Taken, modernized, and adapted from, “THE SAINTS’ KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST’S LOVE; OR, THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST”
Written by John Bunyan
“…Sin sometimes is most afflicting to the conscience,
Even while the soul is beholding the overspreading nature of it power. But yet even here our conscience doesn’t stop the sin, but oft-times through the power and prevalence of its malignancy, the soul is driven with it, as a ship by a mighty tempest, or as a rolling thing before the whirlwind: driven, I say, from God, and from all hopes of his mercy, as far as the east is from the west, or as the ends of the world are asunder. Hence it is supposed by the prophet, that for and by sin they may be driven from God to the utmost part of heaven (Deuteronomy 30:4); and that is a sad thing, a sad thing, I say, to a gracious man. “Why,” says the prophet to God, “Are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (Psalms 22:1).
Sometimes a man, yes, even a man of God, is, as he believes, so far off from God, that he believes that God can neither help him, nor hear him, in his is a dismal state. “And you Have removed my soul,” “far off from peace: I forgot prosperity” (Lamentations 3:17). This is the state sometimes of the godly, and that not only with reference to their being removed by persecutions, or from the good times and the gospel-seasons, which are their delight, and the desire of their eyes; –but also with reference to their faith and hope in their God. They think themselves beyond the reach of his mercy.
Wherefore in answer to this conceit the Lord asks, saying, “Is my hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?” (Isaiah 50:2). And again, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). Wherefore God says again, “If any of them be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord your God gather you, and from thence will he fetch you” (Deuteronomy 30:4).
God has a long arm, and he can reach a great way further than we can conceive (Nehemiah 1:9): When we think his mercy is clean gone, and that ourselves are free among the dead, and of the number that he remembers no more, even then he can reach us, and cause us to stand before him. He could reach Jonah, though in the belly of hell (Jonah 2); and he can reach you, even when you think your way is hid from the Lord, and your judgment passed on from God.
But what a reach there is in the mercy of God, how far it can extend itself. “If I take the wings of the morning,” said David, “and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalms 139:9,10). I will gather them from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, says he: That is, from the utmost corners.
This therefore should encourage them that for the present cannot stand, but that do fly before their guilt and sin: Them that feel no help nor stay from sin and their just guilt, but who go on in their thinking, every day driven by the power of temptation, and feeling yet driven farther off from God, and from the hope of obtaining of his mercy to their salvation…
Poor creature, I will not now ask you how you came into this condition, or how long this has been your state; but I will say before you, and I beg you to hear me, “O the length of the saving arm of God!” As yet you are still within the reach;
But do not go about to measure arms with God, as some good men are apt to do: I mean, don’t you conclude, that because you canst not reach God by your short stump, that he therefore cannot reach you with his long arm.
Look again, “Have you an arm like God” (Job 40:9), an arm like his for length and strength?
It becomes you, when you cannot perceive that God is within the reach of your arm, then to believe that you are within the reach of his; for it is a long arm, and none knows how long.