AJM I wondered if we could look at some aspects of what Scripture calls our “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). It is a very extensive subject, all centred in a glorious Person – the Lord Jesus. It covers our past; it gives us a wonderful outlook for the future; but it also is something that we need to experience at the present. What a salvation, dear brethren! It is centred for us in the Person of Christ.
I thought about Jacob. He lived 147 years, and in the last days of his life he reviews and blesses each of his sons. And he comes to a point, after speaking of some of them, where it is almost as if he pauses, and he says, “I wait for Thy salvation, O Jehovah” (Genesis 49:18). Think of that old man considering his firstborn, and realising that salvation was not going to come that way.
But when we come to another old man in Luke 2, coming into the Temple according to divine timing, and taking this Child in his arms, what does he say? “For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” The waiting time that marked every Old Testament saint, as, in faith, they looked forward, was over, and Simeon, recognising by the Spirit of God what was encompassed in this Child, could speak of God’s salvation. He could see the extensiveness of that salvation, “which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.” What a moment for Simeon, to be given such insight by the Spirit of God that God’s salvation, which was for all men, was there before him in the Person of Jesus! It is beautiful just to look at this setting here, and see this Child taken into his arms and held, you might say, in view of the blessing of all humanity, including both Israel and the Gentiles. I just thought we might start with getting a glimpse of this blessed One in Whom all the promises that had preceded were going to be fulfilled, involving, in particular, salvation reaching each one of us here.
When we come to Romans 5, there are two aspects of that salvation. First it says, “Justified in the power of His blood, we shall be saved by Him from wrath.” I wonder if, as we sit here today, we really have any depth of appreciation of what we have been saved from, and at what a cost. This verse, of course, would throw us back to chapter 3, where the righteousness of God is established (v21), where the blood is seen on the mercy-seat (v25). You may notice that love is not mentioned in chapter 3: it is the righteousness of God that is established. But Paul, when he comes to this chapter, prefaces it all, “But God commends His love to us.” That is what lay behind this plan of salvation. Then there is the second aspect: “Much rather, having been reconciled, we shall be saved in the power of His life.” It is wonderful that in the power of Christ, now that He is out of death, we can enter into what salvation is in our lives on a day-to-day basis.
That is why I read in Titus: “The grace of God which carries with it salvation for all men.” You can imagine Simeon, as he took the Child in his arms, conveying, in line with Luke’s Gospel, that the grace of God, carrying salvation for all men, had appeared in this Person. But what a practical effect it has! “Teaching us that, having denied impiety and worldly lusts,” and so on. The world that we are in, dear brethren, is a godless world, but the grace of God has brought salvation into it in the Person of Christ, and as centring our lives on Christ we are enabled to live as the apostle suggests here, “soberly, and justly, and piously . . ., awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The blood of Christ settles our past; a living Christ is in view of the enjoyment of salvation at the present. This last verse looks on beyond that.
I thought we could just finish with these verses in Ephesians – the full thought of salvation. He speaks of “the word of the truth, the glad tidings of your salvation.” The full thought of our salvation is that these – let us call them Ephesian blessings – can be entered into and enjoyed. And these two verses open up the avenue for that enjoyment: “The earnest of our inheritance to the redemption of the acquired possession to the praise of His glory.” The purchase has been made, dear brethren; soon we shall enter into the full thought of redemption. And not only is it salvation of our souls, and knowing Christ as our Saviour now, but it will be entering into that great inheritance that He has opened up for us.
These are my few thoughts. I wondered if we could just help one another in them.
BED Simeon had a distinct sense of the greatness of the salvation. It was given to him by the Holy Spirit – communicated to him by the Spirit. Do we, in this occasion, look for communication from the Spirit to us, to give us an impression of how great the things are that we have come into?
AJM I think that is right. I think the section is impregnated, you might say, with the actions, the communications, of the Holy Spirit, especially to Simeon. And, as you say, the appreciation of the scope of the salvation that has come our way must depend on our leaning on the Spirit of God to open up the sheer magnitude of that salvation – and, underlying it, what it has cost for that salvation to reach such as us.
MJC For Simeon it was a salvation that could be seen. Could you say something about that? It was concrete, it was real in a Person.
AJM Well, for our part, of course, we enter into it by faith, do we not? But what a privilege was Simeon’s, as linking these two dispensations together, to come in at this opportune – not accidental – moment, according to divine timing, and to take the Child in his arms and to bless God – lift up his heart in thanksgiving and blessing to God, and speak of his eyes having “seen Thy salvation!” I just thought it was, not exactly a contrast, but different from Jacob, who waited for that salvation by faith. But here in actuality Simeon could see the presentation of this salvation in the Person of Christ. It magnifies the Incarnation to us, that God has been manifested in flesh in view of us, and myriads more, being brought into the blessing of salvation.
MJC It was a most wonderful thing for Simeon, because there was now nothing to keep him in the present scene.
AJM Yes, that is right, it had been conveyed to him that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, and here was the moment. What a moment, you know! There were these two – we did not read about Anna, but Simeon takes that Child in his arms, and he holds that Child: it has often been noticed that he does not give the Child back to His parents. He treasures this Child and what is conveyed in It, because God’s salvation is there.
TRP We can thank the blessed Spirit that He has caused us to see, in the one, lowly, rejected, isolated Man upon the Cross, the glory of God’s salvation.
AJM I think so. How tenderly Luke presents this! The opposition, of course, is going to grow. But Luke presents it in such a tender way, so that the youngest might appreciate what God has brought to us in the Person of Jesus.
DO Do you think this is one of the rewards which Simeon gets from God, because he was waiting for this salvation? He was waiting in faith, and God rewarded him because he was faithfully waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ.
AJM I think that is right. It says of him that he was just and pious. That is all we have as to his history – “Just and pious.” How God must have looked with favour on this man! And He chose this man to be the vehicle that would express what had come near to humanity in the Person of this little Babe. As you say, what a reward! We often link these two persons at the beginning of Luke with those at the end of Malachi in the Old Testament, who feared God and “spoke often one to another” (Malachi 3:16). But they were still waiting. Now the waiting is over, and God’s salvation has come near in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
DCH We see here that the Holy Spirit had communicated to him. Can you say a bit more about the work of the Holy Spirit at such an early time?
AJM Well, the thing is that, when it comes to our day, the glad tidings are preached “by the Holy Spirit, sent from heaven” (1 Pet 1:12). That is, the encapsulating of the whole story of salvation in the Person of Christ, you might say, is in the hands of the Holy Spirit as the glad tidings are announced. And the extensiveness of the glad tidings is such that not only do they bring me into salvation as a matter of relief from my past and my sins, but they bring me into the positive blessings that eventually we come to in the Ephesian Epistle. Now, to touch any of these great blessings, we require the presence and the service of the Holy Spirit.
SML It was a matter of faith here, because the Lord was only eight days old. That meant that Simeon had actually had something divinely communicated to him that he believed: that in that small Child the whole purpose of God was going to be brought to pass.
AJM It is remarkable, that. There Simeon is, in the last days of his journey here, and he holds this little Child tenderly in his arms, and the Spirit of God gives him some insight into what was contained in that Child: God coming near to bless mankind – God coming near to lift the liabilities that lay on us, but more than that, to bring in a path of salvation that would lead us into heavenly blessings. And, as you say, to appreciate that showed a depth of faith in Simeon; it showed that his communications were from God and he believed God. It is a real challenge to our own faith, is it not?
MJC He goes on to speak of the “revelation of the Gentiles” before he mentions “the glory of Thy people Israel.” So there was clearly a very real revelation to Simeon.
AJM I think it is very telling, this statement, “A light for revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.” In a sense, as we look forward, that would involve the middle wall being broken down (Ephesians 2:14). He also had the knowledge, as he goes on to say to Mary, that before the salvation could be realised, this blessed Person had to come and to die.
