|Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 9, Number 24, June 10 to June 16, 2007|
Dear Friend and Fellow-Traveler,
As I sit down to write, I can write on no other theme but the soul's salvation, and my heart is particularly burdened for those persons who know the Truth — who know the great doctrines of the Bible and are very orthodox and sound outwardly — but the heart has never been touched by the divine call from the Lord God of Heaven. It is not my business to let such souls rest, but to trouble, to shake, to cause them to doubt and fear before God, that they might get a glimpse of their real condition. Then such dear ones will become, not empty professors, but humble seekers after the Lord and beggars for His mercy! And as I write to you, I know not the state of your soul but I do know that a searching will not tear down but will strengthen a true believer.
May God awaken religious people to the emptiness of their profession and the falsity of their faith, show them that their foundation is not the Rock of Ages but a strand of mere shifting sand, and bring them to know something of His exalted position in the giving of His great salvation. Every person who is ever truly saved in Christ must come to a time when he is consciously LOST and in great need. He must come to see that the only salvation we have in the Bible is entirely a work of grace and is wrought by God's Holy Spirit in the heart of a sinner. Salvation is no outward show, but inward possession of Christ and true saving faith in Him. If a sinner's heart is never broken as David's (Psalm 51:17), never opened as Lydia's (Acts 16:14), and never concerned enough to cry for mercy as the publican (Luke 18:13), then he cannot be a true Christian. Many have an easy-believe profession and shallow acceptance, but are yet mere professors and unsaved religionists. Don't be alarmed at my indictment — such folk are in good company, for the vast majority in all religious circles are in the same boat. Be they Arminian in doctrine or Calvinistic to the core, most people who are the leaders in modern religious circles are yet in their sins, never having been awakened by the Spirit to face their own individual condemnation and guilt. They have never mourned over sin as sin; they have never sought the Lord to give them repentance and faith, and have never come to the benefit of free justification in Christ.
You say, "But, Fulton, your writings are always stressing the negative, always seeking to disturb and unsettle Christians!" Yes, I want to shake you. If you were fast asleep in a burning house, I would not benefit you if I came by the window and whispered, "Sleep on, dear one! I love you and rejoice to see you resting so peacefully!" Oh, no! If you are in danger, I am going to smash the window, tear down the door, and upset your sleep as I come by force, without any polite introduction or asking permission, to remove you from the deadly conflagration. I am going to shout, "Get out of here!" as I manfully tug on you and shake you from your sleep and push you through the nearest door or window! This is no time for cultural politeness and civic sweetness — your case is desperate; you are slumbering in the shadows of death! Get up! Get out! God help you! Run for your life!
And I know, of course, that the situation as it relates to your soul is infinitely more dangerous than any earthly house fire. Also I am well aware of my inability to either awaken you or remove you from the place of danger, and place you in a secure room — but I am not going to comfort and lullaby you in your stupor. Now, in "shaking you," I do not want to destroy what is genuine within your breast, or what you may have of a true hope in Christ — the shaking is with the goal that God has in mind when HE shakes, viz. "the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." (Hebrews 12:27). God is going to arise and shake up and shake off all things of MAN'S making, that the things which are MADE BY GOD might remain. That is the object of an experimental, heart-searching ministry. We don't want you to rest your soul upon any works of man, but to dig down deep and reach, by God's grace, the sure foundation: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock." (Matthew 7:24-25). Rock foundation or sand foundation — which is it? A true experience of SALVATION will leave its adherent firmly settled upon the Rock of Ages — "That Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4). Amen!
SALVATION, what is SALVATION? Many ideas are abroad in the land, and probably if you asked the next five people you meet, "What is it to be SAVED?" you would receive at least as many differing answers! But, according to the Bible, God's Holy Word, there is one thing certain: SALVATION is something that God does for sinners, not something He tries to do, offers to do, would like to do if He could get the sinner's attention. Almost all the "SALVATION" being preached today puts man into the equation; the sinner must indeed accept it to make it effective, they assure you. "God has done His part; now you must do your part." Where do we ever find such teaching in the Scriptures? In this Book of God we find that the Lord Jesus received His earthly name for the express purpose that "HE shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). It is a work that Jesus Christ does, and He does it with complete control of the situation, for He saves you as LORD. "Salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9); here again we find that the SALVATION of a soul is all the work of a Triune God. It's His work from the councils of eternity past when He decreed to save, to the Cross of Christ where the blood-offering was shed for God's elect, to the moment of regeneration when God brings a sinner into the participation of salvation. It is HIS work after regeneration, as He brings about the qualities of repentance and faith in the heart; then as He preserves that saved sinner on the pilgrim pathway which leads to everlasting life.
SALVATION means and includes a divine DELIVERANCE. Fallen sinners are captives, sold under sin in our first father Adam, and held in the family of our spiritual father Satan. None can wiggle himself free, but must be cut loose by another and more powerful Power. A lot of our friends know the theories of Calvinism, of evangelicalism, and the letter of the Bible, but you have never been consciously in captivity and experientially delivered by Christ. With pretty notions of truth that are sound as a dollar theologically, one might appear to others as genuine, but in his heart of hearts he must recognize that HE HAS NEVER BEEN DELIVERED! Our Lord came to save His people — the elect who were chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world — and He delivers them by the price of blood poured out upon that Cross and by the power of the Holy Spirit in effectually bringing them every step of the way. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jeremiah 10:23). That is your case, sinner, for you cannot walk out of the prison house. GOD must open up the way and direct you out. If you don't believe this but somehow think of yourself as having a part to play in your salvation, that is the result of the modern easy-believe teachings and the lack of conviction concerning man's fallen and helpless condition in nature. Yes, many can speak of Canaan's land while still slaves in Egypt. They talk about the things of Zion and God's Word, but their hearts' affections are still wedded to the leeks and garlic along the Nile. Their affections are set on earthly and not heavenly things. Any who are in this condition manifest that they know nothing of true salvation!
Sinners will never be delivered until they know that they are in bondage and cannot free themselves! In coming to the Lord you must come to know that you are bound by Satan, according to 2 Timothy 2:26, and that you need Christ the Deliverer. God help you to awaken from your sleep and see yourself as you are, even as a lost sinner! I care not what religious impressions you have had, nor how sincere you were, nor the depth of emotion connected with your past profession or dedication — but I care whether you have come to the place of deliverance in Christ. Not many people have been brought there; not many even know the necessity of such a work. And so, while you talk and criticize me and this letter, it helps you not one whit. YOU ARE NOT SAVED, NOT A CHRISTIAN, NOT A CHILD OF GOD, IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN DELIVERED BY THE POWER OF GOD IN CHRIST. And we don't insist on perfect knowledge of all that is involved in salvation, nor do we demand any such thing as perfect assurance, saying, "I know I am saved." But it is manifestly true that a person who has been caught and felt his state of captivity is going to know something about his deliverance, if indeed God has reached down and delivered his poor soul! You'll know as much as one who was healed by Jesus, and when asked who had healed him, and knowing that the Pharisees condemned Jesus as a "sinner," the healed man replied, "Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25). That's it! If you were blind, if you were deaf, if you were dumb, if you were lame, if you were bound and in prison — and God in mercy delivered you — you would know something about it. The idea today is to get a sinner to "pray after me" and when he repeats the words, the soul-winner gets him up off his knees and ASSURES him that he has been saved. In reality, nothing has happened between that poor soul and GOD. He has known neither the reality of his bondage nor the reality of Christ's deliverance!
SALVATION means that you are completely separated from Satan's kingdom! In Romans 8:29, we see that calling and justification go hand in hand. "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called ... whom he called, them he also justified ... whom he justified, them he also glorified." Yes, God's work of salvation is complete. He is the Author and Finisher of salvation to all who are saved, and when once He has brought you down as a lost sinner, seeing that you cannot deliver or justify yourself, your cry will be, "Save me, LORD! SALVATION is Thy work and Thine alone! Deliver me for Christ's sake!" The sinner who has come to this place will no longer be boasting of his free will, or his decision, or dedication to the Lord, but will ascribe all to the power of the Eternal Covenant God who in His divine predestination chose to save him! Salvation means to be called out of Satan's kingdom — have you been called and delivered? Is there a time in your past experience when God's Holy Spirit awakened you, made you to know that you were lost, and brought you to the place of a beggar? All you could do was beg, as He had taken away all your natural "ability" and you faced what grace and salvation truly mean. Your only hope then, and now, was and is the mercy and grace of God. Have you ever been brought to see it? The experience of being brought down in conviction and raised up and delivered in Christ is real to me now, after nearly 50 years.
