Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Christian by virtue of the new birth (John 3:3-8) or Catholic ? ?

The following article by Richard Bennett, former Roman Catholic priest of 22 years, now converted to Christ, is reprinted here with the author's permission. More of his articles can be accessed at

The Normal Christian Life and Catholicism

We must deal with the apparent normality of Catholicism. The Catholic Church is based on some of the great essential truths of God’s revelation. She holds to the existence of a self-existent and eternal God, the Creator of the universe, of man, and of all things. She teaches that in the Godhead there are three distinct Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the same in substance, and equal in power and glory. She teaches that man was created in God’s image and that he fell by the sin of disobedience and became subject to both temporal and eternal death. She teaches that Adam’s race shared in the guilt and consequences of his sin, and that each one is born as a sinner before God. She accepts the doctrine of man’s redemption by Jesus Christ, teaching that He became incarnate, and endured the death of the cross; that He rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and will return on the Last Day. From my own experience, and from talking to quite a number of other former Priests and Nuns, I found that while we saw the normality that there is in Catholicism in many basic doctrines, yet we all sensed an inner gnawing emptiness. In preparation for the priesthood, there were times when I wanted in some way to share my religious experiences with fellow students. For the most part I was told that ‘we do not talk shop’. That phrase, ‘we do not talk shop’ was a recurring theme throughout the years of preparation and into the priesthood years. I remember as a Priest, one particular visit to Amsterdam. I stayed not in a Dominican Priory but in a Jesuit house. The Priests who met me at the airport were quite cordial and kind, however in trying to explain my daily search to know the Lord in the Scriptures, I was met with silence. Then later in Trinidad, when I spoke to another Priest about the fact that most of the babies we baptized never returned to Church, he joked that if infant baptism did work, we would never have enough room in our churches to hold all those whom we baptized. His jest was painful to me. I have heard the same sort of experience from quite a few former Nuns. Conversation, jokes, even those of the shady kind, and ordinary gossip were all quite acceptable, however when a Sister wanted to reveal her heart in her search to know the Lord, there was always a chilling silence.

With the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic movement in the early seventies things were somewhat different. With Pentecostal people, and with Charismatic Catholics, there was an eagerness to share religious experience. Nevertheless, again there were boundaries. Such things as claimed miracles, wonders, and the up-to-date Charismatic happenings, were all acceptable, what was definitely taboo was all talking about doctrine as such. Out of bounds were all questions and discussion on official Church teachings. Then, even at the annual Priests’ conference and other meetings, when I would question doctrines and cite Scriptures I was always informed that I was out of place. What a great contrast it has been for me coming to true
Biblical faith to find that fellow believers just treasure sharing with each what the Lord is doing personally in their lives. During my visit to Warsaw Poland, London, and Ireland in 2003 I was greatly edified by the openness and frankness with which believers shared enthusiastically with each other. The normal Christian life is always centered on the Lord, His presence, His answering prayer, even His discipline as He watches over His own. My experience and what I have learned from many other former Catholics, is that while things looked normal, we had no real inner life with the Lord. When we did begin to search and wish to share deeply what we were discovering about walking with the Lord, the general response was always the hackneyed phrase “we don’t talk shop”. The system of belief behind this shared experience that I have found among those who were Priests Nuns and lay Catholics; I will now layout in the way that

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can be understood. While major doctrines may seem to be biblical, Christ’s sacrifice and the redemption flowing from it are quite compromised in Catholicism, to the point of being soul damaging.

The Application of Christ’s Redemption

Sin is an evil of infinite significance, since it is committed against an infinite Person. There is no way of escaping the wrath of God against sin except by the application of the Lord Christ Jesus’ finished work. Concerning the Holy Spirit the Lord promised that, “when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”1 The Holy Spirit convicts of sin as He makes the sinner realize his lost condition and brings him to sense his need of Christ’s righteousness. The Holy Spirit only can impart spiritual life to the soul and supernatural light to the mind. Therefore the Lord Himself proclaimed, “verily, verily, I say unto thee except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 2 “Verily, verily,” is an expression used by Lord to draw attention to the crucial importance of what He said. What He calls being “born again,” He also establishes as a principle of life, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”3 The Holy Spirit is the sole and only efficient cause of being “born again”. The same principle of life is later repeated by the Lord, “it is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing…”4. The wonderful work of the Holy Spirit opening the mind and heart to redemption is highlighted by the Apostle Paul, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”5 The Lord God saves sinners gloriously,“according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”6 True believers are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” 7 “of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”8 This is utterly splendid, clear and profound. The Spirit of God’s unique work is to apply Christ’s redemption to the sinner. In this regeneration He works as a Free Agent. He dispenses His power where, and when, on whom, He pleases. In the words of the Lord, “the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” 9 The wind is an element which man cannot control. The wind is not regulated by man’s desires or plans, so it is with the Spirit of God. The wind blows, where it pleases, as it pleases and when it pleases, so it is with the Holy Spirit, He is absolutely Sovereign in all His operations.

The necessity of the direct work of the Holy Spirit on the soul of man is because man is spiritually dead. In the words of the Apostle, “for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath

1 John 16:8
2 John 3:3
3 John 3:6
4 John 6:63
5 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
6 Titus 3:5
7 John 1:13
8 James 1:18
9 John 3:8

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made me free from the law of sin and death.” 10 The new birth by the Holy Spirit is essential, because natural man is totally deficient in and of himself. It is not that he is weak and needs stimulation, spiritually he is dead, in the words of the Apostle, “and you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”11 Because there is a direct connection between the redemption of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, it is serious error to substitute ritual or ceremony for the work of the Holy Spirit, because in the words of the Lord, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” 12 “God hath given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son”.13 The work of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary to bring the sinner to Christ, to overcome his innate opposition, and induce him to believe. In all of this, the Holy Spirit is Sovereign.

Salvation alleged as Autonomous and Self-Regulating

The Catholic Church does speak of the grace of the Holy Spirit, but not as a direct work in Christ Jesus, but as a work under her control in her sacraments. She makes a declaration of immense significance in stating,

“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. 'Sacramental grace' is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament.”14

The assertion attempts to replace the Person of Holy Spirit with ‘Sacramental grace’. Such grace or power it is claimed to come through the sacraments. She goes so far as to call her sacraments “God's masterpieces”.15 These sacraments are visible physical rites, as she states, “The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament.”16

The precious Word of God in Scripture explains how salvation is not accomplished; salvation is not by means of ceremonies or rites, rather by God’s grace through faith. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”17 "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.”18 Yet this word “works” is the very word that the Catholic Church uses to declare that her seven sacraments operate ‘ex opere operato’ ‘from the work, worked.’ The official teaching is,

“If any shall say that by the said sacraments of the New Law, grace is not conferred from the work which has been worked [ex opere operato] but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices to obtain grace: let him be anathema.”19
10 Romans 8:2
11 Ephesians 2:1
12 John 3:6
13 1 John 5:11
14 Catechism Para 1129
15 “In the liturgy the Holy Spirit is teacher of the faith of the People of God and artisan of "God's masterpieces," the
sacraments of the New Covenant.” Catechism Para 1091
16 Catechism Para 1131
17 Ephesians 2:8-9
18 Romans 11:6
19 Henry Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, Tr. by Roy J Deferrari from Enchiridion Symbolorum, 30th ed. (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1957), #851. Bolding in any quotation indicates emphasis added in this work.

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What is soul destroying is that this teaching attempts to substitute rituals or rites for the direct work of the Holy Spirit. The rites or sacraments it is claimed, ‘work by their own working’ ‘ex opere operato’, that is they function irrespective of the spiritual condition of the Priest giving them or the layperson receiving them. In a word, they work automatically. This claim in practice attempts to establish Rome’s sacraments as autonomous and self-regulating rites to confer grace. It is difficult to envisage a teaching so contradictory to the truth of the Lord, it is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing”.20

Baptism by which it is claimed men and women are ‘born again’

We saw above how the Holy Spirit is the sole and only efficient cause of being “born again”. An example of Rome’s autonomous automatic sacraments is that of the claim that Baptism brings about spiritual rebirth. The Roman teaching officially declares,

“Baptism…by which men and women are freed from their sins, are reborn as children of God…is validly conferred only by washing with true water
together with the required form of words.”21

Thus Catholic teaching is that rebirth ‘as children of God’ is by Baptism. Real water, together with set form of words, is necessary for Baptism to work automatically. In the Scriptures, the new birth is solely the work of the Holy Spirit, and not the work of man or of physical things. This is from the very nature of the condition of man. The state of man by nature is represented as death in sin. Birth altogether excludes the idea of any effort or work on the part of the one who is born. The new birth is a spiritual resurrection, a passing from death unto life, outside of man’s control. In the valued words of the Lord, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”22

The Holy Spirit convicts a person of sin and as that person trusts on Christ’s cross and resurrection alone regenerates him to new life in Christ. Then the true believer has a Divine Person who indwells him23 who loves him24 who leads him25 who gives him assurance of his sonship26, who helps him in his weaknesses by making intercession for him.27 He it is who seals the true believer unto the day of redemption. 28 All of this Divine activity and power is from a Person. In Catholicism the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit, has in practice, been replaced by sacraments that ‘work by their own working’. Many of us who were Priests for many years baptized countless infants. Year after year we saw the infants we had baptized grew up destitute of the grace of God. It is necessary for Catholics to have the honesty to recognize that a Divine Person causes salvation, not a self-regulating sacrament of Baptism.

20 John 6:63
21 Code of Canon Law, Latin-English Ed. (Washington, DC: Canon Law Society of America, 1983), Canon 849.
She also asserts,“...The [Roman Catholic] Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude...” Catechism Para 1257
22 John 5:24 A fuller explanation of the Sacrament of Baptism is given in chapter three.
23 1 Corinthians 6:19
24 Romans 15:7
25 Romans 8:14
26 Romans 8:16
27 Romans 8:26
28 Ephesians 4:30

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It is necessary for every sincere Catholic, as in the presence of the Holy God, to ask himself how can he experience the quickening of the Holy Spirit. He ought to give no rest to his soul until he has sought the grace of God, and implored the work of His Spirit that his heart may be renewed.

Oldest, most alluring Temptation

The Catholic teaching on Baptism is in fact the oldest temptation known to man. A physical thing water, and physical words are presented as accomplishing new birth. Looking to a physical thing to give spiritual life was the first lie of Satan. “…in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”29 Satan offered the fruit as the efficacious means of bestowing good upon Eve. She believed in the fruit’s inherent efficacy to open the eyes and to give knowledge of good and evil. In the same way, the Roman Church presents ‘true water together with the required form of words’ as the inherent means of being born again. Flesh can only reproduce itself as flesh. The law of reproduction is ‘after its kind.’30 Therefore the Holy Spirit alone produces spirit, a life born again. The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of true believers is fruitful and indestructible. His work is a renovating power; “he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit”31. In Scripture many activities are assigned to the Holy Spirit. He guides believers into all truth, He shows believers things to come; and He takes of the things of Christ and shows them to His people,He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you”.32 The prime object purpose of the Holy Spirit is the glorification of Christ Jesus. The centerpiece of this glorification of Christ is the revelation of Christ to the believer. The illumination of the Holy Spirit is His first work upon the soul, in the words of Scripture, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”33

Spiritual Fruits, the vital test of reality

Christ Jesus said, “ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”34 Good spiritual fruit that shows the nature of the doctrines that have been taught. The Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruits in those who are truly born again. These are fruits of repentance, personal faith, and deep fellowship with God and His people. New birth bears fruit in an awareness of God’s absolute Holiness, and the exceeding sinfulness of sin. The fruit is seen in the fervent desire to humble oneself before God in submission to His Word and will. The fruits of salvation are seen in desires of the heart to walk in thankfulness with God and His people according to all His commandments. These fruits show an appreciation of the worship due to God alone, coupled desire to glorify Him in all aspects of life. The Lord Himself gave the touchstone, “ye shall know them by their fruits.”

A true Christian by living holy shows that he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”35 The Christian life shows forth the work of the Holy Spirit that has taken place in the heart. Christian life is not a manufacturing plant where autonomous and self-regulating rites supposedly confer grace. It is the family of God where

29 Genesis 3:5
30 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6 31 1 Corinthians 6:17
32 John 16:14
33 2 Corinthians 4:6
34 Matthew 7:16
35 II Corinthians 5:17

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He has free sons and daughters who lovingly and freely serve Him, where salvation is entirely of Him, directly wrought in Christ Jesus, entirely by His grace and to His glory. It is when one sees a truly Christian life, that one is shocked by how abnormal are such things as bowing down to crucifixes, statues and images, wearing ashes, lighting candles, praying to dead saints, using holy water, performing the stations of the cross, praying for souls in a non-existent place called purgatory, wearing medallions and scapulars and displaying palm branches. Many of us, even while we were devoutly Catholic, sensed that there was something strange in all the paraphernalia, we would joke about ‘the bells, yells and smells’ that were part of our Catholic life.