BED The first thing Simeon does is to bless God. It has all come from God, has it not? This plan has come from Him in His love.
AJM Well, it is fine to meet an old man or an old woman who is a blesser. He blesses God, but then he blesses them, when you come to verse 34. Blessing involves substance, it involves knowledge of the Person, and I think as he takes this Child in his arms, it is so spontaneous that there must be an outflow to God, and also there must be an outflow in blessing to Mary as well.
KHW Do you think that what it says of him in verse 25, that he was “awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him,” would suggest that there was a consistency in his walk with God, that here was a man that was serviceable to the Lord and was really able to anticipate something of what was coming in, so that the salvation was no surprise? It was the result of a walk with God.
AJM That is very good. We know nothing more about Simeon than what is recorded here, but it is as if God, because of the moral features that shone in Simeon, saw him as ready for this moment when he would give expression to what he saw in Christ, involving some expression of God’s salvation.
AJB So he can seek to be released now, can he not? There is nothing more to wait for, there is nothing beyond Christ.
AJM I think that is beautiful. The slender thread that was holding him here could be cut now. He could go satisfied as having his arms full of Christ. What a testimony! And Luke, in a sense, sets on his Gospel of divine grace from this standpoint: that what was held in Simeon’s arms, the expression of God’s grace there, carried salvation for all men. Simeon has gone, but the gospel of God’s grace continues.
AJB It is looking right on to our own dispensation – the time of the Gentiles – and looking right through to the future glory of the nation of Israel.
AJM I think that is the whole point: Gentiles blessed, but Israel brought into blessing. This looks beyond the rejection of Christ. This is when the veil was to be removed (2 Corinthians 3:16) and Israel would come to recognise the glory of the Messiah.
PJC One of the characteristics that marked Simeon after this was that he had peace. I was wondering if you could say something about that in connection with this “so great salvation.” It is something that the Lord also introduced after His resurrection: “Peace be to you” (John 20:19).
AJM Well, is it not one of the effects, you might say, of the glad tidings? It is another feature that comes in in the Roman Epistle: “Therefore having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God” (Romans 5:1). Everything that this man had waited for was settled. He had no desire to hold on any longer, and he could go in peace in the sense that God’s testimony was now going to be centred in the One that he held in his arms. I think it is beautiful. Anna follows on this as well. It has been said that Simeon holds the Child Christ for humanity; when Anna speaks of Him, it is humanity for Christ.
BED You said earlier that it is not recorded that Simeon handed the Child back to His mother. We do not know when Simeon died, but he said, “Thou lettest Thy bondman go, according to Thy word.” Very striking, is it not? Not exactly death, but ‘letting Thy bondman go.’
AJM That is right, and I think he holds this Child for the whole race, and that would fit in with Luke’s Gospel: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). Just imagine the thoughts going through Simeon’s mind and heart as he held this Child. He conveys some of them to Mary in the following verses. Through it all he is seeing the route that is being taken by God in making His salvation known to His creature.
DO Simeon was living with a purpose in his life, as we see from his words, his testimony. I was thinking about what my purpose is in this life. And another thought is that the Lord Jesus gave so much joy to some people. How much joy it will be to us to see Him in glory!
AJM That is beautiful. And we should touch that joy now, if we really appreciate the salvation that has reached us, because it has reached us in this Person. Later on in this Gospel He says to one man, “Today salvation is come to this house” (Luke 19:9). If we really appreciate the scope of this salvation that has reached even to us, it should fill our hearts, and fill them with joy.
MJC Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, but he got a much wider and greater view, did he not, in the Person of Christ?
AJM It is wonderful, all that was opened up to him as to the “light for revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.” The actual setting out of the glad tidings to the Gentiles was going to wait some time yet, but Simeon had some measure of light as to it – that salvation was coming, not to the Jews only, but to all men: “Prepared before the face of all peoples.”
