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From “Light and Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes” by Horatius Bonar

The Holy Fire Of The Altar.

“For our God is consuming fire.”- Heb_12:29.

Is it not written, ‘God is love?’ Is it not also written, ‘God is light?’ Yet here we read, God, nay, ‘our God is a consuming fire.’ We have like words, once and again, in the Old Testament. ‘The Lord thy God is a consuming fire’ (Deu_4:24). ‘The sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount’ (Exo_24:17). ‘A fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about’ (Psa_97:3).

There seems in our text special reference to the fire of the altar, which consumed the sacrifice without consuming the worshipper. ‘There came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat’ (Lev_9:24). ‘When Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices;…and when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord’ (2Ch_7:1; 2Ch_7:3).

It does seem strange to read, ‘Our God is a consuming fire.’ How is this? Where is the grace here? Where is the gospel, and the pardon, and the childlike confidence? Let us see. The expression is sacrificial and as such let us consider it. It is either the fire coming down from heaven upon the altar, or it is the fire upon the altar fed continually by the wood laid thereon. It is probably both of these; for these are properly one fire, its use being to consume the sacrifice.

I. The fire itself.-It is the symbol of divine anger against evil,- holy, righteous anger,-not the symbol merely of holiness or righteousness (the symbol of these is light), but of holiness and righteousness in their estimate of sin, and in their dealings with sin and the sinner. From Genesis down to Revelation fire is referred to, and always in connection with divine displeasure against the workers of iniquity. We have the flaming sword of Paradise, Sodom and Gomorrha, the doom of Korah, the destruction of the three fifties at the command of Elijah, and the lake of fire. Holy anger against sin,-holy anger consuming the object of its displeasure. It is this that is to blaze forth so terribly against the rejecters of the Son of God when He comes in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God.

II. The place of this fire.-The altar of burnt offering. God has set a place where this fire shall display itself perpetually, burning day and night. It touches nothing but what is on the altar. However many may be standing round, the fire touches them not. It exhausts itself on the sacrifice. The altar receives it, and the victim absorbs it. All else is safe. It is concentrated on this one spot, and pours itself out on the one object, like lightning attracted by a slender conducting-rod, and turning aside to nothing else, but expending itself there. Earth,-the whole earth,-is the guilty region, on which the fire should be poured. But God in His grace withdraws it from this wide sweep, and concentrates it on the one single point, the brazen altar. Nowhere else is it permitted to burn. Earth is safe. The wrath is gathered together and poured down on one spot and one victim. Here is substitution. Here is grace. Here is the withdrawal of the anger from its deserved objects. Here is the assurance that God has no pleasure in the death of the sinner.

III. The power of this fire.-It is the fire of God. It is consuming fire, irresistible fire. It has showed itself in former ages; it is yet to show itself more terribly in the great day. Who can stand before it? Who knoweth the power of Thy wrath? When it waxes hot, it devours all before it. O fire of God, how irresistible art thou! O wrath of God, how terrible art thou! Who can dwell with the devouring fire? who can dwell with the everlasting burnings? Shall not the sinner tremble before it? Shall not the saints of God stand in awe, and rejoice with trembling? An angry God is fearful. Let the sinner turn. A God whose anger is turned away is still to be reverenced and feared by His own.

IV. The effects of this fire.-It may be truly said to have all the properties of earthly fire: (1) it destroys; (2) it purifies; (3) it burns up wood, and hay, and stubble; (4) it separates the dross from the gold; (5) it draws out odor from what is odorous; (6) it makes the bright shine brighter.

But it is of the effects of the fire in connection with the altar that we speak. It quenches itself in the blood of the burnt-offering, and so completes the sacrifice. After this, the sinner who accepts this altar as his place of worship and of approach to God has nothing to fear. The fire is exhausted in so far as the sinner is concerned. The blood waited for the fire, and the fire for the blood. They came at last together, and all was done. ‘It is finished.’ The cry of the victim, ‘Why hast Thou forsaken me?’ showed the completion of the propitiation, and the exhaustion of the holy wrath. The fire is now satisfied. It needs no more. The sin which drew it down (transferred from the sinner to his offering) has been condemned and punished. The offerer is free. There is no condemnation for him. His guilt has been expiated. The fire has consumed the victim, and atonement has been fully made.

Stand by this altar, O man, and this ‘no condemnation’ becomes thine. Meet God here, where the fire and the blood have met, and thou hast nothing to fear. Righteousness propitiated and magnified bids thee come in peace, and go in peace, with ‘Who is he that condemneth?’ upon thy grateful lips, as thy song of praise.

 

 

From “Light and Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes” by Horatius Bonar

The Coming Kingdom.

“That ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.” – 2Th_1:5.

“The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”- Rom_14:17.

We are ‘kings and priests unto God’ (Rev_1:6). The exercise of this royalty and priesthood is not yet. It will come in due time. ‘If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him;’ and the song which the redeemed sing above is, ‘We shall reign on the earth.’ It is an ‘everlasting kingdom’ (2Pe_1:11). It is a ‘heavenly kingdom’ (2Ti_4:18). It is a ‘kingdom which cannot be moved’ (Heb_12:28). It is called the ‘kingdom of heaven’ (Mat_8:28); the ‘kingdom of Christ’ (Eph_5:5); the ‘kingdom of God’ (1Co_15:50). This last name is the most frequent.

There is a kingdom for us. Not for angels, but for the sons of men. It is truly what its name implies-a region ruled over by a king, and filled with subjects, happy, holy subjects; governed by laws, good and blessed laws. It is here called the kingdom of God,-God’s kingdom,-because originated by Him, set up and ruled over by Him. Elsewhere it is called the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of Christ.

It is a kingdom to which we are invited,-invited by Him who is its King and Lawgiver, God Himself. He has revealed to us its nature, and proclaimed the law of entrance and exclusion. For no man may make what he please of this kingdom; no man may enter it in his own way, or take possession of it at his own pleasure. The law of entrance is very explicit: ‘Except a man be born again, be cannot see it.’

It is of less moment that we should know the locality, than that we should know its nature and entrance-gate. A right knowledge of these lies at the root of all true religion; and mistakes on these points are fatal. It is a perilous thing not to know the King, or the kingdom, or the way of entrance-the warrant for taking possession of it as our own.

Let us gather from the second of our texts, first, What this kingdom is not; and, secondly, What it is. And let this solemn warning sound in the ears of all who name Christ’s name: ‘The kingdom is not meat and drink;’ or put it in this way, ‘Heaven is not meat and drink;’ or put it in this way, ‘Religion is not meat and drink.’ Take it in any or in all of these forms or senses, it enunciates the same searching truth, and touchingly rebukes the materialistic religions of our day.

I. What it is not.-Of course one might enumerate a hundred things which it is not. But let us take those directly suggested by our text.

(1.) It is not forms-There must be forms in this kingdom; but the forms do not constitute the kingdom. Under Judaism there were many rites, sacrifices,-there was the passover; but these did not make the kingdom. ‘He is not a Jew that is one outwardly.’ ‘The kingdom is not meat and drink.’ So with us there are sacraments, prayers, worship, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the weekly Sabbath and gathering; but these are not the kingdom. All these may exist, and yet men may be far from it.

(2.) It is not moralities-There must be these, and yet these are not the kingdom. Without them the kingdom cannot be won; yet they are not the entrance. A man may have the gate shut against him, though presenting himself clothed with all the moralities that ever distinguished humanity. So was it with him who came to the Lord saying, ‘All these things have I kept from my youth up.’ He went away sorrowful. It was not the kingdom for him.

(3.) It is not carnalities.-The theory of a large school in our day is, that we are to enjoy the world and its pleasures as much as may be, and that this is real religion,-that thus we honour God by enjoying His world. But this is worldliness, not religion; it is not the kingdom, nor does it resemble it or fit us for it. No doubt, ‘whether we eat or drink,’ we are to do all to His glory; but the mere physical or carnal enjoyments of the world have nothing to do with that glory. Self-denial, not self-indulgence; flesh-crucifying, not flesh-enjoying, is the law of that kingdom now.

Yes, nothing outward, nothing in the flesh, nothing of external display, nothing that feeds self-none of these is the kingdom, or can give us a title to it, or prepare us for it. The body can never be the soul, nor the dress the man, nor the word the deed. Externalism is not the kingdom.

II. What it is.-God’s kingdom has to do with the inner, not the outer man; with the soul, not the body. Everything connected with the kingdom and the King is spiritual, and real, and true, and holy. The words do not imply that the kingdom is not a real kingdom, and that its dwellers are not real men; but that its laws, its service, its employments, its enjoyments, are spiritual and divine. It is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

(1) It is a righteous kingdom-Its King is the Righteous One. Its laws are righteous; its employments are righteous. The entrance into it is by the righteousness of the Righteous One. All in it and about it is righteousness. Only the righteous enter and dwell there; nothing that defileth.

(2.) It is a peaceful kingdom-There peace dwells. Dispeace has been banished from every heart. It is the kingdom of the reconciled; of men who have found Him who is ‘our peace.’ No variance, no estrangement, no wrath, no trouble yonder!

(3) It is a joyful kingdom-Everything about it is joy; not gloom, nor sorrow, nor darkness. We belong to it, ‘if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope;’ if we have joy in God, and are partakers of what Christ calls ‘my joy.’ There are songs of joy; every being in it is full of joy; its King is anointed with the oil of gladness.

All this is in and through the Holy Ghost. He makes the kingdom what it is; and its dwellers what they are,-righteous, peaceful, joyful. It is He who imparts reality, spirituality, truth, holiness, to that kingdom. No Spirit, no kingdom. Ye speak of being heirs of the kingdom. Have ye received the Holy Ghost? Of this kingdom we are to ‘walk worthy,’ and to be ‘counted worthy,’- that is, ‘meet for,’ as it is said, ‘Meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.’

Worthy of the kingdom of God! What an expression! Yes, worthy of God and of His kingdom. Such are we to be even here. Such is to be our life on earth. A life of holiness, and self-denial, and devotedness to that God in whose kingdom we are kings; a life of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Yet though our life here is to be a life worthy of or corresponding to, the holy nature of that kingdom, still our right of entrance and possession does not depend on any such worthiness. That right comes from and through another. Another’s grace and another’s worthiness give us the introduction into that kingdom. It is absolutely and entirely on the ground of what Christ is, not of what we are, that we enter in. His excellency comes in the place of our unfitness, so soon as we accept the Father’s testimony to that excellency, and consent to be treated on the ground of it alone. A growing fitness for that glory, and a growing likeness to its inheritors, is unspeakably blessed and desirable. Nay, to this we are called. Yet that fitness has nothing to do with our right. The fitness is one thing, the right is another. Live enter the kingdom as does a little child who has had no time nor opportunity to acquire fitness, but gets in on the ground of another’s doings. We enter the kingdom as did the thief upon the cross, who all his life long had done nothing but evil, and seemed wholly unfit to possess a kingdom into which nothing that defileth shall enter.

O blessed freeness! Freeness absolute and unconditional; freeness which makes no exceptions, but receives all who come; freeness which does not suspend itself upon one good thought, or feeling, or wish on our part, of any kind whatsoever, but throws wide open the everlasting gate, that the chief of sinners may enter in freer than the air which we inhale; freer than the sunlight; freer than the rain of heaven, is this access into the kingdom of God.

The Father beseeches; the Saviour invites; the Spirit calls; good angels beckon; Christ’s ministers entreat; and the one dear sound which they make to echo through earth, and to pierce the wanderer’s ears, is, enter in. All is free; all is ready; all is for you.

 

 

From “Light and Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes,” by Horatius Bonar

The Apostolic Only.

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” – Php_1:27.

Only! Was this all? Yes, all, in the sense of its being one chief, main thing; pre-eminent above others. As he says for himself elsewhere, ‘This one thing I do;’ so here, he says to them, Only! Ah, what stress he lays upon a godly life, a consistent walk! Whatever be your earthly lot, be it joy or sorrow; whatever your gifts, your privileges, your enemies, or your friends-keep this in special remembrance, as if it were the one thing in life; be men of one idea, one desire, one purpose-live a holy life! How earnestly does the apostle inculcate this!

The word ‘conversation’ is a peculiar one. It does not mean speech or intercourse; it refers to our general deportment or manner of life as citizens-our citizen-life. We have a double citizenship; earthly and heavenly. We are still men in the flesh, citizens of earthly cities; and in the living of this citizen-life, we must not forget whose we are;-we must remember the gospel, and Him whose gospel it is. Our heavenly citizenship we must ever keep in mind, and walk worthy of it; for we are citizens of no mean city-of the joyous city. Let our whole life, with all its goings out and comings in, in every relationship, civil, social, domestic, be ‘as becometh the gospel.’

