8 Ways to Know Whether Christ is Precious to You

8 Ways to Know Whether Christ is Precious to You

8 Ways to Know Whether Christ is Precious to You

​These days you can get an instant valuation on almost everything you own. Yet such reports will never list the personal value you place on them. Some of our possessions are valuable to us personally while others are extremely valuable or precious.  Christ is infinitely precious in Himself, but He must also be infinitely precious to us personally. If He is not we do not have true faith. “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious” (1 Peter 2:7). We need to know unmistakably whether Christ is precious to us.

As Andrew Gray explains, true faith values Christ. “Faith is that grace that gives a Christian a most broad and comprehensive sight of Christ. It draws aside the veil off the face of Christ, and presents His beauty to the soul”. “Faith is that grace by which a Christian keeps most communion and fellowship with God: ‘That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith’ (Ephesians 3:17)”.  Faith also “describes and makes Christ precious to the soul. It presents to you the absolute necessity of embracing Jesus Christ, and that makes Christ precious to the soul”. We can speak much about Christ and loving the Saviour but is He truly precious to us? Gray gives us 8 different ways by which we may know for sure.

 

1. If you have a Desire for Holiness

Those to whom Christ is precious have a desire for His image. That is, they will have a desire after holiness. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). O Christians, do you not desire to bear the image of the second Adam as you have borne the image of the first (see 1 Corinthians 15:49)?

 

2. If you have a Desire to make Constant Use of Christ

Those to whom Christ is precious will desire to make continual and constant use of Christ. They will make use of Him for:

  • justification: that they may be purged and have the precious features of Christ drawn on them;
  • wisdom: that they may be directed aright through this wilderness;
  • redemption: that they may be set free from their spiritual enemies. O Christians, dare you ever say that an idol ever assaulted you that you did not embrace? O! I fear there are many that may acknowledge that this is true.

 

3. If you have a Desire for Greater Fellowship and Communion with God

Those to whom Christ is precious have a desire after more fellowship and communion with God. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Song of Solomon 1:2). “Draw me” (Song of Solomon 1;4). Do you think that all absence from Christ (no matter how short) is like an eternity? If so, this is evidence that Christ is precious unto you.

 

4. If you have a Desire for Christ’s Presence

They are exceedingly burdened during Christ’s absence and withdrawing from them. The bride sought Him whom her soul loved; she sought Him, but she found Him not. She continued seeking until she found Him (Song of Solomon 3:1-3). The bride expressed her respect to Christ in these three things:

(a) A Christian’s anxiety is dissatisfied with any other than Christ. Mary Magdalene undervalued the angels, “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him” (John 20:13). She, as it were, turned her back on the angels because there was none for her but Christ. The happiness of a Christian lies in these words: “they have taken away my Lord“.

(b) A Christian’s anxiety expresses itself in a dissatisfaction with all graces without Christ. This is clear in Song of Solomon 3:1-3. There she had the grace of faith, love, diligence, patience and submission; yet notwithstanding this, the one that she wishes for is absent.

(c) A Christian’s anxiety expresses itself in a low esteem of all things that come short of Christ. “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my sore ran in the night, and ceased not; my soul refused to be comforted” (Psalm 77:3)

 

5. If you have a Desire to Understand Christ’s Dealings with You

Those to whom Christ is precious are spiritually observant. They record Christ’s dealings with them as far as they can when He has withdrawn His presence. When He is present they take special notice, and of when they are permitted to taste of the apples of the tree of life.

 

6. If you have a Desire to Avoid Offending Christ

Those to whom Christ is precious will be, to a greater or lesser extent, grieved for grieving and offending Him. I fear that I must say to the shame of most of us that sin was never a burden to us. O Christians! Can Christ be precious to you and yet you do not hesitate to offend Him?

