Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Whither? Whither?" Part 2 of 2

The gospel which God has given us is that by which we are enabled to answer the question, "Whither? whither?" for it shows us the way to the kingdom,--a way not far off, but near; a way not inaccessible, but most accessible; a way not costly, but free; a way not for the good, but for the evil; a way not hidden, but plain and clear. "The wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein." He whom the Father has sent to be "the Saviour of the world" says, "I am the way."

The knowledge of that way is everything to us: for he who knows it, knows whither he is going; and he who knows it not, knows not whither he is going. The right and sure answer to the question, "Whither?" depends entirely on our true knowledge of the way. For the world is dark, and can tell us nothing of the way; nor can it in the least enable us to answer the awful question, "Whither am I going, with all these sins of mine, and with a judgment day in prospect, and with the certainty that I must give an account of the deeds done in the body?"

In order, then, to get the answer to the question we must come at once to the "good news,"--the glad tidings which God has sent to us concerning Him who "died for our sins, according to the Scriptures;" "who was buried and rose again." It is the belief of this good news that connects us with Him; and in so doing, enables us to answer the question, "Whither am I going?" For if we are connected with Him, then assuredly we are going where He has gone before us. By the belief of the gospel we are brought into possession of that everlasting life which He has secured for sinners by His death upon the cross, as the propitiation for sin. 

We knew one who, filled with dread of the unknown future, sought for years to get an answer to the question as to his own eternal prospects. He labored, and prayed, and strove, expecting that God would have pity upon his earnest efforts, and give him what he sought. At the end of many long, weary years, he came to see, that what he had been thus laboring to do, in order to win God's favour, another had already done, and done far better than he could ever do. He saw that what he had been laboring for years to persuade God to give him, might have been had, at the very outset, simply by believing the good news that there was no need for all this long waiting, and working, and praying; and that now, at last, by receiving the Divine testimony to the person and work of the only-begotten of the Father, he could count with certainty upon the favor of God to himself, as one who had believed the record which God had given of His son (1 John 5:10-12). Thus believing "he entered into rest,"--the present rest of soul which is the result of a believed gospel, and the earnest of the future rest which remaineth for the people of God.

To say to any sinner that he must answer that momentous question, "Whither?" and yet not to tell him the Divine provision made for his answering it, would be only to mock him. But to call on him for an answer, while making known to him the grace of Christ and the open way to God, is to gladden his soul, by showing how he may at once find the means of answering it, without working, or waiting, or qualifying himself for securing the favor of God.

To the troubled spirit, we hold forth the free and immediate pardon which the gospel places in our hands,--a pardon which no prayers or exertions of ours can make more free, or more near; a pardon flowing directly from the finished propitiation of the cross; a pardon for the ungodly and the unworthy; a pardon which, while it glorifies Him who pardons, brings immediate liberty and deliverance to the pardoned one. "Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him ALL THAT BELIEVE ARE JUSTIFIED" (Acts 13:38,39). If justified, then we know our future as well as our present; for "whom He justifies, them He also glorifies" (Rom. 8:30).

"It is all dark," said a dying young man who had trifled with the great question throughout life. "I'm awfully afraid," was the language of another in similar circumstances. "I have provided for everything but death," said an old general, as he was passing away. "No mercy for me," was the death-bed cry of one who in early life had promised well, but had gone utterly back. "I'm dying," said another, "and I don't know where I'm going." Such death-beds are sorrowful indeed. Darkness overshadows them. No ray of hope brightens the gloom.
But he who has accepted the great salvation is lifted above these fears and uncertainties. The light of the cross shines down upon him, and he looks into the vast future without alarm. "I know whom I have believed," he says; "and knowing Him, I know where I am going. I am going to spend an eternity with Him, whom, not having seen, I love. I am going to the city which hath foundations; and though worms may destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." The question "Whither?" has no terrors to him. He knows that all is well. Eternity is to him a word of joy. He has believed; and he is sure that his faith will not be put to shame. The simple word of the Son of God, "He that bellieveth is not condemned," suffices for him to rest upon, in life and in death.

"Whither? Whither?"
(Where are you going?)
Horatius Bonar
(1808-1889)

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