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laws and forces of nature - the ordinary means through which He upholds and governs the world. God can cause iron to float, daylight to be extended, the blind to see, and the dead to arise. We, however, may not make a rule from these exceptions. God's normal procedure is to work through means of the secondary causes He has established.

This is true, not only in the realm of nature, but also of grace. God could instantly convert, instruct, and bring into heaven all His children without the use of any means of grace, as He did with the thief on the cross. But God's normal manner of working is to convert and instruct His children through the use of His means of grace. Again, we may not make a rule from the exception. We must follow God's revealed will, His loving command to actively use His means of grace, asking Him to graciously bless their use in our hearts and lives.

As the doctrine of God's providence over all things does not render the use of means unnecessary, neither does it diminish the freedom nor responsibility of man. While God rules and governs all of us according to His will and decree, He does so in a manner in which we remain free moral beings. Whatever we do, we do willingly, from the free choice of our hearts. Due to our deep fall in Paradise we choose sin by nature. If God forced or compelled us to do things we did not want to do in order to fulfill His plan, then we could not be held responsible for our actions. However, sinful choices are freely and continually made by all people, as all are sinners.

This truth is very important when viewing man's sin. It was in God's plan that Joseph's brothers would sell him into Egypt; yet his brothers did not do this because God compelled them. They did so willingly, out of their heartfelt hatred for Joseph, hoping never to see him again. Joseph testifies of this later, when speaking to his brothers after their father's death, he says, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive" (Genesis 50:20).

What dangers could possibly arise from the continual reading of unusual or exceptional conversion accounts? Which Book must be our source for determining the marks and fruits of true conversion?

  • Diminish - To lessen; to reduce

  • Moral - Conscious of right and wrong

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