A REASON AND PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING (PART 8)
As with all men in their natural state of being, the Jews thought they could attain a Righteous standing before God through their own religious obedience. However, all they, and others like them, acquired was shame, for it is not by a man’s obedience, but only through faith in the Righteousness of Christ—in HIS obedience—that any will attain a right standing before a Holy God Who can accept nothing less than perfection, which is why: “…by the obedience of One shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19). The following verses of Scripture reveal the utterly corrupt and truly deplorable spiritual state not only of Jews, but of all men who attempt to be saved by, or who even think that ‘remaining saved’ is something which is dependent on, their own obedience: “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the Righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:1-3 cf. Rom. 1:16,17; 11:6,7; 1 Cor. 15:34; Eph. 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:1). The righteousness of man will never save him because it can never save him. It takes the Righteousness of God to save a man. Zeal for God without the right knowledge of God—which only comes from God by way of revelation—is death. Zeal without right knowledge leads only to the worship of false gods. A true child of God is “…renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Col. 3:10). The apostle, in praying for the salvation of the Jews, clearly declares all as lost who attempt to establish an acceptable righteousness by their own obedience. In other words, trying to get saved, or to stay ‘saved’ by what you do, is a lost man’s endeavour. It is a hike to Hell! Contrary to what natural man believes, to strive for acceptance with God through one’s own obedience is in reality disobedience toward God, something practised only by those who are accursed. To seek acceptance with God by one’s own obedience may seem a noble, laudable act, but in reality it is a refutation of Christ and His obedience as that which alone meets with God’s approvable. To attempt to gain favour with God by one’s own obedience is to ignore—thereby rejecting—Christ and His obedience as the only obedience which God does, indeed can, accept as that which makes a man Righteous in His sight.
Ignorance, or rejection, of Christ’s Righteousness alone as that which saves is so serious a matter, that the apostle pronounces all hopelessly lost who believe that personal obedience is that which saves, or at least aids in one’s salvation. Far from being something commendable, pleasing to God, trying to get to God via one’s own obedience is diametrically opposed to the Scriptural way which is only by the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. True Christians, saved by Christ’s Righteousness alone, “…worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have NO confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). The true believer in Christ Jesus the Lord is totally, trustingly, reliant upon Christ’s obedience imputed by grace to him, and on nothing which the believer has done including believing, for believing is just as much a gift given by grace as is the Righteousness of Christ. Our own personal obedience, when performed in an attempt to gain, or maintain, salvation, is a personal affront to God. To be saved is to have completely abandoned all hope that anything one can do is necessary to one’s being saved, and/or ‘remaining saved’. Zeal for God is all well and good, however, if that zeal is not in accord with the knowledge of the truth of God, His Gospel, His only Way of salvation, then all such zeal will do is give a person a false sense of security, and nothing more than the illusion of being saved. Obedience, in this context, is antichrist, for it seeks to supplant, or at least supplement Christ’s obedience with our own. It is a direct attack upon Christ, designed to undermine His Holiness and uniqueness as God and Man. It is to deny His ability to be the sole Saviour of God’s people. Seeking to obtain salvation by our own obedience is to say our righteousness is as good as Christ’s Righteousness, and that we are as perfect as He is. It is to say that our obedience is as acceptable to God as is Christ’s obedience. It is to say that God cannot save His people without their assistance, that God providing a Saviour for His people was simply not enough.
As we have seen, the Scriptures paint a vastly different picture to the one religion has portrayed of the righteousness of mere men. Whilst religion says that salvation cannot do without the righteousnesses of men, the Word of God says: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and ALL OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSES ARE AS FILTHY RAGS…” (Isa. 64:6). The apostle Paul had more reason than any man to have confidence in the flesh—in who he was and what he had done—as a means to salvation: “…If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the Church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:4-9). Paul was proclaiming that even his righteousness, which, according to the Jews’ standard, was acceptable to God, was not that by which he would be saved, but only by faith—complete trust—in Christ’s Righteousness alone. The apostle surely lived a life of obedience, however, this obedience did not form even part of the Righteousness required to save him. A Christian’s obedience comes from a grateful heart, but is not the basis for his salvation. Paul did not want his righteousness, he did not depend upon his obedience for salvation, but solely that of Christ’s. Paul did not lean upon his obedience for salvation, but solely upon the Obedience of One—his Lord and God, Jesus Christ.
Man believes there is righteousness in suffering the loss of material things, but Paul is talking about abandoning all previous high thoughts concerning his own personal righteousness through obedience to the law. Man giving up material things and opting to live a life of poverty, thinking that what he is doing will gain him approval in the eyes of God, is man thinking with a carnal mind. It is nothing but vanity. To attempt to gain acceptance with God, or to maintain His favour, through one’s own obedience is to presume to do that which only Christ Jesus the Lord can do and has already done for all His people. NO CHRISTIAN SEEKS TO ADD HIS OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS TO CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS AS THE GROUND OF SALVATION. Surely there is no one who would dare rely upon the righteousness of even the most externally righteous man, so how can anyone who relies upon their own righteousness expect to be saved. Why would anyone seek to rely on their own, or anyone else’s, imperfect righteousness—which is no righteousness at all—when Christ’s perfect Righteousness is the only saving Righteousness. To attempt to gain acceptance with God through one’s own obedience is to be like those who are still waiting for the Messiah’s first appearing, who believe that the Saviour has not already come. The faith given to God’s elect acknowledges His truth, and trusts only in His Way of salvation, and rejects all else, all of religion’s false ways (see Titus 1:1). The elect of God believe and trust only in God’s Gospel of salvation through Christ alone, and not in any way through themselves. Christ’s people trust, and rest, only in what He has done. All those who are not Christ’s people, seek to do in order to be saved, or ‘stay saved’ rather than trust solely in Him, having faith in His Righteousness alone, and rest in His finished work. The lost are never satisfied, for they are always seeking to establish their own righteousness, or build upon Christ’s Righteousness rather than settle for the untainted Righteousness of Christ. The saved rest in Him, the lost work on.
The sure sign of a lost man is one whose zeal for God is not according to knowledge. A man who does not believe the Gospel of God simply does not know God, and is not saved. Those who follow religion and its false way to salvation are as lost as lost can be. Personal obedience is the way to Hell, only Christ’s obedience saves. Zeal for God which is not in complete accordance with His Salvation Plan revealed in His Gospel alone, is the zeal of a spiritually dead man. Such a person does not believe in the true God, for he does not believe in the right knowledge of God. Any man who strives by his own efforts to come to God, or to ‘remain’ with God, in any way to any degree, is a man seeking to establish a righteousness of his own. Such a man’s zeal for God is not testament to his salvation, but belies the fact that he does not know God, and, therefore, cannot be in a saved state. SALVATION IS BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST. Salvation is looking at Him and to Him, not to ourselves: at anything we are, have done, or believe we can and must do. Salvation is by grace: it is by God doing what no man can do. We cannot look to ourselves and also be looking to Him. Likewise, a man who trusts in Christ, looks only to Him for salvation, and, therefore, cannot/will not look to himself at all. Trusting in Christ, is trusting in Who HE is and what HE has done, and is a total and complete abandonment of who you are and what you have done. Scripture says: “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool…the way of a fool is right in his own eyes…” (Prov. 28:26 & Prov. 12:15). Man’s way is always right, in his own eyes, but never in God’s eyes. "For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE shall many be made Righteous" (Rom. 5:19 cf. Isa. 53:11). Salvation is not a collaborative effort between a man and Christ. A MAN IS NOT MADE RIGHTEOUS BY THE OBEDIENCE OF TWO, BUT ONLY BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE! The true Christian wants only the One Who by His obedience alone makes a man Righteous. The true Christ is not the one who requires your obedience to save you. It is only false saviors which need your assistance to save. It is only a false salvation which necessitates your doing anything to complete it. A true Christian never looks to his own obedience as that upon which any part of salvation is reliant, for he unshakably, Scripturally, believes