Thursday, August 30, 2007

THE BIRTH OF THE REDEEMER, CHRIST JESUS THE LORD


When most religious people think about Christmas, their thoughts usually consist of those things traditionally associated with the holiday, i.e., the baby Jesus in a manger, the shepherds abiding in the field, and the wise men with their gifts for the Christ child. Now these things are historical truths and they are to be believed on as the Word of God. The problem is most people think by this historical story God is teaching mankind a lesson about how important and essential it is for us to give to others who are less fortunate than we are as proof we are Christian, or even worse to give in order to attain or maintain salvation. Nothing could be more contrary to the truth of the Gospel - “Not by WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)

We could give everything we possess to those who are less fortunate, and it is absolutely worthless when it comes to our justification before God - “Knowing that a man IS NOT JUSTIFIED by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

Even though we know that God’s elect, justified sinners will be lovers of mankind and generous people, that isn’t what the story of the birth of Christ teaches mankind.

The birth of Christ was the beginning of the fulfilment in time of every condition of salvation required to eternally justify all of God’s elect. The birth of Christ wasn’t an after thought of God to correct the sins of man, but the purposed birth of the Lamb of God - “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To REDEEM them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:4,5)

Think about who that person was that was born!

That infant in the manger was none other than God in human flesh - “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” (1 Timothy 3:16)

In order for Christ to effectively represent us, He had to be like us, ONLY WITHOUT SIN. The Child born to Mary began at His birth to fulfill every “jot and tittle” of the law because it was required of all those He represented. Every step He took from the cradle to the grave wasn’t for His benefit, but for the benefit of His children. Christ loved God perfectly and loved His neighbor, including His worst enemy, because God required it of me, AND I COULDN’T DO IT. This is the God’s story of the birth of His Son: that an Infinite, Eternal, Sovereign God would provide everything necessary to glorify and honor Himself as “a just God and a Saviour” through the giving of His Son, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST to redeem His people - Matthew 1:21.

By Richard Warmack

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

THE COST OF REDEMPTION


What exactly was the cost of REDEMPTION?

Before we can answer this question we need to understand what is meant by the term “REDEMPTION”.

In the original language the word “redemption”, as well as the root word “redeem” means “to redeem or liberate by payment of ransom” or “to buy out of a debt” (Vines Expository Dictionary).

It has reference to the idea of purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom. In order to “redeem” the slave, someone must pay the price required to secure the slaves freedom or liberty. In other words, their debt must be PAID IN FULL.

A partial payment wouldn’t do it!

The slave promising to do things for the slave owner after his release wouldn’t do it either. This applies to the elect sinner in that we were sold into slavery to sin’s guilt, penalty, and condemnation when we fell in our Representative man, ADAM - (See Romans 5:12, Romans 5:17-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

As the Representative and Federal Head of ALL MEN , ADAM sold us all into the bondage of sin, including the result of sin: SPIRITUAL, MORAL, AND ETERNAL DEATH - “The WAGES of sin is DEATH” (Romans 6:23).

In this dire condition, NO SINNER could do anything to secure their own redemption. Like the slave on the auction block, we were entirely under the control of the one who owned us. Now there is no doubt lost sinners in this condition , i.e., “dead in trespasses and sin”, (Ephesians 2) can do many things to impress other sinners and are even able to convince themselves they are okay before God - “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).

But God isn’t impressed or influenced by a sinners attempts to justify or redeem himself:

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers...”
(1 Peter 1:18)

Peter is telling us that our morality, or prayers, or promises to improve, or our actually improving CANNOT REDEEM us. But praise God, he didn’t leave us without hope!

He tells us the COST OF REDEMPTION - “But with the PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:19)

The payment price required to purchase the eternal salvation of all God’s Elect rested on one thing: “The precious blood of Christ”. Christ offered Himself ONCE at Calvary, and by His perfect life and substitutionary death , Christ perfectly and eternally redeemed all His elect.

“but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
(Hebrews 9:12)

One last thing: not one sinner for whom Christ shed His precious blood will be lost, BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN REDEEMED AT THE CROSS and they no longer owe a debt to God’s Holy law and justice.

Is Christ your redeemer?

By Richard Warmack

THE ELECT, HOLY AND BELOVED


When Paul wrote the epistle to the believers at Colosse, he made a very interesting statement which runs totally contrary to what is taught in modern day religion - “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, HOLY AND BELOVED, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.” (Colossians 3:12)

Can you even begin to imagine the comfort and hope these two great words, “holy and beloved”, gave to these justified sinners who continually found themselves struggling every day with their old sinful nature?

This religious world would never imagine, much less tell any of their members that God considers them “holy” (legally righteous according to His strict law and justice) based solely on Christ’s finished work of redemption at Calvary. I’ve actually had people tell me: “If you preach this kind of message, you’ll open the door for men and women to live like hell.”

The reason they will not declare this message of salvation by God’s free grace based on Christ’s righteousness alone is they are convinced the only way to keep sinners motivated to obedience is by threatening punishment for disobedience and by promising rewards for obedience.

The reality the Scriptures clearly declare is that before ANY OBEDIENCE can be acceptable to God, the one doing the obedience must already be declared LEGALLY RIGHTEOUS and their person acceptable before God. A preacher once put it to me like this: “The JUSTIFIED SINNER has for his starting place, what the SELF-RIGHTEOUS religionist has for his goal.”

The self-righteous religionists goal is to establish a righteousness by his obedience to the law.

Romans 10:1
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

Romans 10:2
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:3
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Any sinner who is ignorant of or not submitted to Christ’s Righteousness ALONE as their only ground of salvation will always try to establish a righteousness on their own. On the other hand, the JUSTIFIED SINNER has been “made the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN HIM” (2 Corinthians 5:21) based on the blood and righteousness of Christ, before he takes the first step by way of obedience.

In Colossians 3:12, the Apostle Paul does exhort believers (justified saints) to obedience, i.e., “bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness”, but not until he has already dogmatically established to their minds their present abiding position before the true and living God, i.e., “HOLY AND BELOVED”. If you rest in Christ’s righteousness ALONE as your only hope of salvation, God views you “holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight.” (Colossians 1:22)

Therefore, because you are holy, because you are a saint, because you are God’s child, with no possibility of ever being separated from him (See Romans 8:28-39), out of grace and gratitude, SERVE HIM. This is the only way of acceptable obedience. All else is dead works and hated by God.

By Richard Warmack

THE ELECT'S PROPITIATION: JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS


When most religious people speak about the death of Christ, their words reveal they have little or no respect for the holiness, justice, or the grace of God. They speak of Christ suffering, bleeding, and dying for ALL MEN AND WOMEN WITHOUT EXCEPTION, including those who at present are suffering eternal torment in hell. They would never admit it, but they accuse the true and living God of something our own legal system would never allow: DOUBLE JEOPARDY!

Their doctrine (teaching) declares Christ suffered the penalty of sin for every man, i.e., ETERNAL CONDEMNATION - “The wages of sin are death” (Romans 6:23), and then God turns around and punishes some people for the EXACT SAME SINS Christ suffered for at Calvary.

This kind of theology unwittingly charges God with injustice.

Actually if this were true, God is found to be the cruelest of all because He would have NEEDLESSLY punished His Son who is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heaven’s” (Hebrews 7:26).

When you point out this reasonable argument, they immediately say: “The difference between the sinner who is in hell and the one who goes to heaven is that one BELIEVES, and the other doesn’t BELIEVE.”

Let the Apostle Paul answer this foolish statement - “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
(Titus 3:5)

"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness (THE HOLINESS OR SATISFACTION TO LAW AND JUSTICE REQUIRED TO ALLOW A SINNER TO CONTINUE IN GOD’S PRESENCE) come by the law (by any sinner’s obedience or faith), THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN."
(Galatians 2:21)

Surely when we speak of the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary for those He represented, we venture onto holy ground and must with great care seek to honor every attribute of God’s redemptive character as both a “just God”, who will not overlook the least of sin in the best of men, and “a Savior”, who delights to show mercy and grace in a way that is consistent with His holy nature. The Apostle John wrote of Christ’s work at Calvary as a PROPITIATION - “And He is the PROPITIATION for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

John didn’t write that Christ was trying to be the “propitiation” (satisfaction to both the penalty and precept of God’s holy law) for every man, woman and child. Rather, He clearly declared Christ “IS” the “propitiation for OUR SINS.” (Those He represented or THE ELECT).

When we read of propitiation in the Scriptures, it always involves perfect satisfaction and reconciliation through an appropriate sacrifice. The Greek word for “propitiation” is used three times in the New Testament, and in every case it always declares Christ and His righteousness ALONE as the hope of our being propitiated (declared legally righteous and holy) to God - (Read Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10)

Christ’s life, death, and resurrection weren’t an attempt by God to make men savable, if they fulfilled certain conditions, even INCLUDING FAITH. It was His actual accomplishment of the justification of EVERY ELECT SINNER who Christ represented by His obedience unto death at Calvary. May we always honor this glorious work of Redemption with our words and our works!

By Richard Warmack

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

THE ETERNAL LOVE OF GOD FOR HIS OWN


I was raised in religion and taught by well-intentioned individuals that “we were all God’s children,” that He “loved all men and women equally,” and that He wanted to and was trying to save everybody. They continually quoted John 3:16 and followed it up with Scriptures such as “God is love,” 1 John 4:16. To my natural unregenerate mind all of this sounded logical and was exactly what I wanted to believe.

I never imagined questioning their reasoning until God opened my eyes by His grace to see the glory of His love for His own. I realize now that God’s love is infinitely greater than the love of the “god” I worshipped in my former state of idolatry.

The Bible knows and teaches nothing of God wanting to save and being unable to do it -
“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”
(Daniel 4:35)

“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”
(Psalm 115:3)

I don’t remember anyone EVER declaring this God to my ears!

Do you?

I also discovered that God’s love, instead of being a mere wish or desire to save me if I’d let Him, actually was the cause for His sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ into this world, to do for sinners what they could never do for themselves. Think about John 3:16 -
“For God SO loved the world.”

We need to remember Christ was talking to a Jewish Pharisee, Nicodemus, who thought Jews were the only people God had any intention of saving. So Christ used the word “world” to point out to Him that God’s purpose was to save all His people out of every nation. Since God “SO” loved His people,
“He gave His only begotten Son”.