The life of the Spirit in Believers and Pastors

The Holy Spirit applies to true believers all the virtues of Christ’s perfect work. The Holy Spirit communicates to them conviction, light, love, faith, repentance and perseverance. By His death Christ Jesus meritoriously acquired for all of His people a real participation in the blessings of redemption, and in Christ, His Spirit directly applies these to them. By the operations of the Spirit true believers are brought to saving faith and repentance. In a word, the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ Jesus efficaciously unites true believers to Himself. There is no grace, no mercy, no privilege, and no consolation that we receive, possess, or use, except what is given to believers by Him alone. The Holy Spirit is the immediate and efficient cause of all divine activities. In Him divine excellence and the power is manifest. This life of the Holy Spirit is meant to be especially evident in the life and behavior of the Christian Pastor. The normal Christian life is meant to be under the pastoral care of men who exemplify godly
behavior. The Scripture states that, “a bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.”36 He must be one who so directs his family as to set a good example to heads of other families. A Pastor that rules a good Christian home gives proof of his ability to take care of the church of God, “for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”37 Scripture emphasizes that fact that, “marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.”38 From these passages it is clear that the Vatican law regarding the celibacy of the clergy is anything but normal. The lives of the Catholic clergy are quite irregular. For example, “well-informed victims’ advocacy groups in the United States estimate there are between 2,000 and 4,000 abusive priests in America at this time, or a number between 4 percent and 8 percent of the 48,000 U.S. priests. If true, that would reflect an inc idence of abuse alarmingly above that of the general population…”.39 Catholic Priests and people if they are honest should admit that in their midst things are not quite normal, the big question is are they willing to search for what is indeed standard Christian life.

Two Irreconcilable Prototypes

To discover normal Christian, life we must ask the question posed in Scripture “… how can a man be justified before God?”40 The Word of God says very clearly and repeatedly that a man is justified, that is, counted freed from sin and positively righteous, as a gift of God’s grace through

36 1 Timothy 3:2
37 1 Timothy 3:5
38 Hebrews 13:4
40 Job 9:2

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faith, “now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”41 The Catholic Church claims that one becomes a Christian and maintains Christian life through her sacraments, holy oils and other objects, and that one does righteous works to earn merit, all in collaboration with what she calls “sanctifying grace”.42 Further, the Church of Rome declares that she herself “engenders supports and nourishes our faith.”43 In the Scriptures however, the Church was begun and established entirely by God through Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. God engenders saving faith by the true Gospel of grace. It is by the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit that one believes the Gospel of Christ. It is of such wonderful power that it is compared to the same power that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead! “That ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places."44

The Catholic Church presents a teaching about salvation that is very down-to-earth and under the control of her Priests. She officially says, “Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’45 And, “Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels...God above confirms what priests do here below. Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or eternal liberation.”46

To claim the power on earth that can only be attributed to the very Spirit of God in heaven is certainly not normal. Much more of this we will see as we progress in this book. The life and power of Priests is not normal in a Biblical sense. Even marriage in a Biblical sense is not normal in the life of Catholics. The life of a Nun is quite unusual when compared to what the Scripture teaches for believers. These topics and many others we will investigate in different chapters of the book. For now, the overview that we have been seeking is clear and precise. The All Holy God will not share His glory with another. Since the Scripture’s teaching concerning the power and prerogative of the Holy Spirit is true, the alternative method presented through rituals and Priests presented by Catholicism is of necessity false and abnornal.

Promise for our time

The promise concerning our days in the New Testament times is that our “eyes shall see the king in his beauty.”47 True believers shall experience the grace of Christ in all its power and excellence. He calls unto all, saying, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.”48 Peggy O’Neill, a

41 Romans 4:4-5
42 Catechism, Para. 2025 “We can have merit in God’s sight only because of God’s free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man’s collaboration. Man’s merit is due to God.”
43 Catechism, Para. 181
44 Ephesians 1:18-20
45 Catechism, Para. 1461
46 Catechism, Para. 983
47 Isaiah 33:17
48 Isaiah 45:22

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former Catholic nun, began her testimony by saying, “I served as a sister in a religious order for about fifty years and during all that time, I had never heard the true Gospel.”49 Later in the same account of her life she said, “I was ignorant of God’s righteousness. What it takes for salvation is a righteousness that equals that of God and I knew that no one could ever reach that standard. This then is what the Gospel is all about: what God demands, He provides. The Good News is that if we believe in Jesus Christ whose death on the cross, burial and resurrection has paid the price of our sin, we will be saved. The Bible puts it this way; “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.” (II Corinthians 5:21). In exchange for my sins, God will give me the righteousness of Jesus, God’s righteousness for my sins! This is the Good News, the Gospel in a nutshell.”50

The Lord Christ Jesus is Ready

The message of the Gospel is that the Lord Christ Jesus is ready to receive all sinners that come to Him. He alone is able to make you right with the Father. He is ready and willing to receive you. The revelation that He gives to you through the Scriptures is by the truth and love of His Holy Spirit. The frightening words of the Lord ring in the ears of those of us who have spent most of our lives in man-made religion, “not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”51 No person, by merely acknowledging Christ’s authority, believing in His divinity, professing faith in His perfection and in His atonement, shall have any part with God in His salvation, but only he who does the will of His Father. Take heed of resting on rituals and a faith in Christ Jesus that is not exclusive of all others. Multitudes have been so deceived and have perished eternally with a lie in their right hand. The Lord made the will of the Father abundantly clear when He said, “this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”52 “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”53 “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”54

This day the offer of grace is given to you, for you it is the acceptable time. Others have had this day as well as you and have missed the opportunity; take heed that you do not harden your heart. “And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”55 The water of life is offered to you. Believe on Him alone and you will be forever secure, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”56

To forget the regeneration of the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit and replace it by faith and confidence in Priests and sacraments is fatal. In practice, instead of a Divine Person being the sole, and only efficient cause of being “born again”, ones thoughts and affections are on things, and the Priests that dispense them. This in a word, is the substitution of religion for a

49 The testimony of Peggy O’Neill on our WebPage:
50 Ibid, Peggy O’Neill’s testimony
51 Matthew 7:21
52 John 6:29
53 Mark 1:15
54 Hebrews 3:7, 8
55 Revelation 22:17
56 II Corinthians 5:17

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relationship with the living God. Man indeed, likes it so. Humankind always likes to have all aspects of life under control, and in this respect Catholicism has everything on tap, as it were. The huge difficulty with all of this is the inner wound of emptiness that ritualism generates. In face of this, the correct Christian hope is that the Spirit of God will beget a man to new life in Christ. Those who are begotten to a new and spiritual life are begotten to a new and lively hope. In the words of the Apostle Peter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”57 All the believer’s blessings begin with the regeneration that comes from God’s abundant mercy. A living and durable hope needs to have such a solid foundation as the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! A true relationship with the Lord gives the believer that solid foundation, so that he is joyful and content having such a deep inner peace. True faith produces a strong love for Christ Jesus. This love shows itself in the highest esteem for Him, a desire to be with Him and to talk about Him. It embodies a cheerful service of the Lord in all things, even sufferings. The purpose of such sufferings and heaviness is, “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth,though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” 58 Where there is true faith and love of the Lord there is in the midst of all things, a joy unspeakable and full of glory. In Catholicism all of this inner foundation of a deep inner fellowship with the Lord is missing. The rituals and pomp, the fine architecture, and captivating music, the mysticism, charismatic experiences, visions and apparitions cannot fill the void that was meant to be filled by a Person, the Spirit of the living God. Catholicism can deceive peoples and nations no further and no longer than God will permit. The folly shall be finally manifested, it shall appear that it is the supreme example of “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”.59 Many thousands of us have come out of Catholicism to normal Christian life. It still happens each year and in most nations. God is the only All Holy One. His holiness is the distinguishing factor in all His essential characteristics. This is the reason why we need to be in right standing before the one and only All Holy God on the terms He prescribes. God’s truth, as we seen Scripture, makes it clear you cannot be right before God and remain true to Catholic teaching, since they contradict and oppose the truth of the Bible on the essential factor of how we enter into a relationship with Him. You may cling to such teachings and traditions to your own eternal peril. Or you may do what so many of us have done before you. Turn to God in faith alone for the salvation that He alone gives, by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, based on Christ’s death and resurrection for His own, and believe on Him alone, “to the praise of the glory of his grace.”60

57 1 Peter 1:3
58 1 Peter 1: 7-8
59 2 Timothy 3:5
60 Ephesians 1:6
(End of Article)
May God be pleased to bestow upon the readers of this blog the unspeakable gift of salvation, as He has upon us, to the praise and glory of His grace!

The Word of God as found in James 1:17-18
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

In Christian love,

June & Ralph Nadolny,
two sinners saved by His grace (Eph. 2:1-9) & made
"new creatures in Christ" (II Cor. 5:17)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Personal Knowledge of Jesus Christ

A sermon transcript preached by C. H. Spurgeon on June 13, 1886

“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.” Romans 5:5

PENTECOST is repeated in the heart of every Believer. Let me give you a little bit of historical analogy to illustrate the text. The Lord’s disciples were made to sorrow at His Cross. Sore was the tribulation which came upon them as they thought upon His death and His burial in Joseph’s sepulcher. But after a little patience and experience, their hope revived,for their Lord rose from the dead and they beheld Him ascending into Heaven. Their hopes were bright concerning
their Lord who had gone into Glory and had left them a promise to come again and to make them takers of His victory. After that hope had been begotten in them, they were, in due time, made partakers of the Holy Spirit, whose Divine influence was shed abroad upon them so that they were filled with His power. Then were they made bold. They were not ashamed of their hope, but proclaimed it by the preaching of Peter and the rest of them. The Holy Spirit had visited them and, therefore, they fearlessly proclaimed to the world the Lord Jesus, their hope of Glory.

Truly, history repeats itself. The history of our Lord is the foreshadowing of the experience of all His people! That which happens to the First-Born befalls, in measure, to all the Brethren. We have before us in our text an admirable example. First comes our tribulation, our agony, our cross-bearing. Out of our patience and experience there arises, in due season, a blessed hope—we are quickened by our Lord’s resurrection life and come forth from our sorrow! He raises us up from the grave of our woe. Then comes the Divine visitation of the Holy Spirit and we enjoy our Pentecost—“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.” I trust we know what this means and are now enjoying it. Consequent upon that visitation, our hope becomes clear and assured—and we are led to make a full outspoken testimony concerning our hope and that blessed One who is the Substance of it. I hope that many of us have already proved that we are not ashamed and that others of you will yet do so. Our God has visited us in mercy and endowed us with the Holy Spirit who is His choice gift to His children. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us has caused us to know and feel the love of God and now we cannot but speak and tell others of what the Lord has made known to us! Thus, on a small scale, have we rehearsed a portion of early Church history in our own personal story. You shall find that not only in this case, but in all cases, the life of the Believer is in miniature the life of Christ! He who originally said, “Let Us make man in Our image,” still, in the new creation, follows the model of Christ in the new-making of chosen men!

Now let me give you a little passage of experimental mystery. You have it here spread before you in a little map of the inner life—Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; (Romans 5:3-5) This passage can only be fully understood by those people of God who have had it written in capital letters on their own hearts. “Tribulation works patience,” says the Apostle. Naturally it is not so. Tribulation works impatience and impatience misses the fruit of experience and sours into hopelessness! Ask many who have buried a dear child, or have lost their wealth, or have suffered pain of body and they will tell you that the natural result of affliction is to produce irritation against Providence, rebellion against God, questioning, unbelief, petulance and all sorts of evils!

But what a wonderful alteration takes place when the heart is renewed by the Holy Spirit! Then, but not till then, tribulation works patience! He that is never troubled cannot exercise patience. Angels cannot personally exhibit patience since they are not capable of suffering. It is necessary to the possession and exercise of patience that we should be tried—and a great degree of patience can only come by a great degree of trial. You have heard of the patience of Job (James 5:11) —did he learn it among his flocks, or with his camels, or with his children when they were feasting? No, verily, he learned it when he sat among the ashes and scraped himself with a potsherd—and his heart was heavy because of the death of his children. (Job 42:1-6) Patience is a pearl which is only found in the deep seas of affliction and only Divine Grace can find it there, bring it to the surface and adorn the neck of faith with it!

It comes to pass that this patience works in us experience, that is, to say, the more we endure, the more we test the faithfulness of God, the more we prove His love and the more we perceive His wisdom. He that has never endured may believe in the sustaining power of Grace, but he has never had experience of it. You must put to sea to know the skill of the Divine Pilot and you must be buffeted with tempest before you can know His power over winds and waves. How can we see Jesus in His full power unless there is a storm for Him to turn into a calm? (Mark 4:37-39) Our patience works in us an experimental acquaintance with the truth, the faithfulness, the love and the power of our God. We bow in patience and then we rise in happy experience of heavenly support! What better wealth can a man have than to be rich in experience? Experience teaches. This is the real High School for God’s children. I scarcely think we learn anything thoroughly without the rod of affliction. Certainly we know best that which has been a matter of personal experience. We need that Truth of God should be burned into us with the hot iron of affliction before we know it effectively—after that, no man may trouble us, for our heart bears the brand of the Lord Jesus! Thus patience works experience.