that all of salvation is dependent on God’s grace and the Righteousness of Christ. The Scriptures teach that a man can be made Righteous, but that the Righteousness required in order to present a man faultless before a Holy God is something which is beyond the ability or capability of sinful man. It is something which is beyond the most discerning and meticulous religious postulation that sinful, lost man can imagine, for it takes the Righteousness of God Himself to save a man. The Righteousness which saves is beyond man, for it only comes from God, and is given by God to His people. It takes the Gospel of God to release and introduce the awe-inspiring Good News that there is nothing a man can do to save himself, and that God alone is the Source of salvation from beginning to final glory. “…the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they (the things of the Spirit of God) are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they (the things of the Spirit of God) are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:11,14). The things of the Spirit of God cannot be discerned by a spiritually dead man. “There must be a natural visive discerning faculty, suited to the object; as there must be a natural visive faculty to see and discern natural things, so there must be a spiritual one, to see, discern, judge, and approve of spiritual things; and which only a spiritual, and not a natural man has.”
There is nothing in man’s character and conduct, potential or actual, which can endear him to God. “…without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Heb. 11:6). The faith which pleases God is a gift which comes only from God. It is given by God to His people so that they will believe the things of God, so that they will believe and trust only in the things of God: His only Way to salvation which is by the obedience of Christ revealed in His unique and only Gospel. Without this God-given faith, one is without Christ and His Spirit, one is without the only obedience which saves, for it is only with that faith that a man will trust in Christ and His Righteousness alone for salvation. Saving Righteousness does not come from the many, in other words, it does not come from each individual that is ultimately saved, but the many are individually made Righteous by the obedience of only One. The Righteousness required for salvation must be perfect, and so, can, and does, come from the One and ONLY Perfect Source. Perfect Righteousness is not procurable by man, but only giveable by God. Saving Righteousness does not come from the many, nor is it expected to, for it is produced by Another on the behalf of the many. It is performed by the One Who can for the many who cannot. Only the Righteousness of this One is sufficient. Only the Righteousness produced by this One meets the Standard which is set by God, and is deemed fit by God to make a multitude Righteous in His sight. A man is declared Righteous not based on anything he has done, but only in accord with what Christ has done for him, for it is only the Righteousness of the Saviour Jesus Christ which saves.
The irony of blind so-called ‘Christian’ ministers, who lead vast congregations of equally blind followers, when they warn against deadly teachings such as those taught by the Roman Catholic Church which claim that Mary is a co-redemptrix (co-redeemer) with Christ, and comment that such a teaching blasphemously adds the work of another to what Christ has done to secure salvation, is not lost. In the very next breath, these ministers declare that a man’s own obedience is essential if he is to remain saved! ‘By grace alone!’ they shout, all the while insisting that an individual’s efforts in obeying God play an important, even integral, essential and indispensable role in maintaining one’s salvation. They teach that a man’s subsequent obedience is as important as that Obedience of Christ which ‘introduces’ salvation into one’s life. Like the Romanists, and all religion which poses as Christianity, they teach that something more than the work of Christ alone is necessary to secure one’s salvation. Like the Romanists, they teach that God needs help, man’s help, if any are to be saved. In essence they teach that God needs the help of a leprous, hopeless man clothed in filthy rags if He is to save any. Saved by grace alone means that the person who believes this Scriptural teaching believes that all of salvation from its inception to the end of eternity is solely by, and only reliant upon, the grace of Almighty God.
The Word of God makes it abundantly clear that Christians are “…kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation…” (1 Pet. 1:5 cf. Psa. 97:10; Jd.1:24,25). Note the language in this verse and compare it with Ephesians 2:8: “…by grace are ye saved through faith…” (cf. 1 Pet. 1:9). The Gospel of grace is the power of God which not only saves a man, or initiates his salvation, but by it God also maintains a man’s salvation. The word kept in 1 Peter 1:5 means “guarded, garrisoned, to keep, guard, preserve spiritually”. The Christian’s life “…is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3); the Christian is “…sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ…” (Jd. 1:1). Salvation is not a one-off momentary thing, that can be lost at any time, but an eternal gift supplied to all those whom God chooses to act with mercy toward. Salvation is not a fleeting thing, which disappears the moment one’s efforts at obedience drops below whatever religion might say the accepted level is, but an eternal decree for the people God has chosen. God’s people are saved forever, for their salvation is based on the Righteousness of Christ which has been eternally imputed to them. The life which a Christian is given is ETERNAL! It cannot be lost, for it can never end. No one can get saved by what they do, likewise, no one can remain saved by what they do, and no one can return to a lost state by what they do. Eternal salvation is by what Christ has done, and eternal forgiveness of sins is by what Christ has done. Salvation is something which a man is appointed to by God, and is given and maintained by the God of grace, for it is something which has been predetermined by God for His people before the foundation of the world. Writing to believers, the apostle Paul said “…God hath not appointed us to Wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us…” (1 Thess. 5:9,10). “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” (Eph. 1:4-6). “He hath chosen us” and “He hath made us accepted”, is grace at work. God graces His people. The saved have not made themselves acceptable, but have been made acceptable to God by God. The Lord Jesus said to His disciples “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you…” (Jn. 15:16), these words of the Lord Jesus demonstrate the very principle of grace: God acting, not man acting; God giving, not man doing. A man is made accepted by God through grace, and a man remains accepted by the grace of God. How can MAN DO WHAT ONLY God can do, and how can any man undo what God Himself has done? How can a man interfere with predestination, with being chosen, with being made accepted? A born again man is a man made accepted by God.
Ignorance, not knowing, unawareness and incomprehension plays a critical role in what a man believes, and does not believe. Ignorance of the truth of God is manifested throughout all of man’s religions, for they all ignore the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ as that which alone produces the Righteousness which saves. Only Christ’s obedience unto death is effective in saving a man and keeping him saved. Religion has failed in its most fundamental of duties, that which it so loudly and confidently claims, to preach the true God and His only Way of salvation. No man by his own works, or knowledgeless zeal can come to God. The only Road to God is the one HE has laid. In fact, anyone trying to get to God, or ‘remain’ with God by what they do, instantly exposes them as being among those that do not know the true God, for if they did they would be fully satisfied with, and confident in, Christ’s Obedience unto salvation, they would be fully satisfied with, and confident in, His Righteousness alone as that which will eternally save them from their sins. Salvation comes only by what God has done. “…Salvation is of the Lord” (Jon. 2:9), “…salvation belongeth to the Lord” (Psa. 3:8), “…God is my salvation…” (Isa. 12:2). Salvation is God’s to give to whomsoever He wills based solely on the only means He can give it: His will, purpose, grace and mercy: “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” (Rom. 9:15,16 cf. Ex. 33:19). Mercy does not involve anything that a man has done. Grace does not involve anything that a man has done. Mercy and grace are products of God’s will to love eternally those whom He has chosen. A saved man is “…born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13). “Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth…” (Jas. 1:18). A saved man is “…called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28); a saved man is “…born…of the will… of God” (Jn. 1:13); a saved man is saved by grace: “…by grace ye are saved” (Eph. 2:5); and a man is saved by mercy: “…according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:5). A man who does not believe the Scriptures the only way one can truly believe them—by the faith of God in accord with the Scriptures, and not having any faith in that which is contrariwise—is a man who stumbles in the dark, antithetical, world of ignorance where everything except truth is, or has the potential to be, viewed and valued as truth.
Ignorance of God’s Righteousness is ignorance of God’s Gospel, is ignorance of the true God. If one is ignorant of the Truth concerning Who Christ is and what Christ has done, and, therefore, whom He has done it for, one cannot possibly be submitted to the truth of God; one’s faith cannot be in accord with the Word of God, and, therefore, it cannot be the faith which comes from God and is given by God to all His people. Consequently, such a person cannot be in a saved state. How can any man be saved when he does not know, or rejects, what must be believed which evidences a man’s salvation? Despite all outward appearances, none are saved whose faith and trust is not100% in the obedience of Jesus Christ alone. To be submitted to God’s way of salvation one must have knowledge, revelation knowledge, given by God through grace. No one is saved without the Light and the workmanship of God without which there can be no new creature in Christ. Without light there is only darkness, and without the clear God-given knowledge of the Gospel all one has are the smothering clouds of ignorance by which God has never revealed His Gospel, or saved anyone. “…if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3,4). Those who cannot see are not saved. Those who do not see cannot believe, and so, are not saved. Those who do not see and believe obviously do not know, or do not understand the Gospel, and so, are not converted. Ignorance of the Gospel is ignorance of Christ, and ignorance of the truth of the true Christ is absolute and conclusive evidence of an existent state of spiritual depravity. Christ said of them which believed not on Him: “That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not SEE with their eyes, nor UNDERSTAND with their heart, and be CONVERTED, and I should heal them” (Jn. 12:38-40 cf. Isa. 6:9,10; Matt. 13:15; Jn. 4:41,42; Acts 28:27; 1 Cor. 2:9,10). Here we see incontrovertible and substantive evidence that seeing and understanding are inseparably connected with conversion. Seeing and understanding what? The Gospel of course (see Rom. 10:15-17). Those who do not see with their spiritual eyes, nor hear with their spiritual ears, or understand the truth of God with their hearts, are simply not converted, and remain in the carnal realm still trying to discern the truth of God without the understanding God gives to all His people. The Gospel of God is covered, it cannot be seen as His truth by those that are perishing. God saves through the instrumentality of Truth, and never by any ignorance of it. All saved people believe that Truth—God’s Gospel—for they have had the Light of the glorious Gospel, which proclaims that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, shine unto them. A true believer rejects anything and everything to the contrary.
True Christianity is the only faith which stands out from the crowd. True Christianity is at variance with what all men naturally believe and are deceived by. Contrary to the mindless rantings of religion, true Christianity teaches that salvation is not at all possible by the obedience of the individual. This single doctrine alone shuts down any need for any religion to guide a man into doing what needs to be done in order to achieve salvation, for there is nothing that a man can do. No adherence to any law, be it a man’s law or God’s law, can get a man saved. No amount of sincere commitment and devotion, vow of poverty, relinquishment of all worldly goods, prayer, praise or worship of any kind can gain any man his salvation. Salvation is not something which can be bought, but only given. Salvation is for God to give, not for man to take. Salvation is given by grace, not purchased by works. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). God “…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). The Lord Jesus, when asked “…Who then can be saved?” (Mk. 10:26), replied that man alone, that is, man alone by his own efforts, or by his own obedience, and even by his own will, cannot be saved. Christ says “…With men, it (salvation) is impossible, but not with God…” (Mk. 10:27). Salvation does not require will and work of man, for it is only the will of God, and only the work of Christ to which it will respond.
The Lord Jesus says: “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…” (Jn. 6:44); “…no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:65). In light of this, pray tell how can a man come to the Lord Jesus except the Father draws him? How can a man come unto the Lord Jesus, God’s true and only Jesus, unless he is moved to do just that by the will and love of God Himself? How can a man come to the Lord Jesus without the Father—by His great love—giving him the gift of Faith which only trusts in the obedience of His Son as the ground of Righteousness? No man can come to God by what a man does, and no man can maintain a saved state by what he does. The apostle asked: “…having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3 cf. Gal. 5:2-6). Salvation is an act of God Who draws a man to Him by His everlasting love for him, and not because of any man’s perceived love for God. It is God’s love for His people which saves them, and not their love for Him. God declares: “…I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). Nothing can precede that which is everlasting, hence God’s chosen love Him only because He loved them first. A man loves, and can only love, the true God, because God loved the man first: “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). A man whom God does not love will never love the true God. A man without God is a man without hope. A man does not draw God to him by what he does, but is drawn to God by what He does: by God’s love for the man. Everything comes from God loving His people. It is the Sovereign God’s will that is at play. God’s love is active, and contains a specific purpose which is always fulfilled, and its purpose is to save. The love of God for His chosen is the kernel within the shell of His purpose. God loves those He saves, and He saves only the ones He loves. Everyone that comes to God comes to Him because of His love for them, and His mercy toward them. Everyone that comes to Christ does so because of the Father Who has given them to Him: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me…” (Jn. 6:37). “…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” (Lk. 10:22). Salvation is all about whom God loves, not who loves God.
Salvation is a gift which can only be given by the Father. Salvation is not at all procurable by any man. Salvation is not getable, only giveable. Salvation can never be given as a reward, therefore, it does not/cannot come after someone else has done something first, but only ever as a gift which is preceded by nothing but God’s will, love, mercy and grace. A gift has no antecedent inspiration apart from the love of the gift-giver. Salvation is totally conditioned on what God wills to do, and not at all on what a man does, for there is nothing a man can do to get saved. Scripture states clearly that all men at their best state are nothing but vanity: “…for verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity…every man is vanity” (Psa. 39:5,11). Even a man’s thoughts are nothing but vanity, profitless: “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity” (Psa. 94:11). The observance of anything, be it morality, or adherence to a law, or command, etc., which leads a person to think that their obedience to it is an indispensable part of the Righteousness required to save them, completely nullifies, cancels out, any claims to salvation which is solely by the grace of God through the faith that is given by God that causes those to whom it is given, to look exclusively to, believe and trust in the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done: the establishment of the perfect and only obedience and Righteousness which is acceptable to a Holy God, and by which a man is saved. To look to anything but the finished work of Christ as that which saves, to scrupulously observe anything believed to be that which ensures final success, final and eternal salvation, other than the work of God in saving His people from their sins, is the highest form of vanity and will do nothing but maintain a man’s spiritually dead state, and bring him stumbling to his final ruin. For man to think that there is anything he can do to get saved, or stay saved, or that there is anything which he can do, or does not do, which can lose him his salvation are two sides of the same coin. Both beliefs are a direct attack upon God and His Sovereign, Almighty ability to save His chosen and keep them saved with a salvation that lasts forever because it is based on His will and subsequent mercy and grace. God’s will toward His chosen is to save them forever. God has appointed them to obtain eternal salvation by their Lord Jesus Christ Who died for them (see 1 Thess. 5:9,10). God granting them eternal life evidences His eternal mercy and His eternal grace.
Man cannot establish a righteousness for himself which is acceptable to a Holy God, for man is a sinner, and everything he does is stained with sin, far from perfect, and, therefore, unacceptable to God. The fact that man is a sinner is why there is nothing he can do which will make him accepted of God. Grace is what makes a man accepted. Acceptance with God is by what God has done, not by what man does. What a man does and all that a man is, is utter vanity before God saves him. As man is vanity, likewise, his righteousness and all his efforts to attain salvation, are also nothing but vanity. This is what religious man simply cannot see as truth, and, therefore, will not accept, which is why every man-made religion conditions salvation to varying degrees upon what a man does. Man’s obedience is a profitless attempt to acquire the unattainable. No one can reach the Righteousness required to save a man except Almighty God. Righteousness can only be given by grace, for it cannot be “deservedly gained in return for one’s behaviour or achievements”. Man trying to get to God is as useless and preposterous a venture as trying to kiss one’s own forehead, or expecting to see one’s reflection in a shag pile carpet. The principle of grace is God coming to man. Nothing can change the fact that man is a sinner, an entirely abhorrent site in the eyes of God. Reformation of life cannot modify, or reconstruct, that which is within. External acts of righteousness cannot change the corruption which lies within. Man does not require refurbishment, he needs the gift of repentance. Clothing a dead body will not give it life. Though outwardly it may have the appearance of being alive, it is the inward reality which rules out the presence of any life at all. Though a rotten apple may have the appearance and pleasant aroma of a healthy one, this can never do away with the rottenness which lies within. This is man’s inescapable impasse, for anything which a profitless individual who has not God, and is in fact a child of God’s Wrath, attempts to do in order to get saved, or ‘remain’ saved, is a thoroughly unworkable prospect. Man’s attempts at righteousness serve only to further condemn him. Man’s attempts to establish a righteousness whereby God will accept him into His Kingdom, would be like trying to make dry water, or soluble wood. A man’s attempts to gain favour with God only add to his mountain of sin.
Contrary to humanistic thinking, and the supposed dignity of mankind, man is the lowest of the low! The truth, and the reality of man’s existence is that man is not even worthy enough for God to cast a momentary glance toward. “…the heavens are not clean in His sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:15,16 cf. Psa. 8:4; 144:3; Isa. 40:17; Jer. 17:9; Eccl. 9:3). “…What is man that Thou art mindful of him?...” (Heb. 2:6 cf. Job 7:17; Psa. 8:4). “Who is like unto the Lord our God, Who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in Heaven, and in the earth!” (Psa. 113:5,6). Man is a worm, who, even at his best state, is nothing but vanity (see Job 25:6; Psa. 39:5,11). Vanity signifies “…sin, emptiness, folly, falsehood, and inconstancy; for man is a very sinful creature, empty of all that is good; foolish as to the knowledge of Divine things; he is deceiving and deceived, his heart is deceitful and desperately wicked; and he is unstable in all his ways; he is ‘all vanity’ as the words may be rendered; all that he has, or is, or is in him, is vanity”. It is incumbent upon every man to look at the Scriptures, and face the truth that all mankind has rebelled against God, “…all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); that man is a fallen, spiritually dead race rightly deserving of nothing less than the fierceness of the Wrath of God for all eternity, and that the only way anyone can escape this most dreadful of all destinies is through the will, grace and mercy of God. God is a man’s only hope, for mercy is the only means to salvation by grace. “Justice is when you get what you deserve—Mercy is when you don't get what you deserve—Grace is when you get what you don't deserve.” The truth of God applied to the heart brings a man to his knees. “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not….the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live…” (Eccl. 7:20; 9:3). “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10-12). Man is not redeemed by what he does, but only by what is done for him by Another. In terms of salvation—the gaining or maintaining of it—what a man does simply will not do. Works will not work! Man is not redeemed by his own righteousness, but only by the Righteousness established for him by Another.
True Christianity teaches that the only obedience that gains any man salvation is the obedience of ONE, the Lord Jesus Christ: “…by the obedience of ONE shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19). The righteousness of the many will save none. Salvation comes not by the obedience of any man. Salvation comes and can only come because of, and in response to, the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the Key of Christ’s Righteousness will open the door to salvation. Any attempt to be Righteous before God based on one’s own obedience, or even partly on one’s own obedience, will only be met by God’s Wrath, not His respect, for attempting to become Righteous by one’s own efforts manifests a spiritually accursed state of being: it is trying to replace what only Christ has done with what a man cannot do. It is to arrogantly state before God, ‘What I do should be good enough for You!’. Why should what you do be good enough for God, when it is patently clear that what Christ has done for His people is not good enough for you!! To trust in one’s own obedience in any way or to any degree is to live the life of the lost. To approach the Perfect God with one’s imperfect righteousness is the folly of lost men. The religious mind seeks to do in order to be saved; the saved soul looks to and praises only God for all He has done to save it. “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul” (Psa. 66:16). “…by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor. 15:10). The carnal, religious mind of fallen man is always restless, and so, can never be satisfied with what God has done, with the obedience of Christ alone, and so, always seeks, it naturally feels an insatiable, obsessive and compulsive need, to include one’s own individual obedience as a perquisite to, and as part of the conditions for, salvation. The inescapable fact concerning the human race is that all are dead in sins, and can do nothing to come to the true God Whom none, by nature, know, or can know, and, therefore, do not seek. Natural man is not drowning in sins, waiting and hoping for a life preserver to be thrown to him, but lies at the bottom of sin’s ocean utterly drowned and dead in sins. Salvation does not come by the obedience of each individual, but only by the obedience of Christ. Salvation does not come by good deeds performed, but only by Righteousness imputed. Look at the Word of God which says: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born (again), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:12,13). God’s people believe because they are born again by the will of God: “Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth…” (Jas. 1:18). Those born of God reject the need for their own obedience to play any part in getting or remaining saved, for they have had the Gospel of God’s Righteousness revealed to them. They are fully satisfied with Christ’s Obedience, and seek not another’s, not even their own. They all receive Him because of Him, because of HIS will for them. What salvation cannot do without is the will of God, and none can be born again, born of God without the Gospel of the Grace of God which is the only Seed that brings forth eternal life, for it is incorruptible. Salvation comes from God, therefore, it is only that which is given by God that can cause salvation to come. To produce a carrot one needs a carrot seed, to produce salvation, eternal salvation, one requires only the Seed of God which is His Word: The Gospel.
None can be in a saved state who do not abide in the Gospel of God, for all saved people are born of the will of God to be saved by Christ’s obedience and to believe His Gospel. By grace they are given the faith with which to believe God’s Gospel, and no other. Therefore, salvation is evidenced by saving faith which believes God’s Gospel to the exclusion of all false gospels. The faith which God gives to His people believes only in God’s Way to salvation, and rejects every false way. To biblically believe God’s Gospel is to believe that it is God’s only power unto salvation; that any who believe not God’s Gospel are lost, and that any who believe they were saved whilst believing another gospel, are also lost. The Gospel of God is the power of God unto salvation: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed…” (Rom. 1:16,17). Paul phrases it this way in his first Letter to the church of God in Corinth: “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 cf. 1 Cor. 1:24). The Gospel of God is God’s power to save all those who have been ordained by God to embrace it and only it. When God saves you, you are no longer lost. When God saves you, you no longer believe a false gospel. When God saves you, you no longer believe that you were saved prior to believing God’s Gospel. When God saves you, you only believe God’s Gospel. The Gospel of God saves because it is the only Gospel in existence which reveals the glorious Righteousness of Christ. The Gospel of God saves because it is God’s ONLY POWER to save His people from their sins. The Righteousness of God spoken about in Romans 1:16 is “…that Righteousness which Christ Jesus wrought out by obeying the precepts, and bearing the penalty of the law in the room of His people, and by which they are justified in the sight of God: and this is called ‘the Righteousness of God’, in opposition to the righteousness of men: and because it justifies men in the sight of God; and because of the concern which Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, have in it. Jehovah the Father sent his Son to work it out, and being wrought out, He approves and accepts of it, and imputes it to His elect: Jehovah the Son is the Author of it by His obedience and death; and Jehovah the Spirit discovers it to sinners, works faith in them to lay hold upon it, and pronounces the sentence of justification by it in their consciences. Now this is said to be ‘revealed’ in the Gospel, that is, it is taught in the Gospel; that is the Word of Righteousness, the ministration of it; it is manifested in and by the Gospel. This Righteousness is not known by the light of nature, nor by the law of Moses; it was hid under the shadows of the ceremonial law, and is brought to light only by the Gospel; it is hid from every natural man, even from the most wise and prudent, and from God's elect themselves before conversion, and is only made known to believers, to whom it is revealed” by grace.