Christ Preparing our Hearts 36

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)

It is thought that a simple prayer or an act of the will can save the sinner. However, what can a dead sinner accomplish? What can a person without a spiritual nature (not of the Spirit) do that can move God to save him or her? Without faith a person cannot please God, so how can a person without faith pray a prayer or commit an act of the will that will move God to save him or her? What can a proud person do that will please God? What can a fleshly person do that will move God to show grace? What can a selfish person do out of love for self that will move God to save him or her?

When we look at dead sinners in that way, it should be clear and without question that something must be done to the sinner so that the sinner can have Christ. It should also be clear that a sinner cannot make self more worthy, so this leaves us in the hands of God to humble the soul and break the proud heart. This humbling and this breaking does not earn salvation, but it is bringing the sinner to the point of bowing low before God and seeing that the whole of salvation is of grace alone. Not only does Christ pay the debt of the sinner, but Christ prepares the sinner for the work of the Spirit who applies the work of Christ to the sinner. The Spirit is also at work as the true conviction of sin is the work of the Spirit and no heart can be truly humbled and broken apart from that work of conviction.

The heart of sinners are frightfully deceived in all of this and apart from Christ opening the eyes of sinners to their sin, their deadness, their bondage to sin and the devil, and of the deception they are under; sinners will remain in the grip of those things. No sinner can undeceive himself as the deception s/he is under is from a power far greater than the human being. Human beings are depraved and have no ability to undeceive themselves, but Christ can do this by His Spirit. Sinners are deceived by the devil who is far wiser than they are and sinners are deceived because they are turned over to a hardened heart by God. Sinners cannot soften their hearts when God has hardened them and they cannot take the deception from themselves when the devil has deceived them.

The dead and deceived sinner who is religious is deceived by his or her religion and no amount of religion will take that deception away. It is Christ alone who can teach them what they are and their desperate condition. It is Christ alone who can take away the power of deception and take away the hard heart. It is Christ that sinners must look to in order that they may have softened hearts and even broken hearts. It is Christ that sinners must look to that they may have humbled hearts. But will proud sinners and selfish sinners do this? In no way can they do this and in no way will they do this. Proud sinners want to keep their pride out of self-love, though they don’t want others to see their pride. They don’t want humility, but they want to appear humble.

It is those who are undone wretches and who have no hope in self and no power to do anything to the benefit of self who cry out for grace and mercy. Those who are not humbled and broken will cry out for the help of grace to do what they cannot do, that is, to provide the help beyond what they can do. However, the souls that are truly undone will look to Christ alone. This is the work of Christ to bring them to that point and mercifully show them how undone they are. No one deserves to be broken of sin and shown how undone s/he is, but this is mercy preparing the soul for grace. Is there merit in the sinner for this? How can there be merit in the sinner when it is the mercy of God to show the sinner the depths of his or her sin? Oh no, this is Christ preparing the hearts of sinners for Himself. This is Christ preparing the hearts of sinners to be His throne. There is no merit in this, it is the work of Christ for His own glory.

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