Articles by Marvin Stalnaker
For the Year
The only assurance that any believer has as to his salvation is that that salvation
is all of grace. Tell me again the old, old story of Sovereign electing grace
that sets forth the Father to be the One who loved a people from everlasting
and chose them unto salvation not based on anything He saw in them, but loved
them and chose them unto Himself based totally on His good pleasure. Herald
the message of saving grace by the Eternal Son who came into this world as the
Lamb of God and actually redeemed and justified all that the Father had chosen
by the shedding of His own blood, in their place, because of their imputed guilt
to Himself. Set forth quickening grace by the Holy Spirit that effectually calls
out (and keeps unto the day of redemption) all those that the Father has chosen
and the Son has redeemed, through the preaching of the glorious Gospel of free
and Sovereign grace. This alone is the message of comfort to the sheep of God
because only in this message is God Almighty truly honored.
THE GREATEST STRUGGLE
feel the greatest struggle of any believer is one of unbelief. He truly yearns
after a walk with the Master. He hears the marvelous Gospel of free grace, and
grieves because he is so prone to leave the God he loves. He cries from the
depth of his being, "Lord, if I have never believed unto salvation, grant
me a heart of belief today". He knows that faith given from above is the
only true medium of union with the Saviour, and he longs after that true faith.It
is not enough to merely understand with the carnal heart; the believer wants
to be taught of God. He wants to be as the good soil upon which the seed of
the Gospel falls. There is a longing to believe unto righteousness ...that is,
to have an understanding that the glory of God Almighty is vitally displayed
in the salvation of sinners. Faith that justifies believes the testimony given
of the Son, and trusts Him who is the subject of that testimony. Those that
believe with the heart see and are persuaded of the truth of God's report concerning
Christ. They embrace that truth and rest upon that truth.
HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT IN THE HOUR OF TRIAL
I'm convinced that the only things we ever truly learn, we learn through experience. The mind of the believer longs to be taught of God, but the flesh shrinks from God's gracious means of learning. Men speak great swelling words of being faithful when the coffers are full, the family is healthy, and no wind of trouble is detected on the horizon, but it truly is by grace alone that His grace is sufficient in the hour of trial for me. In the midst of adversity, this one thought has been a great comfort for me and my family. He has done that which He has done for my good, and HIS HONOR. Here is where I believe the carnal mind and the new mind differ. One looks for comfort from the immediate problem and the other looks for His honor in all that He has done.
HIS GRACE IS ALWAYS SUFFICIENT
religion knows much about a god who wants to heal, make prosperous, and is willing
to save if man will let him. Lately I have had many speak to me about this god.
I have been asked, "How are things going?," or , "How are y'all
doing?" When I am asked these questions, I have tried
to simply set forth that the Lord's grace has truly been sufficient for me and my family.
I want with some consistency to honor Him who has done all things well; however,
I have noticed when unbelievers hear of the true God Who does all things for
His honor and the good of His people, they look at you like a calf staring at
a new gate. I know that God Almighty, the One that sends trial and adversity
to those He has eternally loved, is an unknown God to the spiritually dead and
carnal man. Men resent hearing that God Omnipotent is in complete control. They
would much rather have some huckster preach about an impotent god that wants
to let someone give him an opportunity to do something. While our light afflictions,
which are but for a moment, do try the soul of God's people and cause them to
behold their insufficiency while beholding His sufficiency, there is that blessed
peace that surpasses all understanding. Let God's people find themselves in
the battle of
adversity, and you will then find that the KNOWN GOD, the God that has revealed Himself to them, is the source of all peace, hope, and comfort.
CHRIST OUR SURETY
If a debtor is unable to repay a debt incurred, his surety becomes personally responsible for the payment of that debt. All that is demanded by law for the collection of that debt, the surety assumes. He must be able and willing to meet the requirements of the indebtedness. One may be willing to become a surety for another, but if he is not financially able to meet the guidelines of the contract, he is of no use to the indebted. On the other hand, one may be financially able, but has no heart or willingness to be a surety.
God's elect owe a debt of obedience that they can not pay. Though chosen from the foundation of the world unto salvation, predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, they are born into this world sinners and rebels against God. They, because of sin, can not pay the debt owed to God's justice. Justice therefore must look to the One who has made Himself to their Surety. He who has made Himself responsible for their debt, from the foundation of the world, must pay. The sin of God's elect must be punished. That sin (the guilt of all God's chosen) is charged (imputed) to Christ and He is made to be sin for the elect. In absolute fairness, the law, by the shedding of Christ blood under God's just wrath, is satisfied for the elect, the sheep, in the substitutionary death of Christ. The debt of the sheep, now paid by Christ their Surety, is no longer chargeable to them.
There is something else that elect's Surety has done for them. He has charged (imputed) a righteousness to them that makes them holy and fit before God. Christ, as the representative of all God's elect, was made under the law for them, and for them He obeyed in word, thought, and deed, all that His people could not obey as to that law. Because of Him, there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. God's elect cannot be charged. What they owed, He paid. The perfect righteousness they lacked, He imputed.