DJB Is he taking up the words of Isaiah 49, “It is a small thing that Thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of . . . Israel; I have even given Thee for a light of the nations, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6)? There are wonderful Old Testament words of blessing there!
AJM That is lovely. These prophets of old – men and women of faith of old – could look forward to it. Here is Simeon, and he is grasping it; this is the moment – it has come! It fills his heart, and it fills him with such joy that he says, ‘I must bless God.’ And that blessing flows out into testimony as well.
DJB It stands in great contrast to what the Jews said to Paul in the Acts, after “they heard him until this word” – “I will send thee to the nations” (Acts 22:22, 21). We should be very thankful that the gospel has come to us, who are of the nations.
AJM That was part of my purpose in thinking about this line: how much do I appreciate that the mercy of God, the grace of God, has overflowed and reached even to us of the nations? What a magnificent movement of divine grace that is, that it could not be contained in Jerusalem, it just flowed out and reached us – as one said, “It came even to me” (Acts 11:5)!
AND I was just thinking about the reference to “all peoples.” In Revelation 5 we have, “Thou . . . hast redeemed to God, by Thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and made them to our God kings and priests” (Revelation 5:9‑10). Is that the culmination, or the climax, of what the Lord has come in to do?
AJM That is right. I think that whatever blessing has come, and will come in a coming day, it is all centred on this Person. It has all come about because this Person came to suffer and to die. That was in order that the gospel of salvation might come to us of the nations, but also the blessing that comes in a future day to various families is on the same basis: that is dependent on the death of Christ as well.
I just thought in Romans 5 we might see two aspects of this salvation. First, “having been now justified in the power of His blood, we shall be saved by Him from wrath.” You might say, ‘Well, that is a very initial aspect of God’s salvation.’ But it is a wonderful aspect. Am I sitting here today thinking that because of the blood of Christ, I have been saved from the coming wrath? Think of what the world is going on to, the world around us today; persons are living in it with godless lives. The world is going on to judgement, that is the judgement of God, and yet the blood of Christ has been shed that persons might be saved from that: “We shall be saved by Him from wrath.” To the Thessalonians, does he not say, “Jesus, our Deliverer from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)? I think it would deepen our appreciation of God’s salvation as we consider this.
BED Each of the Thessalonians was saved for that – that was their outlook, their whole outlook. They were saved, turned to the true God from idols, the living and true God – awaiting His Son from the heavens, Jesus, our Deliverer from the coming wrath. The wrath is coming. It is nearer now than it was in those days.
AJM And such was their appreciation of it that the word of the Lord sounded out from them (1 Thess 1:8), sounded out to others. That is a challenge as well.
BED They were believers young in the faith, but powerful in God’s salvation.
AJM I think that is right. This puts us back to Romans 3, where the case against me as a sinner is thoroughly proven: “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The righteousness of God needed to be established before any one of us could be saved from the coming wrath. And that righteousness has been established in the shed blood of Jesus. What a triumph!
MSB Does it show the value of the blood? I was just thinking, in Exodus it was the blood that was on the doorposts and the lintel (Exodus 12:7). Do you think it is a vital part of any gospel preaching, to bring in the blood?
AJM It is. When you come to the tabernacle, Hebrews tells us, most things were anointed with the blood (Hebrews 9:21‑22). The blood on the Day of Atonement was carried right in to the mercy-seat. It was put there once on the mercy-seat, and seven times before it (Leviticus 16:14). God’s estimation of the blood never varies. Our estimation may vary. The blood of Christ was once before God; He looked for the blood, and on the basis of that He can offer full salvation.
BED We are saved from wrath. But the wrath was borne by the One Whom we are considering.
AJM That is right. It takes you to Calvary’s Cross. The awfulness of what the three hours of forsaking meant! As we look at this verse (Romans 5:9), we have got to think about that, that this blessed Person that Simeon took in his arms – there came a point when, as made sin, He was forsaken of God. What value, what depth of appreciation, have I got of that?
BED The cry of the Lord, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46), takes on a fresh glory, does it not – a fresh lustre? He did not give way under the wrath of God, He bore it in order that He could save us from it.
