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The Wednesday Word: The Gospel Truth About Faith (Part 2)

March 31, 2021 3 comments

Faith is dynamic and continues to grow as it is bathed in the gospel.

Romans 10:16 says, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our report? So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Notice how the “WORD of GOD” and the “GOSPEL” are equated

in this passage. They are one and the same! Faith will grow, therefore, as the gospel is expounded! The preaching of the good news of the person, work and offices of Christ always brings and generates faith. Therefore, we must get away from the notion that the message of Christ is exclusively for evangelistic meetings! The gospel is every bit as much for the believer as it is for the lost!

What a wonderful gift of God faith really is! It enables us to take hold of the ‘so great salvation’ that has already been accomplished in Christ Jesus. When faith comes to our lives, it agrees with God’s verdict that our human righteousness is no cleaner than a filthy rag. In the light of the gospel, faith causes us to abandon all hope of ever being saved by our own goodness.

The more we are bathed and washed in the gospel the more we will realize it is not because we have been filled with the Spirit or have had some new blessing that we are fully accepted and welcome in heaven. Faith’s vision is not foggy! Faith sees clearly that we are not made more welcome in heaven because of our experiences. Faith does not rest on experiences … no matter how intense they have been. Faith sees that our full acceptance and welcome before God rests entirely upon Christ’s experience for us and not on our experience of God.

Faith also sees that we are not saved because we are being good and are

trying to be obedient to God: Faith sees, however, that the obedience of

Jesus Christ is entirely superior to our faulty attempts at obedience and totally sufficient to satisfy all the demands of God’s holy and righteous character.

But surely this is a dangerous teaching! Are there not those who will twist

this kind of thing and live like the Devil? Of course, there are! But does

that mean we should hold back from proclaiming the applications of the gospel because some people may pervert them? God forbid!

When the person of Christ and His doing and dying are preached, faith is created, and the believer is reduced to nothing. It is the preaching and application of the gospel which produces true humility in that it brings us to an end of ourselves. Faith will cause us to continually hold truth like this,

Nothing in my hand I bring

Simply to thy cross I cling,

Naked come to Thee for dress

Helpless look to Thee for Grace,

Foul I to the fountain fly,

Wash me Saviour or I die.

Because gospel faith will cause us to see our bankruptcy and destitution, the gospel and its applications, when properly expounded to the church, will cause us to take up our cross and follow Christ. A truly destitute man has nowhere else to go but to Christ and nowhere else to look but up. He sees his spiritual poverty and it humbles him. He must now turn in reliance and trust to Christ Jesus who alone can do for him that which he cannot do for himself.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com     

The new-born babe desires the sincere milk of the Word

2. It is not only natural for a child to cry, but it must crave the breast; it cannot live without the breast–therefore Peter makes it the true trial of a new-born babe: the new-born babe desires the sincere milk of the Word, that he may grow thereby: if you be born of God, make it manifest by desiring the breast of God. Do you long for the milk of the promises? A man lives one way when he is in the world, another way when he is brought unto Jesus Christ (Isa 66). They shall suck and be satisfied; if you be born again, there is no satisfaction till you get the milk of God’s Word into your souls (Isa 66:11). To ‘suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolation.’ Oh! what is a promise to a carnal man? A whore-house, it may be, is more sweet to him; but if you be born again, you cannot live without the milk of God’s Word. What is a woman’s breast to a horse? But what is it to a child? there is its comfort night and day, there is its succour night and day. O how loath are they it should be taken from them: minding heavenly things, says a carnal man, is but vanity; but to a child of God, there is his comfort.

John Bunyan- Bunyan’s Last Sermon

Here, then, we believe was the first symbolical foreshadowment of Christ, set before the eyes of Adam and Eve in their sinless state

Here, then, we believe was the first symbolical foreshadowment of Christ, set before the eyes of Adam and Eve in their sinless state; and a most suitable and significant emblem of Him was it. Let us consider these prefigurements.

1. Its very name obviously pointed to the Lord Jesus, of whom we read, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Those words are to be taken in their widest latitude. All life is resident in Christ—natural life, spiritual life, resurrection life, eternal life. “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21) declares the saint: he lives in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), he lives on Christ (John 6:50-57), he shall for all eternity live with Christ (1 Thess. 4:17).

2. The position it occupied: “in the midst of the garden” (Gen. 2:9). Note how this detail is emphasized in Revelation 2:7, “in the midst of the paradise of God,” and “in the midst of the street” (Rev. 22:2), and compare “in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb” (Rev. 5:6). Christ is the center of heaven’s glory and blessedness.

3. In its sacramental significance: In Eden the symbolic tree of life stood as the seal of the covenant, as the pledge of God’s faithfulness, as the ratification of His promises to Adam. So of the antitype we read, “For all the promises of God in him [Christ] are yea, and in him [Christ] Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Cor. 1:20). Yes, it is in Christ that all the promises of the everlasting covenant are sealed and secured.

