Sermon 1255. How To Converse With God
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 19, 1875,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Then call, and I will answer: or let me speak, and You answer me." Job 13:22.
JOB might well have been driven frantic by his miserable comforters. It is wonderful that he did not express himself far morebitterly than he did. Surely Satan found better instruments for his work in those three ungenerous friends than in the maraudingSabeans, or the pitiless whirlwind. They assailed Job remorselessly and seemed to have no more hearts of compassion than somany flint stones. No wonder that he said to them many things which otherwise he would never have thought of uttering and,a few, which I dare say, he afterwards regretted.
Possibly the expression of our text is one of those passages of too forcible speech. The tormented Patriarch did what nonebut a man of the highest integrity could have done so intensely as he did. He made his appeal from the false judgement ofman to the bar of God and begged to be forthwith summoned before the tribunal of the Judge of All, for he was sure that Godwould justify him. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain my own ways before Him. He, also, shallbe my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before Him." He was ready to appear at the Judgement Seat of God, there tobe tried as to his sincerity and uprightness!
He says, "Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from You. Withdraw Your hand far from me: and let notYour dread make me afraid." He offers, in the words of our text, to come before the righteous Judge in any way which He mightappoint-either he will be the defendant and God shall be the plaintiff in the suit-"Call and I will answer," or else he willtake up the part of the plaintiff and the Lord shall show cause and reason for His dealings towards him, or convict him offalsehood in his pleas-"Let me speak, and You answer me." He feels so sure he has not been a hypocrite that he will answerto the All-Seeing, then and there, without fear of the result.
Now, Brothers and Sisters, we are far from condemning Job's language, but we would be quite as far from imitating it. Consideringthe circumstances in which Job was placed. Considering the hideous libels which were brought against him. Considering howhe must have been stung when accused so wrongfully at such a time, we do not wonder that he thus spoke. Yet it may be thathe spoke unadvisedly with his lips, but, at any rate, it is not for us to employ his language in the same sense, or in anymeasure to enter upon self-justification before God! On the contrary, let our prayer be, "Enter not into judgement with Yourservant: for in Your sight shall no man living be justified."
How shall man be just with God? How can we challenge His judgement before whom the heavens are not pure and who charged Hisangels with folly? Unless, indeed, it is in a Gospel sense, when, covered with the righteousness of Christ, we are made boldby faith to cry, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies, who is he that condemns?It is Christ that died, yes rather, that has risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercessionfor us."
I am going to use the words of Job in a different sense from that in which he employed them and shall apply them to the sweetcommunion which we have with our Father God. We cannot use them in reference to our appearance before His Judgement Seat tobe tried, but they are exactly suitable when we speak of those blessed approaches to the Mercy Seat when we draw near to Godto be enriched and sanctified by sacred communion. The text brings out a thought which I wish to convey to you-"Call, andI will answer: or let me speak, and You answer me." May the Holy Spirit bless our meditation.
The three points this morning will be, two methods of secret conversation-"Call, and I will answer: or let me speak, and Youanswer me." Secondly, the method of combining the two, and here we shall try to show how the two modes of conversation shouldbe united in our communion with God. And thirdly, we shall show how these two modes of fellowship are realized to the fullin the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our answer to God and God's answer to us.
I. First, then, here are TWO METHODS OF SACRED CONVERSATION BETWEEN GOD AND THE SOUL- sometimes the Lord calls to us and wereply, and at other times we speak to God and He graciously deigns to answer us. A missionary, some years ago, returning fromSouth Africa, gave a description of the work which had been accomplished there through the preaching of the Gospel. Amongother things, he pictured a little incident of which he had been an eyewitness. He said that one morning he saw a convertedAfrican chieftain sitting under a palm tree with his Bible open before him.
Every now and then he cast his eyes on his book and read a passage, and then he paused and looked up a little while, and hislips were seen to be in motion. Thus he continued alternately to look down on the Scriptures and to turn his eyes upward towardsHeaven. The missionary passed by without disturbing the good man, but a little while after he mentioned to him what he hadseen and asked him why it was that sometimes he read, and sometimes he looked up? The African replied-"I look down to theBible and God speaks to me. And then I look up in prayer and speak to the Lord, and in this way we keep up a holy talk witheach other." I would set this picture before you as being the mirror and pattern of communion with Heaven-the heart hearkeningto the Voice of God-and then replying in prayer and praise.
