At such a season, it seems as if Satan were let loose upon his soul to agonise it with his fiery darts; as if the foul sediment of inbred corruption were stirred up from the very bottom of his heart. When the Christian would fondly enjoy the tranquil delights of peace and spiritual consolation, how often is he constrained to say—. Can he be easy under such distressing experience?
Hear, O my soul, the gracious answer, so accordant with the revealed word :—. If thou shouldest ask: Why in this way so painful to endure? And break thy schemes of earthly joy, That thou mayest seek thy all in me. This is indeed a trying dispensation; but even this inward conflict, painful as it is, is often sanctified to us by that divine Spirit, who can turn our darkness into light, and make crooked things straight.
What Satan intends for evil, the God of love and power can overrule for good. When the believer, through neglect of watchfulness and prayer, has fallen into a state of spiritual apathy; when the cursed leaven of self-love and self-righteousness have secretly been working their way into his duties; when the world has, by insensible degrees, got a hold upon his heart: then some sudden assault of the Devil sets his soul in alarm.
Awakened by his fears, he is driven to earnest prayer. His rebel lusts, now in arms, and led on by Satan, threaten to overcome him. Terrified, and overwhelmed at the sight of his sins, and at his utter inability to help himself, he cries out in the agony of his soul: "O wretched man that I am! He seeks for pardoning mercy at the cross of Christ.
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And there he obtains forgiveness, and comes off more than conqueror, through him who loved him and gave himself for him. The believer, by these repeated struggles, is convinced of his constant liability to Satan's temptations; of the proneness of his heart to depart from God; and of his daily need of sanctifying, sustaining grace.
His language now is :—. By trials inward and outward, the children of God are taught, that this is not their rest, because it is polluted; that they are travelling through an enemy's country; that they must fight their way to glory, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, remembering that he, and he only who overcometh, shall obtain the crown. Happy is he who learns wisdom from his own trials, and those of others.
Indolence and supineness is the rust which blunts the edge of the sword, and gives the enemy an advantage over us. I know that my foes are mighty, but my Redeemer is almighty. I know that I am weak, but my Saviour's grace is all-sufficient. Then should I put my enemies to flight; for the encouragement to the fighting Christian is, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Thus, by degrees, and often rapidly, the unwatchful Christian is hurried into frightful sins. God willeth not the death of a sinner. He willeth not that any should perish.
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His pathetic exclamation by the Prophet is—"Why will ye die? Yet such a creature am I. Account Options Sign in. Still, we attempt the task, in the hope that our meditation of him may be sweet, and be attended with a blessing from on high to those who love his name and long for his appearing.
Contemplating the Adorable Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ
For though he is exalted far beyond all present conception, yet in the word of truth we have a sure guide, by following which we may obtain some believing apprehensions of what he is to those who see him by faith at the right hand of the Father. This, in the depth of his wisdom, God has been pleased to place beyond all doubt or controversy, at least to all who receive the scriptures as an inspired revelation; and by so doing he has given us much reason to admire his infinite condescension and grace.
The Lord might have ascended to heaven immediately after his resurrection, without showing himself to his disciples; or after appearing to them, to prove that he was risen from the dead, he might have gone up on high without any eye-witnesses of his ascension. But that so stupendous and yet so indispensable a fact might rest on an immovable foundation, the Lord did not ascend until forty days after the resurrection, that by his repeated appearances to his disciples he might afford them so many "infallible proofs" Acts On the morning of that day on which he ascended to heaven the blessed Lord appeared for the tenth and last time to his followers.
The eleven apostles met together at his command in Jerusalem, and there Jesus appeared in their midst. For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence. During this last solemn interview the Lord conversed at some length with his disciples, as recorded, for we need not quote the passages at length.
Mark Luke Acts He thus afforded them not only the sweet consolation of his actual, living presence before he as parted from them, but the clearest possible evidence that he was the very same Jesus whom they had so well known and so dearly loved in the days of his flesh, during the whole time that he had consorted with them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. They worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.
Consider for a moment the strength of this testimony. Could these eleven men have been deceived or mistaken in what they thus personally witnessed? Most of them afterwards laid down their lives in confirmation of what they then saw. And again, "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God. This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.
It may seem, perhaps, to some of our readers, almost unnecessary for us to have brought forward so much scripture testimony on a point which no believer doubts. But, through some little acquaintance with the unbelief and infidelity of the human heart, and continued assaults from that quarter, we have long seen and felt in our own mind that faith needs the strongest and surest foothold that God has given, on which it may stand during seasons of darkness and temptation.
Some never seem to doubt either the certainty of the rock or their own standing on it; but we freely confess that there are times and seasons with us when hell, with all its infernal artillery, and the infidelity of the human mind combine together to shake our faith to its very center. Now, when by divine grace faith can stand upon facts so clearly attested as the resurrection and ascension of the blessed Lord, it feels that there is firm ground beneath its feet; and that in believing in a risen and ascended Lord it does not "follow cunningly-devised fables," but receives the truth as it is in Jesus from the sure witness of those who "have made known the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, as eye-witnesses of his majesty.
