Advice for a Seeking Soul
If ever you would get an interest in Christ and so, by gaining an interest in Him, be possessed of all the riches and glory that come by Him, then be sure that the following principles take possession of your hearts.
- The great end of Christ's coming into the world was the salvation of sinners. Get this principle rooted in your spirits.
"I came not to call the righteous," says He, "but sinners to repentance" (Matt. 9:13; Mark 2:17); and "this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). Christ lays aside His royal crown, He puts off His glorious robe, He takes a journey from heaven to earth – and all to save poor lost sinners. That which Christ had most in His eye and upon His heart, in coming into the world, was the salvation of sinners. Lay up this truth; feed upon this honeycomb.
- Get this principle rooted in your hearts: No one ever yet obtained an interest in Christ except unworthy creatures. When you are pressed to get an interest in Christ, you are ready to say, "I am unworthy; will Christ ever look after such a one as I am?" I answer, yes; for this is a most certain principle: no one ever attained an interest in Christ except unworthy creatures. Was Paul worthy before he had an interest in Christ? What worthiness was in Matthew when Christ called him from the receipt of custom? And what worthiness was in Zaccheus when Christ called him down from the sycamore tree and told him that this day salvation was come to his house? Was Manasseh or Mary Magdalene worthy before they had an interest in Christ? Surely no. Though you are unworthy, yet Christ is worthy; though you have no merit, yet God has mercy; though there is no salvation for you by the law, yet there is salvation for you by the gospel.
Again, Christ requires no worthiness in any man before he believes; and he who will not believe before he is worthy will never believe. If you look on God in the light of the gospel, you will see that he who is most unworthy is most capable of mercy. A real sense of our own unworthiness renders us most fit for divine mercy. The objection, "I am unworthy," is an unworthy objection, and reveals much pride and ignorance of the gospel and of the freeness and riches of God's grace.
- Let this principle dwell in you: Christ has lost none of His affection to poor sinners by going to heaven. How His heart was moved toward sinners when He was on earth! And certainly it works as strongly towards them now that He is in heaven. His love, His heart, His good will are as much towards them as ever. Christ is "Alpha and Omega" (Rev. 1:8; the phrase is taken from the Greek letters, of which Alpha is the first and Omega the last) – that is, I am before all and I am after all; "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). Christ is the same before time, in time, and after time. Christ is unchangeable in His essence, in His promises, and in His love to poor sinners.
- Get this principle riveted in your hearts: Christ is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him (Heb. 7:25); to the uttermost, that is, to all ends and purposes, perfectly and perpetually. He needs none to help Him in the great business of redemption; He is a thorough Savior; He has "trodden the winepress alone" (Isa. 63:3).
- Get this principle rooted in your hearts: the lack of such preparations or qualifications as many men lay great stress on shall be no impediment to hinder your soul's interest in Christ, if you will but open to Christ and close with Him. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open to me, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3:20). Tell me, at whose door did Christ stand and knock? Was it not at the Laodiceans' door? Did they not think their penny as good as any? Did they not say that they were rich and had need of nothing, when Christ tells them to their very faces that they were "miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked"?
None were more unprepared, unqualified, and unfitted for union and communion with Christ than these lukewarm Laodiceans, and yet the Lord Jesus was very ready and willing that such should have intimate communion and fellowship with Him. "If any man ... open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." There is further evidence for the truth of this in Proverbs (1:20-24; 8:1-6; 9:1-6). All these scriptures speak the truth asserted: the lack of preparations or qualifications will not hinder the soul's interest in Christ if the soul will venture itself by faith on Christ. What qualifications and preparations had they when God saw them in their blood (Ezek. 16), and yet that was a time of love, and God even then spread His skirt over them and made a covenant with them and they became His. What qualifications or preparations had Paul, Mary Magdalene, Zaccheus, and Lydia? Yet they believed in Christ; they had a blessed and glorious interest in Christ.
Objection: What is the meaning of that text: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28)?
Answer: There is a threefold answer to this objection.
1) Though the invitation be to those that are weary and heavy laden, yet the promise is made to coming, to believing.
2) This text shows only this: that those that are burdened and bowed down under sin and under the sense of divine wrath are to come to Christ, and that there is no way for them to obtain ease and rest except by coming to Christ. But this text does not show that only particular kinds of sinners must come to Christ.
3) No one scripture speaks out the whole mind of God; therefore you must compare and consult this scripture with other scriptures, including instances just cited, and then you will clearly see that souls may believe in Christ and come to obtain an interest in Christ, though they are not prepared or qualified in particular ways, as some would have them.
- Get this principle rooted in your hearts: Christ is appointed and anointed by the Father to this very office of receiving and saving poor sinners. "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them" (Ps. 68:18; cf. Isa. 61:1-4; John 6:28). Christ has received gifts for rebellious sinners, for rebellious Sabbath-breakers, for rebellious swearers, for rebellious drunkards, etc., "that the LORD God might dwell among them" – that is, that He might have near fellowship with them.
- Get this principle rooted in you: It is the delight of Christ to give poor sinners an interest in Himself. He is not only able to do it, but it is His delight to do it. Witness how He humbled Himself; witness the many sufferings and the death that He went through in this world; witness those gospel statements in Mark 16:16 and Revelation 22:17; witness those persuasive exhortations and gracious entreaties in Matthew 11:28 and 2 Corinthians 5:20; witness those lamentations in Matthew 23:27, Luke 19:42, and Psalm 81:13; and witness the inward working of His blessed Spirit in Genesis 6:3 – all speak out His great delight to save poor sinners.
So also: "I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is within my heart" (Ps. 40:7-8). Now mark, the will of the Father was the salvation of sinners. This was the will of the Father, that Jesus Christ should seek and "save that which was lost" (Matt. 18:11). Now, says Christ, "I delight to do thy will, O my God"; it is the joy and rejoicing of His heart to be seeking and saving lost sinners. When Christ was hungry, He did not go to buy food, but went into the temple and taught the people for most of the day to show how much He delighted in the salvation of sinners.
8. Get this principle firmly in your hearts: As there is nothing in Christ to discourage you from looking for an interest in Him, so there is everything in Christ to encourage you to get an interest in Him. Look on His name: "Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee" (Song 1:3). "The name of Jesus has a thousand treasures of joy and comfort in it," says Chrysostom; and so have all His other names. If you look on Christ in His natures, offices, graces, beauties, gifts, and works, you will find nothing except what may encourage you to believe in Him and to resign yourselves up to Him. Poor sinners, what would you have? Is there not power in Christ to support you, mercy in Christ to pardon you, grace in Christ to heal you, goodness in Christ to relieve you, and happiness in Christ to crown you, and do you need more? Oh, that you would believe!
9. Let this principle be rooted in you: The surest and shortest way to mercy and to get an interest in Christ is by determinedly casting the soul by faith on Christ. There is no way under heaven to get an interest in Christ except by believing. There is no way to get an interest in the riches of Christ but thus: "he that believeth shall be saved," let his sins be ever so great. And "he that believeth not shall be damned," let his sins be ever so little.