Posted by: William | March 15, 2008

The Just Appeal

Yesterday, I posted Samuel Bolton’s list of five reasons why the law cannot condemn believers in Jesus Christ. The last point that Bolton makes in his list of reasons is this: “Because he has appealed from [the law]. We see this in the case of the publican, who was arrested, dragged into the court of justice, sentenced and condemned. But this has not force because he makes his appeal, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18:13). He flies to Christ, and says the text, ‘He went down to his house justified’. So the court of the law (provided that your appeal is just) cannot condemn, because you have appealed to the court of mercy.”

Immediately following this verse, Bolton expounds on just exactly what a “just appeal” is. The ideas go so beautifully in tandem that I resolved yesterday to share the second part today. So here it is:

True and false appeals from the court of the law

Indeed there are many who make a false appeal. They appeal in part, not wholly, for they trust partly on Christ and partly on themselves. Many appeal to Christ for salvation who do not appeal to him for sanctification. This is false. Many appeal to Christ before they are brought into the court of the law, before they are humbled, convinced, and condemned by the law. The case of the publican shows what kind of appeal will do a man good. Condemned in the court of the law, he makes his appeal to Christ in the Gospel. Read the words spoken of him: ‘He stood afar off, and would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner’. Here was a threefold demeanor, answering to a threefold work within him. First, he stood afar off; this answers to his fear and consternation. Then, he would not so much as lift up his eyes; this answers to his shame and confusion. Again, he smote his breast; this answers to his sorrow and compunction. And being in such a case he then appeals: ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’.


In brief, then, if your appeal is a right one and such as will do you good, it must be a total, not a partial appeal. You must not come to Christ for some relief only, but for all. Christ must have the honour of all. Also, it must be an appeal for grace as well as mercy, for sanctification as well as salvation, an appeal to be made holy by Christ as well as to be made happy by Chris. Again, it must be the appeal of a man humbled and condemned in himself. No man will appeal to another court until he is found guilty and condemned in the former. So here, we cannot appeal to Christ until first we are found guilty and condemned by Moses. This the apostle shows: ‘We have proved both Jews and Gentiles to be under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God’ (Rom. 3:9-11)”


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