LONG PATIENCEÂ—PRECIOUS FRUITS
Mr. V. Fartey
23rd February, 1962
My mind is drawn particularly to those people who are praying for the forgiveness of sin and to whom, as yet, it does not appear.
In these opening verses of Ecclesiastes 3, as you see, so much is written about time. Now, as it regards our particular subject, we must remind the seeker:Â—
A time he has set to heal up your woes,
A season most fit, his love to disclose;
Until he is ready to show his good will,
Be patient and steady and wait on him still.
Casting our eye upon these few verses, two things emerge. Not only is there a literal interpretation but also a spiritual, and it will teach us thisÂ—that the Holy Spirit is not always doing the same work in the soul. You who are seeking and are cast down, remember this. The Holy Spirit may well be working in a pulling-down way as well as a building-up way. Now you follow that theme through these verses. There is a time to plant, a godly fear, a hope in Christ. There is a time to pluck up that which is planted, those corrupt weeds of nature. A time to kill with the two-edged sword, the Word of God; a time to heal the soul with the balm of the Gospel. A time to breakdown the strongholds of sin; a time to build you up on your most holy faith. A time to reap, a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. And do remember that all these changes are found in a work of grace. There is a set time for them and the Holy Spirit has a great diversity of operations. A time to cast away stonesÂ—to pull down those temples of idols in the breast. A time to gather stones together, to build up individually and collectively into a Holy Temple, a habitation of God through the Spirit. A time to embrace. Yes, a time to embrace Christ in faith and love. But the present season now for you may be a time to refrain from embracing, a time to realise the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is a time to get, a time to lose. Yes, poor .sinners do lose things in the fire.
Gold in the furnace tried
Ne’er loses ought but dross;
So is the Christian purified
And bettered by the cross.
A time to getÂ—yes, a time to get promises; faith, hope, forgiveness, justification, joy and peace in believing. A time to keep, yes, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3, 11.)
And so, through this cluster of verses you may trace with a spiritual eye some of the things which the Holy Spirit is doing in your soul, and there is a time for every part of it. So, as we leave this particular portion, carry with you this thought: there is a set time to favour Zion in the gift of faith and a realised sense of forgiveness. Although that is so, and no doubt whatever, the time is fixed, let it not be any excuse for apathy or indifference. Take a literal illustrationÂ—if you are ill and you get well, there is a time to get well, and, no doubt, that time is fixed by God. It does not, however, release you or deter you from seeking proper means to recover your health, and, moreover, you usually seek to avoid aggravating your trouble, but it does not alter the fact that the time of recovery is fixed. That is how you act in nature, just so in grace. God has set a time to heal the soul with forgiveness, but while He tarries, seek two thingsÂ—to wait diligently upon those means appointed to convey this blessing, and seek by all carefulness and prayerfulness to avoid fresh provocation. That is the trouble, that is what galls the conscience, fresh provocation, which seems to delay the matter still further.
To develop the subject a little more, will you turn back to Psalm 27, the last two verses. “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.” This is counsel to the soul waiting for forgiveness. Now there is a danger of fainting, very much danger. There are many things which tempt believers to cast away their confidence, and to entertain hard thoughts, despairing thoughts, about God. Listen to the psalmist:Â—”I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” What is there to support, then, from this fainting? Here it isÂ—wait on the Lord. “How can I be of good courage,?” say you, “that is a high note, that is a very confident note; I fear I cannot aspire to it. What ground is there for a waiting soul, and in my state, to be of good courage?” The reason is that the prospects are good, never so good, because of what the Word saysÂ—”And he shall strengthen thine heart.” He has all power to do it; He has heaven and earth at His command. He has all spiritual blessings treasured up in the fullness of Christ to enable Him to do it. Is He willing? Yes, He is willing too because of His electing love, which must be satisfied, and His glory, which must be revealed. Also, because of the redeeming love of Christ; He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall, and must be satisfied. He shall strengthen thine heart because, whatever the Holy Spirit, the Third Person co-equal, co-eternal with the Father and the Son in the great matters of salvation, undertakes He must and will perform. So, He shall strengthen thine heart; that is why you may well be of good courage. What does that mean? Cherish the highest possible hope of God’s goodness. This is not fleshly courage, nor moral courage, which men may work up under carnal influences. It is not a false optimism so much of which has no solid foundation. But when God, through the Spirit, says to a
poor waiting soul “Be of good courage”, oh, take heart, be of good cheer, for He shall strengthen thee. What for? He shall strengthen thine heart to hold out and hold on, to believe in God, and wait for Him, not to despair but attend patiently upon all means. “He shall strengthen thine heart.” Therefore, it is reiterated, “Wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Now, in this matter of strengthening the heart, take one or two illustrations to show you how He does it. When Joseph’s brethren and poor Jacob were suffering through the famine, and heard of the corn in Egypt, Jacob twice sent his sons down to Egypt to buy a portion. On each occasion they brought back corn sufficient for immediate needs, and to strengthen their hearts until, in the mysterious purpose of God, they all should be safely brought into the land of Goshen. And so, you see, every sackful of corn was a support to their bodies and a strength to their hearts.
Take anotherÂ—Ruth, that dear gleaner; you can picture her labouring away in the hot sun from morning till noon, and she was glad of a rest. What kindness she received, how it affected her heart, and how overwhelming it seemed. She sat down among the reapers: Boaz was there and reached her parched corn, and she dipped her morsel in the vinegar. But what has that to do with the subject, you say? It is this: her heart was strengthened, her hopes were revived; the parched corn and vinegar was an earnest, was it not, of a marriage union with this great Boaz, this mighty man of wealth. It was an interim blessing, you see, and for the strengthening of her heart and hopes, her expectations, to labour on a little longer, which you know she did. Thus it is, the Lord strengthens those that wait upon and wait for Him. A handful of ears in this place, a few crumbs of mercy from another place, sips of living water from a third place. In fact:
“He lends an unseen hand,
And gives a secret prop,
Which keeps them waiting stand,
Till He complete their hope! …”
So that, although they have not their hands upon the blessing, it is not the time for embracing, yet, there is a ‘who can tell’ which gives support. There is strength to go on praying and hearing, meditating and enquiring. What a good word this isÂ—”Wait, I say, upon the Lord.”
Before we leave it, notice two things in the thirteenth verseÂ— the order of faith and sight. “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” It is that which supported his soul. The exercise of faith must come first, then sight. Thomas had to learn that lesson, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” In the 11th chapter of John, you find this word: “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Waiting souls, remember that. When you receive forgiveness this is the way it will come,
through faith. Faith first, feeling afterwards, that is God’s order. Romans 15, 13Â—”Joy and peace in believing.”
Let us pass on, now, to the Epistle of James, chapter 5, verse 7. “Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Waiting souls are here to learn from nature, from the husbandman and his patience. You know, in the order of things, he has need of long patience. Many weeks and months roll by ere he can gather in his harvest; so it is needful that you have long patience in waiting for the Lord. What if He delay? He has sole right to dispense these favours when He will. He is King. You have offended. He will not be hastened, and since you must wait it is better, then, to wait willingly than unwillingly; wait calmly than rebelliously. The husbandman waits long, but what else does he do? He does not lie in bed all the time. What is this patience, then; it is a labouring patience. How he watches, he who goes forth from day to day, how he looks at the sky and the weather for the rain and the sun as he needs them. How he tends the crops, whether it is his corn, his orchards, or his grassland; or the gardener attending upon his plants and his flowers. In each case, it is a labouring patience. Does God require this for His blessings in nature, and shall He not require it from His waiting people in grace? He will. What other patience does this man need? It is an expectant patience, based upon the normal cycles of summer and winter, spring and autumn, seedtime and harvest. He knows, according to the order of nature, that it will come; he looks for it and expects it, and he will be rewarded for his long and expectant patience. Just make a comparison here. This man, in his field, garden or meadow, waits for earthly rewards. Whatever he gathers is perishable, yet he waits for it with great patience, labour and expectancy. But, your case is different. You wait for that enduring substance and those richer blessings, the forgiveness of sins, the justification of your person; acceptance in the Lord Jesus, hope of eternal life. He relies on the old covenant. Genesis 8, 22, but you rely upon that “everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure.” Here is all your salvation and all your desire; “And they shall not be ashamed that wait for me, saith the Lord.” Take a lesson, then, from the husbandman as he labours through the year, waiting for the early and latter rain, and lastly, for the precious fruit of the earth. His fruit will perish, but our fruit, which we wait for, will be eternal life.
The last portion for reference is Proverbs 8, 34 and 3 5:”Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates: waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.” We have just left the husbandman labouring for the fruits of the earth, but here is a spiritual labourer and this is most instructive for the waiting soul, because here God requires and teaches a hard-working, spiritual
patience; hearing watching and waiting, threefoldÂ—the ear of faith, the eye of faith, the whole spiritual man. Where is he waiting? At wisdom’s gates and at wisdom’s doors, with energy and anxiety, attention and expectation. All those things are in the text. Do you remember a certain man who waited daily at the gate of the Temple called Beautiful seeking alms? He was an impotent man, very sick, and can you imagine that he waited there in an indolent fashion? It does not seem so. When he saw Peter and John, he fixed his eyes upon them, seeking and looking for alms. Happily, he got something better. (Acts 3, 1 to 9). It was recovery for this life (not eternal life) but even that, we know, was worth waiting for with diligence and energy. Supposing Her Majesty the Queen was coming to Croydon on a certain day and you wanted to see her, what would you do? You would wait in the way, seeking a ‘vantage’ point, and if you knew which way she was coming you would put yourself in that way. What do we read in Proverbs 9, 6. “Forsake the foolish and live; and go in the way of understanding.” Here then, are instructions for the waiting soul, to wait upon the Lord in all fields. That is, in all the means of grace, and for this reason, you know not at what hour the Son of Man may come. In the preaching, take heed how and what you hear. In reading let the meditation of your heart be acceptable unto Him. In secret prayer; remember Daniel, who was engaged in secret prayer when a blessed messenger came to him, saying, thou art a man greatly beloved. Hearing, watching, waiting at the post of my doors, wisdom’s doors. Heavenly wisdom! Her merchandise is good.
But, more particularly, I would drop this word to waiting souls. Specially study and pray over the method of forgiveness through faith. Seek to discern the difference between faith and assurance; what constitutes saving faith, what assurance is, what believing is, what joy and peace in believing is, what little faith and great faith are. Remember, there are degrees of saving faith; and specially study John’s Gospel where believing, this true believing, forgiveness through believing, life through believing and justification through believing is so repeatedly set forth. You have it in Chapter 1. There is adoption, there is life to him that receiveth, to him that believeth in Jesus. In Chapter 3, we readÂ—”He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life … he that believeth not shall see life.” You come to Romans 10, verses 6 to 9, and there is another definition of the same thing, especially good to the waiting soul, the perplexed one. “Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven?” (that is. to bring Christ down from above), or “Who shall descend into the deep?” (that is. to bring up Christ again from the dead). But what saith it? The Word is nigh thee. even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that is, the Word of faith which we preach; that, if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation,
Whosoever believeth on Him (after that manner) shall not be ashamed . . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I do urge you to study and pray over the method of faith in Jesus as the way of receiving forgiveness, and to distinguish the difference between having forgiveness and realising the joy of it, and the difference between the faith that saves and the stronger that fills with joy.