II. Holiness: God’s Way Better Than Man’s. 1999, Invictus for "Truth For Today Bible Fellowship. Lafayette, IN.”
Religion, as distinct
from Christianity, is known by several unmistakable marks.
1. It gives its votaries plenty to believe. It makes large demands upon their credulity. Whether in India, China,
Rome, or England there is a great deal that
has to be swallowed.
2. It gives its votaries plenty to do. Works of all and many kinds are demanded; and gifts and
payments have to be made. These works are Incessant and unceasing.
3. But Religion gives its votaries very little to hope for. From the Chinese heavens,
which are entered according to merit, to the Mohammedan heaven of glorified
licentiousness; Rome’s Purgatory and "four last things,” and the heaven of
unconverted Protestants, which consists chiefly in meeting one’s relations
again by some "fountain” or at some "gate.” In all these there is very little
to hope for compared with "that blessed hope” revealed in the Gospel.
4. But one of the greatest contrasts consists in this – uncertainty as to salvation! In this,
Religion and Christianity are exactly opposite. You may always know the
profession of religion by this mark. They all practically deny that Christ’s
work IS finished, that redemption has been accomplished, and that salvation was
completed at the Cross, that He came "to save His people,” and he saved them.
That is why religious people, today, talk about people being "saved” now, not knowing that all who are "in
Christ” were saved on Calvary.
Even the most religious among
Protestant Evangelicals, if asked whether they really believe when they profess
and confess again and again with their lips – "I believe in the forgiveness of
sins” – will seldom get beyond "I hope so,” or the assertion that "No one can
ever know” in this life. They can never speak with certainty about it. Some
call this humility and are proud of it, thinking it presumption to take the
ground which the grace of God in Christ Jesus has given to us.
But this brings us to the
contrast between all this and the Christianity which is revealed in the Church
1. Christianity gives us the simplest possible matter to believe. We
have to "believe God,” i.e., what God
says and has said in His Word, and it is counted to us for righteousness (Rom. -24).
2. It gives us nothing whatever to do for salvation, for Christ has
"done it all, long ago”; and what is now done by those who are saved is the
irrepressible outcome of the New nature, which knows no joy equal to this.
3. It gives us a great and blessed hope, consisting of "exceeding great
and precious promises.” The hope of being caught up to meet the Lord in the air
and so of ever being with the Lord, glorified with His own glory.
4. But beside all this, it gives us now and here a blessed certainty as
to our present accomplished salvation and a sweet enjoyment of it in our souls.
All who are in Christ are the
happy possessors of the New nature, by which they are able to see the
incorrigible character of the old nature (Rom.
8:7), and in which they have a standard by which to test it; and have a daily
evidence that in ourselves "dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:8). Consequently, while
religious people never rise higher than an effort to improve the old nature,
the true Christian has learned that the old nature cannot please God (Rom.
8:8), that it is hostile to God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither
indeed can be (Rom. 8:7). While this fills him with daily conflict and at times
with much distress, yet it is his one great ground of assurance, the blessed
evidence that he is the happy possessor of this wondrous "gift of God” (Rom.
6:23; Eph. 2:8), otherwise he would not know either his ruined condition as to
himself, or the perfect standing which he has in Christ.
This was the position of the
saints in Colosse, and ought to be the position of every true Christian to-day.
The Epistle addressed to them begins with "Grace”: grace which meets with us as
lost, delivers us, cleanses us, and sets us in perfect freedom before God our
Father. God reveals it, Faith enjoys it, and sets aside all reasoning from
feelings or experience.
The saints in Colosse are
addressed as being "in Christ” (ver. 2) and therefore as "complete in Him”
(ver. 9). "In whom WE HAVE redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness
of sins” (ver. 14). "Who HATH delivered us from the power of darkness and HATH
translated us into the kingdom of His beloved Son” (ver. 13).
Thus we are assured of, and are dealt with as having, present redemption, present deliverance, and
And more than this. Those who
possess such wondrous unmeasured blessedness, can only worship. We have nothing
to ask or pray for as to our standing in
Christ. This, we are assured, is "complete, in Him” (ver. 9), nothing can
add to this completeness. We cannot ever grow or increase in it. We can
increase in our enjoyment and appreciation of it, but we cannot grow in our
relationship to God or our standing in Christ.
Of course, as to our walk and our
whole path, now upon earth, it is true that in everything by prayer and
supplication we are to let our requests be made known unto God; but if we
realize our standing, our prayers will be full of praise, because our heart is
so full of rest, and our cup so overflowing with blessing.
Hence, in verse 12, the prayer of
the Apostle by the Holy Ghost for us is that we may be occupied in "giving
thanks unto the Father, which HATH MADE US MEET to be partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in light.” Surely we are overwhelmed by "the riches
of the grace” which hat done such great things for us.
How few, even of the Lord’s own
saved ones, know anything of the extent of the "riches” which are theirs! How
few are engaged in counting over and dwelling upon this wealth of grace!
Selfishness occupies their thoughts with themselves
and their walk; and hence, the
inevitable result is that they are looking for some work yet to be done in them or by them to make them meet. Some think
that affliction and trials help to do this; others think that holiness of life
will do something for them, not seeing that they have been now already
"made meet” for glory, and not realizing that it is something not to be done, but which has
The solemn fact is that all such,
not only lose the peace and blessing and enjoyment of present certainty as to
their standing; but, by taking up a position which implies the possibility of
anything being able to add one iota to our meetness for Heaven, they (1) deny
the truth as to the ruin of man in the flesh, (2) they set aside the work of
God in having made us new creations in Christ, and (3) they call in question
the full value of the work of Christ who "by the offering HATH perfected for ever
them that are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14).
There is no limitation in these
words in Col. 1. They are true of the veriest babe in Christ; of the humblest,
poorest, weakest, and most ignorant believer, because they speak of and refer
work of God in Christ, and not to our own abilities or attainments.
True we may forget this, we may have doubts and fears, and we may through our
infirmities be conscious of many failures, but these do not and cannot for one
moment affect the work of God in Christ.
No! Ours is now a present
meetness, always a perfect meetness. Oh! What rest for the heart! What
peace for the mind, and All the work and gift of the Father, and all "in
Christ” (Eph. 1:2).
We wait for the redemption of our
body; we wait for the inheritance itself. But as to the forgiveness of ALL our
sins, righteousness, sanctification, union with Christ, identification with
Christ, completeness in Him, perfection in Him, we do not wait for this,
because we have it all now, for it is written:
HATH MADE US MEET to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”