We will begin with the first method of communion. Sometimes it is well in our conversation with God that we should wait tillour heavenly Father has spoken-"Call, and I will answer." In this way the Lord communed with His servant Abraham. If you referto those sacred interviews with which the Patriarch was honored, you will find that the record begins-"The Lord spoke untoAbraham and said." After a paragraph or two you hear Abraham speaking to the Lord and then comes the Lord's reply, and anotherword from the Patriarch. But the conversation generally began with the Lord Himself.
So it was with Moses. While he kept his flock in the wilderness he saw a bush which burned and was not consumed. He turnedaside to gaze upon it and then the Lord spoke to him out of the bush. The Lord called first and Moses answered. Notably thiswas the case in the instance of the holy child, Samuel. While he lay asleep, the Lord said to him, "Samuel, Samuel," and hesaid, "Here I am," and yet a second and a third time the Voice of God commenced a sacred communion. No doubt the Lord hadheard the voice of the child in prayer at other times, but upon this notable occasion the Lord first called Samuel, and Samuelanswered, "Speak Lord, for Your servant hears."
So was it with Elijah. There was a still small Voice and the Lord said to the Prophet, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"Then Elijah replied, "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts, for they have thrown down Your altars and slainYour Prophets with the sword." To which complaint his great Master gave a comfortable answer. Now, as it was with these saintsof old so has it been with us-the Lord our God has spoken to us by His Spirit-and our spiritual ears have listened to Hiswords and thus our communion with Heaven has commenced. If the Lord wills to have the first word in the holy conversationwhich He intends to hold with His servants, God forbid that any speech of ours should interpose!
Who would not be silent to hear Jehovah speak? How does God speak to us, then, and how does He expect us to answer? He speaksto us in the written Word. This "more sure Word of testimony, whereunto you do well if you take heed, as unto a light thatshines in a dark place." He speaks to us, also, in the ministry of His Word, when things new and old which are in Holy Scriptureare brought forth by His chosen servants and are applied with power to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The Lord is not dumbin the midst of His family, though, alas, some of His children appear to be dull of hearing!
Though the Urim and Thummim are no longer to be seen upon the breasts of mortal men, yet the oracle is not silent. O thatwe were always ready to hear the loving Voice of the Lord! The Lord's Voice has many tones, all equally Divine. SometimesHe uses the voice of awakening and then we should give earnest heed. We are dead and He quickens us. We are sluggish and needto be awakened and the Lord, therefore, cries aloud to us, "Awake you that sleep!" We are slow to draw near to Him and, therefore,He lovingly says, "Seek you My face." What a mercy it is if our heart at once answers, "Your face, Lord, will I seek."
When he awakens us to duty there is true communion in our hearts if we at once reply "Here am I, send me." Our inmost soulsshould reply to the Lord's call as the echo answers to the voice. I fear it is sometimes far otherwise-and then our lovingLord has His patience tried. Remember how He says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock"? He knocks because He finds thatdoor closed which should have been wide open. Alas, even His knocks are, for a while, in vain, for
we are stretched upon the bed of ease and make idle excuses for remaining there-"I have taken off my coat, how can I put iton? I have washed my feet, how can I defile them?"
Let us no longer treat Him in this ungenerous manner lest He take it amiss and leave us, for if He goes away from us we shallseek Him but find Him not. We shall call Him but He will give us no answer. If we will not arise at His call it may be Hewill leave us to slumber like sluggards till our poverty comes as one that travels and our need as an armed man. If our Belovedcries, "Rise up My Love, My fair One, and come away," let us not linger for an instant! If He cries "Awake, awake, put onyour strength, O Zion," let us arise in the power of His call and shade ourselves from the dust! At the first sound of Heaven'sbugle in the morning, let us leave the bed of carnal ease and go forth to meet our Lord and King. Herein is communion-theLord draws us and we run after Him! He awakens us and we wake to serve Him! He restores our soul and our hearts praise Him!
Frequently the voice of God is for our instruction. All Scripture is written for that purpose and our business is to listento its teachings with open ears and willing heart. Well did the Psalmist say, "I will hear what God the Lord will speak, forHe will speak peace unto His people." God's own command of mercy is, "Incline your ear and come unto Me, hear and your soulshall live." This is the very Gospel of God to the unsaved ones and it is an equally important message to those who have,through Grace, believed, for they, also, need to receive of His Words. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Wordwhich proceeds out of the mouth of God shall men live."
