For the Year
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Rom. 8:1
The greatest message ever revealed to a sinner saved by the grace of God Almighty is that message concerning that sinner's perfect standing before the Holy Law. The scripture proclaims that all those in Christ Jesus are under no condemnation. The Law, which could never do anything but condemn that sinner is now (by the imputed righteousness of Christ) his friend. All that the Law demanded, Christ supplied for everyone chosen in Him from the foundation of the world. The burden of obedience to the unbending Law of the trice holy God (for me) was accomplished by the Surety of all God's elect ... Christ Jesus the Lord. A redeemed sinner loves the Law, for it is the expression of the holy character of the God he now serves with his renewed mind. However, that same child of God (though he loves the Holy Law) does not depend on the keeping of that law for his justification before God. Hence, the Law does not motivate or entice a believer to a higher spiritual walk. All those in Christ Jesus are led and walk only by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Law has been satisfied by the perfect obedience of Christ. That obedience (righteousness) has been charged to the elect, and now there is no condemnation to those for whom He died. Is not that the greatest message a sinner ever heard? To you that believe, it is.
SALVATION BY GRACE
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Eph. 2:8
All of things spoken concerning man's salvation, one question stands out more than any other ... who gets the glory for that salvation? Is the glory given to a spiritually dead sinner because somehow he was able to perceive the depth of his own depravity, work out a perfect righteousness before the holy law of God, and then keep himself secure by perfect faith?... or is the glory, honor, and praise for that salvation given unto Him who saved His people apart from any work that they could do to merit a righteousness before God Almighty? The Scripture declares salvation to be by GRACE through faith; and that (faith) not of ourselves: it is the gift of God.
There is, without a doubt, no clearer picture of the blessing of God Almighty (by imputation) to an unworthy rebel than the blessing of Jacob by his father Isaac. Jacob had exhibited boldly, before the dim eyes of his aged father, the true nature of a wretched sinner. In Jacob's depraved mind, the only way he could get his father's blessing was to impersonate his brother Esau. Lying with every breath, Jacob attempted to convince his father that he was someone else. Not until Isaac smelled the coat of Esau did he bestow the blessing. The smell of his first born satisfied the aging Isaac. That smell was a smell of satisfaction, obedience, and truthfulness. Just as the smell of Esau's coat (that covered Jacob) ushered in the blessing to the younger son, Christ's royal robe of righteousness (imputed to one of God's elect) is the smell of satisfaction, obedience, and truthfulness to God the Father. In ourselves, we are but "Jacob's" that ever strive to deceive. If the rebellious nature of sin has not been imputed to Christ, and the robe of Christ's imputed righteousness be not applied to one such as we are . . . there is no hope, no life, and no blessing from the One who must have mercy on sinners.
BELIEVING ON CHRIST
Many hear the gospel of free grace in Christ and believe it not. The reason a man believes not is because he does not have an ear of faith to hear the Saviour call. Man is born without the ability to perceive the voice of the thrice holy God. The sheep of God hear by faith, in the proclamation of the Gospel, the voice of Him Who loves and calls them unto Himself. His message, (the Gospel) is more than a mere religious sermon that can be taken or left . . . it is life Himself.
GLORYING IN THE LORD
1 Cor. 1:31
Who deserves the glory in the redemption of sinners? The world believes that man has the right to choose or reject God's plan for every single individual, and if a man by his own free will chooses to receive Christ as his personal saviour, and becomes a Christian, Jesus should get the glory but that man must "make a decision" to accept Him. In essence, this is saying that Christ wants to save every man, but cannot unless each man helps God accomplish it. Does not this wicked thinking attempt to make God Almighty to be nothing more than a feeble beggar? If, on the other hand, is it not God Omnipotent that has purposed to show mercy on whomsoever He will (Rom. 9:15); has elected a people from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4); has by imputation charged the guilt of all those elect to His Son, imputing the righteousness of his Son to those particular sinners (2 Cor. 5:21); and has forever put away their sin in the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:26). Then is it not God that should receive the glory for that salvation. So, if a man must glory, let him glory in the Lord . . . because ultimately, that is Who shall receive all honor, glory, and praise (Phil. 2:10-11).
1 Thess. 5:2
A true believer does not desire to know more than God Almighty wants him to know. While others expend countless hours studying world events, trying to somehow connect them to the return of Christ (some to the point of naming the exact date), and then making those events to be the centerpoint of a "gospel" message, the believer studies the Word which is the revelation of Christ. While a believer is certainly watching expectantly for the return of his Lord, he is not taken up with the events surrounding that return. A believer is taken up only with the Christ Who is returning.
