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30 December, 2013

The CELESTIAL Spirit of the Lord's Prayer - Part 3

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

"We do not know how much we love,
Until we come to leave;
An aged tree, a common flower,
Are things o'er which we grieve.
We linger while we turn away,
We cling while we depart;
And memories, unmasked until then,
Come crowding round the heart.
Let what will lure us on our way,
Farewell's a bitter word to say."
"I know of no passage in classical literature," says an eloquent writer, "more beautiful or affecting than that where Xenophon describes the effect produced on the remnant of the ten thousand Greeks, when, after passing through dangers without number, they at length ascended a sacred mountain, and from its peak and summit caught sight of the sea. Dashing their shields with a hymn of joy, they rushed tumultuously forward. Some wept with the fullness of their delicious pleasure, others laughed, and more fell on their knees and blessed that broad ocean. Across its blue waters, like floating sea-birds, the memorials of their happy homes came and fanned their weary souls. All the perils they had encountered, all the companions they had lost, all the miseries they had endured, were in an instant forgotten, and nothing was with them but the gentle phantoms of past and future joys. O home, magical spell, all-powerful home! how strong must have been your influences when your faintest memory could cause these hungered heroes of a thousand fights to weep like tearful women! With the cooling freshness of a desert fountain, with the sweet fragrance of a flower found in winter, you came across the great waters to these wandering men, and beneath the peaceful shadow of your wings their souls found rest!"

Graphic and glowing as is this picture of the magic influence of home upon the returning exile, it pales before the believer's eye as he catches, from some Pisgah height, a view of the New Jerusalem, the happy home where he is forever to dwell--its walls of jasper, its gates of pearl, its sunlight dome, its golden streets, its crystal waters, its tree of life, its central throne, the Lamb seated thereon, its countless multitude of holy, happy beings, all united in adoration of the Lamb who was slain. And when the soul has actually crossed the flood, and planted its foot, weary and sore, upon the golden sands, what its ecstasy, what its transport to find itself in heaven at last! Heaven was the starting-point of our race, and heaven will be the final home of its ransomed portion.

The exquisite story of the younger brother who exchanged his home for exile, poverty, and need; but who, in penitence and faith, with confession and supplication, returned to its sacred shelter and met a father's welcome, is the true position of redeemed humanity. The sinner saved by grace, the wanderer restored by love, retraces his steps back to God, and home to the heaven from whence he originally departed. Heaven is the family home of all the children of God. It is the Father's home. There, day by day, hour by hour, the Father is bringing His sons and daughters--the adoption of grace. He Himself is there, and where should the children be but with the Father?

Not one of that REDEEMED family shall be absent from the domestic circle. The white-haired parent, whose sun had run a long and holy course and then set in a flood of golden light--is there! The youth of manliness and beauty, the flower and hope of the family, whose sun went down while it was yet day--is there! The child of prattle and of song, the sunbeam and the cherub of the house, whose brightness and music death has in a moment darkened and hushed--is there! The infant of a day, just opening its languid eyes upon the world of sin, then closing them, as if saddened by the scene it beheld--is there! Yes, enriched and domesticated by the countless number of the family who have departed with 'FAITH in Jesus', heaven is daily growing more enchanting and endeared to faith's far-seeing eye as the Father's house.

And is not OUR RECORD on high? "Rather rejoice," said Christ to His disciples when they reported to Him the subjection of demons to their power--"rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Oh, what a remarkable and precious mercy to have a name written in heaven! Better, infinitely better, to have it enrolled there than emblazoned on the page of historic fame, engraved in brass, sculptured in marble, or set in diamonds upon a mother's heart! But ALL the names of the family of God are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and written there from the foundation of the world. Rejoice in this!

You ask, "How may I know it?" The Lord has not left you without evidence. Is the name of Jesus engraved upon your heart? Has the Holy Spirit shown to you in measure, the evil of your heart, and brought you to see its darkness, its vileness, and its treachery? Has the discovery led to a renunciation of your own righteousness, to an abandonment of all hope based upon the law, to a believing, simple, loving acceptance of the Lord Jesus? Have you been led by the Spirit as a poor, empty sinner to the blood and righteousness of the Redeemer, looking only to Jesus, trusting only in Jesus, clinging only to Jesus as the limpet clings to the rock, as the shipwrecked mariner clings to the plank, as the dying man clings to the last hope of life? Are you combating with sin, hating the garment spotted by the flesh, striving after and, in some degree, attaining unto holiness?

Then, be you assured that your name is written in heaven. If the Spirit of Christ has written the name of Christ, and pencilled the image of Christ, however faintly traced and dimly seen, upon your softened, believing, loving heart, doubt not the fact that your name is enrolled in glory on the pages of that volume in which divine love wrote it from eternity, and from which Christ our Captain will pronounce it when the great muster-roll is read in the last great day. Oh, mercy of mercies, to have a name written in heaven! Lord! write Your own precious name upon my heart, and I will sing aloud of Your righteousness all the day long!

