Archive for the ‘Christ Preparing our Hearts’ Category

Christ Preparing our Hearts 39

December 30, 2016

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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Christ Preparing our Hearts 38

December 30, 2016

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)

When Christ calls the weary and heavy-laden to Himself in Matthew 11, He is essentially calling the lost and undone wretch. He is calling the hopeless and the helpless. He is calling those who are utterly undone and have lost all hope in themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Savior and He will teach people that in their hearts. He will convict them of their sin as against Him and He will convict them or their sinful nature and what that means. As has been said before, men are not sinners because they sin, but they sin because they are sinners. Men are profoundly lost and profoundly blind and unable to help themselves. They are dead in sin and by nature they are children of wrath.

The person that Christ has taught in the inward man that the doctrine of depravity is not just some objective intellectual truth but is true of “me” in the heart, that person understands that s/he must be made a new creature in Christ Jesus. As long as people think that these are just truths we need to understand, they will not have the deep conviction that this is something that must happen to them. This is the type of person that begins to understand that the issue is not just a truth that must be known, but that this is a vital reality. I must be made a new creature by the grace of God or I will perish. The person taught of Christ will no longer be satisfied with a study of doctrine, though indeed that is needful, that now understands that Christ must teach the heart and lead it to a desperate state of knowing that the true state of the heart is vital.

The soul that Christ teaches no longer studies from a totally objective and intellectual level, that soul longs to know the truth about the very nature of its own soul. It wants to know if it is a new creature or if it has disguised itself with religious activities and religious beliefs. It examines itself to know (as Paul said to do in II Cor 13:5) if Christ is in it or not. When Christ awakens the soul to where it begins to search itself and begins to see the eternal importance as opposed to something of this life that soul will begin or continue an earnest seeking to know of its true state before God. Oh how this awakened person will feel the weight of sin as the conviction of the Spirit works. Oh how this person will feel the utter lack of righteousness as the Spirit opens the eyes to that. Oh how that person will feel the weight of eternal wrath when the Spirit teaches him or her that. Now the world is seen for what it is, a vain and empty deception.

The awakened soul will begin to be made aware by the work of Christ that names and doctrines and the thinking of men have deceived it. The soul will grow less and less satisfied with preaching that focuses on anything but spiritual realities and wants preaching that focuses on driving the soul away from self and away from what self can do to Christ alone. The soul that has been brought to see the vanity, emptiness, and deception of names and doctrines that are not brought into a spiritual focus and application to the soul will be nauseated when it sees how blinded it was by those things. The very same truth that was used as religion to blind the soul is now a truth that brings conviction to the soul and brings thirst to it for the true Christ. Even the doctrines of Christ can be used to blind a soul to its own state as knowledge puffs up. Oh how this awakened soul wants to know Christ and if indeed it has Christ. Nothing else will satisfy this soul now.

Christ Preparing our Hearts 37

December 29, 2016

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)

Most people think about the things that their hearts love most. Regardless of what they say or try to convince themselves that they love the most, the desires of the heart will be reflected on what we think about and what we desire. People will assume a form of religion and yet their hearts will not truly be taken with Christ. It is possible to have a strict form of religion and an orthodox creed and the heart remain unchanged. It is also possible to be much in thought about doctrine and about things one can dispute with others about and not be taken with the Christ of the doctrine. It is only Christ who can fill our hearts with Himself and make Himself our true and chief love.

How easy it is for people to either not know or ignore the fact that their hearts must be changed by Christ Himself or they will perish. How easy it is for people to turn from outward sin and take up a form of religion and as such deceive themselves. It is not the religion that teaches of Christ and morality that saves, it is Christ Himself who saves. As the first quote above says, we must come to Christ “a poor lost and undone wretch, hopeless and helpless.” We must come to Christ “as to an only, able and merciful Savior.” Regardless of how much we know about Christ, that is not the same as knowing Christ. Regardless of how much religion we have, that religion will not save us. Regardless of how much morality we have obtained, that morality will not save us.

