A hand, a divine and omnipotent hand! The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. He is mighty to comfort as well as to sanctify. His name is “the Comforter.” His office is to console. In the discharge of this office He puts forth His power, not only mediately and indirectly through the Word, but immediately and directly upon the soul, sustaining and strengthening it when fainting and troubled. It is an unspeakable consolation to know that there is a hand, a divine and omnipotent hand, laid upon our wounded spirit–not only upholding it, but drying up, as it were, the very springs of grief within. In the day of oppressive sorrow, when bowed down to the dust, what is it that we feel so much our need of, as a hand that can come into close and direct contact with our souls to lift them up and strengthen them? It is here that human consolation fails. Friends can say much to soothe us, but they cannot lay their finger upon the hidden seat of sorrow. They can put their arm around the fainting body, but not around the fainting spirit. Here the heavenly aid comes in! The Spirit throws around us the everlasting arms, and we are invincibly upheld. We cannot sink, for He sustains, He comforts, He cheers. And who knows so well as He how to sustain, and comfort, and cheer? (Horatius Bonar, “The Night of Weeping”)
“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24. Let the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, work us into a gracious willingness to embrace sufferings for His sake, and cheerfully and resolutely to take up His cross and follow Him. Did Christ suffer, who knew no sin–and shall we think it strange to suffer, who know nothing but sin?
Shall He lie sweltering under His Father’s wrath–and shall we cry out under men’s anger? Was He crowned with thorns–and must we be crowned with rose-buds? Was His whole life, from the cradle to the cross, made up of nothing but sorrows and sufferings–and must our lives, from the cradle to the grave, be filled up with nothing but pleasures and delights? Was He despised–and must we be admired?Was He debased–and must we be exalted? Was He poor–and must we be rich? Was He low–and must we be high? Did He drink of a bitter cup, a bloody cup–and must we have only cups of consolation? Let us not think anything too much to do for Christ, nor anything too great to suffer for Christ,
nor anything too dear to part with for such a Christ, such a Savior–who thought nothing too much to do, nor too grievous to suffer–so that He might accomplish the work of our redemption! He left Heaven for us–and shall not we let go of this world for Him? He left His Father’s bosom for us–and shall not we leave the bosoms of our dearest relations for Him? He underwent all sorts of sufferings for us–let us as readily encounter with all sorts of sufferings for Him. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich–yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich!” 2 Corinthians 8:9. (Thomas Brooks, “The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures”)
All plenitude is in Christ, to answer all the needs of His people. In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, that out of His fullness I may receive all spiritual blessings! Have I destroyed myself by sin? I have deliverance from Him who is mighty to save from sin and wrath! Is my foolish mind darkened; am I a guilty, polluted and ruined wretch? Jesus is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption! Is my life fleeting and passing away like a shadow? Jesus is the Ancient of days, and endures forevermore! Are my days short-lived and full of trouble? Jesus is my life, the length of my days, and the joy of my heart! Am I exposed to contempt? Jesus shall be my crown of glory, and diadem of beauty! Am I traveling through the wilderness? Jesus is my staff, and on Him I lean all the way! Am I on my last journey to my long home? Jesus is my leader, and my rewarder! Am I a sheep? Jesus is my pasture, and my green pasture too! Am I hungry and thirsty? Jesus is my heavenly manna, and gives me to drink of the water of life! Am I weary? Jesus is my rest and refreshing! Am I weak? Jesus is my strength! (James Meikle, May 24, 1757)
“The first person to whom he showed himself alive after the resurrection was a weeping woman who had no greater claim upon him than any simple penitent sinner has. No eye except that of the angels had as yet rested upon his form. The time was as solemn and majestic as that of the first creation when light burst out of chaos and darkness. Heaven and earth were concerned in this event; it was the turning-point of the ages. Nor was this merely objectively so: Jesus felt himself the central figure in this newborn universe; he tasted the exquisite joy of one who had just entered upon an endless life in the possession of new powers and faculties such as human nature had never known before. Would it have been unnatural had he sought some quiet place to spend the opening hour of this new unexplored state in communion with the Father? Can there be any room in his mind for the humble ministry of consolation required by Mary? He answers these questions himself. Among all the voices that hailed his triumph no voice appealed to him like this voice of weeping in the garden. The first appearance of the risen Lord was given to Mary for no other reason than that she needed him first and needed him most. And what more appropriate beginning could have been set for his ministry of glory than this very act? Nothing could better convince us that in his exalted state he retains for us the same tender sympathy, the same individual affection as he showed during the days of his flesh.” Geerhardus Vos
“How is your Beloved better than others?” Song of Songs 5:9. Does not our Friend as far excel all other friends as Heaven exceeds earth, as eternity exceeds time, as the Creator surpassesHis creatures? See all the fullness of the Godhead–dwelling in One who is as meek and mild as a child.See His countenance beaming with ineffable glories–full of mingled majesty, condescension and love.Hear the soul-reviving invitations and gracious words which proceed from His lips. See that hand in which dwells everlasting strength–swaying the scepter of universal empire over all creatures and all worlds.
See His arms expanded to receive and embrace returning sinners.
