The Tie that Binds

“Blest be the tie that binds
   Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
   Is like to that above.”
—Hymns of Dawn 

THE words of this beautiful hymn strike a responsive chord in every Christian’s heart, because it puts into words that which we, who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit, have realized in our hearts. We know that the song is true, because we have experienced the blessedness of its sentiments in our associations with the Lord and with the brethren. It is this blessed association in Christ, with all that it implies of sweet fellowship with the Lord and the brethren, that affords so much joy and happiness to those who have entered into its realities.

The quest for happiness is an underlying motive in the lives of all people. Everyone desires to enjoy life to the full. They like to be truly happy, but the peculiar part of it is that there are very few who really attain true and lasting happiness. The world’s happiness depends upon attaining a certain goal, and if that goal is not reached, happiness is not realized. But it nearly always happens that even though the goal of success is in a measure reached, the happiness that was expected to accompany such success is not fully realized.

But this is not true of the Christian, because his happiness, being based upon membership in Christ, is something that is enduring. We can drink of the same fountain of happiness year after year, and still find that it satisfies our longings as nothing else can do. Not only do we realize and rejoice in the continuance of the blessings vouchsafed to us because of our association in the family of God, but we find that the causes of our happiness are so entirely satisfactory that we have no desire for any change to be made.

God and Truth Unchanging

Our Heavenly Father, we know, is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and we love him for it. Our Lord Jesus, being the express image of the Father’s person, is also unchangeable, and we rejoice in that, too. In neither the Father nor the Son is there any variableness, nor shadow of turning. Fundamentally, therefore, association with them, and with those called to be co-workers in the divine plan, can be maintained only by our being rooted and grounded in the unchangeable program in which we have been invited to be partners. The tie that binds must, indeed, continue to be a binding tie.

Perfection of knowledge cannot be attained while we are still in the flesh, and for this reason, therefore, we should expect to make progress; yet the Lord has made it very plain that he wants us to be settled in the truth, and not to be carried about with every wind of doctrine. The great fundamental truths concerning God and his plan are unchangeable. We learned these truths by divine grace, and proved them to be true. And it is these truths that constituted the basis of our joy in the Lord; and the basis also of our fellowship with him and with the brethren. Without these truths we would have had no real knowledge of the blest tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.

Certainly then, we have a responsibility in connection with the truth! If we feel a responsibility in safeguarding relatively unimportant earthly possessions, how much more alert should we be watching over our spiritual possessions—those possessions which are the source of our joy in the Lord. Nor should our interest in maintaining spiritual joys be a selfish one. Because we are members of the body of Christ, we should ever realize a deep sense of responsibility in safeguarding this community of interest. There is a blest tie that binds us to all the consecrated in Christ Jesus; and if that tie is to continue to bind us, we must do our part in helping to keep it strong, and in helping to repair it for any who may temporarily have permitted it to become damaged.

The Apostle John says that it is only as we “walk in the light as He is in the light,” that we have “fellowship one with another.” (I John 1:7) We might properly think of the path of the just as the road that leads us to God, and to victory with Christ in the kingdom. God’s own light of truth illuminates this road, and as we wend our way along it we get nearer to him and to the light that emanates from him, hence the pathway grows brighter. It does not mean that we are guided by a certain light for a time, and then, suddenly, that light becomes darkness, and a new light takes its place.

But the true light from God should and does grow brighter; not because the Lord changes it, but because we grow in appreciation of it. It is this that the Scriptures speak of as growth in grace and knowledge. As the pathway leads to God, true progress therein implies that our increased appreciation of the light is in reality an increased appreciation of him and of his will for us. Increased knowledge does not necessarily represent true progress in the narrow way.

Progress in the light—which is the knowledge of God—might be likened to one’s approach to a mountain. At first the bare outline of the mountain is discerned, but as we get nearer, its outline becomes sharper, and some of the details of shrubbery, etc., become apparent. But it is still a mountain—a mountain that has remained the same, irrespective of how clearly we may have been able to comprehend its details.

What joy was ours when God gave us the truth, and through it we began to know the unknown God! For the first time the glorious attributes of his character stood out before us in bold relief, and our whole beings cried out to him in grateful adoration and whole-hearted devotion. We realized, too, that nothing short of full devotion to the one who had now revealed himself to us could justify us in expecting to continue in the light. So the truth brought responsibility, a responsibility that could be discharged only through the sacrifice of all that we had and were, in the service of our glorious God. We were glad to accept that responsibility, and rejoiced in every opportunity we had of showing forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

St. Paul says of Christ that he is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption [deliverance].” (I Cor. 1:30) This is the divine purpose of giving us a knowledge of himself and of Christ. It means that we are to follow in the Master’s footsteps, and become like him. This leads to righteousness, and to sanctification. Sanctification is the full setting of ourselves apart, by God’s help, to the doing of his will. Our joy in the truth when we first found it, should become deeper and more constant as we yield ourselves ever more fully to its sanctifying power in our lives. We rejoiced in the privilege of consecration, and our joy in the Lord can be maintained only to the degree that we now carry out its terms.

This is true of every consecrated child of God, and because it is true, we all should share the same joys, being bound in this one community of interest—an interest in doing the Father’s will which is inspired by the knowledge of his own dear self which he has so graciously revealed to us. How blessed indeed, therefore, is the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

Love is the inspiration of our fellowship! The Heavenly Father himself set the example of love by sending his only begotten Son to die for both the church and the world. Jesus emulated the example of the Father by willingly laying down his life, and commanded us that we should love one another as he loved us. If we love one another as Jesus loved us, it means that we will gladly lay down our lives for the brethren.

Thus seen, the tie that binds is more than merely a tie of words, or an interchange of thoughts, however blessed these may be when in harmony with the Lord’s will. If we maintain this tie unto the end, it will be upon the basis of our willingness to lay down our lives for each other.

Do we realize how utterly empty our lives now would be without the Lord and without the truth, and its associations and privileges? Do we appreciate the fact that the greatest joys of our lives have been because of our contact with the truth? Do we realize that the sweetest friendship and fellowship we have ever enjoyed is our friendship and fellowship with our Heavenly Father and with Jesus, and with the brethren, all of which have been made possible through the truth? Should we not, then, be more than ever on the alert that nothing be permitted to stint these joys—that no earthborn clouds be permitted to hide the Father’s face, or to hinder the freedom of our fellowship with the Son and with our brethren?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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