Saturday, March 31, 2012

Christianity and Liberalism, a short review...

Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen

When J. Gresham Machen wrote Christianity and Liberalism (152 pages) in 1923 it was more than just a straightforward presentation of biblical Christianity. It was an expose´ of the liberal doctrinal drift in the Presbyterian Church. And, it was a clarion call for a return to the centrality of the “message” of the gospel as that which uniquely makes the Church Christian. When Machen published this little but powerful book it was received by many as controversial. He not only took issue with those who were distancing themselves from historic Christianity, but he defined their liberal teachings as “another religion,” fundamentally different from the true Christian faith. It was a doctrinal call-to-arms and his message remains not only relevant today, but necessary.

The book is divided into six chapters: Doctrine, God and Man, The Bible, Christ, Salvation, and The Church. Machen defines Christianity not as a moral way of life, an experience of God, or a means of the betterment of man. Rather, Christianity is about an event, something that happened in history. And it is about the meaning of that event. Throughout the book, Machen reinforces the good news that Jesus died to save sinners as the essence of the religion of the Bible.

Machen, as did the Reformers, calls men and women back to the message of Paul and the other apostles.  It is the liberating message of the “blessed gospel of the Cross” which announces that God saves the ungodly apart from any works of their own. Indeed, it is by His grace alone through faith alone in our Savior Christ Jesus that we are both found and kept. Those who take the time to read Christianity and Liberalism will find clarity and comfort in Machen’s words as well as a convincing case for “another Reformation in God’s good time.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Church banners...

Here's what I think would make a great banner to hang out in front of a church.  Granted, it's too long, but it beats most of the trite sayings or verses that one usually sees... maybe just the first sentence?


Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners.  You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins.  No, no!  That would not be good for us.  He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in a grand total.
-from Martin Luther's letter to Spalatin.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Law - Gospel - Law...

Not only the content of preaching, but the order of the content is important... indispensable.  J. Gresham Machen, in Christianity and Liberalism, wrote,
The consciousness of sin was formerly the starting-point of all preaching, but today it is gone... Christianity is the religion of the broken heart.... it begins with the consciousness of sin.  Without the consciousness of sin, the whole gospel will seem to be an idle tale. (pp. 56-57)
How often is the first use of the Law employed in a sermon to impress upon believers an awareness of God's holiness, his just demands, and how far they have fallen short due to their very real sin?  Machen, it seems, would say that if the gospel is to have its intended effect as Good News, then it is necessary for a consciousness of sin, the bad news, to precede that of the free mercy in Christ Jesus offered to undeserving sinners.

Likewise if the third use of the law (admonishing and directing grateful believers in a righteous direction for living) is preached without first presenting the message of the Law, followed by the proclamation of the gospel - Jesus as the One who died and bore the penalty of our falling short, raised from the dead for our justification (his righteous obedience credited to us) - then, rather than directing and guiding, it takes on a subtle, foreboding tone of demand for obedience.

This often occurs when the Law - God's demand for holiness and his condemnation of sin - and the Gospel - God's remedy in the provision of a Savior for sinners - are assumed in a sermon.  They may be implicitly mentioned, but not explicitly proclaimed as God's two words in Scripture that are the foundation of the redemptive story.  But my people already know the teaching that they're sinners and that Jesus died for them!  So then, sermons that bypass Law and Gospel message are often reduced to biblical admonitions to obey and trust sprinkled with promises of God's grace and faithfulness. The intention is to encourage believers to live in a manner worthy of their Lord.  And yet the message too often received is a sermon-exhortation of soft law-demands.
-- 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gospel and third use of the law...

What about preaching and the 3rd use of the law? Whatever your thoughts, can we not let the final word of the sermon be the comfort of the gospel for the sheep as they head out into their week? Too often the sermon's 3rd-use-of-the-law exhortation given by preachers as the final word, subtly or not, clouds the good news that (hopefully) was just given. I think this is due, in part, to the fact that we sheep most naturally hear with ears of law and merit-works and not faith with gratitude. Also, it's partially due to the preacher's desire to get practical and make application of the sermon through appeals to responsibility and faithfulness. The law is just so practical.   

But the admonition of law, as it's sometimes presented, unfortunately can turn the believer back onto himself as he looks to find the resolve and faithfulness necessary to respond.  What lurks just underneath the earnest desire of that believer to obey is the uncomfortable knowledge that his obedience just doesn't measures up. Simply read of Paul's experience as a Christian in Romans 7.  Yet, isn't the good news that... we no longer need to measure up?  Indeed, our daily falling short, instead of being the mark of our disqualification, is declared to be our continuing qualification for forgiveness and acceptance by God - without any accompanying deserving works.  There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

Jesus' shed blood cleanses the failed works of his people - and his perfect life lived, credited to their persons, measures up in every way.  It is that free and unmerited grace of God in Christ that remains - daily, yearly, and eternally - irrevocably effective.  And the means of knowing and re-knowing that amazing grace is found and held, as always, through simple trust in Him.
So, I would propose that the last word from the pulpit, after the final admonition, be that the preacher bathe the saints once again in the free mercy of God found only in the news that Jesus died to save sinners.  That is the sermon application that is always necessary, effectual, and practical for the saints as they go out into the world to live and obey in Christ.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Needed... more grace?

At Old Life, Darryl Hart has a post with this comment of his:
... the way to blur law and gospel is by sneeking grace into the relationship. If the law is gracious (which it is in a sense), then it must be salvific. But then there is Paul’s stop sign, the law is not of faith. Must be a different kind of grace.
What the law-is-gracious crowd forget is that Rome says salvation is entirely gracious — good works and all.   
The language of grace clarifies nothing. In some cases it obscures, as in “grace before the fall.”
This got me to thinking about the thrust of so many sermons that are preached today. Too often when Christian living and good works are exhorted from the pulpit, I hear grace invoked as some kind of seasoning or spice that enables the believer to think, speak, and act as God intends. As in: Jesus died for you sins. You’re now forgiven and have his Spirit. So, relying on the grace that he gives, go out and love your neighbor as yourself… The gospel is functionally reduced to “grace added” and gets presented as a means to an end kind of thing, something given in order that you can do it, i.e. live as God teaches in his law.

But we're not in need of mere renovation by grace.  Our problem is not that we're lacking some missing ingredient with which we could live a holy life.   The gospel isn't an offer of  grace with which to turn our lives around.  Rather, the gospel is God's personal and merciful response to the unyielding verdict of the law.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.  Now that no man is justified by the law before God, is evident: for, The righteous shall live by faith; and the law is not of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them.  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal.3:10-114)
Yet moral law-keeping as that which we can and need to do leads us back in the direction of that curse.  But you'll say, "Jesus has saved us from the curse of the law.  He bore the curse in our place."  Indeed he did!  And yet, too many sermons relegate that good news to the status of a past historical event.  Something to rejoice in and be thankful for, but now it's our turn.  Our job now, it seems, is to depend on present grace supplied in order to get on with the business of moral law-keeping.  But aren't we supposed to live holy lives?  Yes!  But the problem comes in when the implicit (or explicit) understanding is that, redeemed from the curse of the law, we now can live up to the law.  Grace offered is invoked as a means to that end.  If only we trust and believe more, then by grace we can live as we ought...

But there's a problem and the problem is us!  Still sinners, we keep getting in the way of our own renovation project.  Where is one to turn?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Law, Gospel, and Tullian at "the given life"

There's an excellent review of Tullian Tchividjian's little book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything, written by Laura Rosenkranz (who happens to be my daughter) at the given life.  It's a helpful addition to the discussion surrounding this little book, as Laura focuses on the disagreement that some have with Tullian, by unpacking the Law/Gospel distinction:
In Jesus + Nothing = Everything, Tchividjian (in the good company of Calvin, Luther, and many others) makes a clear distinction between the imperative and indicative, the law and the gospel. This distinction is often criticized as if the distinction itself creates an antithesis or an opposition, as if there is embedded in this distinction the further claim of LAW = bad/anti-gospel and GOSPEL = good/ anti-law.
However, the relationship between law and gospel, as understood by those who would insist on a clear distinction between the two, would be better stated as LAW = God's good, righteous and holy standard and GOSPEL = God's free gift of Jesus, the perfect fulfillment of the holy standard.
Laura writes that at the core of the accusation of antinomianism leveled against Tullian is a conflation of Law and Gospel:
Gospel fulfills law, it doesn't replace it or oppose it. What is important is to understand the relationship between these two good things given by God, and not to either conflate them into one thing or set them in opposition to each other. When law and gospel are not understood as distinct from each other, the result is usually a weakened law--a standard that we think we can fulfill, and also a weakened gospel--Jesus plus something (that we do) equals everything. Tchavidjian goes to great lengths to keep law and gospel distinct in his book. 
She sums up near the end of her review:
Clearly, Tchavidjian sees growth in maturity, and struggling against sin as desirable realities in the Christian life. And clearly he upholds God's law as a good guide for Christian living. The accusation that he advocates a kind of anti-nomianism is unfounded, arising from a misunderstanding of the law/gospel distinction and the relationship between resting in the gospel and following God in obedience....
The bottom line of my comments here: I encourage those who would seek a fuller understanding of the gospel and of the freedom they have in Christ to read Jesus + Nothing = Everything. You may just find yourself resting in the gospel a little more fully and struggling toward obedience a little more faithfully.
Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Word & Sacrament - Gospel Sanctification

My concern is for the many out there (including myself), the often confused and wondering, asking... how do we live this Christian life?  If you haven't struggled with this, then you're not paying attention to your own conscience and how you fall short of true holiness every single day...

Continuing with sanctification.... I asked a number of questions in this article that could be summed up simply as, "How does the Holy Spirit sanctify the redeemed in the course of their earthly sojourn?"  Depending on one's school of theological presuppositions, that can be answered in different ways.  For the Deeper Life folks sanctification occurs through experiencing the inward Christ, i.e. a mystical encounter.  Others may hold to the idea of sanctifying merit through good works aided by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. Both these and other like approaches, unfortunately, turn one's eyes inward and away from Christ crucified as offered in the gospel.

What is so striking to me is that when sanctification is discussed it is almost always in the context of the believer's individual walk with the Lord, alone... out there in the world, by himself. Though that's a part of the picture, it is incomplete, for ... Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph.5:25-27).  When Christians gather for worship on the Lord's day, it is then and there that God meets them, ministers to them, nourishes and cleanses them unto sanctification by his Word and Sacrament.  That intersection of heaven and earth the bruised reeds whom he has chosen can take to the bank!

In the Old Testament there were daily sacrifices of a lamb, morning and evening, for cleansing and purging the sins of the covenant people of Israel.  And on the Sabbath day those sacrifices were doubled!  Those doubled sacrifices pointed forward to the fulfillment and efficacy of Jesus' cleansing blood for the sanctification of the people of God as offered in Word and Sacrament each Lord's day.  No striving.  No need to produce sinless works.  No mystical experiences to acquire.

On that day, the preached Word - law and gospel - again, rightly diagnoses our infirmity, i.e. the sin and stain that still touches every thought, word, and deed... yes even our very soul - and proclaims the blood of the Lamb which speaks of Jesus taking away our sins and in exchange imputing to us his righteousness. Hearing with faith and repentance we come to that fount for the purging of sin, shame and guilt as the Spirit applies Christ's merit of obedience and the power of his blood to our consciences. In the Lord's Supper believers are freely offered the bread and wine, Jesus' body and blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood (1662 BCP).  God proclaims and communicates this authoritatively and efficaciously by his Spirit through the means of his Word and Sacrament. And this double sanctifying grace of the gospel is received (upon hearing, eating and drinking) through simple faith with thanksgiving in Christ alone.

