Monday, March 28, 2011
CHRIST - ALL
"In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory."
It is only the dying of that Just One for us who are unjust, that can bring us to God (I Peter 3:18).
He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we, who were nothing but sin, might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Christ is the Father's fulness of grace and glory. He must have the pre-eminence. He alone is worthy, who is to build·the spiritual temple of the Lord, and to bear the glory. Every vessel of this temple, from the cups to the flagolls, must all be hung upon Christ. He, by his Father's appointment, is the foundation-stone, corner-stone, top-stone.
Reader! dost thou profess the name of Christ, and partake of his ordinances? (Luke 1:6)
They are glorious privileges to the children of God. But if thou hast not the blood of Christ (I John 1:7; I Corinthians 3:11), at the root of thy profession, it will wither, and prove unprofitable.
Many are tossed to and fro, ready to be carried away with every wind of doctrine, ,by the sleights of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:14).
There are many foundations to build upon that are false, upon which much labour is spent in vain: some are not speaking the truth in love; neither are they growing up into him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
There cannot be a growing in Christ, without an union with him. Without that union, all that we do is accursed. If thou retain self-righteousness under thy profession, that viper will eat out all the vitals of it. Try and examine with the greatest strictness every day, what foundation thy profession and the hope of thy glory are built upon (I Corinthians 3:2): whether it be laid by the hand of Christ; if not, it will never be able to endure the storm which must come against it. Satan will throw it all down, and great will be the fall thereof (Matthew 8:27).
Consider, the greatest sins may be hid under the greatest duties and the greatest terrors. The wound which sin hath made in thy soul must be perfectly cured by the "blood of Christ"; not skinned over with duties, tears, enlargements, &c.
Apply what thou wilt besides the "blood of Christ," it will poison the sore. Thou wilt find that sin was never mortified truly, if thou hast not seen Christ bleeding for·thee upon the cross. Nothing can kill it, but a sight of Christ's righteousness.
Nature can afford no balsam fit for soul-cure. Healing from duty and not from Christ, is the most desperate disease.
Poor and ragged nature, with all its highest improvements, can never spin a garment fine enough (without spot) to cover the sours nakedness. Nothing can do it but Christ's perfect righteousness.
Whatsoever is of nature's spinning must be all unravelled, before the righteousness of Christ can be put on. Whatsoever is of nature's putting on Satan will come and plunder, and leave the soul naked and open to the wrath of God. All that nature can do, can never make up the least drachm of grace, mortify sin, or look Christ in the face. Thou mayest hear, pray, receive the sacrament, and yet be miserable, unless thou art made to see Christ superior to all other excellency and righteousness in the world, and all these falling before the majesty of his love and gract (Isaiah 2:17).
If thou hast seen Christ truly, thou hast seen pure grace, pure righteousness, in him every way infinite, far exceeding all sin and misery.
If thou hast seen Christ, thou wilt trample upon all the righteousness of men and angels, as to thine acceptance with God.
If ever thou hast seen Christ, thou hast seen Him a rock higher than self-righteousness, Satan, and sin (Psalm 61:2), and this rock doth follow thee (1 Corinthians 10:4), and there will be a continual dropping of honey and grace out of that rock to satisfy thee. (Psalm 81:16.)
Examine if ever thou hast beheld Christ as the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14-17).
Men talk much of believing whilst whole and sound; none do it-Christ is the mystery of the Scripture; grace the mystery of Christ. Believing is the most wonderful thing in the world. Put any thing of thine own to it, and thou spoilest it; Christ will not esteem it believing. When thou believest and comest to Christ, thou must be stripped of thine own righteousness, (O, that is hard!) all thy imaginary holiness, sanctification, duties, tears, humblings, &c., and bring nothing but thy sins, thy wants, and miseries; else Christ is not fit for thee, nor thou for Christ.
Christ will be a perfect Redeemer and Mediator, and thou must be an undone sinner, or Christ and thou wilt never agree. It is the hardest thing in the world to take Christ alone for righteousness: that is to acknowledge him Christ. Whatever comes in, when thou goest to God for acceptance, besides Christ, it is anti-Christ.
