Blessings Received By Faith
When Christ comes, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him; and therefore He brings good tidings to the meek, binds up the broken-hearted, proclaims liberty to the captive, opens the prison doors to them who are bound, and gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
“Believe only,” let us see whether faith in Christ does not bring all these things which His commission speaks of fully into the heart. O this is sweet work, I assure you.
1. Good Tidings to the Meek.
These good tidings are the blessed Gospel and it is “made known unto all nations for the obedience of faith.” Now faith brings these good tidings into the heart. Hence you read that when Paul and Silas said to the jailor. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thine house,” that the jailor believed in God and rejoiced with all his house (Acts 16:31-34). How clearly we see here the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ; for Paul tells the jailor to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; in the 31st and the 34th verses it says he believed in God, which shows that Christ is the eternal God, that made heaven and earth, and the God of salvation; thus believing the glad tidings of the Gospel rejoices the heart. Hence you read, “Then they that gladly received the word were baptized,” etc.
2. Faith in the Love of God.
Faith in the love of God binds up every broken heart, for charity is the bond of all perfectness, and “charity believeth all things” that God has promised. Now as faith works by love, it binds up the broken heart: “We have believed the love which God hath towards us.”
3. Liberty to the Captives.
He proclaims liberty to the captives; that is, to serve God with a free spirit; for the Son having made us free, we are free indeed, and we serve him in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. We are told to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free; but how are we to stand without faith? therefore Paul says, “Be not high minded, but fear; for by faith ye stand.”
4. He Opens the Prison Doors to those who are Bound.
He is to open the prison doors to them that are bound; but “before faith came we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Galatians 3:23). Now, when it is said that he opens the prison doors, it is drawing forth faith in lively act and exercise upon himself. This is therefore called opening the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).
5. Beauty for Ashes
He is to give beauty for ashes. By beauty here I understand the new man; for old things are passed away and all things become new; and this is called “the beauty of holiness” in opposition unto sin, which is “ashes.” Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness, that is, in the fear of the LORD. Hence Paul says, “Perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” and it is a filial child-like fear of Him joined with a real love to Him, “that we might be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Now then filial fear of the LORD and a love to Him is holiness; but in the fear of the LORD is strong confidence, and confidence is faith, and this faith always works by love; so that real faith exercising upon the Lord Jesus Christ draws forth all this beauty, for He is the fountain of grace. “In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory and for a diadem of beauty unto His people;” and it is these things that make Zion the perfection of beauty.
6. The Oil of Joy for Mourning.
Many people have joy, but this is the oil of joy, or the Holy Ghost, the fountain of all real joy, and therefore real joy never can finally wither away and come to nothing; for “the ransomed of the LORD shall return to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” This is what John calls an anointing from the Holy One; and when poured forth upon Christ it was called the oil of gladness, which he had above his fellows, because the Spirit was given to him without measure, but to us a measure is given to every man to profit withal. Now you and I must expect mourning all our days as well as this joy, for the heart is to know its own bitterness as well as its joys. It is when we get to the church triumphant above, and not before, that sorrow, sighing, and mourning are to flee away; but it is faith that receives this blessed Spirit as a Comforter – as the unction or as the oil of joy, for “we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
7. “The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Now by this garment of praise I understand the perfect, spotless righteousness of Christ imputed to us as the sole cause of our justification; and when by faith we lay hold of this blessed robe, we immediately praise the Lord. David, a man after God’s own heart, and who had a rich experience of this righteousness, utters the following words: “Open to me the gates of righteousness. I will go into them and I will praise the LORD” (Psalm 118:19). You see that it is righteousness imputed which makes men praise the LORD. “Yes,” say you, “but David calls it a gate, and not a garment.” That’s very true, but it is all the same; and therefore hear what Paul says: “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4-6-8). Thus you see this righteousness is called a robe to cover. To this aggress the church by the prophet Isaiah: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Now faith lays hold of this, for he that believeth is justified freely from all things, from which he never could be by the law of Moses; and to us it shall be imputed if we believe on him that raised Christ from the dead, who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. Then is not our text true, “Believe only,” seeing that faith brings us into every part of Christ’s commission in a manifest way?
John Rusk (1772 – 1834)