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Archive for May, 2012

Perseverance Comes by God’s Grace

Mark you well, that the next series of steps which we call sanctification, or perseverance, or better still, gracious conservation, all of those must be of grace too. No man has any claim upon God to keep him from going into sin. I am bound to keep from sin, it is my duty, but for God to send me grace by which I am enabled to keep from sin, is no right of mine; it must be his free love that does it; and if from day to day he is pleased to direct my waywardness and bring my wandering spirit back, if after a thousand slips he still restores my soul and establishes my goings, I dare not praise myself for it, but I must gratefully put the crown of my perseverance in righteousness upon the head of that infinite grace which has wrought all my works in me.

Charles H. Spurgeon–Sermon No. 958 “Dei Gratia”

All of Grace—Alas! I can do Nothing! Pt 1

Chapter Ten

Alas! I can do Nothing!

AFTER THE ANXIOUS HEART has accepted the doctrine of atonement, and learned the great truth that salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus, it is often sore troubled with a sense of inability toward that which is good. Many are groaning, “I can do nothing.” They are not making this into an excuse, but they feel it as a daily burden. They would if they could. They can each one honestly say, “To will is present with me, but how to perform that which I would I find not.”

This feeling seems to make all the gospel null and void; for what is the use of food to a hungry man if he cannot get at it? Of what avail is the river of the water of life if one cannot drink? We recall the story of the doctor and the poor woman’s child. The sage practitioner told the mother that her little one would soon be better under proper treatment, but it was absolutely needful that her boy should regularly drink the best wine, and that he should spend a season at one of the German spas. This, to a widow who could hardly get bread to eat! Now, it sometimes seems to the troubled heart that the simple gospel of “Believe and live,” is not, after all, so very simple; for it asks the poor sinner to do what he cannot do. To the really awakened, but half instructed, there appears to be a missing link; yonder is the salvation of Jesus, but how is it to be reached? The soul is without strength, and knows not what to do. It lies within sight of the city of refuge, and cannot enter its gate.

Is this want of strength provided for in the plan of salvation? It is. The work of the Lord is perfect. It begins where we are, and asks nothing of us in order to its completion. When the good Samaritan saw the traveler lying wounded and half dead, he did not bid him rise and come to him, and mount the ass and ride off to the inn. No, “he came where he was,” and ministered to him, and lifted him upon the beast and bore him to the inn. Thus doth the Lord Jesus deal with us in our low and wretched estate.

We have seen that God justifieth, that He justifieth the ungodly and that He justifies them through faith in the precious blood of Jesus; we have now to see the condition these ungodly ones are in when Jesus works out their salvation. Many awakened persons are not only troubled about their sin, but about their moral weakness. They have no strength with which to escape from the mire into which they have fallen, nor to keep out of it in after days. They not only lament over what they have done, but over what they cannot do. They feel themselves to be powerless, helpless, and spiritually lifeless. It may sound odd to say that they feel dead, and yet it is even so. They are, in their own esteem, to all good incapable. They cannot travel the road to Heaven, for their bones are broken. “None of the men of strength have found their hands;” in fact, they are “without strength.” Happily, it is written, as the commendation of God’s love to us:

 

When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).

 

Here we see conscious helplessness succored — succored by the interposition of the Lord Jesus. Our helplessness is extreme. It is not written, “When we were comparatively weak Christ died for us”; or, “When we had only a little strength”; but the description is absolute and unrestricted; “When we were yet without strength.” We had no strength whatever which could aid in our salvation; our Lord’s words were emphatically true, “Without me ye can do nothing.” I may go further than the text, and remind you of the great love wherewith the Lord loved us, “even when we were dead in trespasses and sins.” To be dead is even more than to be without strength.

The one thing that the poor strengthless sinner has to fix his mind upon, and firmly retain, as his one ground of hope, is the divine assurance that “in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Believe this, and all inability will disappear. As it is fabled of Midas that he turned everything into gold by his touch, so it is true of faith that it turns everything it touches into good. Our very needs and weaknesses become blessings when faith deals with them.

