Cerulean Springs, Ky., Nov. 22, 1880.
ELDER G. BEEBE & SON – DEAR BRETHREN IN THE LORD: – If it is not asking too much of you, please give me your views as to when a man is born again. Is it when he first sees himself a sinner, or when he views Jesus as his Savior? If when he sees himself a sinner, why does he go mourning perhaps year after year? If when he views Jesus as his Savior, he is born just then, why did he cry before, seeing he is dead in sin? Also give your views on Acts xxvi. 18.
I hope you understand me in my awkward way of asking questions. I do this for information. If I know my heart, I desire to know the truth. I have been a reader of the SIGNS for three years, and it would be a welcome messenger to me at twice its cost. I love to hear from the brethren and sisters scattered abroad, and to read your editorials. I believe your article on Predestination is true. I desire your prayers. May God spare you long to wield the pen, if it is his will, and save us in his kingdom, is the prayer of your unworthy brother,
D. R. TURNER, Jr.
REPLY: – A birth, whether natural or spiritual, is a bringing into light and liberty that which was alive before its birth. The birth does not originate the life which it brings into manifestation. In nature, life is first manifested by a struggle for deliverance. And so in the experience of the new birth, the quickening power of the Holy Ghost is manifested in the sinner before he is born into the liberty of the gospel. The favored recipient of this quickening power may go bowed down under a sense of guilt for a long time before his deliverance comes; but although quickened with a life begotten of God, he is not born until he is delivered from bondage, and ushered into light and liberty. Therefore, until his birth or deliverance, he cannot see the kingdom of God. He did not cry for deliverance until he had life; but his cries and struggling for deliverance gave evidence that he had life before his deliverance was perfected by a birth, in which he, coming out of darkness into the marvelous light of the gospel, was enabled to see Jesus as his all-sufficient Savior.
The text in Acts xxvi. 18, is a portion of what our Lord said to Saul at the time of his conversion from Judaism to the faith of the Son of God. In the instructions given on that wonderful occasion, Jesus told him for what purpose he had appeared unto him; that it was to make him a minister (not a savior), and a witness both of the things which he had seen, and of those things in which Jesus would appear unto him. The work of the gospel ministry is to enlighten the saints; this is called the opening of their eyes. It is not to give them eyes. Many of God’s children, who have eyes, are in darkness on many subjects, like our brother Turner, in regard to those things concerning which he asks now for more light, and on which, if we are so happy as to satisfy his mind and give him correct instruction, we shall have opened his eyes, or enlightened his mind, by calling his attention to what God by his spirit has revealed. God’s people are the light of the world, and that light which is given them is not to be hidden under a bed or a bushel, but put upon a candlestick, that it may enlighten them that are in the house; for all who are in the house of God have eyes which require to be illuminated by all the gifts which God has bestowed upon the church. The gracious purpose for which Jesus appeared to Paul is clearly manifested to all the saints who have been instructed by his epistles, wherein he has opened our eyes, and turned us from the darkness which we were under to the light of the truth, as witnessed by him as an inspired apostle of the Lamb. As Satan is the prince of darkness, so when the children of God are in darkness we are subject to the power of his temptations and allurements. As a witness for Jesus, Paul stood in defense of the truth, that they may receive forgiveness of sins. Paul could not, nor did he attempt to, forgive sins; but he preached Christ as the Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and the forgiveness of sins. And thus enlightened by the preaching of Paul, the saints enter upon their inheritance as the children and heirs of God among them which are sanctified. And all that Paul witnessed was and is by the faith that is in our Lord Jesus Christ; therefore it could not be by any willing or doing of the creature. The epistles written by this eminent apostle of Jesus Christ bear ample testimony that he, as a witness, testified constantly that the salvation of all the chosen people of God was by grace, and by grace alone; not of works, lest any man should boast.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 1
January 1, 1881.