So I ask you not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
1. WE HAVE BOLDNESS AND ACCESS TO GOD. There is an open, intrepid speaking which springs from a mind confident in itself and strong in the justice of the cause it espouses; but the freedom of speech here referred to is based upon a true appreciation of our relation to Christ and the security enjoyed by the believer in the midst of all his tremors and dubieties. Our God is indeed a consuming fire, yet the believer can approach him without servile fear, simply because Christ is the way of access, and the heart has been sprinkled from an evil conscience through his blood.
II. IT IS IN CHRIST WE HAVE THIS CHANGED DISPOSITION IN PRAYER. He died that we might have "boldness to enter into the holiest." We see in his atonement, not a means of deliverance out of the bands of God, but the strongest of all reasons for casting ourselves into the bands of God as the very best Friend we have in all the universe. Our security from the wrath of God is in the bosom of God. It is Jesus who gives us audience with God, dispelling at the same time from the mind of the worshipper those suggestions which would restrict or narrow the riches of God's love.
III. IT IS BY FAITH IN CHRIST WE REACH THIS NEW TEMPER OF BOLDNESS. It is by the faith of which Christ is both the Object and the Author, discovering to us the dignity of his person, the efficacy of his work, the security of his love, that we are enabled joyfully to approach God. It is thus we have confidence in our approaches to God. Christ's sacrifice, as it has given infinite satisfaction to God, is fitted to inspire the soul of the believer with perfect confidence. He sees that nothing more is needed to, ensure his everlasting acceptance, and is thus led to tread with boldness the entrance into the sanctuary of God's presence. He has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has confidence in regard to his interest in God's love, in regard to the power and faithfulness of God to fulfill his promises, and in regard to the continuousness of the supply of grace necessary to his final salvation.
IV. THE EFFECTS OF THIS BOLDNESS AND ACCESS TO GOD ARE TO MAKE US SUPERIOR TO ALL THE AFFLICTIONS OF LIFE. The apostle beseeches the Ephesians, on this ground, not to lose heart on account of the afflictions that had come to himself on their account. The cynical philosopher represents most as easily reconciled to the misfortunes of their friends, but Christianity not only enjoins but sustains a nobler temper. So close was the relationship that existed between the apostle and the saints at Ephesus, that his afflictions had fallen upon them like almost the reality of a personal experience. They were not to be discouraged by his tribulations, which were, after all, the price paid for his uncompromising assertion of their rights as Gentiles. - T.C.
Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.1. We are prone, when ministers of the gospel are troubled, to forsake them and their gospel (Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:56).(1) By nature there is in us an immoderate declining of that which is grievous to sense. We turn our back upon the storm, and will not go so far as to put our finger in the fire at any band.(2) From childhood there grows up in us an immoderate love of a pleasant condition. Like swallows, we would always have it to be summer.(3) We are very inconstant, and inclined to change; ready to crown Christ today, and to crucify Him tomorrow.
2. We must be ready to suffer in the afflictions of the gospel with the ministers thereof.(1) The Cross and profession of Christ are almost undivided companions, by God's appointment.(2) We must not take offence at this, because our blessedness stands in it.(3) This not falling away in times of persecution is a testimony to us of sound hearts.(4) This is a gainful, thing (Hebrews 11:26; Mark 10:30).
(J. H. M. D'Aubigne, D. D.)
Biblical Treasury.It is related that in Germany there stood two vast towers, far apart, on the extremes of a castle; and that the old baron to whom this castle belonged stretched huge wires across from one to the other, thus constructing an AEolian harp. Ordinary winds produced no effect upon the mighty instrument; but when fierce storms and wild tempests came rushing down the sides of the mountains and through the valleys, and hurled themselves against those wires, then they began to roll out the most majestic strains of music that can be conceived. It is thus with many of the deepest and grandest emotions of the human soul. The soft and balmy zephyrs that fan the brows of ease and cheer the hours of prosperity and repose give no token of the inward strength and blessing which the tempest's wrath discloses. But when storms and hurricanes assault the soul, the bursting wail of anguish rises with the swells of jubilant grandeur, and sweeps upward to the throne of God as a song of triumph, victory, and praise.
(Biblical Treasury.)Tribulatio is the Latin for the winnowing or thrashing out of the corn from the husk. The early Christians, seeing that God intended sorrow as a holy discipline, gave to the word a high and spiritual import, which was, to its original meaning, as the soul of man is to his body. When sorrow came to them they called it tribulatio, the separation of the chaff that was in them from the wheat. And the Christian will so look at afflictions. They come to him as they did before he was brought to Christ. Now, however, he has a strength to bear them which he had not before. They sometimes come like a flood; sometimes in the small worries of his daily life. As when the sculptor, working on the marble block, with heavy strokes brings off large pieces of the stone, and again with nice and delicate touches develops the folds of the robe and the beauty of the form, so does God at one time bring upon us great afflictions, at another smaller griefs, but always in him who receives them rightly is He bringing out the character of Christ. He first makes the heart plastic in the fires of tribulation, and then, as with a royal signet, imprints upon it the image of His Son.
(J. G. Pilkington.)
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