Going forth, then, into the week with various vocations, having been cleansed and strengthened in faith, we are assured that our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus, continues to plead in heaven his sanctifying blood on our behalf. Then, as guilty stains of the flesh and dust of the world again begin to cling to us, Let us [again and again] therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need... with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water (Heb. 4:16; 10:22).

More from John Owen's Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit -
This whole matter of sanctification and holiness is peculiarly joined with and limited unto the doctrine, truth, and grace of the gospel; for holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls...
The “law,” indeed, for certain ends, “was given by Moses,” but all “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” There neither is, nor ever was, in the world, nor ever shall be, the least dram of holiness, but what, flowing from Jesus Christ, is communicated by the Spirit, according to the truth and promise of the gospel.
(1.) He requires nothing of us (which we had all the reason in the world to expect that he would) to make atonement or satisfaction for our sins...
(2.) He requireth nothing of us in a way of righteousness for our justification for the future. That this also he would have done we might have justly expected; for a righteousness we must have, or we cannot be accepted with him... Neither is there any mention in the whole gospel of God’s requiring a righteousness in us upon the account whereof we should be justified before him, or in his sight; for the justification by works mentioned in James consists in the evidencing and declaration of our faith by them. 
(3.) God requireth not anything of us whereby we should purchase or merit for ourselves life and salvation: for “by grace are we saved through faith; not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8,9...
God, therefore, requires nothing at our hands under this notion or consideration, nor is it possible that in our condition any such thing should be required of us; for whatever we can do is due beforehand on other accounts, and so can have no prospect to merit what is to come. Who can merit by doing his duty? Our Savior doth so plainly prove the contrary as none can farther doubt of it than of his truth and authority, Luke 17:10...
Moreover, where sanctification is enjoined us as our duty, it is prescribed under this notion of cleansing ourselves from sin: “Wash you, make you clean,” Isaiah 1:16. “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved,” Jeremiah 4:14. “Having therefore these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”...
Nothing do they more earnestly labor after in their prayers and supplications than a cleansing from it by the blood of Christ, nor are any promises more precious unto them than those which express their purification and purging from it; for these are they which, next unto their interest in the atonement made by the sacrifice of Christ, give them boldness in their approaches unto God. So our apostle fully expresseth it, Hebrews 10:19-22: “Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water...”
The foundation of all our confidence in our access unto God, the right and title we have to approach unto him, is laid in the blood of Christ, the sacrifice he offered, the atonement he made, and the remission of sins which he obtained thereby: which effect of it he declares, verse 19, “Having boldness by the blood of Jesus.” The way of our access is by pleading an interest in his death and suffering, whereby an admission and acceptance is consecrated for us: Verse 20, “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated.” And our encouragement to make use of this foundation and to engage in this way is taken from his discharge of the office of a high priest in our behalf: ‘“Having an high priest over the house of God, let us draw near...”
But besides all this, when we come to an actual address unto God, that we may make use of the boldness given us in the full assurance of faith, it is moreover required that “our hearts be sprinkled, and our bodies washed;” — that is, that our whole persons be purified from the defilement of sin by the sanctification of the Spirit... 
So is it in the gospel, where the blood of Christ is said to “purge” our sins with respect to guilt, and to “wash” our souls with respect to filth.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sanctified by the blood of Christ through faith...

Sanctification... by good works?... by works and grace?...  Sanctification... becoming more holy - through increased holy acts?... by becoming less of a sinner?  Does what started out through faith alone in Christ alone by God's grace alone now switch over to us, our efforts, our faithfulness and works in sanctification?  Or are we still sinners... recipients who receive, through faith, the virtue of Jesus' death and resurrection in our sanctification (WCF 13.1) as we did, through faith, in our justification?  In other words, is that which justifies the believer the same which sanctifies him? Or more specifically, being that we are justified by his blood (Rom.5:9), is it also the blood of Christ shed for sinners that sanctifies in this life?

