Thursday, December 17, 2009

Total Depravity

Today we consider the biblical truth of total depravity. We will do so from our Lord’s words found in John 15:5, “For without me ye can do nothing.”

We see from the last verse of John 14 that our Lord Jesus and His disciples have now left the upper room where they had gathered to eat the last Passover and they had begun a midnight walk across the city of Jerusalem, up to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus will be betrayed to the Jews. We read in John 14:31 Jesus saying to them, “Arise, let us go hence.”

That is, Jesus was interrupting the discourse or sermon that He had begun in chapter 13, a sermon spoken to His disciples. He interrupts this sermon and leads them out of the upper room towards Gethsemane.

No doubt, as they walked, they passed by many orchards and vineyards along the way. And, as was the Lord’s custom, He uses what He sees in the creation as an object lesson to teach His disciples and us a vital truth that we must know as He is about to leave His disciples.

He says in John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”

He goes on to say, “Ye are the branches. Abide in Me. As the branch canno bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in Me.”

The Lord begins to speak to His disciples of the indispensible and urgent need of true faith, of a living, vital connection to Him. He, in the way of the cross, in the way of His resurrection and ascension, is about to return in glory to His heavenly Father. We will on the earth be subject to sin, temptation, death, sorrow, real grief and turmoil. The Lord says, “You must abide in Me and I in you. As the branch abides in the vine and draws its sap and life from the vine and thus is able to bear fruit, so also must you abide in Me.”

He speaks, in this figure, of the gift of true and living faith, of the true, heavenly-wrought, spiritual union between you and Christ—the gift of faith, faith that is not a formal, purely intellectual attachment to Jesus Christ. It is not like two boards nailed together. But faith is a living union to Jesus Christ, worked by God in our hearts so that we say with the apostle Paul, “For to me to live is Christ.” And, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

And then the Lord, in the words of our text, emphasizes the need that we have to abide by faith in Him. For He says that “without me ye can do nothing.” As a branch, severed from the vine, dries and is gathered up to be burned, so we, without Jesus Christ, can do nothing. In words that are clear, simple, and pointed, Jesus teaches us the truth of our total depravity.

Without Jesus, we can do nothing.

You could not save yourself, you could not will to accept Him, any sooner than a dead branch can will to pick itself up and insert itself into the vine. “You cannot receive Me unless I work My grace first in you. You cannot be saved, nor can you persevere (keep yourself within the state of salvation) without Me. Without Me ye can do nothing.”

These words, then, underscore the words of the Lord Jesus: “Abide in me, stay close to Me, seek all of your strength in Me.” As sinners, we are depraved, and we are saved by grace. And, as children of God in the midst of this world of temptation and woe, we have one great desperate need every day: Abide in Christ, a living, true faith in Jesus Christ.

For without Jesus, we can do nothing.

These words, first of all, then, are very humbling: "Without Me ye can do nothing."

They are words that point first to our total depravity as a sinner, and our need of a completely gracious salvation. Jesus here speaks of all men as they are without Him. He speaks of every man, woman, and child as they are without Him. “Without Me, you can do nothing.” He is not talking just about drug-addicts or those who are on death-row. He is not talking only about predators or abusers of mankind. But He is talking of all mankind—of professors, scientists, teachers—men as they stand apart from Christ—you, considered of yourself. You, apart from Jesus, can do nothing. He means nothing good. That is His point. Nothing pleasing to God, nothing good in the sight of God. You can do many things, but you cannot do anything pleasing to God.

Note that Jesus (in the first four verses of John 15) has been talking about bringing forth much fruit to God. He has been talking about a life of good works pleasing to God. He has been talking about love for God, sorrow for sin, humility, meekness—those things that please God. He has been talking about the fact that the failure to bring forth such fruit means that a branch is dead, withered up, and is to be gathered up to be burned in the lake of fire. Jesus, therefore, was talking about every man, every woman, every child—whether they are in poverty or whether they are in wealth, whether they live in a third-world country or in a country of great prosperity, it makes no difference. They cannot do anygood in the sight of God. Apart from Jesus Christ we are dead in sin, fallen in Adam, incapable of any saving good.

The fault is not simply in the totality of our makeup, so that there are spots of sin in every part of our makeup, of our will, words, and emotions, but we are totally depraved, shot through completely with sin, sold in sin, leprous in sin.

Ephesians 2:1-3,
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins….”

Romans 3:12, “…there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Romans 8:7, “…the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

You can do nothing apart from Me.

The Lord is speaking there of ability. Apart from Jesus Christ no one has the ability to do good in the sight of God. We cannot of ourselves will to accept Jesus Christ. It is not we who can do a little. It is not we who decide for Christ and then, depending upon our decision, Christ will respond and come into us. No. Ye can do nothing. As a branch severed from the vine, withered, we are dead in our sins. Salvation is not the acceptance of Jesus by the human will. Salvation is the resurrection of a dead sinner. When we have the testimony within us of the burden of sin, when we feel sorrow for sin, when we covet God’s grace to lead a new, Christian life, all of this is His work in us. It did not proceed from us. It was not me, O Savior true, but it was Thou who didst love me and raise me from the dead.

But Jesus’ words are humbling also in this sense, that they mean that as a renewed, saved-by-grace child of God, without Him, I can do nothing. As renewed by the Holy Spirit, by grace, we are called to live a life of sanctification, that is, to delight in serving God. We are called to live to the service of God in everything that we do. We are to bear our cross, we are to fight a good fight of faith. But we can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. He must daily by grace infuse His strength into us. Your strength, says Jesus, your fortitude, your personal determination, your guts, your stubbornness, your stick-to-itiveness—all of this is nothing. Ye can do nothing in the Christian life without Me, without Jesus. That is, apart from a conscious, heartfelt faith-dependence upon Christ, we can do nothing.

You cannot white-knuckle and overcome that addiction that has cast you down time after time and of which you have said, “I’ll beat it, I can stop, I’m man enough, I’ll preserve my reputation. It’s not going to go any further.” Jesus says, “Without me, ye can do nothing.”

You cannot escape that temptation, the net and the pit laid for you by Satan, the lust, the desire to live for the approval of friends. Believe in this word. “Without Me,” says Jesus, “ye can do nothing.”

You cannot endure that trial, that loneliness, that sorrow that is swallowing you up, pushing you down of yourself. Getting away, a change of scenery is not going to do it. Without Me, ye can do nothing.

A great evil, but performed against you, an abuse, a horrible abuse that haunts you and pursues you and fills you with fear—without Me, ye can do nothing, says Jesus.

A great sin is in your past. You confess this sin, but yet its memory gives you no rest. You try to keep yourself busy. You try to keep in front of it. Without Me, says Jesus, you can do nothing.

Always our sinful nature, that is, our pride, looks to our self. We try to build our own citadel. We try to use our treasured resources and strength. And God, in His wisdom and justice, so often says, “Go ahead. Exhaust your treasured strength—until grace brings you to know that you can’t.”

It is by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. The way of God’s grace leads us to this point that we give up on our own strength, our own way, our own will. And we cry, “Oh, I to the fountain fly, cleanse me, Jesus, or I die.” For without Jesus I can do nothing.

But as humbling as that is, it is also exalting. It is exalting to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is making the most amazing and astounding claim. Think about it. “Without Me, ye can do nothing.” That means that Jesus is saying, “I am the source of all good, all spiritual strength. I am the source of good and spiritual strength. You have no good, no strength, no merit; I and I alone am the source of all good and strength. As you are devoid, utterly devoid in yourself, and cannot find any strength of yourself, you will have all strength and all merit in Me.” So it always is. If you lift up man in your faith or religion, you debase Jesus Christ. If you give credit to yourself or to man, you discredit Jesus Christ. If you walk in pride, any pride, you will think little of Jesus Christ.

But when our emptiness is shown, when our weakness is made plain, when our depravity is exposed to us, it is then that Christ is exalted for who He is. Christ is the source, the only source, of good in all the world. Christ is the source, the only source, of strength in all the world.

Christ, therefore, is exalted in salvation. Total depravity is the gate or the door to the gospel. You must go in through that door. The teaching of free will, that notion that salvation is owed to a decision of the dead sinner, who must first accept Christ before Christ can save him—this heresy of free will debases Jesus Christ. Free will glories in itself. I accepted Christ. He could not enter in unless I allowed Him into my heart, unless I first invited Him. He stood there knocking, unable to do anything until I gave Him the permission. The glory is free will.

