The Blood Of Jesus Our Only Ground Of Peace With God
Topics In This Chapter:
- Accepted In The Beloved
- Safety Through The Blood Of Sprinkling
- Gods Estimate Of The Blood Of Jesus
- The Spirits Work Not The Ground Of Peace
- Conscience Rests Where God Finds Rest
- Victory Through The Blood Of Jesus
WHEN YOU, WHO ARE ANXIOUS about your soul, are hearing much prayer offered by Christians for the Holy Spirit, you may conclude that the first thing you also have to do is to pray for the Holy Spirit; but Jesus himself sets you right in this matter when He says, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent," (John 6:29). If you desire to do this at the throne of grace, by all means repair thither, but do not go to it to do anything else at present. Believers in Jesus pray "in the Holy Ghost " (Jude 20) that He may revive the work of God in themselves and in their fellow-believers,-lead awakened souls to Jesus,-and convince sinners of their wickedness and unbelief ; but as your only foundation for peace, pardon, purity, and glory, is to be found in the blood-shedding of Jesus, your more immediate occupation is to " behold the Lamb of God," (John 1:29). No doubt, the quickening presence of the Holy Spirit is most essential to your seeing Jesus to the saving of your soul, and you should by all means expect His gracious presence to be vouchsafed as you contemplate the crucified Redeemer; but it is unscriptural to seek the sanctification of your heart through the Spirit before the justification of your person through Christ; and it is equally unscriptural to mix the two, and depend partly on the one and partly on the other; for Jesus, and Jesus only, is the object on which your anxious eyes must rest for peace with God and a change of heart. "It is Christ that died," (Rom 8:34); and the Spirit's office is to direct you to Him who said on Calvary, "It is finished," (John 19:20). It is nowhere written in Scripture, "The work Of GOD'S Holy Spirit cleanseth us from sin; but it is written that "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin," (1 John 1:7). What you are called upon, then, more especially to do, is to receive Jesus as your Redeemer, that you may "HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE," (Eph. 1:7): for it is written, "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name," (John 1:12). We are not required to be prepared as sons, and then come and be accepted of God, be justified, and have our sins pardoned through Jesus; but we are instructed to come to Jesus in order to our being justified freely by His grace, and made sons through living union with Him who is the eternal Son of God. We are justified freely as sinners, and being thus accepted in the Beloved, we become sons of God, and have the nature, experience, and walk of His children. Awakened sinner! Begin at the beginning of the alphabet of salvation, by looking upon Him who was pierced on Calvary's cross for our sins-look to the Lamb of God, and keep continually looking unto Jesus, and not at your repentings, resolutions, reformations, praying, reading, hearing, or anything of yours as forming any reason why you should be accepted, pardoned, and saved-and you will soon find peace, and take your place among them that "worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh," (Phil. 3:3).
I do not know a more striking illustration of salvation by the blood of Jesus alone, than that which is furnished by the sprinkling of the blood of the passover lamb on the homes of the Israelites, on the eve of their redemption from the bondage of Egypt. "The blood on the lintel secured Israel's peace." There was nothing more required in order to enjoy settled peace, in reference to the destroying angel, than the application of "the blood of sprinkling." God did not add anything to the blood, because nothing more was necessary to obtain salvation from the sword of judgment. He did not say, "When I see the blood and the unleavened bread or bitter herbs, I will pass over." By no means. These things had their proper place, and their proper value; but they never could be regarded as the ground of peace in the presence of God.
It is most needful to be simple and clear as to what it is which constitutes the- groundwork of peace. So many things are mixed up with the work of Christ, that souls are plunged in darkness and uncertainty as to their acceptance. They know that there is no other way of being saved but by the blood of Christ; but the devils know this, and it avails them nought. What is needed is to know that -we are saved -absolutely, perfectly, eternally saved. There is no such thing as being partly saved and partly lost; partly justified and partly guilty; partly alive and partly dead; partly born of God and partly not. There are but the two states, and we must be in either the one or the other.
