by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
The importance of being justified
Large numbers of people ... are always asking the same question. "Why cannot I get there? Why cannot I be like that?" They read books which are meant to give instruction about the Christian way of life; they attend meetings and conferences, always seeking this something which they do not find. And they are cast down; their souls are cast down and disquietened within them.
Now it is all-important ... to be quite certain that they are clear in their minds about the primary and most fundamental principles of the Christian faith.... I would not say that they are not Christians, but I am suggesting that they are what I would call miserable Christians simply because they have not understood the way of salvation, and for that reason all their beliefs and efforts have been more or less useless. They often concentrate on the question of sanctification, but it does not help them because they have not understood justification….
It is an interesting theological point as to whether such people are Christians or not. For myself I would say they are. The classic example is of course John Wesley. I would hesitate to say that John Wesley was not a Christian until 1738; but I am certain ... that [he] had not understood the way of salvation as justification by faith only, until 1738. He had in a sense subscribed to the full teaching of the Bible, but he had not understood it nor fully apprehended it...; it was only as the result of his meeting with the Moravian brethren, and in particular the conversation he had with one called Peter Bohler, ... that he was truly made to understand this vital doctrine.... There was a man who had been trying to find happiness in his Christian life by doing things, preaching to the prisoners in Oxford, giving up his fellowship of his college, and facing the hazards of crossing the Atlantic in order to preach to pagans in Georgia. He was trying to find happiness by living life in a given way.
Spiritual Depression, pp. 25-6
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