“Bukan orang sehat yang memerlukan tabib, tetapi orang sakit” (Matius 9:12).
Pada hari ini arti dari teks kita ini hampir dilupakan. Kita dibanjiri dengan khotbah-khotbah yang mengatakan kepada kita bagaimana menjadi makmur, bagaimana mereka lebih baik, bagaimana caranya memiliki keluarga yang lebih baik, bagaimana untuk menjadi lebih bahagia, bagaimana untuk sukses, dan bagaimana memperoleh kesembuhan jasmani. Kita sedang dibanjiri oleh apa yang disebut khotbah-khotbah “ekspositori”, kuliah dari perikop Kitab Suci yang panjang. Metode ini diperkenalkan oleh Plymouth Brethren, dan bukan datang dari warisan sejarah Baptis kita. Ini biasanya sungguh membosankan. Semua khotbah cenderung kelihatan seperti itu. Banyak orang tidak mengingat apa yang dikhotbahkan, karena terlalu banyak ide yang disampaikan dalam “eksposisi-eksposisi” modern ini. Semua itu sebenarnya bukanlah khotbah, namun studi-studi Alkitab yang rumit yang disampaikan kepada orang-orang Kristen, bahkan walaupun banyak orang di dalam jemaat itu belum bertobat!
Di mana, oh di mana, para pengkhotbah yang pusat khotbahnya adalah kelahiran kembali dan pertobatan? Di manakah orang-orang yang topik utama khotbahnya berpusat pada Kristus, sang dokter atau tabib jiwa-jiwa – satu-satunya yang dapat menyelamatkan kita dari dosa, Neraka, dan kubur? Itu adalah kebutuhan yang harus diserukan pada hari ini! Itu adalah apa yang generasi Anda butuhkan, yaitu mendengarkan dengan keras dan jelas pada saat gelapnya sejarah dunia ini. Ketika negeri kita sedang mengalami disintegrasi dan bangsa-bangsa dunia bangkit dalam kekacauan dan pemberontakan – kita kembali membutuhkan untuk mendengar lagi dari mimbar-mimbar kita Injil yang menyelamatkan jiwa dari bapa leluhur kita!
Kita sudah mendengar: Yesus Jurus’lamat!
Mari jadikan tenar: Yesus Jurus’lamat
Ya, kabarkanlah cepat, Pada orang yang sesat;
Tuhan t’lah beramanat: Yesus Jurus’lamat!
(“Jesus Saves” by Priscilla J. Owens, 1829-1907 Terjemahan Nyanyian Pujian No. 111).
Yesus menyelamatkan kita dari apa? Tidak harus dari kemiskinan. Banyak orang Kristen besar dalam sejarah hidup di dalam kemiskinan. Tidak harus dari sakit penyakit. Banyak orang Kristen besar dalam sejarah menderita oleh karena penyakit. Yesus mati di kayu Salib dan bangkit dari antara orang mati untuk menyelamatkan kita dari dosa! Itu adalah berita utama dari Alkitab! “Kristus telah mati karena dosa-dosa kita, sesuai dengan Kitab Suci” (I Korintus 15:3). Itu adalah jantung dari Injil. Marilah kita memperdengarkan ini kembali, berkhotbah dengan semangat sampai berkeringat di mimbar-mimbar kita!
“Kristus Yesus datang ke dunia untuk menyelamatkan orang berdosa” (I Timotius 1:15).
Selanjutnya, ketika kita memperhatikan teks kita, kita mengetahui bahwa Yesus sedang duduk dalam perjamuan makan di rumah Matius. Banyak pemungut cukai dan orang berdosa yang duduk untuk makan bersama dengan Yesus. “Para pemungut cukai” adalah para penarik pajak yang berkerja untuk pemerintah Romawi. Orang-orang Yahudi Orthodoks membenci mereka karena mereka bekerja untuk Romawi dan mengambil banyak uang yang mereka tarik sebagai pajak untuk diri mereka sendiri. Orang-orang Farisi adalah orang-orang Yahudi Orthodoks pada waktu itu. “Mereka berpikir bahwa para pemungut cukai adalah para pencuri dan pengkhianat bagi bangsa Yahudi. “Orang-orang berdosa” adalah orang-orang yang orang Farisi anggap sebagai orang Yahudi yang tidak layak karena mereka tidak menjalankan tradisi-tradisi rabinik. Mereka dianggap sebagai orang yang sangat “berdosa” oleh orang-orang Farisi karena mereka tidak mengikuti aturan-aturan dan tradisi dari para rabi.
Kita harus memahami bahwa “para pemungut cukai” dan “orang berdosa” bukanlah para pengguran di jalanan, atau pecandu narkotika, atau orang-orang kaya. Bukan gelandangan dan juga bukan orang-orang kaya. Tak seorangpun dari antara orang yang makan bersama Yesus itu adalah para pecandu obat-obatan. Semua dari pemungut cukai dan yang disebut orang-orang berdosa di sini adalah orang-orang yang bekerja. Namun mereka dijauhi oleh orang-orang Farisi.
Ketika orang-orang Farisi melihat Yesus duduk dengan orang-orang yang mereka jauhi ini “mereka kepada murid-murid Yesus: “Mengapa gurumu makan bersama-sama dengan pemungut cukai dan orang berdosa?” (Matius 9:11). Ketika Yesus mendengar apa yang dikatakan oleh orang-orang Farisi itu, Ia berkata kepada mereka
“Bukan orang sehat yang memerlukan tabib, tetapi orang sakit” (Matius 9:12).
Orang-orang Farisi berpikir bahwa diri mereka adalah orang-orang yang baik – bahwa diri mereka benar dan tidak membutuhkan keselamatan karena mereka telah memelihara aturan-aturan Yudaisme Orthodoks. Para pemungut cukai dan orang-orang berdosa yang dikucilkan tahu bahwa diri mereka bukanlah orang benar. Ini membuat mereka menjadi calon penerima keselamatan yang lebih baik dari para orang-orang Farisi yang meninggikan kebenarannya sendiri..
“Bukan orang sehat yang memerlukan tabib, tetapi orang sakit” (Matius 9:12). (more…)
“Mereka mengobati luka umat-Ku dengan memandangnya ringan, katanya: Damai sejahtera! Damai sejahtera!, tetapi tidak ada damai sejahtera” (Yeremia 6:14).
Khotbah: Berkat Allah terbesar yang dikirim kepada suatu bangsa adalah para pengkhotbah yang baik dan setia. Namun kutuk Allah yang terbesar yang dikirim kepada banyak bangsa adalah dengan membiarkan gereja-gereja dipimpin oleh para pengkhotbah yang masih belum bertobat yang hanya memikir dan mencari uang belaka. Namun di setiap masa ada para pengkhotbah palsu yang memberikan khotbah-khotbah yang lembut. Ada banyak pendeta seperti ini yang merusak dan memutar-balikkan Alkitab untuk menyesatkan orang.
Itulah yang terjadi pada zaman Yeremia. Dan Yeremia berbicara melawan mereka dalam ketaatan penuh kepada Allah. Ia membuka mulutnya dan berkhotbah melawan para pengkhotbah duniawi/kedagingan ini. Jika Anda membaca bukunya, Anda akan melihat bahwa tidak ada seorangpun pernah berbicara lebih keras melawan para pengkhotbah palsu dari pada Yeremia. Ia berbicara dengan tegas melawan mereka dalam pasal yang berisi ayat kita ini.
“Mereka mengobati luka umat-Ku dengan memandangnya ringan, katanya: Damai sejahtera! Damai sejahtera!, tetapi tidak ada damai sejahtera” (Yeremia 6:14).
Yeremia berkata bahwa mereka hanya berkhotbah demi uang. Dalam ayat tiga belas, Yeremia berkata,
“Sesungguhnya, dari yang kecil sampai yang besar di antara mereka, semuanya mengejar untung, baik nabi maupun imam semuanya melakukan tipu” (Yeremia 6:13).
Mereka adalah orang-orang yang tamak dan mengkhotbahkan dusta.
Dalam ayat kita ini, ia menunjukkan salah satu cara bagaimana mereka mengkhotbahkan dusta. Ia menunjukkan cara menipu yang mereka terapkan bagi jiwa-jiwa terhilang:
“Mereka mengobati luka umat-Ku dengan memandangnya ringan, katanya: Damai sejahtera! Damai sejahtera!, tetapi tidak ada damai sejahtera” (Yeremia 6:14).
Allah telah berkata kepada nabi ini untuk memperingatkan rakyat tentang akan datangnya perang. Allah ingin ia mengatakan kepada mereka bahwa rumah-rumah mereka akan dihancurkan – perang itu akan segera datang (lihat Yeremia 6:11-12). (more…)
The more violence we put forth in religion, the greater measure of glory we shall have.
14. The more violence we put forth in religion, the greater measure of glory we shall have. That there are degrees in glory in Heaven seems to me beyond dispute.
1. There are degrees of torment in Hell; therefore, by the rule of contraries, there are degrees of glory in Heaven.
2. The Scripture speaks of a prophet’s reward, Matt. x. 41. which is a degree above others.
3. The saints are said to shine as the stars, Dan. xii. Now one star differeth from another in glory. So that there are gradations of happiness; and of this judgment is Calvin; as also many of the ancient fathers. Consider then seriously, the more violent we are for Heaven, and the more work we do for God, the greater will be our reward. The hotter our zeal, the brighter our crown. Could we hear the blessed souls departed speaking to us from Heaven, surely they would say, Were we to leave heaven awhile and to dwell on the earth again, we would do God a thousand times more service than we have ever done; we would pray with more life, act with more zeal; for now we see that the more we have labored, the more astonishing is our joy and the more flourishing our crown.
15. Upon our violence for the kingdom God hath promised mercy. Matt. vii. 7. — Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
1. Ask. Ask with importunity. A faint asking begs a denial. King Ahasuerus stood with his golden scepter and said to queen Esther, ask, and it shall be given, to the half of the kingdom. But God saith more; ask and he will give you the whole kingdom, Luke xii. 32. It is observable, that the door of the tabernacle was not of brass, but had a thin covering, a veil, that they might easily enter into it: So the door of Heaven is made easy through Christ’s blood, that our prayers put up in fervency may enter. — Upon our asking, God has promised to give his spirit, Luke xi.13. And if he gives his Spirit, he will give his kingdom; the Spirit first anoints, 1 John ii. 27, and after his anointing oil comes the crown.
2. ‘Seek, and ye shall find.’ But, is it not said, ‘Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able?’ Luke xiii. 24. I answer, that that is because they seek in a wrong manner.
Having answered these objections, let me reassume the exhortation, pressing all christians to this violence for the heavenly kingdom. As David’s three worthies ventured their lives, and brake through the host of the Philistines for water, 2 Sam. xxiii. 46, — Such a kind of violence must we use, breaking through all dangers for obtaining the ‘water of life.‘
1. Consider the deplorable condition we are in by nature; a state of misery and damnation; therefore what violence should we use to get out of it? Were one plunged into quicksands, would he not use violence to get out? Sin is a quicksand, and is it not wisdom to extricate ourselves out? David being encomÂpassed with enemies, said ‘His soul was among lions,’ Psalm lvii. 4. ‘Tis true in a spiritual sense, our soul is among lions. Every sin is a lion that would devour us, and if we are in the lion’s den, should not we use violence to get out? The angels used violence to Lot; they laid hold on him and pulled him out of Sodom, Gen. xix. 16. Such violence must be used to get out of the spiritual Sodom. It is not safe to stay in the enemy’s quarters.
2. It is possible that in the use of means we may arrive at happiness. Impossibility destroys endeavor; but here is a door of hopeopened. The thing is feasible. It is not with us as with the damned in hell; there is a tomb-stone rolled over them. But while we are under the sound of Aaron’s bell, and the silver trumpet of the gospel is blown in our ears, while the spirit of grace breathes on us, and we are on this side of the grave, there is great hope that by holy violence we may win Paradise. An absolute impossibility of salvation is only for those who have sinned against the Holy Ghost, and cannot repent; but who these are is a secret sealed up in God’s book: else here is great encouragement to all to be serious and earnest in the matters of eternity, because they are yet in a capacity of mercy, no final sentence is already passed; God hath not yet taken up the drawbridge of mercy. Though the gate of Paradise is strait, yet it is not shut. This should be as oil to the wheels, to make us lively and active in the business of salvation. — Therefore as the husbandman plows in hope, James v. so we should pray in hope; do all our work for heaven in hope; for the white flag of mercy is yet held forth. So long as there was corn to be had in Egypt, the sons of Jacob would not sit starving at home, Gen. xliii. 3. So there is a kingdom to be obtained; therefore let us not sit starving in our sins any longer.
This violence for Heaven is the grand business of our lives: What did we come into the world for else? We did not come here only to eat and drink, and wear fine clothes; but the end of our living is, to be violent for the kingdom of glory. Should the body only be tended, this were be to trim the scabbard, and let the blade rust; to preserve the lumber, and let the child be burnt. God sends us into the world as a merchant sends his goods to trade for him beyond the seas. — So God sends us here to follow a spiritual trade, to serve him and save our souls. If we spend all our time aut aliud agendo, aut nihil, in dressing and pampering our bodies, or idle visits, we shall give but a sad account to God, when he shall send us a letter of summons by death and bid us give an account of our stewardship. Were not he much to be blamed who would have a great deal of timber given him to build a house if he only cut all this brave timber into chips? Just so is the case of many; God gives them precious time in which they are to provide for a kingdom, and they waste this time of life and cut it all into chips. Let this excite violence in the things of God. It is the main errand of our living here and shall we go through the world and forget our errand?
Examination and Objections
3. Let us then examine whether we put forth this holy violence for Heaven? What is an empty profession without this? Like a lamp without oil. Let us all ask ourselves, what violence do we use for Heaven?
1. Do we strive with our hearts to get them into an holy frame? How did David awaken all the powers of his soul to serve God, Psalm lxxxvii. 6. ‘I myself will awake early.’ The heart is like a bell that is a long while rising.
2. Do we set time apart to call ourselves to account, and to try our evidences for Heaven? Psalm lxxxvii. 6.’My spirit made diligent search.’ Do we take our hearts as a watch all in pieces, to see what is amiss and to mend it? Are we curiously inquisitive into the state of our souls? Are we afraid of artificial grace, as of artificial happiness?
3. Do we use violence in prayer? Is there fire in our sacrifice? Doth the wind of the Spirit, filling our sails, cause ‘groans unutterable?’ Rom. viii. 25. Do we pray in the morning as if we were to die at night?
4. Do we thirst for the living God? Are our souls big with holy desires? Psalm lxxiii. 25. ‘There is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.’ Do were desire holiness as well as Heaven? Do we desire as much to look like Christ, as to live with Christ? Is our desire constant? Is this spiritual pulse ever beating?
5. Are we skilled in self-denial? Can we deny our ease, our aims, our interest? Can we cross our own will to fulfill God’s? Can we behead our beloved sin? To pluck out the right eye requires violence.
6. Are we lovers of God? It is not how much we do, but how much we love. Doth love command the castle of our hearts? Does Christ’s beauty and sweetness constrain us? 2 Cor. v. 14. Do we love God more than we fear hell?
7. Do we keep our spiritual watch? Do we set spies in every place, watching our thoughts, our eyes, our tongues? When we have prayed against sin, do we watch against temptation? The Jews, having sealed the stone of Christ’s sepulcher, ‘set a watch,’ Matt. xxvii. 66. After we have been at the word, or sacrament, (that sealing ordinance) do we set a watch?
8. Do we press after further degrees of sanctity? Phil iii. 13. ‘Reaching forth unto those things which are before.’ A good Christian is a wonder; he is the most contented yet the least satisfied: he is contented with a little of the world, but not satisfied with a little grace; he would have still more faith and be anointed with fresh oil. Paul desired to ‘attain unto the resurrection of the dead,’ Phil. iii. 11, that is, he endeavored (if possible) to arrive at such a measure of grace as the saints shall have at the resurrection.
9. Is there an holy emulation in us? Do we labor to out-shine others in religion? — To be more eminent for love and good works? Do we something which is singular? Matt. v. 47. ‘What do ye more than others?’
10. Are we got above the world? Though we walk on earth, do we trade in Heaven? Can we say as David? Psalm cxxxxix. 17. ‘I am still with thee.’ This requires violence; for motions upward are usually violent.
11. Do we set ourselves always under God’s eye? Psalm xvi. 8. ‘I have set the Lord always before me.’ Do we live soberly and godly, remembering that whatever we are doing our Judge looks on?
Out of this text I may draw forth several arrows of reproof.
It reproves slothful Christians who are settled on their knees: they make a lazy profession of religion, but use no violence. — They are like the lilies, which toil not, neither do they spin. The snail, by reason of its slow motion, was reckoned among the unclean, Levit. xi. 30. St. Augustine calls idleness the burial of a man alive. There are some faint wishes, oh that I had Heaven! but a man may desire venison, and want it, if he does not hunt for it.� Prov. xiii. 4. ‘The soul of the sluggard wisheth and hath nothing.’
—- Neque mola, neque farina —-
Men could be content to have the kingdom of Heaven; but they are loath to fight for it. They choose rather to go in a feather bed to Hell than to be carried to Heaven in a ‘fiery chariot’ of zeal and violence. How many sleep away, and play away, their time; as if they were made like the Leviathan, to play in the sea! Psalm civ. 26. It is a saying of Seneca, ‘No man is made wise by chance.’ Sure it is, no man is saved by chance, buthe must know how he came by it, namely, by offering violence. Such as have accustomed themselves to an idle, lazy temper will find it hard to shake off, Cant. v. 3. ‘I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on?’ The spouse had laid herself upon the bed of sloth, and though Christ knocked at the door, she was loath to rise and let him in. Some pretend to be believers, but are idle in the vineyard. — They pretend to make use of faith for seeing, but not for working; this faith is fancy. O that Christians had a spirit of activity in them, 1 Chron. xxii. 16. ‘Arise and be doing, and the Lord be with thee.’� We may sometimes learn of our enemy. The Devil is never idle; he ‘walketh about,’ 1 Peter v. 8. The world is his diocese and he is every day going on his visitation. Is satan active? Is the enemy upon his march coming against us? And are we asleep upon our guard? As Satan himself is not idle, so he will not endure that any of his servants should be idle. When the Devil had entered into Judas, how active was Judas! He goes to the high priest, from thence to the band of soldiers and with them back to the garden, and never left till he had betrayed Christ. Satan will not endure an idle servant; and do we think God will? How will the heathen rise up in judgment against slothful Christians! What pains did they take in the Olympian games: they ran for a garland of flowers, and do we stand still who run for a crown of immortality? Certainly, if only the violent take Heaven, the idle person will never come there. God puts no difference between these two, slothful and wicked, Matt. xxv. 26.‘Thou wicked and slothful servant.’ (more…)
Fourthly, we must offer violence to Heaven. ‘The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence.’ Though Heaven is given us freely, yet we must take pains for it. Canaan was given Israel freely, but they had to fight with the Canaanites. It is not a lazy wish, or a sleepy prayer, will bring us to Heaven; we must offer violence. Therefore in Scripture our earnestness for Heaven is shown by those allegories and metaphors which imply violence.
1. Sometimes by striving. Luke xiii.24. ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate.’-The Greek signifies, Strive as in an agony.
2. Wrestling, which is a violent exercise. Eph. vi. 12. We are to wrestle with a body of sin, and with the powers of hell.
3. Running in a race, 1 Cor. ix.24. ‘So run that ye may obtain.’ We have a long race from earth to Heaven, but a little time to run; it will soon be sunset. Therefore, so run. In a race there’s not only a laying aside of all weights that hinder, but a putting forth of all the strength of the body; a straining every joint that men may press on with all swiftness to lay hold on the prize. Thus Paul pressed towards the mark. Phil. iii:14. Alas, where is this holy violence to be found?
2. We must offer violence to Satan. Satan opposeth us both by open violence, and secret treachery. By open violence, so he is called the Red Dragon; by secret treachery, so he is called the Old Serpent. We read in Scripture of his snares and darts; he hurts more by his snares than by his darts.
1. His Violence. He labours to storm the castle of the heart; he stirs up passion, lust, and revenge. These are called ‘fiery darts,’ Ephes. vi.16 because they oft set the soul on fire. Satan in regard to his fierceness is called a Lion, 1 Peter iv. 6. ‘Your adversary the Devil is a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.’ Not (saith Chrysostom) whom he may bite, but devour.
2. His Treachery. What he cannot do by force, he will endeavor to do by fraud. Satan hath several subtle policies in tempting.
In suiting his temptations to the complexion and temper of the body, Satan studies physiognomy, and lays suitable baits. — He knew Achan’s s covetous humour, and tempted him with a wedge of gold. He tempts the sanguine man with beauty.
2. Another subtlety is to draw men to evil, sub specie boni, under a pretence of good. — The pirate doeth mischief by hanging out false colours; so does Satan by hanging out the colours of religion. He puts some men upon sinful actions, and persuades them much good will come of it. He tells them in some cases that they may dispense with the rule of the Word, and stretch their conscience beyond that line, that they may be in a capacity of doing more service. As if God needed our sin to raise his glory.
3. Satan tempts to sin gradually. As the husbandman digs about the root of a tree, and by degrees loosens it, and at last it falls. Satan steals by degrees into the heart: he is at first more modest: he did not say to Eve at first, Eat the apple; no, but he goes more subtly to work; he puts forth a question. Hath God said? Sure Eve, thou art mistaken; the bountiful God never intended to debar one of the best trees of the garden. Hath God said? Sure, either God did not say it; or if he did, he never really intended it. Thus by degrees he wrought her to distrust and then she took of the fruit and ate. Oh, take heed of Satan’s first motions to sin, that seem more modest — principiis obsta. He is first a fox, and then a lion.
The Christian Soldier; or Heaven Taken by Storm (Part 6, by sanctifying the Lord’s Day and holy conversation)
The sixth duty wherein we must offer violence to ourselves, is the religious sanctifying of the Lord’s day. That there should be a day of holy rest dedicated to God appears from its institution. ‘Remember to keep holy the Sabbath.’ Our Christian Sabbath comes in the room of the Jewish Sabbath: it is called the Lord’s day, Rev. i.10. from Christ the author of it. Our Sabbath is altered by Christ’s own appointment. He arose this day out of the grave, and appeared on it often to His disciples, 1 Cor. xvi. 1: to intimate to them (saith Athanasius) that he transferred the Sabbath to the Lord’s day. And St. Austin saith that by Christ’s rising on the first day of the week, it was consecrated to be the Christian Sabbath, in remembrance of his resurrection. This day was anciently called dies lucis, the day of light, as Junius observes. The other days of the week would be dark, were it not for the shining of the sun of righteousness on this day. This day hath been called by the ancients, regina dierum, the queen of days. And St. Hierom prefers this day above all solemn festivals. The primitive church had this day in high veneration: it was a great badge of their religion: for when the question was asked, servasti dominicum?, keepest thou the Sabbath?; the answer was, Christianus sum, I am a Christian; I dare not omit the celebration of the Lord’s day! What great cause do we have to thankfully remember this day! As the benefit of Israel’s deliverance from the Babylonish captivity was so great that it drowned the remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt, Jer. xvi. 14: so the benefit of our deliverance from Satan’s captivity and the rising of Christ after finishing the glorious work of our redemption are so famous, that in respect of his other benefits, receive as it were in diminution. Great was the work of creation; but greater the work of redemption. It cost more to redeem us than to make us. In the one, there was only the speaking a word, Psalm cxlviii. 5: in the other, the shedding of blood, Heb. ix. 22. The creation was the work of God’s fingers, Psalm viii. 3: the redemption, the work of his arm, Luke i. 5. In creation God gave us ourselves; in redemption he gives us himself. So that the Sabbath, putting us in mind of our redemption, ought to be observed with the highest devotion. — Herein we must offer holy violence to ourselves.
When this blessed day approacheth, we should labour, that as the day is sanctified, so may our hearts be sanctified. (more…)
5. The fifth duty wherein we are to offer violence to ourselves, self-examination; a duty of great importance: it is a parleying with one’s own heart, Psalm lxxxvii. 7. ‘I commune with mye own heart.’ David did put interrogatories to himself. Self-examination is the setting up a court in conscience and keeping a register there, that by strict scrutiny a man may know how things stand between God and his own soul. Self-examination is a spiritual inquisition; a bringing one’s self to trial. A good Christian doth as it were begin the day of Judgment here in his own soul. Self-searching is a heart-anatomy. As a Chirurgeon, when he makes a dissection in the body, discovers the intestina, the inward parts, the heart, liver, and arteries, so a Christian anatomizeth himself; he searcheth what is flesh and what is spirit; what is sin, and what is grace, Psalm lxxvii. 7. ‘My spirit made diligent search:’ As the woman in the Gospel did light a candle, and search for her lost groat, Luke xv. 8. so conscience ‘is the candle of the Lord,’ Prov. xx. 27. A Christian by the light of this candle must search his soul to see if he can find any grace there. The rule by which a Christian must try himself, is the Word of God. Fancy and opinion are false rules to go by. We must judge of our spiritual condition by the canon of Scripture. This David calls a ‘lamp unto his feet,’ Psalm cxix. 105. Let the word be the umpire to decide the controversy, whether we have grace or no. We judge of colours by the sun. So we must judge of the state of souls by the light of Scripture.
