That is the question. That is the deciding point and factor in everything.
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If you or I claim to have more light, more revelation - God forbid that we should ever make claims like that! For God never moves beyond his Son, He never moves to theories or teachings or doctrines or things that we call revelations. He only keeps within the compass of His living Son in manifestation. Do you understand what I have been trying to say? It is very simple and very foundational. It is the measure of the manifestation, the seen, recognized presence, of the Lord Jesus - whether His presence is liked or not, that is another matter.
His presence may rouse a great deal of antagonism and hostility or it may answer to the quest of many hearts. The effect, one way or the other, is consequent upon His presence, His being recognized, and it is just how much we are manifesting of the Lord Jesus; after all our teachings and our conferences and our meetings, how much we are manifesting of the Lord Jesus, how much He is found in us. That is the deciding factor on the value of everything. No, the mark of testimony is Christ Himself manifested in a living way. That is the word of correction with which we begin.
We are led by that to these foundations again, or to this foundation which is many-sided. The foundations in Revelation are many-sided, but the foundation is one, it is Christ in His many-sidedness. Here in the Revelation it is all manner of precious stones. So the foundation which is to give its nature and character to everything that is put upon it, that is built upon it, that rests upon it, is the multiple preciousness of the Lord Jesus. Now, that preciousness is His preciousness to the Father, in the first place.
If we were to investigate the preciousness of Christ to God of course we should come very clearly to the conclusion that what is precious to God is that which answers to His own nature, that without which God cannot do, that which is to Him the thing He just must have. It is precious because it is indispensable to God, and if we looked at that which is indispensable to God, we should find that it is the constituents of His own nature.
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By contrast, we should see what God hates, what He casts away, rejects as refuse, then we should see what is precious to God. We have said that pride is an abomination to God, something cast out. Then what is precious to God is meekness, humility. That is a virtue of Christ - meekness, a contrast to pride. So we should go on, but we are not going to take up these precious stones one by one. Oh, do try to free your mind from this being some sort of an address on a subject, do try to realize this, that this is not something for a meeting, for a conference or for our times of instruction in the Word!
This is something that has to go with us tomorrow and the day after, where we are in homes, dealing with the everyday people in life, in business, out in the streets, in our journeys. It is there every day that the beauties, the excellencies of the Lord Jesus must be in manifestation. It is not what we preach, it is not that we are preachers giving subjects, but behind the preaching, behind the teaching, meeting with us, in the work day by day alongside of others, there is possible the discernment, the registration of Christ - though people may not know what it is.
There is something of the beauty of the Lord our God resting upon us, something that speaks of Christ. It is Christ, the beauties of Christ, the preciousness of Christ to the Father which is the foundation, and all that is put on the foundation must correspond to it, otherwise it is going to be put in the fire, and there will be nothing left.
You see the glories of Christ. Let us ask the Lord to create in us a passionate ambition to express the Lord Jesus more than anything else. Not to preach great truths, or to be preachers, teachers, anything like that as such, but to express the Lord Jesus, that out of Himself, His own presence, His own measure, His own nature, our opportunities for preaching, if we are going to preach at all, will come, not because we can talk, but because it is known that we have something of the Lord. Do not let us live too much in the upper stories of the house of God. The house of God is one, and it has a basement and it has a kitchen.
We do not want to always live up on the top flat, so heavenly, so spiritual, so abstract, so high up in truth that the practical things of the kitchen are left unattended to. What would you say if you went into a house and were taken upstairs and shown a very glorious, wonderfully adorned upper flat, and then somehow you managed to get down to the kitchen and found the most awful filthy mess, out of all consistency with what you found upstairs. You say, there is something wrong here, this does not tally.
There is the kitchen aspect of the spiritual life: all those practical, everyday, humdrum things where the beauty of the Lord must be seen, just as much as up there in the heavenlies in Christ. Do not let us live exclusively up there. We must live down here. That is what the Word of God does. That is what Paul did in his Ephesian letter. It is a very important side of things.
Preciousness must be found down here. We may think that is not our job - we are more spiritual than that! There is nothing that displeases the Lord more than people coming to meetings and neglecting their homes, and thinking it is another realm. It is not; it is this realm. The highest thing that you can know is the manifestation of Christ, and that is perhaps more tested in those monotonous, everyday, humdrum things of standing in queues and all that sort of thing.
Yes, but Christ is still there; not two worlds, the same world. Oh, forgive this, if it needs forgiving, for its simplicity. We must bring everything up to a high level. What I am trying to say is, do not be people of high ideas, great conceptions of truth, divorced from a practical presentation, expression, manifestation, of the Lord Jesus.
