In our previous post and this, we learn that anyone who comes to Christ for mercy and forgiveness of sin WILL be saved; Christ will turn no one away (John 6:37). As the Scripture demands that all men everywhere be commanded to repent (Mk 16:15, Mk 6:12, Lu 24:47 Acts 17:30, 20:21, 26:20, Rom 2:4, 2 Tim 2:25, etc.) and believe the gospel, then it is clear that genuine forgiveness and reconcilliation is offered in gospel preaching.
Acts 17:30 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now
commandeth all men every where to repent…
1 John 3:23 – And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of
his Son Jesus Christ…
Romans 2:4 – Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and
longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
2 Timothy 2:25-26 – In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God
peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And
that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken
captive by him at his will.
As our story unfolds, Neophytus is concerned that is may be possible that his debt of sin is more than Christ is willing to forgive. Gentle and wise Evangelist handles Neophytus’ weak conscience as shown below…
Neophytus: But may such a vile and sinful wretch as I am be persuaded that God commands me to believe, and that he hath made a promise to me?
Evangelist: Why do you make a question, where there is none to be made? “Go,” says Christ, “and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven,” that is, Go tell every man without exception, whatsoever his sins be, whatsoever his rebellions be, go and tell him these glad tidings, that if he will come in, I will accept of him, his sins shall be forgiven him, and he shall be saved; if he will come in and take me, and receive me, I will be his loving husband, and he shall be mine own dear spouse. Let me, therefore, say unto you, in the words of the apostle, “Now, then, I as an ambassador for Christ, as though God did beseech you by me, I pray you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled unto God; for he hath made him to be sin for you, who knew no sin, that ye might be made the
righteousness of God in him,” (2 Cor 5:20,21).
Neophytus: Indeed, sir, if I were so holy and so righteous as some men are, and had such power over my sins and corruptions as some men have, then I could easily believe it; but, alas! I am so sinful and so unworthy a wretch, that I dare not presume to believe that Christ will accept of me, so as to justify and save me.
Evangelist: Alas! man, in thus saying, you seem to contradict and gainsay both the apostle Paul, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself; and that against your own soul: for whereas the apostle Paul says, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” (1 Tim 1:15), and doth justify the ungodly, (Rom 4:5), why, you seem to hold, and do in effect say, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save the righteous, and to justify the godly. And whereas our Saviour says, the whole need not a physician, but the sick; and that he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, (Matt 9:12); why, you seem to hold, and do in effect say, that the sick need not a physician, but the whole: and that he came, not to call sinners, but the righteous to repentance. …Wherefore, I beseech you, revoke this your erroneous opinion, and contradict the word of truth no longer; but conclude for a certainty, that it is not the righteous and godly man, but the sinful and ungodly man, that Christ came to call, justify, and save: so that if you were a righteous and godly man, you were neither capable of calling, justifying, or saving by Christ; but being a sinful and ungodly man, I will be bold to say unto you as the people said unto blind Bartimeus, (Mark 10:49), “Be of good comfort; arise, he calleth thee,” and will
justify and save thee.
Go then unto him, I beseech you; and if he come and meet thee, say, as Luther
Most gracious Jesus and sweet Christ, I am a miserable, poor sinner, and, therefore, do judge myself unworthy of thy grace; but yet I, having learned from thy word that thy salvation belongs unto such a one, therefore do I come unto thee, to claim that right which, through thy gracious promise, belongs unto me.
…Yes, indeed; for there is no limitation of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, except the sin against the Holy Ghost. Christ “stands at the door and knocks,” (Rev 3:20). And if any murdering Manasseh, or any persecuting and blaspheming Saul, (1 Tim 1:13), or any adulterous Mary Magdalene, “will open unto him, he will come in,” and bring comfort with him, “and will sup with him.” “Seek from the one end of the heavens to the other,” says Hooker; “turn all the Bible over, and see if the words of Christ be not true, ‘Him that cometh unto me, I will in no ways cast out,'” (John 6:37).
Then, Nomista (a legalist), to this point silent, can bear no more, and chimes in
with this predictable protest –
Nomista: Why, then, sir, it seems you hold, that the vilest sinner in the world
ought not to be discouraged from coming unto Christ, and believing in him, by
reason of his sins.
Evangelist: Surely, if “Christ came into the world to seek, and call, and save sinners, and to justify the ungodly,” as you have heard; and if the more sinful, miserable, and distressed a man judge himself to be, the more willing Christ is to receive him and relieve him; then I see no reason why the vilest sinner should be discouraged from believing on the name of Jesus Christ by reason of his sins. Nay, let me say more; the greater any man’s sins are, either in number or nature, the more haste he should make to come unto Christ, and to say with David, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great!” (Psa 25:11).
In the next post we will cover the greatest controversy springing from The Marrow, the question about whether a man must repent from all sinning before he may seek Christ for salvation.