Therefore one of the saints cried out, "Your Words were found and I did eat them." And another said, "How sweet are Your Wordsunto my taste, yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth." God's Word is the soul's manna and the soul's Water of Life. How greatlywe ought to prize each Word of Divine teaching! But, dear Brothers and Sisters, do you not think that many are very neglectfulof God's instructive Voice? In the Bible we have precious doctrines, precious promises, precious precepts and, above all,a precious Christ! If a man would really live upon these choice things, he might rejoice with joy unspeakable and full ofglory.
But how often is the Bible left unread? And so God is not heard. He calls and we give no heed. As for the preaching of theWord, when the Holy Spirit is in it, it is the "power of God unto salvation," and the Lord is pleased by the foolishness ofpreaching to save them that believe. But all Believers do not hear the voice of the Lord by His ministers as they should.There is much carping criticism, much coldness of heart, much glorying in man, and a great need of teachableness of spiritand thus the Word is shut out of our hearts. The Lord would gladly teach us by His servants, but our ears are dull of hearing.
Is it any wonder that those professors cannot pray who are forever grumbling that they cannot hear? God will be deaf to usif we are deaf to Him. If we will not be taught, we shall not be heard. Let us not be as the adder which is deaf to the charmer'svoice. Let us be willing, yes, eager to learn. Did not our Lord Jesus say, "take My yoke upon you and learn of Me"? And isthere not a rich reward for so doing in His sweet assurance, "you shall find rest unto your souls"? Search the Scripturesthat no Word from the Lord may be inadvertently slighted by you! Hear the Word attentively and ponder it in your heart. Dailymake this your prayer, "What I know not, teach me." "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your Law."
Let us strive against prejudice and never let us dream that we are so wise that we need learn no more. Jesus Christ wouldhave us be teachable as little children and ready to receive, with meekness, the engrafted Word which is able to save oursouls! You will have a blessed fellowship with your Lord if you will sit at His feet and receive His Words. O for His owneffectual teaching! Call, O Lord, and I will answer!
The Lord also speaks to His servants with the voice of command. Those who trust Christ must also obey Him. In the day whenwe become the Lord's children we come under obligations to obey. Does He not, Himself, say, "If I am a father, where is Myhonor?" Dear Friends, we must never have a heavy ear towards the precepts. I know some who drink in the promises as Gideon'sfleece did the dew, but as for the commands, they refuse them as a man turns from wormwood. But the child of God can say,"Oh, how I love Your Law! It is my meditation all the day: I will delight myself in Your Commandments which I have loved."
The will of God is very sweet to His children. They long to have their own wills perfectly conformed to it. True Christiansare not pickers and choosers of God's Word-the part which tells them how they should live in the power of the Spirit of Godis as sweet to them as the other portion which tells them how they are saved by virtue of the redeeming
sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Dear Brothers and Sisters, if we shut our ears to what Jesus tells us, we shall never have powerin prayer, nor shall we enjoy intimate communion with the Well-Beloved. "If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in Mylove," He says, "even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love."
If you will not hear God, you cannot expect Him to hear you! And if you will not do what He bids you, neither can you expectHim to give you what you seek at His hands. An obedient heart is necessary if there is to be any happy conversation betweenGod and the soul! The Lord sometimes speaks to His servants in the tone of rebuke and let us never be among those who hardentheir necks against Him. It is not a pleasant thing to be told of our faults, but it is a most profitable thing.
Brethren, when you have erred, if you are on good terms with God, He will gently chide you. His voice will sound in your conscience,"My Child, was this right? My Child, was this as it ought to be? Is this becoming in one redeemed with precious blood?" Whenyou open the Bible, many a text will, like a mirror, show you yourself and the spots upon your face. And Conscience, lookingon, will say, "Do not so, my Son, this is not as your Lord would have it." "Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I haveborne chastisement, I will not offend any more. That which I see not teach me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more."
If we do not listen to God's rebuking voice in His Word, He will probably speak in harsher tones by some addicting Providence.Perhaps He will hide from us the light of His Countenance and deny us the consolations of the Spirit. Before this is the case,it will be wise to turn our hearts unto the Lord, or if it has already come to that, let us say, "Show me why You contendwith me. Make me to know my faults, my Father, and help me to purge myself from them." Brothers and Sisters, be you not asthe horse, or as the mule, but pray to be made tender in spirit. Be this your prayer-
"Quick as the apple of an eye, Oh, God, my conscience make. Awake, my soul, when sin is near, And keep it still awake. Ohmay the least omission pain My well instructed soul And drive me to the blood again, Which makes the wounded whole!" Let ushear Nathan as kindly when he rebukes us as when he brings a promise, for in both cases the Prophet speaks his Master's ownsure word. Let us thank the Lord for chiding us and zealously set about destroying the idols against which His anger is lifted.It is due to the Lord and it is the wisest course for ourselves.
But blessed be His name, the Lord will not always chide, neither will He keep His anger forever! Very frequently the Lordspeaks to us in consolatory language. How full the Bible is of comforts! How truly has God carried out His own precept tothe Prophet-"Comfort you, comfort you My people, says your God." What more, indeed, could God have said than He has said forthe consolation of His own beloved? Be not slow to hear when God is swift to cheer you. Alas, our mischief sometimes turnsa deaf ear even to the sweetest note of Jehovah's love! We cannot think that all things will work together for our good. Wecannot believe that the Providence which looks so evil can really be a blessing in disguise.
Blind unbelief is sure to err and it errs principally in stopping its ear against those dulcet tones of everlasting lov-ingkindnesswhich ought to make our hearts leap within us for joy! Beloved, be not hard to comfort, and when God calls, be ready to answerHim, and say, "I believe You, Lord, and rejoice in Your Word, and therefore my soul shall put away her mourning and gird herselfwith delight." This is the way to keep up fellowship with God-to hear His consolations and to be grateful for them. And lastof all upon this point, God speaks to His people, sometimes in the tones which invite to innermost communion. I cannot tellnow how they sound-your ear must, itself, have heard them to know what they are.
Sometimes He calls His beloved ones to come away to the top of Amana, to ascend above the world and all its cares, and tocome to the Mount of Transfiguration. "There," says He, "will I show you My loves." There the Lord seems to lay bare His heartto His child and to tell him all the heights and depths of love unsearchable. There the Lord allows him to understand hiseternal union with Christ and the safety that comes of it. There the Lord reveals the mystical Covenant with all its treasures,"for the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His Covenant." It is a
sad thing when the Lord calls us into the secret chamber, where none may approach but men greatly beloved, and we are notprepared to enter.
That innermost heart-to-heart communion is not given to him who is unclean. God said even to Moses, "Put off your shoes fromoff your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground." There is no enjoying that extraordinary nearness to God withwhich He sometimes favors His choice ones, unless the feet have been washed in the bronze laver and the hands have been cleansedin innocence. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." He that is of clean hands and a pure heart, he shalldwell on high, but only he, for God will not draw inconsistent professors and those who are dallying with sin into close contactwith Himself. "Be you clean that bear the vessels of the Lord," and especially be you clean who hope to stand in His holyplace and to behold His face, for that face is only to be beheld in righteousness.
Brethren, it is clear that the voice of God speaks to us in different tones and our business, as His children, is to answerat once when He speaks to us. This is one form of holy fellowship. The second and equally common form is that we speak toGod and He graciously replies to us. How should we speak to the Most High? I answer, first, we ought constantly to speak toHim in the tone of adoration. We do not, I fear, adore and reverently magnify God one hundredth as much as we should. Thegeneral frame of a Christian should be such that whenever his mind is taken off from the necessary thoughts of his calling,he should at once stand before the Throne blessing the Lord, if not in words, yet in heart.
I was watching the lilies, the other day, as they stood upon their tall stalks with flowers so fair and beautiful. They cannotsing, but they seemed to me to be offering continual hymns to God by their very existence! They had lifted themselves as nearto Heaven as they could. Indeed, they would not commence to flower till they had risen as far from the earth as their naturewould permit-and then they just stood still in their beauty and showed to all around what God can do-and as they poured outtheir sweet perfume in silence they said by their example, "Bless the Lord as we, also, do by pouring out our very souls insweetness."
Now, you may not be able to preach and it would not be possible to be always singing, especially in some company. But yourlife, your heart, your whole being should be one perpetual discourse of the lovingkindness of the Lord and your heart, evenif the Lord is silent, should carry on fellowship by adoring His blessed name. Coupled with adoration, the Lord should alwayshear the voice of our gratitude. One of our Brethren in prayer, last Monday night, commenced somewhat in this fashion. Hesaid, "Lord, You do so continuously bless us that we feel as if we could begin to praise You now and never leave off any more.We are half ashamed to ask for anything more because You do always give so promptly, and so bountifully."
In this spirit let us live! Let us be grateful unto Him and bless His name and come into His Presence with thanksgiving! Thewhole life of the Christian man should be a Psalm of which the contents should be summed up in this sentence, "Bless the Lord,O my Soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name." Now, adoration and thanksgiving, if rendered to God with a sincereheart through Jesus Christ, will be acceptable to God and we shall receive an answer of peace from Him so that we shall realizethe second half of the text. "Let me speak, and You answer me." But, my Brothers and Sisters, it would not suffice for usto come before God with adoration, only, for we must remember what we are.
Great is He and, therefore, to be adored, but sinful are we and, therefore, when we come to Him there must always be confessionof sin upon our lips. I never expect, until I get to Heaven, to be able to cease confessing sin every day and every time Istand before God. When I wander away from God, I may have some idea of being holy, but when I draw near to Him I always feelas Job when he said, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see You. Therefore I abhor myself indust and ashes." If you would have the Lord hear, be sure you speak to Him in humble notes. You have rebelled against Him.You are a sinner by nature and though forgiven and accepted, and therefore freed from dread of wrath, you can never forgetthat you were a rebel-and if it had not been for Sovereign Grace you would have been so still-therefore speak with lowlinessand humility before the Lord if you wish to receive an answer.
Beloved Friends, we should also speak to God with the voice ofpetition and this we can never cease to do, for we are alwaysfull of needs. "Give us this day our daily bread" must be our prayer as long as we are in the land where daily needs requiredaily supplies. We shall always need to make request for temporals and for spirituals, for ourselves and for others, too.The work of intercessory prayer must never be allowed to cease. Speak to the Lord, you that have His ear! Speak for us, Hisservants, who are His ambassadors to men! Speak for the Church, also! Plead for rebellious sinners and ask that unnumberedblessings may be given from above.
We should also speak to Him, sometimes, in the language of resolution. If the poor prodigal was right in saying, "I will ariseand go to my father," so are Christians right in saying, "Therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live," or in saying,"As long as I live I will bless the Lord." Sometimes when a duty is set before you, very plainly, which you had, for a while,forgotten, it is very sweet to say unto the Lord, "Lord, Your servant will rejoice to do this, only help me!" Register thesecret vow before the Lord, and honorably fulfill it. We should often use the language of intimate communion. "What languageis that?" you ask and, again, I answer, "I cannot tell you."
There are times when we say to the blessed Bridegroom of our souls love words which the uncircumcised ear must not hear. Why,even the little that is unveiled before the world in the Book of Solomon's Song has made many a man quibble, for the carnalmind cannot understand such spiritual secrets. You know how the Church cries out concerning her Lord- "Let Him kiss me withthe kisses of His mouth, for His love is better than wine." There are many love passages and love words between sanctifiedsouls and their dear Lord and Master which it were not lawful for a man to utter in a mixed assembly-it were like the castingof pearls before swine, or reading one's love letters in the public streets. Oh, you chosen, speak to your Lord! Keep nothingfrom Him!
He has said, "If it were not so, I would have told you." He has told you all that He has seen with the Father! Tell Him everythingthat is in your heart and when you speak, speak with sacred child-like confidence, telling Him everything! You will find Himanswering you with familiar love and sweet will be the fellowship thus created. Thus I have shown you that there are two formsof the Believer's communion with God.
II. Let us now consider THE METHOD OF THE COMBINATION OF THE TWO. With regard to this subject I would say that they must beunited. Brethren, we sometimes go to prayer and we want God to hear us, but we have not heard what God has to say. This iswrong. Suppose a person neglects the hearing of the Word of God, but is very fond of prayer? I feel certain that his prayerwill soon become flat, stale and unprofitable, because no conversation can be very lively which is all on one side. The manspeaks, but he does not let God speak and, therefore, he will soon find it hard to maintain the conversation.