Let us dwell upon certain forms of this want of strength. To begin with, one man will say, “Sir, I do not seem to have strength to collect my thoughts, and keep them fixed upon those solemn topics which concern my salvation; a short prayer is almost too much for me. It is so partly, perhaps, through natural weakness, partly because I have injured myself through dissipation, and partly also because I worry myself with worldly cares, so that I am not capable of those high thoughts which are necessary ere a soul can be saved.” This is a very common form of sinful weakness. Note this! You are without strength on this point; and there are many like you. They could not carry out a train of consecutive thought to save their lives. Many poor men and women are illiterate and untrained, and these would find deep thought to be very heavy work. Others are so light and trifling by nature, that they could no more follow out a long process of argument and reasoning, than they could fly. They could never attain to the knowledge of any profound mystery if they expended their whole life in the effort. You need not, therefore, despair: that which is necessary to salvation is not continuous thought, but a simple reliance upon Jesus. Hold you on to this one fact — “In due time Christ died for the ungodly.” This truth will not require from you any deep research or profound reasoning, or convincing argument. There it stands: “In due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Fix your mind on that, and rest there.

Let this one great, gracious, glorious fact lie in your spirit till it perfumes all your thoughts, and makes you rejoice even though you are without strength, seeing the Lord Jesus has become your strength and your song, yea, He has become your salvation. According to the Scriptures it is a revealed fact, that in due time Christ died for the ungodly when they were yet without strength. You have heard these words hundreds of times, maybe, and yet you have never before perceived their meaning. There is a cheering savor about them, is there not? Jesus did not die for our righteousness, but He died for our sins. He did not come to save us because we were worth the saving, but because we were utterly worthless, ruined, and undone. He came not to earth out of any reason that was in us, but solely and only out of reasons which He fetched from the depths of His own divine love. In due time He died for those whom He describes, not as godly, but as ungodly, applying to them as hopeless an adjective as He could well have selected. If you have but little mind, yet fasten it to this truth, which is fitted to the smallest capacity, and is able to cheer the heaviest heart. Let this text lie under your tongue like a sweet morsel, till it dissolves into your heart and flavors all your thoughts; and then it will little matter though those thoughts should be as scattered as autumn leaves. Persons who have never shone in science, nor displayed the least originality of mind, have nevertheless been fully able to accept the doctrine of the cross, and have been saved thereby. Why should not you?

I hear another man cry, “Oh, sir my want of strength lies mainly in this, that I cannot repent sufficiently!” A curious idea men have of what repentance is! Many fancy that so many tears are to be shed, and so many groans are to be heaved, and so much despair is to be endured. Whence comes this unreasonable notion? Unbelief and despair are sins, and therefore I do not see how they can be constituent elements of acceptable repentance; yet there are many who regard them as necessary parts of true Christian experience. They are in great error. Still, I know what they mean, for in the days of my darkness I used to feel in the same way. I desired to repent, but I thought that I could not do it, and yet all the while I was repenting. Odd as it may sound, I felt that I could not feel. I used to get into a corner and weep, because I could not weep; and I fell into bitter sorrow because I could not sorrow for sin. What a jumble it all is when in our unbelieving state we begin to judge our own condition! It is like a blind man looking at his own eyes. My heart was melted within me for fear, because I thought that my heart was as hard as an adamant stone. My heart was broken to think that it would not break. Now I can see that I was exhibiting the very thing which I thought I did not possess; but then I knew not where I was.

Oh that I could help others into the light which I now enjoy! Fain would I say a word which might shorten the time of their bewilderment. I would say a few plain words, and pray “the Comforter” to apply them to the heart.

Remember that the man who truly repents is never satisfied with his own repentance. We can no more repent perfectly than we can live perfectly. However pure our tears, there will always be some dirt in them: there will be something to be repented of even in our best repentance. But listen! To repent is to change your mind about sin, and Christ, and all the great things of God. There is sorrow implied in this; but the main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there be this turning, you have the essence of true repentance, even though no alarm and no despair should ever have cast their shadow upon your mind.

If you cannot repent as you would, it will greatly aid you to do so if you will firmly believe that “in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Think of this again and again. How can you continue to be hard-hearted when you know that out of supreme love “Christ died for the ungodly”? Let me persuade you to reason with yourself thus: Ungodly as I am, though this heart of steel will not relent, though I smite in vain upon my breast, yet He died for such as I am, since He died for the ungodly. Oh that I may believe this and feel the power of it upon my flinty heart!

Blot out every other reflection from your soul, and sit down by the hour together, and meditate deeply on this one resplendent display of unmerited, unexpected, unexampled love, “Christ died for the ungodly.” Read over carefully the narrative of the Lord’s death, as you find it in the four evangelists. If anything can melt your stubborn heart, it will be a sight of the sufferings of Jesus, and the consideration that he suffered all this for His enemies.

 

O Jesus! sweet the tears I shed,

While at Thy feet I kneel,

Gaze on Thy wounded, fainting head,

And all Thy sorrows feel.

My heart dissolves to see Thee bleed,

This heart so hard before;

I hear Thee for the guilty plead,

And grief o’erflows the more.

‘Twas for the sinful Thou didst die,

And I a sinner stand:

Convinc’d by Thine expiring eye,

Slain by Thy piercèd hand.

 

Surely the cross is that wonder-working rod which can bring water out of a rock. If you understand the full meaning of the divine sacrifice of Jesus, you must repent of ever having been opposed to One who is so full of love. It is written, “They shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Repentance will not make you see Christ; but to see Christ will give you repentance. You may not make a Christ out of your repentance, but you must look for repentance to Christ. The Holy Ghost, by turning us to Christ, turns us from sin. Look away, then, from the effect to the cause, from your own repenting to the Lord Jesus, who is exalted on high to give repentance.

Charles H. Spurgeon—All of Grace

Follow along as we read this short but marvelous book. Download your copy here. Next chapter will go out Monday June 4 at 8:00 AM. Central Standard Time.

Chapter IX : Of Free Will

1. God hath indued the Will of Man, with that natural liberty, and power of acting upon choice; that it is (a) neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.

a Mat. 17.12.Jam. 1 14. Deut. 30.19.

2. Man in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power, to will, and to do that (b) which was good, and well-pleasing to God; but yet (c) was mutable, so that he might fall from it.

b Eccl. 7.29.

c Gen. 3.6

3. Man by his fall into a state of sin hath wholly lost (d) all ability of Will, to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, (e) and dead in Sin, is not able, by his own strength, to (f) convert himself; or to prepare himself thereunto.

d Rom. 5.6. ch. 8.7.

e Eph. 2.1.5.

f  Tit. 3 3,4,5. Joh. 6.44.

4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of Grace (g) he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone, enables him (h) freely to will, and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his (i) remaining corruptions he doth not perfectly nor only will that which is good; but doth also will that which is evil.

g Col. 1.13. Joh. 8.36.

h Phil. 2.13.

i Rom. 7.15.18,19 21.23.

5. The Will of Man is made (k) perfectly, and immutably free to good alone, in the state of Glory only.

k Eph. 4.13.

The 1677/89 London Confession of Faith

 

Only Those with the Gift of Repentance will Repent

Benjamin Cox Answered an Objection by a Pelagian to a Certain Passage

The Objection

Return ye backsliding children, &c. Jer 3;22

Answer

In this verse is contained:

1. An exhortation, Return ye, backsliding children;

2. A Promise, I will heal your backslidings.

This promise you understand to belong only unto those who obey the aforesaid exhortation. Even so this makes nothing against us, but perfectly agrees with our doctrine. But let me here mind you that this promise may be understood not only to be a promise of pardon to them who repent, but also a promise of the gift of repentance to the Elect, see Jeremiah 31:33, 34 and Acts 5:31. The particle and here inferred, seems to make against this. But this need not trouble us, since it is only a supplement or addition of the translations, and is not in the text.

3. A Profession of repentance and faith, Behold, we come unto thee, for thou are the Lord our God. You must understand this to be the speech of the Elect endued with God’s special grace, see Jeremiah 31:18, 19.

Thus according to your request, according to the ability which God has given to me, I have opened the Scriptures that you have mentioned. The Lord open your understanding, that you may discern the truth and acknowledge the same to the glory of God.

Benjamin Cox-Some Mistaken Scriptures Sincerely Explained, in Answer to One Infected With Some Pelagian Errors 1646.

Christ Faith was Active on the Cross

On the Cross the suffering Saviour’s faith was active. Wondrously is this brought out in Isaiah 50:8, 9, “He is near that justifieth Me….Behold, the Lord God will help Me; who is he that shall condemn Me?” The ineffably Holy One had been made the Sinbearer. Jehovah had laid on Christ the iniquity of all His people (Isa. 53:6). Though personally sinless, all the sins of God’s elect were imputed to Christ, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body to the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Yet even while enduring the curse, and the wrath of God was hard upon Him, our Surety had implicit faith that He would be exonerated—“He is near that justifieth Me.”

Arthur Pink Studies in the Scriptures Volume XI. No10 Oct. 1932

All of Grace—Why are we Saved by Faith?

Chapter Nine

Why are we saved by Faith?

WHY IS FAITH SELECTED as the channel of salvation? No doubt this inquiry is often made. “By grace are ye saved through faith,” is assuredly the doctrine of Holy Scripture, and the ordinance of God; but why is it so? Why is faith selected rather than hope, or love, or patience?

