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Solus Christus

(32 posts)

We Don’t Even Have a Chimney

Tuesday··2006·12·05 · 8 Comments
Memo to the comprehension-impaired: This post is not about Santa or people who deceive their children. It is primarily about the sin of some of those people against the rest of us who choose truth, and are quite satisfied with Jesus alone. It is written, first, in zeal for the truth, and second, as a call to, and in hope of, repentance. It happens. Some school teacher tells the truth about the mythical fat man from the North Pole, and parents flip out as though something wrong has been done. Christian parents, whom I would expect to love truth, are often as outraged as the pagans. Now, I agree that it is within the parents’ rights (legally, if not morally) to tell their children whatever they want. Let them tell their children that a jolly fat man who lives at the North Pole—there is no land at the North Pole, by the way—makes an annual visit to every good child (Romans 3:10–18) on the planet via a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Let them say that the moon is made of cheese, global warming is a legitimate threat, Ralph Nader would make an excellent President, and they can accomplish anything with enough self-esteem. Parents are certainly entitled to decide what to tell their children, and I am right out front in the battle against anyone who says otherwise. That is why we homeschool. On the other hand, my right to teach my children whatever I see fit does not translate into an obligation on anyone else to back up my story. I have no right to wax indignant because someone says there is no Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus. “But,” you say, “They don’t have to go out of their way to do it. Furthermore, not all truth must be told. Some truth should not be told.” Then you might give an example of crossing the street to tell someone they’re ugly , which is a ridiculous comparison, for a few reasons. First, ugly is subjective. That anyone is ugly is neither true nor false. Second, supposing ugly is a fact, there could never be a good reason for saying so. What kind of person would do that? Third, and most importantly, it would be highly unusual for anyone to be forced to declare someone to be ugly. Anyone who spends a lot of time with children will inevitably be faced with the necessity of either affirming or denying Santa Claus. Any teacher committed to telling the truth, no matter how studiously he avoids the subject, will eventually have to say, “No, sorry, it’s just a story.” You have no right to object to that, and to expect them to cross their fingers and lie. Then there are the children who know the truth. Eventually, they learn to avoid the subject and keep quiet. Little kids haven’t learned that, and they don’t have the skill to maneuver through this minefield as adults can. Sometimes, they are just going to blurt out, “There’s no Santa Claus!” There is no malice or guile in that, and I would be ashamed to hear my children say otherwise when they know the truth. Children lose any illusion of innocence far too soon as it is. I will not teach them to lie for any reason. “But,” you say again, “Surely you tell your children stories; not everything you tell them is technically true.” Yes, we tell stories, and some of them are real whoppers; but we call them fiction. We don’t actually convince our children that there really are trolls living under bridges or pigs that can build houses or bears that eat porridge. We never try to convince them of anything that is not true. The possible example you’re thinking of right now? No. I don’t need to know what it is, the answer is, “No. Absolutely not. Nope; not that, either.” As aggravating and absolutely wrong as it is to expect complicity in deceit, worse is the scorn that is often heaped upon those who choose to tell their own children the truth. I’m talking about Christians who look down on others for telling their own children the truth. We are stealing joy from our children. We are “miserable, dour adults” who “suck the fun out of” Christmas, “so-called ‘Christians,’” “jerks” [Update: Add “ashen and odious” to the descriptions of a Christ-only Santa-free Christmas]. That attitude is astonishing. First, to be contemptuous of others for telling the truth—for telling the truth!—is audacious beyond description. Second, to think that the legitimate focus of Christmas is somehow lacking, and that a fairy tale can add anything to the true story of God incarnate, born of virgin, without sin, who lived and died to bear my sin and secure eternal life for me! The true story of the incarnation alone needs a companion fairy tale, or Christmas won’t be fun! Such attitudes are unworthy of Christians. Tell your children whatever you want. That really is not my concern, or the focus of this article. Your children will probably grow up just fine, although many have testified to the harm done to their faith when they learned the truth about Santa. Just don’t expect complicity from me. Don’t expect sympathy when you throw your temper tantrums over the gall of some teacher who told the truth. Don’t expect an apology when your child discovers that mine doesn’t believe in Santa. You see, if maintaining your deceit requires me to be deceitful too, you’re on your own. If that “suck[s] the fun out of” your Christmas, I’m afraid you’ve missed Christmas anyway.
This passage from my morning reading was especially encouraging today. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. —Hebrews 4:14–16 What does this passage tell us? Does it tell us, as many of today’s popular preachers would, that we ought not feel unworthy? No, it does not. The first thing it says is that we have a high priest. Who needs a priest? It is precisely and only those who are unworthy to enter the Father’s presence who need a priest to intercede for them. And we have such a priest. A priest who lived as we live, suffered as we suffer, yet without sin, and made the perfect sacrifice for our sin, and now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. Therefore, we can come boldly, casting all our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). And when we come before the throne, we will obtain mercy, which we desperately need, for we are guilty, and grace, without which we are utterly helpless. So come boldly, though your hands are not clean and your heart is not pure. Hold fast to your faith in Christ. Come, confessing your sin and seeking forgiveness. You are truly unworthy, but you have a high priest who intercedes for you. Come, obtain mercy. Receive grace. Come boldly.

The one true resting-place

This one true goal or resting-place where doubt and weariness, the stings of a pricking conscience, and the longings of an unsatisfied soul would all be quieted, is Christ Himself. Not the church, but Christ. Not doctrine, but Christ. Not forms, but Christ. Not ceremonies, but Christ. Christ the God-man, giving his life for ours; sealing the everlasting covenant, and making peace for us through the blood of His cross; Christ the divine storehouse of all light and truth, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” [Col 2:3]; Christ the infinite vessel, filled with the Holy Spirit, the enlightener, the teacher, the quickened, the comforter, so that “out of his fullness we may receive, and grace for grace” [John 1:16]. This, this alone is the vexed soul’s refuge, its rock to build on, its home to abide in till the great temper be bound and every conflict ended in victory. —Horatius Bonar, Christ Is All, ed. Darrin R. Brooker & Michael Haykin (Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), 171.

Two Beautiful Words

Tuesday··2008·08·12 · 2 Comments
What are the most beautiful words you’ve ever heard? You might be thinking of several possibilities: the first time you heard the words “I love you” from your spouse; news that a seriously ill or injured loved one would recover, or some impending disaster had been averted; or any number of things that would be cause for great joy. I believe the most beautiful phrase ever spoken begins with, of all things, the word but. We don’t normally think of but as a prelude to good news. Maybe your boss has said, “You’re doing a good job, but . . .” What young man (except me, of course) hasn’t heard, “I like you, but . . .” from a young lady. What follows the but is seldom good. But is most often not a word we want to hear. But . . . Add one word to that but, and everything changes. That word (if you are a child of God) is God. Hunted by enemies: “David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.” (1 Samuel 23:14). Weak and faltering: “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26). We are constantly in need of God’s intervention. We live in need of but God. Nowhere is this phrase displayed in more glorious beauty than in Ephesians 2:1–9: And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. We were dead in sin; we lived in a worldly manner, led by Satan himself; and we kept company among others of our kind, satisfying our lusts, bringing upon ourselves the wrath of God . . . but God . . . loved us anyway, in spite of our wretched sinfulness, raised us to life, and, purely by grace, gave us the gift of saving faith, and has given us citizenship in his kingdom with Christ. For what purpose? That he might demonstrate the glory of his grace toward us in Christ. We were dead, but God . . .

