The Zealous Christian!
James Smith, 1864
"Be zealous!" Revelation 3:19
Coldness or lukewarmness in the ways of God, is peculiarly offensive to our Lord and Savior; for if anyone deserves our whole hearts, if anyone ought to have the whole of our energies — it is Jesus. He was very zealous for us. Zeal covered him as a garment. His zeal was very early displayed, when he stood up for us in the everlasting covenant; engaging to be a Substitute, Sacrifice, and Shepherd. And from the moment of his engagement, his zeal never abated. Zeal for us characterized his whole life, and sustained him in the bitter pangs of his ignominious death.
Most zealously did he labor to work out a righteousness which would justify us before his Father, and with equal zeal he presented himself before divine justice to suffer the due desert of our crimes. He died for our offences, and so made an atonement for them; he arose for our justification, and now, the moment we believe in him, we are justified from all things and forever. He went into Heaven full of holy zeal, and there he zealously pleads our cause before his Father, and enables us to say, "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son — much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
Being thus zealous for us — for our safety, honor, and true happiness — he wishes to see us zealous for him. Our indifference grieves his loving heart. Our selfishness wounds him in a tender part. He expects us to be devoted to him, consecrated to his service, and glowing with zeal to carry on his cause. Beloved Christian friends, Jesus speaks to you, to me, to each, to all of us — and he says, "Be zealous!"
truth of the gospel.
We should be zealous for the
It is God's mind.
It is the revelation of the Savior's love.
It is the remedy for the sinner's woes.
It is the charter of the Church's privileges.
It is dear to God's heart.
It is watched over with a jealous eye.
It should be prized as inestimably valuable.
We should zealously defend the truth, for it is sure to be assailed by erroneous and ungodly men. Not in a bitter spirit, not with anger; but in the Spirit of Jesus, with firmness and holy love, we ought to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints."
Never let us give up one particle of truth — but endeavor
to maintain it whole and entire. The truth is . . .
the mirror, in which God is seen;
the map, on which our road is marked out;
the law, by which our duty is made plain;
let us therefore zealously defend it, nor ever tamely surrender any part of it.
We should zealously adorn it. "That they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything!" Titus 2:10. Not by the tinsel of human eloquence, or by trappings borrowed from heathen schools — but by a consistent and holy walk. We ought to be living expositions of the truth. In our conduct — the nature and tendency of the Gospel ought to be seen.
By our meekness and gentleness,
by our fidelity and prudence,
by our self-denial and benevolence,
by our temperance and brotherly kindness,
by our patience and fervent love —
we ought to adorn the most holy truth of God!
God calls for it. The Gospel is calculated to produce it.
We should be zealous to spread it. It is too good to be kept to ourselves. It was never intended to be confined to the Church. The world is the field in which this seed is to be sown. The whole race of mankind is to be made acquainted with this divine revelation. Every creature, without one solitary exception — is to be told of this good news. Every one who knows it — ought to publish it. The whole Church, should be zealous to spread it over the face of the whole earth. Every believer should be anxious to communicate it to all whom he possibly can.
It is the word of life — let us hold it fast.
It is the light of the world — let us place it on the candlestick.
It is the balm of life — let us send it wherever pain is felt, or sorrows are experienced.
If we are not zealous to defend the truth — can we know its value?
If we are not zealous to adorn the truth — can we understand its design?
If we are not zealous to spread the truth — can we
sympathize with human misery, or desire to spread God's glory.
We should be zealous for theLord's people. They are precious in his sight. They are his jewels, his special treasure. He loves them more than all the other productions of his power. His heart has been set upon them from eternity.
Chosen for his own glory,
purchased by the precious blood of his only begotten Son,
sanctified and made the temples of his Holy Spirit —
he cares for them with the tenderest care.
He wishes us . . .
to view them, just as he does,
to love them, just as he does,
to care for them, just as he does,
to act toward them, just as we would act toward him.
If therefore we are cold, distant, and haughty in our bearing toward them — it grieves him. If we do not feel interested in their welfare, concerned for their comfort, and desirous of promoting their holiness — he is, he must be, displeased with us.
We should be zealous to encourage them. They need it. They have enough to discourage them. Satan, sin, and the world — unite to distress, beguile, or discourage them! They need our tenderest sympathy, our brotherly affection, our kind attentions! Viewing them as the children of God, as the members of the mystical body of Jesus, as the pupils of the Holy Spirit — we should be zealous to encourage them in their way to the kingdom.
We should zealously assist them. Many of them are poor. Many of them are ignorant. Many of them are afflicted. In these circumstances we ought not to require frequent applications, urgent entreaties, or touching appeals; but our zeal should prompt us to search them out, to minister to their necessities, to instruct their minds, and to endeavor to comfort them under their sufferings and sorrows.
What is done to a believer — Jesus takes as done to himself. As we imagine therefore that if he were on earth — we would zealously search him out, minister to his need, and if possible increase his comforts — so ought we to do to his poor people. They are placed near us for this purpose. They are thus so circumstanced, to test the reality and the power of our love.
We should zealously endeavor to cement them together. They are in reality — one body, one flock, one family. Satan has divided them, and he endeavors by all means to keep them in a state of division. Love is the cement of the Church. Not the love of opinions — but the love of people — of all people who love Jesus. We must allow liberty of thought, opinion, and action — and we should love ardently while we do so.
Here is one who thinks differently to me in the matter of Church government; he differs with me in his opinion of certain points of minor doctrines; he acts differently to me in some practical matters — but he is a sincere Christian. He believes in Christ, he walks in fellowship with God, his life and conversation are holy. Then I must love him, and I ought zealously to endeavor to cement and unite all such together, in the bonds of holy brotherhood.
Let us be zealously attached to the persons of the
Lord's people, notwithstanding their differences. We must be viewing
them in Christ, loving them for the sake of Christ, and
endeavoring to bring them closer and closer to each other. Happy is he
who unites differing Christians together. But we cannot think well of
him who separates, alienates, and divides them.
We should be zealous for theLord's cause. He has a cause upon the earth. It is the cause of holiness and truth. It is distinct from the world — but is intended to be a blessing to the world. It is called his Church. The Church in which he dwells, by which he works, through which he communicates his blessings. It is . . .
Every Christian is really identified with it, and should never look upon himself as isolated from it. The cause of God is our cause — and our cause ought to be the cause of God.
We should be zealous therefore, to increase it. To bring sinners under the sound of the Gospel, under the influence of the truth. To lead souls to Jesus, and then into the Church of God. Never should we be satisfied until the largest promises of his word are fulfilled, until the most glowing predictions are made good. Not one of the Lord's family, male or female, should be happy — but as employed, and employed to the full extent of their ability, in endeavoring to increase the empire of the Messiah.
We should be zealous to support it. By our
presence, by our prayers, by our influence, and by our property. Silver and
gold are given to us as God's stewards, and we are to use them for His
glory. He often gives them, and then seems to leave us to ourselves, saying,
"I will just see what you will do with them." And what do many do? Look . .
at their opulent homes,
at their lavish furniture,
at their plush clothes,
at their vain amusements,
at their expensive foods,
at their . . . . . . .
But I forbear!
Only just look on the other hand, at what they give to support the ministry, to assist missions, to circulate the Bible, to distribute tracts, to relieve the poor, to supply the needs of the sick, etc. etc. Can we say of such people, as Paul did of others, "None of us lives to himself?" If these are God's stewards — are they faithful? If ministers are their servants for Christ's sake, are they good masters? If the poor believers are their brethren, are they at all like their elder Brother in their conduct toward them? If there is no hope for sinners but through the Gospel, are they very anxious that souls should be saved?
The cause of God requires all our sympathy, influence, and untiring support — but does it have it? Shall it in future have it? We should zealously identify ourselves with it. To be one with Christ, how glorious! To be one with the cause of Christ, is only a little less glorious! The one is the glory of the sun, the other is the glory of the moon.
God has indentified his cause with himself, and he has identified his people with his cause. They are to sustain it, to increase it, to perfect it. But this requires zeal. It will not be done without zeal. It deserves our warmest zeal, our utmost endeavors. Cause of Jesus! may I be identified with you, may I zealously support you, may I be instrumental in increasing you! To this may every believer add, Amen and Amen!
Brethren, let us be zealous — for Satan is! He
never tires, he never rests. Most zealously does he . . .
contrive his plans,
lay his snares, and
watch his victims!
He goes about seeking whom he may devour.
Let us be zealous, for lost sinners are. See the money they spend, the labor they give, the means they employ in the cause of sin and Satan! Their conduct ought to put us to shame.
Let us be zealous, for false teachers are. How
active, how diligent, how persevering they appear in propagating their
error. They employ the tongue, the pen, the press, and the purse — in the
most lavish and unsparing manner. Let . . .
their conduct be our model,
their success our stimulus,
and their zeal our reproof.
Let us be zealous! The zealous Christian is sure
of . . .
the approbation of his own conscience,
the opposition of Satan,
the frown of every lukewarm professor,
and the commendation of all godly people.
If therefore the truth is valuable,
if the saints are the excellent of the earth,
if the cause of God is worthy of our regard,
if Satan, if sinners, if erroneous men are zealous
— then let us be zealous too!
Let us warm our hearts at the fire of God's love!
Let us quicken our motives by a visit to the cross!
Let us sharpen our weapons by communion with the Spirit!
Let us seek the grace, the courage, the strength
necessary at the mercy seat — and then let us zealously fall to work. Let .
the work of God be our delight,
the welfare of our fellow-men be our aim,
and the glory of the Lord be our highest object!
Let us live in earnest. Let us live to purpose.
By the shortness of time,
by the solemnities of death,
by the realities of eternity,
by the danger of lost sinners,
by the vigilance of Satan,
by the poor state of the Church,
by the character of the present times,
by the command of God,
by the example of primitive believers,
and by the counsel of the Lord Jesus —
let us stir up our hearts, and stir up one another to "be zealous."
"It is good," said Paul, "to be zealous, provided the purpose is good." Galatians 4:18.
If ever it was good — it is good now.
If ever it was called for — it is called for now.
If ever it was an honor to be zealous for God — it is an honor to be so now.
Brethren, the time is short, and "it is high time to awake out of sleep!"
By the spread of Popery,
by the activity of infidelity,
by the condition of our cities,
by the needs of the Church,
by the woes of the world,
by the authority of God,
by the blood of the cross,
by the promise of the Spirit,
by the prospect of success,
by the rest of the grave,
by the glories of Heaven,
by the terrors of Hell,
by the rewards of activity, and
by the condemnation of the lukewarm and the slothful
— allow me to beseech you, to "Be zealous!"
Be zealous today — tomorrow you may die!
Be zealous in time — and in eternity you will rejoice that you have been so!