Monday, August 29, 2011

The Gospel bottom line - not by any works...

In his book "What Is Faith" J. Gresham Machen wrote:
  • The man who has felt the burden of his sin roll away at the sight of the Cross, who has said of the Lord Jesus, "He loved me and gave Himself for me," who has sung with Toplady: "Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling"-- that man knows in his heart of hearts that the Apostle is right, that to trust Christ only for part is not to trust Him at all, that our own righteousness is insufficient even to bridge the smallest gap which might be left open between us and God, that there is no hope unless we can safely say to the Lord Jesus, without shadow of reservation, without shadow of self-trust: "Thou must save, and Thou alone." (p. 194)
The affirmation of the gospel's bottom line, the simple truth that cuts against the grain of the pride of our own works, can be found in Romans 4:
  • 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
Faith offers nothing to God. If it did, it would be a work and thus anything received would be that which was owed to it. Rather, faith simply trusts in Christ, receiving that which man needs but cannot supply, i.e. perfect works of righteousness that meet the standard of God's holy law. In not counting our many sins against us, God declares us righteous by faith apart from any works done by us. The securing of our salvation is (thankfully) out of our hands. We need salvation, not renovation. We look not to our works as a means of entrance into salvation nor as a surety to retain that salvation. It is all of grace, and our only glorying and boast is in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, who bore the penalty of our sins upon the cross. And yet, there are good works in our lives. But these works are not evidences of any inherent righteousness within us now. Rather our good deeds, though imperfect, are acceptable offerings to God through faith and flow forth as a grateful response to grace bestowed, the fruit of trust in Christ alone.

More from J. Gresham Machen in "What Is Faith" -
  • "That is the centre of the Christian religion--the absolutely undeserved and sovereign grace of God, saving sinful men by the gift of Christ upon the cross. Condemnation is earned by men; salvation is given by God" ( p.194).
  • "If our salvation depended upon what we have done, then, according to Paul, we should still be bondslaves; we should still be endeavouring feverishly to keep God's law so well that at the end we might possibly win His favour. It would be a hopeless endeavour because of the deadly guilt of sin; we should be like debtors endeavouring to pay, but in the very effort getting deeper and deeper into debt. But as it is, in accordance with the gospel, God has granted us His favour as an absolutely free gift; He has brought us into right relation to Himself not on the basis of any merit of ours, but altogether on the basis of the merit of Christ. Great is the guilt of our sins; but Christ took it all upon Himself when He died for us on Calvary. We do not need, then, to make ourselves good before we become God's children; but we can come to God just as we are, all laden with our sins, and be quite certain that the guilt of sin will be removed and the we shall be received. When God looks upon us, to receive us or to cast us off, it is not we that He regards but our great Advocate, Christ Jesus the Lord. // Such is the glorious certainty of the gospel. The salvation of the Christian is certain because it depends altogether upon God; if it depended in lightest measure upon us, the certainty of it would be gone. Hence appears the vital importance of the great Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone; that doctrine is at the very centre of Christianity" (p. 200).

1 comment:

  1. Amen, brother. Grace, sweet grace, and nothing more.spingu