Do you ever feel alone? Seemingly walking another direction from everyone else? Isolated? On your own?

This is not uncommon for the Lord’s people. Sooner or later they will know what it is to walk this path – to be alone. The One they follow, and the Message they bring, is not welcome here, nor is it wanted. As with their Master they will find that others treat them with reserve and distance themselves from them. The world, friends, and even family, misunderstand, misrepresent and misjudge. The gospel of God’s grace is no more welcome today than it was when Christ sent forth His twelve disciples to preach it in their day and generation. The natural man receives not the things of God – he opposes them, rejects them, despises them and closes his ears to them.

It is understandable then, that in the face of such natural opposition, from so many, that the child of God can feel isolated – alone. Like a faint, flickering candle in a very dark room. Yet, whatever the outward appearance, the reality is so different. For I tell you, that however he may feel, the child of God, in Christ, is never, never, alone! Whatever the opposition of men around him, whatever the disinterest, whatever the disdain, he walks with a Companion so close, so true, so faithful, so trustworthy, so near, and in such a union, that the world could never understand! Christ has said unto His own “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” – and He never does! Indeed, the very cause that sets the believer apart from others, that makes him feel alone, is the very same thing that ensures that the believer, unlike any other, is never, ever, truly alone! He has – unlike the wicked who perish – the “one thing needful”… Christ and Him alone.

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Our Grace Hymns website (which contains a collection of hymn tunes – as MIDI files – which we have used at Honiton Sovereign Grace Church, and also provides a ‘map’ matching hymns from ‘Gadsby’s’ Hymnal to the various tunes provided) has had a bit of an update. Along with a number of new tunes, there is also now a complete set of mapping pages for the 1156 hymns in Gadsby’s Hymnal. Not every hymn in each page is yet mapped, but the majority are. Obviously there is a long way to go in terms of providing an extensive range of tunes, and good mapping from hymns to tunes, but little by little the website is progressing.

Those interested in Gadsby’s Hymns will also be very interested to hear that you can now download the hymnbook as a Word file from here: Gospel Standard Trust Website – Downloads

This is that time of year when the world is reminded – should it hear above the noise of its general celebrations – that Christ, the Son of God, came into this world.
 
But who is He? And why did He come? And where is He now?
 

To the natural man reading the Bible, it can sometimes seem to be a mysterious and a confusing book, which to his mind appears to contain certain conflicts and contradictions. Such criticism is often made against the scriptures by those who approach it with simply their own, natural, intellect and understanding. Why, some may ask, are there two accounts of the creation in Genesis, and why are there differences between the accounts? Why also, do the four Gospels in the New Testament differ from one another? Why do some contain genealogies and others don’t? Why are events recorded in different orders? Why does one Gospel writer include things which the others omit?

 

Having once been blind to the truth in God’s word, stumbling about around in it, confused by what I read, I can understand how such questions may be asked and how some passages can appear to be conflicting…. But when God opened my eyes and the Spirit of God became my teacher, what was once confused and contradictory to me began to make sense and become clear, and what I once may have considered to be merely historical accounts, I came to understand were actually presenting truth and were worded and arranged in such a manner as to specifically set forth that truth, and the One who is truth – Jesus Christ.

The whole Bible is a book about Christ. It presents the truth about Christ, and for that reason it simply doesn’t fit into our ‘ideas’ of how things should be written. For example, we read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and think that here are simply four different records by four writers of the same narratives. We treat them as four historical accounts, and as such can’t understand why there are differences between them, in terms of chronology etc. Any conflicts appear to be evidence of a lack of unity between the writers or perhaps failed memory on their part…… but when we come to see that the PURPOSE of these four Gospels, and the reason why God included four different Gospels in the Bible, is not to simply provide four historical accounts of the same things, with four accounts providing extra weight of evidence, but is in fact to present four different views of the same Person, to present Christ in four different aspects, THEN all the apparent differences begin to make sense. John’s Gospel for example is entirely different to the other three, in form, structure, content and presentation….. why? Because John presents Christ clearly as being the Son of God, and the whole Gospel is arranged and worded to present selected historical narrative in such a manner as to show Christ in that light. Likewise Matthew’s purpose is to present Christ as the Messiah, and is thus arranged to that end, beginning with a genealogy and so on (which John lacks). The genealogy in Luke differs from Matthew’s because of the very different presentation of Christ in Luke …. And so on, and so forth.
Now… I state all this because we’ll never understand the Bible until we recognise these things – that it is essentially presenting truth, the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, and is worded and arranged to that end. All the apparent differences we may discern between, for example, the four Gospels, are because of this purpose. The Bible is not a history book (but it does contain history). The Bible is not an ‘ethics’ book (but it does contain ethics). The Bible is not a ‘guide book’ (but it does contain guidance). No…. the Bible is a book about Christ, about truth. It is a spiritual book, and it is spiritually discerned. Its message, is essentially a ‘secret’, a ‘mystery’ which must be revealed. This is plainly stated in various places in the Bible. For example 1 Corinthians states:

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” 1 Corinthians 1:18-21

And…

“…My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-16

So the Bible itself makes it clear that we can’t understand its message unless the Spirit of God teaches us it, and that its message is ‘hidden wisdom’ in a mystery. It was hidden from me once, and a complete mystery to me… but when the Spirit of God opened it up I saw its meaning in Christ.

Even Jesus Himself stated that He spoke in parables, not in order to make the truth simple to understand, but to keep the truth from those whom God was not pleased to show it unto. We read elsewhere, that “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” – so unless God reveals these things to us, they will simply remain as confused, contradictory, mysteries. It is interesting that Jesus does not only say that these truths must be revealed but he actually thanks God that He has not revealed them unto the wise and prudent. God actively hides the truth from some and reveals it to others. Some have their eyes opened, and some remain blind.

 

We can’t expect to convince anyone of the truth of the scriptures through natural reason. It can’t be done. We are born blind to the truth, and the Bible remains an incomprehensible jumble of words to us until someone takes our blindness away. Why? Because “the world by wisdom knew not God”, as quoted above. Some may reject the word of God, and cite the apparent mystery and confusion as their reason for unbelief, seeking to follow, perhaps the evidence of science, in which they vainly seek for truth. But the reality is that it isn’t their confusion which leads them to unbelief – the fact is they began in unbelief! It is man’s unbelief and spiritual blindness which prevents him from understanding the Bible aright. Man starts off not seeing the truth, being blind to it, and the more he studies the Bible, in his wisdom, the less it makes sense and the more he rejects it. We’re all the same – we just can’t comprehend it by our own wisdom – the Bible makes that very point! I was no different.

We all begin blind….. but I thank God that he took my blindness away, and for that reason I am compelled, at the very least, to declare plainly to others that the Bible IS TRUE, that what it says of Christ is TRUE, and that the things it speaks of are realities. How do I know? Because God took my blindness away and made me see!

Now, my reader, I can’t take your blindness away. I can’t. I could try to answer any objection you might raise against the scriptures, but even if I presented rock-tight, sound, convincing arguments and reasons for the apparent ‘conflicts’  or mysteries which you may list, it wouldn’t convince you or anyone else of the truth, unless God the Spirit took the truth and opened your eyes to see it. Just like talking to a blind man about the colours of the trees… you can talk all you like, but nothing makes sense. But give him sight and show him the trees however…. And he knows in an instant.

However… I expect some reading this may well have heard all these things before, all this about blindness and the need of the Spirit to reveal truth….. and you probably will find it very frustrating and annoying, because it leaves us entirely dependant upon God taking our blindness away. If naturally we are blind to the truth, and we just can’t see it…. Then what can we do?

 

Well… nothing. Nothing but ask God to give us sight! To give us understanding.

But what if He doesn’t? What if God leaves us like Esau who sought for repentance but never found it? Repentance, metanoia, is really to do with a change of thinking, or understanding of the truth. Esau sought it but never found it. He was “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” 2 Timothy 3:7. What if God leaves us like that? Blind…. Always studying, reading the Bible, reading books about religion…. But never seeing it as anything but confused, conflicting history, or fables?

Is that fair…? Well… why not? What does God owe us? Why should he open our eyes? What have we ever done for Him? He gives us health, food, water… life itself, and what do we do with it? Indulge it upon our own desires, lusts, greed, ambition and selfish gain. At times we ask a few questions, at times we wonder if there is a God (as if creation itself doesn’t tell us that fact every day! Romans 1:20), and at times we wonder about religion…. But what is that in return to a God who has given us everything? We give Him nothing, yet seem to expect Him to give us everything.

But thank God that He DOES give sight to the blind. Despite their rebellion and selfishness. Despite their pride in their own intellect and ability to search out the truth….. nevertheless…. Despite that He DOES heal the blind and give them sight. He did it for me…  and all I can say, is like the blind man in John 9….

“Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”

Will any of this convince others who are blind? No… not unless God the Spirit takes the truth of what is said and opens the eyes to see. But He has, and He does….

Now consider a question we raised at the start. Why are the two accounts of Creation in Genesis different? Well, they are intentionally different. One is entirely figurative of Christ, the Second Man, the Last Adam, and as such contains no record of the fall of man. The second is the narrative in which man’s fall into sin is described. The differences are quite intentional and bring out many deep truths regarding Jesus Christ and His salvation of sinners. Given time one could expand much further, but would the answer alone convince a blind man? Only if the Spirit opened the eyes to see… For ultimately only the Spirit can open the eyes, and He does that through the preaching of the Gospel.

 

What Gospel is that? … Have a listen to How shall man be just with God?

 

“Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 2 Peter 1:15-17

Something has washed up on the shores of our churches in the last few decades which has all but carried the people away with its cheerful promise. This apparent treasure trove from the sea comes in many forms and guises, but all with certain similar features. Several words may describe it: Contemporary worship, Community churches, Charismatic leaders, Choruses, Clapping, Celebrations, Choirs, Courses (Alpha of course), Confusing Chatter….Constant change… And the resultant effects of chaos and confusion.

Known as the Charismatic Movement, with its ebbs and flows it is full of ‘C’s, emphasises what you see, and, to be plain, is all at sea… bobbing on the ever-changing waters of ‘Hope’, sailing upon the ‘High Cs’, looking for ‘New Frontiers’ to appear in an ‘Emergent Church’, all aboard on the ‘Good Ship Vineyard’ where you’re as likely to contract ‘T.B’ (or the Toronto Blessing) as you are to ‘Catch the vision’ of a ‘New Perspective’…..

But in the midst of all this pioneering and cheerful camaraderie, when one takes up a Bible and compares the truth as God has delivered it in the scriptures and as revealed by His Spirit, with what is done and said in these contemporary 21st century temples of worship, several questions must inevitably come to mind: What has happened to the faithful preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the resting in the knowledge that it is the preaching of the cross by which God is pleased to save sinners (1 Corinthians 1)? Where is the sound of the truth, the continual proclamation of that message described as “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3)? Where is that preaching which convicts of sin and brings in a broken and a contrite spirit, with which sinners are led to the feet of the Saviour? Where the taking up of one’s cross, and the suffering of persecution for righteousness sake? Where the preaching of “Christ and him crucified”, who died for sinners, as according to the scriptures, the Just for the unjust, a substitutionary sacrifice in the place of those people chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1)? Where the clear declaration of the Sovereignty of God in salvation in saving all those whom He predestinated unto eternal life? Where is that powerful, Spirit-filled preaching which brings in that awe and reverence before a Holy God which so characterised the preaching of the Gospel in days gone by? …..Where are these things?    

Perhaps you attend such a church, one that is ‘modern, relevant, changing with the times, reaching out to the community’? Perhaps your experience of ‘Christianity’ is that purveyed by such contemporary ‘worship’ as has become so common in this day and age. Then, my reader, I encourage you to take a moment to “consider your ways” and especially to consider the ways of the ‘churches’ which speak so much of a Jesus and so much of a spirit which have so little to do with the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God as set forth in the Gospel by the word of God (2 Corinthians 11:4). Take a moment to heed a warning. It is not my desire to find fault here, but it is my desire to point you towards the truth, to point you towards Jesus Christ the Saviour of sinners and to point you towards that preaching of the Gospel which alone is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).

For the truth is, that devoid of the Gospel, rather than bringing to a sure and certain hope, the ships of the Charismatic Movement will lead their jolly, but entranced, travellers into troubled waters and certain spiritual death and destruction. Many are those who have been led to shipwreck upon such voyages, led along as it were as children following the Pied Piper. But the faithful preaching of the Gospel of Christ, as according to the scriptures, declares of salvation by that Jesus, that Joshua, who leads His people through the waters of death dry-shod! (Joshua 3:17) Not by their works, not by the exercise of their own will, not by worked up sentiment or emotion – but by free and sovereign grace! By the eternal electing purpose of God. He does it! He saves! And He saves… by the preaching of the word of truth.

This is that preaching which declares unto man what he really is. It tells him who God really is. It tells him the consequences of sin, and the eternal states of both the sheep and the goats. This preaching convicts of sin, it convinces men of righteousness and of judgment – and it points the guilty sinner to a Saviour who took away sin by His one sacrifice for sin for ever. This is that preaching which declares the Redeemer, even Jesus Christ… and Him Crucified.

But is this the preaching you hear in the ‘churches’ today? Is this the Gospel you know? That Gospel which the Spirit of God really preaches? That Spirit with whom all of God’s people are baptised when born again, not by their decision, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” John 1:13. That Gospel which points fallen, guilty, sinners to God, the Saviour of sinners. That Gospel which is “to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” 1 Corinthians 1:18. That Gospel which is preached, for “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

Have you heard this Gospel preached? My reader, if salvation lies in this Gospel, and none other, if salvation is found in Jesus Christ and none other, then these aren’t questions to be trifled with. The rest of our eternal souls depends upon it. Do we know the truth or not? Do we believe the Gospel or not? Is the ‘Jesus’ we know truly the Christ of the scriptures, who came into this world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15)?  

If it be true – and it is true – that “the truth shall set you free” then it is vital that we ask ourselves the question – do we know the truth? Indeed, where is truth?

Well, I would not leave you without hope. I am not out to point out faults, but to point the way to the One who is the Truth (John 14:6). So I urge you my reader, compare what is said and done in these Charismatic Chambers of Confusion with the Clarion Call of the Gospel of God’s free grace in Christ Jesus, that word of truth as can be read and heard here:

Where is Truth?

Free Grace Radio

The Gospel of God

www.graceandtruthonline.com

And may the Lord be pleased to lead into all truth – that truth as it is in Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of His Name.

Amen.

Have a listen to this excellent message on Romans 3:20-21 which was preached recently by Gary Shepard of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, Jacksonville, NC.
 
Justified Without The Law (Romans 3:20-21) Gary Shepard
The messages from the South West Sovereign Grace Conference 2008 are now available online to listen to.
Tuesday April 1st:
Freewill or Freegrace (Don Fortner)
Wednesday April 2nd:
Our thanks to all those who attended the conference and helped make it such an encouragment and blessing as fellowship was shared with many of God’s people. But above all, we give thanks to our Sovereign God for His great goodness in blessing the conference held in Sidmouth and attending the preaching of His word with such power.

 

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

In writing to the people of God the apostle Paul declared, ‘For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich’, 2 Corinthians 8:9. In this he states very clearly that they know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, not that they are ignorant of it, but that they have been made recipients of it as manifested in their experience. Thus the child of God can never truly say, ‘O that I knew’, but – despite doubts, fears and trials which necessarily appear in the way – ‘I know.’

Paul himself could write, ‘I know whom I have believed’, and it came with a persuasion that his Saviour was able to ‘keep that which I have committed unto him against that day’, 2 Timothy 1:12. Paul had committed his whole being for time and eternity into the safe-keeping hands of Christ, fully persuaded that therein, and therein alone was safety. And this persuasion, as well as having come by the witness of the Spirit, Romans 8:16, was also strengthened by his ‘counting’, Philippians 3:7,8, his thinking, pondering and ‘meditating’, as Psalm 1:2, upon the truths of the gospel, how they had been, and were being wrought out in him, and therefore of his standing in Christ, regardless of how he might be feeling at any given time. Paul’s confidence in Christ was that it was found in Christ and not in himself. The grace wherein he stood was ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Paul did not trust in his own faith, his own repentance, his own natural bent towards the things of God, but in Christ alone.

