FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES OF SALVATION - Part 2
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him" (2 Cor.11:3,4).
The apostle Paul spoke of those who would come preaching another jesus; of those who would receive another spirit and accept another gospel. The question I pose to you, the reader, today, is: ‘Which spirit have you received, which gospel do you believe and WHICH JESUS HAVE YOU ACCEPTED?’
There are many false jesuses which myriads of people have confidently embraced. These false messiahs go by the name jesus, and claim to be God’s Son, but when we look at the detail of the doctrines which promote such charlatans, and compare them with the Word of God, we are able to see that they are not the Son of God, but empty vessels, imposters which have absolutely no power to save anyone.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF MORMONISM:
The jesus of Mormonism is not the Second Person of the Trinity, as there is no Trinity at all according to Mormon doctrine. The Mormon jesus was a pre-existent spirit, the spirit-brother of the Devil, and was married to both Mary and Martha! Brigham Young, the successor to Mormon founder Joseph Smith, declared that the Mormon jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was ineffective for the cleansing of some sins. Man himself has to atone for those sins that the blood of the Mormon jesus could not atone for. The Mormon jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES:
The jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not God, but only a god. He is the Son of God, but not God Himself. This jesus was resurrected a divine spirit creature, and his birth on earth was not an incarnation according to JW doctrine. The jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not coming again, but is already on earth, only invisibly. This jesus ‘...removed the effects of Adam’s sin by his sacrifice on Calvary, but the work will not be fully completed until the survivors of Armageddon return to God through free will and become subject to the Theocratic will of Jehovah’ (‘The Kingdom of the Cults’, p.99). The JW jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM:
The jesus of Roman Catholicism is another whose death upon the cross was insufficient of itself to atone for the sins of all those for whom He died. This jesus died to redeem all mankind from sin, but his death alone was not sufficient enough to fully atone for all sins, thus there is a need for men to suffer punishment in Purgatory in order that they may become fully purged of their sin, and, therefore, pure enough and acceptable enough to enter Heaven. The Roman Catholic jesus appears on Roman Catholic altars as bread and wine, and is continually being offered to God as a bloodless sacrifice for the sins of man. The Roman Catholic jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF THE FAITH MOVEMENT:
The jesus of the Faith Movement did not atone for man’s sins upon the cross. His physical death alone accomplished nothing. This jesus needed to go to Hell and suffer torment there, and be tortured by the Devil and his demons in order to complete the Atonement. This jesus had to die spiritually. The death of this jesus did not atone for the sins of man on the cross, but in the pit of Hell. The atoning sacrifice of the Faith Movement’s jesus was not finished upon the cross, but was merely the beginning of the complete work of redemption (Kenneth Copeland, ‘Believer’s Voice of Victory’, April 1982, p.10). The Faith Movement jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM:
The Seventh-Day Adventist jesus bears some similarity to the true Jesus, but being similar is not the same as. According to Seventh-Day Adventist prophetess, Ellen G. White, ‘The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel sin....it (the blood) will stand in the sanctuary until the FINAL atonement’ (E. G. White, ‘Patriarchs and Prophets’, p.357). The jesus of Seventh-Day Adventism ‘...gave his life that man should have another trial. He did not die on the cross to abolish the law of God but to secure for man a second probation’ (E. G. White, ‘Testimonies to Ministers’, 1953, p.134). The Seventh-Day Adventist jesus is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF CHRISTIAN SCIENCE:
The jesus of Christian Science did not atone for man’s sins upon the cross at Calvary. Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, emphatically and blasphemously stated that, ‘The material blood of jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon the accursed tree than when it was flowing through his veins...’ (‘Science and Health’, p.25). This jesus was born of the Virgin Mary’s spiritual thoughts of Life and its manifestation. The ‘one sacrifice’ of this jesus, ‘however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin’ (‘Science and Health’, p.23). The jesus of Christian Science is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE ‘JESUS’ OF ARMINIANISM:
The ‘jesus’ of Arminianism is the most popular and adored of all the counterfeit christs. This jesus is another false messiah who died, not for God’s chosen people, but for every individual ever born. His death was not to secure the salvation of anyone, but was to make salvation potential for everyone, dependent upon their free will choice of Him. This jesus is not the effectual Savior of His people, but the potential Savior of every person, thus making man’s free-will decision for God that which will ultimately decide his eternal destiny. According to Arminianism it is not Christ and His Work that makes the difference between saved and lost, but a free-will act of man. The jesus of Arminianism achieved nothing on the cross for any for whom he died unless they accept what he has done, thereby making it a valid and effectual act. The jesus of Arminianism is a false jesus and no Savior at all.
THE TRUE JESUS:
There is only one True Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible: the One Whom God gives testimony to. The One Who died, was buried and rose again "according to the Scriptures" (see 1 Cor. 15:1-4). There is only one Savior whom God recognizes as His Son, and only His Son saves: the Jesus Who is not only the Son of God, but IS God Himself. The true Jesus IS the Second Person of the Trinity (see 1 Jn. 5:6,7), unlike the Mormon jesus. The resurrected body of the true Jesus was made up of ‘flesh and bones’ (Lk. 24:39), and the true Jesus is not already secretly on earth for His coming will be seen by all (see Acts 1:9-11 cf. Lk. 17), unlike the JW’s jesus. The true Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, and does not appear at the beck and call of Roman Catholic priests upon their altars as bread and wine. Nowhere in Scripture can it be demonstrated that the sufferings of the true Jesus continued in Hell for the redemption of man, as they did for the false jesus of the Faith Movement. The true Jesus died on the cross at Calvary and His shed blood, that is, his physical death, DID atone for all the sins of everyone for whom He died. His sacrifice was a once and for all substitutionary sacrifice that requires no repetition and no supplementary act on the part of man in order for it to become fully effective. His physical death IS sufficient to cover every sin—past, present and future—of all those whom God gave to Him.
The jesuses promoted in the false gospels of religion failed to fully atone for sin by their ‘death’ on the cross. The true Jesus’ atonement for His people was fully efficacious for the redemption of everyone for whom He poured out His blood: "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross" (Col. 2:14 cf. Heb. 9:13,14); "...but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26); "...we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all" (Heb. 10:10); "For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Heb.10:14); "...unto Him (Jesus) Who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Rev. 1:5). All these Scriptures testify to the fact of the all-sufficiency and all-efficiency of Jesus’ once-and-for-all sacrifice for His sheep on the cross. “…I lay down My life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:15).
As the different gospels preached by these false religions are no Gospel at all, so too, their different jesuses are no Jesus at all and, therefore, no Saviour at all! It is of crucial importance that we believe in the right Jesus. In fact it is a matter of life and death. The jesus you have is identified by the doctrine you believe in. There are billions of people on this earth, but only one you and only one me. Likewise, there is only ONE Savior, and if one does not abide in His doctrine, if one does not believe in the only Gospel which reveals the Righteousness of Christ, without which no one can be saved, then one is without God and without hope: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God..." (2 Jn. 9); "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..." (Rom. 1:16,17).
Imagine a room full of different jesuses. Above their heads is written: ‘The jesus of the Mormons’; ‘The jesus of the Faith Movement’; ‘The jesus of Roman Catholicism’; ‘The jesus of Arminianism’ etc. The characteristics, the attributes, the history and the redemptive work of the jesus you follow must be in accord with the Jesus of the Bible, or you have accepted the wrong jesus (see 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Why error is so deadly in this matter of who the Savior is and what He has done, is that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (see Matt. 16:6-12). If one does not hold to the truth about Jesus, how can one be said to have the True Jesus? "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God..." (2 Jn. 9); “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the Wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn. 3:36 cf.1 Jn.5:10-12).
The doctrine which distinguishes and identifies the jesus you believe in must be in accord with the Scriptures, or you have been taught, and do follow, one of the many counterfeit saviors. The true Jesus is the One Whose physical death upon the cross, alone fully atoned for the sins of everyone for whom He died. Only this Jesus is the real Savior; only this Jesus provides salvation for His people, the ones whom God chose before the foundation of the world, and gave to His Son (see Eph. 1:4 & Jn. 17:2,3). Accept any other jesus, however much he might resemble the true Jesus, however sincerely you believe him to be the true Jesus, and you have embraced a satanic counterfeit who will lead you to an eternal, inescapable Hell.
For more detailed teaching on the true Jesus, see my booklets ‘God’s Only Jesus’ and 'Atonement for Whom?: A Study of the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ' at www.godsonlygospel.com
Also, for a more comprehensive study of those religious organizations which teach a false gospel, wherein is not salvation, please see my book 'Who Are The Lost?'
This article is also available on request in the Philippino 'Tagalog' language.
THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:17,18).
In these two very important verses we learn so much of what the Gospel actually is, and, what the Word of God says about those who believe it and those who disbelieve it. They show how extremely important it is to know and believe the Gospel of God, or the preaching of the cross, for only those who believe the Gospel are saved, and those that do not believe it will perish. We also learn that believing the Gospel is the primary evidence that a man is saved, that he has received Revelation from God, and the gift of Faith to believe God’s Truth.