It is by the gospel that the apostle would have us test ourselves, and mould our life. It was with the belief of this gospel that our life began; thus let it go on. The gospel lifted us up to a higher level; let us remain there, or rather, let us ascend still higher. To bring out this, let us see what sort of gospel it is that we have come into the possession of.

I. It is a gospel of peace-Let us who have believed it walk at peace and in peace; possessors of peace, and makers of peace. Let peace be written on our forehead and speak out in every word, look, motion. Let us be witnesses for peace; living symbols of peace; seeking the things which make for peace, and which will commend, to all who see or hear us, the peace of God.

II. It is a gospel of liberty.-It has brought us into liberty, and broken our yoke. Let us walk as freemen; our whole lives a witness for true freedom. Let our citizen-life be the life of liberty. The Son has made us free; let us see that we be free indeed; that we commend to the bound world the liberty of Christ.

III. It is a gospel of gladness.-There is no gloom in it; and there ought to be none in those who believe it. It should make our faces shine,- shine all over, so that we may make all men see and feel what a happiness it contains. Walk worthy of this happy gospel. Let men see what a treasure you have within. Rejoice in the Lord. Let your joy be ever full, and overflowing. Let your whole life, your citizen-life, your whole deportment, be an exhibition of this happy gospel.

IV. It is a gospel of light-There is no darkness in it. It is all light; all like Him with whom the light dwelleth, who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all. Let us shine; let our life be a bright one. Let our whole demeanor be brightness, like that of the gospel which we profess. Let our ways and words be all brightness. Let us be children of the light and of the day. Our dwelling is in a dark world. Let not that darkness mar or absorb our light, but rather intensify and enhance it. Let each day’s darkness in the world be met with new brilliance in us. Let us bring out the contrast nobly; and so have our conversation as becometh the gospel of light.

V. It is the gospel of holiness.-A holy gospel; a gospel concerning deliverance from sin; a gospel meant to secure holiness; a gospel which embodies the holiness of a holy God. All in and about this gospel is holy. Let our conversation, our citizen-life, be as becometh this gospel. Let us exhibit it, adorn it by a holy life. An inconsistent life is a scandal, a reproach against the gospel. Let us be consistent, circumspect, watching our ways and words. Let it be seen that we are citizens of the holy city.

VI. It is the gospel of Christ.-He is its all; its sum and burden. The news which are so good are about His person and His propitiation; His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, His second coming. We are to walk as becometh such a gospel! We are to live as men who believe in such a Christ as this! If this thought were ever before us, should we not be more on our guard against all sin, more intent on advancing in holiness? Shall we not seek to honour the gospel of Christ? Shall we trifle with it, or treat it as a common thing?

VII. It is the gospel of the kingdom-It brings us the good news of the heavenly, the everlasting kingdom. It points us to the open gate into it. It makes us heirs of it. In that kingdom is the city of which we are heirs; the city which hath foundations, into which nothing that defileth shall enter; where all is perfect, glorious, divine; the New Jerusalem. Let us remember our heirship, our citizenship, and walk accordingly. With such a hope, let us be holy; let us set our affection on things above; let us hold fast; let us be faithful; let us live here as sons, kings, priests; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.

 

 

From “Light and Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes,” by Horatius Bonar

     Warning: This is a long post, but this subject isn’t talked about nearly enough…..Well worth reading!

 

The Righteousness Of God.

 

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.”- Rom_3:21.

It is of sin and righteousness that the apostle speaks so fully and so minutely throughout this whole epistle. Up to the verse from which our text is taken, he has been settling this point, that man is a sinner, and needs a righteousness, else he cannot stand before God. Circumcision cannot give a righteousness; it merely tells us that a righteousness is needed, no more. The law cannot give a righteousness; it is merely a declaration of what righteousness is, and that the unrighteous shall not stand before God. It condemns, it cannot justify. By the law is the knowledge of sin, and thus every mouth is stopped, and the whole world brought in guilty before God. But, notwithstanding this, there is a righteousness; a righteousness which meets the case of the unrighteous in every part; a righteousness which can reverse even the verdict of the law against the unrighteous; a righteousness on the footing of which we can stand with boldness in the presence of the holy God without either shame or fear. It is of this righteousness that he proceeds to speak in the words of our text. Let us hear what he affirms regarding it.

