Gospel Preaching 11

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. {Acts 16:14} And therefore, I must say it is not in me; I cannot draw you to Christ. That is the Father’s work alone. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” {Jn.6:44} But having exhorted you to seek Him in the use of means, there I must leave you to wait on God for the moving of his Holy Spirit where you must lie and continue like the poor impotent man at the pool of Bethesda for healing. And though as he did, so you may see many a lame, blind, deaf, dumb, naked, leprous soul get healing and go away rejoicing and praising God. And you remain still so impotent that you cannot get into the fountain set open for sin and for uncleanness, nor have any that can help you in that you may be cured. Yet, be not disheartened, as Christ came suddenly and unexpectedly and healed the impotent man after long waiting; so Christ will come according to His promise to your souls that seek Him. “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” {Mal.3:1} Hanserd Knolly (Baptist, 1645)

No one can draw a person to Christ but the Father. No one can make Christ beautiful and glorious in appearance to those who hate Him but God alone. No person can drag himself or make himself go to Christ and lay down all things at His feet. No person can study enough or pray enough to make Christ beautiful to himself. All of these things are the work of God and totally beyond the work of the human will or power. Should we preach in such a way as to leave men in their own hands thinking that they can dispose of themselves as they please? Oh no, if we are to preach Christ crucified and the free grace of the Gospel we must preach in such a way that men know that they are in the hands of God and that He alone can save them. There are only three places that men can be left. They are left in their own hands, the hands of others, or the hands of God. Gospel preaching does not leave men in their own hands and it does not leave men in the hands of any human being or any group of human beings. Instead, it leaves men in the hands of the God of all grace and mercy. No one else can help a poor, dead soul obtain life.

This is a vital point. Gospel preaching must leave sinners in the hands of God because only God can save sinners. Gospel preaching must leave sinners in the hands of God because only God has grace to save and only if He saves by grace alone is the Gospel of grace alone and Christ alone. Gospel preaching must give sinners no hope but in Christ and the grace of God found in Him. Gospel preaching must leave sinners no hope in themselves or anyone else but Christ alone. As long as sinners are left with the slightest thing that they can do to help themselves, they will take it. Unregenerate sinners will do anything to keep the slightest bit of control for themselves. Yes, sinners must go to Christ, but the Father must draw them to Christ. In the context of John 6:44 (given by Knolly above), we are told (v. 45) what that drawing includes. It includes the Father’s teaching sinners because all who are taught of the Father will go to Christ. This must instruct sinners how they are to go to Christ. They must be instructed of the Father. This should instruct us how Gospel preaching should be done. Men are to be left for God to draw.

This is assuredly a lot different than the vast majority of preaching in the modern day (as of 2015). Men are told what to do and they are never told that they cannot do what must be done. They are not left in the hands of God who alone can teach them and draw them to the Son. They are not told that they have no power to go to Christ and that God must do this drawing. They are not told that they are unable to do anything spiritual unless they are regenerated, so men think that the final decision is in their own hands and it is up to them when to do so. This is a terrible delusion for as long as men think that they can come to Christ whenever they want they will put it off until a better time or until they are finished with their sin. Gospel preaching that stresses grace alone will always leave sinners with God to save them by grace alone rather than leaving things in their own hands and wills.

Poor and helpless sinners are those that God has revealed how poor and helpless they are. These are those who will be content with nothing but Christ alone and they will be content with nothing but a grace that is free of all taint of merit and ability from them. Poor and helpless sinners know that they cannot add one thing to this glorious Gospel of Christ and His grace and that they have no ability to come to Him unless He draws them. These sinners know their own hearts to that degree because God Himself has taught them. These sinners may not have theological education and they may not have much education at all, but when God teaches their hearts that they have no merit and no ability, they know that for a fact and cannot be convinced otherwise. They are left to grace alone and they want nothing else either.

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