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Archive for May, 2017

The Wednesday Word: Abounding, Astounding Grace!

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24

When we are said to be justified, it doesn’t mean we have been made righteous, it means we have been declared righteous. Even though we are sinners, the all-holy and righteous God has given us righteous standing before Him. This is astonishing! The very righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ is reckoned to us, and it is in this imputed righteousness alone that we are safe to approach the all-holy One.

We are justified and according to our text, FREELY so. To be freely justified means not only are we acquitted, but also this verdict of acquittal is not because of any reason in us. It is free. Lenski, the Lutheran commentator, calls this aspect of salvation pure, abounding, astounding grace.

The legally binding verdict of the all-knowing Judge is that we are not guilty. It is worth pausing and thinking about that. What a profound truth… May it liberate our hearts and free us from condemnation!

Zinzendorf said it well;

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through these I am

From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

When from the dust of death I rise

To claim my mansion in the skies,

Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,

Jesus has lived, and died, for me.”

We are justified freely by grace. It has often been said that justification can be summed up with the phrase, “Just as if I’d never sinned.” It does indeed mean that, but it means much more. It means, “Just as if I had lived the same life as Jesus lived!” When we are justified, we have the very life of Christ imputed to us. When justified, we are much more than pardoned. When a person is pardoned, their punishment is remitted, but the grounds for their condemnation are not removed. This is far from Justification.

Sometimes, I am accused of making too much of the distinction of the basis of Justification being righteousness imputed to us and not infused into us. “It’s all semantics,” my critics say, “You are too technical.” This kind of comment, however, puts me in memory of the story of the man who sought some advice from a governmental agency about using a particular chemical in his business. The agency wrote back, but the letter was couched in such technical language that he couldn’t understand it. So he assumed it was alright to use the chemical and he wrote back thanking the agency for informing him and that he would go ahead and use it. When the department saw his letter, they, realizing what had happened, wrote back immediately and said just these simple words, “Don’t use that chemical, it will rust the heck out of your pipes.”

The man got the message!

Likewise, we need to be clear on the message that Gospel Justification has nothing to do with righteousness being infused into us. Great spiritual harm has come when people are not clear that we have been acquitted, not because of any reason in us but because salvation has been accomplished outside of us, in history, by Grace Alone.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Justification- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 2

Book Seventh

CHAPTER III.

SECTION II.–JUSTIFICATION.

ALL WHO BELIEVE IN CHRIST, ARE JUSTIFIED BY HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS IMPUTED TO THEM.[53]

Justification is the act of a judge acquitting one who is charged with crime. It is the opposite of condemnation. In Deut. xxv. 1, the judges of Israel were commanded, in the discharge of their official duty, to justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.

Justification is a higher blessing of grace, than pardon. The latter frees from the penalty due to sin, but it does not fully restore the lost favor of God. A pardoned criminal, and a just man who has committed no crime, stand on different ground. The distinction between pardon and justification may be illustrated by these words of Job, “God forbid that I should justify you.”[54] If, in this passage, we should substitute the word pardon for justify, every one would perceive an important change in the meaning. This change shows the difference between pardon and justification. Such is the greatness of divine grace to the sinner who returns to God through Jesus Christ, that he is treated as if he had never sinned; and this is imported to the declaration that he is justified. We are, however, not to conceive of these as separate blessings. It is not true that one sinner is justified, and another merely pardoned: but every penitent believer is both pardoned and justified. As repentance and faith are duties mutually implying each other, so pardon and justification are twin blessings of grace, bestowed together through Jesus Christ. All whom Jesus delivers from the wrath to come are freely justified from all things, and presented faultless before the presence of his glory.

Justification is attributed, in the Scriptures, to the blood and the obedience of Christ: “Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”[55] “By the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous.”[56] Both his blood and his obedience were necessary to magnify the law, and make it honorable. His blood signifies the endurance of its penalty; and his obedience, the fulfilment of its precepts. On this endurance of the penalty, our deliverance from wrath is based; and on his fulfilment of the precepts, our complete justification before God. Justification, however, could not be complete, without deliverance from the penalty; and it therefore required both the blood and the obedience of Christ; or, in the language of Scripture, “his obedience unto death.”

Justification is by faith. On this point, the Scriptures are explicit. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”[57] By him all that believe are justified from all things.[58] Faith does not justify, because of its own merit. Other graces co-exist with it in the heart of the believer; as repentance, love, &c. And these have equal claim to merit; and especially love, which is the fulfilling of the law,[59] but faith is selected as the justifying grace; and Paul assigns the reason, “It is of faith, that it might be by grace.”[60] In the very exercise of faith, merit is renounced, and the sole reliance is placed on the merit of Christ. Hence faith is opposed to works: “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”[61] In faith, the sinner as ungodly comes to God, who justifies the ungodly,[62] through Christ, who died for the ungodly.[63] He presents no plea, and entertains no hope, founded on personal merit, but relies wholly on the blood and obedience of Christ. Faith is an exercise of the believer’s mind; and as such, it is as much a work as repentance or love, and it produces other works: for, “Faith worketh by love.”[64] But it is not as a work, or as producing other works, that faith justifies; but as renouncing all personal merit and self-reliance, and receiving salvation as a gift of free grace through Jesus Christ.