Paul wrote - “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

Now our natural reasoning latches on to this next phrase - “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish.” Everybody tells us this verse teaches that man’s belief is what appropriates Christ’s work of redemption and makes it their own. Notice the last part of the verse - “but HAVE (literally, already possess) eternal life.”

The only reason anyone ever believes or rests in Christ is because they “already possess” eternal life which was obtained for them by Christ’s perfect work of redemption at Calvary - “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Think about it like this: All those for whom Christ died were loved of God from before time, and nothing they do ever causes God’s love for them to increase or decrease because His love is PERFECT LOVE based on the PERFECT SACRIFICE of His Son, the believers’ Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ.

By Richard Warmack

Saturday, August 25, 2007

THE HOPE OF OUR SALVATION


Our Lord and His Apostles were careful to place significant emphasis on the perfect satisfaction He would offer to God on behalf of all those He represented.

John 6:38
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

John 6:39
And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of ALL (every elect sinner given to Him in the everlasting covenant of grace) which He (God the Father) hath given Me (Christ the Son) I SHOULD LOSE NOTHING, but should raise it up again at the last day.”

On another occasion Christ said: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life FOR THE SHEEP.”
(John 10:11)

It doesn’t say He gave His life indiscriminately for all men without exception, but that He gave His life specifically for HIS SHEEP. Peter put it this way:

1 Peter 1:18
Forasmuch as ye know that ye WERE NOT REDEEMED with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

1 Peter 1:19
But with the precious blood of Christ (the exclusive payment for our salvation), as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

If you don’t think these truths are important, it shows you have no real understanding of who Christ is or what He actually accomplished. In other words you don’t see the infinite value of Christ’s finished work at Calvary, which reveals that at the present you are in a state of lostness. You might be thinking:

“How can you make that kind of a judgment, you don’t know my heart!”

The answer is that your words reveal the hope of your salvation, and the hope of your salvation reveals the ‘God’ you are relying on for your salvation. Notice Paul’s definition of lostness:

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved (If he is praying for their salvation, obviously they are in a state of lostness).”
(Romans 10:1)

Now here is what it is to be LOST:

Romans 10:2
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:3
For they BEING IGNORANT OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (that righteousness which ALONE has enabled God to be both a Just God and a Saviour), and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

One thing we must point out is that any who are ignorant of the righteousness Christ, established by His perfect life and obedient death at Calvary, will always be busy trying to establish one of their own.

God’s redeemed children will in time be brought to see all they possess by virtue of their oneness with the Lord Jesus Christ - “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:34)

And all those who are brought to know Him, KNOW HIM AS THE ONLY HOPE OF THEIR SALVATION - 1 Timothy 1:1.

What is the hope of your salvation?

HOPEFULLY, IT IS CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS ALONE.

By Richard Warmack

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS


Have you ever wondered how the Holy God of the Bible could make a guilty, defiled, hell-deserving sinner righteous (HOLY)?

The Scriptures are quite clear that PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS (HOLINESS) is the requirement for any sinner’s entrance into God’s presence. Christ said:
“For I say unto you, that except YOUR righteousness EXCEED the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven...”
(Matthew 7:20)

We learn several lessons from Christ’s words in this verse. First of all, this righteousness required by God to bring us into His presence has to be legally MINE - “Except YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”.

But the Scriptures tell us that “all OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSES are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Paul said: “There is NONE RIGHTEOUS, no not one.” (Romans 3:10)

Secondly, our righteousness has to “exceed” the righteousness the scribes and Pharisees righteousness.

What kind of righteousness did they have?

They had a righteousness of their own creation, consisting of their obedience to God’s law and their participation in the ceremonies and rituals of the Mosaic covenant. Their righteousness impressed other men. “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)

These men prayed, they gave tithes of all that they had, they attended synagogue regularly, and they obeyed every outward commandment. Yet our Lord tells us their righteousness is not the righteousness required to bring a sinner to heaven.

The question remains: Where do we find the righteousness God requires?

This is what the grace of God is all about. In the person of Christ, God’s grace and mercy provided what His holiness and justice demanded. His holiness demands that we keep His holy law perfectly in thought, word, and deed from the cradle to the grave. In other words, we have to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, not just for our whole lives, BUT ETERNALLY. Also, God’s justice demands we suffer the eternal punishment due unto our sin. “The soul that sinneth, IT SHALL DIE.” (Ezekiel 18:4).

If you break just one of God’s laws, it demands that you suffer eternal condemnation, with no possibility of parole. This, dear sinner, is why Christ Jesus is called
“The Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”.

Christ loved God with all His heart, mind, and soul from the cradle to the grave, and He suffered sinlessly for all the sins of all God’s elect. He didn’t do it as a private person, but as the representative and substitute of His people, and His finished work at Calvary (HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS) has become theirs legally in God’s sight, just as much theirs as if I they had performed it. One man said it best when he wrote: “And, indeed, this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world, namely, that a righteousness that resides with a person in heaven should justify me a sinner, on earth!”

By Richard Warmack

Thursday, August 23, 2007

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD


One of the most blessed truths God’s elect can ever be brought to see by God the Holy Spirit through the preaching of God’s Gospel is what King David so confidently expressed in Psalm 23:1 - “The Lord IS MY Shepherd.”

It’s so hard to imagine Jehovah, the infinite, omniscient, sovereign King of the universe condescending to be MY Shepherd. The thing we must realize is that Christ is our Shepherd by virtue of our being made one with Him in eternal election through the blood of the everlasting covenant of grace -

Hebrews 13:20
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Hebrews 13:21
Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Contrary to the error taught in modern religion, Christ has never been and never will be the Shepherd of any but those redeemed and justified at the cross by His precious blood - "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)

Christ’s death wasn’t an attempt by the Sovereign God to make it possible for men to be saved if they fulfilled certain conditions that religion places on them. Christ’s death in time was the actual fulfillment of every righteous requirement for each and every one of those whom He represented.

Titus 3:4
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:6
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

Titus 3:7
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

As our Shepherd, Christ, by His perfect, obedient life and atoning death as our Representative and Substitute, fulfilled all the righteousness God’s holiness and justice required of us. By Christ’s righteousness alone, God the Father, a righteous Judge, was enabled to be both "a just God and a Saviour". Christ is the chief Shepherd, the good Shepherd, and the great Shepherd because “He loved us and gave Himself for us (HIS ELECT).”

This makes Him my Shepherd. For this reason, His elect “shall not want (lack anything).”
(see Psalm 23:1)

We shall not lack for righteousness, because He is our righteousness - "In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this [is] his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Jeremiah 23:6)

Christ’s substitutionary life and death is all the redemption God’s elect need to be delivered safely and perfectly into His blessed presence eternally.

IS HE YOUR SHEPHERD?

One thing is certain - “My sheep hear my voice, and I know (love) them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28).

By Richard Warmack

THE SIMPLE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL


Man by his natural human reasoning always has a tendency to complicate the Gospel message. The reason they are so prone to this is because of their spiritual kinship to the one who has always complicated the message, SATAN. Paul wrote: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Satan’s one goal is to keep every sinner ignorant of the ONLY hope of eternal salvation, namely, the imputed (legally charged) righteousness of Christ. The way Satan does this is by directing lost sinners to do things which outwardly seem so right, things which sinners by nature don’t see as sinful and evil in the sight of God. The wise man Solomon wrote: “There is a way (a course of life) that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

Lost, self-righteous, religious sinners don’t see the harm in going to church, giving their money, living moral, sincere, spiritual lives, thinking those things are what save them, keep them saved, or recommend them to God. This “way” seems so right to them, because it’s what they’ve been taught all their lives.

But the Scriptures are clear: This way that “seemeth right unto a man”, in reality is the “way of death”, literally the way of condemnation.

Now I was taught all my life that lying, murder, sexual immorality, cursing, drinking, and every other sin not listed would land a me in hell. But I was never taught that my going to church, being moral, teaching the Scriptures, or praying in order to attain or maintain salvation would land me in hell. Satan had accomplished his goal in my life. He encouraged me to be busy about all these seemingly “good things”, all the while leading me down the pathway to eternal condemnation.

Christ said: “Many will say to me in that day (at the final judgement), Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23)

Christ didn’t call them workers of righteousness. He called them workers of iniquity.

Here’s the simplicity of the Gospel. As a sinner you don’t have to DO anything to save yourself, because Christ did everything God’s holy law and justice required from you by His perfect life and His obedience unto death at Calvary. If you rest in His righteousness alone, you’re saved and you will out of grace and gratitude seek to obey Him in every area of your live, not to save yourself, BUT BECAUSE YOU ARE SAVED.

By Richard Warmack

THE SUBTLETY OF OUR ENEMY: THE DEVIL


When most religious people think about Satan’s efforts to keep sinners in a lost condition, they think only of those acts they consider sinful. We have an example of this in John 8:1-10 where the Scribes and Pharisees brought a women they caught in an adulterous affair before our Lord. These self-righteous religionists boasted they had caught her “in the very act” of adultery.

That is the problem with unregenerate sinners. Because of the deceitfulness of their sinful hearts, they only consider the outward acts of ungodliness to be sinful before God, never even considering their state or position before God - “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matthew 23:27-28)

There is no way you could have ever persuaded the Scribes and Pharisees that they were just as sinful, matter of fact, even more sinful than the woman they accused before our Lord.

Now because of man’s natural reasoning which thinks it’s better to keep the law, than to break God’s law, Satan finds a strong ally in man which he easily leads down the broad way to eternal condemnation. Like these Scribes and Pharisees, Satan has absolutely no problem with you being moral, sincere, dedicated, and even faithful to worship the god of your imagination. He’ll encourage you to keep God’s law, love God with all your heart, and even love your neighbor as yourself, and he’ll encourage you to feel good about your accomplishments. His one desire is to keep you ignorant of or not submitted to Christ’s Righteousness imputed (legally charged), that Righteousness worked out by Christ alone through His perfect life and His substitutionary death at Calvary. Paul put it like this: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

As long as you think any part of your salvation is conditioned on what you do, including your faith, Satan has you blinded to God’s redemptive glory, i.e., how He can be just and justify the ungodly - “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:22)

Who are we to look to?

Notice verse 21 - “A Just God and a Saviour.” Any other god than this God, is a god of your imagination and you will follow him to your eternal ruin.

But praise God, there are some whom God “hath shined (through the preaching of the Gospel) in their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

This revelation of Christ to the heart is eternal life - See John 17:1-3.

By Richard Warmack

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OF CHRIST?


