We are all prone in our old nature to think like legalists. When I think like a legalist, I look for something in myself. I look for something in myself to give me confidence, to give me assurance, to give me hope, to quiet my conscience, to substantiate my confession. But when I believe the Gospel, I look for everything in Christ. And I look no further (John 15; 2 John 1:9). When the Lord upholds the faith that He gives to me (Luke 22:32), I find nothing in myself but cause for fear and worry. Yes, I meant to put it that way. Let me say it again. When I believe Christ, I find nothing in myself but cause for fear and worry! But that faith that He gives does not stop there. By that same God-given faith by which I find nothing in myself but cause for guilt and shame and fear, I also find all in Christ that God requires of me, and has provided for me, and so I find all I need in His precious blood for a pure conscience, full assurance, confidence, rest, hope, and love (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 John 4:16-19; Rev. 1:5; 5:9-13). By God-given faith in Christ and His redeeming work, I see my all for all eternity, and will live in the presence of God in Christ with peace and joy. In Christ I find all I need in defense of my accusing conscience, in defense of satan’s accusations (Micah 7:7-9; Rev. 12:10-11), as a shield against every doubt and distress and failure and helplessness. I find certain hope for deliverance from all my sins (Psalm 65:3; Micah 7:18-19). In Christ alone, I find victory over my sin nature (Rom. 7:24-25; 5:9-10, 19-21; 6:14, 17; 8:37; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; Isaiah 54:17; Eph. 6:10-18)!
No man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 12:3; 1 John 5:1; Matt. 16:13-16). The evidence of saving grace in the heart is faith in Jesus as the Christ, the eternal Son of God, the only Savior of ungodly sinners (Acts 4:12). Such faith is uniquely and wholly God’s work (1 John 5:1, 5; John 6:29; Eph. 2:4-10). It is the gift of God’s grace (Acts 18:27; Eph. 2:8-10).
True faith is not concerned with me. Saving faith does not seek or find cause for confidence by what I have done or in what I am. Saving faith does not fear when all evidence in myself is lost, because saving faith looks away from my sin infected, curse-bitten self to Christ (Num. 21:4-9; John 3:14-15). Saving faith looks to Christ walking on the water, having endured the judgment of God that I deserved, and walking in every place my foot would slip (Matt. 14:25-30; Psalm 94:17-18; Hosea 13:14). He has overcome all. Nothing can overcome me in Him. Not sin, not life, not death, not things present, not things to come, not the grave, not this world, not the temptations of satan, not the weakness of my faith, not the weakness of my repentance, for my Savior’s footsteps have gone in all of these, and none of these could hold Him or prevent Him from giving me every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. He overcame all and emerged from all as Captain and conqueror. I am therefore more than a conqueror through Him that loved me and gave Himself for me (Rom. 8:37; Heb. 7:25; 13:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; Rom. 7:24-25; Rev. 12:10-11).
Saving faith is not concerned with what I am. It does not look for confidence in my sense of my own personal election. It does not look for confidence in my sense that Jesus died for me. Saving faith is concerned with only Christ. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God” (1 John 5:1). Saving faith is concerned only with who He is, in His offices as the Christ of God, what He finished and obtained for the eternal salvation of His people, where He is now, what He is doing to fulfill His eternal purpose to bring chosen, redeemed sinners to Himself by Himself. Saving faith does not ask, “How can I know if I am a Christian?” But faith takes God’s word that tells of Christ’s eternal Suretyship engagements, and brings His own letter in my hand of faith and presents it in prayer as my only coming, my only answer, my only defense and the expectation of my full acceptance in the presence of God with exceeding joy (Philemon 1:12, 17-18; Rom. 8:34; Gen. 43:8-9; 44:18-34; Jude 1:24-25). It's not about me at all; it's about what God thinks of Him. Here my faith rests!
If Christ’s one offering of Himself is not enough to make me holy and perfect before God, then nothing will, and I have no hope, for there is none but Christ appointed and anointed by God to save His people from their sins, and who is now accepted in full justification (Matt. 1:21; Heb. 5:1-2; Lev. 16:22, 30; Heb. 1:1-3; 10:10, 14; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 10:4; Jer. 23:5-6; Psalm 71:16; 1 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 4:25; Rom. 8:34).
Is it too much to expect of Christ that He alone is worthy, that He is able, that He can save the sinfulest, and so, even I may venture my eternal soul in glad and peaceful rest upon Him (Rev. 5)? I have no other hope but Him and His representative life and substitutionary death by the eternal will of God (Isaiah 54:17; 45:24-25; 1 John 2:1-2)!
Though in unbelief I often want to find something in myself, yet through it all, by God’s grace, I am brought to know that there is no other acceptance with God for me but acceptance that He has made in Christ and Him crucified, the Beloved of God in whom all of His beloved ones are accepted (Eph. 1:6; Heb. 10:14). This is why He is exalted as Lord of all, because He accomplished that work!
Therefore, I am assured that this persuasion -- that He is all-sufficient, that He has obtained eternal redemption for His people, that He has perfected them forever by His one offering, that He is therefore enough for God -- this persuasion concerning Him as my only hope, doesn't come from me (Eph. 2:8), but from God (Acts 3:26; 5:31; 26:18). And when I find this persuasion waning, I am again brought out of my idolatry from that wilderness of my own way to learn again and lean again on Christ as my all, to learn that any thought that He is less than all in my salvation means He is nothing in my salvation (Hosea 2:5-17; 14:4; Gal. 2:21).
Christ is not only my all before God, but He is all to God for all of His people. God exalted Him alone, and He alone is worthy of all honor, majesty, blessing, power, glory and praise (Rev. 5:9-13).
Oh, how I want to look to, believe upon, trust in, hope for and love Christ alone with pure, God-given faith! And yet, in this world, I know I shall always be in need and prayer and pursuit of help for my unbelief (Mark 9:24), and an increase of faith (Luke 17:5). Therefore, I am made to cry again and again, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?!” And yet in all of this distress of soul, I rejoice with this assurance, “I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25). With the backsliding Church I pray, “Turn us again, LORD God of hosts...Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the Son of man (Matt. 18:11; John 3:13; 6:62; 12:23-32) whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.” (Psalm 80:17-19). In this unceasing struggle, I am instructed again that I must now and forever be found of God in Christ alone (Gen. 6:18; Ex. 12:13; Heb. 3:6, 14). I am made to cry, Oh, that I might “be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of my works [under a principle] of law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Php. 3:9). If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son(!), how much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life (Rom. 5:10)! And so, I am ever brought back to lean on Christ alone (Col. 2:6-10). May the Lord be pleased to bring us and keep us here. “There is power in the blood!”