I. First, it is the righteousness of God. It is a divine, not a human righteousness. That righteousness which we had lost in Adam was, after all, but a human thing, finite hike him who lost it; but that which we gain is a divine righteousness, and by being divine, forms an infinite compensation for that which Adam lost for us; and we, in receiving it, are made partakers of a most glorious exchange. It is called the righteousness of God, because it is a righteousness provided by Him; a righteousness which was conceived by Him, set on foot, and carried out in every part by Him, entirely and by Him alone; a righteousness, in the providing of which we had nothing to do, even in thought or in desire, far less in execution; a righteousness, the origin and accomplishment of which are wholly and purely God’s, not man’s at all. Again, it is called the righteousness of God, because it is a righteousness founded on the sufferings of the Son of God. It behoved Him, who is the only-begotten of the Father to take flesh and suffer, ere the very first step towards the providing of that righteousness could be taken. And He has suffered, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; and thus the foundation of a divine righteousness has been laid. Again, it is called the righteousness of God, because it is a righteousness made up of time doings of the Son of God. It is not merely with His sufferings that this righteousness has to do, but it is with His doings as well. These two things enter into its composition, so that, without both of them, it would be imperfect. What He did on earth in magnifying the law and making it honourable; what He did on earth in obeying the Father’s will in every jot and tittle, makes up this righteousness. These doings of His were infinitely pleasing to the Father, infinitely glorifying to the Father’s holiness, and infinitely honouring to that law which our unrighteousness had violated and dishonoured.

Further, it is called the righteousness of God, because it provides such a compensation for human unrighteousness, that it not only takes it all away, but brings in a new and far higher and surer footing for the sinner to rest on. It introduces a new standing of acceptance, so that the man who becomes a partaker of this provided righteousness becomes divinely accepted, divinely righteous, divinely blessed. It is not a mere simple righteousness that God sets forth; it is a super abounding one, an infinite one, one which can leave no room for doubt on our part at all, one that is most amply sufficient to meet our case were we the very guiltiest on whom the sun has ever shone.

II. Secondly, it is a righteousness without the law. He does not mean that it is in any sense an unlawful righteousness,-a righteousness not based on law,-a righteousness, in providing which, law has been set aside in any sense; but it means a righteousness which, in so far as we are concerned, has nothing to do with law at all. It is not a righteousness which asks any doing, or working, or obeying, on our part, in order to complete it, in order to make it what it is-“the righteousness of God”; for did it require anything of this kind on our part, it would cease to be what it is here represented to be, “the righteousness of God,” and would become, to a large extent at least, “the righteousness of man.” This righteousness does not send us to the law in order to be justified; it does not throw us upon our own works, either in whole or in part; it proceeds from first to last upon such principles as these, announced elsewhere in this epistle, and in the Epistle to the Galatians: “By time deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.” And again, as it is written “To him that worketh not, but believeth in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” In no sense, and at no time, does it say to us, “Do this, and thou shalt live; do this, and thou shalt be saved.” In no sense does it give us the idea of a thing far off, but of a thing nigh, at our very side; not of a thing to be toiled for, a thing to be waited for on our part. In no such sense has this righteousness anything to do with law, or with our doing of the law. For what is the whole of the Epistle to the Galatians but a protest against the idea that this righteousness of God has anything to do with the law, in so far as the sinner is concerned? In so far as God is concerned, in so far as the Son of God is concerned, it had everything to do with law; but in so far as we are concerned, it has nothing to do with it; it is a righteousness without the law. Let us, brethren, hold fast then this truth of the gospel, this foundation truth; righteousness without law, righteousness founded in no sense upon our keeping of the law; but wholly and absolutely upon this fact, that another has kept the law for us, and that other no less than the Son of God Himself.

