Toward Spiritual Maturity
A series by Pastor Alan Redpath given over the course of 1958.
Part 1: Some Practical Hints on the Quiet Time (January 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 01)
We all know, theoretically at least, that the Christian life can only grow as it cultivates the habit of prayer, and that prayer must be regular and disciplined if it is to be vital. That is why it is that such importance is placed on the “Quiet Time” by all who know the secret of growth in Christ. I want, in a short series of articles on this subject, to try to help some of you, especially those who have recently found the Saviour, to discover some of the secrets which make such a time effective.
To start with, we realize that prayer is the most difficult thing in the Christian life. It is difficult because it is effective. The devil will do anything he can to stop the child of God from praying, and will put every possible barrier in the way of a regular “Quiet Time.” Only determination and discipline of mind, with a deep trust in the Lord’s enabling power, can overcome the many sources of difficulty which seem to hedge the way to the Throne of Grace.
The first thing to decide is what is the best time of the day to keep and to set aside for the time of prayer. Much depends upon individual circumstances and hours of duty, especially in the case of those who are working at nights, but I am sure that the time to give to the Lord is the time when we are freshest in mind, and that is first thing in the morning. By all means make the most of the evening too, but usually fatigue of the day has taken the sharp edge off mental power; and capacity for study and prayer is more likely to be limited then.
To be very practical a great deal depends on the time of retiring and of rising. Make up your mind how much sleep is necessaryto keep yourself fit, and if in order to spend some time in the morning with the Lord before going to work it is necessary to rise earlier than has been your previous custom, then retire earlier at night. You see, the “Quiet Time” does not begin when you close the door of your room and seek the face of God in prayer. The issue is decided long before that. As long as you crowd into a day a multitude of things which seem important and let prayer be regarded as a kind of appendix, the “Quiet Time” will mean little or nothing. First decide how long you are going to spend in prayer in the morning and then regulate your day accordingly. Get to be early enough to give yourself sufficient sleep to be sure of rising in time to keep the appointment with God. He will be waiting for you. Then again, your closing thought at night and your waking thought in the morning will go a long way to deciding the issue in the time of prayer. Guard those thoughts. Let them be of God; of Christ; of Heaven. Let them be full of thanksgiving to Him for His goodness and grace to you.
You will discover that the thoughts with which you go to rest are the thoughts with which you awake, and if they be of Him you will find an eagerness to seek His face in prayer before you start out on a new day.
Another question will arise in your mind at once. How long should I spend in prayer in the morning? I cannot judge for other people in an issue like that. The only answer is to decide between yourself and the Lord. I certainly think, however, a minimum of half an hour in the morning is essential. I am convinced that it is utterly wrong for the Christian so to crowd out his day that he leaves the Lord with less than half an hour in the morning and a similar time at night. Beware of the barrenness of a busy life. Crowd out God, and you will soon land in trouble. How true that backsliding is due to slack abiding. Some of you may feel it necessary to give much more than this. I am sure that all of you will do so after you have really begun to maintain a regular “Quiet Time,” but as a beginning let us suggest half an hour in the morning and half an hour at night. Let that morning time be observed with relentless discipline. Ask the Lord to teach you the danger of entering any day without first seeking His face. It will need determination and discipline, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to get up when you wake up and make your way with determination into your room and pray, before you have your breakfast, read your letters, or talk over the affairs of the day with the family.
Next month I want to say a word to you about discipline in the “Quiet Time” itself, but I just leave this urgent word with you now, and remind you of the word of the psalmist: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”—Psalm 5:3
Part 2: Some Practical Hints on the Quiet Time (February 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 02)
I want to speak to you this month about discipline in the Quiet Time. It is one thing to set apart a time for prayer. It is another thing, having done so, really to pray. Half an hour, or an hour, spent alone can be utterly wasted. On the other hand, every moment can be used for the glory of God.
Let me give you one or two practical suggestions to help you in this vital issue. I do so somewhat hesitatingly, because the Lord deals with each one of us differently, and what might be the right method for one is not necessarily the right method for another. I can only speak to you out of my own experience of Him and of His way with me. The suggestions which I am making are those which I have put to the test in my own prayer life, and which I have found most helpful.
