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Free Books » Muller, George » Counsel to Converts

Chapter 3 Counsel to Converts by Muller, George

Index

COUNSELS TO CONVERTS.

III.

IN seeking to lend a helping hand to my beloved fellow-disciples, especially the younger ones, I came, at our last meeting, to a portion of Scrip­ture containing deeply important instruction, in connection with this subject. You will find it in 2 Pet. i., from the fifth verse. I will just read a few verses, for the sake of the connection, up to the verse at which I left off.

I suppose, of course, that those whom I address are trusting in the atoning blood of the Lamb alone, for the salvation of their souls; but if any be present who know not the Saviour, may God in the riches of His grace stir them up to see the state in which they are by nature. We are all sinners, deserving punishment, and nothing but punishment, in the state in which we are by nature; and the only way we can escape it, is, by having

A SUBSTITUTE

to bear the punishment. This substitute God has provided in the person of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who has been punished in our room and stead, and whose perfect obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, has been accepted in the room of sinners, who, by trust­ing in Him alone, obtain the salvation of their souls. All here present who have not yet trusted in Him, may cast themselves upon the mercy of God, by accepting what He has provided in the person and work of the Lord Jesus. Thus they would become like us, who have obtained forgiveness; would be delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son; would be brought from darkness into light, and obtain peace to their souls; would be brought on the road to heaven, and made children of God, and joint-­heirs with Christ; and would have the bright, blessed prospect of glory; and, while on the road to their home, would have a part in the intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, and who is coming again to receive us to Himself, that where He is, there we may be also.

 

POINTS ALREADY CONSIDERED.

Now, as I said before, I suppose that all present have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; then, are you doing as Peter writes, "Add to your faith virtue?" Again I mention that this word "virtue" is used in the sense of courage or fortitude, particularly implying that we are to make confession of Christ, and to stand out for Him, and boldly own Him before a wicked world.

Then, as I already observed, we are also to increase in knowledge, specially in the knowledge of the revelation which God has been pleased to make of Himself and His dear Son in the Holy Scriptures. This precious book shows to us the vanity of this world, and the blessedness and reality of heavenly things, and the joys that await us in the Father's house.

"And to knowledge, temperance." This means self­-control; not merely to abstain from excess in drinking. It means far more, referring to our temper, way of life, our speech, and whole deportment; to be living in the world as becomes the children of God. And to this add patience; quietly waiting for God in the hour of trial and deep affliction, and expecting Him to deliver us.

And to this add godliness; that is, the habit in which everything is brought to God, and referred to Him; in which we seek to walk to the praise and honour and glory of God, and at all times and under all circumstances to make this our business-our especial business to live for God and under the eye of God; and that we do not turn away our eyes from God, but that we seek to go straight on, walking with God all the day long; living, speaking, acting for Him; cultivating-the precious habit in which we walk with, and live for, God.

Thus far we. proceeded on the last evening. Now we come to

BROTHERLY KINDNESS;

that is, "the love of the brethren." That especially is to be aimed after, and if this is wanting, there is very much wanting. The heavenly Father looks for love among His children, whom He has loved with an eternal and unchangeable love. He would have us love one another. And if we do not love the brethren, where is the proof that we love God? God does specially look for this love, and He would have us add to all other graces, particularly this grace-the love of the brethren.

And more, we are to add to all this,

CHARITY;

that is, universal love. Not merely are we to love the children of God, but to love those who are not of us, and who do not love us. We are to love those who do not care in the least for us. We are to love those who do not walk with us on the road to heaven, and whom we have never even seen or heard of. We are to love everyone of the human family; that is the will of our heavenly Father regarding us.

He would have the heart of His children so large as to take in all; and then we have what is commanded­ universal love, which will manifest itself in seeking to do good to all our fellow-men.

We shall seek to do them good in every possible way, but specially in striving after the salvation of their souls. For this is what our heavenly Father teaches us, when He causes His sun to shine on the evil as well as on the good, and when His rain descends on the just and the unjust. By all this He would teach us to love every­one, even our enemies themselves. "To brotherly kind­ness, therefore, add charity"-love to all.

 

THE RESULT OF THIS-FRUIT.