THEY WHO ARE ONE
1 John 5:7
The believer takes comfort in knowng that whatsoever God Almighty has purposed to do, He will complete it. An enlightened sinner knows (by faith) that before the world was spoken into existence by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father, Son, and Spirit, entered into an eternal covenant. In that covenant, the Father chose out of every nation, kindred, and tongue, an exact number of people that would be brought (by faith) to embrace the chosen means of salvation -- the Lord Jesus Christ. In perfect agreement with that covenant, the Eternal Son purposed to take upon Himself the form of sinful flesh, though He himself was without sin, and flawlessly work out (as a man) every point of the holy law of God, thereby acquiring a perfect righteousness that would in time be imputed (charged to the account of) every one that the Father had chosen. The Eternal Spirit, (in perfect agreement with the Father and Son) shall, in time, quicken (make alive spiritually) every person whose name is found written in the book of life from the foundation of the world (Rev. 17:8). Those whose names were written in the book of life are those that the Father chose, and the Son shall redeem. There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. This oneness of God in purpose and will shall forever be the comfort of every sinner redeemed by grace.
The believer has the TRUTH of God's word as his whole hope and absolute assurance:
TRUSTING WITHOUT FEAR
And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. (Isa. 12:2)
A believer finds great comfort in pointing to the One Who has met all requirements, and satisfied all demands of the law of God for His people. While other men may speak of their baptisms, professions of faith, or any other religious activity which they feel justifies them before God, a redeemed sinner most joyfully points toward Christ for the hope and cause of his salvation. The believer has been given a trusting faith by the Holy Spirit. He trusts God, and, at the same time, realizes that the faith by which believes is not of himself but of God (lest he should foolishly boast of having done something himself to merit salvation). This awareness of his spiritual weakness causes such an enlightened sinner to constantly cast himself upon the mercies of Almighty God. He knows that if God ever depended on him to maintain his salvation (even for a moment), his spiritual situation would be hopeless. This blessed fact (that God will not leave a man to himself) dispels all fear of eternal damnation. A believer is not afraid that possibly there are "skeletons in the closet" which will be brought up at the day of judgment. Though God's people know that they are prone to wander, they rest without fear in the One who is able to keep them unto the day of salvation.
CALLING BY PRAYER
God Almighty, who has thoughts of peace and not evil toward His
people, has promised that His people shall call upon Him, pray unto Him, and
that He will hearken unto them. This word of promise is based totally on the
omniscience of Him who knows His own thoughts and purpose toward all that He
has chosen unto salvation. There is not the slightest possibility that those
He has purposed to save shall be damned.
While His people shall call and pray unto Him who is their hope, we must ever remember that calling and praying is by the power of Him who made us willing to do so. The word of God is sure, and never would the word of promise be left to the fickle will of mortal man. As God Omnipotent has purposed the expected end (verse 11) He shall perform it in His people. Pray they shall, and when they pray ... He shall hearken, and teach them what He has done for them in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE LOWLY IN HEART
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matt. 11:29
The salvation of a sinner required that the most High Himself (Christ) be brought to the point of being the most low. From the height of all glory, the precious Son became a man. What an act of condescension was displayed in the Word becoming flesh. The very fact that God would become a man would appear to be the greatest of all humility, but THIS man, who in his own right, would deserve all honor among men, even condescended to make of himself no reputation. The meat (food of His will) of this man was to glorify his Father which was in heaven. He manifested the name of the Father unto all those that the Father had given Him out of the world (John 17:6). This One who is the brightness of the Father, who took upon Himself the form of sinful flesh, and made Himself of no reputation, even made Himself to be brought to the lowest point of being rejected of His Father. In this final act of condescension, the apple of the Father's eye, made Himself to be sin. The spotless Lamb took upon Himself the guilt of all those that the Father had eternally loved. In this glorious act of condescension, the debt of all His people was eternally satisfied. Christ (for the sake of his sheep) suffered the wrath of Divine justice. This blessed One who is the highest of all, made himself to be the lowest. This One, who made Himself lowly in heart, is now reigning in heaven, and forever shall He gloriously reign, for God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.
This past week we, as a church, were guided by the Holy Ghost to a small parcel of ground here in Franklin. Whereas this event might seem to be relatively insignificant, considering the vast amount of buying and selling going on in this town, it is a monumental event to us. It is the great and mighty God of all creation that orders the steps of every event. It was by His choosing and gracious mercy to establish a permanent place for us wherein the gospel might be proclaimed. It was by His omnipotence that every other purchaser was held back until the people of His affection might be brought to cross the path of His direction. Whereas carnal men are the instigators of their evil activity (doing something that pleases their own flesh), He who sits upon the throne is ever present among His church, guiding, directing, and providing.
