“You must be born again.” Do not think Christians are made by education; they are made by creation. You may wash a corpse as long as you please, and that corpse could be clean, but you cannot wash life into it! You may deck it in flowers, and robe it in scarlet and fine linen, but you cannot make it live!
The vital spark must come from above! Regeneration is not of the will of man, nor of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but by the power and energy of the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God alone! See then, the ruin of nature and the freeness of grace!
Void and dark, a chaos given up to be covered with blackness and darkness forever, and, while as yet it is not seeking God, the light arises, and the promise is fulfilled, “I am found of them that sought me not; I said, behold me! Behold me! to a people that were not a people.”
While we were lying in our blood, filthily polluted, defiled, he passed by, and he said in the sovereignty of his love, “Live!” and we do live. The whole must be traced to sovereign grace!
From this sacred well of discriminating distinguishing grace we must draw water this morning, and we must pour it out, saying, “Oh Lord, I will praise your name, for the first origin of my light was your sovereign purpose, and nothing in me.” (“Light, Natural and Spiritual” No. 660 – Genesis 1:1-5)
Quoting Benjamin Franklin:
“Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.” (Letter to the French ministry, March, 1778)
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Have you ever thought to yourself, “I don’t seem to be able to gather my thoughts and keep them fixed upon the teachings of Christ or even focus upon a short prayer?” This is a natural weakness of man that requires the repair of our Savior. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:
After the anxious heart has accepted the doctrine of atonement, and learned the great truth that salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus, it is often sore troubled with a sense of inability toward that which is good. Many are groaning, “I can do nothing.” They are not making this into an excuse, but they feel it as a daily burden. They would if they could. They can each one honestly say, “To will is present with me, but how to perform that which I would I find not.” This feeling seems to make all the gospel null and void; for what is the use of food to a hungry man if he cannot get at it? Of what avail is the river of the water of life if one cannot drink. . . Now, it sometimes seems to the troubled heart that the simple gospel of “Believe and live,” is not, after all, so very simple; for it asks the poor sinner to do what he cannot do. To the really awakened, but half instructed, there appears to be a missing link; yonder is the salvation of Jesus, but how is it to be reached? The soul is without strength, and knows not what to do. It lies within sight of the city of refuge, and cannot enter its gate.
Is this want of strength provided for in the plan of salvation? It is. The work of the Lord is perfect. It begins where we are, and asks nothing of us in order to its completion. When the Good Samaritan saw the traveler lying wounded and half dead, he did not bid him rise and come to him, and mount the ass and ride off to the inn. No, “he came where he was,” and ministered to him, and lifted him upon the beast and bore him to the inn. Thus doth the Lord Jesus deal with us in our low and wretched estate.
We have seen that God justifieth, that He justifieth the ungodly and that He justifies them through faith in the precious blood of Jesus; we have now to see the condition these ungodly ones are in when Jesus works out their salvation. Many awakened persons are not only troubled about their sin, but about their moral weakness. They have no strength with which to escape from the mire into which they have fallen, nor to keep out of it in after days. They not only lament over what they have done, but over what they cannot do. They feel themselves to be powerless, helpless, and spiritually lifeless. It may sound odd to say that they feel dead, and yet it is even so. They are, in their own esteem, to all good incapable. They cannot travel the road to Heaven, for their bones are broken. “None of the men of strength have found their hands;” in fact, they are “without strength.” Happily, it is written, as the commendation of God’s love to us: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 ESV)
Here we see conscious helplessness succored - succored by the interposition of the Lord Jesus. Our helplessness is extreme. It is not written, “When we were comparatively weak Christ died for us”; or, “When we had only a little strength”; but the description is absolute and unrestricted; “When we were yet without strength.” We had no strength whatever which could aid in our salvation; our Lord’s words were emphatically true, “Without me ye can do nothing.” I may go further than the text, and remind you of the great love wherewith the Lord loved us, “even when we were dead in trespasses and sins.” To be dead is even more than to be without strength.
The one thing that the poor strengthless sinner has to fix his mind upon, and firmly retain, as his one ground of hope, is the divine assurance that “in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Believe this, and all inability will disappear. (All of Grace)