CHRIST OUR SUBSTITUTE

Written by R.L. Dabney, D.D., 1820-1898

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HUMAN laws teach us what a substitute is…

In some commonwealths, citizens between certain ages are bound by law to labor on the highways so many days per year. In others, the country people are bound to work the fields of their landlords so many days each season. In France, in Prussia and in some other countries, the conscription laws require every young man to serve in the army so many years before he can settle to his business. A person who is bound to one of these duties, but cannot himself perform it, hires another person to take his place, to do just what he was bound for, in his stead, and his is thus acquitted of the whole claim.

 Now, Christ is our Substitute with God. “Jesus was made Surety of a better testament” (meaning “covenant”). Hebrews 7:22. We owe to God a pure, perfect and perpetual obedience, which we, by reason of our sin, are unable to render, and “there is no discharge in that war” – Christ offers Himself a Substitute for us.

Your substitute must be able and sufficient to render us the service for which you are bound.

Christ qualified Himself by becoming a holy man as well as the Son of God in one person, so that He was able to render a holy man’s service to God in our stead. “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” Gal. 4:4, 5.

Your substitute must not be himself subject to the duty which you owe.

For instance, were you taken for seven years into the army of Prussia, one who was himself a Prussian conscript, subject on his own account to military duty, could not be your substitute. But where shall one be found for the sinner whose life is his own? Who is exempt from that universal law of God which demands all the service of all in heaven, earth and hell? There can be none but He who is above law, because He is the supreme Law-maker. “This” (Christ) “is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20. But in order to become our Substitute, “He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:16. And thus His services may avail in our room.

Your substitute must be accepted by the government before you are released…

…for it was authorized, if it chose, to hold you bound to serve in person, because your duty to your native land is personal. Now, Christ our Substitute has been accepted by God the Father. He declares, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” Matt. 17:5. He tells us, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Psalms 2:12.

When once the government declares itself satisfied with your substitute and enrolls him, you are free for good.

The service he renders for you is accepted as though you rendered it yourself, and if he dies during its continuance, the law no longer claims you any more than if you were dead. So the believing sinner is freed from the curse of the law and is dead to its penal claims. “Brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” Rom. 7:4.

But here, sinners, the likeness ends; for the rest, there is an amazing difference between your substitute under human laws and Christ “our Surety.”

In God’s kingdom, we are not only subject to duty for life, but already guilty of rebellion and desertion. “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Isa. 53:6. “Every mouth is stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” Rom. 3:19. And the penalty is eternal death! “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23. The court has already set, the sentence is passed, and mercy alone stays the execution for a time. “He that believeth not is condemned already.” John 3:18. Now, could a criminal under a human government hope, in this case to find a substitute? He must take the criminal’s place for his whole term of service, to bear his toils, dangers and sicknesses, and at the end he must die for his crimes. Could money buy such a sacrifice? Could love persuade to it? But this is what Christ undertook for us. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Gal. 3:13. And the death He died for us had the bitterness of spiritual as well as bodily death. Oh wondrous love! Christ “commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners He died for us.” Sinner, will you not henceforth say, “The love of God constrains me?” 2 Cor. 5:14.

And this suggests that…

If you were a soldier and had not deserted the colors of your country, an accepted substitute would free you from all service and punishment. You are guilty of desertion toward God, and are also bound to pay a service to which sin utterly disables you through your own folly and fault. From these obligations Christ frees you, but it is only to bind you to His service more firmly by love. Now you should follow the Captain of your salvation with all your might, longing to follow Him better, not from fear of being shot for desertion (that danger is gone if Christ died for us), nor from fear of losing emoluments (they are already earned for us by our Substitute, and paid in advance to true believers), but because He asks us to follow Him. And now, if we love Him, we would die for Him were it necessary, because He died for us. If we do not love Him, it is proof that He never became our Substitute. “Now are ye My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14.

Once more: for a substitute under onerous civil or military duties you would have to pay dear. But would all the gold in our modern Ophir bribe one to substitute for you after you had been condemned to die for some breach of your duty? “What shall a man give in exchange for his life?” But Christ offers Himself “without money and without price.” Isa. 55:1. It is well for us that He does, for we have nothing to pay; we have forfeited our wages, our privileges, our heritage, by disobedience to our King. But oh, amazing grace! Christ comes to take our desperate place, asking no return but our love.

Sinner, were you a condemned French or Prussian conscript, would you not be glad to be done with rugged war, with the cold watches, the chill bivouac, the weary march, the hunger, the dreary hospital, the dangerous battle and the fearful execution, and to be restored finally to your own home, with your children on your knees and your wife’s embrace around your neck? But how much more joyful to have this Substitute release you from sin and death? Do you ask, “How, oh how, may I obtain Him?” By simply asking Him and trusting Him to undertake for you. Thank God no agent is needed to go between you, no difficult form to authenticate the contract! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31. “Whosoever asks receives.” Matt. 7:8.

But do you ask, “How shall I have evidence of my discharge?”

When your heart no longer serves sin willingly, when you no longer hate the Righteous Judge on high who condemned you, and when you love and follow the Divine Substitute, then you are free. Brother, soldier of Christ, “fight the good fight of faith.” “Be thou faithful unto death, and He will give you a crown of life.” Rev. 2:10.

Jesus Christ: Commissioned for the Happiness and Comfort of Poor Elected Sinners

Taken and adapted from, “The Gospel Banner” No. 55, January 1884, Vol. VI.
Sermon written (c.1699?) by James Barry.
Edited for thought and sense.

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‘As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.’
—Song of Solomon 2:3.

AMONG all the metaphors whereby the wisdom of God hath seen fit to set forth the excellency and completeness of Christ his Son…

…which he is commissioned for the happiness and comfort of poor elected sinners, and none so sets him forth to this life as that of this of the apple tree, which will most plainly appear by two things:

First. By explaining or unfolding the sense and meaning of the Spirit of God in this allegory or metaphor.

Secondly. By a due and scriptural application of the same to the souls of poor, weak, tempted believers, for the relief and comfort of whom the same is left upon record.

I begin with the first. To explain and unfold the sense and meaning of the Spirit of God in this allegory or metaphor.

The design of the Spirit of God in this allegory is, I humbly conceive, to set forth the incomparable and transcendent excellency of Jesus Christ above all other of Adam’s children, and that on a twofold account:

I. On the account of what he is in himself.

II. On the account of the great work he is designed and called to by his Father.

I.   On the account of what Christ is in himself.

He far and unspeakably transcends all the children of Adam; so witnesses the Spirit of God concerning him: ‘Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips; therefore God hath blessed thee forever’ (Psalm 45:2). To this also witnesses the church of God, the true spouse of Christ, which is acted and guided by the Spirit of God: ‘My beloved is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand. His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely’ (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16). This transcendent excellency of Christ in himself, on which account he excels all the children of Adam, is to be considered with respect to two things:

1. In respect of his Godhead. As Christ is God, he possesses an uncreated and essential excellency above all created beings; from whom, as such, all created and communicated excellency, in angels and saints, flows and springs (Zech. 13:7; John 17:5; Phil. 2:9; Heb. 1:3).

