27 October, 2013
The Call of Christ -Whom Did Christ Call? – Part 6/6
We must now inquire, what did our Lord signify when He bade all the weary and heavy laden "come unto Me"?
First, it is quite evident that something more than a physical act or local coming to hear Him preach was intended, for these words were first addressed to those who were already in His presence: there were many who attended His ministry and witnessed His Miracles—who never came to Him in the sense here intended. The same holds good today: something more than a bare approach through the ordinances —listening to preaching, submitting to baptism, partaking of the Lord's Supper—is involved in a saving coming to Christ, for such acts as those may be performed without the performer being any gainer thereby. Coming to Christ in the sense He here invited—is a going out of the soul after Him, a desire for Him, a seeking after Him, a personal embracing of and trusting in Him.
A saving coming to Christ suggests first and negatively—a leaving of something, for the Divine promise is, "He who covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Coming to Christ, then, denotes a turning our backs upon the world—and turning our hearts unto Him as our only Hope and Portion. It is the abandoning of every idol and the surrendering of ourselves to His Lordship. It is the repudiation of our own righteousness and every dependency, and the heart going out to Him in loving submission and trustful confidence. It is in entire going out of SELF with all its resolutions and performances, to cast ourselves upon His grace and mercy. It is the will yielding itself up to His authority to be molded by Him and to follow Him wherever He may lead. In short, it is the whole soul of a guilty and self-condemned sinner—turning unto a whole Christ, in the exercise of all our facilities, responding to His claims upon us, prepared to unreservedly trust, sincerely love, and devotedly serve Him.
We have said that coming to Christ is the turning of the whole soul unto Him. Perhaps this calls for some amplification, though we trust we shall not confuse the reader by multiplying words and entering into detail. There are three principal facilities in the soul: the understanding, the affections, and the will—and as each of these were operative and were affected by our original departurefrom God, so they are and must be active in our return to Him in Christ.
Of Eve it is recorded, "when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof" (Genesis 3:6).
First, she "saw that the tree was good for food," that is, she perceived the fact mentally—it was a conclusion drawn by her understanding.
Second, "and that it was pleasant to the eyes": that was the response and going out of her affections unto it.
Third, "and a tree to be desired to make one wise": there was the moving of her will.
"And took of the fruit thereof and did eat": there was the completed action.
Thus it is in the sinner's coming to Christ.
There is first apprehension by the understanding: the mind is enlightened and brought to see our deep need of Christ and His perfect suitability to meet our needs: the intelligence perceives that He is "good for food," the Bread of life which God has graciously provided for the nourishment of our souls.
Second, there is the moving of the affections: hitherto we discerned no beauty in Christ that we should desire Him—but now He is "pleasant to the eyes" of our souls: it is the heart turning from the love of sin to the love of holiness, from self to the Savior—it is for this reason that backsliding or spiritual declension is termed a leaving of our "first love" (Revelation 2:4).
Third, in coming to Christ there is an exercise of the will, for said He to those who received Him not, "you will not come to Me that you might have life" (John ). This exercise of the will consists of a yielding of ourselves to His authority to be ruled by Him.
None will come to Christ—while they remain in ignorance of Him. The understanding must perceive His suitability for sinners, before the mind can turn intelligently and consciously unto Him as He is revealed in the Gospel. Neither can the heart come to Christ while it hates Him or is wedded to the things of time and sense: the affections must be drawn out to Him, "If anyone does not love the Lord—that person is cursed!" (1 Corinthians 16:22). Equally evident is it that no man will come to Christ while his willis opposed to Him: it is the enlightening of his understanding and the firing of his affections, which subdues his enmity and makes the sinner willing in the day of God's power (Psalm 110:3). It is helpful to observe that these exercises of the three faculties of the soul correspond in character to the threefold office of Christ:
the understanding being enlightened by Him as Prophet,the affections being moved by His work as Priest, and the will bowing to His authority as King over
In the days of His flesh, the Lord Jesus condescended to minister unto the ailments and needs of men's bodies, and many came unto Him and were healed: in that we may see a foreshadowing of Him as the great Physician of souls, and what is required from sinners if they are to receive spiritual healing at His hands. Those who sought out Christ in order to obtain bodily relief, were persuaded of His mighty power, His gracious willingness, and of their own dire need of healing. But let it be noted that then, as now, this persuasion in the Lord's sufficiency and readiness to support varied in degree in different cases. The centurion spoke with full assurance: "Only speak the word—and my servant shall be healed" (Matthew 8:8). The leper expressed himself more dubiously, "Lord, if You will—You can make me clean" (Matthew 8:2). Another used still fainter language, "If You can do anything—have compassion and help us" (Mark ). Yet even there the Redeemer did not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax—but graciously wrought a miracle on his behalf.
But let it be carefully observed that in each of the above cases there was a personal and actual application unto Christ, and it was this very application (or approach unto and appeal to Him) which made manifest their faith, even though that faith was as small as a grain of mustard seed. They did not rest content with having heard of His fame—but improved it: they actually sought Him out for themselves, acquainted Him with their case, and implored His compassion. So it must be with those troubled about soul concerns: saving faith is not passive—but operative. Moreover, the faith of those who sought unto Christ for physical relief was one which refused to be deterred by difficulties and discouragements. In vain the multitudes charged the blind man to be quiet (Mark ): knowing that Christ was able to give sight, he cried so much the more. Even when Christ appeared to manifest a great reserve—the woman refused to leave until her request was granted (Matthew ).