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He came by water-a powerful testimony, as flowi from the side of a dead Christ, that life is not to be soug for in the first Adam; for Christ, as associated with his taking up his cause, the Christ come in the flesh, had die, else he had remained alone in His own purity. Li is to be sought for in the Son of God risen from amor the dead.
But it was not by water only that He came; it w also by blood. The expiation of our sins was as necessar as the moral purification of our souls. We possess it i the blood of a slain Christ. Death alone could expiat them, blot them out. And Jesus died for us. Th guilt of the believer no longer exists before God; Chris has put Himself in his place. The Life is on high, and we are raised up together with Him, God having forgiver us all our trespasses.
The third witness is the Spirit-put first in the orde of their testimony on earth; last, in their historic order In effect, it is the testimony of the Spirit, His presenc in us, which enables us to appreciate the value of the water and the blood. We should never have understood the practical bearing of the death of Christ, if the Holy Ghost were not a revealing power to the new man, of it import and its efficacy. Now, the Holy Ghost came down from a risen and ascended Christ; and thus we know that eternal life is given us in the Son of God.
The testimony of these three witnesses meet together in this same truth, namely, that grace, that God Himself, has given us eternal life; and that this life is in the Son. Man had nothing to do in it-except by his sins. It is the gift of God. And the life that He gives is in the Son. The testimony is the testimony of God. How blessed to have such a testimony, and that from God Himself, and in perfect grace !
We have, then, the three things: the cleansing, the expiation, and the presence of the Holy Ghost as a witness that eternal life is given us in the Son who was slain for man when in relationship with man here below. He could but die for man as he is. Life is elsewhere, namely, in Himself.
Here the doctrine of the epistle ends. The apostle
wrote these things in order that they who believed in the Son might know that they had eternal life. He does not give means of examination to make the faithful doubt whether they had eternal life; but-seeing that there were seducers who endeavoured to turn them aside as deficient in something important, and who presented themselves as possessing some superior light,-he points out to them the marks of life, in order to reassure them; developing the excellence of that life, and of their position
25 enjoying it; and in order they might understand that 1. God had given it to them, and that they might be in no - I wise shaken in mind.
He then speaks of the practical confidence in God which flows from all this -- confidence exercised with a view to all our wants here below, all that our hearts desire to ask of God.
We know that He always listens to everything that we I ask in accordance with His will. Precious privilege !
The Christian himself would not desire anything to be granted him that was contrary to the will of God. But for everything that is according to His will, His ear is ever open to us, ever attentive. He always hearkens. He is not like man, often occupied so that He cannot listen, or careless, so that He will not. God always hears us
, and assuredly He does not fail in power : the attention He pays us is a proof of His good-will
. We receive, therefore, the things that we ask of Him. He grants our requests. What a sweet relationship! What
a high privilege! and it is one also of which we may o avail ourselves in charity for others.
If a brother sins, and God chastises Him, we may petition for that brother, and life shall be restored him. Chastisement tends to the death of the body (compare Job, xxxiii., and xxxvi., and James v. 14 and 15); we pray for the offender, and he is healed. Otherwise, the Eickness takes its course. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is such sin as is unto death. This does not seem to me to be some particular sin, but all sin which has sich a character, that, instead of awakening Christian charity, it awakens Christian indignation. Thus, Ananias and Sapphira committed a sin unto death. It was a lie;
but a lie under such circumstances, that it excited horro rather than compassion. We can easily understand thi in other cases.
Thus far, as to sin and its chastisement. But the positiv side is also brought before us. As born of God, we de not commit sin at all; we keep ourselves, and the wicke one toucheth us not. He has nothing where with to entic the new man. The enemy has no objects of attractio to the divine nature in us, which is occupied, by th action of the Holy Ghost, with divine and heavenly things or with the will of God. Our part, therefore, is so to live -the new man occupied with the things of God and o the Spirit.
The apostle ends his epistle by specifying these two things: our nature, our mode of being as Christians and, the object that has been communicated to us, in orde to produce, and to nourish faith.
