There are multitudes of professors of Christ’s name who are not born of God. They account themselves believers, and wish to be thought such by others. They profess to give their assent to certain points of doctrine and have the form of godliness, but are destitute, destitute of the power and blessedness thereof.
The blessed Savior saith, “Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23). Believers? What kind? There are devils that believe and tremble too (James 2:19). Simon Magus believed (Acts 8:13), but he had neither part nor lot in the matters of the everlasting covenant of Jehovah’s grace, but was in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity.
Now, if in truth we are of God, and with faith unfeigned are believers in Jesus Christ, it is all of God’s sovereign grace, and of the working of His mighty power toward us (Eph. 1:19). “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” And as taught of the Holy Spirit we are made to know we are sinners justly condemned, under the curse of the law, and we are under apprehensions that the damnation of hell will be our eternal doom. Then also we are taught our inability to keep the law, and to be just with God. Then how sacred and gracious it is to have some discoveries to our sin-distressed hearts of the kindness and love of God our Savior! This goodness of the Lord leadeth us to repentance.
An humble and contrite heart is given us, we mourn over our sins, and we mourn unto our God over them. We hunger and thirst after righteousness, and our hearts are crying, God be merciful to me, a sinner. All this is much more than the bare assent that men give to certain points of doctrine, who with their lips say, I believe salvation is of grace, I believe in election and predestination; they flatter themselves that for this they are the favor of God, and all right for heaven and immortal glory; and yet all the while they have never felt themselves to be poor lost sinners, never out of a sin-anguished heart, cried for mercy. They have never tasted that the Lord is gracious, and know nothing in their souls of the pardoning love of God.
How wondrous is the mercy to have a heart with eyes given to us to look unto Christ crucified! “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22). This is not the voice of the Lord from Mount Sinai, but the voice of the God Man, Christ Jesus from Calvary ’s Mount. Saith our Lord: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die” (John 12:32-33).
Oh, blessed is that poor sinner whose heart is turned to the Lord, to Jesus crucified! Then to contemplate His sufferings, His blood, His death, then the tear drops repentance are in the eyes of faith. “They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born” (Zech. 12:10). In a broken and contrite heart we mourn over our iniquities, and we mourn over Jesus. We love Him, yearn after Him, yearn to know Him, and oh, that He would know me, and tell my sin-distressed heart the mystery of His cross!
“Was it for crimes that I have done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown;
And love beyond degree!”
“Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross I spend;
Life and health, and peace possessing
From the sinner’s dying Friend.
Here I sit forever viewing
Mercy’s streams, in streams of blood;
Precious drops my soul bedewing,
Plead and claim my peace with God.”
Oh, when the story of the cross of Christ is told us by the Comforter, what sufferings, what love, what amazing grace are displayed! What triumphs were His in behalf of His people on the cross. He blotted out the thick cloud of our sins; He made an end of our sins by the sacrifice of Himself. He triumphed over Satan, death and hell. He spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them on His cross (Col. 2:14-15). Are not our hearts affected toward Christ when thus we look unto Him? Oh, I have been saying:
“His loveliness has won my heart,
Dear Savior, let us never part,
I’ll sound Thy lovely name abroad,
My altogether lovely Lord!”
He is fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into His lips (Psalm 45:2). Oh Christ is incomparably and inexpressibly lovely!
Oh such sight! Glimpses I have had! More I feel I could not endure of Christ in Gethsemane. And there, then as I viewed Him “being in agony, He prayed more earnestly and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). I stood amazed, and with throbbing heart, and streaming eyes, with grief and love and pity, my heart was bruised, and broken and contrite. Oh what moments were they that I spent in Jesus in Gethsemane ! My lips can never tell it. He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here and watch with me. And He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt, He prayed the third time, saying the same words (Matt. 26:37-44).
Oh that cup! What was in that cup! Jesus drank the bitter cup that came to Him in full and it passed from Him empty. Yes, the God-Man, Emmanuel, Christ Jesus our Lord drank it to the last dark, bitter drop, and thus it passed from Him in His drinking it. He drank it for His people, His elect, His church.
But what a sight is this! “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:10). Oh, could I speak the matchless glories that in Emmanuel shine! Our Savior, the dear Lamb of God, has vanquished all our foes, He is risen from the dead, and has ascended to glory, and having purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, the Lamb in the midst of the throne crowned with glory and honor.
If our precious Christ the Head of the church has ascended to heaven, then His people also shall in that great day all be found with Him in glory. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).
Is Christ in me, the hope of glory? (Col. 1:77). The apostle speaks of there being “riches of glory” in this hope. And truly there are, and when the hope shall have its everlasting consummation, oh the blessedness!
“Then shall the church, the Lamb’s Bride,
Both crowned and seated by His side,
Outshine the sun’s meridian ray,
While Jesus smiling at the sight
Shall then with a supreme delight
The travail of His soul survey.”
FREDERICK W. KEENE
OLD FAITH CONTENDER, February 1961.