On Monday evening, February 17th, 1862, two friends were wending their way through the farming district of Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire, after one of them had been proclaiming the honors of the Saviour’s name from that sweet promise, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” -- when the other broke the silence with the following words:
“I once thought you were a strange man. Many times, after going away from the meetings, I have said to our folk, ‘He never tells us what to do.’ But now I see it is all DONE.”
What a state of restlessness and uncertainty is indicated by those words, “He never tells us what to do.”
What a position of repose and sweet tranquility is revealed to the eye of God-wrought faith in the confession, “It is all DONE.”
As the elect, redeemed, and regenerate children of God are brought into contact with the world, they painfully feel the deep-rooted enmity of the carnal mind to the glorious fact, that
“Christ has done the mighty work;
Nothing left for us to do,
But to enter on His toil,
Enter on His glory too.”
Oh, how proud, conceited reason rebels against the creature-humbling fact, that in the work of salvation God must do everything, and God must be everything. Lordly self will ever be asserting itself. It will be something. It must do something. It distains the idea of stooping to conquer. It seeks to appear something, but must come to nothing. It objects to God’s plan of salvation, and hates the very thought that the sinner must be satisfied with being nothing and Christ everything.
Go where you will, the order of the day is “Work for God.” The canting whine of the self-sufficient pietist is, “What are you doing for the Lord?” Unregenerate men are impressively lectured upon “the higher duties of life” by those who profess not to know anything of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. How few there are, who, like the Psalmist will say, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God”--Not everybody—“and I will declare what He hath done for my soul.” (Psalm 66:16). Few, indeed, there are, who, like David, “speak of the glorious honor of JEHOVAH’S majesty, and of His wondrous works.” But those who are experimentally acquainted with His terrible acts must make them known to the sons of men in the way of His own appointing. These mighty and terrible acts are revealed in the Father’s purpose, brought home in the Saviour’s person, and sealed by the Spirit’s power.
The creed of the formalist and mere professor is, DO.
The confession of the proud pietist is DOING.
The confidence of the reconciled child of God is, DONE.
Mark! DO, DOING, DONE.
DO. This is unprofitableness. See Luke 17:10: “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”
DOING. This is nought but death. See Revelation 3:1: “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”
DONE. This is life and glory. See John 17:4: “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”
DO. The end of this is sorrow, as seen in the case of the zealous young man to whom Christ revealed the spirituality of the law; and of whom it is said, “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:16-22).
DOING. This results in disappointment and dissatisfaction. See Isaiah 55:2: “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not?”
DONE. This is a source of rest and comfort to living souls. See Isaiah 40:1,2: “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: For she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” Look again at Matthew 11:28: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
“Done is the work that saves,
For ever, ever DONE;
A perfect righteousness appears
In Christ the Righteous One.”
To laboring, sin-sick souls the prophet might well put the question, “Wherefore do you labor for that which satisfieth not?” Yet to these a precious kind, and compassionate Jesus comes and whispers His own sweet words of grace, “Drop your vain endeavors, cease your fruitless efforts, for I have labored for you. I have obeyed My Father’s law, endured its curse, and borne its dread-death penalty. I am acquainted with all your necessities. I know well what you need. I am your Righteousness; you are justified. I was made a curse for you; and you are free. All that My Father, law and justice could demand, I have given. Salvation is finished. God is glorified. You are righteous in Me. Complete in Me. Accepted in Me.”
On the receipt of this most welcome news the heart dances with joy, and the saved one, leaning upon the arm of the Beloved, is blessed with introduction into the grace of justification and acceptance in which he stands, and rejoices in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2).
David clearly understood this glorious truth, as we see in Psalm 49:8: “For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever.” In Thomas Cranmer’s version (former archbishop from John Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World) of the Psalms, this portion is rendered with special force and clearness, he must let that alone for ever. Christ’s redeeming work is perfect! Keep your fingers off it! Let it alone for ever!