In justification, righteousness is imputed, accounted, or reckoned. “David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness.”[65] Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness:[66] “For us, also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe.”[67]

How God can justly account an ungodly man righteous, is a problem which it required infinite wisdom to solve. How it was solved Paul has informed us. Him hath “God set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God; to declare I say at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”[68] The propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, and faith is that sacrifice, are the means which God employs for the solution of the difficult problem: and these solve it completely; God himself, the perfectly just one, being judge. We may not be able fully to understand the solution, and perceive all its fitness and beauty; but we may learn much respecting it, from the light which the Scriptures throw on it; and, where we fail to comprehend, we ought patiently to wait for the further light which eternity will disclose.

When the Scriptures speak of justification by the obedience or blood of Christ, faith is supposed; otherwise, those passages which speak of justification by faith, would be without meaning. And in like manner, when they speak of justification by faith, the obedience and blood of Christ are supposed; otherwise, it would be unmeaning to say, “Justified by his blood;” “By his obedience many are made righteous.” What Christ did and suffered, and also our faith in Christ, are necessary to effect our justification; and the part which each of these has in the process, is an interesting subject of inquiry.

We have already seen that faith does not justify as a meritorious work. If it justified on the ground of merit, it would need to possess sufficient merit to satisfy all the demands of the law, both perceptive and penal; and in that case the obedience and sufferings of Christ would be unnecessary. It is not jointly meritorious with the obedience and sufferings of Christ; for they are in themselves perfect: and, without addition from the works of the sinner, magnify the law and make it honorable. Christ, and Christ alone, is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth.[69] Faith disclaims all merit of its own, but receives Christ as the propitiation that God has set forth, and, as the end of the law, fully satisfying all its claims. Faith distinguishes those to whom righteousness is imputed: “it is unto all, and upon all them that believe:”[70] but it is not, in itself, either in whole or in part, the meritorious cause of justification.

But merit is ascribed, in the word of God, to the obedience and sufferings of Christ. His blood is represented as a price paid, and a price of such value, that our deliverance from under the law may, on the ground of it, be justly claimed: “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ.”[71] “He was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.”[72]

“Ye are not your own: ye are bought with a price.”[73] As a commodity may be claimed, when its full value has been paid, and the purchase completed; so our deliverance from the condemnation of the law, and our justification before God, may be claimed on the merits of Christ’s obedience and sufferings. Avenging justice is satisfied: “He is the propitiation for our sins.”[74] “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake.”[75] He gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to God of sweet smelling savor.”[76]

When the Scriptures speak of Christ’s blood as the ground of our justification, his obedience is supposed: and, on the other hand, when his obedience is mentioned, his sufferings are supposed. His obedience to the precepts of the law would not have sufficed, if he had not also endured its penalty: and if, while enduring his sufferings, he had not loved God with all his heart, his sacrifice would have been polluted. A lamb without spot was needed; and perfect obedience was therefore necessary to render his offering acceptable. His active and passive obedience are both necessary to make a complete salvation; and when only one is mentioned in the Scriptures, the other is supposed.

In being made under the law, Christ became our substitute; and his obedience and sufferings are placed to our account, as if we had personally obeyed and suffered, to the full satisfaction of the law. We are thus justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to us: “He who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”[77] Our sins were imputed to Christ when he died for them; and his righteousness is imputed to us when we receive eternal life through him. He was treated as if he had personally committed the sins which were laid on him: and all who believe in him are treated as if they had personally rendered that satisfaction to the law which was rendered by his obedience and sufferings.

Nothing can be accounted the meritorious cause of justification, but the obedience and sufferings of Christ: yet faith is indispensable: “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; and the wrath of God abideth on him.”[78] By him all that believe are justified.[79] Faith, then, is the turning point, by which a sinner’s condition is determined. In God’s method of grace, all the benefits of Christ’s satisfaction to the law are made over to the sinner, as soon as he believes: and faith, therefore, serves to him instead of a perfect personal obedience to the law. On his believing in Christ, he is treated as if he had personally rendered a perfect obedience to the law: and this is the import of those Scriptures which say that faith is imputed to him for righteousness. It is not so imputed, because of any merit which it possesses; but because it is that which the Gospel recognises in the sinner as entitling him to the full satisfaction that Christ has rendered. When faith is said to be imputed for righteousness, the obedience and sufferings of Christ, on which faith lays hold, are viewed as connected with it, and constituting the meritorious ground of its acceptance.

That the sin or righteousness of one should be imputed to another, has been thought by some to be inconsistent with the principles of justice, the province of which is, to give to every man his due. From some cause, the notion of imputation has prevailed in all ages, in the sacrifices which have been offered, both by divine authority and by heathen worshippers. This notion has the full authority of God’s word, and evidently lies at the foundation of the salvation which infinite wisdom and goodness have provided for guilty men. It would, therefore, be extreme folly in us to reject this salvation because of an objection which may arise to our erring reason in determining the abstract principles of justice. There is no higher rule of justice than God himself; and what the Judge of all does, must be right.

In explaining the imputation of Adam’s sin, we showed that there is a threefold union between Adam and his posterity, rendering the imputation of his sin to them as an act of justice. There is, in like manner, a threefold union between Christ and his people, rendering the imputation of their sin to him, and of his righteousness to them, consistent with justice.

1. There is a union of consent. Christ consented to the righteousness of the law, in its condemnation of his people, and to the necessity of satisfaction: and they do the same. He consented to become a substitute for them, and render the required satisfaction in their behalf: and they joyfully accept the favor. While in impenitence and unbelief, they do not approve the law, or its sentence, and do not acknowledge the obligation to make satisfaction. When they become sensible of this obligation, the first effort is to make satisfaction in their own persons. In this state of mind their consent with Christ is only partial; and the Gospel does not pronounce them justified. But when they become convinced of their utter inability to render satisfaction in their own persons, they give themselves up to Christ, and not only consent, but pray to be found in him, not having their own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith.

How the union of Christ and his people rendered it just in God to inflict the penalty of their sins on him, and to justify them, we cannot claim fully to understand. God knows well what his moral government requires; and as he has approved the arrangement, we may be sure it must be right. We may hope to obtain further knowledge of this glorious mystery when the counsels of infinite wisdom are unfolded to our view in the future world.

But even here we may see, in part, a fitness in the procedure. Without the consent of Christ, we cannot suppose that justice would have laid our iniquities on him: and, without the consent to be saved by him, which faith yields, we cannot understand how justice would have been honored in our being justified. As the consent of Adam’s descendants to the deed of their father, in rebelling against the law of his Sovereign, justifies the imputation of his sin to them; so the consent of Christ and his people to the divine scheme of grace, justifies what is done to them both in the execution of the scheme.

2. There is a spiritual union. As Adam was the natural head of his posterity, so Christ is the spiritual head of his people. Adam’s descendants are born from him according to the flesh, and possess the nature which existed in him as its beginning or fountain. Christ’s people are born of the Spirit, and possess the spirit which was in Christ without measure; so that, “If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”[80] This union is like that of the head and members of the human body: “and by one spirit believers are all baptised into this one body.[81] It is like the union of the vine and its branches; through all which the same vitalizing and fructifying sap circulates. This union secures the perfect consent, which has already been notice, between Christ and his people; and further illustrates the fitness of that arrangement by which they are regarded as one in the administration of God’s moral government.

3. There is a federal union. As Adam was the federal head and representative of his descendants; so Christ stood, in the covenant of grace, as the federal head and representative of all whom the Father gave to him. For their sakes he undertook the work of mediation; and for their sakes he did and suffered all that was necessary to the full execution of the work. Justice, and every other attribute of the divine nature, concurred in the arrangement, by which he was to see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; and by the knowledge of him to justify many.[82] And now, justice, and every other attribute of the divine nature, fully sanction the arrangement, by which his righteousness is imputed to all his elect people, on their believing in him. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.”[83]

The imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity, is an act of justice; the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers, is an act of grace. The former is on the proper level of justice; but the latter rises above it. Justice has nothing to say against it, but, on the contrary, is fully satisfied and abundantly honored by it; yet the plan did not originate in the justice, but in the love, of God, which provided the needed sacrifice. This distinction ought never to be forgotten. If our condemnation, is our natural state, is not just, our deliverance from it is of debt, and not of grace. When we feel, in every power of our minds, that we are justly condemned before God, and that his wrath is our righteous due; we can then receive Christ and salvation by him, as the gift of God, the free gift, the unspeakable gift, of his grace.

The Apostle James says: “A man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”[84] In this he appears, at first view, to contradict the words of Paul: “A man is justified by faith, without deeds of the law.”[85] James has assigned a reason, which furnishes a clue that leads to a perfect reconciliation of this apparent contradiction: “For,” says he, “faith without works is dead.”[86] Faith alone, is dead faith; and dead faith, according to his teaching, does not justify; and this doctrine, Paul does not contradict. The justifying faith of Paul, is living, working faith. He says expressly; “Faith works by love.”[87] James does not exclude faith from justification; but, on the contrary, introduces works, not as excluding faith, but as making it perfect: “By works was faith made perfect.”[88] As thus perfected, faith justifies, according to his teaching: and this is precisely what Paul teaches. The works which Paul excludes are not works of faith, but works of law–not works, evidencing the genuineness and vitality of faith; but works, claiming to be, in whole, or in part, the meritorious cause of justification. Such works are excluded, because they would imply an imperfection in Christ’s work, and give the sinner a ground of glorying. It is manifest that James insists on works, merely as evidences of faith: “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”[89] Even words, as well as works, are necessary, to give evidence of faith: “With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.”[90] So far as words prove the presence or absence of faith, it is true, that, “By thy words thou shalt be justified; and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”[91] But words without works, avail nothing; for Christ teaches that, “Not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.”[92] And words and works together, avail nothing, without faith; for, whatever a man may say or do, if he believe not, he “shall be damned.”