It is by the preaching of the gospel that God's sheep are called out. That gospel is the power of God unto salvation. That gospel is the message proclaiming that which God has done, (and is doing) for His own glory and for the good of all those that He has eternally loved. If He has purposed that that gospel shall be proclaimed in a certain place, He shall raise up a man to proclaim that gospel, He shall raise up a people of His choosing to hear that gospel, and He shall provide the place whereby that gospel shall be proclaimed.
We are thankful for the places that have been provided during this time since He raised up this group. These different places have been wonderful because they are places of His direction -- but now as we see this land being provided --let us be mindful of the Great God who was pleased to bring us to this place.
KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)
This side of death, we shall never know that which God Almighty has kept us from. This past week, my daughter was in an automobile accident that potentially could have been fatal. For a fleeting moment, she lost control of the vehicle that she was driving. Within seconds, the truck was totaled and she found herself in the frightening world of paramedics, police officers, and fire rescue workers. Only after the sobering ordeal has run it's course do we then start to think about what could have happened.
Being kept in this carnal world from all that could happen is a calming thought for God's sheep. When one realizes the keeping power of Christ, for all those that He has eternally loved, the new heart is made to bow in adoration to Him who is omnipotent. Kept is a believer from the damning power of his own carnal, God hating will. Kept is a believer from the prince of the darkness who would devour God's own if he could. Kept is a believer from being of this world even though they are in the world. Now I know in part and see in part, but there's coming a day when I shall see Him as He is. In that day, I shall look on Him that has kept His own unto salvation. In that day, His sheep shall know how much they owe to thekeeping power of Him that would not let them perish.
AN EYE TO SEE AND AN EAR TO HEAR
The more a believer sits under the sound of the gospel, the more he realizes how gracious God Almighty has been unto him. It's not that any man in this life can ever completely comprehend the mercy that has been shown him, but the man that has had a new eye to see Him, and a new ear to hear Him, does see and hear something that, up until now, he was blind and deaf to. Until a new heart is imparted, men only hear that which honors the carnal flesh. They hear the message that praises their stubborn will, and makes God to be capable of doing only that which they themselves allow Him to do. They "good", that they see, is found within themselves, and therefore there is no imminent need of casting themselves on the mercy of Christ. They " see" that God wants to save everyone, so therefore in that day of judgment, surely all will be well. They think that He is one like themselves, and surely He'll understand. Nothing could be farther from the! truth. The scriptures clearly state that the soul that sinneth shall surely die (Ezek. 18:4). Let every man see and hear that He is a God that is to be feared (reverenced). He will not wink at sin, but shall judge that sin in absolute righteousness. Let every man see and hear that the only message that God's Spirit shall bless to the salvation of a sinner is the message that honors the Son. The message that honors the Son, is the message that reveals the purpose, will, and power of God to save a people that He chose unto salvation before the foundation of the world. The message that honors the Son, is the message that reveals the perfect obedience of the Man Christ Jesus that lived the life of perfection for all those that His Father had given Him. The message that honors the Son, is the message that sets forth the holy justice of the Father that could not spare the substitute of all God's elect, Christ Jesus the Lord. The message that honors the Son, is the message that reveals a redeemed sinner's hope of salvation to be totally found in the imputed righteousness of Christ. The man blessed in this life is not that man which has acquired earthly riches, maintained a good health, and is well spoken of in all circles of society. The man blessed of God is the man that has an eye to see, and an ear to hear that which glorifies God in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A sinner is quickened (made spiritually alive) by the hearing and believing of the gospel of Christ. This work of grace is totally based on the merit and purpose of Christ who came to seek and save that which was lost. As surely as a man must be quickened once, and brought out of spiritual darkness into spiritual light, that man must be quickened afresh daily. A redeemed sinner is prone to wander from the God that has saved him by grace. The slackness toward obedience is put in check only by the Word of Truth Himself. Never do the sheep of Christ hear enough of Him. It is only by the hearing of the same gospel, which was the power of God unto salvation to them, that the sheep are kept in The Way.
THE PRUDENT SAVIOUR
There has been only one man that has dealt prudently with the things of God. This man, Christ Jesus the Lord, exercised sound judgment in every act of his holy obedience to the holy Law. The Father had sent Him to redeem a people that had eternally been loved. Holy conduct (that could not fail) was ever viewed by the Father, and this sensible work of the Lord Jesus was found to be pleasing to the Father. For a sinner to have a hope of salvation, there must be one who shall be able to deal with the things of God without a rash or untamed attitude. This one must have a special interest in these practical matters. The Holy Spirit has spoken the mind of the Godhead in Isaiah 52:13 -- "Behold, my servant SHALL deal prudently," Herein is the hope of glory for all those chosen unto salvation -- HE HAS DEALT WITH THE LAW FOR ME, AND HE HAS DONE IT WITH PRUDENCE.