Lord’s Day 36, 2008

I reioyced, when they sayd to me, We wil go into the house of the Lord. (Psalme 122:1) HYMN 22 Part 1. (L. M.) Christ the eternal life. Rom. ix. 5. Isaac Watts (1674–1748) Jesus, our Savior and our God, Array’d in majesty and blood, Thou art our life; our souls in thee Possess a full felicity. All our immortal hopes are laid In thee, our surety and our head; Thy cross, thy cradle, and thy throne, Are big with glories yet unknown. Let atheists scoff, and Jews blaspheme Th’ eternal life and Jesus’ name; A word of thy almighty breath Dooms the rebellious world to death. But let my soul for ever lie Beneath the blessings of thine eye; ’Tis heav’n on earth, ’tis heav’n above, To see thy face and taste thy love. —The Psalms & Hymns of Isaac Watts. Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Book I: Collected from the Holy Scriptures (Soli Deo Gloria, 1997). Psalme 150 (Geneva Bible) 1 Praise ye the Lord, because he is good: for his mercie endureth for euer. 2 Praise ye the God of gods: for his mercie endureth for euer. 3 Praise ye the Lord of Lords: for his mercie endureth for euer: 4 Which onely doeth great wonders: for his mercie endureth for euer: 5 Which by his wisedome made the heauens: for his mercie endureth for euer: 6 Which hath stretched out the earth vpon the waters: for his mercie endureth for euer: 7 Which made great lightes: for his mercie endureth for euer: 8 As the sunne to rule the day: for his mercie endureth for euer: 9 The moone and the starres to gouerne the night: for his mercie endureth for euer: 10 Which smote Egypt with their first borne, (for his mercie endureth for euer) 11 And brought out Israel from among them (for his mercie endureth for euer) 12 With a mightie hande and stretched out arme: for his mercie endureth for euer: 13 Which deuided the red Sea in two partes: for his mercie endureth for euer: 14 And made Israel to passe through the mids of it: for his mercie endureth for euer: 15 And ouerthrewe Pharaoh and his hoste in the red Sea: for his mercie endureth for euer: 16 Which led his people through the wildernes: for his mercie endureth for euer: 17 Which smote great Kings: for his mercie endureth for euer: 18 And slewe mightie Kings: for his mercie endureth for euer: 19 As Sihon King of the Amorites: for his mercie endureth for euer: 20 And Og the King of Bashan: for his mercie endureth for euer: 21 And gaue their land for an heritage: for his mercie endureth for euer: 22 Euen an heritage vnto Israel his seruant: for his mercie endureth for euer: 23 Which remembred vs in our base estate: for his mercie endureth for euer: 24 And hath rescued vs from our oppressours: for his mercie endureth for euer: 25 Which giueth foode to all flesh: for his mercie endureth for euer. 26 Praise ye the God of heauen: for his mercie endureth for euer. Grace be with you, and Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymns of My Youth: Rock of Ages

Saturday··2011·07·16 · 2 Comments
Possibly Toplady’s best, humbly acknowledging absolute helplessness and dependence on Christ: 284 Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save me from its guilt and pow’r. Not the labor of my hands Can fulfill Thy law’s demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone. Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to the cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress, Helpless look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die. While I draw this fleeting breath, When my eyes shall close in death, When I soar to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. —The Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing House, 1960).

Hymns of My Youth II: Jesus Paid It All

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. —Isaiah 1:18 Jesus Paid It All I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small! Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.” Refrain: Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain— He washed it white as snow. Lord, now indeed I find Thy pow’r and Thine alone, Can change the leper’s spots And melt the heart of stone. Refrain For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim— I’ll wash my garments white In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb. Refrain And when before the throne I stand in Him complete, “Jesus died my soul to save,” My lips shall still repeat. Refrain —Great Hymns of the Faith (Zondervan, 1968).

Knowing versus Feeling

Alistair Begg speaks my mind (and describes me on a Sunday morning): Knowing versus Feeling in Worship

Prepare to Die

Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel. —Luke 2:29–32 Are you ready to die? only one thing is needed: Simeon began his song by speaking of his final departure, his dismissal unto death. Some people . . . infer from this that he was an old man. That may be true; however, Luke never tells us how old he was. All he tells us is that once Simeon had seen Jesus, he was ready to die—to be released from his watch post. This was partly because of the special promise that he would not see death until he had seen the Christ. But the principle also had a wider application. Anyone who had seen Jesus with the eyes of faith is prepared to die. And anyone who has not seen him—whether young or old—is not ready to die at all. When we see Jesus and his salvation we are ready to be dismissed from this life in peace and enter the life to come. Have you seen Jesus by faith? Have you seen him crucified for your sins? Have you seen him raised for you salvation? It is then and only then that anyone is prepared to die. —Philip Ryken, The Incarnation in the Gospels (P&R Publishing, 2008), 126–127.

The Cross Is Not Enough

The doctrine of double imputation demands that we have more than a cross-centered theology. R. C. Sproul explains: Justification: Our Sin Transferred to Christ In our justification a double transfer takes place. First, the weight of our guilt is transferred to Christ. Christ willingly takes upon Himself all of our sin. Once our sin is imputed to Christ, God sees Him as a mass of corruption. He sees a mass of sinfulness. Because the sin now has been transferred to Jesus’ account, He is counted or reckoned guilty in our place. But if this transfer were all that happened, if the imputation were a one-dimensional transaction, we would never be justified. If Jesus were to take on His back all of the sins that I have ever committed and bear the punishment for me, that would not get me into the kingdom of God. All that would do is keep me out of hell. I would still not be just. I would be innocent but still not just in a positive sense. I would have no righteousness of which to speak. Remember, it is not simply innocence that gets us into the kingdom of God. It is righteousness. Unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will never get into the kingdom of God (see Matthew 5:20). If the only thing that occurred in salvation were the removal of my guilt, I would still have no merit. Justification: Christ’s Righteousness Transferred to Us So there is a double transfer. Not only is the sin of mankind imputed to Christ, but His righteousness is transferred to our account. In God’s sight [we are] now clean. When God declares me just, He is not lying. This is no mere legal fiction. If the imputation were fictional, then God’s declaration would be a legal fiction. It would be a lie and blemish on the character of God. But the point of the gospel is that the imputation is real. God really did lay my sins on Christ, and God really did transfer Christ’s righteousness to me. There is a genuine union for those who are in Christ. We truly possess the righteousness of Jesus Christ by imputation. Christ is our righteousness. That’s why He is our Savior: not merely because He died but because He lived. Without His meritorious life the atonement would have no value. Without His obedience, His suffering on the cross would be merely a tragedy. We must have the double transfer, by which God declares us just. When we consider this double imputation, we see the essence of our salvation in a phrase made famous by Martin Luther: simul justus et peccator. Simul is the Latin word from which we get the English word simultaneous. It means “at the same time.” Justus is the word for “just” or “righteous.” Et means “and.” Peccator is the Latin word for sinner. So simul justus et peccator means “at the same time just and sinner.” This is the glory of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The person who is in Christ is at the very same instant both just and a sinner. That’s good news, for if I had to wait until there was no sin in me to get into the kingdom of God, I would surely never make it. —R. C. Sproul, Saved from What? (Crossway, 2002), 96–98.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Rock of Ages

