Are you a Christian?
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Ft1 Some years ago an evangelical (?) preacher of nation-wide reputation visited the town in which we then were, and during the course of his address kept repeating, “Poor God! Poor God!” Surely it is this “preacher” who needs to be pitied.
Ft3 We are not unmindful of the fact that men have invented the distinction between God’s love of complacency and His love of compassion, but this is an invention pure and simple. Scripture terms the latter God’s “pity” (see Matthew 18:33), and “He is kind unto the unthankful and the evil” ( Luke 6:35).
Ft4 An esteemed friend who kindly read through this book in its manuscript form, and to whom we are indebted for a number of excellent suggestions, has pointed out that, grace is something more than “unmerited favor.” To feed a tramp who calls on me is “unmerited favor,” but it is scarcely grace. But suppose that after robbing me I should feed this starving tramp—that would be “grace.” Grace, then, is favor shown where there is positive de-merit in the one receiving it. It has been pointed out to us that God’s sovereignty was signally displayed in His choice of the place where His Son was born. Not to Greece or Italy did the Lord of Glory come, but to the insignificant land of Palestine! Not in Jerusalem—the royal city—was Immanuel born, but in Bethlehem, which was “little among the thousands (of towns and villages) in Judah” (Micah 5:2)! And it was in despised Nazareth that He grew up!! Truly, God’s ways are not ours.
Ft6 The priority contended for above is rather in order of nature than of time, just as the effect must ever be preceded by the cause. A blind man must have his eyes opened before he can see, and yet there is no interval of time between the one and the other. As soon as his eyes are opened, he sees. So a man must be born again before he can “see the kingdom of God” ( John 3:3). Seeing the Son is necessary to believing in Him. Unbelief is attributed to spiritual blindness—those who believed not the “report” of the Gospel “saw no beauty” in Christ that they should desire Him. The work of the Spirit in “quickening” the one dead in sins, precedes faith in Christ, just as cause ever precedes effect. But no sooner is the heart turned toward Christ by the Spirit, than the Saviour is embraced by the sinner.
Ft7 “Of Him”—His will is the origin of all existence; “through” or “by Him”—He is the Creator and Controller of all; “to Him”—all things promote His glory in their final end.
Ft8 Since writing the above we have read an article by the late J. N. Darby entitled, “Man’s so-called freewill,” that opens with these words: “This re-appearance of the doctrine of freewill serves to support that of the pretension of the natural man to be not irremediably fallen, for this is what such doctrine tends to. All who have never been deeply convicted of sin, all persons in whom this conviction is based on gross external sins, believe more or less in freewill.”
Ft9 Gordian knot: 1. An intricate knot tied by King Gordius of Phrygia and cut by Alexander the Great with his sword after hearing an oracle promise that whoever could undo it would be the next ruler of Asia. 2.
An exceedingly complicated problem of deadlock (The American Heritage Dictionary, ed).
Ft10 The terms of this example are suggested by an illustration used by the late Andrew Fuller.
Ft11 Note how Old Testament prophecy also declared that “the Spirit of the Lord” should “rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord ” ( Isaiah 11:1,2).
Ft12 Romans 5 :8 is addressed to saints, and the “we” are the same ones as those spoken of in 8:29, 30.
Ft13 Concerning the rich young ruler of whom it is said Christ “loved him” ( Mark 10:21), we fully believe that he was one of God’s elect, and was “saved” sometime after his interview with our Lord. Should it be said this is an arbitrary assumption and assertion which lacks anything in the Gospel record to substantiate it, we reply, It is written, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out,” and this man certainly did “come” to Him. Compare the case of Nicodemus. He, too, came to Christ, yet there is nothing in John 3 which intimates he was a saved man when the interview closed; nevertheless, we know from his later life that he was not “cast out.”
Ft14 For a further discussion of John 3:16 see Appendix 3.
Ft15 It is true that many things in John’s Epistle apply equally to believing Jews and believing Gentiles. Christ is the Advocate of the one, as much as of the other. The same may be said of many things in the Epistle of James which is also a catholic, or general epistle, though expressly addressed to the twelve tribes scattered abroad.