The church of Jesus Christ is in full retreat. Don’t you believe it.

7 Apr

Matthew 27: 62-67
Now on the next day [after the burial of Jesus], which was the day after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver said while he was still alive–‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command therefore that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest perhaps his disciples come at night and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He is risen from the dead;’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”

J.C. Ryle comments:

Let us learn from these verses, that God can make the devices of wicked men work to His own glory.

We are taught that lesson in a striking manner, by the conduct of the priests and Pharisees, after our Lord was buried. The restless enmity of these unhappy men could not sleep, even when the body of Jesus was in the grave. They called to mind the words, which they remembered he had said, about “rising again.” They resolved, as they thought, to make His rising again impossible. They went to Pilate. They obtained from him a guard of Roman soldiers. They set a watch over the tomb of our Lord. They placed a seal upon the stone. In short, they did all they could to “make the sepulcher sure.”

They little thought what they were doing. They little thought that unwittingly they were providing the most complete evidence of the truth of Christ’s coming resurrection. They were actually making it impossible to prove that there was any deception or imposition. Their seal, their guard, their precautions, were all to become witnesses, in a few hours, that Christ had risen. They might as well have tried to stop the tides of the sea, or to prevent the sun rising, as to prevent Jesus coming forth from the tomb. They were taken in their own craftiness. (1 Cor. 3:19.) Their own devices became instruments to show forth God’s glory.

The history of the Church of Christ is full of examples of a similar kind. The very things that have seemed most unfavorable to God’s people, have often turned out to be for their good. What harm did the “persecution which arose about Stephen” do to the Church of Christ? Those who were scattered went every where, preaching the word. (Acts 8:4.) What harm did imprisonment do Paul? It gave him time to write many of those Epistles, which are now read all over the world. What real harm did the persecution of bloody Mary do to the cause of the English Reformation? The blood of the martyrs became the seed of the Church. What harm does persecution do the people of God at this very day? It only drives them nearer to Christ. It only makes them cling more closely to the throne of grace, the Bible, and prayer.

Let all true Christians lay these things to heart, and take courage. We live in a world where all things are ordered by a hand of perfect wisdom, and where all things are working together continually for the good of the body of Christ. The powers of this world are only tools in the hand of God. He is ever using them for His own purposes, however little they may be aware of it. They are the instruments by which He is ever squaring and polishing the living stones of His spiritual temple, and all their schemes and plans will only turn to His praise. Let us be patient in the days of trouble and darkness, and look forward. The very things which now seem against us, are all working together for God’s glory. We see but half now. Yet in a little while, we shall see all. And we shall then discover that all the persecution we now endure was, like the seal and the guard, tending to God’s glory. God can make the “wrath of man praise him.” (Psalm 76:10.)

 

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