About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Quiet Conversion

(Article for publication week of September 4, AD 2014)
"And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things spoken of Paul" (Acts 16:14).
 Not every conversion is as dramatic as that of Saul of Tarsus as we wrote about last week. Some of the Lord's people are converted as Lydia was in a very quiet manner. Occasionally the Lord converts children who are raised in Christian homes under strict parents and therefore have been restrained from open and gross sins. They may not be able to relate the profound experience of some others, but they are still saved if they truly repent of their sins, trust in Christ Alone for salvation, and pursue holiness.  We write and preach much on experimental salvation, and cry out against false profession and "easy believism" (and the Lord being our Helper we shall continue so to do), but let none suppose that we mean to belittle true faith wherever it is found. We want none to misunderstand us and to lose assurance because they cannot relate some dramatic experience of their conversion. I repeat, if you truly repent of your sins; if you are trusting in Christ Alone for salvation; if you are pursuing holiness; then you may be assured that you are truly saved. But the fact remains that it is better for us to preach in such a way as to set a true saint to searching than to put a false convert at ease. May the Lord deliver us from both presumption and despair.
The first thing we notice about the conversion of Lydia was that the Lord opened her heart. Now, as I say the scriptures describe this dear saint's conversion in a somewhat quiet way, yet this conversion was still a powerful thing as every conversion is. Dear reader, you cannot open your own heart. Preacher, you cannot open the hearts of any of your hearers. No human power can open the heart of a poor lost sinner. The human heart is bolted by original sin and human depravity. Only the effectual working of God's mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead can open a sinner's heart (Ephesians 1:19-20). Unless the Lord opens your heart dear reader you will continue in unbelief and go on to hell when you die. Those of us who are believers in Christ can claim no good thing in ourselves as to why we believe and others do not. We are believers in Christ for one reason and one reason alone, the Lord opened our hearts.
Lydia's heart being opened by the direct agency of the Holy Spirit, she attended to the gospel that Paul preached. Here is the evidence of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, that one attends to the preaching of the gospel. A child of God loves the gospel of God's sovereign grace. It is food for his hungry soul. He cannot live without it. The gospel is good news to the poor sinner who sees that he is a spiritual bankrupt, for the gospel tells him that the price has been paid in Full by the Eternal Son of God. Lydia was evidently saved for she believed the gospel and the next verse says she submitted to the ordinance of baptism and openly declared herself a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord open many hearts.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Prototypical Conversion

(Article for publication week of 8-28- AD 2014)

"And he trembling and astonished said, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?'...." (Acts 9:6).

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is prototypical of every conversion (I Timothy 1:16). There are some things about the way the way the Apostle Paul (the name by which Saul of Tarsus was known after his conversion) was converted that are a pattern , or model of every conversion. The details and exact experience may differ, but the fundamental change is essentially the same.
First, I will have you note well, that the Lord sought out this old sinner. Saul of Tarsus was not seeking the Lord, but rather he was intent on wiping out Christianity. He hated Christ and His people and was going about to kill the Lord's people. On the day of his conversion, he was headed to Damascus with authority to bind and bring to Jerusalem any of the Lord's disciples that he might find. So it is with each of us without the efficacious grace of God. Not that every lost sinner is actively trying to persecute Christians, but no man has ever sought the Lord until he was first sought of the Lord. In Romans 3:11, the inspired apostle quotes from Psalm 14 and 53, "there is none that seeketh after God." Man is totally depraved and will not seek after God in his natural state. When a poor sinner begins to seek after God, it is because he is being effectually called by the Holy Spirit. Our Lord gave us the blessed promise that all who seek shall surely find (Matthew 7:8), and we are commanded and invited to seek the Lord while he may be found (Isaiah 55:6), but the fact remains that none will seek the Lord in his natural state, and when one begins to seek the Lord, he is being called irresistibly by the Holy Spirit. The scriptures plainly declare this solemn and glorious truth, and the conversion of the Apostle Paul (known as Saul of Tarsus before his conversion) is a clear example of it.
Secondly, we see from the conversion of Saul that there was a saving change in the man. In I Timothy 1:12-16 the Apostle relates what he was like before conversion, and what he was like after conversion. Every sinner saved by grace has a "before" and an "after." Dear reader, do you have a "before" and an "after"? Can you testify of the saving grace of God in your own life experimentally? If not, I fear you are a stranger to the saving work of Christ.
Thirdly, we see from the conversion of Paul that his faith in Christ included absolute surrender to His Lordship. ("Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?") Saving faith is much more than just "accepting Jesus." In fact, you never find that terminology in scripture. Most of you would not be opposed to Christ keeping you out of hell, but you are bound and determined to live your life like you want. Thus you show that you are not saved, you have not been effectually called, and you are not a true believer in Christ. The true believer in Christ has surrendered all to the Lordship of Christ. He has become a devoted (but very imperfect) slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear reader you make an eternally fatal mistake if you suppose that Christ will be your Saviour without being your Lord to rule over you.
Now, none of this is to suggest that every Christian has had as dramatic experience as the Apostle Paul. Indeed, this is one of the reasons we are writing this series on notable examples of saving faith to show that no two converts did or said exactly the same thing. But, every believer has been effectually called by grace and has been truly changed and brought to submission to Christ. Dear reader, have I described you?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Dying Thief

(Article for publication week of 8-14- AD 2014)

"And he said unto Jesus, 'Lord remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom" (Luke 23:42).

Here we have another notable example of saving faith found in the conversion of the Dying Thief. This is the only account we have in the scriptures of one converted in the final hour. Dear old Samuel Medley commented on this text, "the scriptures give us one instance of a malefactor converted at the eleventh hour that none may despair, and only one that none may presume."
Reading the other gospel accounts, we know that there were two thieves crucified with our Lord. The prophet Isaiah had prophesied, "he made his grave with the wicked" (Isaiah 53:9) , and "he was numbered with the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12). We also ascertain from the other gospels that both these thieves railed on our Lord, initially. But, Luke includes this glorious testimony that one of the thieves was changed from nature to grace in his final hour. There are indeed none so sinful that Christ cannot save.
The conversion of the Dying Thief proves that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Alone. If the Dying Thief would be saved, it would have to be by sovereign grace alone. It was too late for the poor wretch to amend his ways or attempt moral reform. It was too late to learn the catechism. It was too late for the man to be baptised. It was too late for this despicable sinner to "do penance" (so-called). If salvation were in any way depending  upon the dying thief's works or merits or efforts, he must be damned forever. But glory be to God, He justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5)!
The Dying Thief knew two things which are indispensable for salvation: he knew he was a sinner, and He knew that Christ was able to save. Note well this man was in no way trying to justify himself. He acknowledged that he was being punished justly (Luke 23:41). He also perceived that Christ was sinless and impeccable ("this Man hath done nothing amiss"). He also acknowledged the Lordship of Christ ("Lord remember me"). All these things are evidences that the man was truly changed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
Now, let us see how he expressed his faith in Christ. He simply pleaded, "Lord remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." I want you to notice that there are no two conversions the same as far as what sinners said, or how they prayed. You don't have to try to put words into people's mouths when they are truly converted. Indeed, if you have to try to coach or coax people into making a profession of faith, they are not saved. (And preachers who try to do that show that they don't understand the gospel themselves, and probably are not truly converted.)
Poor sinner, salvation is not in your prayer, but it is in the Dear Saviour. Though you feel all your attempts at praying to be but chattering words, if in the sincerity of your heart you are crying out to the Saviour, "remember me", you may rest assured you will be with Christ in Paradise. As William Cowper expressed it in poetry, "The dying thief rejoiced to see that Fountain in his day. And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away." Poor sinner, plunge now by faith into that fountain opened for sin and uncleanness and be washed as white as snow today

Sunday, August 3, 2014

This Man Was Justified

(Article for publication week of 8-7- AD 2014)

"And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner'. I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 18:13-14).
Here we have another notable example of saving faith. You will remember that we wrote several articles on the principle acts of faith (receiving Christ, coming to Christ, feeding on Christ, resting in Christ, and looking to Christ). Now we are considering some notable accounts of saving faith. The first one we considered was the woman in Luke 7:36-52. Now we come to the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.
The first thing we notice about this parable is that we find faith in an unlikely character, a publican, that is a tax collector, generally a very scurvy lot. The publicans were the Roman Empire's equivalent of the IRS. (Christians are obliged to pay tribute to whom it is due, and often to those to whom it is not due because they bear the sword, that is force of arms, as we read in Romans 13, but we do not defend the collectors of unjust taxes and we continue to lawfully petition for redress of these grievances.) Our Lord takes a repentant publican as an example of a saved sinner. Faith is often found in very surprising characters. Be sure if a wretched tax collector can find mercy with the Lord, there is no sinner too sinful for Him to save.
Secondly, this is a good place to point out that justification was the same under the Old Testament as under the New Testament. Our parable takes place under the Old Dispensation as two sinners go up to the temple to pray. God has never had but one way of saving sinners, and that is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Alone (see also Hebrews 11 and Romans 4).
Thirdly, we note well that saving faith is always accompanied by a humble spirit and a broken heart. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise" (Psalm 51:17). The proud Pharisee boasted of his self righteousness (Luke 18: 11-12), but the poor publican would not even so much as look to heaven, but only smote upon his breast and cried to God for mercy. He knew he was a great sinner, but he prayed to the great Saviour Who delighteth in mercy (Micah 7:18), and is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4). Dear reader, are you like the Pharisee, or like the publican? Be honest now; you can't fool the Lord.
Finally, I tell you again that there is no prescribed prayer for a sinner to pray to get saved. This is one of the main reasons we are doing this short series on notable examples of saving faith. I want you to see that as we read the scriptures we find no two sinners who said the same thing, or did the same thing. All conversions have in common repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but never suppose that you can be saved by repeating a prayer after the preacher, Sunday School teacher, or church worker. Preacher, if you have to coach your supposed converts that is all they will ever be is your converts, but they are not the Lord's.
Poor seeking sinner, if you don't know how to pray, just cry to God for mercy and it may be found in Him Who delights in mercy, and is rich in mercy.