Coming to Christ

Vanguard Presbyterian Church is a distinctly evangelistic denomination by our common confession and conviction. Yet, we need to be even more evangelistic than we are. In all the things that are being lost in our modern world, the gospel is the most precious. The gospel is preached today in the  sense that Jonathan Edwards condemned in his great work, The Religious Affections. Edwards therein wrote that there is a natural knowledge of Christ and the gospel that is within the powers of the intellect of the natural man. Yet, that natural knowledge is not sufficient. There must be a spiritual knowledge with the “eyes of the understanding.” The difference is that the person who sees the glory of Christ in the gospel will have a love of the truth that abides in his heart. He will not turn away from Christ when others do because he will say, with Peter of old, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” Whenever a sinner comes to understand with his heart that Jesus is indeed the Holy One of God, that person cannot be crowbarred away from His Savior. There is then nothing or no one in the world more precious to him than Christ. He has come to Christ. My fear is that too many people who think they are Christians have stopped short of such coming to Christ. They know most of the truths of the gospel in a natural way, but they have never committed themselves to Jesus as one of His followers. We must always remember that hearing the gospel preached and agreeing with those terms of salvation. We must actually come to Christ.   

There are several metaphors used in Scripture to define a saving relationship with Christ. These Scriptural metaphors describe spiritual matters—especially faith in Christ—in terms of the members of our bodies. Seek is one of the most frequently used words to encourage sinners to come to Christ. Seek is a metaphor that involves several members of the body—the mind, the eyes, the understanding, the feet, etc. David encouraged Solomon to know the Lord by saying, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him” (2 Chronicles 28:9). Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Psalm 105:3b-4 says, “Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.” Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus twice encouraged the seeking of the Lord. First, He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Then, He said words remembered by many people, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” Yet, in John’s Gospel, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You will seek Me, and will not find Me.” There is a seeking of God that is vain and results in not finding Him. There are those who exclaim like Job, “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat!” (Job 23:3). Others are like the Pharisees who vainly were seeking Jesus at the Feast of Booths without finding Him. They were not seeking Him for their own salvation, but for the purpose of trying to seize Him or to arrest Him or to argue with Him. Thus, the word seek is further defined in many places in the Scripture to qualify what kind of seeking is necessary for salvation. 

It is seeking the Lord with the whole heart and the whole soul. It is seeking His face continually. It is seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. It is seeking Him at a time when He may be found. It is seeking Him by both asking and knocking also. Seek is a very important word to define what it means to be converted, but it is not the most comprehensive word that is used in Scripture.

The Scripture uses other metaphors to describe saving faith. In Revelation 3:20, both the ears and the hands are metaphorically mentioned in terms of saving faith. Christ says, “If any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him and he with Me.” Thus, saving faith requires hearing with our ears and using our hands to turn the doorknobs of our hearts so that Christ will come in to us. Jeremiah 31:34 metaphorically defines the greater grace that will be given under the new covenant as follows: “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.’” 

Saving faith is more than mere head knowledge, but it does include the mind. Our Lord taught that the greatest commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). In John 5:24, Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” Believing in Christ is connected there to the hearing of the ears. Yet, there are those who “while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13, as Jesus said. Seeing, hearing, and understanding are very important to saving faith, but something more is needed to truly come to Christ.   

In the first chapter of Zechariah, the Lord of Hosts exhorts the impenitent children of Israel: “Return to Me. . .  that I may return to you” (Zechariah 1:3). The word ‘return’, in the Hebrew, is comprehensive of both faith and repentance. It is a turning away from sin and a turning to God. In many respects, that was the message of both John the Baptist and Jesus when they both began their ministries: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 3:2, 17). The message was a call to turn from their sins and to prepare their hearts for the coming kingdom of the Messiah. 

There are those who attempt to turn from their sins—at least for a season—but they fail to wholeheartedly turn to Christ. Or, like Judas, their so-called repentance is just remorse that they will have to suffer as a consequence for their sins. Returning to the Lord is a very comprehensive metaphor for salvation if it includes both true repentance and saving faith.

The eighteenth century Presbyterian minister, Samuel Davies, in a sermon on Isaiah 45:22, explained the reason the Scripture uses these different metaphors to describe the great change of salvation, as follows:

In such metaphorical terms, as I observed, faith is often represented in sacred Scripture. Sometimes the metaphor is borrowed from the feet; and then to believe is to come to Christ; to come to Him as one oppressed with a heavy burden to a person that that can relieve, Matt. xi. 28; to come to Him as one perishing with thirst, to a fountain of living water, Isaiah lv. 1; Rev. xxii 17; or as the manslayer, closely pursued by the avenger of blood, to the city of refuge: hence it is expressed by the most emphatical phrase of fleeing for refuge. Heb. Vi. 18. . . Sometimes the metaphor is taken from the ears, and faith is expressed by hearing his voice, as an impoverished, dying wretch would hear the offer of plenty and life. Isaiah lv. 3; John v. 25. And, sometimes, as in the text, the metaphor is taken from the eyes; and faith is represented as looking to Christ.[1]   

Come is the best metaphor used in Scripture to describe saving faith. As Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” Coming to Christ satisfies and comprehends the other metaphoric terms that are used to describe saving faith. A person who truly comes to Christ must be motivated by thirsting for salvation and must have a gnawing hunger for spiritual food. He will come because Christ alone can satisfy those appetites. A person has not truly sought Christ unless he comes to Him. A sinner has not really heard the voice of the Good Shepherd unless He comes to Him—and then he will follow Him. No one truly flees to Christ for refuge unless he comes to the Savior.  A man does not truly open the door of his heart to Christ unless Christ comes in and dines with him and he dines with Christ. Come, therefore, is the most comprehensive metaphor to describe saving faith. The great question for any person is this: Have you come to Christ? 

Too many people stop short of actually coming to Christ. They become satisfied when they have heard some things about Christ and understand some truths about the Savior. They seek Him for a season without actually finding Him because they never really come to Him. So many of the descriptions in Scripture about saving faith are couched in the language of coming to Him. Indeed, almost the last words of the Scripture are these: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come,’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Revelation 22:20). Are you thirsty? Then, come to Christ. Are you hungry? Then come to Christ. The great message of the Bible is this: Come to Christ. That is why I am writing this book. It is an encouragement to you, the reader, to come to Christ and to point others to the same Savior once you find Him.    

[1] Samuel Davies, Sermons of the Rev. Samuel Davies (Morgan, PA; Soli Deo Gloria Publications: 1995), 341. 

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