The Israelite was not partly sheltered by the blood, and partly exposed to the sword of the destroyer. He knew he was safe. He did not hope so. He was not praying to be so. He was perfectly safe. And why? Because God hath said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you," (Exod. 12:13). He simply rested upon God's testimony about the shed blood. He set to his seal that God was true. He believed that God meant what He said, and that gave him peace. He was able to take his place at the paschal-feast, in confidence, quietness, and assurance, knowing that the destroyer could not touch him, when a spotless victim had died in his stead.
If an Israelite had been asked as to his enjoyment of peace, what would he have said? Would he have said, "I know there is no other way of escape but by the blood of the lamb; and I know that that is a divinely perfect way; and, moreover, I know that that blood has been shed and sprinkled on my door-post; but somehow, I do not feel quite comfortable. I am not quite sure if I am, safe. I fear I do not value the blood as I ought, nor love the God of my fathers as I ought?" Would such five been his answer? Assuredly not. And yet hundreds of professing Christians speak thus, when asked if they have peace. They put their thoughts about the blood in place of the blood itself, and thus, in result, make salvation as much dependent upon themselves as if they were to be saved by works.
Now, the Israelite was saved by the blood alone, and not by his thoughts about it. His thoughts might be deep or they might be shallow; but, deep or shallow, they had nothing to do with his safety. He was not saved by his thoughts or feelings, but by the blood. God did not say, "When you see the blood, I will pass over you." No : but 'when I see.' What gave an Israelite peace was the fact that Jehovah's eye rested on the blood. This tranquillised his heart. The blood was outside, and the Israelite inside, so that he could not possibly see it; but God saw it, and that was quite enough.
The application of this to the question of a sinner's peace is very plain. Christ, having shed His blood as a perfect atonement for sin, has taken it into the presence of God and sprinkled it there; and God's testimony assures the believer that everything is settled on his behalf. All the claims of justice have been fully answered, sin has been perfectly put away, so that the full tide of redeeming love may roll down from the heart of God, along the channel which the sacrifice of Christ has opened for it.
To this truth the Holy Ghost bears witness. He ever sets forth the fact of God's estimate of the blood of Christ. He points the sinner's eye to the accomplished work of the cross. He declares that all is done; that sin has been put far away, and righteousness brought nigh-so nigh, that it is 'to all them that believe,' (Rom. 3:22). Believe what? Believe what God says ; because He says it, not because they feel it.
Now, we are constantly prone to look at something in ourselves as necessary to form the ground of peace. We are apt to regard the work of the Spirit in us rather than the work of Christ for us, as the foundation of our peace. This is a mistake. We know that the operations of the Spirit of God have their proper place in Christianity; but His work is never set forth as that on which our peace depends. The Holy Ghost did not make peace ; but Christ did : the Holy Ghost is not said to be our peace ; but Christ is, God did not send preaching peace by the Holy Ghost, but by Jesus Christ, (comp. Acts 10:36; Eph. 2:14, 17; Col. 1:20).
The Holy Ghost reveals Christ; He makes us to know, enjoy, and feed upon Christ. He bears witness to Christ ; takes of the things of Christ, and shews them unto us. He is the power of communion, the seal, the witness, the earnest, the unction. In short, His operations are essential Without Him, we can neither see, hear, know, feel, experience, enjoy, nor exhibit aught of Christ. This is plain, and is understood and admitted by every true and rightly-instructed Christian.
Yet, notwithstanding all this, the work of the Spirit is not the ground of peace, though He enables us to enjoy the peace. He is not our title, though He reveals our title, and enables us to enjoy it. The Holy Ghost is still carrying on His work in the soul of the believer. He 'maketh intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered,' (Rom. 8:26). He labours to bring us into more entire conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ. His aim is "to present every man perfect in Christ", (Col. 1:28). He is the author of every right desire, every holy aspiration, every pure and heavenly affection, every divine experience; but His work in and with us will not be complete until we have left this present scene, and taken our place with Christ in the glory. Just as, in the case of Abraham's servant, his work was not complete until he presented Rebekah to Isaac.
Not so the work of Christ for us: that is absolutely and eternally complete. He could say, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do," (John 17:4); and, again, "IT IS FINISHED," (John 19:30). The blessed Spirit cannot yet say He has finished the work. He has been patiently and faithfully working for the last eighteen hundred years as the true -the Divine Vicar of Christ on earth. He still works amidst the various hostile influences which surround the sphere of His operations. He still works in the hearts of the people of God, in order to bring them up, practically and experimentally, to the divinely, appointed standard ; but He never teaches a soul to lean on His work for peace in the presence of divine holiness. His office is to speak of Jesus. He does not speak of Himself. 'He,' says Christ, "shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you," (John 16:4). He can only present Christ's work as the solid basis on which the soul must rest for ever. Yea, it is on the ground of Christ's perfect atonement that He takes up His abode and carries on His operations in the believer. In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, (Eph. 1:13). No power or energy of the Holy Ghost could cancel sin; the blood has done that. 'The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin, (1 John 1:7).
It is of the utmost importance to distinguish between the Spirit's work in us and Christ's work for us. Where they are confounded, one rarely finds settled peace as to the question of sin. The type of the passover illustrates the distinction very simply. The Israelite's peace was not founded upon the unleavened bread or the bitter herbs, but upon the blood. Nor was it, by any means, a question of what he thought about the blood, but what God thought about it. This gives immense relief and comfort to the heart. God has found a ransom, and He reveals that ransom to us sinners in order that we might rest therein, on the authority of His word, and by the grace of His Spirit. And albeit our thoughts and feelings must ever fall far short of the infinite preciousness of that ransom, yet, inasmuch as God tells us that He is perfectly satisfied about our sins, we may be satisfied also. Our conscience may well find settled rest where God's holiness finds rest.
Beloved reader, if you have not as yet found peace in Jesus, we pray you to ponder this deeply. See the simplicity of the ground on which your peace is to rest. God is well pleased in the finished work of Christ - well pleased for His righteousness sake, (Isaiah 42:21). That righteousness is not founded upon your feelings or experience, but upon the shed blood of the Lamb of God; and hence your peace is not dependent upon your feelings or experience, but upon the same precious blood which is of changeless efficacy and changeless value in the judgment of God.
What then, remains for the believer? To what is he called ? To keep the feast of unleavened bread, by putting away everything contrary to the hallowed purity of his elevated position. It is his privilege to feed upon that precious Christ whose blood has cancelled all his guilt. Being assured that the sword of the destroyer cannot touch him, because it has fallen upon Christ instead, it is for him to feast in holy repose within the blood-stricken door, under the perfect shelter which God's own love has provided in the blood of the cross.
May God the Holy Ghost lead every doubting, wavering heart to find rest in the divine testimony contained in those words, ' When I see the blood, I will pass over you,' (Exod 12:13)." (Things New and old, vol. I, London: Morriah).
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Regeneration Through The Blood Of Jesus
Topics In This Chapter:
- The Necessity Of Being Born Again
- Reasons Why We Must Be Born Again
- Ye Must Be Born Again
- Born Again By The Word Of God
DEAR READER - JESUS SPOKE OF regeneration as essential to salvation; and it is possible you may feel as if that experience stood between you and the "precious blood of Christ," (1 Pet. 1:19). It seems as if it did, but it does not; for we are saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which is "shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour," (Titus 3:6). It can do you only good to consider the necessity of being born again, for it will shew you at once your utter helplessness and the all-sufficiency of the blood of JESUS alone to give you peace with God and a new heart. We do not shrink from the fullest statement of the truth of Scripture on this point; for it will be found that it does not clash in the very least with the truth, which I am specially desirous to impart, that we are not accepted as righteous in God's sight otherwise than in Christ; for, says the Word, "He made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." The necessity of being born again will shew us only the more clearly that we must be saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Turn to and read the third chapter of the Gospel by John, and then ponder the following thoughts on this vitally important subject, and see how you are stripped of every plea for mercy arising from yourself, and laid down as a lost sinner at the cross of Christ, needing to be saved by "grace" alone: -
Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, asserts the absolute necessity of regeneration, when He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," (John 3:3). And farther on, He says, as solemnly and decidedly, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," (John 3:5). And He gives a fact as the reason of this necessity: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," (John 3:6). "Flesh," or corrupt human nature - man as he is - is unfit to enter God's kingdom, and will ever continue so. No self-regeneration is to be expected. The total depravity of human nature renders a radical spiritual change of absolute necessity. The whole race, and every individual "man," is utterly depraved in heart, his will averse from good, his conscience is defiled, his understanding is darkened, his affections are alienated from God and set upon unworthy objects, his desires are corrupt, his appetites ungoverned; and, unless the Holy Spirit impart a new nature, and work an entire change on the whole faculties of his mind by "the washing of water through the word," cleansing away his filthiness of spirit as water cleanses away outward defilement, he must remain an unfit subject for God's holy kingdom.
And observe that Jesus spoke of two classes only - those who are "fleshly," and those who are "spiritual." We are naturally connected - as are all mankind - with those who are "born of the flesh," who, on that very account, cannot even so much as "see the kingdom of God;" and we can get out of our natural state only by a spiritual birth; for only "that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit," (John 3:6). All of us being born of parents who were themselves fallen and corrupt, are necessarily infected by the hereditary taint of depravity of nature; and, besides, "the carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not -subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God," (Rom. 8:7, 8), and cannot enter into His kingdom. Attempts at morality are of no account with God. A moral Nicodemus was told he required something deeper and more comprehensive than conformity to a certain standard which passes with the world for morality. God's standard of holiness is not morality but spirituality.
But some may say that, by publishing such extreme views, we may make many well-meaning persons feel disgusted at religion, and go off from it altogether.
But it is not our fault if they do so on account of the insufferableness of Divine truth. Are you convinced that Scripture is right when it says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked?" (Jer. 17:9). Do you believe that, as a man in the flesh, you are more like Satan than God? - incapable of knowing, loving, or serving God, and although in reputation for the highest morality, utterly unfit for entering into His holy kingdom?
It is, no doubt, hard to believe that one's own self is so bad as I have indicated, and none but the Holy Spirit can truly convince us of it; but does not Jesus represent our condition as utterly depraved - as "flesh?" Does He not solemnly aver, that without a new birth from above, not one-no, not even a moral, learned, inquiring, Nicodemus - can see or enter the kingdom of God? He does not say that he may not, but that he cannot enter - leaving it to be inferred that it is morally impossible. And this arises from the fact of its being a kingdom, as well as from the fact of our depravity. An anarchist has a decided dislike to constitutional and settled government; so a man, who hates the law by which Gods kingdom is governed, cannot be a loyal subject of His holy administration. God would require to change His nature before He admitted any of us into His kingdom with our nature unchanged. But as God cannot change, we must be changed, if we would see or enter His kingdom. Before we can be happy and loyal subjects of it, we must be, "born again;" and, being new creatures, have its laws written in our minds and hearts.
Besides, as a professor in one of our colleges has well remarked, " It is a principle of our nature that, in order to happiness, there must be some correspondence betwixt the tastes, the dispositions, the habits of a man, and the scene in which he is placed, the society with which he mingles, and the services in which he is employed. A coward on the field of battle, a profligate in the house of prayer, a giddy worldling standing by a death-bed, a drunkard in the company of holy men, feel instinctively that they are misplaced - they have no enjoyment there." And what enjoyment could unregenerate men have in God's kingdom, on earth, or in heaven? Even the outward services of the sanctuary below are distasteful to them, in proportion to their spirituality.As long as preachers keep by the pictorial and illustrative - and speak of the seasons of the year, the beautiful earth, and the ancient sea, mountains and plains, rivers and lakes, fields, flowers and fruits, sun, moon, and stars - they comprehend the discourse and applaud it; but when the deeply spiritual and eternally important form the theme, they feel listless, and characterise it as dull, prosy, and uninteresting. But if we cannot enjoy a highly spiritual discourse, it must be because we are "carnal," and want the spiritual "sense" which always accompanies the new birth; for "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," (1 Cor. 2:14). And is it not an alarming truth, that this being "BORN AGAIN" is not a making of ourselves better, but a being made anew spiritually by God himself! This appears evident from what Jesus said during His conversation with Nicodemus. His words are these, " Except a man be born of water and of THE SPIRIT, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," (John 3:5). This great change is effected by the Holy Spirit, through means of the living "water" of the Word of God-the testimony of Jesus-and is of a spiritual nature, "for that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." It consists not in outward reformation, but inward transformation. We must be regenerated in soul in order to be truly reformed in life. The change is of such a nature that it is sure to be manifested outwardly if it exist inwardly. If you wish to have a holy life, you must be born again. Praying, weeping, striving against sin, and obeying God's laws, is just so much labour lost, unless you have in the first place this born-again experience.
