THE GIFT OF CHRIST IS THE HIGHEST MANIFESTATION OF GOD’S LOVE

The following excerpt is taken from The Fountain of Life, a book by the Puritan John Flavel 

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How this gift of Christ was the highest, and fullest manifestation of the love of God, that ever the world saw: and this will be evidenced by the following particulars:

(1.) If you consider how near and dear Jesus Christ was to the Father; he was his Son, “his only Son,” says the text; the Son of his love, the darling of his Soul: His other Self, yes, one with himself; the express image of his person; the brightness of his Father’s Glory: In parting with him, he parted with his own heart, with his very affections, as I may say. “Yet to us a Son is given,” Isa. 9:6, and such a Son as he calls “his dear Son,” Col. 1:13. A late writer tells us, that he has been informed, that in the famine in Germany, a poor family being ready to perish with famine, the husband made a motion to the wife, to sell one of the children for bread, to relieve themselves and the rest: The wife at last consents it should be so; but then they began to think which of the four should be sold; and when the eldest was named, they both refused to part with that, being their first born, and the beginning of their strength. Well, then they came to the second, but could not yield that he should be sold, being the very picture and lively image of his father. The third was named, but that also was a child that best resembled the mother. And when the youngest was thought on, that was the Benjamin, the child of their old age; and so were content rather to perish altogether in the famine, than to part with a child for relief. And you know how tenderly Jacob took it, when his Joseph and Benjamin were rent from him. What is a child, but a piece of the parent enrapt up in another skin? And yet our dearest children are but as strangers to us, in comparison of the unspeakable dearness that was between the Father and Christ. Now, that he should ever be content to part with a Son, and such an only One, is such a manifestation of love, as will be admired to all eternity. And then,

(2.) Let it be considered, To what he gave him, even to death, and that of the cross; to be made a curse for us; to be the scorn and contempt of men; to the most unparalleled sufferings that ever were inflicted or borne by any. It melts our affections, it breaks our heart, to behold our children striving in the pangs of death: but the Lord beheld his Son struggling under agonies that never any felt before him. He saw him falling to the ground, groveling in the dust, sweating blood, and amidst those agonies turning himself to his Father, and, with a heart rending cry, beseeching him, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass,” Luke 22:42. To wrath, to the wrath, of an infinite God without mixture; to the very torments of hell was Christ delivered, and that by the hand of his own Father. Sure then that love must needs want a name, which made the Father of mercies deliver his only Son to such miseries for us.

(3.) It is a special consideration to enhance the love of God in giving Christ, that in giving him he gave the richest jewel in his cabinet; a mercy of the greatest worth, and most inestimable value, Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is: He is the better half of heaven; and so the saints account him, Psalm. 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” Ten thousand thousand worlds, says one, as many worlds as angels can number, and then as a new world of angels can multiply, would not all be the bulk of a balance, to weigh Christ’s excellency, love, and sweetness. O what a fair One! what an only One! what an excellent, lovely, ravishing One, is Christ! Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden of Eden, into one; put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness in one; O what a fair and excellent thing would that be? And yet it should be less to that fair and dearest well-beloved Christ, than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths. Christ is heaven’s wonder, and earths wonder.

Now, for God to bestow the mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as his Son was, yet not to account him too good to bestow upon us, what manner of love is this!

(4.) Once more, let it be considered on whom the Lord bestowed his Son: upon angels? No, but upon men. Upon man his friend? No, but upon his enemies. This is love; and on this consideration the apostle lays a mighty weight, in Rom. 5:8, 9, 10. “But God (says he) commends his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, – When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” Who would part with a son for the sake of his dearest friends? but God gave him to, and delivered him for enemies: O love unspeakable!

(5.) Lastly, Let us consider how freely this gift came from him: It was not wrested out of his hand by our importunity; for we as little desired as deserved it: It was surprising, preventing, eternal love, that delivered him to us: “Not that we loved him, but he first loved us,” 1 John 4:19. Thus as when you weigh a thing, you cast in weight after weight, until the scales break; so does God, one consideration upon another, to overcome our hearts, and make us admiringly to cry, what manner of love is this! And thus I have showed you what God’s giving of Christ is, and what matchless love is manifested in that incomparable gift.

JOHN FLAVEL

For our sake – J.C. Philpot

“For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

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Our blessed Lord offered himself for sin; that is, that he might put away sin by the sacrifice of himself–“Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24). It was absolutely necessary either that the sinner should suffer in his own person, or in that of a substitute. Jesus became this substitute; he stood virtually in the sinner’s place, and endured in his holy body and soul the punishment due to him; for he “was numbered with the transgressors.” He thus, by the shedding of his most precious blood, opened in his sacred body a fountain for all sin and all uncleanness (Zech. 13:1).

The cross was the place on which this sacrifice was offered; for as the blood of the slain lamb was poured out at the foot of the altar, sprinkled upon its horns, and burned in its ever-enduring fire, so our blessed Lord shed his blood upon the cross. He there endured the wrath of God to the uttermost; he there put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; he there offered his holy soul and body, the whole of his pure and sacred humanity, in union with his eternal Deity, as an expiation for the sins of his people.

Thus all their sin was atoned for, expiated, put away, blotted out, and will never more be imputed to them. This is the grand mystery of redeeming love and atoning blood. Here the cross shines forth in all its splendor; here God and man meet at the sacrifice of the God-man; and here, amid the sufferings and sorrows, the groans and tears, the blood and obedience of God’s dear Son in our nature, grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life.

J.C. Philpot

THE ONLY WAY TO GOD By J.C. Ryle

THE ONLY WAY TO GOD.

JOHN XIV. 4—11.

“And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

“Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way?

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.

“If ye had known Me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him.

“Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it stifficeth us.

“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me liath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father thatdwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.

“Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.”

We should mark, in these verses, what glorious names the Lord Jesus gives to Himself. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The fulness of these precious words can probably never be taken in by man. He that attempts to unfold them does little more than scratch the surface of a rich soil.

Christ is “the way,“—the way to heaven and peace with God. He is not only the guide, and teacher, and lawgiver, like Moses; He is Himself the door, the ladder, and the road, through whom we must draw near to God. He has opened the way to the tree of life, which was closed when Adam and Eve fell, by the satisfaction He made for us on the cross. Through His blood we may draw near with boldness, and have access with confidence into God’s presence. (Ephes. iii. 12.)

Christ is “the truth,“—the whole substance of true religion which the mind of man requires. Without Him the wisest heathen groped in gross darkness, and knew nothing rightly about God. Before He came even the Jews saw “through a glass darkly,” and discerned nothing distinctly under the types, figures, and ceremonies of the Mosaic law. Christ is the whole truth, and meets and satisfies every desire of the human mind.

Christ is “the life,“—the sinner’s title to eternal life and pardon, the believer’s root of spiritual life and holiness, the surety of the Christian’s resurrection life. He that believeth on Christ hath everlasting life. He that abideth in Him, as the branch abides in the vine, shall bring forth much fruit. He that believeth on Him, though he were dead, yet shall he live. The root of all life, for soul and for body, is Christ.

For ever let us grasp and hold fast these truths. To use Christ daily as the way,—to believe Christ daily as the truth,—to live on Christ daily as the life,—this is to be a well-informed, a thoroughly furnished, and an established Christian.

We should mark, again, in these verses, how expressly the Lord Jesus shuts out all ways’of salvation but Himself. “No man,” He declares, “No mancometh unto the Father but by Me.”

It avails nothing that a man is clever, learned, highly gifted, amiable, charitable, kind-hearted, and zealous about some sort of religion. All this will not save his soul, if he does not draw near to God by Christ’s atonement, and make use of God’s own Son as his Mediator and Saviour. God isso holy that all men are guilty and debtors in His sight. Sin is so sinful that no mortal man can make satisfaction for it. There must be a mediator, aransom-payer, a redeemer, between ourselves and God, or else we can never be saved.

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There is only one door, one bridge, one ladder, between earth and heaven,—the crucified Son of God. Whosoever will enter in by that door may be saved; but to him who refuses to use that door the Bible holds out no hope at all. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Heb. ix. 22.)

Let us beware, if we love life, of supposing that mere earnestness will take a man to heaven, though he know nothing of Christ. The idea is a deadly and ruinous error. Sincerity will never wipe away our sins. It is not true that every man will be saved by his own religion, no matter what he believes, provided he is diligent and sincere. We must not pretend to be wiser than God. Christ has said, and Christ will stand to it, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”

Short expository readings on the Gospel of John

By John Charles Ryle (bishop. of Liverpool)

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The beauty of Christ – Samuel Rutherford

68522_246838158788641_992680071_n“I dare say that angels’ pens, angel’s tongues, nay, as many worlds of angels as there are drops of water in all the seas and fountains, and rivers of the earth cannot paint Him out to you. I think His sweetness has swelled upon me to the greatness of two heavens. O for a soul as wide as the utmost circle of the highest heaven to contain His love! And yet I could hold but little of it. O what a sight, to be up in heaven, in that fair orchard of the New Paradise, and to see, and smell, and touch, and kiss that fair field-flower, that evergreen tree of life! His bare shadow would be enough for me; a sight of Him would be the guarantee of heaven to me.”If there were ten thousand thousand millions of worlds, and as many heavens, full of men and angels, Christ would not be pinched to supply all our wants, and to fill us all. Christ is a well of life; but who knows how deep it is to the bottom? Put the beauty of ten thousand thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden, in one; put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all loveliness, all sweetness in one. O what a fair and excellent thing would that be? And yet it would be less to that fair and dearest well-beloved Christ than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths.”

Samuel Rutherford

 

– Samuel Rutherford

THE BACKSLIDER’S RETURN

THE BACKSLIDER’S RETURN

“Yet return again to Me, says the Lord.”–Jer. 3:1

Could there be a more touching “Thus says the Lord” than this? The voice of Jesus, as it echoed over the mountains and along the valleys of our unregenerate distance from God, seeking and finding and bringing us home, was inexpressibly sweet and irresistibly gracious. But, to hear that same voice, after our many wanderings, our repeated relapses, our sad backslidings, still seeking, still inviting, still imploring us to return, though we had “played the harlot with many lovers,” oh, there is music in that voice such as the heavenly minstrelsy must bend their ear to catch.

My soul, you are “bent upon backsliding, even as a backsliding heifer.” Your heart is as a broken bow, treacherous to the arrow fixed upon the string, and ready for its flight. Your purposes of good formed, but thwarted; resolutions of amendment made, but broken; plans of usefulness laid, but frustrated; prayers for grace offered, but forgotten; desires and aspirations after God sent up, but, through a deceitful and wicked heart, dissolving into air. Oh! how many and aggravated have your backslidings from God been–backslidings in heart, backslidings in deed–secret wanderings, open wanderings. You have “left your first love,” have “forgotten your resting-place;” and, straying from the cross, have gone back to walk no more with Jesus. Truly, your “heart is like a deceitful bow.”

But, has the Lord, by some gentle movement of His grace, or by some solemn event of His providence, aroused, overtaken, arrested you? Has He set a hedge around your path, that you could not find your lovers, bringing you to reflection, to penitence, to prayer? Then, listen, O my soul, to the gracious words of your “first husband;” “Yet return again to Me, says the Lord.”

Spiritual restoration implies a spiritual re-conversion. In this sense we are to interpret our Lord’s words to His fallen apostle Peter–“When you are converted, strengthen your brethren,”–that is, when you are restored, recovered, turned back again, employ your restored grace, the experience you have derived, and the lessons you have learned by your fall and recovery, in strengthening your weak brethren–in warning and exhorting, in restoring and comforting those who have been alike tempted, and have alike fallen.

