FOR GOD SO LOVED...WHO? (part 15)
There is no such thing as a free will which is independent of the will of God. The great Gospel of God teaches that salvation is by grace through a faith that is not from man, is not produced by man, is not something which lays dormant in man like some Kundalini serpent waiting for him, or God, to awaken it, for saving faith is a free gift given to a man by God. It is not something that stems from within, but that which is given from without; not that which arises from the desperately wicked heart of man, but that which comes down from above. The saving faith which Grace provides is not that which comes from within you, but from without you, and with out you. It does not require your assistance for it to be sent, or come into your life, or to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. The only Gospel God gives testimony to is that one which teaches that a man is not saved according to anything he has done, or has the potential to do, or has been enabled to do, but solely by the grace of God. The grace of God is not something which makes a man’s choice of God possible, but is the very fruit of predestination. Just like the adrenalin pumped into the lifeless heart does not give the heart a choice between pumping again or not, but is the agent which restores it to life again on its terms! So too, God’s grace bestowed upon a man unto salvation makes the man willing, it does not merely make a man’s willingness to receive God viable. Therefore there is no choice, as it were, to be made on the part of man. The choice belongs to God, and He quickens—makes alive—those whom He wills. Man does not choose life, for he cannot, IT IS CHOSEN FOR, AND GIVEN TO, HIM by a merciful God: "...the Son quickeneth whom He will" (Jn. 5:21 cf. Matt. 11:27). “God is in control of everything that takes place in the universe. If He were not in control, the universe would be a madhouse. Throughout the Word of God, man's will is always subordinated to the will of God. Temporarily man's will appears to oppose God and is contrary to God's revelation in the Bible, but ultimately man's will works God's way. The Bible says that God ‘hardened’ Pharaoh's heart (see Ex. 9:12) to do exactly the opposite of what God appeared to want done. This is the way God works. God provides opposition to His Word in order to manifest Himself. Proverbs 21:1 says, ‘The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will’. There is only one independent free will in the universe, and that is the will of God. In order to bring about His purpose, men must not be aware that they ‘live and move and have their being’ in Him (see Acts 17:28). The false ‘free will’ that men believe they have, is the result of man being oblivious to God's ways. God provides opposition to His truth in order to make Himself known. Men imagine that their will is independent of God's will. Since they are unable to understand the intricacies that make up their own decisions, they delude themselves into thinking that their will is independent.”
Those that are to be saved are given by the Father to the Son, and all and only these will come to Him, and believe in Him. How does a person get to be among those whom the Father giveth to the Son? Is it by something a man does, or is it something which rests completely on God and His decision? The saved are the blessed of God, those whom “...He hath chosen…in Him before the foundation of the world (so) that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4). No man existed before the foundation of the world, therefore, no man could possibly have elected God, chosen Him. The ones God has chosen He has chosen to be His people, His sheep, and Christ said “My sheep hear My voice…And I given unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish….My Father which gave them Me, is greater than all…” (Jn. 10:27-29). How did they get to be His sheep? Christ Himself praying to the Father in John 17:2 says that He gives “…eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him”. And, to have eternal life is to know the Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom He has sent. (see Jn. 17:3 cf. 1 Jn. 5:11). The ones given to the Son are the ones God has chosen to be merciful toward, not according to them, who they were, what they did, or what they would do, “…but according to His own purpose and grace which was given (them) in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). Grace given is always given to the ones God loves. “John 3:16 actually speaks of a limitation of a particular rather than a universal redemption, for clearly, not everyone will be saved, but only those who believe in Christ. The Father gave His Son for the purpose of those who believe.” The Son acts as Saviour to those whom the Father has given Him, and they will all believe, trust, in Him purely because of Him. “The Son is given so that the believing ones will not perish, but opposite to that, have eternal life. That is the purpose of the giving.” God has not appointed these ones to His Wrath, “…but to obtain salvation by (their) Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for (them)…” (1 Thess. 5:9,10). There is a resolute determination, a firmness of, and specific purpose to, all that God does. Find out why God has done a thing, and you are well on your way to knowing for whom He has done it.
