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Objection: But Change from Nature to Grace Is Not Growth in Grace

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Bless God for Good Trading

Objection: But Change from Nature to Grace Is Not Growth}

OBJECTION: But change from nature to grace is not growth in grace. Though I may have received the early rain and reaped the firstfruits of the Spirit, I fear that I do not have the latter rain and the later fruit of grace. Watering and cultivation do not make me fruitful. Feeding does not make me grow. But that is the case you insist on.

SOLUTION: First, there may be fruit, though it is not visible, and growth, though that is unseen. Christ has underground fruit that may not spring up to the view of yourself or others (Psalm 88:4–5).1465 As berries hidden among the leaves, this fruit may be hidden until winter storms or shaking times come. You may thrive more inwardly than outwardly, and be like the window of the Temple, wide inside and narrow outside.1466 You may grow more in truth and abilities in grace, but less in fruit of grace for a season. Your sincerity may invisibly grow. You may grow more downward in humility, self-abasement, and sorrow for sin, while not growing upward in joy and blossoms of comfort. You may grow by denying yourself more and growing more into Christ, the root of all your grace and foundation of your soul’s rest—all without discernible change in your constitution or work of grace. Are you more sensible of your own nothingness, the deceitfulness of your heart, sufficiency of self instead of Christ, inward disorders, deficiencies in your soul, sinfulness, hypocrisy, and barrenness? Then you are profiting (Romans 7:18).1467 Are you more jealous of your heart every day (1 Corinthians 9:27)?1468 Are you more weary of yourself and longing after Christ? Do you have a higher valuation of His excellence and long for greater influences from the Holy Spirit? Do you delight in Christ’s presence (Philippians 3:8)?1469

Second, it may be that your conclusion springs from your impatience. You may be looking for fruit too soon, not allowing time for its growth and maturity. The farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth (James 5:7)1470 before he can enjoy them or determine the yield of his harvest. Your hope, labor, and profit may be buried under the soil for a while. Someone said that we cannot sow and reap in one day. The more excellent and durable the spiritual fruit is, the longer it takes to mature. Quickly ripened fruit is soon rotten. Hypocrites blossom quickly and drop their leaves as quickly (Matthew 13:21).1471 It is a shame that trees that have little earth and least nourishment should grow fastest, but the reason is that they take up no time growing roots downward, so all their growth is outward.

Third, it may be a winter time with your soul; the Sun of Righteousness is withdrawn from you and your bright days are gone (Song of Solomon 2:11–12).1472 The Comforter who should have relieved your soul is far from you (Lamentations 1:16).1473 It may be that you have sinned away His warming presence and lost your spring season. Hence, the flowers do not appear. Yet, here is your comfort: although your winter is not a time of fruit, God will make it a time useful to you for future fruitfulness.

1465I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand” (Psalm 88:4–5 ESV). The editor believes that this passage is used for illustration only as the context is of a man under God’s wrath.

1466Windows are described in both Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:4) and the temple described in Ezekiel 41:26, but there seems to be no unambiguous textual support for the windows being wide inside and narrow outside. However, windows of such a shape were commonly used in fortifications to allow an archer to shoot with a wide field of view while minimizing target area for exterior archers and spear throwers. Whether or not this idea was known to Solomon is another matter.

1467For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18 ESV).

1468But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV).

1469More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 NASB).

1470Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains” (James 5:7 NASB).

1471Yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:21 NASB).

1472For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land” (Song of Solomon 2:11–12 NASB).

1473For these things I weep; My eye, my eye overflows with water; Because the comforter, who should restore my life, Is far from me. My children are desolate Because the enemy prevailed” (Lamentations 1:16 NKJV).

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