With this how well agree those words of a now glorified saint whom God the ever-blessed Spirit had taught to rest in the Person and work of an ever-adorable Redeemer: “Ours is a salvation which God could not mend, and devils cannot mar.” Co-operators have no standing here. Every forward Uzza shall be smitten. See 1 Chronicles 13:9,10: “And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and He smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.” Any human tool lifted upon redemption’s altar shall but pollute it. (Exodus 20:25).
“And have I nothing to do?” anxiously inquired a poor dying woman. “No my dear woman,” was the answer; “nothing to do. The blessed Jesus did it all. He has done all the work of our salvation. He did everything that God demanded.”
“Must I be nothing? Must I nothing do?
Nothing, my child; Christ has done all for you:
You cannot buy,
The price is all too high.
Freely I give--
In Christ alone you live.
“And have I nothing to do?”
“Nothing to be saved, and nothing to be comforted.”
Oh, how such an answer startles Old Legality from his propriety. He asks:
“Must I not pray?”
The question betrays lamentable ignorance of God’s love, God’s life, and God’s light. The first thing to be settled in answer to such a question is, have you a heart to pray? Destitute of the new heart of God’s giving, true prayer cannot exist. The old man can prate. The new man alone can pray. One has well said, “Prayer is the cry of the new nature when oppressed.” See! If guilt oppresses, sin is a burden, Satan a tormentor, and the world a wilderness waste, you cannot help but pray. But why does the legalist introduce the subject of prayer? Because he fancies with fond delusion that his so-called prayers will make God his debtor, compensate for his sins, and secure God’s favor. Such praying is nothing but accursed selfishness. Creature ease and comfort at the expense of Jehovah’s glory is the chief concern of the whole fleshly free-will tribe. Will the pouring out of polluted breath and fulsome words satisfy the demands of infinite purity? Will such atone for sins committed against a holy God for these many, many years? An old man, some years ago, let drop the following words into the writer’s ear, which will not be easily erased from his mind: “There is no blood in prayer, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22).
We who know this, glory in the fact that upon the ground of accomplished redemption our most glorious Christ ever lives to make intercession for us, and sends His blessed Spirit who makes intercession in us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:26).
“Must I not believe?”
“It is your duty to do so,” is the fashionable religious response. Duty-faith is insisted upon from ten thousand pulpits, while terrible sounds from hell’s dark regions give the lie direct to this monstrosity. “The devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19) not because it is their duty, but from the necessity of the case. They would gladly overthrow, if they could, that which they believe, even the glorious sovereignty of JEHOVAH-JESUS. Yet poor religious human nature is determined to have a finger in that which God alone can perform. “Believe! Believe!” is the cry, and those whose hearts are only evil and always evil are called upon to produce that which Heaven alone can bestow.
Some time ago two acknowledged teachers of God’s plan of saving sinners met and entered into conversation upon the subject of faith. One contended that faith did everything, the other objected to this and maintained that “The Lord Jesus Christ must do everything.” “But we must do our part, and that is faith,” said Mr. Duty-Faith.
“Where do you find that in your Bible?” asked the other. “Here!” cried Mr. Duty-Faith, turning to and reading Acts 13:38,39: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
“That Scripture suits me, not you,” was the reply. “Forgiveness of sins is through this Man; justification from all things is by Him. Look at that! HIM, the Saviour, not faith. ‘By Him all that believe are justified.’ Jesus does all the work, not your faith. You would make faith your Saviour, not Jesus.”
It is needless to add that this shut up the pleader for faith. Jesus is the Beginner and Finisher of all saving faith. It is His faith, as can be seen by consulting Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16,20; Philippians 3:9. How short-sighted and how sinful it is to place anything before a precious Christ, yet this is done daily by the fashionable religious multitude. And imaginary act of the mind of a poor hell-deserving sinner is exalted higher than the glorious and all-sufficient Saviour of the Father’s appointing and approval. “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29).
Oh, blessed Spirit of JEHOVAH, Thou Glorifier of the Father’s Christ, the evil one strives to tarnish Thy glory, and corrupters of the truth endeavor to ignore Thy glorious work. Of Thee and Thy work I delight to sing,
“The Spirit wrought my faith and love,
And hope and every grace;
And Jesus spent His life to work
My robe of righteousness.”