Make only Christ's righteousness triumphant.
All besides that is Babylon, which must fall if Christ stand, and thou shalt rejoice in the day of the fall thereof. Christ alone did tread the wine-press, and there was none with him (Isaiah 63:3).
If thou join any to Christ, Christ will trample upon it in fury and anger, and stain his raiment with the blood thereof.
Thou thinkest it easy to believe: was thy faith ever tried with an hour of temptation, and thorough sight of sin?
Was it ever put to resist Satan, and to feel the wrath of God lying upon thy conscience?
When thou wert apprehensive of hell and the grave, then did God show thee Christ, a ransom, a righteousness, &c.?
Then couldest thou say, "...Oh! I see grace enough in Christ"?
If so, thou mayest say that which is the greatest word in the world, I believe.
Untried faith is uncertain faith.
To believing there must go a clear conviction of sin and the merits of the blood of Christ. A thing more difficult than to make a world. All the power in nature cannot get so high in a storm of sin and guilt, as really to believe there is any grace, any willingness in Christ to save. When Satan chargeth sin upon the conscience, then for the soul, through the blessed Spirit, to charge it upon Christ, is gospel-like; that is to make him Christ. He serves for that use. When the soul, in all distresses, is enabled to say, "Nothing but Christ; Christ alone for righteousness, justification, sanctification, redemption (I Corinthians 1:30), not humblings, not duties, not graces," &c., then the soul is got above the reach of the billows.
All temptations, Satan's advantages and our complainings, are laid in self-righteousness and self-excellency. God pursueth these by many ways, as Laban pursued after Jacob for his images. These must be torn from thee, be as unwilling as thou wilt. With these Christ will not dwell; and till Christ comes in, guilt will abide. When guilt is raised up, there is no getting it allayed any way but by Christ's blood; all other ways tend to harden the conscience. Christ be thy peace (Ephesians 2:14), not thy duties, thy tears, &c.
Thou mayest oppose Christ by duties as well as by sins. Look at Christ, and do as much as thou canst. Stand with all thy weight upon Christ's righteousness. Take heed of having one foot on thine own righteousness, another on Christ's.
Until Christ come and sit upon the throne of grace in the conscience, there is nothing but guilt, terrors, secret suspicions, the soul hanging between hope and fear.
Whosoever is afraid to see sin's utmost vileness and to confess the desperate wickedness of his own heart, suspects the merits of Christ. However so great a sinner thou art (I John 2:1), if Christ be thine Advocate, thou wilt find him Jesus Christ the righteous. In all doubtings, fears, storms of conscience, Christ only can relieve thee: do not argue it with Satan, he desires no better: bid him go to Christ, and he will answer him. It is his office to be our Advocate (I John 2:1), to answer the law as our Surety (Hebrews 7:22), and justice, as our Mediator. (Galatians 3:20; I Timothy 2:5), He is sworn to that office (Hebrews 7:20-21).
Satan may quote, and corrupt, but he cannot answer Scripture.
It is Christ's word of mighty authority. Christ foiled Satan with it (Matthew 4:10). In all the Scripture there is not one hard word against a poor sinner stript of self righteousness.
Nay, it plainly points him out to be the subject of the grace of the gospel, and none else. To be enabled to believe Christ's willlingness, will make thee willing.
If thou findest that thou canst not believe, remember it is Christ's work to make thee believe. He works to will and to do of his own good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
"By grace thou art saved through faith, and not of thyself; it is the gift of God." Plead with him for that gift. (Ephesians 2:8).
Christ is the author and finisher of faith; and when the blessed Spirit enables thee to feel this, thou wilt mourn for thine unbelief, which would set up guilt in the conscience above Christ, undervalue the merits of Christ, and account his blood an unholy, a common and unsatisfying thing.
Thou complainest much of thyself: doth thy sin make thee look more at Christ, less at thyself?
That is right: otherwise complaining is but hypocrisy.
To be looking at duties, graces, enlargements, when thou shouldst be looking at Christ, is self-righteous and pitiful. Looking at them will make thee proud; looking at Christ's grace will make thee humble. In all thy temptations be not discouraged (James 1:2). Those surges may be, not to drown thee, but to heave thee off from thyself on the rock Christ.
Thou mayest be brought low, even to the brink of destruction, ready to fall. Thou canst not be brought lower than the belly of hell (Jonah 2:2). Many saints have been there.
Yet, there thou mayest cry; from thence thou mayest look again towards the holy temple (Jonah 2:4). Into that temple which was built with hands none might enter but purified ones, and with an offering too (Acts 21:26). But now Christ is our temple, sacrifice, altar, high priest, to whom none must come but sinners, and that without any offering but his own blood once offered (Hebrews 7:27).
Remember all the patterns of grace that are in heaven. Thou thinkest, "...Oh! what a monument of grace should I be!"
There are many thousands as rich monuments as thou canst be. No guilt ever exceeded the merits of Christ's blood; no sin could ever conquer the invincible power of his grace. Do not despair; hope still, even when the clouds are blackest.
Whatsoever Satan or conscience says, do not conclude against thyself. Christ will have the last word. He is Judge of quick and dead, and must pronounce the final sentence. His blood speaks reconciliation (Colossians 1:20), cleansing (I John 1:7), purchase (Acts 20:28), redemption (I Peter 1:18-19), purging (Hebrews 9:13-14), remission (Hebrews 9:22), liberty (Hebrews 10:19), justification (Romans 5;9), nearness to God (Ephesians 2:13).
Stand and hearken what God will say, for he will speak peace to his people, and to his saints (Psalm 85:8). He speaks grace, mercy, and peace (2 Timothy 1:2). That is the language of the Father and of Christ. Wait for Christ's appearing as the morning star (Revelation 22:16). He shall come as certainly as the morning, as refreshing as the rain (Hosea 6:3).
The sun may as well be hindered from rising, as Christ the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2).
Do not legalize the gospel, as if part remained for thee to do and to suffer, and Christ were but a half Mediator; as if thou must bear part of thine own sin, and make some satisfaction. May sin break thy heart, but not thy hope in the gospel.
When we come to God, we must bring nothing but Christ with us. Any ingredients, or any previous qualifications of our own, will mar faith. He that builds upon duties, graces, &c., knows not the merits of Christ. This makes believing so hard, so far above nature: if thou believest, thou must renounce as dung and dross (Philippians 3:7-8) thy privileges, thine obedience, thy baptism, thy sanctification, thy duties, thy graces, thy tears, thy meltings, thy humblings, and nothing but Christ must be held up.
Thy workings, thy self-sufficiency must be destroyed; thou must receive all at God's hand. Christ is the gift of God. (John 4:10, and 3:16.) Faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Pardon is a free gift. (Romans 5:16.) Ah! how nature storms, frets, rages at this, that all is gift, and it can purchase nothing with its words and tears, and duties, that all works are excluded, and of no value in the justification of the soul (Romans 4:6).
If nature had been to contrive the way of salvation, it would rather have put it into the hands of saints and angels to sell it, than into the hands of Christ who gives freely, whom therefore it suspects. Nature would set up a way to purchase by doing; therefore it abominates the merits of Christ, as the most destructive thing to it. Nature would do anything to be saved, rather than go to Christ, or close with Christ, and owe all to him.
Christ will have nothing; but the soul would thrust somewhat of its own upon Christ. Here is the great controversy.
Consider; - didst thou ever yet see the merits of Christ, and the infinite satisfaction made by his death?
Didst thou see this when the burden of sin and the wrath of God lay heavy on thy conscience?
That is grace!
The greatness of Christ's merit is not known, but to a poor soul in deep distress. Slight convictions will have but a slight, low esteem of Christ's blood and merits.
Despairing sinner! thou lookest on thy right hand and on thy left, saying, "Who will show me any good?" thou art tumbling over all thy duties and professions to patch up a righteousness to save thee.
But when the Holy Spirit enables thee to look at Christ, thou wilt say, He is a Saviour, and there is none besides him (Isaiah 14:21).
Look any where else, and thou art undone.
God will look at nothing but Christ; and thou must look at nothing else. Christ is lifted up on high, as the brazen serpent in the wilderness, that sinners at the ends of the earth - the greatest distance - may see him and live (John 3:14-16). The least sight of him will be saving; the least touch healing to thee. And God intends thou shouldst look on him; for he hath set him upon a high throne of glory, in the open view of all poor sinners.
Thou hast infinite reason to look on him; no reason at all to look off him. He is meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:29).
He will do that himself which his creature has to do; viz., bear with infirmities (Romans 15:1). No pleasing himself; no standing upon points of law (Romans 15:2). He will restore the spirit of meekness (Galatians 5:1), and bear thy burdens (Galatians 5:2). He will forgive; not only till seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). It put the faith of the apostle to it to believe this (Luke 17:4-6).
Because we are hard to forgive, we think Christ is so. We apprehend sin too great to be pardoned. We think Christ doth so, and measure infinite love with our line, infinite merits with our sins, which is the greatest pride and blasphemy (Psalm 103:11-12; Isaiah 40:16). Hear what he saith: "I have found a ransom." (Job 33:24).
"In him I am well pleased."
God will have nothing else. Nothing else will do thee good, or satisfy conscience, but Christ, who satisfied the Father. God doth all upon the account of Christ. Thy deserts are rejection, wrath, hell. Christ's deserts are acceptance, pardon, life. He will not show thee the one, withont giving thee the other. It is Christ's own glory and happiness to pardon.
Consider; whilst Christ was upon the earth, he was more among publicans and sinners than scribes and pharisees, his professed adversaries, for they were righteous ones.
It is not as thou imaginest, that his state in glory makes him neglectful, scornful to poor sinners. No; he hath the same heart now in heaven. He is God and changeth not. He is "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).
He went through all thy temptations, dejections, sorrows, desertions, rejections. (Matthew 4:3-12, Matthew 4:26; Mark 15:34; Luke, 22:44; Matthew 26:38). He hath drunk the bitterest of the cup, and left thee the sweet: the condemnation is out. Christ drank up all the Father's wrath at one draught; and nothing but salvation is left for thee. Thou sayest I cannot believe, I cannot repent. Christ is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins (Acts 5:31).
Hast thou nothing but sin and misery?
Then Christ is just suited to thee. We would be bringing to Christ, and that must not be. Not a penny of nature's highest improvements will pass in heaven. Grace will not stand with works (Titus 3:6; Romans 11:6). That is a terrible point to nature, which cannot think of being stripped of all, not having a rag of duty or righteousness left to look at. Self-righteousness and self-sufficiency are the darlings of nature, which she preserves as her life. That makes Christ seem ugly to nature. Nature cannot desire him. He is just opposite to all nature's glorious interests. Let nature but make a gospel, and it would make it quite contrary to Christ. It would be to the just, tile innocent, the holy, &c. Christ makes the gospel for thee; that is, for neeuy sinners; the ungodly, the unrighteous, the
Nature cannot endure to think the gospel is only for sinners: it will rather choose to despair, than to go to Christ upon such terms. When nature is put to it by guilt or wrath, it will go to its old haunts of self-righteousness, self-goodness, &c.
An Infinite Power must cast down those strong-holds.
None but the self-justiciary stands excluded by the gospel. Christ will look at the most abomiuable sinner before him; because to the other Christ cannot be made justification. He does not know or confess his sin (John 9:41). To say, in compliment, "I am a sinner," is easy; but to pray with the publican indeed, "Lord be merciful to me a sinner!" is the hardest prayer in the world.
It is easy to say, "I believe in Christ." But to see Christ full of grace and truth, "of whose fulness thou mayest receive, grace for grace;" that is saving.
It is easy to profess Christ with the mouth. But, to confess him with the heart, as Peter did, to be "the Christ, the Son of the living God," the alone Mediator; that is above flesh and blood.
Many call Christ Saviour; few know him to be so. To see grace and salvation in Christ, is the greatest sight in the world. Sights will cause applications. Men may be ashamed to think, in the midst of so much profession, they have known so little of the blood of Christ, which is the main thing of the gospel.
A Christless, formal profession is the blackest sight, next to hell. Thou mayest have many good things; one thing may be wanting, that may make thee go away sorrowful from Christ. Thou hast never sold all that thou hast, never parted with all thine own righteousness, &c.
Thou mayest be high in duty, and yet a perfect enemy and adversary to Christ in every prayer, in every ordinance. Free will, or moral capacity of believing in, turning unto, and calling upon God in Christ, the Scriptures, the Articles of the Church, and that experience of Christian men, declare the natural man hath not. His refuge is free grace. (John 6; I Corinthians 2; Romans 8:7).
The idea of it will soon be destroyed in his heart who hath had any spiritual dealing with Jesus Christ; as to the application of his merits, and subjection to his righteousness; Christ is every way too magnificent a person for poor nature to apprehend. Christ is so infinitely holy, nature durst not look at him; so infinitely good, nature can never believe him when it lies under full lengths of sin.
Christ is too high and glorious for nature to do so much as to touch.
There must be a divine nature first put into the soul, to make it lay hold on him who lies so infinitely beyond its sight. That Christ which the natural man can apprehend, is but a Christ of his own making; not the Father's Christ, not Jesus the Son of the living God, to whom none can come without the Father's drawing (John 6:44-46).
Judge not Christ's love by providences, but by promises (Psalm 63; Hebrews 12:1; Ecclesiastes 9). Bless God for shaking off false foundations; and for any way whereby he keeps the soul awakened and looking after Christ. Better is sickness and temptation, than security and slightness. It was the saying of a great saint, he was more afraid of his duties than his sins: the one often made him proud, the other always made him humble.
High professor! despise not weak saints. Thou mayest come to wish to be in the condition of the meanest of them.
It is a high privilege to be faithful to others' infirmities while sensible of thy own; to be content with little of the world, then little will serve; to think very little of the earth because unworthy the least; to think much of heaven not little, because Christ is so rich and free; to think every one better than thyself, and ever carry self-loathing about thee, as one fit to be trampled upon by all the saints; to see the vanity of the world, and the consumption that is upon all things, and love nothing but Christ; to mourn to see so little of Christ in the world, so few needing him-trifles pleasing them better; to mourn to think how many under baptism and ordinances, who are not under grace-looking much after duty and obedience, little after Christ, or grace; to prepare for the cross, and welcome it; to bear it triumphantly as Christ's cross, whether scoffs, mockings, jeers, contempt, imprisonments, &c.; to remember thy sins, Christ's pardonings; thy deserts, Christ's merits; thy weakness, Christ's strength; thy pride, Christ's humility; thy many infirmities, Christ's restorings; thy guilt, Christ's new applications of his blood; thy failings, Christ's assistance; thy wants, Christ's fulness; thy temptations, Christ's tenderness; thy vileness, Christ's righteousness.
Blessed soul! whom Christ shall strip of his own righteousness and wash in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).
Woeful, miserable professor! who hast not the power within. Rest not on the judgment of thy fellow-creatures.
Thou mayest be applauded by them, and cast away in Christ's day of trial. Thou mayest come to baptism, and never "come to Jesus and the blood of sprinkling."
But thou who hast found Christ ALL and thyself absolutely NOTHING, who makest Christ all thy life, and art dead to all righteousness besides; thou art the Christian, one highly beloved, who hath found favour with God, a favourite of heaven.
Do Christ this one favour for all his love to thee; love his poor saints and people (the meanest, the weakest notwithstanding any difference in judgment); they are engraven on his heart, as the names of the children of Israel on Aaron's breast-plate, (Exodus 28:21). Let them be so on thine.
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee,"
By Thomas Wilcox - Additions added by William Gadsby