CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 9 June By Grace Ye Are Saved By Charles Haddon Spurgeon Salvation, Spurgeon 0 Comment By Grace Ye Are Saved by Charles Haddon Spurgeon It is by the grace of God that ungodly men are preserved from instant death. The sharp axe of justice would soon fell the barren tree if the interceding voice of Jesus did not cry, “Spare him yet a little.” Many sinners, when converted to God, have gratefully acknowledged that it was of the Lord’s mercy that they were not consumed. John Bunyan had three memorable escapes before his conversion, and mentions them in his “Grace Abounding” as illustrious instances of long-suffering mercy. Occasionally such deliverances are made the means of affecting the heart with tender emotions of love to God, and grief for having offended him. Should it not be so? Ought we not to account that the longsuffering of God is salvation? (2 Peter 3:15.) An officer during a battle was struck by a nearly spent ball near his waistcoat pocket, but he remained uninjured, for a piece of silver stopped the progress of the deadly missile. The coin was marked at the words Dei Gratia (by the grace of God). This providential circumstance deeply impressed his mind, and led him to read a tract which a godly sister had given him when leaving home. God blessed the reading of the tract, and he became, through the rich grace of God, a believer in the Lord Jesus. Reader, are you unsaved? Have you experienced any noteworthy deliverances? Then adore and admire the free grace of God, and pray that it may lead you to repentance! Are you enquiring for the way of life? Remember the words Dei Gratia, and never forget that by grace we are saved. Grace always presupposes unworthiness in its object. The province of grace ceases where merit begins: what a cheering word is this to those of you who have no worth, no merit, no goodness whatever! Crimes are forgiven, and follies are cured by our Redeemer out of mere free favor. The word grace has the same meaning as our common term gratis: Wickliffe’s prayer was, “Lord save me gratis.” No works can purchase or procure salvation, but the heavenly Father giveth freely, and upbraideth not. Grace comes to us through faith in Jesus. Whosoever believeth on Him is not condemned. O, sinner, may God give thee grace to look to Jesus and live. Look now, for today is the accepted time! By Grace Ye Are Saved by Charles Haddon Spurgeon It is by the grace of God that ungodly men are preserved from instant death. The sharp axe of justice would soon fell the barren tree if the interceding voice of Jesus did not cry, “Spare him yet a little.” Many sinners, when converted to God, have gratefully acknowledged that it was of the Lord’s mercy that they were not consumed. John Bunyan had three memorable escapes before his conversion, and mentions them in his “Grace Abounding” as illustrious instances of long-suffering mercy. Occasionally such deliverances are made the means of affecting the heart with tender emotions of love to God, and grief for having offended him. Should it not be so? Ought we not to account that the longsuffering of God is salvation? (2 Peter 3:15.) An officer during a battle was struck by a nearly spent ball near his waistcoat pocket, but he remained uninjured, for a piece of silver stopped the progress of the deadly missile. The coin was marked at the words Dei Gratia (by the grace of God). This providential circumstance deeply impressed his mind, and led him to read a tract which a godly sister had given him when leaving home. God blessed the reading of the tract, and he became, through the rich grace of God, a believer in the Lord Jesus. Reader, are you unsaved? Have you experienced any noteworthy deliverances? Then adore and admire the free grace of God, and pray that it may lead you to repentance! Are you enquiring for the way of life? Remember the words Dei Gratia, and never forget that by grace we are saved. Grace always presupposes unworthiness in its object. The province of grace ceases where merit begins: what a cheering word is this to those of you who have no worth, no merit, no goodness whatever! Crimes are forgiven, and follies are cured by our Redeemer out of mere free favor. The word grace has the same meaning as our common term gratis: Wickliffe’s prayer was, “Lord save me gratis.” No works can purchase or procure salvation, but the heavenly Father giveth freely, and upbraideth not. Grace comes to us through faith in Jesus. Whosoever believeth on Him is not condemned. O, sinner, may God give thee grace to look to Jesus and live. Look now, for today is the accepted time! Related Jesus Christ, "Full of Grace and Truth" Jesus Christ, "Full of Grace and Truth" IN describing the coming of Christ, John says, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” In Jesus Christ, all the attributes of God are seen; veiled, but yet verily there. You have only to read the Gospels, and to look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God. It is veiled in human flesh, as it must be; for the glory of God is not to be seen by us absolutely. It is toned down to these dim eyes of ours; but the Godhead is there, the perfect Godhead in union with the perfect manhood of Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever. The two Divine things which are more clearly seen in Jesus than aught else are “grace and truth.” Christ did not simply come to tell us about grace, but actually to bring us grace. He is not merely full of the news of grace and truth, but of grace and truth themselves. Others had been messengers of gracious tidings, but He came to bring grace. Others teach us truth, but Jesus is the truth. He is that grace and truth whereof others spake. Jesus is not merely a Teacher, an Exhorter, a Worker of grace and truth; but these heavenly things are in Him, and He is full of them. Christ has brought us grace in rivers and truth in streams; and the two rivers unite in the one fullness of grace and truth. That is to say, the grace is truthful grace; not grace in fiction, or in fancy, not grace to be hoped for or to be dreamed of, but grace every atom of which is fact; redemption which does redeem, pardon which does blot out sin, renewal which actually regenerates, salvation which completely saves. We have not in Christ the mere shadows of blessings, which charm the eye, yet cheat the soul; but real, substantial favors from God who cannot lie. Christ has come to bring us grace and truth; that is to say, it is not the kind of truth which censures, condemns, and punishes; it is gracious truth, truth steeped in love, truth saturated with mercy. The truth which Jesus brings to His people comes from the mercy-seat. There is grace to God’s people in everything that falls from the lips of Jesus Christ. His lips are like lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. Myrrh in itself is bitter, but such is the grace of our Lord Jesus that His lips impart sweetness to it. See how grace and truth thus blend, and qualify each other. The grace is all true, and the truth is all gracious. This is a wondrous compound made according to the art of the Divine Apothecary; where else is grace so true, or truth so gracious? Furthermore, grace and truth are blessedly balanced in Christ. He is full of grace; but, then, He has not neglected that other quality which is somewhat sterner, namely, that of truth. I have known many people in this world who have been very loving and affectionate, but then they have not been faithful; on the other hand, I have known men who were sternly honest and truthful, but they have not been gentle and kind; but, in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no defect either way. He is full of grace which doth invite the publican and the sinner to Himself; but He is full of truth which doth repel the hypocrite and Pharisee. He does not hide from man a truth however terrible it may be, but He plainly declares the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. But when He has spoken terrible truth, He has uttered it in such a gracious and tender manner, with so many tears of compassion for the ignorant and those that are out of the way, that you are as much won by His grace as you are convinced by His truth. Our Lord’s ministry is not truth alone, nor grace alone; but it is a balanced, well-ordered system of grace and truth. The Lord Himself is both King of righteousness and King of peace. He does not even save unjustly, nor does He proclaim truth unlovingly. Grace and truth are equally conspicuous in Him. But these qualities are also in our Lord to the full. He is “full of grace.” Who could be more so? In the person of Jesus Christ, the immeasurable grace of God is treasured up. God has done for us, by Christ Jesus, exceeding abundantly above all that we ask, or even think. It is not possible for our imagination to conceive of anyone more gracious than God in Christ Jesus; and there is an equal fullness of truth about our Lord. He Himself, as He comes to us as the revelation and manifestation of God, declares to us, not some truth, but all truth. All of God is in Christ; and all of God means all that is true, and all that is right, and all that is faithful, and all that is just, all that is according to righteousness and holiness. There is no truth hidden from us, that might have alarmed us, nor anything that might have shaken our confidence in Christ; nor, on the other hand, is any truth kept back which might have increased our steadfastness. He said to His disciples, concerning the glories of His Father’s house above, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Ask not, with Pilate, “What is truth?” but behold it in God’s dear Son. All truth and all grace dwell in Christ in all their fullness beyond conception, and the two lie in each other’s bosoms for ever, to bless us with boundless, endless joy and glory. Our Lord Jesus Christ is also full of grace and truth in this sense, that He truthfully deals with matters of fact relating to our salvation. I know the notion of the world is that the salvation of Christ is a pretty dream, a fine piece of sentiment; but there is nothing dreamy about it: it is no fiction; it is fact upon fact. The Lord Jesus Christ does not gloss over or conceal the condition of man in order to secure his salvation. He finds man condemned, and condemned in the very worst sense, condemned for a capital offence; and as man’s Substitute, He endures the capital penalty, and dies in the sinner’s stead. The Lord Jesus views the sinner as depraved, yea, as dead in trespasses and sins, and He quickens him by His own resurrection life. He does not wink at the result of the Fall, and at the guilt of actual sin; but He comes to the dead sinner, and gives him life; He touches the diseased heart, and heals it. To me, the Gospel is a wonderful embodiment of omnipotent wisdom and truth. If the Gospel had said to men, “The law of God is certainly righteous, but it is too stern, too exacting, and therefore God will wink at many sins, and make provision for salvation by omitting to punish much of human guilt,” we should always have been in jeopardy. If God could be unjust to save us, He could also be changeable, and cast us away. If there was anything rotten in the God-made structure of our salvation, we should fear that it would fail us at last. But the building is secure, and the foundation is sure, for the Lord has excavated down to the solid rock. He has taken away all sentiment and sham, and His salvation is real and substantial throughout. It is a glorious salvation of grace and truth, in which God takes the sinner as he is, and deals with him as he is; yea, and deals with the sinner as God is, on the principles of true righteousness; and yet saves him, because the Lord deals with him in the way of grace, and that grace encourages a great many hopes, and those hopes are all realized, for they are based upon God’s truth. Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 126–130). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Grace - Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer Grace by Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer Author's Preface THROUGH false emphasis by many religious leaders, Christianity has become in the estimation of a large part of the public no more than an ethical system. The revealed fact, however, is that the supreme feature of the Christian faith is that supernatural, saving, transforming work of God, which is made possible through the infinite sacrifice of Christ and which, in sovereign grace, is freely bestowed on all who believe. God has given instruction to those who are saved, it is true, as to the manner of life which is consistent with their new heavenly calling and standing in Christ; but in its spiritual blindness, the world, led by its blind leaders, sees in Christianity only the rule of life which is secondary. The blindness of the world at this point, with the consequent neglect of all that is vital in the Christian faith, is both anticipated and explained in the Word of God. The two foundation truths which determine all spiritual perception are that, by divine arrangement, (1) the Spirit is given only to those who are saved, and (2) spiritual understanding is made to depend exclusively on the presence of the Spirit of God in the heart. The precise body of truth which may be understood only through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit is described as, “things” related to the Father, “things” related to the Son, “things” related to the Spirit, “things” to come, and “the kingdom of God”. We read: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually [by the Spirit] discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him” (John 14:17). “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ … should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3, 4). “The world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). “He that is spiritual judgeth [discerneth] all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (1 Cor. 2:15). “Now we have received … the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13–15). “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 John 2:27). “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9, 10). “Through faith we understand” (Heb. 11:3). Spiritual understanding is not, therefore, dependent upon human sagacity or learning; it depends only on the teaching of the indwelling Spirit. Possessing this Biblical testimony, misunderstanding at this point is without excuse. Likewise, the terms upon which men may now be saved and thus receive the Spirit are as clearly defined in the Scripture. Salvation is by grace through faith. It is the result of the transforming work of God for man, and not the result of the work of man for God. It is that which God does for the one who trusts the Saviourhood of Christ. By that trust, Christ is personally received as the divine Redeemer who shed His blood as a sufficient ransom for the guilt and penalty of sin, as the One who reconciles by having taken away the sin of the world, and as the divine Propitiation who, as Substitute, met every indictment brought against the sinner under the holy government of God. Since the Spirit is given only to those who are saved through faith in Christ, they alone are able to receive the particular body of truth which the Spirit teaches. Neglect of this fundamental, unalterable fact is the key-error of all modernism. It is assumed by the modernist that any person whose education has qualified him to be an authority in matters of human learning, regardless of the new birth and the indwelling Spirit, is also qualified, because of that learning, to speak with authority concerning the things of God. That the leaders of modernism are unregenerate men and therefore themselves spiritually blind is self-revealed by their attitude toward that truth which forms the only basis upon which, according to the Scriptures, a soul may be saved. When men avowedly disbelieve that the death of Christ was vicarious and substitutionary, they have rejected the only grounds upon which, according to the Word of God, the saving work of God righteously can be wrought for the sinner. Rejecting the saving truth of the Gospel, these men could not be saved upon any promise or provision of God. Though educated, religious, and sympathetic to the ethical ideals of the Bible, such men, being unregenerate, are of necessity totally blind to all that body of truth which is said to be imparted by the indwelling Spirit. Preaching and teaching under these limitations, Christianity is represented by these men as a system of ethics only. The first step in spiritual understanding is the knowledge of God as Father. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Mt. 11:27). “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Until God becomes real to the heart by the direct ministry of Christ as Saviour, all His ways and works are unreal. Not knowing God, the unregenerate mind is not satisfied with the explanation of the origin of things which declares that God directly created things as they are. To such a mind, it is actually easier to believe in a supposed natural development from nothing to something, and to hide all attending problems resulting from this theory behind the mists of a measureless past. If God is not real, there could be no inerrant Book; the Bible must be fallible as man; nor could God be manifest in the flesh; the Son of God must be of illegitimate birth, and though the greatest of all teachers, to them, He is really no more divine than ordinary mortals. These blind guides are forced to give some explanation to the meaning of the death of Christ. They therefore contend that He died as an heroic martyr, a loyal patriot, as a wonderful moral example of fortitude, or to show the wickedness of sin. They utterly reject the only reason given in the Word of God for the death of Christ—He died that others might not die. They brand this saving truth as “immoral,” and “unworthy of the goodness of God.” They understand little of the resurrection of Christ, His present ministry in heaven, and nothing of the revelation that He is coming again. To these religious leaders, there is no supernatural; for God is not real. There could be no immediate salvation through the Spirit. The salvation in which they believe is assumed to be the result of a self-created character, and the life to be lived is represented only as an heroic struggle of the flesh. If unregenerate men could understand anything better than this, the Word of God would be proven untrue. It is equally true, that, those who are spiritually blind are unconscious of their blindness until they are saved by the grace and power of God through Christ. Coming thus into the light, they testify, as all who have ever been saved have testified: “Whereas I was blind, now I see.” They, like all the unsaved, could be aware of their blindness if they would receive the testimony of God concerning their own limitations; but this is precisely what they will not do. Therefore, a notable neglect of the most vital truths of Scripture and the denial of the essential glories of divine grace is to be expected from these religious leaders who reject the only grounds of salvation through the substitionary death of Christ. Modernists content themselves with borrowing some ideals from the Bible while reserving the right to reject whatever is not desired. Those portions which are acceptable to the unregenerate mind are received and taught as being authorative on the basis of the fact that these ideals are in the Bible. Here, indeed, is strange inconsistency on the part of men who pride themselves on their scientific reasonings. The unsaved preacher or teacher, being able to comprehend only the ethical teachings of the Scriptures, is a living proof of the truthfulness of the divine Testimony. He cannot see the kingdom of God. He sees nothing of the glories of divine grace—the things of the Father, the things of Christ, the things of the Spirit, and things to come. He blindly ignores every dispensational division of the Word of God and is, therefore, free within himself to draw material from the kingdom teachings of Christ and from the law of Moses while constructing his world-improvement, sociological theories which he imposes on a Christ-rejecting world. Men of this character are sufficiently numerous in this day of apostasy to be responsible for the present-day impression that the sole objective of Christianity is the improvement of human conduct. Being blind to the real principles and purposes of saving grace, they teach that it makes little difference what is believed, it is the life that counts. Against this is the overwhelming testimony of the Word of God that every aspect of salvation and every blessing of divine grace in time and eternity is conditioned only on what is believed. Influenced by these misunderstandings concerning the Truth, few serious-minded young men will choose to enter the ministerial profession; for it would mean the assumption of the role of a mere moralist. Common modesty generally precludes such an assumption. On the other hand, when the essential message of Christianity is seen to be the measureless, transforming grace of God with all of its eternal glories in the new creation in Christ, it is a challenge to the deepest impulses of the heart, and offers a ministry for which one may well sacrifice all. Christians are ambassadors for Christ and are commissioned to preach the Gospel to every creature. This ministry does not consist in either the education or the moral improvement of lost men while they are on their way to hell; it is the proclamation of the mighty, redeeming, transforming grace of God which offers eternal life and eternal glory to all who will believe. If it shall please God to use this exposition in any measure to the unfolding of the riches of His grace, the labor expended in its preparation will not have been in vain. This very inadequate treatment concerning the grace of God is committed to Him that He may in some way use its message to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. LEWIS SPERRY CHAFER. March, 1922. (Public Domain) Chafer, L. S. (1922). Grace (pp. vii–xiv). Philadelphia, PA: Sunday School Times Company. Discipleship is Dynamic, Relational, and All of Grace Discipleship is Dynamic, Relational, and All of Grace Discipleship in most Christian circles is treated as a separate part of the Christian Experience. However, biblical discipleship is part of the salvation message and refers to the believer’s daily walk. Biblical discipleship begins at the point of faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross and continues until he takes us home with Him in glory. This may be expressed as, “We are being saved from the penalty of sin, and are now being saved from the power of sin and we will eventually be saved from the presence of sin.” Jesus says that His disciples will live according to His Word, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly My disciples” (John 8:31). “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in my and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Disciples are like sheep who are secure and daily follow Jesus as their Shepherd, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:14-16). The following acrostic is a simple outline illustrating God’s GRACE in discipleship. G — GOSPEL The good news is that our salvation is all of grace by faith in Christ — not of any self-effort as expressed by the Apostle Paul, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). He continues regarding our daily walk of grace (our sanctification), “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk I them” (Ephesians 2:10). The Apostle reminds us that this life is not a do-it-yourself-kit or a self-reformation program, but, “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Christian life is all of God! It is His grace from start to finish! R — RELATIONSHIP It is often taught that we believers are “saved to serve.” In other words, God saved us because He somehow needs our help. Obviously, in Genesis 2 and 3 we find that God served Adam and Eve rather than they serve Him. He placed them in the Garden of Eden where all their needs were supplied. In fact, God, desiring their fellowship, also walked with them in the cool of the day — relationship! Jesus demonstrated for us His desire for relationship as He taught and interacted with His disciples and followers. He told of and revealed His intimate relationship with His Father. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). We Christians are precious to God in that He has chosen to have a close, intimate relationship with us by dwelling within us, even as God dwelt within Jesus. He promised His disciples, “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He bears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:13-14). Christ graciously saved us for relationship with Himself! A — ALIGNMENT Freedom and independence are the hallmarks of Americans. Jesus uses the metaphor of goats and sheep to illustrate independent and dependent people (Matthew 24:31-35). Goats are very independent and can take care of themselves, but sheep are very dependent and need someone to care for them. As Christians we are no longer to live as independent goats, but as sheep dependent upon our good Shepherd, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand, My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30). God graciously saved us in order to bring us into alignment with Himself and His purposes! C — CHRIST IS LIFE The emphasis of our American upbringing, education, sports and recreation is focused on our being the very best we can be. Often Christians are challenged that God deserves excellence in everything. So, we try harder and harder to please God by attempting to improve the old Adamic nature. This always proves to be fruitless, as the Apostle Paul cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” And then with a sigh of relief, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25)! Jesus Christ came to redeem us from sin and from the futility of trying to live up to the Law [the standard of life that He designed for mankind]. The Apostle Paul answers, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… 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” (Romans 5:6, 10). The focus of the Christian life must always be upon the Lord Jesus Christ — and Him alone. “Christ is our life” (Colossians 3:4). The writer of Hebrews refers to the Christian life as a life of resting daily from our creative work as God did on the seventh day from His creative work. But as God continues to actively keep the universe going, we are to rest upon Jesus Christ to keep our lives by His life. “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:9-11). God graciously dwells within us to live out His perfect life in, through and with our faithful participation with Him. E — EXHALT CHRIST Much of the emphasis of the church today is upon preaching and teaching the Scriptures, worship music, evangelism, programs for self development, service, addiction recovery and community outreach. These are all good and commendable, but mostly mankind centered. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Body, the church, both universally, and locally. He should be revered and allowed to lead every aspect of one’s life and ministry, whether it be corporate worship, programs, boards, committees, and the like. Jesus said; “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Lifting up Jesus wherever we are and whatever we are doing is a privilege — not a burden. The Apostle Paul encourages us to preach and teach Christ always, “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25). IN CONCLUSION Biblical discipleship begins at the point of faith in Christ and continues through life until Christ takes us home with Him to heaven. The grace of discipleship is that Jesus Christ is the source and fulfillment of the disciple’s daily life— from beginning to end. Truly it is ALL OF GRACE! About the Author: Pastor Bingham is the founder of CupBearers, and was for 17 years a missionary with Cadence International and has been the Pastor of Rocky Mountain Evangelical Free Church for 32 years. He also served on the CMF Board of Directors for several years. Shepherding Grace Ministries PO Box 1930 Englewood, CO 80150-1930 http://www.ShepherdingGrace.org Romans 5:15 - Grace Abounds to Many Hath abounded unto many - That is, Christ Jesus died for every man; salvation is free for all; saving grace is tendered to every soul; and a measure of the Divine light is actually communicated to every heart, John 1:9. And, as the grace is offered, so it may be received; and hence the apostle says, Romans 5:17: They which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by Christ Jesus: and by receiving is undoubtedly meant not only the act of receiving, but retaining and improving the grace which they receive; and, as all may receive, so All may improve and retain the grace they do receive; and, consequently, All may be eternally saved. But of multitudes Christ still may say, They Will not come unto me, that they might have life. (Dr. Adam Clarke) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. (NASB) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (KJV) But there is a great difference between Adam's sin and God's gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other Man, Jesus Christ. (NLT) But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ multiply to the many! (NET) The sin of Adam led to condemnation. The righteousness of Christ leads to Grace bestowed upon all who believe. There are a great many contrasts between these two expressed. In 1 Corinthians 15 Adam is a "figure of him that was to come" and Christ is the "last Adam" and "second man." Adam is an earthly vessel and Christ is the Lord from heaven. Adam brings to us all guilt, condemnation and death. Whereas Christ brings to all righteousness, justification and life. One single act of commission brought death to all mankind, while Grace covers a whole world full of debt and countless acts of sin! The One who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9 NLT) For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one Man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17 NLT) We must observe here that from the end of Verse 12 to that of 17 (Romans 5:12-17) is a parenthesis: only the idea is developed, as in similar cases. In the parenthesis the apostle, after having presented Adam as the figure of Him who was to come — of Christ, argues that the character of the gift cannot be inferior to that of the evil. If the sin of the one first man was not confined in its effects to him who committed it, but extended to all those who as a race were connected with him, with much greater reason shall the grace which is by one, Christ Jesus, not end in Him, but embrace the many under Him also. And with regard to the thing, as well as to the person — and here the law is in view — one single offence brought in death, but grace remits a multitude of offences. Thus it could suffice for that which the law had made necessary. And, as to the effect, death has reigned; but by grace, not only shall life reign, but we shall reign in life by One according to the abundance of grace — by Jesus Christ. (Dr. John Darby) Romans 5:20 - Super-abounding Grace G3922 παρεισε?ρχομαι pareiserchomai Thayer Definition: 1) to come in secretly or by stealth, or creep or steal in 2) to enter in addition, come in besides Rom 5:20 The law came in between - The offence and the free gift. That the offence might abound - That is, the consequence (not the design) of the law's coming in was, not the taking away of sin, but the increase of it. Yet where sin abounded, grace did much more abound - Not only in the remission of that sin which Adam brought on us, but of all our own; not only in remission of sins, but infusion of holiness; not only in deliverance from death, but admission to everlasting life, a far more noble and excellent life than that which we lost by Adam's fall. (John Wesley) The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (NASB) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (KJV) God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful grace became more abundant. (NLT) Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, (NET) Gal 2:4 Even that question came up only because of some so-called Christians there—false ones, really—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. New Living Translation The law, (Mosaic Law) with all of its rites and ceremonies was considered confined to the Jewish people till the Messiah would appear. However, it should be considered the moral law, the law of our conscience and of life that has been imprinted upon our hearts so that our true depraved nature might become apparent. The law was not new but rather "came alongside" something that was already in existence—the law written upon our heats. So it can be said that wherever the Gospel may go, the law goes as well that we may be led to that place where we find the disparity of our condition—the pool of blood from the fatal wound inflicted by our sinful selves from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Then may we see the Gospel in its true light—able to super-lift us from death to live, from piteous estate to Glory. So where the law goes there is sin and where sin is, Grace is available to all who would believe! That is why Christ's Grace is so Amazing! By Christ and his righteousness, we have more and greater privileges than we lost by the offence of Adam. The moral law showed that many thoughts, tempers, words, and actions, were sinful, thus transgressions were multiplied. Not making sin to abound the more, but discovering the sinfulness of it, even as the letting in a clearer light into a room, discovers the dust and filth which were there before, but were not seen. The sin of Adam, and the effect of corruption in us, are the abounding of that offence which appeared on the entrance of the law. And the terrors of the law make gospel comforts the more sweet. Thus God the Holy Spirit has, by the blessed apostle, delivered to us a most important truth, full of consolation, suited to our need as sinners. Whatever one may have above another, every man is a sinner against God, stands condemned by the law, and needs pardon. A righteousness that is to justify cannot be made up of a mixture of sin and holiness. There can be no title to an eternal reward without a pure and spotless righteousness: let us look for it, even to the righteousness of Christ. (Matthew Henry) Gal 3:19 Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. New Living Translation Rom 7:7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "You must not covet." New Living Translation The Ploughman The Ploughman "Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?"—Isaiah 28:24. UNLESS they are cultivated, fields yield us nothing but briars and thistles. In this we may see ourselves. Unless the great Husbandman shall till us by his grace, we shall produce nothing that is good, but everything that is evil. If one of these days I shall hear that a country has been discovered where wheat grows without the work of the farmer, I may then, perhaps, hope to find one of our race who will bring forth holiness without the grace of God. Hitherto all land on which the foot of man has trodden has needed labour and care; and even so among men the need of gracious tillage is universal. Jesus says to all of us, "Ye must be born again." Unless God the Holy Spirit breaks up the heart with the plough of the law, and sows it with the seed of the gospel, not a single ear of holiness will any of us produce, even though we may be children of godly parents, and may be regarded as excellent moral people by those with whom we live. Yes, and the plough is needed not only to produce that which is good, but to destroy that which is evil. There are diseases which, in the course of ages, wear themselves out, and do not appear again among men; and there may be forms of vice which, under changed circumstances, do not so much abound as they used to do; but human nature will always remain the same, and therefore there will always be plentiful crops of the weeds of sin in man’s fields, and nothing can keep these under but spiritual husbandry, carried on by the Spirit of God. You cannot destroy weeds by exhortations, nor can you tear out the roots of sin from the soul by moral suasion; something sharper and more effectual must be brought to bear upon them. God must put his own right hand to the plough, or the hemlock of sin will never give place to the corn of holiness. Good is never spontaneous in unrenewed humanity, and evil is never cut up till the ploughshare of almighty grace is driven through it. The text leads our thoughts in this direction, and gives us practical guidance through asking the simple question, "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?" This question may be answered in the affirmative, "Yes, in the proper season he does plough all day to sow"; and, secondly, this text may more properly be answered in the negative, "No, the ploughman does not plough every day to sow; he has other work to do according to the season." I. First, our text may be answered in the affirmative,—"Yes, the ploughman does plough all day to sow." When it is ploughing time he keeps on at it till his work is done; if it requires one day, or two days, or twenty days to finish his fields, he continues at his task while the weather permits. The perseverance of the ploughman is instructive, and it teaches us a double lesson. When the Lord comes to plough the heart of man he ploughs all day, and herein is his patience; and, secondly, so ought the Lord’s servants to labour all day with men’s hearts, and herein is our perseverance. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" So doth God plough the heart of man, and herein is his patience. The team was in the field in the case of some of us very early in the morning, for our first recollections have to do with conscience and the furrows of pain which it made in our youthful mind. When we were little children we woke in the night under a sense of sin; our father’s teaching and our mother’s prayers made deep and painful impressions upon us, and though we did not then yield our hearts to God, we were greatly stirred, and all indifference to religion was made impossible. When we were boys at school the reading of a chapter in the Word of God, or the death of a playmate, or an address at a Bible-class, or a solemn sermon, so affected us that we were uneasy for weeks. The strivings of the Spirit of God within urged us to think of higher and better things. Though we quenched the Spirit, though we stifled conviction, yet we bore the marks of the ploughshare; furrows were made in the soul, and certain foul weeds of evil were cut up by the roots although no seed of grace was as yet sown in our hearts. Some have continued in this state for many years, ploughed but not sown; but, blessed be God, it was not so with others of us; for we had not left boyhood before the good seed of the gospel fell upon our heart. Alas! there are many who do not thus yield to grace, and with them the ploughman ploughs all day to sow. I have seen the young man coming to London in his youth, yielding to its temptations, drinking in its poisoned sweets, violating his conscience, and yet continuing unhappy in it all, fearful, unrestful, stirred about even as the soil is agitated by the plough. In how many cases has this kind of work gone on for years, and all to no avail. Ah! and I have known the man come to middle life, and still he has not received the good seed, neither has the ground of his hard heart been thoroughly broken up. He has gone on in business without God: day after day he has risen and gone to bed again with no more religion than his horses, and yet all this while there have been ringing in his ears warnings of judgment to come, and chidings of conscience, so that he has not been at peace. After a powerful sermon he has not enjoyed his meals, or been able to sleep, for he has asked himself, "What shall I do in the end thereof?" The ploughman has ploughed all day, till the evening shadows have lengthened and the day has faded to a close. What a mercy it is when the furrows are at last made ready and the good seed is cast in, to be received, nurtured, and multiplied a hundredfold. It is mournful to remember that we have seen this ploughing continue till the sun has touched the horizon and the night dews have begun to fall. Even then the long-suffering God has followed up his work—ploughing, ploughing, ploughing, ploughing, till darkness ended all. Do I address any aged ones whose lease must soon run out? I would affectionately beseech them to consider their position. What! Threescore years old and yet unsaved? Forty years did God suffer the manners of Israel in the wilderness, but he has borne with you for sixty years. Seventy years old, and yet unregenerated! Ah, my friend, you will have but little time in which to serve your Saviour before you go to heaven. But will you go there at all? Is it not growing dreadfully likely that you will die in your sins and perish for ever? How happy are those who are brought to Christ in early life; but still remember— "While the lamp holds out to burn, The vilest sinner may return." It is late, it is very late, but it is not too late. The ploughman ploughs all day; and the Lord waits that he may be gracious unto you. I have seen many aged persons converted, and therefore I would encourage other old folks to believe in Jesus. I once read a sermon in which a minister asserted that he had seldom known any converted who were over forty years of age if they had been hearers of the gospel all their lives. There is certainly much need to caution those who are guilty of delay, but there must be no manufacturing of facts. Whatever that minister might think, or even observe, my own observation leads me to believe that about as many people are converted to God at one age as at another, taking into consideration the fact that the young are much more numerous than the old. It is a dreadful thing to have remained an unbeliever all these years; but yet the grace of God does not stop short at a certain age; those who enter the vineyard at the eleventh hour shall have their penny, and grace shall be glorified in the old as well as in the young. Come along, old friend, Jesus Christ invites you to come to him even now, though you have stood out so long. You have been a sadly tough piece of ground, and the ploughman has ploughed all day; but if at last the sods are turned, and the heart is lying in ridges, there is hope of you yet. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" I answer,—Yes, however long the day may be, God in mercy ploughs still, he is long-suffering, and full of tenderness and mercy and grace. Do not spurn such patience, but yield to the Lord who has acted towards you with so much gentle love. The text, however, not only sets forth patience on God’s part, but it teaches perseverance on our part. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Yes, he does; then if I am seeking Christ, ought I to be discouraged because I do not immediately find him? The promise is, "He that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." There may be reasons why the door is not opened at our first knock. What then? "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Then will I knock all day. It may be at the first seeking I may not find; what then? "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Then will I seek all day. It may happen that at my first asking I shall not receive; what then? "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Then will I ask all day. Friends, if you have begun to seek the Lord, the short way is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Do that at once. In the name of God do it at once, and you are saved at once. May the Spirit of God bring you to faith in Jesus, and you are at once in the kingdom of Christ. But if peradventure in seeking the Lord, you are ignorant of this, or do not see your way, never give up seeking; get to the foot of the cross, lay hold of it, and cry, "If I perish I will perish here. Lord, I come to thee in Jesus Christ for mercy, and if thou art not pleased to look at me immediately, and forgive my sins, I will cry to thee till thou dost." When God’s Holy Spirit brings a man to downright earnest prayer which will not take a denial, he is not far from peace. Careless indifference and shillyshallying with God hold men in bondage. They find peace when their hearts are roused to strong resolve to seek until they find. I like to see men search the Scriptures till they learn the way of salvation, and hear the gospel till their souls live by it. If they are resolved to drive the plough through doubts, and fears, and difficulties, till they come to salvation, they shall soon come to it by the grace of God. The same is true in seeking the salvation of others. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Yes, when it is ploughing-time. Then, so will I work on, and on, and on. I will pray and preach, or pray and teach, however long the day may be that God shall appoint me, for— "’Tis all my business here below The precious gospel seed to sow." Brother worker, are you getting a little weary? Never mind, rouse yourself, and plough on for the love of Jesus, and dying men. Our day of work has in it only the appointed hours, and while they last let us fulfil our task. Ploughing is hard work; but as there will be no harvest without it, let us just put forth all our strength, and never flag till we have performed our Lord’s will, and by his Holy Spirit wrought conviction in men’s souls. Some soils are very stiff, and cling together, and the labour is heart-breaking; others are like the unreclaimed waste, full of roots and tangled bramble; they need a steam-plough, and we must pray the Lord to make us such, for we cannot leave them untilled, and therefore we must put forth more strength that the labour may be done. I heard some time ago of a minister who called to see a poor man who was dying, but he was not able to gain admittance; he called the next morning, and some idle excuse was made so that he could not see him; he called again the next morning, but he was still refused; he went on till he called twenty times in vain, but on the twenty-first occasion he was permitted to see the sufferer, and by God’s grace he saved a soul from death. "Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?" asked some one of a mother. "Because," said she, "I find nineteen times is not enough." Now, when a soul is to be ploughed, it may so happen that hundreds of furrows will not do it. What then? Why, plough all day till the work is done. Whether you are ministers, missionaries, teachers, or private soul-winners, never grow weary, for your work is noble, and the reward of it is infinite. The grace of God is seen in our being permitted to engage in such holy service; it is greatly magnified in sustaining us in it, and it will be pre-eminently conspicuous in enabling us to hold out till we can say, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." We prize that which costs us labour and service, and we shall set all the higher value upon the saved ones when the Lord grants them to our efforts. It is good for us to learn the value of our sheaves by going forth weeping to the sowing. When you think of the ploughman’s ploughing all day, be moved to plod on in earnest efforts to win souls. Seek— "With cries, entreaties, tears to save And snatch them from the fiery wave." Doth the ploughman plough all day for a little bit of oats or barley, and will not you plough all day for souls that shall live for ever, if saved, to adore the grace of God, or shall live for ever, if unsaved, in outer darkness and woe? Oh, by the terrors of the wrath to come, and the glory that is to be revealed, gird up your loins, and plough all day. I would beg all the members of our churches to keep their hands on the gospel plough, and their eyes straight before them. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" let Christians do the same. Start close to the hedge, and go right down to the bottom of the field. Plough as close to the ditch as you can, and leave small headlands. What though there are fallen women, thieves, and drunkards in the slums around, do not neglect any of them; for if you leave a stretch of land to the weeds they will soon spread amongst the wheat. When you have gone right to the end of the field once, what shall you do next? Why, just turn round, and make for the place you started from. And when you have thus been up and down, what next? Why, up and down again. And what next? Why, up and down again. You have visited that district with tracts; do it again, fifty-two times in the year—multiply your furrows. We must learn how to continue in well doing. Your eternal destiny is to go on doing good for ever and ever, and it is well to go through a rehearsal here. So just plough on, plough on, and look for results as the reward of continued perseverance. Ploughing is not done with a skip and a jump: the ploughman ploughs all day. Dash and flash are all very fine in some things, but not in ploughing: there the work must be steady, persistent, regular. Certain persons soon give it up, it wears out their gloves, blisters their soft hands, tires their bones, and makes them eat their bread rather more in the sweat of their face than they care for. Those whom the Lord fills with his grace will keep to their ploughing year after year, and verily I say unto you, they shall have their reward. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Then let us do the same, being assured that one day every hill and valley shall be tilled and sown, and every desert and wilderness shall yield a harvest for our Lord, and the angel reapers shall descend, and the shouts of the harvest-home shall fill both earth and heaven. II. But, now, somewhat briefly, the text may be answered in the negative. "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?" No, he does not always plough. After he has ploughed he breaks the clods, sows, reaps. and threshes. In the chapter before us you will see that other works of husbandry are mentioned, The ploughman has many other things to do beside ploughing. There is an advance in what he does; this teaches us that there is the like on God’s part, and should be the like on ours. First, on God’s part, there is an advance in what he does. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" No, he goes forward to other matters. It may be that in the case of some of you the Lord has been using certain painful agencies to plough you. You are feeling the terrors of the law the bitterness of sin, the holiness of God, the weakness of the flesh, and the shadow of the wrath to come. Is this going to last for ever? Will it continue till the spirit fails and the soul expires? Listen: "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" No, he is preparing for something else—he ploughs to sow. Thus doth the Lord deal with you; therefore be of good courage, there is an end to the wounding and slaying, and better things are in store for you. You are poor and needy, and you seek water, and there is none, and your tongue faileth for thirst; but the Lord will hear you, and deliver you. He will not contend for ever, neither will he be always wroth. He will turn again, and he will have compassion upon us. He will not always make furrows by his chiding, he will come and cast in the precious corn of consolation, and water it with the dews of heaven, and smile upon it with the sunlight of his grace; and there shall soon be in you, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear, and in due season you shall joy as with the joy of harvest. O ye who are sore wounded in the place of dragons, I hear you cry, Doth God always send terror and conviction of sin? Listen to this,—"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land," and what is the call of God to the willing and obedient but this, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved"? Thou shalt be saved now, find peace now, if thou wilt have done with thyself and all looking to thine own good works to save thee, and wilt turn to him who paid the ransom for thee upon the tree. The Lord is gentle and tender and full of compassion, he will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger for ever. Many of your doubts and fears come of unbelief, or of Satan, or of the flesh, and are not of God at all. Blame him not for what he does not send, and does not wish you to suffer. His mind is for your peace, not for your distress; for thus he speaks—"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned." "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee." He has smitten, but he will smile; he has wounded, but he will heal; he has slain, but he will make alive; therefore turn unto him at once and receive comfort at his hands. The ploughman does not plough for ever, else would he reap no harvest; and God is not always heart-breaking, he also draws near on heart-healing errands. You see, then, that the great husbandman advances from painful agencies, and I want you to mark that he goes on to productive work in the hearts of his people. He will take away the furrows, you shall not see them, for the corn will cover them with beauty. As she that was in travail remembers no more her sorrow for joy that a man is born into the world, so shall you, who are under the legal rod, remember no more the misery of conviction, for God will sow you with grace, and make your soul, even your poor, barren soul to bring forth fruit unto his praise and glory. "Oh!" says one, "I wish that would come true to me." It will, "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?" You expect by-and-by to see ploughed fields clothed with springing corn; and you may look to see repentant hearts gladdened with forgiveness. Therefore, be of good courage. You shall advance, also, to a joyful experience. See that ploughman; he whistles as he ploughs, he does not own much of this world’s goods, but yet he is merry. He looks forward to the day when he will be on the top of the big waggon, joining in the shout of the harvest home, and so he ploughs in hope, expecting a crop. And, dear soul, God will yet joy and rejoice over you when you believe in Jesus Christ, and you, too, shall be brimful of joy. Be of good cheer, the better portion is yet to come, press forward to it. Gospel sorrowing leads on to gospel hoping, believing, rejoicing, and the rejoicing knows no end. God will not chasten all day, but he will lead you on from strength to strength, from glory unto glory, till you shall be like himself. This, then, is the advance that there is in God’s work among men, from painful agencies to productive work and joyful experience. But what if the ploughing should never lead to sowing; what if you should be disturbed in conscience, and should go on to resist it all? Then God will make another advance, but it will be to put up the plough, and to command the clouds that they rain no rain upon the land, and then its end is to be burned. Oh! man, there is nothing more awful than for your soul to be left to go out of cultivation; God himself giving you up. Surely that is hell. He that is unholy will be unholy still. The law of fixity of character will operate eternally, and no hand of the merciful One shall come near to till the soul again. What worse than this can happen? We conclude by saying that this advance is a lesson to us; for we, too, are to go forward. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" No, he ploughs to sow, and in due time he sows. Some churches seem to think that all they have to do is to plough; at least, all they attempt is a kind of scratching of the soil, and talking of what they are going to do. It is fine talk, certainly; but doth the ploughman plough all day? You may draw up a large programme and promise great things; but pray do not stop there. Don’t be making furrows all day; do get to your sowing. I fancy that those who promise most perform the least. Men who do much in the world have no programme at first, their course works itself out by its own inner force by the grace of God: they do not propose, but perform. They do not plough all day to sow, but they are like our Lord’s servant in the parable, of whom he saith, "the sower went forth to sow." Let the ministers of Christ also follow the rule of advance. Let us go from preaching the law to preaching the gospel. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" He does plough: he would not sow in hope if he had not first prepared the ground. Robbie Flockart, who preached for years in the Edinboro’ streets, says, "It is in vain to sew with the silk thread of the gospel, unless you use the sharp needle of the law." Some of my brethren do not care to preach eternal wrath and its terrors. This is a cruel mercy, for they ruin souls by hiding from them their ruin. If they must needs try to sew without a needle, I cannot help it; but I do not mean to be so foolish myself; my needle may be old-fashioned, but it is sharp, and when it carries with it the silken thread of the gospel, I am sure good work is done by it. You cannot get a harvest if you are afraid of disturbing the soil, nor can you save souls if you never warn them of hell fire. We must tell the sinner what God has revealed about sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. Still, brethren, we must not plough all day. No, no, the preaching of the law is only preparatory to the preaching of the gospel. The stress of our business lies in proclaiming glad tidings. We are not followers of John the Baptist, but of Jesus Christ; we are not rugged prophets of woe, but joyful heralds of grace. Be not satisfied with revival services, and stirring appeals, but preach the doctrines of grace so as to bring out the full compass of covenant truth. Ploughing has had its turn, now for planting and watering. Reproof may now give place to consolation. We are first to make disciples of men, and then to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Jesus has commanded us. We must pass on from the rudiments to the higher truths, from laying foundations to further upbuilding. And now, another lesson to those of you who are as yet hearers and nothing more. I want you to go from ploughing to something better, namely, from hearing and fearing to believing. How many years some of you have been hearing the gospel! Do you mean to continue in that state for ever? Will you never believe in him of whom you hear so much? You have been stirred up a good deal; the other night you went home almost broken-hearted; I should think you are ploughed enough by this time; and yet you have not received the seed of eternal life, for you have not believed in the Lord Jesus. It is dreadful to be always on the brink of everlasting life, and yet never to be alive. It will be an awful thing to be almost in heaven, and yet for ever shut out. It is a wretched thing to rush into a railway-station just in time to see the train steaming out; I had much rather be half-an-hour behind time. To lose a train by half-a-second is most annoying. Alas, if you go on as you have done for years, you will have your hand on the latch of heaven and yet be shut out. You will be within a hair’s breadth of glory, and yet be covered with eternal shame. O beware of being so near to the kingdom, and yet lost; almost, but not altogether saved. God grant that you may not be among those who are ploughed, and ploughed, and ploughed, and yet never sown. It will be of no avail at the last to cry, "Lord, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. We had a seat at the chapel, we attended the services on week-nights as well as on Sundays, we went to prayer-meetings, we joined a Bible-class, we distributed tracts, we subscribed our guinea to the funds, we gave up every open sin, we used a form of prayer, and read a chapter of the Bible every day." All these things may be done, and yet there may be no saving faith in the Lord Jesus. Take heed lest your Lord should answer, "With all this, your heart never came to me; therefore, depart from me, I never knew you." If Jesus once knows a man he always knows him. He can never say to me, "I never knew you," for he has known me as his poor dependent, a beggar for years at his door. Some of you have been all that is good except that you never came into contact with Christ, never trusted him, never knew him. Ah me, how sad your state! Will it be always so? Lastly, I would say to you who are being ploughed, and are agitated about your souls, Go at once to the next stage of believing. Oh! if people did but know how simple a thing believing is, surely they would believe. Alas, they do not know it, and it becomes all the more difficult to them because in itself it is so easy. The difficulty of believing lies in there being no difficulty in it. "If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it?" Oh, yes, you would have done it, and you would have thought it easy too; but when he simply says, "Wash, and be clean," there is a difficulty with pride and self. If you can truly say that you are willing to abase your pride, and do anything which the Lord bids you, then I pray you understand that there is no further preparation required, and believe in Jesus at once. May the Holy Spirit make you sick of self, and ready to accept the gospel. The word is nigh thee, let it be believed; it is in thy mouth, let it be swallowed down; it is in thy heart, let it be trusted. With your heart believe in Jesus, and with your mouth make confession of him, and you shall be saved. A main part of faith lies in the giving up of all other confidences. O give up at once every false hope. I tried once to show what faith was by quoting Dr. Watts’ lines:— "A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On thy kind arms I fall. Be thou my strength, and righteousness, My Jesus and my all." I tried to represent faith as falling into Christ’s arms, and I thought I made it so plain that the wayfaring man could not err therein. When I had finished preaching, a young man came to me and said, "But, sir, I cannot fall upon Christ’s arms." I replied at once, "Tumble into them anyhow; faint away into Christ’s arms, or die into Christ’s arms, so long as you get there." Many talk of what they can do and what they cannot do, and I fear they miss the vital point. Faith is leaving off can-ing and cannot-ing, and leaving it all to Christ, for he can do all things, though you can do nothing. "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?" No, he makes progress, and goes from ploughing to sowing. Go, and do thou likewise: sow unto the Spirit the precious seed of faith in Christ, and the Lord will give thee a joyous harvest. Comments are closed.