"In everything ye are enriched in Him." I Corinthians 1:5
The first Motto on which I preached was on the first Sunday in January 1927. The text on that occasion was " His banner over me was love." That was an experimental theme. Since then I have missed one New Year message only, in 1949. Year after year the Deacons have chosen the Motto that seemed to them to express in some way the mood, outlook and hope of the time. This year they thought it would be suitable if I chose the Motto, and this is the selected text. You may not at once think it quite as suitable as some for such an occasion, but if you think about it during the year you will, I believe, be assured before the end of 1960 of something of the content of its blessing.
It appeals to me very strongly because it expresses two basic truths. First it exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. Of all the pleasures, delights and joys of life none has been as great as the privilege of searching the Word of God and, by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, to see something of the marvellous glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Often in my study my innermost being has been thrilled as I was conscious of some new unveiling to me of the transcendent grandeur of the Lord of Glory. Everything material has faded into utter insignificance, vanity and indeed refuse as one has seemed to stand on the threshold of the eternal and catch a glimpse of a beauty, magnificence and circumstance that baffled words to describe. It is one of the great regrets of my life that I have lacked the spiritual capacity to apprehend more of the glory of Him Who, by the Cross, has attained the throne of Omnipotence.
The second basic truth is the miracle of redeemed personality. The priceless boon of our common humanity cursed by the sin of Adam is the possbility of grace wherein a common sinner forgiven, redeemed, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, made a partaker of the Divine nature can experience an enrichment of his own personality in a way that education, culture and society can never achieve. In a world of bad manners, discourtesy, crime, greed, selfishness and indifference, God's redemptive creative hand works the miracle of grace that transforms a personality from within.
Forthwith it begins to produce in the saved sinner the dignity, purity and sanctity of the Lord Himself, so that no matter what may have been a man's upbringing no matter what may be his natural lack of culture he shall become a gentleman of Heaven. No Christian, that is to say, no born again believer, is ever intentionally discourteous, uncultured, snobbish or selfish. It is a very great privilege to have been commissioned to preach a gospel that produces such results. What are wealth, heredity, social standing in the old nature compared with the marvellous work of grace in a sinner saved from his sin and elevated to sonship with Christ?
This, then, is the prayer for every member of this Church that they shall experience the full ministry of Divine grace and in the deepest innermost of the being shall know an enrichment of their being. Not with the growth of human ability which may produce nothing but pride, conceit and a sense of superiority but an enrichment of the being with the very life of Jesus Himself in Heaven. So that day by day the glory of Heaven may be reflected in our mortal beings to give to us wonderful peace within. and to make us, whether we know it or not, channels of blessing to every human being we touch. The lines of thought are very simple, as you will expect, but the truths are phenomenal. First let us look at
1) THE CONTENT OF THE ENRICHMENT
Before we think about what we can do for Christ, which in any event is very little, we are to know what this enrichment of our personality really means. It means that the power of Adam the first, in our human nature is to be broken, the undisputed power of Satan over us is to come to an end and that we ourselves are to be transformed. Every evil habit must be challenged and fought by the weapons of the Spirit. We are to make no terms with inbred sin, evil habit, uncontrolled and evil thinking and desiring, and we are to know a walk in newness of life. Every impatience, lack of love, discourtesy, unkindness, failure to forgive is to be mourned over, deplored, and for it the forgiveness of God sought.
The closer we walk with God the quicker conviction of sin will follow on the doing of it and, mortifying as the experience may be, we must come before the Lord for His charity, mercy and pardon. All these are the handicaps of personality. They constitute barriers to the grace of God. As they are contested, withstood and overcome so the life of Jesus will flow into the innermost being of the believer to purify us in the spring of the personality and so to vivify the new nature. This is the essence of the Christian salvation. This will mean the development of singular gifts in the individual concerned.
The carnal Christian sees some exceptional ability in another Christian and forthwith envies his fellow. He therefore develops jealousy because he knows that the other can excel in certain things in which perhaps he is a failure. Or as they see the gift in another, perhaps of praying in public, they decide they cannot pray in the same fine way and so decide not to pray in the common way within their ability. The loss to our prayer meetings is enormous. All this is utter folly! Once we permit the enriching life of our Beloved Lord to touch the springs of our being all physical, mental, carnal gifts will be forgotten as the gifts of the new life in Christ are developed. Paul declares that in this matter not one of us is to come behind another. We may not have been well-educated, we may not be able to follow abstruse thought but the opulent gifts of the new life will be brought into exercise. This will be in ways that we have never yet dreamed, we shall be experts in Christ, creating no envy in others but constraining them with all their hearts to know the secrets that have brought to perfection such wonderful ability in the born again spirit.
2) THE INCREASE OF THE ENRICHMENT
The increase of this enrichment of life flows from two considerations. The first is from the sense of a realised need. It is a characteristic of an unsaved man that he always argues his self-sufficiency. He is self-confident. It is a delusion, a Satanic dope to hold him back from Christ and he is a certain victim of the hopelessness of eternity. But progress in enrichment comes from a sense of poverty. It is poverty realised not so much from looking within but from contact with Christ. It is not the poverty of failure but of health. "Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness." You cannot hunger or thirst without being involved in a sense of need. So the believer feels the need for more prayer, more meditation on the word, the need for more of God, more fellowship with God's people. The longings get deeper the more we know the Lord. " More about Jesus would I know," More holiness give me." The needs are real but the important fact to keep in mind is that the believer is feeling them.
Thousands of professing Christians are quite without any spiritual sensitivity to these needs. The believer who feels these needs will keep on putting himself before the Lord for the satisfying of this hunger and the new vitality that proceeds out of the new satisfaction will create an ever increasing hunger: for this hunger is the sign of life at its highest and best. With this experience will proceed the exercise of the spirit of the believer in " all utterance and all knowledge." The truths of God come to us through His Word that we may be channels of the revelation given to us. It is impossible to receive a revelation of Divine truth and keep it to ourselves. It demands by its very nature as a revelation that it be "uttered." It is a word, and a word is a thought, a truth expressed. The utterance of the truth received, opens the mind of the believer to more knowledge of God. In this present age the emphasis in religious circles is upon the scholar, and great value is placed on the carnal intellectual power of a theologian who may know nothing of the "all knowledge" into which the spiritual believer is brought by the grace of the Holy Spirit. But the emphasis is misplaced. Finally
3) THE ENRICHMENT ASSURED
We may feel that much of this is beyond us, as indeed it is. The apostle concludes this section of the chapter in verse 9: "God is faithful." If you know that you were called into the fellowship of His Son then He Who called you will assuredly take all the responsibility for the fulfilment of His purpose in you. We were called into this fellowship of enrichment in the Son, this was God's purpose and intention, and this was the end in view. We may, therefore, be sure that God will do it for any believer who assures Him that he desires God to do what God wills to do. The background to all this spiritual enrichment may be disciplines that are severe, chastisements that are grievous, obstacles that are frightening, challenges that overawe, but God is faithful. He will see us through these things.
The year before us can be assuredly one of spiritual growth of increasing enrichment in Christ. With that may come illness, adversity, heartache, loneliness, bereavement, and hardship. These things will teach us to lessen our hold on things material and visible and to trust more and more in our faithful God. And in all this we shall be found waiting for the apocalypse, the unveiling of the majesty and the glory of our Beloved Lord. He Who is the Spring of our Being, by Whom our beings have been enriched increasingly, is the One Who occupies the horizon of our hope. For Him we are waiting and we shall not be disappointed. One day He Who has so marvellously enriched us will embrace us! The glory within will be matched by the glory of His Immediate presence. It will be wealth within and wealth without!
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