Firstly, we notice what the apostle Paul calls the Gospel. Paul talks about preaching the Gospel, and later refers to it as "the preaching of the cross". The preaching of the cross is the Gospel, the Good News, of God. But what does the preaching of the cross mean? The preaching of the cross is a clear reference to the Person of Christ, Who He is; the Work of Christ, what He did; and for whom Christ did it, the intent, and, therefore, the extent of His atoning work: who actually benefits. You cannot separate Who Christ is from what He did, and, consequently, for whom He did it. Christ did not do several contrastingly different things on the cross. He did one thing. He died. And, through that Sacrificial and Substitutionary Death He achieved something: Christ Jesus the Lord obtained salvation for all those for whom He died. He did not merely make salvation possible, but He obtained redemption for those whom God had given Him. “…by His own blood He entered in once into the Holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12 cf. Eph. 1:14; Col. 1:14, 20-22). Having OBTAINED eternal redemption, HE has SECURED eternal redemption for all for whom He obtained it. The sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice cannot be separated from the efficiency of it. What Christ's atoning work has accomplished can never be dissociated from its efficaciousness and, accordingly, for whom it was accomplished. “All that the Father giveth Me SHALL COME to Me…” (Jn. 6:37), because Christ has “obtained eternal redemption” for them. Their eternal destiny was secured by the Father giving them to His Son, and His Son giving Himself for them.
Of vital importance is the fact that verse 18 of 1 Corinthians 1 shows clearly for whom Christ did not die. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that all for whom Christ died will believe, they will be given the Gift of Faith to see, understand and believe the glorious Gospel of God (see John 10:26-28). Those who do not believe the Gospel, who perish, will count this preaching of the cross as foolishness, evidencing the fact that they have not been provided with the gift of saving faith which comes from God to believe in HIS Son, and is given to those whom He wills to receive it. Atheists, and people who believe in false gods, including all who believe in the various false christian gods, all count the preaching of the cross of Christ as foolishness. Only those who have been elected, chosen by God before the foundation of the world and appointed to salvation will believe God's preaching of the cross and see it, and it alone, as the very Truth of God, the Good News of God, the GOSPEL of God. "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" (Jn. 6:37). Those who have been appointed unto Wrath will not see, and, therefore, will not believe in God’s only Saviour: His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, but will count the Gospel as nothing but foolishness. Conversely, those chosen of God unto salvation have been given the Grace of God to recognize this Gospel as His ONLY Gospel, and count all others as foolishness. However, for those who are not saved, not chosen before the very foundation of the world by a gracious God, for those who instead will perish, they see the preaching of the cross of Christ as foolishness. This includes all atheists, and all believers in every false gospel, which includes all those who claim to be Christians who call God's True Gospel, foolishness. This is the kind of evidence which distinguishes who is saved from those who will perish; Who is Christian and who is not.
Believe the Gospel and you will be saved, the Scripture says. Christ says in Mark 16 that those who do not believe the Gospel of God shall be damned. It is not enough to say 'I believe the gospel', or 'I believe in Jesus'. One must believe the true Gospel, the true doctrines of God's grace in the salvation of His people, and one must believe in the true Jesus. One must believe and trust in God’s only Way to salvation, or one is trusting in a way that will simply not work. However, when sharing this with lost people who believe they are Christians, it does not take very long at all before it becomes abundantly clear that they are convinced they are Christians regardless of what they actually believe. They judge themselves, and others, saved based on their sincerity of conviction, and their conduct. The veracity of a doctrine does not have any pre-eminence for such people. All that seems to matter to such people is their experiences and 'love for God'. They judge themselves saved based on their own perceptions rather than God’s perspective. They believe the true Gospel believer is a Christian, however, the astonishing, mind-numbing fact is that they also believe that though the gospel they believe differs from the Gospel the true believer believes, both parties are saved regardless of what is actually believed!
To refer to our main Scriptures again, the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish. In other words, unbeknownst to them, they do not believe that the true preaching of the cross is the truth of God, they see it as foolishness. They do not believe it. It is not something which is worthy of their belief, or even consideration. In other words they do not believe the Gospel is the Gospel! Such people are anti-Gospel, and will, therefore, perish. Not only do they reject God's Gospel, they put a false gospel in its place and call that God's Gospel. They do not place their faith, their trust, in God's Gospel, but in another, and, therefore, in another god. Those that perish do not believe the Gospel of God, for they believe in another, a false gospel which is foolishness to God and all His people. And yet, they insist that they and believers in the true Gospel are both equally saved people despite the fact that they hold to different gospels which render the other completely redundant! How many Gospels do such people believe God has? Two? Three? Fifteen? How many Gospels do these people believe are the power(s) of God unto salvation? May I refer the reader to my book, 'How Many Gospels?’. The book deals with such a question in great detail, and shows conclusively that there is only one true Jesus, one true God, and, therefore, only ONE TRUE Gospel of God.
