FOR GOD SO LOVED...WHO? (part 6)
The fact that grace is required for the salvation of any shows clearly that no man, by nature, is deserving of God’s love, let alone salvation, and that he can do nothing to please Him (see Rom. 8:8). A person who is saved was chosen unto salvation by a gracious God before the foundation of the world. The saved are appointed by God “…to obtain salvation…” by their Lord, Jesus Christ, Who died for them (see 1 Thess. 5:9,10). And God has predestinated the ones He has chosen “…according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5), and not in accord with any man’s will, or works. “God is not the Ruler of some sort of democracy in which He rules by the will of the people. His rule and authority belong exclusively to Himself—and God fully exercises this rule in His creation. He is the Sovereign One. Nothing and no one escapes His rule. This is a vital truth. Without it, or in distorting it, one cannot but propose doctrines or beliefs contrary to God's Word.” Salvation is in no way under the rule, or direction, of the people, for God is its Supreme and only Ruler, Governor, Authority, and it is given to those whom He has predetermined to receive it. The Gospel of God’s grace allows man to play no part whatsoever in becoming one whom the Lord wills to save, therefore salvation is all of grace. A man is saved by a work of God because of the will of God. A man is saved by grace through faith. Salvation, grace and faith are all gifts given by a loving Father to His chosen, adopted, children who did nothing to earn, or merit any of these things. Salvation is “To the praise and glory of HIS GRACE, wherein HE hath made us (the chosen, predestinated ones) accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). How can a man who is dead in sins do something by which he can gain anything from God? How can the one who is in the flesh—in a state of unregeneracy—do anything whereby he can please God, or attract His favour? What can a man do prior to his being born again, being made alive by God? Absolutely nothing! If man could do something then he would not need to be made alive by God to God. A man’s manifesting a desire for, and a love toward, God are distinctive signs of a man’s having being loved by God and made alive by God, and not of his deadness in sins. Many say that salvation is by grace, but condition grace and the act of salvation which is due to it, on a man’s believing. Such a flawed theology comes from a lack of true Biblical understanding of the terms involved. To be saved is to be saved by another, it is to be rescued by another from a place of danger to a place of eternal safety, and so, the very essence of being saved by grace is to be saved not by one’s own will, works or efforts, but solely by the will and work of the One Who makes alive. Man is not thrown a life preserver whilst drowning in an ocean of sin, for man is already drowned in sin. Man’s being rescued does not involve his will, but his being made alive. Christ is not the lifesaver offered to a drowning man, but is the God of the universe Who makes the drowned man alive again.
It is what God does that saves a man, therefore, salvation does not depend on man. How could it, for in his natural state, man is without Christ, without God, without hope, does not understand, is not righteous, is dead in sins, and so cannot receive the Spirit of God nor even seek the true God. How can any man in such a deplorable state possibly do anything to make salvation operational in his life? There is not a single person ever born who could provide a Biblical solution to the question ‘What can a man do who is dead in sins?’ What can a man do whose very nature is perpetually at enmity against God? What can a man do before God does? How can a man do before God does? What can a man do before God makes him alive? The answer of course to all five of these questions is: nothing at all. There is nothing which a spiritually dead man can do before God makes him alive. There is nothing a man can do whilst in a state of enmity against God. Hence the need for grace, hence the need for a Saviour. Again, if there was something a man could do then God would not be required to make any man alive, for man could come to God on his own initiative, and, therefore, his own volition. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves…” (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is not by what the saved do, but by what the Saviour has done. Man, in his natural, sinful state has left him with a severely compromised volition, therefore, bereft of any initiative to come to the true God. A man is made alive solely by the will of God, however, if a man can come to God on his own volition then it would be the will of man that is in control, and God would have no say in who is saved. This leads to the ridiculous assertion that though God is Sovereign and Almighty, He is not so, for, when it comes to a man’s salvation, God forsakes His Sovereign rule. The very concept of a man needing to be made alive by God shows clearly that without this regeneration by God, all men would languish in their sins, and eventually enter the community of Hell for all eternity. If man is dead in his sins, and needs to be made alive by God in order to see the Kingdom of Heaven, then it is transparently obvious that those who are not made alive, those who are not born again, cannot, and never will, see God’s Heavenly Kingdom (see Jn. 3:3). A man remains dead in his sins if he is not born again.
Man needs a Saviour. Man needs someone to save him, for he obviously cannot save himself. Man needs a new nature, one that is not at enmity against God (see Eph. 4:24). Man’s sinful nature is beyond help. It is beyond reformation, for it is eternally incorrigible. “The old nature will not change. In fact, when you are saved the old nature will seem even worse! The old nature is desperately wicked and it remains so. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’ (Jer. 17:9). The old nature will never become less wicked than it now is. ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh…’ (Jn. 3:6 cf. Rom. 7:18). Flesh is flesh and it will not change to become something else. Man's sinful flesh will always produce the works of the flesh (see Gal. 5:19-21). Man's sinful flesh will never produce the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23). Only God can do that. When a person is saved, the old nature is not transformed into something good. ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit’ (Jn. 3:6). When a person is born again, the flesh does not transform itself into spirit. It remains what it always was: FLESH. The old nature is not improved and sweetened. It does not undergo a reformation. When a person gets saved, does God transform his old nature into something that is now good? Not at all. The Bible teaches that my old nature is just as vicious and rotten and sinful and wicked as it ever was: ‘Put off… the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts’ (Eph. 4:22). The new birth is a creation (see 2 Cor. 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), not a transformation. The new birth is the bringing in of a new thing, not the changing of an old. My old nature remains the same. The difference is this: I now have a new nature created by God. ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…’ (2 Cor. 5:17). The Bible never teaches that the old nature is transformed. It does, however, teach that believers are being transformed and changed. When you think of the old nature, think of a polluted well. The water in the depths of this well is polluted and corrupt and not fit to drink. You could paint the well, but the water which comes up is still going to be polluted. You could install a brand new bucket with brand new ropes, but the water which comes up is still going to be the same undrinkable water. The problem is with the source. Man's old sinful nature is a polluted stream which began to flow the moment Adam disobeyed God. This water is never going to be purified. It is never going to be cleansed. It will always be polluted by sin. The old nature can never please God. ‘So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God’ (Rom. 8:8). According to Romans 8:9, a saved person is not in the flesh, because he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. The unsaved person is in the flesh, and this person can never please God (verse 8). ‘The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is His delight’ (Prov. 15:8). Even when the unsaved person performs a religious act (offering a sacrifice, saying a prayer, etc., God is not pleased. It is done in the flesh. ‘The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord: but He loveth him that followeth after righteousness’ (Prov. 15:9). The way of the wicked is detestable to God. No matter which way he goes, no matter what he does, man cannot please God.”
Man needs to be made a new creature, alive to, and in Christ. The Savior has not been sent to save those who choose Him, but to save His (chosen) people from their sins. His particular people from their particular sins. Man does not need someone to help him get saved just like Lazarus did not merely need someone to help him become physically alive again, but instead needed someone to make him alive. Man does not need a helping hand, for HOW DOES ONE HELP A DEAD MAN? Of what use would it be to sit a dead man up in his bed, or to stand him up on his feet? Like Lazarus, man needs activation, not enablement in the hope that he will activate himself. HOW DOES ONE ENABLE A DEAD MAN TO BE ALIVE AGAIN? How can a dead man assist in the process of his being made alive? How does one go about seeking a dead man’s contribution to whatever one seeks to do with him? How does one enable a dead man to do anything without first making him alive? The very fact that Scripture states clearly man must be made spiritually alive, is testament to the equally unavoidable truth that man is spiritually dead. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot rightly believe one without believing the other. Denying either one of these truths is to deny them both. It is to be in denial of what the Word of God says is man’s dilemma, and its only solution. Those who choose to disregard, or dismiss, these truths do so at their own peril. Man is not enabled to come alive, but is made alive by Another showing clearly that prior to this, man can do absolutely nothing, for he is dead. Salvation is not about God enabling a person to do something in the hope they will come to Him, but is all about God making a person alive to Him, so that they will without question come to Him. What can one do for a dead man in order to enable the dead man to do that which will make him alive? If a dead man could do anything it would show he was alive. In order to enable a dead man to do anything you would first have to make him alive, for how could he do anything, how could he respond, whilst dead. Never has a dead man gone to a doctor for help. So too, there has never been a spiritually dead man who sought out God asking to be made alive. A dead man either remains dead, or is made alive. There is no in-between state, no way he can ask for help, for as with physically dead men, the spiritually dead are oblivious to their condition. This incontrovertibly shows that what Arminianism teaches—God’s enabling people to become part of the solution to their sin problem—is logic based on madness.
Christ did not enable Lazarus to become alive, but was wholly responsible for Lazarus being made alive. So too, man does not merely need to be enabled to become spiritually alive, but needs to be activated, he needs to be made alive. This is something which can only be done by God, and, therefore, can only come by the will of God. God is the solution, whilst man in his spiritually dead state can only ever be the problem. God does not enable problems, He does not make problems better, so they can work out their own solution, He extinguishes them by creating a new creature in Christ, one who is alive forevermore. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17 cf. Eph. 2:10). Christ said with man salvation is impossible, but with God all things are possible (see Matt.19:26). This means that no man can do anything to get saved, he cannot even will to be saved. The myth that man can call on God at anytime to save him is completely debunked by the fact that no man understands the true God, nor does any man seek the true God, for man is in need of spiritual regeneration. He needs to be given life before he can do anything, but after a man has been given life there is nothing for him to do in terms of getting saved, or staying saved, for all has been done for him. He has, by grace, been given the faith to believe in the Gospel of Christ, and imputed with the very Righteousness of Christ. He is saved by the obedience of Another, and all that man can do, once saved, is to rejoice in God His Saviour, and say, in concert with the Psalmist: “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul” (Psa. 66:16 cf. 1 Cor. 15:10). Salvation is by the grace of the Lord. Grace is not that which merely enables a man to get saved, for the Word of the Lord says that it is by grace that a man is saved. Grace is the agent of God’s will which saves all those it is directed toward. Grace does the work, hence the phrase, saved BY grace. To be saved by grace is to be saved by a work of God, an act of God, which is not dependent upon any preceding, or proceeding, act of man’s. It is God Who determines the ones that are to be saved, otherwise grace would have to await a man’s will, and not God’s will, therefore, making salvation something which would be conditioned on man, and, therefore, something earned rather than an eternal gift.
A false understanding of verses like John 3:16 plays a critical role in the further acceptance of lies about God, His character, and of how, and whom, He saves. The misinterpretation of John 3:16 has opened the floodgates of misinformation, and disinformation which has subsequently fuelled a plethora of false gospels, causing a greatly increased general ignorance of, and hatred for, anything to do with the absolute Sovereignty of God, including an immediate, and negative, knee-jerk reaction whenever terms such as election, and predestination are mentioned, as well as promoting adverse responses to the atonement made by Jesus Christ exclusively for the people God gave Him, as if this is in some way an inequitable act. But surely if salvation is of the Lord, He is free to give it to whomsoever He pleases, and Christ was just as free to die only for the people His Father had given Him. “Salvation is God's work from beginning to end. The Father planned it, the Son accomplished it, the Holy Spirit applies it. The Father's choice is limited; the Spirit's application in the new birth and conversion is limited; why then should the Son's atonement not be limited? God is one, and not in conflict with Himself!” The Father’s choice is limited in that He chose to save some, and not all. Therefore, the Spirit’s application is only for those whom God chose, as is the death of Christ exclusively for those whom the Father has chosen and given to Him. Many so-called pastors who claim to believe in election, predestination and the absolute Sovereignty of God, do not have the courage to even mention such topics to their congregations who all have a seemingly built-in, pre-programmed aversion to such language. It’s ‘God loves everyone’, or ‘Get out of our church!’ Man’s lost condition dictates that for God to be love, as the Scriptures state, He must be a God who loves everyone. The saddest thing in the world is to see people proclaiming the name of God, and that of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet, failing to realise that what they believe about God can in no way be accepted as the Biblical definition of Who God is, what God has done, and for whom He has done it. Their beliefs betray the common faith of God’s elect, for their trust is in another god (see Titus: 1:1 & Titus 1:4). The God Who states “…I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Rom. 9:15), is a far cry from the restricted, hamstrung, god of Arminianism who cannot do what he wills, but who instead kowtows to the will of men. The will of the Arminian god is not his command, but something which is subject to, and, therefore, must be ratified by, the will of the individual, therefore, God’s Kingdom is not governed by His will, but the will of the people.
The stark reality of the situation is that how most people see God is at variance with how God sees Himself, and how He has described Himself in Holy Scripture. The lies which most people believe about God are used in the character assassination of the true God, in deconstructing Him, and reforming Him, reinterpreting Him, fashioning Him into an image which is acceptable to the mind of lost, carnal, man. The true God says of Himself: “I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it” (Isa. 46:9-11). This is the true God. God declares the end, He does not find out about it, before it comes to pass, thus His will is ALWAYS fulfilled. God does not merely hope what He wants will occur, but ENSURES it will always occur just as He willed it. “…hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall HE not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). “Whatever is gone out of His lips will never be altered, but will be most certainly fulfilled: 'My Covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of My lips' (Psa. 89:34).” If God has purposed something it is guaranteed that He will also do it. “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand….For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa. 14:24,27). The Lord God shows here that whatever He wills He does, whatever His will is, THAT is precisely what will occur. It is what God has purposed that shall stand. Nothing can thwart His plans and purposes. Nothing can go against His will. “As He had shaped and schemed it, and drew the form and image in His own mind, or fixed and settled it there, so should it be done in due time, as everything is that is determined by the Lord; and this shows that nothing is casual, or comes by chance, but everything as it is purposed of God; and that as everything comes to pass which He has resolved, so every such resolution proceeds from thought, and is the produce of the highest wisdom and prudence: ‘and as I have purposed, so it shall stand; or ‘counselled’; within Himself, for He does all things according to the counsel of His will; and which always stands firm, sure, and unalterable, let what devices soever be in the heart of man.” “There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21 cf. Prov. 21:30). God “…is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job. 23:13). Lost man is content with the notion of man’s free will, with his alleged power to choose God, but utterly detests the concept of the true God being Sovereign, of His having a free will to do whatsoever He desires, especially having the sole authority in choosing those who will be saved. Election is according to the good pleasure of God’s will (see Eph. 1:5). Lost man insists on his choosing what he wants, but does not want a God Whose will is always done.
Whilst the word study section of this book will begin with John 3:16, we will not limit ourselves to it, but will also branch out into the many other verses of Scripture, such as 1 John 2:1, and 1 Timothy 2:4,6 which are commonly used in defense of the misrepresentation of John 3:16, and in the configuration and promotion of false gospels. Along with providing the reader with several word studies in order to find out the true meaning of terms, and phrases, that appear to be saying one thing in English, but which mean something completely different in the original language in which they were written, and when seen in their proper context, we shall search the Scriptures, and show how the false interpretation of John 3:16, and verses which have been wrongly employed to defend it, or corroborate the false assertions which have been attributed to it, clash with the doctrines of the Gospel of the grace of God in the salvation of His people. So be prepared to be immersed in Scripture, into God’s truth, and see what the Word of God has to say concerning Who God is, as well as who and how God saves, and how it exposes the appalling teachings which have been so unjustifiably attributed to John 3:16. The full consequences of error extend far beyond its immediate, and obvious impact, for error begets error, and, like sin, has a snowball effect over which man has no control, and of which the ramifications have no end. Error, like sin, will continue to increase in a person’s life until the truth of God is acknowledged and used to halt its destructive influence.
Those who obstinately insist, ‘world means world’, in some vain attempt to prove their notion of what John 3:16 is saying, reveal just how limited they are in their understanding of the language of the Bible, and their subsequent ignorance of God’s truth, and the true Gospel of salvation by grace alone. For many, their spurious understanding of John 3:16 is the main, and sometimes only doctrine, they feel sure they have a proper understanding of, and can freely speak with confidence about. It seems that everyone is a theologian, or at least thinks they are, when it comes to John 3:16. People feel so Scripturally, and theologically, justified in their interpretation of John 3:16, merely because they are quoting God’s Word, and doubly so when they are able to quote it verbatim. Apparently the quicker they can quote it the truer their interpretation of John 3:16 becomes, in their minds, and the greater authority they feel they have in teaching what they believe it is saying. They feel immune from being rightly criticized, for they believe there could not possibly be anything wrong in promoting a god who loves all without exception and wants everyone saved. Their answer to almost every Scripturally-based objection, to their interpretation, which does not conform to what they believe John 3:16 is saying, is a robot-like ‘God so loved THE WORLD’ and ‘WHOSOEVER’. The louder they emphasise these words, the truer, and increasingly unchallengeable, to their minds, their interpretation becomes. They ask ‘What could possibly be so wrong in promoting God’s universal love for one and all, and that anyone at any time can turn to Him, and be saved?’ Loved, world and whosoever are words which are paramount in their whole belief system, and are the chief components upon which their false gospel is founded, and simply cannot do without.
The false, or human, interpretation of John 3:16 is so ingrained, so indelibly engraved in the carnal mind, that those who come presenting the true meaning of it are seen as two-headed aliens who utter strange blasphemies. Simply because those who believe error are in the majority, does not in any way make what they believe true. The popularity of a teaching is no indication that it is truth, but only that it is preferred. Confidence and conviction are only the evidences of a sincere belief, and not necessarily a belief in what is true. It is sad to see that a false understanding of John 3:16 is so often used to prop up what is perceived to be a Christian faith. Not many go beyond the seemingly obvious, a superficial understanding of this Scripture, and many others. A growing number just settle for the obvious, a quick explanation, especially if it is the generally accepted one. The veracity of something is often ajudged so by who, or how many believe it. In this age of instant gratification few there be who actually undertake a proper, methodical, examination of the doctrines of the gospel they believe. The two main reasons for avoiding a proper study of Scripture are so often a fear of being proven wrong, and the contradictory overriding desire to not be wrong whatever the cost. Man hates being wrong at the best of times, but it seems that his fear of being wrong when it comes to the Word of God reaches an extraordinarily high level, and subsequently gives rise to extremely emotional, even violent, reactions against those who meekly and gently point out their error by declaring what is truth. Failure to examine, and challenge, the doctrines, indeed the gospel one believes, often reveals the quite disturbing fact that a person may not be so much interested in what the truth of God is, as much as they are in protecting what they believe the truth of God to be. Such people may well be high on emotion, but they are extremely low on facts. The reality is that in a lost man’s mind his beliefs overrule what God says. The Lord Jesus says: “Making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition…” (Mk. 7:13 cf. Titus 1:14). The Christian is one who believes and knows the truth (see 1 Tim. 4:3). Based on a familiarity with—as opposed to an accurate understanding of—certain terms and phrases such as grace, mercy, saved by grace, and God is love, etc., many seem to think they have all the bases of Christianity well and truly covered. Familiarity with the Word of God, though providing one with an illusion of possessing an accurate understanding of it, is all too often accompanied by gross inaccuracies as well as fatal expository mistakes. The wrong processes in attempting to reach the truth are so often the cause of lies being computed, or interpreted and accepted, as truth, and the traditions of men, be they religious and/or cultural, overruling the Word of God.
The truth is often not that which lies in plain view, but something which must be diligently and vigorously searched for, and studied. Few have had the courage to honestly face their doubts concerning what they believe by conducting a proper Biblical examination of what lies behind their beliefs, of the origin of what they believe and where it leads to. Most folk go by their hearts when it comes to ‘God’. They see Bible study, and the Scriptural authentication of doctrines which are presented to them as something which only prospective pastors and future professors of theology should concern themselves with, not the average man on the street. After all, being a passenger is far easier than being the driver, however, while both arrive at the same place, at the same time, their final destination will not be the one they expected if their driver has taken the wrong road. One of the most lethal ventures any man can undertake is to enter into spiritual matters whilst placing their trust in the teachings of others, whoever they may be, simply because they have huge reputations, or because they are either too lazy to find out what the truth is themselves, or believe themselves inadequately equipped compared to revered teachers and pastors, etc., who are part of even more revered and respected institutions. This approach is as perilous as hiking at night with a faulty compass. A faulty compass is as good as no compass at all, in fact, the only thing worse than not having a compass, is trusting in a faulty compass.
Many professing Christians rarely, if ever, even read their own Bibles, let alone spend quality time studying the Word of God. Many do not even know how to properly study their Bibles to verify what is claimed the Word of God is saying. All a man needs to know the truth, to believe and trust in the true God and His one and only glorious Gospel, is the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of God Who leads all God’s chosen into His truth, and His truth alone, and the gift of faith given by grace with which to believe it. This author encourages all to spend quality time daily in the Word of God yourselves, and, whatever else you might do in your lives: DO NOT BLINDLY TRUST YOUR ETERNAL FUTURE TO WHAT ANY MAN TELLS YOU! No matter if he has written a million books which have been bought by 100 million people across the globe, examine what you are being told. Do NOT entrust your eternal future upon the understandings, convictions, and teachings of men. This author has not written this book to spare the reader any study of his own, to encourage laziness and blind adherance to what I say, but to inspire and stimulate the reader to study, and read the Scriptures; to challenge what I am saying, and what you yourself believe. Listen to whomever you want to, but examine the Scriptures daily to see whether what they are teaching you is the very Word of God, or a sly and cunning counterfeit. To shirk such a responsibility is to play with fire. If what a man teaches does not conform with the Word of God, then, along with the apostle Paul, “…I beseech you…mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine (the Gospel of God) …and avoid them. For they that are such serve not (the) Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17,18). Do not allow yourselves to be swayed by the cunning craftiness of men, but search the Scriptures daily to see whether what they are saying conforms to what the whole of God’s Word is saying (see Acts 17:11). Does it fit with the principle that grace alone is the means by which a man is saved. Do not be swayed by broad smiles and blindingly white teeth through which come the lies of men. Do not be moved by large auditoriums filled to capacity with thousands of people who hang on every word of the preacher. Do not allow your guard to be broken through by preachers who employ humor in getting their doctrines accepted, or by their anecdotal ‘evidence’ used to support their lies, or the fact they have ‘successful’ ministries and wear custom-tailored $5,000 dollar suits, turned around collars, long beards and flowing robes, or any other form of religious garb. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing in this world especially in matters religious, who say many a true word only in order to have their lies accepted.
People are either guided by God’s Spirit of Truth, or the spirit of error. “The Spirit of truth is the Spirit of God which teaches truth; the spirit of error is the spirit which comes from Satan and seduces into error.” Those who are of the world are led by their carnal dispositions, and the spirit of the world, Satan, those who are of God are led by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, and are guided by Him into all truth. “…the Spirit of truth…will guide you into all truth…we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God…they are of the world…we are of God…” (Jn. 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:12; 1 Jn. 4:5,6). Most have good intentions, and believe they are teaching and sharing the truth, but many there be who are “…untaught of God, who have never learned of the Father, nor have learned Christ, nor have that anointing which teacheth all things; who, though they may have been in the schools of men, were never in the school of Christ; and though they have been ever learning, yet will never come to the knowledge of the truth (see 2 Tim. 3:7); for men may have a large share of human literature, and yet be unlearned men…and very often it is, that such wrest and pervert the Scriptures to the ruin of themselves, and others” (see 2 Pet. 3:16). “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
All but the most narcissistic among false preachers encourage their followers to examine what they are teaching, knowing only too well that most of their audience are not adept at rightly examining the Scriptures, and that most will not bother to examine one who openly encourages others to test his words, and in whom so many place unquestioning trust. Many presume, simply because the Scriptures used in a sermon, or in a man’s writings, are actually in the Bible and have been quoted correctly, that this somehow automatically qualifies a man’s teaching as a true and faithful rendering of what the Word of God is saying. Many are lulled into a false sense of security by the preacher’s perceived openness and desire for others to examine what he is saying. The right method of examination, along with a proper search of the Scriptures, must be employed, or the results reached will be far from Scriptural. The best starting point to any objective examination of Scripture is to compare Scripture with Scripture. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15 cf. Acts17:11; Isa. 28:10; Titus 2:7). “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13). The word comparing literally means “To compare one thing with another by noting similarities and differences”. The original Greek uses ‘together judging’, or ‘matching’. The student of Scripture is to compare, or match, “…the things of the Spirit of God, the doctrines of the Gospel, with the spiritual writings of the Old Testament, whereby their truth and harmony are demonstrated; speaking as the oracles of God, and prophesying or preaching according to the analogy of faith; and adapting spiritual words to spiritual truths…”
When it comes to examining anyone’s teachings on salvation, always work off the Biblical fact that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and that no part of salvation is attainable, dependent, or maintainable by what a man does, or does not do. The principle of grace—God doing first—must be our measuring tool if we are to properly gain the accurate measurement of what the Scriptures are saying. Find out what God says of Himself, and you will get off to a great start in properly understanding what the Scriptures are saying. Read what I tell you, BUT DO NOT BELIEVE IT SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU READ IT IN A BOOK, OR HEARD IT IN A SERMON! TRUST NO ONE!! Always examine, always compare. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). Do not trust anyone merely because they say they love God, and insist Jesus is Lord. Beware that you are not trusting what a person is saying because you like their style of writing, how their voice sounds, their manner of speech, or their taste in clothes, or how good they look. Scrutinize! Examine! Investigate! Search! Test all things objectively! Prove all things without prejudice! Challenge all things and everyone, and may the Holy Spirit of God be your Guide.
It is important to add that study alone, conducting a long, detailed study of the Word of God is no guarantee that the outcome will be according to the truth of God, especially if one enters into it with preconceived ideas that are contrary to the Word of God. Scripture speaks of the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Many well-intentioned, sincere and genuine people have ‘studied’ the Bible all their lives, and still they have not arrived at true repentance which always leads to the knowledge of the truth of God (see 2 Tim. 2:25). Like building a house upon sand, those whose doctrines are built upon a false premise, will not stand when the winds of truth blow against them (see Matt. 7:21-27). If one is guided by the Spirit of the Lord of the Word, then, and only then, will one come to an acknowledgement of His truth. Coming to a saving knowledge of the truth of God is something which cannot be achieved by sheer human effort. One must be guided by the Spirit of truth, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14 cf. Gal. 4:7). If one is not led by the Spirit of truth, one cannot be a son of God.
Nothing can possibly hinder a true Christian’s believing in the true Gospel of God, for he is given the faith which comes from God that ensures he believes only, and always, in God’s Gospel, and is led by the very Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, into all truth “…when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…” (Jn. 16:13 cf. Jn. 18:37; 1 Cor. 2:10). “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14 cf. Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 1 Cor. 2:11). “…it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 Jn. 5:6). “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). Jesus said: “…the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me” (Jn. 15:26). In accordance with this theme, Christ also said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32 cf. Gal. 5:1). If the Spirit of Truth is not leading you, you will never arrive at the truth. If you do not have the Spirit of God you are not a Christian: “…if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). So many believe they are right simply because they toe the establishment line, whether it be that of a church, or denomination, an author, or a preacher. Loyalty and conviction without the truth of God has never guided any to the true God. It just never enters most people’s minds that there is virtually no limit to how many people can be willing victims of the dictatorial spirit of error which has deceived them into accepting lies as truth, and darkness as light. However many, or however few, there are that believe a thing to be true, is not, never has been, or ever will be a trustworthy guide to its veracity. What is believed, and not how many, or how few, believe it, is where a man’s focus should be. “…the Word of the Lord is right…” (Psa. 33:4), not what a person thinks it is saying, or what they believe it to be. Truth does not need anyone to believe it for it to be truth! The impending Flood was a fact that none of the masses wanted to bother with, for no one believed it other than a man called Noah. How accurate a portrayal is this of people today. A people so busy in their pursuit of happiness, who cannot be bothered with anything—even if it is truth—that differs from what they have been taught, and which the majority believes. A people who choose to relax and float downstream never realising the impending waterfall of lost men’s tears. No matter how many people hold to a false teaching, fiction can never, and will never, become fact. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37-39 cf. 2 Pet. 3:3-6); “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:1-5 cf. Prov. 30:12).
Few there be who have honestly and objectively pondered over the question, “Does every word in our English Bibles, especially modern popular contemporary versions such as the New International, The Voice, and New Living versions, literally mean what we understand the words to mean in our daily speech, or has the true meaning of many words in Scripture been supplanted by a ‘simplified contemporary wording’ of modern translations?” In too many passages modern translations have the slick rhythm and ‘chatty’ conversational styles of a contemporary novel or a television drama. While many people may enjoy such a style, this approach seems to be centred upon the expectation of the worldly-minded reader, instead of upon the need to convey faithfully the words that God actually gave.” The correct study of the words of the Bible, and discovering their original, and, therefore only true, meanings is of inestimable value. To know the doctrines of the Gospel of the grace of God is indispensable to the Christian life, and, needless to say, an enormous blessing. Yet even concordances and expository word studies need to be carefully examined, and thoroughly checked and compared if one is to arrive at a correct, accurate and reliable understanding of Scripture. Learning the origins of various teachings, and of the institutions which the people whom you are reading, listening to, or have been taught by, belong to, is also an invaluable aid in helping one arrive at the truth of a matter. So few people have the courage to do this as they have become so accustomed to those they listen to, or read. In my lost days I was an avid listener of the messages of heretic Kenneth Copeland. One day, whilst glancing through a book in a ‘Christian’ bookstore, I came across a section which contained criticism of what Copeland and his wife were teaching. I closed the book immediately! Turning a blind eye, I simply did not want to hear anything said against one whom I enjoyed listening to so much. Many “…have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house” (Ezek. 12:2). Like those in Ezekiel’s day, many have a “…natural sense and understanding, and means and opportunities of being better informed, and of knowing the true state of things…but they wilfully shut their eyes against all light and evidence, and stop their ears, and will not hearken to the words of God: for they are a rebellious people: stubborn, obstinate, and self-willed: or, a ‘house of rebellion’”. Yes, man can, and so often does, wilfully ignore the truth if it clashes with his preconceived ideas, and preferred, beliefs. We do this in our lives, with our families and friends, and even with the Word of God. All too often, many wilfully turn a blind eye to that which they know is there, but which they simply do not want to see. We give way to bias for the sake of comfort at the expense of truth.
No one wants their lives upset, or disrupted by that which is inconvenient, even when it comes to what the truth of God is on any given matter. So many simply want to stay within the world they have created for themselves rather than to boldly, fearlessly, step out of that world, and take a good, long hard look at it by comparing one’s convictions with God’s Truth. Fear of being proven wrong is connected to man’s fear of failure, which is born out of an inherent, covetous desire to always be right. This often paralyses a man, blinding him to the falsity of the teachings he believes are truth. Most believe that the three hardest words to say are ‘I am sorry’, but perhaps ‘I was wrong’ is at least on an equal footing. The truth of God makes a man free, the lies of men only give the impression of freedom, but in reality keep a man blinded to the truth, binding the blind to false gospels which cannot save them. The Lord Jesus says only “…the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32 cf. 2 Cor. 3:17). Man wants desperately to be right, and often anything said by anyone which contradicts what a man believes, is ignored, or ridiculed, not because of his love for truth, but because of his love for what he believes the truth to be, or what he, or others, has convinced himself it is.
“We can’t notice and know everything: the cognitive limits of our brain simply won’t let us. That means we have to filter or edit what we take in. So what we choose to let through and to leave out is crucial. We mostly admit the information that makes us feel great about ourselves, whilst conveniently filtering whatever unsettles our fragile egos and most vital beliefs. It’s a truism that love is blind; what’s less obvious is just how much evidence it can ignore. Ideology powerfully masks what, to the uncaptivated mind, is obvious, dangerous or absurd…Fear of conflict, fear of change keeps us that way. An unconscious, (and much denied) impulse to obey and conform shields us from confrontation, and crowds provide friendly alibis for our inertia…We may think being blind makes us safer, when in fact it leaves us crippled, vulnerable and powerless. But when we confront facts and fears, we achieve real power, and unleash our capacity for change.” One man, who refused to do this, on being presented with the true Gospel, replied that he could not deny what he’d been told. However, he added that he could not accept such things, for if he did he would have to admit that he had been wrong for the past several years! And so, he remains in bondage, willingly, consciously, subservient to his false gospel rather than accept the truth, and repent of his believing a lie. The truth is the truth, but if you prefer lies—just compromise.
Contrary to what most people believe, if the word world meant everyone in the world without exception in every instance it appears in Holy Scripture there would be nothing but confusion. For instance, if ‘For God so loved the world’ means God loves everyone who has ever lived, or will ever live, without exception, what are we to do with a Scripture such as John 17:9, where Jesus, referring to His disciples, says, “I pray for them: I pray NOT for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine”. Is the Lord intimating here that He prays for no one at all when He says He does not pray for the world? Obviously not. The context instructs us that Christ does pray for those whom God has given Him, but not for the world—those whom the Father has not given Him. If Christ does not pray for the world, but does pray for those whom the Father has given Him, it is clear that those whom Christ does pray for are not of the world, and cannot be referred to as such, therefore, world cannot possibly be alluding to everyone without exception. So it is right and proper to conclude that Christ does not pray for all without exception, but only for some—those whom the Father has given Him. Christ’s not praying for the world does not mean He prays for no one at all, for the context shows that His prayers are not for the world of those whom the Father has not given Him. This is the teaching of Scripture, this is the language of Scripture. Learn the language of the Scriptures. Learn the language of God. Jesus said: “…we know that God heareth not sinners…” (Jn. 9:31). Are we to believe that though God does not hear the ‘prayers’ of those who are of the world, His Son, nevertheless, prays for such people? “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Pet. 3:12 cf. Psa. 34:15,16; Prov. 15:29). Those for whom Christ does pray did not place themselves in the position of being prayed for, for it is clear that Christ only prays for them because of the Father having given them to Him. It was not any initiative on their part that makes the difference, but God’s alone, for He chose them according to His will, His purpose, and His grace before the foundation of the world (see Eph. 1). Christ prays and does according to the Father’s will. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (Jn. 5:19 cf. Jn. 12:49). The Father has chosen, He has appointed, not all, but only some, those whom He loved, for His Son to pray for. The Father has only entrusted His chosen ones to His Son. The rest, those who have not been chosen, who are of the world and not of God, have not been given to Jesus, hence His not praying for them, for they are obviously not God’s people, they are obviously not loved by God, and so are appointed to destruction (see Rom. 9:22). This gives us great insight, not only into the word world, but even more importantly, who Christ intercedes for, and thus for whom He died, to whom He gives eternal life—and why—and subsequently, what His atoning sacrifice achieved.