Social Media Buttons - Click to Share this Page

29 December, 2013

The CELESTIAL Spirit of the Lord's Prayer - Part 2

THE LORD’S PRAYER, Its Spirit and its Teaching.By Octavius Winslow, 1866

"Why should I shrink at pain or woe,
Or feel at death, dismay?
I've Canaan's goodly land in view,
And realms of endless day.
"Apostles, martyrs, prophets there
Around my Savior stand;
And soon my friends in Christ beloved
Will join the glorious band.
"Jerusalem! my happy home!
My soul still pants for thee;
When shall my labor have an end
In joy, and peace, and thee!"
How appropriate, then, the third or the supreme heaven as the dwelling-place of Jehovah. Let me briefly illustrate this thought.
Heaven is a GLORIOUS place--the place of glory. The glory of God, indeed, is everywhere. There is no place in the universe unreached, nor spot unillumined, by its splendor. The constellations reflect it, the earth exhibits it, man illustrates it. "The earth is full of His glory." But heaven is especially the place of glory, because it is God's dwelling. The palace of the Sovereign of earth and heaven should be worthy of the Divine Majesty that occupies it. But what heaven can contain God? What palace can, in its magnificence and dimensions, be commensurate with the glory and greatness of the eternal, the uncreated One?
How profound was this conviction and how reverential the feeling in the mind of Solomon at the dedication of the temple he built for God "Will God in very deed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built for You?" Where, then, on earth shall we travel for the temple worthy of the Deity? Shall we repair to the Gothic cathedral, to the ancient abbey, to the costly sanctuary raised by human hands? Most true, all who worship God within these sacred structures "in spirit and in truth" shall find Him there, shall feel His presence, hear His word, and receive His blessing.

But God has a more befitting, a more sacred, and a more Divine temple upon earth than this--it is the heart of the humble, and the soul of the contrite. His own words can alone convey this marvelous truth. Had He not spoken it, who would have believed it? and because He has spoken it, who will dare deny it? "Thus says the Lord, The heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you build unto me, and where is the place of my rest? For all these things has my hand made, and all these things have been, says the Lord; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word."

A truth more marvelous, words more precious, an assurance more comforting, cannot be found in God's revelation. While heaven, the third heaven, the heaven of heavens, cannot contain Him, He finds a home and raises a temple for Himself within the heart of a poor sinner, who, lying in the dust, penitent, contrite, humble, confesses and deplores his sins. Is your heart this temple, my reader? Is mine? Vital and solemn question! Its answer, as in the sight of the Searcher of hearts, decides our conversion, sets to rest the fact of our being the temple of God through the Spirit. And is it so that, with Job you exclaim, "I have heard of You with the hearing of the ear--but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes"? Is it so that, with David you exclaim, "I acknowledge my transgressions--and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight?" Is it so that, with the tax-collector you smite upon your breast and exclaim, "God be merciful to me a sinner?"

Oh, divine and blessed evidence, that "the high and the holy One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy," also dwells within the compass of your heart, and finds there His beloved and sacred and eternal dwelling. Thus fragrant to God is the "sacrifice of a broken and a contrite heart;" thus precious is the humble and the penitent mind; thus glorious in His eye is the temple of the soul draped and shrouded with the emblems of holy, spiritual mourning, lamentation, and woe for sin. Lord! make my heart Your home--my body Your temple!

Our Father dwells in heaven, also, because it is a HOLY place. "Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place." Essential Holiness can alone dwell in a holy atmosphere. Sin can never enter the abode of God. In the heaven of heavens, where Jehovah dwells, iniquity has no existence, there in no way enters anything that defiles. Every thought, and word, and feeling, and aspiration there is in harmony with divine and infinite purity.

Is not this the chief perfection, the strong attraction of heaven to you, beloved, that there you will be SINLESS as Christ is sinless, HOLY as God is holy? What is this fond anticipation of your heart, but an offshoot of that divine and holy nature into which you are begotten of God? A stronger evidence of your conversion does not exist than this hunger and thirst of your soul after holiness, this longing desire, this joyous expectation of perfect freedom from the taint and thraldom of sin. There is nothing in the flesh in sympathy with Divine purity; for, "in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing." If, then, you find, amid much that is contradictory, much that would negate the validity of such a state--a real, earnest, though often feeble and fluctuating desire after conformity to God's holiness, a true loathing of sin, a sincere and prayerful resistance of its promptings and its power, you may, with all assurance, write yourself as a humble child of God, a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The breathing after sanctification is sanctification. The thirst for holiness is holiness, just as the vital heaving of the lungs is life. Oh, may the Holy Spirit increase this desire, strengthen this breathing of the new nature within us! May we be content with nothing short of an intense and supreme panting of the soul after God! There is the very element of heaven--heaven in its first fruits, its early dawn, its pledge--in the real earnest, though often thwarted effort, of the renewed soul after the holiness that is perfect in heaven.

This state of mind may be attended, yes, even be produced, by deeper discoveries of the depravity and corruption within; you may appear to yourself to be more unholy, to be at a further remove from sanctification than ever; nevertheless, hold fast your confidence, for the Holy Spirit is employing this deeper ploughing for your deeper sanctification, for your more matured fitness for the holiness of glory. Yes; heaven, with all its favored blessings, its sweet attractions, its sparkling glories, its treasured ties inviting us to its pleasant coast, would be no heaven to a saint of God were he doomed still to wear the chains of corruption, still to trail along its starry pavement and through its sylvan borders, this wretched "body of sin and of death."

