Gospel Preaching 4

Secondly, God does offer Christ to lost sinners without respect to price or person. He invites them that have no money to come and buy wine and milk {that is to say, Christ} without price. {Isa.55:1} And anyone that will are invited to take Christ freely. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life {that is, Christ} freely.” {Rev.22:17} Hanserd Knolly (Baptist, 1645)

The statement above comes with a context, which will be given in the following days. However, for the moment a few statements from the context may be helpful:

You will say to me, alas, here is my misery, to wit, although God propounds Christ upon gospel terms to poor sinners to me among others, I have no power of myself to receive Christ and to believe in Him and accept of Him. True, it is not {as I said} in him that wills, or him that runs, but only in God who shows mercy.

And you ought to wait on God in the diligent use of means until the day of His power come upon you and then you shall be a willing, a believing people.

It is my duty to preach the gospel to you and to exhort you to seek Christ, Acts 17:22,27, but it is the mere mercy and free grace of God to drive you to Christ, which nothing, but His everlasting love can move Him to do.

You ought to seek, wait, ask, and use all the means which God has appointed and afforded you, both secret, private and public, Rev.2:29, but God must make the means effectual.

We can see that Knolly does not preach in accordance with what is taught in the modern day. While it may seem that the approach in the modern day is more in line with grace, in fact it is far from being in line with grace alone. It is God who invites sinners to Himself and He invites a certain type of sinner. Perhaps the real issue at hand is who invites sinners, the sinners who are invited, and how sinners are invited. Of course we must be careful to state that Christ is to be preached to any and all sinners. The wonders and glories of Christ are to be declared to all without hesitation and without holding back. The grace of the Gospel is to be declared to all sinners as well. But we must be careful to state that the only sinners who are invited by God will respond to His efficacious call. When men offer Christ, they offer Him to sinners who are full self-love and only want Him for fire insurance. When God offers Christ, He works in them so that they will respond. It is an offer that they cannot refuse, so to speak.

The Gospel of grace alone is to be proclaimed to all sinners with freeness knowing that those on whom God sets His love will respond. The Gospel is to be proclaimed to all sinners of all kinds and types, because there is nothing in the sinner that can stop the hand of God when He works in the heart. While all unregenerate sinners are lost, not all know that they are lost. The beauty of Christ proclaimed shows them that they are lost and His being given by grace alone shows sinners that they don’t need any of their own merit and they don’t need to be a great person. Sinners who come to the point of seeing their great lostness and their great sinfulness and inability are the ones that Christ came to save.

Isaiah 55, as given by Knolly, tells us that all who will are invited to take Christ freely. The one who hears is to say come and the one who thirsts is to come. The only sinners who can will, the ones who hear, and the ones who thirst have had the hand of God upon them working in them so that they will hear and thirst for Christ and a true salvation by grace alone. These are the ones that God has prepared and it is God who invites them to come. Oh how poor are the invitations of men who can do nothing but plead with the pride and self-love of sinners. But oh how great it is when preachers proclaim the glory of Christ and tell sinners that they must deal with God who alone can open their ears and make them willing in the day of His power. How freely can one preach grace when even the faith that a sinner must have is given by grace. God saves sinners to the glory of His own name and as such He does not save sinners because of anything in them, which means that the Gospel is all of grace.

The modern way of preaching is shallow and depends on the ability of men to respond rather than pointing men to their inability and the ability of God to work in them so that they are willing and able to respond. The old way of preaching the Gospel has for the most part been lost, or so it seems, but it is the way of leaving men without any hope in themselves or any hope in any merit or abilities they think they have. Instead it leaves them in the hands of God and leaves no doubt that salvation is by grace alone. The freeness of this type of preaching is in that it leaves grace in the hand of God to bestow on whom He is pleased to do so. The freeness in this preaching is that it does not depend on the inability of man and it does not leave us a God who is weeping and hoping that men will choose Him, but instead this is a Gospel that is truly free and is truly worth proclaiming a risen Savior who really and truly saves sinners from eternity past to eternity future and it is all of free and glorious grace.

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