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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A review

It is sometimes profitable to look back, and see what we were, and what we were likely to be — if the Lord had left us alone. Nor is it less profitable at times to look around and within, and dwell awhile upon what the Lord has done for us. It is also very pleasant to look forward, and anticipate what we shall be, when the Lord has fulfilled in us all the good pleasure of his goodness, and crowned his work of grace with glory. Let this then be our employment for a few minutes, and may the Holy Spirit make our meditations beneficial. We will ask three questions:

First, What WAS I by NATURE? 
This is a dark and dreary subject, for I was in a sad state, and had acquired a sad character.
My heart was fearfully depraved — my nature was totally fallen.
All within was spiritually dead — and all without was unholy.
The creature was loved and served — and the Creator was neglected and despised.
Sin was my element.
Satan was my master.
The world was my heaven.
I had no good desires — no holy aspirations — no redeeming qualities.
I was a rebel against God's government — and a traitor against God's crown!
I would have destroyed God if I could — and have blotted His name out of creation! The language of my heart and life was, "No God for me!" My heart was filled and fired with enmity against Him, and at times I could have cursed Him to His face!
I hated His law.
I despised His gospel.
I abhorred His people.
If I could — I would have crushed His cause!
How astonishing that such a wretch was allowed to live!
How astonishing that God had not crushed me by His power, and sentenced me to Hell!
But, O the longsuffering, the patience, and the sovereign grace of God! He bore with me. He loaded me with his benefits. He determined to win me with His love. Nevertheless I sinned yet the more, and provoked Him with my ungodly conduct. O how surprising that I am not in Hell! Surely there are many already in Hell — who were never such great sinners as I have been!
But, the Lord is good, ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all those who call upon Him. He put a cry into my heart, He listened to that cry, and made me a new creature in Christ Jesus. He unveiled my enormous wickedness before the eyes of my mind, which filled me with confusion, despondency, and shame. He laid me in the dust, and seemed to doom me to despair. He . . .
  crushed my proud spirit,
  destroyed my infernal enmity against Him,
  and melted me into contrition with His love.
He pardoned all my aggravated transgressions.
He spoke peace to my soul.
He filled me with joy and gladness.
He fired me with a desire to honor and glorify Him, and then bade me go and "Tell to sinners round — what a dear Savior I had found!"

What AM I by GRACE?
For all I now am — I once was not. Everything which is in any sense good in me — must be ascribed to the free grace of God. Yes, with the holy Apostle I must say, "By the grace of God, I am what I am!" By grace — I am a new creature, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained, that I should walk in them. By grace — I am pardoned, justified, and accepted of God. By grace — I am united to Christ's person, and constituted a joint heir with him. By grace — I am God's child, the Holy Spirit's temple, and a part of the Savior's purchase.
Grace called me, and grace made me willing to obey the call. Grace washed away my sins in the blood of the Lamb, and washed my person in the laver of the Word. All that has been wrought within me, all that has been conferred upon me, and all the good that has been done by me — must be traced to the free and invincible grace of God! Who can tell what I would have been by this time — but for the grace of God? Who can say where I would have been this morning — but for the grace of God? Most probably, I would have been in Hell — where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched! O what a debtor to grace I am! If anyone ought to speak well of grace — I am the man. If anyone should magnify sovereign grace — surely I should. For to God's sovereign grace — I owe everything!
I am not now — what I once was. Why? Because God had a purpose of grace toward me.
I am not now — what I soon shall be. Why? Because grace is always crowned with glory!
Thirdly, What SHALL I be in GLORY? Perhaps the less I say on this point the better — for who can tell what the redeemed shall be? But this we do know, that when Jesus comes — we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is! However, this is clear, that in glory I shall be free from sin, from care, and from pain. I shall be free from the conflict within, the doubts and the fears that so often distress me; and the assaults of Satan that disturb my peace, and hinder me in my way. In glory, there is no darkness or gloom, no depression or sadness, no sorrow or distress, no wants or wishing, no weariness or woe, no complaints or groaning. And there, I shall see God, and enjoy him! I shall be like Christ, and be with him; and glorify and honor my Triune God forever.
Glory! What is glory? We must die to know! And blessed be God, when we die — we shall know. Absent from the body — we shall be present with the Lord. Departing from these scenes of sorrow and sadness — we shall be with Christ, which is far better. In glory, our knowledge will he perfect, our education will be completed, our joy will be full.
"Then shall we see, and hear, and know,
 All we desired, and wished below;
 And flesh and sin no more control,
 The sacred pleasures of the soul."
How different I now am — to what I once was!
And how different I shall be in Heaven — to what I now am! What a change has already been effected — but what a change yet awaits me!
I am no more God's enemy — but his friend! I am no longer alienated from God — but his beloved child! But what — O what shall I soon be? "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9
Reader, have you been able to follow me in these remarks? Are you still in the state nature — or are you a new creature by grace? Are you what you always were — or have you passed from death unto life? If you are not in grace — you are still in nature; and if in nature, you are God's enemy. If you are not in grace on earth — you can never be in glory in Heaven. Be sure then, that you are delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son!


