CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 22 August Romans 1:22 - A Fool Full of Wisdom By Bob Flynn Romans 0 Comment Romans 1:22 "Professing to be wise, they became fools," (NASB) "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools," (KJV) "Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools." (NLT) Professing themselves to be wise - This was the common boast of the philosophers of antiquity. The very word by which they chose to be called, “philosophers,” means literally “lovers of wisdom.” (Barnes) This is also our boast of today. How many of us think that we know? A short walk through the halls of our institutions of national government reveal 565 opposing opinions. The reality is that as humankind we don't care much about right, we just want to win the argument. This boasting about our wisdom is not a new thing! Rom 1:14 "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish." (NASB) 1 Cor 1:19-22 "For it is written, 'I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;" (NASB) 1 Cor 3:19 "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, 'He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS;'" (NASB) 2 Cor 11:19 "For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly." (NASB) G3471 μωραι?νω mo?raino? Thayer Definition: 1) to be foolish, to act foolishly 2a) to make foolish 2a1) to prove a person or a thing foolish 2b) to make flat and tasteless 2b1) of salt that has lost its strength and flavor Part of Speech: verb Mat 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become3471 tasteless3471, how, can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." To be called foolish by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be made nothing! It is from this nothingness that I have been purchased by the precious blood of the Savior. He sought me when I was not seeking Him. He bought me when I was deep in sin. He cleansed me and calls me His friend. Romans 1:22 "Professing to be wise, they became fools," (NASB) "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools," (KJV) "Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools." (NLT) Professing themselves to be wise - This was the common boast of the philosophers of antiquity. The very word by which they chose to be called, “philosophers,” means literally “lovers of wisdom.” (Barnes) This is also our boast of today. How many of us think that we know? A short walk through the halls of our institutions of national government reveal 565 opposing opinions. The reality is that as humankind we don't care much about right, we just want to win the argument. This boasting about our wisdom is not a new thing! Rom 1:14 "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish." (NASB) 1 Cor 1:19-22 "For it is written, 'I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;" (NASB) 1 Cor 3:19 "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, 'He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS;'" (NASB) 2 Cor 11:19 "For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly." (NASB) G3471 μωραι?νω mo?raino? Thayer Definition: 1) to be foolish, to act foolishly 2a) to make foolish 2a1) to prove a person or a thing foolish 2b) to make flat and tasteless 2b1) of salt that has lost its strength and flavor Part of Speech: verb Mat 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become3471 tasteless3471, how, can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." To be called foolish by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be made nothing! It is from this nothingness that I have been purchased by the precious blood of the Savior. He sought me when I was not seeking Him. He bought me when I was deep in sin. He cleansed me and calls me His friend. Related All Fullness in the God-Man All Fullness in the God-Man IN Christ Jesus, there is all fullness, “for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” In Him, there is everything that is essential to Deity, for “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead.” There is also, in Him, the fullness of perfect manhood, for that Godhead was revealed in Him “bodily.” Partaker of flesh and blood, made in all things like unto His brethren, there was nothing lacking that was necessary to the perfection of humankind in Him. There is a fullness of atoning efficacy in His blood, for “the blood of Jesus Christ.… cleanseth us from all sin.” There is a fullness of justifying righteousness in His life, for “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” There is a fullness of Divine prevalence in His plea, for “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” There is a fullness of victory in His death, for “as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” There is a fullness of efficacy in His resurrection from the dead, for by it we are “begotten again unto a lively hope, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” There is a fullness of triumph in His ascension, for “when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” There is, in Christ Jesus, a fullness of blessings unspeakable, unknown; a fullness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is in Him a fullness at all times; a fullness by day and a fullness by night; a fullness of comfort in affliction, a fullness of guidance in prosperity, a fullness of every Divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fullness which it is impossible to survey or to explore. There is in Him everything summed up in a grand total, as Paul says, in writing to the Ephesians, “that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in One all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him.” “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” In vain we strive to recount the holy wonder; this is a theme which would exhaust an angel’s powers,—the fullness which resides in Jesus our Head, and ever abides to answer our need. We may realize a little what a fullness this must be, when we think of the multitude, which no man can number, all of whom have received of His fullness, grace upon grace. There is not one of them who has received only a little grace; they are all, as Rutherford has it, “drowned debtors to His mercy;” or, as we might put it, “over head and ears” in debt to Him. They are so indebted that they will never fully know how much they owe to their Lord, but they feel that an eternal song will not be too long for the expression of their grateful praise. Christ’s fullness is an abiding fullness. John says, “Of His fullness have all we received;” yet he calls it a “fullness” still, for it never becomes any less, however many may partake of it. It was a fullness before a single sinner came to it to receive pardon; it was a fullness before a solitary saint had learned to drink of that river, the streams whereof make glad the Church of the living God; and now, after myriads, and even millions, of blood-redeemed souls have partaken of this life-giving stream, it is just as overflowing as ever. We are accustomed to say that, if a child takes a cupful of water from the sea, it is just as full as it was before; but that is not literally true, there must be just so much the less of water in the ocean. But it is literally true of Christ that, when we have not only taken out cups full,—for our needs are too great to be satisfied with such small quantities,—when we have taken out oceans full of grace,—and we need as much as that to carry us to Heaven,—there is actually as much grace left in Him as there was before we came to Him. Although we have drawn upon the exchequer of His love to an extent so boundless that we cannot comprehend it, yet there is as much mercy and grace left in Christ as there was before we began to draw from it. It is a “fullness” still, after all the saints have received of it. There is also an abiding fullness of truth in Christ; after you have heard it for fifty years, you see more of its fullness than you did at first. Other themes weary the ear, sooner or later. I will defy any man to hold together a large congregation, year after year, with any other subject but Christ Jesus. He might attract hearers for a time; he might charm them with the discoveries of science, or with the beauties of poetry, and his oratory might be of so high an order that he might, for a while, draw the multitudes who have itching ears; but they would, in time, turn away, and say, “This is no longer to be endured; we know all he has to tell us.” All music but that of Heaven becomes wearisome before long; but, oh! if the minstrel doth play upon this celestial harp, though he keepeth his fingers always among its golden strings, and be but poor and unskilled to handle an instrument so divine, yet the melody of Jesus’ Name, and the sweet harmony of all His acts and attributes, will hold his listeners by the ears, and thrill their hearts as nought beside can do. The theme of Jesus’ love is inexhaustible; though preachers have dwelt upon it century after century, its freshness and fullness still remain. Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 71–74). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Folly and Weakness Triumphant Folly and Weakness Triumphant The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25. Great S. Mary’s Church, 20th Sunday after Trinity, 1876. The Apostle here represents the character and progress of the Gospel as a paradox. It is weakness superior to strength; it is folly triumphant over wisdom. It is an illustration—a unique and signal illustration—of God’s mysterious working, whereby He chooses the base things of the world, yes, even the things that are not, to bring to nought the things that are. This mode of working is not confined to revelation alone. History teems with examples of this paradox. For the most part the great crises in the progress of our race have been surprises of this kind. They have come from an unexpected quarter, or at an unexpected time. Their prime agents have not been the wise or mighty or noble in the estimation of the world. The reformer, or the avenger, has started up, as it were, suddenly from the earth beneath. It was an obscure Saxon monk, who broke up the empire of Papal ascendency, and created a new era in the history of intellectual and religious thought. It was an unknown Corsican adventurer, who dictated terms to a whole continent, made and unmade peoples and dynasties, and introduced as mighty a revolution in the world of politics as the other had done in the world of thought. There is perhaps a scarcely audible muttering of some social grievance; it is unheeded and unredressed; men go on their way, suspecting nothing; when suddenly the volcano bursts out under their very feet, and in a few short hours society is buried in fire and ashes. There is a silent stealthy idea, which insinuates itself into the crevices of human thought; it is hardly perceived, or, if perceived, it seems too insignificant to deserve attention; but it creeps and spreads, filling all the interstices, till the fabric, which has defied the storms of ages, cracked and loosened in every part, falls in ruins overhead. And then it is seen that God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. But all illustrations of this Divine irony are faint and shadowy compared with the progress of the Gospel. Sacred history is an intensification of secular history. The triumph of the Cross is the paradox of all paradoxes. No language is too strong for the expression of this fact in S. Paul’s mind. These opening chapters of the Epistle are a very Morias Encomion, a Praise of folly and of fools. Does this account of his language seem extravagant? See how he describes the Gospel itself. His words are so strong, that we tacitly mistranslate or misinterpret them, in order to dilute their force. He speaks of the folly, the fatuity, of the thing preached, the Gospel message in itself (τῆς μωρίας τοῦ κηρύγματος). We render it ‘the foolishness of preaching,’ as if he were stigmatizing the weakness of the human, fallible advocate. He says that ‘the foolishness,’ or rather ‘the foolish thing’, ‘of God is wiser than men.’ We half unconsciously regard it as an a fortiori argument; as though he were maintaining that, if God’s foolishness, God’s lowest purposes, can so far transcend man’s counsels, much more must God’s wisdom, God’s highest dispensations. But in fact he styles this very Gospel—this message of Christ crucified—a ‘foolish thing’ in itself. By what other name could he call it? It had been offered to the Greeks, the most cultivated, most intellectual, most keenly critical race of mankind, to the Greeks, who were the schoolmasters of the whole civilised world, and the Greeks had pronounced it unreservedly folly. And not only is the message folly, but the messengers also are fools. So the Apostle describes himself afterwards. He is even proud of this strange distinction. ‘We are fools,’ he writes, ‘fools for Christ’s sake.’ And again in the second Epistle, in a strain of lofty irony, he intreats his Corinthian converts, as they had always shewn a forbearing sympathy with men of feeble minds and senseless lives—notwithstanding the lofty intellectual eminence on which they themselves were placed—so now not to deny him this condescension which they had freely extended to others; ‘As a fool receive me.’ ‘For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.’ And once more; if the messengers are fools, the recipients of the message must become fools also. It is necessary that the disciple should be in harmony with the teacher and with the lesson. He must sink all those pretensions which are his greatest pride. He must resign absolutely all claims to intellectual superiority or prudent discernment. ‘Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool—that he may be wise.’ Yes, none but a fool can appreciate this message of folly. But this is not all. Folly itself may possess a certain brute force. The fool may be a giant in strength. What the brain lacks, the muscles and sinews may compensate. Does the Gospel possess any such advantage, as this figure implies? If it shews no wisdom, as the world counts wisdom, may it not possess some strength, as the world estimates strength? Nay, it is the weak thing of God, as well as the foolish thing—weak in itself, and weak in all its personal relations. Christ Himself, its theme, ‘was crucified through weakness.’ They, the preachers, are weak in Him. He, Paul, ‘glories in infirmities;’ ‘takes pleasure in infirmities.’ He declares himself ‘glad,’ yes, glad, that he is weak. Here again there is the same emphatic reiteration, as before. The Gospel is the very alliance of infirmity with folly. Its body is weakness; and its soul is foolishness. Strange words these to address to a Corinthian audience. Corinth was a Roman colony on a Greek soil. As Greeks, his hearers set an excessive value on wisdom; and he recommends his message to them, because it is folly. As Romans, they worshipped power with an idolatrous worship; and he offers the Gospel for their allegiance, because it is weakness. But stranger still than this encomium of folly, this panegyric of weakness, is the confidence with which he predicts its victory. The Apostle is quite sure that the folly of fools like himself will triumph over the wisdom of the wise. He does not shrink from declaring that the weakness of weaklings such as he is will dictate terms to the strength of the strong. ‘God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty.’ Could anything well have appeared more unreasonable, more reckless, more futile, than this confidence? Look at the two antagonists. Can you doubt for a moment to which side the victory must incline? At no other epoch in the history of the world would the Gospel have been confronted with a foe more formidable than at the actual crisis of its appearing. It found leagued against it all the wisdom of Greece and all the strength of Rome—a wisdom wiser, and a strength stronger, than mankind has ever seen before or after. The human race has grown older in experience since then. Vast accumulations of thought and knowledge have been amassed. The collision of races and nations has from time to time struck out sparks, which have kindled the flame of the human intellect in some fresh quarter. But still the literature of Greece—its philosophy, its poetry, its oratory—enjoys a unique preeminence. It still supplies models for the imitation of a remote posterity. It is still fresh with the vigour of a perennial youth—a deathless power in the world of intellect and imagination. And yet these are only shattered fragments saved from the wreck of time, which we possess. What must it not have been then, when it was entire? What must it not have been then, when its language was still a living tongue—the medium of communication between all civilised peoples; when it was still upheld and interpreted by the religion, customs, institutions, daily life, of a race which had ramified and spread over every part of the known world? And, as in the world of thought, so also in the world of action. In the whole life of the human race no power has arisen like the power of the Romans. There have been, and there are, empires which cover a larger superficial area. But for concentration, for unity, for available force, it has never had an equal. The greatest modern empires are rivals: each neutralises the power of the other. The domination of Rome owned no peer and no second. The voice of Rome was the law of the world. It was the Roman’s mission, said their great poet, ‘to rule over the peoples, to spare the submissive, but to crush the proud and defiant.’ Confronted by this league of powerful allies, what was there in the story of Christ crucified that it should lead captive a reluctant world? We cannot, even with a conscious effort, realise all the repulsive associations which the Cross suggested to S. Paul’s contemporaries. Substitute for the word some modern equivalent, as the gallows or the gibbet, and you approach more nearly to the idea conveyed. We shudder at such a substitution; we shrink from it as a profanation; our very reluctance shows how great a change has come upon mankind. Not in vain have eighteen Christian centuries passed over our heads. Not in vain has S. Paul’s startling resolve—startling and repulsive when it was uttered, but obvious, self-evident, admirable now—to glory in nothing but the cross of Christ, been proclaimed from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, and repeated day after day in thousands of Christian homes. Not in vain have saints been schooled to live, and martyrs nerved to die, in the strength of those words. The Cross is now the symbol of power, of heroism, of saintly patience, of triumphant love. But only reflect in what light it would be regarded by the Romans then? We ourselves, if we dwell on the repulsive aspects of the Cross, dwell chiefly, or solely, on the torture. But to the Roman the pain was only a small part of the horror. It was the ignominy of the punishment, from which he would turn away with disgust. No Roman citizen—however deep his crime—ran any risk of crucifixion. The law exempted him from this extreme degradation. It was the punishment of slaves, of the lowest and vilest of their kind. And they—these Romans, the masters of the world, with their proud bearing, with their innate respect for law, with their strong sense of political privilege—were invited by this Paul to fall down before a gibbet, and to admire a criminal condemned by a Roman magistrate to this most ignominious of all deaths. Weakness? It was far worse than weakness. It was vile, it was shameful—an outrage on all their most cherished feelings. And, while thus repulsive to the Romans, this message of the Cross would be still less attractive to the Greek. With his gay spirit and his keen appreciation of the bright side of life, he could have nothing to say to this horrible tale of suffering. With his strong sense of beauty, he would avert his eyes with a shudder from this unlovely scene on Calvary. With his speculative cast of mind, with his eager craving after intellectual subtleties, how could he possibly find in this plain, this forbidding, this worse than common-place Jewish tale of an obscure convict, the answer to his philosophic questioning? It was folly, folly in its most foolish mood—this story of the Cross—to the Greek. And, if it was such in itself, it would certainly gain nothing from the character of its advocate. S. Paul’s opponents did not suffer him to indulge any feelings of self-complacency on this point. Their taunts served only to remind him that in his own person he illustrated the divine paradox. As was the Gospel, so was its preacher. Was he not weak? This was the very reproach which they hurled at him. They pointed to his insignificant stature; they glanced at his spare frame, worn out with toil and bowed down with sickness. He was a despicable object to these Corinthians, accustomed to the perfection of physical strength and grace in the athletes of their Isthmian games. They could not away with one who ‘in bodily presence’ was ‘weak.’ Was he not foolish also? Here again his enemies held up the mirror to him, and forced him to see his defects. This itinerant Jew, speaking with a foreign accent, breaking loose from all the approved forms of logic, defying all the established laws of rhetoric in his halting, tumultuous, solœcistic utterances—how could he hope to recommend his message to the fine ear and the fastidious taste of the Greek? Foolishness was not a strong enough word to express their estimate. He was ‘in speech contemptible.’ Yes, he was weak, he was foolish. He could not gainsay the charge. Looking at his own heart, he condemned himself of foolishness far greater than that with which his enemies charged him. Reviewing his own life, he saw everywhere signs of weakness, which even their contempt had failed to detect. What were an insignificant presence and a faulty rhetoric after all, compared with the foolishness of a heart struggling against self, and the weakness of a life oppressed by the fears within and baffled by the fightings without? He was weak; he was foolish. Who knew this so well as himself? But what then? Strength was made perfect in weakness; wisdom started up full armed from the head of folly. Aye, there was a divine purpose in all this. He had this treasure, this priceless treasure in cheap, vulgar, fragile vessels of earthenware, ‘that the excellency of the power might be of God, and not of himself.’ And so the cry of despair becomes the pæan of thanksgiving. The taunt of his enemies is the boast of the Apostle. He was not strong, but God’s weakness was strong through him. He was not wise, but God’s foolishness was wise in him. And this weakness, this folly, crushing all opposition, would press forward on its march from victory to victory. A strange confidence to entertain. And yet this Paul was right after all. The centuries rolled on, and the prediction was fulfilled. The monstrous paradox, so contradictory to reason and so defiant of experience, proved true. All human calculation was baffled. The foolish things confounded the wise, and the weak things confounded the mighty. Neither the power and the polity of Rome, nor the philosophy and the arts of Greece, could check the triumphant progress of the Cross. And do we ask how this triumph can be explained? S. Paul has answered the question by anticipation. ‘The world by wisdom knew not God.’ There is little danger that in this place you should underrate the intellectual and social triumphs of Greece and of Rome. Even as preparations for the Gospel, they hold a foremost place. What was the wisdom of Greece, but an elementary schooling for the higher spiritual lessons of Christianity? What was the power and organization of Rome, but the roadway of the Gospel of Christ and the scaffolding of the Church of God? But the arts of Greece and the polity of Rome had left a deep craving in mankind unappeased. Like the hart panting after the water-brooks, the soul of humanity was thirsting after a living God. It might not be altogether conscious of the object of its thirst; but the thirst itself was a terrible reality nevertheless. Men were feeling after God, but they had not grasped Him. He was near to every one of them, and they had not found Him. Wisdom had failed, and now it was the turn for foolishness. Could he for a moment entertain any misgivings of its triumph? He knew what the Cross of Christ had been to himself. It had guided his zeal, it had purified his passions, it had widened his sympathies, it had opened his heart. It had filled him with new aspirations, new resolves, new hopes. That was no rhetorical figure, but a sober expression of fact, when he said that to be in Christ was to be a new creature, a new creation. In the light of this glory, all the lessons of the past had started up into new life: just as with the sunrise the landscape, which has appeared before a dark, indistinguishable mass, emerges in all the infinite beauties of form and colour. And, if it had been all this to him, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, what might it not be to these Gentiles tossed to and fro between the extremes of idolatry and scepticism? It was the touch of God, which mankind needed to heal the sores, to purge the corruption, to arrest the decay. And he knew that this touch had thrilled through his inmost being in the revelation of Christ crucified. ‘Man cannot live by bread alone.’ This is the lesson which the triumph of the Cross teaches; a palimpsest traced in letters of fire on the erased page of an ancient civilisation; a voice emphasized by the thunder-crash of a fallen world. ‘Man cannot live by bread alone’—whether the bread of social organization, of material appliances, of legislation, of polity (Rome had given enough and to spare of this); or the bread of intellectual culture, of æsthetic taste, of philosophy, of poetry, of art (Greece had dealt with these with a lavish hand). Fed to surfeiting with these, ancient society, nevertheless, had fallen from bad to worse, had become day by day more corrupt, more impotent, more helpless, till at length it lay seething in its own decay. And then the magnificent irony of God’s purpose was seen. Foolishness triumphed over wisdom, and weakness set her foot on the neck of strength. And that which has been will be again, if ever the conditions should be repeated. If ever—I will not say science, but scientific speculation, should hold out promises which from its very nature it cannot perform; if ever, dazzled by its unparalleled triumphs, it should invade provinces which belong to another rule; if ever, consciously, or unconsciously, its representatives should attempt to eliminate from the Universe everything which renders possible either the guiding providence of God or the moral responsibility of man; if ever a materialistic philosophy should gain the ascendant, which offers no strength to the life struggling in the meshes of temptation, holds out no hand to the conscience staggering under the burden of sin, speaks no words of comfort to the soul torn with suffering or aching with bereavement; then, assuredly, soon or late the heart of humanity, finding itself deluded and betrayed, will rise in the name of conscience and faith, and turn upon its betrayer. Then again, as of old, the foolish things of the world will confound the wise. But then again, also, much that is useful, much that is beautiful, much that is true, may be buried in the ruin. The less must be sacrificed to the greater. Baffled, disappointed, starved in its highest moral and spiritual needs, humanity has no heart and no leisure for nice discrimination. For this Cross of Christ—this strange, repulsive, foolish thing—did give to a hungry world just that food which alone could allay its pangs. Only reflect for a moment before we part, what ideas, what sanctions, what safeguards, what hopes, it has made the common property of mankind. First of all: it went right home to the human soul. It demanded no scientific training: it required no natural gifts. It addressed itself, not to the Greek as Greek, or to the Roman as Roman, but to the man as man. It took him, just as he was, stripped of all adventitious ornaments and advantages, and it spoke to his heart, spoke to his conscience, spoke from God to the godlike within him, but spoke nevertheless as a man speaketh with his friend. And, so taking him, it set before him in the story of Christ’s doings and sufferings an ideal of human life, absolutely pure, unselfish, beneficent, righteous, perfect, such as the world had never seen—an ideal, which once beheld could not be forgotten, but must haunt the memory of men for evermore, fascinating by its beauty, purifying, ennobling, transforming into its own bright image by the wonderful magic of its abiding presence. And then again, it gave aid, where aid was most needed. It illumined the dark places of human existence. It dignified sorrow; it canonized suffering. The Cross of Calvary threw a glory over all the most harrowing and repulsive trials of life. Toil, sickness, pain, want, bereavement, neglect, obloquy, persecution, death—these were invested with a new meaning by the foolishness of the preaching. It was an honourable distinction now to share with Him—the head of the race—the prerogative of suffering. It was a comparatively light thing now to bear a little, where He had borne so much. Pain did not cease to be pain—whatever the Stoic might say; but pain had become endurable, for pain had been glorified. And then again; it proclaimed in language, which could not be misunderstood, the universal brotherhood of man. The triumphs won on the Cross had obliterated, as in the sight of God, all distinction of race, of caste, of class. He the Crucified, He the Triumphant, was a poor artisan of a despised village of a despised nation—henceforth the accepted King of men, the Pattern of His race—the admired, honoured, worshipped of His brethren. But above all, this Cross of Christ was the atonement, the reconciliation, of man to God. It united heaven and earth in an indissoluble union. It threw an unwonted and glorious light on the Fatherly mercy of God. It brought a new and unforeseen promise of pardon and peace, extended freely to all. Who shall despair now? Who shall dare to put limits to our Father’s forgiveness? Who will refuse to Him the tribute of filial obedience? Who will not strive day and night to win His pardon, to win His favour, strong in the faith of this one perfect sacrifice—the supreme manifestation of Divine goodness and love? These lessons, and others such as these, cluster round the Cross of Christ. And they can never fade or lose their freshness. What wonder then, if mankind preferred the folly of God to the wisdom of men? Here, and here only—in this old, foolish message of Christ crucified—is the promise and the potency of life, the one true and abiding life, the life that is now, and that shall be hereafter, eternal in the heavens. Lightfoot, J. B. (1890). Cambridge Sermons. London; New York: MacMillan and Co. (Public Domain) Romans 1:29 - Full of it Romans 1:29 "being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips," (NASB) "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers," (KJV) "Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip." (NLT) "They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips," (NET) "They are evil, wicked, and greedy, as well as mean in every possible way. They want what others have, and they murder, argue, cheat, and are hard to get along with. They gossip," (CEV) G4137 πληρο?ω ple?roo? play-ro'-o From G4134; to make replete, that is, (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.: - accomplish, X after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply. Being filled - That is, the things which he specifies were common or abounded among them. This is a strong phrase, denoting that these things were so often practiced as that it might be said they were full of them. We have a phrase like this still, when we say of one that he is full of mischief, etc. Dr. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) Being called with (peple?ro?menous). Perfect passive participle of the common verb ple?roo?, state of completion, “filled to the brim with” four vices in the associative instrumental case. Dr. A.T. Robertson A fine personification of this vice is found in Ovid Metam. lib. ii. ver. 768-781, which I shall here insert, with Mr. Addison’s elegant and nervous translation. A poisonous morsel in her teeth she chewed, And gorged the flesh of vipers for her food. Minerva loathing, turned away her eye. The hideous monster, rising heavily, Came stalking forward with a sullen pace, And left her mangled offals on the place. Soon as she saw the goddess gay and bright, She fetched a groan at such a cheerful sight. Livid and meagre were her looks, her eye In foul distorted glances turned awry; A hoard of gall her inward parts possessed, And spread a greenness o’er her canker’d breast; Her teeth were brown with rust, and from her tongue In dangling drops the stringy poison hung. She never smiles but when the wretched weep; Nor lulls her malice with a moment’s sleep: Restless in spite while watchful to destroy, She pines and sickens at another’s joy; Foe to herself, distressing and distressed, She bears her own tormentor in her breast. This is who we are in the flesh, a sewage pit "Crammed Full!" However, in the Christ we have the opportunity to push aside the things of this world and the sin that so easily entangles us and be "Full of the Spirit!" "And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love." Romans 5:5 NLT "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death." Romans 8:1-2 NLT Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 18 Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 18 Second, The Text Treated by Way of Observation Thus have I in brief passed through this text by way of explications. My next work is to speak to it by way of observation. But I shall be also as brief in that as the nature of the thing will admit. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). And now I come to some observations, and a little briefly to speak to them, and then conclude the whole. The words thus explained afford us many, some of which are these. 1. That God the Father, and Christ his Son, are two distinct persons in the Godhead. 2. That by them, not excluding the Holy Ghost, is contrived and determined the salvation of fallen mankind. 3. That this contrivance resolved itself into a covenant between these persons in the Godhead, which standeth in giving on the Father’s part, and receiving on the Son’s. “All that the Father giveth me,” &c. 4. That every one that the Father hath given to Christ, according to the mind of God in the text, shall certainly come to him. 5. That coming to Jesus Christ is therefore not by the will, wisdom, or power of man; but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father. “All that the Father giveth me shall come.” 6. That Jesus Christ will be careful to receive, and will not in any wise reject those that come, or are coming to him. “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” There are, besides these, some other truths implied in the words. As, 7. They that are coming to Jesus Christ are ofttimes heartily afraid that he will not receive them. 8. Jesus Christ would not have them that in truth are coming to him once think that he will cast them out. These observations lie all of them in the words, and are plentifully confirmed by the Scriptures of truth; but I shall not at this time speak to them all, but shall pass by the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth, partly because I design brevity, and partly because they are touched upon in the explicatory part of the text. I shall therefore begin with the fifth observation, and so make that the first in order, in the following discourse. COMING TO CHRIST NOT BY THE POWER OF MAN, BUT BY THE DRAWING OF THE FATHER OBSERVATION FIRST. First, then, coming to Christ is not by the will, wisdom, or power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father. This observation standeth of two parts. First, The coming to Christ is not by the will, wisdom, or power of man; Second, But by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father. That the text carrieth this truth in its bosom, you will find if you look into the explication of the first part thereof before. I shall, therefore, here follow the method propounded, viz: show, First, That coming to Christ is not by the will, wisdom, or power of man. This is true, because the Word doth positively say it is not. 1. It denieth it wholly to be by the will of man. “Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man” (John 1:13). And again, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth” (Rom 9:16). 2. It denieth it to be of the wisdom of man, as is manifest from these considerations: (1.) In the wisdom of God it pleased him, that the world by wisdom should not know him. Now, if by their wisdom they cannot know him, it follows, by that wisdom, they cannot come unto him; for coming to him is not before, but after some knowledge of him (1 Cor 1:21; Acts 13:27; Psa 9:10). (2.) The wisdom of man, in God’s account, as to the knowledge of Christ, is reckoned foolishness. “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor 1:20). And again, The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (2:14). If God hath made foolish the wisdom of this world; and again, if the wisdom of this world is foolishness with him, then verily it is not likely, that by that a sinner should become so prudent as to come to Jesus Christ, especially if you consider, (3.) That the doctrine of a crucified Christ, and so of salvation by him, is the very thing that is counted foolishness to the wisdom of the world. Now, if the very doctrine of a crucified Christ be counted foolishness by the wisdom of this world, it cannot be that, by that wisdom, a man should be drawn out in his soul to come to him (1 Cor 3:19; 1:18, 23). (4.) God counted the wisdom of this world one of his greatest enemies; therefore, by that wisdom no man can come to Jesus Christ. For it is not likely that one of God’s greatest enemies should draw a man to that which best of all pleaseth God, as coming to Christ doth. Now, that God counteth the wisdom of this world one of his greatest enemies, is evident, (a.) For that it casteth the greatest contempt upon his Son’s undertakings, as afore is proved, in that it counts his crucifixion foolishness; though that be one of the highest demonstrations of Divine wisdom (Eph 1:7, 8). (b.) Because God hath threatened to destroy it, and bring it to nought, and cause it to perish; which surely he would not do, was it not an enemy, would it direct men to, and cause them to close with Jesus Christ (Isa 29:14; 1 Cor 1:19). (c.) He hath rejected it from helping in the ministry of his Word, as a fruitless business, and a thing that comes to nought (1 Cor 2:4, 6, 12, 13). (d.) Because it causeth to perish, those that seek it, and pursue it (1 Cor 1:18, 19). (e.) And God has proclaimed, that if any man will be wise in this world, he must be a fool in the wisdom of this world, and that is the way to be wise in the wisdom of God. “If any man seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor 3:18–20). 3. Coming to Christ is not by the power of man. This is evident partly, (1.) From that which goeth before. For man’s power in the putting forth of it, in this matter, is either stirred up by love, or sense of necessity; but the wisdom of this world neither gives man love to, or sense of a need of, Jesus Christ; therefore, his power lieth still, as from that. (2.) What power has he that is dead, as every natural man spiritually is, even dead in trespasses and sins? Dead, even as dead to God’s New Testament things as he that is in his grave is dead to the things of this world. What power hath he, then, whereby to come to Jesus Christ? (John 5:25; Eph 2:1; Col 2:13). (3.) God forbids the mighty man’s glorying in his strength; and says positively, “By strength shall no man prevail;” and again, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord” (Jer 9:23, 24; 1 Sam 2:9; Zech 4:6; 1 Cor 1:27–31). (4.) Paul acknowledgeth that man, nay, converted man, of himself, hath not a sufficiency of power in himself to think a good thought; if not to do that which is least, for to think is less than to come; then no man, by his own power, can come to Jesus Christ (2 Cor 2:5). (5.) Hence we are said to be made willing to come, by the power of God; to be raised from a state of sin to a state of grace, by the power of God; and to believe, that is to come, through the exceeding working of his mighty power (Psa 110:3; Col 2:12; Eph 1:18, 20; Job 23:14). But this needed not, if either man had power or will to come; or so much as graciously to think of being willing to come, of themselves, to Jesus Christ. Second, I should now come to the proof of the second part of the observation [namely, the coming to Christ is by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father], but that is occasionally done already, in the explicatory part of the text, to which I refer the reader; for I shall here only give thee a text or two more to the same purpose, and so come to the use and application. 1. It is expressly said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). By this text, there is not only insinuated that in man is want of power, but also of will, to come to Jesus Christ: they must be drawn; they come not if they be not drawn. And observe, it is not man, no, nor all the angels in heaven, that can draw one sinner to Jesus Christ. No man cometh to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. 2. Again, “No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:65). It is an heavenly gift that maketh man come to Jesus Christ. 3. Again, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). I shall not enlarge, but shall make some use and application, and so come to the next observation. Use and Application of Observation First Use First. Is it so? Is coming to Jesus Christ not by the will, wisdom, or power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then they are to blame that cry up the will, wisdom, and power of man, as things sufficient to bring men to Christ. There are some men who think they may not be contradicted, when they plead for the will, wisdom, and power of man in reference to the things that are of the kingdom of Christ; but I will say to such a man, he never yet came to understand, that himself is what the Scripture teacheth concerning him; neither did he ever know what coming to Christ is, by the teaching, gift, and drawing of the Father. He is such a one that hath set up God’s enemy in opposition to him, and that continueth in such acts of defiance; and what his end, without a new birth, will be, the Scripture teacheth also; but we will pass this. Use Second. Is it so? Is coming to Jesus Christ by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then let saints here learn to ascribe their coming to Christ to the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father. Christian man, bless God, who hath given thee to Jesus Christ by promise; and again, bless God for that he hath drawn thee to him. And why is it thee? Why not another? O that the glory of electing love should rest upon thy head, and that the glory of the exceeding grace of God should take hold of thy heart, and bring thee to Jesus Christ! Use Third. Is it so, that coming to Jesus Christ is by the Father, as aforesaid? Then this should teach us to set a high esteem upon them that indeed are coming to Jesus Christ; I say, an high esteem on them, for the sake of him by virtue of whose grace they are made to come to Jesus Christ. We see that when men, by the help of human abilities, do arrive at the knowledge of, and bring to pass that which, when done, is a wonder to the world, how he that did it, is esteemed and commended; yea, how are his wits, parts, industry, and unweariedness in all admired, and yet the man, as to this, is but of the world, and his work the effect of natural ability; the things also attained by him end in vanity and vexation of spirit. Further, perhaps in the pursuit of these his achievements, he sins against God, wastes his time vainly, and at long-run loses his soul by neglecting of better things; yet he is admired! But I say, if this man’s parts, labor, diligence, and the like, will bring him to such applause and esteem in the world, what esteem should we have of such an one that is by the gift, promise, and power of God, coming to Jesus Christ? 