Bulletin Edition October 2021

To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that the man, Jesus of Nazareth, is the woman’s promised Seed, the incarnate God, and that by his obedience unto death he actually accomplished all that the Old Testament Scriptures prophesied he would accomplish, He saved his people from their sins!  Pastor Don Fortner

A Self Made Man

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,”  Luke 18:11

No person is less likely to be saved than the very religious professor. He wears an armour of presumption. You cannot tell him anything of grace and mercy, his head is helmeted with much religious knowledge and tradition. You cannot touch his heart for he wears the breastplate of self-righteousness. He gives assent to every fundamental truth, yet believes nothing. He attends to every religious holiday, service and moral law, yet knows nothing of heart repentance and faith. No other suit of armour is one half so effective for warding off the strokes of truth as that which is forged in the arsenal of religion. I have more hope for the drunkard and the harlot than for the gospel-hardened religionist!

                                                           Pastor Scott Richardson

“The elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” –Romans 11:7


Those who are blinded by the god of this world, have no knowledge of what power and feeling and savor and dew are; they see not these things, they are blind to their reality, they are dead to their importance; but the living family of God, who are brought by his blessed Spirit into some apprehension of eternal realities, have eyes to see what power is, and hearts too, to desire to feel its manifestation.

No, it is the very seeing what reality and power are which makes them desire to experience the savor of eternal things in their conscience; and because they do not feel them as they wish, it makes them often fear that they are blind altogether (Isaiah 59:10). But the very inquiry, the very anxious cry, the very groaning desire, the very fervent supplication to the Lord that he would not let them live and die without a testimony from himself, that he would lift up the light of his countenance and grant them the life of his favor–these very cries are a proof of life.

Were you blind, you would not see these things; were you deaf, you would not spiritually hear these things; were you dead, you would not feel these things. And, therefore, that which you seem to take as an evidence against you, is, in reality, an evidence for you; and the very sensations of trepidation, anxious inquiry, godly fear, and the crying out before the Lord that he would search and try you and really make your heart right in his sight–these very things are the symptoms of spiritual life, the evidences of a work of grace upon the heart, and are the spiritual breathings of the quickened soul, the Lord himself having communicated these feelings unto it.

I was once blind, but now I see

John Newton

Dear Sir,

The question, “What is the discriminating characteristic nature of a work of grace upon the soul?” has been upon my mind; if I am able to give you satisfaction concerning it, I shall think my time well employed.

The reason why men in a natural state are utterly ignorant of spiritual truths is, that they are wholly destitute of a faculty suited to their perception. A remarkable instance we have in the absurd construction which Nicodemus put upon what our Lord had spoken to him concerning the new birth. And in the supernatural communication of this spiritual faculty, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, I apprehend the inimitable and abiding criterion, which is the subject of our inquiry, does primarily consist. Those passages of Scripture wherein the Gospel truth is compared to light, lead to a familiar illustration of my meaning. Men by nature are stark blind with respect to this light; by grace, the eyes of the understanding are opened.

Among a number of blind men, some may be more ingenious and of better capacity than others. They may be better qualified for such studies and employment’s which do not require eye-sight than many who can see, and may attain to considerable skill in them; but with respect to the true nature of light and colors, they are all exactly upon a level. A man born blind, if ingenious and inquisitive, may learn to talk about the light, the sun, or the rainbow, in terms borrowed from those who have seen them; but it is impossible that he can have a just idea of either; and whatever hearsay knowledge he may have acquired, he can hardly talk much upon these subjects without betraying his real ignorance. The case of one blind person has been often quoted. He believed, that, after much inquiry and reflection, he had at last found out what scarlet was; and being asked to explain himself, “I think,” says he, “scarlet is something like the sound of a trumpet.” This man had about the same knowledge of natural light as Nicodemus had of spiritual. Nor can all the learning or study in the world, enable any person to form a suitable judgment of divine truth, until the eyes of his mind are opened, and then he will perceive it at once. Indeed, this comparison is well suited to show the entire difference between nature and grace, and to explain the ground of that enmity and scorn which fills the hearts of blinded sinners, against those who profess to have been enlightened by the Spirit of God.

But if we could suppose it possible, that there was a whole nation of blind men, and one or two people should go among them, and profess that they could see, while they could not offer them such a proof of their assertion as they were capable of receiving, nor even explain, to their satisfaction, what they meant by sight; what may we imagine would be the consequence? I think there is little doubt but these innovators would experience much the same treatment as the believers of Jesus often meet with from a blind world. The blind people would certainly hate and despise them for presuming to pretend to what they had not. They would try to dispute them out of their senses, and bring many arguments to prove that there could be no such thing as either light or sight. They would say, as many say now, ‘How is it, if these things are so, that we should know nothing of them?’ Yes, I think it probable they would rise against them, as deceivers and enthusiasts, and disturbers of the public peace, and say, “Away with such fellows from the earth; it is not fit that they should live!” But if we should suppose further, that during the heat of the contest some of these blind men should have their eyes suddenly opened, the dispute as to them would be at an end in a minute; they would confess their former ignorance and obstinacy, confirm the testimony of those whom they had before despised, and of course share in the same treatment from their blind brethren, perhaps be treated still worse, as apostates from the opinion of the public.

If this illustration is justly applicable to our subject, it may lead us to several observations, or inferences, which have a tendency to confirm what we are elsewhere expressly taught by the word of God.

In the first place, it shows, that regeneration, or that great change without which a man cannot see the kingdom of God, is the effect of Almighty power. Neither education, endeavors, nor arguments, can open the eyes of the blind. It is God alone, who at first caused light to shine out of darkness, who can shine into our hearts, “to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” People may attain some natural ideas of spiritual truths by reading books, or hearing sermons, and may thereby become wise in their own conceits; they may learn to imitate the language of an experienced Christian; but they know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm, and are as distant from the true meaning of the terms, as a blind man who pronounces the words blue or red, is from the ideas which those words raise in the mind of a person who can distinguish colors by his sight.

And from hence we may infer the sovereignty, as well as the efficacy of grace; since it is evident, not only that the objective light, the word of God, is not afforded universally to all men; but that those who enjoy the same outward means have not all the same perceptions. There are many who stumble in the noon-day, not for lack of light, but for lack of eyes; and those who now see, were once blind even as others, and had neither power nor will to enlighten their own minds. It is a mercy, however, when people are so far sensible of their own blindness, as to be willing to wait for the manifestation of the Lord’s power, in the ordinances of his own appointment. He came into the world, and he sends forth His Gospel, that those who see not may see; and when there is a desire raised in the heart for spiritual sight, it shall in his due time be answered.

From hence likewise we may observe the proper use and value of the preaching of the Gospel, which is the great instrument by which the Holy Spirit opens the blind eyes. Like the rod of Moses, it owes all its efficacy to the appointment and promise of God. Ministers cannot be too earnest in the discharge of their office; it behooves them to use all diligence to find out acceptable words, and to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Yet when they have done all, they have done nothing, unless their word is accompanied to the heart by the power and demonstration of the Spirit. Without this blessing, an apostle might labor in vain: but it shall be in a measure afforded to all who preach the truth in love, in simplicity, and in all humble dependence upon him who alone can give success. This in a great measure puts all faithful ministers on a level, notwithstanding any seeming disparity in gifts and abilities. Those who have a lively and pathetic talent, may engage the ear, and raise the natural passions of their hearers; but they cannot reach the heart. The blessing may be rather expected to attend the humble, than the voluble speaker.

Farther: we may remark, that there is a difference in kind between the highest attainments of nature, and the effects of grace in the lowest degree. Many are convinced, who are not truly enlightened; are afraid of the consequences of sin, though they never saw its evil; have a seeming desire of salvation, which is not founded upon a truly spiritual discovery of their own wretchedness, and the excellency of Jesus. These may, for a season, hear the word with joy, and walk in the way of professors; but we need not be surprised if they do not hold out—for they have no root. Though many such fall, the foundation of God still stands sure. We may confidently affirm, upon the warrant of Scripture, that those who, having for a while escaped the pollutions of the world, are again habitually entangled in them; or who, having been distressed upon the account of sin, can find relief in a self-righteous course, and stop short of Christ, “who is end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes”—we may affirm, that these, whatever profession they may have made, were never capable of perceiving the beauty and glory of the Gospel salvation.

On the other hand, though, where the eyes are divinely enlightened, the soul’s first views of itself and of the Gospel may be confused and indistinct, like him who saw men as it were trees walking; yet this light is like the dawn, which, though weak and faint at its first appearance, shines more and more unto the perfect day. It is the work of God; and his work is perfect in kind, though progressive in the manner. He will not despise or forsake the day of small things. When he thus begins, he will make an end; and such people, however feeble, poor, and worthless, in their own apprehensions, if they have obtained a glimpse of the Redeemer’s glory, as he is made unto wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption—so that his name is precious, and the desire of their hearts is towards him—have good reason to hope and believe, as the wife of Manoah did in a similar case, that if the Lord had been pleased to kill them, he would not have showed them such things as these.

Once more: The spiritual sight and faculty is that which may be principally considered as permanent in a believer. He has no stock of grace, or comfort, or strength, in himself. He needs continual supplies; and if the Lord withdraws from him, he is as weak and unskillful after he has been long engaged in the Christian warfare, as he was when he first entered upon it. The eye is of little present use in the dark; for it cannot see without light. But the return of light is no advantage to a blind man. A believer may be much in the dark; but his spiritual sight remains. Though the exercise of grace may be low, he knows himself, he knows the Lord, he knows the way of access to a throne of grace. His frames and feelings may alter; but he has received such a knowledge of the person and offices, the power and grace, of Jesus the Savior, as cannot be taken from him; and he could withstand even an angel that should preach another gospel, because he has seen the Lord. The length of this paper constrains me to break off. May the Lord increase his light in your heart.

“O send out your light and your truth—let them lead me; let them bring me unto your holy hill, and to your tabernacles.” –Psalm 43:3


A spiritually living man cannot, in his right mind, bear the idea of standing still, that is to say, standing still so as to have no spiritual work going on within; and still less can he bear the idea of going backward. He wants to go forward. He is often dissatisfied with his state; he feels how little he knows; he is well aware of the shallowness of his attainments in the divine life, as well as of the ignorance and the blindness that are in him; and therefore, labouring under the feeling of his own shortcomings for the past, his helplessness for the present, and his ignorance for the future, he wants to go forward wholly and solely in the strength of the Lord, to be led, guided, directed, kept, not by the wisdom and power of the creature, but by the supernatural entrance of light and truth into his soul. The mercy-seat is continually covered with clouds; God hides himself, and he cannot behold him; the truth seems obscured so that he cannot realize it. He often cannot find his way to Christ; he cannot perceive the path of life, nor whether his feet are in that path. He sees so few marks of grace in his soul, and feels so powerfully the workings of sin and corruption; he finds so few things for him and so many things against him, that he often staggers, and is perplexed in his mind, and seems almost to come to a feeling in his heart, that he is destitute of the grace of God altogether, that the secret of the Lord is not with him, but that he is a hypocrite in Zion, who has never had even the beginning of wisdom communicated to his soul.

“And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father. From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” John 6:65-66

The carnal man will make a show of coming to Christ if he can have all the glory for coming. But let that man hear that he’s helpless to come except it were given unto him of the Father and, according to God’s word, he’ll continue his charade no more.        Coming, by faith, to Christ is by the grace of God. When the Lord is pleased to call one of His own unto Himself, He’ll place that sinner under the sound of the Gospel, that message which is the power of God unto salvation, and He’ll quicken that sinner, making him willing in the day of His power to do exactly that which God eternally purposed…to come, by faith, to Christ, Jn. 6:37.          Marvin Stalnaker

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