(1) Always begin the Quiet Time by reading a portion of the Bible. Having made your choice of the portion of Scripture which you are going to study, do not hurry over it, but give the Holy Spirit time to speak to you through it. You will discover that certain verses stand out in the chapter and bring their own message to your heart, thus becoming fuel for prayer.
Underline such verses, or write them out that they may be written indelibly in your memory. You will find they live with you throughout the day and become a source of strength to you in testing or temptation of any kind. God has thus prepared you for the day—all unknown to you, but known to Him—and has provided you with the amour to stand against every subtle foe.
(2) As you turn to prayer, one of the greatest difficulties you will discover is to guard against wandering thoughts. It is amazing how many needs crowd into one’s mind just at that moment, all of which seem necessarily to require your immediate attention!
I must confess I used to be bewildered by this sort of thing. Not one but many things crowded into my mind, all of which said: “You must do this now, half an hour later and you may forget.” I knew I had to come to the place where I had to sit down and think it out, and I began to laugh at the stupidity of it all! It would have been a sheer impossibility to do more than one of those things at a time, and I realized how the devil was simply trying to bluff me out of a sense of rest and trust in the Lord.
I learned a safeguard against that. Until I really got victory over such wandering thoughts, I always had a piece of paper and a pencil available when I went to pray, so that when a thought crowded into my mind for urgent attention I simply made a note of it on the paper and left it. After a while the enemy gave up that line of attack as useless. I recommend these tactics to some young Christian reading these lines, and who is beset by the same problem.
I found also as I prayed, people would come before my mind, and I began to learn to turn every thought of someone into a prayer for them. This was tremendously helpful. It brought friends right into the immediate presence of the Lord Jesus.
Perhaps there had been someone especially on my mind about whom I was anxious or concerned, and as they flashed before me in prayer, what a joy to bring that name before the Lord Jesus, and commit that life to Him. It all takes time and real mental discipline, but these are means which can be used as a help to enable you to concentrate on the Lord Himself as you pray.
We will continue this line of thought next month. May the Lord make us all, not those who talk about prayer, but those who really pray.
Part 3: The Quiet Time (March 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 03)
I wonder if you have had the same experience as has often been mine—someone has come to speak to you whom you have not seen for a long time, and has said, “Thank you for remembering me in prayer,” and you have suddenly had the awful conviction that you have forgotten all about that person. Or at least, if you had not completely forgotten, only very seldom has his or her name gone through you mind and been upon your heart.
How haphazard sometimes is praying for other people. In fact there are many for whom we should pray but whom we omit from our prayers altogether, and others whom we remember only vaguely and without any particular knowledge of their immediate need. How can these problems be overcome?
The best solution, I am sure, is the compilation of a prayer list in which you enter the names of those for whom you feel the Lord would have you pray, and which you keep up to date. There are some in your own immediate family circle for whom naturally you will wish to pray daily. There are others whom you will remember each week and some perhaps at less frequent intervals. The difficulty you will find is whom to include and whom to omit, and you can only be effective and definite in your praying if you are up to date in your information regarding the need of the folk concerned. This will mean in relation to the missionaries on your prayer list that when you pray for them you will see to it that you know where they are, what they are doing and what are their circumstances. That means a letter, of course, and how glad they would be to receive one from you. And how thrilled you will be to have their reply.
How you prepare this prayer list is a matter for your own prayerful consideration. One of the easiest ways is to obtain an extra diary for each year and write in it the names of the people for whom you are going to pray in the days on which you are going to pray for them. In this way you will bring daily before the Lord some whom He has laid upon your heart as a burden for prayer. You will discover this to be the most wonderful fellowship of all with other Christians. Perhaps you may never see them for months, but you are meeting regularly at the Throne of Grace and there is a deep sense of fellowship in the Holy Spirit.
Of course, this is all very elementary, but it is intensely practical, and it means that when put into action you really have begun to pray. Therefore, I very earnestly suggest that you start now. Do not put it off, but when you read this article take immediate action. Begin to pray regularly, definitely, believingly and specifically for other people. Remember that if you abide in Christ, and His words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done (John 15:7).
