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The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Hebrews 6:4-6, Can a Believer Fall Away and Be Lost?

Hebrews 6:4-6, Can a Believer Fall Away and Be Lost?

Does not Hebrews 6:4–6 teach that a believer can fall away and be lost?

First, we must remember that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers at a time while the temple was still standing (Heb. 10:11).  Many Jews had embraced Christianity as a sect of Judaism merely, like the Pharisees and Essenes, but without perceiving that it was an exclusive religion which set aside Judaism and the Judaic sacrifices absolutely, leaving only Christ in their place.  The whole body of Jewish Christians were therefore addressed as being on the ground of profession, hence the exhortations of which this passage is one.  It will be remembered that in the Gospel of Matthew, which is also Jewish in its outlook from the 13th chapter on, the same exhortations frequently occur.  The peculiar peril of the Jewish professor was that he might, having taken Christianity only superficially, give it up and go back to the sacrifices, which would be in effect “crucifying the Son of God afresh and putting him to an open shame.”

The case supposed in the sixth chapter is not that of a mere unbeliever, because a mere sinner may at any time believe and turn to the Lord.  The case is one of a person who has stood in the full blaze of gospel light; he has been made a “partaker” of the Holy Ghost” in His convicting power (John 16:8–10) and has therefore tasted of the word of God and of the powers of the age to come.  The case is fully described by our Lord in Matthew 13:20, 21.  The seed of the word has found lodgment in his emotional nature.  Intellectually he is convinced.  Now if such an one goes back instead of going on to believe and be born again, it is impossible to renew him again to repentance.  We can never judge in any individual case, but warning is to be sounded out in the ears of professors, surely never more necessarily than in this day when so many are joining church after an emotional revival, without any real transaction with Jesus Christ about their sins.  That this is not a true Christian who goes back and is lost is certain from the great passages which teach unqualifiedly that such a person cannot be lost, such as John 10:28, 29; Ephesians 4:30, etc.

As to falling from grace, that a good Christian may do, and that millions of Christians have done.  They have lost the sense of the grace of God and are living under law; but falling from grace is not falling from salvation.  It is losing the joy of assurance and going back under the cold shadow of the law. Also (2 Pet. 3:17), we all fall from our steadfastness.  Again and again doubts as to God’s providence and fatherly care overcome us—we fall into despair and unbelief in many ways, but we do not fall into hell nor out of the hand of God, who keeps us.  The truth as to this whole matter, however, let me repeat; is to be ascertained first by distinguishing the Scriptures which relate to professors from those which relate to believers, and secondly, by establishing ourselves in the great truth of assurance.

Scofield, C. I. (1917). Dr. C. I. Scofield’s Question Box. (E. E. Pohle, Ed.) (pp. 10–12). Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute. (Public Domain)

 

 

"God With Us," Bridging the Great Gulf

"God With Us," Bridging the Great Gulf

THE Eternal seems to be so far away from us. He is infinite, and we are such little creatures. There appears to be a great gulf fixed between man and God, even in the matter of our creatureship. But He, who is God, has also become man. We never heard that God took the nature of angels into union with Himself; we may therefore say that, between Godhead and angelhood, there must be an infinite distance still; but the Lord has actually taken manhood into union with Himself. There is, therefore, no longer a great gulf between Him and us. On the contrary, here is a marvelous union; Godhead has entered into marriage bonds with manhood.

O my soul, thou dost not stand now, like a poor lone orphan, wailing across the deep sea after thy Father, who has gone far away, and cannot hear thee; thou dost not now sob and sigh, like an infant left naked and helpless, its Maker having gone too far away to supply its wants, or listen to its cries! No, thy Maker has become like thyself. Is that too strong a word to use? He, without whom was not anything made that was made, was made flesh; and He was made flesh in such a way that He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. O manhood, was there ever such good news as this for thee? Poor manhood, thou weak worm of the dust, far lower than the angels, lift up thy head, and be not afraid! Poor manhood, born in weakness, living in toil, covered with sweat, and dying at last to be eaten by the worms, be not thou abashed even in the presence of seraphs, for next to God is man, and not even an archangel can come in between; nay, not merely next to God, for Jesus, who is God, is man also; Jesus Christ, eternally God, was born, and lived, and died as we also do.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is, in some senses, more completely man than Adam ever was. Adam was not born; he was created as a man. Adam never had to struggle through the risks and weaknesses of infancy; he knew not the littlenesses of childhood,—he was full-grown at once. Father Adam could not sympathize with me as a babe and a child. But how manlike is Jesus! He does not begin with us in mid-life, as Adam did; but He is cradled with us, He accompanies us in the pains, and feebleness, and infirmities of infancy, and He continues with us even to the grave.

There is sweet comfort in the thought that He who is this day God, was once an infant; so that, if my cares are little, and even trivial and comparatively infantile, I may go to Him with them, for He was once a child. Though the great ones of the earth may sneer at the child of poverty, and say, “You are too mean for us to notice, and your trouble is too slight to evoke our pity;” I recollect, with humble joy, that the King of Heaven was wrapped in swaddling-bands, and carried in a woman’s arms; and therefore I may tell Him all my griefs. How wonderful that He should have been an infant, and yet should be God, blessed for ever! The Holy Child Jesus bridges the great gulf between me and God.

There was never a subject of sweeter song than this,—the stooping down of Godhead to the feebleness of manhood. When God manifested His power in the works of His hands, the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy; but when God manifests Himself, what music shall suffice for the grand psalm of adoring wonder? When wisdom and power are seen, these are but attributes of Deity; but in the Incarnation of Christ, it is the Divine Person Himself who is revealed, though He is, in a measure, hidden in our inferior clay. Well might Mary sing, when earth and Heaven even now are wondering at the condescending grace by which “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

We can never think that God sits on high, indifferent to the wants and woes of men; for He has visited us in our low estate. No longer need we lament that we can never participate in the moral glory and purity of God, for if God in glory can come down to His sinful creature, it is certainly less difficult for Him to bear that creature, blood-washed and purified, up the starry way, that the redeemed one may sit down for ever with Him on His throne. Let us dream no longer, in sombre sadness, that we cannot draw near to God, so that He can really hear our prayers, and relieve our necessities, for Jesus has become bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and, bowing His head to death for us, He has opened that new and living way, by which we may come with boldness, and have access to the throne of the heavenly grace.

Angels sang the story of Christ’s birth; yet, perhaps, they scarcely knew why they did so. Could they understand why God had become man? They must have known that herein was a great mystery of condescension; but all the loving consequences which the Incarnation involved, even their acute minds could hardly have guessed; but we see the whole, and comprehend the grand design most fully. The manger of Bethlehem was big with glory; in Christ’s Incarnation was wrapped up all the blessedness by which a soul, snatched from the depths of sin, is lifted up to the heights of glory. Shall not our clearer knowledge lead us to heights of song which angelic guesses could not reach? Shall the lips of cherubs move to flaming sonnets, and shall we, who are redeemed by the blood of the incarnate God, be treacherously and ungratefully silent?

      “Did archangels sing Thy coming?

         Did the shepherds learn their lays?
      Shame would cover me ungrateful,

         Should my tongue refuse to praise.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 53–56). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

What Does Christmas Mean to You?

What Does Christmas Mean to You?

WHAT DOES CHRISTMAS MEAN TO YOU?

Christmas is a beautiful time of year, and known especially for its giving and receiving of gifts. It is also a special time for families to be together.  However, many people are without a family, and live alone. Unfortunately, there are dysfunctional families who do not relate to one another.  For our military community, there are frequent separations from loved ones who are overseas, helping to maintain the peace for our country.

Can we look forward with great anticipation for what Christmas truly is?  Christmas is about the birth of the Christ child, Son of God, Jesus Christ! Jesus was sent to earth as a baby to become the Savior of the world!

In Charles Wesley's beautiful Christmas hymn, "Hark The Herald Angels Sing," one of the verses expresses so well what Christmas truly is:

"Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth."

"As someone once said, "Christ shared in our humanity so we can share in His Divinity!"

In reflecting on the humanity of Jesus at Christmas time, are we able to fall on our knees and worship Him, Jesus Christ, the One, who came as a baby to sacrifice Himself on the cross for our sins?

As Jesus reminded Satan in Luke 4:8, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve."

II Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift."

Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and therefore let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe;"

Thought To Ponder:  Let us thank God for His sacrificial gift of love and life!

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 10

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 10

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 10

Import of Words to Me

“Shall come TO ME.”—To me.  By these words there is further insinuated, though not expressed, a double cause of their coming to him.  First.  There is in Christ a fullness of all-sufficiency of that, even of all that which is needful to make us happy.  Second.  Those that indeed come to him, do therefore come to him that they may receive it at his hand.

First.  For the first of these, there is in Christ a fullness of all-sufficiency of all that, even of all that which is needful to make us happy.  Hence it is said, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell” (Col 1:19).  And again, “Of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16).  It is also said of him, that his riches are unsearchable—“the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8).  Hear what he saith of himself, “Riches and honor are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.  My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.  I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance.  And I will fill their treasures” (Prov 8:18–21).

This in general.  But, more particularly,

1.  There is that light in Christ, that is sufficient to lead them out of, and from all that darkness, in the midst of which all others, but them that come to him, stumble, and fall and perish: “I am the light of the world,” saith he, “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).  Man by nature is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knows not whither he goes, for darkness hath blinded his eyes; neither can anything but Jesus Christ lead men out of this darkness.  Natural conscience cannot do it; the ten commandments, though in the heart of man, cannot do it.  This prerogative belongs only to Jesus Christ.

2.  There is that life in Christ, that is to be found nowhere else (John 5:40). Life, as a principle in the soul, by which it shall be acted and enabled to do that which through him is pleasing to God.  “He that believeth in,” or cometh to, “me,” saith he, as the Scripture hath said, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).  Without this life a man is dead, whether he be bad, or whether he be good; that is, good in his own, and other men’s esteem.  There is no true and eternal life but what is in the ME that speaketh in the text.

There is also life for those that come to him, to be had by faith in his flesh and blood.  “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (John 6:57).  And this is a life against that death that comes by the guilt of sin, and the curse of the law, under which all men are, and forever must be, unless they eat the ME that speaks in the text.  “Whoso findeth ME,” saith he, “findeth life;” deliverance from that everlasting death and destruction, that, without me, he shall be devoured by (Prov 8:35).  Nothing is more desirable than life, to him that hath in himself the sentence of condemnation; and here only is life to be found.  This life, to wit, eternal life, this life is in his Son; that is, in him that saith in the text, “All that the Father hath given me shall come to me” (1 John 5:10).

3.  The person speaking in the text, is he alone by whom poor sinners have admittance to, and acceptance with the Father, because of the glory of his righteousness, by and in which he presenteth them amiable and spotless in his sight; neither is there any way besides him so to come to the Father:  “I am the way,” says he, “and the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  All other ways to God are dead and damnable; the destroying cherubim stand with flaming swords, turning every way to keep all others from his presence (Gen 3:24).  I say, all others but them that come by him.  “I am the door; by me,” saith he, “if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9).

The person speaking in the text is HE, and only HE, that can give stable and everlasting peace; therefore, saith he, “My peace I give unto you.”  My peace, which is a peace with God, peace of conscience, and that of an everlasting duration.  My peace, peace that cannot be matched, “not as the world giveth, give I unto you;” for the world’s peace is but carnal and transitory, but mine is Divine and eternal. Hence it is called the peace of God, and that passeth all understanding.

4.  The person speaking in the text hath enough of all things truly spiritually good, to satisfy the desires of every longing soul.  “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”  And to him that is athirst, “I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely” (John 7:37; Rev 21:6).

5.   With the person speaking in the text is power to perfect and defend, and deliver those that come to him for safeguard.  “All power,” saith he, “is given unto me in heaven and earth” (Matt 28:18).

Thus might I multiply instances in this nature in abundance.  But,

Second.  They that in truth do come to him, do therefore come to him that they might receive it at his hand.  They come for light, they come for life, they come for reconciliation with God: they also come for peace, they come that their soul may be satisfied with spiritual good, and that they may be protected by him against all spiritual and eternal damnation; and he alone is able to give them all this, to the filling of their joy to the full, as they also find when they come to him.  This is evident,

1.  From the plain declaration of those that already are come to him.  “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:1, 2).

2.  It is evident also, in that while they keep their eyes upon him, they never desire to change him for another, or to add to themselves some other thing, together with him, to make up their spiritual joy.  “God forbid,” saith Paul, “that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil 3:8, 9).

3.  It is evident also, by their earnest desires that others might be made partakers of their blessedness. “Brethren,” said Paul, “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”  That is, that way that he expected to be saved himself. As he saith also to the Galatians, “Brethren,” saith he, “I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are;” that is, I am a sinner as you are.  Now, I beseech you, seek for life, as I am seeking of it; as who should say, For there is a sufficiency in the Lord Jesus both for me and you.

4.  It is evident also, by the triumph that such men make over all their enemies, both bodily and ghostly: “Now thanks be unto God,” said Paul, “which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.”  And, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ” our Lord? and again, “O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 2:14; Rom 8:35; 1 Cor 15:55, 56).

5.  It is evident also, for that they are made by the glory of that which they have found in him, to suffer and endure what the devil and hell itself hath or could invent, as a means to separate them from him.  Again, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35–39).

“Shall come TO ME.”  Oh! the heart-attracting glory that is in Jesus Christ, when he is discovered, to draw those to him that are given to him of the Father; therefore those that came of old, rendered this as the cause of their coming to him:  “And we beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14).  And the reason why others come not, but perish in their sins, is for want of a sight of his glory:  “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 that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor 4:3, 4).

There is therefore heart-pulling glory in Jesus Christ, which, when discovered, draws the man to him; wherefore by shall come to me, Christ may mean, when his glory is discovered, then they must come, then they shall come to me.  Therefore, as the true comers come with weeping and relenting, as being sensible of their own vileness, so again it is said, that “the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”  That is, at the sight of the glory of that grace that shows itself to them now in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the hopes that they now have of being with him in the heavenly tabernacles.  Therefore it saith again, “With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King’s palace” (Isa 35:10; 51:11; Psa 45:15).  There is therefore heart-attracting glory in the Lord Jesus Christ, which, when discovered, subjects the heart to the Word, and makes us come to him.

It is said of Abraham, that when he dwelt in Mesopotamia, “the God of glory appeared unto him,” saying, “Get thee out of thy country.”  And what then?  Why, away he went from his house and friends, and all the world could not stay him.  “Now,” as the Psalmist says, “Who is this King of glory?”  he answers, “The Lord, mighty in battle” (Psa 24:8).  And who was that, but he that “spoiled principalities and powers,” when he did hang upon the tree, triumphing over them thereon?  And who was that but Jesus Christ, even the person speaking in the text? Therefore he said of Abraham, “He saw his day. Yea,” saith he to the Jews, “your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad” (Col 2:15; James 2:23; John 8:56).

Indeed, the carnal man says, at least in his heart, “There is no form or comeliness in Christ; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him,” (Isa 53:2); but he lies.  This he speaks, as having never seen him.  But they that stand in his house, and look upon him through the glass of his Word, by the help of his Holy Spirit, they will tell you other things.  “But we all,” say they, “with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18).  They see glory in his person, glory in his undertakings, glory in the merit of his blood, and glory in the perfection of his righteousness; yea, heart-affecting, heart-sweetening, and heart-changing glory!

Indeed, his glory is veiled, and cannot be seen but as discovered by the Father (Matt 11:27).  It is veiled with flesh, with meanness of descent from the flesh, and with that ignominy and shame that attended him in the flesh; but they that can, in God’s light, see through these things, they shall see glory in him; yea, such glory as will draw and pull their hearts unto him.

Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter; and for aught I know, had been king at last, had he now conformed to the present vanities that were there at court; but he could not, he would not do it.  Why? What was the matter?  Why!  he saw more in the worst of Christ (bear with the expression), than he saw in the best of all the treasures of the land of Egypt.  He “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. He forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king.” But what emboldened him thus to do?  Why, “he endured;” for he had a sight of the person speaking in the text. “He endured, as seeing him who is invisible.”  But I say, would a sight of Jesus have thus taken away Moses’ heart from a crown, and a kingdom, &c., had he not by that sight seen more in him than was to be seen in them? (Heb 11:24–26).

Therefore, when he saith, shall come to me, he means, they shall have a discovery of the glory of the grace that is in him; and the beauty and glory of that is of such virtue, that it constraineth, and forceth, with a blessed violency, the hearts of those that are given to him.

Moses, of whom we spake before, was no child when he was thus taken with the beauteous glory of his Lord. He was forty years old, and so consequently was able, being a man of that wisdom and opportunity as he was, to make the best judgment of the things, and of the goodness of them that was before him in the land of Egypt.  But he, even he it was, that set that low esteem upon the glory of Egypt, as to count it not worth the meddling with, when he had a sight of this Lord Jesus Christ.  This wicked world thinks, that the fancies of a heaven, and a happiness hereafter, may serve well enough to take the heart of such, as either have not the world’s good things to delight in; or that are fools, and know not how to delight themselves therein.  But let them know again, that we have had men of all ranks and qualities, that have been taken with the glory of our Lord Jesus, and have left all to follow him. As Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon; and who not, that had either wit or grace, to savor heavenly things?  Indeed none can stand off from him, nor any longer hold out against him to whom he reveals the glory of his grace.

Bunyan, J. (2006). Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 258–261). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

 

"God With Us," The Mystery of Mysteries

"God With Us," The Mystery of Mysteries

IT must ever remain to us the mystery of mysteries that God Himself was manifest in the flesh. God the invisible was manifest; God the spiritual dwelt in mortal flesh; God the infinite, uncontained, boundless, was manifest in the flesh. What infinite leagues our thought must traverse between Godhead self-existent, and, therefore, full of power and self-sufficiency, before we have descended to the far-down level of poor human flesh, which is, at its best, but as grass, and, in its essence, only so much animated dust! Where can we find a greater contrast than between God and flesh?

