Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 27, 2019

“those who had believed through grace”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 18:23-28.  The next devotion, God willing, will be Friday, November 29, 2019, because on Thursday, “In God we have boasted all day long, And we will give thanks to Your name forever.  Selah.”   Psalm 44:8.

“And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus;  and he was mighty in the Scriptures.  This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord;  and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;  and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue.  But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.  And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him;  and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”  Acts 18:23-28.

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Although today’s Scripture is filled with elements of a successful mission trip, the converts “believed through grace”.  Verse 27.

Consider all the favorable elements of this successful mission trip.  There was a preacher who was instructed in the way of the Lord, and he was eloquent, fervent in spirit, speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus.  He was speaking out boldly.  There were others who sharpened him and encouraged him and introduced him to the disciples to welcome him.  His preaching was powerful and persuasive.

And yet, those who had believed did so, not through all of these elements, but they “believed through grace”.

Other doctrine trust man and “the variety show” that the preacher presents with flashing lights and loud, repetitive music performed by rock stars and followed by cute jokes and stories by the preacher, all of which combine to draw our attention to man.  

But, Reformed Doctrine trusts God and His grace and His Word, all of which combine to draw our attention to God.  

Consider what the Canons of Dordt states in the section THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.

I quote here the last sentence followed by all of Articles 11 and 12.  “Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.”

“Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.

Article 12.  And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation:  a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid.  But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted, or to continue unconverted;  but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable;  not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares;  so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe.  – Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active.  Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9.


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