HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,–Luke 4:18
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:–Hebrews 11:35
Faithfulness Is Better Than Happiness When Happiness Is
Brought On by What Is False
Or I might take the case of a young woman who is set amid uncongenial surroundings. She is not happy. Perhaps she has to work, and probably her health is very far from good. I shall not paint the picture at its blackest, though I have seen it at its blackest for myself. I shall not touch on that most awful freedom that lurks on every street of every Babylon. But I shall say that she gets the offer of marriage from someone to whom God has never led her, and to whom in her woman’s heart, there is no drawing, as of those cords which have been knit in heaven. There is a chance of freedom if you like. There is deliverance from all the drudgery. But, O my sister, at what an awful cost of all that is most womanly and delicate! A thousand times better to be tortured daily than to accept deliverance like that–and it is there, you see, that faith comes in. Faith that God can uphold you in the darkness, and give you music in the weariest mile. Faith that there are better things than happiness when happiness is bought by being false. Faith that the best in life is, ever lost when you are true to what is high and beautiful; and always lost when you have played the traitor to the sweet sincerities of womanhood.
Sometimes Deliverance Can Be Failure or Treachery
The same issue of faith is also seen in public and in Christian service. I suppose there is no one engaged in that who does not feel at times a longing for release. It may be that enthusiasm has vanished. It may be that we are disappointed. It may be that those whom we are called to labour with are irritating and interfering people. So sooner or later comes to us the day when we are tempted to have done with it; to take our armour off, and hang it up, and pass into the oblivion of peace. Now I am far from saying that that is always wrong. Sometimes it may be right and necessary. A man may be forced to it by doctor’s orders, and if he is wise he will attend to these. A man may be led to it by the appeal of conscience telling him he should be more at home, and that no service can have heaven’s blessing if wife and children are neglected. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. That is a matter for heart and God. All that I want to do here is this: it is to warn you that all release is not like that. There may be times when deliverance is treachery; when to seek for freedom is to fail; when a man’s first duty is to continue serving, even though his service may be torture. “They were tortured, not accepting deliverance,” and sometimes we are called with that vocation. If we trust God we shall refuse relief, and stick to the service we have put our hand to. God has no pleasure in these sorry workers who are always threatening to send in resignations. No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.
Beware of False Deliverance from Moral and Intellectual Doubt
I am impressed again by the same truth in regard to our spiritual and intellectual difficulties. I may be speaking to some here who have great difficulties about faith and God. They would fain believe, and yet they find it hard. They would fain trust, and yet they cannot trust. They cannot feel their need of a Redeemer. They cannot grasp the power of the cross. Or it may be that having grasped it once, they have been thrown into darkness by their reading, and cannot reconcile the facts of science with the old message of the love of heaven. My brothers and sisters, I want to say to you that Christ has got deliverance for you. He has come to preach deliverance to the captive, and there is no captivity so dark as doubt. But there are times of darkness and perplexity when other methods of release will face you, and if you are a man you will reject them, and face the torture which rejection brings. You will not take shallow answers to great questions. You will, or yield up moral questions in despair. You will not fall back upon a life of sense, as if in sensuality were rest. But you will be true to all the light you have, and you will cling to all the good you know, and you will trust that, when the night is past, the singing of the birds is sure to come. To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. It is sometimes better to be tossed and tortured than to be sleeping on a couch of ease. This is one mark of every earnest soul that has come at last to liberty and light, it has been too faithful to the Highest to accept deliverance upon unworthy terms. “Not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.”
Christ Refused False Deliverance
In closing, may I just remind you how true this was of our Lord Jesus Christ? He is our Saviour not because He refused deliverance. “All these kingdoms will I give thee,” said the Tempter, “if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Was not that a road to power and princedom which would have escaped the torture of the cross? But He was tortured, not accepting deliverance. He chose the bitter way that led by Calvary. He scorned deliverance by that compliance, and so He has won deliverance for the captive. Then think again, when He approached the cross, how the women offered Him the opiate. And had He but drunk it, His senses had been numbed, and the agony of crucifixion had been deadened. But having tasted it, He put it from Him. He could not and He would not drink it. And He was tortured, not accepting deliverance, that He might be the Saviour of mankind. Now He preaches freedom to the captive. Do you know it? Have you experienced it? Can you this minute bear witness in your heart that you are a freedman in Jesus Christ? if so, to you may come those darksome hours when voices call you to some mean escape, and just because you are a man in Christ, with all the saints and martyrs you will scorn it.