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.