Friday, September 20, 2013

Applications of the Truth that the Just Shall Live by Faith, part 2--“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 25

How truly “blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”  How truly “blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:7-8)!  Oh Christian, marvel in the blessedness of the forgiveness of your sins.  They were innumerable, and each of them an infinite evil, but now they are all gone.  You were black, but Christ has made you white.  You were pressing down to hell under an intolerable weight of transgression, but Jesus Christ has forever removed your load.  You were in bondage, but Christ has made you free.  You were certain of everlasting torment, but Christ endured all that torment for you, so that you might enter into inconceivable and eternal blessedness.  And not only so, but the Lord Jesus has brought you into an intimate union with Himself, and with God through Him.  Say to yourself, “How can it be that I have been brought into union with Jesus Christ—that infinitely lovely and precious One?  Oh, what am I, that the God of glory, the Creator of the heaven and earth, God the Father, Son, and Spirit, would reveal Himself to me—to me, who would not, of myself, take even the smallest step towards Him!  And not reveal Himself only, but in Christ suffer the shame, the bitterness, and the torment of the cross, to bring my wretched soul to Himself!”  Yes, Christian, because of God’s mere grace alone—not of yourself, not of your works, not of your striving, not of your preparation for grace, not of anything you ever did, have done, or will do, you have been brought into union with the Lord Jesus Christ.  How you ought to treasure the fact of this union, and glory in Him with whom you have been united!  How you ought to esteem and love Jesus Christ, the blessed and ever-overflowing font of all spiritual treasures, graces, and blessings that you ever have received, or ever will receive, to all eternity!  Do you do so?
Glory, then, not in your own righteousness, but in Christ and His righteousness.  All your righteousnesses are filthy rags, and all holiness imparted to you in sanctification is only and entirely a product of God’s grace, power, and love.  Indeed, you need Christ to sanctify the iniquity clinging to your very holiest things (Exodus 28:38).  You have nothing to glory in yourself.  The evidential just character of the redeemed is solely a product of Divine grace and power, and your faith is not a meritorious instrument, but simply the means through which you embrace God and receive all freely from Him.  Indeed, the more inward holiness God creates within you, the more you will see how wretched, vile and hateful you really are, and with the greater strength you will cleave to Christ and His righteousness only as your perfect standing before God. Yet notwithstanding all your unworthiness, the Lord Jehovah says to you:  “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 54:17). Have you received His priceless righteousness “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1)?  Then hearken to the Scripture:  “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).  Oh blessed imputed righteousness of Christ, the glory and the ground of exceedingly great rejoicing of the saints of all ages from the foundation of the world to today, the trust of all the spiritual sons of Abraham from the time of the conversion of that abominable idolator until today, when it becomes the perfect standing for such wretched sinners as you are!
You should earnestly strive to have God’s view of your own fleshly tendency towards self righteousness—seek to see it as the abominable and destestible wickedness that God considers it.  Also recognize the hateful and abominable character of all false religions of works-righteousness, whether Romanism, Quakerism, cults such as the Watchtower or Seventh Day Adventism, or all other systems of salvation by works and merit.  Be astonished, be horribly afraid, be overwhelmed with indignation that any would dare to exalt his own righteousness against the righteousness of the infinite Jehovah.  What rebellion, what blasphemy is this!  And, alas, oh God, what is this tendency to such self-exaltation that I see within my own fleshly heart!  Purge me, oh God, and I will be clean—wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Recognize that it is God’s blessed decree that you actually grow increasingly righteous over the course of your earthly pilgrimage, and the consummation of that creative work of righteousness is certain in the coming kingdom.  He has covenanted to perform that work in you by His own Almighty power, the same power that created the world and regenerated you.  Both the initial bestowal of faith, and the increase of faith, are supernatural gifts from God, not autonomous products of your will, and the Lord has committed Himself to work in you both to will and do of His good pleasure until the day of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, with confidence pursue the means of sanctification, recognizing that it is by such means that God will transform you.  Passionately treasure the Word.  Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate upon it, hear it preached, discuss it with others.  