Andrew Fuller Friday: On Knowledge of Sin and a Savior

If we were inquiring into the nature of believing, it might be necessary to examine the testimony; if of trusting, we must ascertain wherein consists the promise; and so, if we would form just conceptions of receiving Christ, we must observe what is said of the gift of him; for each is the standard of the other, and will be found to correspond with it. “So we preached, and so ye believed.”

Considering Christ, then, as the gift of God, it is necessary to observe that he is the first and chief of all his gifts, and that for his sake all others are bestowed. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” Other gifts may be so great that nothing in this world can be compared with them; this, however, is the greatest. It is great for God to forbear with us; greater to forgive us; and greater still to accept and crown us with eternal life: but all this is supposed to be small, in comparison of the gift of his own Son; and therefore it is argued that, having bestowed the greater, we may trust him for the less. But if God first give Christ, and with him all things freely, we must first receive Christ, and with him all things freely. The first exercise of faith, therefore, does not consist in receiving the benefits resulting from his death, or in a persuasion of our sins being forgiven, but in receiving Christ; and having received him, we with him receive an interest in those benefits. Hence the propriety of such language as this:

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

It is on this principle that union with Christ is represented as the foundation of an interest in his benefits, as it is in the following passages: “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.—There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.—That I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” It is thus in the marriage union, to which that of believers with Christ is compared. As she that is joined to a husband becomes interested in all that he possesses, so they that are joined to Christ are, by the gracious constitution of the gospel, interested in all that he possesses. He is heir of all things, and they are joint-heirs with him. The sum is, that receiving Christ is the great turning point of salvation, or that by which we obtain a revealed interest in all the blessings of the gospel.

But, more particularly, To receive Christ presupposes a sense of sin, and of our exposedness to the just displeasure of God. It is a great error to hold up a sense of sin as a qualification which gives us a warrant to receive the Saviour, and so to consider the invitations of the gospel as addressed to sensible sinners only, as this must necessarily teach men to reckon themselves the favourites of God while yet they are in a state of unbelief. But it is no less an error to suppose that any sinner will receive the Saviour without perceiving and feeling his need of him. It is one thing to require a sense of sin as a qualification that gives a warrant to receive the Saviour, and another to plead for it as necessary, in the nature of things, to a compliance with that warrant. What is the reason that Christ is rejected, and the gospel made light of, by the great body of mankind? Is it not, as the Scriptures represent it, because they are whole in their own eyes, and therefore think they need no physician? While men are righteous in their own esteem, the gospel must appear to be a strange doctrine, and the dwelling so much upon Christ, in the ministry of the word, a strange conduct. How is it that the doctrine of salvation by grace, through the atonement of the Son of God, should be so generally opposed even by nominal Christians? The reason is the same. Sin is considered as a light thing, a mere frailty or imperfection, unfortunately attached to human nature; and while this is the case, there appears to be no need of a mediator, or at least not of one that is Divine, and who, to atone for sin, should be required to assume humanity and render his life a sacrifice. Hence it is necessary to be convinced of sin in order to receive the Saviour.

Fuller, A. G. (1988). “The Reception of Christ, the Turning Point of Salvation,” Sermon XVI in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 1, pp. 268–269). Sprinkle Publications.

By |July 14th, 2023|Categories: Andrew Fuller Friday, Blog|

About the Author: