By James A. Stewart
THERE ARE MANY who want to be saved from the consequences of their sin, who do not want to be saved from the love of it. Many want to be delivered from sin's curse and sin's wages, who do not want to bow their neck to the yoke of Christ. There are many who are attracted by the Gospel message and see the way of salvation, who are still possessing a craving for this present evil age. How great the need for care, lest by an inadequate presentation of the truth of the Gospel we deceive these souls into a false profession. There is a grave danger that many people will make a mistake of substituting an emotional religious crisis for a born-again experience. To preach Christ as Saviour without preaching Christ as Lord, makes a mockery of the Gospel and the entire Christian life. There must be true repentance. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2 : 15).
To those who want to receive Christ as Saviour in order to have a passport to Heaven, but desire to remain in their sins and in the world, we must be faithful and declare like Peter, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (Acts 8:21-23).
Mr. Spurgeon warns his students: "If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord's will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do you imagine that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Saviour, while they are wedded to their idols and their hearts are still in love with sin? If I do so, I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel, insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness."
The Son of God does not save rebels. There must be true submission (repentance) before there can be salvation. What a parody of the Gospel when many are told to "trust Jesus to take them to Heaven when they die," who nevertheless are living in the practice of sin and rebellion against His laws.
Mr. George Goodman has left on record an illustration of the truth of the utter hollowness or utter impossibility of claiming to rest on "the finished work of Christ", while refusing to live under the lordship of Christ: "A king has part of his kingdom in rebellion, and in order to show his grace, causes mercy to be proclaimed to the rebels on their yielding to him and seeking reconciliation on the ground of the proclamation. He threatens destruction to those who continue to defy his authority. One of the rebels is warned of his danger, but he replies, 'I am in no danger; I am resting on the proclamation; I am sure the king is faithful. He will never break his promise or withdraw his proclaimed mercy.'
"'But you are still in rebellion. You are continuing in the course he condemns, and are indifferent to His commands, and the mercy is offered to those who yield.'
"'True, but the mercy is free; there are no conditions, and to make conditions would be to make it no more of grace,' is the reply."
"What should we say to such reasoning? Alas, is it not in effect what some of us say who, while refusing Christ as Lord, profess to trust in Him and His work for salvation?"
Walter Marshall wrote some three hundred years ago, "Why doth a man seek a pardon if he intends to go on in rebellion and stand out in defiance of his prince? They seek a pardon in a mocking way and intend not to return unto obedience...To take a part of His salvation and leave out the rest? But Christ is not divided...They would be saved by Christ and yet be out of Christ in a fleshly state, whereas God doth free none from condemnation, but those who are IN Christ."
"There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared" (Ps. 130 : 4). Many of God's children forget, when dealing with the unsaved, that the grace of God does not give deliverance to the sinner from the penalty of his sins and then give him liberty to live a life of sin. Paul tells us that the pardoning grace of God teaches us to live a life of holiness: "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee" (Tit. 2: 11-15).
The teaching is clear in the Epistles that if a person has passed from death unto life he is now under the sway of the lordship of Christ. "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again . . . Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5 : 15-17). The young convert is now UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT. Paul's conversion is the pattern conversion of the New Testament. His first words in his new life in Christ were, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Yes, the first word of a new-born soul is Lord. The Lord takes control of the heart that accepts Him as Saviour and makes known His will. The believer knows His voice and rejoices to obey. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10 : 27).
Let me finish with an incident in my evangelistic experience. When I was preaching in the open air in Scotland, I invited the listening crowd to come forward and accept the Gospel of John in my hand if they were interested or anxious to be saved. Immediately a young girl of fourteen years of age came forward and received a copy. "Why do you want to be saved?" I asked. "Why do you want to accept Christ as your Saviour?" The answer came clear as crystal, "Please sir, I do not want to live a life of sin." John D. 'Wheeler, my colleague (an aged, experienced worker, having labored with Dr. Torrey and Gypsy Smith) said that this was the finest answer ever given to this all-important question.
Oh, my fellow Christian workers, let us cease proclaiming a perverted Gospel, and preach the evangel of COMPLETE SALVATION: Jesus Christ Lord. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
THE REBEL'S SURRENDER TO GRACE
"Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9: 6).
Lord, thou hast won, at length I yield;
My heart, by mighty grace compell'd
Surrenders all to Thee:
Against thy terrors long I strove,
But who can stand against Thy love?
Love conquers even me.
All that a wretch could do, I try'd,
Thy patience scorn'd, thy pow'r defy'd,
And trampled on thy laws;
Scarcely thy martyrs at the stake
Could stand more steadfast for thy sake,
Than I in Satan's cause.
But since thou hast thy love reveal'd,
And shown my soul a pardon seal'd,
I can resist no more:
Couldst thou for such a sinner bleed.?
Canst thou for such a rebel plead?
I wonder and adore!
If thou hadst bid thy thunders roll,
And lightnings flash, to blast my soul,
I still had stubborn been;
But mercy has my heart subdu'd,
A bleeding Saviour I have view'd,
And now I hate my sin.
Now, Lord, I would be thine alone,
Come, take possession of thine own,
For thou hast set me free;
Releas'd from Satan's hard command,
See all my powers waiting stand,
To be employe'd by thee.
My will, conform'd to thine, would move;
On thee, my hope, desire, and love,
In fix'd attention join:
My hands, my eyes, my ears, my tongue,
Have Satan's servants been so long,
But now they shall be thine!
And can I be the very same
Who lately durst blaspheme thy name,
And on thy gospel tread?
Surely each one who hears my case,
Will praise thee, and confess thy grace