Inward Things 1

As salvation is in its whole nature the inward birth and life of Christ in the believer, so nothing but this “new creature in Christ” can bear true witness to the realities of redemption. Therefore a man, however expert in all Scripture doctrines and learning, can only talk about the gospel as of any talk he has been told, until the life of Christ has been brought forth, verified, fulfilled, and enjoyed through the power of the Holy Spirit in his soul. No one can know the truth of salvation by a mere rational consent to that which is historically said of Christ. Only by an inward experience of His cross, death, and resurrection can the saving power of the gospel be known. For the reality of Christ’s redemption is not in fleshly, finite, outward things—much less in verbal descriptions of them—but is a birth, a life, a spiritual operation, which as truly belongs to God alone as does His creative power. (William Law)

The methods of Bible study, of doctrine, of preaching, and of all things related to Christianity are touched on in this statement above. The core issue has to do with the nature of truth and of the Gospel as to whether they are outward or inward. This is a vital, vital point in true Christianity versus the external Christianity. It also touches on whether the focus should be on the invisible Church or the visible church, at least to the degree of the focus. It is so vital to how we view the Gospel and the nature of salvation. It has a lot to do with how we view the work of the Spirit and of evangelism.

While most of the religious world (outward Christendom, professing Church) thinks that if we believe the facts of the Gospel we will be saved, this is not the biblical position. An intellectual belief that some basic facts are true is nothing more than the devil and his demons have. They have the facts and they know that those facts are true. This is one of the hardest things to get across to religious people who are moral, orthodox (to some degree), and perhaps very strict in their religious beliefs. The facts of the Gospel are not the Gospel itself. The facts about Christ are not the same thing as Christ Himself. Believing the facts of the Gospel is not the same thing as believing the Gospel when the Spirit of the living God has brought life into the soul. Living a moral life (even one guided by Christian standards, whatever that may mean to each person) is not the same thing as living the Christ life. Imitating Christ is not the same thing as having the life of Christ in the soul.

The religious person, even if that person is an erudite scholar of the Bible, apart from the new birth cannot taste or really know the things of God. The erudite scholar can give us a lot of information about the Bible and information of the things of the Bible, but only those who have been born from above can speak to the spiritual realities of the changing power of the Gospel. If the Gospel is indeed the Gospel of Christ, then a person must have been turned from self and pride (crucified to self) and have Christ as his or her life. While this perhaps simple believer may not have all the learning of the unconverted scholar, this person has knowledge of the Gospel that the unconverted scholar can never have apart from conversion.

The preacher of the “Gospel” can preach with much motion and some feeling, but that can come from nothing but the flesh. The preacher who has much knowledge can give facts about the Gospel, but what is needed is a preacher who has tasted and knows that the Lord is good. The preacher can then not only give the historical facts, but can relate how the Lord tastes (as such) and preach the experience of these things. The preacher who has been taught of God can give more than words, but now he can preach with power of spiritual realities. As long as preachers stick with the doctrines and words alone, they will have no true power and no spiritual fruit. They will only describe things to the physical man and preaching to the inward man will be neglected or even forgotten.

We have plenty of external “preaching” and external moral lectures. We have plenty of professing churches that would fit with the Pharisees (in a way) or with the libertines. But what we are missing is preaching with power to the inward man. This can only happen when a man has tasted free-grace and will be satisfied with nothing less in preaching this to others. As a man cannot speak about the taste of honey unless he has tasted it, so a man cannot preach about free-grace unless he has tasted free-grace. A man cannot preach on what a broken heart is unless he has had a broken heart. A man cannot preach about the conviction of the Spirit unless the Spirit has convicted him. True Christianity has gone begging because men will not taste of truth before they try to preach it which fits with the things of God being limited to external things. Christianity is life and not just external things.

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