by Tom Stewart
February 25, 2001
Since theology is the study of God, then all of humanity should
be practicing theologians. "Take My yoke
upon you, and learn of Me; for I am Meek and Lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest
unto your souls" (Matthew 11:29).
Discovering God was the driving force behind such great men as the Apostle Paul. "That I may know Him, and the Power of His Resurrection,
and the Fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His Death" (Philippians 3:10). So valuable is this Knowledge
of God that "all things" must be set aside to gain this Knowledge. "Yea
doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the Knowledge of
Christ Jesus my LORD: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count
them but dung, that I may win Christ" (3:8). Paul's voice would be heartily supported by the testimony of the Apostle
Peter. "But grow in grace, and in the
Knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be Glory both now and for
ever. Amen" (2Peter 3:18).
Every aspect of life is only a circumstance that God has providentially provided that we may learn more about Him in the School of Life. "And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children" (Isaiah 54:13). Though life is the discovery of God, He must reveal something about us to ourselves to motivate each step of our discovery of Him, e.g., the prophet Isaiah was revealed his uncleanness in the presence of the Holy God. "1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a Throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the Temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of Hosts: the whole Earth is full of His Glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts" (6:1-5).
In similar fashion, the spiritual life of every Saint began with the Holy God revealing to the Sinner our past disregard for His Law of Love, which said: "Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind... Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:37, 39). God used His Law to impress us that we have not obeyed It; therefore, we cannot expect to be justified by It. "10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one... 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one... 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God" (Romans 3:10, 12, 23). Because we have all miserably failed to love God supremely, and our neighbour as ourselves, we fell under the condemnation of the Law. "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them" (Galatians 3:10).
Then, entered Christ, upholding His Law of Love; but, at the same time, He revealed God to us as the God of the Second Chance. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). In effect, though the Law could not and did not save us, it was used by God to give us a sense of our sin. "For by the Law is the knowledge of sin" (3:20). Despairing of ourselves, we finally saw Jesus as our Salvation from Sin. "24 Wherefore the Law was our Schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a Schoolmaster" (Galatians 3:24-25). "No longer" looking to be justified by our keeping of the Law of Love, we look to God as our Justifier and Jesus as our Justification. "To declare, I say, at this time His Righteousness: that He might be Just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). "24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our LORD from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our Justification" (4:24-25).
Though the ordinances of the Old Covenant's Ceremonial Law have been done away, the Law of Love still stands; and, we have been given the New Covenant's Gift of the Holy Spirit to cause us to walk in perfect obedience to It. "19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a New Spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 that they may walk in My Statutes, and keep Mine Ordinances, and do them: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God" (Ezekiel 11:19-20). Through His Spirit, Christ now reveals Himself to us as our Paraklete or Advocate. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate [Greek, parakletos] with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous" (1John 2:1). What does He advocate? That "ye sin not" (2:1). Instead of attempting and failing repeatedly to obey the Law of Love, His Spirit now works in us to "will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
And so, throughout Eternity, we will continue to make new discoveries about our Infinite God. Hallelujah! "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall Come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the Earth" (Hosea 6:3). Our short life, which is "even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14), we must fill to its utmost with precious discoveries of the Almighty God. "For the Earth shall be filled with the Knowledge of the Glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).
Next article "From the Editor's Desktop"
We invite you to study further on this concept of discovering God, through reading a series of lectures by Charles G. Finney, entitled:
"The Relations of Christ to the Believer" ---New Window
by Charles G. Finney
Scripture Additions by Tom Stewart
FROM THE 1851 EDITION OF LECTURES ON SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY.
A SPECIAL ANNOTATED VERSION OF LECTURES 62-67:
"SANCTIFICATION" & "THE RELATIONS OF CHRIST TO THE BELIEVER"
"Understanding Charles G. Finney's Entire Sanctification"
Or, "An Introduction to Finney's 'The Relations of Christ to the Believer'"
by Tom Stewart
"No one can too fully understand, or
too deeply feel, the necessity of taking home the Bible with all it contains, as
a message sent from Heaven to him; nor can too earnestly desire or seek the promised
Spirit to teach him the true spiritual import of all its contents. He must have the
Bible made a personal revelation of God to his own soul. It must become his own book.
He must know Christ for himself. He must know him in his different relations. He
must know him in his blessed and infinite fulness, or he cannot abide in him, and
unless he abide in Christ, he can bring forth none of the fruits of holiness. 'Except
a man abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered.'
[John 15:6]. ['Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy
Word is Truth' (John 17:17)]... The foregoing are some of the relations which Christ sustains
to us as to our salvation. I could have enlarged greatly, as you perceive, upon each
of these, and easily have swelled this part of our course of study to a large volume.
I have only touched upon these sixty-one relations, as specimens of the manner in
which he is presented for our acceptance in the Bible, and by the Holy Spirit. ['And there are also many other things
which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even
the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen'
(John 21:25).]" -CHARLES G. FINNEY.
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