It is rather amazing that it should then be said, “and experience works hope”—not amazing in the sense of being questionable, for there is no hope so bright as that of the man who knows, by experience, the faithfulness and love of God. But does it not seem singular that this heavy tribulation, this grievous affliction, this painful chastisement should, nevertheless, bring forth for us this bright particular light, this morning star of hope, this herald of the everlasting day of Glory? Brothers and Sisters, how wonderfully does Divine alchemy fetch fine gold out of metal which we thought to be worthless! The Lord, in His Grace, spreads a couch for His own upon the threshing floor of tribulation and there, like Boaz, we take our rest! He sets to music the roar of the floods of trouble. Out of the foam of the sea of sorrow He causes to arise the bright spirit of “hope that makes not ashamed.”

This passage from which we have taken our text is a choice extract from the inner life of a spiritual man! It is a fragment of the Believer’s riddle—let him read it that has understanding.

Before I plunge into my subject, let me point out to you that this text is none other than the House of God and the gate of Heaven. Behold a Temple for the worship of the Divine Trinity in my text. Read the fifth and sixth verses together—“The love of God (the Father) is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:5-6) Behold the blessed Three in One! It needs the Trinity to make a Christian! It needs the Trinity to cheer a Christian! It needs the Trinity to complete a Christian! It needs the Trinity to create in a Christian the hope of Glory! I always like these passages which bring us so near to the Trinity. Let us pause a while and adore—“Glory be unto the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end! Amen.” It is most sweet to be called upon to offer special worship unto the one God in the Trinity of His Divine Persons and to feel your heart readily inclined thereto, as we do at this hour. By faith we bow with the hosts of the redeemed before the all-glorious Throne of God and worship Him that lives forever. How heartily may we do this when we think of the unity of the Sacred Three in our salvation! We have Divine Love bestowed by the Father, made manifest in the death of the Son and shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit! Oh, to feel, at this moment, communion with the Triune God! Let us bow before the sacred majesty of Jehovah and then, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, let us enter the Temple of our text!

The text runs thus: “Hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5) The Apostle had worked up the subject till he came to the hope of Glory. When he had reached that height, he could not help saying something concerning it. Turning away from his main subject, as is often his custom, he makes a diversion and gives us a few glowing sentences upon the Believer’s hope.

Our first head will be the confidence of our hope—the hope makes not ashamed. Secondly, the reason of this confidence, which I hope we are enjoying, today, for we are so confident about our hope that we shall never be disappointed in it because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us. Thirdly, we shall have a word or two to say upon the result of this confidence of hope, since, for this cause we bear testimony to the world and declare that we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.

I. First then, consider THE CONFIDENCE OF OUR HOPE.
We are not ashamed of our hope. Some persons have no hope, or only one of which they might justly be ashamed. Ask many who deny the Scriptures, what is their hope for the future. “I shall die like a dog,” says one. “When I am dead that’s the end of me.” If I had such a wretched hope as that, I certainly would not go about the world proclaiming it! I would not think of gathering a large congregation like this and saying to you, “Brothers and Sisters, rejoice with me, for we are all to die like cats and dogs.” It would never strike me as being a matter to be gloried in. The Agnostic knows nothing and, therefore, I suppose he hopes nothing. Here, also, I do not see much to stir enthusiasm. If I had no more hope than that, I would be ashamed.

The Romanist’s best hope when he dies is that he may come right in the end, but that, in the meantime, he will have to undergo the purging fires of “purgatory.” I do not know much about that place, for I cannot find mention of it in Holy Scripture—but those who know it well, because they invented it, and keep its keys—describe it as a dreary region to which even great bishops and cardinals must go! I have seen, personally seen, invitations to the faithful to pray for the repose of the soul of a late eminent cardinal—and if such is the lot of the princes of the church of Rome, where must ordinary people go? There is no great excellence in this hope. I do not think I should call you all together in order to say to you, “Rejoice with me, for when we die we shall all go to ‘purgatory.’” You would fail to see the special ground of rejoicing. I do not think I would say much about it and when anybody questioned me about it, I would endeavor to evade the point and declare that it was a deep mystery which had better be left to the clergy!

But we are not ashamed of our hope, we Christian people who believe that those Believers who are absent from the body are present with the Lord! (II Cor. 5:8) We look for a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God! (Hebrews 11:10) We are not ashamed to hope for Glory, immortality and eternal life!

We are not ashamed of the object of our hope. We do not believe in gross carnal delights as making up our Heaven. We do not believe in a Muslim paradise of sensual delights, or we might very well be ashamed of our hope! Whatever imagery we may use, we intend, thereby, pure, holy, spiritual and refined happiness such as the False Prophet would not have regarded as a sufficient bait for his followers. Our hope is this—that our Lord will come a second time and all His holy angels with Him. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father! We believe that if we fall asleep before that time, we shall sleep in Jesus and shall be blessed with Him. (1 Thess. 4:14) “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43) is not for the thief, only, but for all of us who have trusted our souls with the crucified Savior. At His coming we expect a glorious resurrection. When He shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of the archangel and the voice of God, then shall our souls be restored to our bodies and our complete manhood shall live with Christ! (1 Thess. 4:16) We believe and are sure, that from that day we shall be forever with Him. (1 Thess. 4:17) He will give us to be partakers of His Throne, of His crown and of His Heaven—and that forever and ever!

The more we talk about the promised bliss, the more we feel that we could not be ashamed of the hope of Glory! The ultimate reward of faith, the ultimate reward of a life of righteousness, is such that we joy and rejoice in prospect of it. Our glorious hope contains, within it, purity and perfection, freedom from all sin and the possession of every virtue. Our hope is that we shall be like our perfect Lord and shall be with Jesus where He is, that we may behold His Glory. Our hope is fulfilled in that promise, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:16) We shall not merely exist, but live, which is another and a higher matter. Our life shall be the life of God in our spirits forever and ever! We are not ashamed of this hope! We press forward to the attaining of it!