AJM And He exhausted it. We can say, ‘He has exhausted it for us.’ And He could say, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The work of atonement is done. There is no more to be done. Beautiful! So it says here, “Having been now justified in the power of His blood.” What does that mean? It means that I am made righteous before God because of the blood of Christ. “We shall be saved by Him from wrath.”
TRP And it brings us into liberty in the presence of God.
AJM That is interesting, because – again in Hebrews – the approach to God is marked by the blood of Christ, “the new and living way” that goes in to God (Hebrews 10:19‑20). It is like that lovely hymn of JND’s,
O Love divine, that did decree
We should be part, through Jesus’ blood
We should never forget that the foundation of our blessing is that His blood was shed.
CPB You mentioned that what lies behind the gospel is God’s love. It is very striking that in this Epistle, which contains the teaching of the gospel, it is not until this chapter that the love of God comes in. So the first thing, the fundamental thing that has to be established, is the righteousness of God. I was just thinking as we were speaking of the wrath, that every claim of God’s throne has been met and the righteousness of God established. It is part of the immensity that you are bringing before us, of the greatness of this salvation.
AJM He starts off in the first chapter with the glad tidings as being “God’s power to salvation” (Romans 1:16). As the teaching of the Epistle unfolds, you think, ‘Well, tell us about the love of God.’ But we could not be told about the love of God until every claim of His throne had been met. And that was met at Calvary. Wonderful Person Jesus is! This is the One Who is our Saviour. This is the One Whom we have come to know as our Saviour, and He having met every claim of God’s throne, Paul can now say what lies behind this: “God commends His love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.” Could we have thought of a plan like this? This was the divine plan of mercy.
GKB So it goes far beyond just forgiveness of sins; justification, as we often are told, means that it is as if we had never sinned. God looks on us as He looks on Christ, through what He has done.
AJM That is right. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, “Him Who knew not sin He has made sin for us” – that is only part of it – “that we might become God’s righteousness in Him” (v21). I think that is the totality of our justification before God. It is on the basis of His being made sin, and meeting everything that God had to say to sin, that we might become justified before God. So the gospel brings relief, and that is what we tell men, tell sinners. They can be relieved from their sins; they can have their sins forgiven. Greater than that, as you say, they can be justified before God. They can have peace towards God. They can come into the favour of God. All this is opened up because the blood of Christ has been shed.
DJB Have you anything to say about being reconciled to God?
AJM I think it is a lovely touch. As far as I know, it is we that have been reconciled to God. It is not God reconciled to us. The distance was there – how great it was! Where was that distance met? It was met at the Cross, was it not? It was met in the forsaking. So it says, “If, being enemies” – that conveys the idea of distance – “we have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son;” I think that shows that the distance has gone, and now God finds His complacency in what Christ has done, and through His mercy He can find rest and complacency in those who have come to appreciate Christ. You have some thought?
DJB Well, that is exactly what is said here and in 2 Corinthians 5, but in the latter Scripture it ends with an appeal, “Be reconciled to God” (v20). What is the force of that word to us?
AJM Well, it is the ambassador’s message, is it not? He speaks of being ambassadors in 2 Corinthians 5. “Be reconciled to God,” I think, involves that every iota of distance should disappear even from our minds and thoughts – that just as Christ is in the presence of God and God restful in Him, that can be my portion as well. Would you agree with that?
DJB Yes, entirely. And it goes along with salvation; first we have peace with God, and then we need this assurance of His favour. There is nothing we can do, or add to it, but we do need to come into the blessing of it, do we not?
AJM That is right. As you know, this section is preceded by “tribulation,” “endurance,” “experience” (Romans 5:3-4); life is real, life has got its problems, its difficulties, but nothing can take away this – that the power of the blood has secured our justification before God.
MJC In the verses we are considering in Romans 5 the view is of the purpose of God; in 2 Corinthians 5 it is our responsibility to be reconciled.
AJM Yes, well, that is true. But in a sense it has been done. The work has been effected. We could not effect it. It has all been done. When we think of reconciliation, we have to go to Luke 15 to see it in practice: the younger son brought back, and the father covering him with kisses.
MJC Is that where repentance comes in?
AJM I am sure that is right.
And then he says, “Much rather, having been reconciled, we shall be saved in the power of His life.” Now, what do I know about that? What do I know about being saved in the power of His life? The blood meets everything that stood out against me, but think of the power of Christ’s life towards the believer, so that practically, in the everyday things of life, I may know what salvation is as leaning on this living Person. That is a big test.
MJC Is that really what we would term ‘present salvation’?
AJM Yes. I think it is something that we need to grasp. It is one thing to come to appreciate what Christ has done for me, and that He has met my sins. But every day of my life I need to know what it is to be saved.
MJC Does the book of Exodus set it out for us, typically? You get the blood on the doorposts and the lintel – being saved from judgement. Then you get the wilderness pathway – is that present salvation?
AJM That is right. And His provision, in whatever form that took in the wilderness, gave the resources to ensure that that salvation was a practical matter. That is why I read in Titus. He says, first of all – and what a beautiful expression this is – “The grace of God which carries with it salvation for all men has appeared.” There is such beauty in that statement! It has appeared in Christ. But it has appeared in the context here of “teaching us that, having denied impiety and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and justly, and piously.” We shall never do that in our own strength: we need the help of Another. I think it is the bent of the teaching of the grace of God, carrying with it salvation, that leads us to appreciate what the world around is and how we should live in it.
KHW I was just thinking of the two in the beginning of Acts: Peter and John. Were they not manifesting that salvation in that they say, “What I have, this give I to thee” (Acts 3:6)? They had a salvation that was shining out in them, that could be effective on behalf of others.
AJM Yes, they say, “Look on us” (Acts 3:4). And is that not the real test, as to what reflection there is in our lives practically of being saved in the power of Christ’s life? Think of the apostle – he says to the Galatians, “No longer live, I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). It shone out in him.
BED What dominated in Christ was grace – the grace of God. Does it dominate in me?
AJM That is the challenge, is it not? The grace of God should dominate in me. It carries with it salvation. The grace of God did not come empty-handed, it brought salvation. Jesus says to the woman in Luke 7, “Thy faith has saved thee; go in peace” (v50). Oh, to have more depth as to what has reached me in the way of God’s salvation!
BED It is “for all men” – that is why we seek to tell all men about it.
AJM That is the wonder of the day of the glad tidings. But it has a current bearing, and a very forceful bearing, on us: “Having denied impiety and worldly lusts.” It lets me look at the world in a different way. Referring to what our brother just mentioned about the wilderness journey, first of all we have the Passover, but then we have the Red Sea: “Stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah” (Exodus 14:13). And then the dividing line was to come in between Egypt and the wilderness. It has often been said, it is one thing to get out of Egypt, but it is another thing to get Egypt out of ourselves. “Having denied impiety and worldly lusts.” Is not this what John speaks of in his Epistle – the various things that are there to be overcome (1 John 2:14-17)?
BED So we are in the world but not of it. We must show we are not of the world to those to whom we speak.
AJM Well, that is what it says. We should live soberly – that is, with self-restraint and consideration, being of sound mind, and discreet – and justly – being righteous – and piously – that is, can God come into my actions? Can God put His stamp on my walk? How perfect the walk of Christ was!
PKL This links us back to Simeon – “just and pious.”
AJM That is the only thing that is said about his history – “Just and pious.” But it was worth recording: “Just and pious.” God took account of him, and His record was, ‘That man is just and pious.’ God says, ‘I can use him.’
PKL In the two verses we read in Romans 5, one would be what we are saved from (v9), and the second one would be what we are saved in view of (v10). And I wonder whether the latter is what Titus brings in here – the grace of God. It is interesting that grace is connected with salvation. We normally connect salvation with mercy, but salvation is connected with God’s grace here, and there is to be a result in our hearts – what we are saved for.
