Christ Preparing our Hearts 34

Be persuaded that your soul is far more valuable to you than the whole world and there are only two places (heaven and hell) that you will spend all eternity in.

The work of regeneration being of absolute necessity unto salvation, it greatly concerns ministers especially, in all ways possible, to promote the same; and in particular that they guide souls aright who are under a work of preparation. There are some who deny any necessity of the preparatory work of the Spirit of God in order to a closing with Christ. This is a very dark cloud, both as it is an evidence that men do not have the experience of that work in their own souls, and as it is a sign that such men are utterly unskillful in guiding others who are under this work. If this work should prevail in the land, it would give a deadly wound to religion. It would expose men to think of themselves as converted when they are not. (Solomon Stoddard, A Guide to Christ)

The idea of this particular strain of thought is that Christ prepares the hearts of sinners to be converted, which is also to say that Christ prepares the hearts of sinners for Himself and for Himself to dwell in. Salvation is not primarily about the welfare of sinners, but it is primarily about the glory of God in salvation and the continuing manifestation of His glory in and through His people. An unbroken and unhumbled heart is not ready to be converted as that heart has no real idea of what it means to be a sinner and as such no idea of what salvation really is. It is utterly frightening to hear ministers who think of themselves as Reformed calling upon men to believe the Gospel when they have not preached a Gospel. These same ministers will tell men that they must believe and yet they will not declare to these men that they cannot believe apart from the grace of regeneration. These ministers will not tell men that their hearts need to be convinced of sin and broken from all hope in self before they are converted. Men must be broken from trust in self before they will ever look to Christ alone. This is self-evident.

If Stoddard was and is right about the lack of teaching men that their hearts needed preparation by the Holy Spirit is a deadly wound to religion, then there is no wonder that Christianity is so weak in our day. It is true that there are plenty of buildings around with “Christian” on the sign and plenty of educated men (educated in something) standing behind pulpits who are declaring certain things with the name “Christ” on their lips, but the Gospel seems to virtually be gone. There is a plethora of Bibles, DVD’s, and all sorts of helps in all differing kinds of media. But the Gospel is not being preached. But again, there may be a lot of things being taught and some even use the name “Jesus” some, but that is a far different thing than preaching the Gospel and what precedes the Gospel.

If the Lord Jesus does not teach the heart Himself, it is not taught. If He does not teach the ministers, they are not taught even if they have several degrees from the best schools in the land. It is absolutely necessary for the soul to be humbled or the soul is not even ready to understand grace much less receive it. It is absolutely necessary for the soul to be broken from pride as the proud in heart will never receive grace or Christ as Lord. It is absolutely necessary for the soul to be broken from self and the love of self or it will never be united to Christ and love Christ with all of its strength and being. The command to love God with all of our being is a command not to love self with any of our being but out of a love for Him. The command to love God with all of our being is a command to be broken from the reign and rule of self-love. Oh how our vile hearts love self and do all things for self, even trying to convince ourselves that we believe in Christ. We can believe that God savingly loves us out of love for self rather than for biblical reasons. But again, this exposes men to think that they are converted when they are not.

Christ prepares hearts for Himself by using preaching. Faithful preaching will try to expose the hearts of men to themselves and of their utter inability to do anything spiritual apart from Christ, though it must be admitted that it is Christ alone who can use that preaching to pierce and break the hearts of men from love of self and pride. Will King Jesus dwell in a heart that is full of hatred toward Him which all hearts that are governed by pride have? Can we really even think that the kingdom of God dwells in the heart when that heart is really guided by and reigned over by the kingdom of self? How can we even think that we are preaching the Gospel of free-grace alone unless we are pointing out to sinners how helpless they are apart from Christ and His grace? How can we think we are preaching grace alone when we are not pointing out to sinners that their pride opposes His grace? The work of Christ is to break hearts and save sinners to the glory of His name. He uses preaching as an instrument to do so.

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