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

Chapter 83 - 1 John 5:14, 15 - Confidence in a Loving God Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




Confidence In A Loving God.


     "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us. And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him."-1 John 5:14, 15.



     The form of expression, 'This is the confidence,' is very frequent in John. 'This is the message' (:5); 'This is the promise' (2:25); 'This is the love of God' (v. 3); 'This is the victory' (v. 4); 'This is the record' (v. 2). It is like the Master's: 'This is the condemnation' (John 3:19); 'This is life eternal' (John 17:3). It indicates something very specific. It is vivid and realizing. It seems to point with the finger to the very object. We are made to see the very thing with our eyes, and to handle it with our hands.

     I. Confidence.-The word here is that which is frequently rendered 'boldness.' Hebrews 4:16, 'Let us come boldly;' 10:19, 'Having boldness to enter into the holiest.' It is bold and assured confidence,-confidence which knows that it will not be disappointed or confounded. Such is to be the state of our hearts toward God. From first to last there is to be confidence. Our religion begins with confidence: this is the only right, true, and acceptable state of our hearts. Less than confidence is sin and unbelief, by which God is dishonoured, and His gospel depreciated, as unable to produce this right state, of heart, this childlike confidence. It is confidence like that of Isaac toward Abraham, or Samuel to Eli; confidence of which that of Christ toward the Father is the model; confidence which cries Abba, Father. It is of this confidence that the Lord so often speaks: 'Thy faith hath saved thee.' Of this the old prophets and Psalmist spoke: 'Trust ye in the Lord for ever.' It is, confidence arising out of what we know of God in Christ Jesus His Son. This is what Paul refers to when he speaks of the beginning of our confidence. It is confidence which leans on the character of God as the God of all grace, and sustains itself by the blood of the cross as the reconciliation of grace and righteousness. It is the Holy Spirit coming into us as the Spirit of adoption that produces and maintains this confidence. It is for the end of its production that we preach the gospel of the grace of God.

     II. Confidence in prayer.-This confidence embraces everything; every part of God's character and dealings; every position in which we can be placed. But the apostle here singles out prayer as an illustration of the true nature of confidence, of the way in which it unfolds itself: 'If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.' As trusters in the living God, we feel that we can ask, that we can ask anything; that the only limitation is that it be according to His revealed will. In this statement the apostle takes us back to the Lord's own words, these two especially: 'Ask, and ye shall receive;' 'All things whatsoever ye desire, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.' And thus Paul exhorts us: 'Let us come boldly to the throne of grace;' 'Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.' To pray without confidence is to dishonour God and to deny the Mediator. That which gives us warrant to pray at all, gives equal warrant to pray with confidence.

     III. Confidence for special things, and for everything.-'If (or since) we know that He heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions (or requests) that we desire of Him.' This confidence in prayer is not to be vague or general, merely a trustful frame of mind when drawing near to God. It is to be special and minute. We are to believe in answers to prayer,-in an answer to every prayer,-either the very thing or something better; and to consider a non-obtaining of the very thing quite an exception. The words evidently include past as well as present petitions,-every request made from the time that you came to God as a trusting man. You have laid thousands, perhaps millions, on the mercy-seat; you have not, perhaps, seen the express answers to all of these; nevertheless you are to trust God for the answer to each petition in time past regarding any proper thing, great or small. We may not see the answer yet; years, perhaps, have elapsed; it seems as if He answered you never a word; yet you are so to exercise confidence in prayer, as to be sure that an answer either has come, or is coming. For God is not a man that He should lie or break His promise. His memory does not fail, nor does His mind change, nor does His bounty fail. Each minute request, each sigh, each groan, each tear, He has treasured up, and will not forget. The answer is sure, and it is on its way to us.

     Are not our prayers grievously deficient in this thing? We pray, but we often neither expect nor trust. Is not this to make God a liar, somewhat, though not so directly, as does the sinner when lie refuses to believe God's record concerning His Son?

     Let us do justice to God's love and faithfulness; so shall we fare far better. How rich we might be if we but trusted God! The fabled enchantments of Eastern enchanters, who pretended with a word to turn dust into gold and gems, are not half so enriching. Why should we not get all that we ask? And if we did, would it not make us rich indeed? Yet we might get much more than even this; for He to whom we go is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.