The Core of Christianity

Eph. 6:24.---' Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.'

The text declares the three truths that lie at the core of Christianity.

1. The central force of Christianity is love. Wherever there is a genuine Christianity, there, also, is a manifestation of love; and wherever in any professed Christianity love is absent, it matters nothing what else be present---the absence of love proclaims the absence of true Christianity. Therefore, if the question arises whether this or that church is a Christian church, we do not ask what was its origin, what is its history, what are its customs, nor even primarily what is its creed. But we ask, is it a loving church? Are its members distinguished for their love of God, for their love to the brethren, for their love to the world. Do its services inspire love? Tell me it is a church which teaches men to love the Lord their God and to love their neighbors as themselves, and I will hail that church as a true Temple; I will grasp its members by the hand as my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

2. The central person of Christianity is the Lord Jesus Christ. In the early Church Christ was indeed the central Person; and the love of Christ their grand confederating bond. That mighty personal Love was an irresistible force. Prejudices fell before it, like the walls of Jericho before the trumpets of Israel. Social, national, religious distinctions waned in its presence. The Church of the living God was a community where there was neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ was all in all! Even so, we have no new Christianity. It is today as it was from the beginning, and as it shall be evermore. All our Christianity centers in the Lord Jesus Christ. In His atonement we place our simple trust. His teachings we accept. His commandments we obey. In His praise we lift our songs. From His hands we receive the gifts of grace. For His sake we are made heirs of glory. There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. And for ever the central Person of Christianity is the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. The central mark of Christianity is grace. And grace is a gracious spirit, gracious speech, gracious habits, a gracious Christian. Grace on the brow, a witness for sanctified intelligence; grace in the eye, for looks of sweetness and for scrutiny of truth; grace on the lip, for words of cheer and words of power; grace in the heart, a fountain of running waters, bringing perennial refreshment to the world; grace in the hand, that whatsoever it finds to be done unto the Lord; grace in the feet that are swift upon errands of mercy, and beautiful upon the mountains with good tidings of salvation. The prayer of the text is answered in true Christian lives, and grace is upon all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Everything you need to make you good, wise, humble, lovely, useful, and happy, is comprehended in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you care for yourself and your immediate friends only, and not for others also, is it not that you have too little of the grace of Christ? Or if you show a self-loving partiality for your own Church, and a prejudice against other Churches, would not more of the grace of the Lord Jesus enlarge your heart, and correct the one-sidedness of your character? If you carry yourself haughtily towards any one, is not that a sign that your own spirit is strong, and the grace of Christ weak in you? Do not your impatience, irritability, and anger give evidence of your deficiency in grace? If you are fretful or downcast under suffering, would not more of the grace of Jesus produce in you an exactly contrary condition? If you surrender your tongue to foolish talking, does it not argue an absence of the dignity and wisdom which are in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? If you fall into any vice or sin whatsoever, would not a greater measure of His grace restrain you? It is clear, therefore, that the grace of Christ is precisely what you want to make you everything that you should be. It is everything that can relate you happily to God and advantageously to man. One word expresses the whole circle of your wants. For that one word, Grace, stands for ' the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.' It is the virtue of His all-perfect Humanity operating within you, the one thing that roots, grows, and opens in us every excellence and charm of the spirit and character.

You have been rejoicing in the inexhaustible grace of Jesus: now be yourself gracious! You have been in the presence of God, and God is love: now be yourself tender-hearted and affectionate! You have enjoyed the radiant fellowship of the Holy Spirit: now be yourself companionable and inspiring! I remember to have read of a Valley of Roses. It is so extensive, and the lovely odors hang so heavily about the beauteous vale, that the traveler who passes through it carries the perfume on his person for days afterwards, and people look knowingly at each other as he enters the room. They know it without being told that he has been in the Valley of Roses.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha