Christ Preparing our Hearts 39

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)

Away with unprofitable controversies: spend your thoughts rather upon this momentous question, “Am I sound, or am I rotten at heart?” “Am I a new creature, or the old disguised in borrowed clothing?” Let it be your prayer that you may not be given up to a heedless and vain spirit, and then have religious duties for a show to beguile and hush your conscience…Deceive not yourself with names and notions; they cannot change your heart. If you are still impenitent, if you have not been renewed and sanctified by the Spirit of God, it matters little by what name you are called, or how warmly you advocate the distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel; you are in the sight of God a guilty, perishing sinner. (John Flavel)

These writings as they set out the truth of Scripture and the clear difference between those who know about things or the name of things and then those who have those things in their hearts because Christ has worked them in the hearts, should cause all to bow low before Him and His sovereign work. As men fight over words, duties, and names, others should seek the face of God in truth. This is not to say that there are not doctrines and truths that should not be fought for, but they should be fought for at the substance level rather than just over names and words.

This quote of Flavel should show us the absolute need of Christ to prepare our hearts for grace and Himself. This quote, in the hands of God, is able to drive away the subterfuge of religious activities and put man upon seeking God Himself. But again, it is quite a different thing to have notions of God in the intellect than it is to have God Himself dwelling in the heart and through Christ revealing those things as truths about Him so that we would love Him and live for His glory.

As long as the heart is unchanged all that a person can possibly do is serve self and be filled with external religion. All the things of external religion can do is either puff us up with pride or be used by Christ to show us how they cannot possibly please God. External religion cannot change the heart and this must be preached and taught to the people constantly. Church membership cannot change the heart. The external doctrines of the Bible and the creeds cannot change the heart. These things are good things and necessary things, but only God Himself can change the heart. Being involved in the activities of the church will not change the heart. Being friends with members of a church will not change the heart. Attending the church every time the doors are open will not change the heart. Instead, all of those things can be used by self to deceive us as to our real standing before God.

When a person stands before the living God on judgment day it will not matter what church one belonged to if that person does not have Christ. When a person stands before the living God on judgment day it will not matter if that person was a minister, an elder, a leader, or a busy person doing things in the local church is that person does not have Christ. Oh how people will bemoan the day that they joined the church and “got busy” in the church because they trusted in those things rather than Christ.

On that day it will not matter how much a person advocated for a confession or Calvinism or any other doctrine, because all of those things can be done out of pride and those things can be done to hide the impenitent and rotten heart of the person advocating those things. It will not even matter in that day if a person preached the true doctrines of Gospel as far as he could, because even those things can be done to hide a person’s rotten and impenitent heart.

Anything that has to do with Christianity can be used by a selfish and proud heart to hide the rottenness of our own hearts from us. We can use long morning devotions and vast amounts of memorization of Scripture to convince ourselves that we are regenerate. We can practice long fasts and practice self-denial of things, yet all of that can be done as a way to build up self. It is only Christ Himself who can show us these things and bring us to the end of all the efforts of self and to a true self-denial. It is only Christ who can show us the truth of our hearts and how it is truly only Christ who can save us and He will only do that by grace alone. Until Christ breaks the heart of trusting in the things of the world and the things of religion we cannot rest in Christ alone and grace alone. Let us seek Christ to teach us as our great Prophet. Let us ask Him to break our hearts from religion and things and to settle for nothing else but His making us new creatures by grace alone.

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