The True Christian
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
The true Christian is born from above, partakes of the divine nature, and is taught by the Holy Spirit. He knows himself to be a vile, corrupt, and polluted sinner. He has felt condemned, confessed the justice of God in his expected doom—and sought pardon at the feet of Jesus. He knows that the law is holy, just and good; that it extends to the thoughts and intents of the heart; that he cannot keep it, and is justly condemned by it. He has been directed to Jesus for pardon, life, and salvation; and has fled to him for refuge, shelter, and safety. He has turned from creatures, duties, and legal hopes; and has obtained mercy, received grace, and found deliverance. He has believed on Jesus, repented of sin, and experienced God's forgiving love.
He is crucified to the world, and the world unto him. He can no longer love its pleasures, follow its vanities, and conform to its fashions. He pities its state, prays for its good—but keeps himself separate from it. He passes through it, suffers in it, and rejoices in an inheritance above it.
He walks with his God in faith, dependence, and obedience. He follows his Savior through evil and good report; and cleaves to the Lord with full purpose of heart. He renounces self, makes use of the fountain of Immanuel's blood, and builds upon the rock of ages. He discards his own works as dross and dung, rejoices in free grace as the fount of salvation, and—triumphs in the righteousness of Christ. He feeds by faith on the flesh and blood of Jesus, relies on the exceeding great and precious promises of God, and listens to the warnings of his Father's word.
He resists Satan steadfast in the faith, mortifies his members which are upon the earth, and takes comfort from Christ' atonement. He mourns over his duties, sows to the Spirit, and follows on to know the Lord. He walks in the light, overcomes all his foes, and stands up in defense of the gospel of God. He rejoices in Christ, grieves for the low estate of the Church, and sighs, and cries for all the abominations that are done in the land.
He proves his adoption, gives all glory to God, and waits for the hope of righteousness by faith. He prays earnestly, lives honestly, and suffers patiently; knowing that in heaven he has a better, and more enduring substance.
He mourns over his follies, laments his imperfections, and supplicates forgiveness of God. Sin is his burden, moral defilement his grief, and conformity to Jesus the reigning desire of his soul. The house of God is his home, the people of God are his companions, and the ordinances of the gospel his delight.
Prayer is the breath of his soul, the throne of grace his place of resort, and praise the very element in which he lives. The presence of God is his heaven, fellowship with Jesus his delight, and the unction of the Holy One his teacher.
The word of God is his sword, the righteousness of Jesus his breastplate, and the hope of salvation his helmet. Sin, Satan, and the world are his foes; the Father, Son, and Spirit, in covenant relation, are his friends. The gospel is the charter of his privileges, the law is the rule for his feet, and heaven is the goal of his race. He is reconciled to God by the blood of the cross, justified from all things in the righteousness of Christ, and communes with Jehovah from the mercy seat. He is saved by grace, made near by the blood of the Lamb, and suffers for Christ and his cause.
In a word, he is spiritual in his nature, sincere in his professions, holy in his aims, high in his relationships, happy in his prospects; upright in his walk, heavenly in his conversation, and safe for eternity.
Such is the real Christian when he acts upon bible principles, walks by Scripture rules, and lives up to his grace given privileges. This is the state, happiness, and portion of those who truly know God, and the heritage appointed them by God.
But, alas! how many are there in this day of profession, who pass for Christians, and yet are totally ignorant of these things. Reader, are you a Christian? do you pass for one?
If so, when did you receive the blessings of pardon, peace, and assurance in answer to prayer?
When did you enjoy real heartfelt communion with God?
When did you find Christ precious, as your Prophet, Priest, and King?
When did you enjoy the witness of the Holy Spirit in your heart?
When did you sit in judgment on yourself?
When did you search and try your ways?
When did Jesus and his Father visit you, according to his word? John 14:21-23.
When were you walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit?
Do you know anything of these things? the very life and soul of true religion consists in them. All religion without these things is like a body without life, a shell without a kernel, a shadow without a substance. "The kingdom of God is not in word—but in power." "The kingdom of God must be within you."
Beware, O beware, that you are not deluded! Where your treasure is—there will your heart be also. "If you are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth." Col. 3:1-6. Covet earnestly the best gifts. "Take heed, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end."
But should my reader be one that cares for none of these things, whose life is spent in vanity, and his days in pleasure. "Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: My servants will eat, but you will be hungry; My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty; My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. My servants will shout for joy from a glad heart, but you will cry out from an anguished heart, and you will lament out of a broken spirit. You will leave your name behind as a curse for My chosen ones, and the Lord God will kill you; but He will give His servants another name. Isaiah 65:13-15
"The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Psalm 1:5. "Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him." Isaiah 3:11. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. "The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, even rocks are shattered before Him!" Nahum 1
Sinner, this is the God you have to do with, before him you must stand, and by him be judged. Woe! woe! woe! unto you, if you are found outside of Christ in that day!!! O may you to his throne repair—and find a full salvation there!