The Overcomer Trust

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By Horatius Bonar.


"Now this is life eternal: that they may know you, the only true God" 

(John 17 v3).


Peace can only come from God, and it is in KNOWING GOD that we receive it. God has written a volume for the purpose of making himself known, and it is in this revelation of His character that we can find the rest that we are seeking. God himself is the fountain-head of our peace, His revealed truth is the channel through which this peace finds its way to us, and His Holy Spirit is the great interpreter of that truth to us. “Submit to God and be at peace with Him” (Job 22 v21). A personal knowledge of GOD is peace!

Had God told us that He was not gracious, that He took no interest in our welfare, and that He had no intention of pardoning us, we could have had no peace and no hope. In that case our knowing God would only make us miserable. Our situation would be like that of the devils, who “believe and tremble” (James 2 v19), and the more we knew of such a God, the more we should tremble. 

Strange to say, this is the very state of fear in which we find many who yet profess to believe in a God, the ‘merciful and gracious’. They seem to believe the very opposite of what the Bible teaches us concerning God, and to attach a meaning to the cross the reverse of what the Gospel affirms it really bears. They have mistaken the character of God, looking on Him as an “austere man” and a “hard master”, and seek to supplement the grace of God by some earnest performances or spiritual exercises of their own.


God has declared Himself to be gracious. 

“God is love”. He has embodied this grace in the person and work of His beloved Son. He has told us that this grace is for the ungodly, the unholy and the dead in sin, and the more that we know of this God and of His grace, the more will His peace fill us. Nor will the greatness of our sins and the hardness of our hearts, or the changeableness of our feelings discourage or disquiet, however much they may humble us and make us dissatisfied with ourselves.

Let us study the character of God. Holy yet loving, the love not interfering with the holiness nor the holiness with the love. Absolutely sovereign yet infinitely gracious, the sovereignty not limiting the grace nor the grace reducing the sovereignty. Drawing the unwilling yet not hindering the willing, quickening whom He will yet having no pleasure in the death of the wicked, compelling some to come in yet freely inviting all.

Let us look at Him in the face of Jesus Christ, for He is the express image of God, and the one who has seen Jesus has seen the Father. The knowledge of that gracious character, as interpreted by the cross of Christ, is the true remedy for our fear. Insufficient knowledge of God lies at the root of our fears and gloom. Flesh and blood cannot reveal God to us, the Holy Spirit alone can enable us to know either the Father or the Son. God has revealed himself in the Bible and in Christ He has done so most clearly. He has done so that there might be no mistake about His character.  


Christ's person is a revelation of God. 

Christ's work is a revelation of God. Christ’s words are a revelation of God. He is in the Father and the Father in Him. His words and works are the words and works of the Father. In the manger He showed us God. In the synagogue of Nazareth He showed us God. At Jacob’s well He showed us God. At the tomb of Lazarus He showed us God. On Olivet, as He wept over Jerusalem, He showed us God. On the cross He showed us God. In the tomb He showed us God. In His resurrection He showed us God. If we say with Philip, “Lord show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” He answers, “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14 v8-9). This God, whom Christ reveals as the God of righteous grace and gracious righteousness, is the God with whom we have to do.


To know God’s character, as shown to us by Jesus and His cross, is to have peace. 

It is into this knowledge of the Father that the Holy Spirit leads those who seek Him, by His almighty power, from darkness to light. For everything that we know of God we owe to this divine Teacher and Interpreter. But never let us imagine that we are more willing to learn than the Spirit is to teach. 

In all unbelief there are two main problems, a good opinion of our self and a bad opinion of God. So long as these two exist it is impossible for us to find rest. A good opinion of self makes it possible to think that we can win God’s favour by our own religious performances, and a bad opinion of God makes us unwilling and afraid to put our life wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work in convincing of sin is to so reduce our estimate of our own character that we will see our sin as God does, and so cease supposing that it is possible to be justified by any excellence of our own. Having altered our good opinion of ourselves the Spirit then alters our evil opinion of God, so as to make us see that the God with whom we have to do is really the God of all grace.

We may deny that we have a good opinion of ourselves and admit that we are sinners, but to really know this is something more than saying it. We may be willing to take the name of sinner, in common with all mankind, and yet not admit that we are as bad as God says we are, and that we need the Saviour and the cross, the blood and righteousness of the Son of God. It takes a great deal to destroy our good opinion of ourselves, and even after we have lost our good opinion of our works we retain a good opinion of our good intentions. After we have lost that, we hold fast our good opinion of our religious duties by means of which we hope to make up for evil works and bad thoughts and lead God to have a good opinion of us and receive us with favour.

All such efforts spring from thinking well of ourselves and from our poor understanding of God. It is so difficult to make us think of ourselves as God does, and only the almighty, divine Spirit can do this.

We may say that we do not have a bad opinion of God, but do we believe what the Bible says about God, or the cross reveals? Do we have such a belief in God that we know we are safe putting our soul into His gracious hands, and trusting Him with its eternal keeping? If not, where is our understanding of God? Surely the knowledge of God which the cross supplies ought to set all doubt aside and make distrust a horrible misrepresentation of God`s character, and a slander upon His gracious name.


Unbelief is the belief of a lie and the rejection of the truth. 

It obliterates from the cross the gracious name of God, and inscribes another name, that of an unknown god, in which there is no peace and no rest for the weary. Accept the character of God as given in the gospel, read aright His blessed Name as it is written upon the cross and enter into the glad tidings of peace. If that which God has made known of Himself is not enough to allay your fears, nothing else will.

Now turn your eyes to the cross and see the crucifiers and the Crucified. See the crucifiers, the haters of God and of his Son. They are yourself. Read in them your own character and cease to think of making that a ground of peace. See the Crucified. It is God Himself, incarnate love. It is He who made you, God appearing in flesh, suffering, dying for the ungodly. Can you doubt His grace? Can you cherish evil thoughts of Him? Can you ask anything further, to awaken in you the fullest and most unreserved confidence? Will you misinterpret that agony and death by saying either that they do not mean grace, or that the grace which they mean is not for you? “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us” (1 John 3 v 16). “This is LOVE: not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4 v10). It is in Him alone that we can know peace.


From: ‘God’s Way of Peace’.


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