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Posted on this site 10th April 2007


THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL CITY
 
By H.A. Baker (1881-1971)
 
[Part 2 Excerpt from "The Three Worlds" : by works?]
 
When a man honestly without mental reservation accepts the Lord's opinion of him as he really is, a hope less sinner; when a man yields to the pleadings of the Spirit of God to forsake the selfish life for one that is unselfishly to do the will of God; when a man honestly calls upon God to forgive his past sins; and when a man promises henceforth to obey the whole will of God, then God in a miraculous way answers the sinner's prayer, cleanses him from sin, miraculously takes out the old selfish heart, and gives him a new heart.[2 Cor 5:17.] The sinner so saved knows he is saved. He knows the Lord has forgiven his sins. He becomes a changed man and the things that he once loved he now hates, while the things he once hated he now loves. As surely as he was blind, he knows that now he sees; as surely as he once traveled west, he knows that he is now travelling east; as surely as he once lived to get, he now lives to give; as surely as he once lived for the world, the flesh, and the devil, for himself and the things below, so surely does he now live for the Savior who saved him, for his neighbor's good and, first of all, to seek the Kingdom of God and the unselfish ends that will abide forever. His "I want" becomes "you need." His "downward" becomes "upward". His "temporal" becomes "eternal."
 
 
The worst sinner is not too bad to be saved; the best selfrighteous, religious, "good" sinner is not too good to be saved. Although there is "none righteous, no not one,''[Rom 3:1] the "Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth."[1Tim2:4.] The religious, church-going, moral Nicodemus and the thief on the cross were equally lost; they had the same need; and they found the same salvation in the same Savior who said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee except one be born anew, he cannot see the Kingdom of God ."[John3:5]
 
 
No man is so far away from God that the Father forgets him. No man is so far away from his home that the Father does not longingly yearn for his return. No man, hating his own selfish life, ever came to God without finding another life that is eternal. No selfish sinner ever wandered so far from the Father's home that when he returned he did not find the gate ajar and the Father waiting at the door. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have ever lasting life.[John3:16.]
 
 
 
"Whosoever" included me.
 
 
I do not understand "why" God ever called me and saved me, nor "why" God still wants me and keeps me. But I know that God did call me, a selfrighteous, moral, religious, church-going sinner; I know that God did for give my sins, that God did give me a new heart to seek first of all the will of God; I know that the Lord does still want me and over-rules my wayward ways and that he does keep me on his highway, and "I am persuaded he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."[2 Tim 1:12] I am sure that I never deserved the Lord’s mercy; I am aware that having been save there is not yet in me any claim for continued grace on the basis of my own character or works. I may doubt my own usefulness to God or man. I cannot doubt my salvation or that I am a child of the King. It is as easy for me to doubt my first birth as to doubt my second birth.
 
 
I do not remember my first birth, but I have the evidence of it in my natural body and mind. I have the evidence of my second birth in my spiritual mind and a change of heart, a change of motives, and a change of my whole life course. Before my second birth earth seemed real and heaven very vague and far away. After my second birth earth seems but fleeting shadows and heaven has become the great reality. More easy is it to doubt the seen that to doubt the unseen; more easy to doubt the things of time than the things of eternity; and more easy to doubt the present than to doubt the life to come.
 
 
This "I know" salvation, this "I know" forgiveness of sin, this "I know" acceptance with God, this "I know" change in my life is my inheritance as a son of the King. "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God." [Rom8:16.] "And because we are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father—if a son, then an heir through God." [Gal 8:3,7.] Thus I know I am in the family of God because the Spirit of his Son came into my heart, bearing witness with my spirit that I am a son of God. I know my Father, and he knows me. I talk to him, and he talks to me. I know Him as definitely as I know my earthly father.
 
 
I know I am in the Father's family for, as a rule, I am one with the Father and his other true children in the family plans and work.
 
 
"We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren."[1John3:17.] I know I have had a change. I now enjoy the company of true saints. I do not enjoy the company of sinners. I know "I have passed out of death into life". I have had a definite transaction with God. Could I be satisfied to wander vaguely through life and die a doubtful death when I might know through life that I have been put upon the King's highway, way, and that, being kept upon it, at the end of the way I may enter the eternal city of everlasting unselfish love? I thank God for taking away vagueness and doubts.
 
 
There are some other "I knows". I know that when the Lord rescued me it was not because of personal merit. Although trying to live a moral and a religious life, my motives were selfish; my duties to God and man were unfulfilled, while in myself there was no power to do more. When I was rescued, I know it was something that God did, not something I did. I know something was taken from me and something was given to me; something went out and something came in. This was a true historical event. I know that my savior was another, not myself. I know that salvation comes from above and not from below. I know that refraining from common vices, living what men call a clean moral life, obedience to parents, faithful church going, and devotion to religious duties had no part whatever in my salvation from sin. I know my salvation was by grace and not by works; that it was not because of any goodness in my character that I was saved, but it was by the goodness of the character of the Father and the death of his Son that I was saved. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.'' [1 John 4:10.]
 
 
 
When I deserved to die, Jesus died in my stead; When I should have been punished for a life of selfish sins, God punished Jesus instead; when I should have been forsaken by God, Jesus cried to his Father, [Mark 15:34.] "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me;" when I should have died on the cross, Jesus bore my sins in his own body on the tree, [1Pet 2:24.] when God could have justly punished me for my numberless sins, He laid "on Him (on Jesus) the iniquity of us all."[Isa 53:6.] Jesus died, "The just for the unjust" [1Pet 3:18.] that He might bring me to God. While I was yet a sinner, He died for me.
 
 
Sins had to be punished, therefore God punished Jesus. Because God punished Him, He will not punish me. Jesus came to save sinners.[1 Tim 1:15.] Since I was one, He therefore saved me. Jesus came to save the lost.[Luke 19:10.] I was lost, therefore He rescued me. Because Jesus was my substitute, my sins passed over on Him. When He died, He died as a sinner, and I was that sinner. The heavens grew black and the angry thunders rolled while God turned His back on this sinner on the cross, as the terrible punishing blows fell until that agonizing sinner died. That sinner that died was I. When He was buried, I was buried.
When He arose from the dead, I arose from the dead. When He ascended above all principalities and powers of evil, I ascended. His resurrected life became my life.
 
 
My selfish life was taken upon Jesus. His unselfish life was reckoned to me. When I died to self and turned my self-life over to Jesus; when I stopped trying to direct my own life and gave its guidance over to the Lord, He gave me His Holy Spirit to guide, to rule, to over-rule me. Where I sat enthroned, now Jesus sits enthroned. I became a partaker of the divine nature.[2Pet 1:4]
 
 
 
Whereas once I worked for God to save me, now I work because He has saved me.

Whereas once I worked to earn a gift, I now work because I have been given a gift. I once worked for some thing I selfishly wanted, but I now work because of something I have undeservedly received. I once worked to earn eternal life; I now work because I have it. I expected to be saved by works; I was saved by grace. I thought salvation was to be earned by goodness of character; I found it was a free gift, independent of character.
 
 
 
I was born into the family of God through the suffering, agony, and at last the death of Him who gave me birth. As Jesus died I was born.
 
 
He foresook all in heaven and on earth to give me life.
 
 
Being thus begotten should I not love my Savior with all my heart, with all my strength, and with all my mind? Should I not love Him more than houses and lands and money and friends and earthly sons and daughters and father and mother? Should I not live a life of supreme love and service to Him who first loved me and is my life?

Were my love and devotion less than this, then would I consider myself no son of God, no Christian, no Christ', son—a pretender.
 
 
I thought when once I had received this everlasting life that I would have to work to keep it. I found that I could not keep it, but that it kept me, that I was kept by the power of the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.[Eph 4:30] I tried to hold the Rock, but found that the Rock held me. So now I hold not the Rock, but the Rock holds me. I knew I had been saved by grace, but believed I would have to keep saved by works.

My works were hopelessly imperfect. The more I tried the worse I became. Then I discovered that the "grace" that saved me was the "grace" to keep me; that the Savior who bore my sins before I came to him, still is my sin bearer after I came; that saved by grace, kept by grace and to be received into the next world by grace, I could trust the Savior who sought me and bought me and brought me to the fold. This was real Gospel, "Glad Tidings," to me.


Part 1: Way to Eternal City - by unselfishness

Part 3: Way to Eternal City - Facts