Now comes the next thing; what is the practical result of all this? It is fruit. "For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

If we seek to "add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godli­ness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity"; then, if these things be in us and abound, "we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the know­ledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

It is impossible to lead an idle life, if these things be found in us; for we shall be seeking to bring glory to God; and it is impossible that we should not bear fruit. If these things be found in us, it is impossible to stand still in the divine life; we shall surely make progress to the praise and honour and glory of God. We shall bear fruit. And the result will be that we shall not merely bear fruit thirty-fold, not merely forty-fold, or forty-five-­fold, not even fifty, fifty-five, or sixty-fold only; but there is the possibility, even in this latter part of the nineteenth century, to bring forth fruit eighty or ninety-­fold; and who shall tell us there is not even the possibility of bearing fruit a hundred-fold? But whether we do bear fruit to this extent or not, it should be our aim to bear fruit abundantly; and if we aim at sixty or seventy-fold, we may have a hundred-fold.

 

THE CONTRARY RESULT.

But now notice:-"He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." That is the state of the man who does not seek to add to his faith these graces. "He that lacketh these things" (that is, he that neglecteth these things) "cannot see afar off" (that is, is dim-sighted).

It must be so, my brethren. He may have good natural sight, needing no spectacles; he may have clear judgment about business matters, and a thoroughly clear judgment of all temporal matters of this life; yet, if he does not seek to add to his faith all these things, he is dim-sighted, he has not spiritual judgment or discernment, and all his worldly wisdom is nothing. He becomes a hindrance to his fellow disciples instead of a helper; and instead of a counseller to his younger brethren in Christ, he becomes a darkener of counsel. How deeply important, not to get into such a state, and therefore, my young brethren and sisters in Christ, I beseech you not to allow yourselves to become spiritually blind.

"And hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." What a sad thing if, after all that God has done for you, in bringing you to see that you are by nature sinners, in helping you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, so that your sins have been forgiven, and you have been delivered from the powers of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son,-how if, after all this, you become blind, or dim-sighted, and your heavenly vision becomes obscured!

If our new light were to be darkened-those eyes which, by the power of the Spirit, have been enlightened -how sad it would be! If by reason of carelessness or worldly-mindedness, we should lose this spiritual sight, oh, how great the darkness would be! God's saints are all in danger of this. Not only until we have been believers ten, twenty, or thirty years; but as long as we are in the body, there is this danger. How deeply important, then, for us to take measures to be kept from this spiritual blindness!

Remember, then, that "he that lacketh these things is blind." He has not the mind of God; he has more or less the mind of the world; and if you bring certain things before him, such as the importance of prayer, that man will probably say you are too religious, too pious; he cannot understand you. Why is all this? Why should a man who has been forgiven and placed on the road to heaven, whose eyes have been opened to spiritual things, become thus blind? It is by neglect­ing to add to his faith these graces, he has become dim-sighted concerning the heavenly realities; he has been spiritually blinded, and has forgotten the state from which he was delivered. How deeply important, there­fore, that we should cultivate these graces! Very many of the dear children of God, who, at the commencement of their divine life saw clearly their state, that they were sinners, and deserving punishment, and who, through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith in Him, had peace, and had known the enjoyment and blessedness of fellowship with God, by getting careless and worldly-­minded, and by living to a greater or less degree under the influence of this world, have at last forgotten that their sins were all forgiven, and that they are the children of God.

Thus they lose all the blessed enjoyment of their position, as children of God and heirs of heaven; and what is the result of all this? They more and more settle down in this world, and become less and less spiritually-minded, and become more and more lovers of this world.

What a sad state is this, and oh! my beloved brethren, may God keep us all from falling into it. Therefore it is that I do desire to warn you against ceasing to add to your faith all those graces: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly-kindness, and charity. All these things are to be added.

And now, "Wherefore, the rather." That is, because of all that has been said, we are to aim after "giving all diligence, to

MAKE OUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE."

Have we all done this? Is it true of you all, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, that you have made your calling and election sure? Is it as certain with you all, that you will go to heaven, as if you were there already?

"But," you say, "how can we do this?" Just by attending to the points brought before us in the previous verses. For if we attend to all these things, then we shall make our calling and election sure. We shall have the assurance in our own soul, that we are the children of God; that we have received the forgiveness of sins, and that our Father loves us; that we are on the road to heaven, and that we have before us the bright and blessed prospect of glory, and are daily getting "nearer home"; and that we shall most assuredly reach heaven at last.

In order to have this blessed assurance, let us, my beloved brethren, aim after all these things, that we may make our calling and election sure.

There is such a thing as doing this. I should be doing dishonour to my God, and failing in my duty, if I did not bear witness to-day that I have made my calling and election sure. After having been about fifty years a believer, I bear testimony that I know I am a child of God, that I have been forgiven, and that I am on the road to heaven. And although, in myself, nothing but a poor, weak, miserable sinner, and though if I had only committed the fiftieth part of the sins I have been guilty of, I know I should deserve punishment-nothing but punishment; yet, notwithstanding all this, I am as certain of going to heaven as if I were there already.

