Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Blessing of Christ

We have been, of all Christian people, the most privileged and blessed people around.  God has been exceedingly good to us and has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams.  He has given us great family and friends who have supported us fully; and He has met with us by His Spirit on a frequent basis.  At times we were not aware that He was near, but then there were other times when it was unmistakable that He was with us and in us.  It was nothing short of the witness of the Spirit of Christ with our spirits, which is the highest form of assurance.  To have missed this would have been absolute poverty.  Christ “manifested Himself to us,” and that is the greatest blessing of all.

Contrast this with the Old Testament evidence of God’s blessing (where many Christians live, alas) and there you will see that the signs of God’s blessing is in the acquisition of wealth – lands, property, herds, slaves.  These signs are all material signs.

However, in the New Testament, things are very much different.  John the Baptiser lived in the desert places and ate what he could from what creation provided – locusts and wild honey.  Jesus Himself was raised in poverty and lived in poverty.  During His public ministry, He did not even have anywhere to lay His head, the very birds of the air being better off than He was in this regard. The disciples renounced everything in order to follow Christ; they left all, homes, lands, families and friends, and threw in their lot with the Saviour of the world. 

Take the Huguenots in France under the tyrannical rule of Catholic King Louis XIV.  They were hounded because they embraced the true Protestant reformed faith, many losing everything, even their lives.  Yet were there holier people who witnessed for Christ than they?  The Puritans and the Scottish Covenanters experience similar things.  But as Paul tells us, “Everyone who lives a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” The Kingdom of heaven can only be entered by many tribulations.  Pity those who know nothing of persecution for their faith in this apostate and exceedingly wicked age where darkness reigns.

No, we are mightily blessed.  At the end of the day, nothing matters but being in fellowship with Christ, and knowing it.  Knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings – that’s to be really blessed.  Material possessions and worldly success do not signify God’s favour – some of the most evil and depraved people in the world have all these things. 

How many there are who are like Job’s friends!  They can talk and talk, but they do not always know what they are talking about.  They are so self-righteous that all their talk does nothing to help poor Job.  They only plunged him into deeper depression.  For them to say that it was because of something in Job, something sinful he said or did, that explains his plight, was to get it totally wrong.  They spoke as if they had total knowledge of Job’s situation, but they knew nothing.  Isn’t it interesting that it is those who know least who talk most!  Empty barrels still make the most noise.

Job’s friends needed to have walked a few miles in his sandals for them to have known anything about him and his situation; but they didn’t.  Yet they talked and preached and advised and counselled and criticised this godly servant of God.  Job’s friends are still around today.  They jump to all kinds of wild conclusions as to why certain things happen, and only succeed in making life more difficult for those who are suffering. 

Do not look at external things to discover whether or not a man has been blessed by the Lord.  Is he enjoying felt fellowship with Christ, regardless of his circumstances?  Is his love for the Lord obvious?  Does he submit himself joyfully to God’s sure providence in his circumstances?  Does he love Christ more than everything else?  Is he experiencing Christ in a real way?  Does he know God’s Spirit witnessing with his spirit that he is a child of God (Rom.8:16)? 

Once you have tasted something of this, you know God is blessing you.  And you'll not be content until this is your constant experience.

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