Biographical Texts

By Nathan Brummel

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Contents
Introduction…………………………………………...…..5 Chapter 1 Luther‟s Text: A Key to the Christian Faith…………...…..7 Chapter 2 Jonathan Edwards‟ Text: Sovereign Grace for the Chief of Sinners…………………15 Chapter 3 Augustine‟s Text: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ………..…23 Chapter 4 Spurgeon‟s Text: The Look that Saves…………………...31

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Introduction

The Word of God is powerful. It is like a knife that is able to slice into the depths of the human heart. The Word is a sword that is able to pierce the hardest of hearts. The Holy Spirit wielded the sword of Word in order to save Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Augustine, and Charles Spurgeon. It is good for us to dwell on the power of the Word of God. God sends forth his dynamic Word to accomplish all His purposes. Great Christians of the past are reminders to us of the grace of God. How amazing our God is who can change an Augustine in a moment from an impious man to a saint and suddenly can open Luther‟s eyes to the glories of the gospel! In this booklet we examine four great texts that were used by God to convert Augustine, Luther, and Spurgeon, and to give Edwards a deep sense of the sovereignty of God. These texts are rightly famous because of how God used them in the lives of these champions of the faith. But what exactly do these passages teach? Let us examine these great biographical texts and ascertain the truth in them so that we also can benefit from these messages from God.

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1 Luther‟s Text: A Key to the Christian Faith
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:17

God uses His Word to protect and reform the church. One Scripture that God used powerfully to reform a church fallen into great heresy was Romans 1:17. The Medieval Church taught that faith plus works justified the sinner; and that this justification is an ongoing matter. God used Romans 1:17 to shake the very foundations of an apostate church; and to shake the whole continent of Europe religiously, socially, and politically. God brought about a great Reformation, in the 16th century, when He opened the eyes of Martin Luther to understand the meaning of this text. God used Luther‟s teaching of the truths, in Romans 1:17, to bring about reform in the church—a return to the teaching of the apostles. This verse is a revelation of the heart of the gospel. Merle D‟Aubigne wrote: “This powerful text had a mysterious influence on the life of Luther. It was a creative sentence both for the reformer and for the Reformation. It was in these words God then said, 'Let there be light! And there was light'.” Romans 1:17 deals with the nature of the gospel. It deals with the revelation of the righteousness of God. Things do not get any bigger or more important than this. If you think