In the name of Jesus Christ, I say, away with that false doctrine.

in I Corinthians 1 we read: “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

For of God are ye in Christ Jesus, says the Scripture. Of God, not of free will. Of God, God’s work, are you in Christ Jesus. We cry out with the hymn: “Nothing in my hands I bring.”

It is Jesus Christ, by His Spirit, who opens our heart that is closed, shut up, and sealed, as in a coffin of sin. We read in Acts 16:14 of Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened. It is Jesus Christ who regenerates, that is, by Him we are born again. He implants His life in us. “If ye then be risen with Christ,” says the apostle in Colossians 3:1. It is Christ who converts. It is Christ who regenerates. It is Christ who saves. It is Christ who illumines our minds. It is Christ who softens our will and enters into the inmost recesses of our soul. It is Thy grace, O Lord, that saved me, not myself. All hail the power of Jesus’ name. Not free will. Not your name. Not man’s name. Not this man saved me, or this person. But Jesus Christ saved me.

So also it is that Jesus Christ is exalted in our life of sanctification, that is, in our Christian living. It is Christ who infuses His strength into us through faith. It is Christ in me. It is Christ in me in every trial and every way of darkness, in every burden and in every temptation. Christ Jesus is our strength.

But you might say, “I know that and I believe that. I believe that without Christ I can do nothing. But why are there yet times in my life that it seems that I cannot find Him or when He is absent from me, when the peace of His grace eludes me?”

The disciples of Jesus Christ at this point were about to go through that in that very night. At the moment of trial, they will all run away from Jesus. Apparently the strength of Jesus Christ was gone and their hearts were filled only with fear.

Why, then, are we led down ways of darkness?

“Lord,” we say, “I believe this. Why must I be led in such dark and difficult ways?” And the answer is: Because our need of Jesus Christ must be burned, must be branded, into our heart, because His grace and His strength are not cheap, because it pleases the Father to work this truth into our deepest heart. Through every way of trial and through every way of woe, Jesus Christ wills that we confess: without Jesus, I can do nothing.

But, you see, this is assuring, it is humbling, it is exalting of Christ and it is assuring to us. This is not a false assurance. This is not a sales pitch. This is not a soap bubble to pop on the first sharp point of life. Jesus Christ is our good and our strength. His perfect work on the cross is our righteousness. His grace is our strength. He is the solid rock. Everything else is sinking sand. Believe in Him, rely solely upon Him.

The assurance is, first of all, that when we feel the burden of sin, when we feel within us the desire to obey and serve Him, then this is due to His work in me. It did not arise out of me. I did not create that. But it came from Him.

Do you know yourself as the sinner in God’s sight?

Do you know your sorrow and the depth of your sin?

All of this is worked in your heart by Jesus Christ and by His wonderful grace.

And, still more. There is the assurance that Jesus Christ will also strengthen us unto every good work. He will give us His grace. He will dwell within us. It is Christ who will strengthen us.

So, hear the call of the gospel. He speaks. He calls in the gospel: “Abide in me.” That is your need. Always stay closer to Jesus Christ. That is your one, and your great, and your desperate need. Stay close to Him in the word. Stay close to Him in the church. Stay close to Him in prayer. Stay close to Him in your daily walk of life. Abide in Jesus. For without Jesus, you can do nothing. But "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

By Carl Haak

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Limited Atonement

Salvation from sin through Jesus Christ is entirely of God’s grace. This is something that Jonah learned when he was in the belly of a whale. We read in Jonah 2:9, Jonah’s confession: “Salvation is of the Lord.”

Salvation in its plan, that is, in its eternal election; in its accomplishment, in the actual payment for sin upon the cross; in its application, the giving of this salvation into the human heart; in its consummation, when at last one is taken before the presence of God — all of it is of God. "Salvation is of the Lord."

This is especially true of the doctrine of the Bible called “Limited (Particular) Atonement.” The truth is that Jesus Christ, in His atonement, saved by grace all those given to Him of the Father. And they shall never perish, because Jesus died for them upon the cross.

