A Treatise on hope Part 1   Leave a comment

In starting this Labour and Endeavour to find the truth and certainty as to how I may know and be sure of my eternal salvation. Not that other books cannot find it but their answers which I surmise to be similar as I would want mine to be is to facilitate and embed the scriptures upon my own mind and render useless the device of Satan that would make me void of the knowledge of Scripture, to break finally the hold of sin on my life and to embrace the atonement that Christ has wrought for me with my own mind. This glorious gospel of Christ is too good to be misunderstood or not to be understood at all. So I set myself up to by this discipline to search out for myself what how this gospel may change my own heart and life forever.
And I start here with the text from Romans 3:
Justification by Faith

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Romans 3:21-28 (NASB77)

This text makes it plain that no is no coming to God except God makes provision for the sinner to be justified by God, and this can only be through the atoning death of one who is qualified to lay down His life for a another who is deserving nothing but God’s wrath. Yet God makes this provision for the sinner “through faith in Jesus Christ” a sinner may be reconciled to God and declared to be legally righteous. This in itself is amazing thing for God to do for a sinner deserving nothing but eternal death yet I have to ask what should a “saving faith “ and a renewed heart look like, what does a person who has been “saved” look like.
• 1 John gives some indication.
• If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
• 1 John 1:6-7 (NASB77)
• 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
• 1 John 1:7-9 (NASB77)
• 3 And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
• 1 John 2:3-4 (NASB77)
• 9 The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.
• 1 John 2:9 (NASB77)
• 15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
• 1 John 2:15 (NASB77)
• 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?
• 1 John 2:21-22 (NASB77)
• 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father
• 1 John 2:23 (NASB77)
• 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
• 1 John 3:9 (NASB77)

So the list looks something like this, a person who walks in the light of God’s word, who repents of his sin as often as he does sin, who keeps the commandments of God, ( not as an end or a means but as a child should desire to obey their father so would delight in keeping God’s word). To love the redeemed, and desire fellowship with them as often as possible. To fully proclaim that Jesus is the Christ sent but God and has provided the only way to reconciliation to God by His own blood, become a propitiation for us, (a wrath bearer, bearing for us the punishment due to us) And not to practice sin as a habit but breaking from all known patterns of sin and forsaking them utterly. But my experience has taught me that original sin is not a human invention, it is the human condition.

I concur with Augustine when he prays through his “Confessions”
Who shall bring me to rest in thee? Who will send thee into my heart so to overwhelm it that my sins shall be blotted out and I may embrace thee, my only good? What art thou to me? Have mercy that I may speak. What am I to thee that thou should command me to love thee, and if I do it not, art angry and threatens vast misery? Is it, then, a trifling sorrow not to love thee? It is not so to me. Tell me, by thy mercy, O Lord, my God, what thou art to me. “Say to my soul, I am your salvation.”

It is a miserable condition to be in this kind of wasteland, where earth bring no prospect of happiness except maybe a temporary happiness. Then what death brings eternal unhappiness, this I cannot bear, that I do not seem to be able to do what I want, but that which I do so not want to do, that I do, and sometimes agree with those who practice their immorality by not staying anything against their evil speaking. I find in myself a wretch and a wretch deserving eternal fire, yet I would plead with thee O God, This then is my desire.

26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances
Ezek 36:26-27 (NASB77)

This then that I may have a heart which is bent to thee O God, that desires thee. I pour myself upon this page to seek and to find the path to righteous and righteous living. I desire purity and holiness in my inward parts yet I do not find it there, I have to lament with the Apostle when he says, 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Romans 7:24 (NASB77)

What can I bring my Lord, can I hope to be at least consistent? How may I come to this happy place of consistency? The psalmist says it for me when he says . “If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope” (Psalm 130 1-5) Indeed O God I have feared You, but not always, why do I still sin? I find my orthodoxy brings me truth but my orthopraxis shows me just how depraved I really am. There were times I fear I was carried along by much enthusiasm but such enthusiasm that led only to a hyperactivity in church activities and not in conversation with my God. My sin was foreign to me, I did not see how deep the abyss of its source was. I was happy until I found it. Then I saw, I saw my sin at least some of it for what it was, and only because I saw something of the majesty and Holiness of God, and not before. Before I was defending the gospel but that in my own enthusiasm and means, until I came to the end of enthusiasm and means.

I copy the words of Augustine I also when I pray thus the same, “ Still, dust and ashes as I am, allow me to speak before thy mercy” What shall I say, God be merciful a sinner. I am no better than the publican who stood before heaven and cried for mercy ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ Luke 18:13 (NASB77)

Yet I find myself too often entertaining all kinds of thoughts and letting them nest in my head, unfortunately sometimes long enough for it to result in sin either in thought or deed, I find myself very often here in the place James warn about in his epistle, 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:14-15 (NASB77)

Reading in the Puritans I came across this little gem from Thomas Brookes. “When you see that sin come towards you, run”. I wish I was mindful enough to do that always, but it sin for me at least is like looking into a sharp light, the longer you stare into it, the more hypnotized you get by it, until eventually you are mostly overcome by it. What hope is there to overcome such deep ingrained notions to sin? 9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick;

Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (NASB77) Should one excuse one self and say, O I am just laden with sin, I cannot be held accountable for what is in my bosom, it is quite clear that the Bible takes another view as this text indicates.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. Romans 1:18-19 (NASB77)
What hope is there but an open invitation from God for the sinner to be reconciled to him and have a hope that there may be Peace for him as he lives this mortal life in anticipation of meeting His Maker. A man who lives only for this life is foolish, and I dread my own foolishness, which has served only one purpose, it has shown me my heart corruptions. My soul cries out to God amid its confusion “ O Lord do not leave me to my own devices, do not leave me to my own heart corruptions, do not leave me to own sin, which would damn me to hell forever” This is probably the deepest prayer in my heart. I have felt the pain of my rebelliousness, I have seen something of what my own stubborn heart is capable of.