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that you have more important or bigger issues in your life, you are deluded. Since we are speaking about high and holy matters, exactness in language and terminology is necessary. Righteousness Credited The gospel reveals that God has credited His righteousness to us believers. Luther at first hated this verse because he thought that the revelation of God‟s righteousness was more bad news. He thought that this referred to God‟s condemning righteousness. The righteousness of God does not mean righteousness as an attribute of God‟s being. It is true that God is righteous. Everything that God does is righteous. He always acts in line with perfect justice. Righteousness means a conformity to God‟s law and God‟s demands. If Christ were merely a revelation of the holiness and justice of God and no more, He would be the most terrifying and alarming news that we could ever discover. It is no wonder that Martin Luther, as a Roman Catholic monk and lecturer in theology, hated this verse when he misinterpreted the righteousness of God to be His holiness and justice. God demands righteousness from us; but we do not have it to give. So, we are guilty, condemned and perishing. Seeing the righteousness of God as God‟s standard of judgment drove Luther to despair. At least Luther was honest with himself about his sinfulness. Many men die thinking they can bring their own righteousness to God. Most people do not even think that they need to strive, like Luther, to accomplish various spiritual feats in order to be righteous before God. They suppose that the way they are living right now is simply enough to get them into Heaven. Luther felt the need to perform more and more good works to become justified. He slept in the cold; and ate little, until his body looked like a skeleton. He also made pilgrimages. He felt the need to confess all of his sins in order to make penance for them. The doctrine of justification, in the Roman Catholic Church, gave Luther torment and fear. He was convinced that he had failed to meet God‟s holy standard. By bitter experience, he knew that he could not be justified by works because he knew the sinfulness of his heart; and the purity of God.
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Luther was giving lectures on the Epistle to the Romans, and when he came to Romans 1:17. He spent much time meditating on the meaning of these words. He was on a quest for inner peace—for peace with God! He writes: “I laboured diligently and anxiously as to how to understand Paul‟s word, in Romans 1:17, where he says that 'the righteousness of God is revealed' in the gospel. I sought long and knocked anxiously, for the expression 'the righteousness of God' blocked the way." He thought that this was a description of the character of God. Later, he continued the thought: “I saw it and I wished always that God had not made the gospel known, because this fuller revelation of the righteousness of God seemed to make me utterly hopeless and helpless, and I did not know what to do with myself; the 'righteousness of God' blocked the way." The first positive thing we can say is that the gospel of Jesus is as much concerned about righteousness as the law was. The gospel of Jesus Christ is as insistent upon man‟s righteousness, in the presence of God, as the law ever was. The gospel does not do away with the law. It is not that God‟s righteousness was easily satisfied. It took the death of Christ. God required an infinitely hurtful consequence for His Son—Christ had to pay for all our sins. He suffered Hell-like punishments. God‟s justice was, strictly speaking, satisfied when Jesus experienced the forsakenness of Hell. Our ultimate problem, as sinners, is the righteous wrath of God. God‟s wrath separates the sinner from Him and casts him into Hell. The gospel is mainly the good news that God Himself has rescued us from the wrath of God. It is true that God demands a righteousness that we do not have. But that is not the gospel. The gospel is that God gives to elect sinners the righteousness that He demands. The gospel is that God has intervened and supplied us with a righteousness that is not our own. As Luther wrestled with Romans 1:17, he came to understand that Paul was writing about a righteousness that God gives to believers. “Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at [Romans 1:17], most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted. At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, 'In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, He who through faith is righteous shall live'. There I began to understand [that] the righteousness of God is…righteousness with which [the] merciful God justifies us by faith”.
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God credits His righteousness to man. God gives us right standing before Him by acquitting us. The quote, from the Old Testament, shows that Paul does not have in mind mainly that God is Himself righteous, but that He imputes or credits His righteousness to man so that man can be just. What we cannot provide on our own, God imputes to us so that we are forgiven and acquitted before Him. We get right standing with God even though we have no righteousness of our own. We get acquitting in God‟s courtroom even though we are in ourselves guilty. God has pronounced us righteous with His own righteousness. The gospel reveals that Jesus purchased a declaration of our right standing before God. It is possible for sinful sons of Adam to stand sinless before God! The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel as a righteousness that is imputed to believers. The gospel reveals that God justifies us so that we are able to stand in His presence. The righteousness of God is what enables us to stand before God, now and in the Day of Judgment. The central purpose of the incarnation was that God might enable us to stand with righteousness, in the presence of God. This is the righteousness of God. The righteousness of Christ is called the righteousness of God to emphasize the quality of this righteousness. It stands in utter contrast to the unrighteousness of man. It is a perfect, divine righteousness. It is a “God-righteousness”. So, this righteousness stands in contrast to any man-righteousness on the part of a sinner. It is a righteousness that the Son of God earned and merited for us. The Lord Jesus satisfied the law of God on our behalf, perfectly and in every sense. The gospel announces that God sent Jesus to be sin for us. It is a righteousness from outside of ourselves. Luther said: “For God does not want to save us by our own but by an extraneous righteousness, one that does not originate in ourselves but comes to us from beyond ourselves, which does not arise on earth but comes from heaven.” God puts to our account the righteousness of Christ— canceling all our debts because Christ paid them. As we grasp these doctrines, we come to see what good news the gospel is. As the hymn says: “Jesus, thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress.” Luther came to understand that the righteousness of God is not God‟s retributive justice but the righteousness freely imputed to the sinner by God‟s sovereign grace, on the basis of Christ‟s substitutionary atonement. The Bible became a book of light and joy
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to him. Luther, at once, ran through the Scriptures with ecstasy, seeing everywhere how this righteousness opened salvation to him. Revealed through Faith Alone God gives the righteousness of Christ to us freely, without money and without price. He justifies us, in spite of the fact that we have done no works to earn it. The Apostle Paul tells us that this righteousness becomes ours “from faith to faith”. The contrast is between faith—a gift of God, and works by which a man merits. Faith stands in contradiction to everything that is meritorious in man. When you trust in Christ you receive an undeserved justification. The best news, in the world, to people who know they are sinners and God is holy is that Christ was sacrificed for His people and that sinners are reckoned righteous through faith. We notice the importance of faith within verses 16 and 17 where, within the space of two verses, the Apostle mentions the idea of faith four times. Obviously this is a vitally important concept. Faith involves spiritual sight. Faith is true belief about who Christ is. Faith is trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Paul does not mean that faith is some kind of a "lighter demand" that God now makes of us—lighter than the law, that is. Faith is simply the instrument by which we receive the righteousness of God. Our faith does not constitute our righteousness. Our faith does not justify us. It is the righteousness of Christ that is the grounds of our justification; and the source is the Sovereign mercy of God, in giving us the free gift of grace. It is nothing but the blood and merit of Christ that justifies us. It is through faith in Christ that the righteousness of Christ comes to us. Paul speaks of the instrumentality of faith. The righteousness of God is revealed— efficiently made known unto justification—only through faith. Trusting, believing faith in Christ is the channel by which justification becomes ours. It is possible for sinful sons of Adam to be free from the frustration of trying to earn righteousness and Heaven. Why does Paul speak of “faith to faith”? (OUT OF FAITH AND INTO FAITH) He means that it is faith, from beginning to end. The combination is rhetorical. It is intended to emphasize that faith and “nothing but faith” can put us into right relationship with God. From start to finish, this righteousness is by faith alone; and that faith is God‟s gift. It is all a matter of sovereign grace, not of works.
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Martin Luther tells us that it was the quotation from Habakkuk that gave him liberty: “As it is written, The just shall live by faith.” That was the actual phrase that opened his eyes. Luther had been trying to work a righteousness according to the law; but now he grasped that Christians were righteous by faith. The point in Habakkuk is that faith is the key to one’s relationship to God. Those who are righteous by faith shall live—they shall go on living through all eternity. So, Luther saw that the righteousness of God is not referring to the attribute of God; rather, it is the righteousness that God credits to believers. What a transformation occurred! From a miserable, legalistic, bead-counting monk, who fasted to merit salvation, he became a herald of the gospel of free grace. We are justified by faith through the mercy of God alone. Being justified by faith, we want to live grateful lives. Luther said that the Christian was at the same time just and sinner. This simultaneous condition refers to how the sinner is counted just because of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, while he remains in himself a sinner. His legal state is innocent. His actual condition is sinner and saint. Before his discovery, Luther thought that he had to be perfectly holy before he could be righteous. Luther did not mean that the sinner, who is still a sinner, is an unchanged person. The Holy Spirit, who gives the gift of faith also sanctifies the believer. Christians inevitably strive for and achieve a level of practical righteousness. When the Bible demands something, do not think: “I must do this to take away my guilt and to get forgiveness and right standing with God.” Rather think: “I will obey God because He has removed my guilt and given me the gift of the righteousness of God.” A Pathway into Paradise When Luther discovered the meaning of Romans 1:17, it was the happiest day of his life. He testified: “Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.” What a happy day it was when Luther discovered that Gods righteousness refers to God‟s verdict that the believer is righteous because of the cross of Jesus. The peace that transcends all understanding now filled Luther‟s mind and heart. His quest for inner peace was ended. He did not have to do anything to be justified. He
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felt like a prisoner who is declared innocent and righteous by the Judge of heaven and earth. Luther‟s joy is ours, as we trust in the same Christ. By a judicial verdict, God has found believers innocent. Have we learned the sum of God‟s Gospel from this text? We, Christians, have a righteousness not our own and one impossible for us to have ever attained. All of our own righteousnesses are not righteousnesses at all, but only filthy rags. Does the fact that we have known, for many years, that God has acquitted us—leave us without a response of joy? Consider your dying moments and how suddenly the doctrine of your justification by grace alone through faith alone will rise up like a mighty mountain of comfort! I pray that we would find, in this verse, a pathway into paradise. Another time, Luther said: “As I had formerly hated the expression 'the righteousness of God' I now began to regard it as my dearest and most comforting word; so that this expression of Paul‟s became to me in very truth a Gate to Paradise.” Is there anything more important than being reconciled to our God? Every day, we need to feed on the wonderful gospel truth that God gives us the righteousness we need. We live by an alien righteousness. We are righteous, not because of our performance, but because of Christ‟s. We need to trust in Christ as Savior and as the One whose righteousness alone will avail us before God. Since we are reconciled to God, we can dwell in loving relationship with God. John Calvin wrote: “In order to be loved by God, we must first become righteous, since he regards unrighteousness with hatred.” By faith, we know that God‟s countenance smiles towards us. The more we understand the gospel, the more we behold God‟s favor more clearly. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote: “And we cannot deal with this without reminding ourselves that it was when he came to understand this that Martin Luther truly became a Christian. It was the understanding of this phrase that really produced the Protestant Reformation. So there is a sense in which we can say that if we as Protestants do not truly understand the 17th verse of the 1st chapter of this Epistle, we are unworthy of the name of Protestant—indeed, it is even doubtful whether we are Christian at all. There is no more vital verse in the whole of Scripture than this 17th verses.”
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Have you appropriated this great text? Do you trust in Christ alone for righteousness? Are you assured that you can survive a judgment in the court of an absolutely holy and just God? Then celebrate the revelation of the righteousness of God from faith to faith.