For Jesus Christ Is Precious to Believers, Sermon 4
The gospel worthy of all acceptation, or The duty of sinners to believe in Jesus Christ. A gospel salutation in true Christian love: recommended to Friends who believe in the name of the Son of God, the true light; and to all who truly desire to be grounded and settled in the faith of Christ. A gospel salutation in true Christian love, recommended to Friends, who believe in the name of the son of God, the true light; and to all who truly desire to be grounded and settled in the faith of Christ. An affectionate appeal to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. An affectionate appeal to all denominations of Christians, who believe in regeneration by the Holy Ghost, and the divinity and atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Skip to main Skip to similar items. HathiTrust Digital Library. The precious gopher wood of his humanity is overlaid with the pure gold of his divinity. He is a mine of jewels, and a mountain of gems. He is altogether lovely, but, alas! This life, its joy, its lust, its gains, its honours, —these have beauty in the eye of the unregenerate man, but in Christ he sees nothing which he can admire. He hears his name as a common word, and looks upon his cross as a thing in which he has no interest, neglects his gospel, despises his Word, and, perhaps, vents fierce spite upon his people.
But not so the believer. The man who has been brought to know that Christ is the only foundation upon which the soul can build its eternal home, he who has been taught that Jesus Christ is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, the author and the finisher of faith, thinks not lightly of Christ. He calls him all his salvation and all his desire; the only glorious and lovely one.
Now, this is a fact which has been proved in all ages of the world. Look at the beginning of Christ's appearance upon earth. Nay, we might go farther back and mark how Christ was precious in prospect to those who lived before his incarnation; but, I say, since he has come into the world, what abundant proofs have we that he is precious to his people! There were men found who were not unwilling to part with houses, and lands, and wife, and children, and country, and reputation, and honour, and wealth, nay, with life itself, for Christ's sake.
Such was the charm that Christ had for ancient Christians, that if they must renounce their patrimony and their earthly wealth for his sake, they did it cheerfully and without a murmur.
Catalog Record: The preciousness of Christ to all who believe | HathiTrust Digital Library
Nay, they could say, that what things were gain they counted but loss for Christ's sake, and did esteem them but as dross and dung if they could win Christ and be found in him. We talk lightly of these things, but these were no mean sacrifices. For a man to leave the partner of his bosom, to be despised by her who ought to honour him, to be spit upon by his own children, to be driven out by his countrymen, and have his name mentioned as a hissing, and a reproach, and a bye-word; this is no easy matter to bear; and yet the Christians in the first ages took up this cross, and not only carried it patiently, but carried it joyfully; rejoicing in tribulations, if those tribulations fell upon them for Christ's sake and the gospel.
Nay, more than this, Satan has been permitted to put forth his hand and touch Christ's people, not only in their goods and in their families, but in their bone and in their flesh. And mark how Christ's disciples have reckoned nothing to be a loss, so that they might win Christ.
Stretched upon the rack, their strained nerves have only made them sing the louder, as though they were harp strings, only put in tune when they were drawn out to their extreme length. They have been tortured with hot irons and with the pincers; their backs have been ploughed with scourges, but when have you found any of the true followers of Christ flinch in the hour of pain?
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They have borne all this, and challenged their persecutors to do more, and invent fresh arts and devices, fresh cruelties, and try them. Christ was so precious, that all the pain of the body could not make them deny him, and when at last they have been taken forth to a shameful death—let the axe and the block, let the cross of crucifixion, let the spear, let the fire and the stake, let the wild horse and the desert testify that the believer has always been a man, who would suffer all this, and vastly more, but who would never renounce his confidence in Christ.
Look at Polycarp before the lions, when he is brought into the midst of the assembly, and it is demanded of him that he will deny his God. Thousands of savage eyes look down upon him, and there he stands, a feeble man, alone in the arena, but he tells them that "he has known his Lord these many years and he never did him a displeasure, and he will not deny him at the last. The whole history of the ancient church of Christ, proves that Jesus has been an object of his peoples' highest veneration; that they set nothing in rivalry with him, but cheerfully and readily, without a murmur, or a thought, gave up all for Jesus Christ, and rejoiced to do so.
And this is just as true to-day as it was then. If to-morrow the stake could be set in Smithfield, Christian people are prepared to be fuel for the flame. If once more the block fixed on Tower hill, and the axe were brought forth from its hiding place, the heads of Christ's people would be cheerfully given, if they might but crown the head of Jesus and vindicate his cause. Those who declare that the ancient valour of the church is departed, know not what they say.
The professing church may have lost its masculine vigour; the professors of this day may be but effeminate dwarfs, the offspring of glorious fathers; but the true church, the elect out of the professing church, the remnant whom God hath chosen, are as much in love with Jesus as his saints of yore, and are as ready to suffer and to die. We challenge hell and its incarnate representative, old Rome herself; let her build her dungeons, let her revive her inquisitions, let her once more get power in the state to cut, and mangle, and burn; we are still able to possess our souls in patience.
We sometimes feel it were a good thing if persecuting days should come again, to try the church once more, and drive away the chaff, and make her like a goodly heap of wheat, all pure and clean. The rotten branches of the forest may tremble at the hurricane, for they shall be swept away, but those that have sap within them tremble not. Our roots are intertwisted with the Rock of Ages, and the sap of Christ flows within us and we are branches of the living vine, and nothing shall sever us from him.
