Apr 19, 2011

Spiritual life discovered by the Gospel - William Styles

Spiritual life discovered by the Gospel. We believe that the principle of spiritual life received by the elect at their Regeneration is acted on by the gospel; by which its presence is disclosed, its powers developed, and its actings directed (Rom. 1:16 and 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:18, and 4:20; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21); and we hold that the mysterious and secret operations of the Holy Spirit are thus manifested by the evident entrance of regeneration persons into the kingdom of the Redeemer (John 3:5; 1 Thess. 1:5, 6).

“But souls enlightened from above, With joy receive the Word; They see what wisdom, power and love Shine in their dying Lord.

“The vital savour of His name, Restores their fainting breath; His power upholds their mortal frame, And saves their souls in death.”

Note.—Distinguish between Regeneration and the New Birth. Regeneration is the impartation of spiritual life, and is a sovereign and direct act of the Spirit within the soul. The New Birth is the entrance of the new-born soul into actual and experimental spiritual existence. Regeneration is effected by the Spirit without instrumentality, whereas in the New Birth, the Word of God is employed and brought into spiritual connection and union with the mind and heart. Thus “of His own will He brought us forth, by the Word of truth,” James 1:18 (Revised Translation). “Being born again by the Word of God,” 1 Pet. 1:23. “Except a man be born of water (used metaphorically for the word, as in Eph. 5:26), and of the Spirit” by the agency of the Spirit, and the instrumentality of the word, “he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John 3:5).

All passages which speak of the gospel as a power in the effectual calling of sinners presuppose the existence of spiritual life in their souls. It is the power of God “to every one that believe,” Rom. 1:16, and faith is the act of a living soul. To us “that are saved it is the power of God.” It saves “those that believe,” 1 Cor. 1:18-21.

Its influence on the mind is well illustrated by passages in which it is likened to falling rain (e.g., Psa. 72:6; Isa. 55:10), which exerts its fertilizing power only where vegetable life pre-exists. Dead sticks and stones remain unaffected. So the gospel has no innate and inherent power of itself to regenerate men. The Spirit is the Lord and giver of life, and having imparted life, He acts on the life which He has imparted by the word which He inspired. The efficient power of the word lies in the agent who employs it, not in the instrument employed.

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