Why, why is all this certainty? Because God, by His Spirit, declares, "Whosoever believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ shall not perish, but have everlasting life." I take God at His word, in childlike simplicity, and hence I have the enjoyment of His promise.

And although I am but a poor, miserable sinner, deserving punishment, yet I know I shall have everlasting life through Christ, and not only shall have everlasting life, but I have it even now. Therefore I have made my calling and election sure.

Moreover, I know, by the grace of God, that I am not a stony-ground hearer. Why do I know this? Because, having heard the Word I received it, and the cares of this world have not choked it; the persecutions of this world have not dried it up; in the hour of temptation I still had the word of God in my heart, and did not take my eye away from the cross; and therefore I know I am

NOT A STONY-GROUND HEARER.

I am not a hearer only, but a doer, in some little measure, of the Word; and though I am weak, I can say that I know I have made my calling and election sure. If, after all this, my beloved brethren, you are not sure of it, oh, be not satisfied till the matter is settled.

And what is the result of all this? The beggarly elements of this world affect me very little, because I have heavenly joy in my heart. I do not care for the money, the rank, or the honour of this evil world, and all its other allurements which attract many. I have something better-better far. The heavenly things are the best lever to lift your minds out of this world into heaven. Therefore aim after this certainty as to heaven, and it will raise you above the things of this life.

It is deeply important, my beloved younger brethren and sisters, to make a good beginning in this way, and to continue thus, and then your joy and assurance will increase more, and more. Your path will be as that of the just, which "shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Why should it not be so? We ought to increase.

You and I are neither prophets nor apostles, yet our path ought, as that of the just, to "shine more and more unto the perfect day."

 

DILIGENCE.

In order that it may be thus, let us give heed to this, "Wherefore, the rather, brethren, give diligence" (mark that word "diligence") "to make your calling and elec­tion sure." Why so? "For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." If you go on in this way, the world will not be able to say, "Look at the drunkard, who calls himself a Christian! Look at that thief who calls himself a Christian! or that idle, slothful man, see how he be­haves to his wife; or see how she neglects her family and husband, and yet calls herself a Christian woman."

None shall be able to say such things of the child of God, so long as he continues to walk in these ways of which I have been speaking; and thus reproach shall not be brought upon the name of the Lord, and "if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." And you shall never bring dishonour, but rather honour and glory to God.

 

AN ABUNDANT ENTRANCE.

"For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." We shall be like vessels under full sail, entering the port. That is what we should aim after, "an abundant entrance." Not like a house on fire, from which there is the possibility of bringing out perhaps a chair or a table, snatched, as it were, from the fire; a brand plucked from the burning."

In this way some children of God escape at the last, content if they simply get into heaven and no more. But this ought not to be the case with you and me. We should be like vessels in full sail entering the port, having an abundant entrance. Let us aim after this, calmly and quietly bidding adieu to this evil world, joyously waiting for the coming of the Lord, rejoicing in the Lord abundantly.

After this we must also aim, so to live as that we may not have to look back in deep sorrow that we have loved' the world. Let us keep this before us, and especially you, my beloved younger brethren and sisters in Christ, while the middle-aged and the aged ought to remember it too; that you have but one brief life to spend for God, and surely this one brief life ought to be spent to the honour, and praise, and glory of God.

I have one more passage, full of deeply important matter to which I wish to direct your attention, by the help of God. You will find it in Eph, vi., and this, for the present, will be the last portion to which I shall direct your attention, except the Lord on Friday evening should lead me to anything else. I shall now only enter upon it, and shall not be able to finish it to-night; but will con­tinue it on Friday evening.

The portion is verses 10 to 18 of chapter vi. This passage, for the first four or five years after my con­version, was one from which, when I came to read it, there was a kind of shrinking in my mind; because I read it merely as a commandment, and found myself reproved by it; therefore I shrank from it.

One Lord's-day, about forty-five years ago, I awoke early in the morning, about five o'clock. I felt tired-very tired, having had a great deal to do on the day previous. I felt I should like to spend another hour in bed; but it came to my mind, "This is the Lord's-day, and there can be nothing better than to rise and give myself to prayer and meditation." I did so, and in the course of my reading I came to this sixth chapter of Ephesians. I began reading; I soon saw that it was full of the gospel -blessedly full of the gospel. It pleased God to bless it greatly to my soul that day, and, ever since, this portion has been particularly dear to my heart.

I desire now, as God may help me, to bring before you what the Holy Ghost would teach us in these verses.