Careful Bible study reveals “John's view on who CAN exercise faith. If you go back a few verses in John 3 to verse 3, John quotes Jesus as saying ‘…Except a man be born again, he CANNOT see the Kingdom of God’”. Turn to John 6 and you will see an explanation of this statement in Jesus’ own words, “No man can come to Me, except the Father….no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:44,65; cf. Jn. 8:43). Salvation simply cannot be “Except a man be born again…Except the Father…draw him…except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 3:3; 6:44,45). Clearly, unless the Father makes a man alive, causes the man to be born again, draws him and gives him the will to come to Him, none could ever come to Him, or the Son. “That's clear isn't it? Jesus said that a pre-requisite, a necessary condition, must be met before someone can enter the Kingdom of God, and that condition is that they must be born again.” Not by choosing Christ, for how can a man choose Christ, indeed do anything at all to come to Christ, before he is born again? “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God…” (1 Cor. 15:50). Without Holiness and Righteousness no man can see God. Obviously a Righteous state before God cannot be attained by the will, or works of flesh and blood, but only if a man is blessed of God by being born again. How is a man born again? How does a man become a new creature in Christ? BY GOD’S WORKMANSHIP! “For we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10 cf. 1 Cor. 3:9). Not that everyone should walk in them, but that we, the saints of God, the very workmanship of God, should walk in them. If God did not create the new creature, if He did not ordain the good works they were created to do, none could walk in them, none would be born again. “…we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand” (Isa. 64:8). A saved man is born of God, he is created in Christ Jesus by God, born of the Spirit of God, born of the Word of God—His Gospel. “Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth…” (Jas. 1:18). “Being born again…by the Word of God….which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:23,25). To be born again, born of God one must be born by God, given birth to, made alive by, made a new creature in, Christ by the workmanship of God. This is why none but the new creation will see the Kingdom of God. “We enter the Kingdom of God through faith, but in order to enter the Kingdom, we must first be born again, or made spiritually alive. If we are not FIRST born again, we CANNOT enter the Kingdom of God. This same issue is certainly addressed by Jesus three chapters further on in John 6:44, when He said, ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day’. (we should note that the one drawn by the Father to the Son is also raised up on the last day to eternal life, see John 6:39,40). In John 6:65, Jesus said, ‘…therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father’.” A man’s coming to the Lord Jesus is not some free will act of his own, it is not an act of volition which originates in the sinful nature of men which is perennially at enmity with God, but is that which must be given him of Almighty God. A man is made willing by God. A man’s willingness to come to Jesus is given to him by God. It is an act of God within the man. He must be drawn by the Father, for no man can draw the Father to himself. A man must be made alive by God, for it is impossible that any man can come to God in order to be made alive by Him. Lazarus did not go to Jesus, but the Lord came to Him, before the presence of life was in evidence. A man “…shall be willing in the day of (God’s) power” (Psa. 110:3). A man is born again “…not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but OF GOD” (Jn. 1:13), or of God’s power. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:5).
