One of the most prevalent motifs that runs through the whole Bible is its constant reminder of the insufficiency of man. While this may seem all too obvious, we need constant reminding of this critical truth in our everyday lives. This goes for the non-Christian, because he has no hope apart from Christ’s mercy, and for the Christian who has no hope, save in Christ alone. This is not only clear in those parts of the Scripture which are propositional but are also quite pervasive in the gospel narratives. If you read closely about the events associated with Christ’s earthly ministry, it becomes clear that deliverance occurred in individuals only when the they were so desperate that they came to an end of themselves and were reduced to begging, if you will. Grace works salvation in us, not as we are, but first humbles our pride, revealing our brokenness, spiritual bankruptcy and impotence, which none of us naturally (apart from grace) appear ready to confess. For our true condition before God is that we cannot even lift a finger toward our salvation, and can bring nothing to God except that which He first grants us in Christ, which includes both the humility to acknowledge our captivity to the yoke of sin and our desperate need of the Savior Jesus Christ and a new heart which trusts in Him.
It seems that Jesus brings about events in our lives that will reveal our insufficiency so that we might find Him. For as long as we pridefully think all we can help ourselves (even a little), He remains hidden. But take note, it is by the grace of God we are what we are, which means that even the very humility needed to recognize the truth and excellency of Jesus does not come naturally. It is a gift of grace. When Peter acknowledged Jesus was the Son of the living God, Jesus quickly quenched any pride that might rise up in Peter by reminding him that even his very understanding of this was not revealed by flesh and blood but by His Father in heaven. This strips man of all possible hope in himself, even to understand or lift a finger toward God. Christ is awakened, as it were, when he hears us pray, for then we no longer are looking to our own resources nor think we have the ability in ourselves.
Jesus said, “If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin, but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” We are not quick to learn this lesson, i.e. that we are a dependent people and have nothing in ourselves and can do nothing apart from Jesus. That which we can do, we can only thank Him for. God reaches us when we find ourselves in desperation because we so often wrongly trust in our own boasted self-sufficiency. But Jesus calls us to pray always .. because prayer is a posture of looking away from ourselves for help to the only One who can provide it.
It seems that Jesus brings about events in our lives that will reveal our insufficiency so that we might find Him. For as long as we pridefully think all we can help ourselves (even a little), He remains hidden. But take note, it is by the grace of God we are what we are, which means that even the very humility needed to recognize the truth and excellency of Jesus does not come naturally. It is a gift of grace. When Peter acknowledged Jesus was the Son of the living God, Jesus quickly quenched any pride that might rise up in Peter by reminding him that even his very understanding of this was not revealed by flesh and blood but by His Father in heaven. This strips man of all possible hope in himself…
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 138:6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:”I dwell in the high and holy place,and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,to revive the spirit of the lowly,and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 66:2 But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Matt 5:3 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This humility is the first essential thing pertaining to the true faith – to renounce all natural self-exaltation, and glory only in Christ. How does this affect our preaching to unbelievers. In every way. Ichabod S. Spencer once said,
“To cut off the sinner from all reliance upon himself, his merits and his powers; and throw him, naked and helpless, into the hands of the Holy Spirit to lead him to Christ in faith; should be the one great aim of the ministry.”
If a preacher (or a doctrine) nourishes a good opinion of man, he is spawning a dangerous error, for all men naturally are a god to themselves. They need little further encouragement to think even more highly of themselves.
Consider this: if the carpenter working on your house tells you that your entire house is rotten and eaten through with termites, and thus must be torn down and a entirely new house buit in its place, but a second carpenter tells you that’s its ok, you don’t need to worry, that the house will probably stand and only needs a little reinforcement at minimal cost … most people would be naturally willing to listen to the later. The first carpenter’s advice is too drastic, you think, but you know the first one is right. Likewise, Christ comes to us and, in love, informs us that our natural state is rotten and and the old frame of the house must come down so that a new one can be built in its place. its devastating news. But the synergist comes in with his corrupt doctrine which inflames the pride of man by telling him that he is not as far gone as the other asserts. God merely need superadd grace to what you already have.
No, says Christ, “unless a seed falls to the ground and die, it remains a single seed” … and “he that would save his life must lose it.”
(Excerpts from: To Cut off the Sinner from All Hope in Himself by John Hendryx)