AJM I think that is right, and it is worth drawing attention to. Relief is one side, but the younger son came into the joy of sonship when he came back to the father’s house. And that is what is held out to us, to enter into the liberty and joy of sonship. That is what we are saved for.
DJB How does this “teaching” work out? Clearly, orderly instruction and Bible readings and so on have their part. But you referred to the woman in the seventh chapter of Luke; I doubt if she had had much systematic teaching, had she? Where did she get her light from?
AJM I think she had a great love for the Lord Jesus. I think that was the first time she had seen Him. I think she came prepared. She had studied some of His movements, and I think that this teaching, in a sense, can be imbibed and put into practical effect only as we know His presence. Would that be fair?
DJB We certainly do not despise good teaching and setting out of the truth, but God’s teaching has an element of instinct. It has often interested me, the place that the instincts given by the Spirit of God have, on the one hand; and then, on the other, what we are formed in by proper teaching as to what is commendable in a Christian.
AJM Has it not been said, ‘If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?’ What a challenge that is! And it is with a view, of course, to our “awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” We are living in this world, where the god of this world has his way, but living in the light of another world that is centred in this “Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness, and purify to Himself a peculiar people.” These Scriptures are very challenging as we read the details, as to how we measure up to them.
MSB How can we ‘deny’ these things? You said we cannot do it in our own strength, but it does say, “Having denied impiety and worldly lusts.”
AJM I was thinking of that word in the First Epistle of John, “I have written to you, young men, because ye are strong,” and then he says, “And the word of God abides in you” (1 John 2:14). The word of God is a reference point, a guide, a light to our path. “And ye have overcome the wicked one.” And then he goes on to say, “Love not the world, nor the things in the world. If any one love the world,” and so on – you know the Scripture. I think the denial comes as we appreciate this other world that is centred in Christ. That is the world that should be our preference – the things of that world. And I think for these young men of John’s Epistle, that is where the focus is, on that world that is centred in Christ.
MSB Do you think we need to be active in this, ourselves? It does not just happen, does it?
AJM I think that is right. It requires the moral courage, you might say, to say no to certain things – to say yes to what is right, and no to what is wrong. That is a simple thing, but how testing!
MSB Like Daniel.
AJM Yes, he purposed not to pollute himself with the king’s delicate food (Daniel 1:8). And what a triumph came out of it!
MJC Does the reference to Moses in Hebrews 11 encourage us? He esteemed “the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect to the recompense” (Hebrews 11:26). I was thinking of that in relation, too, to “the blessed hope.”
AJM It is a good reference. He turned his back on something that was going to progress him, you might say, in this world – he turned his back on it. But it was his knowledge of God that sustained him.
DO Do you think here in this passage from Titus, it takes in the past, present and future? I am thinking about, “The grace . . . has appeared, teaching . . .” – that is continued at present – and “Awaiting the blessed hope” – that is the future, do you think? And we are not alone, because He is teaching us and helping us, and this is a big hope for us.
AJM And the one Person Who is common to the past, present and future is Christ: “Jesus Christ . . . the same” (Heb 13:8).
DO He “is the same yesterday, and today, and to the ages to come.”
TRP Daniel purposed in his heart, but the secret of his strength was that he lived his life in the presence of his God.
AJM He was a man of prayer; even when he knew the opposition were trying to catch him out, he prayed “as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10); it was not something special laid on. It was characteristic of him.
In Ephesians, I just thought Paul there mentioned what we were saved for. The gospel really has in mind these heavenly blessings that come out in Ephesians 1. It says here, “Having heard the word of the truth, the glad tidings of your salvation.” Think of Paul mentioning that in the context of Ephesians 1, where he has gone back into the purpose and counsels of God. And he says, ‘Look, the way into that is by opening of the heart to receive the gospel, the glad tidings of your salvation.’ In these two verses, again, the reliance is upon the service of the Holy Spirit.
