Why become a Christian?
Samuel Rutherford (c. 1600 – 1661) was one of the foremost Scottish theologians and apologists for Presbyterianism in the seventeenth century, playing a major role in formulating the Westminster Standards at the Westminster Assembly. He is best known for his many devotional letters and Lex, Rex–his seminal work on political sovereignty.
7 Jul, 2022

Many Christians feel uncomfortable witnessing to unconverted friends and neighbours. Among the various possible reasons for this can sometimes be a nagging feeling that non-Christians would have a point if they were put off by how inadequate existing Christians are, and how unappealing organised religion often is. But what the unconverted person is missing out on is not so much to do with Christians or the church, but the wonderful Saviour and His amazing salvation. In the following shortened and updated extract, Samuel Rutherford lists a number of ways in which the unconverted should find Christ Jesus attractive. Perhaps if believers themselves were more struck with the loveliness of Christ and more convinced about the benefits of Christ’s salvation, it would come more easily to speak to others about Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ draws you to come to Him with various kinds of reasons to persuade you. One reason is the pleasure and enjoyment you can have from the beauty that is in God.

God is beautiful

What then is the beauty of God? I conceive it to be the loveliness of His nature, and all infinite perfections, as this loveliness offers itself to His own understanding and the understanding of humans and angels. David makes this his one desirable thing, ‘That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and enquire in his temple’ (Psalm 27:4).

The Lord is beautiful because infiniteness, and sweetness of order, is spread throughout His nature and attributes. Nothing can be added to Him, nothing taken from Him; and He is not all mercy only, but infinitely just. So then one attribute does not overtop, out-border or limit another, which would deface His beauty.

And what is beautiful must be natural, and truly and really there. Borrowed colours, and painted embellishments, are not beauty. The Lord, in all His perfections, is truly what He seems to be.

This is why the perfect blessedness of heaven is described as seeing God face to face (Rev. 22:4; Matt. 18:10). God does not have a face; but to see God’s face, is to behold God’s blessed nature (as far as the creature can see God). We see God’s face when we behold Him at close range – not by hearsay, but directly. Let us imagine that millions of suns were all amassed in one: this sun would far excel the sense of seeing in everyone who has ever lived. Now imagine that the Lord created an understanding faculty, millions of degrees more vigorous and apprehensive than if all who have ever been created were consolidated in one. Yet even this understanding could not see God’s transcendent and superexcellent beauty! There would remain unseen treasures of loveliness never seen. In fact, it involves an eternal contradiction, that the creature can see to the bottom of the Creator.

God’s beauty is in Christ

But all this beauty of God is held out to us in Christ! He is fairer than the sons of men (Psa. 45:2), handsome with a double excellency. ‘Behold thou art fair, my Beloved, yea pleasant,’ lovely, delightful, most acceptable (Cant. 1:16.) He is white and ruddy (Cant. 5:10.). His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars (v. 15). His countenance is as when the sun shineth in its full strength (Rev. 1:16). All the beauty of God is put forth in Christ. Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty (Isa. 33:17). Christ is the brightness of His Father’s glory (Heb. 1:3). The light of the sun in the air is the ‘accidental’ reflection of the sun’s beams; but Christ is the substantial reflection of the Father’s light and glory, for He is God equal with the Father, and the same God.

God’s beauty is worth seeing

This beauty is outstanding to human and angel observers. Angels are said to have eyes within and without, in front and behind (Rev. 4:6), to behold the beauty of the Lord; and their eyes are absorbed always in beholding His face. They stoop down, as if looking into a dark and veiled thing, with the head bent and the neck outstretched, with great attention of mind. Angels are not nosey, but this exceeding great beauty they must see. They cannot get their eyes pulled off Jesus Christ.

Communion with God is beautiful

We have communion with God in Jesus Christ, when we love Jesus and Jesus shows us that He loves us. There is a beautiful sweetness in being conscious of the love of Christ, which delights all the spiritual senses.

1. The smell of Christ’s spikenard, His myrrh, aloes, and cassia. His ivory chambers smell of heaven. The ointment of His garments brings God to the sense. (Psa. 45:8; Cant. 1:13)

2. To the sight, Christ is a delightful thing: to behold God in Christ, is a changing, transforming sight. (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 1:17; Matt. 16:17; 1 John 2:27.) To see the King in His beauty is a thing full of ravishing delight.

3. It captivates the spiritual sense of hearing. The spouse is so taken with the sweetness of Christ’s tongue that, for joy, she can only speak broken and imperfect words. ‘The voice of my Beloved!’ is not a perfect sentence, but for joy she can speak no more (Cant. 2:8). It is the voice of joy and gladness, that with the very sound can heal broken bones (Psa. 51:8). O if you heard Christ speak! Christ’s piping the joyful gospel tidings should make us dance (Matt. 11:7). Christ harping and singing sinners with joyful promises, out of hell to heaven, must have a drawing sweetness to move stones, if the sinner has ears to hear! And what warmth of love must it bring, when Christ is heard say words of comfort (Isa. 54:11; Isa. 40:1).

4. Christ is sweet to the spiritual taste. ‘I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet in my mouth’ (Cant. 2:3; also Psa. 34:8). The wine, the milk, the honey, and the fatted calf, are all but shadows to Christ’s excellent gospel dainties.

5. The sense of touch, which is the most spiritual, is the heavenly feelings, sense, and experience of God’s consolations; and this sense is fed with the kisses of Christ’s mouth (Cant. 1:3), and with the hid manna, the white stone, the new name.

Joy in God is beautiful

Joy is a drawing delight, and in His face there is fulness of joy (Psa. 16:11). Look, however far God’s face casts down from heaven sparkles of joy on us, as far goes our joy; and we are said, in believing, 1 Pet. 1:8. to rejoice with joy unspeakable, and glorious.

The abundance in God is beautiful

‘They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink the rivers of thy pleasures’ (Psa. 36:7). Should not this draw people to Christ? There must be abundance of pleasures where there is a river of pleasures (as in Psa. 46:4). What a sea of seas must God Himself be! His full and bright face, His white throne, His harpers and the heavenly troops that surround the throne, the Lamb, the heaven of heavens itself, the tree of life, eternally green, eternally at once both adorned with soul-delighting blossoms and loaded with twelve manner of fruit every month; peace of conscience from the sense of reconciliation, the first fruits of Emanuel’s land, that lies beyond time and death! This must all be above expression.


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