A difference of opinion has existed as to the proper date of justification. Some have regarded the day of judgment as its proper date. It is an act of God, as Judge; and, in the judgment of the great day, the Judge will publicly pronounce, on every individual, the sentence which will determine his condition through eternity. Then God’s judgments will be fully revealed; but a partial revelation of them is made in the present life: “Even now, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”[93] It is true, “He that believeth not, shall be damned;[94] but it is also true, “He that believeth not, is condemned already.”[95] In like manner, it is true that Christ will publicly own his people in the great day, and pronounce the final sentence in their favor; but it is also true, that they are justified in the present life. Hence Paul says: “Ye are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[96] “All that believe are justified from all things.”[97] The same rule by which the eternal state of men will be determined in the great day, is now made known on the authority of him who will sit on the throne of judgment then, and who is now the Judge of all the earth. By this revelation, men are already condemned or justified, according to their character. That character is often secret here. In the great day, God will judge the secrets of all hearts; but he will not establish a new rule of judgment: so far as that rule has been correctly applied here, its decision will be confirmed in the last day by the final sentence.

Some have dated justification in eternity past, regarding it as grace given in Christ Jesus before the world began. Justification is not a secret purpose in the bosom of God, but a revelation from him, and therefore it cannot be eternal. It implies, not only the accounting of the sinner righteous, but the declaring of him righteous; other wise, it would not be the opposite of condemnation; and neither justification nor condemnation can be from eternity. God’s purpose to justify is eternal, and so is his purpose to glorify; but it is improper to say that believers are justified from eternity, as to say that they are glorified from eternity. It is clearly the doctrine of Scripture, that, on believing in Christ, men pass from a state of condemnation into a state of justification.

[53] Acts xiii. 39; Rom. iii. 21, 22, 25, 26; x. 4; Gal. ii. 16; iii. 22, 24; Phil. iii. 8–10.

[54] Job xxvii. 5.

[55] Rom. v. 9.

[56] Rom. v. 19.

[57] Rom. v. 1.

[58] Acts xiii. 39.

[59] Rom. xiii. 10.

[60] Rom. iv. 16.

[61] Rom. iv. 5.

[62] Rom. iv. 5.

[63] Rom. v. 6.

[64] Gal. v. 6.

[65] Rom. iv. 6.

[66] Rom. iv. 3.

[67] Rom. iv. 24.

[68] Rom. iii. 25, 26.

[69] Rom. x. 4.

[70] Rom. iii. 22.

[71] 1 Pet. i. 18, 19.

[72] Gal. iv. 5.

[73] 1 Cor. vi. 19, 29.

[74] 1 John ii. 2.

[75] Isaiah xlii. 21.

[76] Eph. v. 2.

[77] 2 Cor. v. 21.

[78] John iii. 36.

[79] Acts xiii. 39.

[80] Rom. viii. 9.

[81] 1 Cor. xii. 13.

[82] Isaiah liii. 11.

[83] Rom. vii. 33, 34.

[84] James ii. 24.

[85] Rom. iii. 28.

[86] James ii. 17.

[87] Gal. v. 6.

[88] James ii. 22.

[89] James ii. 18.

[90] Rom. x. 10.

[91] Matt. xii. 37.

[92] Matt. vii. 21.

[93] Rom. i. 18.

[94] Mark xvi. 16.

[95] John iii. 18.

[96] 1 Cor. vi. 11.

[97] Acts xiii. 39.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Why Stay in the SBC?

By Tom Ascol

“Why should we stay in the SBC?” I’ve had that question put to me from pastors, elders, deacons, and whole congregations over the last 30 years. The questioners are always serious about the gospel and biblical church order and most of them would describe themselves as reformed or “reformedish.” The questions increase on the heels of some unfortunate, public pronouncement by a respected Southern Baptist pastor or denominational servant.

“There is not a nickel’s worth of difference between liberalism, five-point Calvinism and dead orthodoxy.”

“Calvinism is worse than Islam.”

“Calvinism makes automotons of people.”

“[Calvinism] is a dagger to the heart of evangelism.”

