Sermon 2136. Possessing Possessions
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MARCH 23, 1890,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions."Obadiah 1:17.
THIS is a remarkable passage. Its wording is singular. It begins with a, "but," because the previous verses have been denouncingjudgments upon Edom. When God comes forth to punish His enemies He also comes forth to bless His friends. When Pharaoh isoverthrown in the Red Sea, it is that Israel may pass onward to Canaan. When Amalek is overcome, it is that Israel may beat peace. There is a black cloud as well as the silvery rain. The acceptable year of the Lord is the day of vengeance of ourGod. This combination so constantly occurs that the Psalmist said, "I will sing of mercy and judgment."
The sword of vengeance is displayed at the same time as the scepter of Divine Grace. In that Last Great Day-that coming ofthe Lord which is the joy and expectation of His people-there will be confusion to His adversaries. To the ungodly, "the dayof the Lord will be darkness and not light." When He comes forth there will as surely be a curse to the left hand as a blessingto the right-and both will be everlasting. Hell is as deep as Heaven is high, for God, who delights in mercy, also hates iniquityand will put away the wicked of the earth like dross. God grant to you and to me that we may know on which side we stand andmay be found in Christ, wearing His righteousness and accepted in the Beloved so that whenever the Lord comes forth with plaguesfor His adversaries, He may have favor towards us.
When, in the words of verse 16, His foes, "shall be as though they had not been," may the full force of the present text berevealed in our case-"But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shallpossess their possessions." I have no doubt that this promise has been fulfilled already and that there was a time when thehouse of Israel, restored from captivity, came back to Zion and Edom was utterly consumed. "The house of Jacob shall be afire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; andthere shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord has spoken it."
But the former fulfillment of a promise does not make it useless like a cashed check-the promise may be presented again-andit will again be honored. God's rules of action are immutable and therefore what He did to one company of His people He willdo to others of them. God is Sovereign but yet He acts according to His unchanging Nature so that from one of His proceedingswe may infer the rest. The temporary restoration of the captives to Jerusalem can only have fulfilled the promise upon a verysmall scale-it has a wider meaning than such an event could exhaust. The Lord is prepared to do the same on a larger scalefor all those who put their trust in Him.
Taking the text as containing a general principle, I shall use it for our own encouragement and edification, praying God theHoly Spirit to make it truly useful. I notice, in the text, first, a privilege to be desired-"The house of Jacob shall possesstheir possessions." Secondly, a favor to be remembered-"Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance." And, thirdly, a character tobe conspicuous-"And there shall be holiness."
I. First of all, consider A PRIVILEGE TO BE DESIRED. The land of Canaan had been granted to Israel by the Lord of All. Eachfamily had a lot and portion which belonged to it forever, being entailed upon it by a Covenant of salt. Through their sinsthe tribes were carried into captivity-the land was taken from them by their conquerors and they could no longer possess theirpossessions. Now, the promise comes to them by the prophet Obadiah: "The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions."
A property may be my lawful possession and yet, for different reasons, I may not be able to get at it-it may be in the handsof one who defrauded me of it, or I may be far away and unable to reach it. The words are singular, but their meaning is distinct-"Theyshall possess their possessions." Let us use the words as applicable to souls who shall be led to
take what is promised to Believers. "The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." We set before many of you, everyLord's-Day, the great possessions of eternal life, of pardon, of justification, of the new birth, sanctification and all theother treasures of the Covenant of Grace. But though they are set before you and you long after them, many of you feel unableto grasp them as your own.
You know that the tenure of these possessions is faith, but either you do not understand what faith is, or you, for some otherreason, fail to exercise it and so you do not appropriate what the Gospel freely gives to you. You are either confused byignorance, dazed by fear as to your sin or held back by the temptations of the devil. I pray that you may be granted DivineGrace speedily to take what Jesus freely gives so that you may come to possess your possessions. If you have the power givenyou today, by faith, to take the Lord Jesus Christ as yours-and if you now trust in His most precious blood-you need not beafraid that you will be taking possession of what does not belong to you, for every believing soul may know that what he takesby faith was bestowed upon him in the Covenant of Grace from before the foundation of the world!
