The Fountain of Life
For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. (Psalms 36:9)
Recently, I was asked why I end my tabernacle sermons with the phrase, Blessed be God for Jesus Christ. Each of the sermons on the tabernacle is to explain the beautiful pictures of Christ that are displayed in the types and figures of tabernacle worship. I am reminded of verse 9 in Psalm 36 in which David writes: “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” The purpose of these studies is to open this fountain of life to perfect our knowledge of Christ. We are not in the midst amid an academic pursuit to merely fill our heads with useless knowledge, but it is our desire to be filled with the fullness of the knowledge of Christ. To know Christ is to love Him, so as we increase our knowledge of Him so shall we increase in our love for Him.
The doctrines of God’s word elucidate the work of Christ that we might know Him better. In 1671, the great Puritan, John Flavel, presented a series of messages entitled The Fountain of Life Opened Up. In these sermons, he sought to draw the truths of Christ together to present them in an orderly fashion so that his readers could see the interdependency of each doctrine to the meaning of the whole gospel. In the introduction to his work, Flavel wrote:
“A young ungrounded Christian, when he sees all the fundamental truths, and sees good evidence and reasons of them, perhaps may be yet ignorant of the right order and place of every truth. It is a rare thing to have young professors to understand the necessary truths methodically: and this is a very great defect: for a great part of the usefulness and excellency of particular truths consists in the respect they have to one another. This therefore will be a very considerable part of your confirmation, and growth in your understandings, to see the body of the Christian doctrine, as it were, at one view, as the several parts of it are united in one perfect frame; and to know what aspect one point has upon another, and which are their due places. There is a great difference between the sight of the several parts of a clock or watch, as they are disjointed and scattered abroad, and the seeing of them joined, and in use and motion. To see here a pin and there a wheel, and not know how to set them all together, nor ever see them in their due places, will give but little satisfaction. It is the frame and design of holy doctrine that must be known, and every part should be discerned as it has its particular use to that design, and as it is connected with the other parts.
“By this means only can the true nature of Theology, together with the harmony and perfection of truth, be clearly understood. And every single truth also will be much better perceived by him that sees its place and order, than by any other: for one truth exceedingly illustrates and leads another into the understanding. Study therefore to grow in the more methodical knowledge of the same truths which you have received; and though you are not yet ripe enough to discern the whole body of theology in due method, yet see so much as you have attained to know, in the right order and placing of every part. As in anatomy, it is hard for the wisest physician to discern the course of every branch of the veins and arteries; but yet they may easily discern the place and order of the principal parts, and greater vessels, (and surely in the body of religion there are no branches of greater or more necessary truth than these) so it is in divinity, where no man has a perfect view of the whole, until he comes to the state of perfection with God; but every true Christian has the knowledge of all the essentials, and may know the orders and places of them all.”
This is the reason we study the tabernacle. We must see Christ better through the systematic understanding of truth. In the tabernacle, we touch on every aspect of Christ’s work. And as if to stand back in amazement at each discovery in the unveiling of Christ, Flavel ended each marvelous exposition of the Saviour with these words: Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.
Pastor V. Mark Smith