4. Its attractiveness: “pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Gen. 2:9). Superlatively is that true of the Savior: to the redeemed He is “fairer than the children of men” (Ps. 45:2), yea, “altogether lovely” (Song of Sol. 5:16). And when the believer is favored with a season of intimate communion with Him, what cause he has to say, “His fruit was sweet to my taste” (Song of Sol. 2:3).

5. From the symbolical tree of life the apostate rebel was excluded (Gen. 3:24); likewise from the antitypical tree of life shall every finally impenitent sinner be separated: “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:9).

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14). Here is the final mention of the tree of life in Scripture—in marked and blessed contrast from what is recorded in Genesis 3:22-24. There we behold the disobedient rebel, under the curse of God, divinely excluded from the tree of life; for under the old covenant no provision was made for man’s restoration. But here we see a company under the new covenant, pronounced “blessed” by God, having been given the spirit of obedience, that they might have the right to enjoy the tree of life for all eternity. That “right” is threefold: the right which divine promise has given them (Heb. 5:9), the right of personal meetness (Heb. 12:14), and the right of evidential credentials (Jam. 2:21-25). None but those who, having been made new creatures in Christ, do His commandments, will enter the heavenly Jerusalem and be eternally regaled by the tree of life.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Two-The Adamic Covenant

Christians should be like Christ, for Christ’s sake

March 29, 2021 3 comments

Then, to put it into the strongest form I can, let me say, for Christ’s sake, endeavor to be like him. Oh! Could I fetch the dying Jesus here, and let him speak to you! My own tongue is tied this morning, but I would make his blood, his tears and his wounds speak. Poor dumb mouths, I bid each of them plead in his behalf. How would Jesus standing here, show you his hands this morning! “My friends,” he would say, “behold me! These hands were pierced for you; and look ye here at this my side. It was opened as the fountain of your salvation. See my feet; there entered the cruel nails. Each of these bones were dislocated for your sake. These eyes gushed with torrents of tears. This head was crowned with thorns. These cheeks were smitten; this hair was plucked; my body become the center and focus of agony. I hung quivering in the burning sun; and all for you, my people. And will ye not love me now? I bid you be like me. Is there any fault in me? Oh! no. Ye believe that I am fairer than ten thousand fairs, and lovelier than ten thousand loves. Have I injured you? Have I not rather done all for your salvation? And do I not sit at my father’s throne, and even now intercede on your behalf? “If ye love me,”-Christian, hear that word, let the sweet syllables ring for ever in your ears, like the prolonged sounding of silvertoned bells-”if ye love me, if ye love me, keep my commandments.” Oh, Christian, let that “if” be put to thee this morning. “If ye love me.” Glorious Redeemer! Is it an “if” at all? Thou precious, bleeding Lamb can there be an “if?” What, when I see thy blood gushing from thee, is it an “if?” Yes, I weep to say it is an “if.” Oft my thoughts make it “if,” and oft my words make it “if.” But yet methinks my soul feels it is not “if,” either.

Not to mine eyes is light so dear,

Nor friendship half so sweet.”

Yes, I love thee, I know that I love thee. Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee;” can the Christian say. “Well then” says Jesus, looking down with a glance of affectionate approbation, “since thou lovest me, keep my commandments.” O beloved, what mightier reason can I give than this? It is the argument of love and affection. Be like Christ, since gratitude demands obedience; so shall the world know that ye have been with Jesus.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Christ’s People Imitators of Him, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, at Exerter Hall Strand, April 29, 1855

A kindred doctrine grew up with this, and soon took possession of the general mind

Why, I may ask, should such a thing as the baptism of infants ever have suggested itself to the minds of men? It is not intimated in the word of God. Reason does not approve it. To religion it is plainly repugnant. From whence did it arise? It owes its existence, I answer, exclusively to blind superstition, which first persuaded men that there is a mysterious, secret, inexplicable efficacy in baptism, which conveys the grace of God to the soul of the recipient; then, that without baptism no one, whether adult or infant, could be saved; and lastly, that infants really do, by some incomprehensible power of God, repent of their sins, believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore, according to the gospel, are entitled to receive baptism! We will examine each of these propositions separately.

2. A kindred doctrine grew up with this, and soon took possession of the general mind, that no one, of whatever age, without baptism could be saved.

