Gospel of Grace Alone 34

You say you cannot believe, you cannot repent. Fitter for Christ if you have nothing but sin and misery. God to Christ with all our impenitence and unbelief, to get faith and repentance from Him; that is glorious. Tell Christ, “Lord, I have brought no righteousness, no grace to be accepted in, or justified by; I am come for Thine, and must have it.” We would be bringing to Christ, and that must not be. Not a penny of nature’s highest improvements will pass in heaven. Grace will not stand with works (Titus 3:5; Rom 11:6). That is a terrible point to nature, which cannot think of being stripped of all, not having a rag of duty or righteousness left to look at. Thomas Willcox

Here is one point (at least) where the Gospel of grace alone shines through and sets itself apart from Arminianism (free-will) and of those who profess to be Reformed but have imbibed too much of Arminianism. The sinner that sees just how depraved (total depravity) s/he is and that s/he cannot repent and believe, realizes that faith and repentance must come from Christ as free-grace rather than coming from his or her own “free-will.” The Arminian (professing Reformed or not) will tell people that they need and even must believe (which indeed they must), but will not tell them that they cannot do it and that they must have Christ give faith and repentance to them by grace alone. This is a huge distinction between the Gospel of grace alone and all other views.

The sinner who understands that s/he has no ability to repent and believe now understands that s/he must have grace as the choice of God and that God must draw that person to Himself or that person will never come. It is grace, grace, glorious grace that must bring the sinner to Christ rather than the so-called free-will of the person, and this grace is an effectual grace and an irresistible grace. The will of the unregenerate sinner can do nothing spiritual or good and so the will of the unregenerate sinner is not effectual (completely impotent and total inability in this realm) and can do nothing apart from grace. How wonderful it is to tell the sinner and show the sinner how Christ is effectual and can give the sinner all the grace needed that the sinner needs and that the sinner can do nothing but receive this glorious grace. Sinners must look to Christ and ask Him to give them a humbled heart that will do nothing but look to grace to bring them to Christ. As Luther wrote, in something of a paraphrase, until the sinner is ready to deny his free-will the sinner is not ready to be saved. As long as sinners look to their so-called free-wills to do something they will not look to Christ and free-grace alone to do what is needed.

Sinners must see that they don’t just have an intellectual unbelief, but that they have an unbelieving heart. Their hearts are at enmity with the living God and they cannot just exercise their will and be saved. The sinner cannot just decide to be saved and so bring himself to God and say that now that s/he has decided to pray a prayer or be saved that God should save the person. Oh no, that is contrary to the Gospel of grace alone. That is contrary to the Gospel of the glory of God in Christ where all the glory and all the works and merits of salvation must come from Christ or it is something the human brings to Christ expecting to be received for. Woe to the man or the woman who comes to Christ with anything in his or her hands expecting to be received by Christ on that basis, even the slightest bit.

As Willcox points out, it is more fit that we come before Christ with nothing but our sin and misery. It is more fit in keeping with the character of Christ and the glory of God in Christ. It is far more fitting that sinners should look to Christ for faith and repentance that He purchased for them on the cross by grace alone and that it is applied to them by grace alone by the Holy Spirit. That is far more fitting for a self-sufficient God who does all for His own name and glory and is moved out of love for Himself than it is to be moved by the sinful desires and hearts of sinful men who make sinful decisions. It is far more glorious for God for sinful men to obtain salvation and all else from the hand of God by grace than it is for God to give them something because of an act of their own will. Oh how beautiful and glorious it is for sinners to look to Christ to give them faith and repentance by grace than for sinners (somehow) to overcome their own sinful natures and come up with faith from their own will and so God gives them salvation in response to that. This is a Gospel of grace alone when sinners come to God because of grace rather than their own merit or will. This is a Gospel of grace alone when sinners look to Christ alone rather than to their wills for all things.

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