A New Start
Conversion implies a radical change. Even in the case of a man who has always been steady, respectable, and religiously inclined, the change is no less real because it is less conspicuous to the outward observer. A man’s inward springs and motives are touched and turned into new channels when he is converted.
How conversion is brought about I do not now intend to show, but it is my desire to help any who have started on the “path of life” (Ps. 16: 11) by bringing before them some of the new things that are theirs.
A New Master
“Ye call me the Teacher and the Lord, and ye say well, for I am [so]” (John 13: 13).
You have been under the wrong control all the time you were unconverted. In striving to be independent of God you fell into the terrible bondage of slavery to sin and Satan. You were ignorant of it, perhaps, for many years, but God opened your eyes, and not only showed you your real position, but your Deliverer, who is stronger than “the strong [man] armed” (Luke 11: 21).
And now you are free! But––and I want you to fully realise this great truth–– you have been freed by sacrifice and purchase: sacrifice because it is with a price, purchase because you have been bought (see 1 Cor. 6: 20). There is, therefore, now laid upon you the double claim of love and ownership. The only possible response to the grace that sought and found you is complete and immediate surrender to the One who is not only your Saviour, but your Lord. The idea, prevalent among some, that Christ can be my Saviour though not my Lord, is a delusion. Begin, therefore, by handing over to Him everything––time, talents and money––lay all at His feet. There must be no reserve if you are to be happy and useful. Everything retained retards. The surrendered life is the most successful life––not in man’s estimation of course, but in God’s.
On no account allow cowardice or the fear of consequences to hinder you from confessing Jesus as your Lord. In the home, the office and the factory, make a bold stand at once for Christ. You will rob Him of His glory, and your own soul of its joy if you fail to do this––however much you may naturally shrink from the ordeal. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will make plain thy paths” (Prov. 3: 6).
A New Power
“But ye will receive power, the Holy Spirit having come upon you” (Acts 1: 8).
The Christian life would be impossible unless “power from on High” (Luke 24: 49) were given for it. Thus the one who trusts in Him who has been raised from among the dead receives the Holy Spirit––whose power is great enough to carry the believer triumphantly along in the face of every opposing influence. The Christian life is intended to be one of victory all along the line and to this end the Holy Spirit must not be grieved (see Eph. 4: 30). He comes to take up His abode in those who trust in the Lord and he abides with them forever. It is of the greatest importance that His presence and authority should be recognised, and nothing inconsistent with His holiness allowed.
The moment a believer sins, or tampers with evil, his divine guest is grieved, and joy and power can only be restored after confession and self–judgement. This fact, proved over and over again by bitter experience in the lives of many a Christian, cannot be too strongly emphasised. Just as an electric vehicle will come to a standstill and its lights go out when the connection between the power source and the machine is broken, so there is no divine motion or light when communion is interrupted through the grieving of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand it seems impossible to overestimate what God could, and would, do through those “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5: 18). Pentecost stood at the beginning of Christianity and has passed, but the power of Pentecost is still on earth. Will the reader of this paper lay it aside for a time and retire into the presence of God to ask, in earnestness, that his or her whole life may be marked by the fullness of power that results from complete surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit? The children of God are in need of food, care and counsel. The multitudes of perishing souls around us call for earnest and speedy efforts to reach them with the Gospel. May God raise up many devoted men and women to go forth in the activity and power of the Holy Spirit into the places where need and sin abound!
A New Object
“He died for all, that they who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who died for them and has been raised” (2 Cor. 5: 15).
Every one who wants to succeed must have an object before him. In business, sport, and careers, the goal determines the conduct. What man would prosper in any walk of life if he did not have some end in view, and who did not keep it constantly before him? Even Christ Himself “in view of the joy lying before him, endured [the] cross, having despised [the] shame” (Heb. 12: 2). So, in his measure, the Christian needs an object sufficiently attractive and powerful to divert him from the world and its pleeasures that formerly engrossed him. The natural heart turns to the world as the needle in the compass to the North, but a strong magnet will divert the needle, and an even stronger magnet the heart! Who can do this but Christ? And is He not sufficiently attractive? Was it not one of the greatest men of his day, the former Pharisee and zealous prosecutor of the Assembly, who said with burning heart “what things were gain to me these I counted, on account of Christ, loss. But surely I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3: 7, 8)? Christ reisen and glorified becomes the new object for the young believer, who is henceforth engaged with One “whom, having not seen, ye love” (1 Pet. 1; 8).