Rock of Agesthey were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:4 Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save me from its guilt and pow’r. Not the labor of my hands Can fulfill Thy law’s demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone. Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress, Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly, Wash me, Savior, or I die! While I draw this fleeting breath, When my eyes shall close in death, When I soar to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Jesus Paid It All

Jesus Paid It AllFor you have been bought with a price 1 Corinthians 6:20 I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small! Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.” Refrain: Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain— He washed it white as snow. Lord, now indeed I find Thy pow’r and Thine alone, Can change the leper’s spots And melt the heart of stone. Refrain For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim— I’ll wash my garments white In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb. Refrain And when before the throne I stand in Him complete, “Jesus died my soul to save,” My lips shall still repeat. Refrain —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

Would you be holy?

Ryle has covered the what and why of personal holiness. Now he turns to the how. Would you be holy? Would you become a new creature? Then you must begin with Christ. You will do just nothing at all, and make no progress till you feel your sin and weakness, and flee to Him. He is the root and beginning of all holiness, and the way to be holy is to come to Him by faith and be joined to Him. Christ is not wisdom and righteousness only to His people, but sanctification also. Men sometimes try to make themselves holy first of all, and sad work they make of it. They toil and labour, and turn over new leaves, and make many changes; and yet, like the woman with the issue of blood, before she came to Christ, they feel ‘nothing bettered, but rather worse’ (Mark 8:26). They run in vain, and labour in vain; and little wonder, for they are beginning at the wrong end. They are building up a wall of sand; their work runs down as fast as they throw it up. They are baling water out of a leaky vessel: the leak gains on them, not they on the leak. Other foundation of ‘holiness’ can no man lay than that which Paul laid, even Christ Jesus. ‘Without Christ we can do nothing’ (John 15:5). It is a strong but true saying of Traill’s, ‘Wisdom out of Christ is damning folly—righteousness out of Christ is guilt and condemnation—sanctification out of Christ is filth and sin—redemption out of Christ is bondage and slavery.’ Do you want to attain holiness? Do you feel this day a real hearty desire to be holy? Would you be a partaker of the Divine nature? Then go to Christ. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Linger not. Think not to make yourself ready. Go and say to Him, in the words of that beautiful hymn— Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, flee to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace. There is not a brick nor a stone laid in the work of our sanctification till we go to Christ. Holiness is His special gift to His believing people. Holiness is the work He carries on in their hearts, by the Spirit whom He puts within them. He is appointed a ‘Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance’ as well as remission of sins.—‘To as many as receive Him, He gives power to become sons of God’ (Acts 5:31; John 1:12, 13). Holiness comes not of blood—parents cannot give it to their children: nor yet of the will of the flesh—man cannot produce it in himself: nor yet of the will of man—ministers cannot give it you by baptism. Holiness comes from Christ. It is the result of vital union with Him, It is the fruit of being a living branch of the True Vine. Go then to Christ and say, ‘Lord, not only save me from the guilt of sin, but send the Spirit, whom Thou didst promise, and save me from its power. Make me holy. Teach me to do Thy will.’ Would you continue holy? Then abide in Christ. He says Himself, ‘Abide in Me and I in you,—he that abideth in Me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit. (John 15:4, 5). It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell—a full supply for all a believer’s wants. He is the Physician to whom you must daily go, if you would keep well. He is the Manna which you must daily eat, and the Rock of which you must daily drink. His arm is the arm on which you must daily lean, as you come up out of the wilderness of this world. You must not only be rooted, you must also be built up in Him. Paul was a man of God indeed— a holy man—a growing, thriving Christian—and what was the secret of it all? He was one to whom Christ was ‘all in all.’ He was ever ‘looking unto Jesus.’ ‘I can do all things,’ he says, ‘through Christ which strengthened me.’ ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. The life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God.’ Let us go and do likewise (Heb. 12:2; Phil. 9:13; Gal. 2:20). —J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 67—69.

Without Christ (2)

Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. —Ephesians 2:12 How serious a matter is it to be without Christ? Is it really to be with “no hope and without God”? Or are there other ways to God? One very popular view says, yes, there are. J. C. Ryle takes the biblical view: Reconciliation with God is necessarily mediated, and there is but one mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). To be without Christ is to be without God. The Apostle St. Paul told the Ephesians as much as this in plain words. He ends the famous sentence which begins, ‘Ye were without Christ,’ by saying, ‘Ye were without God in the world.’ And who that thinks can wonder? That man can have very low ideas of God who does not conceive Him a most pure, and holy, and glorious, and spiritual Being. That man must be very blind who does not see that human nature is corrupt, and sinful, and defiled. How then can such a worm as man draw near to God with comfort? How can he look up to Him with confidence and not feel afraid? How can he speak to Him, have dealings with Him, look forward to dwelling with Him, without dread and alarm? There must be a Mediator between God and man, and there is but One that can fill the office. That One is Christ. Who art thou that talkest of God’s mercy and God’s love separate from and independent of Christ? There is no such love and mercy recorded in Scripture. Know this day that God out of Christ is ‘a consuming fire.’ (Heb. 12:29.) Merciful He is, beyond all question: rich in mercy, plenteous in mercy. But His mercy is inseparably connected with the mediation of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. It must flow through Him as the appointed channel, or it cannot flow at all. It is written, ‘He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him.’—‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.’ (John 5:23; 14:6.) ‘Without Christ’ we are without God. —J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), PP.
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” —John 7:37–38 In all of Scripture, no one but Jesus ever said, “Come to me,” and no one could ever offer what he offers. No prophet or apostle ever took on himself to use such language as this. ‘Come with us,’ said Moses to Hobab (Num. 10:29); ‘Come to the waters,’ says Isaiah (Isa. 55:1); ‘Behold the Lamb,’ says John the Baptist (John 1:29); ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,’ says St. Paul (Acts 16:31). But no one except Jesus of Nazareth ever said, ‘Come to ME.’ That fact is very significant. He that said, ‘Come to Me,’ knew and felt, when He said it, that He was the eternal Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. . . . ‘If any man thirst,’ says our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, ‘let him come unto Me, and drink.’ There is a grand simplicity about this little sentence which cannot be too much admired. There is not a word in it of which the literal meaning is not plain to a child. Yet, simple as it appears, it is rich in spiritual meaning. Like the Koh-i-noor diamond, which you may carry between finger and thumb, it is of unspeakable value. It solves that mighty problem which all the philosophers of Greece and Rome could never solve—‘How can man have peace with God?’ Place it in your memory side by side with six other golden sayings of your Lord. ‘I am the Bread of life: he that cometh unto me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.’—‘I am the Light of the world: he that followeth ME shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’—‘I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.’—‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by ME.’—‘Come unto ME, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’—’ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.’—Add to these six texts the one before you to-day. Get the whole seven by heart. Rivet them down in your mind, and never let them go. When your feet touch the cold river, on the bed of sickness and in the hour of death, you will find these seven texts above all price (John 6:35; 8:12; 10:9; 14:6; Matt. 11:28; John 11:37). For what is the sum and substance of these simple words? It is this. Christ is that Fountain of living water which God has graciously provided for thirsting souls. From Him, as out of the rock smitten by Moses, there flows an abundant stream for all who travel through the wilderness of this world. In Him, as our Redeemer and Substitute, crucified for our sins and raised again for our justification, there is an endless supply of all that men can need—pardon, absolution, mercy, grace, peace, rest, relief, comfort, and hope. This rich provision Christ has bought for us at the price of His own precious blood. To open this wondrous fountain He suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, and bore our sins in His own body on the tree. He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21). And now He is sealed and appointed to be the Reliever of all who are labouring and heavy laden, and the Giver of living water to all who thirst. It is His office to receive sinners. It is His pleasure to give them pardon, life, and peace. And the words of the text are a proclamation He makes to all mankind—‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.’ This rich provision Christ has bought for us at the price of His own precious blood. To open this wondrous fountain He suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, and bore our sins in His own body on the tree. He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21). And now He is sealed and appointed to be the Reliever of all who are labouring and heavy laden, and the Giver of living water to all who thirst. It is His office to receive sinners. It is His pleasure to give them pardon, life, and peace. And the words of the text are a proclamation He makes to all mankind—‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.’ —J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 352, 356–357.

None but Jesus

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” —John 7:37–38 Our relationship to God the Father is a mediated relationship. We come to him through Jesus Christ, the Son (1 Timothy 2:5). This access to the Father through Christ is unique to Christian theology. While a presumptuous priesthood that can offer nothing real holds many at a distance, thirsty souls may—and must—go directly to Christ. He that thirsts and wants relief must come to Christ Himself. He must not be content with coming to His Church and His ordinances, or to the assemblies of His people for prayer and praise. He must not stop short even at His holy table, or rest satisfied with privately opening his heart to His ordained ministers. Oh, no! he that is content with only drinking these waters ‘shall thirst again’ (John 4:13). He must go higher, further, much further than this. He must have personal dealings with Christ Himself: all else in religion is worthless without Him. The King’s palace, the attendant servants, the richly furnished banqueting house, the very banquet itself—all are nothing unless we speak with the King. His hand alone can take the burden off our backs and make us feel free. The hand of man may take the stone from the grave and show the dead; but none but Jesus can say to the dead, ‘Come forth and live’ (John 6:41–43). We must deal directly with Christ. —J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 357.

In No One Else

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. —Acts 4:12 Let us make sure that we rightly understand what the Apostle means. He says of Christ, ‘Neither is there salvation in any other’. Now, what does this mean? On our clearly seeing this very much depends. He means that no one can be saved from sin,—its guilt, its power, and its consequences,—excepting by Jesus Christ. He means that no one can have peace with God the Father, obtain pardon in this world, and escape wrath to come in the next,—excepting through the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ. In Christ alone God’s rich provision of salvation for sinners is treasured up: by Christ alone God’s abundant mercies come down from heaven to earth. Christ’s blood alone can cleanse us; Christ’s righteousness alone can clothe us; Christ’s merit alone can give us a title to heaven. Jews and Gentiles, learned and unlearned, kings and poor men, all alike must either be saved by the Lord Jesus, or lost forever. And the Apostle adds emphatically, ‘There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.’ There is no other person commissioned, sealed, and appointed by God the Father to be the Saviour of sinners excepting Christ. The keys of Life and Death are committed to His hand, and all who would be saved must go to Him. There was but one place of safety in the day when the flood came upon the earth: that place was Noah’s ark. All other places and devices,—mountains, towers, trees, rafts, boats,—all were alike useless. So also there is but one hiding-place for the sinner who would escape the storm of God’s anger; he must venture his soul on Christ. There was but one man to whom the Egyptians could go in the time of famine, when they wanted food. They must go to Joseph: it was a waste of time to go to anyone else. So also there is but One to whom hungering souls must go, if they would not perish forever: they must go to Christ. There was but one word that could save the lives of the Ephraimites in the day when the Gileadites contended with them, and took the fords of Jordan (Judg 12): they must say ‘Shibboleth’, or die. Just so there is but one name that will avail us when we stand at the gate of heaven: we must name the name of Jesus as our only hope, or be cast away everlastingly. Such is the doctrine of the text. ‘No salvation but by Jesus Christ;—in Him plenty of salvation,—salvation to the uttermost, salvation for the very chief of sinners;—out of Him no salvation at all.’ It is in perfect harmony with our Lord s own words in St. John’s Gospel,—‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’ (John 14:6). It is the same thing that Paul tells the Corinthians,—‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor. 3:11). And it is the same that St. John tells us in his first Epistle, ‘God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life’ (1 John 5:12). All these texts come to one and the same point, no salvation but by Jesus Christ. Let us make sure that we understand this before we pass on. Men are apt to think, ‘This is all old news;—these are ancient things: who knoweth not such truths as these? Of course we believe there is no salvation but by Christ.’ But I ask my readers to mark well what I say. Make sure that you understand this doctrine, or else by and by you will stumble, and be offended at the statements I have yet to make in this paper. We are to venture the whole salvation of our souls on Christ, and on Christ only. We are to cast loose completely and entirely from all other hopes and trusts. We are not to rest partly on Christ,—partly on doing all we can,—partly on keeping our church,—partly on receiving the sacrament. In the matter of our justification Christ is to be all. This is the doctrine of the text. Heaven is before us, and Christ the only door into it; hell beneath us, and Christ alone able to deliver from it; the devil behind us, and Christ the only refuge from his wrath and accusations; the law against us, and Christ alone able to redeem us; sin weighing us down, and Christ alone able to put it away. This is the doctrine of the text. —J. C. Ryle, Knots Untied (Banner of Truth, 2016), 30–32.

Cling to Christ

To believe in Christ is to adhere to him, to cleave to him, cling about him. . . . A man that has suffered shipwreck is left to the mercy of the waves; has nothing in his reach to secure him but some planks or mast. How will he cling to it! how fast will he clasp! He will hold it as if it were his life, 2 Kings xviii. 5, Deut. iv. 4. He knows he is a dead man if he leave it; and therefore if any wave drive him off, he makes to it again with all his might, and clasps it faster. He knows there is no way but sink and perish if he part with it. A sinner, when the Lord begins to work faith in him, apprehends himself in a gulf of wrath; all the billows and waves go over him, and the depths are ready to swallow him up. Now in this case he sees no other security but Christ; he is . . . the only plank that is left (after our miserable wreck in Adam) to bring a sinner to shore; and therefore he cleaves to him; his soul clasps about him; he holds him as he would hold his soul ready to leave him, if it could come into his embraces. He knows, if he part, he sinks for ever; and therefore if any apprehension of wrath, of sin, of unworthiness, would drive him off, he clings closer to him, or he sinks eternally. —David Clarkson, Of Faith, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:68.