And if indeed baptism conveys grace and salvation, which without it cannot be received, how can any one be saved to whom it has not been given? On this subject, Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage, says: [99]

As far as in us lies, no soul is to be lost. It is not for us to hinder any person from baptism, and the grace of God. Which rule, as it holds to all, so we think it more especially to be observed in reference to infants, to whom our help, and the divine mercy, are rather to be granted.” Ambrose also, the Bishop of Milan,[100] remarks:

No person comes to the kingdom of heaven but by baptism. Infants that are baptized, are reformed back again from wickedness to the primitive state of their nature.” And Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople [101] observes: “The grace of baptism gives us cure without pain, and fills us with the grace of the Spirit.” “If sudden death seize us before we are baptized, there is nothing to be expected but hell.” Thus do these great men express the doctrine, which in their age prevailed among all who were considered orthodox. They believed that salvation without baptism was impossible. The effect upon the minds of parents and others, may readily be imagined. All, as we may suppose, were baptized without delay.

Concurrent with these movements arose an institution in the church, the workings of which had a powerful influence in hastening infant baptism. I allude to Catechumenical Schools, of which a full account may be seen in any extended ecclesiastical history. Concerning them I shall state but two or three facts. They originated in the second century, and were attached, as Sabbath-schools now are, to the several Christian congregations. They proposed to instruct children, and proselytes in the principles of religion, preparatory to their admission to baptism and membership in the church. For several centuries they enjoyed boundless popularity. Into these schools were received children of all classes, and persons of all ages and circumstances. None of them, however, were baptized, except in cases of “danger of death,” until they had passed through their regular novitiate, and could answer intelligibly the questions proposed in the rubric of the times. But as we have seen, the impression of the importance and necessity of baptism was constantly increasing in intensity, and the result was, proportionally to shorten the catechumenical period. The qualifications for baptism were also of course diminished in their number and extent, and finally, if the children could not themselves answer the questions, their friends were permitted to answer for them.

The liturgy then, as now, required that all who were baptized should, preparatory to receiving the ordinance, renounce the world, the flesh and the devil, profess their faith in Christ, and promise to walk in obedience to the gospel all the days of their life. This of course infants could not do. But the deficiency was supplied by sponsors, who did all this in their names, pledging themselves to the church and her ministry, that these little ones should subsequently receive the necessary instruction, admonition, and guidance, and at a suitable time, be brought before the bishop to be examined, and confirmed in their Christian profession. In these facts we have the true history of the origin of sponsors, or sureties for infants, in baptism. Such sureties had previously been employed only for older, or adult catechumens, having been first used for Pagans, and afterwards for others on their baptism. Ask you for testimony in proof of this statement? It is abundant, and at hand. We satisfy ourselves with one only.

The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia says:

In the second century Christians began to be divided into believers, or such as were baptized, and catechumens, or such as were receiving instruction to qualify them for baptism. To answer for these [last] persons, sponsors or God fathers were first introduced.”[102] By this device the consciences of all were quieted. Infant baptism thus gradually extended itself. And since preparatory instructions were no longer necessary the catechumenical schools were not wanted, and they at last ceased to exist. Murmurings were doubtless uttered occasionally, by those who knew any thing of religion as taught in the word of God. But for these there was a ready remedy. They were all silenced, and the policy of the Catholic church fixed, by decrees such as the following established at the Council of Trent:

Whoever shall affirm that the sacraments of the new law [the gospel] are not necessary to salvation,” “and that they do not contain the grace they signify,” “let him be accursed.”[103]

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 8- Infant baptism is an evil because its practice perpetuates the superstitions by which it was originally produced

I mention these things now… to establish your faith in God

I mention these things now, not merely to refresh your memories, but to establish your faith in God. He has been true so many times and false never, and shall we now experience any difficulty in resting on his covenant? No, by all these many years in which the faithfulness of God ‘has been put to the test, and has never failed, let us be confident that he will still regard us, and let us pray boldly, — “Have respect unto the covenant.” For, mark you, as it has been in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world Without end. It shall be to the last saint as it was with the first. The testimony of the last soldier of the host shall be, “Not one good thing hath failed of all that the Lord God hath promised.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- ‘The Covenant Pleaded,’ at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Newington

The Wednesday Word: The Gospel Truth About Faith (Part 1)

Faith claims a King,

An all-atoning Priest:

It claims no merit of its own,

But looks for all in Christ.

Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God” Romans 5:1

Does God look for faith in a believer and then, upon seeing this faith, declares the believer not guilty? Well if you were to believe what many say about this matter you would think yes, absolutely yes! But this theory is a grim error. The gospel knows nothing of the sort!

Saving faith is not a quality within us. We are saved entirely by a work outside of us. Faith, however, takes a hold of the gospel, and sees that it is perfect, sufficient and finished.

Faith sees that our salvation has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus.

Faith acknowledges that all things necessary to make us accepted before God have already been done in the substitutionary work of Christ. It is finished! Faith takes hold of the good news that in our name and on our behalf, Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again.

Faith sees that Jesus as our substitute and representative has met and fulfilled every righteous requirement needed to restore us to God.

Faith sees that the Christ event is sufficient and complete and that nothing whatsoever can be or indeed needs to be added to it.

But we must never think that faith is a quality in us that saves us.

Faith embraces the fact that Jesus Christ alone saves. Faith sees that He is enough.

Since Christ’s work for us in salvation is finished, nothing can be added to His accomplishments. Since redemption is secured, salvation is not a matter of Christ plus faith. Where so many depart from the gospel is that they believe their faith makes them accepted to God. But faith in no way makes us accepted to the Father. We are only accepted in the acceptable One, Jesus Christ.

I like Spurgeon in his Morning and Evening, June 28th, Reading’ He says,

‘It is not your hold of Christ that saves you … it is Christ. It is not your joy in Christ that saves you … it is Christ. It is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument … it is Christ’s blood and merits which saves. Do not look to your hope, but to Christ, the source of your hope.

Amen brother Spurgeon! It is vital that we do not look to our faith to save, but to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.

We must be very clear about this … it’s worth repeating … although we are saved through faith, faith is not our saviour. Our Saviour is Jesus Christ alone and our salvation is in Him alone! He is the object of our faith. He alone is the Redeemer. What faith does is to take a hold of Jesus and His accomplishments and make them our own.

Faith grasps that our righteousness is not in ourselves but rather outside of us in Christ Jesus. But faith does not bring salvation into existence nor does it produce the righteousness by which God justifies us. What faith does, however, is to take something already in existence and enables us to reckon it as our own! (to be continued).

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

If you be born of God, you are crying ones

1. First of all, A child, you know, is incident to cry as soon as it comes into the world; for if there be no noise, they say it is dead. You that are born of God, and Christians, if you be not criers, there is no spiritual life in you–if you be born of God, you are crying ones; as soon as he has raised you out of the dark dungeon of sin, you cannot but cry to God, What must I do to be saved? As soon as ever God had touched the jailer, he cries out, ‘Men and brethren, what must I do to be saved?’ Oh! how many prayerless professors is there in London that never pray! Coffee-houses will not let you pray, trades will not let you pray, looking-glasses will not let you pray; but if you was born of God, you would.

John Bunyan- Bunyan’s Last Sermon

In its deeper significance, the tree of life was an emblem and type of Christ

In its deeper significance, the tree of life was an emblem and type of Christ. “The tree of life signified the Son of God, not indeed as He is Christ and Mediator (that consideration being peculiar to another covenant), but inasmuch as He is the life of man in every condition, and the fountain of all happiness. And how well was it spoken by one who said, that it became God from the first to represent, by an outward sign, that person whom He loves, and for whose glory He has made and does make all things; that man even then might acknowledge Him as such. Wherefore Christ is called ‘the Tree of Life’ (Rev. 22:2). What indeed He now is by His merit and efficacy, as Mediator, He would have always been as the Son of God; for, as by Him man was created and obtained an animal life, so, in like manner, he would have been transformed by Him and blessed with a heavenly life. Nor could He have been the life of the sinner, as Mediator, unless He had likewise been the life of man in his holy state, as God; having life in Himself, and being life itself” (H. Witsius).

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Two-The Adamic Covenant

Christians should be like Christ, Next, for religions sake

Next, for religions sake, strive to imitate Jesus. Ah! Poor religion, thou hast been sorely shot at by cruel foes, but thou hast not been wounded one half so much by them as by thy friends. None have hurt thee, O Christianity, so much as those who profess to be thy followers. Who have made these wounds in this fair hand of Godliness? I say, the professor has done this, who has not lived up to his profession; the man, who with pretences, enters the fold, being nought but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Such men, sirs, injure the gospel more than others: more than the laughing infidel, more than the sneering critic, doth the man hurt our cause, who professes to love it, but in his actions doth belie his love Christian, lovest thou that cause? Is the name of the dear Redeemer precious to thee? Wouldst thou see the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ? Dost thou wish to see the proud man humbled and the mighty abased? Dost thou long for the souls of perishing sinners, and art thou desirous to win them, and save their souls from everlasting burning? Wouldst thou prevent their fall into the regions of the damned? Is it thy desire that Christ should see the travail of his soul, and be abundantly satisfied? Doth thy heart yearn over thy fellow immortals? Dost thou long to see them forgiven? Then be consistent with thy religion. Walk before God in the land of the living. Behave as an elect man should do. Recollect what manner of people we ought to be, in all holy conversation and godliness. This is the best way to convert the world, yea, such conduct would do more than even the efforts of missionary societies excellent as they are. Let but men see that our conduct is superior to others, then they will believe there is something in our religion; but if they see us quite the contrary to what we avow, what will they say? These religious people are no better than others! Why should we go amongst them?” And they say quite rightly. It is but common sense judgment. Ah, my friends, if ye love religion, for her own sake be consistent, and walk in the love of God. Follow Christ Jesus.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Christ’s People Imitators of Him, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, at Exerter Hall Strand, April 29, 1855