Gospel of Grace Alone 55

Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

As newness of life is necessary, so it is as necessary that we should put ourselves into the hands of God for it. It is this sense and conviction which brings us to him hungering and thirsting, and casts the soul upon him with all the strength of its desire, for that change when he alone can work in it. It is the knowledge and belief of this, which makes Gospel mercy and Gospel power so welcome and seasonable a relief to us. It is the hearty persuasion and inward feeling of our helpless state in sin, which constitutes the very life and spirit of prayer; and if it is not working at the bottom of all our prayers, they will be no better than a fruitless, dead formality, and can never work us one jot nearer to God, “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Little children are without strength and without knowledge, weak and ignorant, have every thing to learn, receive what is taught them with undisputing simplicity, and are incapable of thinking, acting for, and governing themselves. Just thus we should judge of ourselves. We are mere children in respect of any knowledge we have of our proper happiness, or ability to attain it. And this child-like, humble disposition is our necessary preparation for receiving the salvation of God—so called, because it is all his gift and his work. And neither the book of our own heart nor the book of Scripture has been opened to us, till we are brought to this conviction—“that we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” (Thomas Adam, Sermons)

Adam makes a comment on prayer which is very telling regarding the nature of prayer. It could apply to the unconverted soul that sees itself as empty and helpless and so it is the type of prayer that one is to seek God with. It is also at the heart of all true prayer of the believer. The unconverted person needs grace for conversion and has nothing with which to move God and nothing with which to obtain life with. This person is cast utterly and totally upon the mercy and grace of God. That person (as all should be) should have the deep persuasion and the inward feeling of utter helplessness and in that the person can truly pray for grace. If the person is not truly helpless and in some way looks to self or what self has done, that person is not looking to Christ for pure grace.

The believing person that was converted by grace alone still has nothing within self to come to God with. The believer also has no righteousness before God and has nothing to obtain righteousness with. We must always know that in prayer we are coming to the throne of grace and we can expect nothing but grace. Only the truly humbled heart can truly pray, though anyone can say religious words and call it prayer. The Gospel of grace alone is deserted when we try to offer a prayer based on our own righteousness in any way or based on what we have done in any way. The Gospel of grace alone should teach us a deep humility and that we should never look to anything but grace in our pre-conversion and post-conversion life.

Adam says that if this (hearty persuasion and inward feeling of our helplessness in sin) “is not working at the bottom of all our prayers, they will be no better than a fruitless, dead formality, and can never work us one jot nearer to God.” This is a tremendous, tremendous statement and should be meditated upon. If we are not convinced and deeply know and feel our helplessness in spiritual things and sin, then our prayers are fruitless and are dead formality. This may sound harsh to some, but this really gets at the heart of it. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, that is, nothing spiritual and nothing that will bear spiritual fruit. The unbeliever must recognize that and seek the Lord in utter emptiness of self knowing that s/he has nothing but sin. The believer must seek the Lord in prayer based on Christ and Christ alone. This is also one difference between religious activity and the life of Christ in the soul.

It is crucial for the soul to be brought to the low state where it will look to Christ for all things regarding spiritual life. It is crucial for the soul to look for all things it needs and look for it on the basis of grace alone. The proud self will fight and try to insert itself in the prayer, but this ruins the prayer unless Christ shows even that grace. Our prayers will never bring us closer to God unless we are emptied of self-sufficiency and the proud self and look to come to God through Christ alone by grace alone. The grace that saves sinners is also the grace that sinners are to live by day in and day out. Oh how free-grace should reign at all times and in all ways.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: