THE IMPERISHABLE GIFT
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
no one can snatch them out of My hand." John 10:28
So speaks the Divine Shepherd to the "sheep in the
wilderness," as they rest under the shade of the Palm-trees, and by the
Wells of living water.
It is a FREE gift. "I give." Believers have
themselves no share in the purchase. Man, in bestowing his gifts, has
generally reference to some loving or lovable qualities in the objects of
his beneficence. But it was from no attractiveness on their part—no foreseen
good works or virtues, that God was induced to procure and bequeath the
priceless heritage. It is a generous bestowment of sovereign grace
and redeeming love.
"I give"—it is theirs in unqualified, inalienable
possession—a glorious freehold. The ransomed in the heavenly paradise are
spoken of as having "a right to the tree of life." It is the right of
the slave who has had his freedom purchased. It is the right of the son who
has been left his patrimonial inheritance. It is the right of the conqueror
dividing among his soldiers the honors and trophies of victory which his own
valor has won.
And as it was the free sovereign love of the Great
and Good Shepherd, the Son of the Highest, which led Him to pay the
ransom-price; so it is His sovereign, irresistible grace which
preserves His flock every hour from destruction, and will present each
member of it at last faultless before the presence of His glory with
exceeding joy. Let us not lapse into a loose and indefinite theology, by
speaking of the "inherent power of the new nature." That is nothing. It is a
shadow—a name—apart from the power of Christ and the indwelling, upholding
energy of the Spirit of God.
Why was Paul enabled to stand firm when the messenger
from Satan was sent to buffet him? Why did not the thorn in the flesh get
the better of his nobler self? It was because that free grace which
had "predestinated" and "called" and "justified," was, in the hour of trial
and temptation, made "sufficient for him"—God's strength "perfected in
weakness," yes, overcoming weakness. Let us ever admire, with adoring
wonder, this unmerited, undeserved, sovereign freeness, from first to
last, of the great salvation.
Jesus is the true Zerubbabel, who has laid the
foundation, and who also will finish it. Seek to trace His hand in each part
of the spiritual building; beginning, carrying on, completing—the Alpha, the
Omega; the Justifier, the Sanctifier, the Glorifier. "Thanks be to God,"
says the Apostle, "who always causes us to triumph in Christ." The pearl
would remain forever in the depths of the ocean unless the diver descended
for it; so, unless He who purchased us as gems and jewels for His crown had
taken us from 'the depths,' there we would have remained forever. And as He
rescues the pearl, so does He 'keep' it in safety, until He finally inserts
it in His mediatorial crown.
As His is the glory of the commencing work and the
sustaining work, so His is the glory of the crowning and
consummating work. The branch cannot live severed from the vine. The
limb cannot live severed from the body. The Christian lives only by virtue
of "Christ his life." It is not our repentance or our prayers, or our habits
of grace, or our long standing in grace, which either save or protect us—but
the arm of an omnipotent Redeemer. "The Lord is your Keeper." "He
that keeps Israel does not slumber." "Well might we sit down in
despair," says a gifted believer, "and say, who is sufficient for these
things? had we not the strength of Omnipotence on our side; had we not
everlasting arms underneath us, and sandals proven against the roughest
Yes, and if, at times, we may be conscious of forfeiting
the joys of salvation; it may even be undergoing spiritual darkness; we may
feel assured that that darkness generally arises from failing to look
above to Jesus and to the grace of Jesus; just as one, turning their
back to the sun, sees a shadow projected and that shadow is their own. The
remedy for getting rid of the shadow is to turn round to the all-glorious
Light of life, with the cry, "More grace! more grace!"
"All is dark on the horizon,
Clouds returning after rain;
Faith is languid, Hope is weary,
And the questions rise again—
'Does the promise fail forever?
Have You made all men in vain?'
"O Redeemer! shall one perish
Who has looked to You for aid?
Let me see You, let me hear Thee,
Through the gloomy midnight shade
Utter You Your voice of comfort;
'It is I, be not afraid.'"
"Having loved His own who were in the world, He now
showed them the full extent of His love."