If you believe in Christ, you were chosen of God before the world began! For Believers, redemption was specially offered byour Lord upon the Cross-He bought for them the Covenant heritage and He has made it over to them so that it shall be theirsforever. You cannot know this before you believe! But faith reveals the Divine choice and gift. You who now believe were oncestrangers to such an extraordinary joy as that which comes by faith. You wandered up and down in sin, knowing nothing of whatfree Grace and dying love had done for you-but now you have come to God and you have ventured by faith to take possessionof what the Lord so freely offers in the Gospel-and behold, it is revealed to you that these things were yours in the purposeof God, even from everlasting! Now is it fulfilled to you-"The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions."
God gave you all Covenant blessings in Christ Jesus according as He chose you, in Him, from before the foundation of the world.God saw you in Christ as His elect, His Beloved, His redeemed and therefore for you He prepared a kingdom which you inheritthrough His Grace. If you have now the confidence to believe in Christ Jesus and to say, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His,"then you shall know that in grasping gracious blessings you do but come to your own! You possess your possessions!
Let it be the prayer of everyone here who by faith has entered into rest, that others may now be brought in that so the numberof the elect may be accomplished and that all Covenant provisions may be received by those for whom they are prepared. Oh,for the bringing home to their God and to their own possessions those who are now prodigals, starving in the far-off country!Let us go a step further. Beloved Friends, many by faith have laid hold upon the Covenant possessions, but yet they do notfully possess them. The text leads me to pray that Believers may enjoy fully what they have grasped by faith.
Christ is mine, but, Beloved, who among us knows all that is ours in Christ? He is a case which is all ours, but we do notopen its doors and take out all its treasures! Our possessions in Christ are very wide but we need to be bid, like Abraham,to lift up our eyes to the north and to the south and to the east and to the west, that we may form a clearer idea of thegoodly land which the Lord our God has given us! We see the blessings of the Covenant but do we feed on them as we might!Do we drink deep into them and is our soul satisfied as with marrow and fatness by them? I fear we do not by enjoyment possessour possessions!
Alas, with many Believers times of actual realization and enjoyment are rare-they can talk about the blessing-but they donot habitually rejoice in it themselves. "Oh, yes," they say, "it is a very delightful thing to be washed in the blood ofthe Lamb." But do they enjoy the peace which flows from cleansing? Have they "received the Atonement" and with it that peacewith God which follows upon justification by faith? Do they delight in "the peace of God which passes all understanding"?
You know, dear Brothers and Sisters, that it is your high privilege to have access to the Mercy Seat-but do you use that accessand come often and boldly to the Throne of Grace? Do you avail yourselves of your opportunities? Do you make the utmost useof prayer? In other holy matters do you really stand where God would have you stand? Are you as rich as Christ has made you?A man may have large possessions and yet be practically poor because he is miserly in his expenditure. Is it not so with manya child of God? All things are ours and yet we live as if nothing were ours! Like a horse shut out of the pastures we nibbleround the hedges-better far for us to be like sheep which enter in and lie down
in green pastures. Oh, for Grace to appropriate by enjoyment those treasures of the Covenant which make the soul to rejoicewith joy unspeakable and full of glory!
I pray that we may not look in at the windows of the banqueting hall, but may sit at the table and possess our possessions.Why should we be hungry and thirsty when Christ has given us His flesh to be meat, indeed, and His blood to be drink, indeed?Why should we be hanging down our heads like bulrushes when the Lord loves us and would have His joy to be in us that ourjoy may be full? Why are we so dispirited by our infirmities when we know that Jehovah is our strength and our song-He alsohas become our salvation? I tell you, Brothers and Sisters, we do not possess our possessions! We are like an Israelite whoshould say, "Yes, those terraces of land are mine. Those vineyards, olives, figs and pomegranates are mine. Those fields ofwheat and barley are mine, yet I am starving."