Now although the saving grace of Christ was especially manifest in Paul – for the unique work that he was called to do in the history of the church – yet this same grace was manifest in all the saints of God, and indeed had to be, for without the grace of God in Christ salvation could not be brought to any man, Titus 2:11. So the apostle writes that all God’s people ‘know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’, just as he did, for this knowledge, again, was vital to give assurance of eternal life. Jesus had declared that eternal life was to know the Father and the Son, John 17:3, actually to know Them in Their very Persons. No vague notions of God here; no agnosticism; no doubts regarding God and His Christ could be found in the way of salvation, it was ‘ye know.’ God’s grace brings with it certainty and assurance; it comes with power and unequivocally educates its recipients, to a greater or lesser degree, of their sure standing in Christ. And how can it be otherwise? For the Spirit of God whose work it is to reveal these things in the elect is true almighty God Himself! And is His power to work effectually anything less than omnipotent? No. There is no room for longing sighs accompanied by ‘O that…’s when the Spirit has brought salvation to one of His own.

Barnabas, the son of consolation, went to Antioch to see the great number which had believed and turned to the Lord, and when he came he saw the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, with purpose of heart that they should cleave unto the Lord; and said such as one full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, Acts 11:20-24. What had Barnabas seen? The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ manifested in the lives of the believers. That is, it was evident that the grace of Christ was upon them and that they knew it. We are not told of levels of attainment reached in their experience, not of great manifestations necessarily, but of substance. It may have been little more than a spark in some, but it was there, and by the Holy Ghost and in faith Barnabas saw it and felt no restraint in encouraging them in it.

Now there is a line of teaching which says that one should constantly be examining and questioning every hint of grace that one might discover in their experience. Whereas it is good and right, for fear of presumption – Psalm 19:13, Matthew 7:13-27, to ‘examine ourselves whether we be in the faith’ – and all of God’s people will be led of the Spirit at times to ‘give diligence to make their calling and election sure’ – yet such over examination to the nth degree can lead one into despair as they will always find within themselves thoughts, desires, carnality and failings which will cause them severely to question whether God could indeed ‘dwell here.’ Also this excessive inward-looking will eventually turn the eyes of faith away from Christ to whom God’s people are constantly to look: ‘looking unto Jesus’, Hebrews 12:1-3.

No, but there is a point at which the child of God can confidently say – and their confidence is in the power, witness and anointing of God, 1 John 2:20,27 – that, despite ‘every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset them’, ‘nevertheless… I know.’ As I have said, it cannot be any other way, otherwise the power of God in working and applying His salvation in His people must be severely questioned and doubted, and what a hopeless foundation is that to build upon! if anything can be built upon it.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is something known. His work is sufficient to produce the confession, ‘I know.’ But how can we know? By being brought to realise that we have become rich! ‘…that ye through his poverty might be rich.’ Paul says in this verse that the fruit of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in His people is that they are made rich. What riches are these? Worldly riches? No. Rich in a ‘calm and heavenly frame’? Alas, not always. O, the plague of the heart! the burden of indwelling sin! the proneness to wander and grow cold! the assaults of the evil one remain more or less till we breathe our last, and that easily besetting sin will go on thwarting us.

For one to be made rich it is obvious that, before, they were poor. The first blessing which comes to the child of God in their experience is that which relates to their ‘poverty of spirit’, Matthew 5:3. Unless we have been taught of God our spiritual poverty before Him, of our total inability truly to incline ourselves – in thought, desire, intent or will – God-ward, then no other spiritual blessings can follow regardless of what we say we believe. We have broken His law, and thus are debtors, but we have nothing with which to pay. We rebel against Him constantly; every imagination of our thoughts is only evil continually; we love, naturally, everything He hates, and despise everything He counts good. Whereas this is true of all men only those taught so of God in their experience discover and mourn over their ‘poverty of spirit’ before Him, John 6:45.

But is this really the beginning of the blessedness of the child of God? that which relates only to our experience? No, certainly not. Made rich? Our riches are primarily to be found in our standing before God in Christ; in our standing as He sees us and not always as we see ourselves, Colossians 2:10. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, although experienced, has not begun in our receiving it; it has been toward us in Him from all eternity, Ephesians 1. One of the fruits of the grace of God toward His people is His love, as He has said, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore…’ because of that ‘…I have drawn thee’, revealing my love to thee by bestowing upon thee my grace which ‘ye know.’

