Tuesday, June 30, 2009

About Receiving Salvation


Will God accept our imperfect level of sincerity?

God doesn’t reject His people, He redeems them.

Because of our imperfectness we do not deserve salvation and there is nothing we can do to earn it (Ephesians 2:8,9). It is only by Gods grace through the gift of faith that we are saved.

Scripture tells us that due to the greatness, sufficiency, and perfection of Christ’s sacrifice at the Cross, all those who have been baptized by the Spirit (born again), and have truly received Christ as Savior are eternally secure in salvation, kept by God’s power, secured and sealed in Christ forever (John ch 3; 6:37-40; Ephesians 1:13,4:30).

Thus if a person is genuinely sincere in believing in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and that through Him is the only Way to be saved they are reconciled with Father God and are gifted eternal life (John 3:16). Father God convicts His people to have faith in His Son alone, a faith that is a living faith and not just a said faith.

But it is not the level of a genuine living faith a Christian has that determines if God will accept them or not. Jesus points this out in (Luke 17:6), what even a small faith can bring about. More important than the quantity of faith is the object of faith, a great and powerful God. So whether the level of a Christian’s faith is small and immature or great and mature doesn’t matter when it comes to salvation because God is the focus, and He is the only One who can and will transform His people by cleansing and moving the mountain of imperfection and sin out and away from them thus ultimately making them holy, pure, and perfect in every way.

Salvation is not based upon being perfect. Despite our depravity we are by God’s grace justified and saved by the righteous blood of our faith object, Jesus Christ. We as imperfect beings are reconciled and sealed in personal relationship with God, blessed with the gift of eternal security, and gradually over a lifetime made holy. Once saved our immature faith, trust, and obedience continues to increase and mature and eventually we lose the desire to sin and our willingness to fully surrender our life to God becomes genuinely evident and sincere.

God bless

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Holy Scripture

We accept (2 Timothy 3:16,17), which says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work". We believe the Bible is the Word of the living God and that it is absolute, infallible, inerrant, and unchangeable Truth. We do not doubt that it was written by 40 holy men who were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit to be God’s appointed scribes.

Our God is a Triune God

We believe that there is only One true Triune God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6), who exists as three co-eternal and coequal self-existent Person's who are One Being, the Father (1 Corinthians 8:6), the Son (John 1:1-3), and the Holy Spirit(Acts 5:3-5), and whose mutual relationships with each other are distinct (Romans 8; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14; 1 Peter 1:2). Each Person of the Godhead has equally all aspects of deity, and are in Divine spiritual essence always acting together in perfect unity (Mark 1:9-11; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Revelation 1:4,5). We believe that God in Trinity is Scriptural truth yet one of the most difficult truths the human mind can know (Psalm 145:3; Isaiah 55:8; Romans 11:33). God is eternally infinite, self-revealed Creator of all things in the universe from nothing, and is all sovereign and powerful over His creation (Genesis 1:27; Daniel 4:34: Colossians 1:15-20). We believe that God is all knowing, all present in pure uncontained and boundless spirit, and never changing (Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 23:24; Hebrews 6:17). God is Love and all that is good (Psalms 136:1).We believe God must be worshiped and loved exclusively and that Christians are required to give equal honor to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 22:37,38).

Our Father in Heaven

In deity, Father is the first person of the Triune Godhead, our "Abba! Father!" (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). He in Trinity is coequal and co-eternal with the Son and Holy Spirit. He is pure spirit and Light who with infinite wisdom glorifies His Son over all of creation. We believe the mystery of His sovereign purpose and plan is His mercy to unite all things in Him through and in Christ (Ephesians 1:9,10), by grace redeeming some (Ephesians 1:5,6; 2:7), and by a display of justice punishing others to an everlasting death (Proverbs 16:4). Father God has a personal relationship with His people and has forgiven, reconciled and adopted them through His Son alone by the Holy Spirit (John 6:37-65). We believe He sent His Son to earth incarnate, to atone for the sins of his people (Romans 6:23). The Father gave His Son as a gift so that His chosen elect (Romans 8:28-30), may be saved for eternal life to honor, worship, and glorify Him forever. We believe that by worshiping the Son the Father is exalted.

The Son of God, Jesus Christ

Jesus asked, "Who Do You Say That I AM?" We believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and that He is of the same substance and spiritual essence of the Father and Holy Spirit (Isaiah 6:9; 48:16; Romans 1:4 Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13). His Name is above all names in the universe (Philippians 2:9). He is the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, 100% Divine, and by incarnation 100% human (John 1:1,14). He is no less God than He is man. Jesus is the author of God’s Word and all His teachings are absolute truth (John 1:1; 14:6). In order that he might glorify God the Father by Divine purpose he was sent to earth as Savior and Lord to gift a merciful salvation to His depraved people (Matthew 20:28; Romans 5:8). Jesus descended from heaven and was conceived by the Holy Spirit through the virgin birth of Mary (Luke 1:31-35). Jesus dwelt on earth and lived a perfect, sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). He came to earth to shed His Blood and die at the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world so that by grace through faith all those who believe in and worship Him are eternally forgiven and reconciled with Father God (John 3:16-18;Romans 8:32-34). We believe that Jesus, on the third Day, resurrected from the dead and that this fact witnessed by over 500 people proves His deity and proves Christianity is founded on absolute evidence and truth (John 10:17,18; Acts 1:3; 2:24-35;Romans 1:4; Philippians 3:21). Forty days after resurrecting He ascended to the third highest heaven in His metaphysical glorified body and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). Jesus is His peoples Lord God, Savior, High Priest, and King (Psalms 102). We believe no one comes to Father except through Jesus and that He is the only Way a person can be saved (John 14:6). He alone is the mediator and intercessor between God the Father and His people (Acts 4:12; 1Timothy 2:5).

The Holy Spirit

We believe in the deity of the Holy Spirit who is a distinct divine person being the third person of the Godhead. He is co-eternal and coequal with the Father and Son in glory (John 14:26; 2 Corinthians 13:14). He is the "Helper" the Father and Son sent to teach God's people all things and to bring to our remembrance all that Jesus said (Hebrews 10:15). The work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:7-15. He enlightens (Ephesians 1:17-18), regenerates (John 3:5-8), and transforms (2 Corinthians 3:18), making God's people holy over a lifetime of sanctification (Galatians 5:16-18). God baptizes all believers into His family and they are born again and united to the risen Christ through the Spirit who seals their salvation by whom the Father guarantees eternal redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Through this baptism by the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8), we believe that the gifts of life service of the Christian are given (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). We also believe that the miraculous gifts empowered by the Spirit no longer function to the same degree they did in the early church.

Concerning Satan

Satan the Devil is the fallen angel Lucifer who is the accuser of God's people (Revelation 12:9). He is real, our adversary (Zechariah 3:1,2), destroyer (Revelation 9:11), tempter (Matthew 4:3), wicked one (1John 5:18,19), Ruler of this world (John 12:31), god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), father of lies and deceits (John 8:44), angel of light, disguising evil as good (1 Corinthians 11:14) and serpent ( Revelation 12:9; 20:2).

Fallen Angels

We believe fallen angels are invisible, supernatural angelic spirit creatures created by God during the time of Creation (2 Peter 2:4). They were cast out of heaven because of wrong doing against God. They have real but limited power and freedom of movement (2 Thessalonians 2:6). Demons have both knowledge and strength (Mark 1:24; 9:17-27). Fallen angels are named and referred to in the Bible as devils, demons, evil, and unclean spirits. Demons comprise one-third of all angels God created and their number in population is considered innumerable. There could easily be more fallen angels on and around earth than there are living people. We believe Satan is the god of fallen angels. We believe fallen angels spend their time all over the planet earth tempting, taunting, teasing, deceiving, and causing sickness and disease and accusing people [especially those who know the Lord], of wrongdoing (Ephesians 6:10,11). We believe demons have the ability to possess a person that is not protected by God causing them to do sinful and evil things. Their strategy for war is spiritual mind control and they are active in God’s churches attempting to draw people away from the truth. Their goal is to separate as many people away from God as possible taking them to eternal hell with them.


We believe that humanity both in body and in spirit came into existence by direct creation of God (Genesis 2:7). Man (Adam), and woman (Eve), were made in the spirit image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26)-that is, with a personal and self conscious, with a God like capacity for knowledge, thought, and action. We believe God made humans morally righteous (Genesis 1:31), but because of free will they choose to sin making themselves amoral (Romans 3:10, 23). We believe the amoral fall of man was caused by Adam and Eve and that they are responsible for diminishing God's image in humanity which caused all humans to have a sinful nature (Genesis 3:17; 6:5;Romans 3:9-20; 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:22). We believe humans retain God's image but because of a depraved body and soul it does not function righteously thus humans are not capable of being moral beings (Romans 3:23). Humanity is utterly unable to remedy this fallen state. We believe however, that once a person is saved they are then "born again" and are progressively restored in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). We believe that humanity does not deserve salvation nor can they earn it.

Salvation of Humanity

We believe salvation is received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8, 9). We believe that salvation is a gift of God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 1:12; Romans 6:23). Christ’s death fully accomplished justification through faith and redemption from sin (Romans 4:1-7; 8:30). Christ died in our place and bore our sins in His own body (Romans 5:19; 1 Peter 2:24). Due to the greatness, sufficiency, and perfection of Christ’s sacrifice at the Cross, all those who have been baptized by the Spirit (regenerated/born again), and have truly received Christ as Savior are eternally secure in salvation, kept by God’s power, secured and sealed in Christ forever (John 6:37-40; Ephesians 1:30,4:30) . Just as salvation cannot be earned by good works, neither does it need good works to be maintained or sustained (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). Good works and changed lives are the inevitable results of salvation (Matthew 7:20). Even though it is not necessary to be baptized by ritual ceremony to be saved.

The Universal Church of Jesus Christ

We believe that the Church exists in and through Christ. It is universal and Christ is the head. That it is continuous with Israel believing that the old covenant is not limited to one nation (Deut 7:6; Ps 147: 19,20), but through Christ to every nation (Ephesians 2; 3; Revelation 5:9,10) The church is God’s Israel (Galatians 6:16). We believe that the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scripture thus placing it under a new covenant which the church lives (1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 8:7-13). We believe that Christians (Jews and Gentiles alike) are the seed of Abraham and the people of God (Galatians 3:29; 1 Peter 2:4-10). The church is the family and flock of God (John 10:16; Ephesians 2:18; 3:15; 4:6; 1 Peter 5:2-4). The body and bride of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Revelation 19:7), and a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).
The universal Church body is made up of all those who have died and worship God in the heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22-24), and those who are still on earth worshiping in God’s presence in local congregations (1 Corinthians 12:12-12-27; Ephesians 1:22, 23; 3:6; 4:4; Revelation 2:1). We believe there is but one church known perfectly to God and known imperfectly on earth. We believe the church is founded on the teachings of the apostles (Ephesians 2:20), and that Christians are to share the Gospel message to a lost world (Matthew 28:19). And those who refuse to share and join with other believers in worship and evangelism disobey God (Hebrews 10:25). We also believe in the two ordinances of baptism by water as a testimony to one’s faith, and the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of Christ’s death and shed blood.

The Last Things

We believe in the personal and visible bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His heavenly saints to rapture His saints on earth. We believe He will fulfill His promise to restore Paradise lost on earth and to fully establish His Kingdom. We believe in the physical body resurrection of the dead for Christ’s final judgment. All those whose spirits went to heaven when they died were made holy and righteous and will live in everlasting joy with God in the new heaven and earth, and the spirits of all those who remained wicked were cast out away from heaven when they died will appear at the great White Throne Judgment and cast into eternal darkness where their endless suffering will last forever (John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:1-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 25:31-46).

MY Redeemer Lives Ministries-Confession of Faith 5/23/2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Holiness of God by A.W. Pink

The Attributes of God - The Holiness of God by Arthur Pink

'Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy' (Rev 15:4). He only is independently, infinitely, immutably holy. In Scripture He is frequently styled 'The Holy ONE': He is so because the sum of all moral excellency is found in Him. He is absolute Purity, unsullied even by the shadow of sin. 'God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all' (1 John 1:5). Holiness is the very excellency of the divine nature: the great God is 'glorious in holiness' (Exo 15:11). Therefore do we read, 'Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity' (Hab 1:13). As God's power is the opposite of the native weakness of the creature, as His wisdom is in complete contrast from the least defect of understanding or folly, so His holiness is the very antithesis of all moral blemish or defilement. Of old God appointed singers in Israel 'that should praise the beauty of holiness' (2 Chron 20:21). 'Power is God's hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy, His bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty' (S. Charnock). It is this, supremely, which renders Him lovely to those who are delivered from sin's dominion.

A chief emphasis is placed upon this perfection of God:

'God is oftener styled Holy than Almighty, and set forth by this part of His dignity more than by any other. This is more fixed on as an epithet to His name than any other. You never find it expressed 'His mighty name' or 'His wise name' but His great name, and most of all, His holy name. This is the greatest title of honor; in this latter doth the majesty and venerableness of His name appear' (S. Charnock).

This perfection, as none other, is solemnly celebrated before the Throne of Heaven, the seraphim crying, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts' (Isa 6:3). God Himself singles out this perfection, 'Once have I sworn by My holiness' (Psa 89:35). God swears by His 'holiness' because that is a fuller expression of Himself than any thing else. Therefore we are exhorted, 'Sing unto the LORD, 0 yea saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness' (Psa 30:4). 'This may be said to be a transcendental attribute, that, as it were, runs through the rest, and casts luster upon them. It is an attribute of attributes' (J. Howe, 1670). Thus we read: 'the beauty of the LORD' (Psa 27:4), which is none other than 'the beauty of holiness' (Psa 110:3).

'As it seems to challenge an excellency above all His other perfection’s, so it is the glory of all the rest: as it is the glory of the Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead; as His power is the strength of them, so His holiness is the beauty of them; as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncommonly without holiness to adorn them. Should this be sullied, all the rest would lose their honor; as at the same instant the sun should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, its generative and quickening virtue. As sincerity is the luster of every grace in a Christian, so is purity the splendor of every attribute in the Godhead. His justice is a holy justice, His wisdom a holy wisdom, His power a 'holy arm' (Psa 98:1). His truth or promise a 'holy promise' (Psa 105:42). His name, which signifies all His attributes in conjunction is 'holy'' (Psa 103:1) (S. Charnock).

God's holiness is manifested in His works. 'The LORD is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works' (Psa 145:17). Nothing but that which is excellent can proceed from Him. Holiness is the rule of all His actions. At the beginning He pronounced all that He made 'very good' (Gen 1:31), which He could not have done had there been anything imperfect or unholy in them. Man was made 'upright' (Eccl 7:29), in the image and likeness of his Creator. The angels that fell were created holy, for we are told that they 'kept not their first estate [habitation]' (Jude 6). Of Satan it is written, 'Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that the wast created, till iniquity was found in thee' (Eze 28:15).

God's holiness is manifested in His law. That law forbids sin in all of its modifications: in its most refined as well as its grossest forms, the intent of the mind as well as the pollution of the body, the secret desire as well as the overt act. Therefore do we read, 'The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good' (Rom 7:12). Yes, 'the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether' (Psa 19:8,9).

God's holiness is manifested at the cross. Wondrously and yet most solemnly does the atonement display God's infinite holiness and abhorrence of sin. How hateful sin must be to God for Him to punish it to its utmost deserts when it was imputed to His Son!

'Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be poured out upon the wicked world, nor the flaming furnace of a sinner's conscience, nor the irreversible sentence pronounced against the rebellious demons, nor the groans of the damned creatures, give such a demonstration of God's hatred of sin, as the wrath of God let loose upon His Son. Never did divine holiness appear more beautiful and lovely than at the time our Savior’s countenance was most marred in the midst of His dying groans. This He Himself acknowledges in Psalm 22. When God had turned His smiling face from Him, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced that terrible cry from Him, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' He adores this perfection--'Thou art holy'' (v.3) (S. Charnock).

Because God is holy He hates all sin. He loves everything which is in conformity to His laws, and loathes everything which is contrary to it. His Word plainly declares, 'The forward is abomination to the LORD' (Prov 3:32). And again, 'The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD' (Prov 15:26). It follows, therefore, that He must necessarily punish sin. Sin can no more exist without demanding His punishment than without requiring His hatred of it. God has often forgiven sinners, but He never forgives sin; and the sinner is only forgiven on the ground of Another having born his punishment: for 'without shedding of blood is no remission' (Heb 9:22). Therefore we are told 'The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies' (Nahum 1:2). For one sin God banished our first parents from Eden. For one sin all the posterity of Canaan, a son of Ham, fell under a curse which remains over them to this day (Gen 9:21). For one sin Moses was excluded from Canaan, Elisha's servant smitten with leprosy, Ananias and Sapphira cut off out of the land of the living.

Herein we find proof for the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. The unregenerate do not really believe in the holiness of God. Their conception of His character is altogether one-sided. They fondly hope that His mercy will override everything else. 'Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself' (Psa 50:21) is God's charge against them. They think only of a 'god' patterned after their own evil hearts. Hence their continuance in a course of mad folly. Such is the holiness ascribed to the divine nature and character in Scripture that it clearly demonstrates their superhuman origin. The character attributed to the 'gods' of the ancients and of modern heathendom is the very reverse of that immaculate purity which pertains to the true God. An ineffably holy God, who has the utmost abhorrence of all sin, was never invented by any of Adam’s fallen descendants! The fact is that nothing makes more manifest the terrible depravity of man's heart and his emnity against the living God than to have set before him One who is infinitely and immutably holy. His own idea of sin is practically limited to what the world calls 'crime.' Anything short of that, man palliates as 'defects,' 'mistakes,' 'infirmities,' etc. And even where sin is owned at all, excuses and extenuations are made for it.

The 'god' which the vast majority of professing Christians 'love' is looked upon very much like an indulgent old man, who himself has no relish for folly, but leniently winks at the 'indiscretions' of youth. But the Word says, 'Thou hatest all workers of iniquity' (Psa 5:5). And again, 'God is angry with the wicked every day' (Psa 7:11). But men refuse to believe in this God, and gnash their teeth when His hatred of sin is faithfully pressed upon their attention. No, sinful man was no more likely to devise a holy God than to create the Lake of Fire in which he will be tormented for ever and ever.

Because God is holy, acceptance with Him on the ground of creature doings is utterly impossible. A fallen creature could sooner create a world than produce that which would meet the approval of infinite Purity. Can darkness dwell with Light? Can the Immaculate One take pleasure in 'filthy rags' (Isa 64:6)? The best that sinful man brings forth is defiled. A corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit. God would deny Himself, vilify His perfections, were He to account as righteous and holy that which is not so in itself; and nothing is so which has the least stain upon it contrary to the nature of God. But blessed be His name, that which His holiness demanded, His grace has provided in Christ Jesus our Lord. Every poor sinner who has fled to Him for refuge stands 'accepted in the Beloved' (Eph 1:6). Hallelujah!

Because God is holy the utmost reverence becomes our approaches unto Him. 'God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him' (Psa 89:7). Then 'Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at His footstool; He is holy' (Psa 99:5). Yes, 'at His footstool,' in the lowest posture of humility, prostrate before Him. When Moses would approach unto the burning bush, God said, 'Take off thy shoes from off thy feet' (Exo 3:5). He is to be served 'with fear' (Psa 2:1 1). Of Israel His demand was, 'I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the people I will be glorified' (Lev 10:3). The more our hearts are awed by His ineffable holiness, the more acceptable will be our approaches unto Him.

Because God is holy we should desire to be conformed to Him. His commandment is, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy' (1 Peter 1:16). We are not bidden to be omnipotent or omniscient as God is, but we are to be holy, and that 'in all manner of conversation [deportment]' (1 Peter 1:15).

'This is the prime way of honouring God. We do not so glorify God by elevated admirations, or eloquent expressions, or pompous services for Him as when we aspire to a conversing with Him with unstained spirits, and live to Him in living like Him' (S. Charnock).

Then as God alone is the Source and Fount of holiness, let us earnestly seek holiness from Him; let our daily prayer be that He may 'sanctify us wholly; and our whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Thess 5:23).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The love of God's holiness, an excerpt from Religious Affections, by Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, Part III, Section III

And therefore it must needs be, that a sight of God's loveliness must begin here. A true love to God must begin with a delight in his holiness, and not with a delight in any other attribute; for no other attribute is truly lovely without this, and no otherwise than as (according to our way of conceiving of God) it derives its loveliness from this; and therefore it is impossible that other attributes should appear lovely, in their true loveliness, till this is seen; and it is impossible that any perfection of the divine nature should be loved with true love, till this is loved. If the true loveliness of all God's perfections, arises from the loveliness of his holiness; then the true love of all his perfections, arises from the love of his holiness. They that don't see the glory of God's holiness, can't see anything of the true glory of his mercy and grace: they see nothing of the glory of those attributes, as any excellency of God's nature, as it is in itself; though they may be affected with them, and love them, as they concern their interest: for these attributes are no part of the excellency of God's nature, as that is excellent in itself, any otherwise than as they are included in his holiness, more largely taken; or as they are a part of his moral perfection.... And therefore it is primarily an account of this kind of excellency, that the saints do love all these things. Thus they love the Word of God, because it is very pure. 'Tis on this account they love the saints; and on this account chiefly it is, that heaven is lovely to them, and those holy tabernacles of God amiable in their eyes: 'tis on this account that they love God; and on this account primarily it is, that they love Christ, and that their hearts delight in the doctrines of the gospel, and sweetly acquiesce in the way of salvation therein revealed. Under the head of the first distinguishing characteristic of gracious affection, I observed that there is given to those that are regenerated, a new supernatural sense, that is as it were a certain divine spiritual taste, which is in its whole nature diverse from any former kinds of sensation of the mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other five senses, and that something is perceived by a true saint in the exercise of this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely different from anything that is perceived in them by natural men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men get of honey by looking on it or feeling of it; now this that I have been speaking, viz. the beauty of holiness is that thing in spiritual and divine things, which is perceived by this spiritual sense, that is so diverse from all that natural men perceive in them: this kind of beauty is the quality that is the immediate object of this spiritual sense: this is the sweetness that is the proper object of this spiritual taste. The Scripture often represents the beauty and sweetness of holiness as the grand object of a spiritual taste, and spiritual appetite. This was the sweet food of the holy soul of Jesus Christ, "I have meat to eat, that ye know not of…. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:32, John 4:34). I know of no part of the Holy Scriptures, where the nature and evidences of true and sincere godliness, are so much of set purpose, and so fully and largely insisted on and delineated, as the 119th Psalm; the Psalmist declares his design in the first verses of the psalm, and he keeps his eye on this design all along, and pursues it to the end: but in this psalm the excellency of holiness is represented as the immediate object of a spiritual taste, relish, appetite and delight, God's law, that grand expression and emanation of the holiness of God's nature, and prescription of holiness to the creature, is all along represented as the food and entertainment, and as the great object of the love, the appetite, the complacence and rejoicing of the gracious nature, which prizes God's commandments above gold, yea, the finest gold, and to which they are sweeter than the honey, and honeycomb; and that upon account of their holiness, as I observed before. The same Psalmist declares, that this is the sweetness that a spiritual taste relishes in God's law, "The law of the Lord is perfect…. The commandment of the Lord is pure…. The fear of the Lord is clean…. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart…. The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether: more to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalms 19:7–10). A holy love has a holy object: the holiness of love consists especially in this that it is the love of that which is holy, as holy, or for its holiness; so that 'tis the holiness of the object, which is the quality whereon it fixes and terminates. An holy nature must needs love that in holy things chiefly, which is most agreeable to itself; but surely that in divine things, which above all others is agreeable to holy nature, is holiness; because holiness must be above all other things agreeable to holiness; for nothing can be more agreeable to any nature than itself; holy nature must be above all things agreeable to holy nature; and so the holy nature of God and Christ, and the Word of God, and other divine things, must be above all other things, agreeable to the holy nature that is in the saints. And again, an holy nature doubtless loves holy things, especially on the account of that, for which sinful nature has enmity against them: but that for which chiefly sinful nature is at enmity against holy things, is their holiness; it is for this, that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and against the law of God, and the people of God. Now 'tis just arguing from contraries; from contrary causes, to contrary effects; from opposite natures, to opposite tendencies. We know that holiness is of a directly contrary nature to wickedness: as therefore 'tis the nature of wickedness chiefly to oppose and hate holiness; so it must be the nature of holiness chiefly to tend to, and delight in holiness. The holy nature in the saints and angels in heaven (where the true tendency of it best appears) is principally engaged by the holiness of divine things. This is the divine beauty which chiefly engages the attention, admiration and praise of the bright and burning seraphim; "One cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isaiah 6:3). And: "They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, which was, and is, and is to come" (Revelation 4:8). So the glorified saints, "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy." (ch. Revelation 15:4). And the Scriptures represent the saints on earth as adoring God primarily on this account, and admiring and extolling all God's attributes, either as deriving loveliness from his holiness, or as being a part of it. Thus when they praise God for his power, his holiness is the beauty that engages them: "O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things; his right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory" (Psalms 98:1). So when they praise him for his justice and terrible majesty; "The Lord is great in Zion, and he is high above all people: let them praise thy great and terrible name, for it is holy" (Psalms 99:2–3). "Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool, for he is holy" (ver. Psalms 99:5). "Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy" (verses Psalms 99:8–9). So when they praise God for his mercy and faithfulness; "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness" (Psalms 97:11–12). "There is none holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee; neither is there any rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:2). By this therefore all may try their affections, and particularly their love and joy. Various kinds of creatures show the difference of their natures, very much, in the different things they relish as their proper good, one delighting in that which another abhors. Such a difference is there between true saints, and natural men: natural men have no sense of the goodness and excellency of holy things; at least for their holiness; they have no taste of that kind of good; and so may be said not to know that divine good, or not to see it; it is wholly hid from them: but the saints, by the mighty power of God, have it discovered to them: they have that supernatural, most noble and divine sense given them, by which they perceive it: and it is this that captivates their hearts, and delights them above all things; 'tis the most amiable and sweet thing to the heart of a true saint, that is to be found in heaven or earth; that which above all others attracts and engages his soul; and that wherein, above all things, he places his happiness, and which he lots upon for solace and entertainment to his mind, in this world, and full satisfaction and blessedness in another. By this you may examine your love to God, and to Jesus Christ, and to the Word of God, and your joy in them, and also your love to the people of God, and your desires after heaven; whether they be from a supreme delight in this sort of beauty, without being primarily moved from your imagined interest in them, or expectations from 'em. There are many high affections, great seeming love and rapturous joys, which have nothing of this holy relish belonging to 'em. Particularly, by what has been said you may try your discoveries of the glory of God's grace and love, and your affections arising from them. The grace of God may appear lovely two ways; either as bonum utile, a profitable good to me, that which greatly serves my interest, and so suits my self-love; or as bonum formosum, a beautiful good in itself, and part of the moral and spiritual excellency of the divine nature. In this latter respect it is that the true saints have their hearts affected, and love captivated by the free grace of God in the first place. From the things that have been said, it appears, that if persons have a great sense of the natural perfections of God, and are greatly affected with them, or have any other sight or sense of God, than that which consists in, or implies a sense of the beauty of his moral perfections, it is no certain sign of grace: as particularly, men's having a great sense of the awful greatness, and terrible majesty of God; for this is only God's natural perfection, and what men may see, and yet be entirely blind to the beauty of his moral perfection, and have nothing of that spiritual taste which relishes this divine sweetness.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jonathan Edwards Article/Sermon

You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

Hi sis, Great article/sermon by Rev. Edwards. Thanks for sharing.

Message is clear that a said faith is not a saving faith. Just because a person says or thinks they are a Christian doesn't mean that they are. The expression of love and fruit of the Spirit must be present in their life. Then how will people know who Christ's disciples are?... they love one another.

Concerning Rev. Edwards verse references ...

1 John 2:3,4...It is impossible to be a Christian and practice sin at the same time... (so true)

2 Peter 1:4...discipline is for our good so that we may share in the Lord's Holiness... (awesome!!!)

2Thess 2:17... He references this verse but I do not see how it fits with the context of his sentence. I am wondering if he meant (v 6 and 7)? God restrains all people so that they will not be as bad and wicked as the demon angels. However, Satan and demons are restrained by God, too (Job 1:12), so God protects all people... we haven't seen the worst which is yet to come.

In Christ

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jonathan Edwards

"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder."? -James 2:19
How do you know if you belong to God? We see in these words what some people depend on as an evidence of their acceptance with God. Some people think that they are all right before God if they are not as bad as some evil person. Other people point to their family history or church membership to show that God approves of them. There is an evangelism programme in common use that asks people certain questions. One of the questions is, "Suppose you were to die today. Why should God let you into his heaven?" A very common response is, "I believe in God." Apparently the apostle James knew people who said the same thing: I know I am in God's favor, because I know these religious doctrines. Of course James admits that this knowledge is good. Not only is it good, but it is also necessary. Nobody can be a Christian who doesn't believe in God; and more than that, the One True God. This is particularly true for those who had the great advantage of actually knowing the apostle, someone who could tell them of his first-hand experience with Jesus, the Son of God. Imagine the great sin of a person, who knew James, and then refused to believe in God! Certainly this would make their damnation greater. Of course, all Christians know that this belief in the One God is only the start of good things because "anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Heb. 11:6.) However, James is clear that although this belief a good thing, it is definitely not proof that a person is saved. What he means is this: "You say you are a Christian and you are in God's favor. You think God will let you into heaven, and the proof of it is, you believe in God. But that is no evidence at all, because the demons also believe, and they are sure to be punished in hell." The demons believe in God, you can be sure of that! They not only believe that He exists, but they believe that God is a holy God, a sin-hating God, a God of truth, who has promised judgments, and who will carry out his vengeance upon them. This is the reason the demons "shudder" or tremble— they know God more clearly than most human beings do, and they are afraid. Nevertheless, nothing in the mind of man, that devils may experience as well, is any sure sign of God's grace in our hearts. This reasoning may be easily turned around. Suppose demons could have, or find within themselves, something of God's saving grace—proof they would go to heaven. This would prove James wrong. But how absurd! The Bible makes it clear that demons have no hope of salvation, and their believing in God does not take away their future punishment. Therefore believing in God is not proof of salvation for demons, and it is safe to say, not for people, either. This is seen even more clearly when we think about what demons are like. They are unholy: anything that they experience, cannot be a holy experience. The devil is perfectly wicked.
"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44) "He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning." (1 John 3:8 )
Therefore the demons are called evil spirits, unclean spirits, powers of darkness, and so on.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph 6:12)
So it is plain that anything in the minds of demons cannot be holy, or lead to true holiness by itself. The demons clearly know many things about God and religion, but they do not have a holy knowledge. The things they know in their minds may make impressions in their hearts— indeed we do see that the demons have very strong feelings about God; so strong, in fact, that they "shudder." But they are not holy feelings because they have nothing to do with the work of the Holy Spirit. If this is true of the experience of demons, it is also true of the experience of men. Notice this, that it does not matter how genuine, sincere, and powerful these thoughts and feelings are. Demons, being spiritual creatures, know God in a way that men on earth cannot. Their knowledge of God's existence is more concrete than any man's knowledge could be. Because they are locked in battle with the forces of good, they have a sincerity of knowledge as well. On one occasion Jesus cast out some demons. "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" (Mat 8:29) What could possibly be a more clear-cut experience than this? However, while their thoughts and feelings are genuine and powerful, they are not holy. Also we can see that the holy objects of their thoughts doesn't make their thoughts and feelings holy. The demons know God exists! Matthew 8:29 shows they know more about Jesus than many people do! They are thoroughly that Jesus will judge them some day, because He is holy. But it is clear that genuine, sincere, and powerful thoughts and feelings about holy, spiritual things, is no proof of God's grace in the heart. Demons have these things, and look forward to eternal punishment in hell. If men have no more than what the demons have, they will suffer in the same way. We may make several conclusions based on these truths. First, that no matter how much people may know about God and the Bible, it is no sure sign of salvation. The devil before his fall, was one of the bright and morning stars, a flame of fire, one excelling in strength and wisdom. (Isa. 14:12, Ezek. 28:12-19) Apparently, as one of the chief angels, Satan knew much about God. Now that he is fallen, his sin has not destroyed his memories from before. Sin does destroy the spiritual nature, but not the natural abilities, such as memory. That the fallen angels do have many natural abilities may be seen from many Bible verses, for example Eph 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." In the same way, the Bible says that Satan is "more crafty" than other created beings. (Gen 3:1, also 2 Cor. 11:3, Acts 13:10) Therefore we can see that the Devil has always had great mental ability and is able to know much about God, the visible and invisible world, and many other things. Since his job in the beginning was to be a chief angel before God, it is only natural that understanding these things has always been of first importance to him, and that all his activities have to do with these areas of thoughts, feelings, and knowledge. Because it was his original employment to be one of the angels before the very face of God, and sin does not destroy the memory, it is clear that Satan knows more about God than just about any other created being. After the fall, we can see from his activities as a tempter, etc., (Matt 4:3) that he has been spending his time increasing his knowledge and its practical applications. That his knowledge is great can be seen in how tricky he is when tempting people. The craftiness of his lies shows how clever he is. Surely he could not manage his deceit so well without an actual and true knowledge of the facts. This knowledge of God and his works is from the very beginning. Satan was there from the Creation, as Job 38:4 7 shows: "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. . .while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" So he must know much about the way God created the world, and how He governs all the events in the universe. Furthermore, Satan has seen how God has worked his plan of redemption in the world; and not as an innocent bystander, but as an active enemy of God's grace. He saw God work in the lives of Adam and Eve, in Noah, Abraham, and David. He must have taken a special interest in the life of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of men, the Word of God incarnate. How closely did he watch Christ? How carefully did he observe his miracles and listen to His words? This is because Satan has set himself against Christ's work, and it is to his torment and anguish that Satan has watched Christ's work unfold successfully. Satan, then, knows much about God and God's work. He knows heaven first-hand. He knows hell also, with personal knowledge as its first resident, and has experienced its torments for all these thousands of years. He must have a great knowledge of the Bible: at the least, we can see he knew enough to try tempting our Saviour. Furthermore, he has had years of studying of the hearts of men, his battlefield where he fights against our Redeemer. What labours, exertions, and cares the Devil has used over the centuries as he has deceived men. Only a being with his knowledge and experience of God's working, and the human heart, could so imitate true religion and transform himself into an angel of light. (2 Cor 11:14)
Therefore we can see that there is no amount of knowledge of God and religion that could prove a person has been saved from their sin. A man may talk about the Bible, God, and the Trinity. He may be able to preach a sermon about Jesus Christ and everything He has done. Imagine, somebody might be able to speak about the way of salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of sinners, perhaps even enough to show others how to become Christians. All these things might build up the church and enlighten the world, yet it is not a sure proof of the saving grace of God in a person's heart.
It also may be seen that for people to merely agree with the Bible is no sure sign of salvation. James 2:19 shows that the demons really, truly, believe the truth. Just as they believe there is one God, they agree with all the truth of the Bible. The devil is not a heretic: all the articles of his faith are firmly established in the truth. It must be understood, that when the Bible talks about believing that Jesus is the Son of God, as a proof of God's grace in the heart, the Bible means not a mere agreement with the truth, but another kind of believing. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." (1 John 5:1) This other kind of believing is called "the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness." (Titus 1:1) There is a spiritual holding to the truth, which will be explained later on. Some people have strong religious experiences, and think of them as proof of God's working in their hearts. Often these experiences give people a sense of the importance of the spiritual world, and the reality of divine things. However, these, too, are no sure proof of salvation. Demons and damned human beings have many spiritual experiences which have a great effect on their heart attitudes. They live in the spiritual world and see first-hand what it is like. Their sufferings show them the worth of salvation and the worth of a human soul in the most powerful way imaginable. The parable in Luke chapter 16 teaches this clearly, as the suffering man asks that Lazarus might be sent to tell his brothers to avoid this place of torment. No doubt people in hell now have a distinct idea of the vastness of eternity, and of the shortness of life. They are completely convinced that all the things of this life are unimportant when compared to the experiences of the eternal world. People now in hell have a great sense of the preciousness of time, and of the wonderful opportunities people have, who have the privilege of hearing the Gospel. They are completely aware of the foolishness of their sin, of neglecting opportunities, and ignoring the warnings of God. When sinners find out by personal experience the final result of their sin there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 13:42) So even the most powerful religious experiences are not a sure sign of God's grace in the heart. Demons and damned people also have a strong sense of God's majesty and power. God's power is most clearly displayed in his execution of divine vengeance upon his enemies.
"What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?" (Rom 9:22)
Shuddering, the devils await their final punishment, under the strongest sense of God's majesty. They feel it now, of course, but in the future it will show to the greatest degree, when the Lord Jesus "is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." (2 Thess 2:7) On that day, they will desire to be run away, to be hidden from the presence of God. "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him." (Rev 1:7) So everyone will see him in the glory of His Father. But, obviously, not all who see him will be saved. Now it is possible that some people might object to all this, saying that ungodly men in this world are quite different from demons. They are under different circumstances and are different kind of beings. An objector might say,
"Those things that are visible and present to demons are invisible and future to men. Besides, people have the disadvantage of having bodies, which restrain the soul, and keep people from seeing these spiritual things first-hand. Therefore, even if demons do have a great knowledge and personal experience of the things of God, and have no grace, the conclusion does not apply to me."
Or, put another way: if people have these things in this life, it may very well be a sure sign of God's grace in their hearts. In reply, it is agreed that no man in this life has ever had the degree of these things as the demons have them. No person has ever shuddered, with the same amount of fear that the demons shudder with. No man, in this life, can ever have the same kind of knowledge that the Devil has. It is clear that demons and damned men understand the vastness of eternity, and the importance of the other world, more than any living person, and so they crave salvation all the more. But we can see that men in this world can have experiences of the same kind as those of demons and damned people. They have the same mental outlook, the same opinions and emotions, and the same kind of impressions on the mind and heart. Notice, that for the apostle James it is a convincing argument. He claims that if people think believing in one God is proof of God's grace, it is not proof, because demons believe the same. James is not referring to the act of believing only, but also to the emotions and actions that go along with their belief. Shuddering is an example of emotions from the heart. This shows that if people have the same kind of mental outlook, and respond from the heart in the same way, it is no sure sign of grace. The Bible does not state how much people in this world may see God's glory, and not have God's grace in their hearts. We are not told exactly to what degree God reveals himself to certain people, and how much they will respond in their hearts. It is very tempting to say that if a person has a certain amount of religious experience, or a certain amount of truth, they must be saved. Perhaps it is even possible for some unsaved people to have greater experiences than some of those who have grace in their hearts! So it is wrong to look at experience or knowledge in terms of amount. Men who have a genuine work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts have experiences and knowledge of a different kind. At this point, someone might answer these thoughts by saying,
"I agree with you. I see that believing in God, seeing His majesty and holiness, and knowing that Jesus died for sinners is not proof of grace in my heart. I agree that demons can know these things as well. But I have some things they don't have. I have joy, peace, and love. Demons can't have them, so that must show that I am saved."
Yes, it is true that you have something more than a demon can have, but it is nothing better than a demon could have. A person's experience of love, joy, etc., may not be because they have any cause in them different from a demon, but just different circumstances. The causes, or origins, of their feelings are the same. This is why these experiences are no better than those of demons. To explain further:
All the things that were discussed before about demons and damned people, arise from two main causes, natural understanding and self-love. When they think about themselves, these two things are what determine their feelings and response. Natural understanding shows them that God is holy, while they are wicked. God is infinite, but they are limited. God is powerful, and they are weak. Self-love gives them a sense of the importance of religion, the eternal world, and a longing after salvation. When these two causes work together, demons and damned men become aware of the awesome majesty of God, whom they know will be their Judge. They know that God's judgment will be perfect and their punishment will be forever. Therefore, these two causes together with their senses will bring about their anguish on that judgment day, when they see the outward glory of Christ and His saints.
The reason many people feel joy, peace, and love today, while demons do not, may be more due to their circumstances, rather than any difference in their hearts. The causes in their hearts are the same. For example, the Holy Spirit is now at work in the world keeping all of mankind from being as wicked as they could be (2 Thess 2:17). This is in contrast to demons, who are just as wicked as they can be all the time. Furthermore, God in his mercy gives gifts to all people, such as the rain for crops (Matt 5:45), heat from the sun, etc. Not only that, but often people receive many things in life to bring them happiness, such as personal relationships, pleasures, music, good health, and so on. Most important of all, many people have heard news of hope: God has sent a Saviour, Jesus Christ, who died to save sinners. In these circumstances, the natural understanding of people can cause them to feel things that demons never can. Self-love is a powerful force in the hearts of men, strong enough without grace to cause people to love those who love them, "But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." (Luke 6:32) It is a natural thing for a person who sees God being merciful, and who knows that they are not as bad as they could be, to therefore be sure of God's love for them. If your love for God comes only from your feelings that God loves you, or because you have heard that Christ died for you, or something similar, the source of your love to God is only self-love. This reigns in the hearts of demons as well. Imagine the situation of the demons. They know they are unrestrained in their wickedness. They know God is their enemy and always will be. Although they are without any hope, still they are active and fighting. Just think, what if they had some of the hope that people have? What if demons, with their knowledge of God, had their wickedness restrained? Imagine if a demon, after all his fears about God's judgment, was suddenly led to imagine that God might be his Friend? That God might forgive him and let him, sin and all, into heaven? Oh the joy, the wonder, the gratitude we would see! Would not this demon be a great lover of God, since, after all everybody loves people who help them? What else could cause feelings so powerful and sincere? Is it any wonder, that so many people are deceived this way? Especially since people have the demons to promote this delusion. They have been promoting it now for many centuries, and alas they are very good at it.
Now we come to the question, if all these various experiences and feelings come from nothing more than demons are capable of, what are the kinds of experiences that are truly spiritual and holy? What do I have to find in my own heart, as a sure sign of God's grace there? What are the differences that show them to be from the Holy Spirit?
This is the answer:
those feelings and experiences which are good signs of God's grace in the heart differ from the experience of demons in their source and in their results.
Their source is the sense of the overwhelming holy beauty and loveliness of the things of God. When a person grasps in his mind, or better yet, when he feels his own heart held captive by the attractiveness of the Divine, this is an unmistakable sign of God's working. The demons and damned in hell do not now, and never will experience even the tiniest bit of this. Before their fall, the demons did have this sense of God. But in their fall, they lost it, the only thing they could lose of their knowledge of God. We have seen how the demons have very clear ideas about how powerful God is, his justice, holiness, and so on. They know a lot of facts about God. But now they haven't a clue about what God is like. They cannot know what God is like any more than a blind man can know about colors! Demons can have a strong sense God's awesome majesty, but they don't see his loveliness. They have observed His work among the human race for these thousands of years, indeed with the closest attention; but they never see a glimmer of His beauty. No matter how much they know about God (and we have seen that they know very much indeed) the knowledge they have will never bring them to this higher, spiritual knowing what God is like. On the contrary, the more they know about God, the more they hate Him. The beauty of God consists primarily in this holiness, or moral excellence, and this is what they hate the most. It is because God is holy that the demons hate Him. One could suppose that if God were to be less holy, the demons would hate Him less. No doubt demons would hate any holy Being, no matter what He was like otherwise. But surely they hate this Being all the more, for being infinitely holy, infinitely wise, and infinitely powerful! Wicked people, including those alive today, will on the day of judgment see all there is to see of Jesus Christ, except His beauty and loveliness. There is not one thing about Christ that we can think of, that will not be set before them in the strongest light on that brilliant day. The wicked will see Jesus "coming in clouds with great power and glory." (Mark 13:26) They will see his outward glory, which is far, far greater than we can possibly imagine now. You know the wicked will be thoroughly convinced of all who Christ is. They will be convinced about His omniscience, as they see all their sins replayed and evaluated. They will know first-hand Christ's justice, as their sentences are announced. His authority will be made utterly convincing when every knee will bow, and every tongue confess Jesus as Lord. (Phil 2:10,11) The divine majesty will be impressed upon them in quite an effective way, as the wicked are poured into hell itself, and enter into their final state of suffering and death (Rev 20:14,15) When that happens, all their knowledge of God, as true and as powerful as it may be, will be worth nothing, and less than nothing, because they will not see Christ's beauty. Therefore, it is this seeing the loveliness of Christ that makes the difference between the saving grace of the Holy Spirit, and the experiences of demons. This sight or sense is what makes true Christian experience different from everything else. The faith of God's elect people is based on this. When a person sees the excellence of the gospel, he senses the beauty and loveliness of the divine scheme of salvation. His mind is convinced that it is of God, and he believes it with all his heart. As the apostle Paul says in 2 Cor 4:3 4, "even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." That is to say, as was explained before, unbelievers can see that there is a gospel, and understand the facts about it, but they do not see its light. The light of the gospel is the glory of Christ, his holiness and beauty. Right after this we read, 2 Cor 4:6 "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Clearly, it is this divine light, shining into our hearts, that enables us to see the beauty of the gospel and have a saving belief in Christ. This supernatural light shows us the superlative beauty and loveliness of Jesus, and convinces us of His sufficiency as our Saviour. Only such a glorious, majestic Saviour can be our Mediator, standing between guilty, hell-deserving sinners such as ourselves, and an infinitely holy God. This supernatural light gives us a sense of Christ that convinces us in a way nothing else ever could. When a most wicked sinner is caused to see Christ's divine loveliness, he no longer speculates why God should be interested in him, to save him. Before, he could not understand how the blood of Christ could pay the penalty for sins. But now he can see the preciousness of Christ's blood, and how it is worthy to be accepted as the ransom for the worst of sins. Now the soul can recognize that he is accepted by God, not because of who he is, but because of the value God puts on the blood, obedience, and intercession of Christ. Seeing this value and worth gives the poor guilty soul rest which cannot be found in any sermon or booklet. When a person comes to see the proper foundation of faith and trust with his own eyes, this is saving faith. "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life." (John 6:40) "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me." (John 17:6-8) It is this sight of the divine beauty of Christ that captivates the wills and draws the hearts of men. A sight of the outward greatness of God in His glory may overwhelm men, and be more than they can endure. This will be seen on the day of judgment, when the wicked will be brought before God. They will be overwhelmed, yes, but the hostility of the heart will remain in full strength and the opposition of the will continue. But on the other hand, a single ray of the moral and spiritual glory of God and of the supreme loveliness of Christ shone into the heart overcomes all hostility. The soul is inclined to love God as if by an omnipotent power, so that now not only the understanding, but the whole being receives and embraces the loving Saviour. This sense of the beauty of Christ is the beginning of true saving faith in the life of a true convert. This is quite different from any vague feeling that Christ loves him or died for him. These sort of fuzzy feelings can cause a sort of love and joy, because the person feels a gratitude for escaping the punishment of their sin. In actual fact, these feelings are based on self-love, and not on a love for Christ at all. It is a sad thing that so many people are deluded by this false faith. On the other hand, a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ causes in the heart a supreme genuine love for God. This is because the divine light shows the excellent loveliness of God's nature. A love based on this is far, far above anything coming from self-love, which demons can have as well as men. The true love of God which comes from this sight of His beauty causes a spiritual and holy joy in the soul; a joy in God, and exulting in Him. There is no rejoicing in ourselves, but rather in God alone. The sight of the beauty of divine things will cause true desires after the things of God. These desires are different from the longings of demons, which happen because the demons know their doom awaits them, and they wish it could somehow be otherwise. The desires that come from this sight of Christ's beauty are natural free desires, like a baby desiring milk. Because these desires are so different from their counterfeits, they help to distinguish genuine experiences of God's grace from the false. False spiritual experiences have a tendency to cause pride, which is the devil's special sin. "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil." (1 Tim 3:6) Pride is the inevitable result of false spiritual experiences, even though they are often covered with a disguise of great humility. False experience is enamored with self and grows on self. It lives by showing itself in one way or another. A person can have great love for God, and be proud of the greatness of his love. He can be very humble, and very proud indeed of his humility. But the emotions and experiences that come from God's grace are exactly opposite. God's true working in the heart causes humility. They do not cause any kind of showiness or self-exaltation. That sense of the awesome, holy, glorious beauty of Christ kills pride and humbles the soul. The light of God's loveliness, and that alone, shows the soul its own ugliness. When a person really grasps this, he inevitably begins a process of making God bigger and bigger, and himself smaller and smaller. Another result of God's grace working in the heart is that the person will hate every evil and respond to God with a holy heart and life. False experiences may cause a certain amount of zeal, and even a great deal of what is commonly called religion. However it is not a zeal for good works. Their religion is not a service of God, but rather a service of self. This is how the apostle James puts it himself in this very context, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?" (James 2:19 20) In other words, deeds, or good works, are evidence of a genuine experience of God's grace in the heart. "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:3 4) When the heart has been ravished by the beauty of Christ, how else can it respond? How excellent is that inner goodness and true religion that comes from this sight of the beauty of Christ! Here you have the most wonderful experiences of saints and angels in heaven. Here you have the best experience of Jesus Christ Himself. Even though we are mere creatures, it is a sort of participation in God's own beauty. "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature." (2 Pet 1:4) "God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." (Heb 12:10) Because of the power of this divine working, there is a mutual indwelling of God and His people. "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16) This special relationship has to make the person involved as happy and as blessed as any creature in existence. This is a special gift of God, which he gives only to his special favorites. Gold, silver, diamonds, and earthly kingdoms are given by God to people who the Bible calls dogs and pigs. But this great gift of beholding Christ's beauty, is the special blessing of God to His dearest children. Flesh and blood cannot give this gift: only God can bestow it. This was the special gift which Christ died to obtain for his elect. It is the highest token of his everlasting love, the best fruit of his labours, and the most precious purchase of his blood. By this gift, more than anything else, the saints shine as lights in the world. This gift, more than anything else, is their comfort. It is impossible that the soul who possesses this gift should ever perish. This is the gift of eternal life. It is eternal life begun: those who have it can never die. It is the dawning of the light of glory. It comes from heaven, it has a heavenly quality, and it will take its bearer to heaven. Those who have this gift may wander in the wilderness or be tossed by waves on the ocean, but they will arrive in heaven at last. There the heavenly spark will be made perfect and increased. In heaven the souls of the saints will be transformed into a bright and pure flame, and they will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Amen.