The Prohibitions of Grace -- By: George M. Cowan

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 103:412 (Oct 1946)
Article: The Prohibitions of Grace
Author: George M. Cowan


The Prohibitions of Grace

George M. Cowan

(Concluded from the July-September Number, 1946)

Christian conduct has two great considerations in mind: one negative, bearing on the believer’s relationship to the world, the flesh, and the devil—which has already been dealt with, and one positive, bearing on his relationship to the three members of the Godhead and the whole body of believers—which must now be considered. Two words sum up the attitude of the Christian in these two great spheres of conduct. Separation is the keynote of the negative one, fellowship that of the positive. Even in the sphere of fellowship with the Persons of the Godhead and the family of God on earth, Christian conduct is to be progressive, a development, more and more approximating that perfect sanctification which will be realized experimentally when the believer enters glory to be forever with the Lord. Positional truth is to be appropriated increasingly and made experimental. In the very nature of the case the believer is prohibited from retrogression, all that which he left behind to become a Christian, and is exhorted to press on to those things which are before. Although in actual life the Christian’s experience is a unit rather than divided into sections, still there is a Biblical emphasis to be found which stresses responsibility toward the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and fellow saints; therefore, for the purposes of our investigation, these four relationships are to be considered in order.

1. Relations with the Father

The believer is related to God as a child to a parent, a son to his father. In this relationship there is a fitting and necessary discipline. Cook has well said: “The bestowment

of grace then does not mean that the children of God are to be pampered and petted, shielded from every rough wind, and gently carried over all the hard places. It is next to criminal to rear children in this way, as thousands of instances in these modern days amply show, resulting as it does in useless and often vicious life for them. The heavenly Father will not make that mistake. He loves His sons and daughters and wishes them to be strong, robust and beautiful; but to have them so requires their attendance in the rough school of trial,—the gymnasium of discipline. Nor is experience here an elective branch of study, but the most important one in the curriculum; in fact it is the basis of all learning in the Christian life, for discipline includes all trial, suffering and disappointment that comes to the believer, in brief everything that is contrary to his own natural choosing.”1 Discipline applies only within the family circ...

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