1. This is a man with whom God is, in whom God works and walks; a man whose motion is governed and steered by the mighty hand of God, and the effectual working of his power. Here is a man! 2. This man, by the power of God’s might, which worketh in him, is able to cast a whole world behind him, with all the lusts and pleasures of it, and to charge through all the difficulties that men and devils can set against him. Here is a man. 3. This man is travelling to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, and to an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, to God the Judge of all, and to Jesus. Here is a man! 4. This man can look upon death with comfort, can laugh at destruction when it cometh, and longs to hear the sound of the last trump, and to see his Judge coming in the clouds of heaven. Here is a man indeed! Let Christians, then, esteem each other as such. I know you do it; but do it more and more. And that you may, consider these two or three things. (1.) These are the Objections of Christ’s esteem (Matt 12:48, 49; 15:22–28; Luke 7:9). (2.) These are the Objections of the esteem of angels (Dan 9:12; 11:21, 22; 12:3, 4; Heb 2:14). (3.) These have been the Objections of the esteem of heathens, when but convinced about them (Dan 5:10, 11; Acts 5:15; 1 Cor 14:24, 25). “Let each [of you, then,] esteem [each] other better than themselves” (Phil 2:2). Use Fourth. Again, Is it so, that no man comes to Jesus Christ by the will, wisdom, and power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then this shows us how horribly ignorant of this such are, who make the man that is coming to Christ the Objection of their contempt and rage. These are also unreasonable and wicked men; men in whom is no faith (2 Thess 3:2). Sinners, did you but know what a blessed thing it is to come to Jesus Christ, and that by the help and drawing of the Father, they do indeed come to him; you would hang and burn in hell a thousand years, before you would turn your spirits as you do, against him that God is drawing to Jesus Christ, and also against the God that draws him. But, faithless sinner, let us a little expostulate the matter. What hath this man done against thee, that is coming to Jesus Christ? Why dost thou make him the Objection of thy scorn? doth his coming to Jesus Christ offend thee? doth his pursuing of his own salvation offend thee? doth his forsaking of his sins and pleasures offend thee? Poor coming man! “Shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?” (Exo 8:26). But, I say, why offended at this? Is he ever the worse for coming to Jesus Christ, or for his loving and serving of Jesus Christ? Or is he ever the more a fool, for flying from that which will drown thee in hell-fire, and for seeking eternal life? Besides, pray, Sirs, consider it; this he doth, not of himself, but by the drawing of the Father. Come, let me tell thee in thine ear, thou that wilt not come to him thyself, and him that would, thou hinderest— 1. Thou shalt be judged for one that hath hated, maligned, and reproached Jesus Christ, to whom this poor sinner is coming. 2. Thou shalt be judged, too, for one that hath hated the Father, by whose powerful drawing this sinner doth come. 3. Thou shalt be taken and judged for one that has done despite to the Spirit of grace in him that is, by its help, coming to Jesus Christ. What sayest thou now? Wilt thou stand by thy doings? Wilt thou continue to contemn and reproach the living God? Thinkest thou that thou shalt weather it out well enough at the day of judgment? “Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee,” saith the Lord? (Eze 22:14, John 15:18–25; Jude 15; 1 Thess 4:8). Use Fifth. Is it so, that no man comes to Jesus Christ by the will, wisdom, and power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then this showeth us how it comes to pass, that weak means are so powerful as to bring men out of their sins to a hearty pursuit after Jesus Christ. When God bid Moses speak to the people, he said, “I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee” (Exo 18:19). When God speaks, when God works, who can let it? None, none; then the work goes on! Elias threw his mantle upon the shoulders of Elisha; and what a wonderful work followed! When Jesus fell in with the crowing of a cock, what work was there! O when God is in the means, then shall that means—be it never so weak and contemptible in itself—work wonders (1 Kings 19:19; Matt 26:74, 75; Mark 14:71, 72; Luke 22:60–62). The world understood not, nor believed, that the walls of Jericho should fall at the sound of rams’ horns; but when God will work, the means must be effectual. A word weakly spoken, spoken with difficulty, in temptation, and in the midst of great contempt and scorn, works wonders, if the Lord thy God will say so too. Use Sixth. Is it so? Doth no man come to Jesus Christ by the will, wisdom, and power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then here is room for Christians to stand and wonder at the effectual working of God’s providences, that he hath made use of, as means to bring them to Jesus Christ. For although men are drawn to Christ by the power of the Father, yet that power putteth forth itself in the use of means: and these means are divers, sometimes this, sometimes that; for God is at liberty to work by which, and when, and how he will; but let the means be what they will, and as contemptible as may be, yet God that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and that out of weakness can make strong, can, nay, doth oftentimes make use of very unlikely means to bring about the conversion and salvation of his people. Therefore, you that are come to Christ—and that by unlikely means—stay yourselves, and wonder, and, wondering, magnify almighty power, by the work of which the means hath been made effectual to bring you to Jesus Christ. What was the providence that God made use of as a means, either more remote or more near, to bring thee to Jesus Christ? Was it the removing of thy habitation, the change of thy condition, the loss of relations, estate, or the like? Was it thy casting of thine eye upon some good book, thy hearing of thy neighbours talk of heavenly things, the beholding of God’s judgments as executed upon others, or thine own deliverance from them, or thy being strangely cast under the ministry of some godly man? O take notice of such providence or providences! They were sent and managed by mighty power to do thee good. God himself, I say, hath joined himself unto this chariot: yea, and so blessed it, that it failed not to accomplish the thing for which he sent it. God blesseth not to every one his providences in this manner. How many thousands are there in this world, that pass every day under the same providences! but God is not in them, to do that work by them as he hath done for thy poor soul, by his effectually working with them. O that Jesus Christ should meet thee in this providence, that dispensation, or the other ordinance! This is grace indeed! At this, therefore, it will be thy wisdom to admire, and for this to bless God. Give me leave to give you a taste of some of those providences that have been effectual, through the management of God, to bring salvation to the souls of his people. (1.) The first shall be that of the woman of Samaria. It must happen, that she must needs go out of the city to draw water, not before nor after, but just when Jesus Christ her Savior was come from far, and set to rest him, being weary, upon the well. What a blessed providence was this! Even a providence managed by the almighty wisdom, and almighty power, to the conversion and salvation of this poor creature. For by this providence was this poor creature and her Savior brought together, that that blessed work might be fulfilled upon the woman, according to the purpose before determined by the Father (John 4). (2.) What providence was it that there should be a tree in the way for Zaccheus to climb, thereby to give Jesus opportunity to call that chief of the publicans home to himself, even before he came down therefrom (Luke 19). (3.) Was it not also wonderful that the thief, which you read of in the gospel, should, by the providence of God, be cast into prison, to be condemned even at that session that Christ himself was to die; nay, and that it should happen, too, that they must be hanged together, that the thief might be in hearing and observing of Jesus in his last words, that he might be converted by him before his death! (Luke 23). (4.) What a strange providence was it, and as strangely managed by God, that Onesimus, when he was run away from his master, should be taken, and, as I think, cast into that very prison where Paul lay bound for the Word of the gospel; that he might there be by him converted, and then sent home again to his master Philemon! Behold “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Nay, I have myself known some that have been made to go to hear the Word preached against their wills; others have gone not to hear, but to see and to be seen; nay, to jeer and flout others, as also to catch and carp at things. Some also to feed their adulterous eyes with the sight of beautiful Objections; and yet God hath made use even of these things, and even of the wicked and sinful proposals of sinners, to bring them under the grace that might save their souls. Use Seventh. Doth no man come to Jesus Christ but by the drawing, &c., of the Father? Then let me here caution those poor sinners, that are spectators of the change that God hath wrought in them that are coming to Jesus Christ, not to attribute this work and change to other things and causes. There are some poor sinners in the world that plainly see a change, a mighty change, in their neighbours and relations that are coming to Jesus Christ. But, as I said, they being ignorant, and not knowing whence it comes and whither it goes, for “so is every one that is born of the Spirit,” (John 3:8), therefore they attribute this change to others causes: as melancholy; to sitting alone; to overmuch reading; to their going to too many sermons; to too much studying and musing on what they hear. Also they conclude, on the other side, that it is for want of merry company; for want of physic; and therefore they advise them to leave off reading, going to sermons, the company of sober people; and to be merry, to go a gossiping, to busy themselves in the things of this world, not to sit musing alone, &c. But come, poor ignorant sinner, let me deal with thee. It seems thou art turned counsellor for Satan: I tell thee thou knowest not what thou dost. Take heed of spending thy judgment after this manner; thou judgest foolishly, and sayest in this, to every one that passeth by, thou art a fool. What! count convictions for sin, mornings for sin, and repentance for sin, melancholy? This is like those that on the other side said, “These men are [drunk with] full of new wine,” &c. Or as he that said Paul was mad (Acts 2:13, 26:24). Poor ignorant sinner! canst thou judge no better? What! is sitting alone, pensive under God’s hand, reading the Scriptures, and hearing of sermons, &c., the way to be undone? The Lord open thine eyes, and make thee to see thine error! Thou hast set thyself against God, thou hast despised the operation of his hands, thou attemptest to murder souls. What! canst thou give no better counsel touching those whom God hath wounded, than to send them to the ordinances of hell for help? Thou biddest them be merry and lightsome; but dost thou not know that “the heart of fools is in the house of mirth?” (Eccl 7:4). Thou biddest them shun the hearing of thundering preachers; but is it not “better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools?” (Eccl 7:5). Thou biddest them busy themselves in the things of this world; but dost thou not know that the Lord bids, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness?” (Matt 6:33). Poor ignorant sinner! hear the counsel of God to such, and learn thyself to be wiser. “Is any afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms” (James 5:13). “Blessed is the man that heareth me” (Prov 8:32). And hear for time to come, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39). “Give attendance to reading” (1 Tim 4:13). “It is better to go to the house of mourning” (Eccl 7:2, 3). And wilt thou judge him that doth thus? Art thou almost like Elymas the sorcerer, that sought to turn the deputy from the faith? Thou seekest to pervert the right ways of the Lord. Take heed lest some heavy judgment overtake thee (Acts 13:8–13). What! teach men to quench convictions; take men off from a serious consideration of the evil of sin, of the terrors of the world to come, and how they shall escape the same? What! teach men to put God and his Word out of their minds, by running to merry company, by running to the world, by gossiping? &c. This is as much as to bid them to say to God, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways;” or, “What is the Almighty that we should serve him? or what profit have we if we keep his ways?” Here is a devil in grain! What! bid man walk “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). Two Objections Answered Objection. 1. But we do not know that such are coming to Jesus Christ; truly we wonder at them, and think they are fools. Answer. Do you not know that they are coming to Jesus Christ? then they may be coming to him, for aught you know; and why will ye be worse than the brute, to speak evil of the things you know not? What! are ye made to be taken and destroyed? must ye utterly perish in your own corruptions? (2 Peter 2:12). Do you not know them? Let them alone then. If you cannot speak good of them, speak not bad. “Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:38, 39). But why do you wonder at a work of conviction and conversion? Know you not that this is the judgment of God upon you, “ye despisers, to behold, and wonder, and perish?” (Acts 13:40, 41). But why wonder, and think they are fools? Is the way of the just an abomination to you? See that passage, and be ashamed, “He that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked” (Prov 29:27). Your wondering at them argues that you are strangers to yourselves, to conviction for sin, and to hearty desires to be saved; as also to coming to Jesus Christ. Objection. 2. But how shall we know that such men are coming to Jesus Christ? Answer. Who can make them see that Christ has made blind? (John 2:8, 9). Nevertheless, because I endeavor thy conviction, conversion, and salvation, consider: Do they cry out of sin, being burthened with it, as of an exceeding bitter thing? Do they fly from it, as from the face of a deadly serpent? Do they cry out of the insufficiency of their own righteousness, as to justification in the sight of God? Do they cry out after the Lord Jesus, to save them? Do they see more worth and merit in one drop of Christ’s blood to save them, than in all the sins of the world to damn them? Are they tender of sinning against Jesus Christ? Is his name, person, and undertakings, more precious to them, than is the glory of the world? Is this word more dear unto them? Is faith in Christ (of which they are convinced by God’s Spirit of the want of, and that without it they can never close with Christ) precious to them? Do they savour Christ in his Word, and do they leave all the world for his sake? And are they willing, God helping them, to run hazards for his name, for the love they bear to him? Are his saints precious to them? If these things be so, whether thou seest them or no, these men are coming to Jesus Christ (Rom 7:9–14; Psa 38:3–8; Heb 6:18–20; Isa 64:6; Phil 3:7, 8; Psa 54:1; 109:26; Acts 16:30; Psa 51:7, 8; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Rom 7:24; 2 Cor 5:2; Acts 5:41; James 2:7; Song 5:10–16; Psa 119; John 13:35; 1 John 4:7; 3:14; John 16:9; Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6; Psa 19:10, 11; Jer 15:16; Heb 11:24–27; Acts 20:22–24; 21:13; Titus 3:15; 2 John 1; Eph 4:16; Phile 7; 1 Cor 16:24). Bunyan, J. (2006). Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 271–273). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Romans 4:21 - fully persuaded "and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform." (NASB) "And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform." (KJV) "He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises." (NLT) "He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do." (NET) And being (s) fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (s) A description of true faith. (Geneva Bible Study Notes) We often struggle with the substance of true faith. What is faith and of what does it consist? Here we have the concise answer! God is able to make good on all of His promises. The greatest of all the promises is to "know Him." There is no greater joy! "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me….I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me. If you had really known Me, you would know who My Father is. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him!...Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them." (John 14:1, 6-7, 21) Christ's Fullness Received by His People Christ's Fullness Received by His People NOT only does John say that our Lord Jesus Christ is “full of grace and truth,” but he adds, “and of His fullness have all we received.” It is not one saint alone who has derived grace from the Redeemer, but all have done so; and they have not merely derived a part of the blessings of grace from Jesus, but all that they ever had they received from Him. It would be a wonderful vision if we could now behold passing before us the long procession of the chosen, the great and the small, the goodly fellowship of the apostles, the noble army of martyrs, the once weeping but now rejoicing band of penitents. There they go! Methinks I see them all in their white robes, bearing their palms of victory. But you shall not, if you stay the procession at any point, be able to discover one who will claim to have obtained grace from another source than Christ; nor shall one of them say, “I owed the first grace I gained to Christ, but I gained other grace elsewhere.” No, the unanimous testimony of the glorified is, “Of His fullness have all we received.” My inner eye beholds the countless throng as the wondrous procession passes, and I note how every one of the saints prostrates himself before the throne of the Lamb, and all together they cry, “ ‘Of His fullness have all we received.’ Whoever we may be, however faithfully we have served our Master, whatever of honor we have gained, all the glory is due unto our Lord, who has enabled us to finish our course, and to win the prize. ‘Non nobis, Domine!’ is our cry; ‘not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name be all the praise!’ ” What a precious truth, then, we have before us, that all the saints in all ages have been just what we must be if we would be saved; that is, receivers! They did not any of them bring anything of merit to Christ, but they received everything from Him. If they, at this moment, cast their crowns at His feet, those crowns were first given to them by Him. Their white robes are wedding garments of His providing. The whole course of saintship is receptive. None of the saints above talk of what they gave to Jesus, none of them speak of what came of themselves; but, without a solitary exception, they all bear testimony that they were receivers from Jesus’ fullness. This truth casts mire into the face of human self-sufficiency. What! is there not one saint who had a little grace of his own? Is there not one of all the favored throng who could supply himself with what he needed? No, not one. Did none of them look to the works of the law? No, they all went to Jesus and His grace, not to Moses and the law. Did none of them trust in priests of earthly anointing? Did none of them bow down before holy fathers and saintly confessors to obtain absolution? There is not a word said about any such gentry, nor even a syllable concerning appeals to saints and saintesses; but all the saved ones declare that they received grace and salvation direct from His fullness, who filleth all in all. These receptive saints received very abundantly from Christ’s fullness. They drew from an abundance, and they drew largely from it, as the words seem to indicate. It is worth while to notice the marvelous simplicity of the one act by which salvation comes to all saints. It is merely by receiving. Now, receiving is a very easy thing. There are fifty things which you cannot do; but, my dear friend, you could undoubtedly receive a guinea, could you not, if it were offered to you? There is not a rational man, or woman, or child, so imperfect in power as to be unable to receive. Everybody seems capable of receiving to any amount; and, in salvation, you have to do nothing but merely receive what Christ gives. There is a beggar’s hand, and if it be wanted to write a fair letter, it cannot do that, but it can receive alms. Try it, and the beggar will soon let you know that it can do so. Look at that next hand; see you not that it has the palsy? Behold how it quivers and shakes! Ah! but for all that, it can receive. Many a palsied hand has received a jewel. But the hand that I now see, in addition to being black, and palsied, is afflicted with a foul disease; the leprosy lies within it, and is not to be washed out by any mode of purification known to us; yet even that hand can receive; and the saints all came to be saints, and have remained saints, through doing exactly what that poor black, quivering, leprous hand can do. There was not in John any good thing but what he had received from his Master; there was not in the noble proto-martyr, Stephen, one grain of courage but what he had received from Christ; Paul, Apollos, Cephas,—all these had nothing but what they took from Him. If, then, they received everything from Christ, why should we hesitate to do the same? All their grace came by receiving; so, dear reader, I put to you the question,—Have you received of the fullness of Christ? Have you come to Him all empty-handed, and taken Him to be your All-in-all? I know what you did at first; you were busy accumulating the shining heaps of your own merits, and esteeming them as if they were so much gold; but you found out that your labor profited not, so at last you came to Christ empty-handed, and said to Him, “My precious Savior, do but give me Thyself, and I will abandon all thought of my own merit. I renounce all my giving, and doing, and working, and I take Thee to be everything to me.” Then, friend, you are saved if that be true, for acceptance of Christ is the hall-mark of saints. The fullness of God’s grace is placed where you can receive it, where you can receive it now, for it is placed in Him who is your Brother, bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh; it dwells in Him who loves to give it, because, as our Head, He delights to communicate grace to all the members of His mystical body. The plenitude of grace dwells in Him who is Himself yours; and since He is yours, all that is in Him is yours. You need not pray as if you had no inheritance in the blessing which you seek. Christ is the Trustee of the fullness of God, and the ownership of it is vested in His people; you have only to ask of Him, and He will give you that which is your own already. Why do you hesitate? How can you linger? The Father has placed His grace in Christ because it gratifies His love to His Son. It pleases the heart of the great God to see Jesus adorned with the fullness of Deity, and every time Jesus gives out grace to believers, the heart of God is thereby gladdened. How can you hesitate about receiving it if it pleases God for you to partake of it? You may go with high expectation of comfort, since Jesus Himself is honored by your going to Him. He obtains glory by distributing of His fullness to empty sinners, who, when they receive grace, are sure to love Him; then, how can you think Him reluctant to bestow the gift which will increase His glory? Thinking upon this subject brings to my mind right joyful memories of the hour when first these eyes looked to Christ, and were lightened; when I received pardon from His dying love, and knew myself forgiven. Have not many of my readers similar recollections? And since your conversion, is it not true that everything good you have ever had you have received from your Lord? What have you drunk out of your own cistern? What treasure have you found in your own fields? Nakedness, poverty, misery, death,—these are the only possessions of nature; but life, riches, fullness, joy,—these are gifts of grace through Jesus Christ. Are you accepted before God? Then, He has justified you. Have you been kept? Then, He has preserved you. Are you sanctified? Then, He has cleansed you by His blood. Do you know, by full assurance, your interest in the Father’s love? Then, He gave you that assurance. All you have, and all you ever will have, all that every saint who ever will be born shall have, that is worth the having,—all has been received, and will be received from Christ’s fullness. Do you not know, too, that when you receive from Christ, you gain by that very act? I am so thankful that Christ has not put the fullness of grace in myself, for then I should not require to go to Him so often; or if I did go to Him, I should not have an errand to go upon of such importance as to justify me in seeking an audience; but now, every time I go to Christ’s door, I can plead necessity. We go to Him because we must go. When is there an hour when a believer does not need to receive from Jesus? Go, then, beloved, to Him often, since your going honours Christ, pleases God, and is the means of soul-enrichment for yourselves. Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 131–136). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Comments are closed.