The Glory of God 44

An attribute of God must be determined from what He is within Himself rather than judged by our own standards. God is the standard of Himself and of all things.

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

The self-sufficiency of God gives a beautiful view of God and how it is that the Gospel is of Christ alone and grace alone. The self-sufficiency of God gives us the basis (in some respects) of free-grace and how it is that grace must be free or it is not grace. But something must happen in the hearts of men for them to desire grace and then to receive grace. The hearts of men are born full of self and pride and as such their hearts are opposed to free-grace and their need of a Savior to save them to the uttermost. Since God only gives grace to the humble and men are proud and full of self, something must change their hearts or they will always stand opposed to grace. The natural man hates free-grace though he does not mind a little help if he needs it, but the idea of needing to be saved from even the best that he can do is something his pride cannot and will not accept. The biblical teaching that even the very best of our works (man’s works of righteousness) are as filthy rags is hateful to the proud.

The Gospel is of free-grace alone and the only works allowed are those by Jesus the Christ. Jesus, who is the sufficiency of God, will only save sinners when He is sufficient and nothing that man does is sufficient for the slightest addition to the sufficiency of God in Christ. While pride is the puffing up of self, humility is being emptied of self. Only those who are emptied of self will be emptied of pride and as such will look to grace alone for salvation. One pastor reported a member of his church as saying this: “If Jesus came one million miles to save me, that last inch is mine.” That was a man who refused the full sufficiency of Christ and wanted some little part reserved for himself, but of course that little part was far more than he thought. It was control of when he would accept Christ (so to speak). That was a man who did not know his own heart or the sufficiency of God in Christ, which means that instead of looking to free-grace he looked to himself. His heart was not changed.

Matthew 18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

In Matthew 18 the disciples did as they did on several occasions, they wanted to know who was the greatest. This was a question among them because each of them wanted to be the greatest. Jesus took this particular opportunity to teach them and all who were to follow a basic truth. That basic truth is that a person must be turned by God and become like a child in order to even enter the kingdom. The person that has not become like a child will not enter the kingdom. The heart of man must be changed from one that is seeking greatness to that of a small child which receives all from another. All that a small child can possibly do is to receive from others, so all that a man with a changed heart can do is to receive grace without trying to earn it or use it to be great in the eyes of others.

The teaching of Christ in Matthew 18 can be looked at in a few different ways, but one thing that is very clear is that the heart of man must be changed by another (God) from proud and self-seeking to a humble heart that receives all from another. This is what must happen to the heart of proud man or he will forever hate free-grace. God must change that heart and He alone can change the heart from being proud to being humble. The Lord Jesus Christ and His free-grace cannot be received by a proud heart and a proud heart despises free-grace as well. In the marvel of the passage above we can see that not only are sinners saved by free-grace, but free-grace must change the heart to where it will even desire free-grace. Oh how men must not despise the self-sufficiency of God and look to their own sufficiency. Instead, men should look to the sufficiency of God alone to change their heart and make them willing for free-grace in the day of His power.

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