2. In respect of his Humanity, Christ is transcendently more excellent than all the children of Adam, and that on a twofold account:

1. On the account of the spotless purity and perfect integrity of his human nature, whereby a foundation was laid for uniting the elect world to God in a bond of an everlasting union. Had not the humanity of Christ been spotless, and free from all stain of sin, it could not possibly have been capable of union with the divine Being (Psalm 5:4; 2 Cor. 5:21). It is on this account that Christ is styled the Lamb of God (John 1:6). John speaks with allusion to the paschal lamb under the law, which was to be a lamb without spot or blemish (Exod. 12:5). To this alludes the apostle Peter: ‘But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Pet. 1:19). The sinless purity of his human nature, and the exact conformity of all his human actions to the demand of God’s law, are here intended.

2. On the account of the extraordinary anointing of the Spirit, poured out on the humanity of Christ, to fit and complete him for the great work of mediation between God and elect sinners. Of this Christ himself gives an account by the evangelical prophet: ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach glad tidings to the meek…’ (Isa. 61:1). This was excellently held forth in the person of Aaron the high-priest, under the dark dispensation of the ceremonial administration; an eminent and glorious type and shadow of Christ, the elect’s high-priest.

‘It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard; that went down to the skirts of his garments’ (Psalm 133). The material oil wherewith Aaron, Christ’s type, was anointed, did prefigure and type out the effusion of the Spirit’s gifts and graces on the human nature of Christ, to fit and qualify him for the work the Father hath sent him about. This anointing was poured out on Christ without measure, as witnesses the scripture: ‘For he whom God hath sent speaks the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him’ (John 3:34). This is farther backed and confirmed by Colossians 1:19: ‘For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.’ And Colossians 2:9: ‘For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’

Besides the personal anointing of Christ’s human nature, wherewith the Father anointed him above his fellows (Psalm 45:7), there was a soul-enriching stock of grace put into his hands, as mediator, in time to be communicated to all the elect who are to be the members of his mystical body. Hence it is that believers are said to receive of Christ’s fullness: ‘And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace’ (John 1:16). ‘But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ’ (Eph. 4:7). Christ, as God, is the source and fountain of all the graces of believers; as God-man, he is the one who both merited and was the purchaser of all grace for them; and Christ, as mediator, hath the dispensing power committed to him by the Father to communicate to, and bestow upon every member of his body what measure of grace he pleases.

II.   Christ far excels all Adam’s children on the account of the work to which the Father designed him in eternity, and whereto he, in time, called him.

This great work is to reconcile God and elect sinners together by the interposition of his mediatorial righteousness; to make up that breach which the sin and apostasy of Adam had effected between God and the elect; and to keep and continue them in an everlasting covenant of love and peace, so that there should never be any possibility of their being at enmity any more forever: ‘To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them’ (2 Cor. 5:19). By world in this, as in other places, is intended the elect world, for whom Christ was made sin and a curse; and between whom and God, his offended Father, he stepped in as a mediator, to make peace, by offering up himself in sacrifice to God’s justice. ‘For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time’ (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). Compare with this, John 10:15 and John 17:9, and it will plainly appear that Christ became a mediator of redemption and intercession for God’s elect, and none else.

There are three things in the apple tree which bespeak the Lord Jesus a nonesuch for the elect:

1. The lowness and homeliness of the apple tree above other trees: it grows lower, and nearer the ground than other trees usually do. The matchless lowliness and humility of Christ are hereby set forth. None could ever compare with him herein: ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly’ (Matt. 11:29). This is anciently predicted of him; as appears from Zech. 9:9: ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass’ (Matt. 21:4, 5). There are six things wherein this will appear:

1. His condescending to become his Father’s inferior:

a. As a son: a relation which imports superiority and inferiority, ‘I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,'(Psalm 2:7). ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,’ &c. (John 3:16). ‘For my Father is greater than I’ (John 14:28).

b. As a servant to do his work: ‘I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him’ (Psalm 89:20). ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delights’ (Isa. 42:1).

2. This inferiority of Christ to God is to be understood in respect of the office he voluntarily took on him for the elect’s sake; not in respect of nature or essence, as appears from Zech. 13: 7: ‘Awake, 0 sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow.’ ‘I and my Father are one’ (John 10: 30). ‘Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,’ (Heb. 1:3).

3. His condescending to assume the human nature: ‘Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. . . . For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham’ (Heb.2:14, 16). There are two things which, if considered, will put a bright luster on this act of Christ’s condescension:

a. The baseness of the matter of that body he assumed—a clod of earth, and that the worst of earth, viz. red earth; so the word Adam, in Hebrew, signifies.

b. The abject state and wretched condition into which it fell by the apostasy and rebellion of Adam, to which he knew he must become subject. Hence it is that he is styled ‘a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3,4). ‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,’ &c. (Rom. 8:3).

4. In his being born of ordinary parents. Christ, as God, did single out and choose the womb in which his humanity was to be conceived; which was not an empress, a queen, or some lady of rich and noble extraction according to the flesh; but a mean and despicable maid, of a mean and poor family; so poor, that she was not able to compass a lamb, but must be trusting to a pair of turtle-doves for a sacrifice (Luke 2:24 compared with Lev. 12:8).

I wonder which of all the wise men, or the professors of this age, would freely make such a choice for themselves or theirs! Christ had regard to the promise, not to riches or honors.

5. His taking on him the form of a servant: ‘Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears thou opened’ (Psalm 40: 6). David, personating Christ, speaks with allusion to Exodus 21: 6, where the law for servants is set down. That ceremony of boring the servant’s ear through with an awl, did prefigure Christ’s perpetual servitude to his Father, until he should finish the work he had undertaken to go through with: ‘I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do’ (John 17:4). ‘And made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,’ (Phil. 2:7).

6. The objects of his choice whom he loves and delights in; namely, the poor and despised ones of the world.

The design of the scriptures now quoted is not to assure us that all poor ones in this world are to be inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, or that all who are richly or nobly born after the flesh shall be damned; but the design is, that very few comparatively of the rich and noble of this world are saved.

Worldly greatness and saving grace very rarely meet together in the same person. When they do, none on earth prove more lowly minded, and abundant in love to and zeal for God, than such. ‘Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is made high, but the rich in that he is made low,’  (James 1:9,10).

2. A second thing in the apple tree, which allegorically sets forth the excellency and usefulness of Christ to the elect, is its spreading and shadowy nature. As the apple tree is of singular use and advantage to human bodies, to shelter them from storms and showers; so the Lord Jesus, spiritually fled or run to by faith, is useful and advantageous to the souls of God’s elect in time of spiritual storms. Christ is set forth in scripture as the only shadow of security to the children of God in time of all their distress and tribulations: ‘And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain’ (Isa. 4:6). ‘Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall’ (Isa. 25:4).

The prophecies now mentioned are to be understood of and applied to Christ and the elect, and none else. Christ is a shadow to them, and to none else; and none in earth or heaven can secure them from the dreadful storms they meet with but he, and none besides him.

3. The doctrinal observation which naturally results from the former part of the text is, that Christ the Son of God, allegorically set forth by the apple tree, is a shadow of protection to the weakest believer, let what storms will come on him in this world. Or thus: In the most distressed and deplorable case and condition a believer can possibly be in, in respect of sin and misery, he is forever secured from perishing, being found under the shadow of Christ’s protection. Besides the words of the text, that in Isa. 25:4 is a full and convincing proof of the observation now laid down. To which, many other scriptures may be added, out of both the Old Testament and the New. But, omitting many quotations, I shall proceed to a more clear and convincing demonstration of the truth of the doctrine now asserted; and that by an enumeration of the several particular storms wherewith the weak believer must look and expect to meet before he arrives at heaven; and out of all which Christ will most certainly deliver him.

There are six sharp and dreadful storms wherewith God’s elect meet between the cradle and the crown in glory; from all which the shadow of Christ’s mediatorship covers and secures them forever:

1. The storm of the law’s damnatory sentence, which thunders out curses and eternal death on all Adam’s children, none excepted. ‘Now we know that what things the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God’ (Rom. 3:19). ‘For as many as are of the works of the law, they are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the law to do them'(Gal. 3:10). Here is a storm which is like the avenger of blood under the law: it will never be laid till the awakened, convinced sinner be either in hell, or sheltered under the shadow of Christ’s mediatorial satisfaction, given to offended justice for the sins of God’s elect. From this storm none can secure but the Lord Jesus: ‘If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed’ (John 8: 36). ‘For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth’ (Rom. 10: 4). When the elect sinner flies for refuge to the shadow of Christ’s mediatorial satisfaction from the terrifying sentence of the law’s malediction and curse, the law sounds a retreat; it ceases to pursue the sinner, or to threaten him any more with damnation.

As the avenger of blood was not to follow the man-slayer into the city of refuge, so neither will the law pursue with curse and vengeance the believing sinner who hath gotten under Christ’s shadow.

2.  The bitter agonies of a wounded conscience when the law’s terror reaches the soul, and, like fire, drinks up the very spirit of a poor sinner, so that he knows not which way to go, or what to do, for ease and healing. O what but Christ’s mediatorial shadow can shelter such a wounded soul! It is marvelous to think what various and pitiful shifts the bewildered sinner makes to shelter himself from this storm, and to lick the wound whole which the killing terror of the law hath given the soul and conscience within: the distressed sinner lying bound in the law’s prison, and ready every moment to sink into final desperation under the insupportable burden of its own guilt, according to that in Proverbs 18:14: ‘But a wounded spirit who can bear?’ Of this Job seems to complain most bitterly: ‘The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinks up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me’ (Job 6:4). He is filled with perplexing thoughts what he had best do in this sad and deplorable condition. ‘Do and live,’ being the principle derived from the first Adam, to the trade of working he goes; thinking and hoping, with his father Adam, to hide and cover, from the eye of God’s all-seeing knowledge, his spiritual nakedness and deformity with the fig-leaves of his own performances. Somewhat he must do in order to help and save himself; but how or where to begin he finds himself at a loss. Hence those queries,’ What shall we do?’ Acts 2:37; Mark 10:17; Acts 16:30; which plainly shew that all Adam’s children, when awakened by the terrors of God’s law, do seek for life and salvation in a way of works. This is farther confirmed by Romans 10:3: ‘For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.’

While the sinner resolves within himself he will amend his sinful course, and be, for the time to come, a better man; he will say his prayers, he will confess and break off his sins, he will forsake his vain companions and sinful pastime; and the church, and serving God, he resolves he will frequent, and constantly attend.

He will now take on him a strict profession; a church communicant he must be, to the sacrament he goes, and from that to other duties, such as fasting, alms-deeds, and keeping up a strict watch over himself in all his ways. He is now not the same man he was before; he can, with the Pharisee, boast of his negative and positive righteousness (Luke 18:11). And now he thinks and hopes the work is done, although he was never nearer hell and eternal min than by these acts of morality, negative and positive, he hath brought himself. He hath been all this while but scouring and making clean and bright the outside of the cup and platter, not heeding or regarding the filth and nastiness which cleaves to the inside. A change of state he is a stranger to; external reformation lie takes to be the conversion which must fit him for heaven, though most certain it is that no reformation but what flows from an effectual change of state will evidence or prove a man to be a real convert. Such an external reformation may qualify a man for church-communion, but never for heaven; and it is to be feared that there is but very little, even of this visible reformation, in some churches who seem, at least in their own and other injudicious people’s conceits, to be far purer and holier than their neighbor churches who make not so much noise and bluster as they themselves do.

There are some churches, so-called, who, for want of charity, monopolize a pure church state to themselves, as if Christ had no true gospel church in this day beside themselves; whose preachers and rulers are of so impetuous a spirit, as drives them to the very precipice of anathematizing all but themselves; as if the doctrine of God’s grace, and the form of a true gospel-church state, were to be found nowhere but among them. These are like violent storms and showers, which will not hold long; and indeed it is a pity they should. All I shall say farther of such is, the Lord rebuke their furious and Bedlam-like spirit; and give them to see, and in time to be convinced, how far wide they are from what they fancy they have attained to, namely, a Christ-like spirit, and a true conformity to the pattern of God’s house; a thing so much boasted of and gloried in, and that without a cause. The word of God assures us, up and down, that no works or duties which sinners are capable of performing can possibly give ease or peace to that conscience which the law of God, set home by the spirit of bondage, hath wounded. Healing and peace are to be found nowhere but under the shadow of Christ’s satisfaction; there being nothing short of what satisfies divine Justice for the violation of the moral law, which can satisfy and quiet the conscience of a wounded sinner. ‘For he makes sore, and binds up; he wounds, and his hands make whole’ (Job 5: 18). ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt. 11:28).

3. A third storm wherewith the elect meet is, the fiery assaults and temptations of the devil. They are called ‘fiery’ from the sad and dreadful effects in the soul and conscience of the poor distressed sinner, they being to the soul what poison and fire are to the body. ‘Above all, taking the shield of faith, whereby ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked’ (Eph. 6:16). The darts here intended are the assaults and temptations of the devil, which are injected or cast into the soul suddenly and invisibly, as darts are cast or shot by an unseen enemy; which, when they find entrance, they immediately inflame the soul, as poisoned darts or arrows, hardened in fire, envenom or poison the body. These temptations or Satanical injections are numberless, and of various sorts; sometimes to presumption, sometimes to desperation, sometimes to atheism, sometimes to blasphemy against the majesty of God, sometimes to one wickedness, and sometimes to another. Satan is a busy enemy, and a restless enemy; always tempting, and that all men, and to all manner of folly and sin; on which very account he is, by the Spirit of God, styled, ‘the tempter,’ who is always busy at his trade, piercing to know what is in men, that so he might accordingly suit his baits to the disposition and temper of Adam’s children, whom he seeks to prey upon. Yea, so restless and unwearied is he at his trade of throwing or injecting his fiery darts into the soul, that he will not lose the time of men’s sleeping. Satan, in this case, is like an enemy that surprises in the dead of the night, when persons are buried in sleep and security. And as, in nature, no alarm is so amazing and frightful as that which is given in the dead of the night; so, as experience teaches, no temptation makes a sadder hurricane in the soul than the night sallies which he makes on the soul when the person is buried in sleep. Now, in such storms as these, what can poor tempted souls do, were it not for the shadow of Christ’s cleansing and healing virtue? Herein the brazen serpent in the wilderness did eminently type out the Lord Jesus Christ’s virtue, to heal and cleanse the sting and pollution given and occasioned by the infernal serpent’s stinging temptations. No way possible for help or cure in this case but flying by faith and prayer to the shadow of Christ’s healing and cleansing virtue. It is on this very account that the grace of faith is preferred above all the other parts of the Christian’s spiritual armor, in that it looks and flies to Christ immediately for help and cure.

