A REASON AND PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING (PART 10)
Believing in that which is erroneous is never the road to truth, nor is it a sign that one has the truth. At any one time, the only God/god a man can have, is the one defined by the doctrine he believes. You cannot separate your Gospel/gospel from the God/god you believe in. You cannot believe one Gospel/gospel, and believe the God/god of another gospel. You cannot trust in the true God whilst believing the gospel of a false god. You cannot believe in the doctrines of the JW’s and in the god of Roman Catholicism. You cannot believe in the doctrine of the Seventh-Day Adventists and believe in the Mormon god. You cannot believe in any other gospel than the only Gospel of God, and rightly consider oneself a Christian, a believer in the only true God. The man who does not abide, in other words, who does not believe, does not hold to and remain in the doctrine, or Gospel, of Christ, simply does not have God. How can a man have the true God if he does not believe in the truth about God, which alone identifies God? How can a man have the true God and the faith to believe in what He has done, as revealed in His Gospel—which must be understood, believed and trusted in to the exclusion of any and all other plans of, or methods to, salvation—whilst believing a false gospel which can only define a false god. To believe the truth is to believe in nothing which contradicts it. How can one believe in the true God, when one holds to doctrines which do not identify Him, thus revealing a faith which does not come from Him, which is not the faith of God’s elect? How can one possibly be believing in the true God, when one does not know, believe, trust in and love the true God’s Gospel wherein He is revealed? “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the Witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son” (1 Jn. 5:10). Any who believe in false gospels which always add to, or take away from God’s only Gospel of grace, one is calling the true God a liar, and His Gospel a lie. Only the man who abides in, and remains a believer of, the doctrine of Christ is a true believer in the Gospel of Christ. He it is who has the true and only God, for He DOES know, believe and obey God’s one and only Gospel, the only Gospel which testifies of Him because it identifies Him and reveals Him; the only Gospel which states that salvation is purely and wholly by the grace of God alone: “For BY GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that NOT OF YOURSELVES: it is the GIFT of God” (Eph. 2:8).
The apostle Paul wrote: “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. For Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:1-4). The believer in Christ pleads the Lord’s Righteousness as his own, and totally rejects his own righteousness. “…this Righteousness is only revealed unto, and received by the believer, and can only be pleaded by him, as his justifying Righteousness. Moreover, this phrase is descriptive of the persons to whom Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness, and suggests that for whomsoever He has fulfilled the law, in order to bring in for them a justifying Righteousness, faith in consequence is given to them, to receive and embrace it, and enjoy all the comfort and privileges of it.” Those who seek to add their obedience to Christ’s obedience are ignorant of the fact that it is only Christ’s Righteousness that saves. Such people have not submitted themselves to God’s Word, God’s Way, God’s Righteousness as that which alone saves, and so remain lost in their sins. They have a zeal of God, but are lost, for their zeal is not according to knowledge. Only those who trust not in the Righteousness of Christ alone for salvation insist on the necessity of their own obedience to be saved. All such people are lost. All who are not wholly submitted to the Righteousness of Christ are trying to get saved their way, rather than believing and trusting only in God’s Way. Such people may refer to themselves as Christians if they wish, however, if one does not abide in the Gospel of Christ one is not in accord with Christ, or has anything in common with Him, and, therefore, cannot be a Christian. The Lord Jesus will one day unaffectionately say to them that He never knew them, for they had never believed His Gospel (see Matt. 7), and, therefore, could never have known Him, much less loved Him and trusted in His Righteousness alone as that which saves. The only ones who know Christ are the ones who have been given the true understanding of Him by Him (see 1 Jn. 5:20). John wrote in his first Letter to believers “I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (1 Jn. 2:21). No lie “…either springs from the truth, or is according to it, but just the reverse. The apostle has respect to the errors and heresies of the above apostates, which were flagrant contradictions to the Gospel, and as distant from it as a lie is to truth; and of such lies, and of those liars, he speaks in the next verses. The Arabic version reads, ‘and that every liar is not of the truth’.”