The covenant which God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – entered into in Himself from all eternity is a covenant of grace freely to be bestowed upon, and surely to be known by all His people in time. The grace of God in the covenant is that which is manifest to and known assuredly by all who receive it. This work of eternity cannot be frustrated by any thing of time; not by time, nor by devils or men, no, nor by the sinful hearts and natural inclinations of the wills of men. It is the grace of God which He purposes to bring to all His people to their definite acknowledgement of it, Ephesians 3:1-12. He says, ‘I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ Literally, of course, what God says is, ‘I, their God; they, my people.’

Accompanying the eternal love of God toward His people in this covenant, which existed before they were made recipients of this saving ‘knowledge’, is His predestinating and electing grace. God has chosen out of mankind a multitude of individuals to whom He is determined to be gracious. They were chosen in His Son as their covenant head and given to Him to redeem in time at the cross. And at Calvary their salvation was accomplished, as Christ there said, “It is finished.”

Again, the grace of God is accompanied by His determination to be merciful to them. Surely one of the most beautiful words that God ever uttered regarding His people are these: ‘I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more’, Hebrews 8:12. He will be merciful to whom He will be merciful. The grace of God will always bring mercy. When one is brought to cry to God for mercy – that is for free, undeserved, unwarranted, hitherto unsoughtafter, unobtainable, life saving mercy, with the acknowledgement that it can only come and be bestowed if God will – then that one will receive true mercy and never before, Luke 18:13,14. Mercy is given freely to a sinner when he has nothing to pay, yes, and not until he has given up all efforts to pay with any scrap of supposed righteousness he thinks he can produce or find in himself. Not until he is at the end of self, of hope, of self-effort will he cry, and will God be merciful to him in bestowing His grace. And then, presently, the recipient will ‘know’ the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, as received, Luke 7:41,42.

But what is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? Well, look at the manger in Bethlehem. Who is there? He that was rich and who has become poor! The eternal Son of God. ‘When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman…’, Galatians 4:4. He who was rich in the glories of heaven, the creator of all things, including the angels of heaven who constantly sound His praises, He, the eternally only begotten omnipotent Son of God in His divine nature, He became poor, became a man, a child, a babe, being made in the likeness of sinful flesh! He was a man. In very nature a man as well as being in very nature God – two natures, yet one Person. O, Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh! Philippians 2:5-11.

Yea, what a mystery! Behold the man! He grew in wisdom and stature as a man. He hungered, thirsted, and tired like a man. He learned obedience, was prone to trials and tribulations like men who live solely to please the Father. Jesus was a man of prayer who was often found wrestling in prayer like men of faith. He was like a man in all points, yet, uniquely as a man, without sin, not knowing sin, having no nature that could beget actual sins; and yet made like unto His brethren: surrounded by, walking amidst, harassed by, troubled over, suffering at the hands of, sin, in all its manifestations in men, Matthew 17:17.

He who had enjoyed the unsullied glories of heaven from all eternity, rich beyond comprehension, became poor; poor in the struggles of daily existence, poor in His frequent need of rest and sleep, cp. Psalm 121:4, poor in His self restriction of being in one place at one time – He, ‘the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity’! Jesus Christ the righteous who suffered at the hands of wicked men; poor in His total refusal ‘when he was reviled, not to revile again; and when he suffered, not to threaten’, that is, to ‘stand up for Himself’ when sinners mocked, scourged, spat upon Him; when they despised, rejected, denied and betrayed Him – the Lord of glory! humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross! Yea, “they pierced my hands and my feet.” Death? But how could the sinless man die? Only thus: by ‘giving his life a ransom for many’! O, what poverty He suffered: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Is there greater poverty than separation from God? But ‘for your sakes he became poor.’ Psalm 22.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? Again, look at Calvary. Look, if you can, into those three eternal hours of darkness which He endured upon the cross. Nay, who can look therein. His grace? Where is your sin child of God? Your nature? There. He was made sin for us. Where, sinner, is your blood sacrifice to bear away your sins? There upon the cross: ‘Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.’ But it is a blood sacrifice given by God! not by you: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ It pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief…’ It is your sins, ye that rebel against God, your sins that are being dealt with, but not in you, in Him, the substitute, your substitute. “God”, say His people, “hath laid on him the iniquity of us all!” Yea, ‘he hath put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.’ Isaiah 53, Hebrews 9,10.