A boy, sitting in the doorway of a cottage one evening, was seen to be holding a piece of string firmly in his grasp. On being asked why he held so tightly to it, the boy pointed skyward and tried to show his questioner a kite that he said was flying in the air. It was growing dark, however, and the kite could not be seen. ‘How do you know it is really there?’ the boy was asked. ‘Well sir’ he said ‘because, even if I can’t see it, I can feel it pull’. One day––and it may be very soon––the Christian, the eyes of whose heart are always straining heavenward, will be liberated from the law that keeps him earthbound and will rise in a moment to meet his descending Lord, and then love will be satisfied.
“Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall no way fulfil flesh’s lust” (Gal. 5: 16).
‘I don’t know what’s come over Jack’ said one who was once the favourite companion of the man referred to. ‘I can’t get him to do anything that he used to do. He won’t go to the theatre or the dance, and as for a drink or a smoke, he tells me that he’s burnt his pipe, and is not going to taste alcohol any more! This is what he calls being converted, but what I call going mad. And yet he seems happy enough, which is more that I can understand’.
What has ‘come over Jack’ and all those who have been similarly converted? The simple fact is that the grace of God has so worked in their hearts that they have no desire for the things that once they would have thought it impossible to live without. No doubt the old desires assert themselves at times––very strongly too––but much prayer and study of the Word will tend to draw the heart and mind more and more away from things seen and temporal to things unseen and eternal.
One of the best ways to check the intrusion of evil thoughts is to act on the exhortation given by Paul to the Philippians: “For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things [are] true, whatsoever things [are] noble, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] amiable, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue and if any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4: 8). Occupation with good is the best antidote against evil, and good works leave no room for evil deeds. Therefore let every believer see to it that he makes a habit of reading his Bible daily, and setting aside some definite time for meditation and prayer. In this way he will be fitted for service––and no Christian’s life is complete that does not embrace some special service for the Master. Of course even one’s daily work can and should be done unto the Lord, but the test of our reality and devotedness is the use we make of our spare time. The secret of much of the prevailing unhappiness and discontent amongst believers is that they do not have contact with other souls in need––if they did so they would be more thankful for their own mercies, and more compassionate towards others.
If we do not grieve the Spirit of God He will fill our hearts with love and pity towards the unsaved, and we shall then delight to minister to their spiritual and temporal necessities. There is a great danger of the latter being overlooked by so–called ultra–spiritual people! It is mere mockery to expect persons to listen to sermons about their souls when they are in deep distress through poverty and want. The Lord Himself set us a blessed example in this regard (as in every other), for He never disregarded the hunger and the need by which He was surrounded. Let us imitate Him and be ready to spend money and effort and time in relieving some of the appalling want so prevalent around us––the poor, the sick, the distressed and the lonely.
Mary of Bethany is rightly upheld as a wise woman, whom the Lord Himself commends as having ”chosen the good part, the which shall not be taken from her: (Luke 10: 42), but let us not forget that Dorcas too was considered an invaluable woman––so much so that she was raised from the dead! The Holy Spirit’s comment on her is very striking “She was full of good works and alms–deeds which she did” (Acts 9: 36). The great apostle Peter was asked to see “the body–coats and garments which Dorcas had made” (v39)––no wonder such a woman was brought back to life to resume her important serving!
A New Company
“And having been let go, they came to their own [company]” (Acts 4: 23).
One of the earliest marks of a true Christian is separation from old associations. It is an old saying that ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’, and certainly this it is true of the Christian. However amiable and interesting our unconverted friends may be, there is a barrier now set up between their spirits and ours, for they do not love the One to whom we owe our all. The mention of the name so dear to the believer meets with no response from his old companions, and if the Christian is true to his Master, his name will soon be left out of the list of invitations that would formerly have been considered incomplete without it. And he will prefer it so, for to be willingly found in company where the Saviour is despised is unworthy of a loyal heart. Marriage, business partnerships, and other undertakings should be considered in the light of that plain and most uncompromising statement of the Word of God: “Be not diversely yoked with unbelievers; for what participation [is there] between righteousness and lawlessness? or what fellowship of light with darkness? and what consent of Christ with Beliar, or what part for a believer along with an unbeliever? and what agreement of God’s temple with idols?” (2 Cor. 6: 14–16). The disregard of this solemn injunction has led to the most disastrous results, to say nothing of the dishonour done to the name by which we are called.
How sweet, on the other hand, is fellowship and intercourse with the people of God! The Assembly has been torn by division and dissension, but those who truly love the Lord also truly love one another, bing members of the same one body. They have common interests and expectations, and it is a happy thing when Christians speak to one another of the Lord whom they love, and make much of what they are agreed upon rather than accentuate the differences!
These then are some of the ‘New things’ that are ours––may every reader, both young and old, be in the full and real enjoyment of them!