No sooner hath the devil cast his frightening dart into the soul of a true believer, but the grace of faith, like an expert and experienced soldier who whips up the grenade thrown in by the enemy, and throws it back on the enemy again, repels and throws back the fiery-poisoned dart injected by Satan.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: James Barry was born in Ireland in the year 1641, the year in which the Irish massacre of Protestants began. He was called to the ministry in Dublin, where he labored with great success. After suffering much persecution, during which time a reward of one hundred pounds was offered for his head, he was prevailed upon to escape to England; and became pastor of a church near Stepney: he continued there for many years, in much esteem with his people, but owing to indisposition of body he begged his dismissal of them, in order to take charge of a church at Croydon, in Surrey, for the benefit of his health. From thence he returned to London, in the times of persecution, and went and dwelt in the Mint, in what was then called The Verge of the Court, which was a place of safety. In that place he hired a large room for a lecture on the Lord’s Day evening, in which he preached for a considerable time.

Twenty years before his death Mr. Barry was rendered incapable of the ministry by the many afflictions which attended him, and the persecutions which he endured from his youth. His affectionate wife and daughter supported him by their work, and the never-failing providence of God, of which he so sweetly treats, followed him to the last, which occasioned him often to say, when any present came in a time of need,’ Here is God’s basket come again,’ meaning the hand-basket portion.

When he was first laid aside from the ministry, he was under much darkness and dejection of mind, but after some time he came to enjoy great consolations, and bore his afflictions with remarkable patience and cheerfulness: a little before his death he said, ‘I am nearer my home than ever; I am soon going.’

He entered into his rest on the 3rd of July, 1719, aged 78 years.

For the sake of argument let us suppose that you could fulfill the Law…

Taken and adapted form, “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians” (1535)
Written by, Martin Luther
Translated by Theodore Graebner

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Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.
–Galatians 2:16

For the sake of argument let us suppose that you could fulfill the Law…

…in the spirit of the first commandment of God: “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart.” It would do you no good. A person simply is not justified by the works of the Law.

The works of the Law, according to Paul, include the whole Law, judicial, ceremonial, moral. Now, if the performance of the moral law cannot justify, how can circumcision justify, when circumcision is part of the ceremonial law?

The demands of the Law may be fulfilled before and after justification. There were many excellent men among the pagans of old, men who never heard of justification. They lived moral lives. But that fact did not justify them. Peter, Paul, all Christians, live up to the Law. But that fact does not justify them. “For I know nothing by myself,” says Paul, “yet am I not hereby justified.” (I Cor. 4:4.)

The nefarious opinion of the papists, which attributes the merit of grace and the remission of sins to works, must here be emphatically rejected. The papists say that a good work performed before grace has been obtained, is able to secure grace for a person, because it is no more than right that God should reward a good deed. When grace has already been obtained, any good work deserves everlasting life as a due payment and reward for merit. For the first, God is no debtor, they say; but because God is good and just, it is no more than right (they say) that He should reward a good work by granting grace for the service. But when grace has already been obtained, they continue, God is in the position of a debtor, and is in duty bound to reward a good work with the gift of eternal life. This is the wicked teaching of the papacy.

Now, if I could perform any work acceptable to God and deserving of grace, and once having obtained grace my good works would continue to earn for me the right and reward of eternal life, why should I stand in need of the grace of God and the suffering and death of Christ? Christ would be of no benefit to me. Christ’s mercy would be of no use to me.

This shows how little insight the pope and the whole of his religious coterie have into spiritual matters, and how little they concern themselves with the spiritual health of their forlorn flocks. They cannot believe that the flesh is unable to think, speak, or do anything except against God. If they could see evil rooted in the nature of man, they would never entertain such silly dreams about man’s merit or worthiness.

With Paul we absolutely deny the possibility of self-merit. God never yet gave to any person grace and everlasting life as a reward for merit. The opinions of the papists are the intellectual pipe-dreams of idle pates, that serve no other purpose but to draw men away from the true worship of God. The papacy is founded upon hallucinations.

The true way of salvation is this. First, a person must realize that he is a sinner, the kind of a sinner who is congenitally unable to do any good thing. “Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.” Those who seek to earn the grace of God by their own efforts are trying to please God with sins. They mock God, and provoke His anger. The first step on the way to salvation is to repent.

The second part is this. God sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we may live through His merit. He was crucified and killed for us. By sacrificing His Son for us God revealed Himself to us as a merciful Father who donates remission of sins, righteousness, and life everlasting for Christ’s sake. God hands out His gifts freely unto all men. That is the praise and glory of His mercy.

The scholastics explain the way of salvation in this manner. When a person happens to perform a good deed, God accepts it and as a reward for the good deed God pours charity into that person. They call it “charity infused.” This charity is supposed to remain in the heart. They get wild when they are told that this quality of the heart cannot justify a person.

They also claim that we are able to love God by our own natural strength, to love God above all things, at least to the extent that we deserve grace. And, say the scholastics, because God is not satisfied with a literal performance of the Law, but expects us to fulfill the Law according to the mind of the Lawgiver, therefore we must obtain from above a quality above nature, a quality which they call “formal righteousness.”

We say, faith apprehends Jesus Christ. Christian faith is not an inactive quality in the heart. If it is true faith it will surely take Christ for its object. Christ, apprehended by faith and dwelling in the heart, constitutes Christian righteousness, for which God gives eternal life.

In contrast to the doting dreams of the scholastics, we teach this: First a person must learn to know himself from the Law. With the prophet he will then confess: “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And, “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” And, “against thee, thee only, have I sinned.”

Having been humbled by the Law, and having been brought to a right estimate of himself, a man will repent. He finds out that he is so depraved, that no strength, no works, no merits of his own will ever deliver him from his guilt. He will then understand the meaning of Paul’s words: “I am sold under sin”; and “they are all under sin.”

At this state a person begins to lament: “Who is going to help me?” In due time comes the Word of the Gospel, and says: “Son, thy sins are forgiven thee. Believe in Jesus Christ who was crucified for your sins. Remember, your sins have been imposed upon Christ.”

In this way are we delivered from sin. In this way are we justified and made heirs of everlasting life.

In order to have faith you must paint a true portrait of Christ. The scholastics caricature Christ into a judge and tormentor. But Christ is no law giver. He is the Lifegiver. He is the Forgiver of sins. You must believe that Christ might have atoned for the sins of the world with one single drop of His blood. Instead, He shed His blood abundantly in order that He might give abundant satisfaction for our sins.

Here let me say, that these three things, faith, Christ, and imputation of righteousness, are to be joined together. Faith takes hold of Christ. God accounts this faith for righteousness.

This imputation of righteousness we need very much, because we are far from perfect. As long as we have this body, sin will dwell in our flesh. Then, too, we sometimes drive away the Holy Spirit; we fall into sin, like Peter, David, and other holy men. Nevertheless we may always take recourse to this fact, “that our sins are covered,” and that “God will not lay them to our charge.” Sin is not held against us for Christ’s sake. Where Christ and faith are lacking, there is no remission or covering of sins, but only condemnation.

After we have taught faith in Christ, we teach good works.

“Since you have found Christ by faith,” we say, “begin now to work and do well. Love God and your neighbor. Call upon God, give thanks unto Him, praise Him, confess Him. These are good works. Let them flow from a cheerful heart, because you have remission of sin in Christ.”

When crosses and afflictions come our way, we bear them patiently. “For Christ’s yoke is easy, and His burden is light.” When sin has been pardoned, and the conscience has been eased of its dreadful load, a Christian can endure all things in Christ.

To give a short definition of a Christian: A Christian is not somebody that sin is accounted to, because of his faith in Christ. This doctrine brings comfort to consciences in serious trouble. When a person is a Christian he is above law and sin. When the Law accuses him, and sin wants to drive the wits out of him, a Christian looks to Christ. A Christian is free. He has no master except Christ. A Christian is greater than the whole world.

Thoughts on the First Covenant, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Law

Taken and adapted from, “The Common Principles of the Christian Religion” Lecture XXII, OF THE FIRST COVENANT.
Written by, Hugh Binning.

illustration001GAL. 3.12. “The law is not of faith; but the man that doeth them shall live in them.”

GEN. 2.17. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”

THE Lord made all things for himself…

…to show forth the glory of his name; and man in a more eminent and special manner, for more eminent manifestations of himself; therefore all his dealings towards men, whether righteous or sinful, do declare the glory of God. Particularly, in reference to the present purpose, he resolved to manifest two shining properties,—his sovereignty and goodness. His sovereignty is showed, in giving out a law and command to the creature; and his goodness is manifested in making a covenant with his creature; as here you see the terms of a covenant, a duty required, and a promise made, and, in case of failing, a threatening conformed to the promise. He might have required obedience simply, as the Lord and sovereign owner of the being and operations of the creatures; and that was enough of obligation to bind all flesh, that the Creator is lawgiver, that he who gives a being doth set bounds and limits to the exercise and use of that being. But it pleased the Lord, in his infinite goodness and love, to add a promise and threatening to that law and command, and so turns it to the nature of a voluntary covenant and agreement, whereby he doth mitigate and sweeten his authority and power, and condescends so low to man as to take on himself a greater obligation than he puts upon man, ‘Do this, and thou shalt live.’ He might then, out of his absoluteness and power, have required at the creature’s hand any terms he pleased, even the hardest which could be imagined, and yet no injustice in him. He might have put laws on men to restrain all their natural liberty, and in every thing, to proclaim nothing but his own supremacy. But O what goodness and condescension is even in the very matter of the law; and then in the manner of prescribing it with a promise! In the matter, so just and equitable to convince all men’s consciences, yea, even engraven on their hearts, that he lays not many burdens on, but what men’s consciences must lay on themselves; that there is nothing in it all, when summed up, harder than this,—love God most of all, and thy neighbour as thyself, which all men must proclaim to be due, though it had not been required; and but one precept added by his mere will, which yet was so easy a thing, as it was a wonder the Lord of all put no other conditions on the creatures. And then for the manner; that it is propounded covenant-wise, with a promise, not to expect the creature’s consent—for it did not depend on his acceptation, he being bound to accept any terms his Lord propounded—but because the matter and all was so equitable, and the conditions so ample, that if it had been propounded to any rational man, he would have consented with an admiration at God’s goodness. Indeed, if we speak strictly, there cannot be a proper covenant between God and man,—there is such an infinite distance between such unequal parties, our obedience and performance being absolutely in his power. We cannot promise it as our own, and it being but our duty, we cannot crave or expect a reward in justice, neither can he owe any thing to the creature. Yet it pleased his majesty to propound it in these terms, and to stoop so low unto men’s capacities, and, as it were, come off the throne of his sovereignty, both to require such duties of men, and to promise unto them such a free reward. And the reasons of this may be plain upon God’s part and upon ours. In such dealing, he consulted his own glory, and man’s good. His own glory, I say, is manifested in it, and chiefly the glory of his goodness and love, that the Most High comes down so low as to article with his own footstool, that he changes his absolute right into a moderate and temperate government, and tempers his lordly and truly monarchical power by such a commixture of gentleness and goodness, in requiring nothing but what man behoved to call reasonable and due, and in promising so much as no creature could challenge any title to it. When the law was promulgated, ‘Do this,’ eat not of this tree, Adam’s conscience behoved to say, “Amen, Lord; all is due, all the reason in the world for it.” But when the promise is added, and the trumpet sounds longer, “Thou shalt live!” O more than reason, more than is due, must his conscience say! It was reason, that the most high Lord should use his footstool as his footstool, and set his servant in the place of a servant, and so keep distance from him. But how strange is it that he humbles himself to make friendship with man, to assume him in a kind of familiarity and equality? And this Christ is not forgetful of. When he restores men, he puts them in all their former dignities; ‘I call you not servants but friends.’ Next, his wisdom doth appear in this, that when he had made a reasonable creature, he takes a way of dealing, suitable to his nature, to bring forth willing and free obedience by the persuasion of such a reward, and the terror of such a punishment. He most wisely did enclose the will of man, as it were, on both sides, with hedges of punishment and reward, which might have been a sufficient defence or guard against all the irruptions of contrary persuasions, that man might continue in obedience, and that when he went to the right hand or left, he might be kept in, by the hope of such an ample promise, and the fear of such a dreadful threatening. But then the righteousness of God doth appear in this; for there is nothing doth more illustrate the justice of the judge, than when the malefactor hath before consented to such a punishment in case of transgression, when the law is confirmed by the consent and approbation of man. Now he has man subscribing already to his judgment, and so all the world must stop their mouth and become guilty in case of transgression of such a righteous command after such warning.

But, in the next place, it is no less for man’s good. What an honour and dignity was put upon man, when he was taken into friendship with God! To be in covenant of friendship with a king, O what a dignity is it accounted! And some do account it a great privilege to be in company, and converse with some eminent and great person. But may not men say with the Psalmist, Lord, ‘what is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou visitest him?’ Psalm 8. Again, what way more fit and suitable to stir up and constrain Adam unto a willing and constant obedience, when he had the encouragement of such a gracious reward, and the determent of such a fearful punishment? Between these two banks might the silver streams of obedience have run for ever without breaking over. He was bound to all, though nothing had been promised. But then to have such a hope, what spirits might it add to him? The Lord had been free, upon man’s obedience, either to continue him his happy estate, or to denude him of it, or to annihilate him. There was no obligation lying on him. But now, what confirmation might man have by looking upon the certain recompense of reward—when God brings himself freely under an obligation of a promise, and so ascertains it to his soul, which he could never have dreamed of, and gives him liberty to challenge him upon his faithfulness to perform it!

And then, lastly, There was no way so fit to commend God, and sweeten him unto his soul as this. Adam knew that his goodness could not extend to God; that his righteousness could not help him, nor his wickedness hurt him, and so could expect nothing from his exact obedience. But now, when God’s goodness doth so overflow upon the creature, and the Lord takes pleasure to communicate himself to make others happy, though he had need of none, O how must it engage the heart of man to a delightful remembrance, and converse with that God! As his authority should imprint reverence, so his goodness thus manifested should engrave confidence. And thus the life of man was not only a life of obedience, but a life of pleasure and delight; not only a holy, but a happy life, yea, happy in holiness.

Now, as it was Paul’s great business in preaching, to ride marches between the covenant of grace, and the covenant of works,—to take men off that old broken ship to this sure plank of grace that is offered by Jesus Christ to drowning souls,—so it would be our great work to show unto you the nature of this covenant, and the terms thereof, that you may henceforth find and know that salvation to be now impossible by the law which so many seek in it. We have no errand to speak of the first Adam, but the better to lead you to the second. Our life was once in the first, but he lost himself and us both; but the second, by losing himself, saves both. We have nothing to do to speak of the first covenant, but that we may lead you, or pursue you rather to the second, established on better terms and better promises.

The terms of this [first] covenant are,—Do this and live. Perfect obedience without one jot of failing or falling,—an entire and universal accomplishment of the whole will of God,—that is the duty required of man. There is no latitude left in the bargain to admit endeavours instead of performance, or desire instead of duty. There is no place for repentance here. If a man fail in one point, he falls from the whole promise; by the tenor of this bargain, there is no hope of recovery.