Furthermore, we are not ashamed of the ground of our hope. Our hope rests upon the solemn promises of God (II Cor. 1:20) which He has made to us by His Prophets and Apostles—and confirmed in the Person and work of His dear Son. Inasmuch as Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, we that are one with Him by faith, are sure that we shall rise again from the dead and live with Him. The fact of Christ’s Resurrection is the assurance of our resurrection! And His entrance into Glory is the pledge of our glorification because we are made one with Him by the purpose and Grace of God. As we fell in Adam by virtue of our being in him, so we rise and reign with Jesus because we are in Him. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living—yet is He the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob and, therefore, these men are yet alive! Even thus do we believe concerning all who die in the faith that they have not ceased to be, but they all live unto Him. Our hope is founded not upon reasoning, which, possibly, may dimly prove the immortality of the soul and the future reward of the righteous, but upon God’s Revelation which states it clearly and plainly and leaves no room for question. If this Book is a lie, our hope must be given up. But inasmuch as we have not followed cunningly devised fables, but have received the testimony of faithful eyewitnesses of our Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension, we believe the Holy Record and are not ashamed of our hope! (Acts 1:1-3; 1 John 5:10-11) What God has promised is sure—and what God has done fully confirms the same and, therefore, we have no fear.

And, Brothers and Sisters, we are not ashamed of our personal appropriation of this hope. Somebody may sneeringly say to us, “You expect to be in Glory, do you?” Yes, we do and we are not ashamed to acknowledge the soft impeachment, for our confidence is well grounded. Our expectation is not based upon any proud claim of personal merit, but upon the promise of a faithful God! He has said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” (John 3:36) We do believe in Him and, therefore, we know that we have eternal life! He has declared in His Word that, “whom He justified, them He also glorified”— (Romans 8:30) and we are justified by faith, (Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:11) therefore we shall be glorified! Our hope is not based on mere feeling, but on the fact that God has promised everlasting life to them that believe in His Son, Jesus. We have heard our Lord pray, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My Glory.” (John 17:24) We believe that the Father gave us to Jesus because we have been led to put our trust in Him and faith is the sure sign and token of Divine election. Therefore, being Christ’s, we expect to be with Him where He is. Reading in the Word of the Lord the words, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16) we hold on to that promise and know that we have everlasting life! This seems to us to be a strictly logical argument. Unless it is a mistake and God has not said that the Believer shall live forever, then we are under no delusion in expecting so to live. God’s Word is the most sure thing that can be and we are not ashamed to hold on to any claim which truthfully arises out of it! We dare believe that God will keep His Word to us and to all other Believers.

Brethren, we are not ashamed as to the absolute certainty that our hope will be realized. We believe that if, indeed, we are justified by faith and have peace with God, we have a hope of Glory which will not fail us in the end, nor on the way to the end. We do not expect to be deserted and to be left to fall from Grace, for, “He hath said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5) We do not expect to be left to ourselves, which would mean our sore and certain ruin, but we expect that He who has begun a good work in us will perfect it unto the day of Christ—(Phil. 1:6) we are certain that He who has worked this hope in us will justify that hope by fulfilling it in due time. He will preserve us through long life if we are to live long; will maintain a living hope in us when we come to die and will remember, even, our dust and ashes when these are hidden in the tomb. “Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?” (Romans 8:35-39) It is written, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” And so it shall be. He shall not perish from the way, nor in the way. Has He not said, “I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me?” (Jeremiah 32:40) He keeps the feet of His saints. “I give unto My sheep,” He says, “eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28) Never shall we be deceived in our trust in Jesus! No man shall say, “I trusted the Lord Christ to keep me, but He has not kept me. I rested in Jesus to preserve me in spiritual life, but He has not preserved me.” Never! We shall not be ashamed of our hope!

II. As I have introduced to you that confidence which makes Believers—especially tried and experienced Believers— full of hope which makes us not ashamed, my second objective is to dwell upon THE REASON OF THIS CONFIDENCE. Why is it that men who possess the good hope are so far from being ashamed of it that they rejoice in it?

My answer, is first, because that hope has for one of its main supports the love of God . I expect, one day, to sit among the angels and to behold the face of my Best-Beloved, (Ps. 17:15; 1 John 3:1-3; 1 Cor. 13:12; Rev. 22:4) but I do not expect this because of anything in me, or anything which may ever be done by me, but simply because of the infinite love of God! I trust not to my love of God, but to God’s Love to me! We trust Him because He loves us. We are sure that He will fulfill our hope because He is too loving to fail us. It is from the love of God that all our hopes begin and it is upon the love of God that all our hopes depend! If it were not for the Father’s love, there had never been a Covenant of Grace. If it were not for His infinite love, no atoning Sacrifice had been provided. If it were not for His active love, no Holy Spirit would have quickened and renewed us. If it were not for His unchanging love, all that is good in us would soon pass away. If it were not for love almighty, love immutable, love unbounded, we would never hope to see the face of the King in His beauty in the land that is very far off. He loves us and, therefore, He leads us, feeds us and always keeps us. Do not your hearts confess this? If that love could be suspended for a moment—if its power were, for an instant, to cease, where would we be? We fall back upon the love of God as the final reason of our hope in Him.

Observe, dear Brothers and Sisters, the actual cause of our confidence is that the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Let me try and explain what this means. The Holy Spirit is in the heart of every Believer and He is occupied in many gracious acts. Among other things, He sheds abroad the love of God in the heart in which He resides. The figure is taken from a box of precious perfume being poured out in a chamber. There lies the slumbering scent within the alabaster box—it is a very choice thing, but no one has yet perceived its odor. The love of God brought within the soul is that rare fragrance, but till it is shed abroad, it is not enjoyed. Now the Holy Spirit takes that box, opens it and the sweet savor of Divine Love streams forth and fills all the capacity of the Believer. This love penetrates, permeates, enters and occupies the entire being. A delightful perfume streams through the entire room when the odor of roses is poured out and even so, when the love of God is thought upon by the devout heart and the Holy Spirit helps its meditations, the theme fills the mind, the memory, the imagination, the reason and the affections! It is an engrossing subject and is not to be confined to any one faculty any more than you could keep the aroma of spices within a certain narrow

Moreover, as perfume gives delight to the nostrils, so the love of God, when shed abroad in the power of the Holy Spirit, imparts a singular sweetness to our emotions. All the garments of the Lord of Love smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia. Where can such sweetness be as in the love of God ? That the eternal and the infinite One should really love men and love them at such a rate as He has done, is a Truth of God at once surprising and gladsome! It is a root from which springs the lily of perfect joy. This is an ivory palace wherein every dweller is made glad. You may meditate upon that love till you are ravished and carried away by it—and your soul, before you are aware, becomes like the chariots of Amminadib!

Yet again, wherever perfume comes, it not only spreads itself abroad and gives delight to all who are in the place, but it abides there. Take the ointment away if you will, but the sweet odor remains for many an hour in the room which was once filled with it. Some scent appears to abide forever. You went to your drawer the other day and there was a delicious flavor of lavender, yet there had been no lavender there since last summer—fragrance lingers! A few drops of the
true oil will perfume a wide space and remain long after the vase from which it was poured has been taken away. The love of God, when it comes into the heart and is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit, who is the great Master of the art of diffusing love, abides in the heart world without end! All other things may cease, but love abides. For a moment we may seem to forget the love of God amidst the business of the world, but no sooner is the pressure removed than we return unto our rest. The sweet perfume of Divine Love overcomes the rankness of the odor of sin and never quits the heart that has once known its exceeding deliciousness.

If I change the figure, I may say that the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit like one of yonder rain clouds, black with exceeding blessing, which pours forth a shower of innumerable silver drops, fertilizing every place on which they fall, making the drooping herbs to lift up their heads and rejoice in the Heaven-sent revival! After a while, from that spot where the rain fell, there rises a gentle steam which ascends to Heaven and forms fresh clouds—thus is the
love of God poured upon our heart and shed abroad in our nature till our spirit drinks it in and its new life is made to put forth its flowers of joy and fruits of holiness and, by-and-by, grateful praise ascends like the incense which in the Temple smoked upon Jehovah’s altar. Love is shed abroad in us and it works upon our heart to love in return.

To leave the figures—the shedding abroad of the love of God in the heart by the Holy Spirit means this—He imparts to us an intense appreciation and sense of that love. We have heard of it, believed in it and meditated upon it and, at last, we are overpowered by its greatness! “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) We cannot measure such love! We become affected by it. We are filled with wonder and admiration. Its greatness, its singularity, its specialty, its infinity—all these amaze us! It is shed abroad in our hearts. Then there comes an appropriation of it. We cry, “He loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) We begin to feel that God’s love was not only love to men in general, but love to ourselves in particular and we are now fairly carried off our feet! In a belief of this special love to us we are ready to dance for joy. Faith perceives that it is even so and then we praise the Lord upon the high-sounding cymbals.

Then follows, as a matter of course, that return of love which the human heart must feel—"we love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) We doubted His love once, but we cannot doubt it now. If we were asked three times, “Do you love Me?” we would answer humbly, but most emphatically, “Lord, You know all things, you know that I love You. I could not live without loving You. I would rather a thousand times that I had never been born than be without love to You and, though I do not love You as I ought, and my heart craves after a far greater love, yet I do love You in deed and in truth. You know that I do and I should be false to my own consciousness if I denied it.” This is to have the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit which is given to us—to know it, enjoy it, appropriate it, rejoice in it—and come under its Divine influence. May this bundle of myrrh never be removed from the chamber of my soul!

But I want you to notice the special sweetness which struck our Apostle as being so amazingly noteworthy. He goes on to tell us what most affected him. He says, “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) That is the first point to be dwelt upon—that God should give His Son to die for the ungodly. That God should love those who love Him, that God should love His renewed people who are striving after holiness is, indeed, delightful. But the most overpowering thought of all is that He loved us when there was nothing good in us whatever! He loved us from before the foundation of the world! Regarding us as being fallen and lost, His love resolved to send His Son to die for us! Jesus came not because we were good, but because we were evil! He gave Himself, not for our righteousness, but for our sins! The moving cause of love in God was not excellence in the creature then existing or foreseen to exist, but simply the good pleasure of the God of Love! Love was born of God, Himself. It was so great in the heart of God that—

“He saw us ruined in the Fall
Yet loved us notwithstanding
He loved us when we hated Him! He loved us when we opposed Him, when we cursed Him, when we persecuted His people and blasphemed His ways. Marvelous fact! Oh, that the Holy Spirit would bring home that Truth of God to our hearts and make us feel its energy! I cannot put the thought fitly before you, much less shed it abroad within you, but the Holy Spirit can do it—and then how charmed you will be, how humbled and yet how full of praise to the Most High

The Apostle is not content with bringing that point before us—he would not have us forget that Christ died for us. Brothers and Sisters, that Christ should love us in Heaven was a great thing. That He should then come down to earth and be born in Bethlehem was a greater thing. That He should live a life of obedience for our sakes was a wonderful thing. But that He should die—this is the climax of Divine Love’s sacrifice—the summit of the Alp of love! Some sights in the world astonish us once or twice and then grow commonplace, but the Cross of Christ grows upon us. The more we know of it, the more it surpasses knowledge! To a saint who has been saved 2,000 years, the sacrifice of Calvary is even more a marvel than when first he saw it! That God, Himself, should take our nature and that in that nature He should die a death like that of a felon upon a gallows to save us, who were His enemies, is a thing which could not be believed if it
had been told us on less authority than the Divine! It is altogether miraculous! And if you let it take possession of your soul until it is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit, you will feel that there is nothing worth knowing, believing, or admiring when compared with this! Nothing can ever rival in interest the Cross of Christ. Let us study what books we may, the knowledge of a crucified Savior will still remain the most sublime of all the sciences.

Furthermore, the Apostle then goes on to say that the Lord must always love us, now that we are reconciled. He puts it thus—If God loved us when we were enemies, He will surely continue to love us, now that we are friends. If Jesus died for us when we were rebels, He will refuse us nothing, now that He has reconciled us. If He reconciled us by His death, surely He can and will save us by His life. If He died to reconcile enemies, surely He will preserve the reconciled. (Romans 5:9-11) Do you see the whole argument? It is very full of reasons for the upholding of our hope of Glory and causing us not to be ashamed of it. When the great God makes us feel the exceeding greatness of His love, we banish all doubt and dread. We infer from the Character of His love as seen in the past that He cannot possibly cast us away in the future! What? Die for us and then leave us? What? Pour out His heart’s blood for our redemption and yet permit us to be lost? Will He manifest Himself to us as He does not to the world, robed in the crimson of His own Atonement through death, and then will He, after all, say to us, “Depart, you cursed”? Impossible! He changes not! Our hope has for the keystone of its arch the unchanging love of Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever! The Holy Spirit has so shed abroad the love of God in Christ Jesus in our hearts that we feel quite sure that no one can separate us from it and, so long as we are not divided from it, our hope of Glory is sure as the Throne of the Eternal!

