FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES OF SALVATION
The purpose of this book is to equip the new or prospective believer with the truth of God’s Word, and the warnings which appear in Scripture of the many lies and fables that entrap people in a fantasy world of false gospels, false gods and false beliefs. We encourage people to judge according to God’s Word. To believe the Gospel of God, and forever reject gospels which base salvation upon conditions which man must meet before he can be saved, or in order that he remain ‘saved’.
Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in God alone. The saved man does not look to anything he has done or must do in order to be, or remain, saved, for he looks only to God for all of salvation from beginning to end. By nature, no man seeks the true God, no man can come to the true God. Salvation is conditioned on the grace, mercy and purpose of God. Believing is a gift from God, and it is by HIS will alone that a man is saved.
“…them that believe on His name…were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13).
“Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth…” (James 1:18).
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
The true believer is: “…born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which BY THE GOSPEL is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:23,25).
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
Most people seem comfortable with the distractions of day to day living. Countless numbers seem unconcerned about the future, and what effect it will have on their lives. Increasing numbers rarely stop and think of the need each one of us has; of those last days of our lives when our thoughts will inevitably turn to ‘What happens beyond death’, and, ‘What if there really is a God?’ What of eternity?
The Word of God says that everyone, by nature, is without Christ, without God, and, therefore, without hope in this world (see Ephesians 2:12). Man is a sinner and in need of a Savior, One Who can do what it is impossible for any man to do. Contrary to what religion has taught us, no man can work his way to Heaven. No man can obey God to the point where God accepts him into His Kingdom. “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The Word of God says that man at his very best state, that is, the best a man can be, and the best a man can do, is nothing but vanity, profitless, in the eyes of God. “…every man at his best state is altogether vanity….every man is vanity” (Psalm 39:5,11).
When asked who can be saved, Jesus replied: “…with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Our best is never enough. The Word of God says that all men, by nature, are dead in sins (see Ephesians 2:1-5). They are dead to the true God, so much so, that “…there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3: 10,11).
Religion is often, and in countless ways, the voice of ignorance. Replete with false ways and methods of salvation, Religion’s underlying and insurmountable problem lies in the fact that all are dead in sins, and so man can hardly be called upon to do that which is necessary to obtain and/or maintain salvation, by adhering to a list of religious duties etc. This, far from being the way of getting to God, is the very evidence that one is in a cursed state, for the Word of God says: “…a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the Faith of Jesus Christ…for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16). If one has not perfectly obeyed every law of God, one is in a cursed state: “…Cursed is everyone that continueth not in ALL things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). The only way to God, the only way to salvation is Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of His people. Jesus said: “…I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). The Lord Jesus also says: “…No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (John 6:65).
The Good News is that Christ, by His death has redeemed His people from the curse (see Galatians 3:13 & Hebrews 9:12). The Word of God states that salvation comes, not based on the obedience of each individual, but solely by the obedience of One: the Lord Jesus Christ. “…by the obedience of One shall many be made Righteous” (Romans 5:19). This is the key factor which distinguishes true Christianity from the world’s religions, and a true Christian from an accursed person. We’ve seen that man at his best is altogether vanity, and that no one can be saved based on their efforts at obedience to God. For one thing, how would any of us know whether we had been obedient enough? The fact that no one can answer that question 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 who can 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). Man needs a Savior. Doing your best will get you nowhere!
What man does is not his immediate problem, but that which he is. Man is a sinner in need of salvation, not reformation, not a revival of a societally acceptable collection of values, but salvation. Man does not require re-invention, but is in need of re-creation. Man does not need a mess of New Year’s Eve-type resolutions. Man does not need to do better, he needs to be born again. He needs to be made alive. He needs to be made a new creature in Christ Jesus the Lord (see John 3:3; Ephesians 2:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Perfection is what God demands. Man needs to be freed from the guilt and punishment due unto his sins, and a perfect Righteousness established if he is to be accepted by God. Seeing that no one is perfect, no one can even begin to obey perfectly. No one can do anything to make up for their sins, or the fact that they are sinners, and that everyone at their best is, at the very least, imperfect. God has sent a Savior to the earth to die for His predetermined people, taking away their sins through His sacrificial death on their behalf, and charging them with His own Righteousness, or perfection. This is the great Gospel of God, His Good News to those who will believe it. The Good News is that, though man is a sinner who cannot, by his own obedience, gain, or maintain salvation, salvation is obtainable through the obedience of Jesus Christ on behalf of all those God has given Him, those whom He has chosen from before the foundation of the world. God’s people rejoice in the fact that God has chosen them in Christ “…before the foundation of the world…having predestinated us…according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein HE has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6). Without God, man is hopeless. There is nothing man can do to merit salvation. Nothing we do, or don’t do which can get us saved. Nothing which we can do that can rescue us from a state of lostness. There is nothing by which we can recommend ourselves to God.
