Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not the Strength of the Hand, but the Goodness of the Meat

Helpful words on justification from Joel Beeke that are gospel-rich:
Too many Christians live in constant despondency because they cannot distinguish between the rock on which they stand and the faith by which they stand upon the rock. Faith is not our rock; Christ is our rock. We do not get faith by having faith in our faith or by looking to faith, but by looking to Christ. Looking to Christ is faith.

Nor is it perfect faith, great faith, fruitful faith, strong faith that justifies. If we start qualifying our faith, we destroy the gospel. Our faith may be weak, immature, timid, even indiscernible at times, but if it is real faith it is justifying faith (Matthew 6:30). Our degree of faith affects sanctification and assurance, but not justification. Faith's value in justification does not lie in any degree in itself but in its uniting us to Christ and His glorious achievement. As George Downame illustrates:
A small and weak hand, if it be able to reach up the meat to the mouth, as well performs its duty for the nourishment of the body as one of greater strength, because it is not the strength of the hand but the goodness of the meat which nourishes the body.
Far too often we are prone to look to the quality of our faith, the quality of our conviction of sin, the quality of our evangelical repentance, the quality of our love for the brethren for confirmation of our justification, forgetting that it is Christ alone who saves by gracious faith alone.
And I've always loved this line from Augustus Toplady:
"A feeble faith my lay hold on a strong Christ."

6 comments:

Pete Scribner said...

We had Dr. Beeke come speak at our conference a little over a month ago. Great stuff...

Brian said...

I've always loved this but from Tozer's "Pursuit of God" :

"Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves-blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do."

Jared said...

Oh wow. Love that passage, Brian. Thanks.

Mike Leake said...

Jared,

I noticed that you attributed this quote to Toplady:

"A feeble faith may lay hold on a strong Christ".

I have seen this quote in various forms attributed to many people. The earliest I have found is Thomas Watson in his A Body of Divinity...any clue if that is where it originated from?

It's an amazing truth!

Jared said...

Mike, I first encountered that line in this piece from Toplady: http://homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/atassurance.htm

But what I had forgotten is that he is quoting "A good man." He doesn't say who that good man is, but it could've been Watson, definitely.

Another Brian said...

Good stuff! Hey, Brian... from what chapter was that Tozer quote?