The old creature (as opposed to being a new creature in Christ) or old man is a terribly deceptive being and as such we deceive ourselves. That old creature loves to take up the covering of religion, of knowledge of the things of religion, of doctrines, of creeds, of things of church and rest in those things. The old creature loves to take things that have the appearance of truth or of things that truth can be seen in and admire itself in the mirror of self. The old creature is easily deceived because it does not want to be exposed to eternal wrath. The old creature is easily deceived because it does not want to feel the weight of the conviction and burden of its own sin and utter helplessness before God.

Oh how the old creature or old man will find comfort in religion and even conservative religion. It almost seems as if religion is perhaps one of the strongest ways that men are deceived. It is so easy for men to hear the history of religion and then make the jump to thinking that they are now part of that true religion. It is so easy for men to just assume that they have Christ because they are part of a local church. In other words, the old creature loves itself and is full of pride and self. It does not want true religion in truth but since it does not want to go to hell it will happily take up the outward appearance of those things and deceive itself.

It is not the name of something that makes it what the name would imply, but it is the reality of something that shows what it truly is. There are many people in the world today that make shoes, clothes, and purses with the brand of a famous maker on it. That name does not reflect the quality or value of the item, but instead it hides the true quality and true value of the item. It might take a practiced eye, but once it is seen that the name on the item is a fraud, the item is then seen as a fraud and the quality of it is then seen for what it is. These fake items are then taken out and destroyed. Thus is the creature that has taken a garment of religion and does not truly have Christ. The name does not hide the cheap workmanship that the fact that it was not made by the real maker when it is examined by one with knowledge. The soul has no place to hide when the all-seeing eye of God sees it. He is not fooled with names; He sees the real nature of the heart. He will cast those who are clothed with fake garments into the fire, and that regardless of the name it has taken by the act of self.

Christ Preparing our Hearts 36

November 13, 2016

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.

Christ Preparing our Hearts 35

November 13, 2016

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)

The Lord Jesus told sinners to come to Him all who were weary and heavy-laden and He would give them rest. In other words, only those who were weary and heavy-laden would come to Him. Only those who are weary and heavy-laden see and feel a real need for Him. This great truth must be driven into our hearts and it must be driven deeply. Until the soul is weary of self and sin and the soul is burdened and heavy-laden with self and sin, that soul is not ready to come to Christ as Savior and have Him as Savior alone.

We want to believe that Christ calls all people to Himself, but He does not. He calls sinners to Himself. He calls those who feel their sin and are burdened for their sin. He calls those who are so convicted of their sin that they have lost hope in all that they can do and as such they will look to Christ alone. The proud heart will look to self to trust in Christ and as such think that it depends on him or her to trust in Christ and in that way will be led to think that s/he believes in justification by faith (the faith in self and of self) alone.

We want to believe that we have the strength and ability to cast ourselves upon Christ. We desperately want something we can do in our own ability to make it more likely that we can be saved. However, we are dead in sin and by nature are children of wrath. As those dead in sin we have no ability to respond to the call of Christ unless Christ makes us alive. We must come to Christ hopeless and helpless, but we also have no ability to break out hearts from pride and self and to lose hope in self and to have no help from self. The heart is not ready to rest in Christ alone until it is not trusting in itself or anything else for any hope. The heart can have no hope in anything or anyone (including self and including its lack of hope) if it is to trust in Christ alone. The heart cannot trust in itself for any help (ability) as we can only come to Christ if we are brought to Christ. We cannot come to Christ other than in a way we are drawn to Christ by His power and we cannot come to Him in our own.