Faith, too, needs food as well as foothold; and it is upon these divine verities, so plainly revealed and so clearly established in the word of truth, that faith feeds as its choice provision.
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The time may come with you, dear reader, when you may feel as if clambering up a steep and lofty mountain, whose top you must reach or die; and yet, with all your exertion, every stone on which you would place your foot rolls away from under you, filling you with dread at every step lest life be lost, or limb be broken. Under such circumstances how you would prize a solid rock on which, step by step, you could set your trembling, staggering feet. This rock is Christ, which God has laid in Zion; but that faith may stand upon it unmoved, immovable by the assaults of unbelief and infidelity, he has in the word of his grace laid this foundation firm and sure by the strongest testimony.
Having, then, seen the strong foundation on which the ascension of the blessed Lord rests as an ascertained fact, we may now proceed to view him by faith as entering the courts of bliss. And the first most obvious view that faith obtains of him is that he entered heaven in the same identical human body in which he last communed with his disciples, and which they had seen taken up before their eyes; for one part of "the great mystery of godliness" is that "God manifest in the flesh" was "received up into glory," and therefore in the same flesh as that in which he was thus manifested.
John Owen has so clearly expressed the faith of the church on this vital point that we prefer giving his words to any of our own:. The clearness, wisdom, holy and heavenly sobriety of the above extract need no commendation from us. It speaks sufficiently for itself to those who know and love the truth, and are willing to submit themselves to the oracles of God as its own infallible source.
We must have no tampering, then, with that fundamental article of our most holy faith, that the Lord Jesus took into heaven the identical humanity which he assumed in the womb of the Virgin. But this thorough identity of his holy humanity does not impair or detract from every perfection as now made manifest in that glorified human nature which is consistent with its preserving its real form and essence. And of this we seem to have a very clear proof in the word of truth. It is necessary, indeed, to bear in mind that while we speak of the identity of the risen and ascended body of the Lord, we utterly separate from it what the apostle calls "the weakness" of Christ; "he was crucified through weakness;" 2Co The body of the blessed Lord ate, and drank, and slept, was weary and thirsty here below.
But no such infirmities, or, to speak more correctly, no such sinless contingencies of a state of humiliation were taken with him into heaven. His body and soul are still identically and unalterably the same as they were upon earth; but heavenly glory, without destroying or even impairing the reality of his human nature, has eternally swallowed up all those mere passing and contingent circumstances which necessarily attended his humanity in a time-state. John Luke , Php But with all this eternal weight of glory, the glorified humanity of the blessed Lord, from its ineffable union with his Deity, will ever differ from theirs not only in degree, but in nature.
Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. This glory it has from its subsistence in his divine Person, therefore inherent in it, and thus essentially distinct from the inferior glory of the risen saints, who have it as a gift and not a necessary adjunct. All the glory which they will have is from him as a gift of his grace, and as being members of his mystical body; but it dwells in him in all its fountain fullness, for "it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell. Besides which, though his sacred humanity in its glorified state still remains a creature, and neither is nor can be deified, yet, from its intimate conjunction with his Deity it receives emanations of power and glory which we may apprehend by faith, but of which no adequate conception can ever be formed by a finite intellect, not even of the highest angel.
His eternal Deity irradiates his humanity with a luster beyond its own, and shines through it with resplendent glory, as the sun shines through a cloud, or as at the moment of his transfiguration the glorious Person of the God-man made "his clothing become shining exceeding white as snow.
If such a comparison be admissible, as our soul ennobles our body, and thus, even in our fallen state, as being an immortal principle, separates us from the lower creation, so the essential Deity of the Son of God ennobles his humanity, and separates it from all approach or comparison of the inferior glory of his risen saints. But we pause, lest we seem to intrude too much on high and speculative subjects, though, as far as we have gone, we cannot but feel they are blessed mysteries when apprehended by a living faith.
We may pass on, then, to examine in what way, and to accomplish what special purposes of wisdom and grace, the blessed Lord entered upon his present state of mediatorial exaltation at the right hand of the Father. Zec God the Father had appointed unto him a kingdom Luke Hebrews Immediately, then, that he left earth, and was received out of the sight of the eleven apostles in a cloud of glory, his royal progress began.
Surely, if a chariot of fire and horses of fire were dispatched to take Elijah up to heaven, 2Ki Was the servant so honored, and was no honor paid to the Master? Should the subject be taken gloriously to heaven, and the King have no train of celestial glory? Did "his train fill the temple" when Isaiah "saw his glory and spoke of him? But we are not left to conjecture upon this point. The scripture affords the clearest proof of the triumphant manner in which the Lord of life and glory went up on high.