"Finally," the apostle says, as if he meant, Now, after what I have said, let us sum it up in the following verses:

"My brethren." This word "brethren" is to be especially noticed. As if he meant to say, this is a word for believers, and specially for them. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."

 

TRUE STRENGTH.

The first point here is, for the beloved fellow-disciples never for a moment to suppose that they have, or can have, any strength of their own. And, because they are converted, and are not now dead in trespasses and sins, and have been brought from death unto life, yet they are not to suppose that they have any strength of their own.

"Be strong in the Lord." In ourselves we are utterly weak, and in ourselves we remain weak as we are by nature. Our strength is in the Lord; and by looking to God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, we receive wisdom, strength, help, and, in short, everything we can possibly need as we pass through this vale of tears.

Therefore do we especially need this exhortation, "Be strong in the Lord." We cannot fight, we can do nothing of ourselves; we have no might nor strength of our own. And if anyone should say he thinks he has any strength or power in himself, I would say, "My brother, you are mistaken; you have no such thing."

And this we have to remember to the very last moment of our life. I desire day by day, and hour by hour, to remember this, and I request all of you to remember it, that you may never suppose you have any strength or wisdom of your own. If you do so, you are neglecting the resources laid up in Jesus Christ; and moreover, if you do so, you will not make use of the wisdom, power, and strength which God has laid up for us in the hour of our weakness, in the person of his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Therefore is this exhortation much needed, " Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

 

PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD.

Not simply the breastplate; not simply the helmet; not simply taking the shield; but the whole armour of God. And these words, "put on" the whole armour, are to indicate to us, to make use of the armour. It is to be "put on." It is one thing to know the armour which God has provided. We may know all about it very intimately, but it is a different thing to put it on. Yet, God has provided this armour, in order that we may put it on, and thus be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

If we do not put it on, then it will profit us nothing. Just as it is with the gospel. God provides it for us; He has made this provision in order that we may escape punishment; and Christ says that they who believe shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Yet if sinners do not receive Christ, if they reject Him, and go on trusting in self, or living in carelessness and utter indifference as to the things of God, then all this blessed provision for them, through the sufferings and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, will profit them nothing. They must appropriate it, by God's grace, to themselves.

Now, it is precisely so with the saints. They will not profit by the armour, unless they put it on. But one says, "I am so weak." What then? You stand all the more in need of it; cry, "Oh, my Father, I am Thy weak child; help me to put on Thy armour!" God will accept thy cry, and He will help the weak one who so cries.

There is an apparent contradiction between, on the one hand, the sovereignty of God, which is plainly revealed, and on the other hand, the "will of man." We have no power of our own, and yet we are responsible persons. We are commanded distinctly to receive and obey the gospel; and if we do not, yet we are responsible.

If, however, we feel our own utter inability, then let us go to God, and say to Him, "I am weak and sinful, and cannot receive the gospel. Help Thou me." If we do this, we shall be helped, as God is willing to do so, and willing to bless us, if we only seek Him.

So it is with the armour of God. If we are weak, let us say, "Father, see thy weak child. Yet I wish to put on this armour.  Help thou me." You will find that He is willing to help us.

But why is it so important that we put on the whole armour of God, and not a part only? For this very reason, that we should be able to

STAND AGAINST THE WILES OF THE DEVIL.

There are many of those who say, with the ungodly world, that there is no such person as the devil. But the Holy Ghost reveals the fact that there is such a being. I am as thoroughly convinced of this in my inmost soul, as I am convinced of the reality of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ; and of the existence of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the salvation of all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But while it is true that there is such a being, and while it is true that he who is against us is mighty,-very mighty, yet this is also true that He that is for us is still more mighty; and that in the riches of His Grace He has created and provided for His weak children the whole armour, whereby they may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. And as long as we make use of this whole armour, we shall find how ready He is to help us in all our weakness and helplessness.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers; against the rulers of the darkness of this world; against spiritual wickedness in high places." We have a conflict, but it is not a con­flict of this world. It is not according to the ideas of this world. As, for instance, when in an earthly conflict soldier wrestles against soldier, flesh and blood against flesh and blood. Not thus is our warfare. It is of a spiritual character, and altogether against spiritual forces; "against principalities and against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." In a word, against the power of the evil one.

Here we stop, and from this, if God will, we shall go on next Friday evening to consider the whole armour of God. And those who come here, I affectionately advise to consider it before you come. Read the passage, and seek to meditate upon it with reference to your own heart, and try to see how far you understand these verses.

Thus our meditations, when we come together, will be all the more profitable. I have it particularly laid on my heart to say a word on this portion of Scrip­ture, which I have found repeatedly to be food to my own soul, and which I trust may be also made profitable to others.