What are the ways in which we can really please Christ Jesus and so have joy in Christ's pleasure? According to the Chapter before us, we please Him when we abide in Him. Fervent love to Christ is very pleasing to Him, but the chilly, lukewarm love of Laodicea is nauseous to Him, so that He says, "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.
What greater joy can a man have than to feel that he is pleasing Christ? My fellow creatures may condemn what I do, but if Christ accepts it, it matters not to me how many may condemn it. They may misrepresent and misjudge me and impute wrong motives to me, and sneer and snarl at me, but if I can keep up constant and unbroken communion with the Christ of God, what cause have I for sorrow?
No, if He is joyful in us, then our joy shall remain in us and shall be full. Our Lord Jesus has also told us that He has joy in us when we bring forth much fruit "Herein is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples. Are you called to suffer?
Then do you, in your suffering, bring forth the fruit of patience? Or, are you strong and in robust health? Then are you, with that health and strength, rendering to the Lord the fruit of holy activity? Are you doing all you can for the Lord Jesus who has done so much for you? You have received much from Him—are you yielding an adequate return to Him? It is little enough when it is what we call, much, but, oh, how little it is when it is little in our own estimation! But when our Lord Jesus Christ sees us doing much for God, He is pleased with us, as the gardener is when, having planted a tree, and dug about it, and fertilized it, and pruned it, he sees it at last covered with golden fruit.
He is pleased with his fruitful tree and Christ is pleased with His fruit-bearing disciples! Are we making Christ glad in this fashion? If so, our own joy shall be full. I am not surprised that some Christians have so little joy when I remember how little joy they are giving to Jesus because they are bringing forth such a little fruit to His praise and Glory. Brothers and Sisters, see to this matter, I pray you!
If I cannot enforce this Truth of God with the power that it deserves, may the Holy Spirit cause the Truth to come home with power to your hearts! Our Lord also tells us that He has joy in us when we keep His Commandments. These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
This is My Commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you. He may not laugh much. He may have very little to say when in frivolous company. But there is a joy that laughter would but mock. There is a sacred mirth within to which the merriment of fools is but as the crackling of thorns under a pot. And the man with a tender conscience has that joy! The careful walker has that joy! The man who, when he puts his head upon his pillow at night, can feel, "I have not been all that I want to be but still I have aimed at holiness.
I have tried to curb my passions, I have sought to find out my Master's will and in every point to do it. And such a man, whatever the trials of life may be, has abundant sources ofjoy within himself. He is pleasing to Christ, Christ joys in him and his joy is full! And this is peculiarly the case with those who love the brethren. Those are some who do not love their brethren at all. Or if they do, they love themselves a great deal more. They are very apt to judge and to condemn their brethren. If they can find a little fault, they magnify it and if they can find none, they invent some.
I know persons who seem to be, by nature, qualified to be monks or hermits, living quite alone. According to their notion of things, they are much too good for society. No church is pure enough for them. No ministry can profit them. No one else can reach as high as the wonderful position to which, in their self-conceit, they fancy that they have attained! Let none of us be of that sort. Many of the children of God are far better than we are and the worst one in his family has some points in which he is better than we are.
I feel, sometimes, as though I would give my eyes to be as sure of Heaven as the most obscure and the least in all the family of God! And I think that such times may come to some of you if you imagine yourselves to be so great and good. You strong cattle that push with horn and with shoulder—and drive back the weak ones—the Lord may say to you, "Get you gone!
You belong not to Me, for My people are not thus rough and boastful—not thus proud and haughty. I look to the man who is humble, to him who has a contrite spirit and who trembles at My Word. Did you ever try to pray to God under the influence of a consciousness of possessing the higher life? Did you ever try to pray to God that way? If you ever did, I do not think you will do it a second time! I tried it once, but I am not likely to repeat the experiment. I thought I would try to pray to God in that fashion, but it did not seem to came naturally from me.
And when I had done so, I thought I heard somebody at a distance saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner," and he went home to his house justified! And then I had to tear off my Pharisaic robes and get back to where the poor publican had been standing, for his place and his prayer suited me admirably!
I cannot make out what has happened to some of my brethren who fancy themselves so wonderfully good. I wish the Lord would strip them of their self-righteousness and let them see themselves as they really are in His sight!
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Index (Vol. 51)
Their fine notions concerning the higher life would soon vanish them. Brothers and Sisters, the highest life I ever hope to reach this side of Heaven is to say from my very soul—. I have not the slightest desire to suppose that I have advanced in the spiritual life many stages beyond my brethren. As long as I trust simply to the blood and righteousness of Christ and think nothing of myself, I believe that I shall continue to be pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ that His joy will be in me and that my joy will be full.
I daresay you have noticed that a man cannot communicate to another any joy except that of which he is himself conscious. Here is a man who is rich. He can tell you the joy or riches, but he cannot give that joy to a poor man. Here is another man who takes delight in all sorts of foolery. He can tell you the joy of nonsense, but he cannot go beyond that. So, when Jesus gives us joy, He gives us His own joy and what do you think it is? I must put it very briefly. The joy of Jesus is, first, the joy of abiding in His Father's love.
Now that is the joy which Christ gives to you—the joy of knowing that your Father loves you! Let me stop a little while so that you who are really Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ may just roll that sweet morsel under your tongue—the everlasting God loves you! I have known the time when I have felt as if I could leap up at the very thought of God's love to me.
That He pities you and cares for you, you can understand.
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But that He lovesyou—well, if that does not make your joy full, there is nothing that can! It ought to fill us with delight to know that we are loved of the Lord with an everlasting and infinite love, even as Jesus Christ is loved. Christ's joy is also the joy of hallowed friendship. He said to His disciples, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his Lord does: Our Lord Jesus Christ has great joy in being on the most friendly terms with His people and have not you also great joy in being on such friendly terms with Him?
What higher joy do you want or can you have? I have heard a man say, very boastfully, that he once dined with Lord So-and-So. And another, just for the sake of showing off, spoke of his friend, Sir John somebody or other! You are going to sit and feast with Him presently at His own table.
He calls you no more His servant, but His friend! Does not that fact make you rejoice with exceeding joy? What is your heart made of if it does not leap with joy at such an assurance as that? You are Beloved of the Lord and a friend of the Son of God! Kings might well be willing to give up their crowns if they could have such bliss as this! Moreover, our Lord Jesus felt an intense delight in glorifying His Father. It was His constant joy to bring Glory to His Father. Have you ever felt the joy of glorifying God, or do you now feed joy in Christ because He has glorified His Father?
I solemnly declare that if Christ would not save me, I would love Him for what He has done to exhibit the Character of God! I have sometimes thought that if He were to drive me out of doors, I would stand there in the cold and say, "Do what You will with me. Crush me if You will. But I will always love You, for there never was another such as You are, never one who so well deserved my love and so fully won my affection and admiration as You have done. He took the greatest possible delight in doing this. It was for the joy that was set before Him that He endured the Cross, despising the shame.
Let that joy be yours, also! Rejoice that the Law of God is honored, that Justice is satisfied and that Free Grace is gloriously displayed in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And He has finished it and, therefore, He is glad! Will you not also rejoice in His finished work? You have not to put a single stitch to the robe of righteousness which He has worked—it is woven from the top throughout and absolutely perfect in every respect. You have not to contribute even a quarter of a penny to the ransom price for your redemption, for it is paid to the uttermost farthing.
The great redemptive work is finished forever and Christ has done it all! He is Alpha and He is Omega. He is the Author and He is also the Finisher of our faith! Surely this is the "feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined," of which the Prophet Isaiah long ago wrote.
I see You, Lord Jesus, with Your foot upon the dragon's neck! I see You with death and Hell beneath Your feet! I see the Glory that adorns Your triumphant brow as You wait till the whole earth shall acknowledge You as King, for You have once and for all said, "It is finished," and finished it certainly is!
And shall not my poor heart rejoice because You have finished it, and finished it for me? No other joy remains. There is a great deal of very proper joy in many families when children are born, yet how many little coffins are followed by weeping mothers? There is joy when God fills the barn, and very properly so, for a bountiful harvest should make men glad. But the winter soon comes, with its cold and dark and dreary weather. Brothers and Sisters, when we get the joy of the Lord, it remains! Because the cause of it remains.
The well will continue as long as the spring runs and the joy of a Christian is one that can never alter because the cause of it never alters! God's love never changes towards His people. The Atonement never loses its efficacy. Our Lord Jesus Christ never ceases His intercession. His acceptableness with God on our behalf never varies. The promises do not change. The Covenant is not like the moon—sometimes waxing and sometimes waning.
Oh, no, if you rejoice with Christ's joy today, you will have the same cause for rejoicing tomorrow, and forever, and forevermore, for He says that His joy shall remain in you! Then, next, this joy is full joy. Then, dear Brothers and Sisters, if our joy is full, two things are very clear.