Limited or definite atonement of Jesus Christ upon the cross is the heart of the precious gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we sinners will see our Savior in all of His beauty. Through all eternity we will know Jesus as the Lamb who was slain and has redeemed us unto God. Throughout all eternity we will see Him as the One by whose stripes we are healed. We will rejoice in Him as the crucified one. And this is how we know Him today. In every trial, in every heartache, in every moment, in joy or in death, old and young, those who have walked with Him all their life, and those who have learned His secrets only recently in their new conversion — all of us will know Jesus as the One who died for us, who laid down His life for us.

In John 10:15, Jesus says: “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

In John 10 Jesus was contrasting Himself with the false leaders and teachers of His day, whom He calls intruders, hirelings among God’s people. They did not love the sheep. They fleeced the sheep. They used the sheep for themselves. They were hirelings who would run at the first sign of danger.

In contrast to that, Jesus says, in John 10:14: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” He calls Himself the Good Shepherd because He knows His sheep and will keep those sheep. And He calls Himself the Good Shepherd because He lays down His life for them. “I lay down my life for the sheep.” In those words Jesus Christ taught the truth of a limited, particular atonement.

We consider that today.

The question is: For whom did Jesus Christ die?

And the answer of the Bible is: Jesus Christ died for the elect, for all those throughout all ages and races, chosen eternally and loved graciously by God. The atonement was limited. That means that Jesus Christ died on the cross for a definite, particular number of persons. Revelation 7 refers to this as a multitude that no man can number. A great number known and chosen of the Father.

His death was an atonement.
That is a biblical word that refers to a payment or a covering for the sins of men and women.

It was redemption.
That is another word that is used in the Bible: redemption from sin. It was the purchase of men and women out of the guilt and bondage of their sin to the state of pardon and adoption as the sons and daughters of God.

This atonement or redemption was limited. Not in the sense of what He suffered, that what He suffered was limited. No. He suffered the full and the eternal wrath of God against our sins. But it was limited in the sense of for whom He suffered. He was definite or particular. He did not die for all human beings, but only for some, for those given to Him of the Father. His death on the cross was for a definite, particular group of men and women, each one of whom He knew personally, in divine, particular, gracious, saving love.

Now it is this truth, this truth of a limited or particular atonement, this truth of all the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace, that becomes so offensive to many. The response is that it is hated.

“What,” people will say, “did not Jesus die for all? Does not Jesus love all? How can we possibly do mission work?”

This truth will be assaulted and hated, and those who confess it will be accused of denying the gospel, and of denying the love of Jesus for sinners. It will be assaulted with a host of Bible verses: I Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

But what seldom happens is that men and women listen to the biblical exposition of this truth. Listen to Jesus, who taught this truth.

Jesus Himself will answer the question: For whom would He die upon the cross?

In John 10 He says, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).

When He says, “I lay down My life,” He is talking about the cross. He is not simply talking about a sacrificial desire that He has to serve other people. But He is referring to the cross of Calvary. John 13:1, Jesus knew that His hour was come, and in the Scriptures we go on to read that at that night He said, “The cup that My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?”

Jesus knew that He had to go the way that the Father had willed. True, the Son of man goeth as it was determined of Him (Luke 22:22), but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed. And He says that that death, that predetermined death on the cross that He had come to suffer, had a definite intention or purpose. On the cross He would lay down His life, He would die for a definite number of persons. “I lay down My life for the sheep.”

He does not lay down His life for all humans, but for the “sheep.”

In John 10, He makes that very plain when in verse 26 of the chapter He refers to some (the unbelieving Pharisees) as not being of His sheep. “But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep,” He says to them. “I will not lay down My life for you.” Sheep does not include all men. But sheep includes all those whom the Father had given to Him.

Jesus goes on to say that in John 10 as well, verses 27-29: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me….”

My Father gave the sheep to Me. He is “greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” Jesus teaches that He lays down His life for everyone whom the Father, out of mere grace, out of free election, gave to Him.

The ones for whom He dies are the ones He knows in that gracious, unbreakable bond of love.

John 10:14-15
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father.”

He is referring there to a knowledge of gracious, personal, intimate love. He says, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father.”

