Notes and Incidents


I heard of a Christian man who was dying and not happy. The cause of the unhappiness was that for years he had nursed unkind feelings towards a fellow Christian. Some quarrel had happened between them, and neither had had the grace to forgive the other. Conscious that he was soon to be in the presence of the Lord, he sent for the brother, and confessing his hard feelings besought his forgiveness, and at the bedside of the dying man these two, long divided in heart, were reconciled, and with the reconciliation returned the joy of the Lord's approval and of happy, holy fellowship with each other. It is probable that the lack of joy and freshness in many Christian lives, and much of the futile energy put forth in service, can he traced to the same sort of spirit that had robbed these two of joy for years. It is a matter about which every Christian heart should be exercised, for the fact is, we are not in communion with the Lord if we nurse an unforgiving spirit. If I have hard feelings on my heart against any saint on earth, I am out of communion with the Lord no matter how great my zeal may be in His service or extensive my knowledge of His truth. And the things of God cannot prosper in the hands of anyone who is out of communion with the Lord. The deadness in many companies of Christians may be traced to this same cause; roots of bitterness have been allowed to develop and bear their horrid fruit, and what is of Christ has languished and died. Ecclesiastical correctness will not compensate for this. God looks at the heart, and to be externally right and inwardly wrong is an abomination to Him.

Forgiveness is the very genius and spirit of Christianity. It is the way that God met us at first. He forgave us for Christ's sake. We could not been in His presence at all, and certainly could not have been happy there on any other ground, but if we do not forgive one another we cannot have the joy of the place grace has given us even though we cannot lose the place. And Christ has forgiven us, and as He has forgiven us we are to forgive one another (Col. 3:13). Think of the measure of His forgiveness, He has not only pardoned all our sin and enmity against Himself, but He has made us members of His body; this is the measure and character of His forgiveness, and this is the force of the passage in Colossians 3. He can have nothing against us for ever since we are members of His body, for how could the head of a body maintain a quarrel with or have hard feelings against any member of it. How intimate is our relationship with Him, it could not be closer, for we are part of Himself; this could not have been had not all our transgressions been forgiven and all distance and reserve removed. But equally so are we members of another, and to be unforgiving, impatient and hard toward one another is to deny in practice the whole truth of the body of Christ. To be unforgiving disturbs everything, throws everything out of gear, hinders all joy and progress, grieves the Holy Spirit, dishonours the Lord and delights the devil.

Sins Remembered No More

"And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17).

That neither says nor means that God forgets them. This is often said and sung, but the notion springs from loose and shallow thinking and not from the Word of God. It would be no comfort to us to know that our sins and iniquities were merely forgotten, especially when we cannot forget them ourselves. To illustrate, Suppose I contracted a debt and could not pay, and my creditor ceased to make his just demand because he had forgotten all about it. That would bring no comfort to me, for if the debt had gone from his mind it had not gone from my conscience, and every time I saw him the memory of it would be revived, and some day, having merely forgotten it, he might remember it again and renew his just claim.

But suppose; on the other hand, at regular intervals the demand is made; month by month, because the claim has not been met, it is remembered against me and renewed. But at last to my joy and relief another steps in and takes up my liability and answers for it, completely satisfying my creditor about it all. The demand is no more made on me. The months come and go as before, but the claim troubles me no more. It is not remembered against me or sent in to me again. It is not forgotten, the record of it is still in the creditor's ledger, but it is there as a cancelled debt; it is blotted out as a debt, for full payment has met the obligation, the creditor is satisfied and I am free. It is this that has happened in the case of all who believe; One Sacrifice made by the one glorious Man who could make it has been made for sins. And by that one sacrifice He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. The sins are remitted, which is very different from being forgotten, and no more offering is needed, for they Are never to be remembered again, that is, no demand as to them will ever be, or can ever be made in regard to them against us. What rest of heart this gives to us in the presence of God; indeed, we could not be in His presence without it; but the knowledge of it gives us the full assurance of faith which is necessary if we are to take up our title to enter the Holiest — God's own presence. We have yet to learn the vastness of our debt, and this God will show us so that iii His eternal glory we may have a just appreciation of the Sacrifice that has met it, and annulled it, and the love that provided the sacrifice with this end in view.

In the old dispensation sins were remembered yearly, and a yearly sacrifice was brought to meet the yearly demand. Those sacrifices were miserably inefficient, and so the question of sins was a perpetual question, it could never be swept out of the way. All is different now; the offering of the body of Jesus Christ is enough; the question of sins is to be no more raised by God against us. It is for ever behind His back, and we are before His face in all the efficacy of the sacrifice that has cleared us, and He is before our faces in all the grace that planned it all.

Today and Tomorrow

We have no power over tomorrow, then let us not be full of anxious care about it, our peace of mind lies in trusting God for today, and leaving tomorrow in His hands.

The hairs of our head are numbered, which means that those things in our lives which are too insignificant in our eyes to be noticed at all are matters of interest to our Father in heaven.

How could prayer to One who is so interested in us be in vain? The knowledge of His care of us in the smallest things should encourage us in every thing to pray and with our prayers to give thanks. The better we know Him the more will we pray, and the more we pray the more will we turn to His Word. Hearing His word and speaking to Him in prayer, with the obedience that comes from hearkening and the supplies of grace and mercy that come through prayer make up our practical Christian life.

We have to do with God today. We may leave tomorrow to Him. He is our God, our Father today, He will be the same tomorrow when we meet it. The Lord did not teach His disciples to pray about tomorrow, but "Give us this day our daily bread."

Giving Thanks

He knew what he was talking about who said, "The best sauce to any meal is a thankful heart." Yes, to receive our food from God with thanksgiving gives a relish to the plainest meal that no sumptuous banquet possesses. Yet how often it is forgotten by Christians. What a rare thing it is, for instance, to see a head bowed over a meal in thanksgiving to God in a public restaurant. So seldom is it seen that a friend of mine told me that when he did it recently the waiter inquired anxiously, "Anything wrong with the soup, sir?" But the Christian has not only to give thanks for the countless benefits that he and his receive, but also for all men, for so we are told in 1 Timothy 2. I called upon a Christian baker. He supplied a large part of the small town in which he lived with bread, and there were piles of loaves all round awaiting distribution. I saw the meaning then of giving thanks on behalf of all men. "Why," I said to him, "you can exercise your priestly privilege here in your bakehouse. You know that many who will receive these loaves will never think of lifting their voices in thanksgiving to God for them, but you can do it on their behalf before ever they leave your premises. You can thank God for His kindness and care and His provision for those who never even acknowledge Him or give thanks to Him for His good gifts." And so can every Christian. And this thanksgiving for others that can be exercised in a thousand ways leads to blessed communion with God, and our hearts are made very sensible of His exceeding goodness and mercy.