First, there is no room for any more joy and, secondly, there is no room for any sorrow! When a man gets to know the love of God to him, he is so full of delight that he does not need any more joy. The pleasures of this world lose all their former charm.
A Challenge and War Cry
When a man has eaten all he can eat, you may set whatever you like before him, but he has no appetite for it. When a man is forgiven by God and knows that he is saved, the joy of the Lord enters his soul and he says, "You may take all other joys and do what you like with them. I have my God, my Savior, and I need no more.
The saved one says, "My God, You are enough for me. What more can I require? Since You have said to me, 'I love you,' and my heart has responded, 'My God, I love You, too,' I have more true wealth at my disposal than if I had all the mines of the Indies under my control! There is, also, no longer any room for sorrow, for if Christ's joy has filled us, where can sorrow go?
I wish that all of us had that realization, for then our joy would be so great that we would have no room left for sorrow! It was a part of her regular family discipline, on Saturday evening, to catechize the children and the servants and, of course, the poor man in the kitchen came in among them. Rutherford put to all of them some questions concerning the commandments and to this poor man she put the question, "How many commandments are there? Later, he rose and listened to Rutherford's midnight prayer. He was charmed with it, made himself known to him, borrowed a better coat from him, preached for him on the Sunday morning and surprised Mrs.
Rutherford by taking as his text, "A new commandment I give unto you," and by commencing with the observation that this might very properly be called the eleventh commandment. By-and-by the archbishop went on his way and he. It is the eleventh commandment and if, the next time we are asked how many commandments there are, we answer, "Eleven," we shall reply rightly enough. But why is it a new commandment? Is it not included in the ten? You know how our Lord approved the lawyer's summary of the Ten Commandments—"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
It is new, first, as to the extent of the love. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we are to love our fellow Christians as Christ loved us—and that is far more than we love ourselves. Christ loved us better than He loved Himself, for He loved us so much that He gave Himself for us, so that now no one of us is to say, "I am to love my friend, my brother, my fellow creatures as I love myself," but to interpret Christ's command thus, "I am to love my fellow Christians even as Jesus Christ who died for me, has loved me.
That is the love of benevolence, but this is a love of affinity and close relationship and involves a higher degree of self-sacrifice than was enjoined by the Law of Moses, or than would have been understood by the bulk of mankind to have been intended by the precept which bids us love one another even as we love ourselves. Next, it is a new commandment because it is backed by a new reason. The old commandment was backed by this declaration, "I am the Lord your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. But we are commanded to love one another because Christ has redeemed us from a far worse bondage than that of Egypt and with a far costlier Sacrifice than the offering up of myriads of paschal lambs.
Our enemies have pursued us, but He has destroyed them at the sea, even at the Red Sea. He has redeemed us with His own heart's blood and, therefore, His new commandment comes to us with the greatest possible force, "That you love one another as I have loved you. It is a new commandment because of the extent of it and also because of the reason by which it is supported.
It is a new commandment, also, because it is a new love, springing from a new nature and embracing a new nation. I am bound, as a man, to love my fellow man because he is a man. But I am bound, as a regenerate man, to love my fellow Christian still more because he, also, is regenerate. The ties of blood ought to be recognized by us far more than they are. We are too apt to forget that God "has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth. But, Beloved, the ties of Grace are far stronger than the ties of blood.
If you are really born of God, you are Brothers by a brotherhood that is stronger, even, than the natural brotherhood which enabled you to lie in the same cradle and to hang at the same breast, for brothers according to the flesh may be eternally separated. The right hand of the King may be the position accorded to the one and his left hand may be the position assigned to the other. But Brothers who are truly born of God, share a brotherhood which must last forever!
It is a very blessed thing when we are able to love one another because the Grace that is in any one of us sees the Grace that is in another and discerns in that other, not the flesh and blood of the Savior, but such a resemblance to Christ that it must love that other one for His sake! As it is true that if we are of the world, the world will love its own, so is it true that if we are of the Spirit, the Spirit will love His own! The whole redeemed family of Christ is firmly bound together.
Born of God ourselves, we keep looking out to see others who have been "born-again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible. There is a bond of union between us at once. There are certain Brethren who hold that communion among Christians ought to be restricted—they say that if Believers are disobedient, especially with regard to Baptism, they ought not to be communed with. I do not judge my Brothers and Sisters who hold those views, but I do not hesitate to tell them that they hold views which it is quite impossible for them to carry out. If they are, themselves, in the body of Christ they must of necessity commune with all the other members of the mystical body of Christ—they cannot help themselves!