Yet the two are perfectly blended in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ the Savior of the lost. “God was manifest in the flesh;” truly God, not God humanized, but God as God. He was manifest in real flesh; not in manhood deified, and made superhuman, but in actual flesh.

Since this matchless truth is “without controversy,” let us not enter into any controversy about it, but let us reverently meditate upon it. What a miracle of condescension is here, that God should manifest Himself in flesh! This is not so much a theme for the tongue or the pen, as something that is to be pondered in the heart. It needs that we sit down in quietness, and consider how He, who made us, became like us; how He, who is our God, became our Brother-man; how He, who is adored of angels, once lay in a manger; how He, who feeds all living things, hungered and was athirst; how He, who oversees all worlds as God, was, as a man, made to sleep, to suffer, and to die like ourselves. This is a statement not easily to be believed. If He had not been beheld by many witnesses, so that men handled Him, looked upon Him, and heard Him speak, it would have been a matter not readily to be accepted that so Divine a Person should ever have been manifest in flesh. It is a wonder of condescension.

And it is, also, a marvel of benediction, for God’s manifestation in human flesh conveys a thousand blessings to us. Bethlehem’s star is the morning star of hope to believers. Now, man is nearest to God of all His creatures; now, between poor puny man that is born of a woman, and the infinite God, there is a bond of union of the most wonderful kind. The Lord Jesus Christ is God and man in one Person. This brings our manhood very near to God, and by so doing it ennobles our nature, it lifts us up from the dunghill, and sets us among princes; while, at the same time, it enriches us by endowing our manhood with all the glory of Christ Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Lift up your eyes, ye down-trodden sons of men, for ye have a brotherhood with Christ, and Christ is God. O ye, who have begun to despise yourselves, and think that ye are merely sent to be drudges upon earth, and slaves of sin, lift up your heads, and look for redemption to the Son of man, who has broken the captives’ bonds! If ye be believers in the Christ of God, then are ye also the children of God; “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”

There is, in this truth, a fullness of consolation, as well as of condescension and benediction; for if the Son of God be man, then He understands me, and He has a fellow-feeling for me. He knows, at times, my unfitness even to worship Him; He knows my tendencies to grow weary and cold in His service; He knows my pains, my trials, and my griefs; yea,—

      “He knows what fierce temptations mean,

         For He has felt the same.”

Man, truly man, yet sitting at the right hand of the Father, Thou, O blessed Savior, art the delight of my soul! Is there not the richest comfort in this truth for all the people of God?

And, withal, there is most gracious instruction, too, for God was manifest in the flesh. If we desire to see God, we must see Him in Christ Jesus. The apostle does not say that God was veiled in the flesh, though under certain aspects that might be true; but he says that “God was manifest in the flesh.” The brightness of the sun might put out our eyes if we gazed upon it, and we must needs look through dim glass, and then the sun is manifested to us; so, the excessive glory of the infinite Godhead cannot be borne by our mind’s eye till it comes into communication and union with the nature of man, and then God is manifest to us.

My soul, never try to gaze upon an absolute God; the brightness of the Deity will blind thine eye, “for our God is a consuming fire.” Ask not to see God in fire in the burning bush, nor in the lightning upon Mount Sinai; be satisfied to see Him in the man Christ Jesus, for there God is manifested. Not all the glory of the sky and of the sea, nor the wonders of Creation and Providence, can set forth the Deity as does the Son of Mary, who from the manger went to the cross, and from the cross to the tomb, and from the tomb to His eternal throne at His Father’s right hand in glory.

That “God was manifest in the flesh,” is one of the most extraordinary doctrines that was ever declared in human hearing. Were it not so well attested, it would be absolutely incredible that the infinite God, who filleth all things, who was, and is, and is to come, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, and the Omnipresent, actually condescended to veil Himself in the garments of our inferior clay. He made us, yet He deigned to take the flesh of His creatures into union with Himself; the Eternal was blended with mortality. That manger at Bethlehem, tenanted by the express image of the Father’s glory, was a great sight indeed to those who understood it. Well might the angels troop forth in crowds from within the gates of pearl, that they might behold Him, whom Heaven could not contain, finding accommodation in a stable with a lowly wedded pair. Wonder of wonders! Marvel of marvels! Mystery of mysteries!

The greatness of this mystery consists, first, in the fact that it concerns God. Any doctrine which relates to the Infinite and the Eternal is of the utmost importance to us. We should be all ear and all heart when we have to learn anything concerning God. Reason teaches us that He who made us, who is our Preserver, and at whose word we are so soon to return to the dust, should be the first object of our thoughts. Turn ye hither, ye wayward children of Adam, and behold this great mystery, for your God is here.

The mystery of God “manifest in the flesh” will also appear to you great if you consider the great honor which is thereby conferred upon manhood. How wonderfully is mankind honored in God’s taking the nature of man into union with Himself! “For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” Whichever of all His creatures shall come nearest to the Creator will evidently have the pre-eminence in the ranks of creatureship; which, then, shall bear the palm? Shall not the seraphs be the chosen ones? Shall not the swift-winged sons of light be chief among Heaven’s courtiers? Behold, and be astonished, a worm of earth is preferred to the angels; rebellious man is chosen, and the sinless angels are passed over! Human nature is espoused into oneness with the Divine!

There is, at this hour, no gulf between God and redeemed man. God is first, but next comes man in the person of the God-man, Christ Jesus. Well may we say, with David, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.” Man became royal when Christ became human. Man was exalted when Christ was humiliated. Man may go up to God now that God has come down to man. This is a great mystery, is it not? A mystery, certainly, but great in every way. See that ye despise it not, lest ye miss the abounding benefit which flows to man through this golden channel.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 47–52). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 9

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 9

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 9

Objections to the Absoluteness of this Promise (The Force of Shall-Come) Answered

Objection.  1.  But they are dead, dead in trespasses and sins, how shall they then come?

Answer.  Why, Shall-come can raise them from this death.  “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”  Thus, therefore, is this impediment by Shall-come removed out of the way.  They shall heal, they shall live.

Objection.  2.  But they are Satan’s captives; he takes them captive at his will, and he is stronger than they:  how then can they come?

Answer.  Why, Shall-come hath also provided an help for this. Satan had bound that daughter of Abraham so, that she could by no means lift up herself; but yet Shall-come set her free both in body and soul.  Christ will have them turned from the power of Satan to God.  But what!  Must it be, if they turn themselves, or do something to merit of him to turn them?  No, he will do it freely, of his own good will.   Alas! Man, whose soul is possessed by the devil, is turned whithersoever that governor listeth, is taken captive by him, notwithstanding its natural powers, at his will; but what will he do?  Will he hold him when Shall-come puts forth itself, will he then let him, for coming to Jesus Christ?  No, that cannot be!  His power is but the power of a fallen angel, but Shall-come is the Word of God.  Therefore Shall-come must be fulfilled; “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

There were seven devils in Mary Magdalene, too many for her to get from under the power of; but when the time was come that Shall-come was to be fulfilled upon her, they give place, fly from her, and she comes indeed to Jesus Christ, according as it is written, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.”

The man that was possessed with a legion, (Mark 5), was too much by them captivated for him by human force to come; yea, had he had, to boot, all the men under heaven to help him, had he that said, He shall come, withheld his mighty power:   but when this promise was to be fulfilled upon him, then he comes; nor could all their power hinder his coming.  It was also this Shall-come that preserved him from death; when by these evil spirits he was hurled hither and thither; and it was by the virtue of Shall-come that at last he was set at liberty from them, and enabled indeed to come to Christ.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.”

Objection.  3.  They shall, you say; but how if they will not; and, if so, then what can Shall-come do?

Answer.  True, there are some men say, “We are lords; we will come no more unto thee” (Jer 2:31).  But as God says in another case, if they are concerned in Shall-come to me, they “shall know whose words shall stand, mine or theirs” (Jer 41:18).  Here, then, is the case; we must now see who will be the liar, he that saith, I will not; or he that saith, He shall come to me. You shall come, says God; I will not come, saith the sinner.  Now, as sure as he is concerned in this Shall-come, God will make that man eat his own words; for I will not, is the unadvised conclusion of a crazy-headed sinner; but Shall-come was spoken by him that is of power to perform his word.  “Son, go work to-day in my vineyard,” said the Father. But he answered, and said, I will not come.  What now? will he be able to stand to his refusal? will he pursue his desperate denial?  No, “he afterwards repented and went.”  But how came he by that repentance? Why, it was wrapped up for him in the absolute promise; and therefore, notwithstanding he said, “I will not, he afterwards repented and went.”  By this parable Jesus Christ sets forth the obstinacy of the sinners of the world, as touching their coming to him; they will not come, though threatened: yea, though life be offered them upon condition of coming.

But now, when Shall-come, the absolute promise of God, comes to be fulfilled upon them, then they come; because by that promise a cure is provided against the rebellion of their will.  “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psa 110:3).  Thy people, what people?  Why, the people that thy Father hath given thee.  The obstinacy and plague that is in the will of that people, shall be taken away; and they shall be made willing; Shall-come will make them willing to come to thee.

He that had seen Paul in the midst of his outrages against Christ, his gospel, and people, would hardly have thought that he would ever have been a follower of Jesus Christ, especially since he went not against his conscience in his persecuting of them.  He thought verily that he ought to do what he did.  But we may see what Shall-come can do, when it comes to be fulfilled upon the soul of a rebellious sinner: he was a chosen vessel, given by the Father to the Son; and now the time being come that Shall-come was to take him in hand, behold, he is over-mastered, astonished, and with trembling and reverence, in a moment becomes willing to be obedient to the heavenly call (Acts 9).

And were not they far gone, that you read of, (Acts 2) who had their hands and hearts in the murder of the Son of God; and to show their resolvedness never to repent of that horrid fact, said, “His blood be on us and on our children?”  But must their obstinacy rule?  Must they be bound to their own ruin, by the rebellion of their stubborn wills?  No, not those of these the Father gave to Christ; wherefore, at the times appointed, Shall-come breaks in among them; the absolute promise takes them in hand; and then they come indeed, crying out to Peter, and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”   No stubbornness of man’s will can stand, when God hath absolutely said the contrary; Shall-come can make them come “as doves to their windows,” that had afore resolved never to come to him.

The Lord spake unto Manasseh, and to his people, by the prophets, but would he hear?  No, he would not.  But shall Manasseh come off thus?  No, he shall not.  Therefore, he being also one of those whom the Father had given to the Son, and so falling within the bounds and reach of Shall-come, at last Shall-come takes him in hand, and then he comes indeed.  He comes bowing and bending; he humbles himself greatly, and made supplication to the Lord, and prayed unto him; and he was entreated of him, and had mercy upon him (2 Chron 30:10).

The thief upon the cross, at first, did rail with his fellow upon Jesus Christ; but he was one that the Father had given to him, and, therefore, Shall-come must handle him and his rebellious will. And behold, so soon as he is dealt withal, by virtue of that absolute promise, how soon he buckleth, leaves his railing, falls to supplicating of the Son of God for mercy; “Lord,” saith he, “Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Matt 27:44; Luke 23:40–42).

Objection.  4.  They shall come, say you, but how if they be blind, and see not the way?  For some are kept off from Christ, not only by the obstinacy of their will, but by the blindness of their mind.  Now, if they be blind, how shall they come?

Answer.  The question is not, Are they blind?  But, Are they within the reach and power of Shall-come?  If so, that Christ that said, they shall come, will find them eyes, or a guide or both, to bring them to himself.  “Must is for the king.”  If they shall come, they shall come.  No impediment shall hinder.

The Thessalonians’ darkness did not hinder them from being the children of light; “I am come,” said Christ, “that they which see not might see.”  And if he saith, See, ye “blind that have eyes,” who shall hinder it?  (Eph 5:8; John 9:39; Isa 29:18; 43:8).

This promise, therefore, is, as I said, a big-bellied promise, having in the bowels of it, all things that shall occur to the complete fulfilling of itself.  They shall come.  But it is objected, that they are blind. Well, Shall-come is still the same, and continueth to say, “They shall come to me.”  Therefore he saith again, “I will bring the blind by a way that they know not, I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.  These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (Isa 42:16).

Mark, I will bring them, though they be blind; I will bring them by a way they know not; I will—I will; and therefore “they shall come to me.”

Objection.  5.  But how, if they have exceeded many in sin, and so made themselves far more abominable?  They are the ringleading sinners in the county, the town, or family.

Answer.  What then?  Shall that hinder the execution of Shall-come?  It is not transgressions, nor sins, nor all their transgressions in all their sins, if they by the Father are given to Christ to save them, that shall hinder this promise, that it should not be fulfilled upon them. “In those days, and in that time,” saith the Lord, “the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found” (Jer 50:20).  Not that they had none, for they abounded in transgression, (2 Chron 33:9; Eze 16:48), but God would pardon, cover, hide, and put them away, by virtue of his absolute promise, by which they are given to Christ to save them.  “And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have transgressed against me.  And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all the nations of the earth, which shall bear all the good that I do unto them; and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it” (Jer 33:8, 9).

Objection.  6.  But how, if they have not faith and repentance? How shall they come then?

Answer.  Why, he that saith, They shall come, shall he not make it good?  If they shall come, they shall come; and he that hath said, they shall come, if faith and repentance be the way to come, as indeed they are, then faith and repentance shall be given to them! for Shall-come must be fulfilled on them.

1.  Faith shall be given them.  “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.”  “There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust” (Zeph 3:12; Rom 15:12).

2.  They shall have repentance.  He is exalted to give repentance.  “They shall come weeping, and seeking the Lord their God.”  And again, “With weeping and supplication will I lead them” (Acts 5:31; Jer 31:9).

I told you before, that an absolute promise hath all conditional ones in the belly of it, and also provision to answer all those qualifications, that they propound to him that seeketh for their benefit.  And it must be so; for if Shall-come be an absolute promise, as indeed it is, then it must be fulfilled upon every of those concerned therein.  I say, it must be fulfilled, if God can by grace, and his absolute will, fulfil it.  Besides, since coming and believing is all one, according to John 6:35, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,” then, when he saith they shall come, it is as much as to say, they shall believe, and consequently repent, to the saving of the soul.

So then the present want of faith and repentance cannot make this promise of God of none effect; because that this promise hath in it to give what others call for and expect.  I will give them an heart, I will give them my Spirit, I will give them repentance, I will give them faith. Mark these words:  “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”  But how came he to be a “new creature,” since none can create but God?  Why, God indeed doth make them “new creatures.”  “Behold,” saith he, “I make all things new.”  And hence it follows, even after he had said they are “new creatures,” “and all things are of God;” that is, all this new creation standeth in the several operations, and special workings of the Spirit of grace, who is God (2 Cor 5:17, 18).

Objection.  7.  But how shall they escape all those dangerous and damnable opinions, that, like rocks and quicksands, are in the way in which they are going?

Answer.  Indeed this age is an age of errors, if ever there was an age of errors in the world; but yet the gift of the Father, laid claim to by the Son in the text, must needs escape them, and in conclusion come to him.  There are a company of Shall-comes in the Bible that doth secure them; not but that they may be assaulted by them; yea, and also for the time entangled and detained by them from the Bishop of their souls, but these Shall-comes will break those chains and fetters, that those given to Christ are entangled in, and they shall come, because he hath said they shall come to him.

Indeed, errors are like that whore of whom you read in the Proverbs, that sitteth in her seat in the high places of the city, “to call passengers who go right on their ways” (Prov 9:13–16).  But the persons, as I said, that by the Father are given to the Son to save them, are, at one time or other, secured by “shall come to me.”

And therefore of such it is said, God will guide them with his eye, with his counsels, by his Spirit, and that in the way of peace; by the springs of water, and into all truth (Psa 32:8; 73:24; John 16:13; Luke 1:79; Isa 49:10).  So then he that hath such a guide, and all that the Father giveth to Christ shall have it, he shall escape those dangers, he shall not err in the way; yea, though he be a fool, he shall not err therein, (Isa 35:8), for of every such an one it is said, “Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isa 30:21).

There were thieves and robbers before Christ’s coming, as there are also now; but, said he, “The sheep did not hear them.”  And why did they not hear them, but because they were under the power of Shall-come, that absolute promise, that had that grace in itself to bestow upon them, as could make them able rightly to distinguish of voices, “My sheep hear my voice.”  But how came they to hear it?  Why, to them it is given to know and to hear, and that distinguishingly (John 10:8, 16; 5:25; Eph 5:14).

Further, The very plain sentence of the text makes provision against all these things; for, saith it, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;” that is, shall not be stopped, or be allured to take up anywhere short of ME, nor shall they turn aside, to abide with any besides ME.

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 256–258).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

 

"God With Us," Unparalleled Condescension

"God With Us," Unparalleled Condescension

THIS gracious Emmanuel—“God with us”—was the great Creator. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” He reigned in Heaven as the acknowledged equal with the Father. The angels delighted to do Him homage; every seraph’s wing would fly at His bidding; all the host of Heaven worshiped at His feet. Hymned day without night by all the sacred choristers, He did not lack for praise. Nor did He lack for servants; legions of angels were ever ready to do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word.

All the powers of nature, too, were under His control. He wanted nothing to make Him glorious; all things were His, and the power to make more if He needed them. He could truly say, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof.” It was this God, this Ever-blessed One, who had been from eternity with the Father, and in whom the Father had infinite delight, who looked upon men with the eye of love. He that was born in Bethlehem’s manger, He that lived here the life of a peasant, toiling and suffering, was one with Jehovah.

Well might Isaiah, in his prophetic vision, proclaim the royal titles of the “Child” who was to be born, and the “Son” who, in the fullness of time, would be given to us and for us: “The government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Let this truth sink into our souls, that it was God Himself who came from Heaven to save us from destruction. It was no inferior being, no one like ourselves; but it was “very God of very God” who loved us with an everlasting and infinite affection. I have often turned that thought over in my mind, but I have never been able to express it as I have wished.