Self-examination is a great, incumbent duty; it requires self-excitation; it cannot possibly be done without offering violence to ourselves. 1. Because the duty of self-examination in itself is difficult: 1. It is actus reflexivus, a work of self-reflection;it lies most with the heart. ‘Tis hard to look inward. External acts ofreligion are facile; to lift up the eye to Heaven, to bow the knee, to read aprayer; this requires no more labor than for a Catholic to tell over his beads;but to examine a man’s self, to turn in upon his own soul, to take the heart asa watch all in pieces, and see what is defective; this is not easy. — Reflective acts are hardest. The eye cansee everything but itself. It is easy to spy the faults of others, but hard tofind out our own. (more…)
3. The third duty wherein we are to offer violence to ourselves, is in prayer. Prayer is a duty which keeps the trade of religion flowing. When we either join in prayer with others, or pray alone, we must use holy violence; not eloquence in prayer, but violence carries it. Theodorus, speaking of Luther, ‘once (says he) I overheard him in prayer: but, (good God), with what life and spirit did he pray! It was with so much reverence, as if he were speaking to God, yet with so much confidence, as if he had been speaking to his friend.’ There must be a stirring up of the heart,
1.To prayer. 2. In prayer.
1. A stirring up of the heart to prayer, Job xi. 13. ‘If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him.’ This preparing of our heart by holy thoughts and ejaculations. The musician first tunes his instrument before he plays.
2. There must be a stirring up of the heart in prayer. Prayer is a lifting up of the mind and soul to God, which cannot be done aright without offering violence to one-self. The names given to prayer imply violence. It is called wrestling, Gen. xxxii. 24. and a pouring out of the soul, 1 Sam. i. 15. both of which imply vehemency. The affection is required as well as invention — The apostle speaks of an effectual fervent prayer, which is a parallel phrase to offering violence.
Alas, how far from offering violence to themselves in prayer, 1. That give God a dead, heartless prayer. God would not have the blind offered, Mal. i. 8; as good offer the blind is as offering the dead. Some are half asleep when they pray, and will a sleepy prayer ever awaken God? Such as mind not their own prayers, how do they think that God should mind them? Those prayers God likes best which come seething hot from the heart.
1. We must provoke ourselves to reading of the word. What an infinite mercy it is that God hath honoured us with the Scriptures! The barbarous Indians have not the oracles of God made known to them; they have the golden mines, but not the Scriptures which are more to be desired ‘than much fine gold,’ Psalm xix. 10. Our Savior bids us ‘search the Scriptures’, John v.39. We must not read these holy lines carelessly, as if they did not concern us, or run over them hastily, as Israel ate the passover in haste; but peruse them with reverence and seriousness. The noble Bereans did ‘search the Scriptures daily,’ Acts xvii.11. The Scripture is the pandect of divine knowledge; it is the rule and touchstone of truth; out of this well we draw the water of life. To provoke to a diligent reading of the word, labor to have a right notion of Scripture.
Read the word as a book made by God Himself. It is given ‘by divine inspiration’ 2 Tim. iii.16. It is the library of the Holy Ghost. The prophets and apostles were but God’s amanuenses or notaries to write the law at his mouth. The word is of divine original, and reveals the deep things of God to us. There is a numen, or sense of deity engraven in man’s heart and is to be read in the book of the creatures; quaelibet herba Deum; but who this God is, and the Trinity of persons in the Godhead, is infinitely, above the light of reason; only God Himself could make this known. So for the incarnation of Christ; God and man hypostatically united in one person; the mystery of imputed righteousness; the doctrine of faith: what angel in heaven, who but God himself, could reveal these things to us? How this may provoke to diligence and seriousness in reading the word which is divinely inspired. Other books may be written by holy men, but this book is indicted by the Holy Ghost. (more…)
1. He must offer violence to himself — This self-violence consists in two things:
1. Mortification of sin.
2. Provocation to duty.
1. Offering violence to one’s self, in a spiritual sense, consists in mortification of sin: Self is the flesh; this we must offer violence to. Hierom,, Chrysostom, and Theophilact, do all expound taking Heaven by force, the mortifying of the flesh; the flesh is a bosom traitor; it is like the Trojan horse within the walls which doth all the mischief. The flesh is a sly enemy; at first it is dulce venenum, afterwards scorpio pungens, it kills by embracing. The embraces of the flesh are like the ivy embracing the oak; which sucks out the strength of it for its own leaves and berries: So the flesh by its soft embraces, sucks out of the heart all good, Gal. v. 17. The flesh lusteth against the spirit. The pampering of the flesh, is the quenching of God’s spirit. The flesh chokes and stifles holy motions: the flesh sides with Satan and is true to its interest. There is a party within that will not pray, that will not believe. The flesh inclines us more to believe a temptation than a promise. There needs no wind to blow to sin when this tide within is so strong to carry us thither. The flesh is so near to us, its counsels are more attractive: no chain of adamant which binds so fast as the chain of lust. Alexander, who was victor mundi, conqueror of the world, was captious vitiorum, led captive by vice. Now a man must offer violence to his fleshly desires if he will be saved, Col. iii. 5. ‘Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.’ The mortifying and killing sin at the root, is when we not only forbear the acts of sin, but hate the inbeing. Plurimi peccata radunt non eradicant. Bern.
Nay, where sin has received its deadly wound, and is in part abated, yet the work of mortification is not to be laid aside. The Apostle persuades the believing Romans to ‘mortify the deeds of the flesh, Rom. viii.13. In the best of saints there is something which needs mortifying; much pride, envy, and passion; therefore mortification is called crucifixion, Gal. v. 24. which is not done suddenly: every day some limb of the ‘body of death’ must drop off. Nothing harder than a rock, (saith Cyrill), yet in the clefts thereof some weed or other will fasten its roots. None stronger than a believer, yet do what he can, sin will fasten its roots in him, and spring out sometimes with inordinate desires. There is always something needs mortifying. Hence it was St. Paul did ‘beat down his body,’ by prayer, watching, and fasting, 1 Cor. ix. 27.
Matthew XI. 12 The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
John the Baptist, hearing in prison of the fame of Christ, sends two of his disciples to Him with this question, Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another? verse 3. Not (as Tertullian thinks) that John Baptist knew not that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, for he was confirmed in this both by the Spirit of God and by a sign from heaven (John i:33). But John Baptist hereby endeavored to correct the ignorance of his own disciples who had a greater respect for him than for Christ.
In the fourth verse Christ answers their question, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, &c. Jesus Christ demonstrates Himself to be the true Messiah by His miracles which were real and occular proofs of His divinity. John’s disciples being departed, Christ falls into a high praise and commendation of John Baptist, Verse 7. What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? As if Christ had said, John Baptist was no unconstant man, fluctuating in his mind and being shaken as a reed from one opinion to another; he was no Reuben, unstable as water, but was fixed and resolute in religion, and a prison could make no alteration in him.
by Thomas Watson, 1681
B. The second good effect of the saints piety—was that God RECORDED it. “A book of remembrance was written before him”; the word in the original for “book of remembrance” signifies “a book of memorials” or “monuments”. The words immediately foregoing recite God’s hearkening and hearing; but lest any should say, though God does at the present hear the holy speech and thoughts of his children—yet may they not in time slip out of his mind? Therefore these words are added, “a book of remembrance was written before him.” The Lord did not only hear the godly speeches of the saints—but recorded them, and wrote them down! “A book of remembrance was written.”
This is spoken after the manner of men—not that God has any book of records by him. He does not need to write down anything for the help of his memory. He is not subject to forgetfulness. Things done a thousand years ago are as fresh to him—as if they were done but yesterday: “A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past” (Psalm 90:4).
This “book of remembrance”, therefore, is a borrowed form of speech, taken from kings, who have their chronicles wherein they note memorable things. King Ahasuerus had his book of records, wherein were written the worthy deeds of Mordecai (Esther 6:1-2). Just so, God bears in mind, all the godly speeches and pious actions of his children. God’s particular and critical assessment is a book of records, where nothing can be lost or torn out. (more…)
by Thomas Watson, 1681
The Godly Should SPEAK of God
Having done with the character of the godly in general terms, I proceed next to their special characteristics: “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other“. When the wicked said, “It is vain to serve God”, then “Then those who feared the Lord talked often with each other“. The meaning of this word, they “talked often”, is they discoursed piously together; their tongues were divinely tuned by the Holy Spirit.
Christians, when they meet together, should be much in “holy conference”. This is not only an advice—but a charge: “You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again.” (Deut. 6:6). Indeed, where there is grace poured in—it will effuse out! Grace changes the language—and makes it spiritual. When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, they “spoke with other tongues” (Acts 2:4). Grace makes Christian speak with other tongues. A godly Christian not only has the law of God in his heart (Psalm 37:31)—but in his tongue! (verse 30). The body is the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19). The tongue is the organ in this temple, which sounds in holy discourse! “The tongue of the just is as choice silver” (Prov. 10:20). He drops silver sentences, enriching others with spiritual knowledge! “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him; and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:35-37). In the godly man’s heart, there is a treasury of goodness, and this is not like a bag of hidden money—but he brings something out of the treasury within—to the enriching of others.
by Thomas Watson, 1681
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” Ecclesiastes 12:12. Books are the “children of the brain”. In this writing age, when they are brought forth ad nauseam, I intended that my pen should have been silent—but the variety and weightiness of this subject, as also the desire of some friends, did prevail with me to publish it. The main design of this excellent Scripture, is to encourage solid piety, and confute the atheists of the world, who imagine there is no gain in godliness. It was the speech of King Saul to his servants, “Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards?” (1 Samuel 22:7). Will the world or men’s lusts give them such noble recompenses of reward—as God bestows upon his followers! Surely, it is holiness which carries away the garland!
As for this treatise, it comes abroad in a plain dress: truth like a diamond—shines brightest in its native luster! Paul did not come to the Corinthians with excellency of speech, or the pride of oratory—his study was not to court—but convert. It is an unhappiness that, in these luxuriant times, religion should for the most part run either into notion or ceremony; the spirits of true religion are evaporated. When knowledge is turned into soul food, and digested into practice—then it is saving. That God would accompany these few imperfect lines with the operation and benediction of his Holy Spirit, and make them edifying—is the prayer of him who is
Hari Pentakosta, yang terjadi 10 hari setelah kenaikan Yesus ke surga atau 50 hari setelah kebangkitan Yesus, adalah hari turunnya / dicurahkannya Roh Kudus. Kalau dahulu Roh Kudus hanya diberikan kepada orang-orang tertentu saja (seperti nabi dsb), maka sejak hari Pentakosta dalam Kis 2:1-13 Roh Kudus diberikan kepada semua orang yang percaya kepada Yesus (Kis 2:38 Ef 1:13).
Roh Kudus itu menghendaki supaya kita menjadi kudus dan Ia memimpin dan mengarahkan kita pada kekudusan. Karena itulah setiap orang percaya pasti berjuang untuk hidup kudus dan membuang dosa. Ini ciri dari orang percaya yang sejati!
Tetapi bagaimanapun kita semua tentu pernah merasakan adanya dosa-dosa yang terus melekat dalam diri kita, di dalam dosa mana kita sering jatuh bangun, sehingga tidak jarang kita mengalami perasaan frustrasi karena hal ini.
Karena itulah maka hari ini saya akan membahas tentang mortification.
Banyak orang berpendapat bahwa self-confidence (= keyakinan / kepercayaan kepada diri sendiri) adalah sesuatu yang sangat penting untuk bisa sukses, baik dalam hal bekerja, maupun study, olah raga, mencari pacar, melayani Tuhan dsb.
I) Sikap Kitab Suci terhadap self-confidence.
Ay 13 menunjukkan orang yang mempunyai self-confidence. Adanya self-confidence itu menyebabkan orang itu bisa memastikan akan:
- saat keberangkatannya (‘hari ini atau besok’).
- tujuannya (‘kota anu’).
- lamanya ia tinggal di sana (‘1 tahun’).
- apa yang akan dikerjakan di sana (‘berdagang’).
- kesuksesannya (‘akan mendapat untung’).
Apakah Yakobus / Kitab Suci memuji orang itu karena self-confidence yang dimilikinya? (more…)
What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ? You live in a Christian land. You probably attend the worship of a Christian church. You have perhaps been baptised in the name of Christ. You profess and call yourself a Christian. All this is well: it is more than can be said of millions in the world. But all this is no answer to my question, “What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?”
