If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
What is God?
God is a Spirt (John 4:24), infinite (Job 11:7,8,9), eternal (Ps. 110:2), and unchangeable (Jas. 1:17) in his being (Ex. 33:14), wisdom (Ps. 147:5), power (Rev. 4:8), holiness (Rev. 15:4), justice, goodness, and truth (Ex. 34:6).
Words of Divine Comfort– Octavius Winslow, 1872)
“I will accept you with your sweet savor.”–Ezek. 20:41
There is not an essential truth of the Gospel more dimly perceived or imperfectly estimated, and yet not one more clearly revealed or more unspeakably precious, than the doctrine of God’s acceptance of the believing sinner. An error here is destructive of the scheme of salvation, and fatal to our eternal happiness. May the Holy Spirit open it up in all its scriptural clearness to our minds, and apply it in all its saving, sanctifying sweetness to our hearts!
First, there is the Lord’s acceptance of our PERSON. “I will accept you.” Our person must first be the object of God’s favor and delight before He regards with favor and delight the offerings we bring. It was the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ which gave such virtue, efficacy, and acceptance to His sacrifice. Because He was Divine and sinless, His Godhead imparted dignity and perfection to His Atonement–the Sacrifice of Christ resting, as its basis, upon the Person of Christ. This marked the essential difference between Cain and Abel. Cain brought his offering of fruits and flowers without a personal acceptance, and God rejected both him and his offering. Abel “brought of the fatlings of his flock,” “and the Lord had respect unto Abel,”–first to his person, and then to his offering.
My soul, are you personally accepted in the Beloved? Before bringing to God any flower or fruit of your fancied merit, springing from the stock of your unregenerate nature, have you brought your sins to Jesus–to His blood to be cleansed, to His grace to be subdued? Have you put on in faith Christ’s righteousness, “which is unto all and upon all those who believe?” And have you tasted of the honey that flows from that precious, glorious declaration of the Apostle–“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ?”
“I will accept you with your sweet savor.” And now comes God’s gracious delight in, and acceptance of, the sweet savor of our spiritual offerings! And what are these savory offerings, thus so acceptable to God? What a “sweet savor” to Him is prayer! The prayers of the saints are “vials full of odors,” sweet incense perfumed with the yet sweeter incense of their Savior’s divine and precious merits, and so presented by Him with acceptance to God. Pray on, dear saint! If afflicted, pray; your words may be few–your utterances stammering–your faith weak–yet pray on. God having accepted you in the Person of Jesus, will, on the ground of His worthiness, accept the “sweet savor” of your prayers.
What a sweet savor to God are our praises! “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me.” What strong ground have we for joy, what rich material for praise! Were we to rejoice in the Lord all the day, and praise Him all the night–as before long we shall without weariness or pause–it would not be a too exaggerated expression of the greatness of our salvation of grace here, and of the preciousness of our hope of glory hereafter.
What a fragrant offering to God is the dedication of our intellect–the contribution of our wealth–the consecration of our rank, influence, and time–all, all is a “sweet savor” to God, acceptable and accepted through the sweet savor of Christ’s atoning merits. Such, too, is the ministry of those who preach Christ. “We are unto God a sweet savor of Christ in those who are saved, and in those who are lost.” There is a divine savor and power, in that preaching which exalts the Savior that no other preaching has. Oh for more of the savor of His Name in the pulpits of our day! Truly His Name would then be as ointment poured forth, delighting all who love Him. And such too the liberality of the saints towards the Lord’s ministers–“an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable and well-pleasing to God.”
Approach, my soul, the mercy-seat, robed in the righteousness of Christ; and when you have presented His blood and righteousness, then lay your own offerings at His feet, for your covenant God and Father has said–“I will accept you with your sweet savor.”
Words of Divine Comfort– Octavius Winslow, 1872
“A God at hand, says the Lord.”–Jer. 23:23
More saints than Luther have felt a personal interest in the forty-sixth Psalm–“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble;” thus drinking with him of the “river the streams whereof make glad the city of God.” My soul, are you not one of them? Has not your praiseful exclamation often been, “You are NEAR, O Lord!” God is everywhere, but it is only His own children who forcibly feel, and gratefully acknowledge, and holily exhibit, not His omniscience only, but His especial and personal presence. Look at this precious truth, my soul, in connection with two or three features of your varied experience.
He is a God at hand in the person of Christ. The Lord Jesus brings God very near to us. He is not only the revealed One of God, but He is in His own person really and absolutely God–“He who has seen Me, has seen the Father.” Could a mere creature, a man only, say this? Impossible, with any truth, and without blasphemy. Oh, how near to us has Jesus brought the Father! Come to Jesus, look at Jesus, listen to Jesus, and realize that in so doing you approach to, gaze upon, and hear the voice of, God your Father in heaven.
God is near in the work of Jesus. The blood brings us sinners near to God, as it brings a sin-pardoning God near to us. “You that were afar off are made near by the blood of Christ.” See then your true and present standing, O my soul! Nothing comes between you and God but the atoning blood of Jesus. His blood annihilates all your sin and guilt. Robed in His imputed righteousness, you are to God nearer than the highest angel in heaven–and nearer you can not be–and God draws near to you and speaks–“A God at hand, says the Lord.”
God is near at hand when you do approach Him in prayer. Oh, comforting truth! A God at hand to hear the softest breath of prayer–to listen to every confession of sin–to every cry of need–to every utterance of sorrow–to every wail of woe–to every appeal for counsel, strength, and support. Arise, O my soul! and give yourself to prayer; for God is near at hand to hear and answer you. Listen to His word, “Who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto Me? says the Lord.” “You meet him that rejoices and works righteousness, those who remember You in Your ways.”
A God at hand is He in every time of trouble. “A very present help.” Not far have you to travel for the guidance and deliverance you need. If forsaking the Lord your God you go down into ‘Egypt’ for help, and trust in the chariots and horses thereof, then will you be ashamed of your confidence. But why fly to creature help, when the Lord your God is near unto you in all that you call upon Him for? Cease from man; for God in Christ is very near, and one step of believing prayer will bring you to His feet.
Oh, live as in His presence! Be your life a life of communion, doing and enduring, toiling and suffering, as beholding Him who is invisible. In a little while we shall pass from our partial and imperfect realizations of His presence when on earth, to enjoy His full, unclouded, and eternal presence in heaven! Then shall our eyes see the King in His full unveiled beauty, not as now, through a glass darkly, but then face to face. And, oh transporting thought! we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Guard vigilantly and strive prayerfully against that which creates a conscious distance between God and your soul. Is it the world?–come out of it. Is it the creature?–relinquish it. Is it the flesh?–mortify it. Is it sin?–forsake it. Is it unbelief?–nail it to the cross. Oh, let nothing separate you from Christ–no earthly good or carnal delight cause a distance, or coldness, or shyness between God and your soul. Give Jesus your undivided heart, and let God be your all in all. Then shall your happy experience be–“You are NEAR, O Lord.”