A REASON AND PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING (PART 7)

With man dead in his sins and unable to do anything to know the true God, let alone seek Him and come to Him, how can the Righteous act of God’s mercy possibly be something which is in any way inequitable or unrighteous? Man is without God, and is, therefore, without hope. God’s electing some to salvation is a glorious act, without which none would be saved. Simply because God has chosen some, and not all, to salvation is in no way unfair. Election is a merciful act based on God’s unmeritable love and grace. Anyone who cannot see that does not know God. God is not obliged to save any because of anything they have done, or restrained themselves from doing. There is nothing man can do which will rectify his sinful situation, or cause God to favour him. There is nothing man can do to redress his hopeless sinful state, for man’s being dead in sins signifies his being completely lost in sins. Man’s attempts to redress his situation by ‘good works’ and a reformed life, only makes things worse, for his acts are a denial of the need for a Saviour Who saves only according to what He has done. Man is a guilty creature who is deserving only of God’s eternal Wrath. Man left God in the Fall of Adam. Man sinned against God. Man is under the curse of sin, manifested in his not knowing who the true God is and what He is like, which is why election unto salvation is, and can only be, based on the will and mercy of God. To call this unfair, is to call God unrighteous. Scripture concludes: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16 cf. Jn. 1:13). Election is based on MERCY! Nothing else! Like grace, nothing can be added to mercy and it still be mercy. If election were based on anything but the mercy of God, it would be an election based on merit and not mercy at all. Any obligation to save, immediately disqualifies mercy as the motivation. Election comes not by what a man does, but solely because of what God does: MERCY! “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His MERCY He saved us…” (Titus 3:5). Man does not/cannot do anything to save himself, otherwise, mercy would not be necessary. When it comes to the issue of salvation—getting saved, or staying saved—works will not work. If mercy is required, then it is evident that nothing a man does can have any direct influence on God. God chooses to be merciful based on that which emanates from within Him, not on what emanates from within man. If salvation is not at all by man, then it must solely and completely be by God. “…Salvation is of the Lord” (Jon. 2:9). Election is of God as salvation is of God, and both are based on His mercy. All the ingredients necessary for salvation are only the things which God can do. It is impossible for any man to do anything to come to the true God Whom he does not know, or recognise as the true and only God. Man’s seeking to do in order to get to God is in fact the clearest, most demonstrable evidence of man’s ignorance of the true God, for natural man does not know how the true God saves, therefore, he does not believe in salvation by grace alone, and so all he is left with is to vainly attempt to save himself based on what he does. Election based on God’s will, mercy and compassion is the ONLY WAY any man can ever be saved. Being without God’s mercy, or attempting to add to God’s mercy, shows conclusively that one is without God and without hope, hence, eternally lost man’s fixation and obsession in doing to get saved, and blindly chasing after gods which do not even exist, let alone have the ability to save.

 

Natural, lost, wandering man, not knowing the truth, is irretrievably convinced he must, and, therefore, can, conform to a set of rules, laws, the Ten Commandments, etc., in order to establish an acceptable righteousness, a justifiableness, in the sight of God. Every religion that has come from the mind of man operates in the same way. But how is man to perform such a great feat when Scripture informs us that without God-given faith it is impossible to please God (see Heb. 11:6), and that prior to being made alive by God man is irrevocably dead in sins. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing…Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:63,65). Jesus is here saying, in no unmistakable way, that what a man does will never, because it can never, profit him in the sight of God. A man must be made alive to be saved. Salvation is not a wage, nor is it a reward, but is a free gift. ONE CANNOT EARN WHAT IS FREE! The Gift of Life must be given, for it can never be earned. Salvation is by grace not by works. It is all of God, therefore, not at all by man. Rather than being something commendable, man’s seeking to please God by his own obedience is an affront to God, and belies contempt toward the Righteousness of His Son. Religion causes people to look to it in fear and keeps people in bondage to what it says man must do in order for him to have any hope of salvation. Lost man looks to religion, the saved man looks only to God. Meditate, pray a certain number of times each day, observe this day, or that day, do this, don’t do that, don’t eat this, don’t eat that, are all signs of religion and evidence of bondage. There is no freedom in religion, but only in truth. The Lord Jesus says: “…the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32). Deception is so subtle it cannot be recognized by the deceived. Most people do not trust in what God says, but in religion’s erroneous claims of what God says. They see God’s Word through the filter of religion, a filter which only distorts the truth of God, and which presents an image of Him which is simply not real, for it does not concur with the whole of Scripture. True Christianity points only to God and what He has done, FOR He alone is the Saviour. Only what God does saves a man. Only what God does is acceptable to Him.