SALVATION also means that you are justified freely in the merits of Christ alone. There are few people who know what Christ actually accomplished when He died for sinners; most people think that Christ set up an opportunity of which the poor sinner must avail himself. Well, if that be so, all men will be damned! Christ's work on the Cross avails the sinner nothing unless it was a definite work appointed for a definite purpose by Jehovah God. In God's eternal purpose, Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," and thus when He actually came and did the work it was a sure work, an effectual work, an accepted work. He could cry from the cross, "IT IS FINISHED!" and that meant that He was finished with His sufferings and God's purpose to save an elect people was finished, completed, climaxed and done. God will never accept the payment of Christ's blood for you and then turn around and send you to Hell! God is well-pleased with Christ's sin-offering, and you ought to be as well. If you stand before God in the completed, accomplished redemption of Calvary, then you are secure. If you stand in a temporary, trumpery, would-be work as the Arminian teaches, then you have no security and are in great trouble! Where do you stand in relation to Calvary, my dear friend, and in relation to the Empty Tomb and Christ on the throne? The Victorious Christ now reigns; God's answer to man's rejection of Him is that the Father accepted Him, and His people in Him, and exalted Him to an Eternal Throne.
God separates you to the truth when He saves you. He separates you from both friend and foe, from yourself and all your kin, and brings you into a vital, personal, exclusive relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ alone. If He never separates you, I know He has no purpose of grace in you, for it is the separated, quickened, awakened sinner whom He brings to Himself! So don't join yourself to these modern teachers and their easy ways of "salvation," for they are satisfying the itching ears of shallow religious professors. Turn away from all such, turn to the strait and narrow, lonely path that leadeth unto life everlasting. You cannot flee from reality and get saved. Now is the time to face facts.
You must be saved, exclusively, by what Christ did for you. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus is come into the world to save sinners: of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15). Have you seen yourself a very chief of sinners as Paul did? I labor that point, for most poor souls in our day have been deceived, hoodwinked, coaxed into making a statement, being baptized, joining the church, paying their tithes, teaching a Sunday School class, even entering the ministry — all the while, total strangers to God's way of grace. So, when we speak of salvation we are speaking of all the blessings which God purposed for His elect when He chose them in Christ from the foundation of the world (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Yes, to have salvation we must have the Covenant of grace. But many now reject the covenant concept of grace as too narrow a work of God. You can call predestination a doctrine of the devil if you wish, but remember one fact — God's Word can never be broken (we read in John 10:35), and whatever He reveals in His Word is true whether you believe it or not! Truth is bigger than any man — if men reject the truth it doesn't change that truth one bit. Even if the whole world rejects it, it's still so! God said it; I didn't; and a Sovereign God will uphold and honor His eternal purposes and His divinely inspired Word as long as this world stands! "For whom he predestinated, them he also called ..." And if there is no predestination, no election, back of your so-called "salvation," then you have not even been called unto the salvation we find revealed in the Bible.
SALVATION means DELIVERANCE.
SALVATION means you have been CALLED.
SALVATION means you've been SEPARATED from the world.
SALVATION means you are JUSTIFIED (or made righteous) by Christ.
SALVATION means you are in God's hands, SECURED and PERSEVERING unto that Heavenly Home.
Is this the SALVATION that you have? Are you "saved"? Do you know Christ, the Christ of the Bible? Don't shake it off. Turn to the Word of God, and ask the Spirit to point out your true condition before God. And when He does, I hope to hear from you.
Your soul's well-wisher and gospel preacher,
Wylie W. Fulton
Dear Friend and Fellow-Traveler,
As by God's grace I am enabled to write again, it seems that my heart will address no other theme than the soul's salvation. It is the greatest theme in all the world, the old, old story of Jesus and His love made known to a poor sinner. And we are often made to wonder why people are not saved and seem to care nothing about a personal knowledge of Christ. Of course, the underlying cause is that they have never seen themselves in need of God's grace, never been awakened fully by the Spirit of God. They are still "dead in trespasses and in sins." But at this time, I would approach and deal with this more definitely from the standpoint of human responsibility.
The FIRST reason that many are not saved is that they will not submit to God's Word. It's too easy to cling to what you know, or what you think, or the opinions of some religious practitioner, but you are not hearing God's Word. The greatest privilege and blessing God ever gives a sinner is to allow him to have the Bible in his hands and a faithful minister of the gospel of grace to instruct him therein. That is also the greatest responsibility. You MUST hear God's Word; you must hear Christ Himself speaking to you out of that Word. "The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God, and they that hear shall live." (John 5:25). Christ said if you heard Moses, if you believed the writings of the prophets, you would hear Him, for all the prophets wrote of Him. Maybe you have memorized the 10 Commandments and the Creation Story — and it is well that you believe these things — but you have no inward hunger for Christ and the Gospel. You have not yet heard the Word of God telling you of your need of Christ as Lord and Saviour. Solemn is the indictment pronounced by our Lord: "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:44), for "he that is of God heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." (John 8:47).
On the other hand, SECONDLY, it may be that you are a great hearer of the Bible, and you are fundamentally settled on a few points of doctrine, but none of it has become real to your heart. In John 5:39-40 Christ said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." It is possible for a soul to literally delight himself in a working knowledge of the Bible, read it two or three times a day; you may have read it through and know much of its arrangement and history. Then you begin to boast of all the wisdom you have acquired — Note, this is not boasting in the Lord and His revelation of the truth to your heart, but merely boasting in what you have gained. And then you have a certain pleasure, a fuzzy feeling that all is so right with you, when the truth is that you are all wrong. You are yet without spiritual life, confused in your religion as in your sin, and cannot find the way. Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but what if you don't know Him? You have never come to Him personally, have you?
And the only way to approach unto the Holy Son of God is as you are conscious of your sin and undeserving condition, not bringing your attainments expecting Him to commend you for what you are, or what you have done. Cain boasted in what HE had done, and went to Hell. All religious works, Bible knowledge, etc. can become a curse to you. "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6). Do you know that? Don't bring that religious profession, just bring your sin and your guilt and flee away to Christ. That's the only kind of person He will receive. Do you know that? Are you a sinner? Christ DIED for sinners.
Let me seek, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to analyze a THIRD reason that many are not converted. Will you listen, as I press home a sinner's responsibility? You have heard much preaching, but maybe it is true with you — you hear, but you don't hear! Does that make any sense? Listen.
Now no sinner can give himself a "new heart," and I wouldn't ask him to do that. No sinner is responsible to "get himself born again," and I won't ask him to do that. A lost sinner cannot open his own understanding or his heart to the Word of God—GOD alone does this—so I do not demand such things of spiritually dead sinners. Nor can any sinner give himself a spiritual mind — "For to be carnally minded is death" (Romans 8:6) — and we are neither asking nor requiring nor "offering" such things to the lost sinner! No sinner is told in the Bible to "accept the offer of Jesus" and get saved, and neither am I pressing such trite propositions upon you or any other person. Follow me closely here, for it may be "over your head." DEATH cannot produce LIFE. A CORPSE cannot RAISE itself. None of the dead people out yonder in the cemetery can come out of their graves at my beck and call. Listen: The giving of spiritual life, of spiritual understanding, of the new heart, the new will, the new principle IS OF GOD ALONE. But, now, you have physical ears but you may or may not have spiritual ears. When the Bible says, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Mark 4:9), it is not talking about people who have these ugly cartilage appendages on each side of their heads—no, my Lord is saying to you, "HE THAT HATH SPIRITUAL EARS, LET HIM HEAR THE TRUTH OF GOD!" Many people have physical ears but they hear nothing spiritual (Psalm 135:17). The vast majority of people have two good eyes (physically) but they see not (spiritually); the beauty of Christ and the realities of the spiritual kingdom of grace are HID from them. Read John 12:40. Listen: Do you know the God of the Bible who hides His truth from the wise and prudent and reveals it unto babes (Matthew 11:25)? That's the God I serve and all spiritual life and power and conversion and salvation is ALONE in HIS HANDS! Do you recognize this? If so, my heart rejoices concerning you.
But, while there is much that you cannot do to get saved, at the same moment, I am aware of the fact that you COULD hear the words of the Bible, the words of a sound gospel preacher; you could fall on your knees and try to pray; you could bow your stubborn will, facing the fact that one day you will be FORCED to bow and acknowledge Christ as LORD when you are sent to Hell! So, I am saying, you COULD listen to the truth with such capacity as you now have, and you could read the truth, and you could pray to God to make it real in your heart. Knowing that you will one day appear before God; you will one day die and face the Judgment, you could become alarmed enough to realize your danger and you could be wise enough to start out searching for a way to escape the coming wrath of God. There are two prayers that I can instruct you to pray: Number One: "Lord, show me myself." Number Two: "Lord, show me Thyself!" You won't pray them with any good effect unless God is in it, of course. But listen as I continue with:
Many years ago in the highlands of Scotland lived a great preacher named Hector McPhail. As it was his custom each year to attend the synod of the Scottish Presbyterian church, usually he would ride the four days' journey on his little white horse and would stop off at some of the small inns along the way. This particular year, stopping at an inn and having completed his evening meal, he got out his Bible and requested that all in the house—and especially all the servants—meet him for evening devotions. Finally the master of the house told Mr. McPhail, "We are all here!" The preacher hesitated to begin his exercises, having a peculiar feeling that someone of the household was missing. "Are you sure they are all here gathered?" The manager hesitated—"Well, there is a little scrub maiden back in the kitchen, but surely you don't care to have her in; she is all dressed in work clothing spattered with grease!" "But I shall not begin until she is seated before me," said the minister. "Then someone fetch the maid!"
A few minutes passed and the circle was joined by a very unkempt and most unlearned bit of a child. Then Mr. McPhail conducted his Bible reading, his exhortations and prayer. As the company dispersed, the aged minister sought out and spoke to the little maiden. He found that she was in a state of complete ignorance of her condition and of God's Word. "How is it with your soul?" he asked. "I have no notion of that which you speak," said she; "what is a soul?" "Do you ever think of meeting God in eternity?" was another question, to which she replied, "No, I never think of a God; I know nothing of a God, or of that other thing you mention." "You mean that you don't know WHO created you and WHO will judge you and WHERE you will go when this life is done?" "No, sir, I am sorry that I don't." After trying to fill in her total lack of information about her condition and about the need to be reconciled with God, Mr. McPhail thought of a way to encourage her interest. Said he, "You know, do you not? I am going to Edinburgh to attend the annual session of the Kirk of Scotland. Within a fortnight (2 weeks) I plan to return to my home and will be riding along this road; it will be my plan to stop here for a night's rest, at which time I look forward to seeing you again. I would like you to make me a promise, and I will make you a promise. When I return I'll bring you a nice garment from the city. All I ask of you is that you will learn and pray one short prayer." The requirement seemed simple and the reward most enviable.
"Oh, I will, sir! That indeed I will!" said the poor child.
"I want you to pray this little prayer: ‘LORD SHOW ME MYSELF!' If you will faithfully do this, I will remember to bring you the little piece of fabric."
The evening's rest was enjoyed, and then the next morning we follow our minister as he resumes the journey to the great Metropolis. While there he participated in the annual sessions of the Church of Scotland. In the busy activities in Edinburgh, did he forget the young maiden back in the Highlands? Oh, no. The trifling little gift was duly purchased and packed with his luggage as he mounted the white horse for the trip home. Again, we see the faithful servant of the Lord as he arrives at the door of the Highland Inn. Soon his horse was cared for and he joined the company for dinner, then to the parlor for a time of devotions. All the inmates of the house were soon assembled as the good Presbyterian took up the Bible to read. He paused and surveyed his little congregation. "Where is the kitchen maid?" "Oh, dear sir," said the host. "She is back on her cot beneath the stairway, and a pitiful case is she! For since you left us, she has hardly been able to do anything. Something is fearfully plaguing her mind, for she can do almost nothing but cry and pray." "Well, my man, take me to her!" the minister urged.
Finding the poor child in her little quarters beneath the stairs, Mr. McPhail extended his arms with the little gift. "But, dear sir," cried the child, "I could never take your present, such a dear gift it has been to me!" "But, did you pray that little prayer?" "Ah, yes, I prayed and prayed, ‘Lord, show me myself!'" "Then you have earned your little garment!" "But, sir, you do not understand! God has fearfully and wonderfully answered that prayer. I see myself a wretch undone, so that I can hardly move myself from this couch. My food means nothing to me, and it is most impossible for me to get through the day's toils. I see myself sinking down to Hell. The wrath of God seems poised to strike me at any moment, and I know not how to escape!" "Well, thank God," said the faithful Mr. McPhail. "The Spirit of God has touched your heart as a Spirit of bondage and condemnation. And now I must teach you another short and most expressive prayer. You should present it before the Lord with all the urgency of your poor heart: "Lord, show me Thyself." And as HE has been pleased to reveal to you your sinfulness and your need of mercy, He will in time be pleased to further work with you and reveal Himself as your merciful Saviour!"
What but God's grace could take a mere waif off the hearth, a girl who two weeks earlier barely knew that she had a soul, and bring her into that most earnest state of heart-searching and self-condemnation, of mourning over sin and repenting before God? And we are glad that years later the girl had become a fine woman, married to a God-fearing man and with several children, when she was in the region of Scotland where Mr. Hector McPhail was minister — she sought out the house and reported to him how that the Lord had also answered the second prayer and revealed Himself as her Lord and Saviour! This time, it was her happy privilege to present a lap-cover to the dear old man, a garment that was woven by her own loving hands. She said, "Dear sir, I shall perhaps never see your face more, but I have thousands of times thanked God for the interest you took in a poor unfortunate lassie, teaching me the two expressive petitions which God abundantly has answered! May God bless you, sir, and crown your last days with His great blessing and may the joy of the Lord ever be your portion!"
What a blessing this little story has been to me, showing that SALVATION IS OF THE LORD, by the work of His Spirit and not by means of soul-winners or any human agency. ALL phases of a believer's salvation are by God's grace alone, so much so that you cannot either hasten or delay His Spirit's work in the heart. But what a privilege you have to learn to pray these two little prayers: "LORD, SHOW ME MYSELF!" and "LORD, SHOW ME THYSELF!" In God's answer to these petitions is His eternal salvation of a poor sinner like you! Happy am I to report that He heard me when I prayed in like manner.
"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7). "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13). Amen.
Dear Friend and Fellow-Traveler,
Once more it has pleased the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — even the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ — that I come to you in a letter. And I am inclined to write on the salvation of your soul, and nothing else. You see, the greatest thing that can ever happen to an individual is to be called by God's grace into the fellowship of Christ; nothing can ever eclipse the knowledge of the Saviour! Salvation means your deliverance from the just condemnation of Hell and being brought to know Christ and ultimately to an eternal home in Heaven. Salvation means that God has called you, separated you, saved you and made you righteous in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation means that God did it when you could not, and indeed would not, do it for yourself. Salvation means that you have been an object of God's love and compassion from before the foundation of the world.
Salvation means that long before you were born:
And there is more, so much more. One can never exhaust the unsearchable riches that are stored up for God's elect in Christ the Lord. And remember, all of this was on purpose, by God's eternal decree, and limited to those whom He chose to salvation.
Salvation means that during your lifetime:
Salvation means that when you come to die:
A PERSONAL, PRAYING, LIVING, ACTIVE, ENJOYABLE, RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. WE KNOW THE FATHER IF WE KNOW HIM. WE DON'T KNOW GOD THE FATHER IF WE DON'T KNOW CHRIST THE SAVIOUR.
I bid you consider these things well, and may the Holy Ghost of God add His blessing, empowering His own truth in your heart and life, as it pleases Him. To God be the glory!
A sincere well-wisher,
Wylie W. Fulton
Dear Concerned Soul,
Let us continue to think upon the ONLY THEME on which I can write at this sitting — that is, experimental salvation. We have sought to show something of what salvation is and what it means, and some reasons why many fall short of God's deliverance. Maybe this is your trouble.
Many people seem to seek the Lord in a haphazard way for a time, and then they give up in despair. One of the reasons is that they look too much at PEOPLE instead of staying with God's Word and looking to Christ. If you focus attention on people — even good people — you can only become confused. One will tell you one thing, another quite a different story. If you watch one, you'll learn the ways of the world, or perhaps the ways of one particular religious view, but you will probably not learn what God says in His Word. So, I admonish you: Turn your eyes away from any human "ideal person," and look to Christ alone. The Bible says, "Look unto Me!" LOOK TO CHRIST! Is this what you are doing, my friend? Have you ever come to a sense of your helplessness and knew that you couldn't work your way to Heaven, and knew that no person in your life could help — so, in your desperation, you looked alone to Christ? The Bible makes it clear that none of us can be saved as long as we fix our attention on humans. Are you looking to me for relief? Then you cannot be saved. Are you hanging onto every word and thought of some preacher whom you admire? Then you will surely be deceived. Are you following that preacher? Is that all you know? Is that all you have? Then, if I could, I would blindfold you to all preachers and other human authorities! You've got to shut them out, before ever you will look to Christ alone! And I know you will never do this unless the Holy Ghost prevails with you.
The Lord Jesus said, "I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" (John 5:41-44). In other words, Christ says, "I receive not honour from men, and if you are saved and following Me, you won't receive their honour either." That's so. If you ever get saved, you will be brought to the place where you don't care what anybody thinks about you. They may even accuse you of going crazy over religion, but you see and know yourself as a poor helpless sinner, and that your only hope is Christ. So you say, "Regardless of the cost, I am going to Him! I see in Him something that my family and friends do not see. I see in Him the ‘Pearl of Great Price,' and I desire Him above all these earthly things or earthly friends. Give me Christ or I die!" Now, that's the cry of a truly convicted, awakened sinner — that's the cry of a sinner who will get saved, and if it never was your deep conviction and heart cry, then I doubt your profession. Such a sinner goes to the Scriptures for the right information, and he cannot be sidetracked from the Bible. He begins to call upon the Lord, on the solid basis of Scripture, and he'll use Scripture promises as a basis for his prayer.
A sinner who is coming to Christ is one who has come to find his whole nature is totally wrong inside out and outside in. He sees that the only answer to all his questions and the only fulfillment of all his needs is CHRIST. Under the weight of sin and condemnation, like Paul, he would call himself "the chief of sinners," and the more he searches the Bible the more he sees his wicked condition before God. The more he calls on the Lord, the more he feels to be guilty and far away from Him. The Lord is stripping off his covering and bringing him out into the light, that God might search him and plant within him the root of righteousness. Once this sinner thought himself to be in good condition and that his prospects for Heaven were bright; now he feels to be at the gate of Hell. Once he made a loud profession of religion and was active in church work; now his hand is placed over his mouth while there ascends from his soul the one cry, "Guilty, Lord!" He was happy and cheerful once as he carried forward in all the duties of religion; now he is miserable and sad. He knows now that all his works of righteousness produced a stench in the nostrils of the All-Holy One, and that his best performances have been judged to be nothing better than empty profession and filthy rags. This is the position of a sinner when for the first time in life he faces himself as he really is. For the first time in his life, without excuse or alibi, he is a guilty sinner lying at the footstool of God's mercy. That mercy is in the hands of a sovereign God who can save or damn, and he knows the fact. He is not unaware of how his friends look upon him in disgust. The truth is that he knows they don't know what he knows; he sees that they don't see what he sees; and he realizes that only God can show them. He doesn't fight his family and friends, for that is merely a fanning of the air and setting of sparks that won't benefit either himself or his opponents. So he becomes quiet before God and man — "That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God ... For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:19, 23).
When God gives him gospel liberty and saves him, then he can freely and fully sing Mr. Newton's hymn, emphasizing the words, "I once was lost but now am found!" Amen and amen.
Let me drive home this one point: If you are now saved and a true believer in the Son of God, if you now have that "good hope through grace," then you know that once you were lost! So, if in your solemn reflection, you cannot recall a time when you were bowed down under a sense of LOSTNESS, you are not now SAVED. SALVATION of which I write is still a mystery to you. You have the right theory, but your experience is deficient. When I meet professing Christians who say that they are saved and have never known a time of conviction that they were lost, then I know that is a DECEIVED person. My heart reaches out to such! Are you one who never was under Holy Spirit conviction? Or, are you under His conviction even now as you read this?
May the Holy Ghost of God impress His truth upon your heart and conscience even now.
That is the prayer of:
Your soul's friend, for the Lord's sake,
Wylie W. Fulton
Dear Concerned Friend,
There is one thing that should be uppermost in your mind:
"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world. and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26). Think seriously as I try to write about your soul concerns one more time this side of eternity. Some are not saved because they spend all of their time finding fault with believers, setting up standards of their own which none can measure up to, judging others and overlooking their own condition. "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the most that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:2-3). You may even be critical of some of the Lord's true servants, because you judge outwardly and with critical bias; you are incapable of judging righteous judgment. Read John 7:24. You don't see yourself a Hell-deserving sinner; you are too busy judging others. May God awaken you, if this is your problem. You will not come into the light, sinner, until this critical spirit is broken.
Yes, there are a thousand and one reasons why people are not saved—and we're looking at it from the human standpoint, I know. But the underlying reason in each case is that they simply do not see themselves as lost, helpless, needy sinners. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10). If a man truly sees himself lost and at his wit's end, he will be dropping every excuse, avoiding every hindrance, separating from every friend, breaking off every habit, leaving everything in the world behind—and that sinner will be looking to CHRIST alone. Christ came to save only lost sinners—the whole don't need the Great Physician, but those who are conscious of their sin-sickness. You've got to be a candidate for salvation, and a man who can prop himself up and go on in his critical spirit is never going to be saved. You've got to be a guilty sinner, and, man, I don't mean you will need to go out and sin some more. You are guilty, already guilty, already judged, already condemned, already on the death row, in the condemned cell, awaiting execution. Do you see it? Do you tremble when you hear a little shuffling of feet behind you, thinking it is the executioner coming to take you to the gallows? Are you fearful of the consequences of your sin? You have sinned; you are guilty; don't deny it, but face it. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." That's you. That's me. May God awaken us and strip us and bring us before Him as beggars, as objects of mercy!
TO BE SAVED IS THE GREATEST THING IN LIFE. The Bible says so. All of life's experiences say so. Death says so. Eternity screams that it is so. I know it's so, and you do too if you will be honest. Well, what is your greatest object? What is your supreme attainment? More money? A larger house? A new car or boat or diamond, or membership and recognition in the clubs and societies of the day? Ah, no! Wealth and attainment, fame and fortune, material possessions and acclaim, cannot help you. When you come to lie down on the cold pillow of death, what would you give just to know that your soul is right with God? Oh, dear friend, it may be too late then. Your affections must be set on things above NOW! The salvation of your ever-living soul must become important to you NOW! GOD and CHRIST must become the chief objects of your search NOW! The "day of salvation" is NOW! Your justification and adoption into God's family must become weighty concerns NOW!
Jehovah God says in Jeremiah, "Ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). That's the time! And that wholehearted seeking time needs to be RIGHT NOW! THIS DAY! THIS HOUR! THIS MINUTE! It is only when a sinner's heart is emptied out from worldly ambition that he really goes out after Christ as the Pearl of Great Price. And so I must now take my leave of you, and would impress on you this one thought: Christ can only become real to a broken heart. Has your heart ever been broken over its sin and need? Have you ever come to Christ? If not, I'm praying that you will. May God's eternal grace abide upon you.
I'll be anxiously checking my mail box for a letter from you! Write me and let me know how God is working in your heart and life. As I love to tell the story, I also love to hear it.
Your soul's friend, for the Lord's sake,
Wylie W. Fulton
111 Robin Hood Drive
Forest City NC 28043-6189
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