I want to tell you what the greatest Christian that ever lived thought of the cross of Christ. He has written down his opinion: he has given his judgment in words that cannot be mistaken. The man I mean is the Apostle Paul. The place where you will find his opinion, is in the letter which the Holy Ghost inspired him to write to the Galatians; and the words in which his judgement is set down, are these : “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now what did Paul mean by saying this? He meant to declare strongly, that he trusted in nothing but Jesus Christ crucified for the pardon of his sins and the salvation of his soul. Let others, if they would, look elsewhere for salvation; let others, if they were so disposed, trust in other things for pardon and peace: for his part the apostle was determined to rest on nothing, lean on nothing, build his hope on nothing, place confidence in nothing, glory in nothing, except “the cross of Jesus Christ.”
Reader, let me talk to you about this subject: Believe me, it is one of the deepest importance. This is no mere question of controversy; this is not one of those points on which men may agree to differ, and feel that differences will not shut them out of heaven. A man must be right on this subject, or he is lost for ever. Heaven or hell, happiness or misery, life or death, blessing or cursing in the last day,—all hinges on the answer to this question: “What do you think about the cross of Christ?”
What do you think about the cross of Christ? The question may be one that you consider of little importance: but it deeply concerns the everlasting welfare of your soul.
Eighteen hundred years ago there was a man who said that he “gloried” in the cross of Christ. He was one who turned the world upside down by the doctrines he preached. He was one who did more to establish Christianity than any man that ever lived. Yet what does He tell the Galatians?—”God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. vi. 14).
Reader, the “cross of Christ” must needs be an important subject, when an inspired apostle can speak of it in this way. Let me try to show you what the expression means. Once know what the cross of Christ means, and then you may be able, by God’s help, to see the importance of it to your soul.
The cross in the Bible sometimes means that wooden cross on which the Lord Jesus was nailed and put to death on Mount Calvary. This is what St. Paul had in his mind’s eye when he told the Philippians that Christ “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. ii. 8). This is not the cross in which St. Paul gloried. He would have shrunk with horror from the idea of glorying in a mere piece of wood. I have no doubt he would have denounced the Roman Catholic adoration of the crucifix as profane, blasphemous, and idolatrous.
For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? The Holy Bible, Hebrews 2:2-3a (NAS)
DEFINITION AND NECESSITY OF SALVATION
sal•va•tion (sal vâ/shen), n. [ME. salvacioun; OFr. sauvation; L. salvatio < salvatus, pp. of salvare, to save], 1. a saving or being saved; preservation from destruction; rescue. 2. a person or thing which is a means, cause, or source of preservation or rescue. 3. in theology, spiritual rescue from sin and death; saving of the soul through the atonement of Jesus; redemption.
In Christian doctrine, salvation is a rescue or deliverance of humanity from a specific condition and from a specific destination. Salvation presumes that there is a danger, jeopardy, peril or life threatening hazard from which rescue must be accomplished on an imminent basis.
The CONDITION from which humanity must be rescued:
- Separation from the Creator/God of humanity.
- Such separation from the Creator/God occasioned by the sinful actions of all humanity (by disobeying and ignoring the commands of the Creator/God), both in congress and individually.
The DESTINATION from which humanity must be rescued::
- The sinful human actions necessitate that the Creator/God pronounce a judgment on all humanity as a punishment for those actions taken.
- Such punishment being separation from God, and assignment in company with Satan and all his followers in the region of Hell.
- Such assignment to be eternal in nature, never to be reconsidered, changed or revoked.
The word which forms the title of this paper is one of deep importance in religion. It has within it the foundation of sound soul‑saving Christianity. It contains the true secret of inward and spiritual comfort. Happy is the man who can use the language of St. Paul, and say from his heart, “Being justified by faith, I have peace with God through Jesus Christ.”
I wish to set before every reader of these pages a few thoughts about justification and peace with God. It is a subject we can never understand too well. Before we leave this world let us take care that we see clearly what it is to be “justified.” To die ignorant about this is to be ruined to all eternity. We had better never have been born.
There are four things which I propose to bring before you, in order to throw light on the whole subject.
I. Let me show you the chief privilege of a true Christian: “He has peace with God.”
II. Let me show you the fountain from which that privilege flows: “He is justified.”
III. Let me show you the rock from which that fountain springs: “Jesus Christ.”
IV. Let me show you the hand by which the privilege is made our own: “Faith.”
Upon each of these four points I have something to say. May the Holy Ghost make the whole subject peace‑giving to some souls?
I. First of all, let me show the chief privilege of a true Christian: He has peace with God.
When the apostle St. Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, he used five words which the wisest of the heathen could never have used. Socrates, and Plato, and Aristotle, and Cicero, and Seneca were wise men. On many subjects they saw more clearly than most people in the present day. They were men of mighty minds, and of a vast range of intellect. But not one of them could have said as the Jewish apostle did, “We have peace with God” (Rom. v. 1).
When St. Paul used these words, he spoke not for himself only, but for all true Christians. Some of them no doubt have a greater sense of this privilege than others. All of them find an evil principle within, warring against their spiritual welfare day by day. All of them find their adversary, the devil, waging an endless battle with their souls. All of them find that they must endure the enmity of the world. But all, notwithstanding, to a greater or less extent, “have peace with God.”
This peace with God is a calm, intelligent sense of friendship with the Almighty Lord of heaven and earth. He that has it, feels as if there was no barrier and separation between himself and his holy Maker. He can think of himself as under the eye of an all‑seeing Being, and yet not feel afraid. He can believe that this all‑seeing Being beholds him, and yet is not displeased.
Such a man can see death waiting for him, and yet not be greatly moved. He can look back on the many sins of a misspent life and not feel afraid. He can go down into the cold river—close his eyes on all he has on earth—launch forth into a world unknown, and take up his abode in the silent grave—and yet feel peace. Reader, can you?
Such a man can look forward to the resurrection and the judgment, and yet not be greatly moved. He can see with his mind’s eye the great white throne—the assembled world—the open books—the listening angels—the Judge Himself, and yet feel peace. Reader, can you?
Such a man can think of eternity, and yet not be greatly moved. He can imagine a never‑ending existence in the presence of God, and of the Lamb—an everlasting Sunday—a perpetual communion, and yet feel peace. Reader, can you?
I know of no happiness compared to that which this peace affords. A calm sea after a storm—a blue sky after a black thunder‑cloud—health after sickness—light after darkness—rest after toil—all, all are beautiful and pleasant things. But none, none of them all can give more than a feeble idea of the comfort which those enjoy who have been brought into the state of peace with God. It is “a peace which passeth all understanding “(Phil. iv. 7).
It is the want of this very peace which makes many in the world unhappy. Thousands have everything that is thought able to give pleasure, and yet are never satisfied. Their hearts are always aching. There is a constant sense of emptiness within. And what is the secret of all this? They have no peace with God.
It is the desire of this very peace which makes many a heathen do much in his idolatrous religion. Hundreds have been seen to mortify their bodies, and vex their own flesh in the service of some wretched image which their own hands had made. And why? Because they hungered after peace with God.
It is the possession of this very peace on which the value of a man’s religion depends. Without it there may be everything to please the eye, and gratify the ear—forms, ceremonies, services, and sacraments—and yet no good done to the soul. The grand question that should try all is the state of a man’s conscience. Is it peace? Has he peace with God?
This is the very peace about which I address you this day. Have you got it? Do you feel it? Is it your own?
If you have it, you are truly rich. You have that which will endure for ever. You have treasure which you will not lose when you die and leave the world. You will carry it with you beyond the grave. You will have it and enjoy it to all eternity. Silver and gold you may have none. The praise of man you may never enjoy. But you have that which is far better than either, if you have peace with God.
If you have it not, you are truly poor. You have nothing which will last—nothing which will wear nothing—which you can carry with you when your turn comes to die. Naked you came into this world, and naked in every sense you will go forth. Your body may be carried to the grave with pomp and ceremony. A solemn service may be read over your coffin. A marble monument may be put up in your honour. But after all it will be a pauper’s funeral, if you die without peace with God.
Remember my warning. Number up your possessions. Take account of all your property. Consider what you have. You may have youth, and health, and riches, and rank; you may have money, and lands, and houses, and horses, and carriages; you may have honour, love, obedience, troops of friends. It is well. Be thankful for it all. But have you peace? I ask again, Have you peace? Let conscience speak, and give an answer.
II. Let me show you, in the next place, the fountain from which true peace is drawn. That fountain is justification.
The peace of the true Christian is not a vague, dreamy feeling, without reason and without foundation. He can show cause for it. He builds upon solid ground. He has peace with God, because he is justified.
Without justification it is impossible to have real peace. Conscience forbids it. Sin is a mountain between a man and God, and must be taken away. The sense of guilt lies heavy on the heart, and must be removed. Unpardoned sin will murder peace. The true Christian knows all this well. His peace arises from a consciousness of his sins being forgiven, and his guilt being put away. His house is not built on sandy ground. His well is not a broken cistern, which can hold no water. He has peace with God, because he is justified.
He is justified, and his sins are forgiven. However many, and however great, they are cleansed away, pardoned, and wiped out. They are blotted out of the book of God’s remembrance. They are sunk into the depths of the sea. They are cast behind God’s back. They are searched for and not found. They are remembered no more. Though they may have been like scarlet, they are become as white as snow; though they may have been red like crimson, they are as wool. And so he has peace.
He is justified and counted righteous in God’s sight. The Father sees no spot in him, and reckons him innocent. He is clothed in a robe of perfect righteousness, and may sit down by the side of angels without feeling ashamed. The holy law of God, which touches the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts, cannot condemn him. The devil, the accuser of the brethren, can lay nothing to his charge, to prevent his full acquittal. And so he has peace.
Is he not naturally a poor, weak, erring, defective sinner? He is. None knows that better than he does himself. But notwithstanding this, he is reckoned complete, perfect, and faultless before God, for he is justified.
Is he not naturally a debtor? He is. None feels that more deeply than he does himself. He owes ten thousand talents, and has nothing of his own to pay. But his debts are all paid, settled, and crossed out for ever, for he is justified.
Is he not naturally liable to the curse of a broken law? He is. None would confess that more readily than he would himself. But the demands of the law have been fully satisfied, the claims of justice have been met to the last tittle, and he is justified.
Does he not naturally deserve punishment? He does. None would acknowledge that more fully than he would himself. But the punishment has been borne. The wrath of God against sin has been made manifest. Yet he has escaped, and is justified.
Do you know anything of all this? Are you justified? Do you feel as if you were pardoned, forgiven, and accepted before God? Can you draw near to Him with boldness and say, “Thou art my Father and my Friend, and I am Thy reconciled child?” Oh, believe me, you will never taste true peace until you are justified
Where are your sins? Are they removed and taken away from off your soul? Have they been reckoned for, and accounted for, in God’s presence? Oh, be very sure these questions are of the most solemn importance! A peace of conscience not built on justification is a perilous dream. From such a peace the Lord deliver you!
Go with me in imagination to some of our great London hospitals. Stand with me there by the bedside of some poor creature in the last stage of an incurable disease. He lies quiet perhaps, and makes no struggle. He does not complain of pain perhaps, and does not appear to feel it. He sleeps, and is still. His eyes are closed. His head reclines on his pillow. He smiles faintly, and mutters something. He is dreaming of home, and his mother, and his youth. His thoughts are far away.—But is this health? Oh, no, no! It is only the effect of opiates. Nothing can be done for him. He is dying daily. The only object is to lessen his pain. His quiet is an unnatural quiet. His sleep is an unhealthy sleep. Reader, you see in that man’s case a vivid likeness of peace without justification. It is a hollow, deceptive, unhealthy thing. Its end is death.
Go with me in imagination to some lunatic asylum. Let us visit some case of incurable delusion. We shall probably find someone who fancies that he is rich and noble, or a king. See how he will take the straw from off the ground, twist it round his head, and call it a crown. Mark how he will pick up stones and gravel, and call them diamonds and pearls. Hear how he will laugh, and sing, and appear to be happy in his delusions.—But is this happiness? Oh, no! We know it is only the result of ignorant insanity. Reader, you see in that man’s case another likeness of peace built on fancy, and not on justification. It is a senseless, baseless thing. It has neither root nor life.
Settle it in your mind that there can be no peace with God, unless we feel that we are justified. We must know what is become of our sins. We must have a reasonable hope that they are forgiven, and put away. We must have the witness of our conscience that we are reckoned not guilty before God. Without this it is vain to talk of peace. We have nothing but the shadow and imitation of it. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa. lvii. 21).