III. Thirdly, This righteousness has been “manifested” acceptance. “Now,” he says, “the righteousness of God is manifested;” it has been clearly brought to light, so that there can be no mistake concerning it, and no mystery in it. It is not a thing hidden, wrapped up, reserved, held back, veiled from our view. It is a thing clearly brought out today, and shone upon by God’s own light, so that the difficulty seems to be, not how to see it, but how to miss seeing it, how to keep ourselves from apprehending it. It has been clearly manifested. God has been at infinite pains to bring it forward to view, both on our own account, and on account of Him whose righteousness it is. In every way He has sought to guard it against the possibility of being mistaken by man. In every way has He taken precautions against this being hidden from view, or darkened by the words of man’s wisdom. He has set this righteousness as a star in the firmament above us, that every eye may see it, that no mountains of earth may come between us and the heavenly vision; He has made it peculiarly bright, that every eye may be attracted to it. He has removed other stars from around it, that it may not be mistaken, but stand alone in its brilliance. It is to this star we point the eye of each sinner here; the Star of Bethlehem, the brightest in God’s firmament, the bright and morning star, the star which God has set there as His light to the world. He presents it to each one of you, that on recognizing it you may not walk in darkness, but have the light of life, and that, knowing it as it has been manifested, you may no longer stand in doubt as to your relationship with God, as to your personal acceptance. He so puts this righteousness at your disposal that you may come to Him in confidence, using it as if it were entirely your own.

IV. Fourthly, This righteousness is a righteousness “to which the law and the prophets bear witness.” By this expression, we understand the whole of the Old Testament. It is not something (he means to tell us) now come to light for the first time, not understood in the ages gone by; it is something which has been proclaimed from the beginning hitherto. To these oracles the eye of every saint, from Abel downward, has been directed; on this righteousness the feet of every saint from the beginning have stood; of this righteousness every prophet has spoken; to this righteousness every type has borne witness; and this righteousness every sacrifice has set forth. It is this Star which shone down upon the pilgrimage of Old Testament worthies, and in the light of which they walked. It is this Star which sheds light on every page of their history; it was to this Star that they, with one consent, age after age, pointed the eye of all around. They knew none but this; they cared for none but this; to them, as to those who believe now, Christ was “all and in all” On this righteousness they rested, in it they rejoiced. It is no new righteousness which we preach. It is no new foundation of which we tell. It is the old one, the well-proved one. It has been abundantly sufficient in past ages, and it has lost none of its efficiency now in these last days. It was enough for the saints in former ages, it is enough for us now. They who found salvation, ages and generations ago, found it here; and he who finds salvation now finds it also here.

V. Fifthly, This righteousness is a righteousness which is by the faith of Jesus Christ: “Even the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference.” He means to say by this expression, that it is a righteousness which comes to us by believing in Jesus Christ. It is not our faith that is our righteousness; it is not our act of believing that justifies. If your faith were your righteousness, then faith would be just reduced to the level of all other works, and would be itself a work. If it were our faith, our act of faith, that justified, then should we be justified by our own acts, by our own deeds. The expression, then “the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ,” means simply that it is a righteousness which passes over to us, and becomes available for us, by believing in Him whose righteousness it is; that is, by believing the Father’s testimony concerning Jesus Christ. It is by believing that we are identified with Him, so that His doing becomes our doing in the eye of God, and in the eye of the law; His suffering becomes our suffering; His fulfilling of the law becomes our fulfilling of the law; His obedience to the Father’s will is our obedience to the Father’s will. Such is the position into which we are brought by being made, in believing, one with Him. Thus “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ,” is presented to us, that in believing on Him, He may become ours. Righteousness is here laid down at our feet. It is there, whether we receive it or not. It is there, whether we believe it or not; whether we reject it or receive it. Your receiving it does not create it; your receiving it does not complete it; it is all created, it is all completed, it is all free, it is all at our feet, whether we take it or thrust it away; and our condemnation hereafter, if we be lost, will be not that there was no righteousness, not that we refused to complete a righteousness which had been begun, but that we rejected the righteousness which was completed, and which was so presented to us by God himself. It is in believing, or, as the apostle expresses it, by faith in Jesus Christ, that this righteousness, with all its privileges, and with all its results, passes over to us. For in believing, what are we saying but just this: “I have no works to bring to God; I am a sinner, but I take this work of the Son of God, and I ask to be dealt with by God according to its value, and just as if I had done the work, and not He.” Or, it is just as if we were saying, “I have no righteousness, seeing I am wholly a sinner; but I take this righteousness of the Son of God, and I draw near, expecting to be treated by God, just as if I and not He were the righteous person. I cannot present any suffering to Him in payment of penalty; bat I take this suffering of the Son of God, and I claim to have it reckoned to me as payment of my penalty.” Thus it is, “Christ is the end of the law, for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

