Excerpt taken and from a sermon, “HE SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE”, preached in the Great Church in Abingdon, December 25, 1829
By William Tiptaft
The true ministers of Christ bring men to the law…
–now this condemns them, and shows them to be under the curse: He that offends in one point is guilty of all (James 2:10). “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). If, then, a man offend against the law of God in one point either in word, thought, or deed, he is under the curse.
Now it is certain that no man can keep the law of God without offence, “for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:21). “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24). Thus the law of God writes death in the consciences of those who are “ordained to eternal life” (Acts 13:48).
They see their sins standing in array before them; they endeavor, through ignorance, to amend their lives; they labor in vain; their hearts are broken by God; for the preparations of the heart are from the Lord (Proverbs 16:1). They can find no rest nor consolation, and are almost in despair. Harassed and tormented by Satan, they know not what to do, and cry out, with the jailer at Philippi, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). If they have been Pharisees, their eyes are open to see the pride and hypocrisy of their religion, and they confess that all their righteousness are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). If they have been notorious sinners, they think that the Lord never came to seek such vile wretches as they are.
Thus troubled and distressed, they hear the Gospel which is “glad tidings of good things” (Romans 10:15) to those who feel themselves lost sinners. They hear Christ set forth in all His fullness and in all His glory; they hear that the more vile they are in their own sight, the more precious will Christ be to them; they hear that if they go to Christ naked, He will clothe them; if they go unto Him hungry, He will feed them; and if they go unto Him thirsty, He will give them of the living waters, so that they shall not thirst again. They are unwilling to go to Christ, because they have nothing to offer Him; they hear with joy that the Lord will accept nothing from men but the sacrifices of broken and contrite hearts. Thus the Lord generally calls His people.
He takes from them everything in which they trusted for salvation, and then they are obliged to fly to the refuge set before them in the Gospel; they believe in Christ, and He is made unto them “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). This is very humbling doctrine to the pride of man, that Christ is to be everything and man to be nothing, yea, worse than nothing, for he will never do anything but sin. Whether we be converted or not, our flesh will never do anything good. “In my flesh dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18).
They who are chosen in Christ have His Spirit to dwell in them. This Spirit of Christ dwelling in a man makes him a “new creature,” so that old things pass away, and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now, observe, we can do nothing to obtain this Spirit, for all we do, or ever shall do, in the flesh, is sin: “The condition of man, after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith, and calling upon God.” We are cautioned by Solomon not to give “the sacrifice of fools. For they consider not that they do evil” (Ecclesiastes 5:1). We cannot turn to God of ourselves; we cannot repent of ourselves, for Christ is exalted a Prince and a Savior to give repentance (Acts 5:31; 2 Timothy 2:25); and thus the Scriptures, plainly show us all to be under the curse, without the slightest power of delivering ourselves.
We ministers of the Gospel must not deceive you,
–all who have not the Spirit of Christ are in this state, whether they know it or not, whether they believe it or not. “By grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10); and Paul says: “There is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5). God hath loved His people with an everlasting love, and therefore with loving kindness will He draw them (Jeremiah 31:3).
As long as a man believes that he can do anything of himself to prepare his heart to receive grace or merit salvation, I cannot give him any present scriptural hope of being saved.
If the heart be not prepared of God to receive it “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1), he will never have it. While man thinks any good dwells in his human nature, no good ever will dwell in it; for till a man is taught of God to see himself a lost and undone sinner, his body will never be the temple of the Spirit of Christ; and if he have not Christ’s Spirit, he is none of His.
All must be humbled to receive salvation as a free gift, or they will never have it: “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15). It is God that makes us to differ; and having Christ’s Spirit given to us, with the mind we serve the law of God, though with the flesh the law of sin (Romans 7:25). And Paul says: “By the grace of God I am what I am.” “I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10).
It is my belief, and Scripture warrants me in saying so, that no man will ever go to heaven who is not taught of God to rest so entirely on Christ for salvation as to say: “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” This is humbling to the pride of man, but salvation is of grace, and grace alone.