The Growth of Grace Part 4: Grace in the Ear, or the Young Believer

Ephesians 4:7; Mark 4:28

Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

First the blade, then the ear.

JEREMIAH DYKE (1584-1639): It is a point that concerns us at all times to look to the growth of our grace, as that which much evidences the truth of it. For where there is no growth of grace, there is no truth of grace. 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.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): When it is sprung up, it will go forward; nature will have its course, and so will grace―though at first it is but a tender blade, which the frost may nip, or the foot may crush, yet it will increase to the ear.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): This state I suppose to commence, when the soul, after an interchange of hopes and fears, according to the different frames it passes through, is brought to rest in Jesus, by a spiritual apprehension of his complete suitableness and sufficiency, as the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of all who trust in him, and is enabled by an appropriating faith to say, “He is mine, and I am is.” There are various degrees of this persuasion; it is of a growing nature, and is capable of increase so long as we remain in this world.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): We discern the growth of grace as the growth of plants, which we perceive it rather to have grown than to grow.

JOHN NEWTON: I call it assurance, when it arises from a simple view of the grace and glory of the Saviour, independent of our sensible frames and feelings, so as to enable us to answer all objections from unbelief and Satan, with the Apostle’s words, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died; yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us,” Romans 8:34. This, in my judgment, does not belong to the essence of faith, so that he should be deemed more truly a believer than the new convert, but to the establishment of faith. And now that faith is stronger, it has more to grapple with.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Faith must be tested—and developed…and having learned—through grace—the difficult lessons of one, he must now go forward to grapple with others yet more difficult.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Faith is the wrestling grace.

JOHN NEWTON: I think the characteristic of grace in the blade is desire, and of grace in the ear is conflict. Not that his desires have subsided, or that he was a stranger to conflict; but as there was a sensible eagerness and keenness in his first desires, which, perhaps, is seldom known to be equally strong afterwards, so there are usually trials and exercises in his subsequent experience; something different in their kind and sharper in their measure than what he was exposed to, or indeed had strength to endure. Like Israel, he has been delivered from Egypt by great power and a stretched-out arm, has been pursued and terrified by many enemies, has given himself up for lost again and again. He has at last seen his enemies destroyed, and has sang the song of Moses and the Lamb upon the banks of the Red Sea. Then he commences the stage of grace in the ear. Perhaps, like Israel, he thinks his difficulties are at an end, and expects to go on rejoicing until he enters the promised land. But, alas! his difficulties are in a manner but beginning; he has a wilderness before him, of which he is not aware.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): A Christian’s work is not over as soon as he has got into a state of grace; he must still hope and strive for more grace. When he has entered the narrow gate, he must still walk in the narrow way, and gird up the loins of his mind for that purpose.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The life of grace is the death of sin, and the growth of grace the decay of sin.

RICHARD CECIL (1748-1810): A Christian has advanced but a little way in religion when he has overcome the love of the world; for he has still more powerful and importunate enemies: self―evil tempers―pride―undue affections―a stubborn will. It is by the subduing of these adversaries that we must chiefly judge of our growth in grace.

R. L. DABNEY (1820-1898): Let any Christian view his own life, and see how nearly his whole spiritual progress has been made in the seasons of trial. It is by their private afflictions chiefly that individuals grow in grace.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): By the discoveries which they make of their own weakness, ignorance, and propensity to sin, their pride is humbled; their self-confidence destroyed; their patience, meekness and candor are increased; the Saviour, and His method of salvation rendered more precious, and all ground for boasting forever excluded. All these happy effects, however, are produced in a way which they would never have thought of; and it is a long time before they can be made to understand God’s method of proceeding, so that they are often ready to say with Jacob, Genesis 42:36, “All these things are against me!”—when, in fact, every thing is working together for their good. Even when God answers their prayers, He very often does it in ways and by means, which they did not expect; and as often as they attempt to mark out a path for Him in their own minds, so often they find themselves disappointed, and are constrained to confess, that His ways are not like theirs.

A. W. PINK: In what, then, does an increase of faith consist? Is it not the Christian’s growth, as a believer, a growth in a true, living, spiritual, experimental knowledge of himself as a sinner, and of God in Christ as the Father of mercies?―As this knowledge increases, faith increases; as this knowledge is confirmed in the soul, faith is confirmed and strengthened. “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law,” Psalm 94:12. Again, “He led him about, He instructed him,” Deuteronomy 32:10; God leads into a great variety of circumstances, and in these circumstances He causes His people to receive instruction. In that way they learn the truth in an experimental manner, and what they receive from the Word is confirmed more and more unto them. In that way they learn the vanity of the world, the fickleness of the creature, the depravity of their own hearts.

JOHN NEWTON: The Lord is now about to suit his dispensations to humble and to prove him, and to show him what is in his heart, that he may do him good at the latter end, and that all the glory may redound to his own free grace.


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