Why do you not drink the blood of the grapes? He answers, "I can scarcely tell you why, but so it is-I walk through the vineyardsand I admire the clusters, but I never taste them. I gather the harvest and I thrash it on the barn floor, but I never grindit into corn, nor comfort my heart with a morsel of bread." Surely this is wretched work! Is it not folly carried to an extreme?I trust the children of God will not copy this madness! Let our prayer be that we may use and enjoy to the utmost all thatthe Lord has given us by His Grace and so possess our possessions!
Go a step further. We possess our possessions when we hold firmly what we enjoy. Too many Christians hold their blessingswith a feeble hand-they expect where they ought to enjoy-and think where they ought to know. They are never sure and thusthey do not "possess their possessions." They are not sufficiently at home with spiritual things to be said to possess them.At times they rise into rapturous joy-I think I heard one of them sing the other day-
"My willing soul would stay In such a frame as this And sit and sing herself away To everlasting bliss."
But the Brother very soon came down from that mountain-the Sister soon quit Tabor and made her way to the place of Wailing.Why this fickleness? Some do not stay long enough in the garden of Assurance to see a single fruit ripen-they do not possesstheir possessions.
It is a grand thing when the Grace of God enables a man to say, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is ableto keep that which I have committed unto Him." When happy feelings vanish, faith abides the same. Be it night or be it day,our soul waits only upon God, for our expectation is from Him! When you have such a grip of the Everlasting Covenant thatif all the devils in Hell were to try to drag it from you, you would defy their efforts, it is well with you! We know, then,that we have passed from death unto life! We know that Christ is ours and that we are His. We are resting in Him and are savedin Him with an everlasting salvation. Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord?
When we are thus assured, we then really possess our possessions-our title deeds are before us-and the inheritance is withinsight of our faith. If a man is living in a house which does not belong to him, he can hardly be said to possess it. He maybe at any moment disturbed, if not ejected altogether. If one who can prove his claim comes that way, out he must go! Beloved,our God has given us a Covenant right in Christ Jesus to the blessings of His Grace-we cannot be ejected! Justice is on ourside as well as Grace since Jesus died. Our tenure is not uncertain-because Jesus lives we shall live, also. Blessed is hewho, having believed in the Lord Jesus, is able to sing-
"Now I can read my title clear To mansions in the skies, I bid farewell to every fear, And wipe my weeping eyes." May thisbe the lot of all the members of this Church and of all my Lord's servants in every place!
I have not come to the end of my tether yet. I will fix another meaning upon these words and apply them to souls realizingthings to come. Brothers and Sisters, we have possessions which we have not yet seen and cannot as yet enter upon-
"I have a heritage of joy Which yet I must not see. The hand that bled to make it mine
Is keeping it for me."
We believe in the Second Coming of our Lord from Heaven and in the Glory that shall follow. We believe in the resurrectionof the dead and the eternal bliss of the godly in Heaven. We believe that we shall dwell with Christ forever and ever. Canwe possess these possessions even now? We cannot now rise from the dead, for we are not yet buried. We cannot yet walk thegolden streets, for we have not passed through the gate of pearl. Yet, by the realizations offaith, we may make these thingsto be so near that we may measurably enjoy them even now-and so already possess our possessions!
"He has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Though we are not actually inHeaven, yet in union with our Lord we are virtually there. We have been buried and risen with Him in Baptism. We have beenraised from spiritual death into newness of life and we have gone up above all earthly things into the heavenlies, where wedwell. Yes, Beloved, faith has a strange realizing faculty-imagination can do much in this direction-but faith can do farmore. By imagination a man can make fiction appear fact-faith has nothing to do with fiction, but it makes the sure hopesof the future to be the pleasures of the present.
Earth can become the vestibule of Heaven! Life here may be the rehearsal of the Glory-Life above. Even here we may possessour possessions by enjoying a period of rest, "as the days of Heaven upon the earth." Already we have the earnest of the inheritancein the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and we have obtained that inheritance in Christ-
"The men of grace ha ve found Glory begun below Celestial fruits on earthly ground From faith and hope do grow." More andmore may we enjoy the peace, the rest, the purity, the victory of Heaven-and thus possess our possessions!