There is something very expressive, tender, and touching in the word–“Again.” “Yet return again.” It sounds like the “forgiveness of seventy times seven.” Lord! I have wandered from You times without number–“Yet return again.” Lord! I have so often sinned and repented–“Yet return again.” Lord! You have received and forgiven me more than seventy times seven–“Yet return again.” Lord! I come confessing the same sins, deploring the same backslidings, acknowledging the same self-will and base ingratitude–“Yet return again to me, says the Lord.” Then, Lord! I come with weeping, and mourning, and confession, since Your tenderness, grace, and changeless love, and outstretched hand bid me.

“Return to Me.” My soul, rest not until you rest in Jesus. Let nothing come between your returning heart and your advancing, loving, forgiving Father. There is no true return of a backsliding believer but that which takes him past his repentance, past his tears, past his confessions, past his amendments, past his minister, and brings him at once close to Christ. There is no healing of the hurt, no binding up of the wound, no cleansing, no peace, no comfort, no joy, but as the soul comes to the blood, and nestles once more within the very heart of Jesus. “Return unto ME.”

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Octavius Winslow (1808 – 1878)

 

HOW REPENTANCE IS GIVEN – Charles Spurgeon

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  • The work which our Lord Jesus has done has made repentance possible, available, and acceptable.

¶The Lord can give repentance to the most unlikely, turning lions into lambs, and ravens into doves. Let us look to Him that this great change may be wrought in us. Assuredly the contemplation of the death of Christ is one of the surest and speediest methods of gaining repentance. Do not sit down and try to pump up repentance from the dry well of corrupt nature. It is contrary to the laws of mind to suppose that you can force your soul into that gracious state. Take your heart in prayer to Him who understands it, and say, “Lord, cleanse it. Lord, renew it. Lord, work repentance in it.” The more you try to produce penitent emotions in yourself, the more you will be disappointed; but if you believingly think of Jesus dying for you, repentance will burst forth. Meditate on the Lord’s shedding His heart’s blood out of love to you. Set before your mind’s eye the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and passion; and, as you do this, He who was the bearer of all this grief will look at you, and with that look He will do for you what He did for Peter, so that you also will go out and weep bitterly. He who died for you can, by His gracious Spirit, make you die to sin; and He who has gone into glory on your behalf can draw your soul after Him, away from evil, and toward holiness.
    I shall be content if I leave this one thought with you; look not beneath the ice to find fire, neither hope in your own natural heart to find repentance. Look to the Living One for life. Look to Jesus for all you need between Hell Gate and Heaven Gate. Never seek elsewhere for any part of that which Jesus loves to bestow; but remember,
    Christ is all.

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An Earnest Word with Those
Who Are Seeking Salvation
by the Lord Jesus Christ..
All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon

LIKE CHRIST BY ANDREW MURRAY

Andrew Murray2
..O my blessed Lord, Thou hast called me, and I have followed Thee, that I may bear Thy image in all things. Daily would I seek Thy footsteps, that I may be led of Thee whithersoever Thou goest. This day I have found them, wet with the dew of night, leading to the wilderness. There I have seen Thee kneeling for hours before the Father. There I have heard Thee, too, in prayer. Thou givest up all to the Father’s glory, and from the Father dost ask, and expect, and receive all Impress, I beseech Thee, this wonderful vision deep in my soul: my Savior rising up a great while before day to seek communion with His Father, and to ask and obtain in prayer all that He needed for His life and work.
O my Lord! who am I that I may thus listen to Thee? Yea, who am I that Thou dost call me to pray, even as Thou hast done? Precious Savior, from the depths of my heart I beseech Thee, awaken in me the same strong need of secret prayer. Convince me more deeply that, as with Thee so with me, the Divine life cannot attain its full growth without much secret communion with my heavenly Father, so that my soul may indeed dwell in the light of His countenance. Let this conviction awaken in me such burning desire that I may not rest until each day afresh my soul has been baptized in the streams of heavenly love. O Thou, who art my Example and Intercessor! Teach me to pray like Thee. Amen. 
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Andrew Murray