Darrel said...

Indeed it is profitable to look back on our life of sin prior to being saved. It reminds us of who we were, where we were headed, and although blinded to our eternal fate at that time we can now see the outcome of our rebellion clearly displayed before eyes that can now see. Remembering should always cause us pain and dare I say more so the closer we get to being 'changed in the twinkling of an eye'. The individual abominations were bad enough, but the over-arching and controlling factor of it all was one of the things God hates the most: pride. Pride says all is well; I have committed no sin, nor can I; makes demands upon the Almighty which should never enter a man's mind; makes claims that have no basis in fact and grows ever stronger in it's control of the man which has been overcome by it.

We find two reactions from our Lord for the arrogance of man. The first is toward those who refuse His counsel, continue to grow in their rebellion, mock Him at every turn despite the fact that His truth has been laid out plainly to see hindered only by an arrogant heart and blind eyes. Upon these His fury mounts, collected in a vessel, as it were, awaiting the day of dispersal. Only God given repentance can turn such to Him, but this gift is sovereignly withheld from those vessels fitted to destruction.

The other reaction is patience. This is not to be confused with sweeping our sins under a rug, winking at them, and giving them some sort of 'pass' without proper payment being made. [Thank God He does not require us to pay for our own sins!!!] The Longsuffering of God toward the Elect is displayed in every believer---without exception. Every born again child of God can recount his days prior to salvation and see the hand of God guiding him to the appointed hour. It is when our sins are first revealed to us that we only begin to understand the Longsuffering of God toward us. It seems that this 'understanding' is enhanced and enlarged every time we recall our life both prior to and after salvation. Every time this process of recollection takes place it renews and deepens our humility toward Him along with the gratitude due Him for pulling us out of the pit.

Some may ask why? Why aren't we saved prior to logging up sins that overwhelm us? A legitimate question with a biblical answer. Paul consented to the death of Stephen and was responsible for countless others being killed or imprisoned at his whim. Why did God allow this? Why did He not just save Paul at an earlier age and stop the mayhem? 1Tim. 1:12-17 holds the answer. Paul was the "pattern" of the Longsuffering of God toward the Elect. Another legitimate question that goes along with this is: how do we come to know, understand, and appreciate the Mercy, Forgiveness, and Love of God toward us as believers? By osmosis? By revelation? By revelation, in the sense that our eyes were opened, but more so by the experience of real forgiveness. Luke 7:47 plays a huge role in our understanding of all of this as we see that the more one is forgiven, the more love he returns to Christ. [This verse does not advocate more sin to experience the Love of Christ, nor do I]. It is a simple statement of fact. When we recall the endless list of sins we participated in and enjoyed and also remember that the Lord loved us while we were yet sinners, how could it help but cause an overflow of love and adoration toward Him?

lyn said...

Reflecting on our own vileness is a testimony to the GREAT MERCY of a GREAT GOD. Our Lord suffered for unthinkable atrocities that we committed, being a sacrifice for rebellious sinners that He loves. I cannot fathom loving anyone who hated me! Gratitude fills the hearts of those who rightly understand we are saved by grace and grace alone, that we haven't a 'free will' to come apart from the grace of God.

It should humble us and drive us to our knees when we meditate on this great love, on our own wicked hearts, and on God's longsuffering with us even now.