Love Awakens is a short but very powerful post. This is where it all starts and where it ends, too.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of men, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11, 12
THE great and distinctive truth thus so broadly, emphatically, and impressively stated is the divinity of the gospel-a truth, in the firm and practical belief of which the Church of God needs to be established. The gospel is the master-work of Jehovah, presenting the greatest display of His manifold wisdom, and the most costly exhibition of the riches of His grace. In constructing it He would seem to have summoned to His aid all the resources of His own infinity; His fathomless mind, His boundless love, His illimitable grace, His infinite power, His spotless holiness-all contributed their glory, and conspired to present it to the universe as the most consummate piece of Divine workmanship. It carries with it its own evidence. The revelations it makes, the facts it records, the doctrines it propounds, the effects is produces, speak it to be no “cunningly devised fable,” of human invention and fraud, but what it truly is, the “revelation of Jesus Christ,” the “glorious gospel of the blessed God.” What but a heart of infinite love could have conceived the desire of saving sinners? And by what but an infinite mind could the expedient have been devised of saving them in such a way-the incarnation, obedience, and death of His own beloved Son? Salvation from first to last is of the Lord. Here we occupy high vantage ground. Our feet stand upon an everlasting rock. We feel that we press to our heart that which is truth-that we have staked our souls upon that which is divine-that Deity is the basis on which we build: and that the hope which the belief of the truth has inspired will never make ashamed. Oh, how comforting, how sanctifying is the conviction that the Bible is God’s word, that the gospel is Christ’s revelation, and that all that it declares is as true as Jehovah Himself is true! What a stable foundation for our souls is this! We live encircled by shadows. Our friends are shadows, our comforts are shadows, our defenses are shadows, our pursuits are shadows, and we ourselves are shadows passing away. But in the precious gospel we have substance, we have reality, we have that which remains with us when all other things disappear, leaving the soul desolate, the heart bleeding, and the spirit bowed in sorrow to the dust. It peoples our lonely way, because it points us to a “cloud of witnesses.” It guides our perplexities, because it is a “lamp to our feet.” It mitigates our grief, sanctifies our sorrow, heals our wounds, dries our tears, because it leads us to the love, the tenderness, the sympathy, the grace of Jesus. The gospel reveals Jesus, speaks mainly of Jesus, leads simply to Jesus, and this makes it what it is, “glad tidings of great joy,” to a poor, lost, ruined, tried, and tempted sinner.
“As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
THERE can be nothing in the Bible adverse to the salvation of a sinner. The doctrine of predestination is a revealed doctrine of the Bible; therefore predestination cannot be opposed to the salvation of the sinner. So far from this being true, we hesitate not most strongly and emphatically to affirm, that we know of no doctrine of God’s word more replete with encouragement to the awakened, sin-burdened, Christ-seeking soul than this. What stronger evidence can we have of our election of God than the Spirit’s work in the heart? Are you really in earnest for the salvation of your soul? Do you feel the plague of sin? Are you sensible of the condemnation of the law? Do you come under the denomination of the “weary and heavy laden”? If so, then the fact that you are a subject of the Divine drawings-that you have a felt conviction of your sinfulness-and that you are looking wistfully for a place of refuge, affords the strongest ground for believing that you are one of those whom God has predestinated to eternal life. The very work thus begun is the Spirit’s first outline of the Divine image upon your soul-that very image to which the saints are predestinated to be conformed.
But while we thus vindicate this doctrine from being inimical to the salvation of the anxious soul, we must with all distinctness and earnestness declare, that in this stage of your Christian course you have primarily and mainly to do with another and a different doctrine. We refer to the doctrine of the Atonement. Could you look into the book of the Divine decrees, and read your name inscribed upon its pages, it would not impart the joy and peace which one believing view of Christ crucified will convey. It is not essential to your salvation that you believe in election; but it is essential to your salvation that you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In your case, as an individual debating the momentous question how a sinner may be justified before God, your first business is with Christ, and Christ exclusively. You are to feel that you are a lost sinner, not that you are an elect saint. The doctrine which meets the present phase of your spiritual condition is, not the doctrine of predestination, but the doctrine of an atoning Savior. The truth to which you are to give the first consideration and the most simple and unquestioning credence is, that “Christ died for the ungodly”-that He came into the world to save sinners-that He came to call, not the righteous, but sinners to repentance-that in all respects, in the great business of our salvation, He stands to us in the relation of a Savior, while we stand before Him in the character of a sinner. Oh, let one object fix your eye, and one theme fill your mind-Christ and His salvation. Absorbed in the contemplation and study of these two points, you may safely defer all further inquiry to another and a more advanced stage of your Christian course. Remember that the fact of your predestination, the certainty of your election, can only be inferred from your conversion. We must hold you firmly to this truth. It is the subtle and fatal reasoning of Satan, a species of atheistical fatalism, to argue, “If I am elected I shall be saved, whether I am regenerated or not.” The path to eternal woe is paved with arguments like this. Men have cajoled their souls with such vain excuses until they have found themselves beyond the region of hope! But we must rise to the fountain, by pursuing the stream. Conversion, and not predestination, is the end of the chain we are to grasp. We must ascend from ourselves to God, and not descend from God to ourselves, in settling this great question. We must judge of God’s objective purpose of love concerning us, by His subjective work of grace within us. In conclusion, we earnestly entreat you to lay aside all fruitless speculations, and to give yourself to prayer. Let reason bow to faith, and faith shut you up to Christ, and Christ be all in all to you. Beware that you come not short of true conversion-a changed heart, and a renewed mind, so that you become a “new creature in Christ Jesus.” And if as a poor lost sinner you repair to the Savior, all vile and guilty, unworthy and weak as you are, He will receive you and shelter you within the bosom that bled on the cross to provide an atonement and an asylum for the very chief of sinners.
My Life’s Song. Lovely post. I pray the Lord use this to touch as many as possible….
The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.
A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about.
His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.
The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.
Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.
Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD.
For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.
Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word “forgiveness,” when it sounds in a guilty sinner’s ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, for ever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and for ever? Hell is my portion as a sinner-there is no possibility of my escaping from it while sin remains upon me-can the load of guilt be uplifted, the crimson stain removed? Can the adamantine stones of my prison-house ever be loosed from their mortices, or the doors be lifted from their hinges? Jesus tells me that I may yet be clear. For ever blessed be the revelation of atoning love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is secured to all who rest in Jesus. I have believed in the appointed propitiation, even Jesus crucified, and therefore my sins are at this moment, and for ever, forgiven by virtue of his substitutionary pains and death. What joy is this! What bliss to be a perfectly pardoned soul! My soul dedicates all her powers to him who of his own unpurchased love became my surety, and wrought out for me redemption through his blood. What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive for ever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, and how gracious was the method by which pardon was sealed home to me, I am in a maze of wondering worshipping affection. I bow before the throne which absolves me, I clasp the cross which delivers me, I serve henceforth all my days the Incarnate God, through whom I am this night a pardoned soul.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
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, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.
Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.
For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.
O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.
Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.
Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice
Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
Over the last month, I’ve been taking some time to recharge, but it’s been more than that. Actually, it’s been more of a reset. I’ve had to take some time away in order to reset my priorities, and to regain a proper perspective. In what way, you may be asking, and the truth is in almost every way. Somehow I let my priorities get out of whack, and I didn’t even realize how out of whack they really were at first. I hate admitting this but it is what it is. Sometimes it’s not the “what” that gets you in trouble, but the “why.”
I don’t know about you, but if there’s a way I can get into trouble, I’m going to. I can only imagine where I’d be if I was intentional about getting into trouble, and it’s only by the grace of God that I’ve never gotten what I fully deserve. What’s so frustrating for me is that I have a rare talent in that even when I’m trying to do the right thing, I can still mess up. I can’t remember where I saw it, or maybe I heard it….but it goes something like this, “It’s not enough to say or do the right thing, you’ve got to say and do it for the right reason.” And, that’s even if you get the right result, or even a good result.
On a good day, I can maybe hit two out of three, or even three out of five, but as sure as I’m writing this, I’m going to miss something somewhere. Now in case, you’re wondering where I’m going with this, it’s here, and I mean this in the kindest way: what I just said about me is equally true for you. Nobody gets it right each and every time. Even the highest, most professional of people, miss one every now and then.
And like them, when I miss as I sometimes do, grace is there to bridge the gap… No amount of human effort or skill can build a perfect bridge, can close every gap….I don’t know much, but I know that….and I also know the one who can.
“Leaning upon her Beloved.” Solomon’s Song, 8:5
WHAT more appropriate, what more soothing truth could we bring before you, suffering Christian, than this? You are sick-lean upon Jesus. His sick ones are peculiarly dear to His heart. You are dear to Him. In all your pains and languishings, faintings and lassitude, Jesus is with you; for He created that frame, He remembers that it is but dust, and He bids you lean upon Him, and leave your sickness and its issue entirely in His hands. You are oppressed-lean upon Jesus. He will undertake your cause, and committing it thus into His hands, He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday. You are lonely-lean upon Jesus. Sweet will be the communion and close the fellowship which you may thus hold with Him, your heart burning within you while He talks with you by the way. Is the ascent steep and difficult? lean upon your Beloved. Is the path strait and narrow? lean upon your Beloved. Do intricacies and perplexities and trials weave their network around your feet? lean upon your Beloved. Has death smitten down the strong arm and chilled the tender heart upon which you were used to recline? lean upon your Beloved. Oh! lean upon Jesus in every strait, in every want, in every sorrow, in every temptation. Nothing is too insignificant, nothing too mean, to take to Christ. It is enough that you want Christ, to warrant you in coming to Christ. No excuse need you make for repairing to Him; no apology will He require for the frequency of your approach; He loves to have you quite near to Him, to hear your voice, and to feel the confidence of your faith and the pressure of your love. Ever remember that there is a place in the heart of Christ sacred to you, and which no one can fill but yourself, and from which none may dare exclude you. And when you are dying, oh! lay your languishing head upon the bosom of your Beloved, and fear not the foe, and dread not the passage; for His rod and His staff, they will comfort you. On that bosom the beloved disciple leaned at supper; on that bosom the martyr Stephen laid his bleeding brow in death; and on that bosom you, too, beloved, may repose, living or dying, soothed, supported, and sheltered by your Savior and your Lord.