Once more—the Apostle reminds us in the 11th verse that, “we have now received the atonement.” We already feel that we are at one with God. Through the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus we are at peace with God. We love Him—our quarrel with Him is ended—we delight in Him, we long to glorify Him. Now this delightful sense of reconciliation is a satisfactory assurance of Grace and Glory. The hope of Glory burns in the golden lamp of a heart reconciled to God by Jesus Christ. Inasmuch as we are now in perfect accord with God, longing only to be and to do just what He would have us to be and to do, we have the beginnings of Heaven within us, the dawn of the perfect day! Grace is Glory in the bud. Agreement with God is the seed-corn of perfect holiness and perfect happiness. If we are under the dominion of holiness. If there is no wish in our soul but what we would take back if we knew it to be contrary to the mind of our holy Lord, then are we assured that He has accepted us and that we have His life in us and shall finally come to His Glory. He that has brought His enemies to be His hearty friends will not permit this gracious work to be undone, or His holy purpose to fail! In our present delight in God we have the earnest of our endless joy in Him and, therefore, we are not ashamed of our hope.

One word more on this point—note well that the Apostle not only mentions the love of God and its being shed abroad in our hearts, but he mentions the Divine Person by whom this has been done. The shedding abroad of God’s love in the heart has been worked by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5) Only by the Holy Spirit could this have been done. Would you ever have been charmed with the love of God through the influence of the devil? Would you ever have been overpowered and filled with excessive joy in the love of God through the power of your own fallen human nature? You judge! They that have felt the love of God shed abroad in their heart can say without a doubt, “This is the finger of God; the Holy Spirit has worked this in me.” Nothing short of the Holy Spirit can effect it. “Thank God,” says one, “I sat under an earnest ministry!” So you might and yet have never felt the love of God within your heart! We can shed that love abroad by preaching, but we cannot shed it abroad in the heart. A higher influence than that of human orator must deal with the inner nature!

Perhaps you were alone in your chamber, or walking by the roadside when the sweet savor of Divine love stole into your soul. Oh the love of God! The amazing, immeasurable, incomprehensible love of the Father! Oh, to feel this till our very souls are inflamed with it and our unloving nature is all on fire with love to the great Lover of the souls of men! Who can do this but the Holy Spirit? And how come we to have the Holy Spirit but by the free gift of God, whose gifts and calling “are without repentance”? God does not give and take—His gifts are ours forever. If the Holy Spirit has been given to you, is He not the pledge of God’s love? Does not the New Testament describe Him as the earnest of the inheritance? (II Cor. 5:5; II Cor. 1:21-22) Is not an earnest the security for all the rest? (Eph. 1:13-14) Does the Holy Spirit set His seal to a document which, after all, is so faulty that it will not effect its purpose? Never! If the Holy Spirit dwells in you, He is the guarantee of everlasting joy. Where Grace is given by His Divine indwelling, Glory must follow it. The Holy Spirit, when He comes into the soul, comes that there He may take up His dwelling place—and there He will abide till we shall be caught up to the higher realms, to behold our Lord’s face forever! (1 John 4:13; Romans 8:9-11)

III. Lastly, let us hint at THE RESULT OF THIS CONFIDENT HOPE. Let the context instruct us.

First, this confident hope breeds inward joy. The man that knows that his hope of Glory will never fail him because of the great love of God, of which he has tasted, that man will hear music at midnight! The mountains and the hills will break forth before him into singing wherever he goes! Especially in times of tribulation he will be found “rejoicing in hope of the Glory of God.” His most profound comfort will often be enjoyed in his deepest affliction because then the
love of God will especially be revealed in his heart by the Holy Spirit, whose name is, “the Comforter.” Then he will perceive that the rod is dipped in mercy, that his losses are sent in fatherly love and that his aches and pains are all measured out with gracious design. In our affliction, God is doing nothing to us which we should not wish for ourselves if we were as wise and loving as God is. O Friends! You do not need gold to make you glad! You do not even need health to make you glad—only get to know and feel Divine love and the fountains of delight are unsealed to you—you are introduced to the banquets of happiness!

This brings with it the Grace of holy boldness in the avowal of our hope. Christian people do not often enough show worldlings the joy of their hope. We do not wear our best liveries, nor say enough of the joy of being in the Lord’s service, nor speak enough of the wages which our Lord will pay at the end of the day. We are as silent as if we were ashamed of our hope! We even go mourning, although we have reason to be the happiest men on God’s earth. I fear we have not enough experience of Divine love shed abroad in our hearts. If the perfume were within, it would be perceived by those who are around us. You pass a factory of perfume and at once perceive that sweetness steals abroad. Let us make worldlings know the fragrance of our joyous hope—especially let us tell those who seem most likely to laugh at us—for we have learned by experience that some of these are most likely to be impressed. Often has a new convert written to a worldly friend to tell him of his great change and of his new joy—and that worldly friend has put the letter aside with a sneer or a jest. But after a while he has thought it over and he has said to himself, “There may be something in it. I am a stranger to this joy of which my friend speaks and I certainly need all the joy I can get, for I am dull enough.” Let me tell you that all worldlings are not such fools as some would take them for—they are aware of an unrest within their bosoms and they hunger after something better than this vain world can give them! So that it frequently happens that as soon as they learn where the good is, they accept it.

Even if they do not hunger, I do not know any better way of making a man long for food than yourself to eat. The looker-on feels his mouth water. All of a sudden his appetite arrives. In the parable of the prodigal son, the servants were ordered to bring forth the best robe and put it on him and to put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet—but the father did not tell them to take the son and make him eat! What he said was, “Let us eat and be merry.” He knew that at the
sight of others feasting, his hungry son would eat. When you who belong to the Divine family, eat and drink in happy fellowship and are merry with the Lord in feasting upon love Divine, the poor hungry brother will desire to join you and he will be encouraged to do so.

Come, then, you that have a hope of Glory, let all men see that you are not ashamed of it! Act as decoys to others— let the sweet notes of your happy life charm them to Jesus! May the Lord cause you to spread abroad what He has shed abroad and may that which perfumes your heart also perfume your house, your business, your conversation and your whole life! May we so enjoy true godliness that we may never bring shame upon it, nor feel shame concerning it!

"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." (Phil. 4:4)
****** End of Sermon Transcript ******

May all who read this sermon know what it is for themselves to have this "blessed hope" and to live in the enjoyment of it!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1 Peter 1:3

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16

In Christian love,

June & Ralph Nadolny,
two sinners saved by God's grace alone (Eph. 2:8-10; Romans 5:8)
"Christ in you (us), the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27b)
"new creatures in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17)
"We love him, because HE first loved us." (1 John 4:19)