The Growth of Grace Part 6: The Maturing Believer

1 Peter 5:10; Hebrews 13:9; 2 Timothy 2:1

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.

Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The loss of all confidence in himself is the first essential in the believer’s growth in grace.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): All grace is from God; it is He who restrains, converts, comforts, and saves men by His grace.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): It is a mighty manifestation of His grace indeed, when it can live, and act, and conquer in such hearts as ours; when, in defiance of an evil nature and an evil world, and all the force and subtlety of Satan, a weak worm is still upheld, and enabled not only to climb, but to thresh the mountains; when a small spark is preserved through storms and floods. In these circumstances, the work of grace is to be estimated, not merely from its imperfect appearance, but from the difficulties it has to struggle with and overcome; and therefore our holiness does not consist in great attainments, but in spiritual desires, in hungerings, thirstings, and mournings; in humiliation of heart, poverty of spirit, submission, meekness; in cordial admiring thoughts of Jesus, and dependence upon Him alone for all we want.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): To grow in poverty of spirit is truly to grow in grace: “Without me ye can do nothing,” John 15:5.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): The more of humility the more of grace.

JOHN NEWTON: A measure of this grace is to be expected in every true Christian: but it can only appear in proportion to the knowledge they have of Christ, and it styles himself “less than the least of all saints, and of sinners the chief,” Ephesians 3:8. A new convert, and a young believer, know that they ought to be humbled; but the older believer is truly so, and a young believer’s character, in my judgment, is complete, and he becomes a mature believer when the habitual frame of his heart answers to that passage in the prophet Ezekiel 16:63, “That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more—to boast, complain, or censurebecause of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): This is the Spirit’s work alone, and this only will make us go softly all our days.

JOHN NEWTON: Neither has the mature believer, properly speaking, any more strength or stock of grace inherent in himself than a young believer, or even than a new convert. He is in the same state of absolute dependence, as incapable of performing spiritual acts, or of resisting temptations by his own power, as he was at the first day of his setting out. Yet in a sense he is much stronger, because he has a more feeling and constant sense of his own weakness. The Lord has been long teaching him this lesson by a train of various dispensations; and through grace he can say, that he has not suffered so many things in vain. His heart has deceived him so often, that he is now in a good measure weaned from trusting to it; and therefore he does not meet with so many disappointments. And having found again and again the vanity of all other helps, he is now taught to go to the Lord at once for “grace to help in every time of need,” Hebrews 4:16. Thus he is strong, not in himself, but “in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Nothing can be done aright without grace.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Grace in Christ is what believers should always have recourse unto, and exercise faith on; and not only believe that there is such a fullness of grace in Christ, which they have both heard of and seen, and which they know is laid up for them, and given to them, and is sufficient for them; but they should go forth out of themselves unto it, and draw water with joy out of the full wells of salvation in Christ: and this grace is of a strengthening nature—to be strong in it, is to be rooted and grounded in it, and to have a strong sense and firm persuasion of interest in it, and that nothing can separate from it.

JOHN NEWTON: Oh, it is a great thing to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus! but it is a hard lesson: it is not easy to understand it in theory; but, when the Lord has taught us so far, it is still more difficult to reduce our knowledge to practice.

A. W. PINK: None of us knows how weak he is till God withdraws His upholding grace―as He did with Peter―and we are left to ourselves. True, the Lord has plainly told us that “without me ye can do nothing.”  We think we believe that word, and in a way we do; yet there is a vast difference between not calling into question a verse in Scripture, an assenting to its verity, and an inward acquaintance with the same in our own personal history.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): What, for example, is the great lesson that Paul learned in the matter of the thorn in the flesh? It is that “when I am weak then am I strong,” 2 Corinthians 12:10. Paul was taught through physical weakness this manifestation of God’s grace. I must regard circumstances and conditions, not in and of themselves therefore, but as a part of God’s dealings with me in the work of perfecting my soul and bringing me to final perfection.

MATTHEW HENRY: The perfecting, establishing, strengthening, and settling of good people in grace, and their perseverance therein, is so difficult a work, that only the God of all grace can accomplish it; and therefore He is earnestly to be sought unto by continual prayer, and dependence upon His promises.

JOHN NEWTON: Whatever outward changes a mature believer may meet with, he will in general be the same man still. He has learned, with the Apostle, not only to suffer need, but which is perhaps the harder lesson—how to abound, Philippians 4:12. A palace would be a prison to him, without the Lord’s presence; and with the Lord’s presence, a prison would be a palace. From hence arises a peaceful reliance upon the Lord: he has nothing which he cannot commit into His hands, which he is not habitually aiming to resign to His disposal. Therefore he is not afraid of evil tidings; but when the hearts of others shake like the leaves of a tree, he is fixed, trusting in the Lord, who he believes can and will make good every loss, sweeten every bitter, and appoint all things to work together for his advantage.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: Such a soul is maturing in holiness and is becoming fitted for the inheritance of the saints in light, Colossians 1:12.


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