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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Mark 5:19, "Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee."

This morning, our minds are again drawn to the blessings that flow downstream from grace and mercy.  One of the hardest things to get across to those in the religious world today is that blessings here are a consequence of, not a prerequisite to, the grace and mercy of God. Just this past week, a man told me in the same breath, "Salvation is by the grace of God, and He saves us from our sins. All we have to do is accept His grace to see heaven." When I queried about the work involved that would nullify grace (Romans 11:6), he responded that acceptance was not a work.

Rather, it was just a reception of the "grace offering." Such mindsets are impossible (short of the power of God) to sway into Scripturally logical thinking. And yet, the doctrine that we preach (and that the Bible teaches) is one that is perceived as "a hateful thing that involves an unloving God."  Beloved, anything other than what the Bible teaches about free, unmerited grace, coupled with the election, predestination, redemption, justification, and glorification of God's chosen people would be void of the love that the Scriptures teach.

Whenever the question comes up about the salvation of sinners, the "back-end issues" always eventually
arise. When we use that term, we are describing all the things that flow downstream from the new birth or
the vital beginning of our spiritual life. To some, the job is over when the new birth is effected.  However, this mindset makes as much sense as neglecting a new born baby right after the birth.  After a natural birth, weaning needs to take place followed by continual growth throughout life.  Likewise, our birth from above needs to be followed by continual growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Sadly, some natural children never live to see adulthood. Even sadder, some of God's children do not either, but in God'sfamily, not one of them is left out from being born.   Therefore, getting to the heart of the things that occur following (not preceding) the new birth, let us look at the motivation for doing them.

When Christ healed the wild Gadarene (from the context of the verse above), that act was done before this command was given to him. Had the gospel told him to do what Christ commanded before the legion of devils was cast out, he would have been completely disinclined to do it. The natural man cannot receive  the things of the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 2:14), so any command or exhortation from the minister to do something to effect the new birth would always prove unsuccessful. This idea of "gospel encouraged new birth," were it true, would show forth, not a benevolent God, but rather a god of caprice and glee at weaker creatures stumbling at the things he knew they would fail in. But, when our Loving Creator effects the new creation by His own sovereign grace and mercy, that is it plus nothing to unite us to Him in a vital way. Likewise, the glorious declaration by our Saviour on Calvary, "It is finished" is a comforting proclamation of the success for every heir for whom the offering was made.

Therefore, what are we to do? As I am so often asked, "Why would you then preach?" The answer is quite simple. We need to tell our family and friends how great things the Lord has done for us. We need to search for those inquiring minds that need to know (in their head) what their heart is already telling them by the work of God's laws upon their inward parts.

 
When we speak of the greatness of God's mercy that saved us from our sins, they can cry out with joy, "He
died for me!" During these times, all the effort and labour is worth it. When ministers drive thousands of  miles and preach multiple sermons, we may at times become downcast about the effort. But, when one little lamb says, "I see my Saviour who died for me and rose again for me," it is worth every energy that we have devoted. To see the lambs and sheep being nourished up and fit for the contending of the faith once delivered to the saints, it makes the effort of declaring God's goodness worth it.
 
However, notice the heart of the motivation. The heart of the motivation rests in the fact that God has done great things. While it is worth the effort  seeing the sheep fed and fitted for service, it would be worth the effort if all that happened was God was declared with the beauty and grace that adorns Him.  If our efforts are ended with nothing but the glory of His name, the effort has been worthwhile. Thankfully,  He has seen fit to mercifully bless us in service, but  His honour and glory is the motivation. It is not about me, nor is it about you. Our efforts are about "how great things He has done." When we tell the story o'er and o'er of what Jesus has done, a weekend meeting flies by. As we discuss Scriptures one with another, a night of conversation seems to melt into morning's light. As we walk in service together, the parting hand becomes harder and harder to give. May we ever declare how great He has been to us, so that others will be impressed not to "try to get born again" but to take up their cross and follow Jesus because they are already born again.

In Hope,

Bro Philip