Must I first feel my sins before I can go to Christ?

     Several years ago, I read a gospel tract by a modern-day (sovereign grace) writer, who was giving "directions to the unconverted." One of his directions was: "Until a man is thoroughly sick of sin and hates his own sin, he cannot come to Christ." At that time I didn't think too much about it. However, since then, God has graciously seen fit to give a measure of 'gospel' light on the subject; and such statements like this given to the unconverted, I no longer look at with either approval or indifference; I now view these teachings as opposed to the gospel of the free grace of God. "Those who mingle," Charles Spurgeon says, "their 'ifs' and 'buts,' and insist upon 'you must do this, and feel that, before you may accept Christ,' frustrate the grace of God in a measure, and do damage to the glorious gospel of the blessed God." The gospel arrow points directly to Christ; while those 'directions' point the sinner to himself, to evaluate personal preparedness, and to judge whether he be 'fit' to come to Christ or no. By this, I see men hindering sinners. I see men putting sinners off. I see men setting sinners upon searching for some soul-deluding 'good' thing about themselves before they may safely trust in that worthy name of Jesus. The gospel invitation, though, is not put upon the ground of anything of which we can be a judge. This is where preachers are guilty of doing the greatest injustice to the coming sinner. Such conditions thrown in the way of a depraved man leaves him with a legitimate excuse not to close with Christ immediately. Unless he 'fits the bill', this preacher has told him he can't come to Christ. He must "hate his own sin," or the Saviour will not accept him. "Hating sin" implies a new nature! "Men love darkness rather than light" (John 3:19). We don't come to Christ because we have been saved from the love of sin; we come to Christ to be saved from such slavery! He is our salvation! On this, Ralph Erskine had these fitting words:
     "Here also is an antidote against ignorant preachers of the gospel, that confound the marks of faith with the ground of faith, or the evidences of faith with the warrant of faith, or the condition of the covenant with the qualities of the covenanted, as if the gospel call were only to saints, or to sinners so and so qualified; and so leading men in to themselves for a ground of faith, instead of leading them out of themselves to Christ, exhibited to them in a word of salvation sent to them. The gospel-method of salvation is the reverse of all the legal schemes in the world. The legal strain supposes some good quality about the sinner, before he be allowed to meddle with the word of salvation; and so shuts the door of the gospel, which it pretends to open. But the gospel-strain brings the word of salvation freely to every sinner's door, and supposes him to be destitute of all good qualities whatsoever, and leaves no room for any sinner to say, I am not allowed to come in."

 

Abstract from the booklet "Without Money and Without Price" by Daniel Shanks

 

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