Salvation is by God. God has done everything to save, God has done everything that will save, His people from their sins. “…Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). Salvation is by the grace of God in providing a Savior that HAS merited salvation for all those He died in place of. Christ’s death was an atoning death, meaning, the sacrifice of Himself to God has put away all the sins of all those God entrusted to Him (see John 17:2). Christ’s Righteousness has/will be imputed, or charged, to these people, and, so they are saved for all eternity based on what God has done, not upon anything they have done, or will do. This is why salvation is said to be by the grace of God, and not at all by the efforts at obedience by any man. “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). David described “…the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth Righteousness without works” (Rom. 4:6).
The Christian lives a life of obedience to God, but this obedience is not what his salvation is based, or relies, on. Eternal life is given to God’s chosen because of the merits of Jesus Christ, because of what He has done for them. Salvation is based on what Christ has done for those who could do nothing to obtain it. “…to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for Righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). This faith with which all Christians believe is not their own, but a gift given them by God (see Ephesians 2:8).
What must I do to be saved? Simply “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31). Believe on Jesus as He is revealed in the true and only Gospel of God, and you have eternal life. Believe in the true Jesus whom God bears record of in His mighty Gospel, and no other. “…he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record, that God gave of His Son….He that hath the Son hath Life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not Life” (1 John 5:10,12). Believe not in a false jesus of a gospel which conditions salvation on what you do rather than SOLELY on what Christ has done. Acknowledge, believe and trust only in what God has done, by grace, to save His people from their sins, and you will see that you are one of those people. Believing does not get anyone saved, for it is the evidence that God has saved you. To rightly believe God’s Gospel is to repent of, and reject all others as having any merit to save anyone from their sins.
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GOD'S GOOD NEWS
SALVATION! What is it? What is one saved from? How does one get saved? Is salvation really necessary? These questions seldom, if ever, receive answers that are compatible with God’s Word. Many people take the following approach to things ‘religious’: ‘I believe that religion is ok for some people, but personally I don’t have a need for it. I don’t see anything that wrong with my life. I work hard, I’m good to my wife/husband and the children. I’m not perfect but I’ve never killed anyone. I give to charity, and try my best to always be there when people need help. I’m quite content with my life and happy within myself, and to be honest, I think I’m just as moral as the next person—even a religious one’. Religion, far from offering salvation, weighs a person down with duties and ceremonies one must perform, along with a rigid set of rules one must conform to, in order to ‘get into God’s good books’. Religion places an impossible burden on people to change their lives, become moral, etc., so that one day they might become acceptable to God. But anybody can change their lifestyle, reform and become a ‘new person’ whether they get involved in religion or not! The true Christian Faith is not a religion, nor is it primarily a lifestyle. True Christianity is all about a message—God’s Message: the Gospel. This Gospel reveals the spiritual condition of man, and God’s only way of salvation. This chapter will briefly explain what salvation is, what a person needs to be saved from, how a person is saved and why salvation is so necessary—why YOU need it. In essence, we shall present the reader with God’s only Gospel: God’s Good News.
Salvation is deliverance. It means to be rescued or freed from a place of danger and brought to a place of safety. It also means to be preserved, to be kept. Salvation is God saving, or rescuing, a sinner from the eternal punishment due unto them, and transferring them to a state of eternal safety and security.
To find out why salvation is necessary, we need to familiarize ourselves with what God says about the spiritual condition of man. In the Book of Genesis we see the account of Adam and Eve. God made Adam and Eve perfect, free of sin, and gave them a beautiful garden to live in and enjoy, with wonderful trees providing succulent fruits. Their life was one of tranquil days of love, happiness, contentment and of peace with God. God said they could eat from any tree in the Garden, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Death, previously unknown, would enter their lives—not merely physical death, but also spiritual death. Adam and Eve did eat of the forbidden fruit, and death did enter their lives that very day, just as God had promised. Physically, they did not die immediately but the ageing process of decay and corruption, the breakdown of their physical bodies, did begin that day. However, they did immediately die spiritually. They were no longer acceptable to God, for they had become sinners and were unclean in His sight. This death, both physical and spiritual, has passed on to every person ever since: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL men..." (Romans 5:12). This is because Adam, the first man, was made the representative of all mankind by God. As their representative, Adam’s sin was imputed (charged) to them, his descendants, the entire human race: "...by one man’s disobedience (the) many (that he represented) were made sinners..." (Romans 5:19). The fact that both you and I sin offers undeniable proof that we are sinners, and shows that we come from the sin seed which began with Adam. Just as a grass seed will only produce grass, so too, the sin seed will only ever produce sinners.
Most people readily admit that they are not perfect, but a source of comfort for many is that they see themselves as only ‘minor’ sinners. Most people’s assessment of themselves is, ‘I am basically a good person. I know I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not as bad as that person’. They judge themselves by comparing themselves with others, and according to this standard they judge themselves to be basically good people. But the reality of the situation is that we have all sinned against God: "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Man has missed the mark, or target, and as far as registering points with God goes—man isn’t even on the scoreboard! Almost everyone is under the impression that if they do their best then God will accept them, for what more can a person do than his best? But God says "...every man AT HIS BEST STATE is altogether vanity (unsatisfactory)" (Psalm 39:5). The best a man can do to recommend himself to God falls far short of the perfection which God demands: "...we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses (good deeds) are as filthy rags..." (Isaiah 64:6). Despite all of mans’ enthusiastic religious efforts, God says "...There is NONE righteous, no, not one: there is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God. They are ALL gone out of the way, they are together become UNPROFITABLE; there is NONE that doeth good, no, NOT ONE" (Romans 3:10-12). Quite a predicament isn’t it?
The standard by which we are to judge ourselves is the one that God has set: perfection—and, if we are honest, we will readily admit that we are imperfect. The Lord Jesus says: "...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law..." (Matthew 22:37-40). No one, not even the most religious person around, would dare say he has loved God perfectly, or his fellow man as himself. So we see then that, far from being guilty of only ‘minor sins’, we all stand guilty of the greatest sins. The concept of ‘minor’ sins is a false one in any case, for to break even one of God’s laws is to break the law as a whole: "For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10), and God has made clear the penalty for sin: "…the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23).
Society often gets into an uproar when a judge lets a criminal off with just a warning, or hands down a light sentence. The judge that does this is perverting justice, he is not a just judge. When someone commits a crime, they should pay the full penalty that the law requires. While it is true that God is a God of love and mercy, it is of the utmost importance to note that He is also a Just God, a Just Judge. God declares of Himself: "...The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...WILL BY NO MEANS CLEAR THE GUILTY..." (Exodus 34:6,7) and "...there is no God else beside Me; a Just God and a Saviour..." (Isaiah 45:21). In order for God to save a sinner (someone who has broken His law) without perverting His justice, His law must be obeyed perfectly and His justice, which demands full payment for sin, must be satisfied. How was this accomplished?
God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. He was conceived in the womb of a virgin by the agency of God the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, did not carry within him the seed of sin. He did not descend from Adam and was, therefore, without sin and wholly acceptable to God. Just as Adam is a representative, so too is Christ. But while Adam is the representative of all mankind, Jesus Christ is the Representative of all those God gave Him—those whom God chose to save—through faith in His Gospel: "...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto He called you by our Gospel..." (2 Thessalonians 2:13); "As Thou (the Father) hast given Him (the Son) power over all flesh, that He (the Son) should give eternal life to as many as Thou (the Father) hast given Him" (John 17:2). Being chosen by God for salvation was not something that was to be earned or could be merited, it was not to be a reward, but was solely according to God’s Will: "(God) hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Timothy 1:9); "...He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world...Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Ephesians 1:4,5). Faith, like everything else pertaining to salvation, is a gift given by God, it does not originate within ourselves: "For by grace (unmerited favor) are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9), and this faith ALWAYS believes THE TRUE Gospel, never a false one (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13,14).
Jesus Christ is the Substitute of all those God chose to save. As their Substitute, He lived the life of perfect obedience to God’s law that none of them ever could, thus providing the obedience they needed to become right with God: "...by the obedience of ONE (Jesus) shall (the) many (those He represented) be made Righteous" (Romans 5:19). As their Substitute, He died and was resurrected, thus paying the penalty in full for their sins: "(Jesus) was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (acquittal)" (Romans 4:25). Jesus blotted out "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us (those He represented)...and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross" (Colossians 2:13,14). God’s Word says that all the sins of those for whom Christ died were transferred to Him, and that His Righteousness would be charged to them: "For He hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). The imputation of Christ’s Righteousness is the only way that God can remain Just, and at the same time be the Justifier of sinners: "To declare, I say, at this time HIS Righteousness: that He might be Just and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).
The belief that there are many religious paths one can travel, but that all lead to the same God, is a lie which deceives many, for not only do the various religions differ greatly in what they say about God and salvation, they often totally contradict each other. As there are many wrong answers that can be given to 2 + 2, there is only one correct answer, so too, there are many false gods and many false christs in religion’s supermarket, but there is only ONE TRUE God, there is only ONE TRUE Christ, and what you believe about God and about Jesus Christ will show whether you believe in the True, or in one of the many counterfeits which cannot save. God warns that many "...pray unto a god that CANNOT save" (Isaiah 45:20). Only ONE road leads to God: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). Religion, even that which professes to be Christian, claims to know what it is that man can do to ‘get right with God’. But we can tell you right now that their teachings about salvation are false, for they all teach that man must do something in order to get saved and/or stay saved. This is the identifying mark of religion’s false gospel. The word religion comes from the Latin word religare meaning to tie up, or to bind. Religion binds you to a system of laws and duties which must be obeyed if you are to see Heaven, and if disobeyed will condemn you to Hell. God declares in His Holy Word that man cannot do anything to get saved, that salvation is 100% God’s work from start to finish and that no one is saved who believes contrary to this. What better news could there possibly be for man than to learn that God, Who demands perfection, does not save sinners based on their imperfect efforts, but on the perfect obedience unto death (the Righteousness) of Jesus Christ. Please do not misunderstand. The Bible does not say that obedience is not necessary, that one can simply believe in Christ, and then live as one pleases. Obedience is very important in the life of a saved sinner, but that obedience is not what saved him, or keeps him saved!
What we have shared with you is, in a nutshell, the Gospel—God’s Good News. Only those who believe the Gospel, which reveals Christ’s Righteousness alone as that which saves sinners, and keeps them saved, will enter into Heaven with nothing to fear. Those who do not believe the Gospel shall be damned—condemned to Hell forever (see Mark 16:16), for their sins remain charged to them.
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth....for therein is the Righteousness of God revealed..." (Romans 1:16,17).
This article is also available in leaflet form. Also, the article is on the website in Italian. It is also available on request in the Philippino 'Tagalog' language.
WHAT IS IT TO BELIEVE?
The Lord Jesus says that only those who believe the Gospel shall be saved, and all those who do not believe that Gospel—God’s Gospel—will not be saved at all, but will in fact be damned: "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:15,16). Clearly, this Scripture teaches that people are to believe the Gospel if any are to be saved. Therefore, we must ask ourselves two extremely pertinent questions: ‘What is it to truly, savingly, believe the Gospel of God?’, and ‘What is it to not believe His Word of truth?’
To believe is to trust, it is to have faith and hope in that which you believe in. To believe the Gospel of God is to wholeheartedly embrace the Truth of God. To not believe is to reject, or be ignorant of, the Truth of God as it is revealed in His Gospel. To not be a believer in the Mighty Gospel of God is either to be ignorant of, to not hope in, to not have faith in, or, to not trust in what God has said (see 1 Jn. 5:10,11). People believe what they believe because they believe it is the truth. Few, if any, would be so foolish as to knowingly believe and trust what they know is not true. However, some are not totally convinced that what they believe is the truth yet, curiously, they willingly go on believing it for reasons which vary from cultural, or family tradition, to convenience. They say they believe what they believe because they believe, or at least are 'pretty sure', it is what God has said. But when faced with what the true God has really said in His one and only Gospel, one quickly discovers that their trust, their hope, their faith, is not at all in the true God and what the true God has said, but in a lie: what they mistakenly believe God has said. Many discover all too late that who they believed God was, and what they believed He had done, had very little in common with the truth concerning Him.
Religious people, including all who merely profess to be, yet are false, Christians will go to Hell. Most, however, will not spend an eternity there because they believed nothing, but because they believed in a lie which they thought was the truth, which they thought had led them to the true and only God, and what He has said. Contrary to what most people have assumed, those who go to Hell are mostly religious people. They believed in a false god, a false gospel, in other words they believed in, trusted and prayed to a god who cannot save. When you believe in lies about God and what He has said, you believe in a false god, no matter what you call him, or how religiously you live your life. “The essence of idolatry is wrong thoughts about God.” The true and only Gospel of God contains what God has said. All false gospels contain what God has not said. A false gospel, just as with a false god, is what God has said cannot save you (see Isa. 45:20 cf. Gal. 1:8,9). A false gospel is one which reveals a plan of salvation, a way to salvation of which God is not the author, and which, therefore, cannot save. A false gospel will, wholly or in part, condition salvation on what a man does to either get saved, and/or ‘remain’ saved. A false gospel offers nothing but a false hope in a god of the imagination.
Most are under the impression that sincerity and conviction, that which one is convinced of from the heart, is the most reliable and infallible evidence that what a person is believing is true. Those who rely on experiences and feelings lead lives that are governed by their deceptive hearts, as well as those of others, and the trickery of a chameleon world of lying spirits. Only the true Gospel contains that which God has said, and can be rightly and reliably looked upon as His only power unto salvation. Only the true Gospel reveals God's salvation plan which is based on nothing else but His Sovereign grace. To believe in anything else is to believe a lie, it is to hope in something which is implausible, for it is not Biblical, and, therefore, something simply cannot save.
No matter what a person considers the Gospel to be, or how sincerely they believe it, or however long they have believed it, it simply cannot save anyone if it is not God's Gospel. If the gospel you have heard and believed in is not the vehicle which contains all of the doctrines of the grace of God in the salvation of His people, then you are currently in a lost state. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9). “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Cor. 4:3). To believe the Gospel is to believe the doctrines, the teachings, of the Gospel, the very Testimony of God concerning His Son the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To not believe what God has said is to call Him a liar. No matter how much devotion you display, or how sincere you are in your heart in what you believe God has said, you are calling God a liar if you do not believe in God’s true and only Gospel. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the Witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 Jn. 5:10-12).
The Gospel of God is His Gospel of salvation, the only Gospel which contains the doctrines of grace which have to do with Who God is, what God has done and for whom He has done it. The Gospel of grace is about what God has done to save His people from their sins. In writing to the Christians at Ephesus, the apostle Paul referred to it as, "...the Gospel of your salvation..." (Eph.1:13). God has made clear in the Scriptures the utterly deplorable, sinful state of man (see Eph. 2:1-5; Jer. 17:9), and also what has been done by grace to save His people from their sins.
It took God to choose those whom He would save; it took God’s Son to live and die for them, to wash away their sins by His blood, and to impute the only Righteousness, the only obedience which is acceptable with God, that meets His standard—the Righteousness of Jesus Christ to them (see 2 Cor. 5:21). It took the Holy Spirit to make alive, to regenerate, those people who would all be granted the same Faith—“…the faith of God’s elect…” (Titus 1:1)—to see, understand and believe God as He is revealed in His Gospel. God saves His people, and keeps them saved, for they have been given ETERNAL life (see Jn. 17:2 & 1 Jn. 5:11). Every part of salvation is by grace, and, therefore, by God and from God. “…Salvation is of the Lord”, and “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord…” (Jon. 2:9 & Psa. 3:8). No part of salvation depends upon us. Nothing we do can get us saved, increase our chances of being saved, or can keep us saved. God has done it all. That is why it is called the Gospel of grace—salvation by grace. In other words, salvation by what God has done not by what man can, or must do. God has chosen a people to be His people, His elected and adopted children before the foundation of the world: “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted…” (Eph. 1:4-6 cf. Gal. 4:4,5). Christ was sent to the earth to become a curse for those chosen of God, to take away their sins, and to grant unto each and every one of them His glorious Righteousness, thus making them perfectly acceptable in the sight of the Holy God. All these people have been/will be given the gift of faith by grace to see, understand and believe in the true God of the only Gospel which reveals Him: God’s only Gospel. No saved person will ever again place any trust whatsoever in any false gospel. They will never again consider themselves, or anyone else, as saved whilst they believed a false gospel.
TO TRULY BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL OF GOD IS TO ONLY BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL OF GOD. To truly believe in the Gospel of God is to believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (see Eph. 2:8). To truly believe in the Gospel of God is to believe that no other gospel can save, AND that one was never saved whilst abiding in beliefs which are not part of God’s Gospel. To truly believe the Gospel of God is to judge saved and lost by the Gospel of God, and not by experiences, or the character, conduct and conviction of anyone no matter who they are.
To believe anything different to this is to believe a lie, another gospel, which is not of God, but which finds its origins in the imagination of man. Belief in only one Gospel, God’s Gospel, evidences a state of salvation. Believe in any other gospel, no matter how minutely it strays from what God has said in His Gospel, and you will perish. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9 cf. Matt. 16:6-12). The only way you can stray from God’s Gospel of grace, is to condition any part of salvation on what you must do, or have done. The apostle Paul warned "But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8,9).
Salvation is not something which is in any way meritable, therefore, it cannot in any way be dependent upon a sinful, dead-in-sins, man. The sin that deceives all men by nature, and which is the centre point of every religion, is the belief that man can, therefore, must do something to come to God, appease God, and please God to the point God will save him. 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. “…that He (Jesus) should give eternal life to as many as Thou (the Father) hast given Him” (Jn. 17:2 cf. Jn. 6:37).
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 ever 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 to save His people from their sins. Man needs a Savior. Doing your best will get you nowhere! Salvation is entirely conditioned on God, and not at all on man. “The Bible is clear that Christians are saved by faith alone. In that regard it is unique, for the religions of the world, all have some form of works system in order to gain right standing before their god. All the religions of the world dictate one must act a certain way, or do certain things, or commit more good acts than bad acts in order to earn the favor of their deity. Christianity stands alone as a belief system which bases salvation on grace alone without any semblance of works.” The Gospel of true Christianity bases salvation not on man, but completely upon the Deity alone. It is a 100% gift from God, and, therefore, His will, and no other’s. No part of salvation can be earned by man. Those chosen of God are saved so that they will obey, so that they will believe, not because they have obeyed, or have believed. The elect of God are chosen unto salvation, they are chosen to be saved, chosen to believe, chosen to perform good works.
“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).
WHY PREACH THE TRUTH?
The whole purpose of teaching is to instruct people in the right way, and to distinguish the right way from the wrong ways, proving why the truth is the truth and why anything which contradicts it, is not. To teach is to declare the truth, and prove why it is the truth thus leading people away from wrong thoughts and an erroneous understanding of what it is, thus exposing error. The right way has its consequences, and the wrong way has its consequences. And when it comes to the Gospel of God, right teaching and wrong teaching is a matter of what God has said, and what God has not said—The Truth of God and the lies of men, "...the Spirit of Truth, and the spirit of error" (1 Jn. 4:6). What God has said is right, and what God has not said is wrong. If you believe what God has said, you are right. You have the Truth. If you do not believe what God has said, but only what is claimed God has said, you are wrong because you believe in that which is not God's Truth. You are an unbeliever, and Scripture declares you a liar and a false witness of the true God rather than a believer in Him (see 1 Jn. 5:10 & 1 Cor. 15:14,15).
Salvation is all about knowing God, believing in the true God, and not in a false god which cannot save. To believe in the true God is to believe in the doctrines of the Gospel of the grace of God in the salvation of His people. Without the true knowledge of God there can be no salvation. The true knowledge of Who God is, what God has done and for whom He has done it. The knowledge of the Gospel of God. To know and believe the true God is to know and believe the true Gospel of God which is to know and believe the true doctrines of that Gospel which reveal, define and distinguish the true God and His true Christ from all impostors. The Gospel of God is revealed to all God's people. All God's chosen are given eyes to see and ears to hear. By Grace they are granted the gift of Faith by God to believe His Gospel, and reject all others. That is, to believe the truth about God and how He saves, and to reject the lies about Him contained in gospels which are not of God, and which are only believed in with the faith that is natural to all men.
The Gospel of Christ is God's Instrument by which He delivers the doctrines of Truth about Christ which is essential to a saving knowledge of Him. "According as His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Pet. 1:3). Without the knowledge of the doctrines of the Gospel of God's Grace there can be no salvation. The apostle Paul states "But if our Gospel be hid (veiled, not known), it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Cor. 4:3). Without the knowledge of the Gospel of God and the Faith with which to savingly believe it, there can be no salvation. Paul prayed: “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” (Rom. 10:1,2). “…though they had a zeal of God, they knew neither God nor Christ aright; they did not know God in Christ, nor Jesus to be the true Messiah; they understood neither law nor Gospel truly, and fancied the Gospel was contrary to the law, and an enemy to it; and therefore in their great zeal opposed it, and the professors of it; they were zealous of the law, and of doing the commands of it, but knew not the true nature, use, and end of the law; as appears by what follows.” A zeal for the 'idea', or 'concept' of 'God' will do a man no good if he is not blessed with a true recognition of the true and only God. "...Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Faith does not, indeed cannot, come without the hearing of the Word of God's Gospel. One cannot believe that which one has no knowledge of. The Gospel of God must be preached to every creature, for salvation cannot take place before, or without, the hearing and believing of the Gospel of God. The apostle Paul writing to the Christians at Ephesus noted that their trusting in Christ occurred "...after that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. 1:13).
Christ commanded "...repent ye, and believe the Gospel" (Mk. 1:15). Faith and repentance are inseparable. The gift of repentance from God always brings with it the acknowledgment of the truth of God, and does not leave anyone in a perpetual state of rejection of it, or ignorance concerning it. "...if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2 Timothy 2:25). A repentance which does not acknowledge the truth of God, is not the gift of repentance which God gives to all His people. No acknowledgement of God's Gospel = no true repentance = no salvation. One cannot properly acknowledge the truth without rejecting error. If a person claims to believe God's true Gospel, and yet still clings to any false gospel, or to even one of its false doctrines they previously believed rather than rejecting it as having any power to save, then they cannot be a true believer in God's Gospel as being His ONLY power unto salvation (see Rom. 1:16). "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to THE Faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness" (Titus 1:1). Notice that there is only one Faith which is common to the elect of God (see also Jude 3), and only with that gift of Faith can one savingly acknowledge the truth of God "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4 cf. Romans 10:2; Philippians 3:8). Again, we see the connection between salvation and knowledge. Importantly, knowledge does not gain us salvation. Knowledge does not save anyone, but it is the evidence, or fruit, of salvation. Anyone can claim to know and believe in the true answer to a mathematical equation, but only those who do know it, and can actually tell you what the true answer is, are they who can provide the necessary evidence to be judged correct.
There is no salvation without the knowledge of the Truth of God. Knowledge does not save anyone, but no one is saved without it. Ignorance is darkness, saving knowledge is light. To be saved is to pass from spiritual darkness to the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, the knowledge of His Truth (see 2 Corinthians 4:3,4). Look carefully at Titus 1:1-3 and notice the distinct, and unmistakable connection between “…the FAITH of God's elect; the ACKNOWLEDGING of the TRUTH; GODLINESS; in hope of ETERNAL LIFE; and manifested His WORD through PREACHING…” The Faith which is given to everyone of God's elect is given so that they will all acknowledge the Truth of God, trust and believe in the true God and His only Way to salvation, rather than continue in ignorance and rejection of it, or to forever speculate as to what it could be as those of the world do who know not God. To be a true Christian is to KNOW! To be a true Christian one must believe, but one cannot believe if one does not know. In Romans 10, Paul asks how can any call on the true God if they do not believe on Him; and how can any rightly believe on Him if they have not heard of Him: "...and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14). And what is it which they must hear? Paul continues "...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace..." (Rom. 10:15).
Now, if salvation does not hinge upon belief of God's Gospel of peace then the truth simply would not matter at all, and, therefore, needs not be preached. If actually believing what God has said concerning salvation does not matter, then truth is relative, indeed, what God says about salvation, His Son, the Gospel becomes merely a relative thing. Truth would not be what God says, but only what a person believes it to be. Consequently, the truth would be judged right or wrong as each individual saw fit. Truth would be judged according to a person’s perspective, how a person thinks, rather than by what God says it is. Thus the truth of God would not need to be preached and believed for a man to be saved, for he could just believe what he wants to believe and be saved regardless as long as ‘his heart is in the right place’, and his intentions ‘good’. Believing God's Truth and believing a man's lies, would all amount to the same thing. If all this were true, the truth of what God has done, of how He saves, indeed, of Who God is, would not be important enough to figure in the salvation of anyone, for what a man believes the truth to be would be equal to what God says the truth is. The fact of the matter is that if God has said something, the onus is on man to believe it because you can be guaranteed that what God speaks is Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, for God is Truth (see Jn. 14:6). “…the Spirit is Truth” (1 Jn. 5:6). “…Thy Word is Truth” (Jn. 17:17). Not believing what God has said will have dire and eternal consequences: "...in them that perish; because they received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved....That they all might be damned who believed not the Truth..." (2 Thess. 2:10,12). Couple these two Scriptures with the following words of Christ Jesus Himself, and you begin to see a clear picture of the essentiality of hearing, knowing and believing the Truth of God. The Lord's command to His people is to preach the Gospel to every creature: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16).
No one has ever profited by not believing the Word of God, so how can any say that to not believe the Gospel, but to believe error concerning it, i.e. another gospel, will still save a person. This line of argument goes far beyond the boundaries of Scriptural reasoning. I mean, why preach the truth at all! Why warn of false preachers who come with false doctrines (see Matt. 24:24; 1 Jn. 4:1) if one can be just as saved by believing the lies they teach as one is in believing what true men of God who preach His Gospel say? The main reason why teaching is necessary at all is the fact that the Word of God is the very instrument through which God expresses His Truth concerning His Son in the salvation of His people. This Truth is encapsulated in the Gospel of God. The Gospel of God reveals the true and only God. It shows Who He is, what He has done and for whom He has done it. The Gospel of God at once shows what was necessary to the salvation of God's people, and exactly what and Who a saved man trusts. The Gospel of God is the Truth of God, and everything outside of that Gospel forms part of a gospel which the God of Truth has simply not authored. Any gospel which contradicts any doctrine of the true Gospel does not represent, or present, the true God.
Another reason why preaching and teaching the Gospel of God is necessary is because there is right and wrong, and the purpose behind proving that which is right as right is so a person will acknowledge and enjoy the Truth of God, and reject the lies about God which present themselves as truth. So that a person will enjoy the benefits of being blessed of God to believe the truth, as opposed to believing error and remaining in an accursed state for all eternity. But if whether one believes truth or error does not matter, that it is not the prime evidence of salvation, then there is no reason why anyone should teach anything, for believing whatever one believes to be the truth, as opposed to what the Truth of God actually is, would be one and the same thing! Therefore, a man can be saved regardless of whether he believes God's Testimony of His Son, or another's testimony of Him, or simply your own idea, or version, of Him! "Thus, in common with a fundamental tenet of the New Gnosticism—that there is no objective reality"—the Gospel can be anything a person wants it to be, and thus Who God is and how God saves would go from being Scriptural fact to something which would be open to interpretation. Trusting in a lie does not a saved person make. Let us all live in and for existential experiences and form our own doctrines and believe what we want to believe, is the rebellious cry of the 21st century. Thus we see the aim of Satan: to create a worldwide religious climate where there are virtually no rules, no Standard of belief, where the lines between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, between true Gospel doctrine and the lies of false gospels, become so blurred as to make them indivisible. Where a man's views rather than God's Truth reign in the hearts of all men. Where God’s truth is discarded, and replaced with what a man deems the truth to be.
When Christ Jesus the Lord commanded His people to "...preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15), He made no mention that preaching the Gospel of God meant what anyone thought, assumed, or presumed the Gospel to be. Not even the slightest hint was given that the Gospel of God was of any private interpretation, or even to the remotest possibility of there being more than one Gospel that is the power of God to save. Christ made reference only to THE GOSPEL, God's Gospel, the one and only Gospel by which God saves. God's Gospel reveals what a person must believe to show they are saved, that they have God-given faith to trust and believe only in God and His only Way to salvation, that they have eternal life. Only belief in the Gospel of God is the sure sign of salvation "...for it (the Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation...FOR THEREIN is the Righteousness of God revealed..." (Rom. 1:16,17 cf. Rom. 10:1-4). God does not save any other way. Christ also had a very clear message to those who will not believe HIS Gospel: "...he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16). This Scripture ties in perfectly with the apostle Paul's inspired declaration that "...if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are LOST" (2 Cor. 4:3; 1 Jn. 5:10-13).
Therefore, we see clearly that the Truth, God's Holy Gospel Message concerning His grace in the salvation of His people through the Righteousness of His Son, must be preached by His people to every creature. This being the case, it stands to biblical reason that all His people must know and believe in the only Gospel they have been commissioned to preach. The Truth must be heard to be known and believed (see Rom. 10:10-17). If truth matters at all then the Gospel of God matters. If believing simple truths like the correct answer to 2 + 2 is 4 matters, then it surely must matter what the true Gospel of God is. It matters what God's answers are to the questions, ‘What must I do to be saved?’; 'Who is Jesus?'; 'What did He do and For whom did He do it?’ There is no salvation present in one's life if that life is free of the knowledge and Faith of God's Gospel by which God saves. If one believes and trusts in a gospel other than God’s Gospel. As in the world of mathematics where no one is right if they do not have the correct answer, so too, in God's reality no one is saved unless they are believers in God's only power to save: His Gospel. This is not about intelligence, doctrinal regeneration, or salvation by knowledge, but of REVELATION! Believing God's Gospel and rejecting, repenting of, all others is the evidence that God has revealed His Gospel by His Holy Spirit to the heart and mind of a man.
"...Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL OR YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR SINS
THE GRACE PRINCIPLE
GRACE! It is a word many are so very familiar with. Religious people the world over claim that they are saved by grace, and proclaim an undying love for the God of all grace, etc., but the disturbing aspect is that many who claim to believe in salvation by grace nevertheless insist that they must do something to either assist in their getting saved, or in their remaining saved. Like so many today, they fail to understand the true meaning of grace, and have obviously been taught amiss as to just exactly what grace is and what it is to be saved by grace. Much can be said on this vital issue, but in this short article I would like to highlight the very essence, the core meaning, of the grace of God, and what it means to be saved by grace.
It has been eloquently and succinctly put that grace is unmerited favor. Grace is the favor of God upon a totally undeserving person. No one can merit grace, for if they could it would no longer be grace, but a reward (see Rom. 11:6). Even a cursory reading of the New Testament Letters will reveal that grace and works nullify each other. If one can get saved by works, then grace would not be required, but if the only way one can get saved is by grace, then no amount of works can ever attain what only grace can provide. Grace is most definitely not a reward from God for anything we are, have done, or will do. Grace is given DESPITE WHAT WE ARE, HAVE DONE, OR WILL DO!! You see, grace is something that God does, it is something which God does first, something that God bestows upon a person out of His free will, out of His abundant mercy, and the purpose of it is to save that person from what they do deserve—HELL. Grace does not need any human assistance, or compliance in order to fulfil its purpose. Grace is totally in contrast with, and diametrically opposed to, any work of man’s. Grace is a work of God not a work of man’s. No work of man’s can add anything to grace. Any attempt at obedience with the goal of getting saved, or believing it will help in one’s remaining ‘saved’, is adding to grace that which grace does not need, nor salvation require.
Grace is something which is independent of all that a man is, and all that a man can do. Grace does not work with man to get him saved, for it is only the grace of God which has access to salvation, thus providing it as a gift, and not awarding it as a prize, or paying it as a wage. Only the key of grace can open the door to salvation. Anything done by man to attract salvation can only repel it, for salvation is attracted only to, and by, grace. The saved are chosen by God, they “…are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (Eph. 2:10 cf. Psa. 37:23; Isa. 64:8; Ezek. 36:27; 1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 4:24), not because of good works. Peter tells us that the saved are elected unto obedience, not because they were obedient, or because it was foreseen they would be obedient. The saved are “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience…” (1 Pet. 1:2). No work of man’s is necessary in the salvation of man. The best work a saved person has ever done does not contribute one iota to their getting saved, or remaining saved. Obedience is the fruit, not the tree.
Man is saved by grace through faith, and these are both gifts from God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). No effort of a man can get him saved, or is necessary in maintaining salvation. The obedience and Righteousness required come only from the Lord Jesus Christ: “…by the obedience of one shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19); “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). God’s grace does it all from A to Z. Grace is GOD DOING FIRST. Grace is God doing first, that which man cannot do at all. If anyone believes they are bound to keep a certain law to get saved, or must maintain a certain level of obedience in order to ‘remain saved’, they are, far from being believer’s in grace, as lost as lost can be, for they are reliant on man’s doing to secure a saved state, an acceptable state before God. They are fleshly creatures not trusting solely, and, therefore, not at all—upon the grace of God.
So, should anyone come to you and claim to be saved by grace, and yet declares they are maintaining their ‘saved’ state through their own obedience, you may feel confident in telling them that they have been fed a false gospel, and not the only Gospel by which God saves: the Gospel of grace. Likewise, any who claim to have been saved whilst believing such a gospel are not saved, for they have placed their trust in another gospel, a gospel which does not attribute ALL of salvation to the work of God, the grace of God. God’s Gospel never once talks about what man must do to get saved, or stay saved. It does not talk about man’s works, but purely and simply highlights the work of God (grace) alone in the salvation of His people, and places everything God needed to do to save His people from their sins under the simple heading of GRACE!
The Gospel of God is about His grace. It is filled with what the Bible calls the doctrines of grace, in other words, the teachings of what God has done to save His people from their sins, and not what they must do. God gets His people saved by what He has done, and He keeps them saved by what He has done. “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); “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Pet.1:3-5).
Salvation is not by a work of man’s, but only by the work of God, and that work is all based on the grace principle.
To God be the glory for great things HE has done.
"Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare WHAT HE HATH DONE for my soul" (Psa. 66:16).
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The article is also available on request in the Philippino 'Tagalog' language.