What are your thoughts concerning both the person (WHO HE IS) and the work (WHAT HE ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED) of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Was Christ’s perfect life of obedience to every “jot and tittle” of God’s law only God’s method of revealing to sinful men how they should live in order to gain or maintain eternal life, or was Christ’s perfect obedience for the express purpose of establishing the righteousness required from all who enter into God’s holy presence?

Was Christ’s death at Calvary merely an attempt by God to place all men in a savable condition if they would fulfill certain conditions, namely faith and morality, or was Christ’s death at Calvary the actual accomplishment in time of the justification of all God’s elect, i.e., all those given to Christ by God the Father in the everlasting covenant of Grace?

The way you answer these two questions reveal the hope of your salvation, and the hope of your salvation reveals the God you are worshipping.
The Scriptures make it clear that all God’s elect children have a high opinion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter wrote: "Unto you therefore which believe He is precious." (1 Peter 2:7)

Think for a moment about those two questions in the opening paragraph. First of all, the Lord Jesus did much more than simply give us an example of how we should live our lives. Matter of fact, if you could live a perfect life, AND YOU CAN’T, it would still do you absolutely no good- “Therefore by the deeds of the law (including a perfect life of obedience) there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)

God cannot and will not lower His standards of perfect obedience. For this reason, He sent His precious Son into this world to perfectly obey the law in thought, word, and deed, for all those elect sinners God the Father chose in Him. Every step Christ took in this life, He didn’t take it as a private person, but as a Representative for His people. All the obedience God required of His elect, Christ fulfilled it in their stead - “For as by one man’s disobedience (Adam) many (all Adam represented) were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Christ) shall many (all Christ represented) be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

Secondly, Christ’s death at Calvary wasn’t an attempt to justify sinners if they fulfilled certain conditions, but the actual justification of all God’s elect by way of satisfaction. God required the eternal condemnation and death of all those who sinned, including God’s elect. In the person of His Son at Calvary, God the Father received perfect satisfaction - “The soul that sinneth, IT SHALL DIE.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

When the Lord Jesus cried, “IT IS FINISHED”, He alone drank damnation dry for each and every one of His elect, obtaining for them complete justification. Not one for whom Christ died at Calvary can perish, because they have been made “the righteousness of God in Him.”

In closing, WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?

By Richard Warmack

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

WHAT DO YOU LACK DEAR SINNER?


If you ask religious men and women what they consider their position before God to be, the vast majority will tell you they think they are lacking in certain areas of their lives, which in turn causes God to have a lower view of them. They’ll give you a variety of answers concerning the areas in which they are lacking:

“My faith isn’t what it should be”;

“I don’t keep the 10 commandments like I should”;

“I don’t love God or my neighbor as much as I should”.

If you find yourself giving these kinds of answers, please Biblically answer these questions for me:

Where in God’s Word do you find that your faith, or even the strength of your faith makes you acceptable to God?

Where does God’s Word tell you keeping the 10 commandments makes you acceptable before God?

Where does God’s Word tell you loving God makes the difference between lost and saved?

The Lord Jesus Christ dealt with a man who entertained these same deadly assumptions in Mark 10 and Luke 18 and He set the record straight concerning what it requires to make a sinner have a perfect righteous standing before a Holy God. This young man approached Christ after hearing the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee and asked a question:
“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
(Luke 18:18)

He basically is asking Christ WHAT CAN I DO to merit, earn, or achieve eternal life. This is the natural tendency of every unregenerate son of Adam, SALVATION BY WORKS.

Notice Christ’s response in Verse 20 Christ wasn’t telling him if he kept these commandments, he’d be saved by his obedience. He was showing him what God required (PERFECT OBEDIENCE) and the absolute impossibility of any man obtaining such obedience by his works. Nevertheless, this man hypocritically thought he had kept the law - “And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.” (Luke 18:21)

The religious world would have given this man a star and welcomed him as a child of God, but Christ points out the error in his thinking salvation is by works - “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

With all his supposed righteousness, HE LACKED ONE THING. His righteousness didn’t meet the Holy demands of God’s law and justice. Christ was pointing this man away from his own righteousness and directing him to the Righteousness of God established by Christ’s obedience unto death as the Substitute and Representative of His elect at Calvary - “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans.10:3)

As a child of God, WE LACK NOTHING!

In Christ we are “complete” (Colossians 2:10), “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:22), and “made the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN CHRIST” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

If you are lacking, YOU ARE LOST!

God help you to find all you need in Christ!

By Richard Warmack

IS GOOD, GOOD ENOUGH?


When it comes to matters of eternal life, we can’t afford to be wrong, and therefore we must put away every preconceived idea and appeal strictly to God’s word and ask ourselves heart searching questions. The question we should always start with is this:

How holy does a man have to be to go to heaven?

What do the Scriptures actually teach us?

Consider these verses.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
(Matthew 5:20)

“Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:20)

It’s important to remember in this specific context WHO spoke these words. It was the Lord Jesus Christ. Seeing that He was truly God in human flesh, He can command no less than perfection. He wasn’t telling us to give it our best shot to be perfect, or to try our best to produce a righteousness by our obedience to His ten commandments. He was telling us HOW HOLY one must be to go to heaven. For you or me to go heaven, WE MUST BE AS HOLY AS GOD. These verses are both from the Sermon on the Mount, and they along with the entire Sermon on the Mount were preached by our Lord to show us the utter impossibility of any of us going to heaven based on our best attempts to do what His holy law and justice command. I know you’re thinking, “If God requires us to be as holy as Himself to enter into His heaven, none of us are going to make it, because none of us are that holy.”

You’re absolutely right and absolutely wrong. You’re absolutely right in the sense that none of us based on our best obedience to God’s holy law can be as holy as God. But you’re absolutely wrong in assuming that it’s based on your obedience to begin with. God has graciously told us WHAT He requires and demands in order to force us to look to His appointed Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Righteousness He established by His obedience unto death as the ONLY ground or hope of eternal life.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and or heavy-laden, and I’ll give you rest.”

Is Christ your REST?

I hope He is.

By Richard Warmack

Monday, August 20, 2007

IT IS FINISHED!

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost".
John 19:30


The word ‘teleo’ [finished] means ‘to accomplish.’ Our Lord said, ‘Accomplished!’ This declaration to the world was first of all an announcement that the will of God was fulfilled. Secondly, that the salvation of the elect, including al the saving benefits required by Holy God, was now accomplished. The sin of God’s elect was DISCHARGED from their account.


David foresaw this and declared it in Psalm 32:1,2 ‘Transgression forgiven,’ ‘sins covered,’ and ‘iniquity not imputed,’ all refer to the same thing that occurred in the death of Christ, in the body of Christ, upon the soul of Christ. In the Law, as a bird was taken and had its wing dipped in the blood of another bird, Leviticus 14:53, that bird then being allowed to wing its way out into the wilderness, so Christ carried our sin away. As the priest laid his hands upon the head of a goat, and that goat was released out into the wilderness never to be seen again, Leviticus 16:10, so our sin was released to the body of Christ, discharged to Him and carried away, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN.


“It is finished,’ means that by this one act, Christ was the satisfaction of the law before the eyes of Holy God. He was the Substitute for the elect- the actual, absolute Substitute for His people. He was not a potential Substitute, but an actual; not a Substitute with something to be added or completed by the sinner, but an actual Substitute for His people. Only then could He cry, ‘It is finished.’


Reconciliation, sanctification, being adopted, being put under grace, and justification, all go together. If sin was discharged by the one act of obedience of Christ, there is also a reckoning or charging on the positive side as well. The discharge of sin is forgiveness, and the charge or reckoning of Christ’s righteousness is justification, 2 Corinthians 5:21. The discharging of sin (forgiveness), and the charging of righteousness (justification) go together. It is the direct and immediate result of righteousness being charged or imputed and this Christ accomplished exclusively in His death at the cross for His people.

IT IS FINISHED!


Pastor David Simpson, Providence Church, Powell, Tennessee

FAITH, THE EYE OF THE SPIRIT

"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself”
(1 John 5:10)


Believing the Son of God is having a favorable disposition of mind, affections, will and consciousness in the settled body of truth concerning Christ. This includes His virgin birth, perfect life, justifying death, bodily resurrection, visible ascension, effectual intercession, and personal return.

Life results in faith. Faith is a sign of the witness of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the eye of the Spirit. Whatever the Spirit presents to the vision is what is seen. He always presents Christ; faith sees Christ.

Faith sees Him chosen in the everlasting covenant of grace to save from their sins those elected from the foundation of the world to eternal life.

Faith sees Him in life fulfilling every requirement of the Law.

Faith sees Him on the cross doing something for God, namely satisfying justice and fixing a firm ground for the justification of the elect.

Faith sees Him on the cross doing something for the elect, namely bearing their sins and establishing righteousness by which God redeemed, forgave, reconciled, sanctified, adopted and justified.

Faith sees Him resurrected from the grave by which the justification effected by the imputation of righteousness at the cross was confirmed as true.

Faith sees Him seated at God's right hand in glory, ever-living to make intercession with the Father by the virtue of His precious blood and effectual righteousness.

Faith sees Him coming again to reclaim His bride, judge the wicked, and create the new earth.

Faith sees Him reigning eternally with His elect in the age to come.

God, give us faith that we may see!

Pastor David Simpson, Providence Church, Powell, Tennessee

SAVING FAITH OR SAVING GRACE?

“For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
(Ephesians 2:8)

Is it faith that saves or God’s grace?


Many speak of ‘saving faith,’ but the text says, ‘by grace are ye saved through faith…’ Faith is not the cause or ground of salvation, but rather the result or evidence of it, Hebrews 11:1. Salvation is by the free and sovereign GRACE of God accomplished in and by the Lord Jesus Christ alone, Romans 3:24.

If you look at the Scriptures, you will find the word ‘saved’ translated 104 times in our King James Version of the Bible. In most cases it is used to describe temporal deliverance, either from physical death (Genesis 47:25; Exodus 1:17); escape from enemies (Exodus 1:18; Numbers 10:9); or relief from adversities and tribulation (Psalm 34:6; 107:13).


However, with regard to the salvation of sinners before God, we find the following important teaching of the Bible:


Salvation is entirely of the Lord, from beginning to end and not anything in us, or of us - Isaiah 45:17; Jonah 2:10.

