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The Wednesday Word: You May be a Legalist If: …Part 2

You may be a legalist if you are a professing Christian but suspect that your salvation has not been secured and guaranteed by Christ. If this is the case, you are likely trying to try to supplement your salvation by your own efforts and righteousness. That means you are a legalist and legalism wants you to focus anywhere and everywhere but on the Finished Work of Christ for your salvation.

The gospel, however, brings the death knell to legalism. As gospel believers, we learn to rest entirely in who Jesus is and on what He has accomplished for us in the Finished Work.

Shortly after the feeding of the 5,000, Christ was confronted by a group of eager legalists asking, “What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” (John 6:28). Christ’s reply (verse 29) is very telling. He responds, “This is the work of God that you believe on him who He has sent.” That is to say, to believe, (rest and trust) on Christ, is to do the work of God. In other words, it is not resting on our practices but resting on the doing, dying and rising again of the Lord Jesus. Only Christ´s person and work can satisfy the Father.

The legalist tries to do good things in an attempt to earn and secure God’s favour. That’s how he understands life. He feels that somehow, he must continually turn God’s heart towards him. These folks (in verse 28) wanted Jesus to give them a list of things to do. Legalists love lists. To the carnal mind, the thought of a free gift from God is nonsense. These folks wanted to do something.

It was the same with the rich young ruler: “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18):

Also, with the Jews on the day of Pentecost: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

It was the same with the Philippian jailer: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

And with the prodigal son —”Make me as one of thy hired servants” (one who works for what he receives).

But, here’s the thing, our lists cannot gain us acceptance before God. On the contrary, the work of salvation is to rely upon the work of someone else to be saved.

The legalist has difficulty grasping the personal sufficiency of the atonement. He has trouble believing scriptures like;

“I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

Or, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

The legalist struggles with the fact that God exercises His divine prerogative to forget our sins. So, let´s not remember what God has forgotten.

In reality, legalists make works not only the evidence of salvation but salvation itself. This is an attack on the Lord Jesus! He has made peace by the blood of his Cross (Colossians 1:20). Peace was not made when we added our two cents worth. Redemption was accomplished at Calvary. The work was and is finished.

If we are ultimately saved by Christ plus our works, then works become one of our mediators. But the Scripture asserts that there is but one mediator between God and man .. not two (see 1 Timothy 2:5).

If our works mediate for us, then they are partly responsible for our peace. But the scriptures know nothing of this. Peace has already been made by the shed blood of Calvary plus nothing. (Colossians 1:20).

There is one Mediator between God and man. There is one Peace-maker. We have been reconciled to God by Christ alone (2 Corinthians 5:18). And this is as it should be. What works of ours can compare to those of the Lord Christ? The best of our works are defiled by imperfections. Our works cannot make an atonement, but instead, they need one made for themselves.

I like what Daniel Miall of Portsea said as he reflected on man´s wretched condition. He declared,

“If the Lord were to bring us within one step of heaven and leave us to take that last step alone, we would step into Hell.”

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: You May be a Legalist If: …Part 1

March 11, 2020 3 comments

You may be a Legalist if.. you believe God loves you, but suspect that He doesn´t like you.

If God was looking at you, right now, and you managed to take a snapshot of His face, what would it look like? As He considered you, would He be smiling? Or, would He have an irritated frown? Take a moment to reflect on your answer!

What do you believe the Almighty thinks of you? Your response will reveal whether or not you are behaving as a legalist. Legalists, you see, feel that God is continually scowling at them. Try as they may, they just can´t shake off this idea of the disapproving diety. They haven´t done enough, and they know it. They, in their own minds, have earned Heaven´s well-deserved glower. That´s why they are characterised by endless amounts of guilt and self-effort.

But, what about us, are we in that camp? Do we, at times, believe the theory that God loves us but, at the same time, because of our lack of performance, He doesn´t like us very much?

We all know that loving someone and liking them are two different things. When we like someone, we enjoy their company and welcome their relationship. Does the Father appreciate our company and friendship? According to the legalist…NO! Only if we try very hard to please Him (the Lord). For the legalists, God´s love is an unproven, non-impactful theory. He´s like the man who knows the words of the song but doesn´t know the melody.

In reality, legalism challenges and denies the gospel. It denies us access to the enjoyment of God´s favour. The legalist part of us says, “I’m not good enough, and God isn’t pleased with me.” These voices continually pound in our hearts as they bring their own particular brand of bondage.

But, here´s some good news,… because of the Finished Work, the way to overcome this oppression is in and through the gospel. Instead of counting beads, as some religionists do, we can count up gospel benefits.

Here´s the gospel truth. If you have been justified by grace through faith, it´s because God really does love you. The shed blood of Christ really has removed every barricade to the Father´s presence and approval. The only thing deeper than your sin is the depth of the Saviour´s love for you.

We have an open heaven, not because of what we are doing but because of what He has done …(see Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 10:19; Romans 5:2; Hebrews 6:19-20).

By grace, you have been adopted into the family of God. Understand this, when God sees you, He smiles for He sees you in Jesus. Consider the following scripture, “For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). That´s a magnificent verse to memorise. It is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of Finished Work truth.

The cross declares that God´s favour is on us. God both loves and likes us! May we make it personal by telling ourselves this gospel truth and telling it often. The gospel will put legalism to the sword.

Rest in Him and enjoy Him. How easy is that?

There´s a powerful scripture which tells of Jesus love and how He loves us? Accordingly, He loves us till the end (John 13:1).

In the middle of our spiritual conflict, He loves us to the end.

Amid our spiritual turmoil, He loves us to the end.

Amid all our spiritual shortcomings, He loves us to the end.

Amid our daily struggle with sin, He loves us to the end.

Amid our temptations, He loves us to the end.

Amid our rebellion of heart and self-will, He loves us to the end.

He knows all, and He still loves us. And that´s why Jesus is called “Wonderful” Because that´s who and what He is … WONDERFUL! He loves us to the end.

No room for legalism here!

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: “NEITHER DO I CONDEMN THEE”

December 18, 2019 Leave a comment

“Neither do I condemn thee” John 8:11.

These are the priceless, life-giving words spoken by our Saviour to the woman taken in adultery. This poor creature was discovered in the actual act of fornication and dragged before Jesus by those who thought themselves righteous. These men knew full well Christ´s love and compassion for poor sinners and had no doubt heard His blistering denunciations against the Pharisees. But here was a case in which they were convinced Christ would be compelled to condemn this miserable woman.

There was no denial on her part. It appears she had nothing to say; … she was guilty. And like all of us when at first we stood guilty before God, we had no reason to give as to why a swift sentence should not be passed.

These men, the poor woman´s accusers, depended for their salvation upon their strict fulfilment of the ceremonial law and were judged accordingly. In other words, they relied upon themselves and their works. But when convicted by Christ´s words, “He that is without sin let him cast the first stone,” they were self-condemned and went out one by one.

There must have been surprise and joy on her part when He spoke the words, “Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more.”

We must not forget, too, that these were not merely the words of a man, but the words of God. If He had condemned her, it would have been divine condemnation. But Jesus came not to condemn the world, but to save sinners. He will come one day to judge, but His mission then and now was and is to seek and to save those that were and are lost (Luke 19:10).

“Neither do I condemn thee.” What words of comfort to that poor woman! And He still says the same to all who come to Him with nothing to plead but His mercy.

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” In other words, “Don´t commit adultery again. Turn away from it. I believe she was empowered to do just that because of Christ´s bold declaration, “Neither do I condemn you.” Grace gives life and power while the Law alone brings death.

Jesus could have said, “Serves you right” But He didn´t! BTW, “ It serves you right” is the response of the Pharisee and the graceless Christian (so-called). Oh, that all who name the name of Jesus would beware of that condemning spirit! I am afraid that we, God’s children, are too apt to condemn each other for failure.

“Neither do I condemn thee.” To the young and old Christian, alike, these are sweet words. Are you fearful that because you have failed the Lord Jesus that you, therefore, don´t belong to Him? That´s a lie. Go to Him, though your failures are many, His words remain the same, “Neither do I condemn thee.”

“But, I´m not sure I am saved,” you say.

OK, let me ask you, do you want to be one of His?”

Yes!

You question your salvation, but do you doubt Him?

No!

Do you believe that He died and rose again?

Yes!

Do you believe that He is the Lord?

Yes!

Then, you are His. Go to the Lord Christ. Look unto Him. His words are, “Neither do I condemn thee.” The Psalmist’s words are right, “Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him (Psalm 103:13). For He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). His mercy is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17). If it were not so, who would stand? No one. He must and will uphold us from beginning to end. To Him be all the praise and glory!

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 241

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE

To [Readers of his sermons].

MENTONE, Jan. 17, 1892.

MY DEAR READERS,—

Your weekly preacher is still weakly; but though his progress towards strength is slow, it has been steadily maintained during the late trying weather. When we consider how many have died, your chaplain is very grateful to be alive to be able to send forth his usual discourse from the Press, and to be, as he hopes, half-an-inch nearer to his pulpit. Happy will he count himself when he is able to preach with the living voice.

