Richard M Fry
Mark 5: 24-34
Romans 4: 13-16; 21-25; 5: 1
Colossians 1: 17-20
Ephesians 2: 13-15
Isaiah 26: 3
I had an impression this morning, dear hearers, as to the thought of peace. We live in a world of turmoil and uncertainty where peace is not known to any great extent. But I do not want to speak of world peace. What I would like to speak about is the peace that God has brought to pass, and is available to each one; the peace that comes from believing in the Lord Jesus; the peace that comes from having a personal link with Him; the peace - as this woman that we have read of found - that comes from coming into contact with this blessed One.
I suppose the story of this woman has been used many times in the glad tidings and we are familiar with the way it is used to show how we can come into blessing. This woman had a serious condition (we are not told exactly what it was), and I am sure doctors today would be able to hypothesise about what might have been the problem. If you look back to the law in the Old Testament, you will find that her problem would have rendered her unclean. She was unclean: she had a flux of blood; there was something issuing from her which according to the law rendered her unclean, Lev 15: 25. Is this not is a picture of mankind affected by sin? The Lord Jesus said that it is not what goes into a man that defiled the man, but what comes out, Mark 7: 18-23. What comes out of our hearts! He lists a number of things in that passage, the things that come out of our hearts. Dear friends, we are sinners away from God, and these things are natural to every man, woman and child in this world. This woman knew, and you have to learn, dear friend, that the condition of sin that you find in yourself renders you unclean. According to the law, it would render a person unable to enter into the presence of God. And so it is with your condition, as a sinner away from God: the issue which comes from within renders you unsuitable and unfit for God’s presence.
There are a number of things that attract me to this passage. This woman had suffered much under many physicians and had spent everything that she had and had found no advantage. Perhaps that speaks to someone here who has been trying hard to make themselves fit, knowing that that weight of sin has been bearing upon them: perhaps you might think there would be some way, some means, some cure to render yourself suitable for God’s presence. Dear friend, you will find as this woman did, that whatever you try there is no advantage. Another thing that attracts me to this passage is this – it says that she had got worse. When the Spirit works with one and another and He brings to their attention their state as before God, things may appear to have become very much worse. They may not be so actually, but as bringing the light of God to bear upon your sinful condition, you will find how terrible it really is. But this woman hears concerning Jesus. Have you heard concerning Jesus? I am sure you have, and that is why you are here today. I know each one here has heard concerning Jesus: what a wonderful Person He is! She had heard concerning Him, but she was unsure how to approach Him. So she comes up rather timidly and touches His clothes. She knew “if I shall touch but his clothes I shall be healed”. She did not feel confident to touch Him Himself, but she knew that if she reached out and even touched His clothes, she would receive that healing influence. Well, as the story goes on, she did; she had the faith to touch His clothes. How important that is, that you should have faith. There are many instances in Scripture of one and another who had faith but did not quite get the full blessing; and this woman was close to missing the full blessing. She knew that that flux had gone; she was cured, she was healed, and she could have just disappeared into the crowd and have gone. But the Lord in His grace stops and says, “Who touched me?”. Beloved friend, perhaps you have known something of the healing of your condition, but perhaps you have not had that close, personal link with the Lord Jesus. So she comes “frightened and trembling”, and falls down before Him; and told Him all the truth. How wonderful it is to tell the Lord Jesus all about yourself! Perhaps you have been on the fringe for many years; perhaps you have known something of salvation but never really entered into it in its fullest meaning, never fully grasped the fulness of what God has in mind for you in the glad tidings. If we relate this to the gospel, I suppose you could say she was saved from the wrath to come, but she did not really have peace. She knew in herself that there was a change but how could she know the flux would not come back? Would the cure last? Perhaps there was something still lurking there, something that could cause the flux to start again? Well, beloved, the Lord Jesus does not want you in that condition. This woman was still “frightened and trembling”, and the Lord speaks to her: “Daughter, thy faith has healed the; go in peace, and be well of thy scourge”. What a difference those words must have meant to this woman, the words of the Lord Jesus; what a difference they would have made, knowing now not only that she had benefitted through contact with the Lord Jesus, but His own words confirmed it and it was sure. Nothing could change it: “be well of thy scourge”. It was removed; that which for these twelve years had rendered her in this terrible unclean state was gone! And those words would have given her assurance, and peace in her soul that there was no going back. It was all well. Is this woman not like us? I suppose we all come different ways, but my desire is that each one of us might have this living link with Jesus, and that you might be able to say for yourself that you have heard these words by faith, “go in peace, and be well of thy scourge”.
