Mr. G. J. Collier
24th March 1968
“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Psalm 73,24.
This is a blessed affirmation of faith and it is based upon knowledge, as all true faith must be – knowledge of God, of His nature, of His Being and of His Word. It is a word also that is confident and positive which reveals the fact that here is a man who knows God’s infinite grace, and has been blessed with His testimony. Asaph, could have said, and still been true in what he said. Thou must guide me with thy counsel.” That is an absolute truth because there is none other that can guide;
there is no saving guidance apart from the guidance of God for my creature. Man’s native wisdom is not enough, and all the powers of the creature utterly fail in the great matters that guide into the way of salvation and on the path to heaven. He therefore does not say “Thou must guide me.” A good many people may go as far as this and say “Yes, if ever I get to heaven, it must be by God’s grace.” That is a truth, an undoubted truth, but he comes into a better place than that even; he comes into a place where personal experience comes in and is very precious. He says “Thou shalt guide me.” It is therefore a positive affirmation of faith in God, and I lay emphasis upon that because that is where, my dear friends, we need to come. It is a very important thing to be able to come into that blessed place where Asaph was and have a religion like he had, and have a faith like he had, and have a Guide like he had, when he said “Thou shalt guide me.”
We firmly believe that the Psalmist had come to confidence, not by accident nor casually, but by the instruction of the Holy Spirit of God, and no doubt by deep experience, because we see by this Psalm that he was a man who knew a great deal of the adversities of life, the conflicts; that painful conflict wherein it appeared that the ungodly were more triumphant, more successful than those who feared the Lord. He could see their prosperity while he could see some of those who feared God were often grovelling and downtrodden, heavily
burdened, distressed beyond measure. Within his mind, reason asks the question, “Why should these things be?” But here he comes to see true wisdom. He sees his own folly in pre-iudging these things, but it is nevertheless still a mighty question and a difficult problem for every true believer when the Lord decrees much that is in the nature of travail, a path of sacrifice, a path in which there is the cross and the tribulation, and alongside, as it were of this path, there is that smooth and easy way wherein men go and find no difficulties, no obstructions, no plagues and no checks. It becomes sometimes a great problem, and yet how blessed if the result is this conviction “Thou shalt guide me”. Here is the secret solace for the troubles of the path and the trials of a believer’s life. Here is something that makes up for all that is lost, and yea, far more than makes these things up. All his times were in the hand of God and were included in this – no circumstance left out, no event unforeseen. God in this had shewn to His dear servant that everything was blessedly embraced in the .all-sufficient hands of his God. “Thou shalt guide me.”
So it is an affirmation, a wonderful affirmation of faith and it is an undoubted affirmation. It is one that will never be overthrown, but it does not mean that Asaph always was gripped by this wonderful affirmation and the truth of it. I daresay if we could see into his heart there was many a falling, many a sorrow, many a struggle, feeling as if it would all end in death and all in nothing, as if his religion, after all the comforts that had abounded, would come in the end to nothing. But, once the Lord has established, with His dear children, this precious truth and conveyed it to their souls by the testimony of His lips, it can never altogether be lost. But what a wonderful thing to lay hold upon, and how great is the need of it, “Thou shalt guide me.”
The great, chief, glorious instrument whereby the Lord guides His own people and ever will guide them is by the influence and teaching of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, that blessed unseen Teacher and Guide. “He will guide you into all truth.” John 16,13. That was the promise of Christ to every believer, and there can be no real achieving or obtaining of the way apart from that guiding Spirit. You have no light of your own, my friends, however much you may pride yourself on your intellect, your judgment and your wisdom – that is altogether base and barren and insufficient to bring your steps into the way of life, to guide your feet into the path of salvation. You want a supreme Guide, if ever you are to get to heaven. And here is the glorious Counsellor, here is the One whose
still, small voice instructs and teaches the poor believer the way of truth, and thus we may say as Asaph did in deed and in truth “Thou (the Holy Spirit) shalt guide me”.
What a blessed thing it is to be taught of the Spirit of God! How tender and how gracious and yet how blessed is the Spirit’s teaching! You say, “Well, how do we feel and find the Spirit’s teaching”? “How do we know that we are taught of the Spirit?” My dear friends, the Spirit’s teaching is conveyed in the motions of the Spirit within the heart and those motions are very wonderful and very real. They all tend in one blessed direction. They move the soul in its affections, and its interests, its desires, and its concerns towards one Object, and that object is Christ. So, therefore, if we can trace the motions in our hearts of this good Spirit, we shall find that we are being directed to Christ, His Person, His redeeming work. His glorious offices. His rich and wondrous presence, these will be the great things in which our hearts will be motivated and activated by precious faith. Then what motions of prayer the Spirit prompts within the believer, real prayer- no formality where the Spirit is at work. We may fear that we are but formal creatures; we may tell ourselves and tell the Lord that we feel so formal and cold in our prayers and they are nowhere near what we would have them to be. They seem almost to mock the Almighty God and never seem to touch the vital thing we want so much the Lord to do for us, but, deep down in the heart of all this there is a real motion Godward and Christward and that is the Spirit,
“The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.”
“Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel” – blessed Counsel is the Holy Spirit’s.
And then the great counsel of the Lord through the Holy Spirit is the counsel of the Gospel. When the child of God is brought out from the world by the Holy Spirit’s quickening and calling, the great provision for that soul, for that sinner, is and ever will be until he gets to heaven, the provision of the Gospel, and all that he needs will be found provided in that wonderful Word of God. So if His children need light, they will find the Word of God is a light to their path and a lamp to their feet. If they need correction, they will find sufficient to correct every folly and to turn them from every vanity. They will need encouragement. They will find the Lord has been a wonderful God, a God of mercy and a God of love and grace and goodness to the worst of men. And it is wonderful how the
Holy Spirit guides the hearts of those who need these things
right to the very place where they find such cases and characters with whom the Lord has graciously dealt. “Thou halt guide me.” My friends, how much we need the Lord’s guidance into the Word itself. One of the great things that has often melted me down at times has been the singular guidance, the unmistakeable guidance of the Lord into the Word. Where should we poor ministers be if it were not for the Holy Spirit’s guidance into the Word? We could not store it in our poor minds. Some have less ability than others in this respect but our great comfort is, and that upon which we rely so much is this, the Spirit’s guidance. Oh we do need that blessed Spirit to guide us into the Word. A great many people have a superficial knowledge of the Word but never get into it, because it never enters into them, but one of the great experiences of a real believer is when the Word enters and when there is the entrance of God’s Word there is light. “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel.”
And there is another thing the Lord uses as an instrument for His counsel. His Providence. God conveys much good and wonderful counsel to His children by providence. Oh, if we could understand providence and its dealings more, we should understand more the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and what the Word says, “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” Psalm 107, 43. How much of providence do we miss! Why do we miss providence, or at least, why do we miss or fail to understand the significance and the purpose of God’s providence, and often misjudge it, and turn the objects of it altogether round the wrong way and make them to be something against us instead of for us? Why, because we fail to recognise the guiding of the great Interpreter who alone can make it plain.
“God is his own interpreter
And he will make it plain.”
We sometimes try to interpret providence and providential things by our own judgment rather than leaning upon the Lord, knowing as Asaph did that only the Lord can guide us into the true understanding of His providential methods and His dealings.
Sometimes He may guide with His counsel in a hidden providence – we cannot always see His providences. When Joseph was sold by his brethren to the Midianites, there seemed to be no providence there, or, at least, there seemed to
BE no God of providence at work there. Seemingly from the outside, it appeared as if his brethren who hated him had it all
their own way and they were doing just what they wanted to do and they were being, without any hindrance, allowed to proceed, but what a wonderful hidden providence it was! How many such like providences have you and I been the subject of, hidden from us and yet nevertheless all-wise, wonderful and in the end most blessed. We cannot see them now, but you will see them if you are the believing people of God.
I think I have made this illustration before, perhaps, but it will serve a good purpose on this occasion. When you see a good piece of tapestry – a work of art – as you look at it on the right side you can see the pattern. The object is there clear for everyone to see and you admire it – there it is; it is clear enough; the pattern of the designer is drawn out and its symmetry and everything, but, turn it round the other way -look at it from the reverse side – and you will see nothing but medley of tangled skeins of colour and thread. However can that be plain? How can there be order out of all this chaos? And yet how perfect it is! Well that is like providence, you know. We are looking now on the reverse side of it. There will be a day when we shall see with new eyes the whole glorious plan in its perfection. “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel.”
Oh it is an amazing wonder and mercy that God has a people and that His people are in His hand and not a single shaft can hit any one of them until the God of love sees fit. This is the charter that belongs to the Church of God and it has never been broken, and it never will be. Woe betide a man that seeks to touch one of God’s elect! For they touch the apple of His eye, and God by His providence will preserve and protect His own.
And then there are providences that are revealed providences. We see them; we recognise them; we acknowledge them. We know that God has been very wonderful, amazingly so. What comforts they are indeed and do they not bring us to this point as Asaph was brought “Thou shalt guide me”? We know then that He that has brought us through this great trouble, or He that has managed this difficult situation for us and most wonderfully resolved it; why can we not trust Him more? Do we not look at ourselves and see ourselves as foolish indeed when He all the while has been so wise and so kind and so wonderfully good? Why did we doubt Him? Why did we see our cup as if it were filled with woe when all the while the Lord was working it out? “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel” – not with my counsel, “with thy counsel.”
He guides His people with the counsel of His correcting love too. His rebuking love.
Read those words to the churches in the book of Revelation and to every one the Lord says “I know thy works”, and to the last church, the Laodicean church. He says this “As many as I love, I rebuke.” Rev. 3,19.I think sometimes we shall see this, that the rebukes of our God are invaluable to us as evidences of His love. For as many as He loves He rebukes. The Lord leaves those that are not His. He said to one church, “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan which say they are Jews and are not but do lie,” He says “I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee,” Rev. 3,9, but to His own poor people; though they are like the Laodiceans, lukewarm toward God and vain in their own imagination concerning themselves; He says “I love them, and those I love I rebuke.” There is great counsel, you know, in the rebukes of the Lord. It is a great mercy to be made willing to receive the Lord’s rebukes. We do not like receiving rebukes from men, our fellow Creatures. Nothing perhaps stirs up the heart of a man more quickly than to be rebuked, but it is a wonderful mercy and it is an effect of grace if we can fall beneath the rebukes of our God and own and acknowledge the justice and the lovingkindness of those rebukes.
“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Now, what a word we have here in the middle of this text, “and afterward”. What an embracing word! It comprehends everything that is yet to be unfolded in each believer’s life, “afterward.”
Now, you know, there is a very sweet vein of truth here in this word and a very solemn word side by side as we think of it in this way, “afterward.” What an awfully solemn “afterward” here is for the unbeliever! an “afterward” of emptiness, of awful darkness and of endless destruction. You see, the unbeliever, the worldling, has all that he will have now in this world; all the pleasure, all the prizes, but they will pass away these things will fade out and be no more. Bunyan tells us that in the House of the Interpreter Christian saw two children and one of the children demanded that everything should be given now, straight away, could not wait, must have everything at once, and someone brought in all good things and unloaded them at his feet, but the other, who was Patience, was content to wait till afterwards, and Christian said “I observed that one child that had everything now soon lost everything that there was to have, while Patience had the best afterwards.”
Now you know, friends, we have two very solemn examples of this in the Word of God. There was Jacob and there was Esau. In the Epistle to the Hebrews the Holy Spirit relates that
incident in the life of Isaac when his two sons came to him for a blessing and Esau came to him for a blessing, but there was no blessing for Esau to be found, and it says “Afterward when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Heb. 12,17. He sought the blessing carefully with tears, not the blessing of repentance, for his tears were tears of remorse not of repentance, but afterward there was nothing for Esau. But what an “afterwards” there was for Jacob!
These things, are most vital, the things of our “afterwards.” If the Lord is doing nothing now, there will be no afterwards; if there is no experience now, there will be no afterward of heaven beyond, and if there is no grace there will be no afterward of glory.
Let us think of one or two things, before we close, of how this reflects upon the wonderful dealings of the Lord in the experiences of His people. There is trial. Now, there is an “afterward” of trial for every real believer, you know. Trial may last sometimes longer or shorter, according to the purposes of God, but there is an “afterward”. That is the great thing. Peter says “That the trial of faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1,7. “Afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Heb. 12,11. It is afterward where the child of God gains the fruit. Oh this is a very wonderful thing, I feel my friends, this “afterwards.” You see, the tendency of the world is to fade out and come to an end. It has its zenith. It has its beginning; it rises to its prime, and then it fades and vanishes. Empires and nations disappear from the history of the world, but the Church of God has an “afterward.” The believer has an “afterward.” And, if you are under any trial at this particular time, if the Lord is calling you to pass through any fiery trial, as it may well be, hold on to this, there will be an “afterward”, and then there will be the gathering of the precious fruits for which those trials were wonderfully designed, “afterward.”
And now we must come to this great “afterward” of our text.
“Afterward receive me to glory”. “Afterward”, after all the travail of life’s journey, after all the conflict that it entailed, after all the tears and faintings and failings and sins, there will be glory for the believer. “The Lord will recieve me to glory.”
You know, that has its counterpart here in the experience of every believer, because that is why they need and feel to need so greatly that the Lord should receive them now, and should
make them to feel indeed in their own souls that He does receive them. They long to feel the reception of the Lord their God, to be welcomed to His throne of grace and to be drawn to
His bosom, to feel that they are not outcasts, but children whom He loves and owns and saves and blesses. This is why we want to feel the Lord receives us. Men may reject us and
most possibly will, and the more the love of God is dwelling within the heart, the greater the number of those who will turn aside and reject and cast us out, but this is the point, will the Lord receive us? Will He take us in? Is there a blessing beneath
His footstool for such a soul as I? If He does receive us now. He will receive us to glory. I think the margin says “received with glory,” received with glory, and, that is, received with the fulness and made glorious in the likeness of Christ, the great and blessed Head of the Church, the glorious High Priest over the house of God, the Alpha and the Omega, the One Who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will receive His people with the glory that He has from all eternity, and with that glory they shall for ever be.
This greatly respected and beloved minister of Jesus Christ entered into his Lord’s presence on 11 April, 1984. It is hoped to publish some record of his life in the next edition of this magazine.