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2 Jonathan Edwards‟ Text: Sovereign Grace for the Chief of Sinners
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever, Amen. I Timothy 1:17

There are some Scriptures that immediately remind us of an influential Christian in the past. Some verses, in the Bible, are associated with the personal testimony or life of a hero of faith. The favorite verse of David Livingstone, the pioneer African missionary, was Matthew 28:20: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”. If you are aware of American church history, when you read I Timothy 1:17, you will immediately think of Jonathan Edwards and how God used this text to effect a conversion experience. In his memoirs, Jonathan Edwards described how he had rejected the sovereignty of God: “From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God‟s sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life; and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me.” (Memoirs, xii) Have you ever questioned the right of God to elect or reprobate whomever He wants? Have you harbored doubts about the justice of God in predestinating some men to be vessels unto honor
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and others unto dishonor? Have objections risen in your mind against sovereign predestination? God has used this Scripture to remove objections to the doctrine of sovereign predestination in a single moment. This Scripture teaches truths that God can use to transform some from being repulsed by sovereign predestination to being overcome with awe and delight before a God who is Supreme in salvation. Edwards‟ text can only be understood in context. We will look at the context found in verses 12 through 17 so we can understand why the God revealed in I Timothy 1 filled Edwards with amazement and brought him to his knees before a sovereignly gracious Lord. Sovereign Grace for the Chief of Sinners The Apostle Paul describes himself as the chief of sinners. By himself, Saul of Tarsus would never have believed on Jesus; quite the contrary, he happily opposed Jesus as a false messiah. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (Verse 15) Today, the word “sinner” does not have the same connotation as it did in Paul‟s day. We are used to thinking of ourselves as sinners. It is true that, in our culture, many people will not admit that they are sinners because they have never killed someone. The Bible teaches that a sinner is a man who breaks one of the Ten Commandments and is therefore guilty of breaking the whole law. A sinner is a man who disobeys God and therefore incurs guilt and deserves punishment. However, in New Testament times, the word “sinner” was used to refer to a certain class of people. Mankind was divided into two groups “the righteous”— which was tantamount to saying “ourselves” and “sinners” the “riffraff” who “do not know the law.” The Pharisees regarded themselves as righteous people. They thought that they were holy because they rigidly followed ceremonial laws and the traditions of the elders. They kept well away from those whom they viewed as sinners. It was scandalous even to eat with sinners. That is why they were called “Pharisees” which means “the separated ones.” They had a very clear definition of what a sinner was. They were people like tax collectors and harlots. Paul confesses something that a respectable Pharisee would never say. The Apostle Paul is teaching a controversial doctrine,
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when he says that Christ came for sinners. It took a former Pharisee to pour full and terrible meaning into that word “sinner.” Not only is Paul a sinner, but he also says: “of whom I am chief.” The order of the words, in Greek, places the accent on this personal confession: “of whom chief am I”. Paul makes a very humble comparison between himself and other sinners whom Christ came to save. How can Paul say this when he tells us that he had been a strict Pharisee? He feels this tremendous guilt because he persecuted the church of God. Should we agree with Paul‟s estimate of himself? Yes, we may not under-estimate the seriousness of Paul‟s life as a persecutor. God chooses the worst possible specimen of sinners to show the real nature of salvation. What a grave and terrible sin it is to fight against the cause of Christ and to persecute Christians! In I Timothy 1:13, Paul confesses the nature of his sins: “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” Blasphemy is the defamation of God‟s name—a horrendous act and attitude that was punishable by death, in the Old Testament (Lev. 24:16). Paul tells us, in verse 20, that he handed two individuals over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. He tried to force others to blaspheme the name of Jesus. He was the bitterest persecutor of all. Saul was a violent man who showed an outrageous disregard for the welfare of Christians. He breathed out murderous threats against Christians. He was a brutal, implacable, bloody man. It gave him pleasure to see Stephen stoned. He committed outrage upon outrage and was in the act of going to Damascus to arrest Christians! It is a terrible thing to throw God‟s children into prison. John Calvin states: “This passage, which teaches us, that a man who, before the world, is not only innocent, but eminent for distinguished virtues, and most praiseworthy for his life, yet because he is opposed to the doctrine of the gospel, and on account of the obstinacy of his unbelief, is reckoned one of the most heinous sinners.” Although Paul‟s past conduct was frightful, yet, it had not amounted to the sin against the Holy Spirit, which the Bible tells us cannot be forgiven. We notice another thing that surprises us. Paul doesn‟t say— “I was the chief of sinners” but “I am the chief of sinners.” Paul is not guilty of a false humility. The more he understood the magnitude of grace, the more aware he was of his sinfulness. This is the awareness
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of a graced (God-saved) heart. Even a fully pardoned sinner is still a sinner. Paul understood that all his own “righteous” acts were of no more value than filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). In himself, this Saul deserved damnation. He deserved to be struck dead by Christ. The gate of salvation, if this was a matter of strict justice, should have been firmly shut against Saul of Tarsus. Sins of the flesh are terrible but the Apostle Paul also recognizes the gravity of the sins of the mind—pride, jealousy and hatred. No one can escape being called a sinner! Do you know any sinner like yourself? You know your own sins from personal experience. You only know the sins of others from what you see or hear. Can you deny that you know from your own life that you are a great sinner? Sovereign grace was shown to the chief of sinners. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” This 15th verse, in I Timothy 1, is a true and reliable saying. Christ came into the world to save sinners and also the chief of sinners. Paul speaks of the pre-existence of Christ. Christ Jesus came into this world! We see the reality of sin, but also the great reality that Christ came into the world to save sinners. The Lord Jesus poured out grace upon Paul. “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (Verse 14) Look how God acted towards a man who behaved in such a dreadful way towards the early Christians. God had drenched Paul with the blessings of the covenant. Although he had many sins, grace abounded much more. God gave an overflowing supply of grace. God‟s grace is like the water flowing over the Niagara Falls. An artist once submitted an unnamed painting of the Niagara Falls to an exhibition. The gallery came up with the most fitting title: “More to Follow”. Just think, the Niagara Falls has been spilling over billions of gallons per year for thousands of years and yet there is more to follow. So it is with the flood of God‟s grace, in Paul‟s life and ours. No accumulation of sin, by the elect sinner, is so great that grace cannot overflow. Grace increases the more we need it, always allowing more to follow. Christ not only forgave Saul, but also called him to be an apostle. God used him to be a major player in the drama of world evangelization. God showed mercy to him: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy,” (Verse 16a). Thomas Goodwin literally translated
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this, “I was bemercied.” God “mercied” this miserable, self-righteous sinner. Mercy, like grace, is undeserved. God shows mercy to the most unlikely people. God‟s mercy is His sovereign choice to show pity and compassion towards a sinful rebel. God showed mercy to Saul solely because He chose to love him. This was a sovereign act of God. Not one of us is a Christian just because we made a decision to believe in Christ. We are Christians because God chose us in Christ from before the foundation of the world. God‟s salvation cannot be earned. It is free and graciously given to whomever God chooses to give it. The Reason Why God saved Paul Paul tells Timothy why God saved him, the chief of sinners. “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” (Verse 16) Christ selected Paul as a pattern to penitent sinners in the future. His example shows that grace is gracious and grace is sovereignly given. Paul is an example of how God saves the undeserving. Christ died for very sinful sinners. If God could save Paul, then He can save all kinds of people. There is hope for great sinners. In God‟s gallery of grace, the Artist-Savior has drawn a sketch and put it on exhibition. Our eyes see only a rough pencilsketch of the nature of His grace; but this sketch revealed Paul as an illustration or model of that sovereign grace shown to elect sinners. No penitent sinner, however evil his transgressions, is without hope if God saves sinners like Paul. No one, who in faith approaches Christ, needs doubt that he or she will obtain pardon. God saved Paul as a showcase for His unlimited patience: “that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering.” (Verse 16) The word “longsuffering” comes from a compound word literally meaning “long anger”. God is patient with the worst elect sinners. Applied to God, it refers to retributive punishment. It would mean, in this case, that Christ would come to destroy Saul with the breath of His mouth. However, God holds back His wrath and indignation because Saul of Tarsus is an elect sheep for whom Jesus died.
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Saul is an example of a great sinner for whom Christ is patient and merciful. Did any contemporary of Saul provoke Jesus more severely? Behind the mercy of Christ was the wondrous longsuffering that held back judgment when it was long overdue, thus enabling grace to make a convert. The patience of Christ is vast and endless towards His elect. Paul is riveted and focused on Christ‟s incomprehensible longsuffering shown to him. Thomas Bilney was a martyr during the English Reformation. He was known as “little Bilney” because he was short in stature. He wrote: “I chanced upon this sentence of St. Paul in I Timothy 1, “It is a true saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief and principal.” This one sentence, through God‟s instruction and inward working…did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt of my sins, and being almost in despair, that even immediately I seemed unto myself inwardly to feel a marvelous comfort and quietness, insomuch that “my bruised bones leaped for joy”. Bilney was a central figure among the reformers who met at the famous White Horse Inn in Cambridge. Bilney was arrested in 1527 and recanted. He repented of this recantation—and began preaching in 1531—was arrested and burned at the stake. Grace is available for the worst sinner who humbly cries out to God for forgiveness and mercy. We are not justified because of our works. We are justified by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ. If God could and would do this for a man who put Christians in prison, then there is hope for the worst sinners. Are you sometimes so filled with shame about the terrible nature of your sins that you wonder how God can forgive you? Remember the Apostle Paul calling to us across the centuries, “Do not despair sinner. Christ saved me, the chief of sinners—a religious sinner who persecuted Christ himself.” God‟s grace is meant for sinners. This conviction must be ours as well. If God has saved me and you—He can save any elect sinner. Paul’s Doxology Paul was filled with sheer gratitude to God for His grace. What Christ had done for him, in spite of his pre-Christian personal history, results in a burst of thanksgiving. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (Verse 12). This warm outburst of
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gratitude rises to a higher and higher pitch until it ends in a doxology: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Verse 17) Paul was so overwhelmed by the grace of God that he was filled with praise for God. A doxology is an outburst of praise to God. He praises God as the King eternal. God is King: He rules over the universe—it is His fiefdom. He works all things according to the counsel of His will. (Eph. 1:11) He overrules all evil and causing it to turn out for good. Man proposes; God disposes. Man, for instance Saul of Tarsus, may try to destroy the church, but the King eternal will establish it. For His purpose, He will use the very man who tried to destroy it! God is the King of the ages. God exists beyond the limitations of time. But He governs everything that happens in time. He governs every age—He is Lord of history. Paul adores a God who has unlimited Supremacy. The God who saves us is Supreme! Paul adds that God is immortal, that is, imperishable. God‟s nature can never experience corruption. He is not subject to decay. His arms never become tired. The grass, flowers and your body will fade away and decay; but God lives forever. God is invisible. All visible things that we see are perishable. But God, being imperishable, is also invisible. It is only by faith that we can see Him. Never will we be able to find out the Almighty unto perfection (Job 11:7,8). He lives in unapproachable light, never seen, nor ever will be seen by anyone. God is the only wise God. He alone is what He is. This one God is uniquely and incomparably lovable and glorious. He renders foolish and condemns all the wisdom of men. To this God of grace, Paul invokes honor and glory. “Honor” is the rightful esteem deserved by God. “Glory” is recognition of the excellence of all the glorious, shining perfections of God. To all of this, our response should be a thunderous „Amen‟. The doxology ends with a word of solemn assent and emphatic confirmation “Amen”—it is true. It was the Apostle Paul‟s doxology that God used to transform the mind of a youthful Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards writes: “The first instance, that I remember, of … sweet delight in God and divine things, that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory
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for ever and ever. Amen.” (Memoirs, 13). “As I read the words, there came into my soul, … a sense of the glory of the Divine Being….I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven.” “The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.” He never again felt an objection rising in his heart against God‟s supreme right to have mercy upon whom He would have mercy and to harden whom He will. How would this passage free Edwards from objections to God‟s supremacy? This doxology praises God for His exalted Kingship. Such a God as this is sovereign—not man. Such a God has the right, as Potter, to do what He wants with the clay. Edwards saw how Paul was a pattern of a helpless, wicked sinner, to whom God freely and sovereignly shows mercy. John Calvin says that the Apostle Paul “admonishes us all by his example, that we should never think of the grace shown in God‟s calling without being lost in wondering admiration. This sublime praise of God‟s grace swallows up all the memory of his former life. How great a deep is the glory of God!” Our song of grace should end on the same awesome note as Paul‟s.

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3 Augustine‟s Text: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ
Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. Romans 13:13-14

Romans 13:13-14 is best known for the Holy Spirit's effecting work in the conversion of Augustine. If we think about this passage, in Romans, it is evident that it is not, in the first instance, written to unbelievers. Paul is not writing to unconverted people, urging them to become Christians. This part of Romans is written to Christians to explain how they are to live. The Holy Spirit commands us Christians to be converted daily. In other words, this Scripture is about the nature of true conversion. The Heidelberg Catechism tells us that true conversion consists in two parts: “of the mortification of the old, and the quickening of the new man.” (A. 88) In Romans 13, God calls us to kill the old man and to put on the new man. Being saved, we are to advance in sanctification. We are to lay aside our sinful practices. Ongoing change must be seen in our lives. That which is evil and undesirable must be changed. A critical, sullen spirit must be
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changed. A partying lifestyle must be changed. Harshness must be changed. Do you imagine that the Word of God read and preached is weak and powerless? God sovereignly uses texts like this one to convert and radically change a sinner into a saint. This Scripture changed a fornicator into a chaste man. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ We put on the Lord Jesus Christ as we mortify our old man. True conversion has two sides—it is a turning away from sin and a turning to Christ. The Heidelberg Catechism explains: “What is the mortification of the old man? A. It is a sincere sorrow of heart that we have provoked God by our sins, and more and more to hate and flee from them” (Q. 89). The truly converted Christian has a sincere sorrow of heart for his sins. He is sorry that he has angered God by his sins. He has this sorrow because he loves God. Mortifying our old man means that we flee from and hate our sins. The word “mortification” literally means—“to kill” or “to make die”. The old man is our old, sinful nature. Our old man is the filthy source of corrupt lusts. The “flesh” in verse 14 is a reference to this old principle of sin that comes to expression in our bodily members. The flesh consists in the sinful urges of our sinful human nature. It is that sinful nature with all its evil tendencies. It is called “flesh‟ not because sin is physical or because matter as such is evil but because evil has its source in the body. It is in and through our body and organs that sin realizes itself and comes to manifestation in actual life. Sin starts in the heart; but finds a ready instrument in the body—the lustful eye and the gossiping mouth. From this old principle come evil cravings. The operations of the flesh are motivated by hatred for God, self and the neighbor. We must throw off the works of darkness: “let us therefore cast off the works of darkness” (vs. 12). We must flee from our sins. Sins are called “deeds of darkness” because they are often performed in the dark. They are certainly encouraged by the “prince of darkness.” They are the sorts of sins that we like to hide from people. The Apostle Paul gives a command to the Christian. Do not say: I was once converted and did throw off the works of darkness. Still the flesh remains. Always your night-garments must be put off till the very day of your death!
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The motions of our sinful flesh must not find expression in our lives. We still have the old ruts, in the roadbed of our nature, left by the vehicle of our life when it traveled in the direction of sin. These ruts were already cut in the roadbed of our nature before we were born. As we grew up, the ruts became deeper. These sinful motions are a matter of experience for every child of God. These lusts clamor for satisfaction. They have a powerful draw on our life and always call us back to the old ruts. Paul mentions a number of deeds of darkness, in verse 13. They are not a complete list but they are sufficiently representative to show what the apostle has in mind. He warns against “rioting and drunkenness”. Drunkenness is intentional intoxication. The drunken man loses his sense of propriety, becoming silly, boisterous and wicked. “Rioting” could be translated “carousing”. This word was used for wild partying, brawls or even rioting. The next two sins are chambering and wantonness. Chambering is sexual promiscuity. Wantonness is debauchery. “Debauchery” is one of the most ugly words, in the Greek language. It describes someone who acts without restraint. It describes an immoral person who commits shameful actions but feels no shame. It is a flaunting of sexual sin. Paul forbids strife and envying. Here, Paul refers to the envy or lust to shine and be dominant. Strife is contention, bickering and petty disagreement. It reflects a spirit of proud competitiveness that fights to have its own way. It is produced by a lust for prestige and prominence. Envying is jealousy. The phrase describes someone who cannot stand being surpassed and grudges others their success and position. There is a lust for the honor of men. These are fleshly sins that caused deep, partisan divisions in the church at Corinth. Paul rebukes the Roman Christians for their divisiveness and mutual criticisms. (Romans 14:1-15) God commands us to make provision for our needs. If we need fruit for the winter—we freeze blueberries. We make provision so that we have gas in our car for a trip. We make preparations to do a good work. Provision has the basic meaning of forethought, of planning ahead. However, we may not make preparations for committing a sin. The Bible says, make no provision to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Once, while hunting, my father and I found a huge cache of alcohol that some teenagers had hidden under a tree at an acreage without a house. They were planning ahead for a wild party. This is a
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prime example of not only planning ahead but also of listening to our sinful lusts instead of God. Often, before we sin, we do something to create the opportunity to sin. The command is not only to avoid sin, but also avoid committing the sins of preparation. We may not allow wrong ideas or lustful desires to linger in our mind. We are to put on our new man. The Christian has a new principle of life. As we put on the new man, the regenerated heart comes to manifestation in our lives. The Apostle Paul points out what the law of God requires; love! He quotes commandments from the second table of the law and then says: “And if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF” (Verse 9b). Owe every man the debt of love. “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Verse 8). Wherever you go— whomever you meet—you owe love. It is important that we should both pay this debt and always owe it. The Christian will always be a love-debtor, no matter how much he loves. Cultivate a sense of debt. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Verse 10) Paul makes a massive understatement to make a point. “He‟s no fool,” means, “he is very shrewd.” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor” is an understatement that means, “love greatly benefits the neighbor”. According to verse 12, if we are to love our neighbor, we must put something on, namely, the Armor of light. Some translate this: “the arms” of light. We can translate it as “weapons of light.” The reference is to spiritual weapons, which are more clearly identified in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. These are the helmet of salvation and the shield of faith. Putting on our armor includes taking the Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God. In both instances, Paul uses military language. A good soldier does not sleep in on the day of battle. The good soldier exerts himself to the full. He puts on effective armor to protect his life. Mere “garments” of light would be ineffective. We need “arms of light—the whole armor of God” to oppose the operations of the flesh. If darkness indicates depravity, then light certainly spells holiness, joy and love. In the context of Romans 13, the emphasis is on loving actions as being light. Paul says: “Let us walk honestly, as in the day” (Verse 13a). The word “honestly” means “gracefully, becomingly.” Your “walk”
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is your entire life in the midst of the world, with respect to its spiritual-ethical direction. The central positive command, of the Apostle Paul, is: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Verse 14a). This is the gloriously positive side of true conversion. We are to clothe ourselves with Christ Himself. Notice that this command is directed to Christians. We see from the very beginning of the book of Romans, in chapter1: 6-7: “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” that all the elect are included. As Christians, it is true that we have already put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” There is a righteousness that we already have; but there is also a holiness that we should continue to pursue. Putting on Christ means that, by faith, we cling to Christ and His righteousness. We see that this teaches both justification as well as sanctification. It is true that the majority of commands, in this context, focus on sanctification. "Putting on Christ" is daily trusting that we are covered with the white robe of Christ‟s righteousness, by faith. Justification is Christ's work of making us right with God. We are to embrace Christ again and again. Sanctification is that work of Christ whereby we grow in knowledge and the right way of the Christian life; this is Paul's principal thinking here. When Satan reminds us of our past failings and our tendency to sin, we must remind ourselves of our standing with God. Ray Stedman paraphrases what Paul is saying like this: “Put on Jesus Christ when you get up in the morning. Make him a part of your life that day. Intend that He go with you everywhere you go, and that He act through you in everything you do. Call upon His resources. Live your life IN CHRIST.” (Cited by Hughes) We must constantly put on Christ, day by day. Put on Christ so that His mind can direct our every thought and dominate every desire. Christ is the embodiment of our weapons! Herman Hoeksema states: “Think Him; will Him; desire Him; be like Him; speak as He spoke; act as He acted in relation to God, to men, to all things!” We put on Christ as we meditate on Him. By faith, contemplate Christ, gaze at Him with delight as He is revealed in the Scriptures. So we are called to a practical day-by-day, repeated, putting on of Christ.