Would it not be well for all the churches to hold special meetings for prayer concerning the deadly scourge of influenza? The suggestion has no doubt been made by others; but I venture to press it upon Christians of all denominations that they may in turn urge all their pastors to summon such meetings. Our nation is fast learning to forget God. In too many instances ministers of religion have propagated doubt and the result is a general hardening of the popular feeling, and a greatly-increased neglect of public worship. It is written, “When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Let us, who believe in inspired Scripture, unite our prayers that it may be even so. With a court and a nation in deepest mourning, it is a time to cry mightily unto the Lord.

I have been able again to revise a sermon without assistance. It is upon Psalm 105:37, and, if the Lord will, it will be published next week.

Yours, in deep sympathy with all the sick and the bereaved,

C. H. SPURGEON.

The End of Spurgeon’s Letters

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 240

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE

To [Readers of his sermons].

MENTONE, Jan. 9, 1892.

BELOVED FRIENDS, —

The one want of the church in these times is indicated by the title of this sermon. The presence of God, in saving power, in the Church, will put an end to the present plague of infidelity. Men will not doubt His Word when they feel His Spirit.

It will be the only security for the success of missionary effort. If God be with His people, they will soon see crowds converted and added to the Church. For a thousand reasons, we need that Jehovah should come into the camp, as aforetime He visited and delivered His people from bondage in Egypt.

Could we not all unite in prayer for this as fervently as all united in prayer for my life? It is a far greater and more necessary subject for intercession, and the Lord will not be slow to hear us. Come to Thy Church, 0 Lord, in fullness of power to save! If the Great Advent is not yet, — indulge us with outpourings of grace, and times of refreshing!

Oh, that all Christendom would take up this pleading, and continue it until the answer came!

Receive, dear readers, my hearty salutations. Personally, I scarcely make progress during this broken weather, but the doctor says I hold my own, and that is more than he could have expected. Whether I live or die, I would say in the words of Israel to Joseph, “God shall be with you.”

Yours ever heartily,

C. H. SPURGEON.

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 239

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE

To [Readers of his sermons].

CLAPHAM, June 5.

TO MY FRIENDS EVERYWHERE, —

I have now endured ten silent Sabbaths, and as I know that many of you are anxious to have accurate information as to my state of health, and as I have now something cheerful to communicate, I feel bound to add the present note to this week’s sermon. The pain of my disease which has been intense has now ceased for a week or more. I have had a succession of good nights in which sweet sleep has so refreshed me that I felt each morning to be fax in advance of the previous day. I am now very weak, weak as a little child, but by the same mercy which allayed the pain strength will be restored, and I shall have the pleasure of being again at my delightful labor. Please pray for me that I may be speedily and lastingly restored to health, if it be the Lord’s will. Ask also that the furnace heat which I have suffered may produce its full effect upon me in my own soul and in my ministry. My heart’s inmost desire, as the Lord knoweth, is the salvation of sinners and the building-up of His people in their most holy faith, to the glory of the Lord Jesus: hence it has been very grievous to me to have been debarred my pulpit and shut out from other means of usefulness. Nevertheless, no work has flagged at the Tabernacle, because of my illness; pecuniary help has been furnished just when it was needed, and spiritual help has been given by the Lord of Hosts. We desire to accomplish more, and to receive more blessing, when our health is restored to us. Surely the Master has some great design to be answered by laying His servants aside; we trust it will prove to be so. Let our prayers be more fervent, our zeal more ardent, and our labors for the spread of the Truth more abundant, and God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

I have one great favor to ask of all readers of the sermons, and that is that they will try to spread them abroad, and increase the number of regular subscribers. What has been good to you will be good for others if the Lord bless it. If you cannot preach yourself, you can distribute the word spoken by others.

I hope to be able to occupy the pulpit again by June 25, if the Lord will; but all things are uncertain to us, especially when one is slowly recovering from severe affliction.

Yours to serve till death,

C. H. SPURGEON.

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 238

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE

To [Ben. Nicholson, Esq.].

WESTWOOD, April 1, 1882.

DEAR FRIEND, —

I am the earnest friend and helper of all who preach the Gospel of Jesus; yet I deem it no unfriendly thing to speak the truth, and what I wrote in 1875 I have never seen any reason to alter. Messrs. Moody & Sankey axe two blessed men of God, and if their converts on that occasion vanished, it was no fault of theirs, neither would I have had them refrain for an hour — far from it.

The movement in London had (comparatively) no link with the Churches, and fostered a rival spirit, and hence it did not bring a permanent blessing of increase to the Churches.

Still, it brought a great blessing to the Church universal, and revived and encouraged us all.

I would warn Churches against trusting in spasmodic effort, but at the same time against refusing such special help as the Lord puts in their way. There is a medium.

In any case, I am not against Evangelistic effort, but heartily its advocate.

Yours very truly and gratefully,

C. H. SPURGEON.