If you are earnest in regular prayer, but do not as regularly read or hear the Scriptures, your soul gives out without takingin and is very apt to run dry. Not only thoughts and desires will flag, but even the expressions will become monotonous. Ifyou consider how it is that your prayer appears to lack vivacity and freshness, the probable reason is that you are tryingto maintain a maimed fellowship. When conversation is all one-sided, do you wonder that it flags?
If I have a friend at my house, tonight, and we wish to have fellowship with each other, I must not do all the talking, butI must wait for him to answer me or to suggest new topics, as he may please. And if he is wiser than I am, there is the morereason why I should play second in the conversation and leave its guidance very much to him. It is such a condescension onGod's part to speak with us that we ought eagerly to hear what He has to say. Let Him never have to complain that we turnedour ears away from Him.
At the same time, we must not be silent. For to read the Scriptures, to hear sermons and never to pray would not bring fellowshipwith God. That would be a lame conversation! Remember how Abraham spoke with God again and again, though he felt himself tobe but dust and ashes? Remember how Moses pleaded? Do you remember how David sat before the Lord and then spoke with his tongue?Above all, remember how Jesus talked with His Father as well as listened to the Voice from Heaven. Let both forms of conversationunite and all will be well.
Again, it will be well sometimes to vary the order. Dear Mr. Muller, who is a man living near to God, whose every word islike a pearl, said, the other day, "Sometimes when I go into my closet to pray, I find I cannot pray as I would. What do Ido then? Why, since I cannot speak to the Lord, I beg the Lord to speak to me and therefore I open the Scriptures and readmy portion. And then I find the Lord gives me matter for prayer." Is not this a suggestion of much weight? Does it not commenditself to your spiritual judgement?
Have you not observed that when somebody calls to see you, you may not be in a fit condition to start a profitable conversation?But if your friend will lead, your mind takes fire and you have no difficulty in following him! Frequently it will be bestto ask the Lord to lead the sacred conversation, or wait awhile till He does so. It is a blessed thing to wait at the postsof His door, expecting a Word of Love from His Throne. It is generally best, in communion with God, to begin with hearingHis voice, because it is due to His sacred majesty that we should first hear what He has to say to us. And it
will especially be best for us to do so when we feel out of order for communion. If the flesh, in its weakness, hampers thespirit, then let the Bible reading come before the praying, that the soul may be awakened thereby.
Still, there are tines when it will be better to speak to our heavenly Father at once. For instance, if a child has done wrong,it is very wise of him to run straight away to his father, before his father has said anything to him, and say, "Father, Ihave sinned." The prodigal had the first word and so should our penitence seek for speedy audience and pour itself out likewater before the Lord. Sometimes, too, when our heart is very full of thankfulness, we should allow praise to burst forthat once. When we have received a great favor, we ought not to wait till the Giver of it speaks to us, but the moment we seeHim we should at once acknowledge our indebtedness.
When the heart is full of either prayer or praise, and the Presence of Jesus is felt, by the power of the Holy Spirit, webegin addressing the Lord with all our hearts. The Lord has spoken and it is for us to reply at once. On the other hand, whenfor wise reasons our Lord is silent unto us, it is well to take with us words and come to Him. If you have read your Bibleand have felt no visit from the Holy Spirit, or if you have heard a sermon and found no dew from the Lord attending it, thenturn at once to prayer. Tell the Lord your condition and entreat Him to reveal Himself to you. Pray first and read afterwards,and you will find that your speaking with God will be replied to by His speaking to you through the Word. Take the two methods-commonsenseand your own experience will guide you-and let sometimes one come first and sometimes the other.
But let there be a reality about both. Mockery in this matter is deadly sin. Do not let God's Word be before you as a massof letterpress, but let the Book speak to your soul. Some people read the Bible through in a set time and in great haste-theymight just as well never look at it at all! Can a man understand a country by merely tearing through it at a railway pace?If he desires to know the character of the soil and the condition of the people, he walks leisurely through the land and examineswith care. God's Word needs digging, or its treasures will lie hidden. We must put our ear down to the heart of Scriptureand hear its living throbs. Scripture often whispers, rather than thunders, and the ear must be duly trained to comprehendits language.
