#217, COMING TO CHRIST BY FAITH
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, MAT 11:28.
We have studied the meaning of saving faith, now we continue this study to learn what it is to come unto Christ by faith. Our text says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." We cannot come unto Christ except by faith. How is it and what is it to come to Christ by faith?
For this message may the Lord give us the words in the way of a general introduction of what Scriptures teach about coming to Christ. This is an essential element; to understand the doctrines of salvation, we must understand what it is to come unto Christ.
Then the Lord willing we want to examine in this series of sermons:
1. the obstacles in coming to Christ
2. coming to Christ with our understanding
3. coming to Christ with our affections
4. coming to Christ with the will, and
5. the tests Scriptures give of the genuineness of our coming to Christ by saving faith.
First, by way of introduction, lets notice what Jesus taught about every person by nature, in the light of coming unto Christ. Follow with me in JOH 5:39-40; "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." That is a solemn reality. The command, the invitation, of the gospel has been extended by Jesus. See the most wonderful invitation in our text. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light," MAT 11:28-30.
What a precious invitation that the Lord Jesus Christ extends to us, but He says in JOH 5:39-40 that we will not come to Him to have life. That is our position by nature. What does it mean to come unto Christ?
Natural man may search the Scriptures and gain an intellectual knowledge and still never see the excellencies of Christ such as we see in SON 5:16. "His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." We may understand that intellectually; we may even have an intellectual understanding of the spirit of that text, but still never know the spirit of it in our heart. Our soul may still miss the beauty of Him and have the problem of not coming to Him.
To the natural man, Christ is seen as the prophet Isaiah prophesied in ISA 53:3, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." That is what Jesus is telling us when He says, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life," JOH 5:40. The problem natural man has is not seeing the beauty in Christ as the Man of Sorrows. Some may have an intellectual knowledge gained from the Scriptures, which tells us who Jesus is. Jesus was referring to the prophecy of Isaiah when He said man would not come to Him. He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We hide our faces from Him. We do not understand what we read in the Song of Solomon; natural man does not understand it.
As we find in the verses that lay just before our text, "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes," MAT 11:25. It is unto the babes these precious truths are revealed. What does He mean by babes? Babes are those who are coming to Him as a little child. Until we become little in ourselves, needful, coming as a small child, we will not esteem Him. Only then will we see the preciousness in Christ. That is why we will not come unto Him. See what Jesus said in MAT 18:3, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
The doctrines of Christs substitutionary death may be understood, and there can be a historical faith. One may frequently sing His praises and take His name upon their lips professing to believe upon Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation while their hearts are far from Him. We can be in the assemblies where Gods children meet; we can join in prayers and singing. We can even join with them in the proclamation of the gospel, but still have hearts that are far from Him.
ISA 29:13 says, "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:" i.e., human reasoning is held above the authority of Gods Word! Do you see why they do not come unto Jesus? They love to be religious, but they have no desire after the One who is despised and acquainted with grief. They are not babes. They have never become as little children who are dependent upon the Lord.
Until the Lord performs a work of grace in our hearts we, that means every human being, have our affections on the things of this world. GAL 5:24-26 says, "And they that are Christs have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." If we understand what it is to come unto Christ, we walk in the way of the cross. Now you can understand why natural man does not come to Christ; he doesnt want to be crucified. They do not see any beauty in having the flesh crucified. No man will come unto the Son except the Father draw him. No man can come of his own will; the Father must draw him because their heart is in enmity with the way of the cross. It is against human nature to die. We are created to live, not die. Anything that counts death upon us is against our nature. We will struggle against it. By nature we have no desire to crucify the things of the flesh.
Our text contains the blessed gospel invitation of our Lord and Saviour, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." We must behold this blessed gospel invitation by the compassionate Saviour in its context. Who will accept this invitation to come to Christ? The ALL is at once qualified very clearly with the words, which immediately follow it. The invitation goes to those who labor and are heavily laden; the ones who labor under the load of sin that becomes a burden too heavy to bear. Sin is no longer cherished or loved. They have come to the point where they are brought into that new creation. They are the ones who come unto Christ for they begin to see beauty in Christ as their Substitute to satisfy Gods just demands of the law. SON 5:16 says, "His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
This invitation does not go out to those who are seeking rest in self-fulfillment or the things of this world. It does not go out to those seeking the pleasures and entertainment of this world. This invitation goes out to those that have had the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts wherein a new creation has been worked. They have new affections and desires, and sin has become sinful and a burden.
This invitation is clearly for those who labour under the load of that old ugly monster, "self," and are heavy laden with the power of sin. They are as a woman in travail, wanting to be delivered from it. Now, they come to be delivered from living under the dominion of self and come under the yoke of Christ for they see His beauty. Follow that invitation carefully. It is not an invitation to use Jesus as a fire escape. His invitation is to take His yoke upon us and learn of Him. It is an invitation to come into the service of the Lord. That is why natural man is not interested in the invitation.