This is all the hope of God's elect -- that God looked, from the foundation of the world, only to the Surety for the redemption of those that He eternally loved. From the time that Christ was made to be the Surety of His people God never looked to any but the Surety for payment. If the Holy Ghost reveals that to a sinner, that sinner finds some comfort in Christ his Surety.
IT'S AS IF I HEARD IT FOR THE FIRST TIME
Where one finds the preaching of the glorious Gospel of free grace in Christ, one also finds God's sheep eager to hear that Gospel. In due season, God Almighty makes His people willing to love that which they, by nature, formerly hated. There is a spiritual hunger, divinely imparted within them, that is only satisfied by the hearing of the Bread of Life Himself. There is a thirst for the living water that He alone gives. Amazingly, each time God's sheep hear the Gospel, it is as if it was the first time. There is a freshness in the sound of that blessed message. The sheep of God are not driven by rules, regulations, and threats, but are willingly constrained by the love of Him Who is their hope. God's people are doing exactly what they want to do, for they have been made willing in the day of His power.
PRAY FOR US
1 Thess. 5:25
"We'll be praying for you", is probably one of the emptiest promises made today. Most of the time, the promise is made by well meaning people that want to say something comforting. Sadly, it's often heard from those that make no claim to know or believe the Gospel of free grace. While a believer should always respond to such remarks with kindness, he finds no joy or peace from the promise.
The prayer a believer does appreciate is from those whose heart has been knit together in like faith concerning Christ. The sheep are compassed with trials without and doubts within, and they long for fellowship with men and women that truly have been given a desire to petition the only hope of deliverance for them, the Lord Jesus. Without doubt, the afflictions of God's people are Divinely and providentially sent for His honor and our good, but the sheep sincerely desire freedom of thought, liberty of expression, and wisdom from above in the midst of that affliction. No man is an island. We need the fellowship of other saints, and covet their prayer to the Father on our behalf.
THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW AND THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST
Last week, I heard someone make the statement, "God first sent His law to save man, and after that didn't work, He sent His Son." From this ignorant statement, I can conclude two things. First, this person doesn't know the God of the Bible, because the God of the Bible has never tried to do anything (He does as He will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth), and, secondly, this person knows nothing of the purpose of God's law, for He never sent His law to save anybody. The law was God's schoolmaster (a stern and strict pedagogue or overseer) whose appointment it was to be our custodian or governor until Christ came. This law revealed the spotless perfection which was demanded by God Almighty. While revealing this perfection and teaching us our obligations to God, we could do nothing but come to one conclusion -- we are unable to meet this expectation! The law lays before God's people the straight line of His demand and in so doing, sweeps away all excuses and stops their mouths from trying to justify ourselves. Some will say that all a man has to do is repent. The law makes no provision for repentance. The law says, " The soul that sinneth shall surely die". The law drives the elect of God to be heartily sick of themselves and to look for hope in Christ alone. Many religionists speak proudly of trying to keep the law of God, but only the man made to see his inability to keep the strictness of the law sees the bondage and futility of that attempt. The law empties us of any vain goodness and makes us long to filled by Him who is alone is good. In being stripped of all self righteousness, we are desire only to be clothed in the imputed righteousness of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. This holy law that has driven the sheep of God to cast themselves upon Christ is now written within their heart. That which once was against them and condemned them is now that which they love for Christ's sake and their good.
CHRIST IS ALL WE NEED
The unregenerate, religious mind believes that to attract, involve, and maintain folks within the congregation, one must constantly invent new ways to excite them. Most places of religious activity concern themselves with having a place for every different group that can be named. While concentrating on what they think are the needs of the group, church leaders, through the blindness of their heart, miss the NEED of sinners. The need of a sinner is a Savior, a Redeemer, One Who will stand and answer for him before God's holy law. This Savior is Christ Jesus the Lord. He is revealed only by the proclamation of His Word. His Word is about Himself, so the preaching of His Word is preaching Christ. To set Him forth as the Beloved Son sent from heaven to accomplish the Father's eternal will to save a people chosen unto salvation out of every nation, kindred, and tongue. To proclaim Him as the obedient Servant who, as the elect's representative, obeyed the Holy Law in word, thought, and deed is to preach Christ. To herald Him as the spotless Lamb of God who actually laid down His life as a ransom for many, and under Divine Judgment, took the full punishment of God Almighty and died in the place of his Elect, is to preach Christ. This message may appear to be nothing more than weakness and folly to the unbeliever, but this is the message that honors God. This is the message that the Holy Ghost will bless to the saving of God's people, and this is the message that the saints long to hear: "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:23).
"I MUST ABIDE AT THY HOUSE"
a myriad of people have arisen from their sleep to attend a place of worship.
That place may be as simple as their own house where they can relax and get
away from the grind of the work week. It may be a place where their and their
children's needs are being met with various forms of entertainment, whether
that entertainment take the form of false preaching or basketball. Some though
have risen today with a desire to come to a place where Christ might truly be
seen. They have heard that the Master is passing by a certain path. It is a
path carved out by the purpose, will, and pleasure of God Almighty. That place
is the sycamore tree that all God's elect will surely find themselves in. It
is only in that place where the sweet words shall be heard ..."Make haste
and come down; for today I must abide at thy house". That place is where
the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed.
Here and here alone is where God shall meet with His people.
The message of the Gospel is the means by which God's sheep are brought (and
taught) to praise the Lord. Praise to the people of God is not some outward
show of swooning, clapping, or raising of the hands, or closing of the eyes.
Praise is a sacrifice of thanksgiving. A believer is made to praise
(being thankful) for what God, for Christ's sake, has done for him. Where faith is found to believe that God has chosen, from the foundation of the world, a people unto salvation, that the Word himself was made flesh and came into this world to satisfy the law's demand against those people by
being made to be sin for them (by the imputation of their quilt to Him) and dying (in their place) under the judgment of a Holy God, and that the Holy Ghost will quicken (make spiritually alive) those elect, and will without doubt bring them to faith in Christ through the preaching of the Gospel, one shall surely find praise in the giving of thanks to His name.
THE COMMON BOND OF CHRIST
great comfort there is for a believer in the fellowship he shares with God's
saints. The brethren speak toward one another consistently concerning Christ
as He is revealed in scripture. There is a bond of love that God's sheep
share because of Christ alone. How soothing is the smile, the hand, and
the eye of those that love one another for His sake. But even the greatest
affection that the people of God have for each other pales in the light of Him
Who loves His own more than they could possibly love themselves. While
we as brethren may sympathize with one another (and this
we should do), we fall short in our ability to truly comfort one another. In the midst of adversity, the sheep find One Who is truly acquainted with their grief. It is by His word alone that believers are encouraged. It is by His presence alone that His sheep find companionship. It is by His power alone that the saints are not utterly cast down. Thanks be to God for the fellowship that believers have with one another, but how wonderfully thankful are we for Him Who loves us with an everlasting love and sticks closer than a brother ever would or could.
WALKING AND AGREEING WITH GOD
Even with all the turmoil, confusion, lusts, and wanderings of a sinner, one thing is certain – no war exists between redeemed sons of Adam and God Almighty. Not even a temporary truce exists, conditioned on such fickle men trying to maintain the terms of some type of cease-fire, with God suspiciously watching every move they make. On the contrary, there is a peace "which passeth all understanding" because believers agree with God. Believers agree with God concerning His divine law. They confess that the law is holy, just, and good. They agree with God in that atonement has been made for all those He has eternally loved in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. They agree with God concerning God's sovereignty, and admit that He (God), has the right to do all that He has done and will do. Each with a Holy Ghost-given heart to agree with God, believers are able to do what their own nature of sin would never long after - walk with God.
1 Samuel 2:7
Man has the ability to outwardly create a marvelous display of spiritual life. He can speak those words that seem to have some consistency with scripture. He can cry out against error with the best of them. He can actually convince himself that he has entered into a walk upon the narrow way ...but he can never truly bring himself low before the God with whom he must deal. "He bringeth low". All of God's sheep shall be brought low in heart. They shall see their need of Christ, and shall see Christ to be all they need. They shall know by a heart made willing to bow before Him, that unless He saves alone, they shall surely perish. Thankful is that redeemed sinner that is brought low before Him.
A SIGN OF LOVE
It amazes me when I see how openly parents display hatred for their children (Proverbs 13:24). Under the false pretense of love (and wanting their kids to learn to "express" themselves), mothers and dads refuse to discipline when their young ones disobey. Those same parents that foolishly allowed disrespect (because it is easier to look the other way), are dumbfounded when the children eventually reveal years of built up resentment.
ultimate sign of love toward those we cherish is the sign is our willingness
to chastise. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" (Hebrews 12:6). If
left to myself, my old nature would cause me to stray without bound. How lovingly
does the Lord of glory place His hand of chastisement upon those that
He has everlastingly loved. He who wills that His children be not left to themselves knows, with perfect measure, how to draw His own unto Himself. This chastening, which is but a for a moment, is viewed by the sheep not as a hard trial that cannot be possibly borne, but as a token of eternal love from Him who is worthy of their respect, their love, and their obedience. Find one of the Lord's sheep that has had the rod of God's correction placed lovingly upon him, and you'll find a sheep that shall say, "it is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." (Psalm 119:71)
THE TESTIMONY OF A TRUE BELIEVER
As I reflect upon some things that God Almighty has graciously taught me in the last few months, I am convinced that God's sheep will vigorously maintain until their departure from this life this firm profession: