HOW   AND   WHEN

  —DO WE BECOME—

CHILDREN OF GOD?  

 

Taken From Short Words Written About 1910

 



 

 

Conversion a Vital Necessity

 

By J. R. CALDWELL, Glasgow,

  Editor of "The Witness."

 NO two faces are alike, and no two Christians have passed through exactly the same experience, but there is only one way today by which a son of Adam can become a child of God, and that is by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

  When I was quite a young man 1 came to know that I was not saved.  My sincere desire was to become a true Christian, and at this stage I remember marking in my Bible the words, " Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matt. v. 6).   I hoped that by being religious I would gradually become so good as to be satisfied that I was a true Christian. Part of the process was my becoming a member of an Evangelical Church.   I was interviewed by two deacons, asked if I believed the Scriptures to be the Word of God? I could honestly say I did: asked if I had any confidence in my own righteousness? I answered, No, none whatever, I knew it to be only filthy rags: asked if I believed on the Lord Jesus? I answered; I did, for I knew unless He saved me none else could.  I was well reported of to the church, and was received as a member. I taught in the Sunday school, joined the Y.M.C.A. belonging to the church, and passed for a Christian with all who knew me. But with an orthodox evangelical creed I had never been born again, and sin and the world retained their power over me. Had I been asked, " Have you peace with God? " I would promptly have answered, " No; can you tell me how to get it? "

  I would here most earnestly warn all who read this to make sure that they are on the right foundation.   Thousands upon thousands, we fear, are respectably and religiously going to hell. They have religion, they are church members, they "take the sacrament," they engage in good works; but they have never been "born again," they have never had "peace with God," they have no personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ; they have known no such change as "conversion," they cannot even say, "whereas I was blind now I see." May this paper be used of God to show them that they are still unsaved and dead in trespasses and in sins.

  It was some time after this that a well-known evangelist of fifty years ago came to have a series of meetings in the church. The truth was so forcibly put that I felt 1 had not experienced the great change, and at the close of one meeting I waited as an anxious one among many, and heard from John v. 24, "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed out of death into life."This was indeed good news to me.

I heard, I believed, and I had everlasting life.

There was nothing about my character good or bad, whatever I was, it was simply to hear, to believe, and to have.

  But still, this did not yield me the peace I needed.

  Another evening again I waited, and the preacher said, "I will read two words from this Book, and if you believe them you are saved."   I waited breathlessly to hear the "two words," I thought, if they are in this Bible they are true, and believe them I will!  He read from Col. i. 20: "PEACE MADE." A finished work; nothing to be added to it; God's own work for me the sinner. "Peace made by the blood of His cross. "Now I saw that I had all along been looking in the wrong direction for righteousness.  I had been looking in, instead of looking unto Him who made peace by the blood of His cross, and who is "made of God unto us RIGHTEOUSNESS." Now I saw that it was not by righteousness wrought in me but by righteousness imputed to me apart from works that I was to be saved-I might say the great change took place through believing three plain Scripture truths :

  1st (John v. 24). Heareth, believeth, hath everlasting life.

  2nd (Col. i. 20). Peace made by the blood of His cross.

  3rd (Rom. iv. 1-6) Righteousness imputed without works to all that believe,

  From this time the Bible became a new book to me, my constant and loved companion. I read it with opened eyes, and beheld in it wondrous things.

  Up till then I had no special regard for children of God, especially if I thought they would ask me disagreeable questions as to whether or not I was saved. Since then, by a kind of divine workmanship, I am one with all saints, and find my companionship with such. Prayer became not a mere formal duly, but a great necessity, "the Christian's vital breath."

  It was not long till I found the joy of making known the glad news to others.  In a sunk kitchen, with an earthen floor, several of one very poor family were led to trust and rejoice in the Lord.  That is now between forty and fifty years ago, and several of them remain to this day witnessing for the truth of the Gospel. Truly we need not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it (and nothing else) is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.   The subsequent experience of conflict within between flesh and spirit has been very real. "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. "But the Lord Jesus Christ is "able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. vii- 25).   He saves, and "He is able to keep us from falling" (Jude 24). "And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins" (i John ii. i, 2). " If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (i John i. 9).

 

 


Life through the Living One

 

By J. C. M. DAWSON, B.A., Belfast.

I desire to answer this question as clearly and briefly as possible.

 (l) No person enters this world a child of God.

We have all inherited from Adam a fallen, sinful nature, and David's statement is true of each member of the race, " Behold, 1 was shapen in iniquity ; and in sin did my mother conceive me " (Ps. li. 5). The children of Adam are "by nature the children of wrath" (Eph. ii. 3), and each possesses a heart "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. xvii, 9).  "There is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. iii. 22, 23), and are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. ii. 3) to God, and have only the "wages of sin" to expect which is "death" (Rom.vi. 23), and that death the Scripture describes as the lake of fire (Rev. xx. 14, 1$), where the sinner, who dies in his sins, is eternally separated from God, and deprived of every blessing. Consequently each person needs to be made alive unto God—each is absolutely without eternal life by nature.

 (2) How a person becomes a child of God.

"God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. iii. 16} in the person of Jesus Christ. The life of the sinless Christ was unforfeited, death could not claim it, no one could take it from Him (John x. 18). He gave up His life for the sheep (i.e., those who hear His voice, are known of Him, and who follow Him, John x. 28), and in resurrection He has taken it again (John x. 15, l8), and the person that believes in Him, though up to then dead in sins, has everlasting life (John iii. 15, l6, 36; vi- 47). He has become a child of God, being born of God (John i. l2, 13; i John v. 1). Having "received Him" he has received the "gift of God" which is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. vi. 23).

 (3) The time when a person becomes a child of God.

Until the sinner believes in Christ he is without life (John iii. 36; v. 24; i John v. i2); on believing in Him he has it (John vi, 47). That moment he is a child of God, "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (i Pet. i. 23), and, being God's child, has been made a partaker of the divine nature of the One who has begotten him. As a child of God, he is exhorted to lay hold on eternal life (i Tim. vi. 12, 19), i.e., to enjoy it, live it practically, possess it so thoroughly by abiding in Christ that it may indeed be manifest that Christ liveth in him (Gal. ii. 20) by the fruit of the Spirit being very abundant.

When the Lord comes, mortality shall be "swallowed up by life" (2 Cor. v. 4), for He "hath brought life (for the living saints) and incorruptibility (for the sleeping saints) to light through the Gospel" (2 Tim. i.10). Then they shall be "the sons of God, being the sons of the resurrection" (Luke xx. 36).

 (4) My personal experience.

I left home about 11.30 a.m., on 13th February, 1883, dead to God in my sins, and on my way to a hell, well-deserved, yet anxious to be saved. About five minutes afterwards, through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, I had eternal life (John vi. 47), and was assured of it in the authority of the Scripture, which cannot be broken (John iii. 16). In a moment I had passed out of death into life, I was a child of God, and bound for my Father's home on high.