VI. Sixthly, This righteousness is a righteousness for the unrighteous. It “is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” It is righteousness for the unrighteous. It is not righteousness for the good, but for the evil. It is not righteousness for the worthy, but for the unworthy. It is our unrighteousness that fits us for this righteousness. It is the evil that is in us that fits us for the excellency that is found in it. How foolish, then, to say as men, when convinced of sin, or when going back into former iniquity, are sometimes found saying, “I am too great a sinner to be for given.” Why, if you were not such a sinner, you would not need such a righteousness. It is the extent of your unrighteousness that fits you for a righteousness so infinite, so divine. If the righteousness were not the righteousness of God, if it were a human and not a divine righteousness, if finite and not infinite, your fear would be natural; but seeing it is divine not human, infinite, not finite, can anything be more foolish, more presumptuous, more profane, than to say, “My unrighteousness is too great for the righteousness of the Son of God”? This righteousness for the unrighteous is said by the apostle to be “unto all.” It is a righteousness which is like the sun in the heavens. It is one sun; yet it is enough for every one, it is free to every one. God works out a righteousness, and then sets it down on this fallen earth, that every one may avail himself of it. We are, therefore, not to say, Is this righteousness provided for this one or for that one, for many or for few? but there it is, there is the righteousness, go and take it. That is the gospel. Looking at the natural sun, do you ever think of asking, Is it for me, for this man or for that, the many or the few? You open your eye and enjoy its beams without asking any questions. Your making such inquiries would indicate a very unhealthy state of body; and so your asking such questions regarding God’s intention as proposed in this righteousness, indicates an unhealthy state of mind. To every sinner here, we preach the good news of this righteousness; a righteousness not only suitable and sufficient, but glorious and free; righteousness for the unrighteous; righteousness for the most unrighteous of the children of men.

Again, it is a righteousness which is “upon all them that believe”: It is “unto all”; but it is only “upon” them that believe. The moment that we believe through grace, we are accepted in the Beloved, redeemed from condemnation and from wrath. Till then the wrath of God abideth upon us. It is in believing that this righteousness is put upon us; and in believing what? In believing what God has testified concerning this righteousness, and concerning Him whose righteousness it is.

Again, the apostle affirms regarding this righteousness for the unrighteous, that “there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” There is no difference as to its fitness for the sinner, whatever his sin may be; and there is no difference as to the fitness of the sinner for the righteousness. There is this twofold fitness: the fitness of the righteousness for the sinner, and the fitness of the sinner for the righteousness. “There is no difference”; there is no man more fit than another; all are equally fit or equally unfit, equally qualified or equally unqualified, for “all have sinned”; and it is this that brings down all to the same level, and down to this level it is that the righteousness comes. For it is not a righteousness which has only come down to a certain level,- which has lighted upon earth, but only upon some of its highest peaks; it is a righteousness which has come down to the very lowest valleys, a righteousness which may be found out without climbing, and even beside our very dwellings. No one, then, can say, “I deserve it, therefore it is for me”; and no one, on the other hand, can say, “I do not deserve it, therefore it is not for me.” There is no difference, for “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Thus it suits the case of all; so that no one can put it away, and say, “It does not suit my case, but it may suit others.” Nay, friend, if you are not an unrighteous man it will not suit you, I grant; but if you are an unrighteous man it must suit you. There is no question as to the kind of your unrighteousness, the length of time, the amount or degree; there is no question about that, the simple question is, Are you an unrighteous man? Then it suits your case. And it is a righteousness near to each one of you; it is not afar off: it is not in heaven above, so that you have to climb to the seat of God to obtain it; and it is not down so low that you must dig to earth’s center to find it: it is near, it is at your very side; and if you reject it, it cannot be because of its distance. God has brought it near. He ells you it is near. “I bring near my righteousness.” God says that; and who are you that you should say, It is far off? Nay, more, it is free,-“Without money and without price.” There is no payment asked; no payment can be taken. The very idea of payment is insulting to the righteousness, and insulting to Him whose righteousness it is. Yet many seek to buy it,-not perhaps by their gold and silver, but by other things equally worthless. Some would buy it by their penances and fastings, some by their confessions; some would buy it by their repentance, some by their prayers, some by their self-mortification and privations, some by their fair lives and excellent deeds.