One other meaning and upon this I am going to lay emphasis-we long to see souls winning others for Jesus. I think when itsays, "The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions," it may also mean the possessions of their enemies, for, in the19th and 20th verses, we read-"They of the south shall possess the Mount of Esau and they of the plain the Philistines: andthey shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captivityof this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem,which is in Zarephath, shall possess the cities of the south."
The saints annex the territories of their enemies which are theirs in Christ Jesus. The whole world belongs to Christ andin His name we are to possess it for Him. As yet we see not all things put under Him-the enemy abides in His strongholds.Ah, how terribly does the enemy keep his hold on London! Beloved, we long that this text may prove true to us by our achievingthe capture of this great city. "There is very much land yet to be possessed," and we must press on our conquest in the nameof Jesus! We must carry the war into the enemy's country and storm fort after fort for Jesus! This land is a part of Christ'sown kingdom-let us take it! Is this to be done? It must be done! We must not be satisfied till millions bow at our Lord'sfeet-until Jesus, by the Grace of God, possesses the east and the west, the north and the south. I regard this as a promiseto us-"The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions."
Drunkenness must come down like Jericho before the trumpets of Israel! Sin and lechery, like the iron chariots of the Canaanites,must be broken in pieces before our holy faith. Unbelief and superstition, like the hosts of Jabin, must give way before theeverlasting Gospel which must and shall conquer. Oh that the whole Church would be up and doing for the Lord our King! Oh,for a dauntless faith to go up and possess the gates of our enemies! This is one of God's great designs. He has chosen usand brought us to Zion that there we may find deliverance for ourselves and then may lead others to the Deliverer! Is it notwritten in the 21st verse, "And saviors shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be theLord's"?
If we have been chosen of God we have been chosen with this objective-that we gather out from the world the rest of the Lord'sredeemed-and win for our King the nations now in revolt against Him. Many of us are, just now, praying day and night thatthis may be our best year-that we may have a larger increase than ever before. I invite you all to join with me in this continualsupplication and may it come to pass before our own eyes, that, in this Tabernacle, "the house of Jacob shall possess theirpossessions."
II. So much upon the main part of our discourse. There are two other things to be handled and, first, comes this-A FAVOR TOBE REMEMBERED-"Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance." This fact should help us to possess our possessions! See what God hasdone for us! What can He not do? Is anything too hard for the Lord? That you may see the
force of the passage, let me work out its meaning. We have been saved, for, "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance" and wehave found it so. In Christ Jesus we have been saved!
The Revised Version has it, "In Mount Zion there shall be those that escape." We have escaped from sin, death and Hell. Oneof the greatest expositors of the Minor Prophets reads it, "Upon Mount Zion there shall be an escaped remnant," which indicatesa people small and weak but effectually rescued-and such are we. This rendering reminds us of that other Prophet who said,"In Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call" (Joel 2:32). Glory be to God! We are saved!
Delitzsch reads it, "Upon Mount Zion will be that which has been saved." Yes, we have been saved-saved from spiritual death,saved from punishment, saved from sin itself-saved unto the glory of our God! We have been saved, not on Mount Sinai, forthere the Law thunders terribly-but on Mount Zion where the blood of sprinkling speaks better things than that of Abel! Becauseof this deliverance let us go up and publish salvation and proclaim the name of our Deliverer! Hearken unto His voice, youcaptives, that you, also, may be delivered! Look to Him, you perishing, that you also may be saved! Now may we cheerfullypossess our possessions, since we are saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation!
We are daily saved, for the text says, "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance." Salvation abides there at all times. Not onlyhave we been saved, but we are saved continually from all evil. If we fall into trouble at any time, we fly to Jesus. If wehave hourly temptations, we look to Jesus for hourly succor. We have present salvation. Let us not think of our salvationas a matter which was finished in us on a certain day and then and there ended. Conversion is the beginning of sanctificationand sanctification is the life-long working out of salvation. Grace will always be needed from day to day until we enter intoGlory. In Mount Zion, in Christ Jesus, in the Word, and in the Church of God there is a fountain of salvation which neverdries up. If it is so, let us enjoy it, without stint, now and always! Let us be rich in abiding treasure. Let us be happyin never-failing safety and let us seek to bring this deliverance to others.
