A Pause for Edification
"...Religion is not an airy, imaginary, enthusiastic something, which stands independent of the word of God. It is not something mystical and visionary, the creation of the human brain, like some poetical dream, or the mere ebbing and flowing of natural feelings, however deep, various, or refined. This is mysticism, not religion; delusion, not salvation; enthusiasm, not the work of faith with power. True and saving religion is the work of the Holy Spirit operating upon the heart through the word; giving us faith by the application of the word, raising up hope by the power of the word, shedding abroad love by bringing the truth of the word with power into the soul. Does not our Lord, in our text, speak of "continuing in the word," or rather "my word," that being the means whereby we "receive of his fullness grace for grace," and thus by abiding in the word abide in him, as he speaks so plainly and beautifully in the parable of the vine? "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me." (John 15:4.) We forget sometimes these things, expecting religion to be wrought in our heart almost independent of the word of truth. But how striking are those words of our gracious Lord "For I have given unto them the words which you gave me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came from you, and they have believed that you did send me." (John 17:8.)
But bear in mind, also, that the Lord is very tender over his own work upon the soul. He is exceedingly gracious unto those that fear his name; has purposes of eternal mercy and love toward them; has sworn never to leave or forsake them; is pledged to bring them home to himself; and therefore, having begun the work, for his own name's sake, he will surely carry that work on. It is the Father's will that every one who sees the Son and believes on him should have eternal life. He has promised that not one of his sheep shall perish, and that none shall pluck them out of his hand; their continuance, therefore, does not depend upon creature exertion, creature ability, creature faith, or creature strength; but depends upon the good will and everlasting purposes of God the Father, the eternal love of the Lord the Lamb, and the gracious operations of the Spirit in unison with the choice of the Father and the love and blood of his dear Son. Therefore, they continue in the word, not because they have any strength, or goodness, or wisdom, or righteousness of their own, enabling them to do so; but because the eternal thoughts of God were towards them, because they are savingly interested in a covenant ordered in all things and sure, and because he who understood their cause is able, and not only willing, but firmly resolved to bring them through every trouble, and plant them before his blissful presence for evermore...."
[Excerpted from True Discipleship, or the
Wednesday Evening, July 7, 1869,
some emphasis added]