Christ Preparing our Hearts 35

Come to Christ, a poor lost and undone wretch, hopeless and helpless; as to an only, able and merciful Savior. Cry out as one sinking under the waves and boisterous tempests of sin. Master save or else I perish. If Thou wilt, thou can. Say with Thomas, My Lord and my God! My Christ and my Savior! (Unknown)

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 Lord Jesus told sinners to come to Him all who were weary and heavy-laden and He would give them rest. In other words, only those who were weary and heavy-laden would come to Him. Only those who are weary and heavy-laden see and feel a real need for Him. This great truth must be driven into our hearts and it must be driven deeply. Until the soul is weary of self and sin and the soul is burdened and heavy-laden with self and sin, that soul is not ready to come to Christ as Savior and have Him as Savior alone.

We want to believe that Christ calls all people to Himself, but He does not. He calls sinners to Himself. He calls those who feel their sin and are burdened for their sin. He calls those who are so convicted of their sin that they have lost hope in all that they can do and as such they will look to Christ alone. The proud heart will look to self to trust in Christ and as such think that it depends on him or her to trust in Christ and in that way will be led to think that s/he believes in justification by faith (the faith in self and of self) alone.

We want to believe that we have the strength and ability to cast ourselves upon Christ. We desperately want something we can do in our own ability to make it more likely that we can be saved. However, we are dead in sin and by nature are children of wrath. As those dead in sin we have no ability to respond to the call of Christ unless Christ makes us alive. We must come to Christ hopeless and helpless, but we also have no ability to break out hearts from pride and self and to lose hope in self and to have no help from self. The heart is not ready to rest in Christ alone until it is not trusting in itself or anything else for any hope. The heart can have no hope in anything or anyone (including self and including its lack of hope) if it is to trust in Christ alone. The heart cannot trust in itself for any help (ability) as we can only come to Christ if we are brought to Christ. We cannot come to Christ other than in a way we are drawn to Christ by His power and we cannot come to Him in our own.

In centuries past people thought that sinners could prepare themselves by going through certain steps, but that is not the way of the Puritans and Jonathan Edwards. They taught that there was to be preparation of the soul, but that preparation was really a way for the soul to see how unprepared and how helpless it really was. The same is true in our day and will be true in all days. The soul cannot rest in Christ alone until it is finished with faith in itself. The soul cannot come to Christ until it gives up trying to bring itself to Christ in its own power and then is brought to Christ by the power of God who alone can make human beings willing in the day of His power.

It is Christ and Christ alone who can save or we will perish. This truth must be driven into the depths of our hearts. It is not just that we must know the intellectual content and agree that this is true, but we must arrive at this truth by knowing it and feeling it as Christ teaches it to us in our minds and in our hearts (experiences). The Spirit comes to convict and teach, so we can know that He must convict us if we are to be truly convicted. We should seek His convicting work by praying for it and asking for Him to do this. The conviction of sin is not something we can just have for a moment, it is something that the Spirit works in us in order to break our hearts from self and pride. We must not just know the theory that we are to be helpless and hopeless, we are to know ourselves in that way and we must know it by the experience of our souls that the Spirit has worked in us. It is only the helpless soul that can look to Christ alone by free-grace alone.

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