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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 22 - Philippians 4:19 - The Fountain Filled and Overflowing Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

XXII.

 

The Fountain Filled And Overflowing.

 

"But my God shall surely all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."-Philippians 4:19.

 

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."

-2 Corinthians 9:8.

 

 

     The apostle in both these passages is writing concerning temporal gifts,-liberality to the poor saints and to himself; but his words have a largeness about them which carries them far beyond this,-both into the region of divine liberality, and of human large heartedness in all things.

     These passages here remind us of some others, of like tone: 'Unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think' (Ephesians 3:20); 'How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?' (Romans 8:32.) It is of the boundless generosity of God that Paul speaks so often.

     I. The fountain filled.-'God is able to make all grace abound toward .you,'-that is, He is able to make you overflow with His fullness; able to pour into you in abundant measure the full river of His free gifts, temporal and spiritual, His own free love being the fountainhead of all. That which He gives is 'grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.'

     (1.) The original fountain is God Himself.-He is the great original well-head of blessing. All other sources are subordinate,-mere reservoirs, or ponds, or cisterns. Everything in us, in the Church, in the saint, is to be traced directly to Him. 'Of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things.' We cannot too greatly magnify the fullness of this infinite Source,-Jehovah, God, the living God; the all in all.

     (2.) There is enough in Him for us.-Very fully and expressively does the apostle bring out this, as if to obviate every possible objection, or fear, or shadow of unbelief. 'He is able to make' all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things.' The ability or power here spoken of does not simply refer to His omnipotence. It goes beyond that. He has in Himself such a sufficiency or fullness of grace and blessing, that there is no amount of want in you which He cannot supply. It is sufficiency more than power (though it is power also) that is implied here. That which, in all its fullness, God makes so specially to overflow and abound towards us is grace,-'all grace.' The whole fullness of God's free love, with all the gifts which that free love contains, is poured into us, so that we can lack nothing. Not one good thing of any kind whatever, for soul or for body, can be found awanting. We have all sufficiency in all things. It would seem as if the apostle could not find words sufficiently to express this fullness of blessing, either as it is contained in God, or as it flows out of Him into us. God is light; all the divine fullness of light flows into us. God is love; all the divine fullness of love flows into us. Infinite power, wisdom, righteousness, are all pouring out their inexhaustible stores into us-into every crevice of life, every corner of being,-like an overflowing sea. He is full, we are empty; or rather, He is fullness, we are emptiness, and all His divine fullness is ready at hand for us. He is the bright sun, we are the dark earth; and His brightness is more than enough to dispel all earth's darkness, and fill every region of it with glorious radiance. He is the true Joseph, the Lord of an infinite storehouse, out of which the worst famine of earth, the sorest hunger of a human spirit, can be abundantly supplied. He is the great merchant, in whose ample warehouse are all the goods we need; who knows the extent of our want ('thou art miserable, and wretched, and poor, and blind, and naked'), yet, in the consciousness of one with whom is all fullness, says to us, 'I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.' For, 'grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ' is the extent of the fullness and sufficiency which we have in Him. 'According to His riches in glory,' He supplies our need.

     II. The fountain overflowing.-'May abound to every good work,' or may pour yourselves out abundantly to every good work. As soon as we are filled ourselves we overflow; as soon as we are replenished with light we shine.

     (1.) We must be filled ourselves.-We cannot work till we have this sufficiency; or, at least, it will be poor, heartless work, without power, or liberty, or success. God waits to fill us.

     (2.) We must work.-We are redeemed and called that we may work. We are not only sons, but servants. 'Son, go labour in my vineyard,' He says to us. It may not be to any great work that we are called; but a multitude of little ones,-daily pieces of filial service in word and deed.

     (3.) We must work abundantly.-Not slothful in the business of the Lord. No; but doing good 'with both hands earnestly;' as men in earnest, who have been bought with a price, whom the love of Christ constraineth, who wish to redeem the time, to fill up their hours and days with something that will last, something useful, something which the Son of man will acknowledge when He comes to sit upon the throne of His glory.

     (4.) We must work as men whose sufficiency is of God.-Our motto is, 'We can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth us.' We are not stronger than others, nay, we have no strength; but we remember, 'not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.' Our sufficiency is (1) infinite; (2) divine; (3) ever open; (4) ever free; the sufficiency of love and strength and wisdom, all in one.

     Abound in every good work. This is the apostolic message. Let us go about it in faith,-with all confidence and boldness. We do not go to war on our own charges. Our weapons and armor and strength are all supplied from above, and our whole expenses paid out of the exchequer of heaven.

     There are some Christians to whom religion is a very easy thing. There is no cross in it; no self-denial; no bitterness; no toil; no conflict. And when we say to them, Why is it thus? why do you sit at ease? they answer, Are we not saved by grace? Are not all these struggles or trials, of which you speak, proofs of a legal spirit? So they take their ease, and enjoy the good things of this world. They are naturally, it may be, of an easy temperament. God has, perhaps, given them much of this world's prosperity. They have not had, or at least have not felt, the sharp strokes which some have done. They know the gospel. They like 'religion.' They take pleasure in the Bible, in pious conversation, in the soothing or solemn songs of Zion. Their life is one of spiritual ease-religious luxury.

     Where is the Master's cup of vinegar? Where is the wounding cross? Where are the scars of battle? Where is the breathless earnestness of eager toil for Christ? Where is the hourly self-denial, the self-sacrificing generosity for others, the girding one's self for labour, the enduring of hardness, the courage in facing danger, and laying aside every weight?

     Is the Christianity of our day of the lofty kind of which apostolic men have left us so bright an example? Is it not feeble, indolent, self-indulgent, second-rate? Is there in it anything of the presentation of 'living sacrifices' to God, which is our acceptable and reasonable service? Are we not seeking our own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's? Are we not feasting when the world is starving? Are we not at ease in Zion? Are we not sitting still and in luxurious comfort, when many noble and self-sacrificing ones amongst us are rushing into the toil or the war, and, for want of being supported by their fellow Christians, are sinking under the burden and heat of the day?

     O easy, luxurious, comfortable Christian! While you are lolling on your couch the sinner is going down to woe! While you are soothing your conscience with the opiates of religious routine; or pampering the flesh; or killing time in mirth and music, at the concert, or oratorio, or social party; or idling days in sport; or talking politics; or drinking in the applause of public opinion; or sunning yourself in the blaze of the ball-room; or absorbed in the last novel; or engrossed with the unmeaningness of the card table;-men are dying, the present scene is passing, the eternal world is hastening on, and the Judge is at the door!

     Rouse thyself from thy indulgence, and work! Do it with thy might. Spend and be spent. Give thy money to the Master; give thy strength and thy life to Him. For He is at hand. He may be nearer than thou thinkest. And how shouldst thou like to be caught by Him lounging on thy soft couch, or feasting at thy well-spread table, when thou shouldst have been working for Him, or fighting His battles,-visiting His brethren, soothing His sorrowing children, ministering to His poor disciples, grudging no weariness or hardship for a Master like Him?