But, oh, entrancing thought! the moment my spirit rends the last fetter, and crosses the threshold of glory, it floats in an atmosphere congenial with its heavenly nature, breathes the air of its native climate, and is as complete in holiness--the state often sighed, and wept, and prayed for--as God is complete. Let this assurance nerve your arm in the conflict with sin, let this prospect animate you in your strivings after sanctification, and let the end of all God's corrective discipline reconcile you to the cup your Father gave you, even to make you a partaker of His holiness!

Our Father dwells in heaven, as the abode of perfect HAPPINESS. God is perfectly happy because He is perfectly holy. The two states are inseparable; holiness and happiness are correlative terms, they are kindred truths. Sanctification is the essential element of peace, joy, and assurance. God--I speak it reverentially--can only restore fallen man to happiness by restoring him to holiness. Sin and happiness are more antagonistic and irreconcilable, in the experience of the believer, than any elements in nature of opposite qualities. By some ingenious process of science, the alchemist may so change the properties of opposite elements, as to effect either amalgamation or fusion; but God, infinite as is His nature, vast and exhaustless as are His resources, possesses no secret by which He can unite and harmonize, in the salvation of man, sin and holiness; no moral process by which He can make the sinner happy, peaceful, hopeful, and still leave him the vassal of Satan and the slave of concupiscence.

Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, both in the world and in the soul of man. God's plan, therefore, in the restoration of man to happiness, is not to reconcile the two opposite and antagonistic forces of sin and holiness, but to dethrone and destroy sin, and upon its ruins, raise the fabric of righteousness, the temple of the Holy Spirit, to the eternal praise of the glory of His grace. This He does in the conversion of the soul, by which the children of adoption become partakers of the Divine nature; and through the sanctification of the Spirit; and the hallowed discipline of affliction, by which they become more and more partakers of their Father's image.

But God is happy. He would have remained so, infinitely, independently, supremely happy, had He never created an intelligent being to whom He would display, and with whom He would share it. He might have remained in His own solitary grandeur, ineffably, supremely happy, in the eternal contemplation of His own glory, dwelling in light, which no man has seen or can see. And even after His creation of intelligent beings, He might have hurled every angel from heaven, and have swept every creature from the earth, and not a drop had diminished the fullness, nor a cloud had shaded the luster of His own essential felicity.
It is true that the redemption of His Church has made such a revelation of Himself as will command the admiration, homage, and love of countless millions of intelligent beings throughout eternity; but, since it was God's happiness to save man--and infinity can neither be lessened or increased--the salvation of the Church has not made God more happy than He was from everlasting. To this happiness our Father who is in heaven admits His children. Having given them Himself to be their Father, He intends that they shall share the happiness of which He is the infinite ocean and the illimitable supply.

What a provision He has made for our participation of this happiness through Christ! He is the sole medium, the divinely-appointed channel. "There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." All the outflow of God's love, all the distillings of His compassion, all the sunbeams of His happiness, come to us through Jesus. And, oh, what a happiness to know Jesus, to possess Jesus, to stand in Jesus, to commune with Jesus, and to possess the blessed hope of coming with Jesus in the clouds of heaven when He shall appear in His glory! Is not this happiness?

You may pass through deep trial; be the subject of constant suffering; eat the bread and drink the water of affliction; feel lonely, desolate, and forlorn; nevertheless, if Christ is yours, your Savior, your Friend, your Brother, your Portion, and you are looking forward to the prospect of being with, and of enjoying Him forever, no bird within its cage can sing more sweetly than your imprisoned heart its note of happiness, its psalm of praise. Possessing Christ as your portion, with His boundless, pure, inexhaustible resources; changeless love; deep, tender compassion; as all your own, you may boldly challenge every foe, and confidently confront every difficulty and trial in the language of the patriarch, "When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble?"

Heaven, then, as the home of the Father, defines the home, final and eternal, of the family. Home! what marvelous magic is in that word! Home! what magic power does that thought possess! Home! around what spot do our holiest associations, our fondest memories cluster? To what shrine do our warmest affections travel--across oceans, and mountains, and deserts, and continents--is it not the home and the hearth of our childhood? Home! it is the circle of the purest affections, the core of essential happiness, the hive in which the sweetest sweets of life are found. It is youth's temple, manhood's shrine, the sanctuary of age, the archive of the past, and the ark of the future.

The human heart has many dwelling-places, but only one home. No exile can efface its memories, no distance can dissever its ties; no prosperity can eclipse its luster, no crime, no shame, no suffering, can tear its portraits from the picture-gallery of the soul. Perhaps the most true and touching illustration of this feeling is, when we are for the first time, and it may be forever, leaving home. We were never so sensible of our home attachment as at that moment. The simplest object, the most trifling association, enchains us to the spot–.....

 The Filial Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Brotherly Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Celestial Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Reverential Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Submissive Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Dependent Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Penitential Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Forgiving Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Watchful Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Devotional Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
The Adoring Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer