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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 16 - Acts 7:2-5 - The History of a Called Sinner Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


Here is, in brief, the history of one whom God had chosen, and called, and justified; of a sinner saved by God's free and sovereign love; delivered from a present evil world; who obtained mercy of the Lord.

It has two sides or aspects; one pertaining to God, the other to Abraham; the divine and the human. We find these two aspects in every genuine conversion. Not God alone, nor man alone; but both. Not man first, and then God; but God first, and then man; not man seeking God, but God seeking man.

I. The divine. In Abraham's case this consists of two parts: first, the vision; and, secondly, the command.

(1.) The vision. The God of glory appeared. This I suppose to mean that he appeared as the God of glory (or the glory), and in His glory. It was a divine vision, a true appearance, such as in after years appeared to Jacob at Bethel, and to Moses in the bush, and to John in Patmos. It was God coming down and breaking in upon Abraham's idolatry; bursting in upon his chambers of imagery, and revealing Himself! Here was (1) the divine suddenly appearing in the midst of the human, (2) the true in the midst of the untrue; (3) the heavenly in the midst of the earthly; (4) the real in the midst of the unreal. So is it with every genuine conversion; there may not be the actual vision; there may not be the glory which appeared to Abraham in Ur, and to Saul on his way to Damascus; but in all cases, it is God breaking in upon man and man's idolatry; the light of the knowledge of the glory flashing into a soul; the light dispelling the darkness; the true dispersing the untrue; the heavenly supplanting the earthly. This is conversion. It is God coming near; coming in!

(2.) The command. Get thee out—go to the land I shall point to. It thus consists of two parts: calling out from, and calling in to. Come out and be separate; quit your old ways, old haunts, old friends, old lusts; decide for God, decide against the world. Set out for Canaan, the true land of promise, the world to come. It is a very peremptory command. It admits of no compromise, no delay, no lingering. Up, flee, escape, get thee out, look not back, remember Lot's wife. Thus no alternative is left; no excuse is allowed. It is a divine command, urgent and explicit. It addresses itself to every man; it comes up to every sinner; every dweller in Chaldea, or Sodom, or Egypt—every worldling. "Get thee out." Tarry not. Make haste, the danger is great, the time is short.

II. The human. This consists of four parts.

(1.) The obedience. "He came out of the land of the Chaldeans." He hesitated not, but rose up and obeyed. God said, Get out, and he came out. He did not question; he did not make excuses; he did not say, Let me go and bid my kindred farewell. He arose and went. All ties were in a moment broken,—kindred, country, gods, home, property; he forsook all, took up his cross, and went. It is this that God expects of us still. Instantaneous compliance with His command!

(2.) The pilgrimage. He is not led into Canaan at once; and even when brought there, it is to live as a stranger and pilgrim, in the midst of enemies. It is to a life of wandering that he is called; sure of a home somewhere, but not sure of it in any special place; sure of a blessed termination, but not sure of a smooth or easy journey. Abraham's life is ours. Pilgrims and strangers we are upon the earth sure that God has called us, and will care for us and keep us, yet not knowing our way, nor knowing what is to be the nature of that way.

(3.) The tribulation. In Abraham's case it was considerable. Lot's worldliness, that was a trial; the destruction of Lot's family, and of Sodom, that was a trial; the death of Sarah, that was a trial. He had many a sorrow. But the special tribulation is seen, not in himself, but in his seed-toil, bondage, persecution, oppression. Israel in Egypt is a specimen of what we are called to from this Egypt-world. All that will live godly in Christ will suffer persecution. The road to the kingdom is rugged and perilous.

(4.) The inheritance at last. Not Babylon, nor Egypt, but the land flowing with milk and honey; God's land; Immanuel's land, for himself and his seed for ever—Jerusalem, the holy city. Our inheritance is sure and glorious; not only better than Babylon and Egypt, but better than the earthly Canaan and Jerusalem; incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. We are not only Abraham's sons and heirs, but heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus.

Thus our whole life here is one of faith, from first to last. It begins by God's coming to us, and revealing Himself in His glory; speaking to us, "Get thee out." And then having conducted us through the pilgrimage, it ends with, "Enter in." Our exit from Egypt begins our true life; our entrance into the New Jerusalem is its consummation!

Get thee out, is God's message to each worldling; to each dweller in Babylon, each lingerer in Sodom. Get thee out; this is no rest. All is danger. All is sin. Get thee out, and become the heir of the kingdom.