The Strongbox

December 8, 2022

By Virginia Brandt Berg

Audio length: 8:42
Download Audio (7.9MB)

Something that happened recently started me thinking again of the great advantages a Christian has in this life, and oh, what advantages they are! It would be foolish to try and enumerate them in these few moments, but I thought what it would mean to those that are listening who are not Christians if they could get just a little inkling of the advantages a Christian has.

Don’t pity Christians, because we’re rich beyond measure. We have everything when we have Jesus Christ. And this brought to mind a little editorial by Pastor William Thomas called “My Strongbox.” Here it is:

A fine Christian man who was now ready to leave the world in his dying hour asked his pastor who had come to see him, “Will you please bring me my strongbox?” The pastor hesitated, and he said, “It’s there on the table, see it?” He pointed toward his Bible. He said, “I want to go over my papers with you, for I’m a rich man with a large inheritance.”

The pastor saw that he was pointing to his Bible and brought it to his bed. Opening it, the dying man said, “These are my documents, and they have to do with my wealth that I want to tell you about. The first document relates to who I am. It says in 1 John 3:2: ‘Beloved, now we are the sons of God. It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’

“The second document relates to my inheritance, a great gift that I received. You know John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,’ and that I have inherited. And also John 1:12 and 13: ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, which were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.’

“The third document here is my life insurance, John 11:25 and 26: ‘Then Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.’

“The fourth is my fire insurance. You’ll find it in Second Peter, the third chapter. ‘But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heaven shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat. The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of the Lord, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a New Heaven and a New Earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.’

“The fifth is my accident insurance, Romans 8:28: ‘We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.’”

“Oh, this is all good and wonderful,” said the pastor to the old man. “But what about their security? What about burglars and thieves stealing these?”

“Oh, no,” said the dying man. “They are all deposited in a safe where no burglar can reach them. Here, I’ll show you.” With a feeble hand he pointed to these verses. “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”1 And then he added joyfully John 10:35, “And the Scripture cannot be broken.”

Then he said, “Look at this one, John 10:29: ‘My Father which gave them to me is greater than all. No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.’”

Then the old man smiled, he closed the Bible, and said, “What an inheritance I have! What an inheritance every Christian has! How rich we are! There are other securities and other riches I’d like to tell you about. I’ve used them for many long years, but I’m weary now, and, Pastor, I know you have all these yourself.” Then, weary, the old man, so near the end of the trail, closed his eyes and the pastor thought that he saw the light of heaven shine on his face.

I trust all these riches and advantages of a Christian are yours also. They can be; they surely can be. They’re for everyone and they’re free, beloved, but that doesn’t begin to tell it all, though the dear old man surely knew his inheritance.

To me one of the most precious possessions I have in my strongbox is the receipt for a great debt I owed, and the Lord paid that debt, the debt of sin. He bore that debt on Calvary. How true that Jesus paid it all.

All to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He made it white as snow.
For nothing good have I
Whereby His grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s lamb.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
—Elvina M. Hall, 1865

I think I can best express what the old man said and what I feel and experience with the words of a wonderful song. They’re some of the most wonderful words that I’ve ever found in a Christian song, and that is the song that’s called “If I Gained the World, but Lost the Savior.”

If I gained the world but lost the Savior,
Were my life worth living for a day?
Could my yearning heart find rest and comfort
In the things that so soon must pass away?

If I gained the world but lost the Savior,
Would my gain be worth the lifelong strife?
Are all the earthly pleasures worth comparing
For a moment with a Christ-filled life?

Had I wealth and love in fullest measure,
And a name revered both far and near,
Yet no hope beyond, no harbor waiting,
Where my storm-tossed vessel I could steer;

If I gained the world but lost the Savior,
Who endured the cross and died for me,
Could then all the world afford a refuge,
Whither, in my anguish, I might flee?

Oh, what emptiness!—without the Savior,
’Mid the sins and sorrows here below!
And eternity, how dark without Him!
Only night and tears and endless woe!

What, though I might live without the Savior,
When I come to die, how would it be?
O to face the valley’s gloom without Him!
And without Him all eternity!
—Anna Olander, 1904

Let’s have a word of prayer together now.

Father, we do reach out to You for those whose hearts are so empty; they’ve never known the Savior and they’re striving for gain. They’re so feverish in their busy days and in such a rush. We pray, Lord, for quietness of spirit until You can speak to their hearts.

We ask You, Jesus, for these that have been so sorely tempted. Help them in the time of temptation. We bring again the sick and the suffering, the storm-tossed with so many burdens to Your great heart.

We ask You to be with the unsaved, any who do not know You. Touch their hearts. Put a hunger in their hearts for You. And for those who have known You and wandered away, Lord, we ask that You would draw them by the cords of Your love. May they feel Your precious Holy Spirit tugging at their hearts. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.

Remember, God is still on the throne and prayer changes things.

From a transcript of a Meditation Moments broadcast, adapted. Published on Anchor December 2022. Read by Lenore Welsh.

1 2 Timothy 1:12.

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