. At dinner-time she said to the mistress, "I cooked them onions, ma'am, that the master brought home, but they had neither taste nor smell, so I threw them away." But give the hyacinth bulb to the gardener, let him treat it as his skill teaches him it should be treated. Then will it strike its filaments deep, and send up its glorious spikes of flowers, to delight every eye, and shed its fragrance wherever it is placed.

The Gospel has been planted in our hearts that it may develop its beauty in our lives like that, and we have but to yield ourselves to the blessed culture of the grace of God, and to be subject to the Lord Himself, whose tillage we are, and the blessedness of the Gospel will soon be seen. The meekness and gentleness of Christ will not be mere phrases on our lips, but beautiful realities in our lives. The Gospel brought forgiveness to us, so shall we forgive others; it brought peace into our souls, so we shall be peaceable; it set us in righteousness before God, so shall we be practically righteous in our ways; it has brought to us the knowledge of Gods love, so we shall love one another and do good to all men. And these flowers of grace will not bloom and wither in a day as so many flowers in our gardens do; they are everlasting flowers. God Himself will preserve them, for they glorify Him, and that which glorifies Him, because it is the fruit of His own word, will live and abide for ever.

The poet Gray has tunefully said,
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
  And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

But these flowers of grace that adorn the Gospel in the lives of God's people are not in that category. God sees them and delights in their fragrance even if nobody else cares. But others see them too, and many a weary Christian has been refreshed and blessed by their fragrance. A schoolmistress said to a friend of mine, "Your garden gives pleasure to many. I bring my girls past it every day, for I like them to appreciate beautiful things." It was a fading earthly garden of which she spoke. But these heavenly flowers in the Lord's garden bless the soul. They flourished well in the young assembly at Antioch. And Barnabas, who had travelled all the way from Jerusalem to see what God had wrought there, was glad when he saw the grace of God. The Gospel was thus made visible there.

It is not by great efforts that these results are produced, but by beholding the Lord's glory. Let the Gospel talk to us, in our waking moments at night, and as we walk about the streets, or whenever or wherever our minds are free from other things. Let us dwell in the grace of it, in the love of Jesus that it reveals to us. He is brighter and better than the brightest and best that the world can give, and as our hearts are satisfied with Him, our once unlovely and desert lives will blossom as a rose garden. God will be glorified, and others, perhaps, will be attracted to the Saviour whom we love, as was a rough, godless navvy whose wife had been converted. He went one day to the city missionary and said to him, "Mister, if you have any of that religion left that you gave our Betty, I'd like a bit of it myself."