Seventh Sunday after Trinity – Monday
Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost. – Acts 7:51.
When, through the Word and Spirit of God, working through that Word, one has been brought out of darkness into light, and so belongs to God’s chosen people, this is in no respect and in no manner due to one’s merits or conduct, but only and solely to God’s pure grace.
We now ask: Is God willing to do all this with everyone who hears the Gospel? Yes; most assuredly! “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). “[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).
Why, then, are most men not converted? Because they obstinately resist the Word and Spirit of God, working through that Word; because they refuse to be converted. Jesus said: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). And Stephen, being full of the Holy Ghost, said to the Chief Council of the Jews: “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” Truly, those who resist the Holy Ghost, working through the Word of God, are lost by their own fault. But since all people by nature equally oppose the Holy Spirit of God and reject the Gospel as foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14), we are unable to answer why one person is converted instead of another. Human resistance to the work of the Holy Ghost is as universal to men in their natural condition as God’s grace in Christ Jesus is universal.
So then without attempting to answer the unanswerable questions (“Why some and not others?,” “Why some instead of others?,” “Why not all?”), on the basis of Holy Scripture we must simply state that the conversion of a man is due solely to the grace of God, whereas the non-conversion of a man is due solely to his own fault. Thus God gets all the glory for man’s salvation; and man gets all the blame for his damnation.
We should ceaselessly thank God for bringing us to saving faith in Christ!
PRAYER – Merciful God, who am I that Thou hast made me a member of Thy people which Thou wilt save through faith in Christ Jesus? It is not because I desired it, but because it was Thy gracious will that I should be Thine own. It is due, not to my choosing, but to Thy choosing, O Fount of Grace! Continue to give me Thy grace; complete Thy work within me; keep me as a member of Thy Holy Christian Church, and take me to the mansions of eternal bliss! Amen.
It is Thy work alone, That I am now converted;
O’er Satan’s work in me, Thou hast Thy pow’r asserted.
Thy mercy and Thy grace, That rise afresh each morn;
Have turned my stony heart Into a heart newborn.
(TLH – Hymn 417, 2)