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A Matter of Urgency “Save me, but not yet!” These are the infamous words of Augustine. He heard Ambrose expositing the Bible in the church in Milan. He began to have a deeper understanding about the nature of Christianity and what the gospel of Christ was all about. He began to read the Bible. However, he prayed: “Grant me chastity and continency, but not yet." because he was afraid that God would hear him and deliver him from sin. He tells us that his old man said in reference to his sins: “Thinkest thou, thou canst live without them?” Have you heard reports from Christians who have turned away from the sin that you still savor? Let the example of others inspire you to cry out: “Deliver me, now!” Do not say “Presently, presently” or “In a little while.” Do not put off putting on! It is high time to awake. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11a). The word for “time” denotes the quality or kind of time. The kind of time that we are in is the last days. Because of the critical time in which we live and the tremendous issues at stake— nothing less than to glorify God forever in heaven or to suffer forever with Satan in Hell awaits us. Paul urges all of us to throw off the works of darkness. While we have the opportunity to do so, we must shake off spiritual lethargy and love your neighbors and serve God in all things. Paul employs the figure of a sleeper, still slumbering, clad in his pajamas—but it is time to awake. MacArthur writes: “The imagery here pictures a soldier who has been engaged in a night orgy and drinking bout and, still clad in the garments of sin, has fallen into a drunken sleep. But the dawn is approaching and the battle is at hand. It is time to wake up, throw off the clothes of night, and put on the battle gear.” In a number of aspects of your life—you are like that soldier. It is time to rouse yourself from beds of sin. It is time to hate your sins, to fight them and to mortify your old man. Now is the time to take off your spiritual night-garments, the works of sin and the operations of the flesh that still remain in the old nature. The time of salvation is nearer: “for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”(Verse 11b) Some Christians might be puzzled that Paul places “salvation” in the future for believers. We see however, that Paul regularly uses “salvation” to refer to the
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believer‟s final deliverance from sin and death. Some say that Paul had a wrong conception of the nearness of that day. We, who honestly holds the Scriptures to be inerrant, never think that Paul was confused. This day is actually near—throughout the entire new dispensation. Nearer, still nearer, always near it is in our own day. We do not know how much sand remains in the top of the Lord‟s “hour glass” of human history. Paul makes an appeal to eschatology—the doctrine of the end times. He appeals to the return of Jesus Christ making it an incentive to holy living. This appeal is understandable when we remember that Jesus is coming to reward His servants. The next great event in salvation history is the return of Jesus Christ. Nineteen centuries have passed since Paul exhorted Roman Christians to wake up. The night is far spent and the day is at hand. The day of Christ is at hand. It is the day of final salvation. The dawn is arriving. When the hour strikes and the fullness of time arrives, then Jesus will return in judgment. There will be the sound of the last trump to announce the end of the night and the beginning of the never-ending day! The knowledge of the day and its nearness and the advanced hour of the night are an incentive to walk in that day. Needed Power It was because of the powerlessness of Augustine‟s will to choose to live a holy life that he hesitated to “die to death” or “live to life.” Augustine felt powerless to trust in Christ and turn away from his pet sins. “The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my ancient mistresses, still held me; they plucked my fleshly garment, and whispered softly, 'Dost thou cast us off? And from that moment shall we no more be with thee forever? And from that moment shall not this or that be lawful for thee for ever?'” (134) So the teacher of rhetoric threw himself down beneath a fig tree, weeping, with his heart crying out: “O Lord, how long? How long, Lord, wilt Thou be angry, for ever? Remember not our former iniquities?...Why not now? Why not is there this hour an end to my uncleanness?” (135) It was then that God used Romans 13, not just to sanctify Augustine, although he did use it for that, but also to work faith in his heart for the first time. “So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighboring
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house a voice, as of a boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, “Take up and read; Take up and read.” He interpreted this to be a command from God to open the book of Romans. “I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh.” “No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away.” (136) He went and told his mother, who leaped for joy and blessed God, “Who is able to do above that which we ask or think.” God uses His Word in what we would call unexpected ways. God can use this passage for a first time conversion. Christ also uses this Word to sanctify us. There is power in the commands of the Word, through the Spirit of Christ. Laziness and nagging can be changed. Excessive T. V. watching or addiction to gambling can be changed. The lack of prayer and coolness in worship can be changed. Living in the sin of adultery, stealing, coveting or lying can be changed. Augustine was changed from a man who kept a concubine and a fornicator to a man who, by the Spirit, lived a chaste and single life from his early 30‟s. The Holy Spirit powerfully sanctifies us through the Word. It is exactly Spirit-worked love, this alone, that is sufficiently powerful to cause a person to remove all obstacles and to love his neighbor even though he is perhaps not a pleasant person! It is love that is not easily angered and that does not keep record of wrongs. Such love has its origin in God who is love. By the Holy Spirit‟s power, we are to advance in holiness. John Calvin says: “Now to put on Christ, means here to be on every side fortified by the power of His Spirit, and be therefore prepared to discharge all the duties of holiness; for thus is the image of God renewed in us, which is the only true ornament of the soul.”

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4 Spurgeon‟s Text: The Look that Saves
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. Isaiah 45:22

Look to God for Salvation It was a snowy, wintry day. In His providence, God uses snowstorms for the good of His elect. An unconverted teenager, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was warned by his parents about walking all of the way to the church he normally attended. The teenager had visited a good number of churches in the area. The burning question in his mind was: How can I, a sinner be saved? In the various churches that he attended, he never heard his question answered. His mother recommended that he attend a small primitive Methodist church close to his home. Spurgeon did not have a car with a heater, since cars had not yet been invented. He did not even have a horse to ride. Since he needed to walk to church, he went to the nearby church. God‟s mercy is sovereign. He saves whom He will. The young man felt enslaved by the bondage of sin. Seeking rest, and finding none, he stepped out of the wind and snow into a little church. Inside it was cold. There was a small crowd—some 12 people. But the sinful young man was concerned lest God‟s fierce wrath should consume him. An unknown, unlettered preacher announced his text as Isaiah 45:22 and proceeded to speak on needing to look to God for salvation.
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Observe the audacity of Isaiah. Faced with all the famous and supposedly mighty gods of the ancient world, gods whose worshippers walked across the Fertile Crescent conquering one people after another, Isaiah proclaims Jehovah alone as God. In fact, the worshipers of the false gods better prepare for destruction. Their gods will fail them. The true God of Israel will punish idolaters. Yet, in the face of God‟s judgment on idolaters, there is a call for the Gentiles to look to the God of the Jews, their Creator. The plain, unknown, faithful preacher did not have much to say that wintry Sunday. Spurgeon records: “He had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, and there was nothing needed—by me, at any rate—except his text. I remember how he said, 'It is Christ that speaks: I am in the garden in an agony, pouring out my soul unto death; I am on the tree, dying for sinners; look unto me! Look unto me!‟ That is all you have to do. A child can look. One who is almost an idiot can look. However weak, or however poor, a man may be, he can look; and if he looks, the promise is that he shall live.'” Then the preacher pointed to Spurgeon and said: “That young man there looks very miserable.” He said: “There is no hope for you, young man, or any chance of getting rid of your sin, but by looking to Jesus.” He shouted: “Look! Look, young man! Look now!” Spurgeon walked home in the snow. It was lying deep and more was falling. The words of David kept ringing through his heart: “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” It seemed to young Spurgeon “as if all of nature was in accord with that blessed deliverance from sin which I had found in a single moment by looking to Jesus Christ.” God used this Scripture to enable Charles Spurgeon to trust in Christ. Spurgeon says: “I looked unto the Lord, and found salvation, through this text.” The Faith Look God says: “Look unto me, and be ye saved” (Isa. 45:22a). What does it mean to look to God? What must the sinner do to be saved? The answer is simple: Look to Jesus Christ in faith. This is the look of faith. John Calvin says: “Now, we must “look to him” with the eye of faith, so as to embrace the salvation which is exhibited to all through Christ.” The eye of faith perceives that Jesus is the Passover
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Lamb. He is the Ransom. He is Mediator of the covenant. Christ is the Crucified One who paid for all the sins of His people. To look to God is to look to Him—believing His revelation about Himself in the sacred Scriptures. To look is to believe in the Holy Trinity. It is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, in human flesh. This look of faith is a look of trust. It is trusting in Jesus Christ for full and complete forgiveness of sins. To look to Jesus is to trust in His merits and blood for salvation. It is to trust wholly in Jesus—clinging to His merits. This look brings life. That look, in the Old Testament story of the Israelites in the Sinai desert, brought back life too. God punished the Israelites for their murmuring by sending fiery serpents that bit them. People were dying. God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and to set it on a pole. When a snake bit a person, he could look to the bronze serpent and be saved. All it took was a look. So it is with salvation. Jesus tells us, that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must He be lifted up. Being lifted up, He will draw His people to Him. How simple the way of salvation is! God does not tell us that we must do a hundred things or even seven things. In II Kings 5, we read the story about Naaman, who had to wash in the Jordan seven times to be cleansed of leprosy. But the sinner needs to look in faith only once to Christ and he is fully cleansed. The way of salvation is so simple, because justification is by faith alone. Just because the way of salvation is simple does not mean that it is easy. It is impossible for willful, blind, fallen man to look to Christ. Jesus had to say that no one could come to Him, unless the Father draws him. Paul wrote that we are naturally dead in sin. The good news of the Bible does not teach that one is justified because one does certain good works. We are dead in trespasses and sins. Looking is the opposite of trying to do good works to be saved. Three little words describe how the sinner is saved: “Look unto me.” The Bible is gloriously simple. The Bible does not use complex language: God plainly and simply says: “Look unto me!” Looking to God involves turning your eyes from other sources, persons or things that you presently trust. To look to God is to turn to Him. The original Hebrew carries the idea of turning your head so that you can see something or someone. The Hebrew verb does not exactly correspond to the English word “look”, but refers to turning around to look in a different direction. To look to God is to turn away from worshipping idols.
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In the New Testament, Paul wrote: "For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1:9). Calvin writes: “We are here reminded also what is the true method of obtaining salvation; that is, when we “look to God,” and turn to him with our whole heart.” The clear implication is that by nature we are looking away from God and Christ. Not only do we sin—our life is devoted to purposely doing the opposite of what God says—but we also naturally look away from God. When someone is truly converted, he turns away from trusting in the creature and trusts in the Creator. Look unto Whom? God does not say: “Look to your religious leader: your minister or your priest.” You cannot look to your church attendance or church membership or the fact that you were baptized. God does not say: “Look to yourself.” No man can justify himself. Do not dream of trusting in your own merits. After God's faithful calling and leading, Spurgeon became a great scholar and teacher of God's word. He preached: “Indeed, you have none to trust in; a spider‟s web is more substantial than the flimsy, fancied merits of the best man under heaven.” Later, Spurgeon entitled two different sermons on this text: “The Life Look” and “Life for a look.” A common trick of Satan‟s is to make men look at their own faith instead of looking unto Jesus. Satan asks: "Do you have the right kind of faith?" God calls us to turn our eyes off ourselves and look unto Him. God says: “Look unto me.” For salvation, you must look to God alone. Look to the God whose grace is so great that it is a bottomless, boundless ocean that can swallow up and cover even great mountains of guilt. In moments of peril, even wicked men cry to God for help. But the greatest peril facing mankind is Hell; and therefore, if a man knows his greatest peril he will look to God for salvation. From Calvary‟s summit, the cry comes: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” You need to look at the Holy Trinity as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. If you simply look to the God revealed in nature, you will know that God is great
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and that He exists, but you will find no comfort. You need to look to the Word, who is revealed in the plain words of the Bible. You must look unto God as He reveals Himself in the person and work of His dear Son. You need to look to God in Christ to find pardon for sin. Who can pardon an offense except the person who was offended? God is the one whom you have offended. If you want pardon for your sins, it is evident that it can only come to God through Christ. Acts 4:12 states: “For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” No healing for sick sinners can be found but the healing medicine that flows from the hands, the feet, and side of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Look, then, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Look to Calvary‟s victim. Look to Joseph of Arimathea‟s empty tomb. Look to the One who sits on the right hand of the Father, crowned with light and immortality. The sinner who looks in faith to Christ is instantaneously saved. The moment a sinner trusts in Christ, at once He receives full salvation through Jesus‟ blood. One moment, a man or child can be guilty with a guilty conscience and the next moment He is innocent and righteous. He can be on the wide road that leads to Hell, and then suddenly, he is placed on the narrow path. That look alone brings life. Have your eyes been opened so that you look to Jesus for righteousness and forgiveness. The time to look to the Lord is now. God‟s Word says: “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” There is not a single precept in the Bible requiring the sinner to repent and believe tomorrow or next week. The present time is the only time you have. The past is past. The future may never come. Having looked to Jesus and been justified, keep your eyes on Him. Continue to trust in Him. We need to be like Peter—living constantly with our eyes on Jesus. Daily we need to look to Him for strength and hope and comfort. Who Must Look? God promises that the person who looks to Christ for salvation will surely be saved. “But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end” (Isa. 45:17). God promises that every believer will be saved. The last verse of Isaiah 45 states: ”In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” The reference is to the true Israel taken out of the whole human race. The reference is not to