In centuries past people thought that sinners could prepare themselves by going through certain steps, but that is not the way of the Puritans and Jonathan Edwards. They taught that there was to be preparation of the soul, but that preparation was really a way for the soul to see how unprepared and how helpless it really was. The same is true in our day and will be true in all days. The soul cannot rest in Christ alone until it is finished with faith in itself. The soul cannot come to Christ until it gives up trying to bring itself to Christ in its own power and then is brought to Christ by the power of God who alone can make human beings willing in the day of His power.

It is Christ and Christ alone who can save or we will perish. This truth must be driven into the depths of our hearts. It is not just that we must know the intellectual content and agree that this is true, but we must arrive at this truth by knowing it and feeling it as Christ teaches it to us in our minds and in our hearts (experiences). The Spirit comes to convict and teach, so we can know that He must convict us if we are to be truly convicted. We should seek His convicting work by praying for it and asking for Him to do this. The conviction of sin is not something we can just have for a moment, it is something that the Spirit works in us in order to break our hearts from self and pride. We must not just know the theory that we are to be helpless and hopeless, we are to know ourselves in that way and we must know it by the experience of our souls that the Spirit has worked in us. It is only the helpless soul that can look to Christ alone by free-grace alone.

Christ Preparing our Hearts 34

November 2, 2015

Be persuaded that your soul is far more valuable to you than the whole world and there are only two places (heaven and hell) that you will spend all eternity in.

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)

The idea of this particular strain of thought is that Christ prepares the hearts of sinners to be converted, which is also to say that Christ prepares the hearts of sinners for Himself and for Himself to dwell in. Salvation is not primarily about the welfare of sinners, but it is primarily about the glory of God in salvation and the continuing manifestation of His glory in and through His people. An unbroken and unhumbled heart is not ready to be converted as that heart has no real idea of what it means to be a sinner and as such no idea of what salvation really is. It is utterly frightening to hear ministers who think of themselves as Reformed calling upon men to believe the Gospel when they have not preached a Gospel. These same ministers will tell men that they must believe and yet they will not declare to these men that they cannot believe apart from the grace of regeneration. These ministers will not tell men that their hearts need to be convinced of sin and broken from all hope in self before they are converted. Men must be broken from trust in self before they will ever look to Christ alone. This is self-evident.

If Stoddard was and is right about the lack of teaching men that their hearts needed preparation by the Holy Spirit is a deadly wound to religion, then there is no wonder that Christianity is so weak in our day. It is true that there are plenty of buildings around with “Christian” on the sign and plenty of educated men (educated in something) standing behind pulpits who are declaring certain things with the name “Christ” on their lips, but the Gospel seems to virtually be gone. There is a plethora of Bibles, DVD’s, and all sorts of helps in all differing kinds of media. But the Gospel is not being preached. But again, there may be a lot of things being taught and some even use the name “Jesus” some, but that is a far different thing than preaching the Gospel and what precedes the Gospel.

If the Lord Jesus does not teach the heart Himself, it is not taught. If He does not teach the ministers, they are not taught even if they have several degrees from the best schools in the land. It is absolutely necessary for the soul to be humbled or the soul is not even ready to understand grace much less receive it. It is absolutely necessary for the soul to be broken from pride as the proud in heart will never receive grace or Christ as Lord. It is absolutely necessary for the soul to be broken from self and the love of self or it will never be united to Christ and love Christ with all of its strength and being. The command to love God with all of our being is a command not to love self with any of our being but out of a love for Him. The command to love God with all of our being is a command to be broken from the reign and rule of self-love. Oh how our vile hearts love self and do all things for self, even trying to convince ourselves that we believe in Christ. We can believe that God savingly loves us out of love for self rather than for biblical reasons. But again, this exposes men to think that they are converted when they are not.

Christ prepares hearts for Himself by using preaching. Faithful preaching will try to expose the hearts of men to themselves and of their utter inability to do anything spiritual apart from Christ, though it must be admitted that it is Christ alone who can use that preaching to pierce and break the hearts of men from love of self and pride. Will King Jesus dwell in a heart that is full of hatred toward Him which all hearts that are governed by pride have? Can we really even think that the kingdom of God dwells in the heart when that heart is really guided by and reigned over by the kingdom of self? How can we even think that we are preaching the Gospel of free-grace alone unless we are pointing out to sinners how helpless they are apart from Christ and His grace? How can we think we are preaching grace alone when we are not pointing out to sinners that their pride opposes His grace? The work of Christ is to break hearts and save sinners to the glory of His name. He uses preaching as an instrument to do so.

Christ Preparing our Hearts 33

October 28, 2015

Be persuaded that your soul is far more valuable to you than the whole world and there are only two places (heaven and hell) that you will spend all eternity in.

Take it for granted, that there is no name under heaven whereby you can be saved, but Jesus Christ. All grace and mercy for this life, and then to come, must come to you through the channel of Christ’s blood.

What an utterly glorious quote the above quotes are and both are from an unknown (to human beings) author. Oh how we should take it as an absolute verity beyond any real questioning that there is no name under heaven by which we can be saved other than Jesus Christ. How it would change the professing Church if even a small percentage of people would take these statements and seek the Lord to show them how much truth there is in them and how they should never deviate from them. Oh how the false gospel of today would change to a true Gospel if only men would seek the Lord to be broken from their false hopes of works for grace and seek Him for true grace. But of course those things will never happen unless the Lord of grace breaks the hearts of men from their false views of grace and gives them a sight of Himself and His free-grace.

What is perhaps most hated by men today is not the doctrines of grace, but of the reality of grace as worked by the Lord Jesus Christ in the soul. Oh how there are many men today who will defend the doctrines of grace as in certain creeds and catechisms, but those same men will fight against true grace when they hear that Christ must prepare the soul by grace in order for men to understand the reality of grace. Those defenders of the doctrines of grace fight the reality of grace in life when they say that all we have to do is believe. Of course it is true that Christ must give us new hearts that believe, but that is not the point. Does Christ have to prepare a heart by breaking it from pride and self before He gives it life to where it is humbled and full of Himself? Does Christ have to break an unbelieving heart from its great love for self before it can be a believing heart that loves Him?

I will argue that the Bible teaches us that the soul must be humbled in order for it to receive grace and it teaches that both in the context for unbelievers and believers. I will also argue that no one can truly break and humble his own heart but that the only One who can do it is Christ. The power of sin and the evil one cannot be overcome by the weak and ineffectual works of man, but instead they can only be effectually overcome by the power of Christ and His blood. The proud heart of man wants to think that if he can make himself just believe the doctrine of a creed that he will be okay, but the Scriptures teach us that these things must be realities about us and that they can only happen in the soul by His power.

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. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

In this greatly neglected passage (just above) we see the disciples wanting to know which of them (in reality) was the greatest in the kingdom. Jesus answered them by taking a small child and telling them that unless they were converted and became like children, they would not even enter the kingdom. The verb for converted is in the passive, which tells us that this is something that must happen to us. God must convert us or turn us to where our proud hearts are changed and instead of trusting in ourselves we are now like helpless children looking to Him for all things. It is Christ alone who can change the proud heart and make it a broken one. It is Christ alone and the power of His blood that has the power for such a work of new creation.

In verse 4 we see that Jesus speaks of the greatest as those who humbled themselves as this child. How did that child humble himself? I would argue that in the context the only thing that the child did was to obey the command of Christ to come to it and then to be in His hands. True humility is not just a momentary work of the moment that we do, but instead the truly humble life is the life of Christ in our soul. Humility is not a work we can do, but instead it is Christ in us. A truly humbled soul is one that Christ has humbled, though there is a sense that we humble ourselves by bowing to Him and recognizing that we cannot do this great work in our own hearts and looking to Him to do it. Only Christ can humble us and only Christ can live the humble life in us by grace alone.

Christ Preparing our Hearts 32

October 27, 2015

Be persuaded that your soul is far more valuable to you than the whole world and there are only two places (heaven and hell) that you will spend all eternity in.

Take it for granted, that there is no name under heaven whereby you can be saved, but Jesus Christ. All grace and mercy for this life, and then to come, must come to you through the channel of Christ’s blood.

The statement above is a statement that is full of truth and doctrine, but it is also one that the heart must be prepared by Christ to receive. It is far easier to accept the above statement as a doctrine that is true or one that the Bible teaches than it is to accept it as true for me from the depths of the soul. Oh how few in our day seem to recognize how deceitful our hearts are and how hardened our hearts are to the spiritual realities of our true helplessness and inability before God. Even harder for people to accept, however, is the fact that believers are also in great need for grace and mercy. While we are to live by grace alone, it is so hard for people to accept that as a doctrine and then even harder to accept that as a vital truth of the Christian life.

Perhaps the hardest truth for anyone to accept as a doctrine, however, is that for all eternity those in heaven will be in utter dependence upon Christ and that the blood of Christ will always and forever be needed. While it is not the case that anyone will sin in heaven, it will always be the case that heaven was purchased for sinful people by the blood of Christ. It may not be the case that people will sin, but those in heaven will have been great sinners one earth who were purchased by the blood of Christ. It may be those in heaven will not look to the blood of Christ to be saved by the blood of Christ, but all grace that they will ever need was purchased by the blood of Christ. No prayer in heaven will ever be to some throne that is other than the throne of grace. It will always be an absolute verity that people will live by the grace of God and yet by the grace of God purchased by Christ.

While it is perhaps the hardest doctrine for anyone to accept (in this context) is that people will always need grace even in heaven, the hardest to accept now is that Christians live by grace alone. Not only must Christ prepare hearts by breaking them from pride and self so that they may look to Christ alone for salvation, but He must break the hearts of believers from any form of self-sufficiency so that they will learn more and more to live by grace alone. There are so many in our day who hold to a form of works for grace that it is impossible to point to very many at all in this little BLOG. We hear preachers telling others that there are conditions that they must meet in order to be saved. We hear preachers telling others that there are conditions that they must meet in order to be sanctified. On the other hand, we have Scripture telling us that Christ is our justification and Christ is our sanctification. Christ and Christ alone is our need who fulfills all of our conditions.

There are many in the Reformed movement (and others) who are so big on the means of grace in our day. They tell people that God operates through the Scriptures (reading, study, preaching), prayer, and the Sacraments. What happens, then, is that people are told that they can avail themselves of grace if they give themselves to those three things. It is true that God does work through those things, but at some point people must understand that just because God works through those things does not mean that He does or that He is obligated to do so. It is when the means of grace become a way that God is obligated to give grace that we have left the biblical teaching on grace far behind. When the thought enters our minds that if I do X then God will give me grace, we are no longer thinking of grace. God may show grace when we hear the truth of God, but He is under no obligation to do so. God may show grace when we pray, but He is under no obligation to do so. In fact, if we come to the throne of grace as in real prayer we will understand that He has utterly no obligation to show grace. God may show grace in someone receiving the Supper, but He is under no obligation to do so. We must get that through our heads and hearts.

There are also books teaching on the Spiritual Disciplines and things like this. Disciplining ourselves in order to obtain grace is a vicious form of works. Learning to be disciplined in our use of Scripture and prayer in order to please God is a vicious form of works. Oh that sinners would be awakened by God to see that we are to live by grace each moment and that there is nothing we can do to obtain grace as a result of our own efforts. It is Jesus the Messiah who is Priest, Prophet, and King who can overpower self and pride in our hearts and teach us so that we come to Him empty and without any hope of grace but what He gives at His sovereign pleasure in Christ. Only Christ can empty the soul of self like that and only Christ can teach the soul the real way of receiving grace. Our discipline will only fill us with pride and harden us toward the work of Christ in our hearts. Grace alone does not teach us to work for grace, but instead that we can do nothing to obtain grace but look to Christ if He is pleased to do so.

Christ Preparing our Hearts 31

October 27, 2015

Be persuaded that your soul is far more valuable to you than the whole world and there are only two places (heaven and hell) that you will spend all eternity in.

Do I see in Jesus Christ, a beauty and excellency; a fullness and all sufficiency? Is He the chiefest of ten thousands, altogether lovely in your eye? Can I say, oh, thousands of gold pieces (if I had it) for an interest in Christ’s blood? None but Christ. All is dung that I may win Him.

The soul is weighed down with earthly possessions, desires, and concerns. It is necessary to have some worldly concerns, but they are to be in their place and that as simply means by which we may seek the Lord. But the things of the world consume the worldly and are not to consume those who see themselves as but pilgrims in this world with their real home in heaven. Christ must prepare the heart of His people so that they will see that there are only two places to spend eternity in and that only those who truly have Christ as their chief love will spend eternity in heaven. Only those who see the true value of eternity (to some degree) will see Christ as supremely valuable.

The soul cannot just turn a switch or make a choice and see and delight in Christ as everything to it. The soul does not have a will that has the power or ability to see Christ in His glory, but instead the soul must be taught these things in the inward man. It is a verity that man must see Christ as beautiful and as excellent beyond compare, but until a man’s heart has been broken from love for self and his pride he will be blinded by those things and not see Christ. But even if Christ works and breaks men from self, the sight of Himself does not come automatically to the soul. The soul must be illumined with light and Christ must reveal Himself to men. Christ works in the soul to prepare the soul for a sight of Himself and His presence by humbling it and breaking it from self and the world. Until the beauty of the world vanishes, Christ cannot be seen as beautiful. Until the excellencies of the world dim, the glories of Christ the Light will not be seen or appreciated.

It should be obvious to all who have even a glimmer of light that as long as the heart is a worldly heart it will not entertain and value spiritual realities. The soul that is full of the world and yet a rational soul may indeed love the thought of heaven merely out of self-love and the fear of the wrath of God, yet self-love is what the work of Christ alone can break the soul of. The soul that is full of self-love can still have many religious ideas and values that it picks up from the Bible and attending church, but it will never love those things above all until Christ breaks the soul from its own self-love and pride. Human beings are born dead in sins and trespasses and as such are controlled and filled with a supreme self-love and pride. The Great Command to love God with all of their being is something that is utterly impossible for the fallen creature that is controlled and dominated by self-love. Until Christ breaks that heart of self-love, the soul has no ability to love God since it loves self with all of its being.

The soul is capable of great acts of religion and great acts of devotion while using the name of God, but the self is what it is really serving until Christ breaks it from self-love. The soul that is spiritually dead and full of self-love and pride may even think that it is serving God while doing acts of self-denial, but it is really denying an external form of self by the love of self. The soul can also think that it loves God but what it is really doing is loving a false god that it thinks loves it, so in reality the soul is just loving those who love it. Christ can be lovely to the eye of the person in the grips and domination of self-love, but it is a false Christ and only loves Christ in that it thinks that Christ loves him or her. It is even possible for a person to rationally choose Christ over a thousand pieces of gold, but that does not mean that the heart is truly broken by Christ. One can choose Christ in one sense thinking that Christ is best for the soul and it is better to spend eternity in heaven than hell, but that heart has not changed a bit and is still in the grips of self-love.

The real issue is whether a person’s heart, even after being saved, desires Christ more than gold. Is Christ and His glory what attracts the soul and its true desires? Oh this must come from Christ and nothing else. Only He can break the pride of the heart and work in the heart a supreme desire for Himself. It is when from the depths of the soul that the desires for Christ are so strong and He is so lovely that the whole world is viewed as dung that a person can know that s/he has a changed heart and a new heart. Christ in the soul gives the soul a love for Himself and the things of the world grow dim and then become dung. He must prepare the heart or it will not be prepared.

Christ Preparing our Hearts 30

October 5, 2015

Be persuaded that your soul is far more valuable to you than the whole world and there are only two places (heaven and hell) that you will spend all eternity in.

Did I ever see sin odious, black and hellish, defiling and damning? Have I seen it in the glass of the law, bloody and killing? But in [light of] Christ’s blood exceeding and above measure sinful?

Seeing sin as odious, black and hellish, defiling and damning is important, but it is also important for men to see themselves and their sin as odious in the eyes of God. It is one thing to have some intellectual apprehension that sin is odious to God, but it is quite different to come to grips with the reality that I am odious in the sight of God and even in the presence of God. It is not just that my sin is hellish, but because I sin and am a sinner by nature and practice I am hellish before God. It is not just that my sin is defiled, but I am defiled. It is not just that my sin is worthy to be damned, but I am worthy to be damned. These are the things that Christ alone can teach in the soul as He teaches the inward man by the Spirit who illuminates the Scriptures, the character of God, and our own foul hearts as we are before God. It is Christ alone who can safely guide the soul into a knowledge of the depths of its utter wickedness and inability before God and make the soul feel disgusted with itself and gently take the soul and show it the wonder and glory of free-grace.

The law is preached in many corners today, but is it preached lawfully and with the same intent that the law was given? The law was never intended to give people the idea that it could be obeyed and it was never given so that sinners could deceive themselves about having any form of self-righteousness, but the law was given to show us how wicked and vile we are so that we would never trust ourselves and look to Christ alone. Oh how our vile hearts will take what God gives us to show us our vileness in His sight and we take it and use it as a way to feed our pride and imagine that we could obtain self-righteousness. What horrid hearts we must have! The law can only begin to be kept by love and the only way we can love is to receive it first from God through Christ by the Spirit. We need Christ to be our life and our Prophet to even take the first step toward keeping any commandment, but the truth of the matter is that we will always disobey any particular law more than we keep it. This is to say that in the light of the spiritual nature of the law in this life we will always violate the law more than we keep it.

The greatest sight of our sin, however, is not in the letter of the law or the spiritual nature of the law. The greatest sight our sin is seen in the blood of Christ. Our sin is so hateful to God that once it was imputed to Christ He did not hold back but instead poured out His wrath upon the Son. The Father and the Son lived in perfect and infinite love from all eternity past, but sin is so abhorrent and vile that the Father poured out His wrath on the Son when the Son stood in the place of sinners. He who was life itself took a human body that He might bear the wrath and then death in the place of sinners. He who knew nothing but the eternal pleasure and joy of perfect and infinite love took the sins of sinners upon Himself and suffered the eternal wrath and misery of sin. He who was perfectly holy and knew no sin took upon Himself all the sins of God’s people and felt the misery and vileness of it upon Himself at the cross.

There was no possible way for sin to be taken away except by the suffering and the blood of Christ. There is no way that sinners have any way to take the wrath of God away from themselves and they can do nothing to obtain a righteousness that pleases God. This is all seen in the cross of Christ. If the Father would not withhold His wrath when His Son took sin upon Himself, He will not withhold His wrath even though we plead for mercy. His Son willingly took human nature in order that He might suffer in the place of sinners, so we can be assured that there is nothing we can do in our sinful nature to satisfy the smallest part of the wrath of God. It is Christ alone, however, who can open our eyes to the depths of our sin and prepare our hearts to give up all hope in ourselves and in our own works. It is Christ alone who can show us the spiritual nature of sin and of what He did in suffering for sin. It is Christ alone who can prepare our hearts by breaking them from all hope in anything but the grace of God in Christ. He must teach the soul how exceeding and sinful it really is or the soul will not be taught. If we don’t see how exceeding and sinful we really are, we will never see our need for Christ alone and grace alone.