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Jesus Himself | Andrew Murray


“Lo, I am with you alway.”* (Matthew 28:20)

So many people complain about difficulties and struggles and failures in their Christian walk. When I think of how many are trying to take courage to get up and make a new start to live a holy life, yet all the while inwardly afraid that they will soon fail again on account of their weakness in the face of temptation, my heart longs to be able to tell them in words so simple that a little child could understand, what is the secret of the Christian life. And then the thought comes, Can I venture to hope that I might take that glorious, heavenly, divine Lord Jesus and to show Him to these souls, so that they can see Him in His glory? And can it be given to me to open their eyes to see that there is a Divine, Almighty Christ, who does actually come into the heart and who faithfully promises, “I will come and dwell with you, and I will never leave you?” No; my words cannot do that. But then I thought, My Lord Jesus can use me as a simple servant to take such feeble ones by the hand and encourage and help them. To say, “Oh, come, come, come into the presence of Jesus and wait on Him, and He will reveal Himself to you.” I pray God that He may use His precious Word. It is simply the presence of the Lord Jesus. That is the secret of the Christian’s strength and joy. You know that when Jesus was upon earth, He was present in bodily form with His disciples. They walked about together all day, and at night they gathered in the same house. They ate and drank and slept in His presence. They were continually together. It was the presence of Jesus that was the training school of His disciples. They were bound to Him by that wonderful relationship of love during three long years, and in that relationship they learned to know Christ, and He instructed and corrected them, and prepared them for what they were afterward to receive. And now when He is going away, He says to them: “Behold, I am with you always—all the days—even unto the end of the world.”

What a promise! As really as Christ was with Peter in the boat, and as really as He sat with John at the table, just as really can I have Christ with me. And even more real—for Christ then in the body was to them a man, an individual separate from them, but I may have Christ glorified in the power of the throne of God, indwelling, ever present.

What a promise! But how can that be? Because Christ is God, and because Christ, after having been made man, ascended into the throne and the Life of God. And now that blessed Christ Jesus, with His loving, pierced heart; that blessed Son of man, who lived upon earth; that same Christ glorified into the glory of God, can be in me and can be with me always. But you may be wondering, “Is this really possible for a man in business, for a woman in a large and difficult household, for a poor man full of care—is it possible? Can I always be thinking of Jesus?” Thank God, you need not always be thinking of Him. You may be a manager, a student, a cook, and your work at hand requires your focused attention for periods of time. But thank God, while I must think of my business, Jesus will think of me, and will come and take charge of me. That little child, three months old, as it sleeps in its mother’s arms, lies helplessly there. It many ways it hardly knows its mother. The child may not be think of her, but the mother is thinking of the child. And this is the blessed mystery of love, that Jesus the God-man waits to come in to me in the greatness of His love; and as He gets possession of my heart, He embraces me in those divine arms and tells me, “My child, I the Faithful One, I the Mighty One will abide with you, will watch over you and keep you all your days.” He tells me He will come into my heart, so that I can be a happy Christian, a holy Christian, and a useful Christian. “Oh!” I hear you say, “if I could only believe that, if I could think that it is possible to have Christ always, every hour, every moment with me, taking and keeping charge of me!” My brother, my sister, that is in very fact my message to you. When Jesus said to His disciples, “Lo, I am with you alway,” He meant it in the fullness of the divine Omnipresence, in the fullness of the divine Love, and He longs to reveal Himself to you and to me today we have never seen Him before.

And now just think a moment what a blessed life that must be—the presence of Jesus always abiding. Is not that the secret of peace and happiness? Surely each heart is saying, “If I could just attain to that blessed state in which every day and all day I felt Jesus to be watching and ever keeping me, oh, what peace I would have in the thought, I have no care if He cares for me, and I have no fear if He provides for me.” Your heart says that this is too good to be true, and that it is too glorious to be for you. Still you acknowledge it must be most blessed. Fearful one, erring one, anxious one, I bring you God’s promise, it is for me and for you. Jesus will do it—as God, He is able, and as the Crucified One, He is willing and longing to keep you in perfect peace. This is a wonderful fact, and it is the secret of joy unspeakable.

And this is also the secret of holiness. Instead of indwelling sin, an indwelling Christ conquering it; instead of indwelling sin, the indwelling life and light and love of the blessed Son of God. He is the secret of holiness. Remember that it is Christ Himself who “is made unto us… sanctification.”* (1 Corinthians 1:30). Christ coming into me, taking charge of my whole being—my nature and my thoughts and my affections and my will—ruling all things. It is this that will make me holy. We talk about holiness, but do you know what holiness is? You have as much of holiness as you have of Christ, for it is written, “Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one,”* (Hebrews 2:11) and Christ sanctifies by bringing God’s life into me.

We read in Judges, “The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon.”* (Judges 6:34)ESV But you know that there is in the New Testament an equally wonderful text, where we read, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,”* (Romans 13:14) that is, clothe yourself with Christ. And what does that mean? It does not mean merely to impute or ascribe the righteousness of Christ to me externally, but to clothe myself with the living character of the living Christ, with the living love of the living Christ. Put on the Lord Jesus. Oh, what a work! I cannot do it unless I believe and understand that He whom I have to put on is as a garment that covers my whole being. I have to put on a living Christ who has said, “Lo, I am with you alway.” Just draw closer round you the folds of that robe of light with which Christ would array you. Just come and acknowledge that Christ is with you, on you, in you. Oh, put Him on! And when you look at one characteristic of His after another; and you hear God’s word, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,”* (Philippians 2:5) and it tells you He was obedient unto the death; and then you answer, “Christ the obedient one, Christ whose whole life was obedience, it is that Christ whom I have received and put on.” He becomes my life and His obedience rests upon me, until I learn to whisper as Jesus did, “My Father… thy will be done”* (Matthew 26:42); “Lo, I come to do thy will.”* (Hebrews 10:9)

This, too, is the secret of influence in witness and work. You may be thinking, “How come it is so difficult to be obedient, and how come I so often sin?” People sing, “Oh, to be wholly Thine,” and sing it from their hearts. Then why is it they are disobedient again? Where does the disobedience come from? Surely it is because I am trying to obey a distant Christ, and thus His commands do not come with power. When I look in God’s Word, I find that when God wanted to send any man upon His service, He first met him and talked with him and cheered him time after time. God appeared to Abraham numerous times, and gave to him one command after another; and so Abraham learned to obey Him perfectly. God appeared to Joshua and to Gideon, and they obeyed. And why are we not obedient? Because we have so little of this close communion with Jesus. But, oh, if we knew this blessed, heavenly secret of having the presence of Christ with us every day, every hour, every minute, what a joy it would be to obey! We could not walk in the consciousness that my Lord Jesus is with me and around me—and not obey Him! Oh, do you not begin to long for it and say, “This is what I must have, the ever-abiding presence of Jesus!” There are some Christians who try to be obedient, who most faithfully perform their duties, who pray for grace and a blessing—and yet they complain of so little blessing and power! And why? Because there is not enough of the living Jesus in their hearts. Is not that a sobering thought? There is a great diversity of gifts among those who minister and lead in the work of God, but I am convinced that a man’s gifts are not the measure of his real power. God can see what neither you nor I can see. Sometimes people feel something of that power in another. In proportion as a man has in reality—not as a thought or feeling or aspiration, but in reality—the very spirit and presence of Jesus upon him, there comes out from him an unseen silent influence. That secret influence is the holy presence of Jesus.

“Lo, I am with you alway.” And now, if what I have said has sufficed just to indicate what a desirable thing it is, what a blessed thing it is to live for, then let me now give you an answer to the question that arises in more than one heart. I can hear someone say, “Tell me how I can get this blessed abiding presence of Jesus. And when I have got it, how I can continually keep it. I think if I have this, I have all. The Lord Jesus has come very near to me. I have tried to turn away from everything that can hinder, and at times have had my Lord very near. But how can I know that He will be with me always?” If you were to ask Him, “Oh, my blessed Lord Jesus, what must I do so that I can enjoy Your never-failing presence?” His first answer would be, “Only believe. I have said it often, and you only partly understood it, but I will say it again— My child, only believe.” It is by faith. We sometimes speak of faith as trust, and that is certainly involved, for the two ideas are interconnected. But it is important to understand the difference, for faith is the foundation of trust. It is by faith that I learn to know the invisible One, the invisible God, and that I see Him. Faith is my spiritual eyesight for the unseen and heavenly. You often try hard to trust God, and yet you fail. Why? Because you have not first taken time to see God. How can you trust God fully until you have met Him and known Him? You ask, “Where should I begin?” Begin first with believing; with presenting yourself before God in the attitude of silent worship, and asking Him to let a sense of His greatness and His presence come upon you. Ask Him to let your heart be covered over with His holy presence. Seek to realize in your heart the presence of an Almighty and all-loving God, an unspeakably loving God. Take time to worship Him as the omnipotent God, to feel that the very power that created the world, the very power that raised Jesus from the dead, is at this moment working in your heart. We do not experience it because we do not believe. We must take time to believe. Jesus says, “Oh, My child, shut your eyes to the world, and shut out of your heart all these thoughts about religion, and begin to believe in God Himself.” That is the first article of the Creed—“I believe in God”—for it is the basis of all our knowing Him (Hebrews 11:6). By believing, I open my heart to receive this glorious God, and I bow and worship. And then as I believe this, I look up and I see the Lamb upon the throne, and I believe that the almighty power of God is in Jesus for the very purpose of revealing His presence to my heart. Why are there two upon the throne? Is not God enough? The Lamb of God is upon the throne in your interest and in mine; the Lamb upon the throne is Christ Himself, with power as God to take possession of me. Oh, do not think that realization is not for you. And do not think of it as only within your reach in moments of devotion, but cultivate the habit of faith. “Jesus, I believe in Your glory; I believe in Your omnipotence; I believe in Your power working within me. I believe in Your living, loving presence with me, revealing itself in Divine power.”