If I were told that all the sons of men cared for me, that would be but as a drop in a bucket compared with Jehovah Himself regarding me with favor. If it were said that all the princes of the earth had fallen at some poor man’s feet, and laid aside their dignities that they might relieve his necessities, it would be counted condescending kindness; but such an act would not be worthy to be spoken of in comparison with that infinite condescension and unparalleled love which brought the Savior from the skies to rescue and redeem such worthless rebels as we were. It is not possible that all the condescension of all the kind and compassionate men who have ever lived should be more than as a small grain that could not turn the scale, compared with the everlasting hills of the Savior’s wondrous love.

What amazing condescension is it that God, who made all things, should assume the nature of one of His own creatures, that the Self-existent should be united with the dependent and derived, and the Almighty linked with the feeble and mortal! In His Incarnation, our Lord Jesus Christ descended to the very depths of humiliation, by entering into alliance with a nature which did not occupy the chief place in the scale of existence. It would have been marvelous condescension for the infinite and incomprehensible Jehovah to have taken upon Himself the nature of some noble spiritual being, such as a seraph or a cherub. The union of the Divine Creator with any created spirit would have been an immeasurable stoop; but for God to become one with man, is far greater condescension.

Remember that, in the person of Christ, manhood was not merely an immortal spirit, but also suffering, hungering, dying, flesh and blood. There was taken to Himself, by our Lord, all that materialism which makes up a human body; and that body is, after all, formed out of the dust of the earth, a structure fashioned from the materials which lie all around us. There is nothing in our bodily frame but what is to be found in the substance of the earth on which we live. We feed upon that which groweth out of the earth; and when we die, we go back to the dust from whence we were taken. Is it not a strange thing that this grosser part of creation, this meaner part, this dust of it, should nevertheless be taken into union with that pure, incomprehensible Divine Being, of whom we know so little, and of whom we can really comprehend nothing at all? Oh, the condescension of it! I must leave it to the meditations of your quiet moments. Dwell on it with awe. I am persuaded that no man has any adequate idea how wonderful a stoop it was for God thus to dwell in human flesh, and to be “God with us.”

Yet, to realize in it something that is still more remarkable, remember that the creature whose nature Christ took was a being who had sinned against Him. I can more readily conceive of the Lord taking upon Himself the nature of a race which had never fallen; but, lo! man stood in rebellion against God, and yet a man did Christ become, that He might deliver us from the consequences of our rebellion, and lift us up to something higher than our pristine purity. “Oh, the depths!” is all that we can say, as we look on and marvel at this stoop of Divine love.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 43–46). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 8

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 8

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 8

What Force There is in the Promise to Make Them Come to Christ

SECOND, “Shall come to me.”  Now we come to show WHAT FORCE THERE IS IN THIS PROMISE TO MAKE THEM COME TO HIM.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.”  I will speak to this promise, First, In general. Second, In particular.

[First], In general.  This word SHALL is confined to these ALL that are given to Christ. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.”  Hence I conclude,

1.  That coming to Jesus Christ aright is an effect of their being, of God, given to Christ before. Mark, They shall come.  Who?  Those that are given.  They come, then, because they were given, “thine they were, and thou gavest them me.”  Now, this is indeed a singular comfort to them that are coming in truth to Christ, to think that the reason why they come is, because they were given of the Father before to him.  Thus, then, may the coming soul reason with himself as he comes.  Am I coming, indeed, to Jesus Christ?  This coming of mine is not to be attributed to me or my goodness, but to the grace and gift of God to Christ. God gave first my person to him, and, therefore, hath now given me a heart to come.

2.  This word, shall come, maketh thy coming not only the fruit of the gift of the Father, but also of the purpose of the Son; for these words are a Divine purpose; they show us the heavenly determination of the Son.  “The Father hath given them to me, and they shall; yea, they shall come to me.”  Christ is as full in his resolution to save those given to him as is the Father in giving of them.  Christ prizeth the gift of his Father; he will lose nothing of it; he is resolved to save it every whit by his blood, and to raise it up again at the last day; and thus he fulfills his Father’s will, and accomplisheth his own desires (John 6:39).

3.   These words, shall come, make thy coming to be also the effect of an absolute promise; coming sinner, thou art concluded in a promise; thy coming is the fruit of the faithfulness of an absolute promise. It was this promise, by the virtue of which thou at first receivedst strength to come; and this is the promise, by the virtue of which thou shalt be effectually brought to him. It was said to Abraham, “At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.” This son was Isaac.  Mark!  “Sarah shall have a son;”  there is the promise.  And Sarah had a son; there was the fulfilling of the promise; and, therefore, was Isaac called the child of the promise (Gen 17:19; 18:10; Rom 9:9).

Sarah shall have a son.  But how, if Sarah be past age?  Why, still the promise continues to say, Sarah shall have a son.  But how, if Sarah be barren?  Why, still the promise says, Sarah shall have a son.  But Abraham’s body is now dead?  Why, the promise is still the same, Sarah shall have a son.  Thus, you see what virtue there is in an absolute promise; it carrieth enough in its own bowels to accomplish the thing promised, whether there be means or no in us to effect it.  Wherefore, this promise in the text, being an absolute promise, by virtue of it, not by virtue of ourselves, or by our own inducements, do we come to Jesus Christ: for so are the words of the text: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.”

Therefore is every sincere comer to Jesus Christ called also a child of the promise.  “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise,” (Gal 4:28); that is, we are the children that God hath promised to Jesus Christ, and given to him; yea, the children that Jesus Christ hath promised shall come to him.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come.”

4.  This word, shall come, engageth Christ to communicate all manner of grace to those thus given him to make them effectually to come to him.  “They shall come;” that is, not if they will, but if grace, all grace, if power, wisdom, a new heart, and the Holy Spirit, and all joining together, can make them come. I say, this word, shall come, being absolute, hath no dependence upon our own will, or power, or goodness; but it engageth for us even God himself, Christ himself, the Spirit himself. When God had made that absolute promise to Abraham, that Sarah “should have a son,” Abraham did not at all look at any qualification in himself, because the promise looked at none; but as God had, by the promise, absolutely promised him a son; so he considered now not his own body now dead, nor yet the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform” (Rom 4:20, 21).  He had promised, and had promised absolutely, Sarah shall have a son. Therefore, Abraham looks that he, to wit, God, must fulfil the condition of it. Neither is this expectation of Abraham disapproved by the Holy Ghost, but accounted good and laudable; it being that by which he gave glory to God.  The Father, also, hath given to Christ a certain number of souls for him to save; and he himself hath said, “They shall come to him.”  Let the church of God then live in a joyful expectation of the utmost accomplishment of this promise; for assuredly it shall be fulfilled, and not one thousandth part of a tittle thereof shall fail.  “They SHALL come to me.”

[Second, In particular.]  And now, before I go any further, I will more particularly inquire into the nature of an absolute promise.

1.  We call that an absolute promise that is made without any condition; or more fully thus: That is an absolute promise of God, or of Christ, which maketh over to this or that man any saving, spiritual blessing, without a condition to be done on our part for the obtaining thereof.  And this we have in hand is such an one.  Let the best Master of Arts on earth show me, if he can, any condition in this text depending upon any qualification in us, which is not by the same promise concluded, shall be by the Lord Jesus effected in us.

2.  An absolute promise therefore is, as we say, without if or and; that is, it requireth nothing of us, that itself might be accomplished.  It saith not, They shall, if they will; but they shall: not, they shall, if they use the means; but, they shall.  You may say, that a will and the use of the means is supposed, though not expressed.  But I answer, No, by no means; that is, as a condition of this promise.  If they be at all included in the promise, they are included there as the fruit of the absolute promise, not as if it expected the qualification to arise from us.  “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psa 110:3).  That is another absolute promise.  But doth that promise suppose a willingness in us, as a condition of God’s making us willing?  They shall be willing, if they are willing; or, they shall be willing, if they will be willing.  This is ridiculous; there is nothing of this supposed. The promise is absolute as to us; all that it engageth for its own accomplishment is, the mighty power of Christ and his faithfulness to accomplish.

3.  The difference, therefore, betwixt the absolute and conditional promise is this:

(1.)  They differ in their terms.  The absolute promises say, I will, and you shall:  the other, I will, if you will; or, Do this, and thou shalt live (Jer 4:1; 31:31–33; Eze 18:30–32; 36:24–34; Heb 8:7–13; Matt 19:21).

(2.)  They differ in their way of communicating of good things to men; the absolute ones communicate things freely, only of grace; the other, if there be that qualification in us, that the promise calls for, not else.

(3.)  The absolute promises therefore engage God, the other engage us: I mean, God only, us only.

(4.)  Absolute promises must be fulfilled; conditional may, or may not be fulfilled. The absolute ones must be fulfilled, because of the faithfulness of God; the other may not, because of the unfaithfulness of men.

(5.)  Absolute promises have therefore a sufficiency in themselves to bring about their own fulfilling; the conditional have not so.  The absolute promise is therefore a big-bellied promise, because it hath in itself a fullness of all desired things for us; and will, when the time of that promise is come, yield to us mortals that which will verily save us; yea, and make us capable of answering of the demands of the promise that is conditional.