What a tremendous need there is that we should not be among those who talk about praying and discuss prayer but who rarely pray. I am always challenged when I read Paul’s letters to discover the fervency and persistency of his praying for his converts, and how he, to use his own language, travailed in birth for them until Christ be formed in them. What agony of soul he must have had, for he knew that some were backsliding. What joy and liberty in the Spirit he must have felt for those who were going on with the Lord. His concern was that he might present each one perfect in Christ (Colossians 1:28), and he laboured for them in prayer till that object was achieved. May the Holy Spirit apply this message to our hearts and, as the One who maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered, may He have His way through us in intercessory prayer.
Part 4: Thoughts on Consecutive Bible Study (April 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 04)
I want to say a word to you this month on the subject of consecutive Bible study, especially having in mind those of you have recently come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. The study of the Word of God must be disciplined and regular, but the question which confronts the would-be student at once is how and where to begin. So many folk have started to read the Bible through chapter by chapter. I am sure this is an excellent thing, but I do not think it is the best way to begin the study of the Word of God. The first essential is to get a grasp of the teaching of the Book as a whole. I would commend to you two excellent books for this purpose, both by the Rev. Dr. W. Graham Scroggie. The first is The Fascination of the Old Testament Story and the second Know Your Bible (in two volumes). These books will be a most valuable aid to you in obtaining a telescopic view of the scheme of Scripture as a whole, and of God’s plan of redemption for mankind—which, of course, is the theme of the whole Bible.
To study the Word of God with the aid of books of this character is at once fascinating and inspiring, but nothing can take the place of the simple dependence upon the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth. The Lord Jesus assures us that that is part of the Spirit’s work when He comes to indwell our hearts (John 16:13). In addition, therefore, to the study of the Word of God with the help of other books, I would earnestly commend to you the prayerful reading of Scripture itself. To begin with, I suggest you read the Gospels according to St. Luke and St. John, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistle to the Romans. These four books, read time and time again, will give you a wonderful insight into Divine truth. The Gospel according to St. Luke is the Gospel revealing the humanity of the Lord Jesus, while the Gospel according to St. John reveals His deity. The Actus of the Apostles is a thrilling record of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the lives of ordinary folk who trusted the Savior, and had committed their lives to Him, while the Epistle of Paul to the Romans is the most statesmanlike presentation of the Christian faith to be found anywhere in the whole Bible. Read these books through and through, counting upon the Lord by the Holy Spirit to teach you, and never be content until you have really grasped the inner meaning of them.
A most helpful aid to devotional Bible study are the notes prepared by the Scripture Union. There are different portions and notes, some for children and others for adults, some for the new converts and others for the more mature believer.
I shall have more to say next month regarding alternative methods of Bible study, but I do wish to press home to you that the study of the Word of God, couple with the life of prayer, is the basic soil upon which the Christian life must grow. The psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Can a Christian neglect the study and escape peril?
A famous pianist once said that he required four hours’ practice a day before he could appear in public, and added that if he missed one day he felt the difference. If he missed two days his friends noticed it, and if he missed three days the public knew it. How true that is in the spiritual realm. A day without a Quiet Time will be felt in your own heart, and such neglect continued will soon be observed in public life. The fragrance goes, gentleness disappears, and the strain and stress are all too evident. May the Lord break the Bread of Life to you each day, and may His presence become thus increasingly real. The Lord bless you all.
Part 5: The Quiet Time (May 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 05)
I am sure that there are many and varied methods of the study of God’s Word which are equally helpful, and it is impossible to suggest one method which is better than others. It seems to me that the Lord speaks to us in different ways, and what is the right method for one Christian may be quite wrong for another. There is, however, one very valuable method of Bible study which I learned some years ago and which has always proved most helpful to me. I pass it on to you in the hope that you may also discover some practical help in following it.
Take a book of the Bible and study it chapter by chapter. As you read each chapter through for the first time, answer the following questions about it: (1) What is the main subject of the chapter? (2) Who are the chief people in the chapter? (3)What does it teach about the Lord Jesus? (4) What is the outstanding doctrinal teaching of the chapter? (5) What temptation does it reveal which I must avoid? (6) What promise is there in the chapter for me to claim? (7) What example is there for me to follow? (8) What is the best verse in the chapter? That is to say, if I never could read the chapter again, what verse would I select as being specially for me?
In order to be able to answer these questions satisfactorily, you will probably require to read the chapter through several times, with the result that its message will be imprinted deeply upon your mind and heart. Furthermore, by adopting this method you secure an understanding of the doctrine of the chapter while at the same time experimentally claiming the truth in it for your own life. It is wonderful how often the “best verse” will come to your mind during the day and prove to be a strength just at the moment you need it. It is very helpful to have a notebook beside you while following this method of study, so that the answers to the questions can be written down for each chapter of the particular book you are studying. By following this method your notebook will become a mine of information which will be of invaluable help throughout your life.
I can well imagine some of you saying this is going to take a long time. Certainly it will, but I am assuming that already you have discovered that the minimum time I suggested for the “Quiet Time” is really insufficient! In the first of these little talks together I suggested at least an hour a day, but if you are really determined to go on with God to prove His power in your life, and to enter more deeply into a knowledge of His will, you will soon discover that your heart is hungering for a greater revelation of His truth and the Bible becomes to you the Book of all books.
Dr. Bonar once said, “He that would be holy must steep himself in the Word, must bask in the sunshine which radiates from each page of revelation. It is through the truth that we are sanctified (John 17:17). Exposing our souls constantly to this light, we come more thoroughly ‘children of the light,’ and,
“‘Like the stain’d web that whitens in the sun,
“Grow pure by being purely shone upon.’
“For, against evil, Divine truth is quick and powerful. It acts like some chemical ingredient, that precipitates all impurities and leaves the water clear. It works like a spell of disenchantment against the evil one, casting him out, and casting him down. It is ‘the sword of the Spirit,’ with whose keen edge we cut our way through hostile thousands. It is the rod of Moses, by which we divide the Red Sea, and defeat Amalek, and bring water from the desert rock. What evil, what enemy, within our without, is there that can withstand this unconquered and unconquerable Word? Satan’s object at present is to undermine that Word, and to disparage its perfection. Let us the more magnify it, and the more make constant use of it. It is indeed only a fragment of man’s language, made up of human letters and syllables; but it is furnished with superhuman virtue. That rod in the hand of Moses, what was it? A piece of common wood. Yet it cut the Red Sea in twain. That serpent on the pole, what was it? A bit of brass. Yet it healed thousands. Why all this? Because that wood and that brass were connected with Omnipotence, conductors of the heavenly electricity. So let the Bible be the Book for wounding, healing, quickening, comforting and purifying.”
Part 6: Assurance of Salvation (June 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 06)
How often the young Christian is tempted to doubt his salvation, and even the older and more mature believer has moments when he wonders if it is real. Indeed there are some schools of thought that insist we can never know that we are truly saved for eternity until we get there. Yet how full the Scripture is of comforting words of assurance. For example, in 1 John 5: 11–12, we read “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” Again, in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” These are only two references from the Word of God, but hundreds could be quoted where there is given full and complete authority for personal assurance of salvation. The whole issue centers around the attitude of heart concerning the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice on Calvary. If we believe in Him, which means the committal of our lives and our wills to Him, then we have received life that is everlasting. This is not because of any act or decision of our own but because God the Father has covenanted with His Son that all who believe on Him shall be saved (John 17:2). The assurance of your salvation, therefore, rests on nothing less than a personal promise made in the mind of the Godhead, fulfilled on the Saviour’s side at Calvary, where He paid the price of our redemption, and made real in personal experience when the Holy Spirit convicted you of sin and pointed you to the Cross. At that moment, as you believed, you were sealed by the Spirit and received everlasting life.
Assurance of salvation therefore is not dependent upon our feelings, and this is where so many folk go wrong. How often when feeling depressed or worried, or maybe when suffering physically, doubts have been allowed to fill the mind; and how grieving this must be to the Lord.
There is a story told of a small boy who was a bright little Christian, having received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour in childhood. One night as he lay in bed he seemed to hear a voice from under the bed say to him, “You are not a Christian, you have felt miserable all day today.” So he got out of bed and took his Bible from the shelf, knelt down beside his bed and began to read aloud from the first verses quoted above. But still the voice from under the bed seemed to persist, “You cannot be a Christian when you feel miserable. If you were a Christian, you would always feel happy.” The more he read, the louder the voice seemed to contradict the truth of the Scripture that “he that hath the Son hath life,” until in desperation he turned the Bible round, thrust it under the bed and said, “Here, read it for yourself!” Yes that is the only way to deal with the devil and all his sinister whispers. To the Word of God and to the testimony of Scripture return every time and you will discover the peace of God garrisoning your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).
