Friday, December 3, 2010

Consider How Amazing Christ's Conquests!

Over the past few years I've been reading in a book called "The Christian in Complete Armour" by a Puritan pastor in England named William Gurnall. It was published in the 1660's in separate volumes, containing 600 pages in all. The book I have is all the volumes bound together. Not only is it a big book in terms of number of pages, but it's a weighty book in terms of ideas. Spurgeon said of it, "... every line is full of wisdom... John Newton said that if he could read only one book beside the Bible, he would choose 'The Christian in Complete Armour'."

So that's the kind of timeless and helpful book it is. Today I read a couple of paragraphs that talked about the huge wonder of Christ's saving work when certain facts are considered. Here are Gurnall's thoughts from the section of the book, "The Christless Soul is Without Armour" (paraphrased by me):

When we consider how the Christless soul is (a) completely alienated from God and so not sheltered under God's defenses; (b) in a state of darkest spiritual ignorance; (c) impotent to withstand the onslaughts of Satan or even his own desires; and (d) in an actual state of partnership with sin and Satan--then Satan's great conquests in the world are not to be wondered at. We look around and see his vast empire, and then the tiny plot of ground occupied by Christ's subjects; we see what heaps of precious souls lie prostrate under Satan's foot of pride, and what a small regiment of saints march under Christ's banner; and the strangeness of it all can make us ask, "Is hell stronger than heaven?"

Think about this--Satan finds the world unarmed, he finds no one in opposition to him in the whole world. Every single individual is born fully inclined to yield to him at his first summons. Even if a man's conscience tries to hold out against Satan's schemes for a while, the man's will and his affections (his true desires) will rise up and declare mutiny against his conscience. Like an uprising of soldiers in a garrison, the will and the affections will never rest until they've forced the conscience to yield. If conscience tries to hold out, the will and affections will go against conscience's command and throw open the city gate, as it were, to the enemy, and traitorously deliver the conscience over to their side. This describes Satan's easy victory over the souls of men.

On the other hand, when Christ comes to demand the soul, he meets with a scornful and easy reply: "We will not have this man to reign over us." There is no struggle between conscience, will and affection; with one consent they vote against him, rising up in blasphemy.

"You will not come to me," says Christ. Oh, how true are sinners to their master, the devil. They will not deliver the castle they hold for Satan 'til fired over their heads! Just as Pharaoh opposed Moses on the one hand, and enslaved Israel opposed him on the other, so Christ is opposed both by Satan's hand, and also by the very ones Satan so oppresses.

The conquests of Alexander the Great were lessened by the fact that he overcame a people buried in barbarianism, a people who had no arms and no discipline to fight wars. The conquests of Caesar were heightened by the fact that he overcame a people more warlike and furnished. Likewise, Satan's conquests are of poor, ignorant, and graceless souls, who have neither weapons, nor hands, nor hearts with which to oppose. But when Satan assaults a redeemed saint of God, then he finds himself before a city gate with bars; he is forced to sit outside it, and finally to rise with shame, having been unable to take even the weakest hold, or to pluck the weakest saint out of Christ's hands. Rather, Christ turns the tables on him, and brings souls out of Satan's dominion with a high hand, in spite of all the force and fury of hell, which, just like Pharaoh and his host, pursue them!

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