A SEPARATE PEOPLE
Sunday School Anniversary
Trinity Church, Old Hill, Near Birmingham.
‘And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.” Lev. 20.26.
I stand here this morning as the representative of the managers and teachers of the Trinity Sunday School. We have, during the past twelve months (at least those of us whom the Lord has allowed to do so), been engaged in the work of teaching the young, depending entirely upon the gracious help of God the Holy Ghost. We have been teaching these children the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; and those of you to whom this word is precious, those of you who have felt in your hearts experimentally its transforming power, know what is involved in teaching the gospel. We try to teach them just as the Lord in His gracious love has taught us. We tell them of their need as sinners, and point them to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of sinners; and we do this, as I have said before, in a spirit of humble, prayerful dependence upon God the Holy Ghost. We know we are only voices; we know we have no power of ourselves to command the acceptance of that message of salvation. And at the end of another twelve months, we, the teachers come before you, telling you that we .have been simply and humbly endeavouring to perform our part; and low we hope that you, today, will be only too grateful to the Lord that He has given you this opportunity of doing yours. I know that the Lord will dispose your hearts to give according to what He has blessed you with, and pray that the Lord will bless whatever his providence enables you to give; and whether the offering be large or small, pray that His blessing may accompany it; and so we shall be refreshed by your offerings this day, and also be enabled to go on still trusting Him and looking to Him for the blessing.
The Church and the world are very distinct in some things. So far as outward appearances go they are very much mixed and greatly confounded. The world has great appearances of zeal and activity in what is supposed to be God’s service. Even amongst the Lord’s people we have great inconsistency of profession, great indistinctness in their severances from the world. They have a great deal of fellowship with the world, and the line of severance between the two is very faint and indistinct, but in God’s sight the two – the church of God and the world – are very distinct. It is not according to God’s law that they should be thus confounded, and that there should be this faintness and indistinctness about their severance. The Lord’s people are a separate people. They were separated in God’s eternal purpose before the world was: and they are separate now. “The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself (Psalm 4.3), and they will be separate in the day of which says the Lord Jesus Christ,’ “They shall
be mine in that day when I make up my jewels” (Mal. 3.17). He hath “washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God,” (Rev. 1. 5-6.) It is the Lord’s will that this separation should be manifested. It is the Lord’s will that His people should be distinct, and that they should be able to be recognized in thought, word, and deed, in all their affairs, in their wills and desires;
that they should be living in blessed conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ, and walking in the light of His countenance, and that there should be shining forth in their daily life the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to speak to you this morning about this separateness, this glorious truth that the Lord’s people are a separate people unto Himself; and I do not want to speak of it in the way of duty, or to talk about responsibility; I want to speak of it to you, beloved, as your blessed privilege. Now supposing that you had a dear and lovely friend, and that friend was to go away, and that when he went away he was to say to you, “Now I am about to leave you, and I want you to show your love for me by so living while I am away that persons may see that you love your friend.” You would not talk about it being your duty to do so; that would be a very poor, very low sort of love, to think that you must do it because he told you. Why, it would be your greatest joy to endeavour so to live, and to remember his parting words! The parting words of Jesus to us as a people were that we should be His witnesses. “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me,” (John 14.21). It is thus that we are to show our love to the Lord Jesus and it is thus that we are to show to the world what a precious thing the love of the Lord Jesus is, as the text says “And ye shall be holy unto me”.
How is it that the Lord’s people are thus separated? How is it that they are thus made holy, that they are separated from others?
We find in Heb. 9. 21, “Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.” It was that sprinkling with blood that made those things holy; they were afterwards set apart; they could not be used for anything that was profane; they were “holy unto the Lord.” And if we are sprinkled with the blood, it is just the same thing that separates us to God. The Christian is sprinkled with “the blood of the covenant” whereby he is sanctified. The precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ applied to the heart of the sinner by the Holy Spirit of God, cleanses him very soon; it transforms him by the renewing of his mind and will. It is then given him to know what is the goodness of God, and to know the holy and perfect will of God; and being cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, he is perfected unto holiness.
Beloved, do you know the power of the precious blood of Christ in its separating, sanctifying grace? I don’t ask you whether you know the power of the precious blood of Christ to cleanse from sin;
because I suppose I am now speaking to the Lord’s people – you
know what it is to have been brought by the precious teaching of the Holy Spirit to the “fountain open for sin and uncleanness.” But I ask you, do you know day by day what it is to feel upon you the sprinkling of the precious blood, and to feel that thereby you are a peculiar, a separate people unto the Lord? Are you rising higher and higher? Are you forgetting the things that are behind and pressing forward to the things that are before? Are you finding “the shadow” (Isaiah 32. 2) every day to be more refreshing? Are you seeking the things that are above, where the Lord Jesus sitteth at the right hand of God? Is your conversation in heaven, beloved; is it in heaven? If, day by day, it is your blessed and joyful experience to have the blood sprinkled, do you feel that it is sanctifying you? And you that are waiting for the Lord from heaven, may the Holy Spirit make every one of you put this question to your hearts and consciences.
