Christ - The Answer

"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, 
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus"

Hebrews 3:1

WHEN a traveller passes hurriedly through a country, his eye has no time to rest on objects of interest, so that when he comes to the end of his journey, no distinct impression has been made upon his mind. Others may speak of the grandeur of the hills and the beauty of the valleys, but that has passed his notice. Hurry and preoccupation of mind have robbed him of much, and he is the poorer for what he has missed.

Now, it seems to me that what is true in the field of our common life is equally true in the higher sphere of our Christian life. We lose much because we do not take time to dwell on the grand things of God. The familiar words of the hymn:

"Take time to be holy! Speak oft with thy Lord; 
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word",

express one of the greatest needs of the Christian Church today. The Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne said:

"If we are to live and walk worthy of our high and holy calling, we must live in daily consideration of the greatness and glory of Jesus Christ." When Moses would impress upon the children of Israel the greatness of God's provision and the wonder of His deliverance, His words to Israel were: "Stand still, and see the Salvation of the Lord" (Exodus 14:13). If the Lord's purpose for our lives is to be fully realized, one thing is essential, and that is, we must practise the habit of getting alone with God: in other words, we must 'Consider Him'. The life to which we have been called and directed can only be entered upon by close fellowship with God, so that in the secret place of His presence we shall discover the riches of His grace and the certainty of His provision for us. But we shall also discover things about ourselves that we never suspected before. It is in simple expansion of this profound truth that I now write.

Let us "consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession" (Hebrews 3:1), or as Moffatt's translation puts it: "Holy brothers, ye who participate in a heavenly calling, look at Jesus then."

I think you will agree with me when I say that we are living in an age of hurried activity and we have become too largely the children of the age in which we live. Somehow I fear that many of us have lost the art of listening to the voice of God, and in the midst of the world's rush and hurry we ourselves have become restless and lacking in desire to get alone with our God. I often picture Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. What depth of meaning there is in the words: "Mary ... sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word" (Luke 10:39), i.e., she sat listening, and in that hour Mary discovered that true worship is just waiting upon God and listening to His voice. Is this not suggested in the words of the hymn:

"Speak, Lord, in Thy stillness, while I wait on Thee;
Hush my heart to listen in expectancy".

This is the attitude of soul that takes us away from the din of men into the deep places with God, and surely that is where we want to get these days! There, we are beyond second causes; we are away from ourselves and others, and God becomes the Supreme Reality. In that moment the soul becomes attuned to the music of His words, and

"Heaven comes down, our souls to greet,
And glory crowns the Mercy-seat!"

What do the words, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10), mean, but that God is to be heard where the atmospherics of the world no longer confuse and distract? This fellowship with God will correct our erring thoughts, will still the fever of affairs and sweep from the soul the jazz of the secular.

Let us now think of The One we are to consider: The writer to the Hebrews directs us to "the High Priest of our profession." Here we have two words that seem to suggest a dual relationship; (a) Priest, my relationship to God-the basis of fellowship; (b) profession, my relationship to man-the outcome of fellowship. In Hebrews 2:17 Jesus is spoken of as our "faithful High Priest," who made "reconciliation for the sins of the people." Let it ever be understood that reconciliation is the ultimate reality in God's dealings with the human race. It underlies the whole of Christian experience, bringing man into a right relationship with God. In that right relationship lies the secret of fellowship, as also of victory and revival.

I sometimes point out that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not Sanctification. Sanctification is the Holy Spirit rightly relating me to Jesus. Someone has said: "Sanctification is not my responsibility, but my response to Christ's ability." Our faithful High Priest has dealt with the sin question, and now the benefits of His death and resurrection can be ours in a new relationship. So we sing:

"I am crucified with Jesus
And the Cross has set me free;
Now, I live again in Jesus,
And He lives and reigns in me.
This, the secret of the holy,
Not my holiness, but Him;
Jesus, empty me and fill me
With Thy fullness to the brim".

Some years ago, while assisting at a Convention for the deepening of spiritual life, a lady came to me at the close of the meeting and said: "The life you proclaim is impossible, human nature being what it is!" I replied by saying: "Yes, if you are seeking it through human nature, but I believe the Gospel begins by proposing that human nature shall not remain what it is: the Gospel begins by proposing that human nature shall be changed, and there are thousands today who witness to this glorious fact." She saw the truth and embraced it. Thank God! there is a mystical union which cannot be defined, but can be realized, as we enter into that blessed relationship. The words of the well-known hymn become true in experience:

"I rise to walk in heaven's own light, 
Above the world and sin,
With heart made pure and garments white, 
And Christ enthroned within".

These words express something more than mere sentiment: they speak of a life with a new purpose and a new power-a life that gives a sense of direction and grips the soul's scattered energies, focussing them on the one thing that matters, namely, seeking "first the Kingdom of God": not only purpose but power! And is power not just what the church needs today? Here I quote from words spoken by a bishop who chaired a meeting for me: "Might I suggest that the serious question which concerns us is not that the state of our country is so bad, but that in a country that claims to be Christian, the Christian witness is so feeble! How is it that while we make such great claims for the power of the Gospel, in practice we see so little of the supernatural in operation?" "All power is given unto Me," said Jesus, so Paul cried, "Consider Him."

I think it will be generally agreed that the state of our country at present presents a challenge to the Christian Church. There is a growing conviction that unless God moves and demonstrates His power, other forces will take the field, and we shall be caught up in a counterfeit movement, but a movement under the name of evangelism. We hear a great deal today about the need of penetrating the masses with the influences of the Church. If we study the life of the apostles, we shall see that they had something more than influence - I mean by influence the sum total of all the forces in our personality-mental, moral, academic, social and religious. We can have all these at their highest level and yet be destitute of that which made the apostles the men that they were men of power! The success of the early church did not depend on influence. Do we not read: "Not many wise men alter the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence?" (1 Corinthians 1:26-29), all of which is equal to saying that God has chosen power rather than influence. That is surely the reason why Paul prayed: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection" (Philippians 3:10).

Today we have substituted entertainment for the magnetism of the Holy Ghost, and that in spite of the fact that the Word declares: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto Me" (John 12.:32). "Oh," but say the advocates of entertainment, "how are we to get the people, especially the young people?" I ask, "How did they get the people at Pentecost? How did they get them in 1859? By publicity, programmes, by bills and posters, by parades and pictures? No! but by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven!" I would subscribe with all my heart to what someone said recently: "The greatest danger of the Christian Church today is not from Communism or any other 'ism'. Her greatest danger lies in a popular imitation Christianity which all men speak well of."

We seem to be afraid of disturbing people! During the awakening in a certain town in the Highlands I received a letter from a minister in which he accused me of disturbing the peace of the community. In my reply I was forced to point out that there was peace in the graveyard, but it was the peace of death!

If we consider Jesus and the message proclaimed by Him we shall come to see His were no easy, soothing words that made the hearers feel all nice inside. Think of the words: "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come" (Matthew 3:7)? That, surely, was a message profoundly disturbing! I am convinced that the tragic plight of human souls today will not be met by soft and easy words. Calvary was anything but nice to look at-blood-stained beams of wood! But Jesus was not dealing with a nice thing; He was dealing with the sins of the world!

"Surely," said a leading evangelical to me some time ago, "you do not believe in the hell of the Puritans?" I replied, "I believe in the hell that Christ believed in and spoke about!" It is my deep conviction that such collapse of conscience in this land could never have existed if the Puritan element in our preaching had not in a great measure fallen out.

We now come to consider the word profession, suggesting the outcome of fellowship. "Ye are the salt of the earth: . . . Ye are the light of the world," said Jesus (Matthew 5:13-14). Surely that speaks of the positive power of a true profession: like salt which destroys what is bad, and preserves what is good, and like light which gives warning and direction. I believe that the times in which we live demand a profession that is real and not faked. Someone has said: "Live to the world's conscience but avoid its taste," and this we can best do by refusing to lower our standard to world conformity. True, we must be large in sympathy and wide in outlook, but ever keep to the narrow way, which is the way of the Cross. It will mean that the reconciling and delivering power of Jesus must proclaim itself in our sacrificial living. A world that is rocked in a sea of trouble cries aloud for a sure anchor-age. Surely no question in all the range of thought is so vital in its issue as this one: "Is my life a light, and my profession' such as cries aloud, 'This is the way'?" The world is tired of organized religion and our ecclesiastical Systems. What man needs is Jesus.

"Tell me," said a young undergraduate at Cambridge, "is there a Saviour that can save a young man from sin?" He was in search of the evidence! "You can never give another what you have found," said Oswald Chambers, "but you can make him homesick for what you have." May our profession of faith in Jesus be such as will cause others to hunger for righteousness and make it easy for them to believe in the Saviour of the world.

I close by quoting the verses that follow:

"Thou hast no tongue, O Christ, as once of old, 
To tell the story of Thy love Divine;
The story is the same, so rich, so true,
But there's no tongue to tell it out but mine.

"Thou hast no hands, O Christ, as once of old, 
To feed the multitudes with bread Divine;
Thou hast the living bread, enough for all,
But there's no hand to give it out but mine.

"Thou hast no feet, O Christ, as once to go, 
Where Thy lost sheep in sorrow pine;
Thy love is still the same, as deep, as true,
But now, Thou last no feet to go but mine.

"And shall I use these ransomed powers of mine 
For things that only minister to me?
Lord, take my tongue, my hands, my feet, my all,
And let me live and love, and give my all to Thee".