By F.B. Meyer
CREATE is one of the great words of the Bible. It is its peculiar possession. Other religious books have their cosmogonies, and attempt to explain how all things came to be. The process of production is traced as far back as possible; but they dare not speak this wonderful word. It is left to the Bible to inscribe the name of God on all things visible and invisible, and append to it the word create. "In the beginning God." "In the beginning God created."
IT IS, HOWEVER, NOT WITH THE MATERIAL BUT WITH THE SPIRITUAL CREATION THAT WE HAVE TO DEAL (Ephesians 2:10)
When we first knelt at the Cross of the Lord Jesus, we were made new creatures. "If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things are passed away, behold they are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
But there was an older creation than that. If we read aright the apostle's thought, he takes us back, beyond the limits of our mortal life, to the eternal past, and reveals to us the workings of God's thought before even the earth or the world was made. We were created in Christ Jesus, in the purpose and intention of God, before an angel sped through the newly-created ether, or a seraph raised his first sonnet of adoration. Our creation at the Cross was the realization in our experience of an eternal thought of God.
Let us ponder deeply the Divine purpose in thus creating us in Christ. It was unto good works. The apostle was eager to put these in their legitimate and proper place. There was apparently a tendency among the converts whom he addressed to associate their salvation with their works, or, at the least, to get credit for their faith. He therefore reaffirms our entire indebtedness to grace, and says that even our faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; "not of works, that no man should glory." We are not to work up to the new life, but from it. The good works we do before regeneration are not even reckoned to our account. The apostle calls them dead works. They are the automatic convulsive movements of a corpse. The only works that please God, and are accepted through the mediation of Christ, are those which emanate from that new life which He imparts in regeneration by the Holy Ghost. We are created unto good works. "He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works." Cain's gift of fruit may be both fair and fragrant; but it is rejected because it is an attempt to purchase God's favour, instead of being the outcome and flower of his faith. It is very blessed to know that our good works have been prepared for us to walk in. Walking implies a path, whether through the cornfield, or over the stretch of moorland, or beside the sea; and we may think, therefore, of our life-course as a path which starts from the Cross, where we entered on our real life, and ends, as Christian's did, at the gate of the Golden City.
All the paths begin and end at the same points; but how different their character! and how different the character of the same path at different places! Sometimes a bit of greensward, where at every step the foot sinks deep in flowers; then a few miles of rough walking over jagged flints, which cut the feet; then a climb up the Hill Difficulty, in the face of the pitiless blast; and finally a descent into the Valley of the Shadow. Now we shiver amid the snows of the mountains; and again we are enervated by the scorching heat of the plains. At times we come into the midst of congenial companions, and enjoy their blessed fellowship in the Gospel; at other times we are carried into loneliness and isolation, and the work itself tries us to the uttermost.
But when once we have learned to believe that the pathway of our good works was before prepared for us by God; that He created for us the prepared path, endowing us with all the qualities it might demand; and that He prepared the path for us whom He created, in order to afford scope for our special powers, we come to rest in the perfect adaptation between God's creations and his preparations. Fear not: go forward! He gives what He commands, and then commands what He wills.
WHAT RELIEF IS HERE!--We have no longer to choose our pathway; or to cut it through the thick undergrowth of the forest; or to scheme it through the trackless waste. It is all prepared, and we have but to walk in it, with God, one step at a time. Put your hand into God's, look up into his face, saying, "Lead me, Father, in the prepared way;" "Teach me thy way;" "Make me to know the way wherein I should walk."
WHAT CONFIDENCE IS HERE!--The only serious matter is to discover the prepared path. We may do this by abiding fellowship with the Spirit. Remember how when Paul essayed to turn aside from the prepared path of his life, and to go first to the left to Ephesus and then to the right into Bithynia, in each case the Spirit of Jesus suffered him not. For the most part the trend of daily circumstance will indicate the prepared path; but whenever we come to a standstill, puzzled to know which path to take of three or four that converge at a given point, let us stand still and consider the matter, asking God to speak to us through our judgment, and to bar every path but the right.
When once the decision is made, let us never look back. Let us never dare to suppose that God could fail them that trust Him, or permit them to make a mistake. If difficulties arise, they do not prove us to be wrong; and probably they are less by this path than they would have been by any other. Go forward!--the way has been prepared. The mountains are a way; the rivers have fords; the lions are chained; the very waves shall yield a path; the desert shall be a highway to the land which flows with milk and honey.
WHAT SCOPE FOR LOVE IS HERE!--Envy and jealousy need have no place. God has prepared the path for each of us, according to His infinite wisdom and love. One way is adapted for one, and another for another. Peter is girded and carried whither he would not go; whilst John tarries until the Master comes for him in the peaceful decease of old age. "What is that to thee? follow thou Me." Each, then, can take a loving interest in the life-plan of another, sure that nothing can interfere with the evolution of his own, save his indolence or sin. Prepare us, O God, for all that Thou hast prepared for us. We will not be ambitious of great things, but to walk, day by day, humbly with Thee, and so fulfil our course. Thus shall we become thy workmanship.
THE REVELATION OF THE PURPOSE OF THE CREATOR (Ephesians 2:9)
The purposes of God have been hidden deep in unfathomable mines. From the first He knew that man would fall from his high estate; but He ordained that his purpose should still be executed of making man his son, his heir, the sharer of his glorious life. Yes, and further: He resolved that his dealings with redeemed men should bring out into clearer relief his own manifold wisdom.
So he created all things through Jesus Christ. The entire fabric of creation was based upon the Person and workmanship of our blessed Lord. He was the medium and organ through whom the creative purpose moved; just as He became that through which the redemptive purpose passed into execution.
For long ages the purposes of God were obscured. Men could not tell their drift, until the Spirit of Pentecost made them understand something of the marvellous design. The mystery, which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, was revealed to the holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit. And now all babes who are Spirit-taught, know things which the great and good of previous ages failed to discern.
And when the completed Church stands before the assembled universe, the principalities and powers of the heavenlies will understand the manifold wisdom of God. To use the figure suggested by the Greek, then will the Church, like a prism, break into a spray of sevenfold colour, the single ray of the Divine wisdom. What a moment that will be, when God vindicates His dealings with individuals and the race!