“Of course, all who exercise true faith will certainly be saved. John 3:16 clearly teaches that anyone believing in Christ will not perish, but have everlasting life. But what we need to ask is ‘who WILL have faith?’ Only the elect will be brought to faith. No one can come to Christ unless God does something so that a person will come (see Jn. 6:44,65).” “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me…” (Jn. 6:37). This is what is known as salvation by grace alone. A man cannot be born again unless it is by the grace of God; a man cannot come to Christ but by the grace of the Father. The apostle Paul prayed for the salvation of Israel, for they sought Righteousness by their own works, their own acts of obedience, and not by faith alone. The Jews did this because they were in bondage to, and the servants of, man’s sinful nature. In effect, what the Jews did was what every person naturally does, what every person involved in any false religion does: they seek God, not by faith in what He alone has done, but by what they do, or what they also do. Interestingly, man usually jumps at the opportunity to get something for nothing. A popular catchphrase is ‘The best things in life are free’, yet curiously, man, even many who profess to be Christian, rejects the doctrine of free grace preferring rather to attempt the impossible and try to earn salvation by his own works. Man naturally seeks Righteousness by his own works, rather than from its only source: Christ Jesus the Lord and Saviour (see Rom. 5:19). “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed” (Rom. 9:31-33 cf. Gal. 5:5). As with whosoever in John 3:16, the word whosoever here is not in the original, but rather the phrase every the one believing, which is exactly the same phrase found in the original Greek of John 3:16. “The Israelites, the far greater part of the Jews, who were not called by the grace of God, were all very zealous of the law, called ‘the law of righteousness’; because the matter of it was righteous, it was so in its own nature; and because perfect obedience to it is righteousness; as also because they sought for righteousness by the deeds of it.” The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the only way to attain to the law of Righteousness is through the gift of faith which comes only by grace, and not by any works zealously performed by man. “…the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17 cf. Rom. 10:4,5,17). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). Those who seek Righteousness by works shall never find it. Righteousness is attained only by faith. Only those who have been blessed of God by grace through the gift of faith shall be called Righteous in His eyes. The Jews thought they could attain a Righteous standing before God through their own obedience, however, all they, and others like them, will acquire is shame, for it is only through faith in the Righteousness of Christ that any will attain a right standing before a Holy God. The three verses immediately following this passage in Romans 9 reveal the deplorable spiritual state of those who attempt to be saved by their own righteousness: “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the Righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:1-3 cf. 11:6,7; 1 Cor. 15:34; Eph. 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:1). The sure sign of a lost man is one whose zeal for God is not according to knowledge. A man who does not believe the Scriptures according to the Scriptures is a man who stumbles in the dark world of ignorance. Ignorance of God’s Righteousness is ignorance of God’s Gospel. If one is ignorant of the Truth concerning Who Christ is and what Christ has done, and, therefore, whom He has done it for, one cannot possibly be submitted to the truth, and, therefore, cannot be in a saved state. To be submitted to God’s way of salvation one must have knowledge. Without light there is only darkness, and without the clear God-given knowledge of the Gospel all one has are the smothering clouds of ignorance by which God has never saved anyone. Thought by many to be grounds for mercy, ignorance—when it comes to the matter of salvation—is the evidence of lostness. If the Gospel be hid, there can be no saving knowledge of the God of the Gospel. Zeal for God without knowledge, just as sincerity without truth, has never saved anyone. The reason why error, when it comes to God’s plan of salvation, is not just some simple mistake which does not deny the salvation of a person, is that the true God is known only by revelation and He is always, and only, revealed by His Holy Spirit of Truth through the Gospel. He can only be known by His Gospel, for therein has He revealed Himself (see Rom. 1:16,17). Any error spoken about God cannot be identifying the true God, and, therefore, cannot be of Him. It certainly did not come by the Holy Spirit, for He only brings the Truth of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of TRUTH because He guides all of God’s chosen into TRUTH: "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth..." (Jn. 16:13 cf. Jn. 14:17; 15:26). A man who cannot see, and does not know, can only abide in the doctrines of false gospels (see 2 Cor. 4:3,4). To not know the Gospel of God is to be ignorant of the Righteousness of Christ, and will always lead a man to ultimately condition salvation on his own works rather than wholly on the obedience of Christ. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation…For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed…” (Rom. 1:16,17). This is an awesome reminder that salvation is by the grace of God, alone. Ignorance of salvation being all by grace alone through faith in Christ alone leaves a man with only one recourse, and that is to try and establish a righteousness of his own by looking to his own obedience, trusting in his own efforts, as well as, or instead of, the obedience/Righteousness of Christ alone. A case of by grace are ye saved through works. “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Prov. 30:12). Christians, like their brother the apostle Paul “…through the Spirit wait for the hope of Righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:5).
