Arhive pe categorii: Doctrines of grace
IN ORDER TO BE SAVED
Salvation is such a misunderstood concept that many people do not even understand the meaning of the word. So let us start there: A good definition of the word salvation is (1) “deliverance from sin and its consequences” or (2) “preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss.” The latter part of that definition is often the meaning in the Old Testament when it is used regarding natural things. Notice that is both these definitions set forth the idea of deliverance. That is the basic meaning of the word. We sometimes speak of salvation as being in three tenses: past, present and future. We have been saved from the penalty (guilt) of sin. We are presently being saved from the power of sin. This is sometimes called progressive sanctification and has in it the idea of growing in holiness, knowledge, love, etc. Then the future tense is that we shall one day be saved from the presence of sin. If we would think of the word salvation as including in it everything that God does for and in and to His elect we would begin to understand the things that are encompassed in this very general word. Because of the all-encompassing nature of this word salvation and the related words “save” and “saved,” we find the terms used in various ways. As stated before, salvation and being saved in the Old Testament, often mean deliverance from death, disease and even financial and political ruin. A prime example of this usage is in Exodus 14:13 where we read, “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” Jehovah’s salvation was to be seen that day by His earthly people Israel. It was their deliverance from pharaoh’s army.
In the New Testament we read that we have been saved and can say that in that sense we are saved. We read in 2 Timothy 1:9, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” But the idea of salvation is also used in the sense of a progressive of ongoing work in converted individuals. We read 1 Timothy 4:16, for example, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” Here the idea is of an ongoing salvation. In this case it was deliverance from the disastrous and manifold consequences of false doctrine. Timothy and the congregation in which he labored were doubtless “saved,” but Timothy would “save” himself and his auditors if he took heed to himself and “the doctrine.” We also find the word saved used in the sense of something that is going to be experienced by all of God’s elect people from this age. Romans 5:9 says: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Surely this demonstrates something of the all-encompassing meaning and usage of the words “saved,” “save,” and “salvation.” The words deliver, delivered, and deliverance can be substituted for the words “save,” “saved,” and “salvation” and we would have the same meaning.
The idea of salvation includes predestination, election, regeneration, calling, justification, sanctification, glorification and anything and everything else that God does in delivering His people from sin and sins. The title of this piece is “In Order to be Saved.” There is a sense in which we could say that in order to be saved, a person must be predestinated to be saved. That is true, but predestination occurred long before any of us were born and we did not experience it in our lifetimes. So also it is with election. And there is a sense in which a part of our salvation is yet future. So then, there are things that God did for His elect the foundation of the world. There are things that God does for, to and in His elect people during their earthly sojourn upon this globe. And there are things that God will do for, to and in His elect people that are yet in what we understand and speak of as the future.
Let us consider our title again: it says, “In Order to be Saved.” We may list a multitude of things that must take place in order for a person to be saved. As we have stated, some of these things are unknown to man in his experience, even God’s saints, having occurred prior to their lives. For instance, none of us experienced our election unto salvation. The only knowledge we have of it is from the Word of God. Let us rather limit our thoughts at this time to what must happen in the experience of God’s elect people in order for them to be saved. If I may put it this way, where is it that the rubber of our experience meets the road of God’s grace? The phrase selected for the title of this piece comes from what this writer estimates to be one of the weakest old Baptist confessions of faith ever penned: i.e. the New Hampshire Baptist Confession which was published in A.D. 1833. Weak as it is on some points, there are nuggets of great value that can be mined from this confession. The words in the title of this piece appear in Article 7 of that confession. It says, “We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated or born again…” Here, and I think rightly so, the writer(s) equate regeneration and the new birth. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7) It is interesting that the original King James Version has two marginal notes which deal with Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. They both give an alternative reading for “born again” as “born from above.” James Strong says that the Greek word transliterates as “anothen” and that it is translated 5 times as “from above,” 3 times as “top,” 2 times as “again,” and 1 time each as “from the first” and “from the beginning,” and that one time the Greek word is not translated at all in our version, making a total of 13 times this word appears in the Greek text. Perhaps we would better understand what Jesus was telling Nicodemus if we use the KJV alternative reading: “born from above.” Nicodemus, the number one rabbi in Israel, did not understand many things and so came to ask Jesus – what things we do not know. Immediately, without allowing Nicodemus to ask anything, Jesus told him that he needed to be born again, or if you please, born from above.
Baptists that have been “sound in wind and limb” (as horsemen say) have believed down through the centuries that “in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again…” This is the first thing that must happen to a person in his experience if he is to be saved! By first, I do not mean so much the first thing in time, as if regeneration can be separated or segregated from conversion, but rather the first thing in sequence. And I mean that this first thing (regeneration) is the cause of other things that take place – i.e. things that come under the general heading of salvation – repentance and faith and newness of life. These last three make up what we may term conversion. Regeneration is God working in us while conversion consists of those outward things in our lives that are evidence that God has worked in us. And so our Baptist forefathers believed. And so the author(s) of this old Baptist confession believed and stated. And so we preach, “Ye must be born again!”
When this writer was a very young believer, still very much an Arminian having been naturally born into that philosophy and mode of thought, he had a difficult problem with Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. I thought, here was a perfect opportunity for the Lord Jesus to have told Nicodemus just what it was that Nicodemus, as a lost sinner, needed to do in order to be born again. I remember praying and telling the Lord that I knew that He knew best, but that it would have been really helpful (in my ignorant opinion) if He had told us somewhere in the Bible just what it was that a person had to do in order to be born again. You see, I thought that a lost sinner could do something to bring about his own new birth. (I record this to my shame, but hopefully as a helpful illustration.) Think of it! Jesus never did tell Nicodemus what he should do in order to be born again. And on top of that, nowhere else in the Bible does the Word of God tell us what we must do in order to be born again! The Bible is clear. We, like Nicodemus, must be born again or born from above or regenerated. Use whatever term you wish for they all speak of the same thing. We must be thus made alive by the Holy Spirit if we are going to be delivered from our sin and our sins! But we do not know how to be! We are not told what to do to bring about our own new birth or regeneration! Why is that? Well, the answer is quite simple, really. It is this: there is nothing a lost sinner can do in order to bring about his own new birth or regeneration. That is why Jesus said to Nicodemus, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) The new birth or being born from above – regeneration if you please – is a work of the Holy Spirit who is as sovereign in His actions as either the Father or the Son. He is as uncontrolled and uncontrollable as the wind! (By sovereign it is meant that the triune God is uncontrolled or uninfluenced in His purposes and actions. He is not capricious, but He does as He pleases. God is One who is capable of “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” (Isaiah 46:10). This is sovereignty.) Simply stated, you cannot push, entice or bribe God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit into doing anything that He has not purposed to do from the foundation of the world and before. So then, there is nothing that a lost sinner can do in order to be born again or regenerated! That is why Jesus did not tell Nicodemus to “do something” in order to be born again. That is why you cannot, search as you may, find any verse or passage in the whole of the Bible that tells us what a person needs to do in order to bring about his new birth or regeneration. Regeneration is out of man’s hands. The new birth or being born again is out of men’s hands.
The Arminian position so popular today is to equate the new birth with conversion. By so mixing the two and ignoring Holy Ghost regeneration they lay the burden of what they call repentance and faith upon the poor lost sinner. They demand that he, dead in his sins, unable to please God and actually at enmity with God – nevertheless, they demand of such sinners that they produce what our Baptist forefathers called the twin gifts of repentance and faith. The old New Hampshire Baptist Confession, with all its weaknesses states it clearly in Article 8. It says, “We believe that Repentance and Faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God…” And thus this old confession puts regeneration by the Holy Spirit as that which produces both repentance and faith. Clearly they believed that regeneration is the cause of repentance and faith. Furthermore, they had not fallen into the error of the so-called “Primitive Baptists” who believe that regeneration can occur apart from its consequences which are repentance and faith. The regeneration of the “Primitive Baptists” has no necessary consequences in the life of the person regenerated for they say that a man may be regenerated apart from ever hearing the Word of God. They say a man can be regenerated and never ever in this lifetime know it. So they believe that there exists a multitude of regenerated unbelievers – persons who are blood-bought children of God who have never heard of Christ. Absurd! And totally unbiblical for no regenerated unbelievers exist in the Bible.
And yet probably most of our contemporaries – professing believers in Christ – think that if you will pray, open your heart’s door, go forward, invite Jesus into your heart, feel sorry for your sins, make a decision for Christ, commit your life to Christ, pray the sinner’s prayer or lift your hand during “the invitation,” you will bring about your own new birth. The religious world does not believe in Holy Ghost regeneration, but believes that a man can birth himself into the family of God. Surely Jesus used the metaphor of birth for wise reasons. We do not dare attribute a casual mistake or ignorance to the Lord Jesus Christ. He had a reason or reasons for using the exact terminology which He used in His conversation with lost Nicodemus. Think for a moment about the birth process to which Christ likened regeneration. A baby does not bring about his own birth. He is not causative in the birth process, but he is a vital participant for it is the baby who is born. It is a part of his life experience, but one of which he has no memory. Apart from the birth process, a baby would never experience life, interact with a congregation of saints, or achieve anything worthwhile in this life. His birth sets him free from the confines of his mother’s body. It is only after a birth that a baby can grow and develop sufficiently as to achieve his full potential. So it is with the new birth or regeneration. A lost sinner does not bring about his new birth. He is not causative in the matter of regeneration. He does not experience this new birth as a conscious being so as to have a memory of it. Only after being born from above can an individual achieve his full potential for God and eternity.
Now someone will say, ‘Why, you believe that a sinner gets saved before he gets saved.’ I have heard that charge made against regeneration by the sovereign will of God before. Such a statement is often the result of not understanding the differences between regeneration and conversion. What I believe is what the old Baptists believed and stood for in the past. It is exactly what is stated in this New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith. We have looked at only a part of Article 7 thus far. Here it is in its entirety (except for proof texts). “We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life.” According to this confession, regeneration (1) consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; (2) it is accomplished in a way above our understanding; (3) it is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit; (4) it is brought about in connection with God’s Word; (5) it is brought to pass in such a way as to cause us to willingly believe the gospel; and (6) that its evidences are the holy fruits of repentance, faith and a godly life. Now you know what the author(s) of the New Hampshire Baptist Confession believed about the subject back in 1833.
But what is important is what does the Bible say, not what this writer or any Baptist confession says! And so we ask these questions. Did Jesus tell Nicodemus that it was necessary for him to be born again? Yes! Did Jesus tell Nicodemus that the new birth was a work of the Spirit? Yes! Did Jesus tell Nicodemus that there was anything he could do to effect his own new birth? No! Does the Bible teach that lost sinners are spiritually dead and therefore in need of life? Yes! Does the Bible tell lost sinners that there is something that they can do to resurrect themselves or birth themselves into God’s family? No!
But let us close on a positive note. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”(Romans 8:9) It is the high privilege of those who are regenerated to be made partakers of the divine nature by that very regeneration (2 Peter 1:4). It is their privilege to be “in the Spirit” because the Spirit of God indwells them. This indwelling of the Spirit began when the Holy Ghost moved in at regeneration or the new birth. And in this condition, you can please God! Reader, if you are yet lost in your sins, may the knowledge that you cannot bring about your own new birth lay heavily upon your heart and mind so much so that you will consider seriously your present state as well as that future place to which you shall surely and justly be condemned. If these things do not concern you – if in considering them you are not most miserable in your inner self – it is evidence that you yet lack regeneration. That does not necessarily mean that God has finally rejected you, but rather that you are in a perilous condition and in need of regeneration and its fruits of repentance, faith and newness of life. The tree must be made good, for good fruit does not come from an evil tree. (See Matthew 7:16-20 and 12:33). And that is exactly what regeneration or the new birth does. It makes the tree good so that the good fruits of regeneration which are repentance, faith and newness of life spring forth. “In order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated or born again.”
WE LOVE HIM BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US
”We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Eight words make up this one-sentence verse in our commonly used English Bible. These are simple words that require no explanation other than to say that the Greek word for “love” and “loved” transliterates as “agapao” which is the word used of God’s love in contrast to “phileo” which is used of brotherly love. We note that the two pronouns, “we” and “us” must refer to the same people. The grammar of the sentence requires it. English language rules do not support the idea that God loves everyone unless it can be demonstrated that everyone loves God and that is obviously not true. These people are said to love God and God is said to love these people. Those people who love God is not a larger group than those whom God loves. Conversely, those people whom God loves is not a larger group than those who love God. The people represented by the “we” and the “us” are the same people. It cannot be otherwise. “We” who love Him are the “us” whom He loved first. Everyone whom God loves loves Him! There is no reason given as to why God loves these people, but these people love God because God loved them first. We must ask this: When did God begin to love these people? Did He once hate these people? Or did He just somehow once upon a time not love them? Did He change and for some reason begin to love these people whom He had not loved before? Such a change is not possible with God for He declares, “For I am the LORD, I change not…”l (Malachi 3:6). Again the Bible tells us, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent…” (Numbers 23:19). With God “…is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). So we learn that God neither repents nor changes! He is constant and has been forever. He may appear to change because men neither understand Him of His eternal plan, but He does not change. If God were to change it would mean that either He was prior to His change less than perfect or that He changed from perfection and became less than perfect.
Since God does not change and since the Bible says, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18), we must understand that God loved these people from before the foundation of the world. These people and God’s love for them has always been a part of God’s great eternal plan of redemption. He planned to act in a particular way toward these people because God’s love is neither in active nor is it just a sentimental feeling. God’s love is a determination to do good to the object of His love regardless of what it costs Him. It was God’s love to all the nations of the world that was displayed when He gave Christ to pay for the sins of a multitude in all nations – see John 3:16.
What did God do in eternity for these people whom He loved then? How is it that He included them in His eternal plan? The Bible makes it clear in Ephesians 1:4-6: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” In these verses we learn that God predestinated these people to be His children, that He chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world and that He made these people accepted in the beloved Son, Christ Jesus. These are plainly stated facts and above disputation although most people do not understand these things and many openly state their disbelief of these great truths. This passage also states that the reason God did these things was “according to the good pleasure of his will.” So then, these things were done before the foundation of the world for those people whom God loved “according to the good pleasure of his will:” Not because of anything these people ever did. God does not love “us” because of anything we ever did or will do. Romans 9:10-16 says: “…when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” God loved Jacob and hated Esau according to this passage and did so before either had been born. So then Bible believers must conclude that God predestinated, chose, and made some people accepted in the beloved before the foundation of the world – and that He did so without regard for anything they would ever do. Nothing that these people would ever will to do or attempt to do or accomplish caused God to love these people. God willed to love the unlovely!
And so when we read that, ”We love him, because he first loved us” we must understand that this verse speaks of a particular people whom God loved from before the foundation of the world. We must also understand that it was because of God’s great eternal plan that He chose to love them and do all for them in order to make them His sons and daughters. If you are one of the “we” who love Him because He first loved you – give Him all the glory for your blessed spiritual condition and take no glory unto yourself for “…Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
FORBIDDEN SCRIPTURES #8
Here is test #8.Read the verses, please, and try to remember if you ever heard a sermon on them. Probably you have not because they contradict popular ideas. Most preachers will not preach them, except to try to explain them away, assuring folks that they do not really mean what they say. Read on. Decide if you, your preacher and your church really believe “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
“And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:3-6).
A parable has a special double purpose. Jesus said, “…Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them” (Mark 4:11, 12). The purpose of parables is to make truth clearer to those to whom “it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” and at the same time keep the truth hidden from those who are “without” or outside God’s elect. If those “without” could “perceive” and “hear” they would “be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”So, Jesus spoke in parables to clarify truth to the chosen ones and to hide it from those whom God in His wisdom and justice determined to leave alone. Few preachers preach on God’s sovereign election (choice) of those whom He will save, but the Bible is full of this doctrine. Preachers often say that it is God’s will that all people be saved. The God they preach is therefore a failure because He cannot save all whom He wants to save. According to their unbiblical theory, God cannot even get the Gospel to all people for in every generation there are millions who have never heard it.
This same crowd of preachers thinks that sinners come to Christ by their own power. They are forced to say this, because if it is necessary for God to draw men to Christ, why does He not draw all men? Or, perhaps according to them, God tries to draw all men to Christ but is unable to do so because they resist Him. The old Babylonian king new better than that! He said that God“…doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, Whatdoest thou?” (Dan. 4:35). But most modern religionists have a “god” whose hand can be stopped and who cannot do according to his will either in heaven or on earth. The parable above teaches about Christ, the Good Shepherd. First of all note that the lost sheep belongs to theGood Shepherd. Itis the Good Shepherd who is searching for His sheep. Lost sheep do not search for the shepherd. Paul made that clear when he wrote, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11). Being God, the Good Shepherd knows exactly where His lost sheep is and goes and gets His sheep. After finding His sheep, the Shepherd rejoices because His sheep is found.
People who are religious by nature or who fear eternal punishment may seek after the perceived benefits of salvation. Many preachers today insist that physical healing is in the atonement. Because of this teaching, some folks seek after healing. Some teach that God will make His children prosperous and some folks “come to Christ” because they want prosperity. Many preachers preach the supposed benefits of the Gospel and entice people to “pray the prayer” or “open their heart’s door” or some other equally unscriptural invention of man. People do this thinking they are going to be healthy, wealthy and escape the fires of eternal punishment just because they prayed or “made a decision” or were “baptized” or met some other religious requirement. Many religious lies are told over pulpits every Sunday, but Jesus said, “no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:65). “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6).
Contact: Curtis Pugh, 505 NanihWaiya Ln., Poteau, OK 74953 – Telephone: (918) 647-7322
Authorized by the Bible Baptist Church, Denham Springs, Louisiana
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FORBIDDEN SCRIPTURES #7
Here is test #7.Read the verses, please, and try to remember if you ever heard a sermon on them. Probably you have not because they contradict popular ideas. Most preachers will not preach them, except to try to explain them away, assuring folks that they do not really mean what they say. Read on. Decide if you, your preacher and your church really believe “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
Jesus prayed thus to His Father:“…As thou hast given him (Jesus)power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:2, 3).
Notice 3 things Jesus tells us here. He tells us who it is that gives eternal life; what eternal life is; and to whom eternal life is given. First of all we learn that it is the Son (Jesus) who gives eternal life. About His sheep Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).Christ Jesus Himself gives eternal life! We also learn that eternal life is a matter of knowing God the Father (“the only true God”)and Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him”(Luke 10:22). If Christ does not reveal the Father to you, you cannot know Him. Unless and until Christ reveals the Father to you, you do not have eternal life! Do not think you can go to God or Christ in a one-time prayer and come away knowing Him and His Son! When Paul wrote about his salvation experience he said, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,To reveal his Son in me…” (Gal. 1:15, 16). Paul had been set apart for salvation from before his birth. In time God called Paul by grace for the purpose of revealing His Son in him. True salvation is a supernatural experience brought about by a personal, supernatural revelation of Christ (not voices, visions, dreams, etc.) in the heart and life of the sinner. Has that happened to you?
A third thing we learn is to whom Christ gives eternal life. Jesus said that He gives eternal life “to as many as thou (the Father) hast given him.”The Bible does not teach that eternal life is dispensed indiscriminately, but rather is given to those whom God chose in eternity. The Bible is clear: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). The Bible says, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thes. 2:13). God has chosen some to life. God also makes it clear that all are welcome to come to Christ. “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:34, 35). But apart from the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, sinners will not come. They are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4). They do not want to deny themselves, bear a cross, and lose their lives as Jesus said they must. They are welcome to come, but they will not. Jesus said, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40). The flesh wants nothing to do with God or Christ!
That God’s election or choosing is unto salvation is made clear by Paul’s statement regarding his suffering. He wrote “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). God has His “elect” and they shall obtain salvation! In time God’s elect are brought to repentance and faith in Christ.God has determined the means to bring them to Himself. Do you have biblical evidence that you are one of God’s elect? Do you have a desire to really follow Christ – to do God’s will? “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).Paul wrote, “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God” (1 Thes. 1:4). Paul knew those people were the elect of God. He saw the evidence. Do you know that you are one of God’s elect? Have you experienced godly sorrow over your sin? Has God worked in you “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ?”(Acts 20:21).
Contact: Curtis Pugh, 505 NanihWaiya Ln., Poteau, OK 74953 – Telephone: (918) 647-7322
Authorized by the Bible Baptist Church, Denham Springs, Louisiana
Ads paid for by authorizing Church and other Churches of like faith and practice
FORBIDDEN SCRIPTURES #6
Here is test #6.Read the verses, please, and try to remember if you ever heard a sermon on them. Probably not because they contradict popular ideas and most preachers will not preach them, except to try to explain them away, assuring folks that they do not really mean what they say. Read on. Decide if you, your preacher and your church really believe “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35).