We know that we are of God; and that, not in a vagu way, but in contrast with all that is not us--a principl of immense importance, which makes Christian positio exclusive by its very nature. It is not merely good, bad, or better; but it is of God. And nothing whic is not of God, that is to say, which has not its origin i Him, could have this character and this place. The whol world lies in the wicked one.
The Christian has the certainty of these two things, b virtue of his nature, which discerns and knows that whic is of God, and thereby judges all that is opposed to it The two are not merely good and bad, but of God and o the enemy. This as to the nature.
With regard to the object of this nature, we know tha the Son of God is come—a truth of immense importanc also. It is not merely that there is good, and that ther is evil; but the Son of God has Himself come into thi scene of misery, to present an object to our hearts. Bu there is more than this. He has given us an understandin that in the midst of all the falsehood of this world, which Satan is the prince, we may know Him that true — the true One. Immense privilege! which alter our whole position. The power of the world, by whic Satan blinded us, is completely broken, and we ar brought into the true light; and in that light we see and know Him who is true, who is in Himself perfection; that by which all things can be perfectly discerned and judged according to truth. But this is not all. We are in this true One, partakers of His nature, and abiding in Him, in order that we may enjoy the source of truth. Now, it is in Jesus that we are. It is thus, it is in Him, that we are in connection with the perfections of God.
We may again remark here, that which gives a character to the whole epistle—the manner in which God and Christ are united in the apostle's mind. It is on account of this
, that he so frequently says "He," where we must understand " Christ," although he had previously spoken of " God." For instance, chap. iii., 2. And here, " We are in Him that is true, that is to say, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal Life."
Behold, then, the divine links of our position! We are in Him who is true: this is the nature of Him in whom we are. Now, in reality, as to the nature, it is God Himself. As to the person, and as to the manner of being in Him, it is in His Son Jesus Christ. It is in the Son, in the Son as man, that we are in fact as to His person; but he is the true God, the veritable God.
Nor is this all — but we have life in Him. He is also the eternal Life, so that we possess it in Him. We know the true God — we have eternal life.
All that is outside this, is an idol. May God preserve us from it, and teach us by His grace to preserve ourselves from it. This gives occasion to the Spirit of God to speak of "the truth” in the two short epistles that
FRAGMENT. THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH. Found by God (in His changeless grace, and in His delight in Christ, and in His body the church), amid the ruins of a sevenfold failure of all that is merely human, -I see nothing now left to us but that which 1 may call
, in a peculiar sense, the obedience of faith. Obedience (and suffering the will of God is often the highest part of obedience, as it was in the case of
our Lord, Phil. ii.), and nothing but obedience, cost what it may. Yet obedience, not to the letter of texts (which repeated failure on man's part, has made, often, to be impossible; and the attempt to do so, to involve the pride of rebellion), but to the Spirit and mind of God—the living God-His written word taken in connection with His own leading of His people: His word in its real, present bearing upon His people.
If any one will study Acts xx. 29–32; 2 Tim. in. (note ver. 15); Jude 20-25, they will see plainly enouyb, so I judge, that the word of God as given through the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, predicted a state of failure of the church upon earth; and that, in the trial so created by man's failure on earth, there would be no succession, no apostles, no official authorities to turn to, no new revelation; but that, to the humble and truthful amid their failed circumstances, God and the word of His grace would be sufficient.
The portions, Lev. xxvi. 40—45; Deut. xxx. (as also many other parts of the Old Testament) bear witness to the same truth: as did, in one aspect of it, our Lord's most blessed walk when He was upon earth.
There are three points in this obedience of faith (of faith as contrasted with obedience to the letter) which I have ever found to be of primary importance.
1st. Never to gloss, or cover over past failure, in any way whatsoever.
2ndly. Not to dissociate myself from the sorrows brought upon God's people by failure—be it theirs or my
3rdly. When taking, thus, my stand amid failure and its fruits,-a failed one amid failed ones in the circumstances of to-day, not to refuse subjection to God and His word, and the responsibility of caring for His honour today because of past failure.
To nature, there oft seems an easy and a short cut out of present difficulties, which really involves rebellion against God, and the refusal to submit to Him.
The testimony given to us in Num.xiv. 39–45, is a solemn warning-a warning which Protestantism, Nonconformity, and Reformers have too generally neglected.