FAITH TO BELIEVE WHAT? (part 2)
The true Gospel is the power of God to save because in it He declares the righteousness of Christ "...for the remission of sins....that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of FAITH" (Rom. 3:25-27). Man needs a Justifier, for he cannot save himself. This means that nothing within man can ever please God. No work of man’s, no faith of man’s, can ever justify him before God, which is why there was a need for a Savior to be sent and a Faith to be given. The Word of God says that no man can boast in his salvation, for any and all boasting is excluded because of the law, or principle, of faith. If salvation were by works then man would have a right to boast. However, salvation is not according to works because the principle of faith rules out any boasting on man’s part that he has done anything, or contributed anything to his own salvation. Consequently, this in turn rules out any possibility that justifying faith is something a man can summon from deep within himself, for if it was, faith would be a work of man’s and not a gift from God. If it was by man’s efforts, according to what he did or by something he was able to grasp with his intellect and needed not any power from without to bless him with this ability, he would have a legal right to boast. But these Scriptures are saying that none can boast, for salvation is by faith. Obviously then, this faith is not a work of man’s but something that must be given to him: "For by grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that NOT OF YOURSELVES: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9). What exactly this verse is referring to when it says that not of yourselves need not be debated, for it is clearly stating that grace, salvation and faith are all interconnected and one cannot have one without the others. With this connection established we conclude that grace, salvation and faith are ALL the gifts of God and none of them are as a result of man’s works. In theologizing, or debating whether this verse is talking about grace, salvation or faith as that which is not of ourselves, one misses the big picture that this verse portrays and that is that salvation, grace and faith are all gifts from God and therefore ALL OF SALVATION IS ALL BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH. The whole parcel of love from God towards His elect contains everything necessary to save them, including these three gifts. If faith was of man then it would be a work of man’s that would save him and not a gift from God. Man would be boasting and God would not have all the glory for salvation.
The clearest, most outstanding verse of Scripture contrasting faith and works is Galatians 2:16: "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." Salvation is not by our works but by His faith. If justifying faith were not a gift, then salvation would not be a gift and therefore not by the grace of God but by what a man did, by a work of man. But justifying faith is a gift of God and therefore only by this ruling principle, this governing principle, of salvation can it rightly be said that salvation is TOTALLY by the grace of God and NOT AT ALL by the works of man, which includes the faith that is in every man by nature. Any condition a man must meet in order to be saved would require a work of man’s, which would automatically nullify, or cancel out, grace: "...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..." (Rom. 11:6). Grace does not work hand in hand with works, but independently of them. Grace does not need any work of man’s to guarantee salvation, otherwise it would cease to be grace. The minute you add works as a condition for salvation, grace disappears. Such a gospel does not come from God, but has been constructed by the mind of man and does not require the faith of God to believe it. Only the faith of man will believe in a gospel made up by man. The faith that comes from God rejects all such gospels that condition any part of salvation on a work of man’s, for that justifying faith was given to embrace and adhere to the Gospel of total grace.
Paul, in Romans, said: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom. 4:5 cf. 4:6). The evidence for justification is the faith that comes from and is given by God, and the evidence that it is the faith that comes from God is that the person who has it believes that only the Gospel of God is the power of God unto salvation and repents of ever believing that salvation could come by belief in any other gospel. This particular Scripture also shows conclusively that faith is not a work of man’s but a gift from God. The man who believes the Gospel of God did not do anything to merit the gift of faith, for then it would cease to be a gift, it could not rightly be called a gift, but saving faith would have to be called a wage that man has deserved. Grace teaches that the gift of faith is not given because of what man has done but despite what he has not done: sought and honored God. The man who believes is not working, but simply exercising the gift of faith given to him by the grace of God. This exercising of faith is part and parcel of the gift of faith from God. Without the agency of the Holy Spirit one cannot have justifying faith or the ability to exercise it. If a person does not have justifying faith one could hardly expect such a person to exercise it. Faith "...exists in the mind only when the Holy Ghost produces it there, and is, in common with every other Christian excellence, to be traced to His agency on the heart". Can you imagine God’s Spirit of truth producing faith in a man which does not believe the truth?
The Gospel of God will not profit a man if he is not, by the grace of God, united to it through the faith that comes from God. "For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Heb. 4:2). The faith of man could never be yoked with the Gospel of God. Those who are destitute of God’s faith are destitute of a love of God’s Gospel and therefore destitute of God’s salvation. The saved man’s faith, in other words the gift of God and from God which believes in His Gospel, is what is counted for righteousness, not just because it comes from God but because it believes God’s Gospel, which is the essential evidence that it is from God (see Rom. 4:5). Salvation is not by what a man does or has but by what God does and GIVES! Salvation is by the gift of faith "...that it might be by grace (not works)..." (Rom. 4:16). Why? To what end? "...that the promise (of salvation) might be sure to all the seed (God’s elect)" (Rom. 4:16). If faith was not a gift from God then salvation could not be by the grace of God. If faith was a work, if it was the responsibility of a man to produce, then salvation would be by works and not at all by grace. If you claim to believe in the ‘doctrines of grace’ and yet insist you were saved before believing them, or if what you have is a gospel made up of God’s grace and your works, it is a false gospel which cannot save, for works and grace cannot be mixed together for the one cancels out the other. They are two diametrically opposing principles. A man cannot believe in a grace and works gospel and be saved, just like he cannot be in two places at the one time. Anytime you have the slightest work you have a works gospel. Even if you attribute that work to the grace of God you have a gospel of works and not grace (see Lk. 18:9-14). Only the Gospel of God’s grace includes within it no condition for salvation that man must fulfill by an act of obedience on his part. If salvation is by grace—which is to say by God—which is what the Scriptures teach, then by definition salvation by grace could not possibly include, or depend upon, any work of man’s even if it required the grace of God to perform it. Scripture says that the saved are "...justified by faith..." (Rom. 5:1 cf. Gal. 3:8,11). By faith in what? By faith in the Gospel, wherein God bears record of Who His Son is and what His Son has done. Seeing then that the Word of God also says that no man can be justified by works, it stands to biblical reason that what justifies a man cannot be something that is of him, but only of God. The true Christian never lays claim to have ever been saved without justifying faith in the Gospel of God, but only after he was made willing to receive it.
The Jews in Romans 9 were said not to have attained to the law of righteousness "...Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law..." (Rom. 9:32). The carnally minded Jews believed, as the multitude of religious people do today, that salvation was attainable by what they did. This is the lie that deceives all men by nature and which all religion is built upon: man can only be saved by something he does. Many religions add a perverted form of grace to this rule, but ultimately all religion hinges salvation on what a man does. They are ignorant of the fact that salvation can only be attainable by what God gives and by what Christ has done. This ignorance is an obvious and conclusive sign of the absence of faith. The faith that God gives causes a man to abandon any and all hope of his meeting, or being required to meet, any condition of salvation, but believes all conditions of salvation were met by the Person and Work of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Hence he seeks salvation, not by anything he has done or needs to continue doing, but by complete faith in Who Christ is and what Christ has done, for the saved man knows that he is complete in Christ (see Col. 1:5). Observe, if you will, that Romans 9:32 provides another instance of faith being contrasted with works: faith being of God, works being of man. Ignorance of God and how He saves is evidenced when a person attempts to establish their own righteousness by their own works, rather than acknowledging and accepting the fact that true righteousness can only come by God’s gift of faith. If one has not been given the faith of God one is simply not saved. There are only two types of men: those who go about trying to establish a righteousness of their own, and those who have been given the faith of God to believe that righteousness can only come through the obedience of the Son of God and no other; that salvation is not conditioned on what a man does, but on what a man believes (see Mk. 16:16 & 2 Thess 2:10,12,13); that this condition is not something a man can comply with in and of himself but something that can only be met by the love, grace and gift of God. Conditioning any part of salvation on man is to take grace completely out of the picture. Of course, when a man believes with the faith of God there will be a change in his lifestyle etc., but no part of salvation is conditioned on any moral reformation on the part of man. The fact that salvation is conditioned on what a man believes and that no man can savingly believe with his own faith, shows conclusively that salvation is all of, and purely by, the grace of God.
Another vital verse of Scripture to do with faith is found in Romans 10:17: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God". Both faith and the hearing of God’s Word are undeniable essentials to salvation and without them, or without either one of them, there can be no salvation. The faith that justifies cannot be present if one has not heard and believed in the Gospel of God. Contrary to what many believe, before the hearing and believing of the Gospel of God there is no saving faith present. How could there be? If there is no hearing there can be no faith. And, if there is no hearing by the Word of God there can be no justifying faith. The Scriptures ask: "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?..." (Rom. 10:14). And it may rightly be added, ‘How shall they believe without the faith that comes from God?’ For without the faith that comes from God, one cannot call on Him and one cannot believe in Him, for one cannot have heard of Him. The only one you can call on is the one in whom you have believed. The only one you can believe in is he of whom you have heard. Now, based on these biblical principles, how can anyone believe the true God when all they know is a false gospel? Notice that faith cometh by hearing (Rom 10:17) is within the context of verse 14. To be saved is to hear the Gospel and believe in the Savior of that Gospel with true Faith. The absence of either one denies the existence of the other. If one does not have the true Savior then one cannot have the faith that God gives to His people to believe in Him, and as long as one is without that faith one will always be without the Messiah that God bears record to in His Gospel. If there was saving faith present, what would it believe if the person who had it had not yet heard the Gospel? This would be like saying that one is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of promise but is not yet sealed with Him (see Eph. 1:13). Can a man have the Holy Spirit and yet not be sanctified? Can a man have saving faith and yet still be ignorant of the Gospel that faith was given to believe and rightly consider himself saved? Can any man savingly believe the Gospel of God WITHOUT the faith of God? Can a man have the faith that comes from God and still believe in a false gospel? Can he have justifying faith and still hold to major doctrinal error, ie abide in false doctrines and not in the doctrine of Christ? Remember 2 John 9 which says that if a man "...abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, (he) hath not God..." Can a man have the faith that comes from God and with it not believe the Gospel of God, or believe it but say that one can be saved without abiding in God’s truth? Saving faith is not given so that it may lie dormant and without influence for days, weeks or even years before it is exercised. Saving faith instantly takes effect on the man it is given to, for it is a living faith! Saving faith is not sent to believe nothing, to not have an effect on a man’s spiritual state, but it is sent to change a man’s spiritual state! Saving faith does not produce some imperceptible or gradual change that cannot be noticed, but it brings a striking change, an obvious change, in the one who has been given it, the kind of change spoken of in Acts 17:6 that turned the world upside down!! Saving faith is not sent of God in order that one may believe something that is not the word of God, not the Gospel of God. One does not need faith from God to believe that which is not of God. This is describing the fallen state of man—believing that which is not of God. Surely when given the faith of God, which is granted so that a man will believe the Gospel of God, none of its recipients will remain believers in a false gospel whose savior is a charlatan and whose god cannot save! The faith sent by God never shares its habitat with the faith of man. There is only room for one faith in a man and it is either his own faith or the faith of God. The faith of God cannot abide a false gospel, but only abides in the doctrine of Christ. The sole purpose for the existence of God’s faith is that it be given to His elect so that they will believe the truth and reject every false gospel.
The faith that man has believes what man says and the faith that God gives believes what God says. "...faith does not exist unless there is a message, or report, to be heard or believed. It cannot come otherwise than by such a message; in other words, unless there is something made known to be believed. And this shows us at once the importance of the message, and the fact that MEN ARE CONVERTED BY THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF TRUTH, AND OF TRUTH ONLY." False faith can only come by a false gospel, therefore belief in a false gospel can never be the evidence of a saved man. True faith can only believe the true Gospel, for it is the only faith which that Gospel can produce—faith cometh by hearing etc. A man cannot believe the Gospel if he has never heard the Gospel, for he can only have faith in that which he has heard. THIS IS WHY IT IS AN ABSOLUTE NONSENSE FOR ANYONE TO SAY THAT A MAN IS, OR WAS, SAVED WITHOUT HEARING THE GOSPEL OF GOD!! It therefore stands to biblical reason that a man cannot be saved without the Gospel, or the faith that believes the Gospel. Otherwise we would have the situation of a man being saved who has not heard the Gospel and does not believe with the faith that comes from hearing the message of God and does not need to! I mean, if hearing and believing the Gospel are not essentials to a man being saved, then what does it matter what a man believes either before or after he is ‘saved’! Doctrine shmoctrine! Who cares about right teaching or wrong teaching if a man can be saved without hearing and believing the truth! If one can be saved whilst believing false doctrine, who cares about learning the true doctrine? What does it matter if salvation is not dependant on it? Let’s just concentrate on what we do rather than on what we believe. What incentive would there be to know the truth if one could be saved without it! Such thinking is plainly nonsensical. This all leads us to rightly conclude that if one cannot be saved without the faith of God in the Gospel of God, how can anyone argue that a saved man can believe error, a false gospel, whilst in possession of justifying faith! If you believe you were, or that anyone can be, saved before hearing the true doctrine of Christ, then you are not only saying that you were saved without the Gospel but also that you were saved without the justifying faith that is given by God!! What kind of devilish ‘salvation’ is this that requires neither the Gospel of God nor the faith of God?? Perhaps some might soon come up with a gospel that does not require God at all for salvation, or that one does not even need to be saved!! Only a deluded, blinded, mind and only a faith that comes from man, energized by the Devil himself, could possibly conceive of such God-dishonoring blasphemies as these.
The message that is to be believed, God’s Gospel, is sent by God at His direction and the faith necessary to believe that message is also sent by God. One cannot have one without the other and rightly call oneself a saved person. If there is no Gospel then there can be no faith present to believe it, and if there is no saving faith present then there can be no belief of the Gospel of God and therefore no salvation. A key point in all this is the fact that one cannot have saving faith if one believes that one can be saved by a belief in any other gospel but God’s Gospel. You may claim to believe in the doctrines of grace, but insisting that you, or another, was saved, or is saved, whilst abiding in false doctrine is to say the unthinkable—that one can be saved without the justifying faith given by God to believe His Gospel. Or, that one can have saving faith yet still believe in a false gospel! If such were the case, that a man could have justifying faith and believe in a false gospel, what would one base such a person’s ‘salvation’ on? Where would the evidence lay that would show that such a person was saved? Such an absurdity is not found in the Scriptures. If God from the beginning has chosen the elect "...to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit AND BELIEF OF THE TRUTH" (2 Thess. 2:13 cf. Jn. 17:19), how can it be said that a person is saved regardless of what they believe? That they can be sanctified through the Spirit of God and reject or remain in ignorance of that very Truth the Holy Spirit was sent to guide all of God’s people into (see Jn. 16:13). Many so-called ‘pastors’ and alleged ‘ministers’ of God’s Word argue that because man is an imperfect creature he will believe imperfectly. That is, he will believe the Gospel but because of his sinful nature his believing will always contain some error, some imperfection. Because of this, they claim, God is tolerant of the erroneous concepts of the Gospel man has fashioned in his mind and placed his faith in, and while man cannot believe perfectly, what he believes rightly is enough to save him. But how can a man be saved who believes errors concerning the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, revealing that he has wrong notions of what it is, of how God saves. How can he be believing in the Gospel of God which, along with the faith of God, is given so that THERE WILL BE NO MISTAKE as to Who God is and how He saves!!! The reality is, the faith man has by nature is an imperfect faith, hence its fatal attraction to imperfect gospels. Conversely, the faith which God gives is perfect and always leads those to whom it has been given to believe in the perfect Gospel perfectly, WITHOUT FAIL!! The faith which God gives is attracted only to HIS Gospel and is repulsed by any other. The enemies of God believe that because man is an imperfect creature he will believe the Gospel imperfectly EVEN WITH THE FAITH THAT GOD GIVES! Subscribers to such thinking reveal that they know no other faith than the natural imperfect faith of man! They have not been blessed by God with HIS faith to believe the Gospel, and therefore to believe it perfectly. Of course these people are going to conclude that even a saved man with the gift of faith can only believe the Gospel with partial accuracy, because all they have ever believed with is the faith that is natural to man. Scripture says that "...it is required in stewards (of the mysteries of God), that a man be found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2). A steward is a preacher of God’s Gospel and a teacher of God’s Word. Now, how can a preacher of the Gospel be found faithful to that Gospel if he is not accurate in the preaching of it? How can one preach erroneously concerning the Gospel and be said to be faithful to it? Therefore how can a man be a true Christian if he does not faithfully and accurately believe in the perfect Gospel of God? The inseparableness of sanctification and accurate belief of the truth may be seen in Jesus’s own words in John 17:17: "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth". No one has any argument with the scriptural truth that there can be no salvation without sanctification, so why are so many people fooled by the lie that one can be saved without belief of the truth or with an imperfect understanding of it? This is a sad testimony to the carnal way of thinking of the unregenerate.
Jesus Christ is "...the Author (beginner) and finisher (perfecter) of our faith..." (Heb. 12:2). Again, saving faith is not something man can manufacture, something of which he is the orchestrator or beginner. Man has no such command over his faith as to direct it to savingly believe in the Gospel of God, nor can his natural faith influence him in such a way. If it could there would be no need for God to grant His faith so that a man would savingly believe His Gospel. As with every other thing to do with salvation, man is never the initiator. The saved man loves God but only because God loved him first (see 1 Jn. 4:19). The saved man believes in God, but only due to, and after, God gives him the faith to believe with. Saving faith comes from God and therefore it is He Who is the beginner of it, the author and implementer of it and consequently He must be the provider of it, giving it to whomsoever He wills. If it comes from God then it starts with God. The command, when made to God’s people, to believe God’s Gospel guarantees they will believe in no other. This means, for it to be the true Gospel of God, and for there to be true saving faith, what a person believes in must not contain error, no imperfection at all, but be the perfect Word of the Gospel of God. God giving His faith to a man is God commanding that man to believe His Gospel and no other and, behold, a new creature is created. "Let there be light: and there was light" (Gen. 1:3); "Let the earth bring forth grass" (Gen 1:11) and there was grass. And God giving His faith to a man is God saying, ‘Let there be a NEW creature, a believer in MY Gospel’ and, behold, there is a new creature who no longer believes in any false gospel no matter how much truth it contains but is now, by the grace of God through the faith of God, by means of the creation power of God, a new creature in Christ and believes in the only Gospel that saves!! Without the Gospel of which God is the Author and without the faith of which God is the Author NONE CAN BE SAVED! No one can please God without faith (see Heb. 11:6), the Scripture says, and the reader knows by now that faith comes by hearing and the hearing by the Word, which is the Gospel of God: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him..." (Heb. 11:6). How then can God be pleased with one who does not believe His Gospel, which evidences the fact that he has not the faith that comes from God? Is God pleased with a man who possesses natural faith and believes a false gospel? Of course not. God would be even less pleased, to say the least, if a man who was given God’s faith believed a false gospel with it, if such a thing were possible. "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8). None that are in the flesh, that have a faith produced by their carnal minds, can ever please God. For without the faith of God, one can never please God, and therefore be accepted by Him. No one can please God without the faith that believes in the Gospel of God. Believing in a different gospel to that which God is the Author of shows that one has a faith of which God is not the Father. For God to be responsible for the faith that believes in erroneous Gospel doctrines, it would mean He would be indifferent to what a man believed with the faith He gives. Just so long as man believed something with it would be good enough! It is important to note that not all false gospels are filled with lies. Some contain almost all truth yet stopping short of the whole truth, therefore making it impossible for God to call such a gospel His Gospel, and His giving anyone the faith to believe such an unnatural hybrid of truth and error. False gospels are believed in with a false faith which belongs to false christians. True Christians do not believe false gospels—or that they were ever saved believing them—because they have been given the faith of God to believe only HIS Gospel and that only belief in this Gospel saves, that only this Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. God saves those to whom He has given faith for they alone are the ones who believe His Gospel, and therefore they alone are the ones who please Him. This is so serious a matter that the Scriptures go so far as to say that a person cannot be of God, that is born again, they cannot have God, if they do not abide and believe in the doctrine of God: "Whosoever...abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, HATH NOT GOD....If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not..." (2 Jn. 9,10).
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Faith can only come by hearing the Word of the Gospel. It cannot come before hearing that Word, therefore, it cannot come without hearing that Word, and anyone who says it can is flying in the face of Scripture and contradicting God. How can one have saving, God-given Faith if that Faith has not the Gospel of God to believe in? Obviously one cannot have saving Faith if one has not heard the Gospel, which that Faith was given to believe!! The very presence of saving, God-given Faith is the surest evidence that one has heard and believes in the true, God-given Gospel. The Gospel never comes to an elect person on the day he is to believe it without the Faith to believe it. There is no saving Faith without the hearing of the Gospel, just as there is no trusting in the true Christ before one has believed the Gospel. Any honest, rational, person must admit, judging by the above verse, that the Gospel must be heard for there to be a saving Faith present. Why would God give His saving Faith to someone who had never heard the Gospel? What would they do with this Faith? Believe another gospel which cannot save? No one needs God to give them a faith to believe in a false gospel, for that is all any man by nature believes in the first place! The reason God gives His faith is that those whom He gives it to will believe His Gospel and banish FOREVER any other gospel they previously believed in, wiping from their minds any notion that they were ever saved believing it. Saving Faith is always and ONLY given to one through the hearing of the Gospel. It does not come mystically after some existential experience, but only after hearing the Gospel of God. You cannot have it without knowing and believing what it was given to you to believe in! What else could one have faith in but the Gospel of God in order to be saved? The Gospel is what God has said must be believed if any are to be saved. Faith can only come by the hearing of the Gospel, so it stands to reason that the Gospel must be heard for there to be saving Faith.
The Scriptures say, "...BEFORE FAITH CAME, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed" (Gal. 3:23). It must be pointed out that while this verse is primarily talking about the Jews and the law, it is not improper to say that before saving Faith comes, all men by nature believe that they must do something to gain or maintain salvation, in other words, that salvation is conditioned on what a man does. "The Law condemned every other mode of salvation, and the law condemned all who attempted to be justified in any other way." Man’s only ‘hope’ before faith came was by obedience to the law, for all were kept under the law. Of course, none were ever saved by their obedience to the law: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Curseth is everyone that continueth not in ALL things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10). So we see that anything outside the Gospel of grace, everything outside of what God has done or gives, comes under the heading works of the law. Every gospel other than God’s Gospel promotes works to some extent as necessary to one’s salvation. In light of this, it is not difficult to see that there is only one Gospel of grace and multitudes of gospels that are of works. One comes from God, and the others are all of men. One requires the faith of God, the others the faith of men. All that can exist in the mind of the unregenerate is the faith which believes a gospel that conditions salvation in some way, and to some degree, on what a man does. Neither that faith or that gospel come from God, for His is a message of total grace and it is only His faith that can savingly believe it. To savingly believe the Gospel is to believe it from the heart, which means to abide in the doctrine that teaches all of salvation is all by grace and all through faith in the Person and Work of the Son of God, and that there can be no salvation without, or before, belief of the Gospel.
All men by nature are locked into believing systems of ‘salvation’ based on works, many of which masquerade as grace. Man believes he must do something and God, in His law, has revealed what it is that man must do—OBEY AND LIVE, DISOBEY AND DIE! But He also reveals that none can do it! The very need for both grace and the faith of God, indeed the Savior Himself, confirm this. Therefore, no gospel that conditions any part of salvation, the attaining or maintaining of it, on what a man does, qualifies as the Gospel of God for it is works-based, and no faith which believes such lies could possibly justify a man before God because the faith that God gives believes only in grace (in what God had to do and give), it believes only in a Gospel which unequivocally leaves NO room for man to boast. Grace and faith are inextricably linked and only by this combination is there no room for a man to boast. God’s Gospel is a Gospel of grace and this is the key to understanding why all other gospels cannot save, because all other gospels promote works. All other gospels to some degree demand that man do something to secure or gain assurance that he is saved. The word of God reveals that, far from being a means to salvation, "...the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified BY FAITH" (Gal. 3:24). The law shows us that none can be saved by trying to obey it, but only by Faith in the One Who HAS obeyed it: "...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). Therefore the Christian has "...no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3), he has nothing to glory in "...save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Gal. 6:14). There is nothing man has done or can do that will impress God and motivate Him to save him. Salvation is not reliant upon what a man does or restrains his flesh from doing, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Gal. 6:15). "The fact that a man is created anew, or born again, constitutes the real difference between him and other men. This is what Christ requires...It is not by conformity to certain rites and customs that a man is to be accepted; it is not by elevated rank, or by wealth, or beauty, or blood; it is not by the color of the complexion; but the grand inquiry is whether a man is born again, and is in fact a new creature in Christ Jesus." It is the faith with which a man believes that is the telling factor, for in this can be seen the new creature or the old man. Man’s faith, which looks to what a man does or must do instead of, or in addition to, what Christ has done, cannot justify and therefore cannot be of God. Man is only saved by faith that is of Christ and looks ONLY to Christ, and only the new creature possesses it! If you have a faith that has led you to believe that you were saved, or remain saved, by your obedience to a particular law of God, then the Word of God says you are "...a debtor to do the whole law" (Gal. 5:3) and as a consequence "...are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10). Those who claim to be saved, or remain saved, by their obedience to a particular law of God, are claiming, whether they realise it or not, that they are saved by something they have done, by a work of the law, and are therefore saying that Christ died needlessly: "...if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21). The word vain here means ‘for naught’ and ‘without a cause’. The only way Christ’s death could have been for nothing or without a cause—ineffectual to any degree—is if righteousness could in any way come through the efforts of a man. If any part of righteousness can come by anything you do, then Christ’s death becomes a vain thing, not just for you but for all for whom He died. His obedience unto death was not necessary at all if man could obtain righteousness by his own obedience. Only if you have a Gospel that says ALL of righteousness can ONLY come by Christ’s obedience unto death, have you the true Savior, the true Gospel, the true Faith. The believer in the Gospel of the grace of God is no longer a debtor to do the whole law, for he believes in the One who fully obeyed that Law and his faith is counted for righteousness. He does not do, or seek to do, or feel compelled to do, anything to get saved or stay saved for HE KNOWS, WITH THE FAITH WHICH COMES FROM GOD, that Christ has done it all for him. He is no longer charged with his sin or sinfully imperfect attempts at obedience, but with Christ’s perfect righteousness (see Rom. 4:5-8; 2 Cor. 5:21). He has been freed from that debt by the One who fully complied with every demand the law made: Jesus the Justifier. The Gospel believer, made so because he has been blessed with the faith of God, does not believe that righteousness comes by the law for he believes that Christ did not die in vain but that, by His obedience unto death, He established a perfect righteousness for all those whom God gave Him, who have been blessed with the faith that rejects all personal obedience as playing any part in the salvation of a man, for he believes that all of salvation from beginning to final glory is conditioned on Christ. A gospel that does not teach you to count all that you were, all that you did, including what you believed as a whole, as dung, thereby testifying to the fact that you were lost before you claimed to believe the true Gospel, is a false gospel and you are yet in your sins (see Phil. 3:4-10).The Gospel believer, through the Spirit, waits "...for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Gal. 5:5 cf. Rom. 9:31,32), not by his obedience (works). He has no hope of salvation based on his obedience, but all his hope is in the obedience unto death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Obedience to the law has never saved anyone, for no one has ever obeyed it perfectly. God’s law is that which points us to Christ so that we might be saved by faith in Him and not by faith in our works, our own efforts at obeying God. God’s faith believes in Christ’s obedience and leads those to whom it has been given away from any and every ‘hope’ that one is, or remains, in a justified state by their own personal obedience.
The Faith that God bestows is the catalyst that ensures the recipient looks wholly to another for salvation and not to himself. The faith that is given by God causes us to look away from ourselves to another, for it convinces us of our sin: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). And so we see that before Faith came man had no hope of salvation, which means that before the Gospel came, before that faith from God came believing His Gospel, no man can be said to have been in a saved state. This is why it is an evidence of lostness for a man to say that he was saved whilst knowing little to nothing of the Gospel of God, for to know little to nothing of the Gospel of God is to admit that one is ignorant of the truth, believing something other than the truth of God’s plan of salvation revealed in His power unto salvation: the Mighty Gospel. It is to say that one CAN call on Him in whom they do not believe, and that one CAN believe in Him of whom they have not heard! If one is ignorant of the truth of God, how can it be said that one is saved? For to be saved means that one is no longer ignorant of the truth, that one has been converted from ignorance to right saving knowledge of God by the hearing of the Gospel of God, for one has been given the faith that believes that Gospel and that removes and abolishes ALL ignorance of it! Those who perish do not believe the truth of God, they have no love for it. The saved are those who believe the truth, who love it with all their heart and will never leave it, for the faith of God is an everlasting gift! The Gospel of God pronounces that a man is not saved by his obedience to, or by his faith in, a false gospel, but only by the obedience of Christ and by God-given faith in the only Gospel that reveals that Christ. And this is precisely why a man cannot be saved who claims to believe the Gospel but who says that he was saved before he heard the Gospel, or that others are saved who believe a different gospel, or can be saved prior to believing the Gospel. The reason for this is clear in that before Faith in the Gospel of God’s Grace, there was only, and could only have been, faith in a gospel of one’s works! It will be hard for some to get their minds around this. Especially those who are Calvinists, convinced that they adhere to a Gospel of grace and yet believe that one must keep up a certain level of obedience in order to stay saved, or that Arminians are just as saved as they are. Any gospel that teaches it is Christ Who has saved us, initiated salvation, but it is what we do that gets us over the line, in other words keeps us saved to the end, is a false gospel. It is a gospel no different to the one the Galatians were being fed, which appeared to acknowledge Christ and what He had done but added circumcision to offset His Work. "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). Faith in such a gospel will not profit any man for it does not come from God (Gal. 5:1,2). To claim anything apart from Christ’s Righteousness "...as a thing essential to salvation, as indispensable to justification and acceptance with God...(is) a renouncing of Christ as Himself sufficient to save us" AND KEEP US SAVED.
Anyone who believes that one must do something to either get saved or stay saved is "...a debtor to do the WHOLE law" (Gal. 5:3). They cannot pick and choose what they are ‘good at’ but must obey the law of God in its entirety and seek salvation by their own righteousness, which must be perfect. One cannot appeal to the grace of God if one conditions any part of salvation on what a man must do. To whoever believes that they must do something to justify themselves before God, or keep themselves ‘justified’, the Scriptures say: "Christ is become of no effect unto you..." (Gal. 5:4). As for every true believer, "...we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness (SOLELY) by Faith" (Gal. 5:5), not by works, or faith and works, but by faith alone in Christ Jesus alone. The truth is, the Calvinist who believes that prior to saving Faith in the Gospel of Grace one can be saved, or that one must ‘do’ in order to remain saved, is just as lost as the Arminian. Galatians 3:25 tells us: "...after that Faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster". The Faith that God gives does not look to one’s efforts at obedience as that which will recommend, or help recommend, us unto God, it never even glances at our works, but rather never takes its eyes off God; it trusts solely in, and looks only to, the obedience of Christ as the only ground of salvation. Thus, this Faith that is of God trusts in no other Gospel but the Gospel of God’s grace. Only when a man has the faith that comes from God, which believes the Gospel of God, can he rightly say he is saved. Only then will he see, and readily admit to, the fact that he was not saved, that he could not have been saved, whilst believing any gospel other than God’s Gospel, and that this faith could not have been of God. Any claim that a person was saved before or without the faith that comes from God, without which no man is justified, shows that such a person does not have the faith of God, which would never promote such a God-dishonoring lie. You cannot be saved now if you believed you were saved when you believed in a false gospel. A person can only be saved FROM the time they believed the truth and not before (see Eph. 1:12-14). By definition, salvation means that you are saved from that point on, from that time forward. Salvation does not apply to your unbelieving past. Salvation is not retrospective. It does not begin—become effective or operative—from the time you became religious, during which time you adhered to erroneous doctrines which spoke lies about the God of grace, BUT FROM THE MOMENT YOU CEASED to believe in a false gospel and BEGAN to believe in the true Gospel of God!!
Finally, verse 26 of Galatians 3 informs us that those who are saved "...are all the children of God BY FAITH in Christ Jesus". No one is or was a child of God by faith in a false jesus taught in a false gospel. To be saved by faith in Christ Jesus is to be saved by faith in the Jesus and in the particular and specific works He performed to save His people from their sins. The faith that God gives His elect never has and never will lead them to believe in a false gospel. Simply because you are in possession of a key does not mean you will be able to enter your friend’s house. You must be given the right key, the only key, that will give you access to your friend’s house and that key can only come from your friend. Why would a friend give you the wrong key knowing it could never gain you access into his house? Before THAT Faith of God comes which believes only in God’s Gospel, the only faith a man has is one which believes in a salvation by works. The only key he has is one that cannot unlock the door. You will never gain access to God by means of a faith that does not come from God and which can only ever lead you to a false gospel, a different god and another christ. The key words in Galatians 3:23 we have just quoted are: "before Faith came". How could there ever be salvation before Faith came, the Faith sent from God which believes, and can only believe, His Gospel?
How ludicrous is the preposterous assertion, in light of such biblical evidence as this, that one can stand justified before God, meaning that one can have saving Faith, without having heard and believed His Gospel? Faith cannot exist unless there is a message heard and believed. After all, the message is the very object of the faith that believes it. If the message is not the true one—God’s one—then there can be no conversion. To think otherwise is to say that God ‘converts’ His chosen by the instrumentality of lies, and that they can be just as saved believing a false gospel with a fake faith as they can be believing in the Gospel with God-given faith. To be converted to something, one must have been converted from something. As long as you are in error about the Gospel, you cannot be converted. To be converted is to change to another attitude or belief. To repent of the old and turn to the new. The only thing that can be said of man’s faith, when it comes to the Christian, is that it is a forsaken faith! To be converted is to change from believing a false gospel to believing only the True Gospel—the Gospel that God’s faith was sent to believe! Jesus was sent to save. The Holy Spirit was sent to guide God’s people to, and God’s faith was sent to believe only, the Gospel which reveals that Jesus as complete Savior. Biblical conversion is to change from believing a false gospel, and the false assumption that it could ever save, to believing the one and only Gospel of God and that it alone has been fitted to save, that it alone is the power of God unto salvation. God gives His faith to His elect so that they will believe with that faith and stop believing with their natural faith. One believes the truth the other can only believe anything but the truth of God. How could conversion take place without the essentiality of the true Gospel being heard and believed? And, how can anyone savingly believe the true Gospel if all they have is a faith that does not come from God and therefore can never believe in the true God? He that receives the Truth of God as revealed in His Gospel is he that has heard, understood and believed it (see Matt. 13:23; Mk. 4:20; Lk. 8:15). He has been truly converted. He has been blessed by God’s grace through God’s faith and is now saved (see Acts 18:27). One cannot believe before one has understood, and one cannot understand before one has heard that which is to be understood and believed. This is all so simple, so basic, as to beggar belief that a single person, let alone the majority, could fail to see and realise that there cannot be a proper biblical conversion, no proper biblical faith, before or without the Gospel being heard, understood and believed. It all goes to show the miserable condition of the lost, who have deluded minds, an obscene faith rather than a God-given one, and a biblically unsupportable hope of being saved.
The faith that comes from God is absolutely vital to salvation because it is the only faith by which a man can savingly believe God’s Gospel. Clearly the fact that man must be given the faith to believe God’s truth is testament to the certainty that the faith which man has by nature can never lead him to the true God. It can never save him. We must be made alive by God. We must be sanctified by God. We must be born of the Word of God—His Gospel. We can only be saved by the obedience of the Son of God. We must have our sins atoned for by the Son of God. We must be given eternal life (Jn. 17:2), so we must be given His faith to believe these things which is the evidence that we have been given eternal life. Everything a saved man has comes from God. Everything a saved man is, is because of God. God is the difference between a saved man and a lost man. The saved man has Christ’s righteousness, the lost man has his own righteousness. Nothing can distinguish one man from another except the faith that comes from God, which counts every gospel, but God’s own Gospel, as nothing but dung! The saved man believes in God’s Gospel, the lost man believes in a false gospel. The difference between the two is simple: one has been given the faith of God to believe God and the other remains with his own pathetic faith that will lead him to any one of ten thousand false gods but can never lead him to the true God. Imagine a person coming to God and being accepted by God via a faith that did not come from God! It simply cannot be. False faith leads to false gods! Remember, where there is false faith there is a false god and no one is ever going to enter heaven and place their arm around Jesus Christ whilst their other arm is firmly around the waist of a false god!! Jesus Christ does not recognize anyone as His who believes with natural faith in a false god. No man has ever seen the light who remains in doctrinal error. God’s Gospel can never be recognized for what it is—the Truth of God—as long as one has a faith that is not the gift of God.
The one thing that stands out like a sore thumb about all the lost is that they believe in a gospel that is not of God for they have a faith of which God is not the author. The principal evidence for a man having a faith that is not of God lies in the fact that he has never turned from false gospels, thus proving that he has never been led by God’s Spirit of Truth, through the gift of faith, away from every false gospel and only to the true Gospel of God, the one which says: man is dead in sin and cannot come to God in and of himself (Matt. 19:25,26; Rom. 3:10,11; Eph. 2:1,12); that God chose a people for Himself before the foundation of the world, not based on anything they did but upon His will, wisdom and grace and according to His purpose (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Tim. 1:9); that Christ Jesus was sent to the earth to establish a perfect righteousness by obeying the law, and dying, for those people God had chosen and entrusted to Christ’s care (Jn. 10:27,28; 17:2,3; Eph. 5:25); that their sins would be charged to Him and His Righteousness to them, thus making them wholly acceptable unto God (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 5:2); that all these people would believe His Gospel and be saved, for this is the will of God, and none of them will perish (Jn. 10:26-29). Why does God give His faith to a man? So that he will believe God’s only Gospel so much so that he will forever reject every other gospel he ever believed in.