These verses show just how far most churches are from theteaching of the New Testament. Nearly all Protestants and many Baptists disobey theseplain words. They allow women to speak in their church meetings. Some even ordain women into theministry. Feminists think this doctrine is against women and rail against it. Some preachers who secretly believe this teaching are afraid of the women in their churches (and perhaps in their own homes) and therefore will not teach what the Bible says. But this teaching is not against women. It does not mean that women are inferior to men. There are many women who are just plain smarter than men. Some are even smarter than their own husbands! Many women are more talented than men, harder working, more creative, more ambitious, more successful, more knowledgeable, etc., and even more spiritually mature. But God has an order which He commands and that is what this passage sets forth. Just as a soldier of lower rank may be superior in all ways to the higher officers under whom he or she serves, and just as an employee may know more than his or her boss, so many women are superior to men. The issue here is not a matter of superiority. It is a matter of God’s order – an order He has commanded to be followed in churches.
The apostle also wrote, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Tim. 2:11-14). The headship of man over woman in the churches is a matter of order. Adam was created first. Adam bore the responsibilityfor the first sin. The woman was deceived.Adam sinned willfully. His was the greater sin because of his responsibility before God as Eve’s head.Preachers maytry to explain away God’s order by saying that it was just a cultural matter of thosetimes or was just Paul’s opinion. Paul destroyed that idea and all other liberal objections. Just after he wrote that women are to be silent in church meetings, he wrote, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Cor. 14:37, 38). So, if you think yourself a prophet (preacher) or consider yourself spiritual, Paul says you are to agree that his words on this matter “are the commandments of the Lord.”If you believe the Bible, you must agree that it is wrong for women to say anything in church meetings. They are to learn in silence. They are not to teach or usurp authority over the men. (Usurp is an old word that means to take or hold office or power without legal right. If a woman holds authority in a church over a man, she is a usurper.)
Paul finishes by saying, “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” Ignorance is a terrible thing.Especially is it harmful when it is ignorance of God’s Word. The consequences are catastrophic. No wonder America’s families are in ruins and her churches powerless against sin. God’s order is ignored. How can preachers and churches think to please God when they continue knowingly, service after service,to break this commandment of the Lord by allowing women to speak in their meetings? Repent of this disobedience! Obey this commandment of the Lord and “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
Contact: Curtis Pugh, 505 NanihWaiya Ln., Poteau, OK 74953 – Telephone: (918) 647-7322
Authorized by the Bible Baptist Church, Denham Springs, Louisiana
Ads paid for by authorizing Church and other Churches of like faith and practice
FORBIDDEN SCRIPTURES #5
Here is test #5. Read the verses, please, and try to remember if you ever heard a sermon onthem:probably not. Because they contradict popular ideas most preachers will not preach them, except to try to explain them away, assuring their hearers that they do not really mean what they say. Read on. Decide if you, your preacher and your church really believe “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
“…My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:5-8).
God says, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble”(Job 14:1).We are all bornboth spiritually dead and dying physically for “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). All suffer the consequences of Adam’s disobedience! That is one kind of suffering, but there is another. First Peter 2:20 speaks of being buffeted for your own faults. Let me illustrate that: a man gets drunk, wrecks his car,and loses his legs. It is his fault. God may forgive him, but He does not give him new legs. He suffers the rest of his life for his own sin.
A third kind of suffering exists.Our text saysGod loves some people. Because He loves them He disciplines them by means of suffering. They are His sons. God “chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.”Hepurifiesall His childrenthis way.The phrase “whom the Lord loveth”speaks of one group of people and means there is another group. God is not said to love these others. He does notchasten them. They are designated in the text as illegitimate. They are not true sons of God. They sufferbecause of Adam’s sin. They also suffer the consequences of their own sins, but they receive no spiritual benefitfrom their sufferingnot beingchastened of God. God just leaves them alone.
Did you ever hear a preacher at “invitation time” tell the lost that if they come to Christ they will be chastened and scourged: that God will put them through great trials and difficulties? I thinkyou never have! That wouldnot fit with the new, false gospel of enticing people to make a decision orto pray the magic prayer! It just would not be enticing to the flesh! Many preachers attempt to deceive people with enticing words (read 1 Cor. 2:4 and Col. 2:4). They appeal to fleshly desires. They promise a great family life, good health, prosperity,etc., etc., as well as eternal life,trying to get folksto come and pray “the prayer.”They do not tell them “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12) or “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Neither do they tell themthatJesus said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household”(Matt. 10:34-36).Jesus meant that often some family members would reject Him and oppose their believing relatives causing great sorrow and trouble in the family circle. In spite of these Bible truths, most preachers use smooth words that tickle the ears of pleasure-loving people promising them eternal life for a one-time prayer. They do not preach that“God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psa. 7:11) or that God“hatest all workers of iniquity”(Psa. 5:5). Instead they do what no preacher in the New Testament ever did. They falsely assure lost sinners that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives.They minister to the sinner’s pride. As a result,proud people who are blind to their total depravity andinability to do anything pleasing to God,pray the magic prayermotivated only by carnal desires. They are healed,butnever wounded. They are saved before they are lost. They do not “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matt. 5:6). Thefalseness of their professions is seen after a time in their lives. If God has not, may Heenlighten you to see the awfulness of sin – your sin – and give you the twin graces of repentance and faith. Jesus said, “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).
Contact: Curtis Pugh, 505 NanihWaiya Ln., Poteau, OK 74953 – Telephone: (918) 647-7322
Authorized by the Bible Baptist Church, Denham Springs, Louisiana
Ads paid for by authorizing Church and other Churches of like faith and practice
FORBIDDEN SCRIPTURES #4
Here is test #4: Read the Scriptures below, then try to remember the last time you heard a sermon on this text. Probably you never have because these verses are among those which contradict the beliefs of most people. Most preachers have never preached on such verses. Often they have never dealt with them except to try to explain them away, assuring their hearers that they do not really mean what they say. So, take the test. Read these verses and decide if you and your preacher and your church really do believe all that the Bible says. Perhaps you will decide that some changes need to be made – not in the Bible – but in your thinking and understanding. Here is another of the “Forbidden Scriptures.”
“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16).
In this verses Jesus said that something ended with John the Baptist and something began with him. The Old Testament legal system ended with John. Many people have the idea that the Old Testament age ended either when Jesus was nailed to the tree on Calvary or on the famous Day of Pentecost that followed. Nothing could be farther from the truth! It ended with the ministry of John the Baptist! Jesus said so! But something also began with the Baptist. It was the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom. The Bible says, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1, 2). This is God’s message to man – repent! After John the Baptist was imprisoned, we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ began to preach the same message – the message at first preached by the first Baptist.The Bible says, “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee… From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:12,16). Jesus took up preaching John’s message. True repentance is brought about only by broken heartedness or what the Bible calls “godly sorrow” (See 2 Corinthians 7:10). This is not a popular subject and few really preach it. Do not let anyone fool you: repentance is not just making a decision! If all that is required is making a decision, would not God have plainly said so? God requires more than a decision in the matter of salvation!
Some try to say that John the Baptist’s message and his baptismended and have been replaced by another gospel andsomething they call “Christian baptism.” How can this be? John’s baptism is the only baptism that Christ’s Church had because all His disciples were baptized by the Baptist. John´s was the only baptism that Jesus had. Are we to believe that Christ and His Church did not have Christian baptism? We would be happy if someone could show us in the Scriptures where this new gospel and this “Christian baptism” began and who was sent by God to initiate them. (The Baptist said that it was God that “sent me to baptize” in John 1:33.) The Bible makes it clear that Jesus and His apostles continued both John’s message and John’s baptism for no other is known in the Scriptures to be valid.Remember, you cannot give what you do not have! John’s baptism is still valid today! But back to John’s gospel: When Paul was nearing the end of his ministry he said that his message (gospel) to both Jews and Gentiles was the same. He went everywhere, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). His was a message requiring real repentance! Repentance which changes lives! Paul wrote these words: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).These last two texts prove that Paul preached the same message of repentance as a requirement for inheriting the kingdom as did both Christ and the Baptist before Him. Do you not see that in order to be saved you must repent of your sins? Jesus said, “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). Do not be deceived! Neither praying a magical prayer nor making a decision nor any other religious experience will save you! May God be pleased to show you your awful depravity, work godly sorrow in your heart, and grant you repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus.
Contact: Curtis Pugh, 505 NanihWaiya Ln., Poteau, OK 74953 – Telephone: (918) 647-7322
Authorized by the Bible Baptist Church, Denham Springs, Louisiana
Ads paid for by the authorizing Church and other Churches of like faith and practice
Here is test #3: Read the Scriptures below, then try to remember the last time you heard a sermon on this text. Probably you never have. That is because these verses are among those which contradict the beliefs of most people. Most preachers have never preached on such verses. Often they have never dealt with them except to try to explain them away, assuring their hearers that they do not really mean what they say. So, take the test. Read these verses and decide if you and your preacher and your church really do believe all that the Bible says. Perhaps you will decide that some changes need to be made – not in the Bible – but in your thinking and understanding. Here is another of the “Forbidden Scriptures.”
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
The Lord Jesus Christ spoke these wordsto religious people. He spoke about a future day. He says that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” will enter the kingdom of Heaven! Then Christ startles His hearers even more by saying that when people stand before Him in “that day” there will be “many” who think their religious experiences and spiritual power will get them into Heaven. He lists prophesying, casting out demons and the working of awe inspiring miracles as things they think are proof they are saved. Interestingly, Jesus does not deny that they have done these supernatural works. He does not deny that they have called Him “Lord, Lord.” Christ does not deny any of their claims. But their claims are irrelevant!
Such people are all around us today. Often they are regarded as “successful Christians.” They are full of religious zeal. Their churches may be large and filled with activities for young and old alike. Their worship services are often lively and well attended. Perhaps they claim to work healing miracles and claim to have supernatural or spiritual gifts. They claim to know Christ and make much of His being “Lord.”“Jesus is Lord” they often say. Because these things are irrelevant Christ prophesied that He will say to them in that day, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”Living in a man-centered world, they have a man-centered religion. Christ said their religion was “iniquity” – just plain old religious sin! Their faith is in some religious work they did that they think will cause God to look favorably upon them. But Christ will say to them all “I never knew you…”Your eternal salvation does not depend upon your religious activities! The question is this: Does Christ know you? The question is not whether or not you think you know Christ, but does He know you? Jesus said of His people, “…I know them…” (John 10:27). Jesus knows His sheep! Paul wrote, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). God not only knows about those that are His, He knows them!He knows all about everyone, but He has established an intimate personal relationship with those that are His.
When that judgment day for lost men and women comes, will you be among those who will think they have a right to Heaven because of their religious experiences? Will you list all of your supernatural experiences thinking these things prove you are saved? Will you cite healings, tongues, interpretation of tongues, great evangelistic meetings, or the great numbers of people whom you have gotten to repeat the magical sinner’s prayer? What is your reason for thinking you have a place in Heaven? Spiritual power, real or imagined, does not prove that Christ knows you! In the Bible we learn that lost people can work miracles! Whether or not you spend eternity with God or in the eternal Lake of Fire depends on whether Christ knows you or not. Will Christ say to you on that day, “…depart from me, ye that work iniquity”? All the religious “stuff” that you do is just plain old sin unless Christ knows you! Jesus said, “…Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish”(Luke 13:3, 5). “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
Contact: Curtis Pugh, 505 NanihWaiya Ln., Poteau, OK 74953 – Telephone (918) 647-7322
Authorized by the Grace Bible Baptist Church, Denham Springs, Louisiana
These ads paid for by the authorizing Church and other Churches of like faith and practice.
Have You Truly Come To Christ?
By Arthur W. Pink
By the way of introduction let us bring before the reader the following Scriptures:
1. „Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:40).
2. „Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
3. „No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44).
4. „All that the Father givethMe shall come to Me: and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37).
5. „If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26,27).
6. „To whom coming, as unto a living Stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” (1 Peter 2:4).
7. „Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25).
The first of these passages applies to every unregenerate man and woman on this earth. While he is in a state of nature, no man can come to Christ. Though all excellencies both Divine and human, are found in the Lord Jesus, though „He is altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:16), yet the fallen sons of Adam see in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. They may be well instructed in „the doctrine of Christ,” they may believe unhesitatingly all that Scripture affirms concerning Him, they may frequently take His name upon their lips, profess to be resting on His finished work, sing His praises, yet their hearts are far from Him. The things of this world have the first place in their affections. The gratifying of self is their dominant concern. They surrender not their lives to Him. He is too holy to suit their love of sin; His claims are too exacting to suit their selfish hearts; His terms of discipleship are too severe to suit their fleshly ways. They will not yield to His Lordship – true alike with each one of us till God performs a miracle of grace upon our hearts.
The second of these passages contains a gracious invitation, made by the compassionate Saviour to a particular class of sinners. The „all” is at once qualified, clearly and definitely, by the words which immediately follow it. The character of those to whom this loving word belongs is clearly defined: It is those who „labour” and are „heavy laden.”Most clearly then it applies not to the vast majority of our light-headed, gay-hearted, pleasure-seeking fellows who have no regard for God’s glory and no concern about their eternal welfare. No, the word for such poor creatures is rather, „Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee to judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9). But to those who have „laboured” hard to keep the law and please God, who are „heavy laden” with a felt sense of their utter inability to meet His requirements, and who long to be delivered from the power and pollution of sin, Christ says: „Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.”
The third passage quoted above at once tells us that „coming to Christ” is not the easy matter so many imagine it, nor so simple a thing as most preachers represent it to be. Instead of its so being, the incarnate Son of God positively declares that such an act is utterly impossible to a fallen and depraved creature unless and until Divine power is brought to bear upon him.A most pride-humbling, flesh-withering, man-abasing word is this. „Coming to Christ” is a far, far different thing from raising your hand to be prayed for by some Protestant „priest,” coming forward and taking some cheap-jack evangelist’s hand, signing some „decision” card, uniting with some „church,” or any other of the „many inventions”of man (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Before anyone can or will „come to Christ” the understanding must be supernaturally enlightened, the heart must be supernaturally changed, the stubborn will must be supernaturally broken.
The fourth passage is also one that is unpalatable to the carnal mind, yet is it a precious portion unto the Spirit-taught children of God. It sets forth the blessed truth of unconditional election, or the discriminating grace of God. It speaks of a favoured people whom the Father giveth to His Son. It declares that every one of that blessed company shall come to Christ. Neither the effects of their fall in Adam, the power of indwelling sin, the hatred and untiring efforts of Satan, nor the deceptive delusions of blind preachers, will be able to finally hinder them – when God’s appointed hour arrives, each of His elect is delivered from the power of darkness and is translated into the kingdom of His dear Son. It announces no matter how unworthy and vile he be in himself, no matter how black and long the awful catalogue of his sins, He will by no means despise or fail to welcome him, and under no circumstances will He ever cast him off.
The fifth passage is one that makes known the terms on which alone Christ is willing to receive sinners. Here the uncompromising claims of His holiness are set out. He must be crowned Lord of all, or He will not be Lord at all. There must be the complete heart-renunciation of all that stands in competition with Him. He will brook no rival. All that pertains to „the flesh,” whether found in a loved one or in self, has to be hated. The „cross” is the badge of Christian discipleship: not a golden one worn on the body, but the principle of self-denial and self-sacrifice ruling the heart. How evident is it, then, that a mighty, supernatural, Divine work of grace must be wrought in the human heart, if any man will even desire to meet such terms!
The sixth passage tells us the Christian is to continue as he began. We are to „come to Christ” not once and for all, but frequently, daily. He is the only One who can minister unto our needs, and to Him we must constantly turn for the supply of them. In our felt emptiness, we must draw from His „fulness” (John 1:16). In our weakness, we must turn to him for strength. In our ignorance we must apply to Him for wisdom. In our falls into sin, we must seek afresh His cleansing. All that we need for time and eternity is stored up in Him: refreshment when we are weary (Isa 40:31), healing of body when we are sick (Exo 15:26), comfort when we are sad (I Pet 5:7), deliverance when we are tempted (Heb 2:18). If we have wandered away from Him, left our first love, then the remedy is to „repent and do the first works” (Rev 2:5), that is, cast ourselves upon Him anew, come just as we did the first time we came to Him – as unworthy, self-confessed sinners, seeking His mercy and forgiveness.
The seventh passage assures us of the eternal security of those who do come. Christ saves „unto the uttermost” or „for ever more” those who come unto God by Him. He is not of one mind today and of another tomorrow. No, He is „the same yesterday, and today, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8). „Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1), and blessedly does He give proof of this, for „He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Inasmuch as His prayers are effectual, for He declares that the Father hears Him „always” (John 11:42), none whose name is indelibly stamped on the heart of our great High Priest can ever perish. Hallelujah!
FORBIDDEN SCRIPTURES #2
Here is test #2: Read the verses below, then try to remember the last time you heard a sermon taken from this text. Probably you never have. That is because these verses are among those which contradict the beliefs of most people. Because of this most preachers have never preached on these verses. Probably they have never dealt with them except to try to explain them away, assuring their hearers that they do not really mean what they say. Think of it! Modern professing Christians who refuse to believe all that the Bible teaches while claiming to believe that the Bible is God’s Word! So, take the test. Read these verses and decide if you and your preacher and your church really do believe all that the Bible says. Perhaps you will decide that some changes need to be made – not in the Bible – but in your thinking and understanding. Here is another of the “Forbidden Scriptures.”
“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:26-29)
Jesus says that His Father gave Him some people whom He calls sheep. Thus He divides mankind: some are “sheep” and some are not. Some people have been given to Christ by the Father and some have not. Those who are not sheep do not follow Christ. But the sheep do hear the voice of Jesus and theydo follow Him and He gives them eternal life. These shall never perish!Now either they follow Christ or they do not! Jesus said they do! But today most “evangelical Christians” do not believe this. They believe in something they call “carnal Christians.” Most of Christendom in America says that if you will pray a prayer “asking Jesus into your heart” (or some such unscriptural idea) then you are saved. They take Paul’s words in 1st Corinthians 3 completely out of context and have promoted the idea that you can be truly saved and still live like the world. They say that Christians can dope, be drunken, dress immodestly, curse and tell dirty jokes, live immoral lives and otherwise live just as they did before they prayed the magical sinner’s prayer. They say such people are just “carnal Christians.” But Jesus said His sheep follow Him! Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”Remember this verse: it says that without holiness no man shall see the Lord! If you claim to have been saved and your life has not radically changed, you did not experience the broken heartedness that brings about a lifetime of true repentance (turning from) sin and which results in salvation. Paul wrote: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Do not think you are saved because you once prayed a prayer asking for salvation. The Bible says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Does the Bible really teach that a person can have Jesus Christ in them and still live like the enemies of Christ? Does not the Bible say that “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature?”(2 Corinthians 5:17) Many who are still “reprobates” think themselves to be children of God because they prayed a prayer one time and someone told them they were saved because they prayed. Do not be deceived! “Examine yourselves.”
Neither you nor I nor anyone is saved because they “did something.” Salvation is by grace alone, “Not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians. 2:9) If you are saved it is because you are one of Christ’s sheep and He died for you. Jesus said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” And again in John 10:15 He said, “…I lay down my life for the sheep.” The Bible does not say that Christ died for thosewho are not His sheep. You have no right to presume that Christ died for you and that you are saved if you are not a spiritual sheep. And the evidence that you are a “sheep” is that you hear Christ’s voice and you follow Him.Are you really saved? “Examine yourselves!”Remember: “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3, 5)
Try this test: Read the verses below from the Bible and then think back and try to remember the last time you heard a sermon taken from this text. Probably you never have. That is because these verses are among a good number which contradict the beliefs of most modern preachers and churches. Because of this most preachers have never preached on these verses. Probably they have never dealt with them except to try to explain them away, assuring their hearers that they do not mean what they say. Think of it! Modern professing Christians who refuse to believe all that the Bible teaches while claiming to believe that the Bible is God’s Word. So, take the test. Read these verses and decide if you and your preacher and your church really do believe all that the Bible says. Perhaps you will decide that some changes need to be made – not in the Bible – but in your thinking and understanding. Here are some of the “Forbidden Scriptures” about salvation that only a few people believe.