Did you ever hear the sound of the trumpets which are blown before the judges, as they come into the city to open the assize? Did you ever reflect how different are the feelings which these trumpets awaken in the minds of different men? The innocent man, who has no cause to be tried, hears them unmoved. They proclaim no terrors to him. He listens and looks on quietly, and is not afraid. But often there is some poor wretch waiting his trial in a silent cell, to whom those trumpets are a knell of despair. They tell him that the day of trial is at hand. Yet a little time and he will stand at the bar of justice, and hear witness after witness telling the story of his misdeeds. Yet a little time, and all will be over—the trial, the verdict, and the sentence—and there will remain nothing for him but punishment and disgrace. No wonder the prisoner’s heart beats when he hears that trumpet’s sound!
There is a day fast coming when all who are not justified shall despair in like manner. The voice of the archangel and the trump of God shall scatter to the winds the false peace which now buoys up many a soul. The day of judgment shall convince thousands of self-willed people, too late, that it needs something more than a few beautiful ideas about God’s love and mercy to reconcile a man to his Maker, and to deliver his guilty soul from hell. No hope shall stand in that awful day but the hope of the justified man. No peace shall prove solid, substantial, and unbroken, but the peace which is built on justification.
Is this peace your own? Rest not, rest not, if you love life, till you know and feel that you are a justified man. Think not that this is a mere matter of names and words. Flatter not yourself with the idea that justification is an “abstruse and difficult subject,” and that you may get to heaven well enough without knowing anything about it. Make up your mind to the great truth that there can be no heaven without peace with God, and no peace with God without justification. And then give your soul no rest till you are a justified man.
III. Let me show you, in the third place, the rock from which justification and peace with God flow. That rock is Christ.
The true Christian is not justified because of any goodness of his own. His peace is not to be traced up to any work that he has done. It is not purchased by his prayers and regularity, his repentance and his amendment, his morality and his charity. All these are utterly unable to justify him. In themselves they are defective in many things, and need a large forgiveness. And as to justifying him, such a thing is not to be named. Tried by the perfect standard of God’s law the best of Christians is nothing better than a justified sinner, a pardoned criminal. As to merit, worthiness, desert, or claim upon God’s mercy, he has none. Peace built on any such foundations as these is utterly worthless. The man who rests upon them is miserably deceived.
Never were truer words put on paper than those which Richard Hooker penned on this subject years ago. Let those who would like to know what English clergymen thought in olden times, mark well what he says: “If God would make us an offer thus large, ‘Search all the generation of men since the fall of your father, Adam, and find one man that hath done any one action which hath past from him pure, without any stain or blemish at all—and for that one man’s one only action, neither man nor angel shall find the torments which are prepared for both;’ do you think this ransom, to deliver man and angels, would be found among the sons of men? The best things we do have somewhat in them to be pardoned. How then can we do anything meritorious and worthy to be rewarded?” To these words I desire entirely to subscribe. I believe that no man can be justified by his works before God in the slightest possible degree. Before man he may be justified. His works may evidence his Christianity. Before God he cannot be justified by anything that he can do. He will be always defective, always imperfect, always shortcoming, always far below the mark, so long as he lives. It is not by works of his own that anyone ever has peace and is a justified man.
But how then is a true Christian justified? What is the secret of that peace and sense of pardon which he enjoys? How can we understand a holy God dealing with a sinful man as with one innocent, and reckoning him righteous notwithstanding his many sins?
The answer to all these questions is short and simple. The true Christian is counted righteous for the sake of a Divine Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is justified because of the death and atonement of Christ. He has peace because Christ died for his sins according to the Scripture. This is the key that unlocks the mighty mystery. Here the great problem is solved, how God can be just and yet justify the ungodly. The life and death of the Lord Jesus explain all. “He is our peace “(Ephes. ii. 14).
Christ has stood in the place of the true Christian. He has become his surety and his substitute. He has undertaken to bear all that was to be borne, and to do all that was to be done. Hence the true Christian is a justified man.
Christ has suffered for sins, the just for the unjust. He has endured our punishment in His own body on the cross. He has allowed the wrath of God, which we deserved, to fall on His own head. Hence the true Christian is a justified man.
Christ has paid the debt the Christian owed, by His own blood. He has reckoned for it, and discharged it to the uttermost farthing by His own precious death. God is a just God, and will not require His debts to be paid twice over. Hence the true Christian is a justified man.
Christ has obeyed the law of God perfectly. The prince of this world could find no fault in Him. By so fulfilling it He brought in an everlasting righteousness, in which all His people are clothed in the sight of God. Hence the true Christian is a justified man.
Christ, in one word, has lived for the true Christian. Christ has died for him. Christ has gone to the grave for him. Christ has risen again for him. Christ has ascended up on high for him, and gone into heaven to intercede for his soul. Christ has done all, paid all, and suffered all that was needful for his redemption. Hence arises the true Christian’s justification—hence his peace. In himself there is nothing, but in Christ he has all things that his soul can require.
Who can tell the blessedness of the exchange that takes place between the true Christian and the Lord Jesus Christ! Christ’s righteousness is placed upon him, and his sins are placed upon Christ. Christ has been reckoned a sinner for his sake, and now he is reckoned innocent for Christ’s sake. Christ has been condemned for his sake, though there was no fault in Him—and now he is acquitted for Christ’s sake, though he is covered with sins, faults, and shortcomings. Here is wisdom indeed! God can now be just and yet pardon the ungodly. Man can feel that he is a prisoner, and yet have a good hope of heaven and feel peace within. Who among men could have imagined such a thing? Who ought not to admire it when he hears it?
We read in British history of a Lord Nithsdale, who was sentenced to death for a great political crime. He was closely confined in prison after his trial. The day of his execution was fixed. There seemed no chance of escape. And yet before the sentence was carried into effect he contrived to escape through the skill and affection of his wife. She brought him a woman’s clothes into the cell where he lay. She disguised him in them and made him appear like her own maidservant. She then went out of the prison with him following as her attendant, and though he passed through guards and keepers, none detected him. Who would not admire the skill and the love of such a wife as this?
But we read in Gospel history of a display of love, compared to which the love of Lady Nithsdale is nothing. We read of Jesus the Son of God coming down to a world of sinners, who neither cared for Him before He came, nor honoured Him when He appeared. We read of Him going down to the prison‑house, and submitting to be bound, that we, the poor prisoners, might be able to go free. We read of Him becoming obedient to death—and that the death of the cross that we, the unworthy children of Adam, might have a door opened to life everlasting. We read of Him being content to bear our sins and carry our transgressions, that we might wear His righteousness, and walk in the light and liberty of the sons of God.
This may well be called a “love that passeth knowledge!” In no way could free grace ever have shown so brightly as in the way of justification by Christ (Ephes. iii. 19).
This is the old way by which alone the children of Adam, who have been justified from the beginning of the world, have found their peace. From Abel downwards, no man or woman has ever had one drop of mercy, excepting through Christ. To Him every altar that was raised before the time of Moses was intended to point. To Him every sacrifice and ordinance of the Jewish law was meant to direct the children of Israel. Of Him all the prophets testified. In a word, if you lose sight of justification by Christ, a large part of the Old Testament Scripture will become a tangled maze.
This, above all, is the way of justification which exactly meets the wants and requirements of human nature. There is a conscience left in man, although he is a fallen being. There is a dim sense of his own need, which in his better moments will make itself heard, and which nothing but Christ can satisfy. So long as his conscience is not hungry, any religious toy will satisfy a man’s soul and keep him quiet. But once let his conscience become hungry, and nothing will quiet him but food, and no food but Christ.
There is something within a man, when his conscience is really awake, which whispers, “there must be a price paid for my soul, or no peace.” At once the Gospel meets him with Christ. Christ has already paid a ransom for his redemption. Christ has given Himself for him. Christ has redeemed him from the curse of the law, being made a curse for him (Gal. ii. 20; iii. 13).
There is something within a man, when his conscience is really awake, which whispers,” I must have some righteousness or title to heaven, or no peace. At once the Gospel meets him with Christ. He has brought in an everlasting righteousness. He is the end of the law for righteousness. His name is called, The Lord our Righteousness. God has made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. v. 21; Rom. x. 4; Jer. xxiii. 6).
There is something within a man, when his conscience is really awake, which whispers, “there must be punishment and suffering because of my sins, or no peace.” At once the Gospel meets him with Christ. Christ hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, to bring him to God. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. By His stripes we are healed (1 Peter ii. 24).
There is something within a man, when his conscience is really awake, which whispers, “I must have a priest for my soul, or no peace.” At once the Gospel meets him with Christ. Christ is sealed and appointed by God the Father to be the Mediator between Himself and man. He is the ordained Advocate for sinners. He is the accredited Counsellor and Physician of sick souls. He is the Great High Priest, the Almighty Absolver, the Gracious Confessor of heavy‑laden sinners (1 Tim. ii. 5; Heb. viii. 1).
This is the one true way of peace—justification by Christ. Beware lest any turn you out of this way and lead you into any of the false doctrines of the Church of Rome. Alas, it is wonderful to see how that unhappy Church has built a house of error hard by the house of truth! Hold fast the truth of God about justification, and be not deceived. Listen not to anything you may hear about other mediators and helpers to peace. Remember there is no mediator but one—Jesus Christ; no purgatory for sinners but one—the blood of Christ; no sacrifice for sin but one—the sacrifice once made on the cross; no works that can merit anything—but the work of Christ; no priest that can truly absolve—but Christ. Stand fast here, and be on your guard. Give not the glory due to Christ to another.
What do you know of Christ? I doubt not you have heard of Him by the hearing of the ear. You know His name. You are acquainted, perhaps, with the story of His life and death. But what experimental knowledge have you of Him? What practical use do you make of Him? What dealings and transactions have there been between your soul and Him?
Oh, believe me, there is no peace with God excepting through Christ! Peace is His peculiar gift. Peace is that legacy which he alone had power to leave behind Him when He left the world. All other peace besides this is a mockery and a delusion. When hunger can be relieved without food, and thirst quenched without drink, and weariness removed without rest, then, and not till then, will men find peace without Christ.
Is this peace your own? Bought by Christ with His own blood, offered by Christ freely to all who are willing to receive it—is this peace your own? Oh, rest not rest not till you can give a satisfactory answer to my question—Have you peace? Are you justified?
IV. Let me show you, in the last place, the hand by which the privilege of peace is received.
I ask your special attention to this part of our subject. There is scarcely any point in Christianity so important as the means by which Christ, justification, and peace, become the property of a man’s soul. Many, I fear, would go with me so far as I have gone in this paper, but here would part company. Let us endeavour to lay hold firmly on the truth.
The means, by which a man obtains an interest in Christ and all His benefits, is simple faith. There is but one thing needful in order to be justified by His blood, and have peace with God. That one thing is to believe on Him. This is the peculiar mark of a true Christian. He believes on the Lord Jesus for His salvation. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Acts xvi. 31; John iii. 16).
Without this faith it is impossible to be saved. A man may be moral, amiable, good‑natured, and respectable. But if he does not believe on Christ, he has no pardon, no justification, no title to heaven. “He that believeth not is condemned already.” “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him.” “He that believeth not, shall be damned “(John iii. 18, 36; Mark xvi. 16).
Beside this faith nothing whatever is needed for a man’s justification. Beyond doubt, repentance, holiness, love, humility, prayerfulness, will always be seen in the justified man. But they do not in the smallest degree justify him in the sight of God. Nothing joins a man to Christ, nothing justifies, but simple faith. “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. iv. 5; iii. 28).
Having this faith, a man is at once completely justified. His sins are at once removed. His iniquities are at once put away. The very hour that he believes he is reckoned by God entirely pardoned, forgiven, and a righteous man. His justification is not a future privilege, to be obtained after a long time and great pains. It is an immediate present possession. Jesus says, “He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” Paul says, “By Him all that, believeth are justified from all things “(John vi. 47; Acts xiii. 39).
I need hardly say that it is of the utmost importance to have clear views about the nature of true saving faith. It is constantly spoken of as the distinguishing characteristic of New Testament Christians. They are called “believers.” In the single Gospel of John, “believing” is mentioned eighty or ninety times. There is hardly any subject about which so many mistakes are made. There is none about which mistakes are so injurious to the soul. The darkness of many a sincere inquirer may be traced up to confused views about faith. Let us try to get a distinct idea of its real nature.
True saving faith is not the possession of everybody. The opinion that all who are called Christians are, as a matter of course, believers, is a most mischievous delusion. A man may be baptized, like Simon Magus, and yet have no part or lot in Christ. The visible Church contains unbelievers as well as believers. “All men have not faith”(2 Thess. iii. 2).
True saving faith is not a mere matter of feeling. A man may have many good feelings and desires in his mind towards Christ, and yet they may all prove as temporary and short‑lived as the morning cloud and the early dew. Many are like the stony‑ground hearers, and “hear the word with joy.” Many will say under momentary excitement, “I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest” (Matt. viii. 19).
True saving faith is not a bare assent of the intellect to the fact that Christ died for sinners. This is not a whit better than the faith of devils. They know who Jesus is. They believe, and they do more, they tremble (James ii. 19).
True saving faith is an act of the whole inner man. It is an act of the head, heart, and will, all united and combined. It is an act of the soul, in which, seeing his own guilt, danger, and helplessness—and seeing at the same time Christ offering to save him—a man ventures on Christ—flees to Christ—receives Christ as his only hope—and becomes a willing dependent on Him for salvation. It is an act which becomes at once the parent of a habit. He that has it may not always be equally sensible of his own faith, but in the main he lives by faith, and walks by faith.
True faith has nothing whatever of merit about it, and in the highest sense cannot be called a work. It is but laying hold of a Saviour’s hand, leaning on a husband’s arm, and receiving a physician’s medicine. It brings with it nothing to Christ but a sinful man’s soul. It gives nothing, contributes nothing, pays nothing, performs nothing. It only receives, takes, accepts, grasps, and embraces the glorious gift of justification which Christ bestows, and by renewed daily acts enjoys that gift.
Of all Christian graces, faith is the most important. Of all it is the simplest in reality. Of all it is the most difficult to make men understand in practice. The mistakes into which men fall about it are endless. Some who have no faith never doubt for a moment that they are believers. Others, who have faith, can never be persuaded that they are believers at all. But nearly every mistake about faith may be traced up to the old root of natural pride. Men will persist in sticking to the idea that they are to pay something of their own in order to be saved. As to a faith which consists in receiving only, and paying nothing at all, it seems as if they could not understand it.
Saving faith is the hand of the soul. The sinner is like a drowning man at the point of sinking. He sees the Lord Jesus Christ holding out help to him. He grasps it and is saved. This is faith.
Saving faith is the eye of the soul. The sinner is like the Israelite bitten by the fiery serpent in the wilderness, and at the point of death. The Lord Jesus Christ is offered to him as the brazen serpent, set up for his cure. He looks and is healed. This is faith.
Saving faith is the mouth of the soul. The sinner is starving for want of food, and sick of a sore disease. The Lord Jesus Christ is set before him as the bread of life, and the universal medicine. He receives it, and is made well and strong. This is faith.
Saving faith is the foot of the soul. The sinner is pursued by a deadly enemy, and is in fear of being overtaken. The Lord Jesus Christ is put before him as a strong tower, a hiding place, and a refuge. He runs into it and is safe. This is faith.
If you love life, cling fast hold to the doctrine of justification by faith. If you love inward peace, let your views of faith be very simple. Honour every part of the Christian religion. Contend to the death for the necessity of holiness. Use diligently and reverently every appointed means of grace; but do not give to these things the office of justifying your soul in the slightest degree. If you would have peace, remember that faith alone justifies, and that not as a meritorious work, but as the act that joins the soul to Christ. Believe me, the crown and glory of the Gospel is “justification by faith without the deeds of the law.”
No doctrine can be imagined so beautifully simple as justification by faith. It is not a dark mysterious truth, intelligible to none but the great, the rich, and the learned. It places eternal life within the reach of the most unlearned, and the poorest in the land. It must be of God.
No doctrine can be imagined so glorifying to God. It honours all His attributes, justice, mercy, and holiness. It gives the whole credit of the sinner’s salvation to the Saviour He has appointed. It honours the Son, and so honours the Father that sent Him. It gives man no partnership in his redemption, but makes salvation to be wholly of the Lord. It must be of God.
No doctrine can be imagined so calculated to put man in his right place. It shows him his own sinfulness, and weakness, and inability to save his soul by his own works. It leaves him without excuse if he is not saved at last. It offers to him peace and pardon without money and without price. It must be of God.
No doctrine can be imagined so comforting to a broken‑hearted and penitent sinner. It brings to such an one glad tidings. It shows him that there is hope even for him. It tells him though he is a great sinner, there is ready for him a great Saviour; and though he cannot justify himself, God can and will justify him for the sake of Christ. It must be of God.
No doctrine can be imagined so satisfying to a true Christian. It supplies him with a solid ground of comfort—the finished work of Christ. If anything was left for the Christian to do, where would his comfort be? He would never know that he had done enough, and was really safe. But the doctrine that Christ undertakes all, and that we have only to believe and receive peace, meets every fear. It must be of God.
No doctrine can be imagined so sanctifying. It draws men by the strongest of all cords, the cord of love. It makes them feel they are debtors, and in gratitude bound to love much, when much has been forgiven. Preaching up works never produces such fruit as preaching them down. Exalting man’s goodness and merits never makes men so holy as exalting Christ. The fiercest lunatics at Paris became gentle, mild, and obedient, when Abby Pinel gave them liberty and hope. The free grace of Christ will produce far greater effects on men’s lives than the sternest commands of law. Surely the doctrine must be of God.
No doctrine can be imagined so strengthening to the hands of a minister. It enables him to come to the vilest of men and say, “There is a door of hope even for you.” It enables him to feel, “While life lasts there are no incurable cases among the souls under my charge.” Many a minister by the use of this doctrine can say of souls, “I found them in the state of nature. I beheld them pass into the state of grace. I watched them moving into the state of glory.” Truly this doctrine must be of God.
No doctrine can be imagined that wears so well. It suits men when they first begin, like the Philippian jailer, crying, “What shall I do to be saved?” It suits them when they fight in the forefront of the battle. Like the apostle Paul, they say, “The life that I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” It suits them when they die, as it did Stephen when he cried, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Yes: many an one has opposed the doctrine fiercely while he lived, and yet on his death‑bed has gladly embraced justification by faith, and departed saying that “he trusted in nothing but Christ.” It must be of God.
Have you this faith? Do you know anything of simple child‑like confidence in Jesus? Do you know what it is to rest your soul’s hopes wholly on Christ? Oh, remember that where there is no faith, there is no interest in Christ; where there is no interest in Christ, there is no justification; where there is no justification, there can be no peace with God; where there is no peace with God, there is no heaven! And what then? There remains nothing but hell.
And now let me commend the solemn matters we have been considering to your serious and prayerful attention. I invite you to begin by meditating calmly on peace with God—on justification—on Christ—on faith. These are not mere speculative subjects, fit for none but retired students. They lie at the very root of Christianity. They are bound up with life eternal. Bear with me for a few moments, while I add a few words in order to bring them home more closely to your heart and conscience.
1. Let me, then, for one thing, request every reader of this paper to remember its title.
Are you justified? Have you peace with God? You have heard of it. You have read of it. You know there is such a thing. You know where it is to be found. But do you possess it yourself? Is it yet your own? Oh, deal honestly with yourself, and do not evade my question! Are you justified? Have you peace with God?
I do not ask whether you think it an excellent thing, and hope to procure it at some future time before you die. I want to know about your state now. To‑day, while it is called to‑day, I ask you to deal honestly with my question. Are you justified? Have you peace with God?
May the question ring in your ears, and never leave you till you can give it a satisfactory answer! May the Holy Spirit of God so apply it to your heart that you may be able to say boldly before you die, “Being justified by faith, I have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
2. In the next place, let me offer a solemn warning to every reader of this paper who knows that he has not peace with God.
You are not justified! You have not peace! Consider for a moment how fearfully great is your danger! You and God are not friends. The wrath of God abideth on you. God is angry with you every day. Your ways, your words, your thoughts, your actions, are a continual offence to Him. They are all unpardoned and unforgiven. They cover you from head to foot. They provoke Him every day to cut you off. The sword that the reveller of old saw hanging over his head by a single hair is but a faint emblem of the danger of your soul. There is but a step between you and hell.
You are not justified! You have not peace! Consider for a moment how fearfully great is your folly! There sits at the right hand of God a mighty Saviour, able and willing to give you peace, and you do not seek Him. For ten, twenty, thirty, and perhaps forty years He has called to you, and you have refused His counsel. He has cried, “Come to Me,” and you have practically replied, “I will not.” He has said, “My ways are ways of pleasantness,” and you have constantly said, “I like my own sinful ways far better.”
And after all, for what have you refused Christ? For worldly riches, which cannot heal a broken heart; for worldly business, which you must one day leave; for worldly pleasures, which do not really satisfy; for these things, and such as these, you have refused Christ. Is this wisdom, is this fairness, is this kindness to your soul?
I do beseech you to consider your ways. I mourn over your present condition with especial sorrow. I grieve to think how many are within a hair’s breadth of some crushing affliction, and yet utterly unprepared to meet it. Fain would I draw near to everyone, and cry in his ear, “Seek Christ! Seek Christ, that you may have peace within and a present help in trouble.” Fain would I persuade every anxious parent and wife and child to become acquainted with Him, who is a brother born for adversity, and the Prince of Peace a friend that never fails nor forsakes, and a husband that never dies.
May God the Spirit apply this warning to some reader’s soul! May some who began to read this paper in thoughtlessness find it a word in season, and be led into the way of peace!
3. Let me, in the next place, offer an affectionate entreaty to all who want peace and know not where to find it.
You want peace! Then seek it without delay from Him who alone is able to give it—Christ Jesus the Lord. Go to Him in humble prayer, and ask Him to fulfil His own promises and look graciously on your soul. Tell Him you have read His compassionate invitation to the labouring and heavy‑laden. Tell Him that this is the plight of your soul, and implore Him to give you rest. Do this, and do it without delay.
Seek Christ Himself, and do not stop short of personal dealings with Him. Rest not in regular attendance on Christ’s ordinances. Be not content with becoming a communicant and receiving the Lord’s Supper. Think not to find solid peace in this way. You must see the King’s face, and be touched by the golden sceptre. You must speak to the Physician, and open your whole case to Him. You must be closeted with the Advocate, and keep nothing back from Him. Oh, reader, remember this. Many are shipwrecked just outside the harbour. They stop short in means and ordinances, and never go straight and direct to Christ. “He that drinks of this water shall thirst again.” Christ Himself can alone satisfy the soul.
Seek Christ, and wait for nothing. Wait not till you feel you have repented enough. Wait not till your knowledge is increased. Wait not till you have been sufficiently humbled because of your sins. Wait not till you have no ravelled tangle of doubts and darkness and unbelief all over your heart. Seek Christ just as you are. You will never be better by keeping away from Him. From the bottom of my heart I subscribe to old Traill’s opinion, “It is impossible that people should believe in Christ too soon.” Alas! it is not humility, but pride and ignorance that make so many anxious souls hang back from closing with Jesus. They forget that the more sick a man is the more need he has of the physician. The more bad a man feels his heart, the more readily and speedily ought he to flee to Christ.
Seek Christ, and do not fancy you must sit still. Let not Satan tempt you to suppose that you must wait in a state of passive inaction, and not strive to lay hold upon Jesus. How you can lay hold upon Him I do not pretend to explain. But I am certain it is better to struggle towards Christ and strive to lay hold, than to sit still with our arms folded in sin and unbelief. Better perish striving to lay hold on Jesus, than perish in indolence and sin. Well says old Traill, of those who tell us they are anxious but cannot believe in Christ: “This pretence is as inexcusable as if a man wearied with a journey, and not able to go one step further, should argue, ‘I am so tired that I am not able to lie down,’ when indeed he can neither stand nor go.”
May God the Spirit apply this invitation to some reader’s soul! May it be the means of leading some weary soul into the way of peace.
4. Let me, in the next place, offer some encouragement to those who have good reason to hope they have peace with God, but are troubled by doubts and fears.
You have doubts and fears! But what do you expect? What would you have? Your soul is married to a body full of weakness, passions, and infirmities. You live in a world that lies in wickedness, a world in which the great majority do not love Christ. You are constantly liable to the temptations of the devil. That busy enemy, if he cannot shut you out of heaven, will try hard to make your journey uncomfortable. Surely these things ought all to be considered.
Believing reader, so far from being surprised that you have doubts and fears, I should suspect the reality of your peace if you had none. I think little of that grace which is accompanied by no inward conflict. There is seldom life in the heart when all is still, quiet, and one way of thinking. Believe me, a true Christian may be known by his warfare as well as by his peace. These very doubts and fears which now distress you are tokens of good. They satisfy me that you have really got something which you are afraid to lose.