Mans natural tendency is to prefer to hear ECC 11:9 out of its context. It is the gospel they want to hear if they can leave off the last part of the sentence. ECC 11:9 says, "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but [This is what we want to ignore by nature.] know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." That reveals the heart of natural man; that is you and me. That is every human being.
Coming to Christ is not an easy matter as most present it. It is much more than raising your hand and walking the aisle or signing some decision card. These are the inventions of man spoken of in ECC 7:29. "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." There are many inventions whereby one can come into a gospel without repentance.
Coming to Christ is more than the mere exercise of a human decision. Our Saviour declares that such an act is utterly impossible without Divine drawing power. Coming to Christ is literally impossible without the Divine power of God that draws our souls to Him. JOH 6:44 says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." Coming to Christ is not merely an act of the human will; it is the work of grace, i.e., the Divine influence upon the heart that reveals itself in the life. This is the drawing power of the Holy Spirit sent by the Father. This is not to discourage any who desire to come to Christ. Just the desire is a sign that the Father is drawing one. PHI 2:13 says, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
This Scripture is most precious to Gods dear Spirit-taught children when it is taken in context with JOH 6:37. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." You and I may start to realize that we are not able to come within our own strength, yet we have such a desire to come unto Christ. We may sometimes wonder if we will ever come to Him. We can see that the power of sin has such a dominion over us, and we are not able come out from under it in our own strength. Our assurance that we will be able to come is in the verse we just read; the Father will draw us, and Christ will not cast us out. What a precious promise that is! It is impossible from our side; there is no way any man would have even a desire to come. The power of self must be subdued; it is the power of sin and Satan. We are not able to do it in our own strength, but they "shall come."
This assurance of Gods unconditional electing love is invaluable to those who have learned to feel the power of sin dwelling within them. They also see the hatred and untiring efforts of Satan to deceive, and the delusions of all his false doctrines. Sometimes the heart begins to tremble when we see how Satan goes out to deceive even the very elect if it were possible. MAT 24:24 says, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." There is a legitimate concern of being deceived from our side, but we have that blessed assurance that it will never be possible. Satan will never be able to deceive one of Gods elect souls because the drawing power of the Father opens our understanding of what He has revealed. He has revealed the way to come to Christ; the understanding is opened.
When Gods appointed hour arrives, the power of sin is broken, and we are delivered. We are captives under Satan and sin, but we are delivered as we see in COL 1:12-14; "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [Or "fit in character" as it is in the Greek] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." The translation, or transition, that takes place delivers us from the power of darkness and into the kingdom of His dear Son; it is an act of almighty, divine grace. Coming to Christ is to be transformed; it is the result of divine grace. It is not something that is dependent upon us; if our coming into the kingdom was dependent on our action, no living soul would ever come to Christ because our natural desire is for the things of this world. We could never come out from under the power of sin.
The unconditional election of the Father assures each one of His elect that they shall come to Christ in His appointed time without regard for their unworthiness or anything in themselves. We see that in PSA 18:18-19; "They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me." Gods eternal, electing love is the only source and cause of one coming to Christ. He draws and weans one from sin, and He brought us to the point we labor and are heavy laden under the load of sin. He brought us to see the beauty in Christ.
Coming to Christ involves an unconditional surrender to His terms. Now see something that is so important to understand in LUK 14:26-27, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Stop and analyze what that means. Hate, in the original Greek, means to love them less. Unless we can love all the members of our family, others, and even our own life less than Christ, we cannot be His disciples. We must love Him more than all these. If our love for Christ is not more than these, they will lead us away from Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ will not allow Himself to stand in competition with anything of the flesh. The way of the cross is the badge of our discipleship. We must be able to follow Him in the way of the cross, crucifying everything of flesh. The Lord will give us a trial of faith. What will this trial be? How much do we love our wife or husband? How much do we love our children? Are we willing to forsake walking in the ways of the Lord to save our wife and children from turning their backs on us? Or are we seeing more preciousness in walking according to the things of the Lord? Are we willing, if necessary, to forsake all? Do we love them less than we love Christ? Sometimes in the trial we may have to pay the price.
Verse:27 says, "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." The "cross" is the badge of Christian discipleship. It is not the golden cross worn on a chain around our neck, but it the principle of self-denial and self- sacrifice ruling in the heart. That is the cross we must carry. We must carry the spirit or principle of self-sacrifice, being willing to give up everything of self in order to walk in the way of the cross.
This is such an undeniable evidence that coming to Christ is a Divine work. Who by nature would even desire to come under such terms? Where is there anything in natural man that would see any beauty in such a Saviour? So many people will stand up and protest Gods unfairness because He has elected some and not all of us because of predestination. Who of those who are coming against the doctrine of Gods predestination would desire this type of salvation? Do they want to be to be conformed to the image of Christ? Do they want to be brought into self-sacrifice when they are so proud and self-serving? There is no true desire in their heart for such a salvation. Natural man would love to be able to believe they are predestined for heaven to escape the consequences of their sin, but not that they desire to dwell with such a Christ. Until we have the work of grace in our heart, until God comes to bring a new creation in our heart with new affections, there is no beauty in such a Christ. Do you understand why coming to Christ is a Divine work?
This test of love proves that Christ has no pleasure in any that are not motivated by love. The test is whether or not you love Him more than you love your own husband, wife, children, father, mother, or anything of this world, including your money, home, and everything of this life. The Lord Jesus Christ will put you on trial. Do you love Him more than these? That is what He said to Simon Peter in JOH 21:15-17. Simon Peter had returned to fishing; he went out to make his last big haul. He wanted to be financially independent. Wouldnt we all like to have that? Oh yes, and so did Simon Peter. Then Jesus spoke to him.
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? [He had just taken that big draw while fishing.] He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep," JOH 21:15-17.
What does "feed my sheep" mean? Give up all those profits from fishing; go into the ministry. Start preaching the gospel and become a fisher of men. The third time Jesus asked him, he was grieved. He replied that Jesus knew all things for He had just told Simon Peter he would deny Him three times before the cock crows. Peter understood that the Lord knew his very heart, his pride, sin, and every weakness. It is precious when we can say, like Peter, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." To be able to say I love Thee more than these, that Id sacrifice everything, because of the love that Thou has planted in my heart is precious.
Until a living soul learns to see the indwelling sin of his own heart, he will have no desire to come unto Christ. 1PE 2:4 says, "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious." There is nothing in Christ that is appealing until God has worked the work of regeneration in the soul. We must be given a new desire and brought to see the sinfulness of sin. True repentance must be worked in the heart by the grace of God. Until such time, we have no desire to follow, and come under Christs kingdom according to His gospel.
As we learn to see that Living Stone as the foundation of our hope, we receive power to resist the power of sin. We are born captive slaves of sin, but as we learn to see the blessed foundation found in Christ, we receive the power of grace to overcome and resist the power of sin. Follow this in these next verses where we see what we have in our heart by nature.
1PE 2:1-4 says, "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious."
As newborn babies grow on milk, so do we grow on the milk of the Word. We have new desires, and we start to see the emptiness of sin. It is like eating the husks left behind by the swine. Then we begin to understand the fullness of the bread that is in our Fathers house. Even His hired servants have enough, and to spare. Coming under the service of the Lord becomes our desire. As we learn to taste the graciousness of the Lord, we desire to feed on the Bread of Life.
Christ becomes so precious when we learn to see that all we need for time and eternity is stored up in Him. Until we see this, we will see no beauty in Him. By nature there is no place or desire for Him in our life.
We find refreshment in coming to Christ when we are weary. ISA 40:31 says, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Remember the hymn, Sweet Hour of Prayer? Our heart and soul can lift up to the Lord with wings as eagles. He bears all our needs before the throne of grace. When we are sick, we find healing in coming to Christ. Sin is a malady that needs the heavenly Physician.
In EXO 15:26 we read, "And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee." Notice that if we do His will, He will not plague us with these diseases of sin. Sin will not be allowed to reign over us if we will only have the desire to do His will. The desire of our heart must be to keep His commandments and statues, not in a literal sense, but from a new heart filled with a spirit of love. Others will also see Christ in us because we reveal the Spirit of Christ in us. It shows when we are willing to stoop to help those below us, and we are able to reach out to their needs. Others can see Christ in us because we are willing to humble ourselves. Yes, we are willing to eat with publicans and sinners, not to rejoice with them in their sins, but reach down to them to bring them to repentance.
When we are sad we come to Christ for comfort. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you," 1PE 5:6-7. The Lord gave much sweetness to me out of that verse while I was preparing this sermon. Sometimes our heart can be so overcharged and burdened with things of this world, and it was through that passage of Scripture that the Lord blessed my soul. All I had to do was place all these cares in this life and cast them all upon Him, "for he careth for you." There is such a blessed comfort in letting Him take care of all the cares of this life.
Gods dear children find that when they are tempted they must come unto Christ who was tempted. You see, there are so many conditions where we can come to Christ when we are drawn by the Holy Spirit. When the new desires are worked in our heart, we find we come to Him for our spiritual healing, joy, and the temptations before us.
HEB 2:18 says, "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." The Lord Jesus Christ knows exactly the power of every temptation which we have. He can succor and comfort us because He was tempted.
If we have left our first love and wandered away from Christ, lusting after things of the flesh, we find the remedy in REV 2:5; "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." We must love God above all with all our heart and soul and mind. If something else comes upon us, burdens of this world, a big enterprise, something that has caught us and led us another way, our heart becomes set on it, and we are no longer able to say we love Him more than anyone or anything. We have left our first love. The remedy is repentance, turning back to Christ; "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The invitation is to those who labor under such heavy temptations. Then we are to do the first work.
When we have left our first love and Satan has lured us into some spiritual adultery, something that takes first place in our heart, then we are called to return to Christ and repent. There is such preciousness in the eternal security of Gods dear children who have come to Christ. HEB 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." That text has been a tremendous healing balm to many a soul. So often we wander away; we change, but the Lord never changes. If we are one of His sheep, He will never allow us to wander away to the point where we destroy ourselves.
HEB 7:25-26 tells us, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." What could possibly be more comforting than to know that the prayers of the Lord Jesus Christ come before the Father and the throne of heaven in our behalf? There are times when it seems as if our prayers never get any higher than the ceiling; we feel so empty and deserted as we justly deserve. Our hearts are foolish and wayward which hinders our prayers, but it is such a consolation to know that "he ever liveth to make intercession for them." The Lord Jesus Christ is ever before the Father making intercessions for His church; He remembers our frame, that we are dust, and our best righteousness is like a filthy rag, but He presents our name on the basis of His own righteousness before the Father.
This salvation which is "unto the uttermost," i.e., forever more, is beautifully described in JOH 13:1; "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end," i.e., "unto death, even the death of the cross," PHI 2:8b. Jesus was on the threshold of stepping into the wrath of the Father, but He loved them unto the end. His love never faltered; "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." There is such an eternal security to the children of God in such a Saviour.
Think of the blessedness of the eternal security there is in Christs prayers "...seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." The Lord Jesus Christ can come before the Father and plead His undying love, loving them to the end, and now He lives to make intercession for those whom He has loved.
JOH 11:41-42 says, "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me." Here we see Jesus at the grave of Lazarus. We hear His simple single prayer before the Father. Sometimes it seems that we can pray and plead and beg before the Lord and wonder if the Lord hears us. Have our sins become such a thick cloud over us that our prayers do not go through? What a consolation in Christ when we read Christs prayer. Every prayer is heard; you and I have a great consolation in knowing that He ever makes intercession for His church.
None whose name is engraven upon the palms of Christs hands can ever perish. ISA 49:14-15 tells us, "But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me." You see, that is Scripture; it is very possible for Gods children to feel forsaken and wonder if the Lord has forgotten us. Think of Abraham; the Lord promised him a son. He grew old; Sarah, his wife had grown past the time of life. Did they wonder if the Lord had forgotten them? It was now humanly impossible to have a child, but our impossibilities are Gods opportunities. The Lord had not forsaken them. See the answer in the next verses.
"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." Yes, a mother could forget her child and not have compassion on him, but the Lord will not forget us. Consider the word behold; it means take notice, ponder this, stop and think about this. He has engraved us on the palms of His hands. He says our name is in the palm of His hand, and every time He comes before the Father, our name is presented because it is there in those scars. It was our sins that pierced His hands, and He has paid the penalty.
Gods dear children do suffer greatly when they see their loved ones are still outside of Christ. Is it not one of the most grievous thing on our heart? We see them wandering in the ways of this world; they are walking the broad road to destruction. Jeremiah cried out in JER 8:21-22 with the heart of a parent for a child. This is the yearning desire of the heart of a loving parent. This is the same message as "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?" If you know your child is still outside of Christ, has not been drawn in by a repenting spirit, you will understand the language of Jeremiah. "For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" JER 8:21-22.
Sometimes we can be so astonished when we see our loved ones who were brought up under the gospel of Christ, but they are going off with their heart set on the world. Why has the blood of Christ not healed that backslider? Why are they still pursuing the leprosy of sin that has dominion over them? Why has not the blood of Christ cleansed them and taken them out of the filthy pollution. Sometimes our heart can bleed so before the Lord. We struggle before the Lord for our loved ones that He might come with His grace.
EZE 36:37 says, "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock." Sometimes the Lord allows these things to bring the burden upon us. Read that again; there is no maybe; He will be inquired of. He will let the burden become so heavy that we will cry out in the night to Him, " I [am] hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me." Why?
There is the great Physician and the precious blood of Christ, and my loving children are still not healed. Oh, that the Lord would come with the power of His grace to deal with our children and all others outside of Christ. We may not call on Him only in a selfish way; we must include any of those we see outside of Christ. It becomes such a burden to our soul to see them drawn into Christ. We ask that the Lord will add His blessing.
Our text says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," MAT 11:28. Amen.
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