The Growth of Grace Part 3: The New Convert Growing in Grace

I John 2:12,13; I Peter 2:2,3; Exodus 33:13

I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake…I write unto you little children, because ye have known the Father.

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): It is a sure mark of grace to desire more.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Strong desires and affections to the word of God are a sure evidence of a person’s being born again. If they be such desires as the babe has for the milk, they prove that the person is new-born. They are the lowest evidence, but yet they are certain.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Receptiveness is a characteristic of the new heart; the new-born babe desires the sincere milk of the Word, that it may grow thereby.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Now, as God only thus reveals Himself by the medium of Scripture truth, the light received this way leads the soul to the Scripture from whence it springs, and all the leading truths of the word of God soon begin to be perceived and assented to. The evil of sin is acknowledged; the evil of the heart is felt.

JAMES HARRINGTON EVANS (1785-1849): A sense of God’s love in the soul will make a man of tender conscience.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): This tender conscience is afraid to put one foot before the other, lest it should put its foot in the wrong place.

JOSEPH ALLEINE (1634-1668): How warily does he walk, lest he should tread upon a snare!  He looks in front, and behind: he has his eye upon his heart, and is often casting it over his shoulder, lest he should be overtaken with sin…His fears are not so much of suffering as of sinning.

C. H. SPURGEON: Poor tender conscience; some despise him; but he is dear to the King’s heart. I would to God, my brethren, you and I knew more about him. I used to know a conscience so tender, that I would wish to feel it again.  Then we questioned the lawfulness of every act before we committed it; and then, though it was lawful, we would stop to see if it were expedient; and if we thought it expedient, even then we would not do it, except we felt it would be abundantly honourable to the Lord our God.  Every doctrine we used to scruple at, lest we should believe a lie; every ordinance we examined, lest we should commit idolatry; happy were the days when tender conscience went with us.

JOHN NEWTON: Indeed, notwithstanding the weakness of his faith, and the prevalence of a legal spirit, which greatly hurts him, there are some things in his present experience which he may, perhaps, look back upon with regret hereafter, when his hope and knowledge will be more established…His zeal is likewise lively; and may be, for lack of more experience, too importunate and forward. He has a love for souls, and a concern for the glory of God; which, though it may at some times create him trouble, and at others be mixed with some undue motions of self, yet in its principle is highly desirable and commendable.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): As children grow that are got stronger and riper, so as people grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they will be more settled, more confirmed: on first setting out they will prattle, but later they will be more manly, more firm, more steady.

JOHN NEWTON: The old Christian has more solid, judicious, connected views of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the glories of His person and redeeming love: hence his hope is more established, his dependence more simple, and his peace and strength, more abiding and uniform, than in the case of a young convert; but the latter has, for the most part, the advantage in point of sensible fervency…Particularly that sensibility and keenness of appetite with which he now attends the ordinances, desiring the sincere milk of the word with earnestness and eagerness, as a babe does the breast. He counts the hours from one opportunity to another; and the attention and desire with which he hears, may be read in his countenance―and the desire of grace, in this way, is grace.

JEREMIAH DYKE (1584-1639): True grace is growing grace. There is a growing in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18), a growing in wisdom (Luke 2:40), and a growing in faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3). All true grace grows. There are counterfeit and false graces, and this is the main thing that differentiates between true and counterfeit ones: true grace grows, counterfeit grace grows not.  There is a great deal of difference between a true tree and a pictured tree, between a true child, and the statue or image of a child.  A true child grows, but the image grows not—it is no taller or bigger at a hundred years old than it was the first day it was made. Where there is truth of grace, there is a life of grace, and life will put forth itself and cause a growth, as we see in living trees, and living children that are not yet come to their full growth—they grow because they live.

JOHN NEWTON: A tree is most valuable when laden with ripe fruit, but it has a peculiar beauty when in blossom. It is spring-time with the new convert. He is in bloom, and, by the grace and blessing of the heavenly Farmer, will bear fruit in old age. His faith is weak, but his heart is warm. He will seldom venture to think himself a believer; but he sees, and feels, and does those things which no one could, unless the Lord was with him. The very desire and bent of his soul is to God, and to the word of His grace. His knowledge is but small, but it is growing every day. If he is not a father or a young man in grace, he is a dear child. The Lord has visited his heart, delivered him from the love of sin, and fixed his desires supremely upon Jesus Christ. The spirit of bondage is gradually departing from him, and the hour of liberty, which he longs for, is approaching, when, by a farther discovery of the glorious Gospel, it shall be given him to know his acceptance, and to rest upon the Lord’s finished salvation.

C. H. SPURGEON: Everything in the kingdom of grace is not to be learned in ten minutes. I bless God that a man who has believed in Jesus only one second is a saved man; but he is not an instructed man, he is not an established man.  He is not trained for battle; nor tutored for labour.  These things take time.


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