Suppose that my little finger has been properly washed and cleansed, but that the rest of my hand it not so clean and that, therefore, my finger holds it to be its duty to shut off the rest of my hand from communion with itself? It cannot do it—it is impossible unless it is severed from the hand!
It must commune with the rest of the body, whether it is washed or unwashed. You may deny your friend. You are allied to God and therefore you must have fellowship with all others who are allied to God, whether you like it or not! It is not a thing which your church discipline can touch—it can no more be bound than can the waves of air which are constantly in motion.
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And neither can you by any possibility restrain it. The love which Christ commands His followers to have towards one another is not the ordinary love of man to man as such, but the love of the new-born man to the new-born man. Let us who love the Lord, love each other fervently in that sense. This is a love which arises out of a totally new union. A man who is a Christian belongs to a very special family. That family circle does not comprehend the whole human race—it is a family inside the larger human family, yet separated from it by an inner spiritual life.
What if I say that the distance between the saved and the unsaved is like a great gulf? It is true that by the almighty Grace of God, there is a way across that gulf and many pass over it—still, the gulf is very deep and broad. But the moment a man is born unto God he enters that inner circle and becomes a member of a new family. Within that sacred circle of electing love, all bonds of nationality are broken forever. There we are no longer Frenchmen or Englishmen, Americans or Russians, black or white, bond or free, but we are "all one in Christ Jesus. There the barbarian is no less and the Greek is no more than any other member of the redeemed family.
We are Brothers and Sisters because, in Christ we are all in one family and, therefore it is that we are called to a new kind of love, a love which is like the love of the brothers of the same house, only more sublime, and with better reasons lying at the bottom than even the love of consanguinity can boast. And, beloved Friends, this is a new commandment because it is enforced by new necessities. Christians ought to love one another because they are the subjects of one King who is also their Savior. We are a little band of Brothers and Sisters in the midst of a vast multitude of enemies.
They will be sure to ridicule you, call you fools, or hypocrites, or something equally uncomplimentary. Well, then, cling the more closely to one another! Whatever opposition you meet with outside, let it only weld you into a firmer unit, the one with the other. We are like a small company of soldiers in an enemy's country, strongly garrisoned by the vast battalions of the foe, so we must hold together—we must be as one man, banded together in closest fellowship—as our Great Captain bids us.
God grant that the very fact that we are found in an enemy's country may result in making us more completely one than we have ever been before! When I hear a Christian man finding fault with his minister, I always wish that the devil had found somebody else to do his dirty work. I hope that none of you will ever be found complaining of God's servants who are doing their best to help their Lord's cause. There are plenty who are ready to find fault with them and it is much better that their faults—if they have faults—should be pointed out by an enemy rather than by you who belong to the same family as they do!
Even if you should know that a professor is a hypocrite, it may be the duty of a Christian to say, "Let him fall by the hand of another. I would rather not give evidence against him. Further, dear Brothers and Sisters, this is a new commandment because it is suggested by new characteristics. In our fellow men there may be something lovable, but in our fellow Christians, there must be something lovable. Suppose they are only newly born to God—for my part, I hardly know of a more beautiful sight than a newborn Christian! I like to hear the prayer of the one who is just converted—there may be much of mistake and imperfection in it, but that does not spoil it!
A lamb does not bleat in quite the same tones that a sheep uses, yet a lamb is a very beautiful object and one likes to hear its feeble notes. And there is a beauty about the lambs in Christ's flock as well as about the full-grown sheep. There is nothing more lovely to be seen in the whole world than an aged Believer who has lived very near to God. How calm the old gentleman's spirit—and when he begins to talk about the things of God and to testify concerning the love of his Lord—how charmingly he talks!
There is much that is beautiful about all true Christians, so try and search out their excellences rather than their defects. If we are, ourselves, in a right state of heart, we are all the more likely to admire that which is good in others, just as Mercy and Christiana, when they came up from their bath, admired one another.
I would advise you, Beloved, to imitate those gracious women.
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There is a beauty about your friend that there is not about yourself. Do not be always gazing in the mirror—there are fairer sights to be seen than any you will find there! Look into your fellow Christian's face and as you see anything there that is the work of the Spirit, love him because of that. And, once more, this is a new commandment because it is a preparation for better prospects than we have ever enjoyed before. We who believe in Jesus are going to live together in Heaven forever and ever, so we may as well be good friends while we are here!
We shall see each other there in one common glory and be occupied forever in one common employment—the adoration of our Lord and Master. The remembrance of this Truth of God ought to break down many of the barriers which at present exist in society. There was a wealthy Christian, a man who stood very high in social position, who was in the habit of picking out godly people of a far lower class than that to which he, himself, belonged.
He would bring home to his table the farmer from the plow, or the smith from the smithy, and one of his rich friends ridiculed him for seeking such associates. But he replied, "I do not think you ought to ridicule me for picking out those who are, socially, lower than myself, for those whom I have brought to my table are men and women who, I believe, will be nearer to the Throne of God in Heaven than I shall be. They are very poor, but they are better, more pious and more gracious than I am—so I thought that I might as well pick the best company I could while I was here—and associate with them.
Never judge men by the clothes they wear, but by what they are in themselves! It is a man's heart and, above all, it is the Grace of God that dwells within the man's heart that you and I are to prize and love—may God help us to do so!
Thus, I think I have said enough concerning the new commandment which Christ gave to His disciples. First, Christ loved them unselfishly. He certainly had nothing to gain from associating with them and nothing to learn from them. It is true that He used them to help in the extension of His cause, but He first made them fit to be used.
He owed nothing to them and they owed everything to Him. There was nothing in them when He first called them—and to the very last there was nothing good in them except what His Grace had put there—and there was not nearly as much of that as there ought to have been, for He had to say, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip?
I once heard a minister speak very grumblingly of the Baptist denomination. He said, "I do not know what the denomination ever did for me. The question that has occurred to me is, What can I do for the denomination? We ought not to ask, "What can these people do for me? You cannot do good to another person without finding growing up in your heart some degree of interest in the person to whom you have done that good. It is possible that a child may forget its mother, forget that it drew its life, its nourishment and all the comforts of its infancy from its mother, but the mother does not forget that she reared it in its weakness and brought it up to strength.
If you want to love a person, do some loving thing for that person and love will spring up in your soul to that person. Our Lord Jesus Christ loved His disciples unselfishly—let us do the same. He also loved them very trustingly for, though He was not unwise and put no confidence in man, yet I might slightly alter one of our hymns and say concerning our Lord, "Oh, see how Jesus did trust unto Himself unto the childish love of His disciples!
In the midst of skeptical scribes and Pharisees, we can see Him standing like a man on His guard, with His sword drawn in His hand, but as soon as He gets among His own followers, He opens His heart to them and tells them many things that He does not tell others—so many, indeed, that He once said to them, "If it were not so, I would have told you," as if He had no secrets from them, but unveiled His very heart to them!
Of course, you cannot do this to the full with all professing Christian but still, when you are among your. I would sooner be taken in a thousand times than I would unjustly suspect one true-hearted man. It is a shameful thing for any one of you to move among your fellow Christians and to be saying in your hearts, "I am afraid that many of them are hypocrites. So, if you think ill of other people, the sin is probably in yourself. I have often said that if there is any place where I am quite at home, it is among my own congregation—. There must be a hearty spirit of trustfulness between those who love the same Christ or else a lasting union between them is impossible.
Next, Christ loved His disciples sympathetically. He grieved with them in their griefs and rejoiced with them in their joys. He entered into most intimate fellowship with them in their varied experiences. Let us try to do the same with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Let us weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice.
Nothing tends so greatly to oil the wheels of life as a little loving sympathy—let us always be ready with a good supply of it wherever it is needed. Our Lord also loved His disciples patiently. They must often have grieved Him by their ignorance and unbelief. If any of us had been in His place, we would have said, "You set of dummies, we cannot bear with you any longer. After He had told them the Truth of God 20 times and yet they did not know it, He went on in the same fashion and told it to them again and again until they didknow it. As He was so patient with His disciples, it ill becomes us, who are ourselves so imperfect, to say concerning any of our fellow Christians, "I cannot feel any affection for So-and-So," or, "I cannot have any communion with So-and-So.
But, my dear Brother, have not you many imperfections? It may be that some other person is looking upon you in the same cold light in which you are looking upon him and that he is finding as much fault with you as you are finding with him! If so, it is a great pity that any of us should be impatient with one another when our Lord Jesus Christ is so patient with us. Once more, our Lord loved His disciples practically. His love did not consist in the mere effervescence of transient emotion or in only kind words, but He loved them deeply and shared all that He had with them.
He even condescended to wash their feet as though He had been their servant! What more could He do for them? Yet He did far more than that, for He laid down His life for them. He gave up all He had for them. He gave up all the members of His body and all the faculties of His soul—His entire Nature—that He might save His people. May we have the Grace to follow where the path is so plainly marked out for us!
Among all of them who know that we are Christ's disciples, there is one very important person—and that is yourself.