Inward Things 2

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 quote above sets out quite nicely the failure of the outward man, regardless of education or sincerity, the issue of the Gospel and true salvation. It would appear that so many in our day are deceived, but one way people are deceived is that they are externally religious without the true and inward conversion and power. When Law says above that “no one can know the truth of salvation by a mere rational consent to that which is historically said of Christ,” without knowing it he severely denounces a vast amount of evangelism and so-called conversions in our day. He also severely denounces preaching in our day.

It sure seems that the vast amount of evangelism and preaching strive to convince a person that s/he needs to believe something and if that something is believed the person will be saved. That is categorically false. It is true that a person must believe certain things, but a person must also be made a new creature in Christ Jesus in order to truly believe or to (shall we say) spiritually believe. In the words of Jesus as given us in John 3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God and then “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (v. 3 & 6).

It is easy for the natural man to read the Bible in a natural way and come up with a natural interpretation which means that the person ends up with a natural view of Christianity. This is one reason why so many people don’t see a lot of difference between Christianity and some of the pagan religions. If you just interpret the Bible in accordance with the natural man, then you miss the spiritual truth and the truth of Christ and His Spirit. This is precisely what happens so much in our day. The work of the scholar may be important and even necessary, but let us at least come to the strong realization that the work of the Holy Spirit is vastly more important and vastly more necessary. The rational consent to the truths of the Bible is entirely possible apart from salvation, which is clearly seen in that the devil knows the truths of the Bible and knows that that they are true. Knowing the truth of the Bible, even at a deep and scholarly level, is nothing more than the devil can know.

The life of God in the soul of man is the real issue in the conversion of a soul and not just agreeing or accepting that certain things are true. This life of God in the soul is the life of God in the soul by Christ which is also the life of Christ in the soul by His Spirit. We must never fall away from the great truth that true Christianity is about being one with Christ and then that life of Christ being lived in and through His people. Christianity is not about external moralism, intellectual teachings, or even doctrine. Christianity is about Christ and the life of Christ being lived in and through His people. It is only when Christ is the life of the soul by His Spirit is there true morality (of the heart), true thinking of the mind, and true doctrine that reaches the soul.

The Gospel is not just information and not just some truth that is founded in history, though indeed it is rooted in history. However, the truth of the Gospel is not just some truth to be known about; it is truth that Christ must work in the soul. Evangelism is not just about telling people the truth of the historical Christ, it is also the truth of the living and resurrected Christ who must really and actually (in time) save sinners from the wrath of God, the bondage of the devil, the bondage of sin, and the death of self. It is one thing to speak about regeneration, but it is the work of God alone to actually carry out this work of regeneration in the soul. It is one thing to speak of sin, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin. It is not just some external conviction that the Spirit carries out in the soul, but it is teaching people in the depths of the soul that they are sinners in the presence of a thrice holy God. Jesus said He came to save sinners. We can believe that is true and yet be a sinner not saved. We must really be saved and only Jesus can really and actually accomplish that in us.

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