Relying upon Christ Alone

Faith is a rejecting of all other supports, a sole dependency on Christ alone. While the sinner depends upon anything else, in himself, or without himself, for safety, he believes not on Christ, he stands no longer upon his own legs. While the sinner stands upon his own bottom, his own righteousness, his good meaning, good nature, good deeds, his charitableness or religiousness, his being better than others, or not so bad as most, and upon this raises hopes of pardon, he is far from faith, he is but in the condition of the unjustified Pharisee. But when he looks upon these as no greater securities than tow or stubble would be, to shroud him from a consuming fire, then he will look out for a better screen to interpose betwixt his soul and that fiery indignation that his sins have kindled. When the soul, feeling the flame of wrath kindling on her, cries out as one that is already perishing, None but Christ, none but Christ, then he is in the highway to faith. If the dove which Noah sent out could have found rest for the sole of her feet elsewhere, she would not have returned unto the ark, Gen. viii. 12. Such an averseness there is in our natures to Christ, as he is the last thing a sinner looks after. If he can rest in anything else, if he can find rest in his friends, in his boon companions, in his accommodations, in his worldly employments, in his religious duties, in his good accomplishments; if he find rest to the sole of his foot here, the ark* is forgotten, he returns not to Christ. But when he sees a deluge of wrath overwhelm him, when the waters of God’s wrath rise so high as nothing appears but the ark, nothing to rest on but Christ, nothing but drowning and perishing in the common deluge, except he get into the ark, then he rests not till he gets into Christ, then he flies to him as for his life. See faith thus working in Ephraim, Hosea xiv. 4. They reject all foreign dependences: Asshur shall not save us; they reject all dependence on themselves: we will not ride, &c. They reject all that they had formerly idolised, and that by relying on them, they knew that this was the high way to mercy. . . . Till the sinner apprehend himself as an orphan, without strength, without counsel, all his supports dead which were a father to him, he will not betake himself to Christ as his only guardian; till he thus betake himself to Christ, he believes not. —David Clarkson, Of Faith, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:78. * This parallel to the ark is exactly appropriate (see here).

Faith Is Humble

A believing heart is a humble heart. Faith lays the soul low, in sense of its own vileness, emptiness, impotency; in sense of former sinfulness, present unworthiness; in sense of its many wants, weaknesses, distempers, corruption. As nothing more exalteth Christ, so nothing more debaseth man. As it advances man high in the account of God, so it lays him low in his own eyes. The Lord, having a design to display the riches of his grace, made choice of faith as the fittest instrument, as that which gives all to God, and nothing to man. It is the soul’s going out of himself, as having nothing but sin and misery, unto Christ for all. It has a double aspect: one to himself, there it sees nothing but guilt, weakness, emptiness; another to Christ, and there it sees righteousness, strength, all-sufficiency. Faith empties a man of himself, self-conceit, self-sufficiency, self-confidence, makes him seem nothing, that Christ may be all in all. Where the strongest faith, the greatest humility, Mat. viii. 7–10; judges himself unworthy of the least favour, counts himself the greatest of sinners, less than the least of all mercies, thinks better of others than of himself, patient of reproofs, and ready to stoop to the meanest service that Christ shall call him to; ascribes all he has to Christ and grace. —David Clarkson, Of Faith, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:108–109.

The Surpassing Value of Knowing Christ

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ —Philippians 3:7–8 In Philippians 3:4–6, the apostle Paul lists the points on which he might boast, things any devout Jew would count as valuable, even indispensible. But none of these so fundamental to his Hebrew identity were of any worth when compared with the knowledge of Christ. Now, because this might seem a wonder and hard to be believed, that the apostle should renounce, cast away that which others counted their gain, treasure, ornament, their glory and confidence, that which they thought highly commended them, and made them acceptable in the sight of God, and glorious in the eyes of men; to procure the easier belief, to express further the height of his resolution herein, and the fixedness of his heart in what he had done, he affirms it again, and that with an asseveration, together with divers heightened expressions, ver. 8, ‘Yea, doubtless,’ &c. He did not only count them loss, but he had actually renounced them. It was not only his judgment, but his practice. He did not only count them loss, but dung, filth, excrements, when compared with Christ. He did not only thus account, thus renounce these things fore-mentioned, but all things, even those things that he had done and suffered for Christ, since he knew Christ. Not that he repented of what he had done or suffered, nor that he thought these would not be graciously rewarded, but in point of confidence, in point of justification. If he had brought these before God’s tribunal to be accepted, pardoned, justified, saved for them, he had been lost, they would have proved the loss of his soul. God would no more accept of these as satisfaction for sin, or meritorious of eternal life, than he would accept of dung. And therefore in these respects he did that which the Lord would have done, he counted them loss and dung. He smelt a savour of death in those things which had been his confidence be fore for acceptance and life. And further, he adds the cause of this strange effect, ‘The excellency of the knowledge,’ &c. It was the discovery of Christ that wrought his heart to this temper. It was his view of a sinner s transcendent advantage by Christ, that made him account all these loss. It was the wonderful excellency of the knowledge of Christ, that made all these things seem as dung. When we are in the dark, we are glad of candle-light, and glow-worms will make a fair show in our eyes; but when the sun is risen and shines in his full strength, then candle-light seems needless or offensive, and the worms that glittered in the dark, make no better show than other vermin. So when men are in the state of nature and darkness, then their church privileges and carnal prerogatives, then their outward performances and self-righteousness, make a fine show in their eyes. They are apt to glory in them, and rely on them, as that by which they may gain the favour of God and eternal life. Ay, but when Christ appears, when the Sun of righteousness arises in the heart and discovers his excellency, his all-sufficiency, then a man’s own sparks vanish; then all his formerly beloved and rich esteemed ornaments are cast off; then all he has, and all he has done, privileges and outward services, are loss and dung. None but Christ, none but Christ, for pardon, acceptance, life. This is the excellent effect of this excellent knowledge. —David Clarkson, The Excellent Knowledge of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:250.

To Know is to Rest

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ —Philippians 3:7–8 [Knowing Christ] brings the soul to rest upon Christ and his righteousness alone, for pardon, acceptance, salvation, and to cast away all those rotten props, good nature, well meaning, harmless life, honest carriage, just dealing, church privileges, natural accomplishments, religious performances, upon which he relied, and made the grounds of his confidence before. Who more confident than Paul before he knew Christ? His being numbered amongst the people of God, his strictness in an outward way of religion, his zeal in the way of his conscience, his blameless conversation, were the things for which he thought himself sure of heaven. Here was his confidence; but when Christ was made known, to rest in these he saw was to trust in the arm of flesh, to lean upon a broken reed; and therefore, when the joyful discovery of Christ was made to his soul, he had no more confidence in the flesh, then he would not own his righteousness of the law as a ground of confidence: ‘Not having,’ &c. The soul that has this excellent discovery of Christ, will make nothing but Christ his confidence; despair in himself, how good soever he be, what good soever he has done, and only rely on Christ his righteousness. —David Clarkson, The Excellent Knowledge of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:253.

Paul’s “All”

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ —Philippians 3:7–8 What did it mean, in practical terms, for Paul to suffer “the loss of all things”? But what are these all things? The apostle gives us an account of them in this chapter, and elsewhere in his Epistles. By all things we may understand his privileges, his accomplishments, his enjoyments, his righteousness too; much more all and every sin. 1. His privileges. He was born of a noble tribe and family, was one of the blessed seed, the seed of Abraham, had that blessedness sealed to him by circumcision, and so was outwardly in covenant with God, and numbered amongst his people. This he once counted a gainful, an advantageous privilege; but after he had attained the knowledge of Christ, he saw that without Christ this would not at all avail him, ver. 7. 2. His accomplishments. He was a man of great natural parts, and he had raised, improved them by art and learning: he sat at the feet, i.e., was the scholar of Gamaliel, a great rabbi, a master in Israel. He might have advanced his esteem amongst men by excellency of words and wisdom, but he wholly denied himself, and waived these, when there was danger thereby of obscuring the glory of Christ. He was content to lose the reputation of them, 1 Cor. ii. 1, 4: The like mind is in those who have attained not to make ostentation of their gifts. 3. His enjoyments. His credit, ease, plenty, friends, liberty, safety, he was willing to lose all for Christ’s sake; he was content to be accounted as the filth and offscouring of the world, 1 Cor. iv. 13. His ease; in labours more abundant, in journeyings often, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings, 2 Cor. xi. 23, 27. The plenty and advantages of a good estate, ver. 27, hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness, choosed rather to serve Christ in such necessities, than to enjoy a plentiful estate without him. His friends, these became his enemies for Christ’s sake; hence he was in perils by his own countrymen. Instead of favours he received stripes, and that often, ver. 24. His liberty; in prison more frequent, bonds and afflictions, Acts xx. His safety; run the hazard of his life often for Christ, ver. 25, 26. Those that are savingly acquainted with Christ are like-minded; rather lose anything than part with Christ. 4. His righteousness too. His exactness in outward observation of the law, his zeal in the way of his conscience and judgment, all his outward performances, how specious or plausible soever, he was willing to lose, to renounce these, in point of confidence. He knew, after he knew Christ, if he had relied upon these for pardon, acceptance, salvation, it had been to the loss of his soul. So in this consideration he suffered the loss of them; he was willing to renounce, to disclaim them as grounds of his confidence. 5. As for his lusts, all and every of those sins that he was formerly addicted to, he counts it no loss to part with them; they scarce come into this account. It was a thing without question not only with him, but even the false teachers, that he who would not part with every known sin could not gain Christ, could have no interest in him, no advantage by him. Thus you see the effect of this excellent knowledge of Christ in the apostle. Whatever was sinful, he utterly rejected it; those things that were indifferent, he had either actually suffered the loss of them for Christ, or it was the purpose and resolution of his soul so to do, whenever the interest of Christ should require it. And the things necessary, he renounced them as to any confidence in them, for those purposes for which they were not sufficient. They were loss, of no value to him in this respect. —David Clarkson, The Excellent Knowledge of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:267–268.

Both Necessary and Worthless

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ —Philippians 3:7–8 Counting “all things,” including our own righteousness, “to be loss” does not mean that we should no longer pursue holiness; as the Apostle writes, “godliness actually is a means of great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6; also, Philippians 2:12–13). But we should never believe that we can, even in part, be justified thereby. Our personal righteousness, the best of it, holiness of heart and life, this must be quitted in some respect, and only in some respect. To speak or think of suffering the loss of all absolutely, is intolerable. A personal righteousness is in its own place transcendently excellent, and absolutely necessary; without it we cannot be qualified for glory, we cannot be serviceable on earth, we can never come to heaven; without it we cannot honour Christ here, nor shall ever see his face hereafter, Heb. xii. In these respects we must not think of suffering the loss of it, we must not lose it for a world, we lose heaven and our souls if we suffer it. But in point of justification we must quit it, i.e., we must not rely on our personal righteousness as a justifying righteousness. To quit it thus far will be no loss, for it is no loss to quit anything so far as it is not useful, how excellent soever it be otherwise. Now our personal righteousness is not useful to justify us before God against the accusation of the law of works; to quit it here, to lose it thus, is to lose nothing but a false conceit, a conceit that it is what it is not, and can do for us what it can never do. No person on earth ever had in himself a justifying righteousness. It is true if our first parents had continued in their primitive state, without sin, their righteousness would have justified them; but since their fall, sin entering into the world, and spreading over it, no man ever had in himself a justifying righteousness but the man Christ Jesus; no other personal righteousness besides can answer the demands of the law in a full, perfect, spotless conformity to it; none can satisfy for the transgressions of it, none can give a title to eternal life. This I call a justifying righteousness. The best personal righteousness of the most eminent saint on earth is no such thing, it can no more justify him than dung can feed him; how excellent soever it be for other purposes, it is not sufficient, it is not useful, for this, here it leaves us at a loss. On this account the apostle did suffer the loss of his own righteousness; if he was to appear before God, to be justified or condemned, he would be found not having his own righteousness, he durst not rely on that. Elsewhere, 1 Cor. iv. 4, and others, Ps. cxliii. 2, they decline the consideration of their own righteousness in this case, as knowing upon that account they could not be justified, the sinful effects of it would rather expose them to condemnation. But if we rely not on our own righteousness for justification, what righteousness is there to rely on? We shall be at a loss for a justifying righteousness. So the papists, so the Socinians and their followers, determine. But the apostle was otherwise minded, he knew where to find a righteousness fully sufficient for this purpose: ‘Not having his own righteousness’; if he might be found in Christ, even in him who is ‘the Lord our righteousness’, in him who is ‘made of God wisdom and righteousness,’ &c., who is ‘the end of the law for righteousness,’ ‘who was made sin for us, that we,’ &c. This is a righteousness far transcending any personal righteousness that sinners are capable of; yea, and that righteousness too which would have justified our first parents if they had not sinned, as being the righteousness of God, the righteousness of faith, an everlasting righteousness. It is a better, a more excellent, righteousness than that in the state of innocency would have been, if it had been perfected in respect of the subject, it being ‘the righteousness of God,’ so called verse 9, and not of man only. 2. In respect of the facility of obtaining, it is attainable by faith, and so described, ver. 9. Faith interests those in it who can neither personally satisfy for past disobedience, nor perfectly observe the law for the time to come. 3. In respect of its perpetuity, it is everlasting: Dan. ix. 24, ‘Righteousness of eternity’ (Heb.]. Adam’s righteousness, if it had continued a thousand years, might have been lost by sin; but this righteousness makes an end of sin, and so makes a justified state endless. Those that believe this effectually, need not think much to suffer the loss of all, that they may win Christ and be interested in his righteousness, so they may be found in him, not having, &c. —David Clarkson, The Excellent Knowledge of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:271–272.

Have No Confidence

I count all things to be loss . . . so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith —Philippians 3:8–9 To be found in Christ . . . You must have no confidence in your own righteousness. The apostle joins these both in his doctrine and practice, ver. 9. If you would be found in Christ, you must lay aside all conceits of any sufficiency in your own righteousness to justify or save you; those that lead you to this draw you from Christ. It was such conceits that kept off the Pharisees from Christ, and made it less feasible for them to be found in Christ than the publicans; and against this is that parable directed, Luke xviii. 9. This cut off the Jews from Christ and his righteousness: Rom. x. 34, ‘In the Lord have we righteousness, in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified,’ Isa. xl. 24, 25. But this self-confidence will make men say, ‘We are lords,’ Jer. ii. 31. This makes Christ of none effect, discharges them from being found in him, or finding any advantage by him, Gal. v. 4. An expectation to be justified by conformity to, or observation of the law, tends to disannul and abolish Christ; such are fallen from the doctrine of grace, which doctrine teaches that we are justified freely by another righteousness, Rom. iii. This renders the death of Christ a vain and needless thing, Gal. ii. 21. Christ was obedient unto death, that we might have righteousness in him to justify us. If we can have such a righteousness by our observance of the law, he died in vain and to no purpose, we might be as well without him. —David Clarkson, Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:276.

Satan Wants You to Be Good

I count all things to be loss . . . so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith —Philippians 3:8–9 The devil loves it when people sin willfully. He loves it more when they live morally and think themselves good. If you desire the comfort and happiness to be found in Christ, take heed of relying upon your own righteousness. There are two ways whereby Satan leads the greatest part of the world to destruction. The one is, the open way of profaneness and ungodliness; the other is, the retired way of self-confidence. If that great enemy of souls cannot prevail with men to run with [other to] excess of riot, when he sees some through religious education, or common workings of the Spirit, to have escaped the gross pollutions of the world, he attempts their ruin another way, by possessing them with a conceit of the sufficiency of their own righteousness, tempting them to neglect Christ by resting in themselves. And though this way be fairer than the other, yet ordinarily it proves more dangerous, because those that are entered into it are not so easily convinced of it, and brought out of it; publicans and sinners are more easily brought to Christ than Pharisees. The word to which the apostle compares self-righteousness tells us thus much. He calls it . . . dung . . . It must be an extraordinary power that will work a man that is civilized, and hath the form of godliness, to deny himself, and renounce his self-righteousness; and yet nothing doth more cross the great and glorious designs of God in the gospel, nothing is more dishonourable to Christ, and more affronts him; nothing more dangerous to the soul of sinners, than to rely upon their own righteousness for pardon and salvation. And therefore, if you would not be found fighters against God in his most gracious contrivement of man's happiness; if you would not be contemners of Christ and the grace of the gospel; if you would not be found accessory to the destruction of your own souls, take heed of depending upon your own righteousness, take heed of making anything the ground of your confidence but Christ and his righteousness. —David Clarkson, Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:280–281.

A Description of Self-Righteousness

I count all things to be loss . . . so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith —Philippians 3:8–9 Self-righteousness comes in a several varieties. It may be nice, good, moral, religious, not-bad, or (presumptively) earned. None is of any value. Some rely much upon a natural righteousness, that which we call good nature; if others persuade them, or they can persuade themselves that they are of good dispositions, mild, candid, gentle, ingenuous, kind and peaceable temper, they rest here, and are apt to conclude, the Lord will not be so severe as to cast so good nature (though there be nothing more than nature in them) into hell. Some rely upon a positive righteousness, and observance of some rites and circumstances in religion. They are baptized, and accounted members of the church, and partake of ordinances, and come under church order, submit to this or that form of ecclesiastical government, and adhere strictly to some outward observances prescribed by God, or perhaps received by tradition from their superiors or forefathers. Here they ground their hopes of heaven. This was part of the Pharisees righteousness, and that in which their false teachers grounded their confidence, which the apostle here opposes, and overthrows elsewhere, when he tells us, ‘The kingdom of God comes not by observation,’ &c., Luke xvii. 29; Rom. xiv. 17. And Christ raises it: ‘Except your righteousness,’ &c., Mat. v. 20. Others rely upon a moral righteousness, because they have some care to observe the duties of the second table, because they are just, sober, temperate, liberal, love their neighbours, do no man wrong, give every one his own; hence conclude they are sure of heaven. Whereas if this were a sufficient ground of confidence, we might conclude many heathens in heaven, such as never knew Christ, nor heard of the gospel. If such righteousness be sufficient, then Christ died in vain, as the apostle concludes to like purpose, Gal. ii. 21. Others rely upon a religious righteousness, their outward performances of some religious duties. Because they pray, and hear the word, and read the Scriptures, receive the sacraments, converse with those that are religious, and in some sort observe the Sabbath, upon this are confident that they shall die the death of the righteous, and it shall be well with them in the latter end. But even this support the apostle rejected as rotten; though he was one of the most religious sort among the Jews, and blameless as to his outward performance of religious duties, yet he durst not be found with this righteousness alone; he disclaims all confidence in it. Others rely upon a negative righteousness. Because they are not so unrighteous, not such idolaters, atheists, not such apostates or heretics, not such swearers or Sabbath-breakers; because they are not drunkards nor adulterers, not murderers or oppressors, not covetous, proud, or ambitious, therefore it shall go well with them. This was the Pharisees’, as in the parable; but it was far from justifying them, Luke xviii. 11, 14. Others rely upon a comparative righteousness, their being or thinking themselves to be more righteous than others, because they do more in a way of religion, of justice, of charity, than others who have like engagements; whatever their principles be from which, or the ends for which they do it, conclude for this they shall be saved. This is like that of the labourers sent into the vineyard early in the morning. They expostulate about their wages, as though they had deserved some extraordinary reward in having borne the burthen and heat of the day, Mat. xx. 12. There is a sad intimation, that though these were called, yet they were not chosen, ver. 16, Mat. vii. 22. Others rely upon a passive righteousness. Because they have suffered for the truth, being jeered, reproached, persecuted for some way of religion, therefore they are confident that for these sufferings they shall be saved and pardoned. But the apostle here sheweth the vanity of this confidence, for who had suffered more than he, who had suffered the loss of all things for Christ? He makes not his sufferings, but Christ, the ground of his confidence; he durst not be found, not in his sufferings for Christ, except he might withal be found in Christ: that he desired above all. Nor would he rest in anything but in Christ: ‘Not having his own righteousness;’ he counts it loss so far as it was unuseful and insufficient, he counts it dung so far as it invades Christ’s prerogative, so far as it would usurp the place and office of his righteousness; it was no better than dung when it would supplant and dishonour the righteousness of God. —David Clarkson, Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:281–282.

God Will Punish Sin

Having seen why God must punish sin, and knowing that we are all sinners, we are left in an apparently hopeless position. Since there is such necessity that sin be punished, and the Lord so highly concerned to inflict the penalty due to sin, either the sinners themselves must bear the penalty, or some other for them; if the sinners themselves must bear the punishment, no flesh could be saved, all mankind must be eternally miserable, for it is the penalty expressed by death and curse. If some other bear the penalty for them, it must be such a person, and in such a way, that will be as satisfactory to justice, and as full a salvo to the divine perfections concerned in his law and government, as if the sinners themselves suffered it. The design of the law must be secured, and the ends of divine government attained, and the justice, holiness, truth, and wisdom of God vindicated and manifested, as much as if the penalty was inflicted upon the transgressors themselves. —David Clarkson, Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:284. But there is good news: We have a substitute. It was Christ that undertook this, and the way wherein he effected it was by suffering in our stead. This is it which we are concerned to maintain; Christ suffered in our stead; for if he did not, the punishment due to sin is not inflicted (since his bearing the punishment due to our sin, and his suffering in our stead is all one), neither we nor any for us undergo it. Thus sin, as to all that are saved, will go unpunished every way, and so the ends of government are neglected by the infinite wise and righteous Governor of the world, and the glory of his wisdom, truth, justice, and holiness are by himself exposed and left to suffer without any salvo. If we be saved in a way that will not secure the honour of the divine perfections, salvation will be effected in a way not consistent with the honour of God. But no salvation can be expected on these terms, and therefore either none will be saved by Christ, or else it is upon the account of his bearing the penalty of the law in their stead. But by Christ’s suffering in our stead all is secured, justice is satisfied for them, sin hath its deserts, that which is due to it, and which justice requires should be inflicted for it; his holiness is demonstrated, for what clearer evidence, that he is of purer eyes than to behold it, that he perfectly hates it, than by punishing it in his own Son, when he appeared but in the room of sinners. His truth is manifested, when the Lord of life must die, rather than what the law denounced shall not be executed; his wisdom is no way impeached, the ends of government fully attained, the law vindicated from contempt, the authority of the great lawgiver upheld, and the children of men deterred from sin, when the Son of God must suffer for it. I need not here give an account of that abundant evidence we have in Scripture that Christ should suffer in our stead, only this in short: the several notions whereby his death is represented to us in Scripture, make it plain that he suffered and died not only for our good, but in our stead. His death is held forth as a punishment, as a ransom, and as a sacrifice. His death was a punishment: He was ‘wounded for our transgressions;’ he died for our sins; that is, he suffered what our sins deserved, that we might not suffer; and this is the very thing that we mean by his suffering in our stead. His death was our ransom, Mat. xx. 28. He paid that in our behalf which justice required of him, and this is to pay it in our stead. His death was a sacrifice: he died that we might escape that death which was the penalty of the law transgressed by us. As the life of the sacrifice went for the life of the sinner for whom it was offered; this is to die in our stead, as the sacrifice died instead of the offender. —Ibid. (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:284–285.

God Is Satisfied

God must punish sin, and Christ has taken that punishment. With that, God is satisfied. Christ’s sufferings were accepted for us, and accepted as suffered in our stead. None who believe he suffered will question but his sufferings were accepted; nor will any deny that they were accepted as suffered in our stead, but those who against all evidence of Scripture deny that he suffered in our stead. (1.) The ground of his death and suffering; (2.) The end and design of them; (3.) Their full sufficiency for their end; (4.) The dignity and quality of the person suffering; everything, in a manner, which occurs therein tends to make this unquestionable among all Christians. It was the will of the Father, expressed in the form of a covenant between Father and Son, that the Son taking our nature should thus suffer, Ps. xl. 6–8, Heb. x. 5. The Father promises that these sufferings should be accepted, Isa. liii. 10, 11. The Son, upon assurance of the Father’s acceptance, submits to the sufferings. He suffered all that in justice was required, that way might be made for our acquitment. His sufferings were a full demonstration of his truth, wisdom, holiness, justice, yea, of his mercy too; the Lord was hereby every way transcendently glorified, and that which thus glorifies him must needs be highly acceptable. He that suffered was not only man, but God, of the same essence, power, and will with the Father. His sufferings and blood was the sufferings and blood of him who is God, and therefore of infinite value, and so most worthy of all acceptance, such as could not in justice but be accepted. The Lord was herewith fully satisfied, and that which fully satisfied him was unquestionably accepted. —David Clarkson, Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:285.

A Refuge of Lies

I count all things to be loss . . . so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith —Philippians 3:8–9 Whatever refuge men fancy in their own righteousness, it will prove a refuge of lies, it will deceive and betray those that fly thereto. They are but imaginary sanctuaries, they are none of God’s appointing; there is nothing in them to hinder revenging justice from proceeding against the sinner in a way of wrath and vengeance. . . . The apostle, though he had more reason to think himself safe in his own righteousness than others can have, yet he durst not be found there; the ‘not having,’ &c. He flies to another refuge, runs to Christ, desires to be found in him; ay, there is none but Christ, none but Christ, no other refuge, no other sanctuary, no other altar that can secure a sinner from the wrath and justice of God, but Christ and his righteousness; though the hills and mountains should fall upon you and cover you, yet could they not hide you from the wrath of him. How high soever your righteousness be in your own opinion, the flood of God’s indignation will overwhelm it, and your souls with it, if you get not into this ark. —David Clarkson, Justification by the Righteousness of Christ, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:298.

Lord’s Day 34, 2019

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. —Jeremiah 9:3–4 Hymn XV. All in all. Compared with Christ, in all beside No comeliness I see: The one thing needful, dearest Lord, Is to be one with thee. The sense of our expiring love, Into my soul convey; Thyself bestow; for thee alone, My all in all, I pray. Less than thyself will not suffice My comfort to restore More than thyself I cannot crave; And thou canst give no more. Love of my God, for him again. With love intense I’ll burn: Chosen of thee ’ere time began, I’ll choose thee in return. Whate’er consist not with thy love, O teach me to resign; I’m rich to all th’ intents of bliss, If thou, O God, art mine. —The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady: To the Holy Spirit (Sprinkle Publications, 1987). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: On Christ Salvation Rests Secure

On Christ Salvation Rests Secure WINCHESTER NEW [alt. DUKE STREET] On Christ salvation rests secure; the Rock of Ages must endure; nor can that faith be overthrown which rests upon the “Living Stone.” No other hope shall intervene; to Him we look, on Him we lean; other foundations we disown and build on Christ the “Living Stone.” In Him, it is ordained to raise a temple to Jehovah’s praise composed of all the saints, who own no Savior but the “Living Stone.” View the vast building, see it rise; the work how great! the plan how wise! O wondrous fabric, pow’r unknown that rests it on the “Living Stone.” But most adore His precious name; His glory and His grace proclaim; for us, condemned, despised, undone, He gave Himself, the “Living Stone.” —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). Right tune, wrong hymn: WINCHESTER NEW DUKE STREET The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.


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