Full Salvation Our High Privilege
“Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine” (Luke 15:31).
Please turn with me to the 15th chapter of Luke, and read the thirty-first verse: the father said,
“Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”
Some time ago, when at Northfield, I was told by Mr. Moody that the best thing that he had heard at Keswick two years ago was this verse given by some parting minister as a closing or parting text and Mr. Moody said to himself, “Why did I not see that before?”
We may talk a great deal, and write a great deal, about the father’s love to the prodigal, but when we think of the way he treated the elder brother, it brings to our hearts a truer sense of the wonderful love of the father; therefore I want to speak on this verse.
I suppose there are not a few Christians here who have got “full salvation”; but perhaps more than half those present have not got it, and, if I were to ask you, “Have you got it?” you would probably say, “I don’t understand what you mean by it, what is it?” Well, the great object of our Convention is to bring you to see that full salvation is waiting for you now, that God wants you to experience it, and, if you feel you have not got it, we wish to show you how wrong it is to be without it, and then to show you how to come out of the wrong life into the right one here and now. Oh, may all who have not got the experience pray very humbly, “Oh, my Father, bring me into the full enjoyment of Thy full salvation.”
First, then, the elder son, being ever with his father, had, if he liked, the privilege of two things: unceasing fellowship and unlimited partnership. But he was worse than the prodigal, for, although always at home, yet he had never known, nor enjoyed, nor understood the privileges that were his. All this fullness of fellowship had been waiting for and offered to him, but not received. While the prodigal was away from home in the far country, his elder brother was far from the enjoyment of home, while he was at home.
“Ever with me.” An earthly father loves his child, and delights to make his child happy. “God is love” [1 John 4:8], and He delights to pour out His own nature to His people. So many people talk about God hiding His face; but there are only two things that ever caused God to do so, sin or unbelief. Nothing else can. It is the very nature of the sun to shine, and it cant help shining on and on. “God is love,” and, speaking with all reverence, He cant help loving. We see His goodness toward the ungodly, and His compassion on the erring, but His fatherly love is manifested toward all His children.
“Ever with me”; but, you say, “Is it possible to be always happy and dwelling with God?” Yes, certainly, and there are many Scripture promises as to this. Look at the Epistle to the Hebrews, where we read of boldness to enter within the veil;
Hebrews 6 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
how often, too, does David speak of hiding “in the secret of His tabernacle,” and dwelling “under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Psalm 27:5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock. 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
My message is that the Lord your God desires to have you living continually in the light of His countenance. Your business, your temper, your circumstances, of which you complain as hindering, are they stronger than God? If you come and ask God to shine in and upon you, you will see and prove that He can do it, and that you as a believer may walk all the day and every day in the light of His love. That is “full salvation.”
“Ever” with Thee; I never knew it, Lord, and so I did not enjoy it, but I do now.
“All I have is thine.” The elder son complained of the father’s gracious reception of the prodigal, of all the feasting and rejoicing over his return, while to him had never been given a kid that he might make merry with his friends. The father, in the tenderness of his love, answers him, “Son, you were always in my house; you had only to ask and you would have got all you desired and required.” And that is what our Father says to all His children. But you are saying, “I am so weak, I cannot conquer my sins, I cant manage to keep right, I cant do this and the other thing.” No, but God can; and all the time He is saying to you: “‘All that I have is thine;’ for in Christ I have given it to you. All the Spirits power and wisdom, all the riches of Christ, all the love of the Father; there is nothing that I have but is thine; I as God am God, that I may love, keep, and bless thee.” Thus God speaks, but it seems all a dream to some. Why are you so poor? God’s Word is sure, and does He not promise all this? See in John, chapters 14 to 16, how He tells us that we may have wonderful answers to prayer if we come in Jesus’ Name and abide in Him. Do we really believe that it is possible for a Christian to live such a life?
Now, we have looked at this high privilege which is for all, so we pass on to consider our second point: The Low Experience of many of God’s dear children. What is it? Just living in poverty and starvation. The eider son, the child of a rich man, living in utter poverty!– never had a kid,
Luke 15 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
while all that was his father’s was his just exactly the state of many a child of God. The way He wants us to live is in the fullest fellowship of all His blessings, yet what a contrast!
Ask some if their lives are full of joy; why, they don’t even believe it is possible to be always happy and holy. “How could we get on thus in business?” they say; and they imagine that the life of fullest blessing possible to them must be one of sighing and sadness and sorrow.
I asked a dear woman at the Cape, a devoted Christian woman, how she was getting on. She answered that in her experience it was sometimes light and sometimes darkness, and argued that, as this was so in nature, the same thing held good in the kingdom of grace. So she just gave herself up to a wretched experience. But I don’t read in the Bible that there is to be any night or darkness in the believers experience; on the contrary, I read, “thy sun shall no more go down” [Isaiah 60:20]; yet there are many who actually believe that there is nothing so good for them. As I said already, nothing can hide God from us but sin and unbelief. If you are in spiritual poverty, and there is no joy, no experience of victory over sin, temper, wandering, why is it so? “Oh,” you say, “I’m too weak, I must fall.” But does not the Scripture say that He is “able to keep you from falling [(stumbling)]”? [Jude 24]. A minister once told me that, although God is able, the verse does not say He is willing to do it. God does not mock us, beloved; if He says He is “able,” then it is a proof of His willingness to do it. Do let us believe God’s Word and examine our own experience in the light of it.
