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A PORTION FOR ALL

12 minuten leestijd

(No. 74)

Grand Rapids, Michigan

December 7, 1948

Beloved Congregation:

IN this letter I wish to continue my subject with the help of God about the new birth, and why the work of God in the elect sinner is compared to natural birth.

The new birth is a work of heaven. No one can contribute anything to one’s own birth. We are entirely passive therein.

God united Adam and Eve (in wedlock) as husband and wife, and from their marriage Cain, Abel and Seth were born. Boaz married Ruth and the fruit of their nuptial relationship was evidenced by the birth of Obed. Hence the purpose of God is accomplished.

The spiritual birth is comparable to this. It does not depend upon the will of man whether or not he shall be converted. Oh! friends, if this were dependent upon us, we would surely be lost.

In Adam we have severed our relationship to God. “We have made a covenant with death and an agreement with hell” Isa. 28:15, 18. We have no concernments of being delivered from the state of death and to become partakers of the life which is from God, during the time we subsist in the state of nature. It is not left to the choice of man as to whether he shall be born again or not. God does not only glorify but He also reveals His good pleasure in the calling and salvation of the elect. It is true that this work is wrought in us, but the motivating cause lies entirely remote from the creature. This incomprehensible wonder is that God was moved of His own accord, this is why He gave His Son and therefore the elect are made partakers of spiritual life.

My God I will forever praise thee
Because Thou hast done this.

In the natural birth we experience a remarkable change; we emerge from the darkness into light, from imprisonment into liberty. Such is the case also in the new birth. The elect sinner is translated from darkness into God’s marvellous light; out of the power of Satan into the kingdom of the Son of God’s eternal love. Instead of being spiritually blind, deaf, mute, cripple, and leprous he receives spiritual sight, hearing, speech, power to walk, and health. The new birth is a renewing of the entire man and in every way it is a wonderful work of God.

The first birth does not take place without sorrow, John 16:21. In like manner the regenerate also experience pain and sorrow. Saul of Tarsus lay three days in the throes of the new birth, in the “street which is called Straight,” Acts 9:9-11.

However diverse God’s ways may be, whenever God regenerates sinners and sheds His love abroad in their hearts, they all become acquainted with the sorrow which is after God, and sorrow because of sin. They weep with bitter tears because they have sinned against God and marred His virtues. What grief fills their hearts in that they must blame themselves for being shut out from fellowship with God! They spend their nights in groaning as they see their guilt and sin in the light of God’s attributes. They lament that they were ever born, and wish they had never seen the light of day. Cain was afraid. David was not only afraid but he was sorry for his sins too.

Fortunately a true penitent cannot see that he sheds tears in sincerity, since he would otherwise prematurely imagine that he was converted, still his tears are uprightly and sincerely shed. They are not tears such as Esau’s were, but such as God collects in His bottle. They are sweet tears however bitter they may seem. It is a sorrow that is mixed with joy. Later on they may long to once again experience such sorrow as had filled their hearts in times past, the heartfelt sorrow which formerly impelled them to “seek for God.” Ps. 42.

It is true that Christ is the only source of salvation, but to journey on through life in obduracy can only conduce to self accusation.

I once heard a lady (who for many years since has been rejoicing before the throne of God) lament about the hardness of her heart. She said: “It would be worth a thousand dollars to me if my soul might weep such tears of sincerity to and for God as I was privileged to do in days gone by.”

A broken heart and contrite spirit are the offerings which are acceptable to God, and they are the fruits of the ministration of the Holy Spirit. O try your souls as to whether you know something not only of the genuine sorrow after God but also of the true joy in God. Both are wrought in the selfsame person. Alas how little do we hear in our days of either the one or the other.

Oh how serious are the times in which we live. God’s judgments are upon the earth and dark clouds are hovering over the world. The greatest judgments, however, are the obduracy of heart and God’s withholding of the spirit of conversion to such a great extent. The ministry of the Word and the instruction at school and catechism are yielding but little noticeable fruit. In general, it does not seem to touch the people’s consciences. The common attitude seems to be, “let us eat and drink and be merry.”

O the materialistic spirit of our age which seems to be dulling the consciences for the reception of the truth! With the generality of the people, the manifestation of life seems to be as though we are to remain here forever. On the one hand this generation seems to be absorbed in indifference and on the other, it feels at ease with a religion that shall be found wanting when death comes. Those who sigh and weep and whose lives are expressive of grief and lamention are scoffed at. Some dare brazenly say that we do not need a conversion like that of Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus. O what sad self deception. Only eternity shall expose it. O my friends, let us turn away from those who ridicule the truth, whether publicly or under cover. The time is coming in which man shall have God to deal with and we shall not be able to escape His judgment.

May the Lord still work in your hearts before it is too late.

Hearty greetings to all,

Your well-wishing minister,

Rev. W. C. Lamain

(No. 75)

Grand Rapids, Michigan

December 21, 1948

Beloved Congregation:

A natural birth cannot remain hid. When John the Baptist was born it was noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea. And although not always to the same extent, but in every case it is spoken of by many. It is the same way with those who are born of God. “And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her.” What a change in family life when a child is born there!

Life also becomes manifest when a person is brought from death to life. True, it may remain hidden for a long time. Just think of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. What a long time they continued to live under cover, noticed by hardly any! They were “night disciples” first, filled with many fears and apprehensions. I do think, though, that the members of their families will have noticed something of it. And the words which Nicodemus uttered in John 7:51 were not without significance either. But at that time too there was no strength to bring forth. (Isaiah 37:3) However, when Christ had died on Golgotha, the love of that dying Christ was manifested so powerfully in their hearts that the work of God was forthwith revealed to both friend and foe.

In Col. 3:4 Paul also speaks of the appearing or becoming manifest of God’s children. Their life is so often hid from the world, from themselves, and even from those who surround them. But at God’s appointed time it will become manifest. David speaks in Psalm 116, “I believed, therefore have I spoken.” They shall proclaim the praises of God, and the world “shall see them and acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.”

In man’s first birth, his natural birth, man makes his appearance having the image of his earthly father, in fact, with the image of the old Adam. “Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image,” Gen. 5:3. Every child brings something of his parents with him.

This is also true of the second birth, the birth which is of God. In regeneration the sinner is made partaker of the divine nature. “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly,” according to 1 Cor. 15:49. “Those whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son,” Romans 8:29. And inasmuch as the followers of Jesus spoke, lived and conducted themselves as Christ did upon earth, they were called Christians in Acts 11:26. Paul spoke of himself as a follower of Christ in 1 Cor. 11:1. A measure of that Divine splendor and glory is placed upon such people. They are the saints of the Most High, (Dan. 7:22) the excellent, in whom is all God’s delight (Psalm 16:3). They are highland dwellers. Their conversation is in heaven, Phil. 3:20.

When a child is born in nature it immediately manifests a desire for the milk of the mother’s breasts. What a wonderful thing this really is! “O Lord, how great are Thy works!” The first sign of life is that the child cries. No talking children are born. And every father and mother knows from personal experience that the first sign of life is lovelier music to their ears than that which is played on the most beautiful organ. As soon as the child is laid at the breast of the mother its hunger is satisfied and the newborn child finds rest and contentment.

This is so in grace too. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,” 1 Peter 2:2. What great affection these quickened souls get for God and for his perfections. They cry after God as a hart panteth after the water brooks. But they also become greatly desirous for the means of grace, which can contribute to their growth and increase of their spiritual life. With the Bride they are anxious to know where the Lord makes His flock to rest at noon (Songs 1:7). O how precious these pure means of grace become! How happy they are when it is Sunday again; and when an opportunity is offered them during the week they take advantage of each one of them. The service of God is no burden to them, but rather a delight to their soul.

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; they are sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Jer. 15:16, Psalm 19:10). What great delight they have for the ordinances of God! It is the desire and life of their soul to attend upon them. Every part of the Divine service is followed attentively, and their hearts are much taken up with it. The opening of God’s testimony is to their joy and rejoicing. They taste and see that the Lord is good. Never did they find such satisfaction in the world or in outward religious observances as they do in the service of King Jesus. It is a service of love. They become aware of the fact that the Lord blesses His own ordinances. O, the preaching of that sovereign good pleasure of God, it is the life of their soul! How the proclamation of the Christ engenders deep admiration within their hearts! His name is as ointment poured forth, therefore the virgins love him, (Songs 1:3).

It is a favorable sign when we do not outgrow the means of grace. It is written of the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church, that he went, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. And if we do not follow in these steps this is serious. David declared in Psalm 27: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” A child of God is worth imitating only so far as he himself imitates Christ. If we depart from this then Paul declares: my soul shall have no pleasure in him. In his days, too, there were people who withdrew, but the apostle never approved; on the contrary, he strongly condemned such despising of the means of grace. O friends, let God’s Word, and that alone, be our guide during our whole life. It will be to our benefit.

May God bless, by His precious Spirit, the means of grace which He has given, and which we may enjoy. In this country, too, there are people who must do without and who are deprived from attending the sound ministry of God’s Testimony. O, let us appreciate it while God still leaves it among us. May it not be to our condemnation, but to our eternal welfare.

Hearty greetings to all,

Your well-wishing minister,

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van zaterdag 1 december 1951

The Banner of Truth | 16 Pagina's

A PORTION FOR ALL

Bekijk de hele uitgave van zaterdag 1 december 1951

The Banner of Truth | 16 Pagina's

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