The Way Made Plain

By James H. Brookes

Chapter 17



"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."—Romans x. 12.

When Peter was directed by the Spirit to visit the Roman centurion, Cornelius, in the city of Caesarea, he listened with amazement to the statements of the Gentile officer, and then opened his mouth and said, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."1 Of course he did not mean to teach that the fear of God and our personal works of righteousness form the ground or reason of our acceptance, for such a doctrine would not only contradict the whole tenor of Sacred Scripture, but it would be in direct conflict with the apostle's own testimony on this very occasion. At the close of the address of which the words just quoted are the beginning, after speaking of the death and resurrection of Jesus, he adds, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."2 He could not, therefore, be guilty of the absurdity of affirming in one breath that we are saved by our fear of God and works of righteousness, and in another breath that we are saved according to the witness of all the prophets only through faith in Christ. He obviously designed to assert that whatever is acceptable to Jehovah in one nation is acceptable in any other, without reference to the ground of acceptance. Man's filial fear of God and works of righteousness are nowhere in the Bible presented as the cause, but as the consequence, of acceptance. They are not the conditions on which salvation is bestowed, but the fruits of salvation received.

These fruits, however, are not now confined to the land of Palestine, "for there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek." Once saving mercy was revealed to a single race, but when "God was manifest in the flesh,"3 to accomplish human redemption, grace overflowed, as it were, the narrow bounds, and spread like a sea of glory from pole to pole. In the language of Dr. Chalmers, commenting on the words placed at the head of this chapter, the precious truth here announced "invests with an ample warrant the messengers of salvation, who might go forth the bearers of a full and unexpected commission, to assail even a whole world lying in wickedness and unconcern, by plying with the overtures of a free salvation, each and every individual of the great human family. God, it is said here, makes no difference between the Jew and the Greek; and there are some who, in defending the articles of their own scientific theology, would make the universality of the Gospel offer lie in this, that now, when the middle wall of partition is broken down, it might be offered to men of every nation. But the scriptural theology carries the universality farther down than this—and so as that the Gospel might be offered, not merely to men of every nation, but to each man of every nation. God is not only no respecter of nations, He is no respecter of persons. It is not only whatsoever nation shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved, but whatsoever man of that nation shall call upon the name of the Lord, he shall be saved."

The word Lord as a title descriptive of God always refers in the New Testament to Jesus Christ, except in the few instances where the context shows that the Father or the Holy Ghost is meant. When, therefore, it is written, "The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him," our minds are to turn particularly to the Second person of the adorable Trinity, though, of course, not to the exclusion of the First and Third persons. What one does the others do, and the purposes and resources of one are the purposes and resources of the others. But because of Christ's atoning death on the cross, "God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."4 The Spirit of truth also, says the Saviour, "shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you."5 Both of these Divine persons, then, rejoice to see the Son honored, and listen, no doubt, with delight to the voices of believers singing the noble hymn:

All hail the power of Jesus' name!
     Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
     To crown Him Lord of all."

It is a sweet consolation to many souls, burdened with the crushing memory of some past crime or with the heavy sorrows of life, to feel that they can go with their confessions and supplications directly to "the second man, the Lord from heaven."6 If they are trusting in Him alone for salvation, they can understand the cheering language of the inspired apostle when he says, "Seeing, then, that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."7 An unconverted friend of mine, in extreme sickness and suffering, replied to a visitor who urged him to look to God for help, "Do not talk to me about God, whom I cannot comprehend, but tell me about Jesus, for my thoughts can grasp one who as a man has the experience and sympathies of a man." His language is not to be approved, for the Saviour says, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;"8 and as this Saviour is called "the word,"9 He sustains to the unseen Father the same relation that a word does to thought: He is God expressed or uttered, if I may so speak, "for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."10

Still, without detracting in the slightest degree from the infinite love and tenderness of the Father, there are periods in our history which drive us with our petitions more immediately to Him who knew, as we know, the force of fierce temptations, and who, "when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."11 "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted."12 All that call upon Him in all their manifold trials and various troubles address their supplications to a gracious Lord who trod the rough path they are required to follow, and hence can enter into their feelings, share their sufferings, and pity their infirmities. A number of persons may assemble at a funeral, and all of them will know that the mother or wife who is weeping by the side of her dead is sorely bereaved, but they who have endured a similar affliction will know it in a different sense from the others and utter their words of condolence with a deeper meaning. So the Lord on whom we call, and '' who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death,"13 has a personal and practical acquaintance with the anxieties and cares to which His disciples are exposed, and whispers to their troubled hearts words of most precious sympathy. "In all their affliction he was afflicted."14 "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows."15 "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses."16

But you will observe that only believers can truly call on Hun: for unless we believe that He died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, and now liveth to make intercession for us, Head over all things to the Church, King of kings, and Lord of lords, it is impossible to present our petitions before His throne. When, therefore, we pray to Him, we are praying to One whom it is our duty to honor in all respects even as we honor the Ancient of days from whose bosom He came down into our world; though it is a more exact definition of Christian prayer to say that it is the sincere expression of our hearts' desires to God the Father, in the name of God the Son, for those things that are suggested to us by God the Holy Ghost. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."17 Again, our Saviour declares, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it."18 Here, then, we learn that the Spirit helpeth our infirmities by showing us what we should pray for as we ought, and that our supplications are to be offered in the name of Jesus, who speaks as a mighty God and promises to do whatsoever we thus ask. Hence the important question at once arises, What is it to ask in the name of Jesus? Is it merely to say at the conclusion of our prayers, "This we ask in the name or for the sake of Jesus"? Surely not.

Suppose you were exceedingly anxious to obtain a favor from an earthly potentate, but knew that you had no influence whatever in his court, and that you could not even gain admittance into his presence without the aid of others. In this extremity you go to a friend who stands higher in the esteem of the monarch than all other persons in the realm, and who is deeply interested in the success of your suit. He gives you a letter of introduction and recommendation, warmly espousing your cause. With such a letter you may command easy access to the throne, and while urging your request you are but expressing the known wishes of your powerful friend, and representing him indeed in the audience-chamber of the sovereign. You are speaking as he would have you speak, as he would speak if he were in your place, and your petition is granted because it is understood to convey the desires of one who may not be denied. Suppose you should present your check with nothing but your own signature upon it at the counter of a bank where not a cent was on deposit to your credit. Of course it would be instantly rejected, but if you should return and exhibit a check signed by a friend who had thousands stored away in the coffers of the association, it would be promptly accepted and paid, because you would appear in the name and as the representative of another who was entitled to the highest consideration.

In like manner, if you attempt to approach the eternal throne in your own name or depending for acceptance upon the fact that you pray, we well know the result, for God's word says, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination."19 "If I regard iniquity in my heart," says the Psalmist, "the Lord will not hear me."20 "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight."21 Now, the fact is we have all turned away the ear from hearing the law; we have all regarded iniquity in the heart, and continue to regard it until born again through faith in Christ, for it is the crowning sin of man's innumerable transgressions that he refuses to believe on Jesus; we all bring forward, in our vain religiousness, the sacrifice of the wicked, and never present the prayer of the upright until we are made the righteousness of God in His dear Son. But when we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is freely offered to us in the Gospel, then He gives us His own standing before the Father's throne; then we know what it is to pray in His name; for God sees us in Him, and hears in our prayer His voice, for He and we are one; we representing Him in the presence of God; to pray sustained by the infinite merits of His atoning blood; to pray endorsed by Him as His friends and brethren; to pray, as He would have us pray, under the suggestions and teachings of His blessed Spirit abiding with us forever.

Hence we see how fearfully abused and perverted is that beautiful form of supplication commonly called the Lord's Prayer. The meaningless jargon of the rudest heathenism is not a more shocking mockery of true and acceptable worship than is the manner in which multitudes in Christian lands are in the habit of saying, "Our Father which art in heaven." Thousands of the unregenerate, who are bound, soul and body, to the world by the ties of an idolatrous attachment, and who rush with mad eagerness from one scene to another of God-forgetting and God-defying revelry, hope to gain the ear of the Almighty by the utterance of this sublime language, and thus lull the conscience into the fatal slumber of a profounder insensibility. They do not seem to know that we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and hence that believers alone can say with any propriety, "Our Father which art in heaven." One single petition in this wonderful prayer would consign them to perdition if answered. Let any man intelligently and sincerely address the Searcher of hearts with the words, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; "and if he depends on this for salvation, he simply invokes destruction upon himself; for if the Divine forgiveness is extended to him only as he extends forgiveness to those indebted to him, a moment's serious reflection will convince him that he is hopelessly lost. But even if we were able to forgive others as fully and freely as we desire God to forgive us, still this could not be the meritorious cause of our salvation, unless the whole work of Christ is in vain, and unless the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation is an idle fable, for it declares in every conceivable form of statement that "without shedding of blood is no remission."22

The name of Jesus is nowhere mentioned in the prayer, and it was plainly intended only for His disciples in their circumstances at that particular time. It was given to them before He became the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, and opened a new and living way of access to the Father through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. There is not the slightest allusion to it in any of the inspired Epistles, nor is there the slightest reason to suppose that it was designed for permanent use, although it must forever remain unspeakably precious to the Christian because it is in the words of our Lord, and contains a remarkable summary of the petitions proper for those who are already saved through the merits of His blood. We have His own authority for asserting that He did not require its continued employment after His death, and resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Ghost; for when He was about to take His departure from the disciples He addressed them thus: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."23 Again, "At that day ye shall ask in my name."24 At what day? The day when the promised Spirit should come to teach them the true nature of His kingdom, and of their mission, and to gather out of the world a church to be builded together for a habitation of God. After that day the disciples had very different views of the purpose of Christ's first advent to earth, and of the testimony of the Gospel, and of their oneness with the Saviour; and therefore the prayer which they used as children slowly learning the alphabet of Christianity could not suitably and fully express their enlarged desires when enlightened by the Holy Ghost to behold the matchless worth of the name of Jesus.