 

7. If you have a Desire to give Greater Value to Fellowship with Christ

Those to whom Christ is precious will have a high esteem for union and fellowship with Christ. What do the hearts of Christians run after most? I fear it is not after Christ. There are some whose hearts are upon the world; there are others whose hearts are upon the pleasures of the world; there are some whose hearts are upon the applause of the world; and there are others whose hearts are on the covetousness of the things of the world (Ezekiel 33:31).  O, therefore, strive to embrace Jesus Christ.

The devil will let you give all your members to Jesus Christ but he says, “Give me your heart”. He will let you give your eyes, ears, hands, and feet to Christ but he says, “Give me your heart”. There are three sorts of persons that are not right in heart.

(a) Those with a divided heart. The devil certainly has the hearts of such who are “double-minded” (James 4:8).

(b) Those whose hearts are given entirely to the devil. There are some whose hearts are not divided, namely, atheists. This is clear from Hosea 4:17, “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone”; or, as the word literally means, he is “married to his idols”. Surely Christ is not precious to someone like this. O Christians! Does the world not have your first thoughts when you rise in the morning and your last thoughts when you go to bed at night? Thus, I fear our idols always have more of our thoughts than Christ.

(c) Those whose hearts are wrestling against their predominant lusts but are falling down under them. They are not wrestling in the right way. I may say, however, that there are not many such amongst us whose main concern is to wrestle against the devil and his temptations.

 

8. If you have a Desire for the Duties that Obtain Fellowship with God

Those to whom Christ is precious will have some delight in the duties that obtain communion and fellowship with God. The Bride seeks Christ from a principle of delight, faith and necessity (Song of Solomon 3:1). O Christians, why do you go to prayer like this? I think most of us go to prayer only from a principle of satisfying our natural conscience.  Someone that has real delight in duty has a low estimation and account of all things that come short of Christ. They have a high esteem of Christ Himself only.

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How Does Faith Sanctify?

How Does Faith Sanctify?

How Does Faith Sanctify?

This is an extremely practical question. If we have true faith by grace it will incline us more to holiness.  Christ says that sanctification is through faith in Himself (Acts 26:18). A pure heart and unfeigned faith belong together (1 Timothy 1:5). Faith as the root of all the graces must be active in our sanctification. Simply having faith in a passive way is not what sanctifies; it must be exercised actively in Christ and His Word.

 

​There is a danger to be avoided, however. To some people, sanctification through faith can sound like justification by faith. Sometimes they then begin to speak about sanctification by faith alone. While this sounds plausible, it is in fact a significant error.

It is true that both are entirely by grace alone. You cannot of course have one without the other. Yet, sanctification is a work or a process of grace within us, whereas justification is an instantaneous act of grace outside of us. One can grow and develop, the other does not. In justification, sin is pardoned while in sanctification it is subdued. The Westminster Larger Catechism explores this distinction in Question 77.

The danger of emphasising faith alone in sanctification is that it suggests that we are not to work out what God works in us. But it must involve obedience as well as faith. Sanctification is walking in the way of holiness not simply a deeper appreciation of our justification. Yet faith is crucial in this obedience. Andrew Gray unfolds in a practical way how faith works by love in our sanctification.

 

1. Faith shows us Christ’s matchless excellence and transcendent beauty

This sight persuades the soul to say: “what have I to do any more with idols?” (see Hosea 14:8). Once we are united unto Christ by faith we break our union with our idols. Ignorance of Christ’s excellence and beauty and of love towards Him is the main reason that the poorest idols in the world remain in your hearts. A true view of the glorious Sun of Righteousness would make you add your amen to the following excellent confession of faith. “Vanity of vanities…all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

 

2. Faith shows us Christ’s spotless holiness

Faith shows us Christ’s holiness as well as His beauty. This makes a soul fall in love with the excellence of sanctification. The first steps to sin and misery were desiring to be as God, knowing good and evil. But among the first steps to life and happiness, the soul desires to be holy, as He is holy. Ignorance of the beauty of holiness is the great reason that you fail to strive much towards a blessed conformity to God and the image of Christ.

