Tag Archives: god

2016: Questions, Faith & Reevaluating

I’ve written a lot on here, regrettably, about my anger towards the church over the past year. As some of you know who have been following this blog for a while, I actually ended up leaving the church about a year or so ago, because in those days I felt as if I was being judged not only for who I was, but how I was choosing to live my own life.

I guess with all of the anticipatory grief I was experiencing at that time, the feeling of being an animal cornered by its predator was starting to feel smothering. There was no way I was going to be told how to live my life or be molded into a person I wasn’t. So, I left. But something over the past month or so has been making me reevaluate my life and the choices I made over the past 2 years.

What I’ve come to realize is this: the people I spent so much time and energy rebelling away from, feeling hurt by and being angry at weren’t actually who I was mad at. These people, who I still love dearly by the way, were just the messengers.

Since I was 17 I considered and called myself a Christian. I served in ministry, devoted my life to the church and God, but I realized over the past month that those 6 or 7 years were never really faced with the amount of pain, grief and loss I experienced when I was 24. I can see now that during those 6 or 7 years the little bumps in the road that almost veered me into a ditch were nothing compared to the gigantic road block I hit once my Grandma had her stroke and heart attack. I don’t think I ever really knew the weight of the term pain and suffering up until then. So I did what I felt at that time I had to do once the doubts seemed like absolute truths and I was living (unbeknownst to me at the time) every day in fear, anger and pain: I left all of my beliefs in God at the door.

The people I loved became the enemy, and I would argue back and forth that this God I served for years was nothing but words on a page. I let that little flame of anger spiral out of control, and at this time in my life it served its purpose of having people leave me alone.

Yet like I said at the beginning of this post, I realize now why my friends at the church that I considered part of my family became the enemy in my eyes so quick: they were the face of the God I was angry with. It gets pretty old pretty quick yelling and screaming and arguing with a wall or a being you cannot see or reach out and touch.So the people in my life, subconsciously, became the faces of God and something I could lash out at. Looking back now I feel terrible about my behaviors, even though they were all a result of my grief. It’s still no excuse, and I take full responsibility for my actions and words.

Christmas eve I ended up going back to the very church I left. Something inside of me wanted to go, and I gathered up the courage to get myself there and sit there during the service. It wasn’t awkward or shame inducing walking through those doors. All of the people I had left seemed genuinely happy to see me, and it made me feel happy knowing that my actions and words did not cause an irreversible damage. This past Sunday, I went back. It was the same thing with those people. I’m not sure what it is about that place or those individuals that drew me back in, but I feel as if it was almost a fresh start.

I feel like in 2015 I lost my self in the pain, yet in a weird way I also found myself. Yes, I am secure in who I am now and am continuously learning to love and accept myself for the woman I have become and am continuing to become. Maybe I am learning how to cope with the things that life throws at me in a more healthy way than I had my whole life. I still don’t know what changed in me over the past month or so, but being able to reevaluate some things in my life has been refreshing. To be able to look back and see some of the things I did or said and realize that I no longer want to hold onto that is something I never really saw myself capable of doing. Yet here I am.

There’s still a lot of beef I have with God, although I’m not so sure those are the right words to use. I guess I have more questions than anything else. Walking through the pain of my Grandma being sick and then dying made me lose a lot of my faith in God and it also raised a lot of questions in my life. Now, I sit back and try to clearly find answers to things I want to know, yet I have yet to have these things answered.

I’m glad I have reached this point in my life of being able to feel ok with having questions and wanting to actually work through these things in my life.

Anger & Anticipatory Grief

As a lot of you all know, if you’ve been following this blog, I’ve lived with the excruciating pain of something known as anticipatory grief for almost a year and a half. I won’t relive all of the details for you, but if you want to know what exactly I’m talking about when it comes to what happened to my Grandma you can find the posts on my page.

After my Grandma died I felt lost. Yes we all knew it was coming but even with that it’s still hard as hell when it happens. For the past week or two I’ve been thinking a lot about the people I’ve lost over the past year and I’ve come to realize that I was living a life fueled by anger.

All of the things I thought I believed were tested during that time of my life and instead of feeling those emotions I hid a lot behind anger. To sound all clinical and stuff, I was projecting my own disbelief in things like God or a higher power onto those in my life, using friends I held dear to my heart as a scapegoat.

The weird thing about anger and living through a grief process where you’re grieving an eventual loss before it’s happened is that in those moments when you’re hanging onto your last shred of sanity, you don’t realize that almost everything you say or do is an emotional reaction to something nobody can see or help you with. I’m sure if you were to ask those who saw me regularly during this time they would probably tell you I was not the easiest person to get along with. I was pushing a lot of people away who meant a lot to me because being alone was easier than letting people in when there was nothing they could have said or done to give me what I really needed: my Grandma to be ok and back to normal. I blamed God, those who believed in God and were praying and my anger grew and grew.

Now that I’m in a place where I can think more clearly, and the pain I feel now on a daily basis is that of missing my Grandma and still wanting her back, I see the damage my anger caused. To put it in the words of what a Dr. told me a while back. I was angry, I was firing bullets and those who were in my life got hit with the shrapnel. I was always good at anger because as I said previously, feeling anything else besides that when I am going through it makes me uncomfortable and is something I refused to allow myself to sit in and feel. But now that I’m learning how to feel and process my emotions I’m learning that living a life of anger when I was experiencing that anticipatory grief was doing more damage than good.

If I could say anything to those I pushed away over the past 2 years it would be this:

I’m sorry for the things I said or did out of my emotional reactions. Almost none of the things I said were coming from things I actually meant. Did I mean to hurt you? It sounds harsh but yes, I did. It’s almost as if I needed someone else to be in pain with me. For those of you who believe in God, I was projecting my anger that I have towards God onto you because you were tangible and represent everything that was in question at that time. I do believe in God and I am so sorry that I allowed my anger and grief ridden state of mind to dictate the things I said to you all and wrote on here. I was immature, in so much pain and angry but I know it’s no excuse for what happened. I know some of you forgave me, and on the off chance anyone else reads these words I hope maybe one day down the line we can sort things out as well.

Higher Power. New Beliefs

I’ve really been struggling with the religion thing for a few years now, and I think I’ve reached that self-actualization in my life that it’s alright for me to deny my old beliefs about God. Do I believe in a higher power? Yes. Do I believe God is the God the Bible says him to be? No.

I’ve experienced a lot of shit throughout the past few years and in those times where I needed God and my friends most, neither one of them showed up; and the more I learn about science, more specifically the field of psychology, I’m beginning to believe more in the strong evidence of the human mind than I am about a book based on something nobody has ever seen or can even measure for that matter. The way I’ve experienced faith in God is that it has to be pushed on you if you’re a “non-believer”. Since I was a little girl the idea of going to church, getting right with God and surrendering all to him and ultimately becoming a shallow minded being who sees all of life’s struggles and issues as a simple fix if you only pray. Now, I am in no ways saying that you are wrong if you believe in God or whatever religious figure you do, I just know for me I no longer believe in Jesus or God the way I used to.

So this year, I have made an oath with myself to live my life for nobody but me. Not the opinion of my friends, family or the church that I used to belong to. I’m learning it’s ok to believe in what I believe in and if in this moment of time if I don’t believe in anything that resembles christianity but is more psychology/science based than that is more than alright.

“Why Would God Punish So?”

“I probably sound like a hypocrite, but why would God punish so?”

Those words have been resonating inside my head for the past 2 or 3 days and unfortunately it’s a question I don’t think I’ll ever get the answer to. I mean you talk to people and they tell you God doesn’t cause us harm and that He is this Almighty and powerful being that can heal us and that He isn’t a punishing type of God. But I’m having a really fucking hard time believing in all of that shit as of late.

Ya know, I’ve been going around the past year or so convinced I wasn’t pissed off at God for what happened to my Grandma. Yes I pissed off and hurt that this God would heal other people and they had stories to tell of it, but then there’s my Grandma who also believes in God and she is in this place where she is a shell of a person, with no cure or “divine” healing. What the fuck did she do to deserve this?

So on Thanksgiving when I was spending time with my Grandma and her roommate called me over to talk to me about my Grandma and what happened, I was a little shocked that she said the statement I began this post off with. I understand though. I believe in God, but aren’t I also allowed to be fucking pissed off at him too?

The truth is I don’t know why God would punish someone as loving, caring and genuine as my Grandma. I don’t know why He chose to give her a stroke and heart attack, which in turn took away any shred of her independent life she had lived for the last 87 years. It’s not fucking fair, and it hurts. So why would God punish? Who the fuck knows.

Sinners Welcome to Come to Jesus Christ- Archibald Alexander

 Our blessed Lord knew how prone convinced sinners are to unbelief as it regards the reception which he is disposed to give them if they come to him, and therefore He graciously uttered, and has left on record this precious encouragement, “He who COMES UNTO ME, I WILL NEVER CAST OUT.” No, though your sins are very great, the kind Redeemer will not cast you out; even if that were true which you sometimes think, that you are the greatest sinner who ever lived upon earth, he will not cast you out. “His blood CLEANSES from all sin.” It is as easy for him to save a great as a small sinner. No one was ever saved because his sins were small; no one was ever rejected on account of the greatness of his sins. Where sin abounded, grace shall much more abound. If your guilt is very enormous, the greater honor will redound to that Deliverer who plucks such a brand from the burning. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

But is there not one sin which never has pardon, neither in this world nor in that which is to come? There is; but no one who has committed that sin ever desires to come to Christ; and even that sin would not be unpardonable, if the sinner who is burdened with its guilt should come to him. It is not unpardonable because the blood of Christ has not adequate efficacy to remove it, but because the miserable blasphemer is abandoned by the Spirit of God to his own malignity, and therefore never does nor can desire to believe on Christ.

Christ will not cast you off because you have long continued to sin against God, though it be even to gray hairs and the decrepitude of old age. It is indeed a wicked thing to continue one day in rebellion against the King of heaven; and no one can calculate the debt of guilt incurred by spending a long life in continued acts of transgression. But however long you may have continued in rebellion, and however black and long the catalogue of your sins, yet if you will now turn to God by a sincere repentance, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you shall not be cast out. He who cannot lie has declared, “Him who comes unto me, I will never cast out.”

I heard a preacher declare from the pulpit that there was no example in the Bible of any one being converted in old age; but he was undoubtedly under a mistake. Was not Manasseh, one of the wickedest men who ever lived, brought to repentance in old age? The ages of those converted on the day of Pentecost and at other times are not given. It is enough for us to know that the aged no more than the young are excluded from the free invitations of the blessed Savior. He invites all the laboring and heavy-laden, and of course those who are burdened with the infirmities of declining years, as well as of unnumbered sins.

Aged sinner, you are not excluded from mercy by any word of God in the whole book of divine revelation. God has set before you an open door which no man has a right or power to shut. If you should be shut out, it will be by your own unbelief, and not for lack of a warrant to come. Enter, then, without delay or hesitation. None can less afford to delay than the aged sinner. Now is the time. Now or never. You have, as it were, one foot already in the grave. Your opportunities will soon be over. Strive, then, I entreat you, to enter in at the strait gate.

But do you ask whether a man may not outlive his day of grace, and be given over to judicial blindness before life is ended? Undoubtedly he may; but as I said before, such a one, I believe, is never found inquiring what he must do to be saved. The devil often tempts aged sinners, and others too, to believe that it is now too late for them to repent; that the time of their visitation is gone by, and that there is no hope for them. And many miserable souls are long held entangled in this snare. He may even quote Scripture to prove that there is a boundary which, when passed, all hope of salvation is to be relinquished. But as long as we are in the body we have the overtures of mercy made to us by the authority of God, and whether we be young or old, “he who comes unto Me,” Christ has declared, shall not be cast out. Take him at his word. Venture on him. If you stay away you must perish, and you can but perish if you go. But see, the golden scepter is held out. This affords full assurance that if you draw near and touch it you shall live.

Some are convinced that there is salvation in no other but Christ the Lord, yet they hesitate to come because they feel themselves to be so vile and unworthy. They cannot be persuaded that so great and holy a being as the Son of God will look with favor on creatures so abominably polluted and stained with iniquity. Such feelings as these very naturally arise in the minds of people made sensible of the sinful defilement of their nature; but they are most unreasonable when we take into view the character of Jesus Christ, and the errand on which he came into the world. If he had become incarnate and had died on the cross only for the benefit of the pure and righteous, then this excuse for not coming to him would have some validity; but when we know that he bears the character of a Savior of sinners, and that his name was called JESUS by the angel who announced his birth, because he should save his people from their sins; when we consider his repeated declaration, that he came to seek and save the lost—not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, and that he exhibits himself as the Physician, not of the whole, but the sick—we must pronounce this objection most unreasonable.

If you were not a sinful, polluted, helpless, and miserable creature, this Savior would not be suited to you, and you would not be comprehended in his gracious invitations sinners. But the deeper you are sunk in sin and misery, the greater reason you have for coming to one who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him. If you were covered with leprosy, and a fountain was opened for washing away every sort of uncleanness, would you stay away because you were so polluted? Or if deadly sick, would you refuse to apply to the physician? The awakened, convinced sinner is the very one to whom Jesus especially directs his attention. And it is a preposterous thing for such to delay coming, under the delusive hope of making themselves fit. This they never can do, and if they could, they would not need a Savior. What, will you wash yourselves in a muddy pool to prepare for being cleansed in a pure fountain?

But someone may be ready to say, “All admit that none ever come to Christ until they experience conviction of sin, but I have no conviction, or none worth mentioning. My mind is so blind that I can perceive nothing clearly, and my heart is so hard that what I do see to be true, I cannot feel. O if I could experience some tender relenting—if I could get this adamant heart broken into contrition—if I could even feel pungent pain or alarm on account of my sins, my case would not appear so hopeless. But how can I come to Christ with this blind and stupid heart?”

Now, my friend, I beg you to consider that this blindness and unyielding hardness is the very core of your iniquity, and to be convinced that you are thus blind and stupid is true conviction of sin. If you had those feelings which you so much covet, they would not answer the end of conviction, which is, to show you how sinful and helpless your condition is. But if you felt as you wish to feel, you would not think your heart so wicked as you now see it to be. And the truth is, that you are now in a better situation to come to Christ than you would be if you had less conviction of the hardness and stubbornness of your heart. The use of conviction is to show your need of a Savior, and to set clearly before your mind your utterly helpless and hopeless condition in yourself, and that a holy God would be perfectly just in leaving you to your own fruitless efforts, and in punishing you forever for your sins.

“Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requires
Is to feel your need of him.”

Take words, therefore, and go immediately and fall down before him, and say, “Against you, you only have I sinned and done this evil in your sight, that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge.” Confess the righteousness of the sentence which condemns you, and accept the punishment of your sins as just. Cry with Peter, when sinking in the sea, “Lord, save me!—or I perish.” Or with the blind man, “O Son of David, have mercy on me!” Or with the Syrophenician woman, “Lord, help me!” Or with the penitent publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” Say, like the royal penitent,

“My lips with shame my sins confess
Against your law, against your grace.
Lord, should your judgment grow severe,
I am condemned, but you are clear.

Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord,
Whose hope, still hovering round your word,
Would light on some sweet promise there,
Some sure support against despair.”

But here is another poor soul, more bowed down than any which we have considered. It is an awakened backslider. This man thought that he was a true Christian, and under that impression applied for admittance into the church, and was received, and for a season seemed to run well; but by the snares and baits of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and insidious lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life—by degrees seduced from the paths of piety. After a while the profession of religion was laid aside as an inconvenient thing; since which time, until lately, he has been sinking deeper and deeper into the spirit of the world which lies in wickedness. But recently, by a sore visitation of affliction, his conscience has been awakened to a consideration of his woeful state, and he inquires with the most earnest solicitude whether there is any ground of hope for such a backslider, who has sinned much more flagrantly since he made a profession of religion, than he ever did before. Now to such a one I feel authorized to say, Christ invites even backsliders like you to come and be saved. I find no clause excluding the returning backslider, guilty as he is in the sight of God. He says in regard to this man as well as others—he who comes unto me I will never cast out.”

There is indeed mention made in Scripture of some backsliders who turn back unto perdition, and never can be renewed again unto repentance; these never come to Christ, and never truly desire to come. For them nothing remains “but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to devour the adversaries.”

But we read in Jeremiah of the Lord calling upon his backsliding Israel to return, Jer. 3:12; and in Hosea, God says, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.” Hos. 14:4. This is a most gracious and encouraging promise, and we find in fact that God has received great backsliders upon their repentance, and has freely pardoned their enormous sins. I believe that the deplorable backslidings of David, and his subsequent pardon and restoration, were left on record that convinced backsliders might not despair of mercy. And our Lord intimates that Peter, when recovered from his shameful fall, would make it his business “to strengthen his brethren.” Some of this class may perhaps allege that they are afraid that they never were truly of the number of the Israel of God. That perhaps is a question which you will never be able to solve in this life. But as to the point in hand it matters not; if you will now come to Christ, you will be received. Come, and he will never cast you out.

It is commonly said that men are forward to believe whatever is advantageous to their own interest. This in common cases is true; but it is also true, that when some very great and unexpected good news is brought to us, we find it very difficult to credit it. It seems too good to be true. When Jacob’s sons returned to their father after Joseph had made himself known to them, and informed him that his son Joseph was alive and governor of all Egypt, the old man could not believe the report until he lifted up his eyes and saw the wagons which had been sent to convey him to Egypt. So the convinced sinner finds it very hard to believe that a free and full salvation is offered to him, and that Christ stands ready to receive him, and not only to pardon all his sins, but give him a sure title to the heavenly inheritance. It seems a thing almost impossible that he should be thus highly favored, and therefore, when he should with humble confidence lay hold on eternal life; he stands parleying, hesitating, and demurring. He is prone to think that there must be some mistake in the business, and that this good news cannot be true, at least in relation to himself.

But when the truth stands out clearly revealed, he begins to understand what he never did before, the absolute and perfect freeness of salvation, and how it is that Christ receives the coming sinner just as he is, in all his guilt and vileness. Then, indeed, he cannot but rejoice and wonder at the suitableness of the plan of salvation to his character and necessities; that it comes down to his wretched and helpless circumstances, and takes him out of the horrible pit and the miry clay, and sets his feet on a rock, establishes his goings, and puts a new song into his mouth, even praise unto God.

Since awakened, convicted sinners are so prone to unbelief on this point, it will not be a superfluous labor to offer SOME COGENT REASONS to convince such that Christ will not cast off any who come to him, whatever may have been their former character or sins.

And I would first mention, that all who come are drawn by the Father. “No man,” says Christ, “can come unto me except the Father who sent me draw him.” Those who do truly come are such as were given to him by the Father. “All who the Father gives me, shall come to me.” Now this drawing of the Father is the fruit of his everlasting love. “We love him, because he first loved us.” And surely Christ will not cast out those whom the Father has loved and given to him, and effectually drawn by his grace.

But you may be ready to reply, “How shall I know that I am of the number given by the Father to the Son?” I answer, that you need no other or better evidence of it than your being willing to come. Surely you know that you did not make yourself willing. If you have come to Christ, or are willing to come, I am sure that you will ascribe it entirely to the grace of God. Others, as good by nature and practice as you, remain in love with the world and under the power of sin. Why is this? You must say with Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” The choice did not commence with you, but with him. “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” And as Christ concurs with the Father in this drawing, for he says, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me,” he surely will not cast out the poor penitent whom he has drawn to his feet. No, no; never. “He who comes, he will never cast out.”

Again, Christ redeemed, by the shedding of his precious blood, every soul that comes to him, and the impelling motive which induced him to die for sinners was love, unspeakable love: “who loved us, and gave himself for us.” Can anyone then think or suspect that when Christ sees the travail of his soul coming to him, he will cast them out? It would be like blasphemy to say that he would. No! he delights to see the fruit of his painful sufferings even unto death. It was predicted in connection with the impressive description of his sufferings and death, that he would “see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.”

Again, the Holy Spirit is the agent in convincing men of sin and bringing them to Christ; and this Holy Spirit is sent by the Son as well as the Father to accomplish this work; and when it is effected, when the soul is made willing to bow his neck to the easy yoke of Christ, will he cast him out? Impossible!

But the honor and glory of the Redeemer is concerned in this matter. God is not glorified in any transaction upon earth so much as the repentance of a sinner. There is joy in heaven in the conversion of one sinner, more than over ninety-nine just people who need no repentance. Every redeemed and renewed soul is a jewel in the mediatorial crown!

We may learn the willingness of Jesus Christ to receive sinners, not only by his frequent gracious declarations, but by his conduct in regard to such as applied to him. Christ’s personal ministry was confined to the people of Israel, and when he sent out the twelve, and afterwards the seventy, their commission was restricted within the same limits. Yet when a woman of Canaan came to implore his aid, he did not reject her, though she was descended from an accursed race. At first, indeed, he seemed to give her a repulse, but it was intended only to bring more clearly to view the strength of her faith. And his address to her in the end is truly remarkable: “O woman, great is your faith; be it unto you as you will.” And when the centurion, another pagan, applied to him to come and heal his child, he did not reject his suit because he was a heathen, but said of him, “truly, I have not found so great faith—no, not in Israel.”

When the vilest sinners, as publicans and harlots, came penitently to his feet, he rejected none of them, although his gracious attention to such greatly injured his reputation in the view of the scribes and Pharisees. His condescending behavior towards that woman who was notorious as a sinner, is in the highest degree touching. He was dining in the house of a Pharisee, and this infamous but penitent woman, urged by the strength of her feelings, found her way into the house, and while he was reclining on a couch at dinner, she came up behind him and wept such a flood of tears on his feet, that she is said to have washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. This led the Pharisee to entertain a suspicion that Christ could not be a teacher sent from God, or he would have known the infamous character of this woman. Jesus knowing his thoughts, uttered the beautiful parable of the two debtors, and then making the application to the case of the penitent woman, said, “Therefore I say unto you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven.”

When our blessed Lord was hanging on the cross, he was applied to by one of the malefactors crucified with him. This man being one of the two selected from all the prisoners in Jerusalem for public execution on this occasion, was no doubt deeply stained with the guilt of enormous crimes; but was his suit denied? O no; the response was full of mercy: “This day shall you be with me in paradise.” Who can fathom the freeness and riches of the grace of Christ? It is indeed “unsearchable riches.”

Paul may with propriety be here introduced. According to his own acknowledgment, he was a murderer and a blasphemer, but he obtained mercy, and was made an apostle, a chief instrument in propagating that gospel which he once attempted to destroy, among the Gentiles. Many of the first converts from among the heathen were notorious for the foulest and vilest crimes, for the apostle in writing to the Corinthians, after giving a black list of crimes which exclude the people guilty of them from the kingdom of heaven, says, “And such were some of you; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

But perhaps no example of the extent of divine mercy and its sovereign freedom can equal the pardon extended to the very people who had imbrued their hands in Christ’s own blood. The blood which they shed procured their salvation. And Christ seems to have had special compassion for the bloody city of Jerusalem. Before his death he wept over it and lamented its doom; and after his resurrection, when he met his disciples in a body, he gave direction that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Accordingly, on the day of Pentecost, Peter charges the sin of crucifying the Lord Jesus upon the consciences of those whom he addressed, saying, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Did Peter tell them that as they had committed this enormous crime, and Christ would not pardon them? By no means. He calls upon them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. And these greatest of sinners were that very day received into the church, and continued steadfast in their attachment to Christ and profession of his name.

Innumerable instances since that day have occurred of the repentance of the greatest sinners, and no true penitent has ever been rejected. If one instance could be produced of any sinner being rejected who ever came to Christ, this might create some doubt in the soul of one who is agonized with a sense of guilt. But as there is no such example, the trembling sinner, feeling that he is justly exposed to the wrath of God, need not hesitate nor delay to come at once to Christ, with the assurance that however vile and guilty he may be, he shall meet a welcome reception. O sinner, you are welcome to come to Jesus Christ.

All difficulty as to Christ’s willingness to receive returning sinners being, as it is hoped, removed, the only thing which remains to be considered is, what is to be understood by COMING TO CHRIST, and what are the steps which the sinner must take to come. It is too obvious to need any remark, that a mere bodily approach is not the thing intended. Many of Christ’s bitterest enemies were often near his person, as Judas when he betrayed him with a kiss; and as the soldiers who bound him, smote him, scourged him, and nailed him to the cross; but this kind of approach to Christ did those who came near him no good. The coming to Christ of which we have been treating, is the act of the concerned mind which seeks salvation from the burden of sin, and apprehending that Christ is the only Redeemer, TRUSTS IN HIM. Christ is exhibited in the gospel as the only Mediator by whom we can be reconciled to God, and offers to do for the sinner whatever is requisite to save him from the curse of the law, and from the blindness and pollution of sin itself; and coming to him is the same as receiving him in that character, or as sustaining those offices which relate to salvation.

There is but one step to be taken, strictly speaking, in coming to Christ, and that is believing in him with all the heart. We are not required to repent and do good works before we come, but to come to him to give us repentance unto life, and to create us anew to good works. But though the act of coming is a single act, yet there are some things which are experienced before this act can be rationally performed. No unawakened, careless sinner, remaining in that state, will come; for the “whole need not a physician, but those who are sick.” The sinner who knows nothing of Christ as he is revealed in the Scriptures, cannot come until he is instructed in regard to the character of Christ. Faith therefore comes by hearing the word. A soul perverted by erroneous opinions respecting the fundamental doctrines of religion, cannot come until he is delivered from these errors. That man who believes Christ to be the promised Messiah, but thinks that he is no more than a good man and a prophet, cannot come to Christ until this fundamental error be removed. The soul that truly comes to Christ must be persuaded that he is indeed the Son of God, and possessed of divine perfections.

The soul convinced of its sins first seeks Christ as he is an atoning Priest. That which it wants is the pardon of sin, and reconciliation with an offended God. Christ, as the great High-priest, has offered up himself as an atoning sacrifice for sin; and as a priest he has entered into the holy place made without hands, there to sprinkle, as it were, his life-giving blood, and to intercede for all who come unto him. When in this character he is apprehended by the seeking sinner, confidence in him is produced. It is seen now how God can be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly who believes in Christ. It is seen that God having accepted Christ’s atoning sacrifice, can receive the guilty sinner into favor and adopt the rebel as a child. These views, accompanied by this trust in the Lord Jesus as having made a complete atonement for our sins, is the act of coming to Christ. But as the soul that is regenerated feels sin itself to be a burden, it looks to Christ for a deliverance from all the disorders of the depraved mind. He is therefore received and trusted, to deliver the soul from the deep stains of iniquity, and by the light of his truth to guide it in the right way.

Let it be remembered that this coming to Christ is not a solitary act of the believing soul; it is one which must be continually repeated. The justified sinner is every moment dependent on his Savior, without whom he can do nothing. As he is at first justified by faith—so he lives by faith, walks by faith, and by faith overcomes all his enemies, and brings forth the fruits of holiness and peace.

But some will be ready to say, “There is no coming to Christ unless we are drawn, and why then are we blamed for not coming?”

This is not the language of the truly convinced sinner, for he sees and feels that he is guilty of the damning sin of unbelief, and that he deserves to be punished for this sin above all others; for it is this which seals the guilt of all others upon his soul. Dead in sin, it is certain that he will perform no holy action, but he is still a rational and accountable being. The law of God does not lose its authority to command because we have become sinful. It will never do to plead sin as an excuse for sin, or to attempt to justify sinful acts by pleading that we have an evil heart. This instead of being a valid apology, is the very ground of our condemnation. If you feel that your heart is thus blinded and depraved, this conviction of your miserable, sinful state should humble you deeply in the dust, and induce you to cry more earnestly to God for his life-giving Spirit.

Often, however, when Christ sends forth his gracious invitation to believe, he enables the soul by the energy of his Spirit accompanying the call, to come and receive his grace. He accompanies his word with a quickening efficacy, and “the dead hear the voice of the Son of God and live.” Our whole dependence is on the influence of the Holy Spirit. “Paul may plant and Apollos water, but God gives the increase.”

Let us now REVIEW the truths which have been inculcated.

  1. Christ is an able and willing Savior, who will never cast out any soul that comes to him.
  2. The grace of God, through Christ, is perfectly free; that is, he requires no qualification or merit in those who come. They are invited to apply to him in all their guilt and pollution, that they may from his gracious hands receive pardon and renovation.
  3. There is no obstacle in the way of any sinner’s coming but what exists in himself. The door of mercy cannot be set wider open than it is; the invitations of Christ could not be more kind and full.
  4. The whole blame of the sinner’s ruin who refuses to come to Christ, will lie at his own door. The only obstacle is his own perverseness and unwillingness, Christ was willing to give life to his greatest enemies if they would come to him; for he complains, “You will not come unto me, that you may have life.”
  5. The conversion of a soul is the work of God alone. The same power which caused light to shine out of darkness, must shine into our hearts. Creation is a work proper to God only, but conversion is a “new creation,” and requires power as really divine as that by which the worlds were formed.
  6. God has directed the gospel to be preached to every creature without discrimination; and everyone who hears it has a divine warrant to receive it; and if he does, he has the faithfulness of God pledged for his everlasting salvation.
  7. As the efficacy of the word depends on the energy of the Holy Spirit, all Christians should be incessant and fervent in their supplications for this Spirit of grace to be poured out, that sinners may be converted.
  8. We have encouragement to hope that the time is coming, and perhaps drawing near, when conversions will be multiplied far beyond the experience of former ages—when all the kingdoms of this world, shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. “EVEN SO, COME, LORD JESUS!” Amen.