Resolve emphatically, "I will HEAR what God the Lord shall speak." Let God speak to you and in order that He may do so, pauseand meditate, and do not proceed till you grasp the meanings of the verses as far as the Spirit enables you. If you do notunderstand some passages, read them again and again, and remember it is good to read even those parts of Scripture which youdo not understand, even as it is good for a child to hear his father's voice whether he understands all his father has tosay or not. At any rate, faith finds exercise in knowing that God never speaks in vain, even though He is not understood.Hear the Word till you understand it.
While you are listening, the sense will gradually break in upon your soul, but mind that you listen with opened ears and willingheart. When you speak to God, do not let it be a dead form, for that is an insult to the Most High. If the heart is absent,it is as wicked to say a prayer as to be prayerless. If one should obtain an audience of Her Majesty and then should reada petition in which he took no interest, which was, in fact, a mere set of words, it would be an insult of the worst kind.Beware lest you thus insult the Majesty of Heaven!
III. The last thought is only meant to be dropped before you for you to enlarge upon it at your leisure-THE BLESSED REALIZATIONOF THESE TWO FORMS OF COMMUNION IN THE PERSON OF CHRIST. "Call, and I will answer." Infinite majesty of God, call upon meand ask for all You can ask, and I bless You that I have an answer for You. Ask Your poor servant for all You can demand ofhim and he will gladly reply. Brethren do you ask in wonder- "How can we answer Him?" The answer is clear-"By bringing Jesusto remembrance!" Our Lord Jesus Christ is man's complete answer to God.
Divine Justice demands death as the penalty of sin-behold the Son of God taken down from the Cross because He was surely dead,wrapped in the cerements of the grave and laid in Joseph's tomb! God's Justice demands suffering, demands that the sinnerbe abandoned of God. See yonder Cross and hear the cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"! Great God, You have,in Jesus, all the suffering Your Justice can ask, even to death itself. God's holiness righteously demands a life of obedience-mancannot be right before God unless he renders perfect obedience to the Law. Behold our answer, we bring a perfect Savior'sactive and passive obedience and lay it down at Jehovah's feet- what more can He ask for?
He requires a perfect heart and an unblemished person, and He cannot accept less than a perfect manhood. We bring the FatherHis Only-Begotten, the Son of Man, our Brother! And here is our answer-there is the perfect Man, the un-fallen Head of therace. Oh, never try to reply to God with any other answer than this! Whatever He asks of you, bring Him your Savior! He cannotask for more. You bring before Him that which fully contents Him, for He, Himself, has said, "This is My beloved Son, in whomI am well pleased." Let your answer, then, to the Justice of God, be Christ!
But I said that Christ fulfilled the other purpose. He is God's answer to us. What have you to ask of God this morning? Areyou so far away from Him that you enquire, "How can I be saved?" No answer comes out of the excellent Glory except Christon the Cross-that is God's answer-believe in Him and live! By those wounds, by that bloody sweat, by that sacrificial deathyou must be saved! Look! Can you say unto the Lord, "I have trusted Christ, but am I secure of salvation?" No answer comesbut Christ risen from the dead to die no more! Death has no more dominion over Him, and He has said, "Because I live, youshall live also." The risen Christ is the Lord's assurance of our safety for eternity!
Do you ask the Lord, "How much do You love me?" You have asked a large question, but there is a large answer for you. He givesHis Son-behold what manner of love is born! Do you enquire, "Lord, what will You give me?" His Son is the answer to that question,also! Behold these lines written on His bleeding Person, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,how shall He not, with Him, also freely give us all things?" Would you need more? Do you say, "What sign do You show thatall these things are so?" He gives you Christ in Heaven!
Yes, if you ask, "Lord, what shall Your servant be when You have completed Your work of Grace upon me? He points you to Jesusin Glory, for you shall be like He is! If you ask what is to be your destiny in the future, He shows you Christ coming a secondtime without a sin-offering unto salvation! Dear Friend, you can ask nothing of your God, but what He gives you at once asa reply is Jesus. Oh what blessed talk is that when the Christian's heart says Jesus, and the Christian's God says Jesus!And how sweet it is when we come to Jesus and rest in Him and God is in Jesus and makes Him His rest forever.
Thus do Believers and their God rest together in the same Beloved One! May the Lord add His blessing to our meditation andmake this kind of communion common among us for Jesus' sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 84 and 85. HYMN FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-84 (SONG III), 95 (SONG III), 782.