If you would have the duty in a word, it is a love of God with all our heart and soul, and our neighbour as ourselves; and that testified and verified in all duties and offices of obedience to God, and love to men, without the least mixture of sin and infirmity. Now, the promise on God’s part is indeed larger than that duty, not only because undeserved, but even in the matter of it, it is so abundant,—life, eternal life, continuance in a happy estate. There is a threatening added, ‘In the day thou eatest thou shalt surely die;’ that is, thou shalt become a mortal and miserable creature, subject to misery here and hereafter; which is more pressingly set down in that word, ‘Cursed is he that abideth not in all things written in the law to do them.’ It is very peremptory; that men dream not of escaping wrath when they break but in one, suppose they did abide in all the rest. Cursed is every man from the highest to the lowest; the Lord Almighty is engaged against him. His countenance, his power is against him, to destroy him and make him miserable. Whoever doth fail but in one jot of the commands, he shall not only fall from that blessed condition freely promised, but lose all that he already possessed, fall from that image of God, dominion over the creatures, and incur, instead of that possessed and expected happiness, misery here on soul and body, in pains, sicknesses, troubles, griefs, &c., and eternal misery on both, without measure, hereafter,—’eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power.’ (2 Thes. 1.9.)

Now, ‘the law is not of faith,’ saith the apostle. This opens up the nature of the bargain; and the opposition between the present covenant and that which is made with lost sinners with a Mediator. This covenant is called, of works, ‘Do this, and live;’ to him that worketh is the promise made, though freely too. It is grace, that once a reward should be promised to obedience; but having once resolved to give it, herein justice appears in an equal and uniform distribution of the reward, according to works; so that where there is an equality of works there shall be an equality of reward, and no difference put between persons equal; which is the very freedom of the covenant of grace, that it passes over all such considerations, and deals equally in mercy with unequal sinners, and unequally, it may be, with them that are equal in nature.

You may ask, was not Adam to believe in God and did not the law require faith? I answer, Christ distinguishes a twofold faith: ‘You believe in God, believe also in me.’ No question he was called to believe was in God the creator of the world, and that in a threefold consideration.

First, to depend on God the self-being and fountain-good. His own goodness was but a flux and emanation from that Sun of Righteousness, and so was to be perpetuated by constant abiding in his sight. The interposition of man’s self between him and God did soon bring on this eternal night of darkness. Nature might have taught him to live in him in whom he had life and being and motion, and to forget and look over his own perfections as evanishing shadows. But this quickly extinguished his life, when he began to live in himself.

Next, he was obliged to believe God’s word, both threatening and promise, and to have these constantly in his view. And certainly, if he had kept in his serious consideration, the inestimable blessing of life promised, and the fearful curse of death threatened,—if he had not been induced first to doubt, and then to deny the truth and reality of these,—he had not attempted such a desperate rebellion against the Lord.

Then, thirdly, he was to believe and persuade himself of the Lord’s fatherly love, and that the Lord was well-pleased with his obedience; and this faith would certainly beget much peace and quietness in his mind, and also constrain him to love him, and live to him who loved him, and gave him life and happiness out of love. Yet this holds true that the apostle saith, ‘the law is not of faith,’ to wit, in a Mediator and Redeemer. It was a bond of immediate friendship; there needed none to mediate between God and man; there needed no reconciler where there was no odds nor distance. But the gospel is of faith in a Mediator; it is the soul plighting its hope upon Jesus Christ in its desperate necessity, and so supposes man sinful and miserable in himself, and in his own sense too, and so putting over his weight and burden upon one whom God hath made mighty to save. The law is not of faith, but of perfect works,—a watch-word brought in of purpose to bring men off their hankering after a broken and desperate covenant. It admits no repentance, it speaks of no pardon, it declares no cautioner or redeemer. There is nothing to be expected, according to the tenor of that covenant, but wrath from heaven; either personal obedience in all, or personal punishment for ever. That is the very terms of it, and it knows no other thing. Either bring complete righteousness and holiness to the promise of life, or expect nothing but death.

This may be a sad meditation to us, to stand and look back to our former estate, and compare it with that into which we are fallen. That image we spoke of, is defaced and blotted out, which was the glory of the creation; and now there is nothing so monstrous, so deformed in the world as man.

The corruption of the best things is always worst; the ruins of the most noble creature are most ruinous; the spot of the soul most abominable. We are nothing but a mass of darkness, ignorance, error, inordinate lust; nothing but confusion, disorder, and distempers in the soul, and in the conversation of men; and, in sum, that blessed bond of friendship with God broken, discord and enmity entered upon our side and separated us from God, and so we can expect nothing from that first covenant but the curse and wrath threatened. ‘By one man’s disobedience’ sin entered upon all, ‘and death by sin;’ because in that agreement Adam was a common person representing us, and thus are all men once subject to God’s judgment, and come short of the glory of God, fallen from life into a state of death, and, for any thing that could be expected, irrecoverably. But it hath pleased the Lord, in his infinite mercy, to make a better covenant in Christ his Son, that, what was impossible to the law, by reason of our weakness and wickedness, his Son, sent in the flesh, condemned for sin, might accomplish, Rom. 8.3. There is some comfort yet after this; that covenant was not the last, and that sentence was not irrevocable. He makes a new transaction, lays the iniquity of his elect upon Christ, and puts the curse upon his shoulders which was due to them. Justice cannot admit the abrogation of the law, but mercy pleads for a temperament of it. And thus the Lord dispenses with personal satisfaction, which in rigour he might have craved; and finds out a ransom, admits another satisfaction in their name.

And in the name of that Cautioner and Redeemer is salvation preached upon better terms: Believe and thou shalt be saved, Rom. 10.9. Thou lost and undone sinner, whoever thou art, that findest thyself guilty before God, and that thou canst not stand in judgment by the former covenant,—thou who hast no personal righteousness, and trustest in none,—come here, embrace the righteousness of thy Cautioner,—receive him, and rest on him, and thou shalt be saved.

Faith in the Blood of Jesus –Essential to Salvation

Taken from, “The Blood of Jesus Christ”
Written by, William Reid, 1814-1896.

the-baptist-faith-on-salvation-in-the-eyes-of-god-1-638

What Faith Is…

It is our belief of God’s testimony concerning His own grace and Christ’s work that brings us into possession of the blessings concerning which that testimony speaks. Our reception of God’s testimony is confidence in God Himself and in Christ Jesus His Son; for where the testimony comes from a person or regards a person, belief of the testimony and confidence in the person are things inseparable. Hence it is that Scripture sometimes speaks of confidence or trust as saving us (see the Psalms everywhere, e.g., Psalms 13:5, 52:8; also 1 Timothy 4:10, Ephesians 1:12), as if it would say to the sinner, “Such is the gracious character of God, that you have only to put your case into His hands—however bad it be—only to trust Him for eternal life, and He will assuredly not put you to shame.” Hence, also, it is that we are said to be saved by the knowledge of God or of Christ; that is, by simply knowing God as He has made Himself known to us (Isaiah 5:3,11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 2:20)—for “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:2). And, as if to make simplicity more simple, the apostle, in speaking of the facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, says, “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

God would have us understand that the way in which we become connected with Christ so as to get eternal life is by “knowing” Him, or “hearing” Him, “trusting” Him. The testimony is inseparably linked to the person testified of; and our connection with the testimony, by belief of it, thus links us to the person. Thus it is that faith forms the bond between us and the Son of God, not because of anything in itself, but solely because it is only through the medium of truth known and believed that the soul can take any hold of God or of Christ. Faith is nothing, save as it lays hold of Christ, and it does so by laying hold of the truth concerning Him. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Faith, then, is the link, the one link between the sinner and God’s gift of pardon and life. It is not faith and something else along with it; it is faith alone; faith that takes God at His word, and gives Him credit for speaking the honest truth when making known His message of grace, His “record” of eternal life concerning “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

“If you object that you cannot believe, then this indicates that you are proceeding quite in a wrong direction. You are still laboring under the idea that this believing is a work to be done by you, and not the acknowledgment of a work done by another. You would willing to do something in order to get peace, and you think that if you could only do this great thing, ‘believing’—if you could but perform this great act called faith—God would at once reward you by giving you peace. Thus faith is reckoned by you to be the price in the sinner’s hand by which he buys peace, and not the mere holding out of the hand to get a peace that has already been bought by another. So long as you are attaching any meritorious importance to faith, however unconsciously, you are moving in a wrong direction—a direction from which no peace can come.

“Surely faith is not a work. On the contrary, it is a ceasing from work. It is not a climbing of the mountain, but a ceasing to attempt it, and allowing Christ to carry you up in His own arms. You seem to think that it is your own act of faith that is to save you, and not the object of your faith—without which your own act, however well performed, is nothing.

Accordingly, you bethink yourself, and say, ‘What a mighty work is this believing, what an effort does it require on my part, how am I to perform it?’ Herein you sadly err, and your mistake lies chiefly here, in supposing that your peace is to come from the proper performance on your part of an act of faith—whereas it is to come entirely from the proper perception of Him to Whom the Father is pointing your eye, and in regard to Whom He is saying, ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen, look at Him, forget everything else—everything about yourself, your own faith, your own repentance, your own feelings—and look at Him!’ It is in Him, and not in your poor act of faith, that salvation lies; and out of Him, not out of your own act of faith, is peace to come.

“Thus mistaking the meaning of faith, and the way in which faith saves you, gets you into confusion, and makes you mistaken everything else connected with your peace. You mistake the real nature of that very inability to believe of which you complain so sadly. For that inability does not lie, as you fancy it does, in the impossibility of your performing aright this great act of faith, but of ceasing from all such self-righteous attempts to perform any act, or do any work whatsoever, in order to your being saved. So that the real truth is that you have not yet seen such a sufficiency in the one great work of the Son of God upon the cross, as to lead you utterly to discontinue your mistaken and aimless efforts to work out something of your own. As soon as the Holy Spirit shows that you have this entire sufficiency of the great propitiation, you cease at once from these attempts to act or work something of your own, and take, instead of this, what Christ has done. One great part of the Spirit’s work is not to enable the man to do something that will help to save him, but so to detach him from his own performances that he shall be content with the salvation that Christ finished when He died and rose again.

“But perhaps you may object further, that you are not satisfied with your faith. No, truly, nor are you ever likely to be. If you wait for this before you take peace, you will wait till life is done. The Bible does not say, ‘Being satisfied about our faith, we have peace with God’; it simply says, ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God’ (Rom 5:1). Not satisfaction with your own faith, but satisfaction with Jesus and His work—this is what God presses on you. You say, ‘I am satisfied with Christ.’ Are you? What more then do you wish? Is not satisfaction with Christ enough for you, or for any sinner? Nay, and is not this the truest kind of faith? To be satisfied with Christ, that is faith in Christ. To be satisfied with His blood, that is faith in His blood. What more could you have? Can your faith give you something that Christ cannot? or will Christ give you nothing till you can produce faith of a certain kind and quality, whose excellences will entitle you to blessing?

“Do not bewilder yourself. Do not suppose that your faith is a price, a bribe, or a merit. Is not the very essence of real faith just your being satisfied with Christ? Are you really satisfied with Him, and with what He has done? Then do not puzzle yourself about your faith, but go upon your way rejoicing, having thus been brought to be satisfied with Him, Whom to know is peace, life, and salvation.

“You are not satisfied with your faith, you say. I am glad that you are not. Had you been so, you would have been far out-of-the-way indeed. Does Scripture anywhere speak of your getting peace by your becoming satisfied with your faith? Nay; does it not take for granted that you will, to the very last, be dissatisfied with yourself, with your faith, with all about you and within you—and satisfied with Jesus only? Are you then satisfied with Him? Then go in peace! For if satisfaction with Him will not give you peace, nothing else that either heaven or earth contains will ever give you peace. Though your faith should become so perfect that you were entirely satisfied with it, that would not pacify your conscience or relieve your fears. Faith, however perfect, has of itself nothing to give you, either of pardon or of life. Its finger points you to Jesus. Its voice bids you look straight to Him. Its object is to turn away from itself and from yourself altogether, that you may behold Him, and in beholding Him be satisfied with Him; and, in being satisfied with Him, have ‘joy and peace.’

“Faith is not what we feel or see, it is a simple trust
in what the God of love has said of Jesus as the ‘Just.’
“What Jesus is, and that alone, is faith’s delightful plea,
It never deals with sinful self, nor righteous self, in me.
“It tells me I am counted ‘dead,’ by God, in His own Word,
It tells me I am ‘born again,’ in CHRIST, my risen Lord.
“If He is free, then I am free, from all unrighteousness;
If He is just, then I am just; He is my righteousness.”

The Demoniac of Gadara

demon-possessed-man

“They went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.” 
— Luke 8:35

Christmas Evans, in a sermon on the cure of the demoniac, says…

“The man out of whom the unclean spirits were cast, besought Jesus that he might be with Him, but He [Jesus] told him to return to his own house, and show how great things God had done unto him. And he went his way, and published, throughout the whole city of Decapolis, how great things Jesus had done unto him.”

I imagine I see him going through the city, crying— ‘Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Please to take notice of me, the demoniac among the tombs. I am the man who was a terror to the people of this place—that wild man, who would wear no clothes, and that no man could bind. Here am I now, in my right mind—Jesus Christ, the Friend of sinners, had compassion on me. He remembered me when I was in my low estate, when there was no eye to pity, and no hand to save. He cast out the devils and redeemed my soul from destruction!’

“Most wonderful must have been the surprise of the people to hear such proclamation. The ladies running to the windows, the shoemakers throwing their lasts one way and their awls another, running out to meet him and to converse with him, that they might be positive that there was no imposition, and found it to be a fact that could not be contradicted. ‘Oh, the wonder of all wonders! Never was there such a thing,’ must, I think, have been the general conversation.

“And while they were talking, and everybody having something to say, homeward goes the man. As soon as he comes in sight of the house, I imagine I see one of the children running in, and crying, ‘Oh, mother! Father is coming—he will kill us all!’ ‘Children, come all into the house,’ says the mother. ‘Let us fasten the door. I think there is no sorrow like my sorrow!’ says the brokenhearted woman. ‘Are all the windows fastened, children?’ ‘Yes, mother.’ ‘Mary, my dear, come from the window; don’t be standing there.’ ‘Why, mother, I can hardly believe it is father! That man is well dressed!’ ‘Oh, yes, my dear children, it is your own father, I knew him by his walk the moment I saw him.’ Another child stepping to the window, says, ‘Why, mother, I never saw father coming home as he comes to-day. He walks on the footpath, and turns round the corner of the fence. He used to come towards the house as straight as a line, over fences, ditches, and hedges; and I’ve never seen him walk as slowly as he does now.’

“In a few minutes, however, he arrives at the door of the house, to the great terror and consternation of all the huddled family. He gently tries the door, and finds no admittance. He pauses a moment, steps towards the window, and says in a low, firm, and melodious voice, ‘ My dear wife, if you will let me in, there is no danger, I will not hurt you. I bring you glad tidings of great joy.’ The door is reluctantly opened, as it were between joy and fear.

Having deliberately seated himself, he says, ‘I am come to show you what great things God has done for me. He loved me with an everlasting love. He redeemed me from the curse of the law and the threatenings of vindictive justice. He saved me from the power and dominion of sin. He cast the devils out of my heart, and made that heart, which was a den of thieves, the temple of the Holy Spirit. I cannot tell you how much I love my Savior. Jesus Christ is the foundation of my hope, the object of my faith, and the center of my affections. I can venture my immortal soul upon Him. He is my best friend. He is altogether lovely—the chief among ten thousand. He is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. There is enough in Him to make a poor sinner rich, and a miserable sinner happy. His flesh and blood is my food, His righteousness my wedding garment, and His blood is efficacious to cleanse me from all my sins. Through Him I can obtain eternal life; for He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person; in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He deserves my highest esteem, and my warmest gratitude. Unto Him who loved me with an eternal love, and washed me in His own blood, unto Him be the glory, dominion, and power, for ever and ever! For He has rescued my soul from hell. He plucked me as a brand from the burning. He took me out of the miry clay, and out of a horrible pit. He set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings, and put in any mouth a new song of praise, and glory to Him! Glory to Him forever! Glory to God in the Highest! Glory to God for ever and ever! Let the whole earth praise Him! Yea, let all the people praise Him!’

How sweet was all this, the transporting joy of his wife! It is beyond the power of the strongest imagination to conceive the joy and gladness of this family.

It is the joy of seafaring men delivered from shipwreck; it is the joy of a man delivered from a burning house; it is the joy of not being found guilty at a criminal bar; it is the joy of receiving pardon to a condemned malefactor; it is the joy of freedom to a prisoner of war, and it is nothing in comparison to the joy of him who is delivered from going down to the pit of eternal destruction. For it is a joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Are You an Enemy of the Cross ?

Are-we-living-as-enemies-of-the-Cross

But there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
–Galatians 1:7

They are the enemies of the cross of Christ.
–Philippians 3:18

Often, the best way to positively set forth the gospel message is by exposing those things which stand against it.

Not only are we armed with “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), but also with “the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16). We are not only to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), but to be even as Paul,“set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17). We must not only build the walls with carefulness, but we must be at all times prepared to defend those walls against their enemies (see Neh. 4:17). One of the old Puritans, Thomas Manton (1620-1677), said,

“It is our duty not only to fodder the sheep, but hunt out the wolf. Error is touchy, and is loath to be meddled with; yet we must warn, and warn often.”

We indeed seek to warn the children of the Living God, even with tears as the apostle “that many walk,… that… are enemies of the cross of Christ”… These “grievous wolves” (Acts 20:29) must needs be exposed.

When we say ‘enemies of the cross’, what do we mean? Simply this: ‘the cross’ is often used in the Scripture to denote ‘the gospel’ (1 Cor. 1:18, Gal. 5:11, 6:12).

Those who are ‘enemies of the cross’ are enemies of the gospel which is the message of God’s redeeming grace revealed in His son, Jesus Christ. An enemy of the gospel is ultimately an enemy of Christ.

I believe these ‘enemies of the cross’ fall into three categories:

1.   Those who openly oppose the gospel and teach against it. These enemies are seen quite clearly, so very few words of warning are needful. We are not sent to do battle with infidels and supposed atheists, but we will”let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”(Mt. 15:14). They are “raging waves of sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13).

2.   Those who make no profession of love for Christ nor faith in His person. This group is often not so easily distinguished as ‘enemies’ of Christ as the first group clearly is. contained in this category are those who are obviously opposed to Christ for their false Gospel is an open sin and they heed not the warnings of the gospel to “flee from wrath to come” (Mat. 3:7) nor obey its commands to repent (Acts 18:30) and believe the gospel and be baptized (Mk. 16:16). But this group also contains those who do not live in open sin and unrestrained wickedness, yet do not follow Christ and profess Him before men. While those of the latter division are esteemed more highly in the eyes of men, they are equally condemned in the sight of the Lord, who said, “he that is not with me is against me” (Mat. 12:30). “Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him sill I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 10:32,33). “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:27).

3.   Those who professedly and seemingly walk in the gospel, yet in reality are set against it. This category is the most difficult to deal with; for those who make it up are often extremely hard to distinguish from the true bearers of the cross. Therefore they are the most dangerous enemies and the ones which Paul specifically warns us of in the texts. “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14,15). Another difficulty in dealing with this group is that many sincere people (and I doubt not, come true children of God) follow the teachings of these false prophets out of ignorance. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John. 4:1).

These enemies of the cross are those who set up any standard for faith, conduct, doctrine, or practice, other than the Holy Scriptures.

Of course they would not be bold so as to blatantly deny the supremacy of the Word, yet they subtly set up other standards. Such persons rely on tradition (“Well, we have always believed this or done this”), what their denomination or church teaches (“If it’s not what my church believes, I don’t even want to hear it or think about it”), special revelations and leadings of the Lord (“I feel like the Lord is leading me to…”), or their own ideas and understanding (“That doctrine cannot possibly be true because I don’t understand it”), rather than being like the Bereans who, “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). They are the ‘enemies of the cross’ for, “if they speak not according to this word (the law and testimony) it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).

Those who teach that the free will of man is the determining factor in salvation are also subtle ‘enemies of the cross.’

Their teaching has spawned a generation of hypocrites who “draw near (the Lord) with their mouth… but have removed their heart far from (Him) and their fear toward (Him) is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13). Many have been swallowed up by their zeal to make converts. but oh how many true converts are there in this day of those “who mind earthly things” (Phil. 3:19) and have a “form of godliness but deny the power thereof” (2 Tim. 2:5)? Who can give “a reason of the hope that is in them” (1 Pet. 3:15)?

These are also ‘enemies of the cross’ whose message of salvation begins, is sustained, or ends with anyone or anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Some give pre-eminence to the Holy Spirit, and truly He is to be worshipped, but His presence is always marked by the fact that Christ alone is exalted. “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come… He shall glorify me (Christ).” (John 16:13,14).

Finally, they are ‘enemies’ who preach any message which gives men any thing that they can glory in or boast of in their salvation. From the beginning to end, our salvation is all of God’s grace. He has designed it, He has provided it, He applies it, and He sustains it. He is going to have all the glory in salvation of men and He will not share that glory. Salvation is in Him and Him alone (Acts 4:12). We are helpless and hopeless. We need Him. He does not need us. We are shut up to His mercy. A man will not be saved unless God is pleased to grant mercy. There is no salvation but that which He wills to bestow upon men. Oh but this is good news, for He is a God who delights in mercy. He has shown to thousands who call on His name. My friend, I plead with you to fly to His throne this moment and seek that saving mercy. Perhaps He shall be pleased to save you from your certain ruin. Bow down at His feet today; call upon Him while He is near. But oh believe not the great swelling words of those who tell men that they can be saved anytime they want to by an act of their own will. I tell you even weeping, ‘they are the enemies of the cross of Christ’.

–Mike McInnis