Let us search and try our hearts with honest self-examination, and seek to find out whether there is any real work of the Holy Spirit in our inward man. Far be it from me to encourage the slightest approach to hypocrisy, self-conceit, and fanaticism.
What you think now about the cross of Christ, I cannot tell; but I can wish you nothing better than this,—that you may be able to say with the apostle Paul, before you die or meet the Lord, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”(Gal. 6:14)
Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it possessed more plain-speaking ministers, like John the Baptist, in these latter days. A morbid dislike to strong language – an excessive fear of giving offence, a constant flinching from directness and plain speaking –are, unhappily, too much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit.
“When a professing Christian coolly tells me that he has got beyond such hymns as Just As I Am, and that they are ‘below his present experience’, though they suited him when he first took up Christianity, I must think his soul is in a very unhealthy state!”
I pity those who try to be holy without Christ! Your labor is all in vain. You are putting money in a bag with holes. You are pouring water into a sieve. You are rolling a huge round stone uphill. You are building up a wall with untempered mortar. Believe me, you are beginning at the wrong end. You must come to Christ first, and He shall give you His sanctifying Spirit. You must learn to say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
It is by faith, simple faith in Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, that people’s souls are made free. It is by receiving Christ, trusting Christ, committing ourselves to Christ, placing our whole weight on Christ–it is by this, and by no other plan, that spiritual liberty is made our own.
Let us beware of resting our hopes of salvation on mere intellectual knowledge. We live in days when there is great danger of doing so. Education makes children acquainted with many things in religion, of which their parents were once utterly ignorant.
“The New Testament begins with the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. No part of the Bible is so important as this, and no part is so full and complete. Four distinct Gospels tell us the story of Christ’s doing and dying.
The person who hears Christian teaching, and practices what they hear, is like “a wise man who built his house on a rock.” They do not content themselves with listening to exhortations to repent, believe in Christ, and live a holy life. They actually repent. They actually believe. They actually cease to do evil, learn to do well, abhor that which is sinful, and cleave to that which is good. They are a doer as well as a hearer. (James 1:22)