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  • 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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Full Assurance

Fear cannot abound in a man’s heart when he knows that Christ is with him and will strengthen him in the face of evil and temptation to do evil. Christ has you firm in His grip. Andrew Bonar writes:

“It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17: 11).

“There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat” (Exod. 25: 22).

Dear reader, we affectionately urge this matter upon you; for we believe it nearly concerns your own salvation, your own peace and holiness. If my warrant to be assured of salvation depended upon the measure of my attainments, how could I ever be assured of salvation? How could I ever be assured that I had attained such a measure as would secure my acceptance, and my deliverance from the hand of my enemies, that I might serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of my life? How could the jailer have been safe in rejoicing in Christ, the same hour of the night? How could the eunuch have been warranted in going on his way rejoicing?

But, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” Blessed be God, it is not a peradventure, left in uncertainty until after death or judgment, on which I am pleaded with to rest my eternal all. It is a work devised for sinners, undertaken for sinners, wrought out for sinners, finished for sinners, and accepted by God for sinners, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead. And we have not to go to the uttermost parts of the earth to seek it. O reader! that finished work, that immediate acceptance and salvation, is nigh thee in thy hand in thy mouth in thy heart! “Hearken unto Me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness; behold! I bring near My righteousness!” (Isaiah 46. 12, 13). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16. 31).

But is there, then, no hope that we are in Christ unless we possess this full assurance? We do not say so, though we believe that this question has often been used as a refuge from the guilt of not resting with full confidence on the blood of Christ. By reason of the weakness of their faith, and the strength of corruption within, the holiest of men are often found walking in darkness; but what we plead for is this, that if a child of God be not kept in peace as regards his acceptance, it is not for the want of something in Christ, but because of his own want of faith, to take freely what has been so freely given; and that all such doubts and fears regarding the fullness of Christ whatever be the humbled and exercised look they may assume while they are the believer’s misery, are no less truly the believer’s sin.

And this is the true way of holiness. The same apostle who proclaims salvation “to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly,” beseeches us, by those very mercies of God, to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. The same sprinkled blood which speaks peace to the sinner, proclaims to that sinner continually, “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6. 20). (“The Mercy Seat”)

The Place of Mercy

Do people really care for God’s mercy or comfort, when they continue to live in sin? Even so, God has devised a means by which justice can be satisfied, and mercy triumphant. Jesus Christ was sacrificed to Divine Justice and it was accepted as the punishment due to all His people. Andrew Bonar explains this in the context of the “mercy seat”:

“It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17: 11).

“There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat” (Exod. 25: 22).

[T]he place where mercy can be found, is the place where the blood is. No other place, O sinner, in the wide world for you! But to that place you may come; nay, must come, if you would escape the wrath of God.

You must come as a sinner. You must come with nothing but sin. On the Day of Atonement, the priest in Israel who came forward to the mercy-seat laid down nothing but sin on that blood-sprinkled lid. He showed a sinner’s way of coming to the Lord; and yet he brought nothing what-ever but sin, to be laid down there. So the sinner, in coming to the mercy-seat, brings nothing but sin. He confesses the sin he was born with: “Behold! I was shapen in iniquity”; and lays it down on the sprinkled blood. He confesses his inheritance of corruption from Adam, and lays it down on that mercy-seat. He confesses his own personal sins, in their various forms, aspects, aggravations; the sins of his life and lips, as far as memory can remember, and lays them down upon the sprinkled blood. . . .

At length it is done. But what does it discover? He has laid down his whole soul there his very self; but in all this there has been nothing but sin for him to leave there! No holiness is laid down on that blood, for it is from all sin that the blood cleanses.

You come, therefore, wholly as a sinner. Nothing can be more deeply solemnizing than this. To have such a burden to lay down there to have nothing else than a burden of this kind, and to lay all this on the Lord Jesus Christ! How humbling, how fitted to lay the sinner in the dust, is the view this gives of his utter guilt and vileness! And yet nothing is more inviting, for it is with sin he comes, and as a sinner; and the Lord Jesus meets the sin and the sinner. Is there, then, any room for delay? Any ground for excuse for hesitating to come at once? (“The Mercy Seat”)

The Throne of Grace

Never forget the blood of Christ. It is the complete satisfaction for sin. It is impossible to be saved except by that blood. You may be tempted to believe it is a barbaric idea from uncivilized people of the past; it is not! Do not be tempted to believe that sin is cured by simply looking to the example of Christ; it is not! Andrew Bonar writes:

“It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17: 11).

“There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat” (Exod. 25: 22).

READER! Have you ever felt your need of salvation! Have you ever sought it, as one who must obtain it or perish?

When a sinner is first brought to feel sin to be a burden; when he feels wrath abiding upon his soul, and that his whole past life has been a life without God his question is, “What must I do to be saved?” “Is it possible that my sin can ever be forgiven by a God who is angry with the wicked every day?” The awakened publican’s cry is, “O God, be merciful to me!” And this cry finds God in the very attitude of grace, proclaiming his name. “The Lord, the Lord God merciful,” and pointing to the Savior on the throne of grace, where we may obtain mercy.

In Old Testament times, the Lord set forth our condition on the one hand, and His respect toward us in the other, in one part of the furniture of the Tabernacle. He did this in the mercy-seat. This name is given to that part of the ark, in the holy of holies, whereon the blood used to be sprinkled on the Day of Atonement. The mercy-seat was the lid of the ark, as broad and long as the ark itself, and made of the same precious material; and the lid, or mercy-seat, being sprinkled with blood seven times, set forth to us the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses from all sin.

Now, it is where the blood is, that mercy for sinners is to be found. For they deserve to die; and their deserved doom must be exhibited, and exacted at the hands of another, if they themselves are to escape. Therefore, the place where mercy can be found is the place where the blood is. No other place, O sinner, in the wide world for you! But to that place you may come; nay, must come, if you would escape the wrath of God. (“The Mercy Seat”)

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