Do not be preoccupied with feelings or experiences. You will find it far simpler and easier just to trust and say, “I am sure He is all for me.” Get rid of self-focus; don’t think or speak about yourself, but think what Jesus is. And then remember the key is simply believe always. I sometimes feel that I cannot find words to tell how God wants His people to believe from morning till night. Every breath ought to be just believing. Yes, it is indeed true—the Lord Jesus loves us to be just believing in Him from morning to evening, so begin to make that the chief thing in your life. In the morning when you wake, let your heart go forth with a large faith in this; and in the watches of the night let this thought be present with you—my Savior Jesus is round me and near me—and you can look up and say, “I want to trust You always.” You know what trust is—acting on faith. It is so sweet to trust. And now cannot you trust Jesus—this presence, this keeping presence? He lives for you in Heaven. You are marked with His blood, and He loves you. Cannot you say, “My King, my King, He is with me all the days”? Oh, trust Jesus to fulfill His own promises.

There is a second answer that I think Christ would give if we come to Him believing, and ask, “Is there anything more, my blessed Master?” I think I can hear His answer, “My child, always obey.” Do not fail to understand the lesson contained in this one word. You must distinctly and definitely take that word obey and learn to say for yourselves: “Now I have to obey, and by the grace of God I am going to obey in everything.” Our Prime Minister, Mr. Rhodes, recently went to an exhibition at the Cape [South Africa]. At the gate, however, he discovered that he did not have enough money with him for the fee. He told the gatekeeper, “I am Mr. Rhodes; let me in and I will take care you do not suffer.” But the man said, “I cannot help that, sir, I have my orders,” and he refused to let Mr. Rhodes in. He had to borrow from a friend, and pay before he could pass the gate. At a dinner afterward Mr. Rhodes spoke about it, and said it was a real joy to see a man stick to his orders like that. That is it. The man had his orders, and that was enough to him, and whoever came to the gate had to pay his fee before he could enter. God’s children ought to be like soldiers, and be ready to say, “I must obey.” Oh, to have that thought in our hearts, “Jesus, I love to obey You.” There must be personal communion with the Savior, and then comes the joy of personal service and allegiance. Are you ready to obey in all feebleness and weakness and fear? Can you say, “Yes, Lord Jesus, I will obey”? If so, then give yourself up absolutely. Then your attitude will be, “I am not going to speak one word if I think that Jesus would not like to hear it. I am not going to have an opinion of my own, but my whole life is to be covered with the purity of His obedience to the Father and His self-sacrificing love to me. I want Christ to have my whole life, my whole heart, my whole character. I want to be like Christ and to obey.” Give yourself up to this loving obedience.

A third condition comes to mind. If I say, “My Master, blessed Savior, tell me all. I will believe, I do obey, and I will obey. Is there anything more I need to secure the enjoyment of Your abiding presence?” Then I catch this answer: “My child, close communion with me every day.” Ah, there we discover the fault of many who try to believe and try to obey: they do it in their own strength, and they do not know that if the Lord Jesus is to reign in their hearts, they must have close communion with Him every day. You yourself cannot do all He desires, but Jesus will do it for you and through you. There are many Christians who fail here, and on that account do not understand what it is to have fellowship with Jesus. Do let me try to impress this upon you: God has given you a loving, living Savior, but how can He bless if you do not meet with Him? The joy of friendship is found in communion; and Jesus asks for this every day, that He may have time to influence me, to tell me about Himself, to teach me, to breathe His Spirit unto me, to give me new life and joy and strength. And remember, communion with Jesus does not mean half an hour or an hour in your closet. A man may study his Bible or his commentary carefully; he may look up all the parallel passages in the chapter; when he comes out of his closet he may be able to tell you all about it—and yet have never met Jesus that morning at all. You may have prayed for five or ten minutes, and yet have never met Jesus. And so we must remember that though the Bible is most precious, and reading it most blessed and needful, yet prayer and Bible reading in themselves are not fellowship with Jesus. What we need every morning is to meet Jesus, and to say, “Lord, here is the day again, and I am just as weak in myself as ever I was. Please come and feed me this morning with Yourself and speak to my soul.” Oh, friends, it is not your faith that will keep you standing, but it is a living Jesus, met every day in fellowship and worship and love. Wait in His presence, however cold and faithless you feel. Wait before Him and say, “Lord, helpless as I am, I believe and rest in the blessed assurance that what You have promised You will do for me.”

I ask my Master once again, “Lord Jesus, is that all?” And His answer is, “No, my child; I have one thing more.” “What is it, Lord? You have told me to believe, and to obey, and to abide near to You—what would You have more?” “Work for Me, My child. Remember, I have redeemed you for My service. I have redeemed you so that a witness will go out into the world confessing Me before men.” Oh, do not hide your treasure, or think that if Jesus is with you, you can hide it. Either your treasure will be revealed, or His presence with withdraw. Perhaps you have heard of the little girl, who, after one of Mr. Moody’s meetings, was found to be singing some of the hymns we all know. The child’s parents were in a good position in society, and while singing those hymns in the drawing room, her mother forbade her. One day the girl was singing “I am so glad that Jesus loves me,”* when her mother said, “My child, how is it that you sing this when I have forbidden it?” She replied, “Oh, mother, I cannot help it; it comes out of itself.” If Jesus Christ is in the heart, He must come out.

Remember, it is more than merely our duty to confess Him. Not doing so is just an indication that you have not given yourself wholly to Jesus; your character, your reputation, your all. You are holding back from Him. You must confess Jesus in your home, in the world, everywhere you are. You know the Lord’s command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,”* (Mark 16:15) “and, lo, I am with you alway,”* (Matthew 28:20) meaning, “Each disciple has work to do for Me, and I will be with him.” It is true not only of preachers and missionaries, but of every believer who works for Jesus. The presence of Jesus is intimately connected with work for Him. You say, “I have never thought of that before. I have my Sunday work, but during the week I am not working for Him.” Don’t let that continue. How can you expect the presence of Jesus to abide with you each day while you do nothing for Him? Therefore my advice is, work for Him who is worthy—His blessing and His presence will be found in the work. It is a blessed privilege to work for Christ in this perishing world. Oh, why is it that our hearts often feel so cold and closed up, and so many of us say, “I do not feel called to Christ’s work”? Be willing to yield yourself for the Lord’s service, and He will reveal Himself to you.

Christ comes with His wondrous promise, and what He says, He says to all believers: “Lo, I am with you always; that is My promise. I am both able and willing to do this. Will you have it? I give Myself to you, O soul.” To each of those who have come to Him, Christ says, “I give Myself to you, to be absolutely and wholly yours every hour of every day; to be with you and in you every moment, to bless you and sustain you, and to give you each moment the consciousness of My presence; I will be wholly, wholly, wholly yours.”

And now, what is the other side? He wants me to be wholly His. Are you ready to take this as your motto now, “Wholly for God”? “Yes, I want that to be my motto. O God, breathe Your presence into my heart that You may shine forth from my life.”

Come, let us cast ourselves on our faces before His feet. A missionary in Nyassaland [Malawi] says he has often been touched by seeing how the native Christians, when they come before Jesus, do not stand in prayer; they do not kneel; but they cast themselves upon the earth with their foreheads to the ground, and there they lie, and with loud voices cry unto God. I sometimes wish we would do that ourselves. Even if we do not do it bodily, let us do it in spirit, for the everlasting Son of God has come into our hearts. Are you going to take Him and to keep Him enthroned there, to give Him glory and let Him have His way? Come now and say, “I will seek You with my whole heart; I am wholly Yours.” Yield yourself entirely to Him to have complete possession. He will take and keep possession. Come now. Jesus delights in the worship of His saints. Our whole life can become one continuous act of worship and work of love and joy, if we only remember and value this, that Jesus has said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”