". . . that I may know Him. . ." (Phil. 3:10).
Religion without a knowledge of Christ is like a watch without a mainspring. All endeavors, whatever they may be, will be in vain. But let me not be misunderstood. It is not the mere knowing Christ's name that I mean; it is knowing His mercy, grace, and power. It is not merely the hearing of the ear, but by the experience of your hearts. It is knowing Him as your peace and strength, your life Paid consolation, your Physician and Shepherd, your Savior and your God.
In Christ alone all fulness dwells (Col. 1:19). In Him alone there is full supply of all that we require for the necessities of our souls. Of ourselves we are all poor, empty creatures; empty of righteousenss and peace; empty of strength, and comfort; empty of corrage and patience; empty of power to stand, or go on, or make progress in this evil world. It is in Christ alone that all these things are to be found; grace, peace, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
It is just in proportion as we live upon Him that we are strong Christians. It is only when self is nothing and Christ is all our confidence that we are armed for the battle of life, and shall overcome. To live on Christ, to draw all from Christ, to do all in the strength of Christ, to be ever looking unto Christ, this is the secret of spiritual life.
Christ Jesus is the treasury of our souls. Go to Christ then and find all you will ever need. Do you need a friend? He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Do you feel unworthy because of your sins? Fear not: His blood cleanseth from all sin. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa. 1:18). Christ says, Come unto me. Then He says, him that cometh I will in no wise cast out. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, for He suffered Himself, being tempted. Surely you will be without excuse if you turn away from such a Savior and Friend as this. If you love life, seek to know Jesus Christ, the only knowledge worth having.
Salvation is by free grace alone!
(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)
"By grace you are saved!" Ephesians 2:8
Salvation is by free grace alone! In eternity past, the Lord fixed upon the objects whom He intended to deliver from sin, Satan, and the curse — and whom He designed to raise to holiness, happiness, and honor. He assigns no reason but His sovereign good pleasure: "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion!"
He chose His people out of the vast mass — and recorded their names in the book of life. He gave them to our dear and adorable Immanuel — to be His care, charge, and bride. He appointed them to life, sonship, and conformity to Jesus — and all of free grace!
Grace scatters blessings upon millions — but never utters a curse against any. She provides salvation for her objects — but is in no sense the cause of the damnation of the rest. Her language is SAVE; but never DESTROY.
Sovereign grace, rightly viewed — embodies everything that is sweet, pleasant, charming, and delightful. It is . . .
as free as the summer breeze,
as pure as the sun's bright ray,
and as pleasant as the morning light!
All who know it — love it,
all who have seen it — admire it,
and all who enjoy it — adore it!
Grace finds . . .
a depth for our sins,
a fountain for our needs,
a covering for our persons, and
a Heaven for our eternal habitation.
Oh that Heaven would coin language sufficiently grand, and furnish ideas sufficiently noble — to speak of the glories of sovereign grace, or to show forth half its praise!
Salvation, then, . . .
originates in the free grace of God,
flows in the channel of the Redeemer's blood, and
aims at the glorification of Jehovah in all His perfections.
Salvation was . . .
planned in eternity,
executed in time, and
shall be realized and enjoyed until eternity can end!
Salvation is . . .
divine in its contrivance, execution, and application;
holy in its character, tendency, and design;
and free in its bestowment and operations.
Salvation is of God, by grace, to holiness — forever!
So, my beloved younger brethren and sisters in Christ at the very outset of your spiritual life, say boldly, “I will be, by the grace of God, an out-and-out Christian, living for God. I will, by His grace, seek to bear fruit to His glory and honour. I will, by His grace, seek to have done with this sinful world. I will, by His grace, strive so to live, that a line of demarcation shall be clearly seen between me and the world, and that the people of the world shall seek to have no intercourse with me, seeing that I do not belong to them, but that I belong to the kingdom of heaven.”
That is what we have to aim after; and what would be the result? Not only should we be holy men and women, but also happy men and women, in whom God delights; and we should also be useful men and women. The world ought to say of each of us, “If ever there was a Christian, it is surely that man or that woman.” “Surely that man or woman has been with Jesus.” If the world does not say that of us, there is something wanting. We ought to be ashamed, if any one is able to live three or four days in the house with us, without finding out that we are not of the world, but are born again.
And that is not the only use of thus bearing testimony; it will also be very helpful to our brethren in the Lord.
Let me insist particularly, my beloved brethren and sisters, but especially you, my younger brethren and sisters, on this point—that of being out-and-out for God in the very outset. We must be opposed to the world, and the flesh, and entirely for Christ. This is the purpose for which we are left in the world. I do not say we are to give up our ordinary business. I have seen much of this; there is often too much readiness in giving up the earthly business, and it is often done hastily. I have found that men may greatly glorify God in their earthly business, and I do not say that they are to forsake that business in order to become evangelists, missionaries. district visitors, tract distributors, or the like. We may serve and honour Him well whilst occupied with the business of this life. If God does call us, by all means go at once; but do not go unless He calls. We require a special call from God, and even when we think we have received it, let us make it a matter of consideration. Let us prayerfully, quietly, and calmly look to God before taking such a step.
But, again, I say, if there be anything, whatever it may be, and however dear it may be, which is contrary to the divine will, let us give it up at once, and aim after being out-and-out, and decided for God in every way. The result will be increased happiness, joy, and holiness; and our usefulness will increase more and more.
In connection with this, I would especially state that, though we all ought to aim after conformity to the mind of Christ, yet we all more or less fail. It is deeply important to mark, that all of us are liable to sin, and do sin. If any man come to me, and say, “I do not sin,” I would say, “My brother, you are mistaken; perhaps you do not know what sin is, or you do not know your own state.” All of us, though not living in sin, are yet liable to sin; if not in acts, yet in words; or if not even in words, yet in feelings or desires. We are all apt to fall short of what we might be and of what we ought to be. What then? Well, we must make confession, and come afresh to the blood of Jesus Christ, and have these sins washed away. - George Muller