Reject all theologies of sanctification that deny that God produces real inward holiness within His people.  Indwelling sin is not merely to be counteracted, but progressively eradicated;  inward holiness is not just to be maintained, but to grow.  You are crucified with Christ—you are legally dead to sin, and its dominion has been shattered.  Then reckon it to be so, and strengthened by the Spirit, put to death the remnants of indwelling sin.  At the moment of your regeneration, you overcame the world—manifest that victory through ever greater conquests and desolations of your already defeated foe.  Settle for nothing less than what God has promised.  Recognize, nevertheless, that the fulness of perfect holiness will not be obtained short of your entrance into eternal rest.  How this fact should make you treasure heaven!  For the eternal dwelling of the redeemed is not just a place of peace, happiness, and freedom from pain, but of holiness—blessed, perfect, desirable, sweet, and glorious holiness—the dwelling of that Holy One who makes it so.  There you will see your Jesus, and be like Him, seeing Him as He is.  There you will be pure, even as He is pure.  There you will be fully embraced by and enter into the fellowship of the eternal Trinitarian love.  There you will enjoy, with all the purchased saints, fulness of communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for ever and ever and ever.  Let your soul cry out, “Oh come, Lord Jesus—take me, and all thy purchased pilgrims, home to be with Thee!  Or if it is not yet Thy appointed time to return, oh, how I long to be with Thee and see Thy face, not only by faith, but in full sight!  When is it, oh my Father, oh my Redeemer, that I will be forever with Thee?  Thou art all my hope, my joy, and the desire of my heart, now and for ever.”
Furthermore, the propositional and practical elements of the faith are inextricably intertwined—faithfulness includes fidelity to both.  The devils know doctrine, and a natural man can have a kind of unspiritual pleasure through an intellectual apprehension of the theological system of Scripture—a system that he, nevertheless, refuses to practice.  Mere nature can also lead others, who hate the beauty and glory of the theological system of the Bible—which to hate is to despise the mind of Christ and the Wisdom of God—to the practice of a kind of merely natural morality.  The saints must avoid both errors, and passionately embrace both the totality of the propositional revelation of Himself that their Father has commanded them to love with all their minds and the totality of the practical duties that are the necessary concommittants of true submissive assent to the Scriptural revelation.  Is your faith genuine—unfeigned, and unhypocritical?  Do you both believe and do?  Do you earnestly contend for both propositions and praxis?
            Since “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), be sure that you can act out of faith in all that you do.  Do not look for gray areas or take refuge in what is not clearly wrong, but “merely” doubtful.  Take the higher ground.  Practice only what is unquestionably right.  Stay far away from any violation of Scripture, and consider very carefully the testimony of your conscience.  You will, without any doubt, have to give an account to God one day.  If you would, in the things that pertain merely to this life, take great pains that your gold, silver, and precious stones were not stolen and replaced with wood, hay, and stubble, how much the more ought you to take heed that you do not lose eternal treasures for the sake of some doubtful and fleeting temporal pleasure?
Do you believe?  Then speak—open your mouth and preach the gospel! (2 Corinthians 4:8-13).  Is not the Lamb who was slain worthy of a greater number casting their crowns before Him?  If you believe, you will not keep silent.  Those who believe in their hearts will confess Christ with their mouths.  Does your testimony to your family, neighbors, and coworkers, evidence that you believe?  Are you going house to house preaching repentance and faith, as the first century Christians were (Acts 20:20-21; 5:42)?  Are you filling your local area with the gospel?  What are you doing so that everyone in your area—and those even to the uttermost parts of the earth—hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus?
Do you speak, because of faith, against compromise, error, and false doctrine of all kinds, or do you allow leaven to spread unchecked and unwarned about?  Do not deceive yourself into thinking that your silence, your refusal to follow the practice of Christ and the Apostles in specifically identifying, marking, warning about, and separating from all false teachers and false teaching is generosity, kindness, a friendly spirit, charitableness, or any other good thing.  No, God’s view of your silence is very different.  His view is that you are a faithless rebel and a coward.  If you would follow the Apostolic example, you will speak, because you believe.  You will boldly, unashamedly, and purely set forth all the truth, without adding or taking away anything.  That is living by faith—and that is true love.

This post is part of the complete study here.


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