Some words of  John Owen on the subject.  He is a bit difficult to read but well worth the effort, especially here concerning the office of the Holy Spirit, the blood of Christ, and the instrument of faith in our sanctification.

From the Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit by John Owen:
Therefore, by the blood of Christ herein is intended the blood of his sacrifice, with the power, virtue, and efficacy thereof. And the blood of a sacrifice fell under a double consideration:-- (1.) As it was offered unto God to make atonement and reconciliation; (2.) As it was sprinkled on other things for their purging and sanctification. Part of the blood in every propitiatory sacrifice was still to be sprinkled round about the altar, Lev. i. 11; and in the great sacrifice of expiation, some of the blood of the bullock was to be sprinkled before the mercy-seat seven times, chap. xvi. 14. This our apostle fully expresseth in a great and signal instance: Heb. ix. 19, 20, 22, "When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. ... And almost all things are by the law purged with blood." Wherefore, the blood of Christ, as it was the blood of his sacrifice, hath these two effects, and falls under this double consideration:-(1.) As he offered himself by the eternal Spirit unto God to make an atonement for sin, and procure eternal redemption; (2.) As it is sprinkled by the same Spirit on the consciences of believers, to purge them from dead works, as Heb. ix. 12-14. And hence it is called, with respect unto our sanctification, "The blood of sprinkling," chap. xii. 24; for we have the "sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. i. 2.
2. The blood of Christ in his sacrifice is still always and continually in the same condition, of the same force and efficacy, as it was in that hour wherein it was shed. The blood of other sacrifices was always to be used immediately upon its effusion; for if it were cold and congealed it was of no use to be offered or to be sprinkled. Blood was appointed to make atonement, as the life or animal spirits were in it, Lev. xvii. 11. But the blood of the sacrifice of Christ is always hot and warm, having the same spirits of life and sanctification still moving in it. Hence the zosa kai prosphatos, Heb. x. 20, -- always living, and yet always as newly slain. Every one, therefore, who at any time hath an especial actual interest in the blood of Christ, as sacrificed, hath as real a purification from the defilement of sin as he had typically who stood by the priest and had blood or water sprinkled on him; for the Holy Ghost diligently declares that whatever was done legally, carnally, or typically, by any of the sacrifices of old at any time, as to the expiation or purification of sin, that was all done really and spiritually by that one sacrifice, -- that is, the offering and sprinkling of the blood of Christ, -- and abideth to be so done continually. To this purpose is the substance of our apostle's discourse in the ninth and tenth chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews. And they had various sorts of sacrifices, wherein to this end the blood of them was sprinkled, they being propitiatory in their offering; as, -- (1.) There was the tmyd, or continual burnt-offering of a lamb or kid for the whole congregation, morning and evening, whose blood was sprinkled as at other times. And hereby the habitual purification of the congregation, that they might be holy to the Lord, and their cleansing from the daily incursions of secret and unknown sins, was signified and carried on. (2.) On the Sabbath-day this juge sacrificium was doubled morning and evening, denoting a peculiar and abounding communication of mercy and purging grace, through the administration of instituted ordinances, on that day. (3.) There was the great annual sacrifice at the feast of expiation, when, by the sacrifice of the sin-offering and the scape-goat, the whole congregation were purged from all their known and great sins, and recovered into a state of legal holiness; and other stated sacrifices there were. (4.) There were occasional sacrifices for every one, according as he found his condition to require; for those who were clean one day, yea, one hour, might by some miscarriage or surprisal be unclean the next. But there was a way continually ready for any man's purification, by his bringing his offering unto that purpose. Now, the blood of Christ must continually, and upon all occasions, answer unto all these, and accomplish spiritually what they did legally effect and typically represent. This our apostle asserts and proves, Heb. ix. 9-14. Thereby is the gradual carrying on of our sanctification habitually effected, which was signified by the continual daily sacrifice. From thence is especial cleansing virtue communicated unto us by the ordinances of the gospel, as is expressly affirmed, Eph. v. 25, 26, denoted by the doubling of the daily sacrifice on the Sabbath. By it we are purged from all our sins whatever, great or small, as was typified in the great sacrifice on the day of expiation. And unto him have we continual recourse upon all occasions of our spiritual defilements whatever. So was his blood, as to its purifying virtue, to answer and accomplish all legal institutions...
