• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Understanding Our Weakness And God’s Strength

Charles H. Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

Take care, brethren; for if we think we can do anything of ourselves, all we shall get from God will be the opportunity to try. He will thus prove us, and let us see our inability. A certain alchemist, who waited upon Pope Leo X, declared that he had discovered how to transmute the baser metals into gold. He expected to receive a sum of money for his discovery, but Leo was no such simpleton; he merely gave him a huge purse in which to keep the gold which he would make. There was wisdom as well as sarcasm in the present. That is precisely what God does with proud men; He lets them have the opportunity to do what they boasted of being able to do. I never heard that so much as a solitary gold piece was dropped into Leo’s purse, and I am sure you will never be spiritually rich by what you can do in your own strength. Be stripped, brother, and then God may be pleased to clothe you with honor, but not till then. (An All-Round Ministry, Chapter 6, “Light, Fire, Faith, Life, Love”)

When Faith Becomes A Work

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2)

There are many in the Christian community who seem to teach that the blessings of God are all worked up by our faith. This sort of thinking has put many a Christian on a guilt trip: “If you want to prosper materially, have the faith for it!” “If you want good health, have faith for it!” “If you want to be a righteous man, you need to just work up the faith for it!” Then, upon evidence of hopes dashed against the rocks of reality, you hear these false teachers proclaim “You just didn’t have enough faith!”

Let us consider faith and righteousness as an example of where the statements above are false. Faith is not our righteousness. Righteousness is accounted to us as a gift of God, but not as if our faith had earned it; otherwise it would be a work of man. It would be incompatible with the righteousness of Christ. Faith connects us to the righteousness of Christ and is, therefore, totally distinct from it. To confuse one with the other is to diminish the gospel of the grace. Our act of faith is a separate thing from that which we believe.

The man of faith is treated by God as if he had done all things righteous, even though he has not and is not capable of such a feat. In this sense you are saved by a “faith” that is not your own doing, even it is supplied by God in order to account righteousness to you. Faith does not justify as a work, but simply is the bond between us and Christ. The work of Christ for us is the object of faith. The Spirit’s work in us is that which produces this faith.

So faith is not our righteousness: it joins us to Christ and makes us partakers of His righteousness. Faith is not our doctor; it only brings us to the Physician. Faith is not our savior. Faith did not die on a cross for us. Faith is one thing, and the cross is another. Don’t confuse them or ascribe to an imperfect act of man, that which belongs to Jesus Christ.

Faith is not perfect obedience. Yet only by perfect obedience can we be saved; either by our own or another’s. Our imperfect faith cannot in some manner be seen as a righteousness of our own. All faith here is imperfect and our only security is that even though weak our faith may be, if it touches Christ we are saved. God has provided a perfect righteousness. In no sense and in no aspect can faith be said to satisfy God, or to satisfy the law. Being imperfect, it cannot satisfy; being human, it cannot satisfy. Faith is not Christ, nor the cross of Christ. Faith is not the blood or sacrifice. Faith brings us to the cross of Jesus Christ. We are there knit to the righteousness of Christ.

Therefore, the blessings of God are not earned by the degree of faith you can muster up. His blessings are His gifts for which we have no right to demand as payment for anything we have done. Even our saving faith is His gift.

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