He brings us there to the point of intimacy beyond our ability to comprehend—the tender, the personal, the intimate love of the triune God. The Father loves the Son, knows the Son; and the Son knows the Father. Jesus says, “In like manner, even so I know My own and My own know Me. I know them intimately. I know them personally. I know them exhaustively. There is nothing in these people that will startle Me.”

There is nothing that can suddenly come up and He would say, “But I didn’t know that about them.”

“I love them graciously and unchangeably. I know who My own are. I know the sheep given to Me of the Father. They will hear My voice and they will come to Me. And I will die on the cross, for the ones chosen from before the foundations of the world, whom I have loved with an everlasting love and whom I will draw to Myself.”

The death on the cross of Jesus Christ extends to all the elect. God’s gracious and eternal election determines who Christ died for on Calvary’s cruel cross.

The question, of course, is: “Who determines the extent of Christ’s death? Who determines who it will be for whom Jesus will die?”

The answer is: Not man! Not yourself!

John 10:26
“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”

Jesus did not say, “You are not of My sheep because ye believed not.”

He did not say, “Your unbelief has excluded you from the sheep.”

But Jesus said, “You ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep.” The cause of their unbelief was that they were not His sheep.

God did not elect them.

God did not give them faith.

So also those who believe do not make themselves sheep by their faith. You are not one of the sheep because you believe. No. You believe because you were made one of His sheep. God determines the sheep in the decree of election. “My Father gave them Me” (John 6:39). And the fruit of that election is faith. For these elect of God, to whom God gives faith as a result of His election, for these Jesus dies.

The atonement of the cross is in harmony with divine election.

We read Jesus’ words in John 6:38-39)
“I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”

Again, in John 17:2, in His prayer on the night before He went to the cross: “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.”

But there is an even more important question.

It is this: What was Jesus death?

We must see that the question, For whom did Jesus die? is related to this other crucial question: What was His death?

The difference between the truth of saving, sovereign grace and the teaching of free will is not that sovereign grace has Jesus dying for a few, and free will has Jesus dying for many. Or, to put it bluntly, the difference between free and sovereign grace and Arminianism works religion is not that the one (sovereign elective grace) is stingy and the other (Arminianism) generous and more loving.

But the difference between them is this: A Christ who dies for some (the elect) and a Christ who dies for all.

The difference is, what is the nature of Jesus’ death?

The Christ who dies for all those given to Him of the Father saves them so that they shall never perish.

A Christ who dies for all saves no one.

Did Jesus, then, intend or want to save all?

Does God’s love mean that He wants all to be saved?

Then, of course, there is a question to be put to that: All, clearly, are not saved—unless one wishes to throw out the Bible, for the Bible does not teach a universal salvation. It does not teach that all are saved. Jesus Himself spoke repeatedly of hell. He said, “Fear Him who is able to cast the body and soul into hell.”

There is a hell.

Not all are saved.

Well, if Jesus died for all, did Jesus fail?

And the answer that is given by those who believe in the free will, or the Arminian heresy, is that, “No, He didn’t fail. You see, on the cross, what Jesus did was to make it possible for everybody to be saved if we add something to that, namely, our decision for our faith. He cannot (even though He died on the cross—supposedly for sin) He cannot save unless we help. We save, then, ourselves—with Jesus’ help.”

But this does not exalt the cross.

This cheapens the cross.

This limits its power.

Then the cross does not save any.

It is a Christ who does not save unless He is helped.

It is a love that cannot keep anyone from hell unless he helps God.

And then sinners are flattered.

Sinners are assured that it is in their power to repent and to believe.

To make the cross of Jesus Christ actually effectual depends upon them.

God cannot save them, even though His Son suffered on the cross.

They can keep God at bay.

And the gospel is trivialized.

This is not the gospel.

This is not the biblical, wonderful truth of the gospel.

The gospel proclaims that the cross truly saves.

It saves everyone for whom Jesus laid down His life.

The cross does not fail.

By His death, Jesus has made certain that all for whom He died shall go to glory.

There is power in the cross.