This is what I want to hear my God say
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18 (NASB77)

This is as I understand it to the gospel call Jesus did come and die for our sins, He took the penalty due to us, and this is the gospel invitation, yet it has not been easy to understand this or to receive it, partially because my own heart has wanted its own way and partially because I lacked the understanding or the wisdom to receive it. Once I saw it, Once Is saw that Jesus did die in my place, my question was, “Why me?” Why would God do this for me who has nothing to offer Him. This is the quest of my heart, to grasp and taste and see more of this goodness that God has extended towards me.

Augustine helps me once more with my thoughts with this saying. “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let not my soul faint under thy discipline, nor let me faint in confessing unto thee thy mercies, whereby thou hast saved me from all my most wicked ways till thou should become sweet to me beyond all the allurements that I used to follow. Let me come to love thee wholly, and grasp thy hand with my whole heart that thou may deliver me from every temptation, even unto the last.”

As for my hope, I could not say it better than Bunyan. “Christ, then, by his death save us as we are sinners, enemies, and in a state of condemnation by sin; and Christ by his life save us as considered justified, and reconciled to God by his blood.
So, then, we have salvation from that condemnation that sin had brought us unto, and salvation from those ruins that all the enemies of our souls would yet bring us unto, but cannot; for the intercession of Christ prevents it from it.”
And again in another place Bunyan declares of his own salvation” I was not free torments until I saw that my Righteousness is in heaven” this most decidedly is my hope and on reading a biography of William Booth, that great soldier of the salvation army who also said, “Until I saw that religion was something that comes from outside of me, and is something that Christ does for me and to me, I was not saved” This has been my own journey too. Though I am not too be named with noble men such as these, Christ did die for me, and receives me daily in my wretched state and builds His noble character in me. This is my hope and to this hope I will cling until I no more have the breath of life in me.

How then to escape sin in this present age since the apostle himself says, Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father Gal 1:3-4 (NASB77)

How then may we escape this present evil age and the torments of sin daily waiting on our door step. I t can be I think in a number of ways. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Phil 4:8 (NASB77)
Think differently, and you will speak differently, act differently. Fill your heart with God’s thoughts, thoughts from the Scriptures. Renew your mind, make provision for godliness and make no provision for sin. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:14 (NASB77)

This is not something you do at no cost, because the sinful nature does not by nature do what the Spirit of God wants it to do 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace Romans 8:5-6 (NASB77).

Changing your mind to think Bible thoughts is not something that comes naturally, though it is a discipline, it is a sanctifying discipline. It is a discipline that brings the Christian to a place where the flesh is one hopes not such an immediate attraction, though I would not trust “ the flesh” to have any of its own godly inclinations. Thos kind of thoughts come from the Spirit’s book, the Bible.
The other thing to remember is that piety by no means is by itself of much value, even Buddhist monks or even catholic Priests practice a piety which does not promote any reconciliation with God.
Holiness comes from God, because he is Holy, and Jesus is the only man that ever filled the righteous requirements of God’s law completely so no man can ever present his own righteousness to God as some kind of peace offering. No the peace offering was made when Jesus did for sinners on the cross, no other sacrifice for sin can be made. Not piety in any measure either.
Jesus said that “Unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees (the pious people of those days) we shall in no way enter the Kingdom of heaven” Now how may our righteousness exceed the righteousness of the extremely pious and religious people even of our day? It is be seeing and accepting that our righteousness has to be a alien righteousness, a righteousness that comes not from ourselves but from God. It is God who Justifies and God who sanctifies the sinner, from beginning to end. Piety by itself is a train wreck waiting to happen.

It is those who come to Christ and seek Him out as their propitiation, because they see the weight and intense depravity of their human nature and the depth of their sin, who see their need for a savior that come to Him in the right frame of mind and heart. It is then He bestows on them the righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees. Spiritual disciplines have their place but have not inherent saving qualities. A further commentary on Romans 8 that summarizes these thoughts and shows that piety by itself holds no eternal value is this one from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Romans 8.

Believers may be chastened of the Lord, but will not be condemned with the world. By their union with Christ through faith, they are thus secured. What is the principle of their walk; the flesh or the Spirit, the old or the new nature, corruption or grace? For which of these do we make provision, by which are we governed? The unrenewed will is unable to keep any commandment fully. And the law, besides outward duties, requires inward obedience. God showed abhorrence of sin by the sufferings of his Son in the flesh, that the believer’s person might be pardoned and justified. Thus satisfaction was made to Divine justice, and the way of salvation opened for the sinner. By the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us; there is that in all true believers, which answers the intention of the law. The favour of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit, which those that are after the Spirit do mind. Which way do our thoughts move with most pleasure? Which way go our plans and contrivances? Are we most wise for the world, or for our souls? Those that live in pleasure are dead.

1Ti 5:6. A sanctified soul is a living soul; and that life is peace. The carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself. The carnal man may, by the power of Divine grace, be made subject to the law of God, but the carnal mind never can; that must be broken and driven out. —Matthew Henry Concise.

It is not a piety of our own that brings us to holiness and purity of life, a word from Jesus sets the record straight on that one. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matt 5:6 (NASB77)
The Blessedness of a pure and blameless life comes as a gift from God. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. These are purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ, confirmed by the faithfulness of God. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest. Though all desires for grace are not grace, yet such a desire as this, is a desire of God’s own raising, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands.—Matthew Henry Concise.

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Posted April 30, 2010 by Reformed and renewed in Devotional

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