I would have peace if I could just delude myself into thinking that assent to Gospel truth; knowledge of core biblical facts; a love for said truth and facts; and a desire to defend them before men… alone… evidenced salvation; I am under no such delusion.
I would have peace if I had the assurance of those who say full assurance is of the essence of faith, and who claim to have such assurance; I have no such assurance and, thus, I have no such peace (or presumption).
I would have peace if I could just “look to Jesus,” “trust in Jesus,” as so many say, without regard to manifest character and conduct; without regard to spiritual slothfulness and coldness of heart; without regard to worldliness, inner struggles with lust, covetousness, idolatry, arrogance, bitterness, and a whole host of woes that have taken up residence in my mind. I don’t have peace because empty words like “look to Jesus,” and “trust in Jesus” when they are without the true spiritual power that make these truisms effectual, do nothing for me. Without the Holy Spirit’s effectual work, without that felt sense of eternal vital union, without a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, without a delighting in the riches of God’s grace, law, love, Person, and Gospel, my looking is not really looking at all, and my trusting is anything but. “You’re looking to self,” they say; “you’re trusting in your own works,” they maintain; “you’re trying to establish a righteousness of your own” they add. No, I’m just trying not to be a libertine (anomian, antinomian) fraud. I don’t want a patch, I want a cure. I don’t want legal holiness, and substitutionary holiness, and future (heavenly) holiness, without the kind of manifest/living/experiential holiness that the Bible overflows with (from Job, to Abraham, to David, to Elijah, to Isaiah and the other Prophets, even through to the Apostles, and to godly men of old in both Puritan and Non-conformist/Baptist/Congregationalist traditions). I’m not seeking perfection, not even close; I just don’t want to go back to where I was and I don’t want to be where I am right now (and have been for quite some time).
It’s funny (not really… but you get what I mean), I see people living any, and every, sort of way who are just “trusting in Jesus” but have no real desire to be conformed to His image, and transformed in their minds, in this life. They are content with waiting for the life to come so they can live as they want to now. It’s a form of godliness without the power thereof. I’m not much different in form from them, I just refuse to pretend that I am loving the Lord, loving His word, and loving His people when my heart is far from Him, and my ‘mental’ (my state of mind) evidences just how far gone it has all gotten. Again, spare me the patches of “I don’t look at myself, I just look to Christ,” when such a mindset is obvious to everyone (i.e. that you aren’t taking any heed to yourself), because your life doesn’t add up to the biblical or historical examples of true, vital Christianity. Yes, I’m being judgmental; heavily so. Yes, I am being hypocritical, being in a similar boat. Yes, I am in no state or position to judge anyone. Nonetheless, the reality of my mind-state is that I am judging, I do not want to be a paper Christian, I want to be the kind of Christian that looks at themselves, takes heed to themselves, and is honest with themselves because they have a real love for (and looking unto) Jesus. Spare me the cheap clique mentality wherein everyone reinforces each other’s anomianism/antinomianism when there is no real fear of God in their eyes (you know, they’re the type that says “Godly fear is reverence, not actual fear;” the only ones saying that are those who have no true fear of God).
I would have peace if I didn’t allow my fear of vain head-knowledge, being puffed up even further, and not hearing God’s word aright (given the woes associated with being a hearer only and not a doer and with otherwise hearing amiss) to stop me from reading, listening to sermons, etc. as I ought (even as I once did). I would have peace if I stopped all of the other things, and gave up all the other excuses, that regularly keep me from the means that God has ordained for His people to grow in grace (once must be alive to grow… no? One must be of His people to be His people… no?).
Finally, I would have peace if I sided with those who despise (rather than envy as I do) the Puritans and their lengthy works on mortifying sin; excelling in prayer; seeking manifest holiness; soul-winning, etc.; and who despise the extant law of God (wanting nothing to do with it, seeing themselves dead to it in any sense possible, having no true, spiritual love for it). If only I could thoroughly immerse myself into the depths of hyper-grace theology; If only I could be baptised into Sandemanian doctrine; if only I could disdain “Calvinism” (whatever that means); and just rest in the notion that Christians can’t keep/walk in/guard in their hearts, any aspect of the law, and that love (in the abstract) and faith (in the abstract) are the only commands we can possibly obey. If only I could have such simple, watered down, unbiblical beliefs… I could be at peace like so many others are. And yet, despite having no peace and even less assurance, I can’t be like that; Lord willing, I won’t be like that. Who wants to be content with a salvation where you consistently talk like Christ but think and act like the world? I want a salvation where my talk matches my walk, and my walk matches what the Bible declares the (true) Christians walk should be like — I’m simply not there. I want real vital Christianity, unto the salvation of my soul, and unto the glory of God in Christ. I’ll pass on the popular Christianity-lite where as long as we use similar catch phrases, hobby-horse the same limited doctrinal set, post similar memes, etc., we can affirm and confirm each other, assuring ourselves that everything really is alright. God don’t let me return to that mess, don’t leave me in the equally bad mess I am in now (where politics and entertainment are my golden idol), but deliver me from self, so that I can actual serve you… NOT IN WORD (or debates, or identifying types and figures, or focusing on doctrine with no clear vision of you — spiritually-speaking, not literally), but in deed, in actual works that serve to glorify you. I have no interesting in trying to earn/establish a salvation of my own (just too mentally/physically/spiritually weak and tired to try something so stupid); however, what I do want, and pray for, is a salvation that manifests that I am in You, and You in me, and that my primary desire is to love, serve, and submit to you. I’m simply not there; not sure I ever have been. I need help and there is only one Helper who can help, and that is God The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I need His help indeed; what I don’t need is delusion.
To God be the glory.