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To Cut off the Sinner from All Hope in Himself


 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)

 

8 comments on “To Cut off the Sinner from All Hope in Himself

  1. I would make one Scriptural point based on this citation taken from what is written above:

    “…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. “

    My point is found in these words:

    Rev 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
    Rev 22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.
    The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

    One must understand that whether you are a holy angel or one of the elect, pure, holy, perfect in being, either before these present heavens and earth were created or one transformed by the enabling power of Jesus Christ, the sinless man, all those saved who now are conjoined to Christ will continually and eternally need to continually and eternally receive His life flow from the Eternal life giving Spirit. We will continually eternally need His Life to live.

    If we die in our sins, we perish.

    What do I mean?

    I mean that all creation is subject to the life giving Spirit of Christ. Even God the Father makes amends with us through Christ. It is through Christ He reconciles the world to Himself. The Holy Spirit can only fellowship with us through Christ. Once we are passed from this creation into that Eternal Glory that awaits everyone who has died in Christ in this life will still need the same nourishment the leaves of the tree of Life provide. God is eternal. We are created. Our total subsistence and substance comes through and from our connection through Christ to this Eternal Glory in this life and the next, the gift of Eternal Life. It has always been that way and it will always be that way.

    That is why that passage seems odd. Does the passage imply there will be sickness in Heaven? No. Is there going to be some sickness in Heaven so that we will need to partake of the leaves of the Tree of Life to stay healthy? No. That is not what is implied by that portion of that verse. What that verse implies is all creatures have always needed and will always need the Creator’s Life to exist forever and ever.

    Satan’s sin was the place he gave himself pridefully that he no longer needed to stay connected to God. His sin is his belief in independence separated from God. And what did that bring upon him but separation from God, now awaiting a final judgment where he will be thrown into the lake of fire, too!

    My sin is this same rebellion. The sin puts in me that idea that I can do it, that is, I can live independent of God.

    No I can’t.

    If there is anything I have learned now after so many years serving the Lord, it is this. I have more need for God now than ever before and as each day passes my need for God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, grows and increases!

    You would think the healthier one got, the less need or dependent one would have on the One who makes them healthy!🙂 Not so in the economy of God. The healthier I am by the Grace of God, the more I need the Grace of God!

    So, while in this life then, this should be our aim, too:

    Rom 15:17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.
    Rom 15:18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience–by word and deed,
    Rom 15:19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God–so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;
    Rom 15:20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,
    Rom 15:21 but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

    2Co 10:15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged,
    2Co 10:16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.

    Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
    Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
    Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    • Thank you Michael…you added some more important points!

      When i read this the other day i thought of different friends and family members who, in answer to others praying for them for years, “came to the end of themselves”. I have always believed if God had not stepped back and allowed this to happen, they would have never recognized their need for Christ.

      God is truly merciful

  2. “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?”

    “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

    “Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.”

    “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?”

    “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

    The scripture is pretty clear on the issue. God is sovereign AND we are helpless without Him whether we are “saved” or “unsaved”. Nevertheless, there are plenty of creatures, in church and out of church, trying to play games with their creator. But He does not bargain. He is the “I AM”.

    “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12

    “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”

    The one who has not come to his end does NOT *fear* God. He sees God as an equal … one to be bargained with. He does not beg for grace, he rather presumptuously asserts his right to it. King Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes that both rich and poor have one thing in common. All perish. All must face their maker. The man who does not fear God does not get the gravity of that fact.

  3. Just as an add I suppose:
    That fear, that recognition of the Wholly Other, of who He is will abolish itself and only end in Love. Agape. As John said, “Perfect Love casts out all fears”.

    I know especially I need His grace everyday, that none who come to Him will be cast out. Thank the Lord-Christ Jesus, the God-Man who has covered my sins and filled me with His Life!

  4. LMFTFY:

    “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.”

    More like they were reduced to begging, “If you will….”
    😉

    • I believe the better explanation is they (and we also) come to the realization that “Only God”. Don’t you?

  5. Yeah… That’s what I mean.

    This man… this sinner… He came to Jesus with nothing to offer in return. he kenw well that the only way he was to be saved is if “Lord, if you will… you can make me whole”. We are saved if God simply decides to have mercy – not because we are worth saving, but because God is glorified in saving them NOT worth saving. In the end, He saves us for no other reason than that he can. And that He is the only one who can. If He saved people who were somehow worthy of being saved, then there would be no glorification in it. He is glorified by saving them who do not deserve it. But there are those bold enough to ask anyway… That would be me. 😉

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