Salvation is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ that He fully accomplished by His perfect obedience and sacrificial death upon the cross, Matthew 1:21; John 3:17; Romans 5:9,10. It is finished!

The salvation of sinners, that Christ redeemed and the Father therefore justified, is made evident in time by the Spirit granting repentance (faith) unto each one for whom He died, Romans 10:9,13.

We must not confound Christ’s words to the blind man in Luke 18:42 to mean that faith is the cause of salvation when He said to him, ‘Thy faith hath saved thee.’ No! Faith is the means whereby he entered into the enjoyment of the deliverance of Christ FOR him. Faith has no saving efficacy, but rather it is faith’s Object (Christ) that saves. All who look to Christ, by God’s sovereign redeeming grace, are saved and shall be saved because Christ has already saved them by His righteousness imputed to their account and the blood applied at His death. It is not by faith that salvation is procured, but rather revealed, Romans 1:17.


Salvation was obtained, procured and wrought out by Christ in His life and death, (Hebrews 9:12) and by God given faith saved sinners enter into the full enjoyment of what the Savior already accomplished for them, (Hebrews 9:14). All praise belongs to God in Christ for His saving grace revealed in faith to His redeemed ones!

Pastor Ken Wimer, Shreveport Grace Church, Shreveport, Louisiana

Sunday, August 19, 2007

THE LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM


“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6

When a sinner is born again (born from above), the Holy Spirit removes the veil of blindness from his eyes and causes him to look to Christ and Him crucified as that One who established righteousness for him by His perfect obedience to the Law, and having completely put away his sin by His death.

It is the Spirit’s work to give eyes to see the light of the glory of Christ revealed in the Gospel. He breathes life in those whom Christ redeemed and the Father justified in Christ. The change that takes place at regeneration is the passing from spiritual death to life because of the change that took place at the cross with the removal of the charge of condemnation, and the full imputation of Christ’s righteousness as the Substitute, Colossians 2:14.


It is through the work of the Spirit that redeemed and justified sinners enter into the knowledge and joy of what Christ accomplished for them even before they knew anything about it. There is not a change in the redeemed sinner’s standing with God as regards his justification because God the Father saw him already fully justified and forgiven through Christ’s blood and righteousness, Romans 4:25. However at regeneration, there is a change from lostness to being found of Christ, death to life, or from darkness to light. It is this necessary work of the Spirit that frees the sinner from the bondage of self-will, ignorance, and rebellion, and brings him to rest in Christ as the only ground of acceptance with God.

The Spirit reconciles the sinner in his heart to Christ, based on the reconciliation that Christ already accomplished for him with the Father at the cross. This repentance, or change of heart, mind, and attitude toward God is the gift of God through His Son, Acts 11:18. Up to that point the sinner is at enmity against God in his mind and spirit, although God’s love and favor are toward him already because of Christ. Yet, when the Holy Spirit enlightens him through the preaching of the gospel of Christ’s Righteousness, He gives him faith to believe Christ and enter into the rest and enjoyment of the accomplished work of Christ and His righteousness at the cross.

“Free from the Law, O happy condition; Jesus hath bled and THERE is remission.”
Pastor Ken Wimer, Shreveport Grace Church, Shreveport, Louisiana


SAVED VS. ‘GETTING SAVED’

“Who hath 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


Many talk today of ‘getting saved.’ However, such a term is never used in scripture and for a very important reason. The idea of ‘getting saved,’ implies something the sinner does to obtain or appropriate salvation, and that cannot be. Salvation in scripture is God’s work alone, from beginning to end. Notice in Paul’s declaration to Timothy that he places the saving, in order of prominence, even before the calling. Most people in religion today put it after the calling, making it dependent upon believing first. However, as the passage clearly states, it is not according to our works, but according to God’s own purpose and grace in Christ Jesus even before the world began.

How then are we to understand the salvation of God?

Very simply it is this:

1. SALVATION FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN


Those whom God the Father chose and purposed to save in Christ in eternity, He HAS ALREADY SAVED from the penalty of sin through the obedience and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Who hath saved us,’ describes a completed action in past time. It is in the death of Christ, that God saved (entirely forgave and completely justified) His people from their sin (Colossians 1:14).


2. SALVATION FROM THE POWER AND PLEASURE OF SIN


Those whom Christ has saved from the penalty of their sin by His death, He does in time save (deliver) from the power (authority) and pleasure of sin. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. He delivers them from the blindness and deadness of heart, and makes them alive to see and believe on Christ who redeemed, justified, and sanctified them.

Ephesians 2:8,9
‘For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.’

The sense is having been saved (by Christ’s death), and being kept in that state of salvation by grace. Faith is not the cause but the evidence of having been saved by Christ, and looks to Him alone, Hebrews 12:2.


3. SALVATION FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN


Those who believe on Christ, through the work of the Spirit, shall yet be saved from the presence of sin, as the ultimate effect of His work on the cross. Acts 16:31, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ The verb tense is future passive, which again speaks of a work entirely outside oneself, a reference to the certain hope of deliverance from the very presence of sin in the day of the believer’s glorification, Revelation 20:6.


What a glorious and blessed state, not to ‘get saved,’ but to know that I’ve been saved through the blood and righteousness of Christ, faith being the inwrought work of the Spirit to deliver me from my deadness and blindness toward Him, and to know that because of His completed work, my hope of everlasting salvation rests entirely on Him as my Surety.

Pastor Ken Wimer, Shreveport Grace Church, Shreveport, Louisiana

GOSPEL TRUTH OR DOCTRINAL LEGALISM?

"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16)



The charge of "doctrinal legalism" has been raised against us because we insist on a consistent and harmonious body of gospel doctrine. Our response to this is that the gospel must be preached as it is, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). As soon as a man departs from the Scriptures he has ceased preaching the gospel. God cannot be worshipped in truth. And man cannot be delivered from false worship. We stand with Paul.

Preaching gospel doctrine is vital for the comfort and assurance of the elect. It is how God has chosen to reveal Himself to His people. It is His means by His design. We make no apology for our insistence that all men everywhere repent and believe the gospel. In this modern day of Calvinism, Reformism and sovereign grace-ism we most especially insist that a distinction is made between what actually saved all the elect and the result of that great work of salvation. This is because regeneration and faith have been made by some to be part and parcel of salvation when in fact the Scriptures plainly declare these to be the fruits of Christ's finished salvation.

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 1:9). We take the matter declaring the doctrine of Christ very seriously.

David Simpson

THE SUM AND SUBSTANCE OF CHRIST'S DEATH

THEREFORE, if when Christ died was the time this [justification] was to be done, and if Christ was ordained to do it, if Christ was mighty to save, if Christ took flesh to do this work, if it was the will of God that He should do it, if Christ came on purpose to do it, if our sins were laid upon Christ and He suffered the punishment, (the curse of them) if He has redeemed us, if it was prophesied of Him that He should justify many and that His work should prosper, if Christ did answer His types, if He has exceeded all the priests and sacrifices under the Law; if there needs no more offerings for sin; if Christ has done all the Law required, if Christ has done what He came to do, if we are justified by His blood, if He has made us holy, and presented us without spot, if we are free from all sin, if Christ has done all that can be done to make us just and righteous, if Christ did wash away our sins in His own blood, if Christ has said, “It is finished;” then it’s DONE, it’s DONE, it’s DONE, perfectly and completely DONE. Then what I have said is fully proved namely, that Jesus Christ, by one offering, the sacrifice of Himself, when He was on the Cross, put an end to sin and so destroyed all the sins of His people for ever and presented them just, righteous, and holy, without spot before God, Col. 1:13, 14, 21; Col. 2:13,14.


By Samuel Richardson – 1647

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

THE DOCTRINE OF IMPUTATED RIGHTEOUSNESS

The

DOCTRINE OF IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS

Without Works

Asserted And Proved


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The Works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.—PSALM 111:2

Even as David also describeth the Blessedness of the Man unto whom God imputeth Righteousness without Works.—ROMANS 4:6


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This Epistle is written on purpose to state, explain, and vindicate, the doctrine of a sinner's justification before God, by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. In order to which, the Apostle takes up his two first chapters, and part of the third, in proving, that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin, that they have by sinning broke the law of God, and so are become liable to its curses and condemnation, and therefore cannot be justified in the sight of God, by their obedience to it; and then strongly and justly concludes, that a man is justified by faith, in the imputed righteousness of Christ, without the deeds of the law. This doctrine he confirms in the beginning of this chapter, by instances of two of the greatest men, for religion and godliness, that ever were in the Jewish nation. The one is Abraham, who was the friend of God, and the father of the faithful, and yet he was not justified before God by his works; for what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness, in verse 3. The other is David, a man after God's own heart, raised up by the Lord to fulfill all his will. Who yet was so far from trusting to, or depending upon his own righteousness, for justification, that he wholly places the happiness of men, and so unquestionably his own, in a righteousness imputed to him by God, without works, as in the words I have read unto you. In speaking to which, I shall,

I. Inquire what that righteousness is, which God imputes to his people for justification.

II. What is meant by an imputation of it.

III. The manner in which it is imputed to them without works.

IV. The blessedness of those persons, who have it thus imputed to them.

I. I Shall inquire what this righteousness is which God imputes to his people for justification; and also endeavor to shew, what it is not, and then what it is.

First; What it is not. And 1. It is not man's obedience to a law of works, because this at belt is imperfect, and therefore cannot justify. Those persons who have most eagerly pursued after righteousness by the works of the law, and have made the greatest advances towards it this way, yet have fell abundantly short of it, as the people of Israel in general, and in particular the Pharisees, whose righteousness made the greatest pretences to a justifying one, of any people at the time in which they lived, and yet our Lord says of it (Matthew 5:20). Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. If it should be said there men were a parcel of hypocrites, and therefore their righteousness is not to be mentioned, with the righteousness of real and sincere Christians, it is easily replied, in the words of the wise man (Eccl. 7:11). There is not a just man in the earth, who doeth good and sinneth not. The most holy men that ever lived on the earth, have been always ready to acknowledge the imperfections of their obedience and righteousness. Job, was very early convinced of this, and very ingenuous in his confession of it, when he says (Job 9:30, 31), If I wash myself with snow water and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own cloaths shall abhor me. Or, as the words may be rendered, shall cause me to be abhorred; or will discover me to be abominable; that is, my garments of righteousness which I have took so much pains with to work out, make and keep clean, will be so far from rendering me grateful, in the sight of my Judge, that they will rather discover the abominable filthiness of my nature, and so make me the object of his abhorrence. It is upon this account, and with the same view, that David desired (Ps. 143:2). That God would not enter into judgement with him, because that in his sight, no flesh living could be justified; that is, by their own righteousness. And so the Church in Isaiah's time (Chap. 64:6) acknowledges, that all her Righteousness were as filthy rags, and therefore could not be justifying. Besides this can never be the righteousness intended in my text. Because this is a righteousness of works. Whereas the righteousness God is here said to impute, is a righteousness without works. Moreover man's obedience to the law of works is his own righteousness. Whereas the righteousness here mentioned must be another’s, because it is an imputed one. A man's own righteousness, inherent in him, needs no imputation of it to him. Add to this, that the blessedness of a man, does not consist in, or result from, his own righteousness; for salvation, which is the whole of a man's happiness, as to spiritual things, is not by works of righteousness done by men, but springs from, and is brought about, by the grace, mercy, and love of God through Christ; for if man's happiness consisted in, or was procured by his own righteousness, the grace, mercy, and love of God in man's salvation, would be greatly obscured and lessened, his wisdom, in the tuition of his Son, would be liable to be impeached and arraigned, his mission would appear needless, as well as his death, as the Apostle (Gal. 2:21), argues, if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Which argument deserves special notice.

2. This righteousness is not man's obedience to the gospel as a new and milder law. The scheme of some persons, if I apprehend it right, is this, that Christ came into this world, to relax the old law of works, and to mitigate and abate the severities of it, and to introduce a new law, a gospel law, a law of milder terms, a remedial law, the terms and conditions of which, are faith, repentance, and sincere obedience, which though imperfect, is through Christ and for his sake accepted of, in the room of a perfect righteousness. The whole of which scheme is entirely false. For, in the first place, Christ came not into the world, either to destroy, or relax the law of God, but to fulfill it, which he did completely, by his active and passive obedience to it. He fulfilled every jot and tittle of the perceptive part of the law, which required a holy nature and perfect obedience, both which were found in him. He bore the whole penalty of the law, in the room and stead of his people, all its exactions, requirements and demands were answered by him; all its severities were executed on him; he was not spared or abated any thing, and hereby he magnified the law, and made it honorable. He indeed freed his people from the curse and condemnation of it; but has not either abolished or relaxed it, but keeps it in his own hands as a rule of life and conversation to them, and has left it in its full mandatory, cursing and damning power over others without the least mitigation, relaxation, or infringement of it. Moreover the gospel is no new law, it: is no law at all, there is nothing in it that looks like a law, it is called (Acts 20:24), The gospel of the grace of God; because it is a discovery of the exceeding riches of God's grace in his kindness to lost man, through Jesus Christ It is called the gospel of our salvation, because it reveals the Savior, it gives an account of his person, office, and grace, and of the great salvation he has wrought out; and points out the persons who shall share in it, and be everlasting possessors of it, as the word euggelion itself translated, gospel, signifies good news, or glad tidings. Now what is there either in the name, or thing, that looks like a law. The gospel is no other than a pure promise, a free declaration of peace and pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation to poor sinners by Jesus Christ. The sum and substance of it is, that this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).

Again; faith and repentance are not the conditions of the new covenant, or terms of any new law, as duties incumbent on us, they belong to the moral law, or law of works, which obliges us to obedience to every thing God does or shall reveal as his will. As graces bestowed upon us by God, they are parts, they are blessings of the new covenant of grace, and not conditions of it. Besides, if they were terms or conditions of this new law, or gospel law talked of, which indeed is a contradiction in terms, they would not be more easy than the terms of the law of works were to Adam in innocence. Nay it was much more easy for Adam to have kept the whole law of works, than it is for any of his fallen posterity to repent and believe of themselves. And how does this appear to be a remedial law, or a law of milder terms, as it is called.

Once more, it is not consistent either with the truth or justice of God, to accept, of an imperfect righteousness, though ever so sincere, in the room of a perfect one. It is not consistent with his truth. He whose judgement is according to truth, can never account that a perfect righteousness, which is imperfect. It is not consistent with his justice, he who is the judge of all the earth will do right, and therefore he will by no means clear the guilty, without a full satisfaction to, and a reparation of his broken law. This is the true reason why he set forth Christ to be the propitiation for sin. Namely, that he might appear to be just whilst he was the justifier of him that believes in Jesus. Whereas, was he to justify persons upon the foot of an imperfect Righteousness, he would neither appear just to himself, or to his law, which requires a perfect and complete obedience.

3. This righteousness is not a man's profession of religion, or his submission to the ordinances of the gospel, for men may draw near to God with their mouths, and honor him with their lips, and yet their hearts be removed far from him, and their fear of him be only taught by the precepts of men; they may seek the Lord daily, and seemingly delight to know his ways, as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinances of their God; they may ask of him the ordinances of justice, and in an outward shew take delight in approaching to him; they may appear to be outwardly righteous before men, and yet be inwardly full of all manner of impurity. May have a name to live and yet be dead; they may have the form of godliness, and yet deny the power thereof; they may submit to the ordinance of baptism, and constantly attend the Lord's supper, and yet be destitute of a justifying righteousness. Yea, even a real and genuine profession of religion, and an hearty submission to gospel ordinances, from right principles to right ends, is not a man's righteousness before God.

4. Neither is sincerity in any religion, no not in the best religion, this righteousness; for it is possible that a man may be sincerely wrong, as well as sincerely right. There may be a sincere Pagan, or a sincere Papist, or a sincere Mahometan, as well as a sincere Christian. Nay it’s possible for a man to be a sincere persecutor of the true religion, as well as a sincere professor of it. The apostle Paul, was sincere in persecuting the gospel, as well as he afterwards was, in preaching that faith he once destroyed. For he thought with himself (Acts 26:9), that he ought, in conscience, for the glory of God, and the advancement of religion, to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And our Lord tells his disciples (John 16:2), that the time was coming, that whosoever killed them would think that he did God service. So that sincerity is not a man's righteousness before God. And indeed take sincerity as a distinct grace of the Spirit of God, and it belongs to sanctification, and not to justification, though it seems rather to be what runs through every other grace, than to be distinct from them; and is what makes our faith unfeigned, our love without dissimulation, and our hope without hypocrisy.

5. Nor is the whole real work of grace and sanctification upon the soul its justifying righteousness, for this would be to confound justification and sanctification together; which two blessings of grace, though they meet in one and the same subject, and come out of one and the same hand, yet are they in themselves distinct. Sanctification is a work of grace within us, justification is an act of grace upon us. Sanctification is a gradual and progressive work; it is signified (2 Pet. 3:18), by a growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ; and it is a work that is but begun, yet is not yet finished, and is carried on by degrees. Justification is done simul et semel, it is a complete act at once; it is expressed (Col. 2:10), by the saints being complete in Christ, and perfected by his one sacrifice.

6. If the whole work of sanctification, is not our justifying righteousness before God, then certainly the to credere, or act of believing, which is only a part of this work, cannot be it. There are indeed some scriptures in this chapter wherein is my text, which are by some thought to favor this notion, as when it is said in verse 3. Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness; and in verse 5, his faith is counted for righteousness; and in verse 9, for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness; in all which places, not the act of faith, but the object of faith is intended, as will appear from this single consideration, namely, that this it, or faith, which was imputed to Abraham, is said to be imputed to others also, as is evident from verses 22, 23, 24, and therefore it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Now if it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it, the very self same it, shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Now, whatever reason persons may think they have to conclude, that Abraham's act of faith was imputed to himself, as his justifying righteousness; yet it cannot with any reason be concluded, that his act of faith should be imputed to others also as such. The plain meaning is, that object, which Abraham's faith respected and was reckoned to him for his righteousness, is also imputed for righteousness to all others who believe in Christ. Besides, it ought to be observed, that the apostle does not use the preposition anti but eiv; he does not say that faith was imputed anti dikaiosunhv instead of righteousness, but eiv zkiaosunhn, unto righteousness, and the meaning of the phrase is the same, with the meaning of the words in Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness ; and is expressive of the great doctrine of justification by faith in the imputed righteousness of Christ. That the to credere, or act of believing, is not the righteousness intended in my text, may appear yet more manifest, from the following considerations.

1st. Faith as a duty performed, or as a grace exercised by the believer, is his own; hence we read in scripture of my faith, and thy faith, and his faith; the just man is said to live by his faith (Heb. 17:5). And says our Lord to the woman of Canaan, O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt (Matthew 5:28). And says the apostle (Jam. 2:28), shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. But now the righteousness by which a man is justified before God, is not his own, but another's, and therefore imputed to him. Hence the apostle Paul desired to be found in Christ, not having on, says he, mine own righteousness, which is of the law (Phil. 3:9). Whereas if faith had been his righteousness, he should have desired to have on his own righteousness, and not another's.

2d. Faith as such is a work of the law, as it is the gift of God, and a grace bestowed upon us; it is a part of the covenant of grace, as has been already observed, but as it is a duty required of us, and performed by us, it belongs to the laws and is done in obedience to it. It is called the commandment of God. This is his commandment, that ye believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23). It is called the work of God (John 6:28, 29), not only because it is wrought in us by God, but also because it is required of us by him; every command and all duty belongs to the law, as every promise and all grace does to the gospel. Now if faith, as an act of ours, is our justifying righteousness, then we are justified by a work of the law, whereas the scripture says (Rom. 3:20): By the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.

3d. Faith is imperfect in the best of saints; our Lord frequently called his own disciples, men of little faith; and so conscious were they themselves of the imperfection of it, that they prayed to him, saying (Luke 17:5), Lord increase our faith. There are ta userhmata thv pisewv, some deficiencies, something lacking, in the faith of the best of God's people. Every one has reason to say, more or less, as the poor man in the gospel did (Mark 9:24), Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief. And for this reason faith cannot be our justifying righteousness, for that ought to be perfect. Besides, was it perfect, it is but a part of the law. It is indeed one of the weightier matters of the law, as in (Matthew 23:23), but then it is not the whole of the law. Now the scripture says (Gal. 3:10), Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them. And God whose judgement is according to truth, cannot reckon that a perfect conformity to the law, which is only a partial one.

4th. Faith is manifestly distinguished from righteousness (Rom. 10:10), when a man is said to believe unto righteousness, when the righteousness of God is said to be revealed from faith to faith, and when it is said to be through the faith of Christ, and is called the righteousness of God by faith. Now then, if faith and righteousness are two different things, then faith is not our justifying righteousness, and so not the righteousness mentioned in my text.