I could go on, but you get the idea. A Southern Baptist Calvinist could get the impression that he is not welcomed in the SBC and, as another prominent SBC…

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

 

The need of distinguishing between things that differ is further evidenced by the following: Example 8

The need of distinguishing between things that differ is further evidenced by the following. The walking in darkness of Isaiah 1:10, is not occasioned by the Lord’s withdrawing the light of His countenance, but is due to the absence of ministerial instruction, and therefore is to be explained by Amos 8:11; whereas the walking in darkness of 1 John 1:6, consists of an open revolt from God. The word “dead” in John 6:49, signifies physically; “not die” in the next verse means spiritually; “shall never see death” in John 8:51, has reference to the second death. The passing “from death unto life” of John 5:24, is legal, the reward of the Law—justification; but the passing “from death unto life” of 1 John 3:14, is experiential—regeneration. The “one new man” of Ephesians 2:15, is that mystical body which is composed of saved Jews and Gentiles, whereof Christ is the Head; whereas “the new man” of Ephesians 4:24, is the new state and standing secured by regeneration, and which the recipient is required to make manifest in his daily deportment. Christ’s being “without sin” at His first advent (Hebrews 4:15) means that He was personally and experientially so, being the Holy One of God; but His being “without sin” at His second advent (Hebrews 9:28) imports imputatively so, no longer charged with the guilt of His people. In such passages as Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8; etc., “faith” signifies the act and grace of faith, but in 1 Timothy 3:9; 4:1; Jude 1:3, “the faith” refers to the body of doctrine revealed in Scripture.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

5 Dead Baptist Theologians Every Pastor Should Read

By Jeff Robinson

A few years ago, I had a friend depart Baptist life to join the PCA. When we discussed his rationale for the shift, it became clear to me it had less to do with views on baptism than it did theological heritage. To his mind, Baptists’ confessional and theological ancestry did not quite measure up to that of the Presbyterians.

No question, our Presbyterian friends—of whom I have many—have a strong confessional heritage with a famous roster of names ranging from Calvin and Knox to Hodge, Warfield, and Machen. But Baptists have a robust theological lineage as well. As pastors, we should be reading and engaging noted figures from our past and, as opportunity arises, we should make our congregations aware of our rich confessional, theological, and pulpit legacy.

Toward that end, here are five Baptist theologians from the past I commend as must reading for every Baptist pastor.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Predestination is Practical

by Jeff Robinson

In some churches, it is a word that conjures up images of an angry and capricious God who acts arbitrarily to save some, but consigns most sinners—including deceased infants—to eternal perdition. For many professing Christians, it is the mother-of-all-swear-words.

Let the pastor breathe it in the presence of the deacon board and he risks firing, fisticuffs or worse. A God who chooses is anti-American, anti democracy. It bespeaks a long-faced religion, a doctrinal novelty invented by a maniacal 16th century minister whose progeny manufactured a theological “ism” that has plunged countless souls into a godless eternity.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

All lovers of the truth should plead for all those who preach the Gospel, that they may be “sufficient for these things.”

Having said thus much, I may draw the inference-to close up-which is: if the gospel is “a savor of life unto life,” and if the minister’s work be solemn work, how well it becomes all lovers of the truth to plead for all those who preach it, that they may be “sufficient for these things.” To lose my Prayerbook, as I have often told you, is the worst thing that can happen to me. To have no one to pray for me would place me in a dreadful condition. “Perhaps,” says a good poet, “the day when the world shall perish, will be the day unwhitened by a prayer;” and, perhaps, the day when a minister turned aside from truth, was the day when his people left off to pray for him, and when there was not a single voice supplicating grace on his behalf. I am sure it must be so with me. Give me the numerous hosts of men whom it has been my pride and glory to see in my place before I came to this hall; give me those praying people, who on the Monday evening met in such a multitude to pray to God for a blessing, and we will overcome hell itself, in spite of all that may oppose us. All our perils are nothing, so long as we have prayer. But increase my congregation; give me the polite and the noble,-give me influence and understanding,-and I should fail to do anything without a praying church. My people! shall I ever lose your prayers? Will ye ever cease your supplications? Our toils are nearly ended in this great place, and happy shall we be to return to our much-loved sanctuary. Will ye then ever cease to pray? I fear ye have not uttered so many prayers this morning as ye should have done; I fear there has not been so much earnest devotion as might have been poured forth. For my own part, I have not felt the wondrous power I sometimes experience. I will not lay it at your doors; but never let it be said, “Those people, once so fervent, have become cold!” Let not Laodiecanism get into Southwark; let us leave it here in the West end, if it is to be anywhere; let us not carry it with us. Let us “strive together for the faith once delivered unto the saints:” and knowing in what a sad position the standard bearer stands, I beseech you rally round him; for it will be ill with the army,

“If the standard bearer fall, as fall full well he may.

For never saw I promise yet, of such a deadly fray.”

Stand up my friends; grasp the banner yourselves, and maintain it erect until the day shall come, when standing on the last conquered castle of hell’s domains, we shall raise the shout, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!” Till that time, fight on.

