September 3, 2007

John Flavel (1628–1691) on Christ Knocking: Chapter 1

NKJ Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
This text is Christ's wooing voice, full of heavenly rhetoric to win and gain the hearts of sinners to himself;...
John Flavel, Christ Knocking at the Door of Sinners' Hearts; or, A Solemn Entreaty to Receive the Saviour and His Gospel in This the Day of Mercy (New York: American Tract Society, 1850), 10.
(2.) The suitor, Christ himself, "I stand;" I who have a right of sovereignty over you; I who have shed my invaluable blood to purchase you, and might justly condemn you upon the first denial or demur, "behold, I stand:" this is the suitor.

(3.) His posture and action, "I stand at the door and knock:" the word is fitly translated, "I stand," yet so as that it notes a continual action. "I have stood, and do still stand with unwearied patience; I once stood personally and bodily among you in the days of my flesh, and I still stand spiritually and representatively in my ambassadors at the door, that is, the mind and conscience, the faculties and powers which are introductory to the whole soul."

The word "door" is here properly put to signify those introductory faculties of the soul, which are of like use to it, as the door is to the house. This is the Redeemer's posture, his action is knocking, that is, his powerful and gracious attempts to open the heart to give him admission. The word "knock" signifies a strong and powerful knock; he stands patiently, and knocks powerfully by the word outwardly, by the convictions, motions, impulses, and strivings of his Spirit inwardly.
Ibid., 11.
And, to set home all, these special benefits are proposed by Christ to all sorts of sinners, great and small, old and young: "If any man hear my voice, and open the door:" that no soul might be discouraged from believing by the greatness or multitude of his sins, but the vilest of sinners may see free grace triumphing over all their unworthiness, on their consent to take Christ according to the gracious offers of the gospel.
Ibid., 12.
Here you see ministers have a double office, to propose and offer Christ, and then to bear witness for or against those to whom he is thus offered; they are expressly called God's witnesses. Rev. 11:7. Their labors witness, their sufferings witness, their solemn appeals, to God witness, yea, the very dust of their feet shaken off against the refusers of Christ, turns to a testimony against them.
Ibid., 13.
(2.) Records are also made of all the instruments God has employed for the conversion and salvation of your souls. So many ministers, whether fixed or transient, as have spent their labors upon you, are upon the book of your account. "The Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened nor inclined your ear to hear." Jer. 25:4. They have wasted their health, dropped their compassionate tears, and burnt down one after another like candles, to direct you to Christ and salvation, but all in vain.
Ibid., 15–16.
But the main use of this point will be for EXHORTATION. that seeing all the offers of Christ are recorded and witnessed, with respect to a day of account, every one of you would immediately embrace the present gracious tender of Christ in the gospel, as you hope to be acquitted in that great day: take heed of denials, nay, even of delays; "for if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward: how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? Heb. 2:2, 3.
Ibid., 21.
8. Consider the nature, weight, and worth of the mercies which are this day freely offered you. Certainly they are mercies of the first rank, the most precious and necessary among all the mercies of God. Christ the first-born of mercies, and in him pardon, peace, and eternal salvation are set before you: it would be surprising to see a starving man refuse offered bread, or a condemned man a gracious pardon. Lord, what a compound of sloth and stupidity are we, that we should need so many entreaties to be happy.

9. Consider who it is that makes these gracious tenders of pardon, peace, and salvation, to you; even that God whom you have go deeply wronged, whose laws you have violated, whose mercies you have spurned, and whose wrath you have justly incensed. His patience groans under the burden of your daily provocations: he loses nothing if you are lost, and receives no benefit if you are saved; yet the first motions of mercy and salvation to you freely arise out of his grace and good pleasure. God entreats you to be reconciled. 2 Cor. 5 : 20. The blessed Lord Jesus, whose blood thy sins have shed, now freely offers that blood for thy reconciliation, justification, and salvation, if thou wilt but sincerely accept him ere it be too late.

10. Reflect seriously upon your own vileness, to whom such gracious offers of peace and mercy are made. Thy sins have set thee at as great a distance from the hope of pardon, as any sinner in the world. Consider, man, what thou hast been, what thou hast done, and what vast heaps of guilt thou hast contracted by a life of sin; and yet, that unto thee pardon and peace should be offered in Christ after such a life of rebellion, how astonishing is the mercy. The Lord is ready to pass by all thy former rebellions, thy deep-dyed transgressions, and to sign an act of oblivion for all that is past, if now at last thy heart relents for sin, and thy will bows in obedience to the great commands and calls of the gospel. Isa. 55:2; 1:18.

11. Consider how many offers of mercy you have already refused, and that every refusal is recorded against you; how long you have tried, and even tired the patience of God already, and that this may be the last overture of grace that ever God will make to your soul. Certainly there is an offer that will be the last offer, a striving of the Spirit which will be his last striving; and after that, no more offers without you, no more motions or strivings within you for evermore. The treaty is then ended, and your last neglect or rejection of Christ recorded against the day of your account; and what if this should prove to be that last tender of grace which must conclude the treaty between Christ and you? what an undone wretch must you then be, with whom so gracious a treaty breaks off upon such dreadful terms.

12. Consider well the reasonable and gracious nature of the gospel-terms on which life and pardon are offered to you. Acts 20:21. The gospel requires of you repentance and faith. Can you think it hard when a prince pardons a rebel, to require him to fall on his knees, and stretch forth a willing and thankful hand to receive his pardon? Your repentance and faith are much of the same nature. Here is no legal satisfaction required at your hands, no reparation of the injured law by your doings or sufferings; but a hearty sorrow for sins committed, sincere purposes and endeavors after new obedience, and a hearty, thankful acceptance of Christ your Saviour; and for your encouragement herein, his Spirit stands ready to work in you all that you need. "Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." Prov. 1:23. "Thou also hast wrought all our works in us.'' Isa. 26:12.
Ibid., 22–24.
The gospel is as uncertain as your life; God hath made no such settlement of it, but that he may at pleasure remove it, and will certainly do so if we thus trifle under it: it is but a candlestick, though a golden one, Rev. 2:5, and that you all know is a movable thing. Not only your life, and the means of your eternal life, I mean the gospel, are uncertain; but even the motions and strivings of the Spirit with your soul are as uncertain as either. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil. 2:12, 13. That God now works with you is matter of great encouragement to your work; but that he works at his own pleasure, as a free agent who can cease when he pleases and never give one knock at your heart more, should make you work with fear and trembling.

15. Think what a fearful aggravation it will be both of your sin and misery, to perish in the sight of an offered remedy; to sink into hell between the outstretched arms of a compassionate Redeemer, that would have gathered you, but you would not."
Ibid., 25.


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