Ah! but you say, as you read this hard saying, This lays me entirely prostrate before God, a sick and dying sinner; and I may give myself up to despair at once, for such an experience is utterly beyond my reach.
No, not at all! You may well despair of self, for self is incurably bad, but you are by this shut up to trust in "Jesus only," (Mark 9:8). For, remember, Jesus continued to before this Jewish ruler atonement through Himself, lifted up as a mediator, and God's love to a perishing world, embodied in the gift and work of His Son. You want to be born again? Well, Jesus would have you look to the Son of man lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, and you will thus be pardoned and made to live. You say you are prostrated and helpless - with the poison of the serpent coursing through you - sick and dying, and you want to live - to experience such a new life as shall prove not only a present counteractive to the virus of this terrible death-poison, but also an enduring spiritual reality? Well, Jesus says, in this conversation with the inquiring ruler, that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," (John 3:16).
God sent His Son not to condemn the perishing men of the world to lie in their corrupt and diseased condition, and perish for ever, but that He Himself might die that they might be pardoned and saved! And those who are recovered from the disease of corruption, tell us that they were "born again" not by lying in their corruption and crying for a new nature, and expecting it to come in some arbitrary and different way from that of faith; but their uniform testimony is, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth," (James 1:18 ); we are new creatures, "being born again by the word of God,"1 (1 Pet. 1:23); and "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," (1 John 5:1). The realisation of regeneration being by faith in Jesus, you must fill your eyes with the atoning cross if you would have your guilt removed, and you must direct your eyes to the risen Living One at the right hand of God, and through Him get out of the old creation with its condemnation and death, into the new creation with its justification and life, if you would know what it is to be "born again," and have your heart filled with divine life. (See Rom. 6 and Eph. 2). This is the truth which Jesus taught in His conversation, with Nicodemus; and the whole drift of the Gospel in which it occurs is a copy of the mind of Christ on this point; for the writer says, towards its close, " These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name," (John 20:31).
If you still feel that you know nothing of being "born again," bring your mind into broad and immediate contact with THE WHOLE of this conversation. Do not close the book and moan over the misery of your state, as it is now discovered to you by the awakening truths contained from ver. 3 to ver. 9; but go on until you take in the discovery of the plain, gracious, free, and righteous way of getting out of your death and misery, as you have it laid down by Jesus, when He speaks (from the fourteenth to the seventeenth verse) of His own all-sufficient sacrifice, and His Father's unexampled love and gracious purpose towards perishing sinners, and His willingness to save and give eternal life to every one who believes in Him. "He that hath the Son hath life"" (1 John 5:12).
1"Every one who really believes is said to be born of God; and as every true believer is a converted man, it follows that the production of saving faith is equivalent to the work of regeneration...Conversion properly consists in a sinner being brought actually, intelligently and cordially, to close and comply with God's revealed will on the subject of His salvation." - Professor Buchanan, D.D., LL.D.
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Faith In The Blood Of Jesus Essential To Salvation
Topics In This Chapter:
- Faith The Saving Link
- The Evil Of Mistaking The Meaning Of Faith
- Faith Is Being Satisfied With Christ
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, such as 8:5, 52:8 ; also 1 Tim. 4:10, Eph. 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, (Isa. 5:3, 11; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 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 and burial and resurrection says, "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you," (1 Cor. 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 connexion 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," (Eph. 2:8).
Faith then, is the link, the one link between the sinner and Gods 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 fain 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 which 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, you get into confusion, and mistake 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 aimless efforts to work out something of your own. As soon as the Holy Spirit shews 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 which will help to save him, but so to detach him from his own performances, that he shall be content with the salvation which 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 which 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, or 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, and 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 contain 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."("Words for the Inquiring," by Horatius Bonar, D.D.)
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The Blood Of Jesus The Believer's Life And Peace
Topics In This Chapter:
- Looking Unto Jesus
- Personal Contact With The Living Jesus
- Rejoicing In Jesus
- Justification Perfect And Complete
I NOW LEAVE OFF addressing myself specially to unconverted awakened, that I may lay a few thoughts before brethren in Christ who are awakening to a deeper sense of their obligations and responsibilities
We are living in a most important era of our world's history! How melancholy the condition, and how ominous of evil the attitude of earth's nations! Warlike powers confront each other, and the blood of their embattled hosts is shed in torrents. How persevering and successful is man in carrying forward his gigantic schemes and favourite movements! Strange is it also, that an all but universal cry for regeneration among earth's nations should be made simultaneously with a cry for the Holy Ghost to achieve for the professing Church a mighty spiritual revival.
We cannot help being stimulated in our exertions for the cause of Christ, by contiguity to unceasing earthly activity manifested on every side; but were this our only incentive to action, our zeal would be spurious; for all effort and activity in promoting the gospel which are the offspring of mere imitation, and originate only in proximity to the activity displayed by the world, instead of being based on personal faith in Christ and living communion with God, form nothing higher and nothing better than "a fair show in the flesh."
But we have reason to believe that a mighty breath of the Divine Spirit is now passing over the earth. The Church of the living God, scattered throughout the different denominations, has been feeling its influence; and the result of His gracious presence and quickening power is appearing in greatly increased religious activity and zeal for the conversion of souls. This is matter for thankfulness. We need to have a renewal of our youth that we may be healthy, fresh, and vigorous to engage energetically in the great work that is to be done for God in these eventful days that are now passing over us. And let us ever bear in mind that the grand prerequisite to thorough usefulness is, that we ourselves should be "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and, length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:16-19). If we would be filled with the grace of God and refreshed in our souls it is essential, at such a time as the present, that we should constantly recall and deeply ponder the great foundation-truths on which we rested at the time of our conversion. "Looking unto Jesus" (Heb. 12:2) is the most refreshing exercise in which we can engage; and the shortest road to genuine spiritual revival is by the cross of Calvary.
When the Rev. W. H. Hewitson was on his deathbed, and had several texts illustrative of the faithfulness of God quoted to him by a friend, he remarked after his friend had withdrawn : - "Texts like these do not give me so much comfort, as 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,' (John 3:15); or, He that spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"(Rom. 8:32). Plain doctrinal statements, exhibiting the heart of God, are more sustaining to me than mere promises. I like to get into contact with the living person." This experience is very common in such circumstances. When the most intelligent Christian draws near to death, he feels that he can rest with confidence on nothing except the great elementary truths of God's glorious gospel, and the living person of His risen Son. And when we are in a state of spiritual decay; when our "soul is full of troubles, and our life draweth nigh unto the grave," (Ps. 88:3); when our - "spirit is overwhelmed, and our heart within us is desolate," (Ps. 143:4) there is nothing so reviving and invigorating as the leading fundamental truths of the gospel of Christ. The faithful saying, "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief," (1 Tim. 1:15) is at once the means of reviving the Christian, and of giving life to the self-despairing sinner; for the gospel is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," (Rom. 1:16). "None but Jesus" can avail us either for peace of conscience with reference to past transgressions, peace of heart with reference to present circumstances, or for peace of mind with reference to future prospects. This is not theory, but experience, as every child of God knows. Another writes:
I feel that nothing can do me good but personal contact with the living person of the Lord Jesus. Looking at systems and creeds - doctrines and duties - may be all very well in its own place, but if I am to be a healthy, fruit-bearing Christian, I must look steadily and confidingly to the great High Priest who assumed our nature to bear our sins and win our confidence. When, by faith, we are enabled to fix a steady gaze on Jesus, how little do we care for the smile or frown of the world! 'Looking unto Jesus' enables the worm Jacob' to thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and make the hills as chaff,' (Isa. 41:15). But I often feel that it is a very difficult matter to look away from myself, though I am sure I never get anything there to make me feel happy. No, all is in my Redeemer, and it is only when I am looking to Him as all my salvation' that I feel satisfied, and think I could face death with composure.
The late Lady Colquhoun was one who knew the preciousness and power of resting on Christ Jesus alone for peace, comfort, and salvation, and from personal experience she was "able to teach others also." Writing to a young friend, she gave this excellent counsel:
"As well in our winters as our summers the foundation standeth sure - Christ is all. With Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Precious truth! Let us rest upon it, and cease from the vain endeavour to find anything in us that can give the shadow of hope. Abiding hope must be fixed on the object that changeth not. We change daily, hourly. He remains glorious in holiness eternally. And this perfection is in the court of heaven our representative. Can we want more? Shall we say, I will add a few of my virtues and graces to the account? When we are guilty of this folly, we weary ourselves seeking for them, for they cannot be found, and our harp hangs upon the willows. But we resume the songs of Zion when we look entirely from ourselves to the Lord our righteousness.' How is it with you, dear A.? Can you rejoice in the Lord always? If not, experience will teach you that living on frames and feelings will not do - that comfort ebbs and flows with them - and that you equally delude yourself when you take comfort from the feeling of nearness to God, or when you lose it because you lack that joy in devotional exercises, which is, nevertheless, extremely desirable, and much to be prized. This, however, is distinct from joy in Christ crucified, and in Christ our righteousness; and it is very possible to feel little heart for prayer, and to mourn an absent God, and yet to stand firm on the sure foundation, rejoicing in Christ, and never doubting that we are complete in Him.
The reason why many real Christians are harassed with doubts, fears, and darkness, is that they leave off leaning entirely upon their beloved Saviour, and rest part of the weight of their souls' eternal well-being, on their own experience. The fruits of righteousness wrought in us by the grace of the Holy Spirit are precious as evidences, but they cannot be trusted as grounds of salvation, unless with much spiritual detriment to our souls. Legh Richmond, writing to his mother, says:
Your occasional doubts and fears arise from too much considering faith and repentance as the grounds, rather than the evidences, of salvation. Our salvation is not because we do well, but because 'He in whom we trust hath done all things well.' The believing sinner is never more happy and secure than when, at the same moment, he beholds and feels his own vileness, and also his Saviour's excellence. You look at yourself too much, and at the infinite price paid for you too little. For conviction you must look at yourself, but for comfort at your Saviour. Thus the wounded Israelites were to look only at the brazen serpent for recovery. The graces of the Spirit are good things for others to judge us by, but it is Christ himself received, believed in, rested upon, loved, and followed, that will speak peace to ourselves. By looking unto Him we shall grow holy; and the more holy we grow, the more we shall mourn over sin, and be sensible how very far short we come of what we yet desire to be. While our sanctification is a gradual and still imperfect work, our justification is perfect and complete: the former is wrought in us, the, latter for us. Rely simply as a worthless sinner on the Saviour, and the latter is all your own, with its accompanying blessings of pardon, acceptance, adoption, and the nonimputation of sin to your charge. Hence will flow thankful obedience, devotedness of heart, etc. This salvation is by faith alone, and thus saving faith works by love. Embrace these principles freely, fully, and impartially, and you will enjoy a truly scriptural peace, assurance and comfort.
For if Christ be born within,
Soon that likeness shall appear
Which the heart had lost through sin
God's own image fair and clear,
And the soul serene and bright
Mirrors back His heavenly light.
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