A man who believes he must do something, and subsequently seeks to ‘work his way to Heaven’, is—whether he is cognizant of the fact, or not—seeking to establish a righteousness of his own. Such a man is ignorant of the grace of God, for he is ignorant of the obedience of Christ which alone makes a man Righteous before God, and comes only by grace through the gift of Faith (see Rom. 5:19). Being submitted unto the Righteousness of God in salvation means never seeking to establish, or maintain, a righteousness of one’s own. Thus, a saved man never looks to his own obedience in any way to any degree, as that which gets him saved, keeps him saved, or in any way aids in his salvation. Being submitted unto the Righteousness of God also means never believing any other gospel, but God’s Gospel. It also means never believing one was saved prior to believing God’s Gospel (see Eph. 1:13). Not being submitted to the Righteousness of God is to disobey the Gospel of God wherein that Righteousness is revealed (see Rom. 1:16,17). No such person is of the Household of Faith (see 1 Pet. 4:17). The Jews, and all like them who continue to uphold the tradition of every man-made religion of the world—of seeking to establish their own righteousness by their own works, or thinking salvation is in any way conditioned on them—follow a false gospel thus revealing themselves among the lost to whom the Gospel of God is hid (see 2 Cor. 4:3). The apostle makes it clear that salvation is only by the Righteousness of Christ, and no other: “For Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4 cf. Gal. 6:14-16). Of huge significance is the fact that the phrase “every one that believeth” is in the original Greek text as: ‘every the one believing’, which is the exact same phrase translated “whosoever believeth”, in verses like John 3:16. This clearly confirms that “whosoever believeth” simply means “every one that believeth”, and not ‘anyone can believe if they would only will to do so’. Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness “…not to him that works for life, and in order to obtain a righteousness of his own; nor to the Jew only, but also to the Gentile, even to everyone, be who he will, that has faith in Christ; not that faith is either the matter, cause, or condition of righteousness, but 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.”
The true Christ is the stumbling stone of all religion, for religion seeks Righteousness by works, by the effort of the individual, and not solely by the Obedience of One: “…they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of Righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.)...even so by the Righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life...by the obedience of One shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:17-19). “And the work of Righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of Righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isa. 32:17). “Not works of righteousness done by men, no, not by the best of men; for though peace may be had and enjoyed in doing them, yet it does not arise and flow from thence, because there is no justification by them, and salvation through them, without which there can be no true solid peace; nor the work of righteousness in men, which is their sanctification, and is indeed the work of God, and follows upon the pouring forth of His Spirit, and therefore bids fairer to be the sense than the former; yet peace is one part and branch of the work itself; (see Rom. 14:17) but the work of Righteousness wrought out for man is rather meant, even the Righteousness of Christ, a work proposed unto Him, which He undertook, and has wrought out, and which was a work, and lay in working, and was a very toilsome and laborious one; the consequence of which is ‘peace’, inward peace of soul now, and eternal peace hereafter; the Righteousness of Christ applied removes the guilt of sin from the conscience, it being perfect justifies from all things, and yields a tranquillity and serenity of mind, which is had in a way of believing, in this Righteousness now, and it will issue in everlasting peace and rest in the world to come; the end of the perfect and upright man, who is perfectly justified by Christ's Righteousness, is peace, (see Psa. 37:37): ‘and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever’; or, ‘the service of righteousness’; the same as before, with the ‘work of righteousness’: a service which Christ performed, as a servant, in obedience to the law, in the room and stead of His people; a service perfectly and completely done, and what is well pleasing unto God…”
Natural man has never conceived of a God Who saves purely according to the good pleasure of His will, through love, grace and mercy. This is evidenced by the fact that every religion out there, every man who has ever sought ‘God’, does it by trying to establish their own righteousness, by doing their best, by obeying this rule, or obeying that law, rather than placing their entire trust, wholly abandoning themselves to, the only One Who can save: the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is by Him, the Lord of Righteousness, Who gives it to whomsoever the Father has given Him. Religion has lied to man in saying that by a man’s will and work, he can come to God, for it is only BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE that any are saved, and not the obedience of each individual. Religion decrees that salvation is