not the end but the beginning

January 27, 2015

crown of thorns

The divine dealings with the sins of the saved are similar to the divine dealings with the sins of the unsaved in one particular, namely, what God does in either case is done on the ground of the cross of Christ. By that cross all sin, whether it be that of saint or sinner, has been righteously judged, and the ransom price, which satisfies every demand of infinite holiness, has been paid. By His death, Christ provided the sufficient ground for both the salvation of the unsaved, and the restoration of the saved. It is because of what has already been accomplished in the cross concerning the sin of the world, that the unregenerate are freely forgiven and justified.

This is a part of God’s saving grace, and is wrought on the sole condition that they believe; while the regenerate are forgiven and cleansed on the sole condition that they confess. These two requirements indicated by these two words, it will be noted, are wholly different. The human obligation as represented by each word is exactly adapted in each case to the precise relationships which, on the one hand, exist between God and the unsaved, and, on the other hand, exist between God and the saved. The salvation of the sinner is unto union with God: the restoration of the saint is unto communion with God. Believing and confessing are two widely differing human conditions, or obligations, and should never be confused or interchanged. The lost are never saved by confessing, and the saved are never restored by believing.

        That there is no greater demand imposed upon the unsaved than that he believe, and no greater demand imposed upon the saved than that he confess, is due to that which Christ accomplished on the cross. He wrought in behalf of sinner and saint in bearing the sin of the world, and every requirement of infinite justice is met for all in the finished work of Christ. In the one case, there is nothing left to be done but to believe; while in the other case, there is nothing left to be done but to confess.

        The revealed attitude of God toward all men is that of grace alone. Therefore He does not need to be coaxed or persuaded. With His hand outstretched to bestow all that His grace can offer, it is highly inconsistent to plead with Him to be gracious, or to coax Him to be good. By the unvarying teaching of God’s Word, and by the inexorable logic of the accomplished value of the cross, the forgiveness and blessing of God to the unsaved is conditioned upon believing, and to the saved it is conditioned upon confessing.

 

First John 1:1 to 2:2 is the central passage in the Bible wherein the divine method of dealing with the sins of Christians is stated. A portion of this most important passage is as follows: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

        According to this Scripture, four vital elements enter into that divine forgiving and cleansing which constitutes the restoration of a sinning saint: (1) Confession is the one and only condition on the human side; (2) Absolute forgiveness and cleansing is promised on the divine side; (3) The Christian, while sinning, has been safe as to divine condemnation, because of his Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and (4) Divine forgiveness and cleansing is exercised toward the believer in unchallenged faithfulness and justice because Christ is “the propitiation for our sins.”

        In this transaction, as it is thus disclosed, the believer makes no disposition of his own sin; that has been made for him. So, also, the Advocate makes no excuses for the sinning Christian, nor does He plead for the clemency of the Father in behalf of the believer who has sinned. The Advocate presents the sufficiency of His own blood to meet the condemnation of every sin. The Father does not act in gracious kindness when forgiving and cleansing the believer: He acts in strict faithfulness to His covenant and promise of eternal keeping, and in strict justice because of the shed-blood. Such is the unchanging value of the propitiation which Christ made in His blood.

 

It should also be noted that, according to this revelation, the sinning saint is never before any tribunal other than that of his own Father. The eternal relationship between the Father and His child can never be set aside. The Father may correct and chasten His erring child (1 Cor 11:31, 32; Heb 12:3-15), and through confession the child may be restored to the place of fellowship; but all of this is wholly within the inner circle of the family and household of God. Condemnation, which would expel the child from the place of a son, is forever past. Nor does the sinning Christian draw on the mercy and favor of God when he is restored to fellowship in the household of God.

How easily mercy and favor might be exhausted and overdrawn! On the contrary, the Christian, sheltered under the blood of propitiation, and standing in the merit of his Advocate, is on a basis where no past offenses have accumulated against him; for he is cleansed and forgiven under the legal justice of the Father. The justice of God is made possible and is righteously demanded in view of the shed-blood of His own Son.

        Let it not be supposed that this divine plan of restoration of the child of God to the Father’s fellowship will react in an attitude of carelessness on the part of the Christian. The sufficient answer to this challenge is three-fold:

(1) True confession is the expression of a very real repentance, or change of mind, which turns from the sin. This is the exact opposite of becoming accustomed to the sin, or becoming careless with regard to it.

 

(2) This very revelation is given, we are told, not to encourage, or license us to sin; but rather that “you may not sin” (be not sinning). According to the Scriptures and according to human experience, the believer’s safety in the faithfulness and justice of the Father and the advocacy and propitiation of the Son, is the greatest incentive for a holy life. It is clearly revealed that God has, by other and sufficient means, guarded against all careless sinning on the part of those whom He has eternally saved through the merit of His Son.

 

And (3) God can righteously deal with sin in no other way than through the absolute value of the blood of His Son; but when sin has been laid on the Substitute, it can never be laid back on the sinner, or on any other. In the cross of Christ, the question of a possible condemnation because of sin is adjusted forever. Mercy and grace can never be co-mingled with divine justice. Boundless grace is disclosed in the provision of a perfect propitiation for the sins of the believer; but the application of the propitiation is never gracious; it is none other than the faithfulness and justice of the Father. Therefore grace does not appear in the forgiving and cleansing of the Christian’s sins.

 

Well that is the end of our series on grace, thank you for all the kind and supportive comments, God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

One Response to “not the end but the beginning”

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