I know, of course, that some suggest that this teaching opens the door wide to carelessness of life, inferring that if we are saved for ever it does not matter how we live. Surely nobody who has tasted the grace and mercy of God could think like this! For is it not true that a real experience of the new birth into the kingdom of God, and the resultant impact of the Holy Spirit on the life, bring an impelling urge to live to His glory? “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I am sure that it is only a reasonable test of salvation to suggest that the only evidence of a new birth is a new desire; a new life means a change of appetite, and if that is not present there is every reason to doubt the genuineness of the conversion; but remember that “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” The great question is: Have you believed?
Part 7: The Christian Walk (August 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 08)
I would like you to think about the character of our walk (Ephesians 4:1–6). How shall we walk worthy of our vocation? That is the great yearning of our hearts! Study our relations with fellow Christians—lowliness, meekness, long-suffering, forbearance. That is, turn away from contemplation of our high calling—do not get spiritual pride! It is all of grace; we do not deserve one bit of it. These qualities are not characteristic of people by nature, but they are of the Lord Himself and therefore should be of His people. Whatever rapturous spiritual experiences may be ours, we shall get nowhere with our fellows till we have learned true humility and forbearance.
After all, no Christian fellowship is perfect. There are serious defections in all of us—defects which make for friction and therefore make demands on patience and humility and long-suffering. If the church is to be a credit to the Gospel—if it is to hold together—then it can only be by mutual forbearance. The Christian suffers far more from his fellow Christians than from the world! He expects to be roughly handled by the world, but it goes pretty deep when he suffers at the hands of his brethren! Self-regard, sensitiveness to slight, love of power, all will ruin fellowship if the Christian has not learned forbearance.
Listen! If we make an injury (real or fancied) done to us an excuse for cherishing ill will against our brethren, and justify our separation from him, then we fail in the Christian walk. It is just then that patience is needed.
There is no minister who has not the need of long-suffering toward some of his flock. No man is fit to be in the ministry who cannot reveal it! He must bear injustice without any shadow of resentment. On the other hand, there is no congregation which has no need to be patient and long-suffering with the imperfections of its minister. We are put together to learn to walk worthy of our high calling and we urgently need forbearance.
That leads Paul to speak of a positive endeavor to maintain unity (verse 3). Not merely refraining from doing anything to break it, but being zealous to defend it, repair it where it is broken, strengthen it where it is weak. You may do nothing to disturb the peace of the church (body of Christ) but be very much to blame for doing nothing to strengthen it! This is not a unity of form, but of spirit, of all who love the Lord. We are one in Christ, not because we hold the same opinions, or use the same forms, but because we share the same life, are redeemed by the same Blood, are illumined by the same Holy Spirit and are indwelt by the same Lord Jesus. There must be positive action to guard such unity. Such is the Christian walk in its character.
Part 8: The Christian Warfare (September 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 09)
I have always been thrilled with the Weymouth translation of Ephesians 6:13, which reads as follows: “Therefore put on the complete armour of God, so that you may be able to stand your ground in the evil day, and, having fought to the end, to remain victors on the field.” Isn’t that just grand? It is how we end life and not how we begin it that really matters. To be born and live in days such as these is for the Christian a great privilege and tremendous responsibility.
In a world in which satanic forces are subtle and powerful, when men’s hearts fail them for fear, when the world moves on towards judgment, when life and death hang by a mere thread, the Christian is the representative of the Saviour, the pivotal point of resistance in the name of heaven against all the power of hell—that is his privilege. The only vantage ground which heaven possesses on this Earth which is indeed enemy-occupied territory.
To stand his ground, to fight to the end in a war which is relentless and ruthless and in which there can be no armistice or patched-up truce; to remain victor on the field with his enemies scattered—such is his responsibility. That responsibility is all the greater because he is not alone in the fight. As one of a great company of those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, as part of a great army whose task it is in the name of the Saviour to resist and drive back all the forces of Satan, he knows that the power of the whole army to win through is entirely dependent on the victory of each. Every man must be a match for the enemy, if God’s purposes in the world are to triumph completely. Oh, to be a man who is standing firm, fighting to the end. He will remain a victor on the field! How can I be God’s man for this hour?
