Entrance into the land of Canaan was preceded by Jehovah promising His people that “Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread have I given to you” (Josh. 1: 3). This is a deeply practical word for the children of God. Beholding the corn–fields of Canaan was not eating their fruits, nor was gazing on the mountains digging out their wealth. The one condition which the Lord imposed upon His people for actual possession was that they should have a literal foot–hold on the land which He had given them. It is no different with respect to the heavenly blessings of the Christian. All is ours in Christ (see 1 Cor. 3: 22), but as regards our spiritual apprehension, only that which we have gained by the Holy Spirit’s teaching has been really made our own. No ability to map out doctrines or dispensations, no understanding of what that prophet speaks or this epistle teaches, is, of itself, practical spiritual possession. It is not what the eye takes in, but what the foot covers that is experimentally our own. The eye directs the foot, and the further the foot goes the more the eye sees. The eye beholds a vast expanse, the foot covers a very small space, and only that little portion of the truth of God which we have trodden is, as a matter of realisation, our own.
Let me repeat again, all is ours in Christ, but as regards our spiritual apprehension, only that which we have gained by the Holy Spirit’s teaching has been truly made our own. Real possession is the portion of those who, step by step, have fought and won ground: “Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread have I given to you” (Josh. 1: 3). Far better to say ‘How little have I covered with the sole of my foot and how small is the area that I have really won’ than to claim that which I do not actually possess. But do not be disheartened, “Be strong and courageous” (v 6), for in the battle for possession, God is for us. But we must win in the strength that God gives. Shun that second–hand knowledge which never avails in the day of difficulty, nor gives strength in the hour of conflict—endeavour to get it directly from Him. Foot–possessors in God’s Assembly are comparatively few. Many are geographers—those who can map out the varied doctrines of the Bible. Few are travellers—those who can speak with that authority that only comes from real practical experience of the land.