 

Without God, man is hopeless. Man is without hope because, by nature, he looks to what he has done, or attempts to vainly combine what he has done with what God has done. As salvation is by grace alone, any attempt to add what a man has done to grace immediately changes the means to salvation from the grace of God to the feeble, unacceptable, works of man. The addition of works immediately dissipates grace. Like oil and water, grace and works simply will not mix because they are not attracted to each other. They are mutually repulsive. Grace is attracted only to grace, and works to works. Salvation is attracted, it is drawn to a man, only by the grace of God. The damned are only attracted to works, or a grotesque combination of works and grace, as a means to salvation. The reason why grace and works are immiscible, why they will not mix together, is because the force of attraction between the 'molecules', if you will, of grace, and between the 'molecules' of a man's works is greater than the force of attraction between the two elements, which is zero. In other words grace sticks to itself and works stick to themselves and, as with east and west, never the twain shall/can meet. Salvation is either by grace or works, therefore, salvation can never be a collaborative effort between God and man. Salvation is not by amalgamation, but by imputation. Salvation is by the obedience of One, not two. Salvation is either all of God, or all of man. It is never a case of grace and works, never a case of God and man. The apostle Paul states: “…if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace…” (Rom. 11:6). If election and salvation are by grace, then they cannot be by works at all, they cannot be by man at all. If salvation is in any way by the works of man, then it cannot be by the grace of God at all. If, however, salvation is by the grace of God then it cannot in any way to any degree be based on, or include, an act or acts of man. A man who claims his works are a necessary element in salvation immediately forfeits any right to appeal to grace. A man who appeals to the grace of God as the only means to salvation will not claim any of his own works as the means, or reason, for his salvation at all. “The preservation of the remnant cannot be due to grace and works at the same time; it must be due to one or the other…there are but two possible sources of salvation—men's works, and God's grace; and that these are so essentially distinct and opposite, that salvation cannot be of any combination or mixture of both, but must be wholly either of the one or of the other." If salvation is by the works, or acts, of a man, then there is no need for grace. By the same token, if salvation is by the grace of God, then there is no need for works. Men try to order their lives into subjection and subservience to some form of abstinent, disciplined and reformed lifestyle in an effort to become acceptable to whichever god they worship. But if compliance is the road to Heaven, how would any of us know whether we had been obedient enough? The fact that no one can answer that question, or provide any concrete Scriptural support for any answer they may have, has subsequently given rise to what most people have come to accept in the matter of salvation: the idea that doing one’s best in life will be enough to get them into Heaven, no matter who God really is, or which doctrines they believe, for who can do more than their best. Who can go beyond their sincerity in doing good? This is man’s conclusion, this is man’s religion.

 

Natural man has always had salvation, or at least some part of salvation conditioned on what he does, his character and conduct, rather than on Who God is and what God alone has done. This is man’s natural way of thinking when it comes to getting right with God. In his lostness, man can only see himself, and so, he sees what he does, or does not do, as essential elements, necessary ingredients, to his salvation. In other words, man’s attempts at getting saved, or staying ‘saved’ is lost man saying, ‘God, you cannot save me unless I cooperate, unless I do’. Throughout the history of man’s religious endeavours he has never once come up with a salvation that is purely by the efforts and will of an Almighty God. Therefore, man doing to get saved signifies the absence of the only true God in his life. Each and every one of man’s religions have what a man must do as its cornerstone. Sinful, lost man insists he must be the one who has control over that which ultimately triggers salvation. But how can a lost man trigger his own salvation, by choosing God, or accepting Christ, when Scripture clearly states: “…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). The natural man is a man who is dead, and lost, in his sins. Nothing he does can draw him to the true God. There is nothing about man, or in man, that can in any way bring him to, or cause him to be attracted to, the only true God. If a man has come to the true God it is only because the true God came to the man first. The teaching which says salvation is given after a man has made his decision for Christ, or chosen God, is directly opposed to what the above verse of Scripture is saying. The best a natural man, that is, a lost, dead-in-sins man, upon hearing the Gospel can do is count it as foolishness, for he cannot understand it, and is incapable of discerning it as God’s very power unto salvation. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). A dead man is a man who is dead to God and His Truth. A saved man is one who has been made alive by God to God and His glorious Gospel. A man who is not saved is dead and will never see. Life must be given before a man will see, understand and believe the glorious Gospel of God.

 

How can a man not be dead before he is made alive? How can a man see and believe the Gospel before he is made alive? A man must be made alive by the Spirit of God, for only then will he see, understand and receive His truth. Salvation is a two-sided coin: God’s making a man alive and the man receiving—because he has been given—the things of the Spirit of God. Man cannot be made alive without the Gospel of God, and he cannot receive, believe, that Gospel unless he has been made alive. James states: “Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth…” (Jas. 1:18). The apostle Paul tells those of the church in Corinth “…in Christ Jesus have I begotten you through the Gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). Peter the apostle says a man is “…born again…by the Word of God…And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:23,25 cf. 1 Pet.1:3-5). “…Salvation is of the Lord” (Jon. 2:9). True Christianity points man only to God and all that He has done to save His people from their sins. Religion pats man on the head and says, ‘Do your best, God knows your heart’, while God’s Word declares man at his best is utter vanity. Jesus says: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth (makes alive); the flesh profiteth nothing…” (Jn. 6:63). In other words, it is God and what He does that saves a man; nothing a man can do will profit him in any way. Nothing a man does can make him alive to God. Man cannot make himself spiritually alive to God, for what can a dead man do? No amount, or degree, of obedience can bring eternal life. No one but the Spirit of God can make a spiritually dead sinner alive again, and no obedience but that of Christ’s will make a man Righteous. “…the doctrines which Christ had then been delivering concerning Himself, His flesh and blood, in John 6, being spiritually understood, are the means of quickening souls. The Gospel, and the truths of it, which are the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, are the means of conveying the Spirit of God, as a spirit of illumination and sanctification, into the hearts of men, and of quickening sinners dead in trespasses and sins: the Gospel is the Spirit that giveth life, and is the savour of life unto life, when it comes not in word only, or in the bare ministry of it, but with the energy of the Holy Ghost, and the power of Divine grace.”

Every man knows that his worst acts and thoughts could never get him right with God, but the Word of God reveals the stupendous truth that no man EVEN AT HIS VERY BEST state can ever make himself right with God. Man at his best is just as hopeless, just as sinful and profitless as he is at his worst! “…for verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity…every man is vanity” (Psa. 39:5,11). “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity” (Psa. 94:11 cf. Rom. 7:18; 1 Cor. 3:20). The prophet Isaiah states: “…we are all as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isa. 64:6). Yes, even at his very best—doing his religious best and thinking his religious best—man is nothing but a false refuge which only lost men seek. Notice that a man’s evil deeds are not here described by Isaiah as filthy rags, but a man’s very righteousnesses. The very best that a man can do is nothing, but filthy rags in the sight of the Holy God. Only spiritually dead men seek refuge in the very best they have been, done and thought. The reality of man’s situation is that by nature he cannot face the awesomeness, the overwhelming “…state of things as they actually exist…”, that he is a completely hopeless creature when it comes to doing anything in order to gain salvation. “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Prov. 30:12 cf. Job 14:4). Mankind is unclean in the sight of the Holy God. This “…uncleanness is extended to every particular act of theirs, even to their prayers and praises. True of the best doings of the unregenerate (see Phil. 3:6-8; Titus 1:15; Heb. 11:6).” Combining every so-called ‘righteous’ act of every man who has ever lived would not be enough to outweigh even one sin. The very righteous acts, the best things a man believes he has done on this earth during his lifetime, those things which so many millions upon millions of people are currently relying upon which they hope will outweigh the bad they have done, and which they think will recommend them to God, are compared to used menstrual cloths, by Almighty God! The righteousnesses, or ‘good works’, of man are compared in Isaiah 64:6 with “...menstrual cloths associated with one of the most extreme forms of ceremonial uncleanness under the law of Moses (see Lev. 15:19-33; 20:18). They are of such a nature as to be treated with the greatest discretion by the genteel, disposed of immediately, never reused. These ‘filthy rags’ are in our text joined with ‘an unclean thing’, the leper afflicted with another of the most extreme forms of ceremonial uncleanness (see Lev. 13:45ff).” In other words, man approaching God with his own ‘good works’, with all his sincerest efforts at obedience to God’s Holy Law, and heartfelt attempts at reconciling with the Most Holy One, rather than with the Righteousness of the Mediator alone, is tantamount to approaching God as a man infected with leprosy who is clothed in used menstrual cloths! “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23). This signifies “…that they were naturally sinners, as blackness is natural to the Ethiopian, and spots to the leopard; and were from their birth and infancy such, and had been so long habituated to sin, by custom founded upon nature, that there was no hope of them; they were obstinate in sin, bent upon it, and incorrigible in it…The metaphors used in this text fitly express the state and condition of men by nature; they are like the Ethiopian or blackamoor; very black, both with original and actual sin; very guilty, and very uncomely; and their blackness is natural to them; they have it from their parents, and by birth; it is with them from their infancy, and youth upwards; and impossible to be removed; it cannot be washed off by ceremonial ablutions, moral duties, evangelical ordinances, or outward humiliations; yea, it is impossible to be removed but by the grace of God and blood of Christ. Man cannot change the fact he is a spiritual leper, and in clothing himself with his ‘good works’, by which he presents himself to God believing and hoping that they will recommend him to God, has in reality clothed himself in used menstrual cloths! This is the picture, the disgusting and putrid picture that God sees of man, even in his most moral and religious state, coming to Him clothed with his own righteousness, rather than the grace-given Pure White Robe of the Righteousness of Christ. Despite religion’s false and empty assurances, God does not see a man’s ‘good works’ as admirable attempts to get right with Him. God does not smile sympathetically at man’s feeble, sin-ridden, efforts at obedience. All God sees is a hopeless sinner hopelessly, blasphemously, trying to get to Heaven via his own righteousness, rather than with the Righteousness which God has provided for His chosen through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All that a man is and does is vanity. Salvation is not by the unsatisfactory vanity of man, but only by the grace of God, and, the only acceptable Righteousness, the Righteousness of Christ. Religion says we will all be fine as long as our good works outweigh our bad. But, who is to say what is good and what is bad? Who can accurately and reliably evaluate and grade the good and bad that we do, and what do they use as a measuring tool? The best that a lost man can come up with is hope, an incompetent hope, “a mute hopeless” hope, that what he has done and how he has lived will be acceptable to God. Any man who looks to anything he has done, who places any confidence in what he has done in his life as that which will recommend him to God and win His favour, is a spiritually dead man who is still in his sins. A man who is without the only true God Who saves only through the obedience of His Son, is a man without any real hope. If a man at his best is vanity, so too, is his delusional hope of being saved by what he does and/or how much he has reformed, or reinvented, his life. In the cold light of day the inescapable fact which confronts sinful man is: Man needs a Saviour! Doing your best will get you nowhere. Any part of salvation which is said to be dependent on what a man does, is nothing but a vain, unscriptural, hope! What man does in his life is not his immediate problem, but that which he is: a hopeless sinner, a child of God’s Wrath, who is without God and, therefore, without hope. Man’s primary problem which he has never been able to, and never will, solve, is not the fact that he sins, but that he is a sinner. Man may be able to change what he does, but this does not, never has, or ever can change what he is. According to the Word of God, man is a hopeless sinner in need of salvation, not reformation, not a revival, or adoption, of a societally acceptable collection of values, but salvation. Man desperately needs what no man can do: He needs to be made alive. No matter how hopeless life seems at times, there is always something we can do to change our situation and circumstances. However, there is nothing a hopeless man can do to get himself saved. Man cannot appeal to God, for man is spiritually dead to the true God. He does not know Him, he does not want Him, he does not seek Him, so how then can he pray to Him (see Rom. 10:13-15). If one is without hope there is nothing one can do. There is no hope for a terminally ill man, much less for one who is already dead. What physical death is to life, spiritual death is to knowing and having the true God. Man needs to be made alive, born again by the Word and Work of God. Man needs someone to do what he cannot do. He needs a Saviour. Man does not need to try to save himself, for he can only be saved by the Saviour Jesus Christ. It is not man that makes himself alive to God, but the Spirit of God is the One Who makes alive. A lost man trying to save himself is like a blind man trying to see, and like a dead man trying to breathe. He cannot even get to first base. Man does not require re-invention, but is in need of re-creation. A dead man cannot become better, for his need is to be made alive.  The solution to man’s sin problem is not to become better, but to be made alive. “...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3).

 

Nothing man does can in any way be beneficial to him, or bear fruit in the sight of God, for "A corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit" (Matt. 7:17ff. cf. Lk. 6:43). Man is like the corrupt tree in the sight of God, and all a corrupt man's fruit is evil and, therefore, useless for the purposes of gaining, or maintaining, salvation. “The Biblical definition of ‘good works’ is not merely ‘good deeds’. Biblical ‘good works’ encompass every aspect of our thinking and conduct before God.” What a man does is unacceptable with God, for God is a Holy God, a God of Justice, Who punishes sin and can accept nothing which is not perfect. There are no degrees of obedience, so when God demands obedience He is speaking about perfect obedience, when He commands Righteousness He is speaking of perfect Righteousness, hence the need for Christ’s Obedience, for Christ’s Righteousness, if a man is to be saved. That which is not perfect, is unacceptable and manifestly evil in the sight of God. Simply put, a man without God is a man who is utterly without hope (see Eph. 2:12). A man without the Righteousness of God is a man without the Righteousness, or God, that saves. Man does not need an entourage of New Year’s Eve-type resolutions in an effort to get himself right with God. Again, how would man ever know for certain that he had done the right thing, the right way? That he had done enough, changed enough, loved enough, given enough, sacrificed enough, been selfless enough, been thoughtful enough, forgiven enough, prayed enough, been compassionate enough, etc., when no matter how much a man does do there is always something else he could have done. If there is something more that could have been done, then what was done can never be enough. Doing good is a bottomless well which no man can ever plumb the depths of. Knowing that we all could have done more in our lives does not merely put an extremely large question mark against that which we have done as ever being sufficient enough to reach our goal, it draws a cancelling red line right through it. Man does not need to do better, for without God man is hopeless. Man does not need to do better, he needs to be born again. Man’s problem is not so much what he does, but what he is: a hopeless sinner with absolutely no ability or capability of redeeming himself. Adopting a more moral lifestyle is equivalent to changing cabins on the Titanic. Man needs to be taken off the ship that allegedly has not sunk, or that theoretically will never sink, and placed on the one that can never sink. Man needs to abandon his righteousness, and trust solely in the Righteousness of Christ Jesus the Lord.

 

Man needs to be made alive. He needs to be made a new creature in Christ Jesus the Lord “…which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Col. 3:10). The Lord Jesus says: “…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). Being born again, born spiritually, as with being born physically, is something which is completely out of the control of the creature. Being born physically and being born again spiritually are works which only God can do. Being made spiritually alive is a work which only God can do. No man can make himself alive, nor can any man wish, or will, himself alive, or pray for his spiritual re-birth. No one who is spiritually dead realises their appalling spiritual condition, until after they have been made alive. A born again man has been made to realise just what has occurred: he has been brought back from spiritual death and into spiritual life. Everyone thinks they are spiritually alive, before they are spiritually alive until they are made spiritually alive. Christians are people who are made acceptable unto God BY HIM, and by nothing which is of their own efforts. A dead man can do nothing to attract life. Physical death comes only after life. Spiritual death is all there is prior to spiritual life. Man has proven this time and time again, by his vain religions and pointless, unprofitable, religious efforts at making himself right with God.

 

God has predestinated all His chosen “…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” (Eph. 1:5,6 cf. Rom. 3:24). God choosing His people, making them alive, making them acceptable in His Kingdom, is nothing short of the miraculous grace of God at work. To be made alive by God is how He has made His chosen accepted in the Beloved. Without being made a new creature in Christ by God, no man can be saved. No man can have the Righteousness of Christ who has not been made alive by God. What Christ has done has eternally removed the sins of His people, and apportioned them His Righteousness. Christians are people made acceptable to God by God. The phrase He hath made us accepted in the original Greek is, He graces us. Christians are nothing more than highly favoured objects of grace. Christians are people God has chosen to be merciful to. Christians are people who are made accepted by what God has done, and not by what they do. Christians are people whom God has made alive: “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Before being made alive, all Christians were spiritually stone cold dead! Able to do nothing, able to choose and accept no one, but false gods. Prior to being made alive by God, all Christians “…were by nature the children of Wrath, even as others…without Christ…having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:3,12). Being a child of Wrath, being without Christ, having no hope, and being without God is being spiritually dead. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). There is nothing that a man without hope can do to make himself right with God. Nothing a man can do who is without Christ, and does not have God. Prior to mercy in salvation, man is a child of Wrath, and hopelessly dead in his sins. The very best a man can do prior to being made alive by God, is to be dead in trespasses and sins. Salvation does not come about by human effort, but only by a work of God, and according to His will: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:15). No matter what a man does, or does not do, “the only matter of importance is, that one should be created anew, transferred into a new, spiritual condition of life”. Being made alive by God is a work of God “…in which man is purely passive, as the heavens and the earth were in their creation”. “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” (2 Cor. 5:17), and that new creature is solely the Work of God, a product of God, the sole creation of God: “…we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (Eph. 2:10 cf.1 Pet. 1:2), not because of good works. The word workmanship in the original Greek text is achievement. A saved man is an achievement of God’s, something He alone has made. A saved man is a work of God utilizing the tools of grace and mercy. A saved man is the result of what God has done, and no other.

 

Nothing a man does contributes to, or is in way the cause of, his being made a new creature in Christ. God cannot be motivated by anything outside of Himself in the salvation of His people. A child of Wrath remains a child of eternal Wrath unless God has chosen to have mercy upon him. A saved man is not self-made, but God-made. Man is not a participant in his salvation, but only the product of salvation. Nothing is because of a man’s ‘good’ works, but only because of God’s great and perfect grace. Being made a new creature in Christ is what produces good works. Good works do not produce the new creature. The fruit does not produce the tree, for it is the tree that brings forth the fruit. A born again man is an achievement of Christ. A Christian is someone who has been made by Another. A Christian is the result of what Another has done, and not what he has done; of Another’s will, and not his own; of Another’s grace, and not his works. There is no such thing as a self-made Christian, for all Christians are the workmanship of God. All Gospel believers are created in Christ Jesus not because of their ‘good’ works’, but unto good works, so that they will perform good works which have all been preordained, prepared, by God. “…the intention is not that they should be saved by them, but that they should walk in them; and this being the pre-ordination of God, as it shows that predestination is not according to good works, since good works are the fruits and effects of it, so likewise that it is no licentious doctrine; seeing it provides for the performance of good works, as well as secures grace and glory.” Obedience to perform good works comes only after one is saved, and not before. The apostle Peter wrote of Christians as: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience…” (1 Pet. 1:2), not because they had been, or would be, obedient. The good works of a saved man are prepared and preordained by God for him to walk in. Good works neither induce his salvation, nor influence favour or reward from God, FOR they only occur, and can only occur, AFTER a man is saved. By nature man believes that salvation comes because of, after, good works have been performed. Again we see a case of man’s sinful nature—upon which all religion is founded—as having things backward. Religion says salvation comes after good works, the Word of God declares good works can only come after one is saved. The Word of God states that good works can only come after a man is made alive by God. Good works ordained by God are only performed by those whom He has created in Christ Jesus. No one can perform such works unless they have been made alive, until they have been made alive. Only the deceived are unaware of the deception they are under. A dead man does not believe he is dead, because he does not know he is dead. Ignorance is what deception cannot do without. Man’s teachings assume that man is not spiritually dead, whereas God’s teaching, which states man’s innate inability to perform any good works prior to his being made alive, is an absolute declaration of man’s being spiritually dead. Those who deny spiritual death cannot rightly claim to have been made alive, for who else can be made alive, but one who was previously dead? “…as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

Those who seek Righteousness by works shall never find it. Those who hope to reach Heaven by their own efforts, their own obedience, shall never see it. Heaven is a restricted area, only those who have been born again, made alive, by the mercy and grace of God, may enter. The Righteousness of Christ is the passkey which is “given only to those who are officially allowed access” into Heaven. The Righteousness of Christ is something which is given, it is charged or imputed to those for whom Christ died and now intercedes. This ‘passkey’ is given only to those who have been granted authority by God, no less, to enter the portals of Paradise. Righteousness, perfect Righteousness, saving Righteousness, is attained only by the faith which is given to a man who has been given birth to by the Word, the Gospel of God. All this comes only by the unflinching, unpersuadable and unpurchaseable grace and mercy of God which no man can attract by anything he is or does. If there is anything man could do to get saved, then he would not require grace, and he would certainly not be in need of mercy, for grace is a gift and mercy is the only viable option for one who is without hope, who cannot do anything to remove his guilt and save himself from his dire situation. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for Righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth Righteousness without works (Rom. 4:4-6). It is the one who worketh not who is saved, for he trusts in Another because he is the workmanship of God. If a man claims he has done anything to merit Heaven, then he cannot appeal to grace. If a man claims that grace has enabled him to do what is necessary for him to gain salvation, he denies grace, for grace is that which saves. Grace does not enable, it enlivens! It is not the works of a man which are counted for Righteousness, but the Faith which has been given to him by the grace of God. It cannot be the works of a man that causes him to be saved by grace, for God’s grace is only connected to the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. Righteousness without a man’s works means Righteousness can only come by the Work of Jesus Christ. Salvation is, therefore, not a debt paid, but a gift given. Salvation is not conditioned upon the receiver, but solely upon the Giver. “…the Righteousness of God…is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…” (Rom. 3:22). This does not signify that the Righteousness of God comes as a reward after one has believed, for it is by Him, by Christ, that any do believe in God: “Who by Him do believe in God…”  (1 Pet. 1:21). “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Gal. 3:11). A man is not justified by what he does, but only by trusting in what God has done. This saving faith is not a work, or effort on the part of the saved creature. It is not something which emanates from within man, but comes as a gift from God according to His grace: only by what God does, and not at all by what a man has done: “For by GRACE are ye saved through faith…not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works…for we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (Eph. 2:8-10), not because of anything which we have done. A saved man is not made so by his own workmanship, but solely by the workmanship of God. A saved man is an achievement of God. A saved man is the result of what God has done. Those who receive Him, who believe in Him, do so only because of Him: “Who by Him do believe in God…” (1 Pet. 1:21 cf. 1 Cor. 8:6). All true Christians “…believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved…” (Acts 15:11). The very fact that a man even believes the Gospel of God, is solely attributable, traceable, to grace: “...which had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). To receive salvation is to be given salvation. To receive Christ is to be given Christ. Believing, or receiving, are not good works performed by man, for they are only, and can only be, gifts given by grace. A man is saved based on what he has been given, not on what he has done.

 

Salvation does not follow works—effort on our part—but is granted despite our singular and distinct lack of ability to attract it. The Righteousness required for salvation can only ever be freely imputed, never earned; it can only ever be the Righteousness of Another charged to a man which saves him; it can only ever be by the Obedience of Another, and never one’s own. Salvation is a gift, not a reward. Salvation is a gift, therefore, God is not obliged, nor would it be possible for Him, to give it based on anything which we have done. Salvation does not come after anything we have done, otherwise, it would be a debt paid and not a gift given. Salvation does not come because of a man’s obedience, but only by the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ: “…by the obedience OF ONE shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19). As salvation is of the Lord, so too, the Righteousness which saves is the property of Christ. The apostle Peter wrote “…to them which have obtained like precious faith with us through the Righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:1), or more precisely “through the Righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. The Righteousness of Christ is the Righteousness of God. Faith is obtained through grace as is the Righteousness that saves. “…the Righteousness of Christ is not the righteousness of a creature, but of God; that is wrought out by one that is God, as well as man, and so answerable to all the purposes for which it is brought in. Now faith comes ‘in’, or ‘with’ this Righteousness, as the phrase may be rendered; when the Spirit of God reveals and brings near this Righteousness to a poor sensible sinner, he at the same time works faith in him to look to it, lay hold upon it, and plead it as his justifying Righteousness with God: or it comes ‘through’ it; hence it appears that faith and Righteousness are two distinct things; and that faith is not a man's righteousness before God, for it comes to him through it; as also that Righteousness is before faith, or otherwise faith could not come by it; and, moreover, is the cause and reason of it; faith has no causal influence upon Righteousness, but Righteousness has upon faith: the reason why a man has a justifying Righteousness is not because he has faith; but the reason why he has faith given him is because he has a justifying Righteousness provided for him, and imputed to him.”

 

Salvation comes only by Christ’s obedience. Seeking to get saved or ‘remain’ saved by one’s own obedience is a direct and utter refusal of Christ’s obedience. Our obedience is a counter-argument, if you will, against Christ’s obedience being that which alone saves. It is an utter denial of God’s Way of salvation. God is only obliged to give the gift of salvation to those whom He has given to Christ His Son, for whom Christ has established the only Righteousness which saves. Righteousness cannot/does not come through the obedience of the individual, not by two or three, not by you or me, but only through the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ on the behalf of the individual. Only those who have been blessed of God by grace through the gift of faith so that they will believe God’s Gospel, and trust solely in Christ’s obedience, His imputed Righteousness, shall be called Righteous in His eyes. This is no reason for any to automatically abandon hope that they could be among the favoured few, but is an opportunity for them, having heard the Gospel, to believe it and rejoice!! Hearing the Gospel is no cause to be downcast, but an opportunity to simply believe it. Salvation is not by anything which a man does, but is solely a work, an act, of God. “…their Righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord” (Isa. 54:17), Christ produced it and the Father provides it to the people He has given to His Son. “…in the Lord have I Righteousness…” (Isa. 45:24). “…in Christ alone is their ‘Righteousness or Righteousnesses’; that they have a full and complete Righteousness in Him, and which serves for many; consisting of the Holiness of His nature, the obedience of His life, and His sufferings of death; by which the law is honoured, justice satisfied, God is well pleased, and they are acquainted and discharged; and which is pure, perfect, and everlasting, is given them of grace, and entitles them to eternal life; and this they have in Christ as their Covenant Head and Representative, and which they come to have by being in Him: it is not inherent in them, but is in Christ, by whom it is wrought out, and becomes theirs by the imputation of it to them…” "For He hath made Him to be sin for us…that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Those who are made the Righteousness of God in Him, are the ones for whom Christ was made sin. The Righteousness necessary for salvation is a supernatural work of God, for it takes the miraculous to save a man. That is how much power is required to save a man. Death came only by man, Righteousness comes only by and through God. Man has a problem. Man is the problem. God has the Answer. God is the Answer!

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