Sweeping Away Cobwebs
SAD to say, God's servants have to spend considerable time in SWEEPING AWAY COBWEBS. How many saints and sinners have their minds beclouded by tradition, so that they fail to discern the precious truth revealed in God's Word for their comfort and joy?
My object in writing this is to help any unsaved reader into the light and liberty of a child of God. It is certainly not His will that poor sinners should spend weary years in "the slough of despond" or "doubting castle;" depressed by that fear which hath torment; and like those referred to in Heb. ii. 15, who were "all their life-time subject to bondage." The same scripture assures us that Christ came to deliver such; and He opened His ministry in the synagogue of Nazareth by saying, "He was sent to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, . . . to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke iv. 18). How Satan tries to obscure God's precious truth from the gaze of anxious souls; and keep them in suspense and torment with the various false notions that man has substituted for God's revealed Word.
Here is a common case. I once spent some time with an anxious soul who had for many, many years been "seeking Christ" as she said; and assured me that she was really in earnest to know Him as her Saviour, and be assured that her sins were forgiven. But all the pulpit teaching she had listened to had fostered in her mind the thought that salvation was the result of persevering prayer, and patiently waiting God's time to set her soul at rest. That eventually she might expect to be able to sing that hymn—
"My God is reconciled,
His pardoning voice I hear;
He calls me now His Child,
I shall no longer fear."
How misleading all this is to the sinner who feels the burden of sin, and is not promised rest immediately, if he or she comes to Christ Jesus, and believes God's Word. "For we which have believed do enter into rest" (Heb. iv. 3); and as it was nothing but unbelief that kept Israel out of the rest of Canaan, so it is unbelief alone that keeps souls out of the rest of Christ. He told Martha that if she would only believe she would see the glory of God (John xi. 4, 40); and we are authorised to say to every sinner, "Whosoever believeth on Christ shall never perish, but have everlasting life" (John iii. 15-16).
This is one of the blessed truths that have been covered over with traditional cobwebs; and we have only to read the liturgies of the various Churches around us to see how unbelief is fostered, and faith discouraged as presumption—that is, by denying the present "forgiveness of sins," and "justification from all things," to those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ; and leading sinners to hope that they may be delivered from God's wrath and eternal damnation, instead of being assured through faith that they are delivered (see 1 Thess. i. 10).
I asked the lady referred to if she could give me scripture for the thought that she must wait or work for salvation? She confessed that she had no authority for this, other than that she had been taught this, from childhood. I then was privileged to show her God's more simple and excellent way, so plainly taught in His Word. From Rom. v. 8, we saw that "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"—the ungodly. From 2 Cor. v. 19, that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," and that we, as God's ambassadors, were commissioned to "beseech sinners, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God; for He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." We saw from Acts xvi. 31-34, there was instant salvation for the vilest sinner who believed in Christ Jesus; and in John v. 24, we had the fullest assurance from our Saviour himself, "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life." From 1 Tim. i. 15, we saw that, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;" and in the next chapter we read, and dwelt on those words, God "will have all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth." "Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." Again, in 2 Cor. vi. 2, we read, "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." In the face of such plain statements as these, it was too evident that waiting for God to bestow His gift of eternal life on the sinner— apart from that sinner's willingness to accept it "by grace, through faith" even by "repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ"—was a human dogma, contradicting the Scriptures, which assure us that He is "ready to save" sinners who are "ready to perish" and look to Him who "bore our sins in His own body on the tree." The lady admitted that she was "beginning to see things in a new light;" and, through the mercy of God, was led, within two days of that time, "out of darkness into His marvellous light," and is now realising "joy and peace in believing."
Let me beg my readers to ponder over these messages of love from God to the sinner; and to cast away man's thoughts, which are not God's thoughts; but rather to "hear Him" whose gracious words should set at rest every doubt of your hearts. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John v. 13).
And now a closing word to God's people. It may be a tax on our time and energies to go about in the Lord's service; but shall we not be ready, like David's servants, to do whatsoever our Lord may direct? (2 Sam. xv. 15). Thousands around us are groping about in darkness; thousands with spiritual life; but, like Lazarus, "bound hand and foot with grave clothes" of tradition. Jesus says to you and me, "Loose him, and let him go." Let us obey, and watch for such cases as this, which abound in every street of our land; and carry to poor sinners the gospel of the grace of God, which will soon gladden their heavy-laden hearts.