Building up Yourselves.

H. H. Snell.

Christian Friend, vol. 13, 1886, p. 212.

Believers instinctively feel the need of being edified or built up. Their souls look for food, and they are conscious that their inward man requires renewing; they therefore desire to know the things of God as set forth in the Scriptures of truth for their profit and blessing. But all have to learn on the principle that God is the Giver, and we are only receivers; that we have nothing in ourselves, and yet possess all things in Christ.

There are three ways in which edification or building up is presented to us in the epistles.

1. We have gifts of teachers, pastors, etc., from Christ in ascension for the perfecting of the saints, with a view to the work of the ministry, with a view to the edifying or building up of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:12.)

2. We have the healthful exercises of the different members of the body, fitted together, and connected by every joint of supply as from the Head, making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:16.)

3. We have self-edification, or building up, on our most holy faith. (Jude 20.) It is this third character of building up which we judge to be of such importance at this time, and on which we propose to offer a few remarks.

It is often the case that where there has been the most faithful and most spiritual ministry of the truth there are those who have profited but little by such advantages. Now why is this? Is it not because they, if exercised about it, have trusted to be built up by others, and neglected self-building up? Few of us gather up lasting profit from any ministry, however excellent and spiritual, unless we receive the truth, not as we would an ordinary matter of instruction, but from the mouth of God, after having been assured it is according to His word. When there is the absence of such exercise of soul before God, it not only betrays a serious lack of spiritual mindedness, but also that there is no small amount of carnal confidence - a self-sufficient competency for attending to the things of God instead of a lowly state of dependence on the Lord. We do well to lay it to heart as to whether we are intellectually dealing with divine truth, or being led and taught by the Spirit of God, and hearkening to what He saith.

It should be a daily question as to how much we are occupied in building ourselves up on our most holy faith. We all know as regards our bodies the need of continual cleansing, taking in frequent supplies of nourishment, protecting ourselves from bad external influences, and of availing ourselves of seasonable refreshment and comfort. But what about our souls? Are we hating the garment spotted by the flesh? Are we carefully seeking to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, and purposing not to touch the unclean thing? Is self-judgment before God habitual with us, because we exercise ourselves to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man? Do we go to the word of eternal truth morning by morning; read, meditate on it in dependence on the Spirit; pray over it, and take it in as food for the renewal of our inner man? Do we hide the word of God in our hearts that we may not sin against Him? Do we thus have to do with "God, and the word of His grace," which is able to build us up, and throughly furnish us unto all good works?" Do we seek in this way to gather strength, so that faith may grow, love abound, and hope be increasingly brightened? If so, then it may be that we are building up ourselves on our most holy faith. And we may be quite sure that those who are building up themselves will greatly value being built up by others, and be profited by their divinely-given ministrations.

Moreover, this exhortation as to building ourselves up, occurring in Jude, seems to carry with it a loud voice to such as, in these last days, have taken the way of faith in a day of evil; for Jude traces the ruin of the Church from its commencement, leaving it as God's corporate witness on earth going on to judgment, without the smallest hope of reconstruction, or of general recovery; and, at the close, he addresses himself to such as are standing for God in this time of declension and failure. He says, "Ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith." A people true to the Lord in an evil time are thus recognized, and called to be diligent in building up themselves. The faith too is not spoken of here, as at the beginning of this brief epistle, as "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," but as "your most holy faith." Yes, it is that divine revelation of truth which specially refers to us. It is your faith, and it is "most holy." It is not merely that we should be holding a set of principles or doctrines; but taking into our hearts the ministry of the exceeding riches of divine grace, the actings of divine righteousness, and the almightiness of divine power, which are to usward in the death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification of Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to abide with us for ever. We are thus delivered from the authority of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, and by the Spirit united to Him where He now is. A work has been wrought by Him who not only died for our sins, but died to sin, which has set us free for ever from the guilt of sins, and also from the dominion of sin; has delivered us from our old standing in Adam, and has made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus - we are thus brought into a totally new position - in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins; so that now, in Christ Jesus, we who some time were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ, brought into favour in the Beloved, and blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ; so that we are always before God in the cloudless favour, nearness, and acceptance of Christ. Brought into relationship with the Father as His children, with Christ as members of His body, and with the Holy Ghost as His temple, our fellowship by the Spirit is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. The nature of God being now revealed in light and love, we walk in the light as He is in the light, where His eternal redemption has brought us. How true it is that we have received abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness, and shall reign in life with Christ.

From this mere glance at the truth, is it any marvel that it is called "your most holy faith"? Can any blessing known on earth exceed this? Every step too of our onward path has been considered, and every possible contingency provided for in the accomplished work and present offices of Christ; so that we can rejoice in hope of glory as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, and wait for God's Son from heaven. No doubt "the faith" is the common property of all believers. "The faith which was once delivered unto the saints" - not even delivered to apostles, but delivered unto the saints for their common blessing. And it is our faith, that which more particularly concerns us, and ministers to us - "your most holy faith;" that wonderful revelation of divine grace, which could not have been made known till Jesus had come and declared the Father, and, according to His counsel and purpose, had accomplished redemption, and had gone back to the Father; and, in ascension as Man glorified, been given to be Head - over all to the assembly which is His body, and had received and sent down the Holy Spirit to form the assembly on earth; for "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." (1 Cor. 12:13.)

It is then on our most holy faith we are to build ourselves up, by meditation on the word of God, under the guidance and teaching of the Spirit, and making it our own, by mixing faith with this divine testimony. The oft-repeated question therefore should be with every believer, "How much have I been occupied this day in building up myself?" for "the inward man is renewed day by day." No doubt such will be prayerful too. Hence it is added, "Praying in the Holy Ghost;" for they own the Spirit. And where there is reality, those who pray will be satisfied with nothing less than praying according to the leading and desires of the Holy Spirit, which we know will always be according to the truth. Keeping ourselves also in the love of God is indispensable; for all our peace and strength flow from the consciousness that we are objects of divine love; and, while thus exercised, we can be looking for mercy till the Lord come - "looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Where there is the absence of building up ourselves, we must not be surprised if prayer declines, if the enjoyment of the love of God be little known, and the expectation of our Lord's mercy becomes dim. It is easy to go on in a routine of outward order and thus have credit among Christians; but what is it all worth if the Lord has not our hearts, and we are not building up ourselves on our most holy faith? How ready every believer must be in the contemplation of these things to cry out, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe!"

We can scarcely think of any who are really building themselves up who can be careless as to obedience to the word of God. How could it be, if we are going on with God? For have we not conditional blessings set before us in Scripture? For example, are not those who, because they are God's children, refuse to be yoked with unbelievers, and are separated from what is "unclean" for the truth's sake, taught to look for the Father's care and blessing? But what of those who do not take this place of separation in obedience to His word, but are more or less "yoked" with those they know are "unbelievers"? Is it not often manifest that they have not in their souls the joy of relationship with the Father; and, instead of God's blessing, find many of their plans frustrated, and their expectations never realized? They have been hoping to have the Father's blessing without walking in obedience to His will.

The same thing is true as regards the world. We are told, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Even a child of God will not have the enjoyment of this precious relationship with the Father, if his heart goes after that which is contrary to His mind, and loves that which is under His judgment; for Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world." But where there are those who refuse to be "yoked" with unbelievers, not only as regards marriage, but also as regards every thing else (while always ready to do good unto all men), but come out from among them, and refuse all unclean associations, then such consciously fall into their Father's arms, enter into this most dear relationship, know that He receives them, and taste and enjoy His blessing. They find those precious words fulfilled in their happy experience, "I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, with the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:14-18.) H. H. Snell.