Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brother Miles McKee spreads the gospel--sing it brother, sing it!

The Wednesday Word: The Danger of our Strength
God is neither stingy with grace nor does He dispense mercy with eye drops. He’s generous and doesn’t feel put out when He has to send His Spirit to awaken the spiritually dead (Eph 2:4-6). He knows that because of our inbuilt hatred for the truth, it takes the supernatural power of the Spirit to convert us into believers. As Bonar says, “Believing is the simplest of all mental processes; yet we still need the power of God to believe from our hearts.”

Have you realized that you can neither change your heart nor do any good thing to recommend yourself to God (Romans 3:10)? It’s good for us to see the fix we’re in apart from grace. However, most of us are un-aware of the full extent of our helplessness and guilt and for this cause there is little rejoicing in the gospel. Our helplessness and guilt are far greater and far worse than we suppose (Jeremiah 17:9).

The truth is this; it is because of our warped and imperfect view of ourselves that we continually attempt to recommend ourselves to God. At times we seem very unaware of our ruin, weakness and inability and thus fail to realize that our supposed strength will actually keep us away from God.

God commands us to rest in the crucified Christ (Matt 11:28). In the light of this command, to bring something we have supposedly done for Him as a basis of acceptance is to refuse the promised rest of Christ alone. It’s sheer foolishness. Our consciences cannot be calmed by any of our works. If indeed our works have pacified our conscience, we have deceived ourselves for God is not propitiated by any of our efforts. May we put away all self-righteousness and approach the Father in the merits of Christ alone plus nothing.

Just as when we first came to Christ we came as undeserving sinners so we still cannot come to Him in our own name or righteousness----- even after many years of Christian service (Philippians 3:8-9). We continue to be saved by grace through faith, not by any efforts to induce the Father to accept us. The command to believers is to believe---to continue to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! He alone is our sufficiency. If we do not believe the record that God has given of His Son, we make Him a liar (1 John 5:10). To rest, therefore, in something other than the person and work of Christ alone is to walk in unbelief. To walk in unbelief is to believe the lie that something more needs to be added to Christ Jesus (Gal 2:18; Gal 2:16; 2 Cor 3:5)! To walk by faith, on the other hand, is to receive the truth concerning Christ and His accomplishments on our behalf.

The deceiver, the prince of darkness, would love to take us away from the hope of the Gospel. He’s a religious sort of fellow, always encouraging us to establish an alternative righteousness to that which is found in Christ alone (Gal 2:21). If then you are building your hope on your own righteousness plus the righteousness of Christ your hope is not in Christ alone---- you are yet in unbelief.

Think about it; if our guarantee of salvation depended partially on our attainments, how could we ever be certain of salvation? How could we ever be assured that we had accomplished enough to secure our salvation (Gal 3:3)? But, the work of Christ was a work undertaken for those who could not attain (Rom 5:6-8); it was accomplished for those who could not save themselves. It was a work devised for sinners, undertaken for sinners, accomplished for sinners, finished for sinners, and received by God for sinners. And God has given assurance that this work is accepted in that He has raised Jesus from the dead (see Acts 17:31).

And that’s the Gospel Truth!
Miles McKee Ministries

Friday, February 4, 2011

How assurance fosters "decided" Christians

By J.C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool
Let us remember, that assurance (that Christ has won eternal life for us) is to be desired because it tends to make a Christian a decided Christian.

Indecision and doubt about our own state in God’s sight is a grievous evil, and the mother of many evils. It often produces a wavering and unstable walk in following the Lord. Assurance helps to cut many a knot, and to make the path of Christian duty clear and plain.

Many who hope they are God’s children, and have true grace, however weak, are continually perplexed with doubts about the way to act. “Should we do this? Should we continue a family custom? Should we make purchases from that company? What will regulate the way we dress and the entertainment we pursue? Should we dance, play cards, go to parties? But often, the true root of their problem is that they are not yet assured that they themselves are God’s children. They have not yet settled the point, which side of the gate they are on. They do not know whether they are inside the ark or not.

That a child of God ought to act in a certain decided way, they quite feel; but the grand question is, “Are they children of God themselves?” If they only felt they were so, they would go straightforward, and take a decided line. But not feeling sure about it, their conscience is forever hesitating and coming to a deadlock…

I believe we have here one chief reason why so many in this day are inconsistent, trimming, unsatisfactory, and half-hearted in their conduct about the world… In short, I have little doubt that one secret cause of “halting between two opinions” is want of assurance. When people can say decidedly, “The Lord, He is the God,” their course becomes very clear. (I Kings 18:39)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How assurance supports active Christianity (series)

By J.C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool

Let us remember, for another thing, that assurance (of eternal life with Jesus) is to be desired, because it tends to make a Christian an active working Christian.

None, generally speaking, do so much for Christ on earth as those who enjoy the fullest confidence of a free entrance into heaven, and trust not in their own works, but in the finished work of Christ. That sounds wonderful, I dare say, but it is true.

A believer who lacks an assured hope will spend much of his time in inward searchings of heart about his own state. Like a nervous hypochondriac, he will be full of his own ailments, his own doubtings and questionings, his own conflicts and corruptions. In short, you will often find he is so taken up with his internal warfare that he has little leisure for other things, and little time to work for God.

But a believer, who has, like Paul, an assured hope, is free from these harassing distractions. He does not vex his soul with doubts about his own pardon and acceptance. He looks at the everlasting covenant sealed with blood, at the finished work, and never-broken word of his Lord and Saviour, and therefore counts his salvation a settled thing. And thus he is able to give an undivided attention to the work of the Lord, and so in the long run to do more.

….None will do so much for the Lord as the believer who sees his title to the assurance won for him by Christ and is not distracted by unbelieving doubts, questionings and hesitations. The joy of the Lord will be that man’s strength. “Restore unto me,” says David, “the joy of Thy salvation; then will I teach transgressors Thy ways.” (Psalm 51:12)

Never were there such working Christians as the Apostles. They seemed to live to labor. Christ’s work was truly their meat and drink. They counted not their lives dear to themselves. They spent and were spent. They laid down ease, health, worldly comfort, at the foot of the cross. And on grand cause of this, I believe, was their assured hope. They were men who could say, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1 John 5:19.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The many benefits of Jesus' assurance of salvation for believers

By John Charles Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool

Assurance (of eternal life with Jesus in heaven) will enable a man to praise God, and be thankful, even in prison, like Paul and Silas at Philippi. It can give a believer songs even in the darkest night, and joy when all things seem going against him. (Job 35:10, Psalm 13:8)

Assurance will enable a man to sleep with the full prospect of death on the morrow, like Peter in Herod’s dungeon. It will teach him to say, “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8.)

Assurance can make a man rejoice to suffer shame for Christ’s sake, as the Apostles did when put in prison at Jerusalem. (Acts 5:41.) It will remind him that he may “rejoice and be exceeding glad.” (Matt. 5:12), and that there is in heaven an exceeding weight of glory that shall make amends for all. (2 Cor. 4:17.)

Assurance will enable a believer to meet a violent and painful death without fear, as Stephen did in the beginning of Christ’s Church, and as Cranmer, Ridley Hooper, Latimer, Rogers and Taylor (English martyrs) did in our own land. It will bring to his heart the texts, “Be not afraid of them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” (Luke 12:4.) “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)

Assurance will support a man in pain and sickness, make all his bed, and smooth down his dying pillow. It will enable him to say, “If my earthly house fail, I have a building of God.” (2 Cor. 5:1.) “I desire to depart and be with Christ.” (Phil. 1:23.) “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. (Psalm 63:26.)

Assurance at the point of death

The strong consolation which assurance can give in the hour of death is a point of great importance. We may depend on it, we shall never think assurance so precious as when our turn comes to die. In that awful hour there are few believers who do not find out the value and privilege of an “assured hope,” whatever they may have thought about it during their lives. Generally speaking, “hoping” is very well to live upon while the sun shines and the body is strong; but when we come to die, we shall want to be able to say, “I know.” The river of death is a cold stream and we have to cross it alone. No earthly friend can help us. The last enemy, the king of terrors, is a strong foe. When our souls are departing, there is no cordial like the strong wine of assurance.
(More to come…)