It becomes us to be modest in answering such a question, for God’s ways are not always to be understood; nor are we allowed presumptuously to question them. Humbly we would reply that, as far as we can tell, faith has been selected as the channel of grace, because there is a natural adaptation in faith to be used as the receiver. Suppose that I am about to give a poor man an alms: I put it into his hand — why? Well, it would hardly be fitting to put it into his ear, or to lay it upon his foot; the hand seems made on purpose to receive. So, in our mental frame, faith is created on purpose to be a receiver: it is the hand of the man, and there is a fitness in receiving grace by its means.

Do let me put this very plainly. Faith which receives Christ is as simple an act as when your child receives an apple from you, because you hold it out and promise to give him the apple if he comes for it. The belief and the receiving relate only to an apple; but they make up precisely the same act as the faith which deals with eternal salvation. What the child’s hand is to the apple, that your faith is to the perfect salvation of Christ. The child’s hand does not make the apple, nor improve the apple, nor deserve the apple; it only takes it; and faith is chosen by God to be the receiver of salvation, because it does not pretend to create salvation, nor to help in it, but it is content humbly to receive it. “Faith is the tongue that begs pardon, the hand which receives it, and the eye which sees it; but it is not the price which buys it.” Faith never makes herself her own plea, she rests all her argument upon the blood of Christ. She becomes a good servant to bring the riches of the Lord Jesus to the soul, because she acknowledges whence she drew them, and owns that grace alone entrusted her with them.

Faith, again, is doubtless selected because it gives all the glory to God. It is of faith that it might be by grace, and it is of grace that there might be no boasting; for God cannot endure pride. “The proud he knoweth afar off,” and He has no wish to come nearer to them. He will not give salvation in a way which will suggest or foster pride. Paul saith, “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Now, faith excludes all boasting. The hand which receives charity does not say, “I am to be thanked for accepting the gift”; that would be absurd. When the hand conveys bread to the mouth it does not say to the body, “Thank me; for I feed you.” It is a very simple thing that the hand does though a very necessary thing; and it never arrogates glory to itself for what it does. So God has selected faith to receive the unspeakable gift of His grace, because it cannot take to itself any credit, but must adore the gracious God who is the giver of all good. Faith sets the crown upon the right head, and therefore the Lord Jesus was wont to put the crown upon the head of faith, saying, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

Next, God selects faith as the channel of salvation because it is a sure method, linking man with God. When man confides in God, there is a point of union between them, and that union guarantees blessing. Faith saves us because it makes us cling to God, and so brings us into connection with Him. I have often used the following illustration, but I must repeat it, because I cannot think of a better. I am told that years ago a boat was upset above thefallsofNiagara, and two men were being carried down the current, when persons on the shore managed to float a rope out to them, which rope was seized by them both. One of them held fast to it and was safely drawn to the bank; but the other, seeing a great log come floating by, unwisely let go the rope and clung to the log, for it was the bigger thing of the two, and apparently better to cling to. Alas! the log with the man on it went right over the vast abyss, because there was no union between the log and the shore. The size of the log was no benefit to him who grasped it; it needed a connection with the shore to produce safety. So when a man trusts to his works, or to sacraments, or to anything of that sort, he will not be saved, because there is no junction between him and Christ; but faith, though it may seem to be like a slender cord, is in the hands of the great God on the shore side; infinite power pulls in the connecting line, and thus draws the man from destruction. Oh the blessedness of faith, because it unites us to God!

Faith is chosen again, because it touches the springs of action. Even in common things faith of a certain sort lies at the root of all. I wonder whether I shall be wrong if I say that we never do anything except through faith of some sort. If I walk across my study it is because I believe my legs will carry me. A man eats because he believes in the necessity of food; he goes to business because he believes in the value of money; he accepts a check because he believes that the bank will honor it. Columbus discovered America because he believed that there was another continent beyond the ocean; and the Pilgrim Fathers colonized it because they believed that God would be with them on those rocky shores. Most grand deeds have beessession of the battery and now He can send the sacred current to every part of our nature. When we believe in Christ, and the heart has come into the possession of God, then we are saved from sin, and are moved toward repentance, holiness, zeal, prayer, consecration, and every other gracious thing. “What oil is to the wheels, what weights are to clock, what wings are to a bird, what sails are to a ship, that faith is to all holy duties and services.” Have faith, and all other graces will follow and continue to hold their course.

