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The Natural Man and the Gospel
No natural sinner can savingly repent or believe. It was the invention of Andrew Fuller and others, in the early “missionary movement” among Baptists—they said that the natural man has a duty to perform spiritual acts, and so they busily “offered” Jesus and the blessings of the atonement to all and sundry. The Bible didn’t teach that, but always made qualifications as to those for whom the Gospel message was effectual. The older Baptists always made the distinction between natural and spiritual duties—the natural man was responsible (that is, had a duty) to obey the Law, to honor his parents and honor God only. This natural sinner possessed neither duty nor ability within the realms of the spiritual and was not, by the older order of Baptists, ever exhorted to immediate repentance or faith. These men preached the Gospel freely, but always in its proper order. The first duty of the sinner is to bow to God as his Creator, Law-giver and Judge. It is the duty of quickened sinners to “obey the Gospel.” But with the advent of “Fullerism” it was taught that a spiritually dead man had a God-imposed “duty” to make himself alive and come to God and believe in Jesus and “obey the Gospel” and “get saved.” On the contrary, the sinner is spiritually dead to God and a dead man needs a spiritual resurrection before he can even entertain the idea of coming to the Lord.
Neither can a dead sinner open his own heart to spiritual truth. God opens the heart; Christ opens the understanding; God gives the sinner a new will and gives the sinner the power or authority to “become a son of God” (Read Acts 16:14; Luke 24:45; Psalm 110:3; John 1:11-13).
As alluded to earlier, the spiritually dead, unawakened sinner cannot accept a mere offer or proposition and become a new creature as a result of the effort put forth. Life comes first from God—“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1 Timothy 5:6)—alive to the world and its pleasures, she is most certainly, but totally dead unto God, and spiritual acts towards God are not within her compass. Here is a question for some of you easy-believe, free-offer, Fullerite preachers: How are you going to offer or invite such a spiritually dead person to come and receive life? GOD QUICKENS and then the sinner comes—how clear it is! A sinner cannot regenerate himself, any more than a dead corpse can raise himself back to life. As he is not capable of such, but is a “natural man” who “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14), neither is he responsible to do so. But, get this statement, also falling from the pen of the Apostle Paul: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). There you have it! FIRST God makes a man a new creature in Christ Jesus, and then repentance and faith and all the graces of the Spirit will come to be manifested in that poor sinner’s life!
Every natural sinner is responsible in the realm of Law wherein he finds himself, and God deals with him first on the basis of his relationship to his Creator and Law-Giver. But a sinner cannot perform any law-work or any spiritual work to recommend himself to God or to get to God. He is shut up under the Law as a Schoolmaster to force him to Christ (Galatians 3:24). And his deliverance in Christ is only known when it pleases God to give it.
Helpless, alien, dead, blind, subject
of original sin, bound by Satan—the sinner cannot effect or merit his own
deliverance. This deliverance of the Hell-bound sinner, facing his own death and
eternal condemnation, surely is only bestowed by God’s abounding grace to that
sinner. Think on these things. We feel that the distinction made here is vitally
important to any true Gospel ministry or evangelism.
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