dependent upon our obedience, but, it must be asked: how would anyone know whether they were being obedient enough? The fact that no one can answer that question with any Biblical authority, has subsequently given rise to what most people have come to accept in the matter of salvation: the idea that doing one’s best in life will be enough to get them into Heaven, for how can anyone do more than their best. This is man’s conclusion, this is man’s religion. Religion pats man on the head and says ‘Do your best, God knows your heart’, while God’s Word says "...every man at his best state is altogether vanity" (Psa. 39:5 cf. Psa. 39:11). Salvation is not about man doing, but what God has done, by grace. Man needs a Savior. Doing your best will get you nowhere! Salvation is entirely conditioned on God, and not at all on man. The very fact that man, by nature, believes that he can come to God by his own free will, actually supports the doctrine of his spiritually dead condition, his spiritual bondage to sin and false gospels. It shows that such a man is still hopelessly trapped within a religious mindset which dictates that man must do, thereby, assuming that he can do, something before God will accept him. In other words, that God will only save you based on a righteousness you have worked for, rather than the Righteousness of Christ imputed. This is the psyche of every spiritually dead man, and the distinguishing aspect upon which all of religion is founded. Satan is the chief corner stone of religion, and his principle lie—from which comes the false teachings of man’s free will, God’s love for all and Christ’s death for all—is that man would not surely die if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is what all religions are founded on. If a man is led by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, he is led away, freed, from the bondage of law, and the bondage of religion which always places the emphasis on what a man must do instead of what God has done. Religion says, You must do, or you will die. The Word of God says, man is spiritually dead and no amount of ‘good works’ will ever change that fact. A saved man does not seek to add to what Christ has done. God’s Word also says Christ has done all that is required to establish a perfect Righteousness, and all who believe in Him shall have everlasting life.
No matter how much the free will teaching tries to incorporate grace into its world, everything it teaches all boils down to man doing something prior to regeneration. It teaches that man making a decision for God, is what salvation is conditioned on rather than on what God alone does by grace. Salvation is trusting in what Christ has done, not in what we do. Salvation is all about looking to Him, and not at all to ourselves. Faith, dependence upon Christ’s Goodness, and not our own, is what the grace of God brings to all His elect. No matter how ‘good’ a man may think he is, or the amount of ‘good’ he does, man’s ‘goodness’ can never transcend his need to be, and that he can only be, saved by grace alone. The reason why no amount of good deeds can ever save a man, is due to the fact that man’s goodness can never do away with his sinfulness, his sin nature. Man is a corrupted creature in desperate need of being born again of the incorruptible seed which is the Gospel of God. Salvation is not about reformation, but rather revelation and regeneration.
After describing the deplorable state of natural man, in Romans 3 and Ephesians 2, even those who were to be saved, showing clearly that all men by nature are children of Wrath, without God in the world, and, therefore, without any hope within themselves, the apostle Paul shows exactly how one goes from being a child of Wrath to being one who is alive to God: “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. BUT GOD, Who is rich in MERCY, for His great LOVE wherewith HE LOVED US, Even when we were dead in sins, HATH QUICKENED US together with Christ, (by GRACE ye are saved;)” (Eph. 2:3-5). It is GOD Who makes the difference. It is the mercy of God, the love of God and the grace of God by which a man is saved. Nothing in a man, or of a man, can be the reason behind his salvation. Left to himself man remains a child of Wrath. Only by God, and all that comes from Him, is a man saved. Salvation is not because of man, but solely because of God. It is not because of man’s love, but only God’s love. It is not by a man’s will, but by God’s will, mercy, love and grace, that a man is saved. God is a man’s only hope for salvation, for without Him, without God’s mercy, God’s love, and His regenerating power, God’s making a man alive to Him—saving him by grace—man has no hope. Man at his best state is not only vanity, but also a child of God’s Wrath. Grace does not enable a man to do that which will save him, for the grace of God is what saves, the Gospel of grace is God’s power unto salvation (see Rom. 1:16,17). Grace is not merely some instrument used by God to enable men to fulfil His requirements for salvation, but is that which saves: “…by grace are ye saved…” (Eph. 2:8). Man was not made to assist in his salvation, for man can do nothing before His salvation, before he is made alive by the grace of God. Any good works of man are performed after his salvation, and not before (see Eph. 2:10). All such good works are ordained by God for His people to perform. They are not that which sustains a man’s salvation, but are the fruit of it to the glory of God.
Scripture notes that God is the bulwark of His people. He is their defensive wall, their only protection from the horrors of an eternity without Him. “…salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks” (Isa.26:1). “…instead of walls, ditches, parapets, counterscarps, and such like fortifications; what they are to cities, that is salvation to the Church—the people of God; it is their safety and security: as God the Father is concerned in it, it flows from His love, which is unchangeable; it is by an appointment of His, which is unalterable; is secured by election grace, which stands not upon the works of men, but the will of God; and by the covenant of grace, ordered in all things, and sure; and by His power the saints are kept unto it: as Christ is concerned in it, it is as walls and bulwarks; He is the Author of it, has completely finished it, and has overcome and destroyed all enemies; His Righteousness is a security from all charges and condemnation; His satisfaction a bulwark against the damning power of sin, the curses of the law, and the wrath of God; His mediation and intercession are a protection of saints; and His Almighty power a guard about them.” GOD, and all that He does for His people, is their only hope for salvation. The salvation which is of the Lord is always spoken of in relation to His people, His specific and special people, throughout the Scriptures, and never as some universal blessing to all without exception conditioned on their acceptance. “So why do people miss what John 3:16 teaches, or why do they read into it (eisegesis) what is not actually in the text? It is mostly because of how they have heard John 3:16 used over and over and over again. They have an ingrained, preconceived notion of what the verse says, and fail to question that assumption and read the text for what it actually says. It's a TRADITION and if you dare question it, you might be accused of questioning the very Word of God, rather than their traditional interpretation of the Word of God, and that often gives rise to a whole lot of emotion.” Many warm themselves in front of the fires of man’s traditions, little realising such fire is but a preview of the Hell which awaits them. TRADITION WITHOUT TRUTH IS NOTHING BUT A CURSE. Those who have continued to follow the traditions of the past, and not the truth, are like those found in Jeremiah who: “…have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit” (Jer. 16:19). “…a false religion is not to be retained on this score, because it was the religion of ancestors, and of long possession with them.” “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8 cf. Mk. 7:13).
What exacerbates lost, sinful man’s situation consists in him having so many things in reverse. This is natural in fallen man, for he cannot discern spiritual things (see 1 Cor. 2:14). His carnal mind can only see things through his own twisted perception, and not from God’s perspective. Lost man is impervious to spiritual reason. Lost men, whether they profess to be Christian, or not, “follow the dictates of carnal sense and reason, to the neglect of the will of God and obedience to His commands”, and His Gospel. Man, by nature, perceives salvation as something which is awarded to those who choose to believe. A case of man first, then God’s response. Conversely, the Word of God says that all those who have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world, and for whom Christ His Son has died and was resurrected, will believe, for they have been appointed by God to eternal life. Appointed through God’s election of them, and not their election of God. They are a chosen generation, chosen by God unto salvation, and not a generation of choosers (see 1 Pet. 2:9). God is not up for election, for He is the Elector. The Scripture does not say all that choose Him shall come to Him, but all that He has chosen and given unto His Son will come to Him: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me…” (Jn. 6:37). “It is not here said, that such who are given to Christ have a ‘power’ to come to Him, or ‘may’ come if they will, but they shall come; efficacious grace will bring them to Christ…Jesus does not say: all that the Father giveth Me are brought to Me. He uses the term that denotes motion on the part of the person—‘will come to Me’. Coming to Christ is the movement of commitment to Christ, coming that engages the whole-souled activity of the person coming. It is not that he may come, not that he has the opportunity to come, not that he will in all probability come, and not simply that he is empowered to come, but that he WILL come. There is absolute certainty. There is a Divine necessity; the order of Heaven ensures the sequence. It is a moral and spiritual impossibility for a person to come to Christ apart from the Father’s drawing. What we find now is that it is a moral and spiritual impossibility for the person given by the Father to the Son not to come. There is by Jesus’ verdict the invariable conjunction of these two diverse kinds of action—‘all that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me’. There is invincible efficacy in the Father’s action and this means grace irresistible.” Eternal life cannot be a consequence of believing, for it is GOD Who gives eternal life in the first place. All who believe are not then ordained to eternal life, but they believe because they were ordained to eternal life (see Acts 13:48). Eternal life is not given because a person believes, for Christ says to the Father that He will “…give eternal life to as many as Thou (the Father) hast given Him” (Jn.17:2). Grace comes first, because the love of God precedes, and is the cause of, man’s love for God, and man’s believing in God. It is God Who loves His people first, therefore, all that they gain from Him can only be because of Him, solely by grace. “…what hast thou that thou didst not receive?...” (1 Cor. 4:7). Therefore, salvation is no reward for what a man does, but is a gift given—revealing absolutely that salvation comes before a man has done anything—and despite the fact that he can do nothing. Only those whom God has appointed to eternal life will believe, just like only those whom the Father has given the Son will come to Him. It is not their choice, it is not their will that makes the difference, but God’s choice. It is by God’s will that any are saved, for salvation—from beginning to end— is ALL of the Lord. Christians are they “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13); “Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth…” (Jas. 1:18 cf. Rom. 9:16). The saved man has not brought God into his life, but has been born of God, born of His will. If salvation is of the Lord, as the Scripture says (see Jon. 2:9), then it must be that ALL of salvation is ALL of the Lord.
Returning now to our study involving the verses immediately preceding John 3:16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:14,15).“Now, this is all quite different from saying that Jesus was lifted up on the cross and anyone who chooses to believe in Him will (future tense) receive the gift of life. Rather, Jesus said that the very fact of faith or believing was the evidence that those people already possessed the gift of eternal life. Their faith was simply an outgrowth of the life (zoe) that indwelt them. Or, more plainly, Christians do not earn eternal life as the result of any ‘decision’ to believe. They believe because they were ordained to eternal life” (see Acts 13:48). No other rendering of these Scriptures will fit the rule of grace. Christians believe because they have been made alive by God. Lost man cannot grasp, and will not accept, the reality that there is simply nothing he can do to get saved. All lost people need to deal with the question which stares them in the face every time they look at the Scriptures: What can a man do who is dead in sins? What can a man do prior to being made alive by God? The answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!! Lost man immediately reacts to this with the attitude ‘That is so grossly unfair, what about the man who wants to be saved but can’t be because God hasn’t chosen him?’ This silly question has been floating around now for ages. What kind of an insanely ludicrous question is it in light of the Scriptural fact that ALL men are, by nature, dead in sins? It is made transparently obvious by the Word of God that for anyone to be saved they must FIRST be made alive by God! A man must believe, but he cannot believe whilst he is dead in sins. A man must be born again, born of God, born of His Word if he is to see Heaven (see Jn. 3:3; 1 Jn. 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:23). It is the same principle which grace demands in a man’s loving God, for no man can love God unless God has loved the man first. Man can do nothing without God, for without God man is without hope. God, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Eph. 2:5 cf. Rom. 5:8). “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).
If a man is not made alive by God, that man shall remain dead in sins. If a man is not loved by God, that man will never recognise the true God, let alone love Him, or even seek Him. The word quickened, in Ephesians 2:5, means “to make alive”. The original Greek has it: “and being us dead…He makes together live with the Christ”. Verse 1 of Ephesians 2 states: "And you hath He quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins". Colossians 2:13 agrees: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened (made alive) together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” The whole issue of what a man must do to be saved is not something which saved people argue over amongst themselves, but is that which exposes the glaring contrast between those who are lost, and those who are saved. The grace of God, the act of salvation, the act of faith etc., are all preceded only by the will and purpose of God. Without God, it is impossible to believe, it is impossible to be saved. The Lord’s reply in answer to the question “who then can be saved”, was “…with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:25,26 cf. Jer. 32:17,27). It is impossible to savingly believe in the God of the Gospel if God has not ordained you to eternal life, if He does not first make you alive. How will I know if He has made me alive? The fact one believes the Gospel, believing it to be God’s sole power unto salvation, and, therefore, repenting of, and rejecting, every false gospel as having any power to save, is evidence one has been made alive by God (see Rom. 1:16,17 cf. 1 Cor. 15:1,2; Titus 1:14). If God has ordained you to eternal life you will, at the appointed time, be given the gift of faith to believe only His Gospel, and reject all others as having any power to save anyone. If God has given you to His Son you will come to Him, and abandon all false gods of false gospels including those which use the name jesus. Those who have not been ordained, who have not been given eternal life HAVE NO COMPLAINTS, for they are either happy with the god they have and trust in, or they are just as content in not believing in any god, let alone the true God. NO ONE LAMENTS OVER WHAT THEY BELIEVE! Either one thinks one has the true God, or one is convinced there is no God. No one sits there wishing they believed in something else, for the only reason they believe what they believe is because they believe it to be truth. Salvation can only be by God acting first, or salvation would/could not be by grace. The only people claiming to be Christians, who will be refused entry to Heaven are those to whom the Lord Jesus will say “…I never knew you…” (Matt. 7:23). Such people believed they believed the truth and trusted in the true God, but He never knew them, revealing their trust was always in another gospel, always in another god.
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Eternal life is an appointment made by God according to His will, purpose and grace, which the Son gives to all whom God has not appointed to His Wrath, but to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ His Son Who died for them (see 1 Thess. 5:8,9). What we learn from all this is the fact that salvation via a man’s free will choice is simply not what the Word of God teaches. It is a myth, a fantasy, injected into the minds of lost men by the father of lies who first claimed man would not spiritually die, and perpetuated by ignorant religious tradition which says man is not surely dead, and which is supported only by a carnal understanding of the Holy Word of God. The only alternative to truth is a lie. The truth is: God has mercy on whomsoever He wills to have mercy, and Christ makes alive whomsoever He wills to make alive (see Rom. 9:15; Jn. 5:21). The lie is: salvation comes by choosing God, and salvation is given by God after a man has come to Him. It is vital to remember that whatever salvation is ultimately dependent on, whatever that final act is upon which salvation awaits, that is what salvation is essentially conditioned, reliant, on, and what it cannot do without. If it is a man’s decision which salvation awaits, then salvation is conditioned on, and comes by, works, even if that decision is attributed to grace. There are many who have never understood, or even heard and considered the fact, that ‘making a decision’, or ‘believing’, both come under the heading of WORKS. Works is you doing — grace is God doing. Surely one can see that a man’s believing is dependent upon God’s granting the gift of faith by grace, and not a free will decision on the part of man. A man’s believing is, therefore, not something which originates from within himself, and so, cannot be that upon which salvation is dependent, or that which it awaits. When a person does not base salvation on grace alone, they become susceptible to the only other possibility: a salvation conditioned on man, rather than wholly on God to Whom all the glory for salvation rightly, and solely, belongs. The absence of grace alone leaves one in the merciless hands of religion which commands an act, or acts, from man before any can be saved. If salvation all depends upon the will of God in giving some to His Son to give eternal life to—as the fact that all the glory for salvation belongs solely to God strongly implies—then salvation is conditioned, dependent, exclusively upon grace, and it is nothing but the grace of God which saves.