Contrary to popular belief, there are not several different and contrasting pathways to salvation. God has not devised several different plans of salvation to fit everyone's theological persuasion. There is but one Gospel that belongs to God. Only one Gospel that He has Authored. Only one Gospel which is His power unto salvation. What do you think the Scriptures are referring to when they talk about the preaching of the cross? Your idea of what that preaching entails? Does God have several differing and contrasting versions of the Gospel? NO! Scripture talks about God's preaching of the cross, His Gospel, His truth about Who His Jesus is, what His Jesus has done and for whom His Jesus has done it. Romans 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 1:17,18 are speaking about God's Gospel, and no one else's as being His power unto salvation. These Scriptures are speaking about God's preaching of the cross of His Christ and no other, for no other can save. "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 John 5:10-12).
“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). Now, how do you think Paul arrived at such a conclusion? What made him so definite in his conviction that if a man taught or believed a gospel that differed from his, it would give him license to pronounce such a man accursed? Do you think Paul reasoned this out with his mind after the Lord had delivered him His Gospel? Perhaps. Even if he did he would have been right because what other gospel could possibly save apart from the one the Lord had told him. God did not reveal to him any other plan of salvation for He has only one plan and it is revealed in one Gospel. Doesn’t it sound reasonable to conclude though that the Lord Himself told Paul that there was no other gospel that could save; that there is no other message that any man could come up with that would be God’s message, and, therefore, that was worthy of belief and that could save. After all, what Paul wrote on the matter was to become Holy Scripture. Now, I am not saying God did say this to Paul, or that He even had to say it, but just that it surely must be considered a possibility if not a probability. One thing is certain, the Lord most assuredly inspired Paul by the Holy Spirit to write such a thing and made sure that no man tampered with or removed this from Paul’s letter, which was later to become Holy Scripture. God not only wanted Paul and those in Galatia to know this but as many as would read it, that as far as God was concerned there was only ONE Gospel. God is not aware of any gospel other than His own that can save so how could any man come up with one! How can there be another way to salvation other than the one outlined by God in His one and only Gospel? There is no better authority on the matter than God. Remember, Paul is here writing not his own words, but words inspired by God Himself. EVERYTHING PAUL SAID WAS BACKED 100% BY GOD BECAUSE IT WAS HIS WORD TO BEGIN WITH!! IT WAS GOD’S THOUGHTS THAT PAUL RECORDED IN HIS LETTER TO THE GALATIANS. It was in fact God Who was saying, ‘Anyone who preaches, or believes any other gospel than My Gospel is an accursed person. Anyone who counts My Gospel as foolishness will perish’.
TO WHOM BELONGS THE GLORY?
Q. How much glory for salvation belongs to God?
Doubtless there are few, if any, who lay claim to being Christian who would answer this question with any other word than ALL. God is deserving of all the glory for salvation. When it comes to the matter of how much glory, how much praise God is worthy of in the salvation of a human being, all who claim to be Christian should have no hesitation in saying that God deserves all the glory. He deserves all the praise for the salvation of a person because He has done everything necessary to save a man, AND keep him saved. Be they ‘Calvinist’, ‘Arminian’, true believers in God’s Gospel, or all who profess to believe, none would dare say that God is not deserving of all the glory for every bit of salvation.
Why does God alone deserve all the glory? Why should all the praise for salvation belong to God alone? Why is it not partly shared with man? The Arminian who asserts that man plays an active part in his own salvation by choosing to come to God out of his own free will claims to believe that God alone is worthy of all praise and glory for salvation. But how can he justify this when he also says that without man making a decision to come to God, God would be without any saved souls, and His Kingdom would be without a people. Many Arminians try and counter this by saying that they do give God all the glory, for they say that without His grace present none could choose Him. They fail to realise that any act on man’s behalf, anything motivated by his own so-called ‘free will’, constitutes a meritable act, something that deserves praise and to which God is obliged to respond. If you condition any part of salvation on man, then once he has complied with that condition he must surely be deserving of some of the glory for it. Compliance implies dependence. Compliance cannot be required unless salvation is somehow conditioned on the one whose compliance must take place before salvation can occur. If salvation is conditioned on obedience then it cannot come other than by a reward, and a reward is a recognition of effort, an honor awarded. The Arminian claims that man’s ‘decision’ is that which makes the difference between him and the one who chooses not to come to God. Such people place themselves in the same category as the Pharisee in Luke 18 who praised God for what he was like and what he did, whom Jesus referred to as one who exalted himself and not God—the Pharisee went home an unjustified man, still in his sins (see Lk. 18:9-14).
