"Thy House" and His Dwelling

While visiting an afflicted Christian some time ago we were given a word of counsel, which was this: "In sending out the magazine, do not forget the needs of the invalids who are deprived of the help of Christian fellowship and public ministry." Our friend told us that such are often greatly tried and needed much comfort, and this we can well believe.

Let all such rejoice that, though they are deprived of many privileges that others enjoy, they may still have uninterrupted communion with the Lord, for of Him it is written: "THE LORD HEARETH THE POOR, AND DESPISETH NOT HIS PRISONERS" (Ps. 69:33). Let them take the affliction or sorrow from Him who orders everything in His infinite wisdom and love, and account themselves as "His prisoners," and they too "will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving" (v. 30): for how praiseworthy indeed is that compassion that takes notice of each of His saints, and that according to their individual needs. All this is included in that grace which first sought and saved us, and is most beautifully expressed in the Lord's words to Zacchaeus: "Today I must abide at thy house." This was not said for the chief of the tax-gatherers alone, but for you and us also; it is the way the grace of the Lord compels Him to take towards all whom He has sought and saved, and so it can be said that salvation has come to all who are His: salvation not from the penalty of sin merely: from hell-fire at last, but for every day of the journey to the homeland, for He Himself is salvation to us, and He is an everyday Saviour, who will never leave us nor forsake us.

What a comfort lies here for all about whom the storms of trouble sweep! The Lord is with them, and every sorrow may be laid at His feet and every difficulty told to Him. That life which appears to have the least sorrow has its difficulties and burdens, and none of us have sufficient wisdom or strength to deal with these. But He is sufficient for little trials and for big, and so precious are we to Him that He will never abandon us. Only let it be realized that the grace of God brought Him down to us, not only to save us, but to abide with us, and that He is ever by our side to support and succour us and to sympathize with us, and it will change the aspect of every sorrow and produce the song where the sigh has been. It is the realization of His presence that can lead the saint of God to say, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for THOU ART WITH ME; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me" (Ps. 23). And if "He has said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me" (Heb. 13:5-6).

But let it be observed that the Lord did not merely say to Zacchaeus, "I must abide with thee," but "at thy house." A place was to be found for Him in the home circle, so that not only the individual needs and difficulties, but those of the household might also be brought to His notice; for he is not indifferent to those things that lie at the hearts of His own.

And further, beyond all the need for grace and mercy that arises in the lives of His people as they pass though trial of various sorts, there is the need of their hearts. He is a living, bright reality, to fill the heart and close it to all but Himself, that He may be supreme in every sense.

We believe that the contemplation of the tender interest of the Lord in this regard will be of great benefit, not merely to the suffering and sorrowful amongst the saints of God, but to all; and it will lead, where godly exercise is produced by it, to the turning away from everything incongruous to that gracious presence.

But the grace revealed in the Gospel of Luke, which finds a kind of climax in the Lord's going to the dwelling of the sinful tax-gatherer, is not the end of His thought for us. It is a means to an end; the end is disclosed in the Gospel of John. There we learn that He delights to introduce us to His dwelling, and desires that we should be absorbed in the things that are precious to His heart.

It must have gratified the Lord to see those two disciples following Him, and to hear their answer to His question, "What seek ye?" It was not their need that made them go after Him, but Himself, as their answer "Master, where dwellest Thou?" proved. The only response that divine love could give to such a desire was, "Come and see." "And they abode with Him that day" (chap. 1:39). In that lovely incident at the opening of the Gospel there is given to us an illustration of Christianity as it is revealed in John.

His dwelling-place is the bosom of the Father (v. 18); He dwells in the Father's love and in all that that love affords, and His disciples are called to share that dwelling with Him, for He makes them one with Himself in this place of divine blessing. They are His brethren, and to them

"He gives not as the world, but shares
  All He possesses with His loved co-heirs."

LIFE belongs to this place, for He has said, "Because I live, ye shall live also" (chap. 14:19). This is eternal life, the life that belongs to the Christian position and relationship.

PEACE belongs to it also, for He has said, "My peace I give to you" (chap. 14:27). This peace is one that no circumstances, however favourable, could yield — it is peace that belongs to the world of divine love.

JOY belongs to it, for He has said, "That My joy might remain in you" (chap. 15:11). It is a joy that springs from the knowledge of and abiding in the thoughts and words of the Father's counsels, and as the "friends" of the Well-Beloved these things are made known to us that we might abide in them and do them.

GLORY belongs to this position and relationship, for He said in prayer to His Father, "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them" (chap. 17:22). It is a distinction outside and above the highest that could be gained in the world, it is the dignity that belongs to the sons of God.

Let us not shrink from entering, in the energy of faith, upon the enjoyment of this most blessed place and relationship, the dwelling of the Lord, for it is ours; nor are we strangers in it, for love removes all sense of strangeness from the heart: "Perfect love casts out fear," and we are loved with a great love, as we learn from the Lord's own words: "For the Father Himself loves you, because ye have loved Me" (chap. 16:27); and "Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me" (chap. 17:23).

Let none suppose that we must actually enter heaven before this can be. It is true that that is our destiny, for the Lord has gone into the Father's house to prepare an abode for us there, and in that innermost dwelling of divine love we shall have our place with Him. But now and here we may begin to know the joy of those intimacies that we shall know without any distance or cloud in the swiftly coming day of glory.

It is good to learn what He can be to us in our circumstances, but it is a great epoch in our spiritual experience when we begin to realize what we are to Him, and a still greater when we begin to discover what He is to the Father, and the Father to Him, and are able to say, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3). It is into this that He longs to lead us, and He pours His grace upon us that we may be free in spirit from all burdens and worries to enter into this.

The subject is an attractive one. Limitations of space forbid us to pursue it, but we commend it to the prayerful contemplation of all.