We know that not persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword, shall divide us from the love of Christ, for in all these things we shall be as the church has been, more than conquerors through him that loved us. Does any one think that I exaggerate? Mark, then, if what I have said be not true, then Christ has no church at all; for the church that is not prepared to suffer, and bleed and die for Christ, is not Christ's church. For what does he say? Albeit that Christ may not put us fully to the test, yet, if we be true, we must be ready for the ordeal; and if we be sincere, though we may tremble at the thought of it, we shall not tremble in the endurance of it.
Many a man who says in his heart, "I have not a martyr's faith," has really that noble virtue; and let him but once come to the push, and the world shall see the grace that has been hidden, rising a giant from his slumbers. The faith which endures the relaxing of the world's sunshine, would endure the cutting frost of the world's persecution.
We need not fear; if we be true to-day, we shall be true always. This is not mere fiction, many are the proofs that Christ is still precious. Shall I tell you of the silent sufferers for Christ, who at this day suffer a martyrdom of which we hear not, but which is true and real? How many a young girl there is who follows Christ in the midst of an ungodly family; her father upbraids her, laughs at her, makes a scoff of her holiness, and pierces her through the heart with his sarcasm! Her brothers and her sisters call her "Puritan," "Methodist," and the like, and she is annoyed day by day with what the apostle calls, "Trial of cruel mockings.
We have no Fox to write their martyrology, they have not the flesh-contenting knowledge that they shall be publicly honoured; but they suffer alone and unheard of, still praying for those who laugh at them: bowing themselves before God on their knees in agony, not on account of the persecution, but in agony of soul for the persecutors themselves, that they may be saved.
How many there are of such young men in workshops, employed in large establishments, who bend their knee at night by the bed-side, in a large room where there are many scoffers. Some of us have known this in our youthful days, and have had to endure it; but Christ is precious to the silent sufferings of his people; these unhonoured martyrdoms prove that his church has not ceased to love him, not to esteem him precious. How many there are, too—how many thousands of unseen and unknown labourers for Christ, whose names cannot be here declared.
They toil from morning till night all through the week, and the Sabbath day should be a day of rest to them; but they work more on the Sabbath day than on any other day. They are visiting the beds of the sick; their feet are weary, and nature says rest, but they go into the lowest dens and haunts of the city to speak to the ignorant, and endeavour to spread the name and honour of Jesus where it has not been known.
There are many such who are working hard for Christ, though the church scarce knows of it. And how many, too, there are who prove that they love Christ by the continual liberality of their offerings. Many are the poor people I have discovered, who have denied themselves of this and that, because they would serve Christ's cause.
And many there are, too—every now and then we find them out—in the middle ranks of society, who give a hundred times as much to the cause of Christ as many of the rich and wealthy; and if you knew to what little trials they are put, to what shifts they are driven in order to serve Christ, you would say, "The man that can do this proves clearly that Christ is precious to him. There is a church of Christ within it, but the visible church, as it stands before you, is not to be considered the church of Christ; we must pass it through the fire, and bring the third part through the flame; for this is the day when the dross is mingled with gold.
How hath the much fine gold become dim; how hath the glory departed. Zion is under a cloud. But mark, though you see it not, there is a church, a hidden church; an unmoving centre amidst the growing of profession, there is a life within this outward fungus of a growing Christianity; there is a life that is within, and to that hidden host, that chosen company, Christ is precious—they are proving it every day by their patient sufferings, by their laborious efforts, by their constant offerings to the church of Christ.
I will tell you one thing that proves—proves to a demonstration, that Christ is still precious to his people, and it is this: —send one of Christ's people to hear the most noted preacher of the age, whoever that may be; he preaches a very learned sermon, very fine and magnificent, but there is not a word about Christ in that sermon. Suppose that to be the case, and the Christian man will go out and say, "I did not care a farthing for that man's discourse.
I heard nothing about Christ. In fact, you will find that Christians are all agreed, that the best sermon is that which is fullest of Christ. They never like to hear a sermon unless there is something of Christ in it. A Welsh minister who was preaching last Sabbath at the chapel of my dear brother, Jonathan George, was saying, that Christ was the sum and substance of the gospel, and he broke out into this story: —A young man had been preaching in the presence of a venerable divine, and after he had done he went to the old minister, and said, "What do you think of my sermon?
Didn't you think the metaphors were appropriate and the arguments conclusive? And my dear brother, your business in when you get to a text, to say, 'Now what is the road to Christ? And," said he, "I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it.
But if you want to try this again and prove it, go and see some of our sick and dying friends; go and talk to them about the Reform Bill, and they will look you in the face and say, "Oh, I am going from this time-state: it is a very small matter to me whether the Reform Bill will be carried or not. Well, then, sit down and talk to them about the weather, and how the crops are getting on—"Well, it is a good prospect for wheat this year.
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