HOW may one know that he has Christ as his High Priest? I will name a few things concerning this, and they shall not be very hard nor very high.
First, Do you love to have Him? Do you look upon the possession of Jesus Christ as that which would make you completely happy? Paul thus proved his sincerity. “That I may win Christ,” says he. Had he not won Him and got him long since? Yes; but the man is for winning Him still (Philippians 3:8, 9). Abrahams word (Genesis 15:2) has more gospel in it than a great many carnal professors understand. When the Lord comforts him after the slaughter of the kings, saying, “Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” Abraham asks, “Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?” God could give him safety from his enemies without giving him children, but the kernel of the matter was that the gospel which had been preached to Abraham before was this, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” Galatians 3:8. Christ was preached to Abraham as that One who was to come out of his loins. Now he prays, “Lord, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?” Abraham did not know how many generations later the Messiah would come; it may be he expected His coming sooner than it was; likely enough he knew it would be a long while. But the grand trial of the mans faith was this: “God hath promised, that in my seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed; the universal blessing upon poor, fallen man is to come by a certain One who is to be born of my posterity.” This is what Abraham had in his eye. “Now, Lord,” he says, “what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?” In a manner he was saying, “Lord, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go Christless; where is the blessing of all the families of the earth?”
Now Sirs, turn this into the spiritual sense of it, and see if your hearts can deal so with God. If the Lord should give you riches, long life, posterity, and all the comforts of this life, could you say, “Lord, what wilt thou give me, nay, what canst thou give me, that can be a blessing to me, if I do not receive Jesus Christ?”
Secondly, you may know whether you have Christ or not by what you are aiming at and catching at in the gospel. I would ask, Why do you come to hear? What is the inward thought of your heart? Is it, “O that I may get hold of Jesus Christ. If I may but lay hold of the skirt of this great High Priest over the house of God, it is enough.”? Our work in hearing the gospel must be to see if we can get hold of Christ Jesus. He comes near to us in the word, and sometimes comes so near that a poor creature is enabled to get hold of Him.
Many ways do poor believers lay hold on Christ. He is laid hold on only by faith, but faith acts and works in many ways. Faith works many times in strong desires, pantings and breathings after Him, frequently expressed by Himself as hungering and thirsting after Him. And the meaning of that is: accepting Christ in the gospel. Try yourselves by it. Can you trust this great High Priest, with all your affairs? If you can trust Him, you have Him, for He is possessed by trusting. What is your exercise when the matter of your eternal salvation is great in your eye, when you know the preciousness of your immortal soul, when you see the multitude of those sins you have to answer for, when you fear the strength of corruption that is raging in you, and when you see the power of temptation that surrounds you? In all this, can you, with the heart, trust this great High Priest? Can you cast yourself upon Him alone and seek no relief elsewhere, knowing that you need no more than what He is willing to give? Trusting in Christ Jesus is a very deliberate act, and a very determinate act. The man who trusts in Christ Jesus, can trust in nothing else. People that are trifling and whose hearts are secure and carnal, can easily join together, as they imagine, these two: trusting in Christ and trusting in themselves. But it is impossible; trust must be always undivided.
Thirdly, you may know if you have Christ by what He does in you. Has He done any thing in you? We have a great High Priest who is not only for us but also does many things in us: and by that we know we have Him. Whenever Christ comes to take possession of the heart, He does something in the heart that makes it perceive the preciousness of His work. You will find that the savour of His sacrifice has been powerful upon your hearts; you will find the benefit of His intercession has been many times perceived by you. The children of God frequently experience this thing. They many times pray and pray poorly, but are heard graciously. They wonder; they are surprised with mercies they did not look for; they admire the Giver from whom they flow. Alas, they forget, until they perceive it anew, that there is a great Friend in heaven, the great Intercessor, who remembers them, and that these mercies are the fruits of His remembering them.
Lastly, you may know if you have Christ as your High Priest if you have daily work for Him. It is a certain truth that the employing of Christ is the possessing of Him; the employing of Him is the enjoying of Him. It is impossible that any can employ Christ in any of His offices, who do not already have Christ in that office. You have evidence that you have Christ as your High Priest when you have daily work for Him; you need the sprinkling of His blood for your daily transgressions; you need the efficacy of His grace for your daily wants. Never look for a worse sign of a man not having Christ than his having no sense of the want of Him. The man that has no work for Christ is yet without Christ. A poor believer who groans under a sense of his need of Christ is oftentimes discouraged, but his sense of need should be an argument for encouragement. If believers be lively and growing, they must all say: “In truth I find I have far more need of Christ than I had twenty, thirty years ago.” As His fulness and our own emptiness are more discovered to us, our employing Him does increase, as well as our enjoying of Him.
Robert Traill (1642 -1716) was a Presbyterian minister and a friend of such eminent ministers as William Guthrie and the younger John Welsh. Having fled to Holland from persecution in Scotland, he became an assistant to Nethenus, Professor at Utrecht University. He later held Presbyterian charges in London and Kent. A principal aim in his preaching was the promotion of practical godliness. The above piece is an edited extract from Volume 4 of the Banner of Truth edition of The Works of Robert Traill.