Believing reader, I advise you to beware that you do not help Satan by becoming an unjust accuser of yourself, and an unbeliever in the reality of God’s work of grace. I advise you to pray for more knowledge of your own heart, of the fulness of Jesus, and of the devices of the devil. Let doubts and fears drive you to the throne of grace, stir you up to more prayer, send you more frequently to Christ. But do not let doubts and fears rob you of your peace. Believe me, you must be content to go to heaven as a sinner saved by grace. And you must not be surprised to find daily proof that you really are a sinner so long as you live.
May the Holy Spirit apply this word of encouragement to some reader’s soul! May it be the means of establishing the feet of some doubting brother in the way of peace.
5. Let me, in the last place, offer some counsel to all who have peace with God, and desire to keep up a lively sense of it.
It must never be forgotten that a believer’s sense of his own justification and acceptance with God admits of many degrees and variations. At one time it may be bright and clear; at another dull and dim. At one time it may be high and full, like the flood‑tide; at another low, like the ebb. Our justification is a fixed, changeless, immovable thing. But our sense of justification is liable to many changes.
What, then, are the best means of preserving in a believer’s heart the lively sense of justification which is so precious to the soul that knows it? I offer a few hints to believers. But such as they are I offer them, though I lay no claim to infallibility.
To keep up a lively sense of peace, there must be constant looking to Jesus. As the pilot keeps his eye on the mark by which he steers, so must we keep our eye on Christ.
There must be constant communion with Jesus. We must use Him daily as our soul’s Physician and High Priest. There must be daily conference, daily confession, and daily absolution.
There must be constant watchfulness against the enemies of your soul. He that would have peace must be always prepared for war.
There must be a constant following after holiness in every relation of life—in our tempers, in our tongues, abroad and at home. A small speck on the lens of a telescope is enough to prevent our seeing distant objects clearly. A little dust will soon make a watch go incorrectly.
There must be a constant labouring after humility. Pride goes before a fall. Self‑confidence is often the mother of sloth, of hurried Bible‑reading, and sleepy prayers. Peter first said he would never forsake his Lord, though all others did; then he slept when he should have prayed; then He denied Him three times, and only found wisdom after bitter weeping.
There must be constant boldness in confessing our Lord before men. Them that honour Christ, Christ will honour with much of His company. When the disciples forsook our Lord they were wretched and miserable. When they confessed Him before the Council, they were filled with “joy and the Holy Ghost.”
There must be constant diligence about means of grace, and good works. Here are the ways in which Jesus loves to walk. No disciple must expect to see much of his Master, who does not delight in public worship, Bible‑reading, private prayer, and constant efforts to mend the world.
Lastly, there must be constant jealousy over our own souls, and frequent self‑examination. We must be careful to distinguish between justification and sanctification. We must beware that we do not make a Christ of holiness.
I lay these hints before you. I might easily add to them. But I am sure they are among the first things to be attended to by believers, if they wish to keep up a lively sense of their own justification and acceptance with God.
Reader, I conclude all by expressing my heart’s desire and prayer that you may know what it is to have true peace in your soul.
If you never had peace yet, may it be recorded in the book of God that this year you sought peace in Christ and found it!
If you have tasted peace already, may your sense of peace mightily increase!
Oleh Dr. Eddy Peter Purwanto
Diadaptasi dari Richard Baxter’s A Treatise on Conversion yang telah diadaptasi ke dalam bahasa Inggris modern oleh Dr. R.L. Hymers, Jr dalam A Puritan Speaks To Our Dying Nation.
“Mereka yang hidup dalam daging, tidak mungkin berkenan kepada Allah. Tetapi kamu tidak hidup dalam daging, melainkan dalam Roh, jika memang Roh Allah diam di dalam kamu….” (Roma 8:8-9).
Dalam bab kelima ini kita telah melihat empat perubahan yang terjadi dalam hati orang yang bertobat. Dalam bab ini saya akan menjelaskan perubahan yang lain di dalam hati, yaitu perubahan afeksi, atau perasaan-perasaan, di dalam hati orang yang telah mengalami pertobatan sejati.
1. Perasaan pertama yang berubah adalah kasih dan kebencian. Sebelum pertobatan hati seseorang tidak mengasihi hal-hal rohani. Ia tidak mengasihi kesucian batiniah atau kesucian hidup. Ia tidak mengasihi orang-orang suci. Ia tidak mengasihi Allah Sendiri, karena Allah adalah kudus. Sesungguhnya, hati yang belum bertobat memiliki kebencian batiniah terhadap Allah dan jalan-jalan-Nya. Bagaimanapun juga, orang yang belum bertobat biasanya menipu dirinya sendiri bahwa ia tidak tahu kondisi dirinya yang seperti ini.
Hati orang yang belum bertobat, dari pada mengasihi hal-hal tentang Allah, sebaliknya, mereka mengasihi kesenangan duniawi, dan kehormatan duniawi, karena hatinya hanya menyukai semua hal itu (Roma 8:5).
Namun pada saat bertobat kasih Anda akan berubah menjadi kebencian. Ini membuat Anda mengasihi Allah yang kudus dan umat kudus-Nya dan cara hidup mereka, yang sebelumnya Anda benci, dan ini juga membuat Anda membenci dosa-dosa yang begitu Anda kasihi di masa lalu. Pertobatan mengubah kasih dan kebencian Anda.
Bukti bahwa ini adalah benar dalam pertobatan yang nyata dapat dilihat dalam ayat berikut ini:
“Barangsiapa mengasihi bapa atau ibunya lebih dari pada-Ku, ia tidak layak bagi-Ku” (Matius 10:37).
“Yang memandang hina orang yang tersingkir, tetapi memuliakan orang yang takut akan TUHAN” (Mazmur15:4).
“Kita tahu, bahwa kita sudah berpindah dari dalam maut ke dalam hidup, yaitu karena kita mengasihi saudara kita. Barangsiapa tidak mengasihi, ia tetap di dalam maut.” (I Yohanes 3:14).
Orang-orang yang tidak bertobat membenci terang, karena terang menelanjangi dosa-dosanya. Namun sekarang ketika mereka bertobat ia justru mengasihi terang itu (Yohanes 3:19-20). Di sisi lain, tindakan-tindakan yang pernah mereka lakukan, sekarang ia membencinya (Roma 7:15). Ya, mereka bahkan membenci pakaian mereka yang dicemarkan oleh keinginan-keinginan dosa (Yudas 23). Ini berarti bahwa mereka sekarang membenci segala sesuatu yang menyebabkan kehidupan yang tidak senonoh.
2. Dua afeksi kedua yang berubah adalah keinginan dan kebencian, apa yang Anda sukai dan apa yang Anda tidak sukai. Antara mengasihi dan membenci ini sudah sangat jelas – jadi saya tidak perlu berbicara banyak tentang semua ini. Keinginan orang-orang yang belum bertobat adalah hal-hal yang sensual/nafsu, itulah yang mereka sukai. Mereka tidak pernah dapat merasa cukup tentang semua hal ini. Orang yang tamak tidak akan pernah merasa cukup seberapapun banyaknya uangnya. Orang ambisius tidak akan pernah merasa cukup dengan gengsi yang telah ia capai. Orang-orang yang hanya memikirkan hal-hal yang sensual tidak akan pernah dapat dipuaskan. Secara menyeluruh hidup mereka menginginkan hal-hal kedagingan (Roma 13;14), dan memenuhi keinginan-keinginannya (Efesus 2:3).
Namun berhubungan dengan Allah, dan gereja, dan Sorga mereka tidak pernah tertarik. Mereka secara alami menentang semua hal itu, dan hanya memikirkan kesenangan mereka sendiri. Ini lah yang menyebabkan mereka menolak semua usaha kita untuk menyelamatkan mereka. Jika seseorang berusaha membuat mereka berpikir tentang hal-hal rohani, ada sesuatu yang ada di dalam diri mereka yang menentang itu, sehingga mereka tidak akan memperhatikan atau tidak akan mau bertobat.
Inilah alasannya mengapa pekerjaan kita sebagai hamba Tuhan begitu sulit. Seandainya mereka membutuhkan Kristus lebih dari pada kesombongan duniawi, maka mereka akan cepat atau mudah untuk bertobat!
Namun ketika anugerah pertobatan datang, itu akan mengubah semua keinginannya. Ketika anugerah yang mempertobatkan itu datang kepada Anda, itu akan membuat jiwa Anda haus akan Yesus. Kemudian Anda akan mencoba untuk berseru seperti Daud, “Jiwaku haus kepada-Mu seperti tanah yang tandus” (Mazmur 143:6). Kemudian kerinduan jiwa Anda akan menjadi bagi Kristus. Anda akan melihat bahwa Dia lebih Anda inginkan dari pada, emas (Mazmur 19:10).
Sebelumnya, Anda menginkan banyak hal, dan semuanya tidak ada yang dapat memuaskan Anda. Sekarang Anda hanya merindukan satu hal – yaitu Yesus – dan Anda akan sepenuhnya dipuaskan di dalam Dia (Mazmur 27:4; 73:25).
3. Dua afeksi berikutnya yang berubah pada saat bertobat adalah sukacita dan dukacita. Orang-orang yang belum bertobat secara alami tidak menemukan suka cita di dalam Tuhan dan hal-hal rohani. “Orang bebal tidak suka kepada pengertian, hanya suka membeberkan isi hatinya” (Amsal 18:2). Hanyalah kesenangan nafsu yang mereka inginkan (Titus 3:3), dan “menikmati kesenangan dari dosa” dan itu adalah keinginan terbesar mereka (Ibrani 11:25). Mereka hidup dalam kesenangan duniawi sehingga membuat mereka menjadi gemuk pada hari pembantaian (Yakobus 5:5). Mereka tidak hanya melakukan kejahatan, namun juga menikmati ada bersama dengan orang-orang yang melakukan kejahatan (Roma 1:32). “Pencemooh masih gemar kepada cemooh, dan orang bebal benci kepada pengetahuan” (Amsal 1:22).
Namun ketika anugerah yang mempertobatkan itu datang, Ia akan memberikan keinginan-keinginan yang baru kepada Anda yang belum pernah Anda miliki sebelumnya. Kemudian hal-hal yang sebelumnya Anda sukai menjadi nampak tidak menarik bagi Anda. Allah sendiri yang akan menjadi sukacita Anda (Mazmur 40:8). Pada hari Minggu Anda akan bersukacita beribadah kepada Dia di gereja. Ini tidak akan menjadi beban bagi Anda, karena Anda akan menyukainya ketika Anda bertobat.
Orang jahat berpikir bahwa mereka tidak akan pernah menikmati hari yang menyenangkan lagi jika mereka menjadi orang Kristen, namun sebenarnya mereka justru akan lebih bersukacita jika mereka mau bertobat dari pada ketika ia belum bertobat! Sukacita yang dimiliki oleh orang-orang Kristen sejati di dalam Tuhan lebih dari segala sesuatu yang mereka nikmati sebelumnya.
Memang ada dukacita sejati setelah seseorang bertobat. Namun ini tidak sama seperti dukacita sebelum bertobat. The same is true of the sorrow of the converted. It is not the same as it was before conversion. It once caused them great pain to lose any pleasure, or to be wronged, or to suffer disgrace from people, or the loss of something, or bodily pain. They were truly the way Satan falsely accused Job of being. If you touched or took away anything from them they would have cursed God. But the lost state of their souls did not bother them at all. They were far more concerned about a small thing in this world than about their everlasting souls.
Namun secara sempurna ini berbeda ketika pertobatan itu datang. Mereka sekarang akan menangis karena dosa-dosa mereka, dan menangis karena kejahatan-kejahatan mereka di mata Tuhan. Sebelumnya mereka tidak tidak menangis karena dosa-dosa mereka, namun setelah bertobat ia menangis karena dosa-dosa mereka. Sebelumnya mereka tidak berdukacita kehilangan Sorga, namun sekarang mereka sangat berdukacita kerena dosa yang mereka perbuat di dunia ini.
4. Afeksi selanjutnya yang diubah dalam pertobatan adalah pengharapan dan keputusasaan. Sebelum bertobat pikiran orang-orang yang masih terhilang dipenuhi dengan pengharapn-pengharapan palsu, atau mereka jatuh ke dalam keputusasaan. Pengharapan dari orang yang belum bertobat adalah melawan Alkitab; mereka menunjukkan khayalan jiwa mereka sendiri, dan mereka melangkah menuju kebinasaan dalam kekekalan.
