Musings 132

But who is sufficient for these things? Is all this change a small matter? And is it in the power of man thus to renew his heart, and change the whole bent of his affections—i.e. to new make himself? No, no more than it was to make himself at the first. And therefore the Scripture tells us plainly, “that it is God who works in us both to will and to do;” that “without him:–without Christ, “the wisdom of God, and the power of God,” enlightening our understandings, and renewing our wills; “we can do nothing.” And those who think they can do great things for themselves, either never tried, or else they are ignorant of their case, and do not know the work that is before them. Dear brethren, if we mistake here, we lost all. We expect light where there is nothing but darkness; strength from weakness; and look for health and salvation where there is nothing but corruption and death. We are self-sufficient, and can only be self-saved, i.e. miserable, and left to perish by the work of our own hands. (Thomas Adam, 1701-1784)

Till you feel yourself in this extremity of weakness, you are not in a condition (if I may say so) to receive the heavenly help. Your idea of remaining ability is the very thing that repels the help of the Spirit, just as any idea of remaining goodness thrusts away the propitiation of the Savior. It is your not seeing that you have no strength that is keeping you from believing” (Pink).

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 opinion 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… For men must see the plague of their own hearts, their helplessness, and that they are like clay in the hand of the potter before them come to Christ, and so will be afraid and be searching themselves. (Solomon Stoddard, Guide to Christ)

Again, because of the vital importance of this issue it is needful that we go over and over it both for the sake of others and ourselves. The quotes from Pink and Stoddard show how vital this is and how their beliefs were in union with those of Adam. Men must see themselves as lost and utterly helpless in the hands of God to do with as He pleases. Where does one hear anything like that in these days? Where can one hear what in the past was considered a vital teaching in our day? We must see in ourselves and other sinners that there is utterly no hope in ourselves and yet there is a full hope in Christ when Christ is rested in totally and only. There is nothing in ourselves that we can trust in and that includes trusting in ourselves to trust in Christ.

As Pink so wisely points out, it is when we think that we have some remaining ability (however small) that repels the help of the Spirit. The mercy of God (by definition) is His helping those who cannot help themselves. When we can help ourselves, then we repel the very mercy of God who comes to us by the Spirit. Any idea that we have of having goodness is simply something we have and trust in that thrusts away our trusting in Christ alone to take away our sins. When we have not arrived at the point of seeing, understanding, and feeling that we are beyond all hope and ability in ourselves that makes us unable to believe. We must seek this from the hand of Christ who alone can break us and open our eyes to see our great need of being saved by Him apart from anything we can contribute.

Stoddard points out the utter necessity of this work in the heart. He says that when that opinion has prevailed in the land, it gives a deadly wound to religion. That opinion has not only prevailed in the land today, it is virtually the only opinion out there. The idea that the soul needs to be prepared by God to be saved is thought to be a system of works or adding to faith. Oh no, it is how God works to bring the soul to where it will be enabled to believe. It is not that the soul just lacks something to be able to believe, it is that the soul has insurmountable problems and walls to believe. The soul cannot believe in Christ alone until the wall of pride has been broken down. The soul cannot believe in Christ alone until the walls of self-love and pride are broken down. The soul cannot believe in Christ alone until the wall of enmity is taken away. There is nothing meritorious about this breaking of the heart; it is more like the walls that prevent true faith being removed. When those walls are not removed, there is no possibility of true faith. It is horribly dangerous for preachers not to set themselves against those walls, and if they do not then the faith people think they have is not a true faith.

The Gospel of Christ alone by grace alone cannot be preached unless the things above are preached. Eternal souls are bound in death behind the walls that they cannot break out from and preachers are not telling them that Christ alone can do that work for them and that Christ alone can give them repentance and faith. How can preachers even think that they are preaching the Gospel of Christ alone by grace alone when all they are doing is stating a few truths about Christ and telling people to believe those things? How can the deception be so strong when it is so clear that the proud heart is opposed to God and God opposes that heart and He only gives grace to the humble? Indeed the Gospel (true religion) has received a deep wound in our day. Will Christ find true faith on the earth when He returns?

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