Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Galatians 4:5) through our brotherhood with Christ; members of Christ, and thus children of God. Not the doctrine, for we are familiar with its terms, but the practical reception of it. The gospel preached is "good-will to men;" the foundation on which it rests is the work whereby the eternal Son became our brother and representative (2 Corinthians 5:14). The means of appropriation, belief that God has indeed done this thing for us (Matthew 11:28). Yet even to those who are longing for peace and salvation the message often seems to bring no real comfort. The truth of the doctrine is admitted, but Jesus is not recognized as a personal, present Savior. There is a feeling that something not declared lies behind; that there is some unexplained "if," some condition to be fulfilled, some part of the work to be done, ere it can be safe to trust. Conscious of sin, they do not fully receive the offer as made to them such as they are. The fact is, men often want to begin at the wrong end; to make some worthy offering to God ere they have it to give (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Corinthians 4:7); want to gather fruit ere the tree is planted; to build a spiritual house ere the foundation is laid.
I. GOD'S OFFER PRECEDES FAITH. The gospel proclaims a fact - Christ crucified for us, the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:5. Its primary message is not of something to follow our faith, but of that on which our faith rests. The "foundation" of spiritual life is not our belief but Christ's work (1 Corinthians 3:11). But in practice many seem to regard the right to trust in Christ's work as depending on their being in a fitting state of mind. And thus their mind is turned away from Christ to their own state (cf. Matthew 14:30). No doubt there must be a conviction of need ere the Savior can e welcomed (Matthew 9:12). But the evidence of that conviction is not our feelings but laying our burden upon the Lord.
II. GOD'S OFFER MUST BE RECEIVED BY FAITH - that is, it must be accepted as it is made; not something else put in its place. God's message is, Trust in Christ. To do this is to exercise faith. But the answer often is, I must first see whether I have faith. It is as if when our Lord bade the impotent arise, he had answered, I must first feel that I have the power. Faith depends not on accurate knowledge. The gospel is for the ignorant; and what it claims is that we receive it according to the measure of our knowledge, guided by those means of instruction which we possess.
III. GOD'S OFFER IS TO MAKE US WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE. Christ accepted, trusted, is made unto us wisdom, &c. (1 Corinthians 1:30). Faith leads to more communion with Christ. The Bible becomes a living voice instead of a dead letter. Channels of knowledge are opened, and daily increasing powers are given where the will is to be really Christ's (John 6:68). - M.
I. THE END IS GOODNESS AND MERCY.
1. To preserve life.
2. To set the seed of the better society in the midst of the corruptions and imperfections of the old.
3. To prepare the way for the higher revelations of the future.
II. GOD'S METHOD OF INSTRUMENTALITIES HIS GLORY.
1. The history of his people, their persecutions, their apparent humiliations, their marvelous victories.
2. The transformation of men, whereby enemies are made friends, &c.
3. The biographies of distinguished servants of God illustrate his grace in bestowing fitness for appointed work.
III. MYSTERIES LOOKED AT FROM A HIGHER POINT OF VIEW BECOME REVELATIONS.
1. Time a great revealer. Wait for the Lord.
2. The narrow circle of a family history taken up into the higher sphere of Divine purposes concerning nations and humanity itself.
3. Ultimate vindication of the spiritual men and spiritual principles as against the merely earthly and selfish aims of individuals or communities. - R.
children of Israel (ver. 21). Already it may be said the Egyptian period in the history of the children of Israel has commenced. Pharaoh comes upon the scene and his servants. All the wealth of Egypt is placed at the command of Israel. The men who had been the transgressors against Joseph are now the mediators of the great change in the condition and prospects of the Israelitish race. The effect upon the old man's heart. - R.
I. OUR ENJOYMENT OF WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR US IS DEPENDENT UPON OUR CONFIDENT BELIEF AND EXPECTATION.
1. Separation from the old for the new life involves a struggle with self, with circumstances, with fellow-men.
2. The future must be laid hold of. We must believe that the better place is prepared for us, that the will of God is good.
II. WE GAIN THE VICTORY OVER NATURAL FEARS, DOUBTS, AND DIFFICULTIES WHEN WE SIMPLY LOOK AT THE FACTS AS GOD HAS SET THEM BEFORE US, BOTH IN HIS WORD AND IN HIS PROVIDENCE. The men were deceivers. The facts, the wagons, the good things, the blessings plainly sent of God, earnest of the future, would not deceive.
III. THE TRUE FAITH IS THAT WHICH GRATEFULLY ACCEPTS THE INVITATION OF DIVINE GRACE, ACTING UPON IT, BOTH BY THE DECISION OF THE WILL AND BY THE DEVOTION OF THE LIFE. "It is enough, I will go.
IV. THE REWARD WHICH IS PREPARED FOR THE TRUE OBEDIENCE IS MUCH GREATER THAN WE CAN ANTICIPATE. To see Joseph was the patriarch's anticipation. The purpose of God was much larger for him. Joseph and Jacob met in the abundance of Egypt. The earthly pilgrimage leads to the true Goshen. It is enough. We follow the voice of our God. It hath not entered into our heart to conceive what is before us. - R.