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In the fruit from a tree man lost fellowship with God; in the Cross from a tree He regained fellowship with man. Now, there can be nothing remaining between believers and the Father that the Lord Jesus’ reparation has not forever removed which hindered fellowship with Them. All that remains for saints now concerning fellowship is knowing they have title to “drawing near to God,” so He can “draw near to you” (Jam 4:8).
Though they will continue to wrestle “against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Eph 6:12) and against the closest enemy within (“old man”—Rom 7:14-25), their source of exhortation will be (at least the potential if understood) impeccably-guiltless peace with God in Christ, which “abounds” (Rom 5:20)—“through the Blood of His Cross” (Col 1:20). All now for those in the Lord Jesus is chastisement in love and never again punishment in wrath!
Due to indwelling sin (Rom 7:17, 20) many of those reborn may limit their fellowship with God by not taking into account that all interference has been addressed, for “the worshippers after being purged should have no more conscience of sins” (Heb 10:2). Thus, to the degree of being conscientious of the indwelling sin is the degree to which one is conscientiously limiting this fellowship! Let us not reserve sin anywhere in a false accountability of guilt, that we may be used to help others in the same place!
The Profit of Pain
You may talk of chastisement or correction, for our Father deals with us as with children; or you may speak of reaping the results of former years; or you may have to bear the consequences of the sins and mistakes of others; but do not speak of punishment (believers are never in trouble with God, for all now is used for teaching—NC). Surely all the guilt and penalty of sin were “laid” on the Lord Jesus (Isa 53:5, 6), and He put them away forever.
If the Father punishes us for our sins, it would seem that the sufferings of the Lord Jesus were incomplete; and if He once began to punish us, life would be too short for the infliction of all that we deserve. Besides, how could we explain the anomalies of life, and the heavy sufferings of the saints as compared with the frivolous lives of the lost? Surely, if our sufferings were penal, there would be a reversal of these lots.
Our suffering and sorrow may be caused by the neglect or cruelty of another, by circumstances over which the sufferer has no control, or as the direct result of some dark hour in the distant past; but inasmuch as our Father has permitted it to come, it must be accepted as His appointment, and considered as the furnace by which He is searching, testing, probing and purifying the soul.
Suffering searches us as fire does metals. We think we are fully for God, until we are exposed to the cleansing fire of pain; then we discover, as Job did, how much dross there is in us, and how little real patience, resignation and faith. Nothing so detaches us from the things of this world, the life of sense, and the birdlime of earthly affections. There is probably no other way by which the power of the old man can be arrested, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:10, 11).
Our Father always keeps the discipline of sorrow and pain in His own hands. Our Lord said, “My Father is the husbandman.” His hands hold the pruning knife; His eye watches the crucible; His gentle touch is on the pulse while the operation is in progress. He will not allow even the Enemy to have his own way with us. As in the case of Job, so always. The moments are carefully allotted. The severity of the test is exactly determined by the reserves of grace and strength which are lying unrecognized within, but will be sought for and used beneath the severe pressure of pain. He holds the winds in His fist, and the waters in the hollow of His hand. He dare not risk the loss of that which has cost Him the Blood of His Son. “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tried above that ye are able.”
Be sure to study the art of this Divine comfort, that you may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction with the comfort with which you yourself have been comforted of God (2 Cor 1:4). There can be no doubt that some trials are permitted to come to us, as to our Lord, for no other reason than that by means of them we should become able to give sympathy and succor to others. Then we should watch with all care each symptom of the pain, and each prescription of the Great Physician, since in all probability at some future time we shall be called upon to minister to those passing through similar experiences. Thus we learn by the things that we suffer, and being made mature, become authors of priceless and eternal help to souls in agony.
- F B Meyer
Excerpt from MJS devotional for November 28:
“It is one thing to teach, but quite another to cultivate, nurture, and bring to maturity. ‘There are ten thousand tutors,’ but “not many fathers.” Not many who are willing to know the conformity to death which brings the travail for souls, in fellowship with Him who travailed on the Cross for us.” – MJS
“Where man calls for conditions, God calls for the Cross. As the finished work of the Cross is applied to the life by the Holy Spirit, thereby progressively holding the old man in the position of death, the believer is conditioned for the Spirit’s fullness. It is not a surrendered self, but a crucified self that gives the Spirit freedom in the life.” – Samuel Ridout