Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Coming to Christ

There are some souls greatly distressed and puzzled to know exactly what is signified by “coming to Christ.” They have read and heard the words often, and perhaps many a preacher has bidden them to “come to Him,” yet without giving a scriptural explanation of what that term connotes. Such as have been awakened by the Spirit, shown their woeful condition, convicted of their high-handed and life-long rebellion against God, and brought to realize their dire need of Christ, and who are truly anxious to come savingly to Him, have found it a task altogether beyond their powers. Their cry is, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat!” (Job 23:3). True, there are not many who pass through such an experience, for God’s “flock” is but a “little” one (Luke 12:32). True, the vast majority of professing Christians claim that they found “coming to Christ” a very simple matter. But in the clear light of John 6:44 we must assure you, dear reader, that if you found “coming to Christ” to be easy, then it is proof you have never come to Him at all in a spiritual and saving way.
What, then, is meant by “coming to Christ”? First, and negatively, let it be pointed out that it is not an act which we perform by any of our bodily members. This is so obvious that there should be no need for us to make the statement. But in these awful days of spiritual ignorance and the carnal perversion of the holy things of God, explanation of the most elementary truths and terms is really required. When so many precious souls have been deluded into thinking that a going forward to a “mourner’s bench” or “penitent form,” or the taking of some preacher’s hand, is the same things as coming to Christ, we dare not pass over the defining of this apparently simple term, nor ignore the need for pointing out what it does not signify.
Second, the word “come,” when used in this connection, is a metaphorical one: that is to say, a word which expresses an act of the body is transferred to the soul, to denote its act. To “come to Christ” signifies the movement of a Spirit-enlightened mind toward the Lord Jesus—as Prophet, to be instructed by Him; as Priest, whose atonement and intercession are to be relied upon; as King, to be ruled by Him. Coming to Christ implies a turning of our back upon the world, and a turning unto Him as our only Hope and Portion.
It is a going out of self so as to rest no longer on anything in self. It is the abandoning of every idol and of all other dependencies, the heart going out to Him in loving submission and trustful confidence. It is the will surrendering to Him as Lord, ready to accept His yoke, take up the Cross, and follow Him without reserve.
To “come to Christ” is the turning of the whole soul unto a whole Christ in the exercise of Divine grace upon him: it is the mind, heart, and will being supernaturally drawn to Him, so as to trust, love, and serve Him. “It is the duty and interest of weary and heavy-laden sinners to ‘come to Jesus Christ’—renouncing all those things which stand in opposition to Him, or in competition with Him; we must accept Him as our Physician and Advocate, and give up ourselves to His conduct and government, freely willing to be saved by Him, in His own way, and on His own terms” (Matthew Henry). Ere proceeding further, we would earnestly beg each reader to prayerfully and carefully test and measure himself or herself by what has been said in this and the preceding paragraph. Take nothing for granted: as you value your soul, seek Divine help to make sure that you have truly “come to Christ.”
Now a popish “christ” is a christ of wood, and a false preacher’s “christ” is a christ of words; but Christ Jesus, our Lord, is “The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). The Christ of God fills Heaven and earth: He is the One by whom all things exist and consist. He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High, having all power, dominion, and might. He is made higher than the heavens, and unto Him all principalities and powers are subject. At His presence both the earth and the heavens shall yet flee away. Such a Christ is neither to be offered nor proffered, sold nor given by sinful men. He is the unspeakable Gift of the Father to as many as He has ordained to eternal life, and none others. This Christ, this Gift of the Father, is supernaturally revealed and applied to the heirs of salvation by the Holy Spirit, when, where, and as He pleases; and not when, where, and how men please.
In the preceding article  {page 16} we dwelt at length upon those words of Christ in John 6:44, “no man can come unto Me,” seeking to show the nature of the fallen creature’s spiritual impotency, or why it is the unregenerate are unable to come to Christ in a spiritual and saving way. Let us now ponder the remainder of our Lord’s sentence: “except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.” Of what does that “drawing” consist? We answer, first, just as our “coming to Christ” does not refer to any bodily action, so this Divine “drawing” respects not the employment of any external force. Second, it signifies a powerful impulse put forth by the Holy Spirit within the elect, whereby their native impotency for
performing spiritual actions is overcome, and an ability for the same is imparted. It is this secret and effectual operation of the Spirit upon the human soul which enables and causes it to come to Christ. This brings us to our next division,
II. With our Understandings.
1. A knowledge of Christ is essential. There can be no movement towards an unknown object. No one can obey a command until he is acquainted with its terms. A prop must be seen before it will be rested on. We must have some acquaintance with a person before he will either be trusted or loved. This principle is so obvious it needs arguing no further. Apply it unto the case in hand, the subject before us: the knowledge of Christ must of necessity precede our believing on Him or our coming to Him. “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14). “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). None can come to Christ while they are ignorant about Him. As it was in the old creation, so it is in the new: God first says, “Let there be light.” 2. This knowledge of Christ comes to the mind from the Holy Scriptures. Nothing can be known of Him save that which God has been pleased to reveal concerning Him in the Word of Truth. It is there alone that the true “doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9) is to be found. Therefore did our Lord give commandment, “Search the Scriptures . . . they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). When He berated the two disciples for their slowness of heart to believe, we are told that, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
The Divine Oracles are designated “the Word of Christ” (Col. 3:16) because He is the substance of them. Where the Scriptures have not gone, Christ is unknown: clear proof is this that an acquaintance with Him cannot be gained apart from their inspired testimony.
3. A theoretical knowledge of Christ is not sufficient. Upon this point we must dilate at greater length, for much ignorance concerning it prevails today. A head-knowledge about Christ is very frequently mistaken for a heart acquaintance with Him. But orthodoxy is not salvation. A carnal judgment about Christ, a mere intellectual knowledge of Him, will never bring a dead sinner to His feet: there must be a living experience—God’s Word and Work meeting together in the soul, renewing the understanding. As 1 Corinthians 13:2 so plainly and solemnly warns us, I may have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, yet if I have not love, then I am nothing. Just as a blind man may, through labor and diligence, acquire an accurate theoretical or notional conception of many subjects and objects which he never saw, so the natural man may, by religious education and personal effort, obtain a sound doctrinal knowledge of the Person and Work of Christ, without having any spiritual or vital acquaintance with Him.
Not every kind of knowledge, even of God’s Truth and His Christ, is effectual and saving. There is a form of knowledge, as well as of godliness, which is destitute of power—”which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law” (Rom. 2:20). The reference is to the Jews, who were instructed in the Scriptures, and considered themselves well qualified to teach others; yet the Truth had not been written on their hearts by the Holy Spirit. A “form of knowledge” signifies there was a model of it in their brains, so that they were able to discourse freely and fluently upon the things of God, yet were they without the life of God in their souls. O how many have a knowledge of salvation, yet not a knowledge unto salvation, as the Apostle distinguishes it in 2 Timothy 3:15 — such a knowledge as the latter must be imparted to the soul by the miracle-working operation of the Holy Spirit.
“They proceed from evil to evil, and they know not Me, saith the Lord” (Jer. 9:3). Of whom was this spoken—of the heathen who were without any written revelation from Him? No, of Israel, who had His Law in their hands, His temple in their midst, His Prophets speaking to them. They had been favored with many and wondrous manifestations of His majesty, holiness, power and mercy; yet though they had much intellectual knowledge of Him, they were strangers to Him spiritually. So it was when the Son of God became incarnate. How much natural light they had concerning Him: they witnessed His perfect life, saw His wondrous miracles, heard His matchless teaching, were frequently in His immediate presence; yet, though the Light shown in the darkness, “the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). So it is today. Reader you may be a diligent student of the New Testament, be thoroughly acquainted with the Old Testament types and prophecies, believe all that the Scriptures say concerning Christ, and earnestly teach them to others, and yet be yourself a stranger to Him spiritually.
“Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3), which means that the unregenerate are utterly incapable of discerning the things of God spiritually.
True, they may “see” them in a natural way: they may investigate and even admire them theoretically, but to receive them in an experimental and vital way they cannot. As this distinction is of such great importance, and yet so little known today, let us endeavor to illustrate it. Suppose a man who had never heard any music: others tell him of its beauty and charm, and he decides to make a careful study of it. That man might thoroughly familiarize himself with the art of music, learn all the rules of that art, so that he understood the proportions and harmony of it; but what a different thing is that from listening to a grand oratorio—the ear now taking in what before the mind knew only the
theory of! Still greater is the difference between a natural and spiritual knowledge of Divine things.
The Apostle declared, “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery” (1 Cor. 2:7). He did not only affirm that it is a mystery in itself, but that it is still spoken “in a mystery.”
And why is this? Because the unregenerate, even where it is spoken in their hearing, yea, when it is clearly apprehended by them in a notional way, yet they neither know nor apprehend the mystery that is still in it. Proverbs 9:10 declares, “the knowledge of the holy is understanding”: there is no true understanding of Divine things except the “knowledge of the holy.” Every real Christian has a knowledge of Divine things, a personal, experimental, vital knowledge of them, which no carnal man possesses, or can obtain, no matter how diligently he study them. If I have seen the picture of a man, I have an image in my mind of that man according to his picture; but if I see the man himself, how different is the image of him which is then formed in my mind! Far greater still is the difference between Christ made known in the Scriptures and Christ “revealed in me” (Gal. 1:16).
4. There must be a spiritual and supernatural knowledge of Christ imparted by the Holy Spirit. That is in view in 1 John 5:20, “we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true.” The faculty must be suited to the object or subject known. The natural understanding is capable of taking in Christ and knowing Him in a natural way, but we must be “renewed in the spirit of our mind” (Eph. 4:23) before we can know Christ in a spiritual way. There must be a supernatural work of grace wrought upon the mind by the Holy Spirit before there can be any inward and spiritual apprehension of the supernatural and spiritual person of Christ. That
is the true and saving knowledge of Christ which fires the affections, sanctifies the will, and raises up the mind to a spiritual fixation on the Rock of Ages. It is this knowledge of Him which is “life eternal” (John 17:3). It is this knowledge which produces faith in Christ, love for Him, submission to Him. It is this knowledge which causes the soul to truthfully and joyously exclaim, “whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee” (Psa. 73:25).
“No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44). It is by the secret and effectual operation of the Spirit that the Father brings each of his elect to a saving knowledge of Christ. These operations of the Spirit begin by his enlightening the understanding, renewing the mind. Observe carefully the order in Ezekiel 37:14, “And shall put My Spirit in you, and ye shall live . . . then shall ye know that I am the Lord.” No sinner ever comes to Christ until the Holy Spirit first comes to him!
And no sinner will savingly believe on Christ until the Spirit has communicated faith to him (Eph. 2:8, Col. 2:12); and even then, faith is an eye to discern Christ before it is a foot to approach Him. There can be no act without an object, and there can be no exercising of faith upon Christ till Christ is seen in His excellency, sufficiency, and suitability to poor sinners. “That ye may know and believe Me” (Isa. 43:10) is the order. “They that know Thy name will (not “ought to”) put their trust in Thee” (Psa. 9:10). But again, we say, that knowledge must be a spiritual and miraculous one imparted by the Spirit.
The Spirit Himself, and not merely a preacher must take of the things of Christ and show them unto the heart. It is only in God’s “light” that we truly “see light” (Psa. 36:9). The opening of his eyes precedes the conversion of the sinner from Satan unto God (Acts 26:18).
The light of the sun is seen breaking out at the dawn of day, before its heat is felt. It is those who “see” the Son with a supernaturally enlightened understanding that “believe on Him with a spiritual and saving faith (John 6:40). We behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, before we are changed into His very image (2 Cor. 3:18). Note the order in Romans 3:11, “there is none that understandeth” goes before “there is none that seeketh after God.” The Spirit must shed His light upon the understanding, which light conveys the actual image of spiritual things in a spiritual way to the mind, forming them on the
soul; much as a sensitive photographic plate receives from the light the images to which it is exposed. This is the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).
5. How is this spiritual and vital knowledge to be known from a mere theoretical and notional one? By its effects. Unto the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance” (1 Thess. 1:5), which is partly explained in the next verse, “having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit had given that Word an efficacy which no logic, rhetoric, or persuasive power of men could. It had smitten the conscience, torn open the wounds which sin had made, exposed its festering sores. It had pierced them even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. It had slain their good opinion of themselves. It had made them feel the wrath of God burning against them. It had caused them to seriously question if such wretches could possibly find mercy at the hands of a holy God. It had communicated faith to look upon the great Physician of souls. It had given a joy such as this poor world knows nothing of.
The light which the Spirit imparts to the understanding is full of efficacy, whereas that which men acquire through their study is not so. Ordinary and strong mineral water are alike in color, but differ much in their taste and virtue. A carnal man may acquire a theoretical knowledge of all that a spiritual man knows vitally, yet is he “barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). The light that he has is ineffectual, for it neither purifies his heart, renews his will, nor transforms his life. The
head-knowledge of Divine truth, which is all that multitudes of present-day professing Christians possess, has no more influence upon their walk unto practical godliness, than though it was stored up in some other man’s brains. The light which the Spirit gives, humbles and abases its recipient; the knowledge which is acquired by education and personal efforts, puffs up and fills with conceit.
A spiritual and saving knowledge of Christ always constrains the soul unto loving obedience. No sooner did the light of Christ shine into Paul’s heart, than he at once asked, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). Of the Colossians the Apostle declared, “The Gospel which is come unto you . . . bringeth forth fruit . . . since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth” or “in reality” (1:6). But a mere intellectual knowledge of the truth is “held in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). Its possessors are zealous to argue and cavil about it, and look down with contempt upon all who are not so wise as they; yet the lives of these frequently put them to shame. A saving knowledge of Christ so endears Him to the soul that all else is esteemed as dung in comparison with His excellency: the light of His glory has cast a complete eclipse over all that is in the world. But a mere doctrinal knowledge of Christ produces no such effects: while its possessors may loudly sing His praises, yet their hearts are still coveting and eagerly pursuing the things of time and sense.
The natural man may know the truth of the things of God, but not the things them selves. He may thoroughly understand the Scriptures in the letter of them, but not in their spirit. He may discourse of them in a sound and orthodox manner, but in no other way than one can talk of honey and vinegar, who never tasted the sweetness of the one, nor the sourness of the other. There are hundreds of preachers who have accurate notions of spiritual things, but who see and taste not the things themselves which are wrapt in the words of Truth—”understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (1 Tim. 1:7). Just as an astronomer who makes a life-study of the stars, knows their names, positions, and varying magnitudes, yet receives no more personal and special influence from them than do other men; so it is with those who study the Scriptures, but are not supernaturally and savingly enlightened by the Spirit. O my reader, has the Day-Star arisen in your heart (2 Peter 1:19)? A.W.P.

Taken from 'studies in the Scriptures'  February 1933

4 comments:

abbasgirlme said...

Wow this is great sis. I am now (finally) getting your posts by email so I don't miss any. Thank you for all you do for the Kingdom and for speaking the truth in all of your posts. SDG! I love you!
~Kim

lyn said...

It is so nice to hear from you Kim; I have been so blessed by reading a good deal of Pink's writings - I just have to share. May the Lord be glorified.

Love you too dear sister!

Darrel said...

I remember hearing people talk of these things while I was in my religious fantasy world some forty + years ago. It was like water off a duck's back 'til Oct. '04 when the Lord saved me. It is difficult to see the same emptiness of profession in those close to me, and the cry goes out for the Lord to save them as well. Have mercy, Lord, have mercy.

lyn said...

Amen Darrel, I too cry out for mercy for others. The false gospel of free will/decisionism has greatly added to the problem of false converts. God have mercy on all who preach this accursed gospel, and those who refuse to look into the doctrines of grace.