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel- A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855

An Appendix To A Confession Of Faith- Appendix Point 16

16. Although a true believer, whether baptized, or unbaptized, be in the state of salvation, and shall certainly be saved: yet in obedience to the Command of Christ every believer ought to desire Baptism, and to yield himself to be baptized according to the rule of Christ in His Word: And where this obedience is in faith performed, there Christ makes this His Ordinance a means of unspeakable benefit to the believing soul, Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; I Pet. 3:21. And a true believer that here sees the command of Christ lying upon him, cannot allow himself in disobedience thereunto, Acts 24:16.

Benjamin Cox- An Appendix To A Confession Of Faith

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 118

To [Mr. Barrow, Sen.].

WESTWOOD, Mar. 27, 1889.

DEAR MR. BARROW,—

You are always kind. In many ways you have helped my work like a prince, and I pray the Lord to trust so good a steward with yet larger supplies. I should have been glad of you as a chairman even without your money — useful as that is; but I would not be guilty of overriding a free horse.

May every blessing rest on you and all your household! When the weather is warmer, I will invite myself to your house on the strength of the kind invitation of your letter.

Most sincere thanks for your promise of £25.

Yours heartily,

C. H. SPURGEON.

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Pardon- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 1

Book Seventh

CHAPTER III.

BLESSINGS OF GRACE.

THE SALVATION OF MEN IS ENTIRELY OF DIVINE GRACE.[1]

Grace is unmerited favor. Paul distinguishes, in Rom. iv. 4, between the reward of grace and the reward of debt. When good is conferred because it is due, it is not of grace. Whatever may be claimed on the score of justice, cannot be regarded as unmerited favor. Justice gives to every man according to his works; and if salvation were of works, it could not be of grace. Paul has made this matter very plain: “To him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. If by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.”[2]

For the same reason that salvation is not of works, it is not of the law. The law is the rule of justice, and takes cognisance of the men’s works. If it gave life to men, it could be only on the ground of their obedience to its requirements; for its language is, “the man that doeth these things shall live by them.”[3] Salvation by the law is declared to be impossible: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.[4] The Scriptures represent grace and law as opposed to each other: “The law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”[5] “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”[6] “It is of faith, that it might be by grace.”[7] Sometimes the term law is used in an extended sense; as when the law of faith is opposed to the law of works;[8] and the law of the spirit of life, to the law of sin and death.[9] Hence we read of “the perfect law of liberty,”[10] which cannot be the rule of justice: that says, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”[11] When the term law is used in this extended sense, it denotes the method of salvation by grace through faith, and is carefully distinguished from “the law of works.”

The doctrine that salvation is of grace, is taught in the sacred Scriptures with great clearness. In the second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, the declaration is twice made, “By grace ye are saved.” Paul ascribes his own salvation to grace: “By the grace of God, I am what I am.”[12] He traces the blessing of salvation to “the grace given in Christ Jesus, before the world began:”[13]–to “the riches of his grace:”[14]–to “the exceeding riches of his grace.”[15]

Salvation is entirely of grace. The passages already quoted show that salvation is not partly of grace and partly of works. Grace and works are so opposed to each other, that, when it is affirmed to be of grace, it is denied to be of works: “Not of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.” “Not according to our works; but according to his own purpose and grace.”[16] The exclusion of all boasting,[17] was, that the blessing bestowed is entirely of grace: “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”[18] Our works are wholly excluded; because they are all sinful, and can deserve nothing but the wrath of God. Faith renounces all reliance on our own works, all expectation of favor on their account; and asks and receives every blessing as the gift of divine grace through Jesus Christ. When salvation is so received, all boasting is effectually excluded.

That salvation is entirely of divine grace, may be argued from the condition in which the Gospel finds mankind. We are justly condemned, totally depraved, and, in ourselves, perfectly helpless. All this has been fully proved in a former chapter; is verified in the experience of every one who is awakened to a just view of his lost state; and precisely accords with the language of God to his ancient people: “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.”[19] The second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians describes the condition of men by nature: “Children of wrath,” “dead in trespasses and sins,” “without hope and without God;” and it attributes their deliverance from this wretched and hopeless condition, to the grace of God, who is rich in mercy: “But God, in his great love, wherewith he loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together; and hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. For by grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” In the eagerness of his desire to impress the minds of the Ephesian Christians with a sense of their obligation to divine grace, before he reaches the conclusion of his argument, as if impatient to express the thought with which his own mind was so deeply impressed, he introduced it parenthetically, by anticipation, “By grace ye are saved.” Afterwards, when his argument is completed, he repeats the declaration, and expands it to the utmost fulness of meaning, when he adds that faith itself is the gift of God. If the blessing bestowed is of faith, that it might be by grace, and if faith itself is the gift of God, it must be emphatically true that salvation is of grace.

