Gospel Preaching 9

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. {Rom.9:16} It is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe. Which must be put forth in your hearts to make you believe also according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. {Eph.1:19,20} 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. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” {Ps.110:3} I may exhort you to repent of your wickedness, profaneness, &c., as Peter did in Acts 8:22, but God alone must give you repentance unto life. {Acts 11:18} 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. {Jer.31:3} Hanserd Knolly (Baptist, 1645)

The greatness of the work of God in giving sinners faith or raising them from the spiritually dead and giving them life is far greater than the whole human race could work in one soul much less any soul coming up with faith on its own. In order to preach the good news of Christ to sinners and of their need to have faith in Christ in truth, one should set forth the true nature of where faith comes from. True faith can only come when it comes in accordance with the working of His mighty power. True faith cannot come from the human being who has no power in the spiritual realm. God alone must do the work or it will not be done. God must work faith in the soul because the soul has no other place to obtain faith. Should people be told this truth or not?

Knolly writes that “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.” Here is an evangelism that a preacher can preach the freeness of grace to sinners and it includes telling sinners where faith comes from. It is telling sinners that they have no ability to believe and that their faith must come from God that we are driving them to look to God alone for faith and for saving grace. It is in declaring that God is free to give sinners faith as He is pleased to do so that the Gospel is declared freely. It is in declaring how unable that men are in obtaining faith that they are driven to an utter emptiness and knows his own inability and so he will not look to self but to God for all things.

In declaring to men that they have no ability but that God has all ability to give men faith that men will seek the Lord using the means that He has set out. Preachers are only free to preach the glory of grace and the glory of Christ when they show that God alone can give faith to sinners. Preachers have no need to stop and offer Christ if they are preaching Christ as it is in preaching Christ to sinners that God breaks sinners and offers Christ as He is pleased to do so. This is not to say that preachers are not to plead with sinners to seek the Lord, because they should proclaim Christ and tell sinners to seek the Lord. Instead of offering Christ to those they have no idea how broken their hearts are, preachers are to trust Christ to save those whom He calls. As sinners must not look to themselves for faith but instead look to God for faith, so preachers should preach in a way that shuts sinners up to God to give them faith. As sinners must look to Christ alone for salvation and the faith that grace comes through, so preachers are to preach in such a way to point sinners to Christ alone.

Look how free preachers are to preach the Gospel and exhort sinners to repentance when they point the sinners to God who alone can grant them repentance. Instead of speaking to sinners all of the time as if all depended on them and as if we must talk them into it, preachers must preach in such a way that sinners will look to God for true repentance that leads to life. If indeed the Gospel is of grace alone, then sinners must be taught to look to God to save them by grace alone and that includes faith and repentance. Preachers must preach the Gospel of grace alone and exhort sinners to seek Christ by using the means, but they must preach Christ in such a way that sinners will look to Christ alone for saving grace. God does not save sinners because they seek, but because He will be gracious to whom He will be gracious. God does not save sinners because of some act of their own will, but He saves sinners to the praise of the glory of His grace. God does not save sinners based on anything they can do and that is precisely what preaching free-grace stresses. God does not save sinners because they believe or because they repent, but sinners repent and believe because God saves them. Preaching is either of free grace and of free grace alone or it is grace mixed with the act of man and that is to make grace no longer to be grace.

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