Who is the enemy against whom we fight? Not flesh and blood but the powers that control and govern this dark world. Not Stalin and others like him but the power behind them which makes them use all their ability for evil designs. But we do not need to invade the Continent to discover our enemy—he is on the attack all the time from within us and without us. This foe has to be beaten in our own lives, a spiritual force of evil attacking every child of God from without and within.
Now in such a victory the Christin has an enormous advantage, for he has a line of communication with the Commander-in-Chief who has attacked the enemy on all fronts and beaten him. I must not, therefore, look to or depend on myself for victory, but I must learn to put on the whole armour of God if I am to stand against all the strategy of the Devil. Realize this fact, that it is a spiritual conflict in which we are engaged, and victory is won in the spiritual realm, and therefore prayer is the place of victory. There are thousands who have paid the price of death to bring our nation through the recent war; there are many more who sacrifice anything to gain an earthly crown or earthly reward. The tragic fact is that there are many Christians who have never begun to pay the price of victory in the place of prayer. You ask how to begin? I answer you must pray three things:
(1) There must be an absolute confidence in the ability of the Saviour to defeat in you all the strategy of the Devil (1 John 1:14, 15). This is the victory, even our faith. Faith is the inlet for Divine power. Jesus said to the bereaved in the home at Bethany, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”
(2) There must be absolute obedience to all the Saviour’s commands “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).
(3) There must be absolute agreement with the Saviour in His hatred of the enemy. “If I regard iniquity in my heart,” which means if I look with favour on it, “He will not hear me.” The tragic thing is that so many of us have come to terms with the enemy and have deserted from the army of the King of kings. May the Lord ever keep us faithful in the fight right through to the end.
Part 9: Maintaining The Glow (October 1958: The Moody Church News, Volume 43 Number 10)
How can I keep it up? Have you ever asked this or heard other Christians ask it? Indeed the fear of the inability to do so is often a reason which keeps many back from the Christian life altogether. Now, of course, the whole question and the reasoning behind it is a misconception. What exactly is meant by “it”? I suppose the answer is the Christian life, but then surely none of us are expected to keep that up; it just cannot be done. You see the implication behind such a fear is that the Christian life was initiated by human action, that it began with a great resolve which each of us made, which somehow or other must be maintained.
Now the New Testament has something very vital to say about this. To begin with, the Christian life is not based upon any human decision, but upon the work of the Holy Spirit convicting of sin and pointing us to the Lord Jesus Christ as the one and only Saviour from sin. He it was who imparted the faith to believe in Christ and constrained the surrender to Christ. Now He who began the work in you will go on performing it. The whole question is not that of whether you can keep up anything, but rather that He is able to keep you. Of this there can be no doubt. It is not your feeble hold upon the Lord which matters but His mighty hold upon you. No one has ever lived the Christian life in his own strength; it has only been lived completely by one Person and that the Saviour Himself. Now the glorious fact of the Christian Gospel is that the living Christ is available to repeat His life in each one of us in answer to our trust and willing obedience. Therefore, whatever the circumstances may be, or however impossible it may appear to live the Christian life in a certain situation, remember that with God nothing is impossible, and relying on the living Christ you may always be assured that He is adequate for anything. What a difference this makes to the whole outlook; how many fears are unnecessary and how many doubts are unworthy, all arising because of a misconception of the true character of Christian living. If it is Christ in you then you need fear nothing, except the fear of failing to trust Him. “They who trust Him wholly, find Him wholly true,” and that means a freshness and vitality of Christian experience which is a radiant testimony to the world. Worries, fears and gloomy forebodings all disappear when the heart is resting in the triumphant Saviour.
We are therefore brought back to a simple dependence upon the Holy Spirit in us to work out the life of the Lord Jesus Christ through us. This means a continual attitude of mind and heart which abides in Christ. My friend Gordon Thomas once illustrated this in a way which I have never forgotten when he said that abiding in Christ means counting on His presence, reckoning on His victory and drawing on His power. His presence is assured in every circumstance, His victory on the Cross over all the powers of darkness, and on the final resurrection morning over death, was final and eternal, as fresh today as ever; His power, that revolutionary, life-changing, yet gentle power, the power by which He Himself was brought again from the dead is available now for you. Lay hold by faith on all three and you will discover how wonderfully the spiritual glow is maintained.