Faith, again, has the power of working by love; it influences the affections toward God, and draws the heart after the best things. He that believes in God will beyond all question love God. Faith is an act of the understanding; but it also proceeds from the heart. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness”; and hence God gives salvation to faith because it resides next door to the affections, and is near akin to love; and love is the parent and the nurse of every holy feeling and act. Love to God is obedience, love to God is holiness. To love God and to love man is to be conformed to the image of Christ; and this is salvation.

Moreover, faith creates peace and joy; he that hath it rests, and is tranquil, is glad and joyous, and this is a preparation for heaven. God gives all heavenly gifts to faith, for this reason among others, that faith worketh in us the life and spirit which are to be eternally manifested in the upper and better world. Faith furnishes us with armor for this life, and education for the life to come. It enables a man both to live and to die without fear; it prepares both for action and for suffering; and hence the Lord selects it as a most convenient medium for conveying grace to us, and thereby securing us for glory.

Certainly faith does for us what nothing else can do; it gives us joy and peace, and causes us to enter into rest. Why do men attempt to gain salvation by other means? An old preacher says, “A silly servant who is bidden to open a door, sets his shoulder to it and pushes with all his might; but the door stirs not, and he cannot enter, use what strength he may. Another comes with a key, and easily unlocks the door, and enters right readily. Those who would be saved by works are pushing at heaven’s gate without result; but faith is the key which opens the gate at once.” Reader, will you not use that key? The Lord commands you to believe in His dear Son, therefore you may do so; and doing so you shall live. Is not this the promise of the gospel, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”? (Mk 16:16). What can be your objection to a way of salvation which commends itself to the mercy and the wisdom of our gracious God?

Charles H. Spurgeon—All of Grace

Follow along as we read this short but marvelous book. Download your copy here. Next chapter will go out Monday May 30 at 8:00 AM. Central Standard Time.

Those Who Believe the Gospel are in the Covenant

Argument .1.

The Pedobaptists Claim that the Covenant Now is the Same as in the Old Times

The first Arguments lies thus; If the Covenant now under Christ, be the same that was before Christ, with Abraham and his posterity in the flesh; then as Infants were partakers of the Covenant then, and received the seal there of Circumcision, so are infants now partakers of the Covenant, and ought to receive the seal there of Baptism. But the Covenant now under Christ, is the same that was before Christ with Abraham and his posterity in the flesh. Therefore, as Infants were then in the Covenant and received the seal thereof; even so are Infants now in the Covenant, and ought to receive the seal thereof. Three things are to be cleared in this Argument.

First, That the Covenant made with Abraham and his posterity in the flesh before Christ, and that now are under Christ, is the same.

Secondly, As Infants were in that Covenant, so are Infants now.

Thirdly, As Infants were sealed then, so they ought to be now. Now for the proving of these aforesaid, there are three other grounds laid down as follow:

First, The Gospel is the doctrine of the Covenant, but this being one, was preached to Abraham, as Gal. 3:8, 17, 18, Rom. 4:11, and so to the end, and to the Jews, in the Wilderness, Hebrews 4:1, 2; and so in David’s time, Hebrews 4:7, &c. Therefore the Covenant is the same.

Secondly, If Abraham be the father of the Jews and Gentiles, and equally as he believed the righteousness of faith, and they his children equally as so believing, and no otherwise, then the Covenant is the same. But Abraham is the father of the Jews and Gentiles, and equally as he believed, Rom. 4:11, 12, 16, 17, 23, 24. Gal. 3:3, 9, 26, 29. Therefore the Covenant is the same.

Thirdly, The standing of the Jews in the Grace of God was the same with Abraham; as is clear from God’s often expressing of himself to be the God of Abraham and His seed, and praying to God for to remember the Covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and acknowledging the accomplishing of the same to them, as Luke 1:73, 74; Luke 1:54, 55. And ours is the same with the Jews, as is clear from Matt. 21:41, 43, and 22:1.


The Answer

Thus lies the Argument, and the grounds to back it, and all to prove the Covenant God made with Abraham and his seed, to be the same now to the believing Gentiles and their seed, and Infants to be in this now, as they were in that then.

It is the effectual believing of the Gospel that proves what persons are in the Covenant.

In answer to which, I shall only touch at the three last grounds, briefly in a word, as I come to the Covenant itself.

The first is, because the Gospel is the doctrine of the Covenant, and was preached to Abraham, and to the Jews, &c. therefore the Covenant is the same. For the first, if the preaching of the Gospel, being the doctrine of the Covenant, can prove the Covenant to be the same to them as to us, then all to whom the Gospel was and is preached, are in the same Covenant. But I think it is the effectual believing of that which the Gospel holds forth in the doctrine of it, because many have the Gospel preached among them, and yet not be in the Covenant. And for the second, that Abraham is the equal father both of the Jews and Gentiles, only as he did believe, and they his children only so believing as their father Abraham did, and not else.

