In a musical instrument there are some keys that must be touched in order to evoke its fullest melodies; God is a wonderful organist who knows just what heart-chord to strike.
In the Black Forest of Germany, a baron built a castle with two lofty towers. From one tower to the other he stretched several wires, which in calm weather were motionless and silent. When the wind began to blow, the wires began to play like an Eolian harp in the window. As the wind rose into a fierce gale, the old baron sat in his castle and heard his mighty hurricane-harp playing grandly over the battlements.
So while the weather is calm and the skies clear, a great many of the emotions of a Christian’s heart are silent. As soon as the wind of adversity smites the chords, the heart begins to play; and when God sends a hurricane of terrible trial, you will hear strains of submission and faith, and even of sublime confidence and holy exultation which could never have been heard in the calm hours of prosperity.
Oh, brethren, let the winds smite us, if they only make the spices flow; let us not shrink from the deepest trial, if at midnight we can only sing praises to God.
— From God’s Light on Dark Clouds by Theodore Cuyler, 1882
Friend, do you see eternity from where you are standing?
The Lord knows I have no desire to make your condition worse than it is by asking this question, nor to bring you any unnecessary fear or trouble. But you would call me a treacherous enemy, and not a good neighbor, if I should flatter you and not tell you the truth. If you visit a doctor when you’re sick, you expect him to tell you the truth, even if the diagnosis is grim. Sure, the knowledge of your disease may increase your fears; but you must know it or else you can never recover from it.
It is the same way with the spiritual sickness that brings eternal condemnation. I’m concerned that you are a stranger to God. For if you were a believer in Jesus Christ, your very heart would be set on God and His purpose for your life and the life to come. You would make it your chief concern to follow Christ now and prepare for everlasting happiness. You would not live in any willful sin, or neglect any known duty. You would joyfully live for Christ, knowing that He has prepared a place for you in heaven.
Are you afraid that preaching the gospel will not win souls? Are you despondent as to success in God’s way? Is this why you pine for clever oratory? Is this why you must have music, and architecture, and flowers and millinery? After all, is it by might and power, and not by the Spirit of God? It is even so in the opinion of many.
Brethren beloved, there are many things which I might allow to other worshippers which I have denied myself in conducting the worship of this congregation. I have long worked out before your very eyes the experiment of the unaided attractiveness of the gospel of Jesus. Our service is severely plain. No man ever comes hither to gratify his eye with art, or his ear with music. I have set before you, these many years, nothing but Christ crucified, and the simplicity of the gospel; yet where will you find such a crowd as this gathered together this morning? Where will you find such a multitude as this meeting Sabbath after Sabbath, for five-and-thirty years? I have shown you nothing but the cross, the cross without flowers of oratory, the cross without diamonds of ecclesiastical rank, the cross without the buttress of boastful science. It is abundantly sufficient to attract men first to itself, and afterwards to eternal life!
Are you a coward?
That’s the horrifying question I asked myself as a believer the first time I read the 21st chapter of Revelation, as recorded by the Apostle John at Patmos. It is a rich and riveting account filled with vivid promises of final victory that captures the imagination and bring the believer to his knees in contemplation of an eternity without suffering, sadness, or even death. And yet, abruptly, in the middle of that hope-filled chapter where God lovingly wipes away every tear, we are confronted with the devastating flip-side of a much different outcome.
Some people, in various states of spiritual malignancy, will be tossed into the lake of fire and sulfur. And first on the list, and perhaps foremost, are the cowards:
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8
This verse should immediately snatch the breath from any sensitive Christian. The “cowardly”? Is there a believer in all the world who has never struggled with doubt nor shrunk back in fear from earthly trouble? Is anyone thus saved? Am I saved?
In the RCAMS Inventory of Roxburghshire of 1956, there is a detailed description of the Scottish ruin of Melrose Abbey that notes the presence of a carved stone scroll on the magnificent south transept gable bearing this text, in Latin: “When Jesus comes, the shadow will yield and depart.” Sadly, the scroll has since disappeared, but the profound truth upon it is still etched on the heart of every believer.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” — John 8:12
Jesus said, “When he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He is truth essentially in himself, and he is the one who leads the church into all truth.
But what does Jesus mean by “all truth”? He does not mean “all truth” absolutely. The Holy Spirit’s work is not to lead us into all historical, geographical, astronomical and mathematical truth. The Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of God, of the gospel, of the counsel of God about the salvation of the church by Christ (Acts 20:27). The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth necessary for faith and obedience (Acts 20:21).
Each believer is led into all the truth necessary to his own state and condition, to enable him to do his duty and work (Eph. 4:7). Christ gives to each according to his measure and needs.