The blessings which are bestowed in salvation, demonstrate that it is entirely of grace. We shall proceed to a particular consideration of these, in the sections which follow: but we may here, in a general view, comprehend them under two gifts, namely, of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of Christ, to die for us, and to become to us the author of eternal salvation, is entirely of grace: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”[20] “God commendeth his love toward us.”[21] “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”[22] Without the death of Christ, our salvation was impossible: and we had no claim on God to draw forth from him the gift of his well-beloved. He was freely given, of God’s great love, wherewith he loved us: and as he was freely given, so all the blessings which flow through him are freely given also. If any man feels that Christ was under obligation to die for him, or that God was bound to give his Son to make the needed sacrifice for sin, he totally mistakes, on a point of vital importance to the salvation of his soul. The doctrine that salvation is of grace, is not a useless speculation; but it enters into the very heart of Christian experience; and the faith which does not recognise it, does not receive Christ as he is presented in the Gospel. It is, therefore, a matter of unspeakable importance, that our view of this truth should be clear, and that it should be cordially embraced by every power of our minds.

As the Son of God was freely given to effect our salvation by his death; so the Holy Spirit is freely given, to apply the salvation which the Son has wrought out: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”[23] We receive the Holy Spirit as a gift of the Father’s love, who bestows it, as earthly parents give good things to their children.[24] And this gift is not bestowed because of merit in the recipient. Paul asks, “Received ye the Spirit, by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”[25] From this inquiry we learn that this gift also is of faith, that it might be by grace.[26] The Spirit is given in answer to the prayer of Christ: and being thus bestowed through Christ, it is one of the good things freely given together with Christ. We are encouraged to pray that God would give us his Holy Spirit: but our prayer cannot be acceptable, and will not be heard, if we ask the blessing as one which is justly due, and which we may demand as a right. When our humbled hearts plead that God would, in the exceeding riches of his grace, grant us his Holy Spirit, to renew and sanctify us, and fit us for his service, our petitions rise with acceptance to the ear of the Lord of hosts.

An objection to the views which have been presented, may arise from the fact, that, in the last day, men will be judged according to their works.[27] But the good works of the saints are the fruit of grace bestowed; and, although the sentence in the great day will be according to their works, the reward will nevertheless be of grace, and not of debt. Their works will be an evidence of their faith; and Christ, the Judge, will refer to them, as proof of love to him. The kingdom which he will bestow, will be, not a reward for the merit of their works, but an inheritance prepared for them before the foundation of the world.[28] It will be as true on that day, as it is now, and it will be felt to be true by all the saints, that eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.[29]

SECTION I.–PARDON.

ALL WHO REPENT OF SIN OBTAIN FORGIVENESS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.[30]

Forgiveness implies deliverance from the penalty due to sin. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness: and when men become sensible to the danger to which they are exposed, deliverance from the impending wrath becomes an object of intense solicitude. Hence arises an anxious desire to obtain forgiveness. To persons in this state of mind, the doctrine that there is forgiveness with God, is most welcome.

All forgiveness is bestowed through Jesus Christ. It is he who delivers from the wrath to come.[31] In him “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”[32] He had power on earth to forgive sins;[33] and he is now exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.[34] That we might be delivered from the penalty due to our sins, it was necessary that Christ should bear it for us. Hence it is true, that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission;[35] and hence, in the teachings of Scripture, the forgiveness of sins stands connected with redemption by the blood of Christ. With this agrees the language of the redeemed: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins, in his own blood.”[36]

The blessing of forgiveness is bestowed on all who truly repent of their sins. This is taught in various passages of Scripture. “Repent ye, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”[37] “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”[38] Repentance and remission of sins[39] were preached in the name of Christ, and are associated blessings, bestowed by “the exalted Prince and Saviour.”[40] When Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,”[41] it was implied that, if they repented, they would escape. God, in the gospel, commands all men everywhere to repent, in view of the approaching judgment.[42] The hope of escape in that great day, is clearly held out to those who obey the command, and sincerely repent of their sins.

Forgiveness is sometimes represented in the Scriptures, as received by faith in Christ: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sin.”[43] Repentance and faith are twin graces, proceeding from the same Holy Spirit, and wrought in the same heart; and, although they may be contemplated separately, they exist together, and the promise of forgiveness belongs to either of them.

In the New Testament, a connection appears, between the remission of sins and the ordinance of baptism. John preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;[44] and Ananias commanded Saul, “Arise, and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”[45] In the Old Testament, a similar connection appears, between remission and the sacrifices of that dispensation. “Almost all things were by the law purged with blood, and without the shedding of blood is no remission.”[46] Yet Paul has taught us that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin;[47] that these offerings were only figures of things to come; and that the only effectual removal of sin is by the blood of Christ. Baptism under the gospel, is as truly a figure, as the sacrifices were under the law. In the ceremonies instituted by Moses, the death of Christ was prefigured by the death of the slaughtered victims; and in the gospel ceremony, the burial and resurrection of Christ are figured forth in the ordinance of baptism: and in both cases, the remission connected with the ceremony is merely figurative. Our sins are washed away in baptism, in the same sense in which we eat the body and brink the blood of Christ, in the ordinance of the Lord’s supper.[48] Baptism and the Lord’s supper are duties to be performed under the gospel dispensation; as the various ceremonies instituted by Moses, were duties under the former dispensation; but the figures ought not, in either case, to be confounded with the things which they represent. In a figure, baptism washes away sin: in reality, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.” We must be careful not to rely on the figure, instead of the reality which it represents.