BED It is an interesting title of the Holy Spirit here: “The Holy Spirit of promise.” Have you an impression about that? Is it the promise of good things to come?
AJM Yes, and they are all going to be fulfilled: divine promises never fail. That title comes in in connection with the sealing: “In Whom also, having believed, ye have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” That is God putting His mark on the believer and saying, ‘That is My property.’ But then it goes on – it is the same Person – “Who is the earnest of our inheritance.” That is the Spirit given to us so that we can say, ‘This treasure that we are going to come into soon, we can enjoy even now;’ He is the earnest of our inheritance.
BED There is a hymn we sometimes sing,
And see! the Spirit’s power
Has ope’d the heav’nly door
AJM And I think, “The earnest of our inheritance to the redemption of the acquired possession to the praise of His glory,” indicates that the purchase has been made. What it awaits, is for those who have entered into the wonder of this salvation to actually go in for full possession; and that will be very shortly. But the price has been paid, the purchase has been made. The possession will soon be; that will be when He takes us to glory.
MJC Do you link the thought of “promise” – “the Holy Spirit of promise” – with the thought of the “earnest” of the inheritance?
AJM I think it is the assurance: He shall “be with you for ever,” it says as to the Spirit (John 14:16); He is not going to leave us.
MJC An “earnest” is a present token of a future blessing, is it not?
AJM That puts it very precisely. We are going to enter into the fullness of it in a coming day, but we get a touch of it by the Spirit now. That is the point of his writing in this section.
BED To enter fully into it we shall need the redemption of our bodies, shall we (Romans 8:23)?
AJM Yes, that is right. And it is all based on what Christ has effected. We already come into what has been effected for the redemption of our souls, but the final thing, the redemption of our body, when we are made like unto Him (1 John 3:2) – the image of God’s Son (Romans 8:29) – will be when we enter into the fullness of this inheritance.
BED When He comes for us, we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51‑52) to be like Him.
DJB This is a very specific service of the Holy Spirit, is it not? It is not just the same as shedding abroad the love of God (Romans 5:5), or uniting us to Christ. It is the service of assuring us that God will keep His promises.
AJM It is probably something that we do not explore sufficiently. We have these references to the sealing, the Spirit of promise, Who is the earnest of our inheritance. It not only gives us something to look forward to, but it gives us something to enjoy now by the Spirit. As has been said, it is a foretaste of what is going to be our eternal portion. Otherwise it is just words in Ephesians 1.
MJC Is the redemption of the acquired possession really the fulfilment of “the blessed hope” in Titus?
AJM “To the praise of His glory.” It is not going to be to our glory at all; it is to the praise of His glory. He starts off this section with “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us”; he finishes it, “To the praise of His glory.” The glad tidings are not for the praise of man, they are for the praise of the glory of God. The glad tidings of our salvation take us, you might say, from Egypt, and take us right into the enjoyment of our inheritance.
DO I was thinking about the service of the Holy Spirit, which our brother mentioned; I was thinking of Romans chapter 8 verse 11, where it says, “If the Spirit of Him that has raised up Jesus from among the dead dwell in you, He that has raised up Christ from among the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies also on account of His Spirit Which dwells in you.”
AJM So we are very reliant on this precious gift that we have been given. That section goes on to say, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” That is to be enjoyed now, is it not?
22 March 2014
Key to Initials
Chris P. Bond, Worthing
Michael S. Bond, Worthing
Graham K. Boyes, London
James Bryan, Leamington Spa
David J. Burr, London
Marcus J. Chapman, Croydon
Philip J. Coldrick, Cambridge
Adrian N. Deacon, Basildon
Bernard E. Deacon, Basildon
David C. Hollinshead, Basildon
S Mark Lemon, Maidstone
Paul K. Lewis, Croydon
Alexander J. Mowat, Aberdeen
Daniel Olteanu, Basildon
T Roger Pons, Sevenoaks
Keith H. Wickens, Eastbourne