God’s Grace in Salvation!
THE COURAGE OF HONESTY!
The necessary confession of our baptism formula declares that “we with our children are conceived and born in sin, and therefore are children of wrath.” Contrary that is, to the delusion of the world today that in all men lies a seed of goodness, just waiting to spring forth. “There is none righteous, no, not one…there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, 12). God alone is good. The testimony of Holy Scripture is that the entirety of our beings lies in a hellish condition. It is God in the Bible who alone gives us an honest diagnosis as to the root of man’s desperate plight. The ungodly origin and condition of our natural life. We and our children were conceived and born in sin, and are therefore children of wrath. But it takes some courage, the courage of honesty to make that confession.
It takes courage to unwrap the world’s fanciful notions of both the cradle and the grave. In order to get to the truth, and expose the bleeding soul with its multiplicity of filthy wounds, that cause human despair. Plasters are of no avail when you’re looking into a grave full of skeletons and dry bones. Reality? I know, it’s not what we’re used to, we’re civilised. So to be thinking, never mind speaking, of ourselves as the sweet Psalmist of Israel does, of his foul, stinking abscesses, does not sit well with us. It takes courage, the courage of honesty.
We tend rather skip over the terrifying truth. Put a coat of paint over it. Some bling, that’ll make things look brighter. Some positive thinking, shun the pessimistic. But we’re still the same, vagabonds, cast out of the heavenly kingdom. The stains, the unclean remains, which without the blood of the cross cannot be wiped away. So God instructs us to loathe ourselves, humble ourselves, and to seek salvation outside of ourselves. But to have the latter, salvation, that is, we must begin with the first. We hear people say that they detest themselves, loathe themselves. But it’s nothing more than selfishness and wounded pride. It doesn’t speak of their wickedness. That takes courage, the courage of honesty.
No, the pessimism of this generation is at its root, egoism. Indeed, the desire and intent to commit suicide is at its core still self-love. The loathing to which God admonishes us is to consider soberly our natural condition. And it is always much, much worse than we ever imagined it to be. “I abhor myself” (Job 42:6). Oh, this is gold, rarer than gold. King David, “I will be sorry for my sins” (Psalm 38:18). The Apostle Paul, a Christian for some thirty years, says, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18). It’s from this loathing comes humility. Worldly loathing leads to pride. Only spiritual loathing leads to humility. The pessimism of the world leads to despair, and then to suicide, as per Judas Iscariot. Godly pessimism leads to a seeking for salvation. But it takes courage, the courage of honesty.
”Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen
your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD” (Psalm 331:24).
TO SEEK CLEANSING AND SALVATION OUTSIDE OF OURSELVES
We are all members of the self-preservation society. That’s a God created instinct. If you go to a Doctor for a bodily need why not do likewise for your soul? If a villain may apply to the king for clemency, why not you yourself to the heavenly King? But the seeking here is not the sick person wanting a Doctor. It’s not a condemned criminal calling for mercy. It’s a sinner who has offended God. It’s a transgressor who has trashed the royal law. It’s the person with the grit and the guts to confess, that, we with our children are conceived and born in sin, and therefore are children of wrath. It’s the prodigal son or daughter seeking to be reconciled to their Father.
But seeking where? Outside of themselves. Here the massive chasm opens up before our eyes. The gulf between the world and God. The world turns inward, looking to mend itself, seeking to purify itself. Why? Because it knows nothing else, nothing but itself and seeks only to exalt itself. If it were not so foolish, astonishingly ridiculous this would be laughable. It’s akin to seeking to pull yourself up by your own bootlaces. We look into ourselves all we see is more despair. Nothing but the blackness and darkness of sin. It is humbly seeking for help, deliverance from a source outside of ourselves. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). “Seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7). “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). For deliverance, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered” (Joel 2:32).
But, you look around questioningly, prayerfully even, where, who? It comes to him who seeks cleansing and forgiveness of their sins through Jesus Christ. It’s not our sighing, our crying, our praying. It is God’s working, remember, outside of ourselves, away, heavenward. He must come down to us. He must perform this miracle, for that’s what it is. Its source is found in His grace. All we have is our self-loathing, sorrowful humbling. That would be our case for all eternity unless God by His sovereign, irresistible hand pull us out of it. It is of him who speaks, who speaks and it is done, who calls things that are not as if they were. Who speaks deliverance!
The pit of misery is deep. God’s promises of salvation are like a golden chain. It stretches from eternity to eternity and hangs down in the earth in between. The humbled sinner has to but catch hold of one link of the chain to be saved. Just as the drowning man has to but grab one part of the lifeline to be pulled from the waves. “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). There you go! Grab hold of that link. Or, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). Stalk Him, troll Him, pursue Him, say to Him, “you promised!”
What is it that that is promised? Deliverance, salvation. The washing away of sins. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1Corinthians 6:9-11 NASB). Do you see, all kinds of sinners, but they were washed, they were justified. Jesus Christ delivered them.
Sin is a long, frightful list of charges against us. The list has no end. The washing away of sins is the wiping out of all that stands against us. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). But the washing requires blood, human blood, the blood of a righteous man. This blood Jesus, the man Christ Jesus shed for sinners. His blood flowed down in streams from the cross. It is the very blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses and delivers us from sin. What hinders you? Go to him, right now!
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered” (Joel 2:32).
“For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
(©️James R Hamilton, July 2018)