The following post by Bryan Daniels is a powerful post, and one not to be missed. I highly recommend it. “It Is Well”: A Supernatural Confession
If you like a challenge, try this. All these quotations are taken from the same source. Hint: I’ve mentioned before.
“God’s rules of action are immutable and therefore what He did to one company of His people He will do to others of them. God is Sovereign but yet He acts according to His unchanging Nature so that from one of His proceedings we may infer the rest.”
“God gave you all Covenant blessings in Christ Jesus according as He chose you, in Him, from before the foundation of the world. God saw you in Christ as His elect, His Beloved, His redeemed and therefore for you He prepared a kingdom which you inherit through His Grace. If you have now the confidence to believe in Christ Jesus and to say, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His,” then you shall know that in grasping gracious blessings you do but come to your own!”
“Beloved, who among us knows all that is ours in Christ? He is a case which is all ours, but we do not open its doors and take out all its treasures! Our possessions in Christ are very wide but we need to be bid, like Abraham, to lift up our eyes to the north and to the south and to the east and to the west, that we may form a clearer idea of the goodly land which the Lord our God has given us! We see the blessings of the Covenant but do we feed on them as we might! Do we drink deep into them and is our soul satisfied as with marrow and fatness by them? I fear we do not”
” it is your high privilege to have access to the Mercy Seat—but do you use that access and come often and boldly to the Throne of Grace? Do you avail yourselves of your opportunities? Do you make the utmost use of prayer?”
“Christians must not lose sight of the truth that the eternal life we celebrate-the abundant life we have in Christ-comes at monumental cost. For us, the cross must be more than an ornament, symbol, or spire topping. It must serve as a constant reminder of the lengths to which God in Christ would go to save us. Such love and sheer grace deserve and demand our best in love, worship, and service.”
Taken from “Life Ventures, Bible Studies for Life, winter 2012-2013.)
We as Christians must never forget that our access to our Heavenly Father comes by way of His son, Jesus Christ, hanging on the cross, and shedding His blood for us.
“Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Timothy 1:9
THERE is an external and an internal call of the Spirit. The external call is thus alluded to: “I have called, and you refused;” “Many are called, but few are chosen.” This outward call of the Spirit is made in various ways. In the word, in the glorious proclamation of the gospel, through the providences of God-those of mercy and those of judgment-the warnings of ministers, the admonitions of friends, and, not less powerful, the awakening of the natural conscience. By these means does the Holy Spirit “call sinners to repentance.” In this sense, every man who hears the gospel, who is encircled with the means of grace, and who bears about with him a secret but ever-faithful monitor, is called by the Spirit. The existence of this call places the sinner in an attitude of fearful responsibility; and the rejection of this call exposes him to a still more fearful doom. God has never poured out His wrath upon man, without first extending the olive-branch of peace. Mercy has invariably preceded judgment. “I have called, and you have refused.” “All day long I have stretched forth my hands.” “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” He reasons, He argues, He expostulates with the sinner. “Come, let us reason together,” is His invitation. He instructs, and warns, and invites; He places before the mind the most solemn considerations, urged by duty and interest; He presses His own claims, and appeals to the individual interests of the soul; but all seems ineffectual. Oh, what a view does this give us of the patience of God toward the rebellious! That He should stretch out his hand to a sinner-that instead of wrath, there should be mercy-instead of cursing, there should be blessing-that, instead of instant punishment, there should be the patience and forbearance that invites, and allures, and reasons!”-Oh, who is a God like unto our God? “I have called, and you refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded.”
But there is the special, direct, and effectual call of the Spirit, in the elect of God, without which all other calling is in vain. God says, “I will put my Spirit within them.” Christ says, “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.” And in the following passages reference is made to the effectual operation of God the Spirit. “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.” “The word of God which effectually works in you that believe.” Thus, through the instrumentality of the truth, the Spirit is represented as effectually working in the soul. When He called before, there was no inward, supernatural, secret power accompanying the call to the conscience. Now there is an energy put forth with the call, which awakens the conscience, breaks the heart, convinces the judgment, opens the eye of the soul, and pours a new and an alarming sound upon the hitherto deaf ear. Mark the blessed effects. The scales fell from the eyes, the veil is torn from the mind, the deep fountains of evil in the heart are broken up, the sinner sees himself lost and undone-without pardon, without a righteousness, without acceptance, without a God, without a Savior, without a hope! Awful condition! “What shall I do to be saved?” is his cry: “I am a wretch undone! I look within me, all is dark and vile; I look around me, everything seems but the image of my woe; I look above me, I see only an angry God: whichever way I look, is hell!-and were God now to send me there, just and right would He be.” But, blessed be God, no poor soul that ever uttered such language, prompted by such feelings, ever died in despair. That faithful Spirit who begins the good work, effectually carries it on, and completes it. Presently He leads him to the cross of Jesus-unveils to his eye of glimmering faith a suffering, wounded, bleeding, dying Savior-and yet a Savior with outstretched arms! That Savior speaks-oh, did ever music sound so melodious?-“All this I do for you-this cross for you-these sufferings for you-this blood for you-these stretched-out arms for you. Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest-Him that comes to me, I will in no wise cast out-Look unto me, and be you saved-only believe. Are you lost? I can save you. Are you guilty? I can cleanse you. Are you poor? I can enrich you. Are you low sunk? I can raise you. Are you naked? I can clothe you. Have you nothing to bring with you-no price, no money, no goodness, no merit? I can and will take you to me, just as you are, poor, naked, penniless, worthless; for such I came to seek, such I came to call, for such I came to die.” “Lord, I believe,” exclaims the poor convinced soul, “Help You mine unbelief.” You are just the Savior that I want. I wanted one that could and would save me with all my vileness, with all my rags, with all my poverty-I wanted one that would save me fully, save me freely, save me as an act of mere unmerited, undeserved grace-I have found Him whom my soul loves-and will be His through time, and His through eternity.” Thus effectually does the blessed Spirit call a sinner, by His especial, direct, and supernatural power, out of darkness into marvelous light. “I will work,” says God, “and who shall let it?” (marg. turn it back.)
I’ve been reading a book called, “Authentic Faith” by Gary Thomas. In it, he uses a term called “Defiant Beauty,” and the following is a direct quote, “In a world where people live self-centered lives, where ugly things happen, where sin seems to spread unchecked, where daily assaults take their toll, we can point to the defiant beauty of a selfless life, seeking first the kingdom of God, putting others first, and even sacrificing ourselves in the process, if need be-all to proclaim a transcendent truth that is greater than ourselves.” Right before he says this, he writes, “Beauty in the midst of chaos or ugliness is stunning. It’s onstage, and it seizes your attention.”
Within those few words is a truth that lies at the heart of what I’ve often sensed is the biggest hindrance to “Christianity” today, and with, sad to say, too many of us who call ourselves, “Christians.” Could it be that the reason “Christianity” and “Christians” are failing is because we’re failing to be the ” defiant beauty” in the midst of all the ugliness around us?
We live in a world of “ungrace” where practically everyone and everything is in direct opposition to what “grace” is, and what it’s about. We look down on and despise the concepts of “grace, forgiveness and mercy” when Jesus shows us that these are our most powerful weapons.
Jesus calls us to love, and when we do that as He has called us to, then we show the “defiant beauty” that characterized and defined His life here on earth and turned the lives of all those He touched upside down.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”1Pe_1:7
Trials and temptations are the means which God employs to manifest to the soul the reality and strength of the faith which he bestows upon it; for there is in every trial and temptation opposition made to the faith that is in the heart; and every trial and temptation, so to speak, threaten the life of faith. And they threaten it in this way — Under the trial God for the most part hides himself. He puts forth, indeed, a secret power whereby the soul is held up, or otherwise it would sink into utter despair, and be overcome and swallowed up by the power of unbelief. Hence comes the conflict between the trial that fights against the faith and the faith which fights against or rather under the trial.
Now, when in this trial, in this sharp conflict, in this hot furnace, faith does not give way, is not burned up, is not destroyed, but keeps its firm hold upon the promise and the faithfulness of him who has given it, this trial of faith becomes very precious. It is precious to the soul when God again smiles upon it, and becomes thus manifest as genuine. It is precious in the sight of God’s people, who see it and derive strength and comfort from what they witness in the experience of a saint thus tried and blessed; and it is precious also in the sight of God himself, who crowns it with his own manifest approbation, and puts upon it the attesting seal of his own approving smile. But above all things, it will be found precious at the appearing of Jesus Christ, and that not only in his various appearings in grace, but in his final appearance in glory, for of that the Apostle mainly speaks when he says that”it may be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
“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.
“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.