I read in Romans because here we get some of the teaching behind this, and I started at verse 13 just to get the context: “For it was not by law that the promise was to Abraham, or to his seed, that he should be heir of the world, but by righteousness of faith. For if they which are of law be heirs, faith is made vain, and the promise made of no effect. For law works wrath; but where no law is neither is there transgression. Therefore it is on the principle of faith, that it might be according to grace, in order to the promise being sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of Abraham's faith, who is father of us all”.
The promise was given not because the Jewish people had kept the law - they had not; but it was given on the principle of righteousness, but righteousness of faith: “Therefore having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. How wonderful that is, being justified on the principle of faith. There is nothing that we can do; it is not on the principle of law; it is of grace as it says here: “Therefore it is on the principle of faith, that it might be according to grace” - the principle of faith. Beloved friends, how wonderful this is. As that woman found, there was nothing she could do; no keeping of the law was going to cure her of her scourge; it was on the principle of faith that she became well. It was in coming in contact with the Lord Jesus. So it says here, “Now it was not written on his account alone that it was reckoned to him, but on ours also, to whom, believing on him who has raised him from among the dead, Jesus our Lord, who has been delivered for our offences and has been raised for our justification, it will be reckoned”.
These things we have been speaking of, that scourge which cannot be cured by any means, have been removed by the work of the Lord Jesus. He has been “delivered for our offences” - He went into death. We read in Colossians of “the blood of his cross”. But He “has been raised for our justification”. Do you have that sense in your heart, that you have been justified? What does that mean? It includes that, before the eyes of God, you are seen as guiltless. The Lord Jesus took that guilt upon Himself, and you are now justified in the eyes of God if you have faith in that beloved One. Does it not give you peace in your heart? Look to Him; think of all that He has done: “Therefore having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. It is through Him, beloved; there is nothing we can do. We cannot effect anything, try as we might; it only leads to further uncertainty and turmoil of heart. Beloved friend, the gospel is all about that beloved One, our Lord Jesus Christ. He has been raised Him from among the dead; what a glorious fact that is!
And then in Colossians, we get a further thought. It speaks of His greatness: “And he is before all, and all things subsist together by him”. Earlier in the chapter it says, “firstborn of all creation; because by him were created all things, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or principalities, or authorities: all things have been created by him and for him. And he is before all, and all things subsist together by him”. This is the One we are speaking about, beloved friends; how great a Person He is, the Lord Jesus! How glorious He is; nothing is too hard for Him, whatever troubles come into your life, He is the Creator of this whole sphere that we live in and the whole universe. How great it is! “And he is before all, and all things subsist together by him”: think of that - all things subsisting together by Jesus! This is the One we present to you in the glad tidings. This is the One who came here to deal with the question of your sins. “And he is the head of the body, the assembly; who is the beginning, firstborn from among the dead, that he might have the first place in all things”.
Dear friend, does He have the first place in your heart? Can you imagine that woman, as she went back to her house and to her friends and the neighbours, and to the synagogue? She would not just have gone back and said nothing; she would have been speaking of Jesus and the wonders of that Man and all that He had done for her. No doubt she would have thanked Him daily for what He had done for her. The scripture continues, “for in him all the fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell, and by him to reconcile all things to itself, having made peace by the blood of his cross”
How wonderful! Think of that great Person, the Lord Jesus, coming down into manhood’s form. As we read in Philippians, “but emptied himself … becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross”, chap 2: 7, 8. His blood was shed. God needed that; it was the righteousness requirement of God, that those sins, those lawlessnesses, that you and I have committed, should be removed from the sight of God, and we can stand before Him in absolute certainty that we are there fit for His presence.
And so it says in Ephesians, “he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of enclosure, having annulled the enmity in his flesh, the law of commandments in ordinances, that he might form the two in himself into one new man, making peace; and might reconcile both in one body to God by the cross, having by it slain the enmity, and, coming, he has preached the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off, and the glad tidings of peace to those who were nigh”. Dear friends: “the glad tidings of peace” are what we preach today. Those who were afar off are the nations - ourselves; and those who were nigh were the Jewish people. Romans tells us that “God hath shut up together all in unbelief”, chap 11: 32. He is not making a distinction now between Jew and Gentile: “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”, Rom 3: 23. He is preaching the glad tidings of peace to the Jew, and He is preaching the glad tidings of peace to the nations, and that is what we preach today, “the glad tidings of peace”; and we can preach that because He has reconciled both in one body to God by the cross. Everything that stood between God and man, and between man and man, has been removed in the work of Christ upon the cross. How mighty that work is! Have you taken advantage of it; have you accepted the Lord Jesus as your Saviour? Can you say that He died for you; can you say that he shed His blood for you? Do you know that peace in your heart; do you know that, when you die, you will go to be with Jesus? Do you know without doubt in your heart that you will stand in the presence of God in the worth of Jesus? You cannot stand there in your own worth; God has condemned sin in the flesh, Rom 8: 3. But you can stand there in the worth of His beloved Son. How wonderful that is!
I read that final verse in Isaiah because, speaking from my own history and experience, we sometimes wonder whether all this is true. Is it true of me? I like to quote that man in the gospels who said, “I believe, help mine unbelief”, Mark 9: 24. He believed - of course he did; he was there before Jesus; but perhaps he did not feel he quite believed enough. And perhaps you are like that too; perhaps troubles come up into your life - whatever they might be, maybe at school, maybe at work, maybe in the family, or between brethren. Troubles come in, and as Peter found, he started to sink, and the winds and the waves seemed so big; and yet, he called out to Jesus, “Lord, save me”, Matt 14: 30. Dear friend, if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus, you can be certain that your eternal destiny is secure; but sometimes in your life - perhaps often - you feel unsure, you are uncertain. You do not feel that peace and you begin to doubt as Peter did. And I thought I would just read this verse because it seems to me that this is the answer to those fears and problems: “Thou wilt keep in perfect peace the mind stayed on thee”. I think that word “stayed” translated into modern language would be ‘focussed’: ‘thou wilt keep in perfect peace the mind focussed on Thee’. If you think about it, when fears and doubts come in, it is usually for one of two reasons. We may be looking at ourselves and doubting ourselves or we may be occupied with things around us. If we look into our hearts and see what is in there, who of us would not doubt? Your salvation is not secured by what you are: we established that in Romans. It is not on the principle of law, it is on the principle of faith. Do not look inward, dear friend; look outward; look outward to Jesus. “Thou wilt keep in perfect peace the mind stayed on thee”. The other reason is that we get occupied with things around us, things in the world and other matters - perhaps they loom large in our vision and we lose sight of Jesus that way.
Beloved friends, it is my simple desire that we might each one have our hearts and minds focussed on that blessed One, our Saviour: how great He is! And in having our minds focussed upon Him, He will keep us in perfect peace. Despite anything that comes up in our lives - and I am not saying that there are not exercises and things to be worked through; we all have to go through these things in our lives privately, family-wise or whatever it might be - we can go through them knowing that Jesus is there and, focussing upon Him, we can have a sense of peace in our souls.
Preaching of the glad tidings in West Norwood
5th March 2017