Mike Barko discusses his recent illness and recovery, which prompted him to temporarily pause his street preaching activities. During this time, he had a significant encounter with a maintenance man who had come to fix his apartment's heater. This encounter reaffirmed a truth he had previously observed while sharing the Gospel. Mike also mentions other individuals who continued to share the Gospel in his absence. The post emphasizes the impact of sharing his faith and the meaningful interactions he has had, incorporating quotes from well-known Christian figures to enhance his message.


Mike Barko

2/19/202228 min read


Yes, this newsletter is long, probably the longest one I have ever written. Google says it will take 25 minutes to read. That makes sense, because it took me 25 hours to write and rewrite it. Maybe you can read it in segments. I hope you are able to read it in its entirety as I believe that you will be blessed. I have included quotes by Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, Paul Washer, Watchman Nee and others. A three minute video by Paul Washer is at the very end. My love to you.

I got pretty sick on January 2nd. I have no idea what it was, but I stayed in my apartment for 2 - 3 weeks in order to fully recover and not adversely affect others. It took a full month for me to get most of my strength back.

I have been slowly working my way back out on the streets preaching the Gospel, being more sensitive to the cold temperatures. Most thankfully, Karen Brooks, Paul Collins, Rob Gilmer and Ben Varepa have continued sharing.

On the 3rd week after I initially fell sick, the Lord sent a maintenance man to my apartment to fix the mini-split heater. Because I had not preached in two weeks, I was really hopeful to have the opportunity to share with this young man.

The Lord opened the door, and my encounter with him is the subject of this newsletter. As I shared with him, a truth was confirmed to me that I have seen before while proclaiming the Gospel. In fact, it was confirmed the following Sunday in another encounter with a different young man.

Doubts caused by Self-Righteousness



Read on.

When I initially offered this young maintenance man (Ronnie) a bracelet, he declined. I have learned over the years not to be dissuaded. Rejecting the bracelet does not necessarily mean the person doesn't want to hear the Gospel. It may just mean they don't want the bracelet.

So I tried again...

"Ronnie, would you like to hear what the colors on the bracelet mean?"

'Sure, yes...'

"Wonderful. I really wanted to share with you. This is my full time job as a street preacher and this is what I feel like God wants me to do."

"So, here's my question. The gold stands for Heaven. On a scale of 0-100, how sure are you that you would go to Heaven?"

'Well, I'm saved, but I'm not 100% sure. There are times that I struggle with doubts.'

"Thank you for sharing that. Would you like for me to share how you can be a rock solid 100%?"

'Yes, please.'

"Let me start with this question. Tell me where the doubts come from?"

'Well, when I look back on my past, I haven't lived the best life. I have sinned quite a bit.'

It is very easy to misinterpret his answer.

Many people will look at his response as honest, humble, and sincere.

Well, it certainly is honest and sincere. However, is is not humble. Self-righteousness is present.

Now, I don't say this to speak evil of this young man. He really was a nice, quality young man. His struggle is common to most unbelievers and believers as well: doubts caused by self-righteousness.

If you look more deeply at his answer, this is the essence of what he was saying...

'I am not 100% sure of going to Heaven because I haven't lived the best life. If I had been a better person, then I would not have these doubts that I would go to Heaven."

Where is he putting his faith?

In himself and his behavior.

Now, because his faith (some of it at least, I will give him the benefit of the doubt (lol)), is in himself, that faith in himself is being shaken because that faith is on shaky ground.


Thank God for these doubts that come our way to show us our misplaced faith!

Our faith in ourselves and our own righteousness.

These particular doubts are opportunities for us to repent and place all of our faith in Christ alone.

This is something most, if not all of us, struggled with before we were saved...

'Nothing damns a man but his own righteousness, nothing saves a man but the righteousness of Christ.' (Charles Spurgeon)

And yes, if we are honest, it is something that most, if not all of us, struggle with (to a lesser degree) even after we are saved.

One of my former pastors, Phil Smuland, used to say...

'I am a recovering Pharisee.'

Notice he was, and he still is.

I would certainly have to agree with him concerning my own life.

Many of us who are consistent in the church and living holy lives have gotten over the 'gross outward sins'.

But it is these inward ones that are most insidious.

Legalism and License (Origins in Self-Righteousness)

One pastor talked about 'the old sin nature' which remains in the believer. This old sin nature usually manifests itself in the believer in one of two directions:

1) Legalism (Self-righteousness)
2) License (Lawlessness which can be a result of self-righteousness)

While the second group of Christians need to 'repent for their lawlessness', the first group needs to 'repent for their legalism'.

I would be included in the first group and sometimes we really hammer the second group for their 'outward sins'...

...Not realizing that the inward are more insidious and vile.

'Jesus said to them (Pharisees), If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see (self-righteousness); therefore your sin remaineth.' (John 9:41) (emphasis mine)

Listen to these lines from a song called, Not in Me, by Sovereign Grace...

No list of sins I have not done...
No list of virtues I pursue...

No list of those I am not like...
Can earn myself a place with you...

Alistair Begg, and I quoted him in the last newsletter, said something like (paraphrase)...

'Unless we preach the cross to ourselves all day and every day, we will end up with a Christ plus works message as the basis of our justification (self-righteousness), and eventually that will lead us into either an :

1) awful despair (I can't do this anymore. I can't measure up. I'm not 'good enough'), or to a

2) horrible kind of arrogance (I am doing quite well. I do measure up. I am 'good enough'.)'

Notice the commonality of the two responses...

'I'm not good enough...I am good enough.'

It is self-righteousness either way.

So, when we add our own works to the finished work of Christ, we end up focusing on our own performance...

Our own goodness...

And that can cause a vacillation between the two poles...

'I'm not good enough...I am good enough.'

And that is...

self-righteousness either way.

Many fall into legalism, creating their own standard of righteousness by which they 'measure up.' Eventually, by the working of God grace, these people 'give up', and realize that 'they can't do this anymore'.

Unfortunately, instead of 'giving up and falling upon Him', they give up completely and either leave the church entirely or worse, they stay, and maintain the outward show of Christianity but fall into horrible lives of immoral debauchery. (lawlessness or license)

Note the two poles of our sin nature, legalism and lawlessness, as a result of our own self-righteousness.

'I'm not good enough...I am good enough.'

The solution to our self-righteousness?

The sufficiency of the cross of Jesus Christ alone.

The Cross of Christ Alone

That is why Alistair Beg said...

'We must preach the cross of Christ all day and every day...'

'and not add our own works (goodness) to that as the basis of our justification.'

Think about it...

If someone preaches what Christ has already done for me...

and then tells me what I need to do (in order to be justified)...

then where is my focus going to be?

Myself. My own goodness.

And then...

'I am good enough...I'm not good enough.'

We end up 'trying to be good.'

This is why so many outside the church are unsaved, and so many in the church do not understand.

'Trying to be good' is actually a denial of the Gospel.

The cross of Christ comes down upon our flesh and says...

'It is the spirit that quickeneth...the flesh profits nothing...'. (John 6:63)

Our flesh says...'We can!'

The cross says...'You can't!'

This is exactly why Jesus told the disciples to..

'Take up the cross and deny themselves'...

To 'take up the cross and deny ourselves' is to understand we can do nothing to save ourselves.

The cross tells our flesh...'You cannot.'

Our flesh tells ourselves...'I can'.

We must 'deny ourselves, our flesh' and say...

'I cannot.'

only then we can be saved and 'follow Him'.

'...if I preach circumcision (works)... then is the offense of the cross ceased.' (Galatians 5:11)

What is the 'offense of the cross'?

You can't do anything!

What is offended?

My flesh that says, 'I can!'

And notice, if I preach works, then there is no offense to my flesh...

and thus, we now have multitudes proclaiming...

'I can measure up! I can be good enough! I can do it!

Consider the lyrics of a modern day worship song...

'I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I'm not enough...
'Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up.'

And so how do we respond to this?

We stick our chest out and say...

"I am good enough!...I do measure up!'

And now we are moving away from Christ into our own righteousness.

Then, the doubts come in, and continue to come in...

'I'm not good enough...I don't measure up.'

Only, we don't realize...

These very doubts are a gift from God...

A gift to cause us to despair and repent of our own righteousness (I'm not good enough...I'll never be good enough!...I don't measure up and I never will!)...

and trust in Christ's righteousness alone. (fall upon Him!)

Not Enough and Never Will Be Enough

God has to bring all of us to the point where we agree with Him (it's not the enemy), and say...


'I am in the flesh.' (Romans 7:5)
'I am carnal.' (Romans 7:14)
'No one is good, except God alone.' (Luke 18:19)
'For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:' (Romans 7:18(a))


'...for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.' (Romans 7:18(b))'
'Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?' (Galatians 3:3)


'For I testify again to every man that is circumcised (adding your work to the work of Christ), that he is a debtor to do the whole law.' (Galatians 5:3)
'Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight:' (Romans 3:20(a))
'And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' ...., Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself...: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?' (Christ then gives him the story of absolute perfect love by the Samaritan and then says)...'Go, and do thou likewise'. (Luke 10:25-29, 37)

If this lawyer were humble, he would have fallen on his knees and said, 'Oh God, forgive me! I see it now. I don't measure up and I can't measure up. I can't love like that. I repent of trying to save myself and instead place my trust in you alone.'

Even our love is not good enough.

Yes, God can and certainly does fill us with His love (What a wonderful thing), but we must never trust in that as the basis of our justification.

For then it would have to be perfect...

all day and every day...

from the moment of our birth to the moment of our death.

Any takers?

The only thing that is perfect (all day and every day), from the moment of our birth to the moment of our death is the cross of Christ.

Paul Washer says that no person who has ever lived, even on his best day, even for a single second, has ever loved God and his neighbor perfectly. No one.

Creating Our Own Standards of Righteousness

Our self-righteousness is so insidious, that sometimes we may (1) reduce what it really means to perfectly love God and man, and then, (2) we create our own standard of what loving God and loving man looks like so we can measure up.

To love God perfectly would simply be to love the Father as Jesus loved Him. Any takers?

Jesus is the only one who has loved God perfectly.

To love man perfectly would simply be to love our fellow man as Jesus loved them. Any takers?

Jesus is the only one who has loved man perfectly. (Jesus is the Good Samaritan in the story.)

I shared the Gospel with a lady at the North Carolina State Fair. This lady talked about going to church all the time, praising Him, and many other wonderful things. She thought she was a 'good person' and that she 'measured up.'

Unfortunately, when I began to talk about sin, she just couldn't see it. She had never lied, stolen, lusted, hated, or used God's name in vain.

Finally, I just had to exhale and ask her, 'Have you loved God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and have you loved your neighbor as yourself?"

With no hesitation at all, very matter of factly, she boldly proclaimed...

'Yes I have!'

So I asked...

'How are you able to say that you have?'

She answered...

'Because I praise Him!'

So I said, 'Do you praise Him 24/7, without fail?'


I think if I had asked her if she had loved the Father like Jesus had, she would have said yes.

See how we reduce the standard of perfection...

and then we create our own standard by saying...

'Because I praise Him'...God equates that with loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.'

Thus, this lady thought that she was...

'Good enough.'

Her focus was on all the wonderful things that she was doing and not on the cross of Christ.

Thus, she had forgotten that she was a sinner justly deserving God's wrath. She also had forgotten that the only basis of her justification was Christ's work, not hers.

Who is the only one who 'measures up'?


Who is the only one who is 'good enough'?


'It is not I, but Christ!'

That Sovereign Grace song that I mentioned earlier has this line of truth in it..

My righteousness is Jesus life...

He is our righteousness.

'The Lord our Righteousness.' (Jeremiah 23:6)

Our righteousness is a filthy rag.

'All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.' (Isaiah 64:6)

Making Distinctions

"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference (distinction)" (Romans 3:22)

No difference or distinction in what?

Read on...

'For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;' (Romans 3:23)

There is no difference or distinction in our sin!

What does he mean by this?

Almost everyone today acknowledges that they are sinners and have sinned. However, they still think that they are a good person.

What are they doing?

They are making a distinction...'Yes, I have sinned, but I am still good, because I am not as bad as that guy. His sin is worse than mine.'

Making a distinction is claiming that someone else's sin is worse than yours. Now you can still be a 'good person' in your own eyes.

That is self-righteousness...'I am good enough.'

Listen to the following story which really confirms this whole idea of 'making a distinction'.

I shared the Gospel with a lady downtown back in December. She initially told me that she was 75% sure that she would go to Heaven because she had 'sinned a lot.'

So I asked her...

"If you have 'sinned a lot', then why are you 75% sure of going to Heaven? Shouldn't you be 0%?"

Listen to what she had to say...

'But I'm a good person.'

The question that begs itself here is...

"If you claim to have 'sinned a lot', how are you able to still look at yourself as a 'good person'?"

'Because I haven't stolen or murdered anyone.'

Do you see it?

This lady was making a distinction!

She reasons as follows...

'Yes, I have sinned.'...(She even confesses to having 'sinned a lot'.) But I'm still a good person and I'm still 75% confident of going to Heaven because I haven't committed 'those sins!' Those sins would make me bad!'

The bad people are the thieves and murderers!

You know what?

The thieves think the murderers are the bad people.

The murderers think the child molesters are the bad people.

And on and on and on...

Most (if not all) unbelievers do this. I wonder how many professing believers do this?

Now all I needed to do was persuade her that she was indeed a 'thief' and a 'murderer'.

Then, what would happen?

Well, she would then be included in that group in her own mind that she categorized as the 'bad people'. Then she would see herself as headed to Hell and in need of a Savior.

So, I told her that I had copied many compact discs in my life not wanting to pay for them and I also had hated others. That made me a thief and a murderer in God's eyes.

Had she done that?

She told me that she had copied countless c/d's and yes, she had hated others as well.

This lady's expression changed when the truth sunk in that she too was a thief and a murderer in God's eyes.

She was very concerned and convicted. She knew she was in trouble before God and that she deserved Hell. She was now a bad person. She was no longer good enough.

People make these 'distinctions' all the time.

They look at the commandments and say...

'Yes, I hated, but I'm not a murderer!' (Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer;) (1 John 3:15)

'Yes, I have lusted, but I haven't committed adultery!' (...Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart) (Matthew 5:28)

We are all trying to make 'distinctions' so we can feel good about ourselves. Our self-righteousness does this. All you have to do is to find someone 'worse than you', and set the standard right there.

If you tried to swim from California to Hawaii, what would happen to you?

You wouldn't make it. Even Michael Phelps would not make it.

With respect to God's absolute righteousness, there is no distinction. We all fall short. In the end, does it matter if you drown after 5 feet, or 50 miles?


You still drown. You still fall short. You still don't measure up. You still are not good enough.

Unfortunately, instead of keeping our eyes on the Glory of God and his perfect standard that we can never attain...

Our pride turns around in the water and sees people behind us and it is right at that point that we make the distinction...

And it doesn't matter who the person is in the water, so many are making that distinction at that point for themselves.

Thus, everyone is running around thinking they are still 'good people'.

Almost everyone we speak with on the streets says that they are a 'good person'.

Truth Confirmed Following Sunday

Lo and behold, I met a gentleman at a youth gathering the week after I spoke with Ronnie. He told me that he was a Christian, and then said that he 'thought he would make it to Heaven.'

When I pressed him at that point, he acknowledged that he was 95-99% sure.

I asked him what the problem was?

Lo, and behold, you will never guess what he said...

'There are times that I doubt...'

So I asked him to explain and he told me.

'I know that I have changed and am not the same person that I used to be. Unfortunately, there are still times that I battle with certain sins, and then the doubt comes in and I begin to struggle.'

It is interesting, if you remember, that Ronnie's doubts were with the fact that he had not lived the best life...

Before he was saved.

Now, this gentleman is lamenting the fact that he has not lived the best life...

After he was saved.

Could it be that their doubts were coming from the same exact source...

Their own self-righteousness? (or desire to be self-righteous?

I wanted to find out.

When you look at his answer...

'I battle with certain sins and then the doubt comes in...'

You might say, 'Mike, shouldn't we stay away from sin as Christians and feel bad when we sin?'


So the issue here is this...

Is he feeling bad about his sins simply because he sinned against God or...

Is he feeling bad about his sins because he is not maintaining his own self-righteous standard?

I knew the following line of questions would determine the true source of his doubts...

'Edward, do you think that you are a good person?'


So, I told him that I speak to thousands of people and that everyone told me that they were 'good'.

So, I asked him directly...

'What makes you think that you're good?"

'I am very selfless and I sacrifice myself for others.'

Edward is creating his own standard for what he thinks makes a person good.

So, with a smile, I decided to go right at him and say...

"Many others tell me that as well!"

Well, guess what?

He proceeded to tell me how selfless he was and how much he had sacrificed himself for others.

This was the source of his doubts..his own self-righteousness!

He is looking at his own behavior and attempting to justify himself. He is good enough.

Then, when he sins, he doubts whether or not he is a Christian, because he is no longer 'good enough.'

'I am good enough...I am not good enough.'

This was confirmed as I went through the 'good person' test and showed him the five commandments that we have all broken.

He would kind of acknowledge his sin, but would qualify it with a...'Yeah, but...' And then he would proceed to tell me why he wasn't...'That bad'.

I finally told him with a big smile...

'Give up and let it all go! Despair of your own righteousness! Despair of your own goodness! You are not good enough! You never have been and never will be! Give up and fall upon Him!'

Paul Washer says...

'Repentance is simply giving up. To stop fighting against God and to stop attempting to gain your salvation through your own works. Literally give up and fall upon Christ. That is salvation.'

'Giving up and falling upon Him.'

I then preached the perfect, finished work of Christ to him...His perfect righteousness.

This young man really saw it and sincerely thanked me for sharing with him. When I invited him in the prayer at the end to transfer his trust from himself to Christ alone, he spoke up...

'I have already done this. I am already a Christian.'

Some of this man's faith was in Christ, and some was in himself.

Moving Away From the Gospel

This is the 'Christ plus' message which tells us...

'Your salvation is what Christ did plus what you do.'

And the part that we do is the part that gives rise to our doubts.

This only confirms more of what the Lord keeps showing me and what Paul Washer says as well...

'We never graduate from the Gospel.'

Christians are not hearing the Gospel preached on a regular basis and as a result, what Alistair Begg said earlier is true...

'They are adding works to the cross as the basis of their justification...'

Now, Mike Barko will come in and add to that quote...

'...and as a result, many Christians are plagued with doubts not being assured of their salvation. Why? Because they really don't understand the Gospel.'

'They don't understand the depths of their own sin and they don't understand the magnificent work accomplished by Christ for them on the cross. Both truths are not being regularly preached: (1) the exceeding sinfulness of sin and (2) the finished work of Christ on the cross. If both these truths were constantly preached in the pulpit, most Christian's doubts and other problems would all go away. It all goes back to the Gospel, and unfortunately we have gotten away from the Gospel.'

Paul Washer says that we are preaching a 'truncated version' of the Gospel. It is something we do at an appointed time, and then we move on from that.

Notice that, when I asked Edward to pray with me, He said...

'I've already done that.'

Salvation is not a prayer. It is not what we do. It is what we believe and continue believing.

Since Edward did not want me to lead him in a prayer, I asked him to pray what God had showed him this night...

He prayed...

'God, I am not good enough. I never will be good enough. I see it now. Thank you for showing that to me. It is about what you did for me.' (Sounds like more faith in Christ. Amen and Amen.)

Here is what Ronnie (maintenance man) told God after hearing the message...

'Thank you. I love you. I trust you. Thank you for this opportunity.'

Here is what he told me...

'Thank you again for teaching me to trust in God and not myself'.


Listen to this amazing quote from Alistair Begg and Martin Luther...

'The work of reconciliation took place on a hill far away. It didn't take place in my heart and it didn't take place in your heart either. Not the work of reconciliation. That is why Luther used to say, 'We need to realize that in a realistic sense, the Christian life is all outside of us.'

Begg continues...

'Now what did he mean by that? Well, he meant simply this: 'We are not justified, we are not put right with God, on the basis of anything done by us, but nor are we put right with God on the basis of anything done in us. We are put right with God on the basis of that which has been done for us.'

Just recently, I heard a pastor say to church members...

'Salvation is not based on the work you are doing, it's based on the work God is doing in your heart.'

The work God is doing in my heart as a believer is sanctification. It is not salvation or more specifically, justification.

This is why so many people in the church are plagued with doubts and don't understand the Gospel.

They are looking within at their own hearts instead of looking upon Him...

Because the sinless Savior died...
My sinful soul is counted free...
For God the just is satisfied...
To look on Him and pardon me

We are declared righteous...

Not by what has been done BY US...

or EVEN IN US...

but what has been done FOR US!

So, do you want these doubts to go away?

Step 1) Give up on yourself. Recognize that you are not good and never will be. You don't measure up and never will. Repent for all distinctions and self-righteousness. Exhale and let it all go.

Listen to a quote from Watchman Nee, in his book, The Normal Christian Life...

'God knows who I am. He knows that from head to foot I am full of sin; He knows that I am weakness incarnate; that I can do nothing. The trouble is that I do not know it. I admit that all men are sinners, and that therefore I am a sinner; but I imagine that I am not such a hopeless sinner as some.'

'God must bring us all to the place where we see that we are utterly weak and helpless. While we say so, we do not wholly believe it, and God has to do something to convince us of the fact. We need to have our weakness proved to ourselves beyond dispute. We are so bad that he asks no favor and makes no demands. Alas, we are so conceited, and think ourselves so strong, that God has to give us something to test us and prove how weak we are. At last we see it and confess, 'I am a sinner through and through, and of myself I can do nothing to please a holy God.'

God will help you to see this. He desires for you to see it more than you do. Ask Him to show you this truth.

Example from Job's Life

Even Job, the 'man who was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil' struggled with self-righteousness. God took him through an extended period of suffering to reveal this truth to him.

At the end, God had to correct him, and when he did, notice Job's response...

'Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.' (Job 40:4)

Then the Lord said to Job...

'Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?'

(Anytime we quibble/complain over God's providential hand in the circumstances (suffering) of our lives, we are 'disannuling his judgment, condemning Him, and claiming to be right ourselves.' We all do this in some way or another and are all guilty of this type of self-righteousness. I don't have time to expound on this right now, maybe some other time.)

And after God gave him a long exhorting rebuke, notice Job's final response...

'I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.'

May we all come to the place in our lives where we 'abhor ourselves, and see ourselves as vile'.

Modern Day Psychology

Modern day psychology (even in the church) exhorts us to 'feel good about ourselves' and work on boosting 'our self-esteem'. This strikes at the heart of what the bible says about who we are.

Listen to a quote from bible scholar and teacher John MacArthur...

'Psychologists have created this thing called 'self-esteeem'. That is a satanic idea. You are not as important as you think you are. You're far less important than you think you are and so am I. So are all of us. You are not better than you think you are, you are worse than you think you are. You are far worse than you think you are and so am I! In God's eyes you are inconceivably sinful. In your own eyes you are something wonderful. Has there ever been such an egotistical culture?'

Listen to what Paul Washer had to say about this subject...

'More and more and more the evangelical church is becoming humanistic, humanistic, humanistic! Everything is about man! We just pronounce a few Christian words over it in order to baptize it and make it look Christian but everything is about you. Everything is about your felt needs. Everything is about your self-esteem. No! That is an endless pit that will suck everything ounce of life out of you. You don't need self-esteem. You need the knowledge of God."

God longs for us to see this, so we can be set free from our self-righteous doubts, and find true rest and peace in Christ alone.

Example from Apostle Paul's Life

Let me share a corresponding truth from the life of the Apostle Paul, and then we will go to Step # 2 and conclude.

At the beginning of Paul's Christian life when he was converted, closest to when he persecuted the church and murdered Christians, how did he view himself?

'For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.' (1 Cor. 15:9)

At this point in time, Paul considered himself to be 'the least of the apostles.'

As Paul grew in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as he was being sanctified by more of that grace and brought closer to Him, how did he view himself?

'Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;' (Eph 3:8)

Interesting, isn't it, that as Paul grew in holiness and Christ likeness, what happened to his opinion of himself?

It decreased.

He went from the 'least of the apostles' to the 'least of all saints'.

Now watch what happens...

At the end of his life, when he was 'thanking Christ Jesus our Lord, who had enabled him and counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry', how does he then view himself?

'This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.' (1 Tim. 1:15)

Wow. At the end of his life, when he is closest to Christ and most like Him, that is when he viewed himself as...

'the chief of sinners.'

Beloved, our growth in holiness and Christ likeness should only serve to deepen our awareness of our profound sinfulness.

Paul Washer and Mother Teresa (Go figure) both confirmed the same truth to me in a month's time.

Here is what Mother Theresa said...

'I realized a long time ago that I had a Hitler within me.'

Here is what Paul Washer said...

'Hitler was not an anomaly. Hitler is what every person in this room is apart from the grace of God restraining them. But even more than that, you need to understand something. If God were to pull every ounce of His grace on your life, you would make Hitler look like a choir boy.'

Serious, sobering, sanctifying truth.

This truth makes me want to fall upon Him over and over again, thanking Him for His grace found in Christ alone.

Step 2) Fall upon Him. You don't need to do anything. You can't do anything. He's already done it all. Look to Him. Abandon any self-righteousness and attempts to better yourself, and instead, place your trust in the perfect righteousness of Christ already given to you as a gift.

Two-Coat Story

I use a 'two coat' story with people with whom I share the gospel. It is based on 2 Corinthians 5:21. It goes like this...

Imagine two coats. One is ours and One is Christ's. Every time we sin, we place a mark on our coat. What would our coat look like?

Completely dark. All marked up.

What does His coat look like?

'Him who knew no sin...' (2 Cor. 5:21 part)

Completely white. Perfect.

What did God do with our sinful coat?

Many people think that God either 'threw away' or 'cleaned' our sinful coat. If a judge would do that with a person's crimes, what kind of a judge would he be?


If the coat was on us, we would be punished and go to Hell. If God the Father simply 'erased' or 'forgot about' our sinful coat, He would be an unrighteous judge.

The only way was for God the Son to wear our sinful coat...

'he made to be sin on our behalf...' (2 Cor. 5:21 cont. )

For God to be a righteous judge, the penalty of 'spiritual death' must be paid.

When God the Son wore our sinful coat on the cross, God the Father had to pull back from God the Son who cried out...

'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?'

In that awful moment, the One who had from all eternity known perfect communion with His Father, now experienced an awful separation...'spiritual death'. He paid the penalty that we owe.

Then, if that wasn't awful enough, the full force of the holy wrath of a perfectly righteous God was poured out upon God the Son.

This is why Jesus was sweating great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is why He said to the Father, 'If it be possible, take this cup from me...'

What was in the cup?

Do you know what was in the cup?

If the cup was simply 'suffering what the Romans did to Him: the crown of thorns, scourging, nails, spear etc...', as horrible as that was, then all of the martyred saints in future ages who went to their death singing hymns and 'playing the man', 'put to shame' the captain of their salvation who, if that were the case, was 'cowering in fear'.

What was in the cup?

The wrath of God.

'he too will [have to] drink of the wine of the wrath of God, (In ancient times it was customary to mix wine with an equal or larger quantity of water to prevent intoxication at ordinary meals. Here, the mixing is ironic because the "wine of the wrath" is to be consumed at full strength) mixed undiluted into the cup of his anger; and he will be tormented (flaming sulfur) in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb (Christ). (Rev. 14:10 amp) (emphasis mine)

'For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to me, "Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. They will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them." (Jer. 25:15,16 amp) (emphasis mine)

'For a cup [of His wrath] is in the hand of the Lord, and the wine foams; It is well mixed and fully spiced, and He pours out from it; And all the wicked of the earth must drain it and drink it down to its dregs.' (Psalm 75:8 amp) (emphasis mine)

There is no way to put into words how horrific the wrath of God must be. If God the Son, God Himself in the flesh, is sweating great drops of blood in the shadow of it, asking for it to be removed, how awful this wrath must be?

On the cross God the Son drank the wrath of God the Father.

He drained it and drank it all down.

What is left in the cup for you and me?


What did you and I have to do with any of that?


Who paid the penalty?


Who drank the wrath?


Who drank our Hell?


What is left for you and me?

Eternal life and God's love.

What did we have to do with any of that?


When Jonah (type of Jesus) was thrown into the angry waves (type of God's wrath), what happened to the sea?

There was a great calm.

Exhale and let it all go. Give up and fall upon Him.

Double Jeopardy

Have you guys heard of the law of 'double jeopardy'?

You can't be tried twice for the same crime.

Who was already judged guilty for your sins 2000 years ago? Your past, present and future sins? (All of our sins at that time were future)


Can you be judged guilty for your sins?

No, that would be double jeopardy.

What did we have to do with that?


Sometimes, when a prairie fire is out of control, they burn the ground directly in front of the approaching fire. When the approaching fire gets to the burned ground, it has nothing to burn. The ground has already been burned. The fire must go out.

The fire of the wrath of God fell upon the head of God the Son at the cross. That ground has already been burned. The fire has been extinguished.

More song lyrics...

On the cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied...

Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the just is satisfied, to look on Him, and pardon me.

I need no other argument, I need no other plea, it is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness.

Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.

Nothing in my hands.

I simply trust what He did for me.

Who gets the perfect coat of God the Son?

'that we might become the righteousness of God in him.' (2 Cor. 5:21 end)

We do.

What did we have to do with that?


Simply give up and fall upon Him.

The Work is Finished

The evangelist Alexander Wooten was approached by a young man who asked...

'What must I do to be saved?'

Wooten replied...

'It's too late!'

The young man became alarmed and exclaimed...

'Do you mean it's too late for me to be saved? Is there nothing I can do?'

Wooten replied...

'Too late! It's already been done! (It is finished) The only thing you can do is believe. (Give up and fall upon Him.)

'It is finished!' There is nothing for God to do.
'It is finished!' There is nothing for you to do.
'It is finished!' Christ need not bleed.
'It is finished!' You need not weep.
'It is finished!' God the Holy Spirit need not delay because of your unworthiness, nor need you delay because of your helplessness.
'It is finished!' Every stumbling block is rolled out of the road; every gate is opened. The bars of brass are broken, the gates of iron are burst asunder.
'It is finished!' Come and welcome; Come and welcome! (Frank Boreham)

"What a grand utterance is 'tetelestai' (It is finished!) Now we are safe, for salvation is complete. The (sin) debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once and for all and forever, by the one offering made in Jesus' body on the tree. There was the cup; Hell was in it; the Savior drank it-not a sip and then a pause-not a draught (a single act of drinking) and then a ceasing. He drained it till there is not a dreg left for any of His people. The great ten-thronged whip of the law was worn out upon His back. There is no lash left with which to smite one for whom Jesus died. The great cannonade (continuous heavy gunfire) of God's justice has exhausted all its ammunition-there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God. Sheathed is thy sword, O Justice! Silenced is thy thunder, O Law! There remains nothing now of all the griefs and pains and agonies which chosen sinners ought to have suffered for their sins, for Christ has endured all for His own beloved." (Charles Spurgeon)

In closing, let me summarize the two coat story...

We broke the law and what did we deserve?


We didn't keep the law and where couldn't we go?


Who wore our coat and took the Hell that we deserve?


Who kept the law for us, gave us His perfect coat, so we could go to Heaven?


What did we have to do with any of that?


What can we do?


What need we do?


He's done it all.

Just give up and fall upon Him.

Amen and Amen.

Here is a 3 minute video on The Unconditional Love of Christ by Paul Washer. I have watched it over and over again. You will be blessed.

Love to all,