5th. Something else is represented, as the righteousness by which a sinner is justified before God. The people of God, are said to be justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, and some times by the blood of Christ, and at other times by the one man's obedience (Rom. 2:24; 6:9-19). Now, faith is not the redemption in Christ Jesus, nor is it the blood of Christ, nor is it his obedience either active or passive, and therefore is not that which is imputed for justification. Nevertheless, faith must be allowed to have a very great concern in the business of justification. Hence we are said to be justified by faith (Rom. 5:1), not by faith either as a work performed by us, or as a grace wrought in us, but we are justified by it relatively or objectively, as it respects, apprehends, and lays hold on Christ and his righteousness for justification; or we are justified by it organically, as it is a recipient of this blessing, for faith is the hand which receives the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of our salvation. Faith is that grace to which this righteousness is revealed, and by which the soul first spies it. When beholding its glory, sufficiency and suitableness, it approves of it, and renounces its own righteousness. It is that grace by which a soul puts on Christ's righteousness as its garment, and rejoices therein, by which all boasting in a man's own works is excluded, and by which all the glory of justification is given to Christ. But I proceed,

Secondly, To shew, what is this righteousness intended in my text, which God imputes unto his people, and that is, the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. By which I mean not his essential righteousness as God, as Osiander dreamed. For though he who is our Righteousness is Jehovah (Jer. 23:6), yet that righteousness of his by which he is Jehovah, is not our justifying righteousness but that which results from his active and passive obedience as Mediator (Rom. 5:1). For by one man's obedience many are made righteous, or is, that righteousness of Christ, which consists of the holiness of his nature, the conformity of his life and actions to the law of God, and his sustaining the whole penalty of that law, in the room and stead of his people. In the commendation of which righteousness, many things might be said; let these few following suffice at present.

1. It is a law honoring, and a justice satisfying righteousness, and therefore God is well pleased with it (Rom. 5:9); is well pleased for his righteousness sake, because he hath magnified the law and made it honorable. The law is made more honorable by Christ's obedience to it, than it is by the obedience of all the angels in heaven, or than it could be by all God's people on earth, supposing their obedience was never so perfect. The reason is because of the greatness of his person, he being God as well as man, who obeyed and wrought out a righteousness, which is also such an one, as justice can find no fault with, but is entirely satisfied with, and in which God's people appear even in the eye of justice, unblameable, and irreproveable.

2. It is perfect and complete, and acquits from all sin and condemnation, those who are interested it in, are perfectly comely through the comeliness which is put upon them; they are complete in Christ, the head of all principality and power; they are justified by this righteousness, from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses; they are freed from all guilt of sin, are not under obligation to punishment, and shall not enter into condemnation; their sins are now covered and hid from the eye of divine justice, and when they are sought for hereafter shall not be found.

3. It is the righteousness of God, and so serves for many; if it had been only by the righteousness of a creatures, it could have been of no use and service, but to the creature who was the author of it; but it being the righteousness of God, it is to all and upon all that believe; many are made righteous by it, even all the elect of God and seed of Christ. For in him shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory. It is a garment down to the foot, and covers every member, even the meanest and lowest in Christ's mystical body.

4. It is an everlasting righteousness. Our righteousness is both imperfect and of a short continuance. Like Ephraim's goodness, it is as the morning cloud and the early dew. But Christ's righteousness will abide for ever, it is a garment that will never wear out, or wax old, it is a righteousness that will last our lives, be of service at death, appear fresh at judgement, and will answer for us in a time to come, and give us an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5. It is a better righteousness than Adam had in innocence, or the angels now have in heaven. Adam's righteousness was the righteousness of a creature, but this the righteousness of God. That was looseable and was actually lost (Eccl. 7:9), for God made man upright, but he sought out many inventions, in seeking which he lost his righteousness; but Christ's righteousness can never be lost, it abides for ever. The same may be said of the righteousness of Angels, which at best is but a creature righteousness, and might be lost, as it was by a large number of them, and might have been by the rest, had it not been for confirming grace from Christ. Christ's righteousness may well be called (Luke 15:22), the best robe, for it is such an one as Adam never had to his back in innocence, or the angels now have in glory. But I go on,

II. To inquire what is meant by the imputation of this righteousness; which is the way in which it becomes ours and indeed is the only way in which it can become ours. The Hebrew word כשח in Genesis 15:6 and the Greek word logizwmai used by the apostle here, signifies to estimate, reckon, impute, or place something to the account of another. So the righteousness of Christ is estimated, reckoned, and imputed to be his people's, and is placed to their account as such by God the Father, and looked upon as much by him as their justifying righteousness or as though it had been wrought by them, in their own persons. That this righteousness becomes ours this way, is manifest. For in the same way that Adam's sin became ours, the same way the righteousness of Christ becomes ours; or the same way we are made sinners by the disobedience of Adam, are we made righteous by the obedience of Christ (Rom. 5:19). For as by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners. So by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous. Now Adam's sin became ours, or we were made sinners, through his sin; by imputation, it was reckoned, it was placed to the account of all his posterity. So Christ's righteousness becomes ours, or we are made righteous, through that righteousness of his; by the imputation of it to us, it is reckoned, it is placed to our account. Again, the same way our sins became Christ's, Christ's righteousness becomes ours, as appears from 1 Corinthians 5:21. He who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Now the way in which Christ was made sin for us, was by imputation; he never had any sin inherent in him, though he had it transferred unto him and laid upon him. So the way in which we are made the righteousness of God, must be by the imputation of Christ's righteousness, and indeed we cannot be made righteous any other way, than by imputation. For the objects of justification are ungodly persons in themselves; for God justifies the ungodly, as in the verse preceding my text. Now if they are ungodly in themselves, then they are not justified by a righteousness of their own, it must be by the righteousness of another. And if they are justified by the righteousness of another, that other's righteousness must be some way or other made theirs, it must be placed to their account, and reckoned as their own, which is only done by an imputation of it to them. But,

III. I shall now consider the manner in which this righteousness is thus imputed, and that is, without works. That this righteousness is imputed without works, is manifest from the character the persons bear, whom God justifies, which is that of ungodly ones, as has been just now observed. If they are ungodly, they are without works; good works, or works of righteousness. If God therefore will justify such, as he certainly does, he must justify them by imputing a righteousness to them, without any consideration of works done by them. And, indeed, if God did not impute righteousness for justification in this manner, justification would not be an act of free grace, as it is always represented to be. We may argue about justification, as the Apostle does about election, when he says (Rom.11:6), and if of grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work. We are said (Titus 3:7), to be justified, not only by the grace of God, but freely by his grace, to express the abundance and freeness of divine grace, in the free gift of righteousness unto justification of life. Besides, if righteousness was not imputed without works, boasting would not be excluded, as it is in God's way of justifying sinners, by Christ's righteousness, without any consideration of them. And, indeed, works are not causes of any sort in the affair of justification, they are not the moving cause of it. For that is the free grace of God; nor are they the material cause of it, for that is the obedience and righteousness of Christ. Nor are they the instrumental cause, for that is faith, nor are they the causa a sine qua non, or causes without which persons are justified, who never performed good works. And indeed those that are justified, are justified, if not without the presence of them, yet without the efficiency of them, or any consideration of them as having any casual influence on justification; for with reference hereunto, they are not to be admitted into the lowest class or range of causes. It may perhaps be said, how then can the Apostles, Paul and James, be reconciled in this matter, seeing the one positively affirms (Rom. 3:28), that a man is justified by faith, without the works of the law; and the other (Jam. 2:21, 24, 25), as positively asserts that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. To which I answer, there are two things, which when observed, will rectify and quickly remove the seeming difficulty, and reconcile the Apostles to each other, which are,

1. They speak of two different things. The Apostle Paul speaks of the justification of a man's person before God, and this he truly asserts to be, by a righteousness imputed without works. The Apostle James speaks of a justification of a man's faith, or of his cause before men, which he also truly asserts to be by works, for wisdom is justified of her children (Matthew 11:19). True and undefiled religion is discovered and bore witness to by good works. Faith is shewn forth, made known, and evidentially perfected by them; in justification by imputed righteousness, a man has not whereof to boast before God. In justification of a man's cause by works, a man has whereof to boast before men, and in some cases with a becoming modesty may say with Samuel (1 Sam. 12:3): Whose ox have I taken? whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded?

2. They speak to two different sort of persons. The apostle Paul had to do with self Justiciaries, who fought for righteousness not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law, who being ignorant of God's righteousness, went about to establish their own righteousness, and so submitted not to the righteousness of Christ. The apostle James had to do with a set of men called Gnostics, who boasted of their knowledge, from whence they took their name. These were the Libertines and Antinomians of that day, who trusting to their speculative notions and historical faith, despised the law, and disregarded and neglected the performance of good works, accounting their knowledge sufficient unto salvation. And this also occasioned those different modes of expression in these Apostles, who otherwise were agreed in the same truths. I go on,

IV. To consider the blessedness of those persons who have this righteousness imputed to them.

1. They are freed from all sin and condemnation, not from the being of sin, but from the guilt of it, and all obligation to punishment (Rom. 8:1). For there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, to them who are made the righteousness of God, in him, they may say as the apostle did (Rom. 8:33, 34), Who shall say any thing to the charge of God's elect? it is God that justifies, who shall condemn; it is Christ that died. And therefore they must be happy persons, for blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sin is covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, with which words David (Ps. 32:1), describeth the blessedness of the persons interested in this righteousness —

2. Their persons and services are both acceptable to God, he is well pleased with both, for Christ's righteousness sake. Christ's garments smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia, with which his people being clad, the Lord smells a sweet smell in them, as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed; their persons come up with acceptance before him, and their sacrifices both of prayer and praise are grateful to him, through the person, blood, righteousness and mediation of Christ's righteousness which is imputed to them, shall never be taken away from them, is one of those blessings he will never reverse, and one of those gifts of his which are without repentance. —

3. It shall go well with these persons in life, at death, and at judgment (Isa. 3:10), Say ye to the Righteous it shall go well with him. It shall go well with him in life, for all things work together for his good. It shall go well with him at death. For the righteous hath hope in his death, founded upon this righteousness imputed to him. It shall go well with him at judgment, for this righteousness will answer for him at that time, and bring him off clear at God's bars and introduce him into his kingdom and glory.—

4. Such persons are heirs of glory, and shall everlastingly enjoy it, for being justified by grace, they are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Justification and glorification are closely connected together. For whom God justified, them he also glorified (Rom. 8:30). Justified persons may comfortably argue, from their justification, to their glorification, and strongly conclude with the apostle (Rom. 5:9). That if they are justified by the blood of Christ, they shall be saved from wrath through him. I shall add no more, but some short improvement of what has been said, and

1. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, for without a righteousness there will be no admittance into heaven, and such an one it must be, as is commensurate to all the demands of God's righteous law, for no other will be satisfactory to divine justice. —

2. Go to Christ for such an one, in whom only it is to be had, who is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believes (Rom.10:4), it may be had in him, it cannot be had in any other. For surely, or only, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength (Isa. 45:24).

3. Admire the grace of God, in imputing this righteousness to you, and rejoice therein; it is grace in Christ: to procure, and grace in the Father to impute it, and grace in the Spirit to apply it. Admire the grace of each person herein, and ascribe the glory of your justification to it.

4. Miserable will those persons be, who will be found at the last day without this righteousness, for such shall not inherit the kingdom of God, they will not be admitted into the wedding chamber, not having on the wedding garment, but orders will be given to bind them hand and feet, and cast them into outer darkness, where will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

By John Gill

THE NECESSITY OF REGENERATION

A. The need for regeneration lies in our natural degeneration. In consequence of the fall of our first parents, all of us were born alienated from the divine life and holiness, despoiled of all those perfections wherewith man's nature was at first endowed. Ezekiel 16:4-5 gives a graphic picture of our terrible spiritual plight at our entrance into this world: cast out to the loathing of our persons, rolling ourselves in our own filth, impotent to help ourselves. That “likeness” of God (Gen. 1:26) which was at first stamped on man's soul had been effaced, aversion from God and an inordinate love of the creature having displaced it. The very fountain of our being is polluted, continually sending forth bitter springs, and though those streams take several courses and wander in various channels, yet are they all brackish. Therefore is the “sacrifice” of the wicked an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 15:8), and his very ploughing “sin” (Prov. 21:4).

There are but two states, and all men are included therein: the one a state of spiritual life, the other a state of spiritual death; the one a state of righteousness, the other a state of sin; the one saving, the other damning; the one a state of enmity, wherein men have their inclinations contrary to God; the other a state of friendship and fellowship, wherein men walk obediently unto God, and would not willingly have an inward motion opposed to His will. The one state is called darkness, the other light: “For ye were [in your unregenerate days, not only in the dark, but] darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). There is no medium between these conditions; all are in one of them. Each man and woman now on earth is either an object of God's delight or of His abomination. The most benevolent and imposing works of the flesh cannot please Him, but the faintest sparks proceeding from that which grace hath kindled are acceptable in His sight.

By the fall man contracted an unfitness to that which is good. Shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5), man is a “transgressor from the womb” (Isa. 48:8): “they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Ps. 58:3), and “the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). He may be civilized, educated, refined, and even religious, but at heart he is “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), and all that he does is vile in the sight of God, for nothing is done from love to Him, and with a view to His glory. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7:18). Until they are born again, all men are “unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).

By the fall man contracted an unwillingness to that which is good. All motions of the will in its fallen estate, through defect of a right principle from whence they flow and a right end to which they tend, are only evil and sinful. Leave man to himself, remove from him all the restraints which law and order impose, and he swiftly degenerates to a lower level than the beasts, as almost any missionary will testify. And is human nature any better in civilized lands? Not a whit. Wash off the artificial veneer and it will be found that “as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man” (Prov. 27:19). The world over it remains solemnly true that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). Christ will prefer the same charge in a coming day as when He was here on earth: “Men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3: 19). Men will not come to Him that they might have life.

By the Fall man contracted an inability to do that which is good. He is not only unfitted and unwilling, but unable to do that which is good. Where is the man that can truthfully say he has measured up to his own ideals? All have to acknowledge there is a strange force within dragging them downward; inclining them to evil, which, notwithstanding their utmost endeavors against it, in some form or other, more or less, conquers them. Despite the kindly exhortations of friends, the faithful warnings of God's servants, the solemn examples of suffering and sorrow, disease and death on every side, and the vote that their own conscience gives, yet they yield. “They that are in the flesh [in their natural condition] cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).

Thus it is evident that the need is imperative for a radical and revolutionary change to be wrought in fallen man before he can have any fellowship with the thrice-holy God. Since the earth must be completely changed, because of the curse now resting on it, before it can ever again bring forth fruit as it did when man was in a state of innocency; so must man, since a general defilement from Adam has seized upon him, be renewed, before he can “bring forth fruit to God” (Rom. 7:4). He must be grafted into another stock, united to Christ, partake of the power of His resurrection; without this he may bring forth fruit, but not unto God.

How can anyone turn to God without a principle of spiritual motion? How can he live to God who has no spiritual life? How can he be fit for the kingdom of God who is of a brutish and diabolical nature?

B. The need for regeneration lies in man's total depravity. Every member of Adam's race is a fallen creature, and every part of his complex being has been corrupted by sin. Man's heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). His mind is blinded by Satan (II Cor. 4:4) and darkened by sin (Eph. 4:18), so that his thoughts are only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). His affections are prostituted, so that he loves what God hates and hates what God loves. His will is enslaved from good (Rom. 6:20) and opposed to God (Rom. 8:7). He is without righteousness (Rom. 3:10), under the curse of the law (Gal. 3:10) and is the captive of the devil. His condition is truly deplorable, and his case desperate. He cannot better himself, for he is “without strength” (Rom. 5:6). He cannot work out his salvation, for there dwelleth no good thing in him (Rom. 7:18). He needs, then, to be born of God, “for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gal. 6:15).

Man is a fallen creature. It is not that a few leaves have faded, but that the entire tree has become rotten, root and branch. There is in every one that which is radically wrong. The word radical comes from a Latin one which means “the root,” so that when we say a man is radically wrong, we mean that there is in him, in the very foundation and fiber of his being, that which is intrinsically corrupt and essentially evil. Sins are merely the fruit; there must of necessity be a root from which they spring. It follows, then, as an inevitable consequence that man needs the aid of a Higher Power to effect a radical change in him. There is only One who can effect that change: God created man, and God alone can re-create him. Hence the imperative demand, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Man is spiritually dead and naught but almighty power can make him alive.

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” (Rom. 5:12). In the day that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he died spiritually, and a person who is spiritually dead cannot beget a child who possesses spiritual life. Therefore, all by natural descent enter this world “alienated from the life of God” (Eph. 4:18), “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2: 1). This is no mere figure of speech, but a solemn fact. Every child is born entirely destitute of a single spark of spiritual life, and therefore if ever it is to enter the kingdom of God, which is the realm of spiritual life (Rom. 14:17), it must be born into it.

The more clearly we are enabled to discern the imperative need of regeneration and the various reasons why it is absolutely essential in order for a fallen creature to be fitted for the presence of the thrice holy God, the less difficulty are we likely to encounter when we endeavor to arrive at an understanding of the nature of regeneration, what it is which takes place within a person when the Holy Spirit renews him. For this reason particularly, and also because such a cloud of error has been cast upon this vital truth, we feel that further study needs to be devoted to this particular aspect of our subject.

Jesus Christ came into this world to glorify God and to glorify Himself by redeeming a people unto Himself. But what glory can we conceive that God has, and what glory would accrue to Christ, if there be not a vital and fundamental difference between His people and the world? And what difference can there be between those two companies but in a change of heart, out of which are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23): a change of nature or disposition, as the fountain from which all other differences must proceed—sheep and goats differ in nature. The whole mediatorial work of Christ has this one end in view. His priestly office is to reconcile and bring His people unto God; His prophetic, to teach them the way; His kingly, to work in them those qualifications and bestow upon them that comeliness which is necessary to fit them for holy converse and communion with the thrice-holy God. Thus does He “purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived” (I Cor. 6:9). But multitudes are deceived, and deceived at this very point, and on this most momentous matter. God has warned men that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), but few will believe that this is true of them. Instead, tens of thousands of professing Christians are filled with a vain and presumptuous confidence that all is well with them. They delude themselves with hopes of mercy while continuing to live in a course of self-will and self-pleasing. They fancy they are fitted for heaven, while every day that passes finds them the more prepared for hell. It is written of the Lord Jesus that “He shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21), not in their sins; save them not only from the penalty, but also from the power and pollution of sin.

To how many in Christendom do these solemn words apply, “For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful” (Ps. 36:2). The principal device of Satan is to deceive people into imagining that they can successfully combine the world with God, allow the flesh while pretending to the Spirit, and thus “make the best of both worlds.” But Christ has emphatically declared that “no man can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24). Many mistake the real force of those searching words: the true emphasis is not upon “two,” but upon “serve”—none can serve two masters. And God requires to be “served”—feared, submitted unto, obeyed; His will regulating the life in all its details (see I Samuel 12:24-25). “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).

C. The need for regeneration lies in man's unsuitedness to God. When Nicodemus, a respectable and religious Pharisee, yea, a “master in Israel,” came to Christ, He told him plainly that “except a man be born again” he could neither see nor enter the “kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5)—either the gospel-state on earth or the glory-state in heaven. None can enter the spiritual realm unless he has a spiritual nature, which alone gives him an aptitude for and capacity to enjoy the things pertaining to it; and this, the natural man has not. So far from it, he cannot so much as “discern” them (I Cor. 2:14). He has no love for them, nor desire after them (John 3:19). Nor can he desire them, for his will is enslaved by the lusts of the flesh (Eph. 2:2-3). Therefore, before a man can enter the spiritual kingdom, his understanding must be supernaturally enlightened, his heart renewed, and his will emancipated.

There can be no point of contact between God and His Christ with a sinful man until he is regenerated. There can be no lawful union between two parties who have nothing vital in common. A superior and an inferior nature may be united together, but never contrary natures. Can fire and water be united, a beast and a man, a good angel and a vile devil? Can heaven and hell ever meet on friendly terms? In all friendship there must be a similarity of disposition; before there can be communion there must be some agreement or oneness. Beasts and men agree not in a life of reason, and therefore cannot converse together. God and men agree not in a life of holiness, and therefore can have no communion together (condensed from S. Charnock).

