Not So Random Thoughts 40

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

It is clear from Luther that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for the humbled. It is clear from the words of Jesus that a person must be changed from one thing to another by another and become like a child to enter the kingdom. We can think that the work of humbling the soul is instantaneous or we can think of it as something that takes a short time or a long time. In other words, it depends upon God to work this humility or despairing of self according to His timing. But how long does it take God to work this despair of self in the soul? It takes Him as long as He wants to. He can do it in a short amount of time or He can take His time to do it. Humbling the soul is not the work of man, it is the work of God and as such it will happen according to His will and His timing. In other words, God humbles at His pleasure or as He is pleased to do so.

When we are hungry we want to eat. The idea of eating in modern America gives us the thought that we will go to a place where we can drive through to get our food or go to a restaurant where we can order and have the food brought to us. In ancient Israel things were different for most people. If you wanted to eat, there was a lot of work involved. The food must be gathered or perhaps an animal had to be caught or hunted. Then the animal must be killed and it must be cleaned and butchered. Then it could be prepared and cooked. By analogy we can think of faith like that. Faith either comes instantaneously or it must come by preparation of the soul. The soul is prepared by killing the faith it does have (faith in self) which is impossible to kill unless God does it. The soul has to be hunted down and then cleaned. In other words, this humbling of the soul or bringing it to despair of itself is the work of God and He does it at His pleasure. This humbling of the soul is the way God brings the soul to a true faith.

It is God who must convert the soul from a proud and self-reliant person to one that no longer trusts in self to do anything, but instead rests in Him alone to turn it from self to become like an infant child who is given all things by grace alone. It is God alone who can regenerate the soul, but it is also God alone who can kill the pride and self-sufficiency of man in order that man can look to Him for grace alone. It is God alone who can bring a soul from the bondage of self-centeredness to the freedom of Christ-centeredness. It is God alone who can take a soul that loves self and seeks the glory and pleasure of self to one that mourns for self and then is turned to become a lover of Christ who seeks the glory of God in Christ. These are all the things that God alone can do and He will only do it by grace alone.

These are things that false prophets will not tell you. They have not been humbled and broken and as such they will not speak of such things. Their souls have not been brought to the death of self and as such they know nothing of it. They call people to believe certain things or facts as if all that is meant is to believe some facts and as if it is in the power of man to do so. Until a person understands by experience the humbling work of God and then the work of God alone in bringing the soul to faith that person will not preach the work of God in salvation but will instead speak to men as if it all depended on them. Luther’s quote above really describes what the soul must come to in order to be brought into the kingdom by God’s work in regeneration. However, that quote does not tell people how God does that. The Puritans spoke of this as seeking God. It was human beings coming to God and asking Him to humble them and give them faith as the Gospel of grace alone demands. We are to ask God for faith and look to Christ for faith, but we should never expect it of ourselves. The false prophets, however, do that.

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