Where is the justice of God? There at the cross. Sin is rightly being dealt with in holy wrath, hatred and righteousness; yea, the righteousness of God, the righteousness of the law is being meted out upon sin, and free justification is being brought in by the blood of the cross. An Innocent, Jesus Christ, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and in His very nature separate from sinners, is being made sin, and bearing the punishment for the sins of the guilty – God’s way of doing things (it would never be ours) – and if that sin is not dealt with in Him then it must be borne by you for all eternity. What is that? Why, It is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, being made poor, that ye, through his poverty might be rich! O, Rejoice! Rejoice1

Here are riches indeed; the rich fruit of the work of the cross; of His poverty. ‘Ye’ are rich in forgiveness of sins received, rich in liberty from the power of sin in having died with Christ, being reckoned dead to a condemning, cursing law – which has nothing more to say to, nor command, the dead. Rich in a free salvation having been fully wrought out – again, “It is finished.” Rich in the gift of the Holy Spirit to regenerate, indwell, convict, convince, teach, show, and apply all the things which Christ has accomplished for you, in you. Rich in life, life from the dead; saith Christ, “I am the resurrection and the life… I was dead, and, behold, I am alive for ever more”, and ye in Him! Ephesians 2:5,6. Yea, eternal life freely bestowed in Christ, 1 John 5:20. Rich in that there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; who are found, as having received these riches, not walking after the flesh, but after the Spirit; why? For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made them free from the law of sin and death! Romans 8:1,2. Rich in access to God the Father at all times through the mediator, the high priest, by His shed and sprinkled blood, to justify freely, redeem and cleanse, who ever liveth to make intercession for you. Yea, ‘being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’; ‘being justified by his blood‘ alone. O, the riches of His grace!

Abundant riches! Peace with God by the blood of the cross of Christ, peace when there was war! Hope, a good hope – not a little hope – through grace. A purged and clear, good and pure conscience, void of offence toward God and man. The riches of an overcoming faith – the faith of the Son of God who has overcome all things. Not the perverse ‘name-it-claim-it’ pseudo-faith, but the faith of God’s elect exercised in “Ask and ye shall receive, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” John 11:40.

Believest thou this? “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?” Have faith in God! The riches of faith beyond our imagination. ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ Well, will He not? ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ Do you love Him? That love will only be true if it is the fruit of His love manifest to you in the bestowing of His grace.

O, cease from seeking salvation, mercy, forgiveness, repentance, faith, peace, joy, and fulness outside of the realms of His grace. Paul honestly confessed, ‘For to me to live is Christ’, how? why? Because he knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though Christ was rich, yet for Paul’s sake He became poor, that Paul, through His poverty, might be rich.

Now dear reader, are you thus rich?

Andrew Dibble.

 

The Gospel of Christ reveals the righteousness of God. Indeed it is this revelation of righteousness in the Gospel which gives it its power to save. Yet, many, remain confused about just what the righteousness of God is.

Was righteousness manifested at the cross, or was it wrought by the works of the law?

For answers to such important questions, read the following excellent article by William Kelly on this vital matter: The Righteousness of God: What is it?

How is the believer dead to the world when he lives in the world, works a regular job, raises a family, and owns property in the world?’ A young student asked his Bible teacher. The teacher sent him out to the gravesite of a friend with instructions to criticize the dead friend, harass him, and find fault, and then praise him with glowing terms and brag on him to excess. Upon his return, the teacher asked, ‘What did your friend say when you criticized him?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘How did he react when you praised him?’ ‘It made no difference to him; he is dead!’ ‘That is what it means to be dead to this world,’ said the teacher. Its applause means nothing and its hatred means nothing. We neither admire the people of this world nor do we fear them. The riches of this world are but the fancy of fools, and the honors of this world mean little or nothing; for to be a child of God is the highest calling. The religious traditions and ceremonies of the world have no attraction nor meaning when Christ is all! That which was once important to us we now consider loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, our Lord. This spiritual life in Christ cannot be explained; it must be experienced.
Henry Mahan