Dr. C. J. Davis.
2. What is the New Nature?
This is a deeply important subject. Important because it affects all — high, low, rich and poor, old and young, alike. I want to try and interest all in this subject of the New Nature. What is it? When in the company of those not forgiven, not saved, I feel more than ever anxious to convince my readers of its immense importance to all; for this reason that each individual has an immortal spirit which must exist eternally in bliss or woe.
There are three certain truths revealed in the Bible, which many are anxious to deny — nay, are bold enough to question. They are —
1. The immortality of the soul.
2. The eternity of bliss.
3. Everlasting misery.
There is a thick curtain over the future, hindering us from seeing beyond the present, but God has told us what there will be. Eternal happiness for all who accept Christ as the sufficient Saviour, and woe never-ending to all that reject Him. Those who are saved will spend an eternity of bliss with Jesus — in heaven. There is not much description of the place given — we need not think so much about how it will look — how it is garnished — but it is where Jesus is, and that is enough for us who are resting in Him.
Our Lord has said, "Where I am, there shall ye be also," is not that enough to satisfy us? Like a little girl to whom it was proposed on the eve of a long railway journey, that she should remain at home instead of sitting with her mama at the railway station, because of its discomfort and exposed situation, who replied, "Oh, mama, but you will be there; wherever you are is good enough for me." The difference between the child's home and the little wayside station was just all that wealth and luxury could procure on the one hand, and the inconvenience of an ill protected cross country station, exposed to the inclemency of winter, on the other. But do you catch my thought? Do not the little girl's words find a response in many a believer's heart — "Wherever you are will do for me." Yes, to be with the Lord where He is, constitutes true bliss. Thus we see the promise of the Lord (John 14) is that the disciples are to be with Him, and Paul's hope is to be with Christ. Again, in 1 Thess. 4 we find that the saints are to be "for ever with the Lord." Without quoting other Scriptures, it must be apparent that as a believer, I shall live in happiness for ever. Paul does not speak of heaven, but his longing was to be with Christ.
Again, the Lord also speaks of the wicked. He tells of a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day during his lifetime on earth, but our Lord adds — he died and was buried, and that man lifted up his eyes in hell, being in torment. Here we see that each unbeliever exists for ever where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Solemn thought! I must live for ever in bliss or woe! Which is it to be with each of you? Surely my subject affects every one; and deeply so.
Our Lord said to Nicodemus, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven." (John 3:13.) Is HE not a witness to be believed? In courts of justice to-day how much importance is attached to evidence. If there is not sufficient to establish a case it cannot stand. If I wish to take a long journey to India or Australia, I want to get all the evidence I can obtain respecting the strange country to which I am bound; and if I meet some one who has been there, how valuable is his testimony! I bring some evidence — evidence most weighty and important — evidence from the only person who has been in heaven and came to earth to tell of it. Our Lord speaks to Nicodemus as "the Son of man who is in heaven." His is the evidence of one who cannot lie; who could have no object to misrepresent. He is a witness that must be believed, for it is the Lord Himself, who makes this statement to Nicodemus. It is the Son of man, the Son of God, who speaks to you, and He it is who says, "Except a man be born again he cannot see — he cannot enter into — the kingdom of God." This is the statement: weigh the evidence, listen to what the Son of God says. He can have no object in telling us this except for our good.
OUR OLD NATURE IS CORRUPT, IT CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
I will pause here to say a word on the difference between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God always supposes regeneration, conversion. The kingdom of heaven may have in it many mere professors. Thus in Matt. 13 the kingdom of heaven is compared to a field with tares and wheat, and to leaven, which always means some bad thing in Scripture. Again in chap. 25 the kingdom of heaven is likened to five wise and five foolish virgins, but the kingdom of God always implies conversion. Our Lord did not say to Nicodemus, cannot see the kingdom of heaven; but cannot see, nor enter, the kingdom of God. All who believe this testimony, and rest on the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, are saved. Those on the other hand, who do not believe, are lost eternally. God tells us this in His word. Whether you believe it or not, the fact remains, for He tells the truth.
I have now to put a very solemn statement before all who do not receive this witness of our Lord Jesus. They are represented as —
"MAKING GOD A LIAR."
This statement you will find in 1 John 5:10. It is there distinctly stated, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself, he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar." Beloved friends, do you who are unsaved like to be charged with "making God a liar!" If you do not believe the gospel you are in reality doing so; and if there are some who are partly resting on and partly doubting God's word, do allow me to press upon you the conviction, that unless you believe you are making God a liar! Jesus says, "Look unto me, poor broken-hearted sinner! just look; just believe." As when in the wilderness the Israelites were bitten, God said, "Look at the uplifted serpent and live;" those that refused to look were those that did not have confidence in God's simple yet efficient remedy, they doubted and they died.
If you perish it will be for doubting (see John 3:18).
The illustration I have chosen to express my thoughts on this subject, presents a person of more than ordinary standing among men. There are three things spoken of Naaman in that portion of God's word, 2 Kings 5.
1. That he was a great man.
2. That he was an honourable man.
3. That he was a man of valour.
When, beloved friends, we look at Naaman, we must agree it looks like our own likeness if we are still in our state of nature. In the Bible God does not write a long list of our names, but He draws our picture — likeness — photograph. Look, and you will find your own photograph. If you will find yours and own it, God says He will give you life for your state of death. If you will own your likeness — as sinners — God will give you eternal life.
A mother once said to her children, wishing to explain this thought to them, "If you will each go to the album and bring your own photograph, I will give you a present!" they did so, and received her gift, and she pressed this idea home upon them. It may be an ugly photograph; sin is a wretched ugly picture, but you must own it — confess it to be yours — if you do, God will give you eternal life, which does not only mean pardon, but Christ Himself, who is life. I hope I shall show you now, or at some other opportunity, that on account of the finished work on the Cross, God not only puts away your sins, but yourself, and looks at you as you are in Him in whom you believe.
"BUT HE WAS A LEPER."
Those of you who are interested in this subject, read at your leisure Lev. 13th and 14th chapters. This is a picture of us all, of you and of me. We have inherited a sinful nature. Not one man, woman, or child, but has this disease clinging to us, and unless cleansed, we cannot partake of the bliss of the family of God! Respectability, honour, morality, and even loud profession, cannot save a soul or shelter it from eternal death. Even to a religious Nicodemus, the Lord says,
"YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN."
It may be, you mix with the children of God, you may be found in their company; but unless cleansed and renewed, you cannot be a partaker of their joy. Though you sit with the people of God you cannot enjoy their bliss.
We as believers have many failings among us, to our shame be it spoken; yet we have a joy unspeakable, and full of glory. How do we know the difference? Jesus passed by, touched the leprosy, and it departed, and they knew the time when their eyes were opened; they saw the pitfall and the ruin before them; Jesus had said, "Look unto me," and they looked and believed, for the Lord's word is, "Whosoever believeth hath everlasting life." They looked and found peace in believing. I heard — believed — have joy; Our Lord says "hath," not "shall have" (John 5:24). It is a present possession — hath life — peace — joy. You who have not believed have no joy.
Not long ago a woman went to a doctor for advice in a trying complaint, from which she was suffering. After examining her for some time, he said, "There is something which must be removed at once, or you must lose your life!" She said, "I will consult my husband." On her return she said, "Is there no hope for me, unless I submit to the operation?" He said, "No hope, unless the tumour is removed at once." She said, "Then I will decide at once." The woman was wise. She decided, and decided wisely. Oh, wonderful grace! Matchless love! The feeblest cry — the weakest touch can arrest the Lord! He is aware of the faintest desire towards Himself. Perhaps some one is saying, "O, I wish I were happy;" may not some young man be saying, "Oh, I wish I were saved." He hears you! As when the poor woman who had long been suffering from an incurable disease, pressed in among the crowd following Jesus, and with her trembling hand touched the hem of His garment — that touch thrilled through Him — He knew who it was, and said, "Some one hath touched me." "Somebody!" asked the disciples, "why pick one out? Multitudes throng thee, yet thou sayest somebody hath touched me." But He said, "Virtue hath gone out from me!" He knew He had blessed some one, and when the woman saw she was not hid, she came trembling, and with quivering lip confessed, "Lord, I touched," and that brought out the gracious response, "Daughter, depart in peace."
He is sensitive to the feeblest touch of faith! Matchless love! And yet, though this woman had suffered from hemorrhage for twelve years, and was healed by a touch of the hem of His garment, she had not peace till she confessed Jesus!
Have you who know Jesus any whose hearts are unchanged, yet covered with the leprosy of sin? And you may, often as you look at them, breathe this desire for them — Would God they knew and believed in my Saviour! You know the Lord is coming soon, what will become of them? Must they be left to go through the tribulation? Do you not often say these words of them — Would God they knew my Lord, — my Saviour, — my God! His word to such is, — Though your sins be as scarlet, He can make them as wool, though red like crimson, His blood washes them whiter than snow. We in England regard scarlet and crimson as indelible dyes, or fixed colours. Would God they would go to Him, who can cleanse, heal, save. Would God they would rest in His work.
Did not Jesus cross the Jordan, that river of death and judgment? Did He not leave His throne of glory, and come down to the lowest depth of woe? He crossed the Jordan. He came, and in wondrous grace went through and made a way for us. (He is the bridge.) There was a great chasm, no bridge over it, but He bridged it over, so that righteousness and love meet in Him, and through him we are found resting in a Father's bosom and sharing the joy of a Father whose joy is, in having His own heart satisfied in the return of the prodigal.
Have we not reason to speak of what He has done?
Old man, there is salvation for you! Young man, Jesus died for you! There is life in a look! He broke His rest for you! He performed creation's work in six days, but He broke His rest to come back and make aprons of skins. What a sight. The Father and the Son devised the whole grand scheme. Their plans completed, their purposes settled, in the fulness of time He came and passed under death, the death of the cross, on my account and yours.
What a sight for angels — for men, for Jesus, the ever pure spotless, faultless, to take the form of sinful man! That which angels desire to look into we see. The God-man — The Son of God veiled in flesh — and he passed the Jordan in the fulness of time.
When you and I are in the glory then we shall know more of this wondrous scheme of redemption. The Father said, I will send my Son. The Son said, I will go to make atonement. I will die. I will give myself to purchase my church, and fulfil a Father's will. So He goes under death.
"'Tis mystery all, let saints adore,
Let angel-minds enquire no more."
In Gethsemane hear His words, "Father, if it be possible." It was not possible. He yields His will to the Father's. If it be possible. If man could be saved without His drinking the bitter cup. But His was love stronger than death, He bore the shame, scorn, hiding of God's face. And why? He took the guilty sinner's place. He loved the church and gave Himself for it. The Father raised Him from the dead, and now angels see a Man with five wounds in heaven, its exalted Prince and Saviour. All heaven is astir, and echoing through its vaults are the praises of Him who died and rose again. Whoever believes God, and rests on the finished work of Jesus, will join the chorus. God grant not one here may be missing. The voices round the throne will say — "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain," and we shall respond — "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain."
But faith is satisfied now; for God has shown how He values and is satisfied with the perfect Sacrifice for me, in raising my Surety from the dead.
At the door of the tabernacle in the wilderness we might have seen a lamb on whose head the sin of one of the congregation was confessed. The man who laid his hand on the head of the lamb and there confessed his sin found pardon and peace. Enough for God. Enough for the man.
Here I would in passing say, there is a difference between sin and sins (root and fruit). If any could say he was not guilty of sins, which, however, none could, yet we inherit a sinful nature, transmitted from Adam. If it be sin of ignorance God does not excuse it, and has provided a way of pardon and safety. See the lamb at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. God does not leave men to find out a way for themselves. It is not done in a corner, but a public confession, in the presence of the whole congregation of the children of Israel. All is of God. Salvation is of the Lord. The man who comes to confess may have a sad miserable face, but he goes away with a very different one. He is conscious of sin atoned for. When he came sin was on him, now it is off, and he can rejoice because the Lamb has died on his account. Jesus has done all that God required. He laid down His life a ransom for me. Though guilty, my sin has been atoned for. By faith I can realize what Jesus has done and suffered for me. Jesus has done all that God required and I am free from condemnation, and I must now live for Him.
"Payment God will not twice demand,
Once at my bleeding Surety's hand,
And then again at mine."
Faith lays hold of this, and the word is, "Go in peace."
The word of the prophet to Naaman was, "Go dip in Jordan seven times — go down into Jordan — dip seven times." He did so, and was clean. Seven refers to perfection in Scripture. It is a perfect number. It is typical of the Lord's perfect work, in which I must rest. Nothing more remains to be done. You cannot add to perfection. If a glass is full it can hold no more. What more can we do, when God says, "I am satisfied." He has sent down the Holy Spirit in token. What can we add? Naaman did not like this simple method at first. Nor do some like God's simple method now. They are willing to pray or do something; but the response of faith is —
"Just as I am, without one plea —
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God I come."
It strikes me that the man who saw the Lamb die on his account (Lev. 5), must have had some pang of conscience: some sense of his own guilt which would have cost his life if a vicarious sacrifice was not provided. And who can think of the peerless, spotless Son of man, bleeding for guilty ones, and not have a melted broken heart? I have no confidence in professed conversion, where there is no such brokenness of spirit, godly sorrow, deep heart-searching, true repentance. And to such as, with self-abhorrence, cry "God be merciful to me a sinner," the word is, "He Himself bare our sins in His own body on the tree," who was delivered for our offence, and raised again for our justification.
The eternal day will declare whether my reader has believed to the saving of his soul; if so this word will not be lost. God grant that it may be a time of decided blessing — the birthday of some. We need not count the years spent in Satan's service, but from the day we believe in Jesus our life commences.
An Emperor of Germany once asked an old man his age, when he replied, "Sire, four years." When asked how this could be, seeing his hair was white and strength failing, he said, "For eighty years I served sin and Satan, and I cannot take those years into account; four years ago I believed as a child the word of God about my ruined nature, and the new life in Christ Jesus, and I was then born again. I am four years old." God said to the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt on that memorable night, "This month shall be to you the beginning of months." (Ex. 12.) All the other years (215) spent under Pharaoh were lost to them and to God. Will not some hitherto unsaved one fix this for his or her birthday? Now is your time, for the word of God says Now — close with God's offer now. This is the place — the time of mercy. "This man receiveth sinners" is still over the door of the house of mercy; but soon the door may be shut: then another gospel will be preached, but not the gospel of the grace of God. It will then be the good news that the kingdom of Christ is set up — and that He is reigning over Israel.
A gentleman once put up a board on which was written, "All debtors by applying here can have their debts paid." Many passed and repassed, and did not believe the statement. At last one poor man, who owed five pounds, thought he would try if it were true; and accordingly he went to the gentleman, and soon rejoiced in finding it indeed true, and his debt of five pounds liquidated. He naturally spoke of his good fortune, and the news spread from one to another; next day some thought they would try too, and went to the gentleman and said, "Is it true you pay people's debts for them?" His reply was, "Did you see the board hang outside my gate to-day?" They said "No, but it was there yesterday." He said, "When it was there you did not believe it, though I always mean what I say. Now I have taken it down, it is too late for you to apply." Many who hear the gospel say, "Oh, I am so young, there is time enough yet for me to consider it." Some say, "Oh, it is too good to be true." And others, "Oh, it is so easy, give me something to do." There is nothing to do but to believe what God says — what Jesus has done.
A short time ago, it was my duty to sit up during the night with a young man who was evidently dying. His life was slowly ebbing away. He had often been spoken to about believing in Jesus, but had failed to see the way of salvation. At last, seeing him draw very near death, I said, "William, you are dying, what do you think of the offer of Jesus' mercy now?" I explained to him as simply as I could, all we have to do is to believe the message and take God at His word. At length he said, "Oh, I see it, if Jesus came to save sinners, He saves me, for I am a sinner." He believed and was saved; but scores trifle and are lost at last. William, like the thief at the last moment, found mercy; but how rare are such cases? Young friends, what will you do? Will you believe at once? Those deep dyed sins will all be washed away. Jesus will receive you: God will abundantly pardon.