... (1.) How the blood of Christ doth thus cleanse us from our sins, or what it is that is done thereby. (2.) How we come to be made partakers of the benefit thereof, or come to be interested therein. (1.) As to the first, it must be observed, what hath been declared before, that the uncleanness we treat of is not physical or corporeal, but moral and spiritual only. It is the inconformity of sin unto the holiness of God, as represented in the law, whence it is loathsome to God, and attended with shame in us. Now, wherever there is an interest obtained in the purifying virtue of the blood of Christ, it doth (by the will, law, and appointment of God) do these two things:-- [1.] It takes away all loathsomeness in the sight of God, not from sin in the abstract, but from the sinner, so that he shall be as one absolutely washed and purified before him. See Isa. i. 16-18; Ps. li. 7; Eph. v. 25-27. [2.] It taketh away shame out of the conscience, and gives the soul boldness in the presence of God, Heb. x. 19-22. When these things are done then is sin purged, our souls are cleansed.
[regarding the Holy Spirit] -It is he who discovereth unto us, and spiritually convinceth us of, the pollution of sin, and of our defilement thereby. Something, indeed, of this kind will be wrought by the power of natural conscience, awakened and excited by ordinary outward means of conviction; for wherever there is a sense of guilt, there will be some kind of sense of filth, as fear and shame are inseparable. But this sense alone will never guide us to the blood of Christ for cleansing. Such a sight and conviction of it as may fill us with self-abhorrency and abasement, as may cause us to loathe ourselves for the abomination that is in it, is required of us; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost, belonging to that peculiar conviction of sin which is from him alone, John xvi. 8. I mean that self-abhorrency, shame, and confusion of face, with respect unto the filth of sin, which is so often mentioned in the Scripture as a gracious duty; as nothing is a higher aggravation of sin than for men to carry themselves with a carnal boldness with God and in his worship, whilst they are unpurged from their defilements. In a sense hereof the publican stood afar off, as one ashamed and destitute of any confidence for a nearer approach. So the holy men of old professed to God that they blushed, and were ashamed to lift up their faces unto him. Without this preparation, whereby we come to know the plague of our own hearts, the infection of our leprosy, the defilement of our souls, we shall never make application unto the blood of Christ for cleansing in a due manner. This, therefore, in the first place, is of us as the first part of our duty and first work of the Holy Ghost herein. [2.] The Holy Ghost proposeth, declareth, and presents unto us the only true remedy, the only means of purification. "When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, not cure you of your wound," Hos. v. 13. When men begin to discern their defilements, they are apt to think of many ways for their purging. What false ways have been invented to this purpose hath been before declared. And every one is ready to find out a way of his own; every one will apply his own soap and his own nitre. Though the only fountain for cleansing be nigh unto us, yet we cannot see it until the Holy Ghost open our eyes, as he did the eyes of Hagar; he it is who shows it unto us and leads us unto it. This is an eminent part of his office and work. The principal end of his sending, and consequently of his whole work, was to glorify the Son; as the end and work of the Son was to glorify the Father. And the great way whereby he glorifieth Christ is by showing such things unto us, John xvi. 14. And without his discovery we can know nothing of Christ, not of the things of Christ; for he is not sent in vain, to show us the things that we can see of ourselves. And what is more so of Christ than his blood, and its efficacy for the purging of our sins? We never, therefore, discern it spiritually and in a due manner but by him. To have a true spiritual sense of the defilement of sin, and a gracious view of the cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ, is an eminent effect of the Spirit of grace. Something like it there may be in the workings of an awakened natural conscience, with some beams of outward gospel light falling on it; but there is nothing in it of the work of the Spirit. This, therefore, secondly, we must endeavour after, if we intend to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. [3.] It is he who worketh faith in us, whereby we are actually interested in the purifying virtue of the blood of Christ. By faith we receive Christ himself, and by faith do we receive all the benefits of his mediation, -- that is, as they are tendered unto us in the promises of God. He is our propitiation through faith in his blood as offered; and he is our sanctification through faith in his blood as sprinkled. And particular acting of faith on the blood of Christ for the cleansing of the soul from sin is required of us. A renewed conscience is sensible of a pollution in every sin, and is not freed from the shame of it without a particular application unto the blood of Christ. It comes by faith to the fountain set open for sin and uncleanness, as the sick man to the pool of healing waters, and waiteth for a season to be cleansed in it...