To escape the wrath to come, is the first desire of the awakened sinner; and mercy, mercy, forgive, forgive, are the first words uttered in his earnest prayers. Forgiveness is bestowed on repentance, and repentance is the first duty enjoined in the gospel. It is fit that the first blessing of grace which the sinner anxiously seeks, should be connected with the first duty required of him. It shows, on the one hand, the holiness of God, who will not pardon sin, except on the condition of the sinner’s return to obedience; and, on the other, God’s readiness to forgive, inasmuch as his wrath is averted at the first step of the sinner’s return. He might have required that the sinner should undergo a long discipline of painful penance, and a long course of laborious service, as a condition of release from the indignation and wrath so long provoked. But God’s readiness to forgive, is beautifully illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son, by the conduct of the father, who, while his son was yet a great way off, ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him,[49] with free and full assurance of pardon and acceptance. Such is the love which God manifests to the returning sinner. It hastens to receive him on the first indication of true penitence. Nor is it a partial forgiveness which is then bestowed. The storm of divine wrath, which had been gathering over the sinner’s head, during all his life of impenitence, is at once dispelled, and his sins, as a thick cloud, are at once blotted out.[50] To show the completeness of his pardon, his iniquities are represented as buried in the depths of the sea;[51] not in some shallow place, where an ebbing tide might leave them uncovered; but in the depths of the ocean, where, if they should be sought for, they could never be found. Such is God’s forgiveness. Why are sinners so averse to seek it?

Although, on the first movement of a sinner in his return to God, the first blessing of divine grace is bestowed on him, so full, so freely, so gloriously; it does not follow, that he may safely stop short in his progress. The doctrine of the saints’ final perseverance, which we shall hereafter consider, is misunderstood and misapplied; if men take encouragement from it, to relax in their efforts to advance in the way of holiness. The blessing of forgiveness, and the exercise of repentance, are connected with each other, at the beginning of the divine life; and their connection remains throughout its progress. We have occasion to pray for forgiveness, as often as we pray for our daily bread,[52] and the prayer cannot be presented with a well grounded hope that it will be heard and answered, unless it proceed from a penitent heart. Penitence is as necessary to pardon, in the saint who is just finishing his warfare, and taking his departure for the other world, as it was in the first moment of his drawing near to God. Christ was exalted “to give repentance and remission of sins:” and if these do not accompany each other, they do not come from Christ. He who believes that all his sins, past and future, were forgiven at his first conversion, in such a sense that he may dispense with all subsequent penitence, and rest satisfied with his first forgiveness, has need to learn again the first principles of the doctrine of Christ.

[1] Eph. ii. 5, 7, 8; 2 Tim. i. 9; Rom. iii. 24; viii. 23; xi. 5, 6; ix. 15, 16.

[2] Rom. xi. 6.

[3] Rom. x. 5.

[4] Gal. iii. 21.

[5] John i. 17.

[6] Gal. iii. 2.

[7] Rom. iv. 16.

[8] Rom. iii. 27.

[9] Rom. viii. 2.

[10] James i. 25.

[11] Gal. iii. 10.

[12] 1 Cor. xv. 10.

[13] 2 Tim. i. 9.

[14] Eph. i. 7.

[15] Eph. ii. 7.

[16] 2 Tim. i. 9.

[17] Rom. iii. 27.

[18] Eph. ii. 9.

[19] Hosea xiii. 9.

[20] John iii. 16.

[21] Rom. v. 8.

[22] Rom. viii. 32.

[23] Rom. v. 5.

[24] Luke xi. 13.

[25] Gal. iii. 2.

[26] Rom. iv. 16.

[27] Rev. xx. 12.

[28] Matt. xxv. 34.

[29] Rom. vi. 23.

[30] Isaiah lv. 7; Jer. iii. 12, 22; Luke xxiv. 46, 47; Acts ii. 38; iii. 19; v. 31.

[31] 1 Thess. i. 10.

[32] Eph. i. 7.

[33] Matt. ix. 6.

[34] Acts v. 31.

[35] Heb. ix. 22.

[36] Rev. i. 5.

[37] Acts iii. 19.

[38] 1 John i. 9.

[39] Luke xxiv. 47.

[40] Acts v. 31.

[41] Luke xiii. 3.

[42] Acts xvii. 30.

[43] Acts x. 43.

[44] Mark i. 4.

[45] Acts xxii. 16.

[46] Heb. ix. 22.

[47] Heb. ix. 13.

[48] 1 Cor. x. 16.

[49] Luke xv. 20.

[50] Isaiah xliv. 22.

[51] Mic. vii. 19.

[52] Matt. vi. 11, 12.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology