The Christian's Claim
by James Smith, 1860
"They are of the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
We are of God, and whoever knows God listens to us" 1 John 4:5-6
"We are of God." So said the apostle John, of himself and his fellow believers.
"They are of the world," so he testified of unbelievers.
These two companies comprise the whole world. We are either "of God," or "of the world." Which is it? Is the matter settled — settled to our satisfaction — settled to the convincing and silencing of others. John wrote to believers that they may be assured, and have no doubt upon the point. Without this, they were not prepared to do battle with sin, Satan, and the world. Let us then think over the subject, and may the Holy Spirit throw light upon it, and comfort and bless us by it. We will consider:
The CLAIM.To be especially and peculiarly the Lord's. To be HIS as no others are:
His choice. Chosen from among men. Chosen from the beginning. Chosen in Christ. The elect are predestined to be like his Son, and to obtain and enjoy all spiritual blessings.
His purchase. Bought with a price out of the hands of justice. Redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus, who gave his life a ransom price for us. He redeemed from all iniquity, to be God's purchased, and peculiar people, zealous for good works.
His workmanship. His new creation. Created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works. Being born of God. Begotten of God. And bearing his image and likeness.
His children. Partakers of his nature. Possessing his Spirit. Forming part of his family.
His servants. Employed on his property. Fed at his table. Ruled by his will. Endeavoring to please him. Obeying him from the heart.
His witnesses. Who know his will. Are entrusted with his truth. Are called forth to speak for him, and are requested to bear testimony before his foes.
His anointed ones. Such as have an unction from the Holy One, and have been anointed to speak in his name, intercede at his throne, and reign over themselves.
Such are God's peculiar people: His people. His family. His flock. His jewels. His crown. His treasure. His inheritance. His portion. Happy are the people, who can make the claim, and say from the heart, "We are of God." Let us now notice,
The PROOF.He who claims such a high distinction, so great a blessing, should be prepared to prove his title.
We are of God — for we have God's Spirit. This is a good proof, if we can indeed say, "We have received the Spirit who is of God," for "if any man has not the Spirit of Christ," have what else he may, "he does not belong to Christ."
We are of God — for we observe God's Word. This also is a good proof, for Jesus said, "Whoever shall do the will of my Father who is in Heaven — the same is my mother, and sister, and brother." If we believe his promises, observe his ordinances, and do his commandments — then we are his.
We are of God — for we know God's mind. We have the mind of Christ. We know his will. We know the things that are freely given to us by God. By the teachings of his Spirit, by the word of his grace, and by fellowship with himself — -we know his mind.
We are of God — for we enjoy God's company. When alone with God, we are like a child with its father. When he communes with us along the way, our hearts burn within us. When we behold his beauty, see his goings in the sanctuary, and inquire in his temple — we are happy.
We are of God — for we exhibit God's virtues. We resemble him in his moral excellencies, and show forth his justice, mercy, patience, truth, and holiness, in the world. The exhibition is very imperfect. The reflection is very faint. But the likeness is real, and will become more and more striking.
We are of God — for we speak God's truth. His gracious truth, that sinners may believe and live. His moral truth, that professors may understand and obey. Being put in trust with the gospel, we not only carefully preserve it — but widely spread it.
We are of God — for we aim at God's glory. This shows that we are like-minded with God, that we sympathize with him, being taught by him. The end he always keeps in view, the mark at which he always aims — is his own glory; and if we do so too, unquestionably we are his. We will now observe,
The RESULT.We are the Lord's, and therefore:
1. We shall be kept by his power. His omnipotence will be our garrison, through which no foe can ever break, over which no enemies can prevail.
2. We shall be hated by his foes. If we are of the world — then we shall be loved by the world; but if we are not of the world, if God has chosen us out of the world — then the world will hate us.
3. We shall be tried by his providence. For providence tries every professor, and every grace of every Christian. It is often God's furnace, into which he casts his precious metals, purging away their dross.
4. We shall be employed in God's work. He never brings up his children in idleness. He has something for every one of his children to do, and he requires them to do it. Out of love to his name, from zeal for his glory, and a desire to benefit his creatures — we shall be found employed in his service.
5. We shall be taught by his Spirit. Taught, not only at first — but all through life. Taught to feel our need of Christ, to see the exact suitability of Christ to us, and to close in with Christ, by precious faith. Taught to feel more and more our own weakness, vileness, and utter unworthiness; and more and more of Christ's strength, merit, and glory.
6. We shall be supplied by God's hand. He may
pinch us — but will not neglect us. He has ever provided of his goodness for
the poor, especially his own poor. He may deny us luxuries — but he
will give us necessities. Our bread shall be given us, and our
water shall be sure. He will keep us dependent, that we may . . .
see his hand,
read his heart,
believe his word,
watch his working, and
prove his faithfulness.
7. We shall be received into God's glorious house. Heaven is the house of God. It is the family residence. There, every member of the family is to be brought. Jesus has gone there to prepare our places, and he has promised to come again, and receive us to himself, that where he is, there we may be also.
O the blessedness of being the Lord's! Happy, thrice happy are the people who can lay claim to the distinction, and say, "We are of God!"
But if we are of God now — then we were not once. We were once strangers and foreigners — hopeless and godless in the world. We were dead in our sins, and were children of wrath, even as others.
If we are of God now — then it is all of God's grace.
He . . .
new created us,
adopted us, and
called us to his kingdom and glory
— and did it all of his sovereign grace! So that each one of us must say, "By the grace of God, I am what I am!" Yes, it is of grace, not of works — so that none can boast.
If we are of God's now — then let us walk answerably. Let us walk as children of the light. Let us walk worthy of the calling with which he has called us, in all holiness and honesty. Let us live godly, soberly, and righteously in the present world.
If we, are of God now — then Satan will try and test
us. He will desire to have us, that he may sift us as wheat. He will
tempt us to doubt, to presume, to despair, to trifle, to sin secretly, and
to be proud of our privileges. He will . . .
inject evil thoughts,
excite evil passions, and
try by all means to get us to indulge in evil practices.
We must watch him, resist him, and refuse to give him place — or he will . . .
fill us with gloom,
fire us with lust, or
beguile us into frivolity.
He goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
May the Lord make us grateful, watchful, and prayerful; and give us grace so to walk and so to talk — that all who see us may confess of us, that "We are of God!"