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the historical entity Israel, for not all of the historical Israel had faith. The reference is to the Israel of God, the true believers in Israel who are joined by those from the Gentiles who look to God in Christ. Looking in depth, we ask: "Who must look to God for salvation?" The answer is simple: “the ends of the earth”—everyone! People from every ethnic group who live on the farthest expanse of the globe must hear the call. This is a universal call. The external call of the gospel is to be proclaimed everywhere. This message is addressed to the Gentiles—to the nations at the very ends of the earth. The external call is comprehensive. God, as Creator God, has the right to call every man to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. This is the content of the gospel message that is to be proclaimed promiscuously, far and wide. "The ends of the earth" means sinners around the world, who are staggering about in their sin. The nations have been looking, first to one thing and then to another, for salvation. They have looked to great conquerors or great rulers. From some of the declarations of God in Isaiah 45, it might seem that the Gentile world had nothing to expect but perdition. God threatened:“They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols” (Isaiah 45:16). There will be judgment for all rebels—every knee will be forced to bend and acknowledge that God is the one true God. God cuts down the pride of unbelieving Jews when He calls upon the ends of the earth to look. Salvation is not the sole preserve of the Israelites whose God is the Lord, in the Old Testament. Since Jehovah is the sole God of the whole world, He also is going to save a church out of the whole world. While salvation was for a time mostly confined and restricted to the physical descendants of Abraham, now men from every nation are called to believe in Jesus. Many Jews, in Jesus' day, wanted nothing to do with Gentile dogs looking to Christ to be saved. When the Jews, as a people, rejected the Messiah, God called the Gentiles to worship the King of the Jews. God‟s purpose in salvation was not to deliver some Jews or just a few isolated individuals of the fallen race, but to save a great number of the elect out of all the nations of the world. Although the verb is plural, and although the subject is found in the expression “ends of the earth”, the reference is to men individually. A stress rests upon individual conversion. Each person must himself look to Christ for life.
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The call to look to God is in the imperative. This emphasizes the responsibility that every man has to obey God. Although God commands men to look to Him, it does not follow that all who hear the command have the ability to obey. Man, the creature, has the responsibility of obeying; even though, as a result of the Fall, he is unable to obey God. Here, we need to add to the external call, that internal call of the Holy Spirit. He works in the hearts of elect sinners by giving the gifts of faith and believing. Then only can we look to Jesus for salvation. So, the “ends of the earth” who must repent and look to God include all men everywhere who are called to faith in Jesus Christ. Why Look? The purpose of looking to God is to find salvation. Jesus alone must be believed in, trusted in and worshipped because He is the one true God—He is God and God alone. God says: “for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22c). God tells a future Persian king, Cyrus: “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me” (Isa. 45:5). Cyrus later claimed that his Persian gods gave him victory in battle. Even though the Assyrians were on the rampage and the Chaldeans grasped after dominance on the world scene, neither Bel, Nebo nor any of the alleged idol gods were real. They were fakes, with devils lurking behind them receiving the sacrifices. God rejects any form of polytheism. There are not multiple gods in the world. Jehovah is the only God in existence. “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:6). God has taught pagan kings that He alone is God. Proud King Nebuchadnezzar, who bragged that he has built great Babylon, was taught this. God punished him by making him walk on all fours, eating grass like an ox. God is the one true God—the Creator. If we could conceive of a time before time began, when God lived alone, having not yet created anything, we would have one of the most stupendous ideas of God. There was a time when the sun had never shone. Before the stars twinkled in dark space, when the vast universe was still an idea in the mind of God, yet there was God. Although no angels yet existed and
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before mighty archangels flashed like lightning as they quickly obeyed His will, yet He gloriously existed. Before the planet earth was created without form and void, God was, and God is. He is from everlasting to everlasting. “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” (Isa. 45:12). The one true God governs all things. He even ordains evil: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isa. 45:7). It has always been one of the purposes of the Sovereign Potter to teach His creatures that He is God, and beside Him there is none else. How impudent of creatures who are so far below God to aim for His throne! “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? Or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isa. 45:9) Lucipher imagined that he could be god. Our first father and mother supposed that they could become like God, knowing good and evil. Today, bookstores are filled with author's writings that proclaim we are gods. Beware! The Bible tells us that even the devils know there is one God and tremble. God is bending the history of this world to make the point that beside Him there is none else. God will get Himself the glory that He alone deserves. God teaches idolaters that He is God, and beside Him there is none else. “They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols” (Isa. 45:16). The great sin, ever since man fell, has been that of idolatry. Men make great sacrifices and spend vast sums upon their idol temples; but salvation cannot come through false gods. Think for a moment: Where are the gods that the Pharaoh's worshipped so diligently? Where are the gods that the Ninevite‟s bowed before? They are buried under mounds of earth and burrowed around by gophers and moles. Otherwise, some are erected in museums where the visitor can laugh because people once trembled before a statue. Spurgeon, in a sermon, asks, “Where are the gods of Persia?” He pointed out that the fire-worshipper has almost disappeared. Where are the gods of Greece and Rome who were worshipped with so many hymns? They are forgotten. God has gotten unto Himself the victory over false gods and taught their worshippers that He is the one true God, and that beside Him there is none else. Even the most noted idols still worshipped today—like Buddha or
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Vishnu—will soon be burned with fire, for God will teach all men that He alone is God. Sinners who need salvation must look to God because God alone is Savior. “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” (Isa. 45:15) Salvation must come from God alone. Apart from God, we are helpless and hopeless. The gods of the nations cannot save. “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations; they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save” (Isa. 45: 20). Only the arm of the Omnipotent can give us spiritual life. God‟s mercy is sovereign. He saves whom He wills. Spurgeon pointed out that only the Omnipotent can lift the great load of sin off your shoulders. You need God to save you and to have mercy on you. God is the sole Savior of Jews and Gentiles. Jesus Christ is Jehovah Salvation. Israel‟s only Savior is also the only Savior in the whole world. Nothing can cleanse you but the blood of Jesus Christ. “And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me” (Isa. 45:21). Jesus is Savior because He was the substitute for His people. God is a Savior whose salvation is not at the expense of His justice. Salvation is accomplished by the satisfaction of God‟s justice. Therefore, God can extol Himself as righteous and just in all His works.

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