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More Musings on the New Birth February 13, 2007

Posted by Joe in Scripture Meditation.
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Lar,

Great stuff.  I will keep this short (at least that is my intention now), because I want to point everyone to your post.  I have two thoughts.

1)  I just want to clarify one sentence in your last post that wasn’t clear.  I am quite sure I know what you meant to say, but it didn’t quite come out that way.  You said at one point, “We must receive Christ by faith, as Jim W. alluded to, but that receiving is done not by an act of the will, but by God Himself.”

I trust you will agree with me when I clarify that receiving Christ by faith is done by an act of the will.  The point you seemed to be making was that the inclination or desire and thus, ability to make that decision or act of the will comes as a gift from God.  Ephesians 2 makes this clear enough, along with verses 12 and 13 in John chapter 1, which you quoted in your last post.  We must make the decision.  Absolutely.  But the Word of God makes clear that sinful man lacks the desire and thus, the ability to make such a decision apart from the grace of God.  ‘He gave the right to become children of God.’ (John 1:12)  So it is that we must be born again in order to see the kingdom.  No decision can be made apart form the new birth.  I know you will agree, but just wanted to clarify that for everyone.

2)  I am very thankful that you mentioned the God-ordained means for bringing the new birth.  That was going to be a further thought of mine that I no longer need to clarify.  I would just say here that it is very important.  We want to tell people that they cannot be born again apart from a sovereign work of God.  Yet we should never leave them without hope (and means).  I remember telling a teammate of mine last year time and again, “You can’t make it happen, but you need to do everything you possibly can to make it happen.”  I said more, of course, but I told him that time and again.  “Read the Bible.  Pray for a new heart.  Read books.  Stop sinning!  Repent!  Listen to good preaching.  On and on I could go. But know, that these don’t guarantee anything, just like being a religious leader didn’t guarantee Nicodemus anything.  You must be born again!”

I remember reading that one of the Puritans used to say, “If you lock up your Bible, keep yourself away from Christian fellowship and don’t attend Church to sit under the preaching of the Word, you keep yourself from being saved.”  That isn’t an exact quote of course.  I’m sure they said it much better, but the point is clear.  If you stay away from the means, don’t expect the end.

One more thing I would mention here is the importance of being faithful with the ordained means.  Preachers have a huge responsibility (as you know), and so does every Christian, to be faithful with the message.  Giving people the four spiritual laws isn’t enough.  We need to be entrenched with the truth, so that it comes dripping out of us in such a way that people recognize first, their desperate need for new life and second, the fact that only God can give it.  Third probably, that they need to do everything they possibly can to get it!  And in that there is no contradiction.  The need for sovereign grace never means you should continue with your same way of life.  “You need sovereign grace?  Then seek hard for sovereign grace!  Turn from your sin and hold onto the Lord like Jacob.  Don’t let Him go until He grants the blessing!”

This is indeed how we must speak.  There must be an urgency.   And that urgency won’t come until we realize how desperate people are for a sovereign work.  They must make a decision, but they can’t make a decision!  If this won’t make us fall to our knees in prayer for the salvation of souls, what will?  If this won’t bring tears and brokenhearted pleeing, what will?  And if this won’t humble our arrogant hearts and bring us down to the dust, rejoicing in sovereign grace, what will?

Just as those who do not believe are desperate for a sovereign work of grace so that they might be saved, so also are we for a sovereign work of grace so that we might long for the Lord to save them!   And are we to sit on our hands and knees?  By no means!  So let us seek the grace to live with broken hearts until the Lord grants them!  Never will there come a time when we are not desperate for more mercy.  And in that, let us rejoice!

Continually pursuing sovereign grace with you,

Joe

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Comments»

1. larrylaz - February 13, 2007

Thanks for the correction; I’m glad you know my thoughts as well as I do! I guess it helps to proofread what I write, that would keep me from sounding like a hyper-calvinist!

I have changed the sentence in question in my original post to say what I had intended it to say.

Larry

2. Matt Atack - February 14, 2007

Your final point is exactly how I feel…that is, I’m not saying I agree with you, though I agree…what I mean is, I am like the man who needs a soverign work of grace, needs a work of power by the Holy Spirit to renew my heart, to bring about the affections and desire to serve, to love, to treasure. This semester has been all about doing all I can to attain it, knowing only God can grant this. Petition the Holy Spirit on my behalf and remember me in my meanness of disciplines…

3. jc3seekhim - February 14, 2007

Lar,
It’s funny b/c I was actually going to go back and rewrite the sentence, because I knew exactly what you meant, but I figured it would be a good opportunity to make that point at length.
And yea, the whole proofreading thing might be a good idea for the both of us. I know that I just type and post!
Peace,
Joe

And Matt, I’m trusting you got my email. You are an encouragement brother!


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