Praying in that name, they had the positive, unmistakable assurance that whatsoever they asked He would do it that the Father might be glorified in the Son. It is so still; and if we would only pray in the consciousness of our complete acceptance in Christ, and as expressing His mind and will, we could remove mountains, and nothing should be impossible unto us. Such prayer, though breathed by the prisoner in his lonely dungeon or lisped by the tongue of infancy, goes rushing across the universe, "mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;"25 swifter than the lightning; more powerful than the hurricane. "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."26 "All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."27 "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"28

These promises, and scores of others like them that could be quoted, are to be taken in their plain, obvious sense, and they are not to be fettered by human doubt nor explained away by human criticism. The Sacred Scriptures are full of striking illustrations which prove that God means precisely what He says when He declares that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,"29 "for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." He is rich in all the plenitude of the Divine perfections; rich in the absolute control of His boundless empire that in all its shining suns and countless systems, in all its loftiest intelligences and minutest forms of life, is subject to His imperial command; and rich in the inexhaustible fulness of His love to believers of every race and rank. He possesses omnipotence, and is able therefore to help His people who call on Him: "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist."30 "All power," He says, "is given unto me in heaven and in earth;"31 and He proclaims Himself to be the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."32

He possesses omniscience, and can therefore foresee and guard against all the schemes of devils and all the contingencies of human events that may threaten to arrest the bestowal of His purposed and promised blessings upon His disciples. "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered,"33 He says; and, "I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts,"34 He declares. "Lord," exclaimed Peter, "thou knowest all things;"35 and hence it is evident that His mind is perfectly familiar with all that has occurred in the past, and all that shall occur in the future; and takes knowledge not only of the march of tempests, the revolution of planets and the rise and fall of empires, but also of the silent budding of a rose and the noiseless flight of an insect. Like the ocean,

"Vast as it is, it answers as it flows,
The breathing of the lightest air that blows."

He possesses unchangeable faithfulness, and therefore we may rely upon His word with implicit confidence. "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it,"36 writes the apostle. "The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil."37 '' Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for he is faithful that promised)."38 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True."39 He possesses infinite love for those who have been redeemed with His precious blood, and therefore cannot deny them any petition which it is best for them to receive. "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."40 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."41 "He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."42 "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you."43 "The life which I now live in the flesh," says Paul, "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."44 "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."45

Oh, how rich He is in His own eternal and immeasurable resources to all that call on Him! There is no possible condition in which we can be placed that may deprive us of the privilege of prayer; and quick as thought can ascend to our Lord at the right hand of the Father, His eye is turned towards our longing glance and His heart responds to our trustful desire. "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."46 He "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,"47 for the name by which He introduced Himself to Moses in the solitudes of Horeb, and the name that is still appropriate to Him, is the I am. As another has beautifully said, in taking this title He was "furnishing His people with a blank check to be filled up to any amount. He calls Himself I am, and faith has but to write over against that ineffably precious name whatever we want." Do we want pardon, justification, adoption, sanctification, support in weakness, consolation in sorrow, guidance in perplexity, deliverance from temptation, victory over death, full redemption, and unfading glory? I AM all this, says Christ, and all that you desire.


1) Acts x. 34, 35.

2) Acts x. 43.

3) 1 Tim. iii. 16.

4) Phil. ii. 9-11.

5) John xvi. 13, 14.

6) 1 Cor. xv. 47

7) Heb. iv. 14-16.

8) John xiv. 9.

9) John i. 1.

10) Col. ii. 9.

11) Heb. i. 3.

12) Heb. ii. 16-18.

13) Heb. v. 7.

14) Isa. lxiii. 9.

15) Isa. liii. 4.

16) Matt. viii. 17.

17) Rom. viii. 26.

18) John xiv. 13, 14.

19) Prov. xxviii. 9.

20) Ps. lxvi. 18.

21) Prov. xv. 8.

22) Heb. ix. 22.

23) John xvi. 23, 24.

24) John xvi. 26.

25) 2 Cor. x. 4.

26) James v. 17, 18.

27) Matt. xxi. 22.

28) Matt. vii. 7-11.

29) James v. 16.

30) Col. i. 16, 17.

31) Matt. xxviii. 18.

32) Rev. i. 8.

33) Luke xii. 7.

34) Rev. ii. 23.

35) John xxi. 17.

36) 1 Thess. v. 24.

37) 2 Thess. iii. 3.

38) Heb. x. 23.

39) Rev. xix. 11.

40) John xiii. 1.

41) John xv. 13.

42) John xiv. 21.

43) John xv. 9.

44) Gal. ii. 20.

45) Eph. v. 25.

46) 1 John v. 14, 15.

47) Eph. iii. 20.