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Q.89. How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.
A. The Spirit of God.
A. We must both read it, and hear it preached.
A. Because it hath pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe; and he calls us to hear, that our souls may live; for, saith he, "Faith comes by hearing," 1 Cor. 1:21; Isa. 55:3; Rom. 10:17.
A. Yes, as is evident from Deut. 17:19; Acts 8:28; Col. 4:16.
A. Because it pleaseth the Lord to honour the preaching of the word more frequently and usually to convince and convert souls; as is manifest from scripture and experience, 1 Cor. 1:21; Matt. 28:19; Rom. 1:16; 10:14-17; Acts 2:37; 4:2,4; 6:7; 8:5,6; 10:44; 11:19,20; 13:48; 17:3; 18:8-10; 26:18.
A. Because it is an ordinance instituted for explaining and applying the word, which God makes use of to awaken, convince, rebuke, exhort, and comfort souls; and to speak directly and particularly to the consciences of men. And seeing God hath thought fit to institute a standing ministry in his church for these very purposes, we may expect he will own and bless it, 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 4:12. As, under the law, God had those who gave the sense of the word, and caused the people to understand it, so, under the gospel, he hath a convincing ministry, by which the secrets of men's hearts are made manifest, Neh. 8:8; 1 Cor. 14:24,25.
A. No; for we have greater evidence of the truth, certainty, and divinity of the word of God, than we could have of any such apparition; so that, if men do not hear the prophets and apostles, neither would they be persuaded though one rose from the dead, Luke 16:31.
A. He makes use of it to convince and convert sinners, and to build up the saints, as set forth in the answer.
A. By searching out hidden sins, and discovering the thoughts and intents of the heart; and by laying before us the evil and malignity of sin in contemning God, the pollution of sin in making us odious in his sight, and the guilt of sin in drawing eternal wrath and damnation upon us, Heb. 4:12; Acts 2:37.
A. The Spirit of God writes the threatenings, precepts, and promises of it upon the heart; so that the soul is brought under the affecting impressions of the reality of the things of the other world, the evil of sin, and excellency of Christ and holiness; whereby the man is gradually changed into a new creature.
A. Yes; for a sinner may be convinced without being converted, but he cannot be converted without being convinced.
A. Yes; and upon that account the scriptures liken it to rain, to light, to fire, to a hammer, and to a sword, Isa. 55:10,11; Psa. 119:105; Jer. 23:29; Heb. 4:12.
A. In this, that one plain word or sentence of it will prevail more with the soul than the most rhetorical discourses, or cogent arguments of men; it sometimes of a sudden turns the tide of the heart and the stream of the affections to another course; it dispossesses Satan, and throws down his strongholds; it persuades men to mortify darling lusts, and resist the strongest temptations to sin; it causes men to see things in another light, to abhor what they loved, and love what before they abhorred: yea, so great is the change that the word makes upon men, in conversion, that the scriptures call it a creation, a regeneration, and a resurrection.
A. It is the implanting of new habits and principles in the soul, whereby there is a universal change wrought in the mind, heart, and life; the whole man is turned from the creature to God, from self to Christ, and from sin to duty; the soul is conformed to the image of God, and the will is subdued to his will; and the man studies to please God in a holy life. In a word, conversion is the same thing with regeneration, or effectual calling.
A. It builds them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation, Acts 20:32; 2 Tim. 3:15; Rom. 15:4.
A. 1. It supposes that there is a good foundation laid, by their believing and resting upon Christ crucified, and receiving grace from him. 2. It imports their growing in grace, and that there is added to them more knowledge, more faith, more love, more strength, more holiness, and more comfort.
A. It is a principle of new life, which inclines the soul to hate all sin, and to love what is pure and pleasing to God, and to study conformity in the whole man to the nature and will of God.
A. 1. By discovering to them the defects of their graces and duties. 2. By finding and reproving every lust and hidden sin. 3. By showing them more and more of the evil and deformity of all sin. 4. By fortifying them against the suggestions of Satan, wicked men, and the corrupt heart. 5. By pointing forth their duty, and discovering to them more and more of the beauty and necessity of holiness. 6. By setting before them the attractive examples of Christ and the scripture saints. 7. By directing them where to go for strength for every duty.
A. 1. By furnishing them with marks and evidences of the work of grace in their souls. 2. By bringing to them the refreshing promises of pardon through the blood of Jesus Christ. 3. By discovering to them the promises of persevering grace, and new supplies of strength, both for work and warfare, duty and difficulty. 4. By assuring them of the unalterable nature of Christ's love, and of the well-ordered covenant. 5. By holding forth to them the great and glorious things laid up for them hereafter.
A. He doth it through faith, or by their exercising faith upon the truths and promises of the word; whereby they firmly embrace them, and feed upon them, Acts 15:9; Rom. 15:13; 1 Pet. 1:5,6.
A. Because we have provoked the Spirit of God to withdraw from the preaching of the word, and we come not to it with preparation and prayer, faith and attention; or else the good seed falls upon rocks, upon the highway side, or among thorns.