It is righteousness for the unrighteous that we proclaim, the righteousness of God, a righteousness which has come down from heaven to earth on very purpose that it may be presented to you. It is God’s wish that you should take it. Do you refuse it? He hinders not. Where then lies the hindrance? In you, not in Him. The refusal will not be on His part; it must be on yours; and if you perish, you perish, not because He would not be reconciled to you, but because you would not be reconciled to Him; not because there was not a provided righteousness, but because you rejected it; not because there was not sufficient love in God to give you that righteousness, but because you willfully put away from you both the righteousness and the love.

 

 

 

From “Light and Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes” by Horatious Bonar

     Sometimes, I think we forget or fail to realize who God is, and just how great He is, and therein, I think, lies the root of the biggest and greatest problems we have both as a country and as human beings.  In many ways I think people tend to make God less so that that they can be less, and do more of what they want to do.  You don’t have to answer to a God or pay much attention to one who is like you and does and feels the same way as you.  How wrong we are to think that God is anything like us in any way, or that we won’t have to some day give an account of our lives.  God is in indeed great.   Let Bonar’s words remind you. 

Jehovah’s Greatness. 

“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet.”- Act_7:48

“Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord: do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.”- Jer_23:23-24.

It is of the greatness of Jehovah that these words speak. It is with a great God that we have to do; as great as He is loving, and wise, and true, and holy. “Ascribe ye greatness to our God.” Creation says that God is great; sun, moon, and stars; sea and mountains; storms and earthquakes. The Law says God is great. Heaven says God is great. Hell says God is great. The Cross says God is great. The Gospel says God is great. There is nothing little about Him-His works, His words, His ways, His judgments, His mercies. All are on a mighty scale. He is a great God.

I. He is all-present. He is here, He is yonder; as much yonder as here; on the sea and the dry land; at home and abroad, the same Jehovah everywhere. We are as near Him in the road, in the market, in the shop, in the fields, in the railway carriage, in the ship, as in the closet and the church. He is omnipresent-present everywhere; present Himself truly; not representatively, but really and personally; as much in the desert as in Canaan; as much in India as in Britain. It is with an all-present God that we have to do. In Him we live and move.

II. He is all-seeing. His eye is everywhere; at all times; in all regions and places. As really as every man sees and knows himself, so really does God see and know every man. He sees into the darkest chamber, the deepest dungeon, the most secret cave; on the sea or under the sea, on the mountains or under them, is the same to that eye which is as a damning fire. Who can hide from Him?

III. He is all-filling. It is not merely that He is everywhere, and sees everything; but He fills everything, every place, heaven and earth; more fully and powerfully than light or air He fills everything. Where can we find an empty spot, a void in the universe, a place that is not filled with God? They may be empty of everything else, but they are full of Him. He is the fullness that filleth all in all.

(1.) Let us be reverent and solemn. Levity and folly cannot dwell in His presence, reverence and godly fear are what He expects. Bow reverently before Him, and speak reverently of Him; worship Him. “The Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”

(2.) Let us be humble. He is not our equal, but infinitely far above us. It becomes us to lie low. We are creatures, we are sinners; let us lie lowly. Abjure high thoughts of self. Learn our poverty and helplessness.

(3.) Let us lean on Him. He is so near, so very near; near in all His power, and greatness, and love. Let us rest on Him. His arm is ever stretched out for us to lean upon, for support, for defense, for rest. The greater He is, the more suited to be the prop of such feeble sinners. His strength suits our weakness.

(4.) Let us beware of insincerity in dealing with Him. He sees and fills everything. All things are naked and open in the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. He sees us through and through; searches us. We cannot impose on Him. Of what use is an insincere religion, a hollow profession, lip worship, with Him? What mockery is there in all such hypocrisy! Were God not so great, we might indulge in dishonest service, eye-service; but with so great a God, we must be sincere. A heathen may be a hypocrite, for his god cannot search him; but our God sees us through. Let us be sincere before Him.

(5.) Let us beware of superficial religion. A man may be superficial even when not insincere. But with a God like this, how deep, how real, should our religion be! Let our faith, our repentance, our love, be deep: let them go down to the very depths of our inner man. Let us not be deceived. God is not mocked.

(6.) Let the wicked tremble. With what a great and terrible God they have to do! This God is their Judge; He will one day arrest them; one day take vengeance on them. He is infinitely great-all-present, all-seeing, all-filling. What a God is this! Shall we not fear before Him? Shall we not tremble at the thought of being unreconciled? With such a God for our enemy, what hope have we of safety? He is a God of love, yet no less of holiness and judgment.