Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Because grace is exercised toward those who are destitute of worthiness or merit, grace is sovereign; that is to say, God bestows grace upon whom He pleases. Divine sovereignty has ordained that some shall be cast into the Lake of Fire to show that all deserved such a doom. But grace comes in like a drag-net and draws out from a lost humanity a people for God’s name, to be throughout all eternity the monuments of His inscrutable favour. Sovereign grace reveals God breaking down the opposition of the human heart, subduing the enmity of the carnal mind, and bringing us to love Him because He first loved us.
AUGUSTINE (354-430): We know that the grace of God is not given to all men; and that to them to whom it is given, it is given neither according to the merits of works, nor according to the merits of will, but by gratuitous favour; and to those to whom it is not given, we know that it is not given by the righteous judgment of God…The grace of God does not find men fit to be elected, but makes them so.
A. W. PINK: To say, as alas! many preachers are saying, “God is willing to do His part if you will do yours,” is a wretched and excuseless denial of the Gospel of His grace. To declare that God helps those who help themselves, is to repudiate one of the most precious truths taught in the Bible, and in the Bible alone; namely, that God helps those who are unable to help themselves, who have tried again and again only to fail. To say that the sinner’s salvation turns upon the action of his own will, is another form of the God-dishonouring dogma of salvation by human efforts…But the doctrine of God’s sovereignty lays the axe at the root of this evil tree by declaring, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy,” Romans 9:16.
HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): But some will say now, “What need we preachers then? God can save his elect without preachers.”
J. A. ALEXANDER (1809-1860): The pulpit will still remain the grand means of effecting the mass of men. It is God’s own method, and He will honour it.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Our missionary societies need continually to be reminded of this; they get so busy with translations, so diligently employed with the different operations of civilization, with the founding of stores, with the encouragement of commerce among a people, that they seem to neglect—at least in some degree—that which is the great and master weapon of the minister, the “foolishness of preaching” by which it pleases God to save them that believe.
HUGH LATIMER: Remember, that preaching is of God’s own appointment, and, when faithfully delivered, and agreeable to sound doctrine, the Divine Spirit will bless the message more or less, as it seemeth good to the end He has appointed it, and to His all-wise sovereign purposes.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Well, to me, preaching is a great mystery. It’s one of the most mysterious things of all. I don’t know what your experience is, but personally, I find that I never know what’s going to happen when I enter the pulpit. I’m constantly being surprised—sometimes surprised in the sense of being disappointed; at other times surprised at the amazing grace of God.
A. W. PINK : I had a very striking demonstration of that [around 1921] in the city of Oakland, California. One Sunday night a man of some fifty years of age met me at the door of the tent where I had been for eighteen weeks for six nights a week. He asked if he might be allowed to give his testimony on the platform, and I said, “No!” “But,” he said, “I have got a real testimony that I want to give.” “Well,” I said, “I don’t believe in testimonies.” “Well, “he said, “won’t you give me a chance to let the people know that God saved me?” “Oh,” I said, “that is a different matter―Yes!”
So, that night before I began preaching, he stood up and he said, “Men and women, I am a Roman Catholic. I was a private secretary to the Cardinal in San Francisco and I had never read a chapter of the Bible and heard the gospel preached until two weeks ago last Thursday. I was passing down the street and I saw the tent, which I thought was a circus, and so I made for it; and just as I got in the tent door I saw Dr. Pink on the platform and something gripped me and just shoved me in. That night for the first time I heard the gospel preached, and right on the spot God saved me.”
C. H. SPURGEON: To this hour, the voice of God is power.
A. W. PINK : [Then] I said, “Will you just mention again, brother, the night?” He said, “It was two weeks ago last Thursday.” And I thought to myself, well, the man has got that wrong. I said, “Are you sure?” He said, “Yes, of course I am!”
After the meeting was over―it only showed my skepticism and how man wants to limit God―I said to him, “What on earth was there in that sermon that could save you? Why, that particular night was a thanksgiving service and I preached for a whole hour on praising God and there wasn’t a word of the gospel in it, there wasn’t a word about hell in it, there wasn’t anything about the cross in it. What was there in that sermon to save you?” You see I was silly enough to think that God could not save a man who had never heard the gospel, except by a gospel sermon, and I was preaching from Hebrews 13:15, By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. And all through I was exhorting Christians to be praising God. “Why,” he said, “Dr. Pink, I will tell you. As I listened to that sermon, the Spirit of God just struck conviction into my heart by reminding me that I had never praised God, and what a terrible sinner I must be!”
Ah, there is the sovereignty of God! God is sovereign in the very texts that He uses.
JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): O how unsearchable are the ways of Providence, in leading men to Christ!
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I say it again, to the glory of God, this pulpit is the most romantic place in the universe as far as I’m concerned. And for this reason: that I never know what’s going to happen when I get here. Never!