It is certain that only those who have received grace from God can truly see or value the beauty of his grace. The Puritan William Bradford once wrote to a friend, “Your sins are undoubtedly pardoned, etc. For God has given you a penitent, believing heart; that is, a heart which desires to repent and believe.”
If you are a weak, doubting, discouraged, trembling believer, read the seven points Thomas Brooks provides below to decide if God really is providing “grace upon grace” to you! (John 1:16)
1. Poor, weak, doubting, trembling Christians may be cautious of saying that they have taken hold of grace, but they will readily say that they prize the smallest measure of grace above all the gold and silver in the world and that if they had all the world at their disposal they would give it for grace.
2. Many poor, doubting Christians are cautious of saying that their spiritual condition is safe and happy, yet they will readily say that they would not give ten-thousand worlds to switch places with the vain men of the world who delight and wallow in sin, and who make sport of, and are dominated by sin. They would rather be fed and soothed by God with poor, sick Lazarus, rather than feast with the rich man.
3. Poor, doubting Christians may be cautious of saying that they refrain from sin, because there is not a just man upon earth that does good and does not sin; yet they would never deliberately, willfully and habitually sin against the Lord, even if it meant gaining the whole world.
4. Poor, doubting Christians may be cautious of saying that they have surely given all to God, or that Christ has surely redeemed their souls, or that the Holy Spirit has surely indwelt them; yet they will readily say that if God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and grace, and glory were offered to them on one hand, and all the honors, pleasures, and profits of the world on the other hand, they would surely grab hold of God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and grace, and holiness, and everlasting happiness, even if their choice would expose them to the greatest afflictions in this world.
5. Poor, doubting Christians may be cautious of saying that they have as much power against their sins as they desire to have, yet they will say that, when the Lord is pleased to give them grace to subdue their sins, these are the most joyful, comfortable, delightful, and refreshing seasons to their souls: and that the language of their souls at such a time is, “Oh, that it might always be like this! Oh, that every day one lust or another might fall before the power, the Spirit, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
6. Poor, doubting Christians may be cautious of saying that they receive as much benefit as other believers do from the sermons they hear, or by their prayers, or by the Scriptures they read, or by the communion of saints that they enjoy; yet they will say that they would never give up their prayer, or hearing, or reading, or the communion of saints to give up themselves to the ways of sin, and Satan, and the world, regardless of any earthly benefits that might come from doing so.
7. Poor, doubting believers may at some point be cautious of affirming that Christ alone is their Lord, yet they will readily affirm that:
- though they fail regularly, they desire and endeavor to honor and serve Christ as their Lord,
- though they cannot comprehend Christ, they will never willingly offend Christ;
- though they cannot find comfort, they will continue to oppose sin;
- though they find nothing good in themselves, they desire that God might claim glory through them.
- though they do not perceive the promises, they will trust the precepts;
- though they do not claim the privileges of a Christian, they bow to the service of a Christian.
- though they lack strength to throw themselves into Christ’s arms to save them, they will cast themselves at the feet of Christ to serve Him;
- though their path seems dark and they see no light, they will trust in the Lord, and walk in His ways (Isaiah 1:10).
Strong probabilities in earthly things provide men a great deal of comfort, support, quietness and satisfaction.
When the physician tells the patient that it is probable, indeed very probable, that he will recover, live, and do well, it is a wonderful comfort, encouragement, and refreshment to the languishing patient!
When there is good weather and calm seas for a voyage, the spirits of the merchants and mariners will soar!
When there is nothing more than a probability of a good harvest the husbandman sings!
When some sign of hope, or some probability of a pardon comes to a condemned man, his heart leaps and dances for joy, his spirits revive, and his body is strengthened!
Likewise, when a Christian has some evidence of grace, some interest in Christ and of being saved, some love for God’s Word and the fellowship of the saints, he does well to cheer up and maintain his ground against fears and temptations!
O poor, doubting Christian, if the seven things above are true in you, count it as solid, sound, and strong evidence of true grace in your soul! If you find all, or even any, of these seven evidences in your life, let your soul revive! Bless the Lord and speak well of His name upon that evidence, and forevermore find rest as you walk on in faith, adoring and admiring the free and infinite grace that provides all those evidences to the children of God.