We are few, comparatively. I reminded you of that reading of the text-"Upon Mount Zion shall be an escaped remnant." I willnot make guesses as to what the number of God's chosen will be in the end. But at present, taking the most charitable viewof things, the saved ones are as a handful of corn on the top of the mountains, or as the gleanings of the vintage. The worldlies in the Wicked One, and those who are in Christ Jesus are a small remnant. That cheering word, "Fear not, little flock,it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom," is still applicable to the Church. When we accept the most enlargednotion of the numbers making up the Church of God at the present day and compare that slender company with the populationof the globe, it is like comparing a drop in a bucket to the favor of the temple.
Ah, me! Let us not despair-if God has saved us, though we are but few, He will accomplish His purposes by us. He saves notby many nor by few-His own right arm gets unto Him the victory. You are able to possess the land, few as you are! Only goforth in the same spirit as the 12 did when the Holy Spirit rested upon them at Pentecost-and few as you may be-you can yetsubdue the nations for Christ.
We are chosen by Divine Grace. In Mount Zion the escaped remnant are men chosen by Grace and ordained unto this deliverance.If you believe that God has chosen you, nothing should daunt you. More courage comes into the heart through a grip of thedoctrine of election than by any other Truth of God. Let a man believe that God has ordained him to this or that and he goesforward with irresistible resolve! The man impressed with his election crashes through every difficulty as though he werea bolt of iron shot from some tremendous cannon by a master marksman. Who shall hinder my accomplishing that to which Godhas appointed me? I shall fulfill my destiny! Who shall hinder me? In this there is a mighty motive for pressing on to possessour possessions and win for Christ the purchase of His blood. "The remnant has obtained it." The victory remains with thepeople whom the Lord has chosen!
Notice this, that we are set for the deliverance of others. The Lord's purpose of Grace to any man does not end with thatone man. He chooses one man with a view to others. When God chooses a company of men to eternal life, it is that they maybe the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Jehovah chose Israel that the favored nation might receive the oraclesof God and preserve them for the ages to come. If He has chosen us and brought us to His Mount Zion, it is that, finding deliverancefor ourselves, we may go forth and bear the tidings of it to the ends of the earth! Is it not written, "Out of Zion shallgo forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem"?
Brothers and Sisters, we ought to go in and possess the land and win the people for Jesus, for that is why we are we chosen!Has He saved you? Has He taken you out from among the fallen mass of mankind? Has He chosen you by His discriminating Grace?Oh, then you are not your own-you are His forever-and you are not to live for yourselves, but for His Glory and for the makingknown of His salvation among your fellow men! Beloved, take heart and courage and let your souls be big with high enterpriseand noble purpose! Say to yourselves, "It shall be true, 'the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions,' for we knowof a truth that there is deliverance upon Mount Zion."
III. Our final word is perhaps the most important of all. I call your attention to a third matter, namely, THE
CHARACTER TO BE CONSPICUOUS. "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness." It is
through holiness that the house of Jacob shall enter into that possession of which I have spoken at so great length. If thereis no holiness, then there has been no deliverance-and there shall be no possessing of possessions. Holiness is a link whichis essential to the golden chain of blessings. If we are without holiness, we shall not see the Lord on our side. To giveyou the bearing of the words before us, I remark, first, that it might be translated, "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance,and there shall be a sanctuary," or, "a holy place"-an inviolate sanctuary of God.
The people of God are the Temple of God. The Church of God should be God's peculiar dwelling place where He walks as Kingin His own palace. The Temple of the Godhead, is, first of all, the Person of Christ, and next the Church of the living God."This is My rest; here will I dwell, for I have desired it." With what dignity is the Church invested, when it is, in verydeed, the Temple of God! When we come together in our solemn gatherings and especially when we surround the communion tableand are visibly seen as a Church, let us be filled with solemn awe and holy trembling-for the Lord is among us as He was inSinai-or, better still, as He was in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle of old. True saints are living stones of the livingTemple where the Lord Jehovah deigns to make Himself known!
