Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said to those around him,
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Christ says that He will give rest to those who come to Him. Not maybe He will, not He will if you ask correctly, but He will. There’s a promise in His statement that whoever comes to Him to be freed from their burdens, He will set free.
Dr. John MacArthur has noted that there is “an echo of the first beatitude” (listed in Matthew 5:3) in these verses, stating in the MacArthur Study Bible,
Note that this is an open invitation to all who hear—but phrased in such a way that the only ones who will respond to the invitation are those who are burdened by their own spiritual bankruptcy and the weight of trying to save themselves by keeping the law. The stubbornness of humanity’s sinful rebellion is such that without a sovereignly-bestowed spiritual awakening, all sinners refuse to acknowledge the depth of their spiritual poverty.
This need for a “awakening,” not merely an individual’s waking up on his own, is declared in Matthew 11:27, the verse just before the previous passage:
All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son determines to reveal Him.
It’s stated another way in John 6:44.
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
Many people have a problem with the sovereignty of God in salvation, but that’s really the only way salvation is possible. As Dr. MacArthur said, without God awakening men to their depraved state, “all sinners refuse to acknowledge the depth of their spiritual poverty.” In other words, we will not come to God on our own because we do not want to come to God, and we do not want to come to God because we love our sin, we hate God, and we think we’re good enough on our own.
If it weren’t for God’s free bounty of true belief and true repentance, no sinner would ever come to Christ for mercy. Conversely, when a sinner comes to Christ for mercy and trusts in Him alone, it is proof that God has granted grace and repentance to the sinner. That’s why we can be sure of Christ’s promise when He said,
Everything that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I certainly will not cast out.
We can be sure that Christ will receive all who come to Him in faith, because all who come to Him are sent by the Father, who in His sovereign grace “brings them nigh” to Christ and grants them repentance and faith. We cannot come on our own, so Christ came to earth and took on human flesh in order to redeem us while we were still His enemies.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Because of this once-for-all sacrifice that Christ made on the cross, we can now agree with the apostle Paul when he writes (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) in Ephesians,
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
And all the elect say “Amen!”
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