We are united to the “first Adam” by a likeness of nature; how then can we be united to the “last Adam” without a likeness to Him from a new nature or principle? We are united to the first Adam by a living soul; we must be united to the last Adam by a quickening Spirit. We have nothing to do with the heavenly Adam without bearing a heavenly image (I Cor. 15:48-49). If we are His members, we must have the same nature which was communicated to Him, the Head, by the Spirit of God, which is holiness (Luke 1:35). There must be one “spirit” in both: thus it is written, “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (I Cor. 6:17). And again God tells us, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). Nor can anything be vitally united to another without life. A living head and a dead body is inconceivable.

There can be no communion with God without a renewed soul. God is incapable on His part, with honor to His Law and holiness, to have fellowship with such a creature as fallen man. Man is incapable on his part, because of the aversion rooted in his fallen nature. Then how is it possible for God and man to be brought together without the latter experiencing a thorough change of nature? What communion can there be between Light and darkness, between the living God and a dead heart? “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). God loathes sin, man loves it; God loves holiness, man loathes it. How then could such contrary affections meet together in an amicable friendship? Sin has alienated us from the life of God (Eph. 4:18), and therefore from His fellowship; life, then, must be restored to us before we can be instated in communion with Him. Old things must pass away, and all things become new (II Cor. 5:17).

Gospel-duties cannot be performed without regeneration. The first requirement of Christ from His followers is that they shall deny self. But that is impossible to fallen human nature, for men are “lovers of their own selves” (II Tim. 3:2). Not until the soul is renewed will self be repudiated. Therefore is the new-covenant promise, “I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19). All gospel-duties require a pliableness and tenderness of heart. Pride was the condemnation of the devil (I Tim. 3:6), and our first parents fell through swelling designs to be like God (Gen. 3:5). Ever since then, man has been too aspiring and too well opinionated of himself to perform duties in an evangelical strain, with that nothingness in himself which the gospel requires. The chief design of the gospel is to beat down all glorying in ourselves, that we should glory only in the Lord (I Cor. 1:29-31); but this is not possible till grace renews the heart, melts it before God, and molds it to His requirements.

Without a new nature we cannot perform gospel-duties constantly. “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh” (Rom. 8:5). Such a mind cannot long be employed upon spiritual things. Prickings of conscience, terrors of hell, fears of death, may exert a temporary influence, but they do not last. Stony ground may bring forth blades, yet for lack of root, they quickly wither away (Matt. 13). A stone may be flung high into the air, but ultimately it falls back to the earth; so the natural man may for a time mount high in religious fervor, but sooner or later it shall be said of him, as it was of Israel, “Their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant” (Ps. 78:37). Many seem to begin in the Spirit, but end in the flesh. Only where God has wrought in the soul, will the work last forever (Eccles. 3:14; Phil. 1:6).

As regeneration is indispensably necessary to a gospel-state, so it is to a state of heavenly glory. “It seems to be typified by the strength and freshness of the Israelites when they entered into Canaan. Not a decrepit and infirm person set foot in the promised land: none of those that came out of Egypt with an Egyptian nature, and desires for the garlic and onions thereof, suffering from their old bondage, but dropped their carcasses in the wilderness; only the two spies who had encouraged them against the seeming difficulties. None that retain only the old man, born in the house of bondage; but only a new regenerate creature, shall enter into the heavenly Canaan. Heaven is the inheritance of the sanctified, not of the filthy: ‘that they may receive an inheritance among them which are sanctified through faith that is in me’ (Acts 26:18). Upon Adam's expulsion from paradise, a flaming sword was set to stop his reentering into that place of happiness. As Adam, in his forlorn state, could not possess it, we also, by what we have received from Adam, cannot expect a greater privilege than our root. The priest under the law could not enter into the sanctuary till he was purified, nor the people into the congregation: neither can any man have access into the Holiest till he be sprinkled by the blood of Jesus: Heb. 10:22” (S. Charnock).

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Said Christ, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). For whom? For those who have, in heart, “forsaken all” to follow Him (Matt. 19:27). For those who love God (I Cor. 2:9); and they who love God, love the things of God: they perceive the inestimable value and beauty of spiritual things. And they, who really love spiritual things, deem no sacrifice too great to win them (Phil. 3:8). But in order to love spiritual things, the man himself must be made spiritual. The natural man may hear about them and have a correct idea of the doctrine of them, but he receives them not spiritually in the love of them (II Thess. 2:10), and finds not his joy and happiness in them. But the renewed soul longs after them, not by constraint, but because God has won his heart. His confession is, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Ps. 73:25). God has become his chief good, His will is his only rule, His glory his chief end. In such a one, the very inclinations of the soul have been changed.

The man himself must be changed before he is prepared for heaven, Of the regenerate it is written, “giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). None are “made meet” while they are unholy, for it is an inheritance of the saints; none are fitted for it while they are under the power of darkness, for it is an inheritance in light. Christ Himself ascended not to heaven to take possession of His glory till after His resurrection from the dead, nor can we enter heaven unless we have been resurrected from sin. “He that hath wrought [polished] us for the selfsame thing (to be clothed with our heavenly house] is God,” and the proof that He has done this is, the giving unto us “the earnest of the Spirit” (II Cor. 5:5); and where the Spirit of the Lord is “there is liberty” (II Cor. 3:17), liberty from the power of indwelling sin, as the verse which follows clearly shows.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). To “see” God is to be introduced into the most intimate intercourse with Him. It is to have that “thick cloud” of our transgressions blotted out (Isa. 44:22), for it was our iniquities which separated between us and our God (Isa. 58:2). To “see” God, here has the force of enjoy, as in John 3:36.

But for this enjoyment a “pure heart” is indispensable. Now the heart is purified by faith (Acts 15:9), for faith has to do with God. Thus, a “pure” heart is one that has been cleansed from sin and has a holy Object before it. A “pure” heart is one that has its affections set upon things above, being attracted by “the beauty of holiness.” But how could he enjoy God who cannot now endure the imperfect holiness of His children, but rails against it as unnecessary “strictness” or puritanic fanaticism? God's face is only to be beheld in righteousness (Ps. 17:15).

“Follow peace with all and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). None can dwell with God and be eternally happy in His presence unless a radical change has been wrought in him, a change from sin to holiness. This change must be, like that introduced by the Fall, one which reaches to the very roots of our beings, affecting the entire man: removing the darkness of our minds, awakening and then pacifying the conscience, spiritualizing our affections, converting the will, reforming our whole life. And this great change must take place here on earth. The removal of the soul to heaven is no substitute for regeneration. It is not the place which conveys likeness to God. When the angels fell, they were in heaven, but the glory of God's dwelling place did not restore them. Satan entered heaven (Job 2:1), but he left it again unchanged. There must be a likeness to God wrought in the soul by the Spirit before it is fitted to enjoy heaven.

“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 15:50). If the body must be changed ere it can enter heaven, how much more so the soul, for “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth” (Rev. 21:27). And what is the supreme glory of heaven? Is it freedom from toil and worry, sickness and sorrow, suffering and death? No! It is that heaven is the place where there is the full manifestation of Him who is “glorious in holiness”—that holiness which the wicked, while presumptuously hoping to go to heaven, despise and hate here on earth. The inhabitants of heaven are given a clear sight of the ineffable purity of God and are granted the most intimate communion with Him. But none are fitted for this unless their inner beings (as well as outer lives) have undergone a radical, revolutionizing, supernatural change.

Can it be thought that Christ will prepare mansions of glory for those who refuse to receive Him into their hearts and give Him the first place in their lives down here? No, indeed; rather will He laugh at their calamity and mock when their fear cometh (Prov. 1:26). The instrument of the heart must be tuned here on earth to fit it to produce the melody of praise in heaven. God has so linked together holiness and happiness (as He has sin and wretchedness) that they cannot be separated. Were it possible for an unregenerate soul to enter heaven, it would find there no sanctuary from the lashings of conscience and the tormenting fire of God's holiness. Many suppose that nothing but the merits of Christ are needed to qualify them

for heaven. But this is a great mistake. None receive remission of sins through the blood of Christ who are not first “turned from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18). God subdues their iniquities whose sins He casts into the depths of the sea (Mic. 7:19). Pardoning sins and purifying the heart are as inseparable as the blood and water which flowed from the Saviour's side (John 19:34).

Our being renewed in the spirit of our mind, and our putting on of the new man “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23-24) is as indispensable to a meetness for heaven, as having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us is for a title thereto. “A malefactor, by pardon, is in a capacity to come into the presence of a prince and serve him at his table, but he is not in the fitness till his noisome garments, full of vermin be taken off” (S. Charnock). It is both a fatal delusion and wicked presumption for one who is living to please self to imagine that his sins have been forgiven by God. It is the “washing of regeneration” which gives evidence of our being justified by grace (Titus 3:5-7). When Christ saves, He indwells (Gal. 2:20), and it is impossible for Him to reside in a heart which yet remains spiritually cold, hard, and lifeless. The supreme Pattern of holiness cannot be a Patron of licentiousness.

Justification and sanctification are inseparable: where one is absolved from the guilt of sin, he is also delivered from the dominion of sin, but neither the one nor the other can be until the soul is regenerated. Just as Christ's being made in the likeness of sin's flesh was indispensable for God to impute to Him His people's sins (Rom. 8:3), so it is equally necessary for us to be made new creatures in Christ (II Cor. 5:17) before we can be, legally, made the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor. 5:21). The need of our being made “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4) is as real and as great as Christ's taking part in human nature, ere He could save us (Heb. 2:14-17). “Except God be born, He could not come into the kingdom of sin. Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of righteousness. And divine power—the power of the Holy Spirit, the plenipotentiary and executant of all the will of Godhead—achieves the incarnation of God and the regeneration of man, that the Son of God may be made sin, and the sons of men made righteous” (H. Martin).

How could one possibly enter a world of ineffable holiness who has spent all of his time in sin, i.e., pleasing self? How could he possibly sing the song of the Lamb if his heart has never been tuned unto it? How could he endure to behold the awful majesty of God face to face, who never before so much as saw Him “through a glass darkly” by the eye of faith? As it is excruciating torture for eyes that have been long confined to dismal darkness, to suddenly gaze upon the bright beams of the midday sun, so will it be when the unregenerate behold Him who is Light. Instead of welcoming such a sight “all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him” (Rev. 1:7); yea, so overwhelming will be their anguish, they will call to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:1 7). And, my reader, that will be your experience, unless God regenerate you!


By Arthur W. Pink