 

3. Faith lays hold on Jesus Christ

Faith draws strength and power from Christ to conquer lusts. It also produces a blessed conformity to Himself. When the Christian is weak, faith is the go-between our emptiness and Christ’s fullness; our weakness and His everlasting strength. Faith counsels us:

(a) not to lean to our own strength; and

(b) to have recourse to Jehovah in whom is everlasting strength.

If we made more use of Christ by faith we might see the following prophecy fulfilled. “He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord” (Zechariah 12:8). When a Christian is least self-confident, then God proves Himself to be Almighty and All-sufficient.

 

4. Faith lays hold on the promises and believes them

Believing the promises gives birth to conformity to God. The benefit of believing the promises is that by them we are “made partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

 

5. Faith believes Scripture’s threats against sin

This has a strong and undoubted influence on attaining and growing in sanctification. Faith strengthens the Christian against committing iniquity with two texts (Romans 6:29 and Revelation 21:27). “O soul”, (says faith), “do not commit iniquity, for the wages of sin is death”. “Also, nothing that is unclean or commits iniquity will enter into the heavenly city”. Faith together with the threats and promises of Scripture would be like a threefold cord not easily broken to restrain you from sinning.

Do you want to know why our cursed hearts commit iniquity with so little fear and with so much delight? It is because we do not believe that God’s threats will be fulfilled in due time. If you believe Revelation 21:27, it is impossible that you would sin as you do; even if it would gain the world for you. If you undervalue God’s threats, the time will come when you will be constrained to cry out: “He has spoken it and has done it. He is faithful!” Not one jot or tittle in the Word of the Lord will fall to the ground. God will be faithful in fulfilling His threats just as much as His promises.

 

6. Faith shows us heaven

Faith takes the soul to the top of Pisgah to behold the promised land. Seeing such noble privileges prepared for the saints must make them pursue holiness. They know that it is impossible to get there without holiness. He has said that without holiness, no man shall see God (see Hebrews 12:14). If you got a view of heaven by faith, you would be constrained to walk in the path of sanctification. This is the glorious way by which you must walk through the gates of that blessed city.

You do not, however, know happiness of that place. It is only mere fancy and notion to you. This is because you do not strive to conform yourselves to the blessed image of God. Are you so deluded as to believe that you who never pursued holiness on earth will enter into heaven’s gates? There are some who say in their hearts, “I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart” (Deuteronomy 29:19). Many suppose they might be converted and sanctified all in one day. But why will you deceive yourselves? It is true that nothing is impossible with God. Yet, remember that only one thief on the cross was saved.

 

7. Faith believes the promises

Faith believes Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. Faith loves such excellent sayings. It makes the Christian attain likeness and conformity with God so that he may behold His face and be like Him in heaven.

 

8. Faith shows us the exceeding sinfulness of sin

This cannot happen until the grace of faith is in vigorous exercise.

  • Faith show us the person against whom we sin. This shows the exceeding sinfulness of sin.  When the Christian beholds God and His matchless excellence he says, “What a beast I was, to offend such glorious majesty! What a fool I was, to kick against the goads or fight against such an infinite God!”
  • Faith shows the Christian the great obligations of love Christ has imposed on us. Faith shows us the everlasting love of Christ. Faith is the grace that lets us see His sufferings. Faith lets us see all that He has done for us. This makes the Christian cry out: “O how foolish and unwise! Do I repay the Lord like this?” The more a Christian would pursue his duty, the less debt he would incur. There are two registers which a Christian should study: 1. The register in which all the infinite acts of love are recorded; and, 2. The register in which all our acts of offending precious Christ are written. You would be astonished and ashamed to see so much forgiven you and would not dare to sin any more. You would see infinite mercy rejoicing over judgment. You would see the spotless riches of the transcendent grace in Christ.

 

  • Faith shows a Christian the disadvantages and solemn consequences of sin and in this way, the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

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