Look upon the cross. It is flanked on the one hand by the total depravity of the sinner. The sinner cannot save himself. On the other had it is flanked by unconditional and free grace of election. Jesus Christ died to save a certain number of helpless sinners upon whom God set His free and electing love. Christ’s death insured not only that they would all be saved, but that, because Jesus died for their sins, they would also be called. And the Holy Spirit would work faith in their hearts. The cross saves. And the cross saves because Jesus laid down His life for you, for everyone given to Him of His Father.

What does the Bible teach about the nature of Jesus’ cross?

It says that this cross was, first of all, a precious death. The One who died upon Calvary was God’s Son in the flesh. He was the Holy Son of God without spot or blemish. His blood is the blood of God in the flesh. The value and the power of that blood is mighty.

Still more. It was a willing death: “I lay down My life.” His death was not an accident. His death was not a misunderstanding or tragedy. He was not forced to this cross against His will. It was a deliberate and intentional action. It was a willing sacrifice. He laid it down.

And His death was substitutionary. “I lay down My life for the sheep.”

“For,” that is, “in the place of, instead of, as a substitute for.”

We were guilty before God in the judgment. We deserve to be bound over to the torments of hell. But Christ, by grace, was sent of the Father, and upon the cross He said, “Father, I have been sent to stand in their stead that they might not be condemned. Let the condemnation that they deserve fall upon Me. That they might never be forsaken or cast out, forsake and cast Me out.”

He died for sins.

For whose sins?

Not His own sins, but for the sheep. He was wounded, Isaiah says in chapter 53, “for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities.”

What you deserved was given over unto Him.

Romans 5:6
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

Therefore, the death of Jesus Christ accomplished something. It availed. It redeemed everyone for whom He died.

Ephesians 1:7
“In whom we have redemption through his blood.”

Revelation 12:10
“Who has redeemed us to God by his own blood.”

Colossians 2:13-14
“..having forgiven you all trespasses;
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."

Our Lord’s crossword: “It is finished.”

All for whom He died—their debt is paid. He has obtained eternal salvation for the sheep. He obtained their faith. Faith is not the key in your pocket to open salvation. Faith is a gift that Jesus earned on the cross. It is the power of the cross. The power of the cross does not wait for the dead sinner, but it breathes into the dead sinner new life.

To teach that Jesus died for all is to deny His cross.

It is to present the cross as a failure.

It fails to save those whom it intends to save.

Indeed, it cannot save them at all unless they first help.

It did not pay any debt.

It did not obtain righteousness.

It has no worth.

It has no power.

It has no comfort.

But the truth of sovereign, saving grace is this: Jesus is no failure. Jesus, on the cross, conquered. Jesus paid for the sins of all His sheep.

Did Jesus then die for me?

This question must be answered in our souls. We cannot leave this unanswered. If Jesus died for you, then you will never die, you will never be condemned by God, you will never be forsaken. And if Jesus did not die for you, if you live impenitently and without faith, in your sins, if there is no fruit of sorrow for your sin, no desire after Christ, you are going to stand accountable to God for your sin.

How do I know that Jesus died for me?

Everyone for whom He died, in them, by the power of His cross, He sends forth the Holy Spirit. By this Holy Spirit, He gives you to know that you are in Christ. He gives you to know your sin, your unworthiness, your deep pain of heart of having offended God.

Still more, He gives you to see yourself, to see Jesus as your Savior, your hope, your good. You marvel at the love of God, that He would give for you, a sinner, His own Son. He gives you to believe on Him, to trust Him, to desire to obey and follow Him. You feel His grace working in you. Jesus works spiritual life in everyone for whom He died. By the power of the cross, He works in them a sorrow for sin, a repentance, a trust in Him, a hiding in His blood, and a deep personal love for Jesus. Then I know that something happened on Calvary long ago, on the hill outside Jerusalem — something happened that cannot be undone.

Jesus died for me.

He paid for all my sins.

He obtained the right to God’s presence.

Why did He do that?

Because He loved me purely, graciously. God so loved me, that He gave His only Begotten Son for me. Christ loved me and gave Himself for me. I will not perish.

This is the Jesus we preach.

This is the Jesus we love.

This is the Jesus we obey.

And all who put their trust in Him, by God’s grace, shall never be ashamed.

And we say, “This alone my plea shall be: Jesus Christ who died for me.”

By Carl Haak