4.  Wherefore, though there be a real, yea, an eternal difference, in these things, with others, betwixt the conditional and absolute promise; yet again, in other respects, there is a blessed harmony betwixt them; as may be seen in these particulars.  The conditional promise calls for repentance, the absolute promise gives it (Acts 5:31).  The conditional promise calls for faith, the absolute promise gives it (Zeph 3:12; Rom 15:12).  The conditional promise calls for a new heart, the absolute promise gives it (Eze 36:25, 26).  The conditional promise calleth for holy obedience, the absolute promise giveth it, or causeth it (Eze 36:27).

5.  And as they harmoniously agree in this, so again the conditional promise blesseth the man, who by the absolute promise is endued with its fruit.  As, for instance, the absolute promise maketh men upright; and then the conditional follows, saying, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Psa 119:1).  The absolute promise giveth to this man the fear of the Lord; and then the conditional followeth, saying, “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord” (Psa 128:1).  The absolute promise giveth faith, and then this conditional follows, saying, “Blessed is she that believed” (Zeph 3:12; Luke 1:45).  The absolute promise brings free forgiveness of sins; and then says the condition, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Rom 4:7).  The absolute promise says, that God’s elect shall hold out to the end; then the conditional follows with his blessings, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (1 Peter 1:4–6; Matt 24:13).

Thus do the promises gloriously serve one another and us, in this their harmonious agreement.

Now, the promise under consideration is an absolute promise.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.”

This promise therefore is, as is said, a big-bellied promise, and hath in itself all those things to bestow upon us that the conditional calleth for at our hands.  They shall come! Shall they come?  Yes, they shall come. But how, if they want those things, those graces, power, and heart, without which they cannot come?  Why, Shall-come answereth all this, and all things else that may in this manner be objected.  And here I will take the liberty to amplify things.

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 254–256).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

 

Emmanuel,

Emmanuel, "God With Us"

Emmanuel, "God With Us"

IN addition to explaining the Name of Jesus, and recording its God-given origin, the Holy Spirit, by the evangelist Matthew, has been pleased to refer us to the synonym of it, and so to give us still more of its meaning. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” If, when our Lord was born, and named “Jesus,” the old prophecy which said that He should be called Emmanuel was fulfilled, it follows that the name “Jesus” bears a signification tantamount to that of “Emmanuel,” and that its virtual meaning is “God with us.” And, indeed, He is Jesus, the Savior, because He is Emmanuel, God with us; and as soon as He was born, and so became Emmanuel, the incarnate God, He became by that very fact Jesus, the Savior. By coming down from Heaven to this earth, and taking upon Himself our nature, He bridged the otherwise bridgeless gulf between God and man; by suffering in that human nature, and imparting, through His Divine nature, an infinite efficacy to His suffering, He removed that which would have destroyed us, and brought us everlasting life and salvation. O Jesus, dearest of all names in earth or in Heaven, I love thy music all the better because it is in such sweet harmony with another Name which rings melodiously in mine ears,—Emmanuel, God with us!

Our Savior is God, and therefore He is “mighty to save;” He is God with us, and therefore pitiful; He is Divine, and therefore infinitely wise; but He is human, and therefore full of compassion. Never let us for a moment hesitate as to the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His Deity is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. It may be that we shall never fully understand how God and man could be united in one Person, for who by searching can find out God? These great mysteries of godliness, these “deep things of God,” are beyond our measurement. Our little skiff might be lost if we ventured so far out upon this vast, this infinite ocean, as to lose sight of the shore of plainly-revealed truth.

But let it remain, as a matter of faith, that Jesus Christ, even He who lay in Bethlehem’s manger, and was carried in a woman’s arms, and lived a suffering life, and died on a malefactor’s cross, was, nevertheless, the appointed “Heir of all things,” the brightness of His Father’s glory, “and the express image of His person,” “who thought it not a prize to be grasped to be equal with God,” for that honor was already His, so that He could truly say, “I and My Father are one.”

Jesus of Nazareth was certainly not an angel. That fact the apostle Paul has abundantly disproved in the first and second chapters of his Epistle to the Hebrews. He could not have been an angel, for honors are ascribed to Him which were never bestowed on angels. He was no subordinate deity, or created being elevated to the Godhead, as some have absurdly said. All such statements are as unreliable as dreams and falsehoods. Christ was as surely God as He could be, one with the Father and the ever-blessed Spirit. If it were not so, not only would the great strength of our hope be gone, but the glory of the Incarnation would have evaporated altogether. The very essence of it is that it was God Himself who was veiled in human flesh; if it was any other being who thus came to us, I see nothing very remarkable in it, nothing comforting, certainly. That an angel should become a man, is a matter of no great consequence to me; that some other superior being should assume the nature of man, brings no joy to my heart, and opens no well of consolation to me.

But “God with us” is the source of exquisite delight. “God with us”—all that “God” means, the Deity, the infinite Jehovah with us,—this, this is worthy of the burst of midnight song, when angels startled the shepherds with their carols, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This was worthy of the foresight of seers and prophets, worthy of a new star in the heavens, worthy of the care which Inspiration has manifested to preserve the record.

This, too, was worthy of the martyr-deaths of apostles and confessors, who counted not their lives dear unto them for the sake of the incarnate God; and this is worthy, at this day, of our most earnest endeavors to spread the glad tidings, worthy of a holy life to illustrate its blessed influences, and worthy of a joyful death to prove its consoling power. Well did the apostle say, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” He who was born at Bethlehem is God, and “God with us.” God—there lies the majesty; “God with us,” there lies the mercy. God—therein is glory; “God with us,” therein is grace. God alone might well strike us with terror; but “God with us” inspires us with hope and confidence.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 39–42). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 7

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 7

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 7

Objections That Usually Lie in the Way of Coming to Christ

Before I speak to the other head, I shall answer some objections that usually lie in the way of those that in truth are coming to Jesus Christ.

Objection 1.  Though I cannot deny but my mind runs after Christ, and that too as being moved thereto from a sight and consideration of my lost condition, for I see without him I perish; yet I fear my ends are not right in coming to him.

Quest.  Why, what is thine end in coming to Christ?

Answer.  My end is, that I might have life, and be saved by Jesus Christ.

This is the objection; well, let me tell thee, that to come to Christ for life, and to be saved, although at present thou hast no other end, is a lawful and good coming to Jesus Christ. This is evident, because Christ propoundeth life as the only argument to prevail with sinners to come to him, and so also blameth them because they come not to him for life.  “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40). Besides, there are many other scriptures whereby he allureth sinners to come to him, in which he propoundeth nothing to them but their safety.  As, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish;” he that believeth is “passed from death unto life.”  “He that believeth-shall be saved.” “He that believeth on him is not condemned.”  And believing and coming are all one. So that you see, to come to Christ for life, is a lawful coming and good.  In that he believeth, that he alone hath made atonement for sin (Rom 2). And let me add over and above, that for a man to come to Christ for life, though he comes to him for nothing else but life, it is to give much honor to him.

1.  He honoureth the word of Christ, and consenteth to the truth of it; and that in these two general heads.  (1.)  He consenteth to the truth of all those sayings that testify that sin is most abominable in itself, dishonourable to God, and damnable to the soul of man; for thus saith the man that cometh to Jesus Christ (Jer 44:4; Rom 2:23; 6:23; 2 Thess 2:12).  (2.)  In that he believeth, as the word hath said, that there is in the world’s best things, righteousness and all, nothing but death and damnation; for so also says the man that comes to Jesus Christ for life (Rom 7:24, 25; 8:2, 3; 2 Cor 3:6–8).

2.  He honoureth Christ’s person, in that he believeth that there is life in him, and that he is able to save him from death, hell, the devil, and damnation; for unless a man believes this, he will not come to Christ for life (Heb 7:24, 25).

3.  He honoureth him, in that he believeth that he is authorized of the Father to give life to those that come to him for it (John 5:11, 12; 17:1–3).

4.  He honoureth the priesthood of Jesus Christ. (1.) In that he believeth that Christ hath more power to save from sin by the sacrifice that he hath offered for it, than hath all law, devils, death, or sin to condemn.  He that believes not this, will not come to Jesus Christ for life (Acts 13:38; Heb 2:14, 15; Rev 1:17, 18).  (2.)  In that he believeth that Christ, according to his office, will be most faithful and merciful in the discharge of his office. This must be included in the faith of him that comes for life to Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1–3; Heb 2:17, 18).

5.  Further, He that cometh to Jesus Christ for life, taketh part with him against sin, and against the ragged and imperfect righteousness of the world; yea, and against false Christs, and damnable errors, that set themselves against the worthiness of his merits and sufficiency.  This is evident, for that such a soul singleth Christ out from them all, as the only one that can save.

6.  Therefore as Noah, at God’s command, thou preparest this ark, for the saving of thyself, by which also thou condemnest the world, and art become heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Heb 11:7).  Wherefore, coming sinner, be content; he that cometh to Jesus Christ, believeth too that he is willing to show mercy to, and have compassion upon him, though unworthy, that comes to him for life.  And therefore thy soul lieth not only under a special invitation to come, but under a promise too of being accepted and forgiven (Matt 11:28).

All these particular parts and qualities of faith are in that soul that comes to Jesus Christ for life, as is evident to any indifferent judgment.  For, will he that believeth not the testimony of Christ concerning the baseness of sin, and the insufficiency of the righteousness of the world, come to Christ for life? No. He that believeth not this testimony of the word, comes not.  He that believeth that there is life anywhere else, comes not.  He that questions whether the Father hath given Christ power to forgive, comes not.  He that thinketh that there is more in sin, in the law, in death, and the devil, to destroy, than there is in Christ to save, comes not. He also that questions his faithful management of his priesthood for the salvation of sinners, comes not.

Thou, then, that art indeed the coming sinner, believest all this. True, perhaps thou dost not believe with that full assurance, nor hast thou leisure to take notice of thy faith as to these distinct acts of it; but yet all this faith is in him coming to Christ for life.  And the faith that thus worketh, is the faith of the best and purest kind; because this man comes alone as a sinner, and as seeing that life is, and is to be had only in Jesus Christ.

Before I conclude my answer to this objection, take into thy consideration these two things.

1st.  [Consider] that the cities of refuge were erected for those that were dead in law, and that yet would live by grace; even for those that were to fly thither for life from the avenger of blood that pursueth after them.  And it is worth your noting, that those that were upon their flight thither, are in a peculiar manner called the people of God:  “Cast ye up, cast ye up,” saith God; “prepare the way; take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people” (Isa 57:14).  This is meant of preparing the way to the city of refuge, that the slayers might escape thither; which flying slayers are here, by way of specialty, called the people of God; even those of them that escaped thither for life.

2dly. [Consider] that of Ahab, when Benhadad sent to him for life, saying, “Thus saith thy servant Benhadad, I pray thee let me live.”  Though Benhadad had sought the crown, kingdom, yea, and also the life of Ahab, yet how effectually doth Benhadad prevail with him! Is Benhadad yet alive?  saith Ahab; He is my brother; yea, go ye, bring him to me. So he made him ride in his chariot (1 Kings 20).

Coming sinner, what thinkest thou?  If Jesus Christ had as little goodness in him as Ahab, he might grant an humble Benhadad life; thou neither beggest of him his crown and dignity; life, eternal life, will serve thy turn.  How much more then shalt thou have it, since thou hast to deal with him who is goodness and mercy itself!  yea, since thou art also called upon, yea, greatly encouraged by a promise of life, to come unto him for life!  Read also these Scriptures, Numbers 35:11, 14, 15, Joshua 20:1–6, Hebrews 6:16–20.

Objection. 2.  When I say I only seek myself, I mean I do not find that I do design God’s glory in mine own salvation by Christ, and that makes me fear I do not come aright.

Answer.  Where doth Christ Jesus require such a qualification of those that are coming to him for life? Come thou for life, and trouble not thy head with such objections against thyself, and let God and Christ alone to glorify themselves in the salvation of such a worm as thou art.  The Father saith to the Son, “Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”  God propoundeth life to sinners, as the argument to prevail with them to come to him for life; and Christ says plainly, “I am come that they might have life” (John 10:10).  He hath no need of thy designs, though thou hast need of his. Eternal life, pardon of sin, and deliverance from wrath to come, Christ propounds to thee, and these be the things that thou hast need of; besides, God will be gracious and merciful to worthless, undeserving wretches; come then as such an one, and lay no stumbling blocks in the way to him, but come to him for life, and live (John 5:34; 10:10; 3:36; Matt 1:21; Prov 8:35, 36; 1 Thess 1:10; John 11:25, 26).

When the jailer said, “Sirs, What must I do to be saved?”  Paul did not so much as once ask him, What is your end in this question?  do you design the glory of God, in the salvation of your soul?  He had more wit; he knew that such questions as these would have been but fools’ babbles about, instead of a sufficient salve “Which Cambell seeing, though he could not salve, to so weighty a question as this.  Wherefore, since this poor wretch lacked salvation by Jesus Christ, I mean to be saved from hell and death, which he knew, now, was due to him for the sins that he had committed, Paul bids him, like a poor condemned sinner as he was, to proceed still in this his way of self-seeking, saying, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30–32).  I know that afterwards thou wilt desire to glorify Christ by walking in the way of his precepts; but at present thou wantest life; the avenger of blood is behind thee, and the devil like a roaring lion is behind thee; well, come now, and obtain life from these; and when thou hast obtained some comfortable persuasion that thou art made partaker of life by Christ, then, and not till then, thou wilt say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (Psa 103:1–4).

Objection. 3.  But I cannot believe that I come to Christ aright, because sometimes I am apt to question his very being and office to save.

Thus to do is horrible; but mayest thou not judge amiss in this matter?

How can I judge amiss, when I judge as I feel?  Poor soul!  Thou mayest judge amiss for all that.  Why, saith the sinner, I think that these questionings come from my heart. Let me answer. That which comes from thy heart, comes from thy will and affections, from thy understanding, judgment, and conscience, for these must acquiesce in thy questioning, if thy questioning be with thy heart.  And how sayest thou, for to name no more, dost thou with thy affection and conscience thus question?  Answer.  No, my conscience trembles when such thoughts come into my mind; and my affections are otherwise inclined.

Then I conclude, that these things are either suddenly injected by the devil, or else are the fruits of that body of sin and death that yet dwells within thee, or perhaps from both together.

If they come wholly from the devil, as they seem, because thy conscience and affections are against them, or if they come from that body of death that is in thee, and be not thou curious in inquiring from whether of them they come, the safest way is to lay enough at thy own door; nothing of this should hinder thy coming, nor make thee conclude thou comest not aright.  And before I leave thee, let me a little query with thee about this matter.

1.  Dost thou like these wicked blasphemies?  Answer.  No, no, their presence and working kills me.

2.  Dost thou mourn for them, pray against them, and hate thyself because of them?  Answer.  Yes, yes; but that which afflicts me is, I do not prevail against them.

3.  Dost thou sincerely choose, mightest thou have thy choice, that thy heart might be affected and taken with the things that are best, most heavenly, and holy?  Answer.  With all my heart, and death the next hour, if it were God’s will, rather than thus to sin against him.

Well then, thy not liking of them, thy mourning for them, thy praying against them, and thy loathing thyself because of them, with thy sincere choosing of those thoughts for thy delectation that are heavenly and holy, clearly declares, that these things are not countenanced either with thy will, affections, understanding, judgment, or conscience; and so, that thy heart is not in them, but that rather they come immediately from the devil, or arise from the body of death that is in thy flesh, of which thou oughtest thus to say, “Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom 7:17).

I will give thee a pertinent instance.  In Deuteronomy 22, thou mayest read of a betrothed damsel, one betrothed to her beloved, one that had given him her heart and mouth, as thou hast given thyself to Christ; yet was she met with as she walked in the field, by one that forced her, because he was stronger than she.  Well, what judgment now doth God, the righteous judge, pass upon the damsel for this?  “The man only that lay with her,” saith God, “shall die.  But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death.  For, as when a man riseth against his neighbor, and slayeth him, even so is this matter; for he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her” (Deut 22:25–27).

Thou art this damsel. The man that forced thee with these blasphemous thoughts, is the devil; and he lighteth upon thee in a fit place, even in the field, as thou art wandering after Jesus Christ; but thou criest out, and by thy cry did show, that thou abhorrest such wicked lewdness.   Well, the Judge of all the earth will do right; he will not lay the sin at thy door, but at his that offered the violence.  And for thy comfort take this into consideration, that he came to heal them “that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38).

Objection.  4.  But, saith another, I am so heartless, so slow, and, as I think, so indifferent in my coming, that, to speak truth, I know not whether my kind of coming ought to be called a coming to Christ.

Answer.  You know that I told you at first, that coming to Christ is a moving of the heart and affections towards him.

But, saith the soul, my dullness and indifferency in all holy duties, demonstrate my heartlessness in coming; and to come, and not with the heart, signifies nothing at all.

1.  The moving of the heart after Christ is not to be discerned, at all times, by thy sensible affectionate performance of duties, but rather by those secret groanings and complaints which thy soul makes to God against that sloth that attends thee in duties.

2.  But grant it to be even as thou sayest it is, that thou comest so slowly, &c., yet, since Christ bids them come that come not at all, surely they may be accepted that come, though attended with those infirmities which thou at present groanest under.  He saith, “and him that cometh;” he saith not, If they come sensible; so fast; but, “and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  He saith also in the ninth of Proverbs, “As for him that wanteth understanding,” that is, an heart (for oftentimes the understanding is taken for the heart), “come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”

3.  Thou mayest be vehement in thy spirit in coming to Jesus Christ, and yet be plagued with sensible sloth; so was the church when she cried, “Draw me, we will run after thee;” and Paul, when he said, “When I would do good, evil is present with me” (Song 1–4; Rom 7; Gal 5:19).  The works, strugglings, and oppositions of the flesh, are more manifest than are the works of the Spirit in our hearts, and so are sooner felt than they.  What then?  Let us not be discouraged at the sight and feeling of our own infirmities, but run the faster to Jesus Christ for salvation.