When the Spirit-convinced and broken-down sinner has “nothing to pay,” no faith, no prayers, no repentance, no works--NOTHING, a gracious loving JEHOVAH frankly forgives, and all this for Christ’s sake.
O the unsearchable riches of that grace which took a countless multitude of Adam’s sons and daughters, before creation’s work was begun, and so united them to JEHOVAH-JESUS that nothing in time or eternity can ever separate them. In Him they were when He fulfilled the precepts of the law. In Him the Father saw them when down in dread Gethsemane and amid the fearful solitudes of Calvary He bore sin’s curse, and made an end of all their black transgressions. In Him they stood when on the resurrection morn He triumphed over death, and gained the victory o’er the grave. In Him they rose in glory to the skies. In Him they are accepted of the Father and the admiration of all the host of heaven. In Him they are complete. He presents them daily, without spot, holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in His Father’s sight.
“Though sin and guilt infest them here,
In Christ they all complete appear;
The whole that justice e'er demands.”
“In Him the Father never saw
The least transgression of His law:
Perfection then in Him we view;
His saints in Him are perfect too.”
O, child of grace, what a happy, glorious lot is thine! One with Jesus, the Father has bestowed every needful covenant blessing upon thee. He speaks unto thee by His Word and Spirit, and draws thy supplications into His bending and ever-opened ear, while thy confessions of sin, failure, and infirmity find thee a tender place in His loving and sympathizing heart. Old Legality again roars out.
“Must I not repent?”
The sinful old wretch knows nothing at all about repentance. I have often times heard it said, “Repentance is done away with according to your high doctrines.” What a lie! According to these glorious doctrines, repentance has its proper place. Follow the child of God to those secret spots of love where a suffering Saviour is revealed. There, and there alone, true repentance is experienced and expressed.
Some one has said, “God-given faith is the eye through which the tear of true repentance flows.” Look at Zechariah 12:10: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: And they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” The sweets attending these bitters none can know but those whom God has taken in hand, and, when once experienced, are desired again and again.
Does the favored sinner look upon his suffering Lord? He weeps. Does a loving Saviour look upon His weak and wavering disciple? Peter “went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:75). The chastening of love brought Ephraim to say, “Turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the LORD my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” (Jeremiah 31:18,19). True repentance is God’s own work and Christ’s own gift. See Acts 5:31: “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
Every covenant blessing we enjoy, and every spiritual movement we experience toward God, is the fruit of eternal, unchanging union to our most glorious Christ. Papists, Arminians and flaunting professors may taunt the God-sent minister of the New Testament with not telling dead sinners and fleshly hypocrites what to do! Yet, blessed be God, his daily delight is to proclaim JEHOVAH’S doings amongst the people, and for the comfort of all weary and heavy-laden souls, to declare that in salvation matters Christ has done everything, and in respect to teaching, comfort, and application: The Holy Ghost has promised to do everything.
Am I redeemed? “Sing, O ye heavens, for the LORD hath done it. (Isaiah 44:23).
Am I born again? “Which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13).
Do I believe? “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:29).
Have I faith? It is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8). It is the faith of Christ. (Galatians 2:16,20). It is the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22).
Have I repentance? It is the gift of Christ. (Acts 5:31).
Do I pray? It is the Spirit’s gracious work in me. (Romans 8:26).
Have I any good works? They are of the Father’s preparing (Ephesians 2:10), and of the Spirit’s producing. (Isaiah 26:12).
Am I chastened and trained? “Himself hath done it.” (Isaiah 38:15).
Do fruits of righteousness abound? “He performeth the thing that is appointed for me.” (Job 23:14).
Shall I appear in glory? I shall not remember a good deed of my own (Matthew 25:37-39), but shall ascribe all the glory of my Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (Revelation 7:10).
Whatever be my state, want, or necessity here below, in spiritual oneness with the Psalmist I would say: “I will cry unto God Most High, unto God that performeth all things for me.” (Psalm 57:2).
Spirit of truth and love, lead us into the secret chambers of Divine revelation, and keep us daily and hourly under the blessed assurance that “JESUS HATH DONE ALL THINGS WELL” for us.
DO, DOING, or DONE! Which?