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Thoughts From Thomas Wilcox

Dear Friends,

Today I send you a “thought” from a booklet (or lengthy 16 page tract from the 1600's!) that literally changed my life. And should you grasp what he says in it, it would change yours also. I had never seen the booklet before, nor even heard of it, until I was taking one of my doctoral classes with the well-known Christian author Jerry Bridges. In our first 3-hour-long class session, he had us read it (in the class), underline all the parts that spoke to us, and then discuss its content with his help and guidance. The problem (at least for me) was that by the time I was done reading it, 80% of the booklet was underlined! It was that good, and that jam-packed with insights and challenges to truly believe the gospel without polluting or distorting it.

It was written by Thomas Wilcox (1621-1687) and was originally called, “Honey Out of the Rock” (now re-published by Chapel Library under the title “Christ is All” with a preface by Horatius Bonar). It is (despite the antiquated writing style, which I have attempted to modernize) a treasure-trove of Gospel grace which I have read many times. And I would go as far as to guarantee that if you truly grasp what he says (since it is gospel truth) and believe it, it will change your life as well. Enjoy.

“Men talk much about believing, which is good and right, but few do it. Christ is the mystery of the Scriptures, and grace is the mystery of Christ. Believing is the most wonderful thing in the world, but if you put anything of your own into it you spoil it. Christ will not esteem it believing. When you believe and come to Christ, you must leave behind your own righteousness. This is so hard! Leave behind all your holiness, sanctification, duties, tears, and contrition – and bring nothing but your sins, your needs, and your miseries, or else Christ is not fit for you, nor you for Christ.

Christ will be a perfect Redeemer and Mediator, but you must be an undone sinner, or Christ and you will never agree. It is the hardest thing in the world to take Christ alone for righteousness, that is, to acknowledge Him as Christ. Whatever comes in when you go to God for acceptance, besides Christ, call it anti-Christ. Bid it be gone. Make only Christ’s righteousness triumphant. All besides that is Babylon, which must fall if Christ is to stand – and you will rejoice in the day it falls…

To accept Christ’s righteousness alone, His blood alone for salvation, is the sum of the gospel. When the soul, in all it’s duties and distress, can say, “Nothing but Christ, Christ alone; Christ alone for righteousness, justification, sanctification, and redemption (I Cor. 1:30) and not our contrition, efforts, duties, and graces – then the soul has gotten above the reaches of the largest tossing waves…

You can oppose Christ as much by trusting in your duties as you do by your sins… Stand with all your weight upon Christ’s righteousness. Beware of having one foot on your own righteousness, and another on Christ’s. Till Christ come and sit upon a throne of grace in the conscience, there is nothing but guilt, terrors, and suspicions – with the soul hanging between hope and fear – which is a most unevangelical state.

Whoever is afraid to see sin’s utmost vileness, and to confess the desperate wickedness of his own heart, is unsure of the merits of Christ. However great a sinner you are, make Christ your Advocate, and you shall find Him Jesus Christ the Righteous One (I John 2:1). In all your doubts and storms of conscience, look to Christ only and continually.

Do not argue with Satan, that’s what he wants! Tell him to go to Christ and Christ will answer him on your behalf. It is Christ’s office to be your Advocate; Christ’s office to meet the demands of the law (Heb. 7:22); Christ’s office to answer God’s justice as your Mediator (Gal. 3:20, I Tim. 2:5, Heb. 7:20-21). Put Christ upon it.

If you offer God anything you do as satisfaction for sin, you renounce Christ the righteous One, who was made sin for you… To be looking [in faith] at your duties, graces, and growth, when you should be looking at Christ, that is pitiful and will make you proud. Looking at Christ will make you humble. In all your temptations don’t be discouraged (James 1:2). Those surges [of temptation] may not be intended to drown you, but to lift you away from resting in your own efforts, and cast you upon the Rock – Christ.”

Many in the church wrongly and sadly look to their sanctification for the assurance of their justification -- their acceptance with God. And because they do, they not only rob themselves of the peace and rest of soul Christ intends them to have, they ensure that they will never have any true and ongoing assurance of salvation. When one does good (by whatever standard of measure they use) they will think themselves surely to be saved, but when they do poorly, or go through a season of doubt, darkness, or extended struggle, they will question if they are saved, or ever were.

What Wilcox is trying to do in his tract (written primarily to those thinking themselves to be Christians) is to get us to stop looking in faith to ourselves and the things we do, thinking that secures our acceptance with God, and get us to start focusing on Christ alone in faith, and only on that which He did! For as we should know from the Gospel, nothing a sinner does can ever be offered to God as satisfaction for sin, or the offering that gains us God’s acceptance.

We are NOT to have one eye of faith on our efforts, and one eye of faith on Christ’s merits! We must have both eyes on Christ! If we do not do this, we can kiss “the peace that passes all understanding” goodbye! Yet, as most of us can testify (along with Wilcox) – LOOKING IN FAITH TO CHRIST ALONE and NOT TO ANYTHING DONE BY US – is so hard! But don’t be mistaken, that is what it means to believe the gospel. It is what it means to believe in Jesus as the Christ. It is what it means to trust in Him as Savior. Do you?

In the Bonds of Gospel Grace, Pastor Jeff


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