Now what does this sanctifying mean; what does it involve? It involves suffering; The crucifixion of the flesh. Beloved, if you are “growing in grace” you will find that you cannot allow yourself to do today what you would six months ago. If you are “growing in grace” you are the Lord’s; perfectly consecrated unto the “perfect will of God”.
It involves service; not working for salvation.
“I would not work my soul to save:
That work my God has done;
But I would work like any slave,
From love to God’s dear Son.”
There will be no idleness amongst the followers of the Lord Jesus. Now where is the strength; where is the strength even for the separate people of God? It is in Him who separates us. “In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” (Isa. 26. 4). There may be here this morning, some of you who can bless the Lord because you have a witness in your hearts that you do belong to the gathered people. When the Lord Jesus was here upon earth He could feel your weakness, and now He can give you “everlasting strength”.
Remember for your comfort this morning, that it is “to Himself that He separates you. “You shall be a holy people unto Him” and He will find you “strength”. Oh, it is a grand, a glorious thing to remember this – to remember that it is “to Himself” that the Lord’s people are separated here. You have “a hundred-fold more” (of which the Lord Jesus spake), and you shall receive a hundred-fold more because it involves His presence with us. The Lord is always with us; He is always present from the first moment when we feel that sin is brought home to our hearts and consciences. The Lord is with us even when the clouds of thick darkness hang around our path. He never leaves His separated ones to walk alone; never. Jesus is always with them; He is with them whispering into their hearts His precepts, and enabling them – their wills being subdued – to
follow on. In affliction too, the Lord Jesus is with them, enabling them to make their prayer unto Him. It is true that sometimes the flesh fails and grows impatient; but even then, Jesus is with them, and gives them to feel His sympathy. He does not reproach them;
no, Jesus never does that. But rather He enables their spirits in the perfection of His salvation to say, “It is the Lord: let Him do what seemeth Him good” (1 Sam. 3. 18), and “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13.15). Now this is a glorious truth, and “we speak that we do know;” it is a reality not a theory, not something that is true only because God’s word says so, but it is something that is true in our souls, and in the experience of all those whom the Lord separates and are really saved to a better life. John says, “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,…. if we walk in the light,…. we have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1. 3, 7). Paul says in Hebrews 12, that these separate people have “come unto mount Sion, and unto the …. church of the first-born.” Jesus is always with us.
But, oh, think of what it will be when Jesus comes! Now we are separate sons of God, but “it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as He is,” (1 John 3. 2). When Jesus comes there will be glory, there will be joy, there will be meeting those who have gone before, and there will be Jesus glorified. The picture drawn by that disciple who leaned on the Saviour’s bosom was that he had looked through the open door into Heaven, and heard the harps. Can we imagine what it will be for the people of God when they see Jesus? When they see His face radiant that was once wet with the sweat of Gethsemane? when they see His brow upon which there are many crowns, and which bears the marks of the crown of
thorns? That will be joy Â— an eternal, a never ending joy to the believing, separate people.
“The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze on glory,
But on my King of Grace;
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory,
Of Immanuel’s land;’
And now, beloved, I hope that you will pardon me if I say just one or two words of a rather more personal kind. I want to say something, as it is the first time I have been here for some months;
and I have to thank very many amongst you, for your loving prayers during the whole time the Lord has taken me aside. May the Lord bless you a hundred-fold. I think I can, on the whole, only make a very poor return to you for the past; and it will be to tell you the message that the Lord has been teaching me the last six months; and
I have been telling you this morning. The Lord has shown me that He calls His people to a distinct walk through the world. He calls them to be His witnesses. Oh, what wondrous love! We are separate “unto Himself’. This is the message. And now I have told you; and oh, may the Lord the Spirit dispose your hearts in the same freeness of love in which I tell you; and oh, may His grace enable you to hear (as I hope and trust His grace has enabled you) to hear and obey. Then we shall be walking “to God”, separate from the world, in the bond of love and blessed unity – love to Him that hath called us to Himself; we shall be “walking in the light”. And when Jesus comes we shall be together for ever in the blessed land where there will be no more lameness, where there will be no more sorrow, and no death there; because the inhabitants of that land never sorrow nor die. Amen.