A belief which is not in accord with the Word of God is a fool’s paradise, a mirage of one’s own making, a false refuge which can neither replenish nor sustain. A zeal which is energized, or fuelled, by lies about God, can never lead one to the true God. Those who claim to believe in the true God “fail to fulfil, or justify their claim” when they say a man must do something, comply with some law, rule or condition, before he can be saved, or so that he can remain saved. Such thinkers, like the Jews, do not believe that salvation is by grace alone through the gift of faith alone. Despite their vacuous claims to the contrary, they believe salvation is not a gift by grace alone, but that which comes as the result of constant works and effort, that salvation is ultimately of themselves, by what they do. They conveniently ignore multiple, large passages of Scripture which include key verses such as Romans 9:16: “…it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”, by pointing to a single verse like James 2:17, which, in their blindness, they see as advocating works as a vital, and, therefore, necessary means to salvation. They insist that a person cannot be saved unless they do. That salvation cannot come without a man doing something first. This is the fundamental difference between truth and error, between true Christianity and man-made religion. One proceeds from the Spirit of truth, and the other from the mind of man. To be born again is to be born of the will of God (see Jn. 1:13; 3:3; Rom. 9:16; Jas. 1:18); it is to be born of the Spirit, not of the flesh (see Jn. 3:6). 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). God is not under any obligation to elect, or save any man based on that man’s will, or efforts, for there are none who seek Him, and even if there were those who sought out and attempted to appease the true God, the Word of God reminds us that all man’s righteousnesses are as filthy rags before a Holy God. This is why salvation is not, indeed cannot be, conditioned upon what a man does, but solely upon the will, purpose and grace of God. God “…is at full liberty, notwithstanding whatever they will or do, to give His grace and mercy, when, where, and to whom He pleases; and, therefore, to give it to some, and deny it to others, can never be accounted an act of injustice, since He is not bound to give it to any”. Those who insist that salvation, and even election, are contingent upon the actions of a person, make salvation conditional upon what they must do rather than on what Christ alone has done. This is not God electing man by grace, but man electing himself by works which he claims earn him the right to be saved. This belief directly contradicts the Word of God which says that election is according to grace, and not at all by works, for if it was by works then it would not be by grace at all. Likewise, seeing that election is clearly by grace then it cannot be by any works at all. “…there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 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” (Rom. 11:5,6). The teaching that claims a man’s efforts are essential to his salvation plays havoc with such major Gospel doctrines as for whom Christ died, election and the Sovereignty of God, not to mention the very principles of both grace and mercy.
Religions, and those who follow them, have and promote a zeal for God which is not according to the true and only correct knowledge of Him revealed in and by His Holy Word, but are only in agreement with lies about Him. Any truths they may hold to are transformed into half-truths, and are actually nullified, by the lies they openly and warmly embrace, thus leaving them with a big picture, a gospel, that can only be described as distorted at best, and utterly and spiritually blasphemous at worst. What good is a distorted picture? As with the reflection cast by a funhouse mirror, a fake is not something which is self-existent for it is an imitation of something else, a warped image of the genuine, and, therefore, something which is not what it purports to be. What can be gained by believing blasphemy? The best counterfeit is the worst counterfeit. The closest thing to the real thing brings no genuine comfort, but is only an imagined consolation, for it is still a false thing. A person may believe they have a genuine $50 note, but in the cold light of reality all they have is a worthless piece of colored paper. All counterfeits are worthless. No matter how close they come to the real thing, counterfeits are of no legal use, and, therefore, have absolutely no value. They do not, and cannot, profit a man anything. The closest a counterfeit gospel may come to the true Gospel brings with it no salvation whatsoever, for it is a false gospel. It is a counterfeit message believed in by counterfeit Christians. Any similarity it might have to God’s Gospel, even to the point of including genuine Gospel doctrines, gives it absolutely no power to save, for it is not God’s Gospel. Misinterpretations, misunderstandings, misconceptions and downright lies about what the Word of God is truly saying is something which is not brought about by the Spirit of Truth, but only by Satan and man. Only those who are led by the Spirit of God are the people of God: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). If one is led by the Spirit of God then one recognizes and believes the truth of God and about God, for the Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth and only of truth. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” (Jn. 16:13 cf. Jn. 14:17; 15:26); “…And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 Jn. 5:6). “…if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9 cf. Rom. 8:16). If any man have not the Spirit of truth, he does not have the Gospel of truth, and, therefore, has not God. True Christians “…are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 Jn. 4:6). The Lord Jesus says: “…Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice” (Jn. 18:37), therefore, “…the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice, and a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (Jn. 10:4,5). The true Christian places his trust in God’s only Way of salvation—the Righteousness of Christ imputed by the grace of God—revealed only in the Gospel of God. The Lord Jesus says: “…Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice” (Jn. 18:37 cf. Jn. 10:27). Everyone who truly hears Christ’s voice, understands, obeys, believes and recognizes His Gospel, and “…is of God, belongs to the sheep of Christ, knows the truth as it is in Jesus, and is on the side of truth, and stands by it: everyone who hears His voice, hears the voice of His Gospel; and that not only externally, but internally; so as to approve of it, rejoice at it, and distinguish it; and the voice of His commands, so as cheerfully to obey them from a principle of love to Him”. Those who do not hear, that is, those who do not understand and recognize God’s truth shall die in their sins. The Lord Jesus said of such people: “…ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep…” (Jn. 10:26 cf. Jn. 8:24). The sheep of Christ believe His Gospel, those who are not do not. To understand God’s Gospel is not some mental exercise performed by man, but is a supernatural gift given by God to His people. To be saved is to be saved by God, the evidence is believing the Gospel of God, His Way to salvation, and no other’s.
When God calls out His chosen ones He always calls them out by His Gospel from darkness to Light (see 1 Pet. 2:9 cf. Acts 26:18; 2 Thess. 2:13,14). The saved man is brought out of darkness, he is rescued from the curse of sin which has left every man by nature dead in sins and dead to God; dead to a proper and correct understanding of Who God is and how God saves. Not understanding the Gospel, or not believing it, is part of the curse of sin. This is why ignorance of the Gospel is the evidence of a lost soul. It all falls under the category of unbelief. Not believing the Gospel, as God proclaims it, is something which only a lost person is guilty of. The love and grace of God “…is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). God’s people do not remain in darkness, but by grace are made free from its blinding effects (see 2 Cor. 4:4). The Word of God clearly teaches that to evidence having savingly received—been given—the Seed of God, one must hear it AND understand it, AND believe it. There is no other way to salvation than by the gifts of grace and faith. Ignorance of the Gospel is ignorance of Christ, and ignorance of the truth of the true Christ is absolute and conclusive evidence of a state of spiritual depravity. Again, Christ said of them which believed not on Him: “…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; Acts 28:27; 1 Cor. 2:9,10). One cannot see without sight, one cannot understand without faith, one cannot be a Christian without conversion. Biblical conversion is to be converted from being a believer in lies, to a believer in God’s truth: God’s Gospel. The apostle Paul warned “…though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8,9). A man whose trust is in another gospel, a false gospel which does not tell the truth of the true Christ, is as saved as the man who refused to look at the serpent on the pole was healed. Those who looked not upon the serpent on the pole were not healed, but died. So too, those who will not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in His obedience and death as revealed in His Gospel, will not be saved (see Num. 21:8,9 & Mk. 16:15,16). To say one was saved before exclusively believing in the Gospel of God, is to say that a man was healed before he beheld the serpent on the pole (see Jn. 3:14,15; Num. 21:8,9). A false gospel cannot produce a saved man, just as “…no lie is of the truth” (1 Jn. 2:21). “…what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?...” (2 Cor. 6:16). Many have an enormous zeal for God, but zeal for God is pointless, it is utterly profitless, if it is not according to the right, proper and accurate knowledge of God (see Rom. 10:1-4). Looking to anything else other than the serpent on the pole healed no one at all. Likewise, believing anything else other than the Gospel of Christ saves no one at all. Those who receive not the love of the truth, will not be saved (see 2 Thess. 2:10). The Judgement is "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth..." (2 Thess. 2:12).
Ignorance is not the way to God. Nor does ignorance draw the mercy of God, but rather His Wrath, for ignorance is a sign of accursedness. Ignorance of the Gospel of God is only evidenced in those who are lost. Ignorance of the Gospel of God as His only power unto salvation reveals the lost state of a man, and not a saved one. Ignorance is a sign that one does not know the Gospel, and, therefore, the God of the Gospel. Ignorance of the Gospel is evidence that one does not hear God’s voice, which in turn reveals that one does not believe His truth, that one does not recognize His truth as truth, and thus follows another’s voice, and so trusts in a false gospel. Truth is only controversial to those who do not believe it. Ignorance is not innocence. Ignorance of the true God is the result of man’s sin which has separated him from God. Ignorance of the true God is the partitioning wall built by sin which divides and keeps man from the true God. Ignorance is a sign of condemnation. Ignorance is a sign of guilt, the guilt which resides in all men by nature via the sin of Adam. Thought by many to be grounds for mercy, ignorance—when it comes to the matter of salvation—is the evidence of lostness. It is the evidence of a guilty and accursed creature. If the Gospel be hid, there can be no saving knowledge of the God of the Gospel. If a man is saved without knowledge, understanding and belief of the Gospel of God, then a man is saved without the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ shining on him (see 2 Cor. 4:3,4).
As is the case of sincerity without truth, zeal for God without the right knowledge of God has never saved anyone. Zeal without the Gospel is zeal without God. Zeal without the Gospel of God is zeal toward a false god. Ignorance of the truth belies a trust in that which is untrue, and a mistrust and rejection of that which is true. Sincerity does not legitimize error. Longevity of belief does not legitimize error. Sincerity and longevity of belief, can, in no way, balance the scales, or counteract the sin of unbelief. False doctrines are never to be judged as right, or ascribed authenticity simply because the person who abides in them goes about doing good. The veracity and credibility of doctrines does not depend upon the good deeds and niceness, or lack thereof, of the person who believes them. Believing untruths about God which identify another god cannot save you, no matter your lifestyle. Whether ignorance is wilful, intentional, or unintentional, it is sin nonetheless. To be ignorant is to be lost. Ignorance = error = unbelief. Ignorance resides in a dark soul, a soul which has yet to be enlightened by the Gospel of Christ: “But 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 do not believe God’s Gospel are lost. They are the blind who walk in darkness, for they have never seen the Light. There is no excuse for the sin of ignorance, in not knowing the true God, for sin is that which caused the initial separation between man and God. Ignorance is a child of sin which is the sign of accursedness. Sin is that which has separated man from the true God, unto the warm, but deceptive embrace of ignorance. Ignorance provides warmth which will one day become a raging and eternal fire. Ignorance finds its origin in sin, for it is a product of sin, and, therefore, can only ever be evidence of a condemned soul.
What a person believes about ‘God’ identifies which god/God that person believes in. So we learn from this that what a person believes, and, therefore, trusts in, is no trivial matter, but one which has deep and eternal consequences. To believe a false gospel is to not trust in the only way God saves. To believe one is, or was, saved whilst believing a false gospel is the veritable manifestation of what it is to be lost: a man who is without God, but who believes all is well with his soul. All teachings and doctrines of the people who believe them, are inseparably connected to the God/god they define. Everyone believes they have faith in the true God, but it is the doctrines which they hold dear that are the telling factor. Belief of false doctrines can only ever lead one to a false god. Likewise, only true doctrine will ever point one to the true God. Belief in any other gospel, but God’s Gospel, simply cannot be tolerated, hence the unmistakable words of Christ: “…preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15,16). Tolerance is surrender, which is why God does not tolerate—sanction, or condone—false doctrine. How can the God of Truth proclaim the essentiality of believing His Truth, and then incomprehensively approve the lies of false gospels, and save people who believe and trust in those lies! God does not tolerate, and, therefore, surrender to and accept anyone’s claims to Him, and of being saved, who does not believe His Gospel. If God has saved you He has given you the gift of faith by grace to believe His Gospel and reject all others. If God tolerated error in one’s beliefs about Who He is, what His Gospel is, and the Way He saves, then there would be more than one Gospel to believe and be saved by. But there is no tolerance whatsoever to be found in a Holy God, nor in the fact that those who believe not HIS Gospel will be mercilessly damned. “…the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9).
How much error will God permit in a person's beliefs concerning His Gospel and still save them? The answer is: NO error, which by its very nature is contrary to and contributes to the perversion of the Gospel of Christ, thereby, revealing another gospel that God has not declared and another christ that God does not claim to be HIS Son, will be tolerated. No one who believes in such error can be considered among God’s people, for, God's people are all taught of Him and have had His Truth revealed to them and been given the Faith to believe the Truth of God, and not the errors/lies of men. There is not one conciliatory verse in the whole of Scripture that will lead a man to believe that he will be saved without the knowledge, understanding and belief of the Gospel of God. The Lord Jesus says: “…they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me” (Jn. 6:45). Those who abide in false gospels have not been taught of the Father, and, therefore, cannot/will not come to His only begotten Son. Truth is that which reveals the true God, lies only reveal His imposters. Believing error, is believing in a false gospel. Ignorance of God, which is nothing less than ignorance of the truth of God, the true doctrines which make up His Gospel that reveals the true God, can only lead a man further and further away from God, and never to Him. The further a man is from God the more dependence he places upon himself to reach God, and be at one with Him. It is only the Righteousness of Christ which makes a man right before God, acceptable to Him. Man’s ‘obedience’ can only ever produce a righteousness that is tantamount to “filthy rags” which can never be acceptable to God, and, therefore, can only ever leave a man hopelessly lost in his sins.
If one does not worship the true God, one is worshipping a false god, an idol of one’s own, or another’s, imagination. What constitutes an idol is simply “wrong thoughts (or lies) about God”. Wrong thoughts about God literally create other gods, idols of the human mind that are entrenched in the hearts of the unenlightened. Even the so-called ‘best intentions’ of a religiously-minded person are nothing but vanity if they are not guided and tempered by truth. More often than not, idols are born in minds which only have the ‘best of intentions’ at heart. However, sincerity and the best of intentions cannot protect a man from believing lies. Idols made of stone or wood are born, or created, out of ignorance. No less an idol is that which exists only in the mind of its creator, or follower. Idols are created by lost men for lost men. You cannot rightly presume to think that God is like this, or that He saves in that way, if your beliefs about Him are slanderous—not in accord with the right knowledge of Him, not in accord with what God says of Himself. The true Christian is not an idol worshipper, but is “…turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). False gospels only promote idols which are nothing but the gods of lost men. If you believe with a faith that does not believe in God’s Gospel plan of salvation, then you simply have not God, for your faith cannot be the faith which God grants to all His elect so that they will believe His Gospel, and no other, so that they will believe in Him, and no idol. God does not morph Himself into the image you have of Him, for He does not change from the eternal image presented of Him by the Scriptures. If you have a different image of God than the one portrayed by His Word, His Gospel, then your faith is in a different god, even if you call him ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’. Only the Gospel of God contains the doctrines which portray the right and true image of Christ. A false gospel, no matter how closely it may come to resembling God’s Gospel, can never portray the true Christ. If you do not abide in HIS doctrine, you have not God (see 2 Jn. 9). If the gospel you believe in is not God’s Gospel, you have not God.
A saved man is a new man—born again, or created, by the God of truth with the truth of God: “Being 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). Before a man is saved he does not believe God’s Gospel, after a man is saved he believes only God’s Gospel. A saved man is one who has had the shackles and yoke of obedience to law and rules in order to gain, or maintain salvation, completely removed from him by the Gospel of God. A saved man is a man who has had his thinking changed by the truth of God: he has been given the gift of repentance and is forever turned from the lies he once loved, and now believes only the Gospel of God. To believe the true God is to believe only in the true God’s Gospel. “…the truth shall make you free…If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:32,36); “…the Spirit of truth…will guide you into all truth…” (Jn. 16:13); “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). The Lord Jesus says: “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me…for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:29,30). Salvation is an impossible goal to reach if one tries to attain it through a compliance with the law of God. The law is not anyone’s Saviour, the law is not Christ, for “…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). No one is justified by what they do, but only by the gift of faith given so that one will trust exclusively in what God alone has done. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28 see also Rom. 3:22). This does not leave a man destitute, for it points him to the only way a man can be saved, and that is by the obedience of another: the Lord Jesus Christ Who is “…the end of the law for Righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). “Christ is that which brings the functions of the Law to an end by superseding it. ‘The Law pursues a man until he takes refuge in Christ; then it says, ‘Thou hast found thine asylum; I shall trouble thee no more, now thou art wise; now thou art safe’.” “This means that the Law as a demanded obligation has come to an end because Jesus has fulfilled its demands and imputed His Righteousness to those who believe. Christ has freed believers from the tyranny of law.” Therefore, the Scriptures do not command, ‘obey the law and you will be saved’, but, “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31). Have not faith in what you believe you can do, but have faith only in what Christ Jesus the Lord has done. Christ says, “…Believe in God, believe also in Me” (Jn. 14:1). If, however, one refuses the Messiah, then one is commanded and obligated to obey the law of God perfectly, or face an eternity of relentless torment. Christ has fulfilled the law of God for the people chosen by God and given to Him. He has done what they could never do. The law of God has been obeyed, and salvation is given to all for whom it was obeyed. Only Christ’s Righteousness satisfies the demands of God’s Holy Law. The only way salvation comes is by the imputed Righteousness of Christ, not by the personal righteousness of man. Being given the faith to believe in the true Gospel is comparatively an easy road to travel, for Christ alone has already established the perfect Righteousness required for a man’s salvation. A man trying to get saved by his own righteousness is a fool, for the work he is trying to accomplish has already been perfectly accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ. The only Righteousness which saves has already been established, by Another. Trust in Christ and you will never look to your own obedience as that which saves. Trust not in Christ and you will only ever look to your own inadequate efforts at obedience.
What must a man do to be saved? Live a life of the strictest observance of rules and laws? NO! All a man must do to be saved, to show that he is saved, is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in God’s one and only Gospel. Importantly, a man’s believing is not some intrinsic act which he performs of his own accord in order to meet a condition which will then qualify him for salvation, for as with grace, believing is a gift given by God, and not something produced by man. A saved man’s faith is of God, just as a saved man’s Righteousness is of God. “…their Righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord” (Isa. 54:17 cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent” (Jn. 6:29). “…this is of the operation of God, which He Himself works in men; it is not of themselves, it is the pure gift of God: that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent; there are other works which are well pleasing to God, when rightly performed, but faith is the chief work, and others are only acceptable when done in the faith of Christ. This, as a principle, is purely God's work; as it is an act, or as it is exercised under the influence of Divine grace…” With light comes the seeing, with salvation comes the believing. Salvation is a work of God, not man. Salvation is an act of grace through faith which is not of ourselves, but is the gift of faith, and is, therefore, not dependent upon any act of man. Faith is not a work of man, but a gift from God. “…Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God…” (Mk. 10:26,27). “…the just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4 cf. Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), which faith is given unto him by God. Such faith is not a work performed by the believer, but that which is produced in the believer by God. Saving faith is a work of God, given by God to a chosen vessel of mercy. Believing is not a condition met, but a gift given, an evidence of salvation produced in the believer by the God of grace. Saving faith comes from God and is given by God to His people. Saving faith is given so that a person will trust in the true God, by believing only in the true God’s Gospel. The fact that saving faith is given shows that it comes from the same Source, and is, therefore, the selfsame faith—the faith of God’s elect who abide exclusively in the Gospel of Christ.
Christ Jesus “…was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (the elect, see 1 Pet.1:2), Who BY HIM do believe in God…” (1 Pet. 1:20,21). Believing is not primarily an act of obedience, it is not our gift to God, as some so falsely claim, but a gift given by God to His chosen people. The saving faith of God’s elect does not originate within themselves, for “…it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8), of which Christ is the Author, or Inaugurator: “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2). God is the giver from Whom comes the faith which saves, the faith which believes only in Him and His glorious, unique and incomparable Gospel. Saving faith is not something which spiritually dead creatures generate from within, for saving faith is God’s property, it originates within Him, and He gives it to whomsoever He has made alive. Paul spoke of himself as “…one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful” (1 Cor. 7:25 cf. 1 Pet. 1:3; 2:10), not because he was faithful. One does not obtain mercy because one is faithful, but so that one will be made faithful to God and His unique Gospel. One cannot be faithful before one is saved. One cannot be faithful to God without the antecedent mercy of God. It takes the mercy of the Lord to be faithful to Him and His Word. To be faithful to God is to have the faith which comes from God. To be faithful to God is to be faithful to the Gospel of God. You cannot be faithful to God by believing His Gospel without having obtained the mercy of God, from God, by grace. Christ said: “…This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent” (Jn. 6:29 cf. 1 Jn. 3:23). A Christian’s believing in God is a work of God. It is not that which is required for grace, but that which is of grace. One requires the mercy of God in order to trust in the God of mercy. There is quite simply no other way. The apostle Peter writing to believers said: “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:10 cf. 1 Cor. 7:25). Those who have not obtained mercy are not the people of God, but the children of His Wrath. Only those who have obtained mercy by being appointed to mercy, evidenced by their believing God’s Gospel, are the people of God. Knowing God is inextricably connected to the mercy of God. “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest. FOR I will be MERCIFUL to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:11,12). The people of God are they who have obtained mercy of the Lord TO BE faithful to His Word: the Gospel. The mercy of God is why the people of God are who they are. Without God no one can be saved. Without God, no one will believe. Believing is a gift from God, and never a meritorious work of men: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ…to believe on Him…” (Phil. 1:29 cf. Jn. 3:27; 2 Cor. 1:7). “…faith in Christ…as with God's salvation, is a pure gift of grace; it is not in nature, nor in every man, and in whom it is, it is not of themselves, it is the gift of God; the first implantation of it, all its acts and exercise, its increase, and the performance of it at last with power, are all owing to the grace of God; and this is only given to the elect, for it is a distinguishing gift; it is given to them, and them alone, and, therefore called the faith of God's elect.” It is by grace that a man believes. Believing is not a work of man’s, but is a gift from God.
The apostle Paul’s reply to the man who asked “…Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), was simply: “…‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…’ And they spake unto him the Word of the Lord…” (Acts 16:31,32). In 1 Peter 1, we see in verse 25 precisely what this Word of the Lord actually is, Peter explains: "But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by THE GOSPEL is preached unto you”. The Book of Acts itself is also testament to the Gospel being the Word of the Lord. The two phrases are used as one, interchangeably, in Acts 8: "And they, when they had testified and PREACHED THE WORD of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and PREACHED THE GOSPEL…” (Acts 8:25 cf. Acts 14:7,21; 16:10; 20:24). It could not have been made any clearer. This is revealed and supported by many other Scriptures throughout the Bible. For instance, Acts 8:4 speaks of those who went forth preaching the Gospel as they that "...went everywhere preaching the Word" (see also Acts 11:19; 15:35). The Book of Acts includes within its pages a record of the extensive preaching undertaken by the apostles and other disciples of Christ. This preaching was often referred to as “preaching of the Word of the Lord” (Acts 15:35), or “they preached the Word of God” (Acts 13:5 cf. Acts 18:11), or “preaching the Word of the Lord” (Acts 8:25 cf. Acts 15:36). In Acts 15:7 Peter introduces a new phrase: "...that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear THE WORD OF THE GOSPEL, and believe”. As was noted earlier, a similar, more encompassing phrase, is used in Colossians 1:5: "For the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, whereof ye heard before in THE WORD OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL”. The Scriptures makes it all irresistibly and abundantly clear. The Word of Truth, the Word of God, the Word of the Lord Jesus, etc., are all references to THE GOSPEL of God without the belief of which none can be born again. The Lord Jesus says: “…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3,5). “These two factors, water and spirit, are not strictly co-ordinate. Water is not an actual spiritual agency in the second birth; it is only a symbol…The same idea is found in Titus 3:4,5: 'But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 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'.”
Loving the true God, believing the truth of God cannot be a reality in your life if you have not heard God’s Gospel, for how can one believe that which is essential to salvation if one has not heard the Gospel. How can you have been given the gift of faith so that you will believe, trust only in, God’s Gospel, if you have not even heard that Gospel? How can someone be in possession of the faith which is given by God if they do not believe the Gospel of God? “How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?...faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:14,17). Believing is made all the more easier, for it is a gift given by God, and not something which a man must try to summon from within himself. Believing is the breath of eternal life. Those 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). This believing can only ever be a reality after one has heard the Gospel of Christ: “In Whom ye also trusted AFTER that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation…” (Eph. 1:13). You cannot trust what you have not heard. The Word of the Truth of the Gospel brings forth fruit only AFTER one has heard and believed it: “For the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the Truth of the Gospel…bringeth forth fruit…since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:5,6). Trusting God comes only after hearing His Gospel, and not before. Bringing forth fruit unto God happens only from (original Greek), or since, the day you heard His Gospel, and not before. Hearing and faith do not work independently of each other, but are co-agents of the grace of God by which a man is saved. One cannot know the grace of God in truth until one has heard and believed the Word of Truth: the Gospel of salvation with the saving faith which God provides His chosen with. All true Christians “…believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved…” (Acts 15:11). The grace spoken of is of God, grace is a work of God, and it is “…the grace of God that bringeth salvation…” (Titus 2:11). Grace is God’s only means to salvation. The Christian is “…justified by His grace…” (Titus 3:7). The saved man is nothing more than a recipient, a vessel made unto honor, made to receive God’s mercy. Man by nature is like a sealed empty bottle. It cannot produce anything. At the appointed time, God removes the seal, and pours His salvation by grace into the bottle. The very fact that a man believes the Gospel of God, is solely attributable to God’s grace. The Word of God refers to the truly saved as they “...which had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). The origin of belief is grace. Its sole source is God, which is why the faith that is given by God to His elect believes only in His Gospel.