Right Petitions heard by God.


And this w the confidence which we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He heareth us, I S. JOH v. 14. TO those that know their own weakness and the power of tempta tion the question how we shall be enabled to overcome the world is one of supreme importance. It appears in the fourth verse of this chapter that we have a twofold answer to the question. We are told, in the first place, * This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith ; and then that whosoever is born of God overcometh the world. ow, we have in this answer not so much a reference to two distinct things as to two different aspects of the same thing namely, a reference to the fact that our divine life must be given by God and taken by faith. The power by which we overcome the world is the divine life which we have in the Lord Jesus Christ ; but in order to our obtaining that life two conditions must be generally fulfilled. First, as I have said, God must give it, and, secondly, we must take it. I. First, and most obviously, God must give it, for although there may be many things that we could earn or produce for ourselves, obviously there is one thing which we could neither earn nor create, into which, it is plain, we must be born. That is, our life. ow, this is true of all life, whether the life that we possess by nature or the life that we possess by grace. evertheless, respecting the divine life which is in Christ Jesus a further affirmation must needs be made. It must not only be given us by God, but it must be taken through our faith. And this arises from the very nature of spiritual things, for, when God is said to have made us free and responsible creatures, He is said, in effect, to have ordained that our obedience should be of a certain quality : that it should not be that of the world unconscious and constrained, nor that of the beasts unconscious and instinctive, but that of the holy angels the volun tary obedience of a free and virtuous choice. Seeing then that this is so, if any of us find difficulties and moral perplexities in pondering the ways of God, let us set those perplexi ties in the light of this truth, and they will be seen to vanish away ; for if any man should urge that God ought never to have permitted us to sin, or that, at the least, if we did sin and fall, God should force us to receive His grace, that would be to cause the Almighty to shut the door upon the rich and endless development of moral existence, and to undo that gracious act whereby He ordained that

man should be created after His own image and similitude. Seeing, 252

OUTLI ES O VARIOUS PASSAGES then, that this is essentially and eternally impossible, it remains that if we would gain possession of the divine life in Christ it must not only be given us by God but it must be taken by our faith. Here, then, there arises the most important question which one human being can possibly put to another. If the Gospel be more than philosophy, more than ethics, more than a law, more than an example if it be a life, if it be a divine eternal life in the power of which we frail mortal creatures can overcome sorrow and sin and death, then the question becomes of urgent and supreme importance, * Can I obtain that gift whenever I please to seek it ? ow, re member, I pointed out that the possession of this gift depends upon two, and only upon two, conditions : that God should give it and we should take it. Well then, if any man says he does not possess this life, it must be because either of these conditions is unfulfilled. Can it be that the first is ? Can it be that God is unwilling to give us life ? That is contradicted by the very words of our passage, for we read, not that God will give us life, but that God has given us the life that is in His Son. And to the same effect says the great Apostle of the Gentiles. ( God was, in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. And in the power of this already effected reconciliation He has sent forth us the ambas sadors of His mercy to beseech you all that ye be reconciled to God. If, then, of these two conditions one be already fulfilled, then if there be any man who does not possess the life of Christ, it must needs be because he has not taken by faith the life which God has freely given to him. I say to thee, brother in Christ, and brother in infirmity, if thou wilt ask the Lord Jesus for the great gift of life He will bestow it upon thee according to that blessed assurance, Whatsoever ye ask the Father in My name, believing, ye shall receive. 4 What, you may say, * may I expect any desire of mine to be fulfilled, though it arise from my ignorance or my sinfulness, if only I make mention of Christ in my prayer, and work myself up to a fanatical expectation that what I thus ask God must and will give me ? othing could be more untrue, for there is with that fanatical expectation absolutely nothing in common with Christian faith, for Christian faith, as a principle of life, is that which, feeling its absolute

dependence upon God, trusts that its prayer will be answered, not because of its merit, nor because of the fervency of its utterance, but simply because of the love and promise of God. Faith expects, not because she deserves or desires, but simply because she has asked according to God s will; and she believes on the authority of our text that whatever we ask according to His will He will grant us. II, But now, what is meant by asking according to God s will ? We 253

must make both the matter and the spirit of our prayers correspond to His will. We must ask first in the right spirit, and then for the right thing. First, we must ask in the right spirit. We must, as the Apostle says, lift up holy hands. In the hands of supplication which we raise to heaven there must be found no sinful and inordinate desires, for if our hands be filled with the dross of earth what room were there for the treasure that abideth ? Have you fulfilled that con dition ? Are you asking in the spirit of holiness ? Have you such a hatred of sin that you could pray to God, if need were, that by any means, at any cost or sacrifice to you, God would purge out of you the foul thing that is your bane ? Can you take the evil thing in both hands of your faith, and cast it from you with all the energy of your spirit, once and for ever ? Then if you can, you have fulfilled the first condition : you have come to God asking in the right spirit ; and if you will only fulfil the second if you will ask the right thing not all the power in heaven and earth can prevent you from gaining what you seek. The right thing. 1 But where shall I find what is the right thing? If you ask that question earnestly, surely the answer is plain. You will find what is according to God s will what you not only may expect, but unless you would doubt God s word, must expect, to receive in the pages of His holy Word. Lord Clive, we are told, once when he was in India was taken into a vaulted chamber which was filled from end to end with all kinds of treasure : there were heaps of gold, heaps of silver, heaps of precious trinkets, heaps of jewels ; and he was told by the native ruler of Bengal to take as much as he pleased. And recalling that incident of his life it is said that he exclaimed, I am amazed at my own moderation. ow the Bible is God s treasure-house, filled from end to end with eternal jewels, and you are bidden, without exercising any moderation, to take as many of the richest and rarest as you

please, * without money and without price. The way to God s mercy -seat is open for us all ; and if any of you will leave all creatures, counting them, beside Christ, as the clods of the earth or the dust in the balance ; if you will press inward through all forms and veils, through all dogmas and words and sacra ments, to God s most holy and most secret place then, like the great father of Israel, you shall find the divine mysterious presence passing into your solitude and giving itself to your grasp ; and then you shall not only believe but also know the being of the Father whom you have found, the power of the blood which you have pleaded, and the reality of the life with which you are filled. Only take God at His word ; only come to His mercy-seat in faith, pleading the name of 254.

OUTLI ES O VARIOUS PASSAGES His Son, asking for the things that He has promised ; and, whatever the multitude may think or say, you shall learn to your everlasting joy that this is, indeed, * the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. BISHOP MOORHOUSE.

1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books

2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=970

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