The Growth of Grace, Part 7: The Full Ear in the Corn

Mark 4:28; I Corinthians 15:10; 2 Timothy 1:12

First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

By the grace of God I am what I am.

For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Our Lord taught His disciples gradually; their knowledge advanced as the light, or, according to His beautiful simile, first the blade, then the ear; first green corn, then fully ripe…

I can think of no single word more descriptive of the full corn in the ear than contemplation. His eminence, in comparison of the new convert, does not consist in the sensible warmth and fervency of his affections: in this respect many of the most exemplary believers have looked back with a kind of regret upon the time of their espousals, when, though their judgments were but imperfectly formed, and their views of Gospel truths were very indistinct, they felt a fervour of spirit, the remembrance of which is both humbling and refreshing; and yet they cannot recall the same sensations. Nor is he properly distinguished from a young believer by a consciousness of his acceptance in the Beloved, and an ability of calling God his Father; for this I have supposed a young believer has attained to―the mature believer, having had his views of the Gospel, and of the Lord’s faithfulness and mercy, confirmed by a longer experience, his assurance is of course more stable and more simple, than when he first saw himself safe from all condemnation. Thus, though his sensible feelings may not be so warm as when he was a new convert, his judgment is more solid, his mind more fixed, his thoughts more habitually exercised upon the things within the veil…His contemplations are not barren speculations, but have a real influence, and enable him to exemplify the Christian character to more advantage, and with more consistence, than can be expected either from a new convert or a young believer

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Young Christians are like little rivulets, that make a great noise, and have shallow water; old Christians are like deep water, that makes little noise, carries a good load, and gives not way.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” Philippians 4:11. You notice that Paul says: “I have learned,” or better, ‘I have come to learn.’ I thank God that Paul said that. Paul was not always like this any more than any one of us. How did he come to learn?―It was by sheer experience. I need only direct your attention to Second Corinthians 12, verses 9 & 10, about “the thorn in the flesh.” Paul did not like it. He struggled against it; three times he prayed that it might be removed. But it was not removed. He could not reconcile himself to it…But then he was taught the lesson: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” He came to a place of understanding as the result of sheer experience of the dealings of God with him. He had to learn, and experience teaches us all. Some of us are very slow to learn, but God in His kindness may send us an illness―sometimes He even strikes us down―anything to teach us this great lesson and to bring us to this great position.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Nor is this, as a rule, obtained through a single episode, any more than a nail is driven in securely by one blow of the hammer.  No, we have to learn, and re-learn, so stupid are we.

JOHN NEWTON: Assurance grows by repeated conflict, by our repeated experimental proof of the Lord’s power and goodness to save; when we have been brought very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down and raised again, have given up all hope, and have been suddenly snatched from danger, and placed in safety; and when these things have been repeated to us and in us a thousand times over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and power of God, beyond and against appearances: and this trust, when habitual and strong, bears the name of assurance.

F. W. KRUMMACHER (1796-1868): Does anyone inquire wherein consists the Christian’s sanctification? It consists in this, that Christ increases in us, and we decrease.  Does any one desire to know whether he is advancing in the way of salvation? Observe whether Christ increases, while you decrease, in your own estimation.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The higher a man is in grace, the lower he will be in his own esteem.

JOHN NEWTON: As he knows most of himself, so the mature believer has seen most of the Lord. The apprehension of infinite Majesty combined with infinite Love, makes him shrink into the dust. From the exercise of this grace he derives two others…One is submission to the will of God. The views he has of his own vileness, unworthiness, and ignorance, and of the Divine sovereignty, wisdom, and love—teach him to be content in every state, and to bear his appointed lot of suffering with resignation…

A union of heart to the glory and will of God is another noble distinction of the mature believer’s spirit. The glory of God, and the good of His people are inseparably connected. But of these great ends the first is unspeakably the highest and the most important, and into which everything else will be finally resolved. Now, in proportion as we advance nearer to Him, our judgment, aim, and end will be conformable to His, and His glory will have the highest place in our hearts.

HOWEL HARRIS (1714-1773): This must surely be our strong desire, as we become more acquainted with Him.

JOHN NEWTON: At first it is not so, or but very imperfectly. Our concern is chiefly about ourselves; nor can it be otherwise. The convinced soul inquires, “What shall I do to be saved?” The young convert is intent upon sensible comforts―but a mature believer has attained to more enlarged views: he has a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which would be importunate if he considered only himself; but his chief desire is, that God may be glorified in him, whether by his life or by his death…And though he loves and adores the Lord for what He has done and suffered for him, delivered him from, and appointed him to; yet he loves and adores him likewise with a more simple and direct love, in which self is in a manner forgotten, from the consideration of God’s glorious excellence and perfections, as He is in Himself. That God in Christ is glorious over all, and blessed forever, is the very joy of his soul; and his heart can frame no higher wish, than that the sovereign, wise, holy will of God may be accomplished in him, and all His creatures. Upon this grand principle his prayers, schemes, and actions, are formed. Thus he is already made like the angels; and, so far as is consistent with the inseparable remnants of a fallen nature, the will of God is regarded by him upon earth as it is by the inhabitants of heaven…He sees that the time is short, lives upon the foretastes of glory, and therefore accounts not his life, or any inferior concernment, dear, so that he may finish his course with joy.



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