John Spilsbery A Treatise concerning the lawful subject of Baptism (1652)

The Chief Way to Attain Wisdom

The chief means for attaining wisdom, and suitable gifts for the ministry, are the holy Scriptures, and prayer. The one is the fountain of living water, the other the bucket with which we are to draw. And I believe you will find, by observation, that the man who is most frequent and fervent in prayer, and most devoted to the word of God, will shine and flourish above his fellows. Next to these, and derived from them, is meditation. By this, I do not mean a stated exercise upon some one particular subject, so much as a disposition of mind to observe carefully what passes within us and around us, what we see, hear, and feel, and to apply all for the illustration and confirmation of the written word to us. In the use of these means, and an humble dependence upon the Lord in all the changing dispensations we pass through our spiritual experience will enlarge: and this experience is the proper fund of our ministerial capacity, so far as it may be considered inherent in us: Pro_16:23; Mat_13:52; 1Jo_66 1:3.

These means are of universal importance. The wisest can do nothing without them, the weakest shall not use them in vain. There are likewise subordinate means, which may be healthful, and should in general be attended to: yet they ought not, I apprehend, to be considered as a sine qua non in a minister’s call and fitness. The first preachers had them not, and some in the present day are enabled to do well without them. Under this head, I principally intend all that comes under the usual denomination of literature. A competent acquaintance with the learned languages, history, natural philosophy, &c. is very desirable. If these things are held in a proper subservience, if they do not engross too much of our time, nor add fuel to the fire of that self-importance which is our great snare; they may contribute to increase and enlarge our ideas, and facilitate our expressing ourselves with propriety. But these attainments (like riches) are attended with their peculiar temptations; and unless they are under the regulation of a sound judgment, and a spiritual frame of mind, will prove (like Saul’s armor to David) rather cumbersome than useful in preaching. The sermons of preachers thus qualified are often more ingenious than edifying, and rather set off the man, than commend the Gospel of Christ.

As you desire my advice with respect to your future studies, I shall comply without hesitation or ceremony. The original Scriptures well deserve your pains, and will richly repay them. There is doubtless a beauty, fulness, and spirit, in the originals, which the best translations do not always express. When a word or phrase admits of various senses, the translators can only preserve one; and it is not to be supposed, unless they were perfectly under the influence of the same infallible Spirit, that they should always prefer the best. Only be upon your guard lest you should be tempted to think, that, because you are master of the grammatical construction, and can tell the several acceptation’s of the words in the best authors, you are therefore and thereby master of the spiritual sense likewise. This you must derive from your experimental knowledge, and the influence and teaching of the Spirit of God.

Another thing which will much assist you, in composing and speaking properly and acceptably, is logic. This will teach you what properly belongs to your subject, and what may be best suppressed; and likewise, to explain, divide, enumerate, and range your ideas to advantage. A lax, immethodical, disproportionate manner, is to be avoided. Yet beware of the contrary extreme. An affected starchiness and over-accuracy will fetter you, will make your discourses lean and dry, preclude an useful variety, and savor more of the school-lamp, than of that heavenly fire which alone can make our meditations efficacious, and profitable either to ourselves or our hearers. The proper medium can hardly be taught by rule; experience, observation, and prayer, are the best guides.

John Newton-Letter 2 Extract of a Letter to a Student in Divinity.

Pardon and Justification

I think it is not needful that I should say that the, pardon of sin must always be the effect of grace. That statement is self-evident. It cannot be due to any man that he should have his sins pardoned, for sin that deserves a pardon is no sin; it cannot be due to any man that God should make him righteous, he being himself unrighteous; that must be a spontaneous action on God’s part, flowing from his pure bounty and love. No man can claim forgiveness, it were sacrilege to suggest that he could. Pardon and justification, then, must be freely given us by God’s grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Charles H. Spurgeon–Sermon No. 958 “Dei Gratia”

All of Grace—How May faith be Illustrated?

Chapter eight

How May Faith be Illustrated?

TO MAKE THE MATTER Of faith clearer still, I will give you a few illustrations. Though the Holy Spirit alone can make my reader see, it is my duty and my joy to furnish all the light I can, and to pray the divine Lord to open blind eyes. Oh that my reader would pray the same prayer for himself!

The faith which saves has its analogies in the human frame.