LOVING AND SERVING HIM
Without a doubt, in this flesh, there dwells no good thing. To will is present with us (to honor and obey Him in a pleasing way), but how to accomplish that we know not. A child of promise will acknowledge what he is before God and men ( a wandering sinner), but though there is that nature of rebellion, ever ready to raise its ugly head of sin, there is within that believing sinner a nature that truly does love, honor, and seek after the Christ who has redeemed him. This nature is the new man that has been imparted by a divine act of mercy and grace by God Almighty. Before the Spirit of God quickened us ...we were without strength, without affection for Him, and without the ability to love the Lord and Savior. Men bought by the power of Almighty God and covered by the blood of Christ are (in this life) prone to the same weakness to serve the law of sin, but thanks be to Him, who would not leave His own to themselves, through Jesus Christ our Lord with the new mind they serve the law of God.
DECLARATION OF THE GOSPEL
1 John 1:3
The gospel is a declaration of The Truth Himself. Many try to
make a message of salvation (which is no salvation at all) to be an offer which
can be accepted or rejected by a man's free-will. This plea towards men to give
God the opportunity to save them is nothing more than an appeal to a spiritually
dead soul that can do nothing in and of itself. The message of the gospel declares
three vital truths:
As this message of the gospel is preached in all the world, God's elect are providentially brought under the sound of this message and are made (by the power of the Holy Ghost) to hear (with an new ear) and believe (by faith that has been given them from above) that declaration of The Truth. It is through this declaration alone that God saves his people. No other message is blessed by the Holy Spirit to the salvation of God's elect, because there is no other message that makes salvation to be all of grace, and totally to the praise, honor, and glory of the Lord God of heaven.
THE SON GLORIFIED
The heart of the Lord Jesus Christ was to glorify the Father. He (Christ) knew that His hour (to glorify the One who had sent Him) had come. That hour was the hour whereby the unbending law of God Almighty would deal with the Son (as the substitute) for all those placed into His charge. This was the hour that He prayed for the Father's will to be done. It was the will of the Father that of all that He had given the Son, none should be eternally lost. For none to lost, Christ must be glorified by being made to be sin for His sheep. In being made to be sin for those given to Him by the Father, the Son accomplished the will of the thrice holy God, and in His glorification by the Father, the Father was glorified by the Son. The Lord Jesus glorified the Father by redeeming all those that the Father had eternally loved.
When the natural ear first hears of the glorious doctrine of God's election, there is usually an accusation (toward God) of unfairness. How could a loving and merciful God choose one and pass by another? Surely (they say) everyone has the right to accept or reject salvation. Though this thinking makes sense to the natural mind, it's not consistent with scripture.
Scripture sets forth the fact that man is a depraved (spiritually dead) creature that cannot choose right or reject wrong. Man is born with a heart that hates the things of God. He delights in drinking iniquity like a man would drink water. He loves darkness and hates The Light. If he is left to himself, that man will gladly rush headlong into hell.
Election (though viewed by the natural mind as unfair) is never unto death. The God of holy scripture has but to leave a man to his own filthy lust for that man to have no hope. Man (in Adam) is predestined to destruction (if left to himself), for in Adam all die ... but because of God's electing grace ... some of those shall be plucked as brands out of the fire.
The believer will always admit to the proneness of his heart to wander from the God of his hope. There is within him that nature which grips the things of this world, and but for the grace of God, he would find those fleeting things to be all of his joy. It is not that the sheep admit to never having vain thoughts, but that those thoughts are hated by them. Those thoughts of vanity are the evidences of that old nature which raises its head of rebellion toward Him who has redeemed us by His blood. Sooner would a man welcome thieves and robbers into his house than a believer find love for his vain thoughts. Thoughts of love toward His law have been imparted by Him who has eternally loved His own. Oh may I see Him, and love that law which is good.
Everything that has being finds its beginning in Christ. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. Men claim to believe the truth of God's omnipotent in creation. Their evil hearts will fight tooth and nail against the false theory of evolution being taught in the school system. They claim to be willing to rally around the teaching of the Bible to keep doctrines of devils out of the ears of our children, but all the while, they are ready to slay anyone who proclaims the sovereign power of God in Christ in the salvation of His people. They do not know that the creation of life in any sinner is by the strength and will of God Almighty. It was when He passed by and saw His people polluted in their own blood, and said "Live" (Ezek. 16:6) that they then saw their need of Him and called upon the Lord Jesus for mercy. Spiritual life must be created within the sheep of God before they can trust Him for salvation. All things -- yes even salvation -- is by divine creation. Without Him, we can do nothing.