The First Step to Blessing - by C.A. Coates
THE FIRST STEP TO BLESSING
The first step to blessing is to learn what you are in God's sight, and to accept His estimate of you. The first utterance of God in creation was, "Let there be light," and in the new creation of a soul this is the first act of grace.
A dirty man in the dark may think he is clean; so a sinner whose conscience has not been enlightened may be satisfied with himself. But when God says, "Let there be light" (Genesis 1: 3), a Job cries out, "I am vile" (Job 40: 4); an Isaiah groans, "Woe is me" (Isaiah 6: 5); Simon the fisherman confesses, "I am a sinful man, O Lord' (Luke 5: 8); and one like Saul of Tarsus can only call himself "chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1: 15).
In the opening verses of Romans 5 we have a four-fold description of those for whom Christ died:
(1) "When we were yet without strength" (v. 6).
(2) "In due time Christ died for the ungodly" (v. 6).
(3) "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (v. 8).
(4) "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (v. 10).
How wonderfully do "grace and truth" shine together in this scripture! Here the foul disease and the certain remedy are seen together. Guilt is fully discovered, but it is in the light of grace. Sin appears in connection with love that puts it away. And if our true character is painted in its darkest colours, it is that we may know the riches of the grace that seeks our blessing in spite of all.
Do not then, I beseech you, imitate the Pharisees, who "rejected the counsel of God against themselves" (Luke 7: 30), and refused to take the guilty sinner's place before Him. For if the light of God's grace does not find you out and expose you in your true character now, depend upon it, the light of His judgment will find you out by-and-by. Be honest with your own soul and with God, and take home to yourself the solemn truth that you are without strength, ungodly, a sinner, and an enemy, needing to be reconciled to God.
If you refuse to accept this four-fold description as being true of yourself, you thereby shut yourself out from the saving value of Christ's death. It was for those who could by no means save, or help to save, themselves, that Christ died; it was for ungodly sinners that He gave His life; and if you are not such a one, you have neither part nor lot in the blessings which flow from His death. A lifeboat is for the drowning, a physician is for the sick, and a Saviour is for lost sinners.
Do not make a mistake. You may be decent and moral in your life, fair and upright in your dealings with your fellow-men, a good husband, a dutiful wife, an obedient child, or a faithful servant, and yet be unsaved. You may attend church, chapel, or mission room with the greatest regularity, and yet be among the many who are on the broad road. You may even be a communicant, a church member, a liberal giver to charitable and religious causes, a Sunday-school teacher, or a preacher, and at the same time be a lost sinner on the way to death and eternal judgment.
Blame not that honesty of speech which warns you in plain terms of your danger. It is far better to be disturbed from your carnal security in this world than to be damned in the next. Think of eternity.
The day speeds on when all that men call great and grand will crumble into dust: "The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up ... and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" (2 Peter 3: 10-12). At that day you will either have your place, through redemption, in eternal glory, or you will stand before the great white throne to be judged according to your works. You must spend eternity either with God and the myriads redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, or in the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Thank God! it is not yet too late, but do not trifle with present grace.
You may remember the loss of the vessel called the Central America. She was in a bad state, and had hoisted a signal of distress. A ship came close to her, the captain of which asked, through the trumpet, 'What is amiss?'
'We are in bad repair, and are going down: lie by till morning,' was the answer.
But the captain on board the rescue ship said, 'Let me take your passengers on board now.'
'Lie by till morning,' was the message which came back.
Once again the captain cried, 'You had better let me take your passengers on board now.'
'Lie by till morning,' was the reply which sounded through the trumpet.
About an hour and a half after, the lights were missing, and, though no sound was heard, she and all on board had gone down into the fathomless abyss.
Unconverted friend, do not say, 'Lie by till morning/ Now is the accepted time. To-day you may enter into life; tomorrow the door may be shut.
C. A. COATES.
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered"
Psalm 32: 1