"The End of the Lord"

Hebrews 12:1-11.

There is no possibility of fellowship with God on any other ground than that of grace - no matter when, or where. There never was. True there have been many dealings of God to prove this; but there never could be communion between God and man except in grace. No dealing of God with sinners could have been anything but rejection, except He met them on the simple ground of grace. This principle runs through every thing - God's providential dealings, and the like; it is stamped upon all. Our hearts are never right with God unless we are standing on this ground of grace. Even in chastening us, it is the patience of God's grace that is manifested in taking all possible pains with His children. If I as a parent meet only with that which is pleasant in my child, it is easy for me to act in the way of love and blessing towards it; but to go on patiently dealing with a disobedient and rebellious child, is the proof of a great deal more love. If in chastisement, in our desires after holiness, or in any thing else, we do, not realise our standing in grace, we get off the only ground of fellowship with God.

It may be difficult, at first sight, to see how God can deal in grace with a sinner; but in His dealings with Adam at the outset, this is brought out. There was no symptom of repentance in Adam. He was charging the fault on God, and on the woman - "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." God immediately comes in on the ground of grace, saying, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." When no promise could be made to man, as man (for no promise could be made to the flesh), grace comes in, and sets us in fellowship with the" seed of the woman."

Just as it is said of our blessed Lord, that He "grew in wisdom and in stature," so is the Christian expected to grow in grace, and in the experience of God. Now the old man, that in us which Satan addresses, seeks to hinder us here, and therefore the dealings of the Lord apply themselves to it. Through the evil of our own nature, circumstances without come to be connected with that which is within, and thus produce conflict; then comes the secret working of God. Thus that which may be the exercises of our hearts in struggling against Satan, may become identified with the chastening of God.

Our blessed Lord Himself learned obedience by the things which He suffered. But then He began quite at a different end from ourselves. Because we are disobedient, we have to learn this lesson: in suffering, temptation, and trial (patience having in Him its perfect work), He practically learned obedience in a way in which He never could had He not humbled Himself, and taken upon Him the form of a servant.

What we want to know more of is that faith which, having made proof of the Lord's care, can fully confide in Him for all things; as the apostle says, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." There is all the difference between knowing this as a principle in the beginning of our course, and the being able to say, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content; I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound," etc. Now, dear friends, we know experimentally that we have not all "learned" this, though as an abstract truth we may know it. I repeat, there is a great difference between a young Christian saying, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me," and such an one as "Paul the aged" saying, "I have learned." He could say it in practical fellowship with Christ; he had passed through all these trials, and had proved the sufficiency of the Lord's grace in them.

What hinders the development and manifestation of holiness in the saints? The old nature remaining unmortified. Well, then, through chastening and discipline God brings us practically into fellowship with "His holiness." He deals with our hearts, causing us, by the very conflict which He puts us into, to own, in the full consciousness of our own evil, that One is good, even God.

What was the effect of the striving against sin that these Hebrew Christians were called to? That of drawing out the evil of the flesh. The world called them to walk as the world. Satan found them as rebels in his kingdom; their temptation was to be frightened at his terrors. The Lord suffered all these trials and exercises to come upon them, that the evil nature of their hearts might be discerned in its tendencies, and that they might be matured into separation from evil, as well as matured in fellowship with God. What was it that produced this "striving against sin"? Conflict with Satan and man. But it tended to the discovery of that which was within themselves.

The effect of presenting temptation to Jesus was to show that He was perfect in everything. In us it is the discovery of that in ourselves which would blunt the edge of our spiritual service, and hinder our maturity in holiness. A person may walk a good while in the fulness of fellowship with God, and evil may have no actual power, or there may be the discovery of sin, and it may be struggled against; but where there are things indulged, because we do not discern what their real tendency is, there comes in the Father's chastening. We may look at it as the contradiction of sinners, or as the power of Satan (and so it may be), but after all it is the constant exercise of the Father's love, in order that we may be partakers of His holiness.

Let patience, then, dear friends, have its perfect work. There is not one of our souls that does not need this. If trouble or conflict exercise us, let us see if it is not because our own wills have been crossed. We have to be patient with circumstances, doubtless, but to be patient with God's perfect work. Elihu's reproach to Job was, that he had chosen iniquity rather than affliction. God had His own end in his dealings with Job; He is "very pitiful, and of tender mercy."

It is said, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time," etc. If man exalts himself, he will be humbled; when God exalts a man, there is no danger of this. Christ humbled Himself under the mighty hand of God in drinking the bitter cup which was given Him to drink, therefore God also hath highly exalted Him. If we would deliver ourselves, and get out of this path of trial, it must be by some by-path, and we shall lose blessing. We must remember it is added, that in due time God will exalt us - not a minute after the time. When He has wrought the whole purpose of His love, then He will exalt us.


FATHER, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that will surely come,
I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love
Through constant watching, wise
To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
And to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself
To soothe and sympathize.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do,
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child.
And guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoe'er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts,
To keep and cultivate;
And a work of lowly love to do
For the Lord on whom I wait.

So I ask Thee for the daily strength,
To none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Thy side,
Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified.

And if some things I do not ask
In my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more
With grateful love to Thee
And careful - less to serve Thee much,
Than to please Thee perfectly.