Archive for the ‘Inward Things’ Category

Inward Things 2

November 1, 2016

As salvation is in its whole nature the inward birth and life of Christ in the believer, so nothing but this “new creature in Christ” can bear true witness to the realities of redemption. Therefore a man, however expert in all Scripture doctrines and learning, can only talk about the gospel as of any talk he has been told, until the life of Christ has been brought forth, verified, fulfilled, and enjoyed through the power of the Holy Spirit in his soul. No one can know the truth of salvation by a mere rational consent to that which is historically said of Christ. Only by an inward experience of His cross, death, and resurrection can the saving power of the gospel be known. For the reality of Christ’s redemption is not in fleshly, finite, outward things—much less in verbal descriptions of them—but is a birth, a life, a spiritual operation, which as truly belongs to God alone as does His creative power. (William Law)

The quote above sets out quite nicely the failure of the outward man, regardless of education or sincerity, the issue of the Gospel and true salvation. It would appear that so many in our day are deceived, but one way people are deceived is that they are externally religious without the true and inward conversion and power. When Law says above that “no one can know the truth of salvation by a mere rational consent to that which is historically said of Christ,” without knowing it he severely denounces a vast amount of evangelism and so-called conversions in our day. He also severely denounces preaching in our day.

It sure seems that the vast amount of evangelism and preaching strive to convince a person that s/he needs to believe something and if that something is believed the person will be saved. That is categorically false. It is true that a person must believe certain things, but a person must also be made a new creature in Christ Jesus in order to truly believe or to (shall we say) spiritually believe. In the words of Jesus as given us in John 3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God and then “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (v. 3 & 6).

It is easy for the natural man to read the Bible in a natural way and come up with a natural interpretation which means that the person ends up with a natural view of Christianity. This is one reason why so many people don’t see a lot of difference between Christianity and some of the pagan religions. If you just interpret the Bible in accordance with the natural man, then you miss the spiritual truth and the truth of Christ and His Spirit. This is precisely what happens so much in our day. The work of the scholar may be important and even necessary, but let us at least come to the strong realization that the work of the Holy Spirit is vastly more important and vastly more necessary. The rational consent to the truths of the Bible is entirely possible apart from salvation, which is clearly seen in that the devil knows the truths of the Bible and knows that that they are true. Knowing the truth of the Bible, even at a deep and scholarly level, is nothing more than the devil can know.

The life of God in the soul of man is the real issue in the conversion of a soul and not just agreeing or accepting that certain things are true. This life of God in the soul is the life of God in the soul by Christ which is also the life of Christ in the soul by His Spirit. We must never fall away from the great truth that true Christianity is about being one with Christ and then that life of Christ being lived in and through His people. Christianity is not about external moralism, intellectual teachings, or even doctrine. Christianity is about Christ and the life of Christ being lived in and through His people. It is only when Christ is the life of the soul by His Spirit is there true morality (of the heart), true thinking of the mind, and true doctrine that reaches the soul.

The Gospel is not just information and not just some truth that is founded in history, though indeed it is rooted in history. However, the truth of the Gospel is not just some truth to be known about; it is truth that Christ must work in the soul. Evangelism is not just about telling people the truth of the historical Christ, it is also the truth of the living and resurrected Christ who must really and actually (in time) save sinners from the wrath of God, the bondage of the devil, the bondage of sin, and the death of self. It is one thing to speak about regeneration, but it is the work of God alone to actually carry out this work of regeneration in the soul. It is one thing to speak of sin, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin. It is not just some external conviction that the Spirit carries out in the soul, but it is teaching people in the depths of the soul that they are sinners in the presence of a thrice holy God. Jesus said He came to save sinners. We can believe that is true and yet be a sinner not saved. We must really be saved and only Jesus can really and actually accomplish that in us.

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Inward Things 1

October 31, 2016

As salvation is in its whole nature the inward birth and life of Christ in the believer, so nothing but this “new creature in Christ” can bear true witness to the realities of redemption. Therefore a man, however expert in all Scripture doctrines and learning, can only talk about the gospel as of any talk he has been told, until the life of Christ has been brought forth, verified, fulfilled, and enjoyed through the power of the Holy Spirit in his soul. No one can know the truth of salvation by a mere rational consent to that which is historically said of Christ. Only by an inward experience of His cross, death, and resurrection can the saving power of the gospel be known. For the reality of Christ’s redemption is not in fleshly, finite, outward things—much less in verbal descriptions of them—but is a birth, a life, a spiritual operation, which as truly belongs to God alone as does His creative power. (William Law)

The methods of Bible study, of doctrine, of preaching, and of all things related to Christianity are touched on in this statement above. The core issue has to do with the nature of truth and of the Gospel as to whether they are outward or inward. This is a vital, vital point in true Christianity versus the external Christianity. It also touches on whether the focus should be on the invisible Church or the visible church, at least to the degree of the focus. It is so vital to how we view the Gospel and the nature of salvation. It has a lot to do with how we view the work of the Spirit and of evangelism.

While most of the religious world (outward Christendom, professing Church) thinks that if we believe the facts of the Gospel we will be saved, this is not the biblical position. An intellectual belief that some basic facts are true is nothing more than the devil and his demons have. They have the facts and they know that those facts are true. This is one of the hardest things to get across to religious people who are moral, orthodox (to some degree), and perhaps very strict in their religious beliefs. The facts of the Gospel are not the Gospel itself. The facts about Christ are not the same thing as Christ Himself. Believing the facts of the Gospel is not the same thing as believing the Gospel when the Spirit of the living God has brought life into the soul. Living a moral life (even one guided by Christian standards, whatever that may mean to each person) is not the same thing as living the Christ life. Imitating Christ is not the same thing as having the life of Christ in the soul.

The religious person, even if that person is an erudite scholar of the Bible, apart from the new birth cannot taste or really know the things of God. The erudite scholar can give us a lot of information about the Bible and information of the things of the Bible, but only those who have been born from above can speak to the spiritual realities of the changing power of the Gospel. If the Gospel is indeed the Gospel of Christ, then a person must have been turned from self and pride (crucified to self) and have Christ as his or her life. While this perhaps simple believer may not have all the learning of the unconverted scholar, this person has knowledge of the Gospel that the unconverted scholar can never have apart from conversion.

The preacher of the “Gospel” can preach with much motion and some feeling, but that can come from nothing but the flesh. The preacher who has much knowledge can give facts about the Gospel, but what is needed is a preacher who has tasted and knows that the Lord is good. The preacher can then not only give the historical facts, but can relate how the Lord tastes (as such) and preach the experience of these things. The preacher who has been taught of God can give more than words, but now he can preach with power of spiritual realities. As long as preachers stick with the doctrines and words alone, they will have no true power and no spiritual fruit. They will only describe things to the physical man and preaching to the inward man will be neglected or even forgotten.

We have plenty of external “preaching” and external moral lectures. We have plenty of professing churches that would fit with the Pharisees (in a way) or with the libertines. But what we are missing is preaching with power to the inward man. This can only happen when a man has tasted free-grace and will be satisfied with nothing less in preaching this to others. As a man cannot speak about the taste of honey unless he has tasted it, so a man cannot preach about free-grace unless he has tasted free-grace. A man cannot preach on what a broken heart is unless he has had a broken heart. A man cannot preach about the conviction of the Spirit unless the Spirit has convicted him. True Christianity has gone begging because men will not taste of truth before they try to preach it which fits with the things of God being limited to external things. Christianity is life and not just external things.