“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For hesaith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
These words are quoted from Paul’s Letter to the Romans chapter 9, verses 13 through 18. Those who believe that salvation is offered to all men universally and that whether or not a person is saved is entirely up to him or her find their theory devastated by these verses. God saves whom He will when He wills to do so. Your eternal destiny is not a matter of your making a decision or exercising your will. Your destiny is completely in the hands of God! Will you believe God’s Word or will you follow the theories and ideas of men?
Will you humble yourself before the Sovereign God or do you dare to think that your deeds (believing, praying, going forward in a religious meeting, being immersed, speaking in tongues, etc.) will cause God to save you? Do you really believe that you can initiate you own salvation – that you can do something (works) that will result in your salvation?
Think about it: You cannot break your own heart over your sin and yet it is this broken heartedness (called in the Bible “godly sorrow”) that works repentance. The Bible says exactly that in 2Corinthians 7:10. There we read:“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”Have you repented to salvation? Let no one (including yourself) give you a false assurance of salvation. Without the kind of repentance brought about by godly sorrow you have not experienced “repentance to salvation”regardless of your religious experiences. Jesus said, “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” May God be pleased to grant you repentance!
ARE YOU REALLYSAVED?
of Poteau, Oklahoma
It is very likely that you have been asked, “Are you saved?” Most people who consider themselves Christians answer that question in the affirmative. We ought to ask that question of ourselves often. But we ought not to answer that question about ourselves thoughtlessly or in haste. Paul instructed Church members: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Let us, then, ask ourselves these questions: “Are you in the faith?” or stated another way, “Is Christ in you?” These are serious questions.
Most people think salvation only has to do with being saved from a place they call Hell. Obviously, nobody wants to be cast into the lake of fire for eternity! Everybody wants to be saved from that place of eternal punishment. And Christ does indeed save His people from that place. But, in God’s plan of salvation, first He saves us from the pleasure of sin. Have you been saved from the pleasure of sin?It is this salvation from the pleasure of sin that is often overlooked and even denied by most of our religious contemporaries. Today mostpreachersignore this aspect of salvation because they want to be popular. In fact, you may have attended religious meetings all your life and never heard that in God’s order of salvation He first saves lost people from the pleasure of sin. But it is most certainly a Scriptural concept. When God regenerates a person that individual is saved from the pleasure of sin. I do not mean that truly saved people do not sin nor that they do not battle with the old nature that yet resides within them. Alas! It is a part of the life of every true child of God to do battle daily with sin: to strive against it and seek to live above it.
But how does it come about that lost sinners come to hate sin? It is in this way. When the Holy Spirit regenerates a person He moves in, if I may say it that way. That new nature that is sovereignly implanted within at the instant of the new birth is nothing more or less than the work of the Holy Spirit who becomes resident within us. Paul makes this great truth clear in 1 Corinthians 6:19 where he writes: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”Lost people are not temples of the Holy Spirit! Saved people are! A Christian is not someone who has done something. A Christian is someone for whom and to whom God has done something. A Christian is someone in whom God dwells!Not only does the Holy Spirit dwell in truly saved people, but so also does the Father and the Son. This is the teaching of Christ on the matter for He said, “…If a man love mehe will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). God has nothing to do with sin and is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13). It is impossible that one who is indwelt by the oly Holy One, the Holy God Himself, should take pleasure in sin.
I do not mean that a saved person does not sin. It is not the will of God to totally eradicate sin in His children who yet live upon the earth. Their lot is to be greatly exercised in striving against sin. But the attitude of one in whom Christ dwells is far different than that of lost persons. The natural man – another name for a lost person – is nothing more than a pleasure-seeking animal. Individuals may take pleasure in different things. One person may take pleasure in the sin of drunkenness. Another may take pleasure in illicit sex or drugs. But all children of the devil seek pleasure. Pleasure-seeking consumes them. This can be seen in how they spend their time and money. They ignore spiritual things for the sake of the pleasures of their choice. That their pleasure-seeking involves sins and causes them to walk contrary to the revealed will of God means little if anything to them. Their thinking is “I’m OK, you’re OK.”
But to the born again person things are different! God has, in salvation, saved him or her from the pleasure of sin. The Psalmist in Psalm 119 verse 104 says, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” and again in verse 128 he wrote: “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”The saved individual is alive to the Word of God and coming to understand it more and more in his ongoing experience with the Lord. The Word of God causes each saved person to hate sin in general. He sees its evil consequences, true, but he also recognizes the great offence sin is to the holy God to whom he belongs and whom he loves.
But there is another hatred that exists in the true child of God. He hates both the sin nature and the acts of sins that he sees only too well in himself. Job 42:5, 6 says, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”It is one thing to learn of God in preaching or reading, but when God saves a person they are enlightened by Him. A saved person begins to look at things as God does. All truly saved people abhor themselves. Abhor means to hate or loathe. Paul wrote about this in another way. He wrote, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…” (Romans 7:18). He also wrote that one of the marks of truly saved people is that they “…have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).
While the lost man may wish to escape the consequences of his sins, he lacks the ability to abhor himself. He has all kinds of excuses for himself. He sees himself as the product of his environment, his genetic makeup, his poverty, society around him, his own inherent weakness, etc., etc., but he compares himself with others and does not see himself correctly. But the one born of the Spirit has been saved from the pleasure of sin. He hates sin in general when he sees it in society around him. That is true. But more than that, he abhors himself and that awful thing called sin that plagues him, causing him at times to fall into evil thoughts and actions.
What a great difference there is between the child of God and the lost person! And so it is we come back to our original question: Are you saved? Is Christ in you? Do you hate every false way? Do you abhor yourself? Do you agree with the apostle that there is nothing good in you? “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Has God made Himself known to you so that you “see” Him and therefore you say with Job, “…I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes?” If this is not true in your life, you are yet in your sins. Cast yourself upon the Lord Jesus Christ and cease from trusting in yourself, your prayer, your faith, your decision, your goodness and anything else. Jesus said, “…Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). That is the only remedy for your need!
LET THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK!
MANKIND IS TOTALLY DEPRAVED
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness,covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
SIN & DEPRAVITY BRING DEATH AND THE JUDGMENT AND
ETERNAL WRATH OF GOD
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9…
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
SINNERS ARE INVITED TO COME TO JESUS CHRIST BY FAITH
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
ALL SINNERS ARE COMMANDED TO REPENT AND BELIEVE IN JESUS
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
ONLY THE ELECT WILL REPENT AND COME TO JESUS BY FAITH
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
GOD IS SOVEREIGN IN SALVATION
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
GOD ELECTED SOME TO BE SAVED
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…
JESUS CAME TO DIE
FOR THE ELECT
Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
THE HOLY SPIRIT EFFECTUALLY CALLS THE ELECT TO SALVATION
Psalms 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14…
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
1 Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
THE ELECT ARE ETERNALLY SAVED
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
John 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
THE ELECT ARE KEPT
SAFE AND SECURE
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
SALVATION IS BY GRACE
THROUGH FAITH ALONE
1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
SALVATION IS NOT OF WORKS
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:27-28 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31…
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
HOW CHRIST SAVES SINNERS
By William Tyndale
The fall of Adam has made us heirs of the vengeance and wrath of God, and heirs of eternal damnation; and has brought us into captivity and bondage under the devil. And the devil is our lord, and our ruler, our head, our governor, our prince, yea, and our god. And our will is locked and knit faster unto the will of the devil, than could an hundred thousand chains bind a man unto a post. Unto the devil’s will consent we with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our might, power, strength, will and lusts; [so that the law and will of the devil is written as well in our hearts as in our members, and we run headlong after the devil with full zeal, and the whole swing of all the power we have; as a stone cast up into the air comes down naturally of his own self, with all the violence and swing of his own weight.] With what poison, deadly, and venomous hate hateth a man his enemy! With how great malice of mind, inwardly, do we slay and murder! With what violence and rage, yea, and with how fervent lust commit we adultery, fornication, and such like uncleanness! With what pleasure and delectation, inwardly, serves a glutton his belly! With what diligence deceive we! How busily seek we the things of this world! Whatsoever we do, think, or imagine, is abominable in the sight of God. [For we can refer nothing unto the honor of God; neither is His law, or will, written in our members or in our hearts: neither is there any more power in us to follow the will of God, than in a stone to ascend upward of his own self.]
And [beside that,] we are as it were asleep in so deep blindness, that we can neither see nor feel what misery, thralldom, and wretchedness we are in, till Moses come and wake us, and publish the law. When we hear the law truly preached, how that we ought to love and honor God with all our strength and might, from the low bottom of the heart, [because He hath created us, and both Heaven and earth for our sakes, and made us lord thereof;] and our neighbors (yea, our enemies) as ourselves, inwardly, from the ground of the heart, [because God hath made them after the likeness of His own image, and they are His sons as well as we, and Christ hath bought them with His blood, and made them heirs of everlasting life as well as us; and how we ought to] do whatsoever God bids, and abstain from whatsoever God forbids, with all love and meekness, with a fervent and a burning lust from the center of the heart; then begins the conscience to rage against the law, and against God. No sea, be it ever so great a tempest is so unquiet. For it is not possible for a natural man to consent to the law, that it should be good, or that God should be righteous which maketh the law; [inasmuch as it is contrary unto his nature, and damns him and all that he can do, and neither shows him where to fetch help, nor preaches any mercy; but only sets man at variance with God, (as witnesses Paul, Rom. 4) and provokes him and stirs him to rail on God, and to blaspheme him as a cruel tyrant. For it is not possible for a man, till he be born again, to think that God is righteous to make him of so poison a nature, either for his own pleasure or for the sin of another man, and to give him a law that is impossible for him to do, or to consent to;] his wit, reason, and will being so fast glued, yes, nailed and chained unto the will of the devil. Neither can any creature loose the bonds, save the blood of Christ [only].
This is the captivity and bondage, whence Christ delivered us, redeemed and loosed us. His blood, His death, His patience in suffering rebukes and wrongs, his prayers and fastings, his meekness and fulfilling of the uttermost point of the law, appeased the wrath of God; brought the favor of God to us again; obtained that God should love us first, and be our Father, and that a merciful Father, that will consider our infirmities and weakness, and will give us His Spirit again (which was taken away in the fall of Adam) to rule, govern, and strengthen us, and to break the bonds of Satan, wherein we were so strait bound. When Christ is thuswise preached, and the promises rehearsed, which are contained in the prophets, in the psalms, and in divers places of the five books of Moses, [which preaching is called the Gospel or glad tidings;] then the hearts of them which are elect and chosen, begin to wax soft and melt at the bounteous mercy of God, and kindness showed of Christ. For when the evangelion is preached, the Spirit of God entereth into them which God hath ordained and appointed unto eternal life; and opens their inward eyes, and works such belief in them. When the woeful consciences feel and taste how sweet a thing the bitter death of Christ is, and how merciful and loving God is, through Christ’s purchasing and merits; they begin to love again, and to consent to the law of God, how that it is good and ought so to be, and that God is righteous which made it; and desire to fulfill the law, even as a sick man desireth to be whole, and are an hungered and thirst after more righteousness, and after more strength, to fulfill the law more perfectly. And in all that they do, or omit and leave undone, they seek God’s honor and His will with meekness, ever condemning the unperfectness of their deeds by the law.
Now Christ stands us in double stead; and us serves, two manner wise. First, He is our Redeemer, Deliverer, Reconciler, Mediator, Intercessor, Advocate, Attorney, Solicitor, our Hope, Comfort, Shield, Protection, Defender, Strength, Health, Satisfaction and Salvation. His blood, His death, all that He ever did, is ours. His blood-shedding, and all that He did, does me as good service as though I myself had done it. And God (as great as He is) is mine, with all that He has, [as an husband is his wife’s,] through Christ and His purchasing.
Secondarily, after that we be overcome with love and kindness, and now seek to do the will of God (which is a Christian man’s nature), then have we Christ an example to counterfeit; as saith Christ Himself in John, „I have given you an example.” And in another evangelist He saith, „He that will be great among you, shall be your servant and minister; as the Son of man came to minister, and not to be ministered unto.” And Paul says, „Counterfeit Christ.” And Peter saith, „Christ died for you, and left you an example to follow his steps.” Whatsoever therefore faith hath received of God through Christ’s blood and deserving, that same must love shed out, every whit, and bestow it on our neighbors unto their profit, yea, and that though they be our enemies. [What faith receiveth of God through Christ’s blood, that we must bestow on our neighbors, though they be our enemies.] By faith we receive of God, and by love we shed out again. And that must we do freely, after the example of Christ, without any other respect, save our neighbor’s wealth only; and neither look for reward in the earth, nor yet in Heaven, for [the deserving and merits of] our deeds, [as friars preach; though we know that good deeds are rewarded, both in this life and in the life to come.] But of pure love must we bestow ourselves, all that we have, and all that we are able to do, even on our enemies, to bring them to God, considering nothing but their wealth, as Christ did ours. Christ did not His deeds to obtain Heaven thereby, (that had been a madness;) Heaven was His already, He was heir thereof, it was His by inheritance; but did them freely for our sakes, considering nothing but our wealth, and to bring the favor of God to us again, and us to God. And no natural son, that is his father’s heir, does his father’s will because he would be heir; that he is already by birth; his father gave him that ere he was born, and is loather that he should go without it, than he himself has wit to be; but of pure love doth he that he does. And ask him, Why he does any thing that he does? he answers, My father bade; it is my father’s will; it pleases my father.
Bond-servants work for hire, children for love: for their father, with all he has, is theirs already. So doth a Christian man freely all that he does; considereth nothing but the will of God, and his neighbor’s wealth only. If I live chaste, I do it not to obtain Heaven thereby; for then should I do wrong to the blood of Christ; Christ’s blood has obtained me that; Christ’s merits have made me heir thereof; He is both door and way thitherwards: neither that I look for an higher room in Heaven, than they shall have which live in wedlock, other than a whore of the stews (if she repent); for that were the pride of Lucifer: but freely to wait on the evangelion; [and to avoid the trouble of the world, and occasions that might pluck me therefrom,] and to serve my brother withal; even as one hand helps another, or one member another, because one feels another’s grief, and the pain of the one is the pain of the other. Whatsoever is done to the least of us (whether it be good or bad), it is done to Christ; and whatsoever is done to my brother (if I be a Christian man), that same is done to me. Neither does my brother’s pain grieve me less than mine own: neither rejoice I less at his wealth than at mine own, [if I love him as well and as much as myself, as the law commandeth me.] If it were not so, how saith Paul? „Let him that rejoiceth, rejoice in the Lord,” that is to say, Christ, which is Lord over all creatures. If my merits obtained me Heaven, or a higher place there, then had I wherein I might rejoice besides the Lord.
Here see ye the nature of the law, and the nature of the evangelion: how the law is the key that binds and damns all men, and the evangelion [is the key that] looses them again. The law goes before, and the evangelion follows. When a preacher preaches the law, he binds all consciences; and when he preaches the gospel, he looses them again. These two salves (I mean the law and the gospel) uses God and His preacher, to heal and cure sinners withal. The law drives out the disease and makes it appear, and is a sharp salve, and a fretting corosy, and kills the dead flesh, and looses and draws the sores out by the roots, and all corruption. It pulls from a man the trust and confidence that he has in himself, and in his own works, merits, deservings and ceremonies, [and robs him of all his righteousness, and makes him poor.] It kills him, sends him down to Hell, and brings him to utter desperation, and prepareth the way of the Lord, as it is written of John the Baptist. For it is not possible that Christ should come to a man, as long as he trusts in himself, or in any worldly thing, [or has any righteousness of his own, or riches of holy works.] Then comes the evangelion, a more gentle pastor, which supplies and lessen the wounds of the conscience, and brings health. It brings the Spirit of God; which looses the bonds of Satan, and couples us to God and His will, through strong faith and fervent love, with bonds too strong for the devil, the world, or any creature to loose them. And the poor and wretched sinner feels so great mercy, love, and kindness in God, that he is sure in himself how that it is not possible that God should forsake him, or withdraw His mercy and love from him; and boldly crieth out with Paul, saying, „Who shall separate us from the love that God loveth us withal?” That is to say, What shall make me believe that God loveth me not? Shall tribulation? anguish? persecution? Shall hunger? nakedness? Shall sword? Nay, „I am sure that neither death, nor life, neither angel, neither rule nor power, neither present things nor things to come, neither high nor low, neither any creature, is able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In all such tribulations a Christian man perceiveth that God is his Father, and loves him even as he loved Christ when He shed His blood on the cross.
Finally, as before, when I was bond to the devil and his will, I wrought all manner evil and wickedness, not for Hell’s sake, which is the reward of sin, but because I was heir of Hell by birth and bondage to the devil, did I evil, (for I could none otherwise do; to do sin was my nature:) even so now, since I am coupled to God by Christ’s blood, do I well, not for Heaven’s sake, [which is yet the reward of well doing;] but because I am heir of Heaven by grace and Christ’s purchasing, and have the Spirit of God, I do good freely, for so is my nature: as a good tree brings forth good fruit, and an evil tree evil fruit. By the fruits shall ye know what the tree is. A man’s deeds declare what he is within, but make him neither good nor bad; [though, after we be created anew by the Spirit and doctrine of Christ, we wax perfecter always, with working according to the doctrine, and not with blind works of our own imagining.] We must be first evil ere we do evil, as a serpent is first poisoned ere he poison. We must be also good ere we do good, as the fire must be first hot, ere it [heat another] thing. Take an example: As those blind and deaf, which are cured in the gospel, could not see nor hear, till Christ had given them sight and hearing; and those sick could not do the deeds of an whole man, till Christ had given them health; so can no man do good in his soul, till Christ have loosed him out of the bonds of Satan, and have given him wherewith to do good, yea, and first have poured into him that self good thing which He sheds forth afterward on other. Whatsoever is our own, is sin. Whatsoever is above that, is Christ’s gift, purchase, doing and working. He bought it of His Father dearly, with His blood, yea, with His most bitter death, and gave His life for it. Whatsoever good thing is in us, that is given us freely, without our deserving or merits, for Christ’s blood’s sake. That we desire to follow the will of God, it is the gift of Christ’s blood. That we now hate the devil’s will (whereunto we were so fast locked, and could not but love it), is also the gift of Christ’s blood; unto whom belongeth the praise and honor of our good deeds, and not unto us.
(A Pathway Into Holy Scriptures, pp. 17-23).
AN ESSAY READ BEFORE THE Georgia Baptist Ministers’ Institute, AT MARIETTA, GA., AUGUST 13, 1868 BY P. H. MELL
READ BEFORE THE
Georgia Baptist Ministers’ Institute,
AT MARIETTA, GA., AUGUST 13, 1868
BY P. H. MELL
PUBLISHED BY VOTE OF THE INSTITUTE
GEO. C. CONNOR.
„Calvinism” has been assigned to me as the theme for an essay. Though the subject is embraced in a single word, the topics it contains are too numerous to admit of thorough discussion within the limits assigned me. My essay, therefore, will rise only to the dignity of notes on Calvinism.
What is Calvinism? It is a system of doctrine believed to be contained in the Bible, developed first more elaborately and consistently by John Calvin, and therefore called by his name. This term, though, is used merely for convenience as a designation, and not to imply, either that these doctrines owed their origin to the Genevan Reformer, or that Calvinists are responsible for all the sentiments advanced by him.
The distinctive characteristic of Calvinism is that it maintains God’s sovereignty over all things, sin not excepted; and that His will is shown either efficiently or permissively in all existences and all events on earth. He is not only a creator and preserver, but a sovereign and efficient ruler. His providence and His grace, therefore control all things and events, great and small, good and bad, material and mental. From intelligent choice, he permits everything in men that is morally wrong, and by his grace, efficiently works in them everything that is morally right. As creator, an upholder, and a governor, he has intelligence enough to know what objects he would accomplish; and his wisdom and power are adequate to all the demands of the undertaking in its incipiency, its process, and its consummation. The world, therefore, in all its physical and moral details, is just as he designed it to be; and in all the terms of its history—in its special as well as its general results, he will accomplish that which he designed in its creation, in its preservation, and in its government. He did not err in his plan; therefore nothing operates in his system unexpectedly to him. He is not deficient in power, therefore nothing operates there in spite of him. „God disposes of and directs to some particular end, every person and thing to which he has given, or is yet to give, being; and makes the whole creation subservient to and declarative of his own glory.” „The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 14:4). „Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Ps. 135:6). „The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass: and as I have purposed so shall it stand. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back!” (Isa. 14:24, 26, 27). „For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).
Descending to particulars, and limiting our view to the scheme of salvation, Calvinism teaches,
First, in regard to men in a state of nature.
1st. That they are totally depraved, utterly destitute of any remaining natural good, or any communicated spark of grace. This total depravity is not to be confounded with corruption, nor to mean that men are as depraved as they can be; for it is consistent with the admission that they have amiable feelings and upright deportment among themselves; but to be understood to mean a total destitution of any principle of conformity to God’s law, which requires supreme love to God, and deportment towards men regulated by a design to please and glorify Him. In a state of nature, God is not in all their thoughts. „I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 5:18).
2nd. As to the origin of this depravity, Calvinism teaches that it was in consequence of Adam’s sin. The progenitor of the race was the federal head of his descendants, submitting to the test for all. His sin, therefore, was imputed to his posterity; and in his fall, they fell. „By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation” (Rom. 5:16).
3rd. As to the means of recovery, Calvinism teaches man’s utter helplessness. Being sinners in character and conduct, none are able to renew their hearts, nor make atonement for their sins. Even after the atonement of Christ is offered in the gospel to their acceptance, none, without divine influence, are willing to accept Christ as Saviour, nor are able to understand experimentally the truth as it is in Jesus. „The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” In this condition, and without divine influence—while they will never attempt to glorify God—nothing that they can do can please him; for „they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
4th. As to justification, it teaches that men are just with God, through the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. Nothing that they can do will be accepted as the ground of justification; for „by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” „To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). „By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). „Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Rom. 5:9). „He hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). „David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputed righteousness” (Rom. 4:6). „Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (4.3). „For us also, to whom it shall he imputed, if we believe” (4:24).
Second, As it respects Divine agency in the scheme of redemption, Calvinism teaches,
1st. That God is the efficient author of everything morally good in the creature. Whatever he does in man’s behalf, is done in accordance with a purpose entertained from eternity. This purpose found its development in the covenant of redemption entered into by the persons of the Trinity, and its execution in the work thus assigned to them severally. The Father, as the representative of the godhead, devised the plan and sent his Son to execute it; the Son, as the substitute for the sinner, makes atonement and works out complete righteousness; and the Spirit applies the work of Christ in the regeneration, justification, sanctification, and salvation of the sinner.
Calvinism teaches, again,
2nd. That God proceeds in the salvation of sinners on a definite plan which descends to all the details. In the covenant of redemption he gave to his Son a definite number of the human race to be his people, whom he would redeem from the curse of the law, bring into newness of life by regeneration, justify freely by his grace, keep by his power through faith unto salvation, guide by his counsel, and afterward receive into glory. „Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Those thus chosen and saved, are designated not because of faith and good works foreseen in them; but, in part, that they might have faith and might perform good works. Those not chosen are not reprobated in the sense that, they are prohibited from seeking the benefits of salvation; nor in the sense that any influence is imparted to them inducing them to reject the gospel; but they are simply passed by and permitted to follow their own inclinations, without any invincible influence adequate to make them willing in the day of his power. In this election and rejection, God is influenced by no difference of natural character in the parties perceived, nor in any conduct foreseen; but only by his will, sovereign and infinitely wise; and this, too, for the manifestation of his glorious perfections. „For he saith to Moses, I will mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Rom. 9:15). „What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, with much longsuffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?” (9:22, 23).
II. Though this system, as a whole, is sustained by the general tenor of the Scriptures, and in all its parts by definite passages, men sometimes hesitate to receive it because serious objections seem to lie against it. All such objections may be resolved into the three following:
1. The system seems to make God the author of sin:
2. It seems to exhibit God as a partial being:
3. It seems to represent that he makes men merely to damn them.
Before taking them up in order, it is proper to remark that these objections do not lie exclusively against the Calvinistic system.. It can he shown that they press just as heavily against the Arminian, with others just as grave superadded. [This the present writer has shown in a published work on predestination; the part answering these objections can be read in this connection if the Institute desire it.] The only way to escape the objections is to deny, with the Pelagians and Socinians, God’s foreknowledge; and if this be denied, then there comes in a flood of other objections more pressing and more weighty still.
The great difficulty in the Calvinistic system, is the sovereignty which it ascribes to God over sin; and the occasion it offers, therefore, for the plausible objection that if sin exists by his will of purpose, he is then, if not the author, at least in some sense the favorer of it. It is easy and safe to admit that his will is all-powerful in everything that is morally good; and that his agency can he efficient in securing such good without doing violence to human freedom; for we can easily see how he can legitimately and philosophically work in men to will and to do of his good pleasure. But how can we, consistently with correct views of his character, say that in any manner wicked men perform wicked actions in accordance with his will? It may help us to elucidate this question if we consider it in connection with the two most prominent instances of sin recorded in the Bible:
1st. Take the first instance given—Adam’s sin. Did God have no volition concerning it before it occurred? Was he taken by surprise? Having failed in his first intention, viz.: to have nothing but good in his system, did he reluctantly submit to the existence of evil, and doing the best he could in the circumstances, set up against it an antagonistic influence which should wage war against it a precarious warfare that, after a struggle of six thousand years, leaves sin, if not triumphant, at least unsubdued and unexpelled? Did God not know before he created Adam, that if he made and placed him in the Garden of Eden, he would sin and fall? We are bound to answer in the affirmative, not only because we admit God’s Infinite foreknowledge, but because we are told (2 Tim. 1:9) that a provision was made in eternity in anticipation of that event; for there was a purpose and a grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Did he not, then, permit Adam to sin? We must reply in the affirmative; for, foreseeing the event, he could have declined to create him; or he could have kept the tempter away from him; or he could have strengthened him against his wiles. Having permitted him to sin, did he not will to do so? And having willed to permit him to sin, did he so will from necessity; i.e., as a choice of evils which he could not entirely escape, or did he have some infinitely glorious end to attain, of which Adam’s sin was to be the occasion?
We do not escape this difficulty by saying Adam was a free agent, whose nature it was not God’s purpose to violate; that he was placed in the Garden of Eden, endowed with reason and a moral constitution, possessing all the light necessary to discriminate between right and wrong, and having impressed upon him all the motives to impel him to choose the right and reject the wrong; that Adam, then, in the exercise of his native freedom, on very natural principles, by his own voluntary choice, in spite of God’s will of precept, wickedly transgressed and fell. All this we also grant and maintain; but it does not remove the difficulty. Did not God know, before he had created him, that this voluntary agent whom he would make, subjected to this test which he would impose, would, acting upon these natural principles, transgress and fall? Admitting God’s foreknowledge, we must admit that before he created Adam, he knew that he would fall and willed to permit it. Can any reason be suggested why God by His will of purpose should ordain that an event so heinous and, in some respects, so disastrous as the sin of Adam should occur? We can at least, see this, that if sin had not entered into the world neither would there have been a Savior. God would not have been manifested in the flesh. Christ would not have been preached as the Savior of sinners. The attributes of God would not have been exhibited and harmonized before the intelligent universe by the cross of Christ at which mercy and truth meet together and righteousness and peace kiss each other. We know that the intelligent universe has gained infinitely more by the acquisition of Christ than it lost by the sin of Adam. Now if God knew from eternity the infinite value of the mission of Christ, and saw that the sin of man was necessary as the occasion for that mission, does He necessarily become either the author or the favorer of that sin because He resolved to permit Adam to commit it? For Calvinism, while it asserts God’s sovereignty over sin, abhorrently rejects the supposition that He tempts men, or works within them to influence them to sin. In what respect, then, is it unphilosophical or unscriptural to say that God, looking at Adam’s transaction in its character as a sin, by His will of precept, forbid it, and, by his judicial dispensation, punishes it; but regarding it as the indispensable occasion for the bestowal of his glorious grace, by His will of purpose, ordained it, and in His providence furnished the occasion for it? And is not Calvinism philosophically and scripturally sustained, then, when it discriminates between God’s will of precept and His will of purpose, and asserts that the former is the rule prescribed for the government of his creatures, which, when violated, justly brings condemnation and punishment upon its infractors: while the latter is a rule to govern himself, which will he infallibly secured whether men obey him or sin against him ? If the mere fact that God willed to permit Adam to sin, makes him the author or the favorer of that sin, then no system of doctrine would relieve him from such embarrassment excepting one which would ascribe to him profound ignorance of that transaction, both before and at the time of its performance, and would banish him, like the God of the Epicureans, to some remote part of his universe, away from all cognizance of human affairs.
2nd. Again: passing over the many other instances recorded in the Bible which illustrate the doctrine of God’s sovereignty over sin, take the case of the crucifixion of Christ. In regard to this, without hesitation, we must admit two things: 1st that the crucifixion of Christ was the most atrocious and heaven-daring crime recorded in earth’s annals; and 2nd, that, wicked as it was, God ordained that it should occur just as it did. Had the Jews not despised and rejected Christ he could not have been crucified; and if he had not died in the place, at the time, and in the way in which he did, multitudes of prophecies would have failed of fulfillment; God’s plan of recovering mercy would have been thwarted; and all men would have perished in their sins. Should we hesitate therefore to say that God ordained the crucifixion of Christ, wicked as it was? And, should we say so, would we in effect be charging God, with being the author or the favorer of that horrid crime? Did the company of disciples misrepresent the holy God, or admit that he was the author or favorer of the atrocious sin, when he said, „For of a truth, against thy holy child, Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done?”—(Acts 4: 27, 28) Did Peter speak unadvisedly, and does his language admit of the dreadful interpretation that God was the author or the favorer of this great sin, when he asserted, „Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and with wicked hands have crucified and slain?”
Peter’s assertion, when analyzed, contains three propositions. 1st, That the Jews acted with perfect freedom when they crucified Christ. 2nd, That God exercised complete sovereignty over their sin. And 3rd, that their wickedness suffered no abatement because it was in harmony with God’s determinate counsel and foreknowledge. And this, in a nut-shell, is the doctrine of Calvinism. But how can God’s sovereignty over sin and man’s free-agency in it be both true, and yet God be free from all complicity with it? Pelaganism and Socinianism escape the difficulty by severing the Supreme Being, in some sort, from connection with his creatures, and banishing him to some remote region of his universe, where he is kept in profound ignorance of sins at least until after they have been committed. Arminianism, while it admits God’s foreknowledge, and grants that he permits the commission of sin, thinks it relieves itself from embarrassment by denying his sovereignty over it. According to this system, God makes man a free-agent, gives to him a constitution that enables him to make moral distinctions, sets before him the right as distinguished from the wrong, and plies him with motives in the shape of arguments, persuasions, warnings, threatenings and promises of reward; but he has in advance no purpose to subserve by men’s sins. All that he does, acting contemporaneously with the sin, is to restrain it; overrule it for good; in the best way possible counteract it; and, in the last resort, punish it. But the system strangely shuts its eyes to the fact, that, in admitting God’s foreknowledge and his permission of sin, it logically grants his sovereignty over it. Before the world was, he foreknew that Adam would sin, and that the Jews would crucify Christ; and, in eternity, he resolved to permit these sinful deeds. Now, whether he thus resolved for ulterior objects, as Calvinism asserts, or for no reason beyond the mere resolution itself, in the view of the objector to Arminianism he is seriously complicated with those sins. If he resolved to permit sin for ulterior purpose, then the objector to Arminianism may charge that it exhibits God as favoring sin because of the good of which it is made the occasion. If he resolved to permit it for no reason beyond the mere resolution itself, then the objector may denounce Arminianism for intimating the horrid proposition that God resolved to permit sin for the mere pleasure that he found in it.
1st. Calvinism holds that man’s free-agency in the commission of sin and God’s sovereignty over it are both true, though to harmonize them may be above human faculties. Consciousness and the word of God both assure us, that, when we sin against God, we do so, not by compulsion, but freely and willingly; and reason and scripture both teach that God is sovereign ruler of the universe, accomplishing his ends in great things and in small, by bad things as well as by good, making the wrath of man praise him, and where, in its excess, it would fail of this, restraining it. Did God, who by his determinate counsel and foreknowledge delivered Christ, authorize the Jews to crucify him, or put it in their hearts to do so? Calvinism, abhorrently and with emphasis, answers no! How, then, can God secure his determinate counsel in the wicked actions of free agents without influencing them in those actions? Calvinism has no answer to give. This is one of the deep things the human mind cannot fathom; one of the high things it cannot reach. But our want of capacity does not vitiate the truth. What human mind can form of the Triune God a conception which could be transferred to the canvas? But what renewed heart has not demonstrated in its experience the subsistence of the Godhead in the persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? So, knowing from consciousness and the word of God that we are free agents; believing from reason and from scripture that God is a sovereign and almighty ruler, who accomplishes all his pleasure; and seeing, as well from what God says as from his treatment of sin, that he is neither the author nor the favorer of it; we may well refuse to give up any or all of these truths, so clearly revealed and so easily understood, because there springs out of their combination another question pertaining to the working of the Infinite Mind, and the operations of the Infinite Agent, which our ignorant and finite minds cannot solve.
2nd. The second objection, viz.: That Calvinism represents God as a partial Being, springs from a confusion of ideas, or from a misapprehension of terms. Partiality results from some quality in the object, or connected with it, to attract favor. Now, Calvinism teaches, that all men are equally destitute of such quality; and all are equally the subjects of God’s condemnation and disfavor. He feels, therefore, no partiality to any; for all are, by nature, children of wrath. He chooses some to salvation and eternal life; not because he feels any peculiar complacency towards them, but influenced solely by the good pleasure of his will, to the praise and glory of his grace. He has a reason, infinitely wise, for choosing one and rejecting another; but that reason is not to be found in the character of the chosen. The very statement of the Calvinistic doctrine, therefore, is a sufficient answer to the objection. If this is not satisfactory, let the fallacy of the objection be exposed in another way. God has, towards some, a love of benevolence, which is exhibited in choosing them to eternal life. Is that, properly, called partiality? Very well call it so, if you please. Then, it becomes a proposition to be disproved, if denied, and not a series of words to be shaped into the form of an objection to itself.
3rd. The objection, that God seems, by this system, to make men merely to damn them, does not lie against Calvinism, because of any essential difference between it and Arminianism. Indeed, no system, acknowledging future punishments, can entirely escape it, excepting by a denial of God’s foreknowledge. If to decree, from eternity, to permit men to follow their own inclinations, and to punish them for their sins, is equivalent to resolving to make men merely to damn them, then, to foreknow from eternity, that if they were created, they would thus perish, and to resolve to create them notwithstanding, though there was no invincible necessity to do so, is equivalent to the same thing. We would not, then, escape this difficulty, by abandoning our ground and going over to Arminianism. The only sure way to escape it, is to believe with the Universalists—that there are no future punishments; or, with the Pelagians—that there is no divine foreknowledge. But, neither of these opinions can we receive, so long as the Bible teaches—that they that believe not shall be damned; and, that known unto God are all his works, from the beginning.
III. While the scriptural support to the Calvinistic system is ample and entire, and reason can furnish the most irrefragable arguments, from admitted premises, to sustain it, the system finds not a mean corroboration from the character of its influence and effects.
It will, no doubt, be admitted, that in their lives, Calvinists, as a class, do not fall below the standard of morality and piety, attained by the advocates of other systems; and, that in good works, and in the enterprises of benevolence, they are not outstripped by those who differ from them. We waive, therefore, all argument on this point. For, no doubt, it will be readily admitted by all intelligent and candid persons, that Antinomians and Fatalists are as essentially different from Calvinists, as they are from Arminians or Pelagians.
1st. What is the influence of Calvinism upon the unconverted? Its tendency is to produce in them that conviction, without which they cannot be induced to take the first step towards attaining the salvation wrought out by Christ. The great difficulty in the way of their prompt movement, is the lurking hope, if not belief, that their case is not a desperate one; that their sins are not so heinous but that they can be obviated, very easily. In their delusion, they suppose it is only necessary for them to will, which they can easily do at any time; and put into execution their resolution, which is also, completely in their power; and their salvation is at once secured. They, consequently, act upon the principle, that it is running no great risk to postpone salvation to a more convenient season. Give me, say they, but a day’s notice, while on my dying bed, and I will make my peace with God. Now, let the doctrine that Calvinism teaches be received by the sinner, and his self-complacency is gone, and his sense of security is gone. Seeing that he is totally destitute of any good—that he is inexcusably complicated with sins of the darkest dye—and that he is utterly helpless—he abhors himself repents in dust and ashes, and cries to God for help. It is no offset to this to say that sinners, who hear the Calvinistic doctrines, plead that if such things are true, there is no need for any action on their part, at all; since, if they are to be saved, they will be, any how. This is not the language of a candid man, who believes the doctrine of his own sinfulness, and helplessness, but a disbeliever, who thinks that by this pretended reductia ad absurdum, he can best parry the thrusts of truth, and best maintain himself in the determination to postpone salvation, and to continue in sin. The one beyond his depth, away from shore, will feel but little, if any, concern, so long as he is convinced that the water is not deep, or that by a few muscular strokes, directed by his own will, he can reach firm footing. But, let him feel that he is in unfathomable depths, and that his skill and strength are less than nothing; and he will make the welkin ring with his cries for help. So Calvinism teaches the sinner that he is utterly lost, and that in God alone is his help; and urges him to look to God, and to call upon him.
2nd. The awakened sinner is in danger of taking up with a refuge of lies. The most common is the temptation to make himself the object of his trust. He is in danger of making, what he does, or what he feels, or both, a substitute for his Savior. He has done certain things, he has experienced certain feelings, and he is in a certain state; he has felt, first, very badly, and then, by a sudden transition, very good, therefore, he has been accepted. Calvinism tells him, that not deeds, and feelings, and frames, but Christ, is his Savior; that, at this point, there is nothing for him to do, but to believe in Jesus. Just as he is, must he accept Christ as his Savior; for, „he that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith shall be counted to him for righteousness.” Never until, if not in theory, at least, experimentally, he can. receive the Calvinistic doctrines of his utter sinfulness and helplessness; of God’s sovereign grace; and of a righteousness wrought out for him by Christ, and imputed to him on his believing, can he obtain scriptural comfort, and eternal life.
3rd. The system finds confirmation in the experience of the Christian. Only while he admits, in all its force, the total depravity of his heart by nature, does he experience humility and self abasement. So long as he has no doubt, that God, by his own sovereign grace, without any merit perceived or foreseen in him, regenerated him by his Spirit, and adopted him into his family, does he experience the depths of gratitude, and ascribe praise to him for that salvation. So far from being paralyzed by a sense of dependence upon God, it is only when he admits, in all its force, that it is God who works in him, to will and to do, that he works out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He knows, and demonstrates, in his own experience, Paul’s paradox: „When I am weak, then am I strong.” Placed upon his knees, he never uses the language of the Pharisee: „God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are;” but rather the sentiment of the poet
Why was I made to hear his voice,
And enter while there’s room;
While thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast,
Which sweetly forced me in;
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin.
In his confessions, he admits his ignorance, his native depravity, and his helplessness, and looks to God, not only for forgiveness, but for help, in his petitions he recognizes God’s sovereignty. Does he ask for blessings for himself? He bases his plea upon no merit in himself, even the least, but upon Christ’s merits, and upon God’s free, undeserved favor. Does he beseech blessings for others? He appeals to God on the supposition, that he rules in all things. Without reserve, he asks him to renew the hearts of unconverted friends; to bestow upon them conviction, and repentance, and faith; and to draw them by the cords of love. Whatever may be the Christian’s theoretic belief, in his prayers he acts upon the assumption, that salvation, in himself and in others, is all of God.
4th. The doctrines of Calvinism, if believed, are a sovereign remedy against the two great heresies in the so-called Christian world, viz.: ritualism, or sacramental salvation, on the one hand, and rationalism, on the other; the one the offspring of superstition, the other, the product of infidelity. The former, a mere bodily exercise, substitutes ceremony and the manipulations of the priest, for the work of the Spirit and the experience of the heart: the latter makes religion a mere intellectual exercise, and exalts reason above the authority of God’s word. Rejecting everything in the Bible above human comprehension, it selects, of the comprehensible, only that which the understanding ratifies as reasonable and proper. An infallible safeguard against each of these, is Calvinism, if its doctrines are cordially embraced. No one accepting, in its fulness, the doctrines of human depravity, and the necessity of a change wrought by a supernatural agency—who believes in regeneration effected by the mysterious operations of God’s Spirit, and justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ—in short, no one who believes in a spiritual religion and that grace reigns, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord, can ever be foolish enough to risk his soul’s salvation upon forms and ceremonies; or presumptuous enough to prescribe what God ought to teach or to reject anything that He reveals, because it does not meet the demands of his finite reason. Rather would such a man say, „Let God be true, but every man a liar.” True, some of the „Reformed churches,” who hold the Calvinistic system, have, in their formularies, expressions which would seem to indicate that baptism, administered to unconscious infants, will, somehow, work the regeneration of their souls. But this results because they inconsistently brought out with them, from Rome, this relic of Popery. Under the influence, though, of the Calvinism they preach these utterances have become a dead letter; for their intelligent advocates explain them away, and indignantly deny, that in their practice they are influenced by any such unscriptural and inconsistent dogma.
5th. It is no inconsiderable argument in favor of the Calvinistic system that, as one of its effects, it presents God in a dignified and honorable aspect. It is surely a worthy view of God, to represent him as a sovereign and efficient ruler, who accomplishes all his pleasure and is never thwarted; who is the author of everything good in his system and who is especially entitled to all the praise of our salvation. What a contrast is there between this system, and that which would represent him as anxious and impotent—as waiting with solicitude for men to give him a pretext to interpose; now, passing a decree in their favor, upon the supposition that they have furnished justifiable occasion, and then, reconsidering and reversing, when he has discovered that he acted on insufficient grounds; and all the while, surrounded by inextricable confusion, which, an invincible necessity prevents him from abating, and which he must reluctantly content himself with overruling, and directing to results that are attainable, since he cannot secure the highest and the best. Such a God, impotent, and subordinate, and changeable, dependent on contingencies that he does not ordain, and distracted by confusion that he cannot control, is not the God of Calvinism. Our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he pleased. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. To whom be glory forever. Amen.
In conclusion, it becomes a serious and practical question—whether we should not make these doctrines the basis of all our pulpit ministrations. If this be, indeed, the gospel system, sustained by such arguments, and attested by such effects, every minister should be imbued with its spirit, and furnished with its panoply. It is not necessary, indeed, that we should present its truths, always in the form of dogmatic or polemic theology—though, even these should not he entirely neglected, if our people are not, as yet, thoroughly indoctrinated—but our hearers should never be left in doubt as to the fundamental truths, that sinners are totally depraved, and utterly helpless that men must he regenerated by God’s Spirit, and justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, before they can obtain God’s favor; that God’s people are created by him, in Christ Jesus, unto good works, which he had before ordained that they should walk in them, and that they are kept by God’s power, through faith, unto salvation that God is the sovereign ruler of the universe, and the author of every thing, morally good, in the creature. In short, that the sinner has destroyed himself, but in God is his help. And, surely, it will not impair the efficiency of the minister himself, for him ever to remember that his sufficiency is of God.
J. H. ESTILL, Public Printer.
WHAT OUGHT TO BE OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD?
Arthur W. Pink
It has been well said that „true worship is based upon recognized greatness, and greatness is superlatively seen in Sovereignty, and at no other footstool will men really worship.” In the presence of the Divine King upon His throne even the seraphim ‘veil their faces.’ Divine sovereignty is not the sovereignty of a tyrannical Despot, but the exercised pleasure of One who is infinitely wise and good! Because God is infinitely wise He cannot err, and because He is infinitely righteous He will not do wrong. Here then is the preciousness of this truth. The mere fact itself that God’s will is irresistible and irreversible fills me with fear, but once I realize that God wills only that which is good. My heart is made to rejoice. Here then is the final answer to the question (concerning our attitude toward God’s sovereignty)—What ought to be our attitude toward the sovereignty of God? The becoming attitude for us to take is that of godly fear, implicit obedience, and unreserved resignation and submission. But not only so: the recognition of the sovereignty of God, and the realization that the Sovereign Himself is my Father, ought to overwhelm the heart and cause me to bow before Him in adoring worship. At all times I must say, „Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight.”
The Sovereignty of God in Salvation
by Arthur W. Pink
„0 the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how
unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out” (Rom. 11:33).
„Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9); but the Lord does not save all. Why not?
He does save some; then if He saves some, why not others? Is it because they are
too sinful and depraved? No; for the Apostle wrote, „This is a faithful saying,
and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15). Therefore, if God saved the „chief”
of sinners, none are excluded because of their depravity. Why then does not God
save all? Is it because some are too stony-hearted to be won? No; because it is
written, that God will „take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give
them a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19). Then is it because some are so stubborn,
so intractable, so defiant that God is unable to woo them to Himself? Before we
answer this question let us ask another; let us appeal to the experience of the
Friend, was there not a time when you walked in the counsel of the ungodly,
stood in the way of sinners, sat in the seat of the scorners, and with them
said, „We will not have this Man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14)? Was there not a
time when you „would not come to Christ that you might have life” (John 5:40)?
Yea, was there not a time when you mingled your voice with those who said unto
God, „Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. What is the
Almighty, that we should serve Him? and what profit should we have, if we pray
unto Him?” (Job 21:14, 15)? With shamed face you have to acknowledge there was.
But how is it that all is now changed? What was it that brought you from haughty
self-sufficiency to a humble suppliant; from one that was at enmity with God to
one that is at peace with Him; from lawlessness to subjection; from hate to
love? And as one ëborn of the Spirit’ you will readily reply, „By the grace of
God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). Then do you not see that it is due to no
lack of power in God, nor to His refusal to coerce man, that other rebels are
not saved too? If God was able to subdue your will and win your heart, and that
without interfering with your moral responsibility, then is He not able to do
the same for others? Assuredly He is. Then how inconsistent, how illogical, how
foolish of you, in seeking to account for the present course of the wicked and
their ultimate fate, to argue that God is unable to save them, that they will
not let Him. Do you say, „But the time came when I was willing, willing to
receive Christ as my Saviour”? True, but it was the Lord who made you willing
(Psa. 110:3; Phil. 2:13); why then does He not make all sinners willing? Why,
but for the fact that He is Sovereign and does as He pleases! But to return to
our opening inquiry.
Why is it that all are not saved, particularly all who hear the Gospel? Do you
still answer, Because the majority refuse to believe? Well, that is true, but it
is only a part of the truth. It is the truth from the human side. But there is a
Divine side too, and this side of the truth needs to be stressed or God will be
robbed of His glory. The unsaved are lost because they refuse to believe; the
others are saved because they believe. But why do these others believe? What is
it that causes them to put their trust in Christ? Is it because they are more
intelligent than their fellows, and quicker to discern their need of salvation?
Perish the thought–„Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou
that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory,
as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). It is God Himself who maketh
the difference between the elect and the non-elect, for of His own it is
written, „And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an
understanding, that we may know Him that is true” (1 John 5:20).
Faith is God’s gift, and „all men have not faith” (2 Thess. 3:2); therefore, we
see that God does not bestow this gift upon all. Upon whom then does He bestow
this saving favor? And we answer, upon His own elect–„As many as were ordained
to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Hence it is that we read of „the faith
of God’s elect” (Titus 1:1). But is God partial in the distribution of His
favors? Has He not the right to be? Are there still some who murmur against the
Goodman of the house’? Then His own words are sufficient reply–„Is it not
lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own?” (Matt. 20:15). God is Sovereign
in the bestowment of His gifts, both in the natural and in the spiritual realms.
So much then for a general statement, and now to particularize.
1. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD THE FATHER IN SALVATION.
Perhaps the one Scripture which most emphatically of all asserts the absolute
Sovereignty of God in connection with His determining the destiny of His
creatures, is the Ninth of Romans. We shall not attempt to review here the
entire chapter, but will confine ourselves to verses 21-23– „Hath not the
potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor, and
another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His
power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to
destruction: And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels
of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory?” These verses represent fallen
mankind as inert and as impotent as a lump of lifeless clay. This Scripture
evidences that there is „no difference,” in themselves, between the elect and
the non-elect; they are clay of „the same lump,” which agrees with Ephesians
2:3, where we are told that all are by nature „children of wrath.” It teaches us
that the ultimate destiny of every individual is decided by the will of God, and
blessed it is that such be the case; if it were left to our wills, the ultimate
destination of us all would be the Lake of Fire. It declares that God Himself
does make a difference in the respective destinations to which He assigns His
creatures, for one vessel is made „unto honor and another unto dishonor;” some
are „vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,” others are „vessels of mercy,
which He had afore prepared unto glory.”
We readily acknowledge that it is very humbling to the proud heart of the
creature to behold all mankind in the hand of God as the clay in the potter’s
hand, yet this is precisely how the Scriptures of Truth represent the case. In
this day of human boasting, intellectual pride, and deification of man, it needs
to be insisted upon that the potter forms his vessels for himself. Let man
strive with his Maker as he will, the fact remains that he is nothing more than
clay in the Heavenly Potter’s hands, and while we know that God will deal justly
with His creatures, that the Judge of all the earth will do right, nevertheless,
He shapes His vessels for His own purpose and according to His own pleasure. God
claims the indisputable right to do as He wills with His own.
Not only has God the right to do as He wills with the creatures of His own
hands, but He exercises this right, and nowhere is that seen more plainly than
in His predestinating grace. Before the foundation of the world God made a
choice, a selection, an election. Before His omniscient eye stood the whole of
Adam’s race, and from it He singled out a people and predestinated them „to be
conformed to the image of His Son,” „ordained” them unto eternal life. Many are
the Scriptures which set forth this blessed truth, seven of which will now
engage our attention.
„As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed” (Acts 13:48). Every
artifice of human ingenuity has been employed to blunt the sharp edge of this
Scripture and to explain away the obvious meaning of these words, but it has
been employed in vain, though nothing will ever be able to reconcile this and
similar passages to the mind of the natural man. „As many as were ordained to
eternal life, believed.” Here we learn four things: First, that believing is the
consequence and not the cause of God’s decree. Second, that a limited number
only are „ordained to eternal life,” for if all men without exception were thus
ordained by God, then the words „as many as” are a meaningless qualification.
Third, that this „ordination” of God is not to mere external privileges but to
„eternal life,” not to service but to salvation itself. Fourth, that all–„as
many as,” not one less–who are thus ordained by God to eternal life will most
The comments of the beloved Spurgeon on the above passage are well worthy of our
notice. Said he, „Attempts have been made to prove that these words do not teach
predestination, but these attempts so clearly do violence to language that I
shall not waste time in answering them. I read: ëAs many as were ordained to
eternal life believed,’ and I shall not twist the text but shall glorify the
grace of God by ascribing to that grace the faith of every man. Is it not God
who gives the disposition to believe? If men are disposed to have eternal life,
does not He–in every case–dispose them? Is it wrong for God to give grace? If
it be right for Him to give it, is it wrong for Him to purpose to give it? Would
you have Him give it by accident? If it is right for Him to purpose to give
grace today, it was right for Him to purpose it before today–and, since He
changes not–from eternity.”
„Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the
election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace
is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise
work is no more work” (Rom. 11:5, 6). The words „Even so” at the beginning of
this quotation refer us to the previous verse where we are told, „I have
reserved to Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Note
particularly the word „reserved.” In the days of Elijah there were seven
thousand–a small minority–who were Divinely preserved from idolatry and
brought to the knowledge of the true God. This preservation and illumination was
not from anything in themselves, but solely by God’s special influence and
agency. How highly favored such individuals were to be thus „reserved” by God!
Now says the Apostle, Just as there was a „remnant” in Elijah’s days „reserved
by God,” even so there is in this present dispensation.
„A remnant according to the election of grace.” Here the cause of election is
traced back to its source. The basis upon which God elected this „remnant” was
not faith foreseen in them, because a choice founded upon the foresight of good
works is just as truly made on the ground of works as any choice can be, and in
such a case it would not be „of grace” ; for, says the Apostle, „if by grace,
then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace” ; which means
that grace and works are opposites, they have nothing in common, and will no
more mingle than oil and water. Thus the idea of inherent good foreseen in those
chosen, or of anything meritorious performed by them, is rigidly excluded. „A
remnant according to the election of grace” signifies an unconditional choice
resulting from the Sovereign favor of God; in a word, it is absolutely a
„For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh,
not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish
things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of
the world to confound the things which are mighty: and base things of the world,
and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not,
to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence”
(1 Cor. 1:26-29). Three times over in this passage reference is made to God’s
choice, and choice necessarily supposes a selection, the taking of some and the
leaving of others. The Chooser here is God Himself, as said the Lord Jesus to
the Apostles, „Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). The
number chosen is strictly defined–„not many wise men after the flesh, not many
noble,” etc., which agree with Matthew 20:16, „So the last shall be first, and
the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.” So much then for the fact
of God’s choice; now mark the objects of His choice.
The ones spoken of above as chosen of God are „the weak things of the world,
base things of the world, and things which are despised.” But why? To
demonstrate and magnify His grace. God’s ways as well as His thoughts are
utterly at variance with man’s. The carnal mind would have supposed that a
selection had been made from the ranks of the opulent and influential, the
amiable and cultured, so that Christianity might have won the approval and
applause of the world by its pageantry and fleshly glory. Ah, but „that which is
highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). God
chooses the „base things.” He did so in Old Testament times. The nation which He
singled out to be the depository of His holy oracles and the channel through
which the promised Seed should come was not the ancient Egyptians, the imposing
Babylonians, nor the highly civilized and cultured Greeks. No; that people upon
whom Jehovah set His love and regarded as ëthe apple of His eye’ were the
despised, nomadic Hebrews. So it was when our Lord tabernacled among men. The
ones whom He took into favored intimacy with Himself and commissioned to go
forth as His ambassadors were, for the most part, unlettered fishermen. And so
it has been ever since. So it is today: at the present rates of increase, it
will not be long before it is manifested that the Lord has more in despised
China who are really His, than He has in the highly favored U.S.A.; more among
the uncivilized blacks of Africa, than He has in cultured (?) Germany! And the
purpose of God’s choice, the raison d’ etre of the selection He has made is,
„that no flesh should glory in His presence”–there being nothing whatever in
the objects of His choice which should entitle them to His special favors, then,
all the praise will be freely ascribed to the exceeding riches of His manifold
„Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us
with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as He hath
chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and
without blame before Him; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children
by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will… In
whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the
purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph.
1:3-5, 11). Here again we are told at what point in time–if time it could be
called–when God made choice of those who were to be His children by Jesus
Christ. It was not after Adam had fallen and plunged his race into sin and
wretchedness, but long ere Adam saw the light, even before the world itself was
founded, that God chose us in Christ. Here also we learn the purpose which God
had before Him in connection with His own elect: it was that they „should be
holy and without blame before Him” ; it was „unto the adoption of children” ; it
was that they should „obtain an inheritance.” Here also we discover the motive
which prompted Him. It was „in love that He predestinated us unto the adoption
of children by Jesus Christ to Himself”–a statement which refutes the oft made
and wicked charge that, for God to decide the eternal destiny of His creatures
before they are born, is tyrannical and unjust. Finally, we are informed here,
that in this matter He took counsel with none, but that we are „predestinated
according to the good pleasure of His will.”
„But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the
Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). There are
three things here which deserve special attention. First, the fact that we are
expressly told that God’s elect are „chosen to salvation.” Language could not be
more explicit. How summarily do these words dispose of the sophistries and
equivocations of all who would make election refer to nothing but external
privileges or rank in service! It is to „salvation” itself that God hath chosen
us. Second, we are warned here that election unto salvation does not disregard
the use of appropriate means: salvation is reached through „sanctification of
the Spirit and belief of the truth.” It is not true that because God has chosen
a certain one to salvation that he will be saved willy-nilly, whether he
believes or not: nowhere do the Scriptures so represent it. The same God who
predestined the end also appointed the means; the same God who „chose unto
salvation” decreed that His purpose should be realized through the work of the
Spirit and belief of the truth. Third, that God has chosen us unto salvation is
a profound cause for fervent praise. Note how strongly the Apostle expresses
this–„we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of
the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation,” etc.
Instead of shrinking hack in horror from the doctrine of predestination, the
believer, when he sees this blessed truth as it is unfolded in the Word,
discovers a ground for gratitude and thanksgiving such as nothing else affords,
save the unspeakable gift of the Redeemer Himself.
„Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our
works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ
Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). How plain and pointed is the
language of Holy Writ! It is man who, by his words, darkeneth counsel. It is
impossible to state the case more clearly, or strongly, than it is stated here.
Our salvation is not „according to our works” ; that is to say, it is not due to
anything in us, nor the rewarding of anything from us; instead, it is the result
of God’s own „purpose and grace”; and this grace was given us in Christ Jesus
before the world began. It is by grace we are saved, and in the purpose of God
this grace was bestowed upon us not only before we saw the light, not only
before Adam’s fall, but even before that far distant „beginning” of Genesis 1:1.
And herein lies the unassailable comfort of God’s people. If His choice has been
from eternity it will last to eternity! „Nothing can survive to eternity but
what came from eternity, and what has so come, will” (George S. Bishop).
„Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification
of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1
Peter 1:2). Here again election by the Father precedes the work of the Holy
Spirit in, and the obedience of faith by, those who are saved; thus taking it
entirely off creature ground, and resting it in the Sovereign pleasure of the
Almighty. The „foreknowledge of God the Father” does not here refer to His
prescience of all things, but signifies that the saints were all eternally
present in Christ before the mind of God. God did not „foreknow” that certain
ones who heard the Gospel would believe it apart from the fact that He had
„ordained” these certain ones to eternal life. What God’s prescience saw in all
men was, love of sin and hatred of Himself. The „foreknowledge” of God is based
upon His own decrees as is clear from Acts 2:23–„Him, being delivered by the
determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands
have crucified and slain”–note the order here: first God’s „determinate
counsel” (His decree), and second His „foreknowledge.” So it is again in Romans
8:28, 29, „For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to
the image of His Son,” but the first word here, „for,” looks back to the
preceding verse and the last clause of its reads, „to them who are the called
according to His purpose”–these are the ones whom He did „foreknow and
predestinate.” Finally, it needs to be pointed out that when we read in
Scripture of God „knowing” certain people the word is used in the sense of
knowing with approbation and love: „But if any man love God, the same is known
of Him” (1 Cor. 8:3). To the hypocrites Christ will yet say „I never knew
you”–He never loved them. „Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the
Father” signifies, then, chosen by Him as the special objects of His approbation
Summarizing the teaching of these seven passages we learn that, God has
„ordained to eternal life” certain ones, and that in consequence of His
ordination they, in due time, „believe”; that God’s ordination to salvation of
His own elect is not due to any good thing in them nor to anything meritorious
from them, but solely of „His grace”; that God has designedly selected the most
unlikely objects to be the recipients of His special favors in order that „no
flesh should glory in His presence”; that God chose His people in Christ before
the foundation of the world, not because they were so, but in order that they
„should be holy and without blame before Him”; that having selected certain ones
to salvation. He also decreed the means by which His eternal counsel should be
made good; that the very „grace” by which we are saved was, in God’s purpose,
„given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”; that long before they were
actually created God’s elect stood present before His mind, were „foreknown” by
Him, i.e., were the definite objects of His eternal love.
Before turning to the next division of this chapter, a further word concerning
the subjects of God’s predestinating grace. We go over this ground again because
it is at this point that the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty in predestining
certain ones to salvation is most frequently assaulted. Perverters of this truth
invariably seek to find some cause outside God’s own will which moves Him to
bestow salvation on sinners; something or other is attributed to the creature
which entitles him to receive mercy at the hands of the Creator. We return then
to the question, Why did God choose the ones He did?
What was there in the elect themselves which attracted God’s heart to them? Was
it because of certain virtues they possessed? because they were
generous-hearted, sweet-tempered, truth-speaking? in a word, because they were
„good,” that God chose them? No; for our Lord said, „There is none good but one,
that is God” (Matt. 19:17). Was it because of any good works they had performed?
No; for it is written, „There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:12).
Was it because they evidenced an earnestness and zeal in inquiring after God?
No; for it is written again, „There is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11).
Was it because God foresaw they would believe? No; for how can those who are
„dead in trespasses and sins” believe in Christ? How could God foreknow some men
as believers when belief was impossible to them? Scripture declares that we
„believe through grace” (Acts 18:27). Faith is God’s gift, and apart from this
gift none would believe. The cause of His choice then lies within Himself and
not in the objects of His choice. He chose the ones He did simply because He
chose to choose them.
„Sons we are by God’s election
Who on Jesus Christ believe,
By eternal destination,
Sovereign grace we now receive,
Lord Thy mercy,
Doth both grace and glory give!”
2. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD THE SON IN SALVATION.
For whom did Christ die? It surely does not need arguing that the Father had an
express purpose in giving Him to die, or that God the Son had a definite design
before Him in laying down His life–„Known unto God are all His works from the
beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). What then was the purpose of the Father
and the design of the Son. We answer, Christ died for „God’s elect.”
We are not unmindful of the fact that the limited design in the death of Christ
has been the subject of much controversy–what great truth revealed in Scripture
has not? Nor do we forget that anything which has to do with the Person and work
of our blessed Lord requires to be handled with the utmost reverence, and that a
„Thus saith the Lord” must be given in support of every assertion we make. Our
appeal shall be to the Law and to the Testimony.
For whom did Christ die? Who were the ones He intended to redeem by His
blood-shedding? Surely the Lord Jesus had some absolute determination before Him
when He went to the Cross. If He had, then it necessarily follows that the
extent of that purpose was limited, because an absolute determination of purpose
must be effected. If the absolute determination of Christ included all mankind,
then all mankind would most certainly be saved. To escape this inevitable
conclusion many have affirmed that there was not such absolute determination
before Christ, that in His death a merely conditional provision of salvation has
been made for all mankind. The refutation of this assertion is found in the
promises made by the Father to His Son before He went to the Cross, yea, before
He became incarnate. The Old Testament Scriptures represent the Father as
promising the Son a certain reward for His sufferings on behalf of sinners. At
this stage we shall confine ourselves to one or two statements recorded in the
well known Fifty-third of Isaiah. There we find God saying, „When Thou shalt
make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed,” that „He shall see of
the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied,” and that God’s righteous
Servant „should justify many” (vv. 10 and 11). But here we would pause and ask,
How could it be certain that Christ should „see His seed,” and „see of the
travail of His soul and be satisfied,” unless the salvation of certain members
of the human race had been Divinely decreed, and therefore was sure? How could
it be certain that Christ should „justify many,” if no effectual provision was
made that any should receive Him as their Lord and Saviour? On the other hand,
to insist that the Lord Jesus did expressly purpose the salvation of all mankind
is to charge Him with that which no intelligent being should be guilty of,
namely, to design that which by virtue of His omniscience He knew would never
come to pass. Hence, the only alternative left us is that, so far as the
pre-determined purpose of His death is concerned Christ died for the elect only.
Summing up in a sentence, which we trust will be intelligible to every reader,
we would say, Christ died not merely to make possible the salvation of all
mankind, but to make certain the salvation of all that the Father had given to
Him. Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but „to put away sin by
the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26). As to whose „sin” (i.e., guilt, as in 1
John 1:7, etc.) has been „put away,” Scripture leaves us in no doubt–it was
that of the elect, the „world” (John 1:29) of God’s people!
(1) The limited design in the Atonement follows, necessarily, from the eternal
choice of the Father of certain ones unto salvation. The Scriptures inform us
that before the Lord became incarnate He said, „Lo, I come, to do Thy will O
God” (Heb. 10:7), and after He had become incarnate He declared, „For I came
down from Heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me”
(John 6:38). If then God had from the beginning chosen certain ones to
salvation, then, because the will of Christ was in perfect accord with the will
of the Father, He would not seek to enlarge upon His election. What we have just
said is not merely a plausible deduction of our own, but is in strict harmony
with the express teaching of the Word. Again and again our Lord referred to
those whom the Father had „given” Him, and concerning whom He was particularly
exercised. Said He, „All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him
that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out… And this is the Father’s will
which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing,
but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:37, 39). And again, „These
words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to Heaven, and said, Father, the hour
is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee; As Thou hast given
Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou
hast given Him…I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me
out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept
Thy Word… I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou
hast given Me; for they are Thine… Father, I will that they also, whom Thou
hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou
hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world” (John
17:1, 2, 6, 9, 24). Before the foundation of the world the Father predestinated
a people to be conformed to the image of His Son, and the death and resurrection
of the Lord Jesus was in order to the carrying out of the Divine purpose.
(2) The very nature of the Atonement evidences that, in its application to
sinners, it was limited in the purpose of God. The Atonement of Christ may be
considered from two chief viewpoints–Godward and manward. Godward, the
Cross-work of Christ was a propitiation, an appeasing of Divine wrath, a
satisfaction rendered to Divine justice and holiness; manward, it was a
substitution, the Innocent taking the place of the guilty, the Just dying for
the unjust. But a strict substitution of a Person for persons, and the
infliction upon Him of voluntary sufferings, involve the definite recognition on
the part of the Substitute and of the One He is to propitiate of the persons for
whom He acts, whose sins He bears, whose legal obligations He discharges.
Furthermore, if the Lawgiver accepts the satisfaction which is made by the
Substitute, then those for whom the Substitute acts, whose place He takes, must
necessarily be acquitted. If I am in debt and unable to discharge it and another
comes forward and pays my creditor in full and receives a receipt in
acknowledgment, then, in the sight of the law, my creditor no longer has any
claim upon me. On the Cross the Lord Jesus gave Himself a ransom, and that it
was accepted by God was attested by the open grave three days later; the
question we would here raise is, For whom was this ransom offered? If it was
offered for all mankind then the debt incurred by every man has been cancelled.
If Christ bore in His own body on the tree the sins of all men without
exception, then none will perish. If Christ was „made a curse” for all of Adam’s
race then none are now „under condemnation.” „Payment God cannot twice demand,
first at my bleeding Surety’s hand and then again at mine.” But Christ did not
discharge the debts of all men without exception, for some there are who will be
„cast into prison” (cf. 1 Peter 3:19 where the same Greek word for „prison”
occurs), and they shall „by no means come out thence, till they have paid the
uttermost farthing” (Matt. 5:26), which, of course, will never be. Christ did
not bear the sins of all mankind, for some there are who „die in their sins”
(John 8:21), and whose „sin remaineth” (John 9:41). Christ was not „made a
curse” for all of Adam’s race, for some there are to whom He will yet say,
„Depart from Me ye cursed” (Matt. 25:41). To say that Christ died for all alike,
to say that He became the Substitute and Surety of the whole human race, to say
that He suffered on behalf of and in the stead of all mankind, is to say that He
„bore the curse for many who are now bearing the curse for themselves; that He
suffered punishment for many who are now lifting up their own eyes in Hell,
being in torments; that He paid the redemption price for many who shall yet pay
in their own eternal anguish the wages of sin, which is death” (George S.
Bishop). But, on the other hand, to say as Scripture says, that Christ was
stricken for the transgressions of God’s people, to say that He gave His life
„for the sheep,” to say He gave His life a ransom „for many,” is to say that He
made an atonement which fully atones; it is to say He paid a price which
actually ransoms; it is to say He was set forth a propitiation which really
propitiates; it is to say He is a Saviour who truly saves.
(3) Closely connected with, and confirmatory of what we have said above, is the
teaching of Scripture concerning our Lord’s priesthood. It is as the great High
Priest that Christ now makes intercession. But for whom does He intercede? for
the whole human race, or only for His own people? The answer furnished by the
New Testament to this question is clear as a sunbeam. Our Saviour has entered
into Heaven itself „now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24),
that is, for those who are „partakers of the heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1). And
again it is written, „Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost
that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them”
(Heb. 7:25). This is in strict accord with the Old Testament type. After slaying
the sacrificial animal, Aaron went into the holy of holies as the representative
and on behalf of the people of God: it was the names of Israel’s tribes which
were engraven on his breastplate, and it was in their interests he appeared
before God. Agreeable to this are our Lord’s words in John 17:9–„I pray for
them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they
are Thine.” Another Scripture which deserves careful attention in this
connection is found in Romans 8. In verse 33 the question is asked, „Who shall
lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” and then follows the inspired
answer–„It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that
died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who
also maketh intercession for us.” Note particularly that the death and
intercession of Christ have one and the same objects! As it was in the type so
it is with the antitype–expiation and supplication are co-extensive. If then
Christ intercedes for the elect only, and „not for the world,” then He died for
them only. And observe further, that the death, resurrection, exaltation and
intercession of the Lord Jesus are here assigned as the reason why none can lay
any „charge” against God’s elect. Let those who would still take issue with what
we are advancing weigh carefully the following question–If the death of Christ
extends equally to all, how does it become security against a „charge,” seeing
that all who believe not are „under condemnation”? (John 3:18).
(4) The number of those who share the benefits of Christ’s death is determined
not only by the nature of the Atonement and the priesthood of Christ but also by
His power. Grant that the One who died upon the Cross was God manifest in the
flesh and it follows inevitably that what Christ has purposed that will He
perform; that what He has purchased that will He possess; that what He has set
His heart upon that will He secure. If the Lord Jesus possesses all power in
Heaven and earth then none can successfully resist His will. But it may be said,
This is true in the abstract, nevertheless, Christ refuses to exercise this
power, inasmuch as He will never force anyone to receive Him as their Lord and
Saviour. In one sense that is true, but in another sense it is positively
untrue. The salvation of any sinner is a matter of Divine power. By nature the
sinner is at enmity with God, and naught but Divine power operating within him
can overcome this enmity; hence it is written, „No man can come unto Me, except
the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44). It is the Divine power
overcoming the sinner’s innate enmity which makes him willing to come to Christ
that he might have life. But this „enmity” is not overcome in all–why? Is it
because the enmity is too strong to be overcome? Are there some hearts so
steeled against Him that Christ is unable to gain entrance? To answer in the
affirmative is to deny His omnipotence. In the final analysis it is not a
question of the sinner’s willingness or unwillingness, for by nature all are
unwilling. Willingness to come to Christ is the finished product of Divine power
operating in the human heart and will in overcoming man’s inherent and chronic
„enmity,” as it is written, „Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy
power” (Psa. 110:3). To say that Christ is unable to win to Himself those who
are unwilling is to deny that all power in Heaven and earth is His. To say that
Christ cannot put forth His power without destroying man’s responsibility is a
begging of the question here raised, for He has put forth His power and made
willing those who have come to Him, and if He did this without destroying their
responsibility, why „cannot” He do so with others? If He is able to win the
heart of one sinner to Himself why not that of another? To say, as is usually
said, the others will not let Him is to impeach His sufficiency. It is a
question of His will. If the Lord Jesus has decreed, desired, purposed the
salvation of all mankind, then the entire human race will be saved, or,
otherwise, He lacks the power to make good His intentions; and in such a case it
could never be said, „He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.”
The issue raised involves the deity of the Saviour, for a defeated Saviour
cannot be God.
Having reviewed some of the general principles which require us to believe that
the death of Christ was limited in its design, we turn now to consider some of
the explicit statements of Scripture which expressly affirm it. In that wondrous
and matchless Fifty-third of Isaiah God tells us concerning His Son, „He was
taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for
He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of My people
was He stricken” (v. 8). In perfect harmony with this was the word of the angel
to Joseph, „Thou shalt call His name JESUS, for He shall save His people from
their sins” (Matt. 1:21) i.e., not merely Israel, but all whom the Father had
„given” Him. Our Lord Himself declared, „The Son of Man came not to be
ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt.
20:28), but why have said „for many” if all without exception were included? It
was „His people” whom He „redeemed” (Luke 1:68). It was for „the sheep,” and not
the „goats,” that the Good Shepherd gave His life (John 10:11). It was the
„Church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
If there is one Scripture more than any other upon which we should be willing to
rest our case it is John 11:49-52. Here we are told, „And one of them, named
Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing
at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for
the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of
himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die
for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also He should gather
together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” Here we are
told that Caiaphas „prophesied not of himself,” that is, like those employed by
God in Old Testament times (see 2 Peter 1:21), his prophecy originated not with
himself, but he spake as he was moved by the Holy Spirit; thus is the value of
his utterance carefully guarded, and the Divine source of this revelation
expressly vouched for. Here, too, we are definitely informed that Christ died
for „that nation,” i.e., Israel, and also for the One Body, His Church, for it
is into the Church that the children of God–„scattered” among the nations–are
now being „gathered together in one.” And is it not remarkable that the members
of the Church are here called „children of God” even before Christ died, and
therefore before He commenced to build His Church! The vast majority of them had
not then been born, yet they were regarded as „children of God”; children of God
because they had been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and
therefore „predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to
Himself” (Eph. 1:4, 5). In like manner, Christ said, „Other sheep I have (not
„shall have”) which are not of this fold” (John 10:16).
If ever the real design of the Cross was uppermost in the heart and speech of
our blessed Saviour it was during the last week of His earthly ministry. What
then do the Scriptures which treat of this portion of His ministry record in
connection with our present inquiry? They say, „When Jesus knew that His hour
was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved
His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). They
tell us how He said, „Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down
His life for His friends” (John 15:13). They record His word, „For their sakes I
sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John
17:19); which means, that for the sake of His own, those „given” to Him by the
Father, He separated Himself unto the death of the Cross. One may well ask, Why
such discrimination of terms if Christ died for all men indiscriminately?
Ere closing this section of the chapter we shall consider briefly a few of those
passages which seem to teach most strongly an unlimited design in the death of
Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:14 we read, „One died for all.” But that is not all
this Scripture affirms. If the entire verse and passage from which these words
are quoted be carefully examined, it will be found that instead of teaching an
unlimited atonement, it emphatically argues a limited design in the death of
Christ. The whole verse reads, „For the love of Christ constraineth us; because
we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead.” It should be
pointed out that in the Greek there is the definite article before the last
„all,” and that the verb here is in the aorist tense, and therefore should read,
„We thus judge: that if One died for all, then the all died.” The Apostle is
here drawing a conclusion as is clear from the words „we thus judge, that if…
then were.” His meaning is, that those for whom the One died are regarded,
judicially, as having died too. The next verse goes on to say, „And He died for
all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto
Him which died for them, and rose again.” The One not only died but „rose
again,” and so, too, did the „all” for whom He died, for it is here said they
„live.” Those for whom a substitute acts are legally regarded as having acted
themselves. In the sight of the law the substitute and those whom he represents
are one. So it is in the sight of God. Christ was identified with His people and
His people were identified with Him, hence when He died they died (judicially)
and when He rose they rose also. But further we are told in this passage (v.
17), that if any man be in Christ he is a new creation; he has received a new
life in fact as well as in the sight of the law, hence the „all” for whom Christ
died are here bidden to live henceforth no more unto themselves, „but unto Him
which died for them, and rose again.” In other words, those who belonged to this
„all” for whom Christ died, are here exhorted to manifest practically in their
daily lives what is true of them judicially: they are to „live unto Christ who
died for them.” Thus the „One died for all” is defined for us. The „all” for
which Christ died are they which „live,” and which are here bidden to live „unto
Him.” This passage then teaches three important truths, and the better to show
its scope we mention them in their inverse order: certain ones are here bidden
to live no more unto themselves but unto Christ; the ones thus admonished are
„they which live,” that is live spiritually, hence, the children of God, for
they alone of mankind possess spiritual life, all others being dead in
trespasses and sins; those who do thus live are the ones, the „all,” the „them,”
for whom Christ died and rose again. This passage therefore teaches that Christ
died for all His people, the elect, those given to Him by the Father; that as
the result of His death (and rising again „for them”) they „live”–and the elect
are the only ones who do thus „live”; and this life which is theirs through
Christ must be lived „unto Him,” Christ’s love must now „constrain” them.
„For there is one God, and one Mediator, between God and men (not „man,” for
this would have been a generic term and signified mankind. O the accuracy of
Holy Writ!), the Man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be
testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). It is upon the words „who gave Himself a
ransom for all” we would now comment. In Scripture the word „all” (as applied to
humankind) is used in two senses–absolutely and relatively. In some passages it
means all without exception; in others it signifies all without distinction. As
to which of these meanings it bears in any particular passage, must be
determined by the context and decided by a comparison of parallel Scriptures.
That the word „all” is used in a relative and restricted sense, and in such case
means all without distinction and not all without exception, is clear from a
number of Scriptures, from which we select two or three as samples. „And there
went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all
baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:5). Does
this mean that every man, woman and child from „all the land of Judea and they
of Jerusalem” were baptized of John in Jordan? Surely not. Luke 7:30 distinctly
says, „But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against
themselves, being not baptized of him.” Then what does „all baptized of him”
mean? We answer it does not mean all without exception, but all without
distinction, that is, all classes and conditions of men. The same explanation
applies to Luke 3:21. Again we read, „And early in the morning He came again
into the Temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught
them” (John 8:2); are we to understand this expression absolutely or relatively?
Does „all the people” mean all without exception or all without distinction,
that is, all classes and conditions of people? Manifestly the latter; for the
Temple was not able to accommodate everybody that was in Jerusalem at this time,
namely, the Feast of Tabernacles. Again, we read in Acts 22:15, „For thou (Paul)
shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” Surely „all
men” here does not mean every member of the human race. Now we submit that the
words „who gave Himself a ransom for all” in 1 Timothy 2:6 mean all without
distinction, and not all without exception. He gave Himself a ransom for men of
all nationalities, of all generations, of all classes; in a word, for all the
elect, as we read in Revelation 5:9, „For Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us
to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
That this is not an arbitrary definition of the „all” in our passage is clear
from Matthew 20:28 where we read, „The Son of Man came not to be ministered
unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many,” which limitation
would be quite meaningless if He gave Himself a ransom for all without
exception. Furthermore, the qualifying words here, „to be testified in due time”
must be taken into consideration. If Christ gave Himself a ransom for the whole
human race, in what sense will this be „testified in due time”? seeing that
multitudes of men will certainly be eternally lost. But if our text means that
Christ gave Himself a ransom for God’s elect, for all without distinction,
without distinction of nationality, social prestige, moral character, age or
sex, then the meaning of these qualifying words is quite intelligible, for in
„due time” this will be „testified” in the actual and accomplished salvation of
every one of them.
„But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering
of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste
death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). This passage need not detain us long. A false
doctrine has been erected here on a false translation. There is no word whatever
in the Greek corresponding to „man” in our English version. In the Greek it is
left in the abstract–„He tasted death for every.” The Revised Version has
correctly omitted „man” from the text, but has wrongly inserted it in italics.
Others suppose the word „thing” should be supplied–„He tasted death for every
thing”–but this, too, we deem a mistake. It seems to us that the words which
immediately follow explain our text: „For it became Him, for whom are all
things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make
the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” It is of „sons” the
Apostle is here writing, and we suggest an ellipsis of „son”–thus: „He tasted
death for every”–and supply son in italics. Thus instead of teaching the
unlimited design of Christ’s death, Hebrews 2:9, 10 is in perfect accord with
the other Scriptures we have quoted which set for the restricted purpose in the
Atonement: it was for the „sons” and not the human race our Lord „tasted death.”
In closing this section of the chapter let us say that the only limitation in
the Atonement we have contended for arises from pure Sovereignty; it is a
limitation not of value and virtue, but of design and application. We turn now
3. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SALVATION.
Since the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons in the blessed Trinity, it
necessarily follows that He is in full sympathy with the will and design of the
other Persons of the Godhead. The eternal purpose of the Father in election, the
limited design in the death of the Son, and the restricted scope of the Holy
Spirit’s operations are in perfect accord. If the Father chose certain ones
before the foundation of the world and gave them to His Son, and if it was for
them that Christ gave Himself a ransom, then the Holy Spirit is not now working
to „bring the world to Christ.” The mission of the Holy Spirit in the world
today is to apply the benefits of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. The question
which is now to engage us is not the extent of the Holy Spirit’s power–on that
point there can he no doubt, it is infinite–but what we shall seek to show is
that His power and operations are directed by Divine wisdom and Sovereignty.
We have just said that the power and operations of the Holy Spirit are directed
by Divine wisdom and indisputable Sovereignty. In proof of this assertion we
appeal first to our Lord’s words to Nicodemus in John 3: 8– „The wind bloweth
where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence
it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” A
comparison is here drawn between the wind and the Spirit. The comparison is a
double one: first, both are Sovereign in their actions, and second, both are
mysterious in their operations. The comparison is pointed out in the word „so.”
The first point of analogy is seen in the words, „where it listeth” or
„pleaseth”; the second is found in the words „canst not tell.” With the second
point of analogy we are not now concerned, but upon the first we would comment
„The wind bloweth where it pleaseth… so is every one that is born of the
Spirit.” The wind is an element which man can neither harness nor hinder. The
wind neither consults man’s pleasure nor can it be regulated by his devices. So
it is with the Spirit. The wind blows when it pleases, where it pleases, as it
pleases. So it is with the Spirit. The wind is regulated by Divine wisdom, yet,
so far as man is concerned, it is absolutely Sovereign in its operations. So it
is with the Spirit. Sometimes the wind blows so softly it scarcely rustles a
leaf; at other times it blows so loudly that its roar can be heard for miles. So
it is in the matter of the new birth; with some the Holy Spirit deals so gently
that His work is imperceptible to human onlookers; with others His action is so
powerful, radical, revolutionary, that His operations are patent to many.
Sometimes the wind is purely local in its reach, at other times widespread in
its scope. So it is with the Spirit: today He acts on one or two souls, tomorrow
He may, as at Pentecost, „prick in the heart” a whole multitude. But whether He
works on few or many He consults not man. He acts as He pleases. The new birth
is due to the Sovereign will of the Spirit.
Each of the three Persons in the blessed Trinity is concerned with our
salvation: with the Father it is predestination; with the Son propitiation; with
the Spirit regeneration. The Father chose us; the Son died for us; the Spirit
quickens us. The Father was concerned about us; the Son shed His blood for us,
the Spirit performs His work within us. What the One did was eternal, what the
Other did was external, what the Spirit does is internal. It is with the work of
the Spirit we are now concerned, with His work in the new birth, and
particularly His Sovereign operations in the new birth. The Father purposed our
new birth; the Son has made possible (by His „travail”) the new birth; but it is
the Spirit who effects the new birth–„Born of the Spirit” (John 3:6).
The new birth is solely the work of God the Spirit and man has no part or lot in
it. This from the very nature of the case. Birth altogether excludes the idea of
any effort or work on the part of the one who is born. Personally we have no
more to do with our spiritual birth than we had with our natural birth. The new
birth is a spiritual resurrection, a „passing from death unto life” (John 5:24)
and, clearly, resurrection is altogether outside of man’s province. No corpse
can re-animate itself. Hence it is written, „It is the Spirit that quickeneth;
the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). But the Spirit does not „quicken”
everybody–why? The usual answer returned to this question is, Because everybody
does not trust in Christ. It is supposed that the Holy Spirit quickens only
those who believe. But this is to put the cart before the horse. Faith is not
the cause of the new birth, but the consequence of it. This ought not to need
arguing. Faith (in God) is an exotic, something that is not native to the human
heart. If faith were a natural product of the human heart, the exercise of a
principle common to human nature, it would never have been written, „All men
have not faith” (2 Thess. 3:2). Faith is a spiritual grace, the fruit of the
spiritual nature, and because the unregenerate are spiritually dead–„dead in
trespasses and sins”–then it follows that faith from them is impossible, for a
dead man cannot believe anything. „So then they that are in the flesh cannot
please God” (Rom. 8:8)–but they could if it were possible for the flesh to
believe. Compare with this last–quoted Scripture Hebrews 11:6–„But without
faith it is impossible to please Him.” Can God be „pleased” or satisfied with
any thing which does not have its origin in Himself?
That the work of the Holy Spirit precedes our believing is unequivocally
established by 2 Thessalonians 2:13–„God hath from the beginning chosen you to
salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Note
that „sanctification of the Spirit” comes before and makes possible „belief of
the truth.” What then is the „sanctification of the Spirit?” We answer, the new
birth. In Scripture „sanctification” always means „separation,” separation for
something and unto something or someone. Let us now amplify our assertion that
the „sanctification of the Spirit” corresponds to the new birth and points to
the positional effect of it.
Here is a servant of God who preaches the Gospel to a congregation in which are
an hundred unsaved people. He brings before them the teaching of Scripture
concerning their ruined and lost condition: he speaks of God, His character and
righteous demands; he tells of Christ meeting God’s demands, and dying the Just
for the unjust, and declares that through „this Man” is now preached the
forgiveness of sins; he closes by urging the lost to believe what God has said
in His Word and receive His Son as their Lord and Saviour. The meeting is over;
the congregation disperses; ninety-nine of the unsaved have refused to come to
Christ that they might have life, and go out into the night having no hope, and
without God in the world. But the hundredth heard the Word of life; the Seed
sown fell into ground which had been prepared by God; he believed the Good News,
and goes home rejoicing that his name is written in Heaven. He has been „born
again,” and just as a newly-born babe in the natural world begins life by
clinging instinctively, in its helplessness, to its mother, so this new-born
soul has clung to Christ. Just as we read, „The Lord opened” the heart of Lydia
„that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts 16:14), so
in the case supposed above, the Holy Spirit quickened that one before he
believed the Gospel message. Here then is the „sanctification of the Spirit”:
this one soul who has been born again has, by virtue of his new birth, been
separated from the other ninety-nine. Those born again are, by the Spirit, set
apart from those who are dead in trespasses and sins.
A beautiful type of the operations of the Holy Spirit antecedent to the sinner’s
„belief of the truth,” is found in the first chapter of Genesis. We read in
verse 2, „And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the
face of the deep.” The original Hebrew here might be literally rendered thus:
„And the earth had become a desolate ruin, and darkness was upon the face of the
deep.” In „the beginning” the earth was not created in the condition described
in verse 2. Between the first two verses of Genesis 1 some awful catastrophe had
occurred–possibly the fall of Satan–and, as the consequence, the earth had
been blasted and blighted, and had become a „desolate ruin,” lying beneath a
pall of „darkness.” Such also is the history of man. Today, man is not in the
condition in which he left the hands of his Creator: an awful catastrophe has
happened, and now man is a „desolate ruin” and in total „darkness” concerning
spiritual things. Next we read in Genesis 1 how God refashioned the ruined earth
and created new beings to inhabit it. First we read, „And the Spirit of God
moved upon the face of the water.” Next we are told, „And God said, Let there be
light; and there was light.” The order is the same in the new creation: there is
the first the action of the Spirit, and then the Word of God giving light.
Before the Word found entrance into the scene of desolation and darkness,
bringing with it the light, the Spirit of God „moved.” So it is in the new
creation. „The entrance of Thy word giveth light” (Psa. 119:130), but before it
can enter the darkened human heart the Spirit of God must operate upon it.
[[ The priority contended for above is rather in order of nature than of time,
just as the effect must ever be preceded by the cause. A blind man must have his
eyes opened before he can see, and yet there is no interval of time between the
one and the other. As soon as his eyes are opened, he sees. So a man must be
born again before he can „see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Seeing the Son is
necessary to believing in Him. Unbelief is attributed to spiritual
blindness–those who believed not the „report” of the Gospel „saw no beauty” in
Christ that they should desire Him. The work of the Spirit in „quickening” the
one dead in sins, precedes faith in Christ, just as cause ever precedes effect.
But no sooner is the heart turned toward Christ by the Spirit, than the Saviour
is embraced by the sinner.]]
To return to 2 Thessalonians 2:13: „But we are bound to give thanks always to
God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning
chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the
truth.” The order of thought here is most important and instructive. First,
God’s eternal choice; second, the sanctification of the Spirit; third, belief of
the truth. Precisely the same order is found in 1 Peter 1:2–„Elect according to
the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto
obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” We take it that the
„obedience” here is the „obedience to the faith” (Rom. 1:5), which appropriates
the virtues of the sprinkled blood of the Lord Jesus. So then before the
„obedience” (of faith, cf. Heb. 5:9), there is the work of the Spirit setting us
apart, and behind that is the election of God the Father. The ones „sanctified
of the Spirit” then, are they whom „God hath from the beginning chosen to
salvation” (2 Thess. 2:13), those who are „elect according to the foreknowledge
of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:2).
But, it may be said, is not the present mission of the Holy Spirit to „convict
the world of sin”? And we answer, it is not. The mission of the Spirit is
threefold; to glorify Christ, to vivify the elect, to edify the saints. John
16:8-11 does not describe the „mission” of the Spirit, but sets forth the
significance of His presence here in the world. It treats not of His subjective
work in sinners, showing them their need of Christ, by searching their
consciences and striking terror to their hearts; what we have there is entirely
objective. To illustrate. Suppose I saw a man hanging on the gallows, of what
would that „convince” me? Why, that he was a murderer. How would I thus be
convinced? By reading the record of his trial? by hearing a confession from his
own lips? No; but by the fact that he was hanging there. So the fact that the
Holy Spirit is here furnishes proof of the world’s guilt, of God’s
righteousness, and of the Devil’s judgment.
The Holy Spirit ought not to be here at all. That is a startling statement, but
we make it deliberately. Christ is the One who ought to be here. He was sent
here by the Father, but the world did not want Him, would not have Him, hated
Him, and cast Him out. And the presence of the Spirit here instead evidences its
guilt. The coming of the Spirit was a proof to demonstration of the
resurrection, ascension, and glory of the Lord Jesus. His presence on earth
reverses the world’s verdict, showing that God has set aside the blasphemous
judgment in the palace of Israel’s high priest and in the hall of the Roman
governor. The „reproof” of the Spirit abides, and abides altogether irrespective
of the world’s reception or rejection of His testimony.
Had our Lord been referring here to the gracious work which the Spirit would
perform in those who should be brought to feel their need of Him, He had said
that the Spirit would convict men of their un-righteousness, their lack of
righteousness. But this is not the thought here at all. The descent of the
Spirit from Heaven establishes God’s righteousness, Christ’s righteousness. The
proof of that is, Christ has gone to the Father. Had Christ been an Impostor, as
the religious world insisted when they cast Him out, the Father had not received
Him. The fact that the Father did exalt Him to His own right hand, demonstrates
that He was innocent of the charges laid against Him; and the proof that the
Father has received Him, is the presence now of the Holy Spirit on earth, for
Christ has sent Him from the Father (John 16:7)! The world was unrighteous in
casting Him out, the Father righteous in glorifying Him; and this is what the
Spirit’s presence here establishes.
„Of judgment, because the Prince of this world is judged” (v. 11). This is the
logical and inevitable climax. The world is brought in guilty for their
rejection of, for their refusal to receive, Christ. Its condemnation is
exhibited by the Father’s exaltation of the spurned One. Therefore nothing
awaits the world, and its Prince, but judgment. The „judgment” of Satan is
already established by the Spirit’s presence here, for Christ, through death,
set at nought him who had the power of death, that is, the Devil (Heb. 2:14).
When God’s time comes for the Spirit to depart from the earth then His sentence
will be executed, both on the world and its Prince. In the light of this
unspeakably solemn passage we need not be surprised to find Christ saying, „The
Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not,
neither knoweth Him.” No, the world wants Him not; He condemns the world.
„And when He is come, He will reprove (or, better, „convict”–bring in guilty)
the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they
believe not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no
more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11).
Three things, then, the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth demonstrates to the
world: first, its sin, because the world refused to believe on Christ; second,
God’s righteousness in exalting to His own right hand the One cast out, and now
no more seen by the world; third, judgment, because Satan the world’s prince is
already judged, though execution of his judgment is yet future. Thus the Holy
Spirit’s presence here displays things as they really are. We repeat, John
16:8-11 makes no reference to the mission of the Spirit of God in the world, for
during this dispensation, the Spirit has no mission and ministry worldward.
The Holy Spirit is Sovereign in His operations and His mission is confined to
God’s elect: they are the ones He „comforts,” „seals,” guides into all truth,
shows things to come, etc. The work of the Spirit is necessary in order to the
complete accomplishment of the Father’s eternal purpose. Speaking
hypothetically, but reverently, be it said, that if God had done nothing more
than given Christ to die for sinners, not a single sinner would ever have been
saved. In order for any sinner to see his need of a Saviour and be willing to
receive the Saviour he needs the work of the Holy Spirit upon and within him as
imperatively required. Had God done nothing more than given Christ to die for
sinners and then sent forth His servants to proclaim salvation through Jesus
Christ, thus leaving sinners entirely to themselves to accept or reject as they
pleased, then every sinner would have rejected, because at heart every man hates
God and is at enmity with Him. Therefore the work of the Holy Spirit was needed
to bring the sinner to Christ, to overcome his innate opposition, and compel him
to accept the provision God has made. We say „compel” the sinner, for this is
precisely what the Holy Spirit does, has to do, and this leads us to consider at
some length, though as briefly as possible, the parable of the „Marriage
In Luke 14:16 we read, „A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.” By
comparing carefully what follows here with Matthew 22:2-10 several important
distinctions will be observed. We take it that these passages are two
independent accounts of the same parable, differing in detail according to the
distinctive purpose and design of the Holy Spirit in each Gospel. Matthew’s
account–in harmony with the Spirit’s presentation there of Christ as the King
says, „A certain king made a marriage for his son.” Luke’s account–where the
Spirit presents Christ as the Son of Man–says „A certain man made a great
supper and bade many.” Matthew 22:3 says, „And sent forth His servants”; Luke
14:17 says, „And sent His servant.” Now what we wish particularly to call
attention to is, that all through Matthew’s account it is „servants,” whereas in
Luke it is always „servant.” The class of readers for whom we are writing are
those that believe, unreservedly, in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures,
and such will readily acknowledge there must be some reason for this change from
the plural number in Matthew to the singular number in Luke. We believe the
reason is a weighty one and that attention to this variation reveals an
important truth. We believe that the „servants” in Matthew, speaking generally,
are all who go forth preaching the Gospel, but that the „Servant” in Luke 14 is
the Holy Spirit, for God the Son, in the days of His earthly ministry, was the
Servant of Jehovah (Isa. 42:1). It will be observed that in Matthew 22 the
„servants” are sent forth to do three things: first, to „call” to the wedding
(v. 3); second, to „tell those which are bidden.. all things are ready: come
unto the marriage” (v. 4); third, to „bid to the marriage” (v. 9); and these
three are the things which those who minister the Gospel today are now doing. In
Luke 14 the Servant is also sent forth to do three things: first, He is to say
to them that were bidden, Come: for all things are now ready” (v. 17); second,
He is to „bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind” (v.
21); third, He is to „compel them to come in” (v. 23), and the last two of these
the Holy Spirit alone can do!
In the above Scripture we see that „the Servant,” the Holy Spirit, compels
certain ones to come in to the „supper” and herein is seen His Sovereignty, His
omnipotency, His Divine sufficiency. The clear implication from this word
„compel” is, that those whom the Holy Spirit does „bring in” are not willing of
themselves to come. This is exactly what we have sought to show in previous
paragraphs. By nature, God’s elect are children of wrath even as others (Eph.
2:3), and as such their hearts are at enmity with God. But this „enmity” of
theirs is overcome by the Spirit and He „compels” them to come in. Is it not
clear then that the reason why others are left outside, is not only because they
are unwilling to go in, but also because the Holy Spirit does not „compel” them
to come in? Is it not manifest that the Holy Spirit is Sovereign in the exercise
of His power, that as the wind „bloweth where it pleaseth” so the Holy Spirit
operates where He pleases?
And now to sum up. We have sought to show the perfect consistency of God’s ways:
that each Person in the Godhead acts in sympathy and harmony with the Others.
God the Father elected certain ones to salvation, God the Son died for the
elect, and God the Spirit quickens the elect. Well may we sing,
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
God’s Will and Man’s Will
by Horatius Bonar 1851
„Cannot I do with you as the potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel.” – Jer. 18:6.
Much of the present controversy is concerning the will of God. On this point many questions have arisen. The chief one is that which touches on the connection between the will of God and the will of man. What is the relation between these? What is the order in which they stand to each other? Which is first? There is no dispute as to the existence of these two separate wills. There is a will in God, and there is also a will in man. Both of these are in continual exercise; – God willeth; and man willeth. Nothing in the universe takes place without the will of God. This is admitted. But it is asked, Is this will first in everything?
I answer, yes. Nothing that is good can exist which God did not will to be, and nothing that is evil can exist which God did not will to allow. The will of God goes before all other wills. It does not depend on them, but they depend on it. It’s movements regulate them. The „I will” of Jehovah, is that which sets in motion everything in heaven and in earth. The „I will” of Jehovah, is the spring and the origin of all that is done throughout the universe, great and small, among things animate and inanimate. It was this „I will” that brought angels into being, and still sustains them. It was this „I will” that was the origin of salvation to a lost world. It was this „I will” that provided a Redeemer, and accomplished redemption. It was this „I will” that begins, and carries on, and ends salvation in each soul that is redeemed. It is this „I will” that opens the blind eye, and unstops the deaf ear. It was this „I will” that awakens the slumberer, and raises the dead. I do not mean that, merely generally speaking, God has declared His will concerning these things: but each individual conversion, nay, and each movement that forms part of it, originates in this supreme „I will”. When Jesus healed the leper, He said, „I will, be thou clean”; so when a soul is converted, there is the same distinct and special forthputting of the Divine will, „I will, be thou converted”. Everything that can be called good in man, or in the universe, originates in the „I will” of Jehovah.
I do not deny that in conversion man himself wills. In everything that he does, thinks, feels, he of necessity wills. In believing he wills; in repenting he wills; in turning from his evil ways he wills. All this is true. The opposite is both untrue and absurd. But while fully admitting this, there is another question behind it of great interest and movement. Are these movements of man’s will towards good the effects of the forthputting of God’s will? Is man willing, because he has made himself so, or because God has made him so? Does he become willing entirely by an act of his own will, or by chance, or by moral suasion, or because acted on by created causes and influences from without?
I answer unhesitatingly, he becomes willing, because another and a superior will, even that of God, has come into contact with his, altering its nature and its bent. This new bent is the result of a change produced upon it by Him who alone, of all beings, has the right, without control, to say, in regard to all events and changes, „I will”. The man’s will has followed the movement of the Divine will. God has made him willing. God’s will is first in the movement, not second. Even a holy and perfect will depends for guidance upon the will of God. Even when renewed it still follows, it does not lead. Much more an unholy will, for its bent must be first changed; and how can this be, if God is not to interpose His hand and power?
But is not this to make God the author of sin? No. It does not follow that because God’s will originates what is good in man, that it must therefore originate what is evil. The existence of a holy, happy world, proves that God had created it with His own hand. The existence of an unholy, unhappy world, proves that God allowed it to fall into that state: – but it proves nothing more. We are told that Jesus was delivered by „the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” God’s will was there. God permitted that deed of darkness to be done; nay, it was the result of His „determinate counsel”. But does that prove that God was the author of the sin of either Judas or Herod? Had it not been for the eternal „I will” of Jehovah, Christ would not have been delivered up; but does this prove that God compelled either Judas to betray, or Herod to mock, or Pilate to condemn, the Lord of Glory? Still further, it is added in another place, „Of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and people of Israel, were gathered together for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done”. Is it possible to pervert this passage so as to prove that it has no reference to predestination? Does it make God the author of the deed referred to? Must God be the author of sin, because it is said that Israel and the Gentiles „were gathered together to do what His counsel had determined”? let our opponents attempt an explanation of such a passage, and tell us how it can be made to harmonize with their theory.
It may be argued that God works by means, in changing the will. „There is no need”, it will be said, „that there should be these special and direct forthputting of His will and strength. He has ordained the means, He has given His Word, He has proclaimed His Gospel, and by these means He effects the change. His will does not come directly into contact with ours. He leaves it to these instruments to effect the change”. Well, let us see what amount of truth there may be in this. I suppose no one will say that the Gospel can produce the alteration in the will so long as the will rejects it. No medicine, however excellent, can operate unless it be taken. The will of man then rejects the Gospel; it is set against the truth of God. How then is it made to receive it? Granting that in receiving it there is a change, yet the question is, How was it so far changed already as to be willing to receive it? The worst feature of the malady is the determination not to touch or taste the medicine; and how is this to be overcome? Oh! It will be said, this resistance is to be overcome with arguments. Arguments! Is not the Gospel itself the great argument? and it is rejected. What arguments can you expect to prevail with a man that refuses the Gospel? Admit that there are other arguments, yet the man is set against them all. There is not one argument that can be used which he does not hate. His will resists and rejects every persuasive and motive. How then is this resistance to be overcome, – this opposition to be made to give way? How is the bent of the will to be so altered as to receive that which it rejected? Plainly by his will coming in contact with a superior one, – a will that can remove the resistance, – a will such as that which said, „Let there be light, and there was light”. The will itself must undergo a change before it can choose that which it rejected. And what can change it but the finger of God?
Were man’s rejection of the Gospel simply occasioned by his misunderstanding it, then I can see how, upon its being made plain, resistance would cease. But I do not believe that such is the case; for what does it amount to but just that the sinner never rejects the truth, it is only error which he rejects, and were his mistake rectified, he would at once embrace the truth! The unrenewed man, then, so far from having enmity to the truth, has the very opposite! So little of depravity is there in his heart, and so little perversity in his will–such instinctive love of the truth and abhorrence of error is there in him, that as soon as the truth is made plain to him, he embraces it! All his previous hesitation arose from the errors which had been mingled with the truth presented! One would think that this was anything but depravity. It might be ignorance, but it could not be called enmity to the truth, it is rather enmity to error. It would thus appear that the chief feature of the sinner’s heart and will is not enmity to truth, but hatred to error and love of truth!
Man’s heart is enmity to God,– to God as revealed in the Gospel,– to God as the God of grace. What truth can there be in the assertion that all the sinner’s distrust of God and darkness of spirit arise from his not seeing God as the God of grace? I grant that oftentimes this is the case. I know that it is very frequently misapprehension of God’s merciful character, as seen and pledged in the cross of Christ, that is the cause of darkness to the anxious soul, and that a simple sight of the exceeding riches of the grace of God would dispel these clouds; but that is very different from saying that such a sight, apart from the renewing energy of the Spirit upon the soul, would change man’s enmity into confidence and love. For we know that the unrenewed will is set against the Gospel; it is enmity to God and His truth. The more closely and clearly truth is set before it, and pressed home upon it, its hatred swells and rises. The presentation of truth, however forcible and clear, even though that truth were the grace of God, will only exasperate the unconverted man. It is the Gospel that he hates; and the more clearly it is set before him he hates it the more. It is God that he hates; and the more closely God approaches him, the more vividly God is set before him, the more does his enmity awaken and augment. Surely, then that which stirs up enmity cannot of itself remove it. Of what avail, then, are the most energetic means by themselves? The will itself must be directly operated upon by the Spirit of God: He who made it must remake it. Its making was the work of Omnipotence: its remaking must be the same. In no other way can its evil bent be rectified. God’s will must come into contact with man’s will, and then the work is done. Must not God’s will then be first in every such movement? Man’s will follows; it can not lead.
Is this a hard saying? So some in these days would have us to believe. Let us ask wherein consists its hardness. Is it hard that God’s will should take the precedence of man’s? Is it hard that God’s will should be the leader and man’s the follower in all things great and small? Is it hard that we should be obliged to trace the origin of every movement of man towards good to the will of a sovereign Jehovah?
If it be hard, it must be that it strips man of every fragment of what is good, or of the slightest tendency to good. And this we believe to be the secret origin of the complaint against the doctrine. It is a thorough leveller and emptier of man. It makes him not only nothing, but worse than nothing,–a sinner all over,–nothing but a sinner, with a heart full of enmity to God, set against Him as the God of righteousness, and still more set against Him as the God of grace, with a will so bent away from the will of God, and so rebellious against it, as not to have one remaining inclination to what is good and holy, and spiritual. This he cannot tolerate. Admit that a man is totally worthless and helpless, and where is the hard saying? Is it hard that God’s blessed and holy will should go before our miserable and unholy wills, to lead them in the way? Is it hard that those who have nothing should be indebted to God for everything? Is it hard, seeing that every movement of my will is downwards, earthwards, that God’s mighty will should come in and lift it omnipotently upwards, heavenwards?
If I admit that God’s will regulates the great movements of the universe I must admit that it equally regulates the small. It must do this, for the great depend upon the small. The minutest movement of my will is regulated by the will of God. And in this I rejoice. Woe is me if it be not so. If I shrink from so unlimited control and guidance, it is plain that I dislike the idea of being wholly at the disposal of God. I am wishing to be in part at my own disposal. I am ambitious of regulating the lesser movements of my will, while I give up the greater to His control. And thus it comes out that I wish to be a god to myself. I do not like the thought of God having all the disposal of my destiny. If He gets His will, I am afraid that I shall not get mine. It comes out, moreover, that the God about whose love I was fond of speaking, is a God to whom I cannot trust myself implicitly for eternity. Yes, this is the real truth. Man’s dislike at God’s sovereignty arises from his suspicion of God’s heart. And yet the men in our day, who deny this absolute sovereignty, are the very men who profess to rejoice in the love of God,–who speak of that love as if there were nothing else in God but love. The more I understand of the character of God, as revealed in Scripture, the more shall I see that He must be sovereign, and the more shall I rejoice from my inmost heart that He is so.
It was God’s sovereign will that fixed the time of my birth. It is the same will that has fixed the day of my death. And was not the day of my conversion fixed as certainly by the same will? Or will any but „the fool” say that God has fixed by His will the day of our birth and death, but leaves us to fix the day of our conversion by our own will; that is, leave us to decide whether we shall be converted or not? If the day of conversion be fixed, then it cannot be left to be determined by our own will. God determined, where and when, and how we should be born; and so He has determined where, and when, and how we shall be born again. If so, His will must go before ours in believing; and it is just because His will goes before ours that we become willing to believe. Were it not for this, we should never have believed at all. If man’s will precedes God’s will in everything relating to himself, then I do not see how any of God’s plans can be carried into effect. Man would be left to manage the world in his own way. God must not fix the time of his conversion, for that would be an interference with man’s responsibility. Nay, He must not fix that he shall be converted at all, for that must be left to himself and to his own will. He must not fix how many are to be converted, for that would be making His own invitation a mere mockery, and man’s responsibility a pretence! He may turn a stray star into its course again by a direct forth-putting of power, and be unchallenged for interference with the laws of nature. But to stretch out His arm and arrest a human will in its devious course, so as to turn it back again to holiness, is an unwarrantable exercise of His power, and an encroachment upon man’s liberty! What a world! where man gets all his own way, where God is not allowed to interfere, except in the way that man calls lawful! What a world! where everything turns upon man’s will;–where the whole current of events in the world or in the church is regulated, shaped, impelled by man’s will alone. God’s will is but a secondary thing. Its part is to watch events, and follow in the track of man’s! Man wills, and God must say–Amen!
In all this opposition to the absolute will of God, we see the self-will of the last days manifesting itself. Man wanted to be a god at the first, and he continues the struggle to the last. He is resolved that his will shall take the precedence of God’s. In the last Antichrist, this self-will shall be summed up and exhibited. He is the king that is to do „according to his will”. And in the freewill controversy of the day, we see the same spirit displayed. It is Antichrist that is speaking to us, and exhorting us to proud independence. Self-will is the essence of anti-christian religion. Self-will is the root of bitterness, that is springing up in the churches in these days. And it is not from above, it is from beneath. It is earthly, sensual, devilish.
THUS SAITH THE LORD:
„I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy”–Exodus 33:19. (see also Romans 9:8-24)
„I, even I, am He, and there is no God with Me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand”–Deut. 32:39.
„Behold He breaketh down, and it cannot be built again; He shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening”–Job 12:14.
„He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?”–Dan. 4:35.
„Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before the world began?” –II Tim. 1:9.
By Ben M. Bogard
„The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth” (Rev. 19:6).
I. This text is a prophecy of the final glorious triumph of the Lord. The final success of our cause, and the final triumph of God over evil is the optimistic note in the Bible. Appearances are discouraging. The devil is supreme in the affections of the people now, but the devil will one day be bound and the Lord’s reign will be undisputed.
The Lord is coming to take the world for Himself. Matthew 25:31: „When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”
II. There is a sense in which the Lord is sovereign now. All the powers of evil operate by His permission, and all earthly rulers rule by His permission. When He has wrought His purpose with them they shall cease. Just why God permits evil and evil doers is beyond our comprehension, but He has set the limit for all evil forces. Thus far they can go and no further. Matthew 8:28-29: „There met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?”
Earthly kings rule by God’s permission. Proverbs 8:15-16: „By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” God has decreed civil government, and this means that some must be in authority. Those who hold positions of power should recognize God and if they fail to do so, their downfall is certain. When Herod forgot God and arrogated to himself divine power he was stricken by the angel of God and was eaten of worms. (Acts 12:21-23). The greater the height the worse the fall. So with Nebuchadnezzar and Belteshazzar. (Dan. 4th and 5th chapters.)
These devils recognized the Lord and His power over them and they realized that their time was short, and that they must be cast into torment. Even the devils were subject to the Lord. Why does not God kill the devils? Such a question is prying into the hidden mysteries of the Lord. When they shall have served God’s providential purpose they will be cast down into Hell. Those who serve the devil are serving only a temporary ruler whose reign must cease and his kingdom come to ruin. The pleasures of sin are but for a season, and the season will be wonderfully short. Those who serve God may suffer some inconvenience for a time, but their prosperity will be eternal.
III. The Lord is the Sovereign of His people. He is our BISHOP. We acknowledge no other ruler in spiritual affairs. We owe allegiance to God first. Acts 5:29: „We ought to obey God rather than man.” These words of Peter clearly declare our attitude. Some people obey their wives or their husbands or their parents or their children, in order to have united families. A true child of God would rather die than to betray his Lord in any such manner. It is related in Menzel’s History of Germany, that a priest came to the king (Theodorich) and in order to please him proposed to adopt the religion of the king. The king ordered the priest to be beheaded, because if „he was a traitor to the King of kings, he would be a traitor to Theodorich.” If all such traitors were put to death now we should need more undertakers to bury the dead. The man who shapes his creed to suit the company he is in is a traitor to God.
IV. We are taught to pray for the triumph of the Lord’s Kingdom. In the Lord’s model prayer we are taught to say, „Thy Kingdom come.” This does not mean for us to ask that the kingdom come into existence, but it means that we want the kingdom to come in triumph. It is already in existence, but will triumph when the Lord descends from Heaven with a shout. „Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly”
(Baptist and Commoner, September 20, 1922).
DOES THIS OFFEND YOU?
A Radio Message by Rolfe Barnard
In the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, we have a running controversy between the Lord Jesus Christ and the religious leaders of the Jewish people. After the marvelous miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, our Lord begins to teach the people who followed Him in great numbers at this time, and here his teaching was very offensive and became a stumbling stone to the leaders of the people of His day. This morning I want to take out of this sixth chapter of John a few things that my Lord taught that were offensive to people then — and also very offensive to people today.
As a text, let’s read John 6:59-61:
„These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying, who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Does this offend you?”
Does this offend you? Everything my Lord Jesus did when He was here in this world offended somebody — and you know He is still offensive today. He is the rock of offense (Romans 9:33). For instance, His birth in a stable in Bethlehem was offensive. My, my, the Lord of Glory has no business being born in a cow stall! And that is offensive even today! Also, His common heritage offended men. He didn’t come from the high and mighty, and one person upon learning that Jesus was from the little province of Nazareth is quoted as saying, „Can any good thing come out of Galilee?” His death on the cross of Calvary was offensive then and it is offensive now (Galatians 5:11). His second coming is offensive to so many religious people. It was offensive then — and it is offensive today.
And here in our text we find that His preaching greatly offended people of His day. On many occasions when our Lord would speak, the people became so angry that they’d take up stones to stone Him. How then does the modern-day preacher hope to get along with the world and please the unsaved crowd, when they hated the Lord Jesus with such fury that they nailed Him to a cross? My dear friends, the world loves it own — it hates God’s people — it always has and it always will. Listen to John 15:19, „If ye were of the world, the world would love its own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
In verse 26, our Lord began preaching to the people. And after He brought this message, the people said as I read in our text, „This is a hard saying, who can hear it?” This is just too much for us! Our Lord met that quibble by asking, „Does this offend you?” And then He brought some more blessed truth (verses 62-65), and then the crowd of about five thousand men, plus women and children, walked off and left Him. And then my Lord turned to the twelve and said, „Will ye also go away?” The crowd was offended by His Gospel — they stumbled at His Gospel. Everything they clung to was being attacked by His teaching on this occasion. And my friends, the Gospel of God’s sovereign grace — the Gospel of God acting in sovereignty offends people today just as much as it did here in John six. Yes, it offended people then, and it offends people now. It will either drive people to the Saviour, or it will drive them away from Him. The Gospel will either save or it will condemn. But, blessed be God, the preaching of God acting in sovereign grace will always accomplish the purpose whereunto God Almighty has sent it!
Now may we look into this message and see three great foundation truths that our Lord preached at the height of His ministry — and lost His crowd. As you follow me with your open Bible, I call your attention to these truths. Note, first of all:
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ Preached the Sovereignty of God
Listen to John 6:37-38, „All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from Heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” My friends, there is sovereignty. There is God’s will being done. There is Christ coming down here appointed and delegated and set apart to accomplish the will of a sovereign God, Who must do and will do that which seemeth good in His own sight! (See Matthew 11:25-27)
Yes, when our Lord was here as God’s Prophet, there is one thing certain: He put God Almighty on the throne in His preaching. It made those people angry, and it does so today. Any time on earth that any preacher anywhere enthrones God Almighty in his preaching, proclaiming the sovereignty which belongs to Him in all things, it will certainly offend the pride of old sinful unregenerated man — I do not care whether he is a church member, or not. Religious or not, if he is unregenerated, the sovereignty of God (just the mention of it!) will offend him. And when a preacher in this modern day dares to stand for the great teaching of God acting as seemeth good in His sight — the Gospel of the glory of God, which is the Gospel of the sovereign grace of God (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15-16) — it will be offensive! And today, when we take the crown off the head of sinful man, and put it on the head of a sovereign, holy God, the fur begins to fly, and all hell will break loose!
Men today hate the sovereignty of God and it is offensive to their old proud hearts because it leaves them as paupers before a God Who does as He pleases, when He pleases, and to whom He pleases! But, my friends, God’s will is going to be done in all matters, whether in heaven or in the earth. The Apostle Paul says that God „worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11). The Apostle James says, „For ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:15). And the Apostle John says, „For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil His will” (Revelation 17:17). And again, the Apostle Paul says, „I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will” (I Corinthians 4:19).
My friends, you and I need desperately to be conformed to the will of God in all things — but the people in my Lord’s time grew angry and were offended because the Lord Jesus demanded that they be conformed to the will of God. They openly rebelled against these demands, exactly as men do today. But, dear ones, God Almighty never has saved a man on man’s terms. God always saves sinners on His own terms! Does this offend you?
There are many within reach of our radio broadcasts who are greatly offended. We hear on every hand that so-called Christian schools are coming out flatly to say that the great doctrines of grace will not be taught in their classrooms! And so such schools are manufacturing young preachers to go out and deny the very things that the Lord Jesus Christ solemnly set His stamp upon when He was here. And one of these truths is that the will of God is done — that man must bow to the will of God — that God does not take man into His counsel as to what He has decided to do — that God is very God, on the throne, and man must bow at His footstool! Does this offend you? The sovereignty of God was very offensive in the days of my Lord here on earth — and it is very offensive now.
Let’s look in this chapter at a second great foundation truth that our Lord preached that day and lost His crowd.
2. Our Lord Jesus Christ Preached the Total Depravity of Man and Man’s Inability
My Lord said in John 6:44, „No man can come to Me.” Strange language, but that’s what He said. „No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.” The Scriptures say a little later in this chapter, „Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying, who can hear it?”
You know, my Lord put man down in the gutter of his total depravity, dead in trespasses and sin, depraved and corrupt — and this sort of preaching greatly offended men. My Lord put man in a spiritual grave unable to rise in his own strength. My Lord put man on a cripple’s bed unable to walk. In His preaching, my Lord put man on a blind man’s stool unable to see. And the people of His day were greatly offended — and people today are likewise greatly offended.
I tell you, dear ones, this is no time to be denying these great truths. My Lord taught them and I do not care if every preacher in the country says, „Well, Brother Barnard, they just can’t be preached today.” My Lord preached these truths. „Well,” you say, „Brother Barnard, they offend people.” I know, but my Lord preached them, and surely we would not be ashamed of any great truth that my Lord Jesus Christ preached when He was down here in controversy with religious leaders. HE dared to preach these things.
And I say to you that instead of this being a time to deny these great truths and skirt around them, it’s time we preachers today deserted the modern high-pressure methods of trying to get men into the kingdom of God. And it’s time we went back to the Bible way of Holy Spirit regeneration and Holy Spirit conviction. I say it with shame that most preachers today will say, „Oh, yes, Brother Barnard, I believe that God has elected His people to salvation from before the foundation of the world, and I believe that as we preach the Word the Holy Spirit will effectually call out God’s sheep and I believe that no man can come to the Father except the Holy Spirit draw him.” But saying all this, they’ll turn around and use every high-pressure method known to man to pull countless numbers of poor unregenerated sinners down the aisle during an invitation and duck them beneath the baptismal water.
Thousands of children are being sinned against in our modern-day decision services held in the so-called revival meetings. The Sunday School teacher sits by the little child (I’m describing how it goes on in your church, sister!) — and when the preacher asks who wants to go to Heaven, the Sunday School teacher pushes the little fellow out of the pew and down the aisle. And I say to you, it is a sin against that child who has experienced no Holy Spirit conviction nor repentance, without which there is no salvation.
Let me say it and say it again, that man is a dead depraved child and can no more save himself than a demon in Hell could! The Holy Spirit must quicken him and awaken him and bring him to see his lost condition. Then the Holy Spirit reveals the Lord Jesus to that sinner as his Lord and Saviour. And when this takes place, bless God, you won’t have to pull him down an aisle. He’ll confess openly the Lord Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.
My dear preacher brother, you have never convicted and you have never saved a single sinner and you never will! The Lord God of Heaven is the only Author and the only Executor of salvation. „Salvation is of the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9)
Oh how men do need to hear the truth about themselves today! The Lord told these people the truth about themselves and it greatly offended them — but the Lord told them! — and they left Him — but the Lord told them! — and they wouldn’t listen to Him anymore — but the Lord told them about their awful condition. So helplessly bound by the cords of their own love of self and their own sinful practices that they couldn’t come to the Lord except the Lord draw them with the cords of His eternal love. Does this offend you? Does this offend you?
And now in John six we come to another great truth that our Lord preached, and when the people heard it they said, „We just can’t take any such teaching as this!” Therefore, „From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him.” How sad that is! But the Lord didn’t pull His punches. The Lord was telling them the truth and being true to their souls. The Lord was pointing them to the kind of God He really is and the kind of people they were — and now He points them to the true way of salvation. For in the sixth chapter, when people left Him in such numbers,
3. Our Lord Jesus Christ Preached the Blood Atonement
In verse 54, „Whosoever eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Now, my dear ones, that was an offensive truth then and it is still offensive today. The people in the days of our Lord resented what our modernists refer to as a „slaughterhouse gospel.” These religious people had read in the old Scriptures how that the Christ, the Messiah, was to live and reign forever, how His was a kingdom that could never end, so they could not go along with this idea of the death of the cross and the atoning blood.
How offensive the proclamation of the cross is today! Preach works and people will applaud you. Preach baptism and you can form your own denomination. Preach church membership and you’ll get along fine. Preach the social religion — or most anything you want to preach — and people will applaud, but God will be offended. But, my brother, if you preach the cross — proclaim the death of death on that cross — preach it in all of its offense and shame — preach it in its humiliation — preach it in its goriness, its bloodiness — and then preach the cross in its victory. I say to you, then God will applaud, but the people will be offended.
But the Apostle Paul said what we must say, „I’d rather please God than men,” and this is one time we want to say, „Move over, Paul, and let me join you!”
The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed blood atonement. He said the blood has been shed. It was God’s blood — holy blood — precious blood — it was Divinely sent blood — saving blood — redeeming blood. The blood atonement means the life laid down, it means the offering up of the Lord of glory! And He said this was the only basis on which a Holy God could deal with sinful men. Not upon your goodness, but upon the basis of His life laid down — that’s how God deals with sinners.
My sinner friend, may God speak to your heart today. Don’t join the church members and preachers all over this country who get fighting mad at the Word of God and these great truths we’ve mentioned to you today. How they do scoff at anyone who dares to preach that God Almighty is very God — the God of absolute sovereignty. How they do make fun of anybody who dares to talk about the desperate condition of lostness under which sinners are bound today. And how they do skirt around the awful implications of the death on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Oh, my sinner friend, don’t join this religious crowd the record of whom is given here in John chapter six. When they heard our Lord preach these blessed truths, they took it out on Him! They said, „We won’t listen to that! We’ll skee-daddle away from here! We’ll go and get us a preacher who will prophesy unto us smooth things!” Don’t you be offended, sinner friend. No, sir! Don’t you do it! It’ll cost you your soul! I tell you the cost of being offended at the truth as it flows from the lips of Christ is to go to Hell. Don’t be offended at the proclamation of the Gospel of God’s sovereign grace! I say to you, there is no other way for a sinner to be saved. I say to you that man is lost, that, man is corrupt, man is vile without one thing to offer God. And, like dear Brother Spurgeon, we like to quote that hymn very often:
„In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.”
That’s your only hope, sinner! You have nothing to offer. But Christ died, yea, rather Christ is risen again and sitteth on the right hand of God. If you could but believe that He died for you and paid your sin debt and satisfied the Holiness of God for you, you would come to Him in utter surrender. I pray that you can. That old song,
„What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
That song is still true — eternally true! And I pray that you won’t be offended at the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, but humble yourself in the sight of God, and cry unto Him for mercy. That is my prayer in the name of Him Who loved us and bought us with His own precious blood, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.