Heaven, also, is the residence of Jesus, the Elder Brother, and must therefore be the final home of all His brethren. How often, and with what emphasis of meaning, did Jesus associate Himself with His brethren in glory. "That where I am, there you may be also." "Father, I will that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am, that they might behold my glory." "With Christ,"--"present with the Lord,"--"forever with the Lord," were modes of expression by which Jesus and the sacred writers instructed and comforted the saints in the prospect of their departure.

The return of Christ to heaven, His entrance within the veil, was as the Representative of His Church, as the First Born of His brethren. When He had found the "pearl of great price,"--His Church--for the discovery and rescue of which He purchased the "field"--in this sense, and in this sense only, becoming the Savior of the world--He returned in triumph to heaven, claiming and possessing it as the just reward of His sufferings, and as the fittest cabinet of the ransomed and priceless jewel.

From Christ his Elder Brother not one of the brethren--the lowest and unworthiest--shall be separated. The family would be broken, the home circle would be incomplete, were a place vacant at the banquet which shall celebrate the return of every wanderer home to God. Oh, the rejoicing, oh, the merriment when all shall safely arrive at heaven! What blissful reunions, what joyful recognitions, what fond greetings, what mutual congratulations, what entrancing music will resound through the bowers, and reverberate through the high arches of heaven, when the whole family on earth and in heaven shall meet in glory!

Is not this prospect worth living for, worth dying for? Is it not worth the struggle with sin, the battle with the world, the endurance of suffering, the light affliction, the cross, the moral, even the physical martyrdom which the gospel of Jesus involves? Yes! Christ our Elder Brother took the veritable nature of His brethren, wore it in poverty, suffering, and humiliation on earth; and then bore it to heaven as the first-fruits of that redeemed nature to be gathered home by the angel reapers at His coming. How did Joseph's soul yearn to have his brethren with him in Egypt, that they might see his greatness and be nourished at his side! Listen to the language of Joseph's spiritual Prototype. "Father, I will that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am, that they might behold my glory." What yearning of soul is here! what breathing of love! what power of will! That petition shall be answered!

Until then how incessantly and intently is the Elder Brother occupied in our behalf. Every moment, every thought, every affection is engaged upon, and entwined with, our present and future well-being. For us Christ is praying, for us He is governing, for us He is waiting, and with us He is sympathizing until His brethren are complete, and the last and least--theBenjamin of the family--is brought home to see His greatness, to share His glory, and to celebrate His praise.

Who, with any true, experimental knowledge of Him, would not love with the intensest affection of his heart, serve with every power of his ransomed being, make any sacrifice, and die, if need be, a martyr's death for such a Brother? Are we wearing His nature, as He still wears ours? Are we growing more divine, as He is changelessly human? Are we not ashamed of Him, as He is not ashamed of us? Are we living a Christ-imitating, a Christ-exalting life, even as He once lived a man-abased, yet a man-saving life?

I can only further remark, that the expression, "Our Father, which are in heaven," clearly describes heaven to be the only befitting abode of the saints in glory. Earth is not the proper realm for the holy ones. This world is indeed a school for the culture of our Christian graces, and a sphere for the exercise of Christian service, but here we have no abiding place. The moment a sinner is by grace transformed into a child of God he becomes a stranger here, an alien and a pilgrim. Heaven, henceforth, is the goal, the aspiration, the home of his spirit. God has provided and furnished a heavenly abode for the heavenly mind--a pure dwelling for the "pure in heart," a beauteous world for the beautiful in holiness. For this He is daily preparing you. All His providential dealings, and gracious operations; all your mental and spiritual exercises--every tempest, every furnace, every temptation--God is employing to prepare YOU for the prepared place. Accept every stroke of His rod, every discipline of His hand, as bent on this mission of love. Blend every trial, every affliction, every rebuke of your Father with a sweet, sunny thought of heaven.

SUFFERING and GLORY are united in golden links in the history of the saints. Peter speaks of himself as a "witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glorywhich shall be revealed." And again, "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him." Look, then, beyond the dark waters and the leaden skies which lie between you and the holy, peaceful coasts of glory; and let faith's eye often peer within the door opened in heaven, and behold the place where your weary spirit, before long, will fold its drooping wing, smooth its ruffled plumage, lie down and rest upon the ineffable bosom of your glorified Lord. There they have arrived, and there they repose, who have out-sped us in the race, have reached the goal, and anticipate our coming. We mourn them not as lost, but as saved; not as far-sundered from us, but as nearer now than ever; not as wearing the sin-tainted and disfigured robe of the flesh, enfolded with the belt of suffering; but as clad with the holy, beautiful vestments of the Father's house, the glory-robe of heaven, all encircling and worshiping the Lamb that was slain.

 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