“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).
In the preceding chapter (II Corinthians 3) from which our text is taken, Paul, speaking of the Law of Moses, said: it “was made glorious,” but went on to say: “For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious” (II Corinthians 3:10-11). The Law of Moses was first the law of God, and therefore glorious, but there is no parallel between the law and the gospel and there can be no comparison made of them, except to highlight the infinite distinction between them. The law was a ministration of condemnation and death; the gospel of Christ is a ministration of righteousness and life (II Corinthians 3:7-9).
The gospel is glorious because God is its exclusive originator. It is called “The gospel of God …” (Romans 1:1, Romans 15:16, 2 Corinthians 11:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 1 Peter 4:17). The gospel is glorious because Christ is its consummator. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …” (Hebrews 12:2; John 19:30). The gospel is glorious, for it is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17), and let no man “grieve the Holy Spirit” by taking the edge off of the gospel sword. Now, let us go to the record God gave of His Son, and see how the Spirit uses the gospel and other means in calling God’s elect out of darkness into light and from sin unto salvation. Notwithstanding, there is a denomination going by the name “Baptist”, and many more who emphatically reject and intensely oppose the doctrine of gospel means.
THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF THE GOSPEL IN REGENERATION
“… For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (I Corinthians 4:15).
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).
There is no intrinsic power in the letter of the gospel. The gospel has no inherent sovereignty in it; it is by itself ineffectual in revealing the Lordship and Saviourhood of Jesus Christ. It is as the sword yet in its sheath, powerless, but when unsheathed by the skillful hand of the Master swordsman, it is the means of subduing some, and putting others to flight. So it is with the gospel sword, when empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit, the enmity in the hearts of God’s elect is slain thereby, and they are given a peace that passes all understanding. The Holy Spirit is the regenerative agent, or the life-giving power. Therefore, it is no demeaning of the Spirit, to attribute to Him the use of the gospel in His quickening ministry. It is through the means of gospel preaching, the elect see Christ lifted upon the pole of Calvary to bear the soul-damning judgment due them, and hence He becomes the object of their world defeating faith (I John 5:4-5).
Regeneration belongs wholly to the sphere of Divine activity, it is a product of sovereign grace, and there can never be regeneration that is according to the will of the flesh. It is “… Not ofthe will of man, but of God” (John1:13). Man has no volition, option, or action in regeneration, there is no contribution given or made on his part, and none is needed, for man is the clay and God is the potter (Romans 9:21-23). While man is utterly passive in the regenerative experience, he is not irresponsible, for God “… Commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). As with repentance, so it is with faith, for “Without faith it is impossible to please God …” (Hebrews 11:6). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself; it is the gift of God …” (Ephesians 2:8). Paul says: “… For all men have not faith,” and in the same breath, he says: they who have not faith are “unreasonable and wicked men” (II Thessalonians 3:2). Men who are destitute of God-given faith, are utterly depraved, and are in their entity an abomination to God.
However, there is hope, for Jesus “shall save His people from their sins”, and He has in infinite mercy revealed in His unimpeachable word, how He saves all the Father gave Him in the covenant of redemption, and that is by the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God. Our Lord preached the doctrine of regeneration to Nicodemus, saying unto him: “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7), and then He connected this absolute requisite with the gospel, saying: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). It is this very gospel that permeates the New Testament, and is the instrument God invariably uses in the regeneration of His people.
“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:11-17).
Paul irrefutably declares that a hearing of the gospel of Christ is essential to regeneration, for he asks: “How shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard?”
The concept or idea of regeneration belongs exclusively to the province of omniscience, and its revelation and effectuation is strictly the work of the omnipotent and omnipresent Spirit. Man had nothing to do with his first birth, and he is utterly passive in his second birth, for “the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). It is no contradiction of the truth stated in the foregoing part of this paragraph to say: No man comes to God without faith and repentance, for these gifts are not of the flesh, but of God, and are expressive of the predestinating love of God for His people. Furthermore, no man ever comes to Christ unwillingly. Some who believe in the sovereignty of God may think, or say, “That smacks of Arminianism.” But it is not so, for it is in perfect harmony with the word of God. We are not saying that man in his natural state has a choice or freewill, whereby he determines his own destiny. The natural will of man is not cooperative in the work of regeneration, but is enmity against it (Romans 8: 7-8). In regeneration, man is given a new nature (II Corinthians 5:17), and therewith a new will whereby he can please God, and he comes willingly and joyfully unto God (Psalm 110:3).
We invite you and your family to ome worship with us at Grace Missionary Baptist Church located at the Glowmarw Bridge. Sunday School 11:00 am Worship 12:00 Elder Charles Minks Evening Worship 7:00 pm Brother Fred Minks Jr Bible Study Wednesday 7:00 pm The Book of I Corintihains.