“If Ye Continue In My Word”
“If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed.” Every person who commences to be a disciple, does so by believing the word of Jesus, resting nothing in his own merits, depending nothing upon good works, but risking his all upon Jesus’ word, and receiving his all of salvation in the same way. If a man continues in the same faith, and does not expect to perfect himself by any of his own efforts, but simply continues in the word of Jesus, then he is a disciple indeed, and never backslides. Now, to continue in Christ’s word is to obey His teaching and to take Him through the Holy Spirit as our absolute teacher.
We must take Him for our light or knowledge. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world, he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” It was prophesied of Him, that He should open the eyes of the blind, and that through Him the people who sat in darkness should see a great light. In other words, Christ dispels spiritual ignorance, and imparts such knowledge to His followers, on all matters which concern them, as is equivalent to giving sight to a blind man, or to a great light in a dark place. I am fully convinced, that if this elementary spiritual truth were taught to converts, a large percentage of backsliding would be avoided. But how does He impart the necessary knowledge or shed the full-orbed light upon the pathway of the young convert? All must admit that the recorded words of Christ in the New Testament, are the chief means by which He makes known His will to this generation.
In the Bible we are told of the true light from which we are to get knowledge and understanding; and we can get information of that light from no other source. But the Bible is not itself that light; Jesus claims that He is the Light of the world, and the Light that lighteth every man that comes into the world. The Bible is from God, and all its gracious principles are for the guidance of mankind; it is rich in precept, and in example of men filled with God; it is our only source of information of the plan of salvation; and contains the only account we have of the birth, the life, the teaching, the death, the resurrection, the ascension of Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. But after saying all we can about the Bible, it is still the moon, and not the Sun; its light is a borrowed light from the Sun of Righteousness, whose rays not only flood that blessed book, but also illumine the minds of all who continue in the word of Jesus, and are His disciples indeed.
He who would continue in Christ’s word, must take the Holy Spirit of Jesus as His light, and not the letter of the Bible, only as the Spirit reveals what that letter meaneth to him in his circumstances. All Bible truth was not meant to be applicable to everybody always and everywhere. Its principles are always applicable, but the carrying out of its letter never was meant to be. On one occasion Christ said to his disciples, “He that hath no sword, let him sell his coat and buy one,” while at another time he said, “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,” and both statements uttered under different circumstances were doubtless eminently wise. But no man can carry a sword and not carry one at the same time, so that if one command is kept the other will be broken. It cannot be contended that the strict letter of the Sermon on the Mount was intended to be carried out always by everybody. For if so, if a man takes away your coat, you must give him your cloak also; and if he compels you to walk a mile, you must walk with him two; and if he smites you on one cheek, you must turn to him the other also. These and other similar Scriptures, can only give light to the individual as they are illuminated to his mind by the Holy Spirit. They contain the principle, that a man must hold himself in readiness to do anything, no matter how apparently absurd, if he should be so instructed by God. And so when a man habitually studies the Scriptures in the expectation of having them explained to him by the Spirit, he is then abiding in the word of Jesus, and is a disciple indeed. But young converts are erroneously referred to the Scriptures, as if in the last analysis truth and duty were inherent in them.
Common sense, reason, the advice of Christian people, are also recommended in such a way, as though the supreme light on the path of duty were contained in any or all of them; but they are not as fully instructed in the literal personality of the Holy Spirit who dwells in their bodies, and walks and talks with all who recognize Him; and whose special business it is ” To guide them into all truth,” and to reveal all things to them as fast as it is necessary. “If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed,” and His word is “I am the Light of the world, and he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness.”
We must also take Jesus as the Bread of Life; that is, as the sustainer of spiritual life, if we would continue in His word. He said: “I am the bread of life, he that com-eth to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in Me shall never thirst.” I think there will be no dispute theoretically on this proposition ; but many may think they teach this doctrine who really teach a doctrine of works. More may think they believe it, who are really depending upon works to keep up their spiritual life.
This heresy of keeping up spiritual life by works, crept in among the Galatians, and Paul addresses them : “O foolish Galatians, are ye so foolish, having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Justification by faith, received and continued by faith, was the key-note of the Reformation, and the Protestant churches are the depositories of this vital truth; but I lift the warning voice and declare that we are drifting away from this great doctrine. Young converts catch the pernicious heresy, and put the yoke of the law upon their necks, and then their experiences confirm the Scriptures, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight,” and thus they fall from grace; for “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
A system of law as rigid as the Mosaic ceremonial law, is bound about the necks of Christians; the changes are rung upon the note, Do, Do, Do. The Bible must be read so often, private prayer must be attended to so many times a day; if he is the head of a family it will be sinful ever to omit family worship; if he does not attend prayer meeting or public service with punctilious regularity, he will displease God; and a hundred and one other rules are given, and he is tied hand and foot with rules which impede his spiritual progress, and thus these rules frustrate the very purpose they seek to accomplish.
God’s children cry for bread and they are given stones. They ask for fish and are fed serpents. Blind guides lead the blind and they all fall into the ditch. “Now, therefore, why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.”
A Christian will always maintain good works, but it will be done as a matter of love, or privilege or revelation, and not of law, except it be the law of the Spirit. To live a Christian life after the pattern of some teachers is very slavery, and few hold out faithful; but Christ says His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and only the young convert who abides in this word of His becomes a disciple indeed. We must also take Jesus as our joy and complete satisfier. By not doing this, but expecting joy and satisfaction from other sources, many have erred from the faith.
Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again : but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. “If we would keep converted we must abide in these words of Jesus. But many look to their experience, that is, their emotions, for satisfaction; and as these are a variable quantity, and never according to their ideal, they do not obtain satisfaction, and therefore have unfulfilled longings and aspirations which are never realized.
“IF YE CONTINUE IN MY WORD.”
The spiritual power of a religious meeting is often gauged by the amount of visible feeling manifested. If some person gets pathetic in discourse or experience, and if emotion and tears are manifested; that is taken as a sign of deepening spirituality. Whereas, necessarily, it is no sign at all, for there is more emotion manifested, and there are more tears shed in the theatre than in the Church. And through this kind of teaching young converts soon begin to gauge their piety by their feelings, and as a consequence backslide.
Now the well of water that Jesus puts in the soul, which is such a satisfying portion, is the Holy Spirit, for it is recorded, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him would receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given: because that Jesus was not yet glorified).” The Holy Ghost is the Person, who represents in the soul of the believer, God the Father and God the Son; and He it is who carries out the promises of Jesus. Like a well, which is a source of water supply; so He is the never-failing supply of all spiritual blessings. He is not feeling nor a sentiment, nor an emotion of any kind, as some practically think, and teach; but He is a Person, though a Spiritual Person; nor does His presence necessarily involve conscious feeling or emotion, any more than the personal presence of any other person involves such a state.
The word of Jesus is in effect, “I am going away, but I will send you another Comforter, and He shall abide with you all the time.” Now we must abide in Jesus’ word, and recognize the presence of the Divine Being, whom He has sent to tabernacle with us. Young converts being thus taught, and realizing this personal God the Spirit in them and around them, will never backslide and will always have satisfaction.