Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Full of joy

[An excerpt from The True Knowledge of God by Dirk Philips, a co-worker of Menno Simons, written in 1558.]

Where this love exists, there all that is good is found. Yea, there God is, who himself is love (1 John 4:8); there Christ dwells, there the Holy Spirit abides, there is the lovely gathering of brethren and sisters who are of one heart and one soul (Acts 2:44; 4:32; Psalm 133:1). There the dew of divine grace falls upon Mount Zion, making fruitful in righteousness all who are pleasing to God. There God bestows his heavenly benediction and gives life eternal. There is true joy , not carnal but spiritual. There is the beautiful Jerusalem which is above (Galatians 1:26; Revelation 22:2), which is builded as a city (Revelation 22:4) that is compact together. There the tribes of Israel gather to worship God. There the Holy Spirit brings rest and peace to the consciences and hearts of the believers in true Christian love and unity. There also is found the living hope, whereby the believer hopes for salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, yea, so that he is assured and certain that he is being sanctified, and that he has the witness of the Holy Spirit in his heart (Romans 8:16), whereby he is assured that he is the child of God, that Jesus Christ is his brother, and that he has the fellowship of the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Thereby the believer becomes so light of heart, so comforted and full of joy, that he is rich in the midst of poverty, that in danger, persecution, prison, yea, in the midst of death, he rejoices and says with Paul: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him (namely the crown of righteousness) against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). This accords with what the prophet says: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). In other words: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.  There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early” (Psalm 46:1-5). And the prophet yet says: “O Lord. . . Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:25, 26).

This liberty of the mind brings about the living hope in God, and the certain assurance of the grace of Jesus Christ and the sealing of the Holy Spirit unto eternal salvation, by which the heart becomes so joyful that the believer is comforted under all circumstances to be with the Lord, and in the real life to come into full possession of all that he by faith looks forward to in hope, and which he now sees but darkly as in a mirror and knows from words more or less dark (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Therefore, my beloved and cherished friends in the Lord, and chosen of God in Jesus Christ, continue steadfastly in the faith, love God and the brotherly fellowship of Jesus Christ, and hope for his grace, and you will never be brought to shame. Beware of all false doctrine (Matthew 7:15), all idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), do not allow yourselves to be terrified on account of tyrants and persecutors, fear not mortal men, but fear the almighty, living God (Luke 12:4, 5), who created you, gave you body and soul, and has called you to his everlasting kingdom that shall never pass away. Think of the great joy and glory that shall be revealed in you (Romasn 8:17, 18; 1 Peter 1:3, 4) in time to come at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take an example of patience from all the holy people of God who have lived since the beginning of the world (James 5:10; Hebrews 12:1) and have suffered, and follow in their faith.

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