It is the eye which looks. By the eye we bring into the mind that which is far away; we can bring the sun and the far-off stars into the mind by a glance of the eye. So by trust we bring the Lord Jesus near to us; and though He be far away in Heaven, He enters into our heart. Only look to Jesus; for the hymn is strictly true —

 

There is life in a look at the Crucified One,

There is life at this moment for thee.

 

Faith is the hand which grasps. When our hand takes hold of anything for itself, it does precisely what faith does when it appropriates Christ and the blessings of His redemption. Faith says, “Jesus is mine.” Faith hears of the pardoning blood, and cries, “I accept it to pardon me.” Faith calls the legacies of the dying Jesus her own; and they are her own, for faith is Christ’s heir; He has given Himself and all that He has to faith. Take, O friend, that which grace has provided for thee. You will not be a thief, for you have a divine permit: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” He who may have a treasure simply by his grasping it will be foolish indeed if he remains poor.

Faith is the mouth which feeds upon Christ. Before food can nourish us, it must be received into us. This is a simple matter — this eating and drinking. We willingly receive into the mouth that which is our food, and then we consent that it should pass down into our inward parts, wherein it is taken up and absorbed into our bodily frame. Paul says, in his Epistle to the Romans, in the tenth chapter, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth.” Now then, all that is to be done is to swallow it, to suffer it to go down into the soul. Oh that men had an appetite! For he who is hungry and sees meat before him does not need to be taught how to eat. “Give me,” said one, “a knife and a fork and a chance.” He was fully prepared to do the rest. Truly, a heart which hungers and thirsts after Christ has but to know that He is freely given, and at once it will receive Him. If my reader is in such a case, let him not hesitate to receive Jesus; for he may be sure that he will never be blamed for doing so: for unto “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” He never repulses one, but He authorizes all who come to remain sons for ever.

The pursuits of life illustrate faith in many ways. The farmer buries good seed in the earth, and expects it not only to live but to be multiplied. He has faith in the covenant arrangement, that “seed-time and harvest shall not cease,” and he is rewarded for his faith.

The merchant places his money in the care of a banker, and trusts altogether to the honesty and soundness of the bank. He entrusts his capital to another’s hands, and feels far more at ease than if he had the solid gold locked up in an iron safe.

The sailor trusts himself to the sea. When he swims he takes his foot from the bottom and rests upon the buoyant ocean. He could not swim if he did not wholly cast himself upon the water.

The goldsmith puts precious metal into the fire which seems eager to consume it, but he receives it back again from the furnace purified by the heat.

You cannot turn anywhere in life without seeing faith in operation between man and man, or between man and natural law. Now, just as we trust in daily life, even so are we to trust in God as He is revealed in Christ Jesus.

Faith exists in different persons in various degrees, according to the amount of their knowledge or growth in grace. Sometimes faith is little more than a simple clinging to Christ; a sense of dependence and a willingness so to depend. When you are down at the seaside you will see limpets sticking to the rock. You walk with a soft tread up to the rock; you strike the mollusk a rapid blow with your walking-stick and off he comes. Try the next limpet in that way. You have given him warning; he heard the blow with which you struck his neighbor, and he clings with all his might. You will never get him off; not you! Strike, and strike again, but you may as soon break the rock. Our little friend, the limpet, does not know much, but he clings. He is not acquainted with the geological formation of the rock, but he clings. He can cling, and he has found something to cling to: this is all his stock of knowledge, and he uses it for his security and salvation. It is the limpet’s life to cling to the rock, and it is the sinner’s life to cling to Jesus. Thousands of God’s people have no more faith than this; they know enough to cling to Jesus with all their heart and soul, and this suffices for present peace and eternal safety. Jesus Christ is to them a Savior strong and mighty, a Rock immovable and immutable; they cling to him for dear life, and this clinging saves them. Reader, cannot you cling? Do so at once.

Faith is seen when one man relies upon another from a knowledge of the superiority of the other. This is a higher faith; the faith which knows the reason for its dependence, and acts upon it. I do not think the limpet knows much about the rock: but as faith grows it becomes more and more intelligent. A blind man trusts himself with his guide because he knows that his friend can see, and, trusting, he walks where his guide conducts him. If the poor man is born blind he does not know what sight is; but he knows that there is such a thing as sight, and that it is possessed by his friend and therefore he freely puts his hand into the hand of the seeing one, and follows his leadership. “We walk by faith, not by sight.” “Blessed are they which have not seen, and yet have believed.” This is as good an image of faith as well can be; we know that Jesus has about Him merit, and power, and blessing, which we do not possess, and therefore we gladly trust ourselves to Him to be to us what we cannot be to ourselves. We trust Him as the blind man trusts his guide. He never betrays our confidence; but He “is made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

Every boy that goes to school has to exert faith while learning. His schoolmaster teaches him geography, and instructs him as to the form of the earth, and the existence of certain great cities and empires. The boy does not himself know that these things are true, except that he believes his teacher, and the books put into his hands. That is what you will have to do with Christ, if you are to be saved; you must simply know because He tells you, believe because He assures you it is even so, and trust yourself with Him because He promises you that salvation will be the result. Almost all that you and I know has come to us by faith. A scientific discovery has been made, and we are sure of it. On what grounds do we believe it? On the authority of certain well-known men of learning, whose reputations are established. We have never made or seen their experiments, but we believe their witness. You must do the like with regard to Jesus: because He teaches you certain truths you are to be His disciple, and believe His words; because He has performed certain acts you are to be His client, and trust yourself with Him. He is infinitely superior to you, and presents himself to your confidence as your Master and Lord. If you will receive Him and His words you shall be saved.

Another and a higher form of faith is that faith which grows out of love. Why does a boy trust his father? The reason why the child trusts his father is because he loves him. Blessed and happy are they who have a sweet faith in Jesus, intertwined with deep affection for Him, for this is a restful confidence. These lovers of Jesus are charmed with His character, and delighted with His mission, they are carried away by the lovingkindness that He has manifested, and therefore they cannot help trusting Him, because they so much admire, revere, and love Him.

The way of loving trust in the Savior may thus be illustrated. A lady is the wife of the most eminent physician of the day. She is seized with a dangerous illness, and is smitten down by its power; yet she is wonderfully calm and quiet, for her husband has made this disease his special study, and has healed thousands who were similarly afflicted. She is not in the least troubled, for she feels perfectly safe in the hands of one so dear to her, and in whom skill and love are blended in their highest forms. Her faith is reasonable and natural; her husband, from every point of view, deserves it of her. This is the kind of faith which the happiest of believers exercise toward Christ. There is no physician like Him, none can save as He can; we love Him, and He loves us, and therefore we put ourselves into His hands, accept whatever He prescribes, and do whatever He bids. We feel that nothing can be wrongly ordered while He is the director of our affairs; for He loves us too well to let us perish, or suffer a single needless pang.

Faith is the root of obedience, and this may be clearly seen in the affairs of life. When a captain trusts a pilot to steer his vessel into port he manages the vessel according to his direction. When a traveler trusts a guide to conduct him over a difficult pass, he follows the track which his guide points out. When a patient believes in a physician, he carefully follows his prescriptions and directions. Faith which refuses to obey the commands of the Savior is a mere pretense, and will never save the soul. We trust Jesus to save us; He gives us directions as to the way of salvation; we follow those directions and are saved. Let not my reader forget this. Trust Jesus, and prove your trust by doing whatever He bids you.

A notable form of faith arises out of assured knowledge; this comes of growth in grace, and is the faith which believes Christ because it knows Him, and trusts Him because it has proved Him to be infallibly faithful. An old Christian was in the habit of writing T and P in the margin of her Bible whenever she had tried and proved a promise. How easy it is to trust a tried and proved Savior! You cannot do this as yet, but you will do so. Everything must have a beginning. You will rise to strong faith in due time. This matured faith asks not for signs and tokens, but bravely believes. Look at the faith of the master mariner — I have often wondered at it. He looses his cable, he steams away from the land. For days, weeks, or even months, he never sees sail or shore; yet on he goes day and night without fear, till one morning he finds himself exactly opposite to the desired haven toward which he has been steering. How has he found his way over the trackless deep? He has trusted in his compass, his nautical almanac, his glass, and the heavenly bodies; and obeying their guidance, without sighting land, he has steered so accurately that he has not to change a point to enter into port. It is a wonderful thing — that sailing or steaming without sight. Spiritually it is a blessed thing to leave altogether the shores of sight and feeling, and to say, “Good-by” to inward feelings, cheering providences, signs, tokens, and so forth. It is glorious to be far out on the ocean of divine love, believing in God, and steering for Heaven straight away by the direction of the Word of God. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”; to them shall be administered an abundant entrance at the last, and a safe voyage on the way. Will not my reader put his trust in God in Christ Jesus. There I rest with joyous confidence. Brother, come with me, and believe our Father and our Savior. Come at once.

Charles H. Spurgeon—All of Grace

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