4.  Get thy heart warmed with the sweet promise of Christ’s acceptance of the coming sinner, and that will make thee make more haste unto him.  Discouraging thoughts they are like unto cold weather, they benumb the senses, and make us go ungainly about our business; but the sweet and warm gleads of promise are like the comfortable beams of the sun, which liven and refresh.  You see how little the bee and fly do play in the air in winter; why, the cold hinders them from doing it; but when the wind and sun is warm, who so busy as they?

5.  But again, he that comes to Christ, flies for his life. Now, there is no man that flies for his life, that thinks he speeds fast enough on his journey; no, could he, he would willingly take a mile at a step.  O my sloth and heartlessness, sayest thou!  “Oh that I had wings like a dove!  for then would I fly away, and be at rest. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest” (Psa 55:6, 8).

Poor coming soul, thou art like the man that would ride full gallop, whose horse will hardly trot!  Now, the desire of his mind is not to be judged of by the slow pace of the dull jade he rides on, but by the hitching, and kicking, and spurring, as he sits on his back. Thy flesh is like this dull jade; it will not gallop after Christ; it will be backward, though thy soul and heaven lie at stake.  But be of good comfort, Christ judgeth not according to the fierceness of outward motion (Mark 10:17) but according to the sincerity of the heart and inward parts (John 1:47; Psa 51:6; Matt 26:41).

6.  Ziba, in appearance, came to David much faster than did Mephibosheth; but yet his heart was not so upright in him to David as was his. It is true, Mephibosheth had a check from David; for, said he, “Why wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth?”  But when David came to remember that Mephibosheth was lame, for that was his plea—“thy servant is lame” (2 Sam 19), he was content, and concluded, he would have come after him faster than he did; and Mephibosheth appealed to David, who was in those days as an angel of God, to know all things that are done in the earth, if he did not believe that the reason of his backwardness lay in his lameness, and not in his mind.  Why, poor coming sinner, thou canst not come to Christ with that outward swiftness of a courier as many others do; but doth the reason of thy backwardness lie in thy mind and will, or in the sluggishness of the flesh? Canst thou say sincerely, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41).  Yea, canst thou appeal to the Lord Jesus, who knoweth perfectly the very inmost thought of thy heart, that this is true?  Then take this for thy comfort, he hath said, “I will assemble her that halteth—I will make her that halted a remnant,” (Micah 4:6), “and I will save her that halteth” (Zeph 3:19). What canst thou have more from the sweet lips of the Son of God?  But,

7.  I read of some that are to follow Christ in chains; I say, to come after him in chains. “Thus saith the Lord, The labor of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee: in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee: they shall make supplication unto thee, saying—Surely there is none else” to save (Isa 45:14).  Surely they that come after Christ in chains, come to him in great difficulty, because their steps, by the chains, are straitened. And what chains are so heavy as those that discourage thee? Thy chain, which is made up of guilt and filth, is heavy; it is a wretched bond about thy neck, by which thy strength doth fail (Lam 1:14; 3:18). But come, though thou comest in chains; it is glory to Christ that a sinner comes after him in chains. The chinking of thy chains, though troublesome to thee, are not, nor can be obstruction to thy salvation; it is Christ’s work and glory to save thee from thy chains, to enlarge thy steps, and set thee at liberty.  The blind man, though called, surely could not come apace to Jesus Christ, but Christ could stand still, and stay for him (Mark 10:49).  True, “He rideth upon the wings of the wind;”  but yet he is long-suffering, and his long-suffering is salvation to him that cometh to him (2 Peter 3:9).

8.  Hadst thou seen those that came to the Lord Jesus in the days of his flesh, how slowly, how hobblingly, they came to him, by reason of their infirmities; and also how friendly, and kindly, and graciously, he received them, and gave them the desire of their hearts, thou wouldest not, as thou dost, make such objections against thyself, in thy coming to Jesus Christ.

Objection.  5.  But, says another, I fear I come too late; I doubt I have staid too long; I am afraid the door is shut.

Answer. Thou canst never come too late to Jesus Christ, if thou dost come.  This is manifest by two instances.

1.  By the man that came to him at the eleventh hour.  This man was idle all the day long. He had a whole gospel day to come in, and he played it all away save only the last hour thereof.  But at last, at the eleventh hour, he came, and goes into the vineyard to work with the rest of the laborers, that had borne the burden and heat of the day. Well, but how was he received by the lord of the vineyard?  Why, when pay-day came, he had even as much as the rest; yea, had his money first.  True, the others murmured at him; but what did the Lord Jesus answer them?  “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?  I will give unto this last, even as unto thee” (Matt 20:14, 15).

2.  The other instance is, the thief upon the cross.  He came late also, even as at an hour before his death; yea, he stayed from Jesus Christ as long as he had liberty to be a thief, and longer too; for could he have deluded the judge, and by lying words have escaped his just condemnation, for ought I know, he had not come as yet to his Savior; but being convicted, and condemned to die, yea, fastened to the cross, that he might die like a rogue, as he was in his life; behold the Lord Jesus, when this wicked one, even now, desireth mercy at his hands, tells him, and that without the least reflection upon him, for his former misspent life, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  Let no man turn this grace of God into wantonness.  My design is now to encourage the coming soul.

Objection.  But is not the door of mercy shut against some before they die?

Answer.  Yea; and God forbids that prayers should be made to him for them (Jer 6:16; Jude 22).

Question.  Then, why may not I doubt that I may be one of these?

Answer.  By no means, if thou art coming to Jesus Christ; because when God shuts the door upon men, he gives them no heart to come to Jesus Christ.  “None come but those to whom it is given of the Father.”  But thou comest, therefore it is given to thee of the Father.

Be sure, therefore, if the Father hath given thee an heart to come to Jesus Christ, the gate of mercy yet stands open to thee.  For it stands not with the wisdom of God to give strength to come to the birth, and yet to shut up the womb, (Isa 66:9); to give grace to come to Jesus Christ, and yet shut up the door of his mercy upon thee. “Incline your ear,” saith he, “and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David” (Isa 55:3).

Objection.  But it is said, that some knocked when the door was shut.

Answer.  Yes; but the texts in which these knockers are mentioned, are to be referred unto the day of judgment, and not to the coming of the sinner to Christ in this life. See the texts, Matthew 15:11; Luke 13:24, 25.  These, therefore, concern thee nothing at all, that art coming to Jesus Christ, thou art coming NOW! “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).  Now God is upon the mercy-seat; now Christ Jesus sits by, continually pleading the victory of his blood for sinners; and now, even as long as this world lasts, this word of the text shall still be free, and fully fulfilled; “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Sinner, the greater sinner thou art, the greater need of mercy thou hast, and the more will Christ be glorified thereby. Come then, come and try; come, taste and see how good the Lord is to an undeserving sinner!

Objection.  6.  But, says another, I am fallen since I began to come to Christ; therefore I fear I did not come aright, and so consequently that Christ will not receive me.

Answer.  Falls are dangerous, for they dishonor Christ, wound the conscience, and cause the enemies of God to speak reproachfully. But it is no good argument, I am fallen, therefore I was not coming aright to Jesus Christ.  If David, and Solomon, and Peter, had thus objected against themselves, they had added to their griefs; and yet, at least they had as much cause as thou.  A man whose steps are ordered by the Lord, and whose goings the Lord delights in, may yet be overtaken with a temptation that may cause him to fall (Psa 37:23, 24).  Did not Aaron fall; yea, and Moses himself?  What shall we say of Hezekiah and Jehosaphat?  There are, therefore, falls and falls; falls pardonable and falls unpardonable.  Falls unpardonable are falls against light, from the faith, to the despising of, and trampling upon Jesus Christ and his blessed undertakings (Heb 6:2–5; 10:28, 29).  Now, as for such, there remains no more sacrifice for sin. Indeed, they have no heart, no mind, no desire to come to Jesus Christ for life, therefore they must perish.  Nay, says the Holy Ghost, “It is impossible that they should be renewed again unto repentance.”  Therefore these God had no compassion for, neither ought we; but for other falls though they be dreadful, and God will chastise his people for them, they do not prove thee a graceless man, one not coming to Jesus Christ for life.

It is said of the child in the gospel, that while “he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him” (Luke 9:42).  Dejected sinner, it is no wonder that thou hast caught a fall in coming to Jesus Christ.  Is it not rather to be wondered at, that thou hast not caught before this a thousand times a thousand falls? considering, 1.  What fools we are by nature. 2.  What weaknesses are in us. 3.  What mighty powers the fallen angels, our implacable enemies, are. 4.  Considering also how often the coming man is benighted in his journey; and also what stumbling blocks do lie in his way.  5.  Also his familiars, that were so before, now watch for his halting, and seek by what means they may to cause him to fall by the hand of their strong ones.

What then?  Must we, because of these temptations, incline to fall? No. Must we not fear falls? Yes. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12).  Yet let him not utterly be cast down; “The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up those that are bowed down.”  Make not light of falls! Yet, hast thou fallen?  “Ye have,” said Samuel, “done all this wickedness; yet turn not aside from following the Lord,” but serve him with a perfect heart, and turn not aside, “for the Lord will not forsake his people,” and he counteth the coming sinner one of them, “because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people” (1 Sam 12:20–22).

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 249–254).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)


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