Unless we can realize this we shall not possess our possessions. If your Church membership is a mere trifle to you. If youthink that a Church is simply a community of people who meet together for religious purposes you miss the mark. The Churchmust be the sanctuary of God-the place where God reveals Himself-and if it is not so, the men and women who make up that Churchhave never tasted the Divine deliverance and neither will they possess their possessions! Without the Presence of God in theChurch it has no power to subdue the world to the faith. The great thing that makes God's people a holy people, is the Presenceof God with them. He sanctifies both the place of His abode and those that come near to Him. It is holy ground where Jehovahreveals Himself, though it is but in a bush. God is everywhere but He is not everywhere as He is in His Church.
There is a special, gracious Presence of God in the midst of His chosen people and this it is that makes them "holiness untothe Lord." Have you ever been forced to cry with Jacob, "How dreadful is this place!" and that because you had also cried,"Surely God was in this place!"? In a gathering of saints, when you have drawn near in solemn prayer to God and have laidhold upon the Covenant Angel and prevailed, have you not felt that you were the Lord's? We are never so holy as when we arenear to God! God's overshadowing Presence sanctifies the man whom it covers! Beloved, we must have this or we cannot conquerthe nations! If God is not with us and the shout of a King is not in the camp, there will be no brave deeds done in the battle!The Church needs reviving at home. We hear men talk of "getting up a revival." What idle talk is this! If the Church of Godbecomes spiritually quickened, the revival will come-but no way else. Let us carefully see to our holiness and God will seeto our success.
Next to this, there must be holy teaching- "there shall be holiness." All the teaching that goes forth from us must be God'sholy Truth and not the dream of human wisdom. If I hear of a ministry under which there are no conversions, I usually findthat it is not a holy ministry. If in the teaching there is nothing which is calculated to convert sinners, we cannot wonderthat it is not used to that end. If I go fishing with a torn net, is it any wonder that I catch no fish? God will not convertsouls by unholy sermons, for it would not be to His Glory to do so. Instrumentality must be fitted for what it aims at, andsoul-saving sermons must deal with sin, salvation and with the blood of Jesus! What have we to do with themes which are foreignto our design?
If I were to come here and talk to you about strikes, or Home Rule, or Socialism and should you pray to God to convert soulsby my discourse-would it not be a mockery or worse? I think so. Zion must have holy preaching if she is to have conqueringpower. Whatever our ministry lacks, it must be said of it, "There shall be holiness," or there will be death in the pot. Ohthat the preacher might always be holy! Unless we preach a holy God, a holy doctrine, a holy Gospel
and holy practice, we sow the wind! Beloved, we must maintain holy ordinances. God forbid that we should put a slight uponBaptism and the Supper of the Lord! Some have rejected these sacred institutions-and how they will answer for it in the daywhen Christ shall come! If the Lord Jesus has ordained these institutions, how dare we set them aside? Surely this is presumptuouslymounting to the Throne of Christ, pushing Him from the seat of legislation and daring to make laws for ourselves! No-thereshall be holiness and then we shall possess our possessions and find in the ordinances means of instruction and usefulness.
There must be holiness in the form of holy pleading. If every member of this Church, which has enjoyed so much of Divine favor,could be aroused to mighty intercession for the souls of men, should we not see great things? If every member were in earnestin praying for the visitations of God and if everyone pleaded day and night for the display of Divine power-and added to hispleading that which would prove it to be sincere, namely, his own individual effort- what a day would break upon us! It wouldbe a morning without clouds! I see no reason why it should not be so. I pray it may be realized at once. May our ideal becomea fact! May God Himself fulfill the promise, "There shall be holiness"! Holiness will breed prayer and prayer will bring power-andthat power will work mightily for the Glory of the Lord.
One thing more-there must be holy living. Prayer Meetings-what are they if they are held by a number of people who do notserve the Lord at home? Preaching-what is that if the preacher preaches what he has never experienced and is not preparedto practice? Teaching in Sunday schools-what is that if the children are taught by frivolous persons whose lives are destituteof piety? God will not bless us to the effecting of His purposes of salvation unless we are clothed with holiness as witha garment. Zion's priests must put on their snow-white garments of holy living if they are to offer an acceptable sacrificebefore Jehovah!
If I might plead on my knees with tears in my eyes, I would beseech every Brother and Sister here to be holy! Hear how theLord says, "Be you holy, for I am holy." "Be you imitators of God as dear children." "Put you on the Lord Jesus Christ andmake not provision for the flesh." "Let your conversation be as it becomes the Gospel of Christ." You cannot possess yourpossessions to your own joy unless your lives are holiness unto the Lord! You cannot have full assurance; you cannot riseto close communion with Christ; you cannot anticipate the joys of Heaven-you cannot be useful to men unless you carefullyobey the Lord and walk in holiness before Him. Our hearts can truly pray-
"Yet one thing we need, More holiness grant, For more of Your mind And Your Spirit we pant."
If this panting is fulfilled, all things will go well with us. Suffer the word of exhortation. As we so eagerly desire thatwe may have a great increase to this Church through numerous conversions, let us lay this to our hearts that we must be holy-forif we are not holy we shall not be fit to be blessed.
The unholy worker is not really in earnest. He may have a factitious or fictitious earnestness but heart-passion for soulsis not found in unholy men. Unless you are thoroughly consecrated to God and then sanctified by the Spirit, you will not speakwith that accent of conviction which carries the Truth of God home to the hearer. Do you not know yourselves that when youhave listened to a clever preacher who has no spirituality-but is a mere actor and known to be of worldly habits-his preachinghas no power in it for you? What he said was all very well but it fell flat-he was a clever and eloquent man but he did nottouch you.
When I heard George Muller some years ago, there was nothing of oratory in what he said-but then there was George Muller behindit-and every syllable had weight. That blessed man spoke as one who had experienced what he said. His long life of faith inGod made every word powerful with the heart and conscience. Teachers of Bible classes and schools-a holy life must be yourpower in your classes or your words will be to your children as idle tales! If they see your lives to be unholy, the ungodlywill reject your testimony and it will be no wonder that they do so! They need to reject it. They are looking for excusesto reject it and they will gladly find an argument in your unhallowed conversation.
They will say, "The man does not believe it, himself, or else he would not live as he does." I heard of one who was askedby her minister whether she remembered last Sunday's sermon. "No," she said, "it is all gone." "But you ought to rememberit," said the minister. "No," she replied, "I am not to be expected to do so, for you did not remember it yourself-you readit all from a paper." The argument is if the preacher does not remember his own preaching to put it
into practice, how can he expect others to do so? Shall the taught excel the teacher? Brother, you lose your leverage of powerif you fail in holiness!
What is more, saints cannot pray for a blessing on a work which is not holy. If you work for God in an unholy way or workfor God rightly, yet, nevertheless, are inconsistent in your ordinary life, the people of God will be grieved and will findit impossible to pray for you. "Ah!" said one to me, talking of his minister of whom I was sorry that he should have so tospeak, "You may well have a blessing, for God's people love to pray for you-but as for our minister, he is a fine preacherbut there is nothing gracious about him-and none of the Lord's people feel drawn to him." This is a grievous loss to a man-aleak which will sink his ship. Can any good come of a ministry for which saints cannot pray? Unless the people of God seein a man downright consecration to God and holiness of spirit and life, they cannot feel that union of heart which producesintercession.
Lastly, God Himself will not honor a ministry which is not accompanied by holy character. How can God set His seal to an unholylife? Ah, Brothers! If we can go into the world and sin as others do all the days of the week, it will be in vain to pullover us the garb of sanctity on Sunday and say, "I am a witness for Christ." What does God think of such conduct? Does Hecall on evil men to be His witnesses? He hates hypocrisy and therefore He cannot append the "signs following" to a ministrywhich is impure. O my Brothers, we desire honor from the Lord in conversions. We would not be as Saul, when he laid hold onSamuel and cried, "Honor me before the people!" All the honor which rhetoric and oratory could bring would be nothing to usif we did not see souls saved!
O you that are not yet Believers in Jesus, how much I wish that you were so! May you be led to believe at once in Him whosedeath must be your life! Who must Himself be your salvation! Look to Him and live! And you that are Christ's, I beg you toremember the remarkable expression of the text and may you "possess your possessions"! Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON- Psalm 44.