And this actual application by faith unto the blood of Christ for cleansing, the mystery whereof is scorned by many as a thing fanatical and unintelligible, consists in these four things:-- 1st. A spiritual view and due consideration of the blood of Christ in his sacrifice, as proposed in the promises of the gospel for our cleansing and purification. "Look unto me," saith he, "and be ye saved," Isa. xlv. 22; which respects the whole work of our salvation, and all the means thereof. Our way of coming into our interest therein is by looking to him, -- namely, as he is proposed unto us in the promise of the gospel: for as the serpent was lifted up by Moses in the wilderness, so was he in his sacrifice on the cross lifted up, John iii. 14; and so in the gospel is he represented unto us, Gal. iii. 1. And the means whereby they were healed in the wilderness was by looking unto the serpent that was lifted up. Herein, then, doth faith first act itself, by a spiritual view and due consideration of the blood of Christ, as proposed unto us in the gospel for the only means of our purification; and the more we abide in this contemplation, the more effectual will our success be in our application thereto. 2dly. Faith actually relieth on his blood for the real effecting of that great work and end for which it is proposed unto us; for God sets him forth as to be a propitiation through faith in his blood as offered, Rom. iii. 25, so to be our sanctification through faith in his blood as sprinkled. And the establishing of this especial faith in our souls is that which the apostle aims at in his excellent reasoning, Heb. ix. 13, 14; and his conclusion unto that purpose is so evident, that he encourageth us thereon to draw nigh in the full assurance of faith, chap. x. 22.
Relevant scripture-
Heb. 9:
1 Now even a first covenant had ordinances of divine service, and its sanctuary, a sanctuary of this world.
 2 For there was a tabernacle prepared, the first, wherein were the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the Holy place.
 3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holy of holies;
 4 having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was a golden pot holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
 5 and above it cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat; of which things we cannot now speak severally.
 6 Now these things having been thus prepared, the priests go in continually into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services;
 7 but into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offereth for himself, and for the errors of the people:
 8 the Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holy place hath not yet been made manifest, while the first tabernacle is yet standing;
 9 which is a figure for the time present; according to which are offered both gifts and sacrifices that cannot, as touching the conscience, make the worshipper perfect,
 10 being only (with meats and drinks and divers washings) carnal ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation.
 11 But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation,
 12 nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.
 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh:
 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
 16 For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it.
 17 For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth.
 18 Wherefore even the first covenant hath not been dedicated without blood.
 19 For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses unto all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
 20 saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded to you-ward.
 21 Moreover the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry he sprinkled in like manner with the blood.
 22 And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.
 23 It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
 24 For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us:
 25 nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own;
 26 else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;
 28 so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation. 

Heb. 10:
 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
 15 And the Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us; for after he hath said,
 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws on their heart, And upon their mind also will I write them; then saith he,
 17 And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
 20 by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
 21 and having a great priest over the house of God;
 22 let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water,
 23 let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised:
Heb. 12:
 24 and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel.

1 Peter 1:
2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 5:
25 even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;
26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word,
27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.