Sama seperti seseorang sedang membayangkan bahwa ia sedang pergi ke London, namun pada kenyataannya menuju ke arah yang berlawanan, begitu juga orang-orang ini pada umumnya berharap akan masuk ke Sorga sementara mereka sedang dalam perjalanan menuju Neraka. Walaupun Tuhan telah menjelaskan kepada mereka bahwa mereka tidak akan memiliki damai sejahtera jika mereka terus melanjutkan perjalanan mereka di jalan ini (Yesaya 59:8), dan telah dijamin bahwa tidak akan ada damai sejahtera karena kejahatan ini (Yesaya 57:21; 48:22), namun mereka tidak percaya kepada Tuhan; mereka tetap pergi dengan berharap menemukan damai sejahtera dengan menghidupi kehidupan yang jahat. Pengharapan-pengharapan yang menyesatkan ini menyebabkan kutukan kekal bagi berjuta-juta orang, seperti yang secara terus menerus dikatakan oleh Alkitab kepada kita.
Namun ketika anugerah pertobatan itu datang, mendobrak pintu harapan-harapan palsu dari orang-orang berdosa, dan membuat mereka melihat betapa mereka selama ini telah ditipu oleh Setan. Ini membuat seseorang melihat bahwa semua hal yang ia dulu percaya dalam pengharapan-pengharapn palsu mereka tidak dapat menyelamatkan mereka.
Ketika Anda dibangunkan oleh anugerah pertobatan maka Anda akan berkata, “Saya pernah berharap dapat pergi ke Sorga tanpa pertobatan, namun sekarang saya melihat bahwa itu tidak mungkin dapat terjadi. Saya telah berpikir bahwa saya bisa menjadi cukup baik. Namun sekarang saya sadar bahwa saya menipu diri saya sendiri. Saya pernah berharap dapat diselamatkan oleh Kristus, melalui saya mengasihi dunia dan dosa-dosa saya. Namun sekarang saya melihat bahwa saya adalah orang buta yang bodoh. Saya pernah berpikir bahwa saya akan diselamatkan ketika saya mati, namun sekarang saya melihat bahwa saya akan terhilang untuk selama-lamanya.”
Ketika Anda pertama kali dibangunkan Anda akan dibawa ke dalam kondisi keputusasaan bahwa Anda tidak pernah dapat masuk Sorga tanpa pertobatan. Anda akan menyadari bahwa Anda tidak pernah dapat diselamatkan jika Anda tetap memelihara pikiran seperti yang pernah Anda lakukan atau pertahankan.
Dan kemudian datanglah suatu pengharapan yang baru yang belum pernah Anda miliki sebelumnya. Sekarang Anda mengarahkan pengharapan-pengharapan Anda kepada Allah dan Kristus. Sekarang pengharapan Anda dibangun di atas Kitab Suci dan Yesus Kristus, hanya kepada Dia! Pengharapan Anda akan dibangun, bukan di atas apapun selain di atas Darah Kristus dan kebenaran-Nya!
5. Perubahan selanjutnya dalam afeksi adalah antara keberanian dan ketakutan. Dosa-dosa orang yang belum bertobat begitu besar namun mereka tidak takut akan murka Allah dan api neraka. Orang-orang miskin rohani yang buta ini begitu berani, dalam kejahatan mereka, mereka berani melakukan dosa ketika orang-orang yang sudah bertobat tidak berani melakukannya. Mereka berani mengabaikan ibadah, minum-minum, mengucapkan kata-kata kotor, hidup ditengah-tengah kumpulan orang berdosa, dan tidak takut kepada Tuhan. Mereka berani mengambil resiko untuk menerima murka Allah dan Neraka itu sendiri. Jika Anda membicarakan tentang hal-hal ini kepada mereka itu tidak akan ada efek apa-apa terhadap mereka. Dalam keberanian mereka yang naïf, mereka berani membinasakn jiwa mereka sendiri. Seperti orang sakit jiwa yang berani melompat ke dalam air dan menenggelamkan dirinya sendiri, atau seorang buta yang berani turun ke ladang ranjau, karena ia tidak dapat melihat bahaya yang begitu besar, ini adalah semacam keberanian bodoh yang dimiliki oleh orang-orang yang masih terhilang.
Namun untuk melakukan apa yang benar, mereka sangat dikenal sebagai penakut. Mereka tidak berani menghadapi penderitaan yang sangat kecil untuk mencegah penderitaan kekal nantinya. Mereka suka mengolok-olok orang lain karena orang itu Kristen dan rajin ke gereja. Namun mereka tidak sadar sama sekali bila Allah membenci mereka. Orang yang belum bertobat tidak berani berdiri menghadapi ejekan dari keluarga dan teman-teman mereka yang masih terhilang, yang adalah musuh terlemah bagi kekristenan. Namun mereka justru mengambil resiko menerima kutukan Neraka setiap hari. Ini yang umumnya ada di antara orang-orang yang belum bertobat.
Namun ketika anugerah pertobatan itu datang, Anda akan memiliki afeksi yang sebaliknya. Kemudian Anda akan menjadi takut kepada Tuhan dan murka-Nya, dan berani menghadapi tentangan dari keluarga dan teman-teman yang masih terhilang. Anda akan berpikir bahwa keberanian menghadapi murka Allah itu adalah pikiran orang sakit jiwa, dan bukan keberanian. Tidak ada seorangpun yang dapat berdiri melawan seluruh kemahakuasaan Allah, jika Ia menghukum Anda. Oleh sebab itu, di dalam pertobatan, seseorang meletakkan dirinya sendiri di bawah kaki Tuhan dan berkata, “Tuhan, apa yang harus kauperbuat?” (Kisah 9:6). Ini adalah alasannya mengapa orang-orang yang bertobat datang kepada Kristus dengan gemetar (Kisah 16:29; 9:6). Alkitab berkata, “Permulaan hikmat adalah takut akan Tuhan” (Mazmur 111:10; Amsal 1:7; 9:10). Sekarang, dalam pertobatan, Anda tidak akan takut lagi melakukan apa yang sebelumnya Anda takuti. Dulu Anda suka menipu orang Kristen lain, namun sekarang Anda tidak berani melakukannya lagi. Dulu Anda melakukan dosa-dosa tersembunyi, karena tidak ada orang lain yang melihatnya, namun sekarang Anda tidak akan berani melakukannya lagi karena Anda takut kepada Tuhan yang lebih besar dari segala sesuatu. Sekarang jika Anda menghadapi pencobaan untuk berbuat dosa, Anda berpikir, “Bagaimanakah mungkin aku melakukan kejahatan yang besar ini dan berbuat dosa terhadap Allah?” (Kejadian 39:9). “Karena takut akan TUHAN orang menjauhi kejahatan” (Amsal 16:60. Ini adalah hasil dari pertobatan yaitu membawa orang-orang berdosa untuk takut akan Tuhan.
Ketika Anda bertobat Anda akan memiliki sedikit kekwatiran karena ancaman manusia, kerugian duniawi, atau berdiri di jalan menuju Sorga! Orang yang benar-benar telah bertobat memiliki sangat sedikit sekali ketakutan akan hal-hal ini. Di sini, di mana ketika orang-orang terhilang paling ketakutan, di situlah orang yang telah bertobat paling berani. Orang yang telah bertobat akan berkata, “TUHAN di pihakku. Aku tidak akan takut. Apakah yang dapat dilakukan manusia terhadap aku” (Mazmur 118:6). “Kepada Allah aku percaya, aku tidak takut. Apakah yang dapat dilakukan manusia terhadap aku?” (Mazmur 56:11). “Dengarkanlah Aku, hai kamu yang mengetahui apa yang benar, hai bangsa yang menyimpan pengajaran-Ku dalam hatimu! Janganlah takut jika diaibkan oleh manusia dan janganlah terkejut jika dinista oleh mereka. Sebab ngengat akan memakan mereka seperti memakan pakaian dan gegat akan memakan mereka seperti memakan kain bulu domba; tetapi keselamatan yang dari pada-Ku akan tetap untuk selama-lamanya dan kelepasan yang Kuberikan akan lanjut dari keturunan kepada keturunan” (Yesaya 51:7, 8).
Ketika Tuhan mengubah orang-orang pada saat pertobatan, Dia menjadikan mereka tentara di bawah bendera Kristus, dan menetapkan mereka untuk berperang melawan pemerintah-pemerintah dan penguasa-penguasa – yang dimaksud adalah iblis yang berkuasa di dunia ini. Oleh sebab itu Tuhan memberikan keberanian kepada orang-orang yang telah bertobat. Alasan mengapa kita melihat begitu sedikit orang-orang pemberani di gereja pada saat ini adalah karena hanya sedikit di antara mereka yang benar-benar telah bertobat. Yakinkan diri Anda bahwa Anda adalah salah satu dari sejumlah kecil itu!
“Janganlah takut, hai kamu kawanan kecil! Karena Bapamu telah berkenan memberikan kamu Kerajaan itu” (Luke 12:32).
6. The next passion which changes in conversion is anger. This is a single passion and has no opposite. Before conversion, people are angry with those who confront them with their sins. If you speak to those who are lost against their beloved sins, they become very angry with you, as if you did them some deadly harm. You cannot speak to them very softly about their sins, without them taking great offence, as if you were out to disgrace and destroy them! When we do only half our duty as ministers, those whom we tell are lost are highly offended at us, as if we did too much. When I consider what Heaven and Hell are, that one of them will be at the end of every person’s life, my conscience tells me that I should be very earnest with lost sinners, and take no excuse from them, until they turn to Jesus Christ in full conversion. They will say you are too zealous and too narrow if you do that. But aren’t those the same things the Pharisees thought about Jesus Christ? Christ Himself is an offence to the ungodly world (I Peter 2:8; Romans 9:33). No wonder then if we who are converted to Christ also offend them. They will bear a secret grudge in their minds against a Christian who troubles them in their sins. “Anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
If you came in with a light and caught a thief or an adulterer, he would be offended. So are most wicked people when a minister points out their sins.
But when converting grace comes you will have a change of heart. You will then thank the preacher you were angry with. You will not love anyone more than you love the person who cared for your soul. A special love to those who were the means of your conversion will remain in your heart forever. You will be like an insane man who fought with his doctor, and treats those who try to cure him as if they came to kill him. But when he returns to his right mind, he will thank the doctors with all his heart. A sinner, before his conversion, is angry with those who try to help him – but when God turns his heart he will deeply love the faithful reprover.
When you are converted, your anger will turn away from others and will be turned against yourself. You were never so angry at the preacher for reproving you as you are now at yourself, for sinning against God. There is in every converted person a great anger or indignation against himself because of his sin. Then you will say, “I have sinned greatly” (II Samuel 24:10). Paul himself says he was insane! “Exceedingly mad against” the Christians before his conversion (Acts 26:11). And of himself and some other people, he said, “We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). So you see that converted people are angry with themselves for their sinfulness. Therefore every converted sinner hates himself for his iniquity. This is why a real convert easily denies himself, while a false convert will not. False converts fall back into nominal Christianity because they have never been brought to hate themselves and their sinfulness. They have been forgiven little, so they love little (Luke 7:47). They easily, therefore, fall back into sin and nominal Christianity, because their conversion was false in the first place (Luke 8:13-14).
7. The last change in the affections made by converting grace is in the area of man’s content and discontent. Before you are converted, you are discontented if you do not have worldly pleasure. It is the things of this world that lost people find satisfaction and happiness in. But as for spiritual and heavenly things – they can do just as well without them.
But conversion changes the heart also on these things. For when you are converted, you will be satisfied with any state of life as long as you can have communion with God. A lost person is troubled and restless if his friends, or his house, or his health or something else in this world is not just right. He is discontented because it is on this earth that he looks for contentment. Therefore he is troubled when he misses earthly joys.
A true convert, on the other hand, is troubled on this deep level more by spiritual things than physical. If God hides His face, if the Spirit appears to withdraw, if there is trouble between him and a brother in the church, he is deeply pained and troubled. Nothing will make him feel better until these things are resolved. He is like a child who will not be quieted by anything except that which it cries for. So, the true Christian is not content with anything in the world except Christ Himself. The true convert is content with what he has because God has promised that He will never leave him nor forsake him (Hebrews 13:5).
Now, the Bible says:
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
This does not mean that children are sinless, or free from the threat of Hell. This is what Christ means in the verse:
1. At conversion you begin anew, like a child. You begin your life anew – born again! You begin a new life when you are converted, as a child has a new life to live.
2. At conversion you become as a little child in humility and in seeking small things. Children do not think of heaping up wealth or of becoming independent and free of responsibility. Their minds are too simple for these things, and so will your mind be when you are converted. It is as impossible to become a true Christian without humility as it is for a house to stand without a foundation.