Again, are you working and bearing much fruit for God, and do people by your life see and say, “God is with that man, keeping him humble, pure, and heavenly minded”? Or are they forced to confess that you are just a very ordinary Christian, easily provoked, worldly, and not heavenly minded? That is not the life God wants us to live, brethren. We have a rich Father, and as no true earthly father would like to see his child in rags, or without shoes and proper clothing, etc., neither does our God; but He wishes to fill up our life with richest and choicest blessings. How many Sunday school teachers there are who teach, and teach, and hope for the conversion of their scholars, but yet they cant say God uses them to the conversion of any of them. They enjoy no close fellowship with God, no victory over sin, no power to convince the world. To which class do you belong? The low-level, or the fully possessed? Confess it today. These two sons represent two classes of Christians: the prodigal away backslidden; the elder son out of full fellowship with God. They were alike poor, and the elder son needed as great a change as did the prodigal; he needed to repent and confess and claim his full privileges; and so ought all low-level Christians to repent, confess, and claim full salvation. Oh, both of you, come today and say, “Father, I have sinned” [Luke 15:18].
Now, we ask, What is the cause of this terrible discrepancy? Why the great difference in the experience, I wonder? Ask yourself, “What is the reason I am not enjoying this full blessing? God’s Word speaks of it, others speak of it, and I see some who are living in it.” Oh, do ask the reason; come to God and say: “Why is it I never live the life You want me to live?”
You will find the answer in our story. The elder son had an un-childlike spirit, and entertained wrong thoughts about his father; and, if you had known the real character of your Father, your life would have been all right. You have, as it were, said, “I never got a kid to make merry; my Father is rich, but He never gives. I have prayed quite enough, but God does not answer me. I hear other people say that God fills and satisfies them, but He never does that for me.”
A dear minister told me once that such a life was not for everybody, that it was of God’s sovereignty to give this to whomsoever He pleased. Friends, there is no doubt as to God’s sovereignty. He dispenses His gifts as He will; we are not all Pauls or Peters; places at the right and left hand of God are prepared for whomsoever He will. But this is not a matter of divine sovereignty; it is a question of a child’s heritage. The Father’s love offers to give to every child in actual experience His full salvation. Now look at an earthly father. His children are of various ages, but all have equal right to the joy of their father’s countenance. True, he gives to his son of twenty years more money than to the son of five, and he has more to speak of to the boy of fifteen than to the child of three; but, as regards his love toward them, it is all the same, and in their privileges as children they are all alike. And God’s love to His dear children is all the same. Oh, do not try to throw the blame on God, but say, “I have had hard thoughts of Thee, O God, and I have sinned. As a father I have done for my children what I did not believe God was able and willing to do for me, and I have been lacking in childlike faith.” Oh, do believe in the love, the willingness and power of God to give you full salvation, and a change must surely come.
Now let us consider the Way of Restoration: how to get out of this poor experience. The prodigal repented and so must those children of God who have been living within sight of, but not enjoying, His promises. Conversion is generally sudden and a long repentance is usually a long impenitence. Many in the Church of Christ think it must take a long time to get into full salvation. Yes, it will take a long time if you are to do it yourself indeed, you never will. No, no, friend, if you come and trust God it can be done in a moment. By God’s grace give yourself up to Him. Don’t say, “What’s the use? It will do no good”; but put yourself, as you are in sin and weakness, into the bosom of your Father. God will deliver you, and you will find that it is only one step out of the darkness into the light. Say, “Father, what a wretch I have been, in being with Thee and yet not believing Thy love to me!”
Yes, I come today with a call to “repent;” addressed, not to the unsaved, but to those who know what it is to be pardoned. For have you not sinned in the hard thoughts you have had of God, and is there not a longing, a thirsting and hungering after something better? Come, then, repent, and just believe that God does blot out the sin of your unbelief. Do you believe it? Oh, do not dishonor God by unbelief, but come today and confidently claim full salvation. Then trust in Him to keep you. This seems difficult to some; but there is no difficulty about it. God will shine His light upon you always, saying, “Son, thou art ever with me”; and all you have to do is to dwell in and walk in that light.
I began by saying there are two classes of Christians: those who enjoy full salvation, and those who do not understand about it. Well, if it is not clear to you, ask God to make it clear. But if you do understand about it, remember it is a definite act. Just let yourself go into the arms of God; hear Him say, “All is thine”; then you say, “Praise God, I believe, I accept, I give up myself to Him, and I believe God gives Himself now to me!”