While His heart, a bottomless, shoreless ocean of benevolence–overflows with tenderness, compassion, and love. Such, O sinner, is our Beloved–and such is our Friend. Will you not then embrace Him as your Friend? If you can be persuaded to do this–you will find that half, nay, that the thousandth part has not been told to you! All the excellency, glory and beauty which is found in men or angels, flows from Christ–as a drop of water from the ocean, or a ray of light from the sun. If, then, you supremely love the creature–can you wonder that Christians should love the Creator! Can you wonder that those who behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, should be sweetly drawn to Him by the cords of love, and lose their fondness for created glories? All that you love and admire and wish for in creatures, and indeed infinitely more–they find in Him! (Edward Payson) Do you wish for a friend possessed of power to protect you? Our Friend possesses all power in Heaven and earth, and is able to save even to the uttermost! Do you wish for a wise friend? In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Do you wish for a tender, compassionate friend? Christ is tenderness and compassion itself.Do you wish for a faithful, unchangeable friend? With Christ there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His unchangeable love will ever prompt Him to make His people happy! His unerring wisdom will point out the best means to promote their happiness!His infinite power will enable Him to employ those means. In all these respects, our Beloved is more than any other beloved! (Edward Payson, 1783-1827, former pastor of what is now Second Parish)
Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit
“[The disciples] feared that they would know less of Christ and that their…intimacy would come to an end when he departed from them. Now he taught them that in fact they would know him better and understand more about him and their relationship with him…From [the Spirit] the disciples learn that they are ‘in’ Christ and Christ also dwells in them. Rather than ‘losing’ him, they will gain him in a more intimate way. In keeping with this, union with Christ becomes virtually the central theme of the rest of the New Testament.”
He does as He pleases!
“For the Lord Almighty has purposed–and who can thwart Him? His hand is stretched out–and who can turn it back?” Isaiah 14:27. To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth–so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will. Whatever takes place in time–is but the outworking of that which He has decreed in eternity. The sovereignty of the God of Scripture, is absolute, irresistible and infinite! We insist that God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases! “But our God is in the heavens–He has done whatever He has pleased!” Psalm 115:3. “The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the Heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!” Psalm 135:6. “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of Heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have you done?” Daniel 4:35. (A. W. Pink)
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!” Romans 8:28. There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend, than the doctrine of their Master ruling over all creation, the kingship of God over all the works of His own hand, the throne of God, and His right to reign upon that throne. (Charles Spurgeon) “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases!” Psalm 115:3. “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.” Daniel 4:35. “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!” Revelation 19:6. “To be God and sovereign are inseparable!” (Stephen Charnock) “Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. He is sovereign in all His attributes!” (Arthur Pink) “God has sovereign right to dispose of us as He pleases. We ought to acquiesce in all that God does with us and to us.” (William Carey)
“Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47. It is very affecting that the first offers of grace should be made to those who, of all people in the world–had done Him the most harm! One would rather have expected the apostles would have received another kind of charge, and that Christ would have said, “Let repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached–but do NOT carry it to Jerusalem, that wicked city, that has been the slaughter-house of my prophets, whom I have often sent. Last of all, I myself, the Son, came–and with wicked hands, they have crucified and murdered Me! They may do the same to you! Do not let the gospel enter those wicked gates, through which they led Me, its Author, to crucifixion!” But Christ singles out exactly these murderous people of Jerusalem–to make monuments of His mercy, and commands the first offer of eternal life to be made to them! As if our Lord had said: “Lest the poor house of Israel should think themselves abandoned to eternal despair–as cruel and vile as they have been–go, make the first offer of grace to them! Let those who spilled My blood–be welcome to its healing virtue. Tell them that there is repentance and forgiveness, even for them! “Nay, if you meet that poor wretch who thrust his spear into My side, tell him that there is another way, a better way of coming to My heart–even My heart’s love! Tell him, that if he will repent, and look upon Me whom he has pierced, and will mourn–then I will cherish him in that very bosom which he has wounded! Tell him that he shall find the blood which he has shed–to be an ample atonement for the sin of shedding it! And tell him from Me, that he will put Me to more pain and displeasure by refusing this offer of My blood–than when he first drew it forth!” “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance!” Matthew 9:13. (Benjamin Grosvenor, 1676-1758, “The Temper of Jesus Christ towards His Enemies, and His Grace to the Chief of Sinners”)” 1900)
Eighteen centuries ago the apostle Paul forewarned us, “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear!” 2 Timothy 4:3. The natural man hates the Gospel and all its distinctive doctrines, and delights in any vain excuse for refusing it. The plain truth is, that the root of the whole evil lies in the fallen nature of man, and his deeply-seated unbelief in God’s infallible Word. I suspect we have no idea how little saving faith there is on earth, and how few people entirely believe Bible truths. One man is proud–he dislikes the distinctive doctrines of Christianity, because they leave him no room to boast. Another is lazy and indolent–he dislikes distinctive doctrine, because it summons him to troublesome thought, and self-inquiry, and mental self-exertion. Another is grossly ignorant–he imagines that all distinctive doctrine is a mere matter of words and names, and that it does not matter a jot what we believe. Another is thoroughly worldly–he shrinks from distinctive doctrine, because it condemns his darling world. But in one form or another, I am satisfied that “original sin” is the cause of all the mischief. And the whole result is, that vast numbers of men greedily swallow down the seemingly new idea that doctrine is of no great importance. It supplies a convenient excuse for their sins. The consequences of this widespread dislike to doctrine are very serious in the present day. Whether we like to allow it or not, it is an epidemic which is doing great harm. It creates, fosters, and keeps up an immense amount of instability in religion. It produces what I must venture to call, if I may coin the phrase, a jellyfish Christianity in the churches–that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. (J.C. Ryle, “The Importance of Dogma” 1900)