Gospel Preaching 5

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)

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. Hanserd Knolly (Baptist, 1645)

The first paragraph (above) is built upon the great truths of Scripture and in some ways dependent upon other great truths of Scripture that are set out in the second paragraph. The argument is that preachers should learn to preach a Gospel that is free of depending upon them and upon those listening. The Gospel message of Christ and Him crucified do not depend upon the one preaching for its power and it does not depend on the sinners who hear to make it efficacious. The preacher must be free from depending on himself and the hearers in order to preach a free grace that saves from beginning to end. The response of sinners cannot depend on my offering Christ or the Gospel is less than free and less than of grace alone. The response of sinners cannot depend on anything they do or the power of the Gospel depends on them to some degree and as such is less than free and less than of grace alone.

The Gospel that is the power of God to save must show that it is the power of God to save and not the power of the sinner that contributes. The Gospel that is the power of God must be all of the power of God to save or it is not all of grace alone. This is how and why preachers must preach a full Christ and a free grace to sinners. When something is expected of sinners in terms of response, then sinners will look to themselves for the power and ability to respond. Instead of that, sinners must look away from themselves because they have no power and no ability to respond. Sinners are full of sin and they can do nothing but sin, so something that saves them must come from Another. A sinful response cannot save sinners at all, but instead the power of God can.

Jesus said that those who had ears were to hear. That is much like Knolly working with Isaiah 55 above. The passage of Isaiah 55 is one of a free Gospel because it is one where God is the One who is working and it is God who is enabling sinners. Those whom God works in and makes them willing hear His invitation and they come running. They come despite all of their fears and all of their sin and their wicked hearts and they know that nothing but wonderful and glorious grace will save them. Those who have tasted of a grace that came to them and saved them want nothing to do with a free-will which is free from depravity and free of grace. They have felt their sin and they feel the continuing burden of their sin and nothing but free-grace will satisfy them.

When poor sinners who are burdened from their own wicked hearts and sinful thoughts and desires pray, they will pray for God to deliver them from their sin. Their hearts ache and long to be granted deliverance from the burden of sin and they have no thought that they have an ability to get rid of that bondage and burden. These are the hearts that God has taught and these are the hearts that God calls. This is why (once again) preachers should focus on Christ and His grace in the Gospel over and over again. Unregenerate sinners cannot deliver themselves and cannot work up any merit, so they must hear the glory of a God who saves sinners by His power. Regenerate sinners need to hear of this glorious grace because they are burdened by sin and haunted with past sins and weakness against present sin. They also need to hear of a Savior who saves sinners by grace alone in accordance with the riches of His grace. Wounded souls have no taste for legalism and not taste with being beaten with Christless sermons, but instead God Himself has prepared their hearts, their ears, their spiritual taste buds for a free and sovereign grace. That is what God has said should be preached and that is what hearts that He has taught long for.

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