Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unto you therefore which believe He is precious (27 January 2008)

Thank God for 3 very encouraging messages which I heard recently in church. Elder Sim shared something very encouraging from 2 Chronicles, Pastor Willy Ng (a visiting minister from Criswell Tabernacle) shared a very encouraging sermon from Jonah “Can you run away from God?”, and RC Sproul’s Video Lectures on the General Epistles plus bro Moses’ sharing on the key verses and key thoughts were also very uplifting.

I took down some notes, and God willing, I hope to type them out in my next posts to remind myself of God’s encouragements and instructions, and also to share with you and other visitors of this site.

But something I heard today left a deep impression in my heart and I decided to pen down my thoughts and reflections here while they are still fresh. A brother-in-Christ, Moses, who is leading the Adult Bible Class in my church, shared at the end of our Class on some important points we can learn from a video lecture by RC Sproul. This brother mentioned towards the very end that what encourages him or enables him to press on in his life and pilgrim journey, despite all the difficulties he faces, is 1 Peter 2:7a “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:”

I was much uplifted when Moses mentioned this verse as it is one of my favourite Bible verses! It has been my own personal experiences as well, that through all the difficulties and trials I have gone through or are going through, the preciousness of our Lord Jesus Christ to my soul because of what He had done on the cross for us, sustained and uplifted me as I journey on. Our Lord and His Words are precious to me and I believe to every true believer. Life is meaningless to me without God.

When I am well, I am someone who often find much encouragement and joy in my personal devotion and public worship. I am often uplifted by the Word of God and the reminder of His love, mercies and faithfulness. I enjoy worship and fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ and His people. Through all the difficult challenges in my life, God’s love and faithfulness sustained me. Our Lord Jesus Christ is precious to my soul because He gave His life to redeem me from sins and eternal damnation. I am a great sinner and He is a great Saviour. His presence with me daily is my strength, and He gave me tokens of His love through all His providences and provisions in my life.

But during my relapses of severe clinical depression in the past years, which often lasted for some 3 to 6 months or sometimes more, what I found to be most unbearable was the inability to feel the preciousness of our Lord in my soul. During a severe relapse of depression, the chemical in my brain could not function properly and therefore not able to send appropriate messages to my mind. I could hardly read or concentrate, I couldn’t think, my thoughts and feelings are either flat or negative. At such time, I often feel like living in hell or I am a living corpse. Without the ability to read or understand God’s Words, without the ability to feel God’s presence and love for me, my life is meaningless.

I know that we are not to live by feelings but by the Word of God, by His Truths. We are to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ savingly, and to know and believe His Words, and live by them irrespective of our feelings. It is our consolation that God’s Words abideth even when our feelings are gone or fail to function properly! Thank God that His Truths abideth.

Yet, it is also a sweet token of God’s mercies to us when He gives us the grace not only to know our Lord Jesus Christ and His Truths in our mind but also to feel their preciousness in our souls. To know and feel God’s presence with us and His love for us is a little taste of heaven on earth. The Holy Spirit does bear witness with our souls that we are the children of God when He seals God’s love to our heart. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” Romans 8:16. To be sensible of the preciousness of Christ is reviving to our souls.

Octavius Winslow wrote a very encouraging book “The Precious Things of God”. In Chapter 1, he wrote on The Preciousness of Christ. He wrote:

“A FELT conviction of the preciousness of the Saviour has ever been regarded by enlightened ministers of the gospel as constituting a scriptural and unmistakeable evidence of the existence of divine life in the soul; and in moments when neither time nor circumstances would admit of the close scrutiny of a theological creed, or a nice analysis of spiritual feelings and emotions, the one and simple inquiry upon which matter is made to hinge has been - “What is your experience of the worth of the Saviour? is Christ precious to your heart?” And the answer to this question has been to the examiner the test and the measure of the soul’s spiritual and vital change. And how proper that it should be so. In proportion as the Holy Spirit imparts a real, intelligent sense of personal sinfulness, there will be the heart’s appreciation of the value, sufficiency, and preciousness of the Lord Jesus. An enlightened and thorough conviction of the nature and aggravation of the disease, will enable a physician to form a just conception of the remedial process by which it may be arrested and cured…..

Thus, as the conviction of our lost and undone condition deepens, as sin’s “exceeding sinfulness” unveils, as the purity and extent of God’s law opens, as the utter hopelessness and impotence of self is forced upon the mind, the glory, the worth, the suitableness, and the preciousness of Jesus will, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, present itself vividly to the mind and heart, as constituting the one only foundation and hope of the soul. The Bible recognises but two specific and distinctive characters - the SINNER - the SAVIOUR; and all others are but modifications of these. The saint is but the sinner converted, justified, pardoned, adopted, sanctified, saved, glorified. And all the official relations sustained by Christ in the economy of salvation are but so many varied and beautiful forms of the one Saviour, of whom it is said, “Neither is there salvation in any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Thus, then, as you feel your sinfulness, you will estimate the fitness and suitableness of the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. There will be a perfect agreement between your consciousness of guilt and your believing apprehension of the excellence of the Atonement to meet your case.” Your sinnership and Christ’s Saviourship will harmonise and dovetail in exact and beautiful fitness and proportion. Oh, what a divine and blessed arrangement is this! With what grandeur, yet with what simplicity, does it invest the scheme of salvation! What solemnity, yet what hope, does it throw around the present and the future of the soul! It seems to fathom the lowest depth of my sinfulness, while it lifts me to the loftiest height of God’s grace.” (Excerpts taken from pages 1 to 3 of “The Precious Things of God” by Octavius Winslow, published in 1860, reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria in 1993)

C.H. Spurgeon preached a very encouraging message “Christ Precious to Believers” in 1859 from this same passage in 1 Peter 2:7 which you can read from The Spurgeon Archive. This is also one of my favourite sermons :-)

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