September 8, 2007

John Flavel (1630–1691) on Christ Knocking: Chapter 3

"II. Let us examine WHAT THOSE LOCKS AND EARS ARE, which oppose and forbid Christ's entrance into the hearts of sinners. And they will be found to be, ignorance, unbelief, pride, custom in sin, presumption, and prejudices against the ways of holiness. Bars enough to secure the soul in Satan's possession, and frustrate all the designs of mercy, except an almighty Power from heaven break them asunder."
"Alas, were the eyes of sinners opened to see their woful state and their remedy in Christ, he could never hold them in subjection one day longer; they would break away from under his cruel government and run by thousands to Christ; for so they do as soon as God opens their eyes: in the same hour that they are "turned from darkness to light," they are also turned "from the power of Satan unto God." Acts 26 : 16. that you did but know the worth of your souls, the dreadful danger they are in, and the fearful wrath that hangs over them, with the willingness and ability of Christ to save them; you could not sleep one night longer in the state you are: your next cry would be, "What shall I do to be saved?" Ibid., 47.

"A Saviour is come into the world, but, poor unbeliever, thy soul can neither have union nor communion with him till this bar of thy unbelief be removed. The gospel is come among us with mighty arguments to convince and powerful motives to persuade, but little saving effect follows: its main design is to many frustrated, and all this through unbelief, shutting up and hardening men's hearts under it. " The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." Heb. 4:2. Ah, cursed bar! which shuts up thy heart, shuts out thy Saviour, and will effectually shut thee out of heaven, except the almighty power of God break it asunder." Ibid., 48.

"No mercies of God are in themselves sufficient to open the obdurate hearts of sinners to Christ. God has heaped up mercies by multitudes upon many of you; all these mercies of God should lead you to repentance. Rom. 2:4. They take you in a friendly way by the hand, and thus talk with you: "Ah, sinner, how canst thou grieve and dishonor the God who thus feedeth, clotheth, and comforteth thee on every side? Do you thus requite the Lord, foolish people and unwise?" Yet all will not do, neither judgments nor mercies can fright or allure the carnal heart to Jesus Christ. It is his Spirit, his almighty power alone, that opens these everlasting gates, and makes these strong bars give way and fly at his voice." Ibid., 53.

"Adam's sin damns none but only such as are in him; and Christ's righteousness saves none but those that are by faith in him: the eternal purpose of the Father, the meritorious death of the Son, put no man into the state of salvation and happiness till both are brought home by the Spirit's powerful application in the work of saving conversion. It is good news indeed, that Christ died for sinners; it is good news that Christ is brought to our very doors in the tenders of the gospel, and that the Spirit knocks at the door of our hearts, by many convictions and persuasions to open to him and enjoy the unspeakable benefits of his death: these things bring us nigh to Christ and salvation; and yet all this may be, eventually, but a readful aggravation of our damnation, and will certainly be so to them whose hearts are but almost opened to Christ." Ibid., 57.

"CONSOLATION 3. The opening of thy heart to Christ is not only an effect of almighty power, but an effect without which all that Christ has done and suffered had been of no avail to thy salvation; neither the eternal decrees of God, nor the meritorious sufferings of Christ, are effectual to any man's salvation, until this work of the Spirit be wrought upon his heart. The offering of Christ is sufficient to purchase our redemption, but the receiving of Christ by faith brings home salvation to our souls. "Where there are many causes to produce one effect, that effect is not produced until the last cause has wrought. Thus it is here: the moving cause, namely, the free-grace of God, has wrought; and the meritorious cause, the death of Christ, has also wrought; but still the heart, even of an elect man, remains under guilt and condemnation, till the Spirit, who is the applying agent, has also wrought the blessed effect we now speak of. It is Christ in us, that is, in union with our souls, which is to us the hope of glory. Col. 1 : 27 ; 1 Cor. 1 : 30." Ibid., 67–68.
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