The gospel: How unconditional should it be?
Audio: 2 min. 47 sec. (If audio does not show, click on the individual post title.)
Audio link for smartphones: Audio Link
Who is this God with whom we have to do? And what manner of God is He? Is He a God who comes to sinners lost and broken, and brings to them conditions by which they may be saved? Or is He a God who deals with men on the basis of free, unmerited, unearned grace?
You see the Pharisees preached that men could be saved if they met conditions. And Jesus preached that He would save those who could meet no conditions. Jesus' message was, "oh every one who thirsts come to the waters". And he who has no money, come buy and eat, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Unconditional grace from an unconditional God.
You see, what had happened amongst these men, in the early decades of the 18th century, was this ... They had mastered the pattern by which grace works. They knew their confession of faith forwards and backwards and upside-down. And yet while they were familiar with the pattern by which grace works, and had mastered it, they had never really been mastered by the grace of God in the gospel, in their hearts.
Why is that so significant for us in the pastoral ministry? ... For this reason ... Because men who have only a conditional offer of the gospel will have only a conditional gospel. The man who has only a conditional gospel knows only conditional grace. And the man who knows only conditional grace knows only a conditional God. And the man who has only a conditional God will have a conditional ministry to his fellow man. And at the end of the day he will only be able to give his heart, and his life, and his time, and his devotion to his people on condition.
And he will love and master the truths of the great doctrines of grace, but until grace in God himself masters him, the grace that has mastered him will never flow from him to his people.
-- Sinclair Ferguson