Boasting is Excluded

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
(Romans 3:27)

I have secretly boasted to myself that I was a brave, skilled, confident Christian Sailor while my feet were firmly planted on land; but when at sea, when land was no longer in sight, when the Son hid his face behind the clouds, when the dark storm surged and the mighty waves swelled, when the lightning flashed and the thunder clapped, when the winds howled and the boat began to rock—then reality slapped me silly, and the heart of the brave, skilled, confident sailor was forced to confess that he sails much better on land than he does at sea.

—Frank Hall

The Cost

“Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not down first sit down and count the cost?” (Luke 14:28).

Let there be no mistake about my meaning. I am not examining what it costs to save a Christian’s soul. I know well that it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement and to redeem man from hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We “are bought with a price.” “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:6). But all this is wide of the question. The point I want to consider is another one altogether. It is what a man must be ready to give up if he wishes to be saved. It is the amount of sacrifice a man must submit to if he intends to serve Christ. It is in this sense that I raise the question: “What does it cost?” And I believe firmly that it is a most important one.

I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday and to be tolerably moral during the week, and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work: it entails no self–denial or self–sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”

But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.”

1. True Christianity will cost one his self–righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another.

2. True Christianity will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God’s sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it and labor to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. It is written, “Cast away from you all your transgressions.” “Break off your sins . . . and iniquities.” “Cease to do evil” (Ezek. 18:31; Dan. 4:27; Isa. 1:16).

3. Also, Christianity will cost a man his love of ease. He must take pains and trouble if he means to run a successful race toward heaven. He must daily watch and stand on his guard, like a soldier on enemy’s ground.

4. Lastly, true Christianity will cost a man the favor of the world. He must be content to be thought ill of by man if he pleases God. He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted and even hated.

Moreover, I grant it costs much to be a true Christian. But what sane man or woman can doubt that it is worth any cost to have the soul saved? When the ship is in danger of sinking, the crew think nothing of casting overboard the precious cargo. When a limb is mortified, a man will submit to any severe operation, and even to amputation, to save life. Surely a Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and heaven. A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing! A cheap Christianity, without a cross, will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.

-J.C Ryle

The Sure Foundation of God

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.                    (2 Timothy 2:19)

The professing church may drift into open apostasy, error may be rampant, worldliness may come in like a flood, but in spite of all, and in the midst of all, a sure foundation remains. What a relief for a Christian’s heart to apprehend this! What a resting-place for the soul amid the sea of unrest which rolls around us today! It may seem as if all the old landmarks were being rapidly removed, yet an immovable foundation may be found, and happy will be my reader’s portion if he is led to that foundation and takes his stand upon it.
Two things characterize the “foundation of God”, one of which is brought before us in the words, “The Lord knoweth them that are His”. Sovereign grace has secured its objects, and will secure them to the end, in spite of all the evil and departure from truth. They may be – and, alas! often are – hidden to human eyes, but the Lord knows them. Though He can no longer own as His the great profession which bears His name only to dishonor it, in the midst of it all He knows the chosen, called, and justified ones. We may not be able to discriminate between the wheat and the tares, or between the wise and foolish virgins. We may be deceived by the empty and Christless professor, or we may misjudge the truly converted soul, but the Lord makes no mistakes. Grace has chosen her objects, and secured them, and keeps them in spite of men or devils, and “the Lord knoweth them that are His”.
I earnestly hope that my reader has the divine assurance on the authority of the word of God, that his sins are forgiven, that he is justified by faith, has peace with God, and has received the Holy Spirit.
But the “foundation of God” has another seal – sometimes overlooked by those who rejoice in the first.
“Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity”.  In a day like this the only divine path is one of unhesitating obedience to the word of God. Human reason and natural feeling may suggest innumerable arguments to defer obedience to a word like this.   Another course may seem better calculated to attain the end in view. But human expediency and policy are unknown things in the region of faith. Faith’s inquiry is, What saith the Scripture? What saith the Lord? Faith hears His voice only to obey it.

-C.A Coates