The true Christian knows who it is that makes him to differ from the lost man: "For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7). Everything a believer is, and everything a believer has is given to him. In other words the salvation of a man, the fact that he is now a new creature in Christ, is solely due to God having given to man that which man could not choose or come to of his own accord. Jesus said: “…no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:65).
Q. If God deserves all the glory for every detail in the salvation of a man, what does this make the man?
From start to finish God did everything necessary to save those whom He elected before the world began. God did all the work, so then to Him alone belongs all the glory. Every detail, right down to causing a man to come to Him, was prepared and fulfilled by God. "Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee..." (Psa. 65:4). No man can come to God of his own volition, or his own power: "Thy people shall be willing in the day of THY power..." (Psa. 110:3). God chooses man. God is the cause, or catalyst, behind a man coming to Him, and only in the day of God’s power shall a man be willing to come to Him. The Lord Jesus said, "No man CAN come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him..." (Jn. 6:44). Man does not choose to come to God, man is drawn by God. A man does not find God, but is found of God. “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day” (Ezek. 34:11,12). The following Scripture specifies in detail what exactly God has done in saving a man, simultaneously revealing man to be a mere recipient of that which is the result of the love of God found only in Christ His Son: "...whom HE did predestinate, them HE also called: and whom HE called, them HE also justified: and whom HE justified, them HE also glorified" (Rom. 8:30). There is no room for man here; no requirement, or condition he must meet; nothing he can do to get himself saved or keep himself saved, and, therefore, no reason for any glory to be attributed to man in his own salvation.
God gets all the glory because He has done all the work!! God elected, God predestined, God prepared the substitutionary sacrifice, and His Son became that sacrifice which would wash away every sin of those people God entrusted to Him, and which would satisfy the justice of God thus forever putting an end to the Wrath of God toward those particular people and their specific sins. It is by GOD’S WILL that any are saved: "...them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn. 1:12,13); "So then it (salvation) is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but OF GOD that sheweth mercy" (Rom. 9:16). Salvation is something that is totally and completely conditioned on God, His grace and His mercy. It is something for Him to bestow, not for us to attain. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us..." (Titus 3:5). Salvation does not take the will, or work, of man, but the mercy of God! "Of HIS OWN WILL begat He us with the Word of truth..." (Jas. 1:18). The saved are “…born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13). Man’s ‘will’ is always secondary to God’s will: “We love Him, because HE FIRST loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19); "...who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?" (Rom. 11:35). If a man ‘wills’ to come to God and be saved, it is of a surety that God first willed the man to be saved, then made the man willing. A man is not saved because he believes, but he believes because he is saved. “…as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48 cf. Acts 2:47). God’s Son took the sins of His Father’s chosen upon Himself, and charged those people with His perfect Righteousness (see 2 Cor. 5:21). By His mercy God drew those people to Him. All who are saved love God, but only because He loved them first (see 1 Jn. 4:19). Salvation is “…not…of the will of man, but of God…that sheweth mercy” (Jn. 1:13; Rom. 9:16). First the Savior then salvation. Yes they received Him, but only after He had come to them, making them alive unto Him and granting them the gift of faith, the gift to believe that can only come from above and without which no man can savingly believe His Gospel, and reject all others. Man’s receiving is a gift from God. Man cannot receive God unless God has chosen the man to receive Him. God loved the ungodly, those who were His enemies, those who did not know Him, or seek Him (see Rom. 5:6,8).
God did it all. Salvation is all of God. Salvation is all of grace. It is a gift that none can merit, and, therefore, can only be conditioned on God. Consequently, the glory, all the glory, for salvation is due only to God. If salvation could be something earned it would not be a gift, and, therefore, would not be by grace. And, if salvation were not by grace, then it would at least be partly by works, and so God would then not be entitled to all the glory for salvation, but would have to share that glory with man. "...if it be of works, then is it no more grace..." (Rom. 11:6). The Scriptures tell us that salvation is "...of faith, that it might be by grace..." (Rom. 4:16), and not a work of man’s, not by anything he has done, or can do. Justification by faith rules out any possibility of any part of salvation being conditioned on man seeing that faith is a gift given by God (see Gal. 3:24 & Eph. 2:8,9). The faith that saves comes from God, and is granted at His discretion. Salvation is not by works, therefore, no part of it could be conditioned on man. Salvation is BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, it is not of man, in other words, no part of it is conditioned on man. It is a gift from God, and no part of it is a result of the efforts of man. Why? SO THAT NO MAN CAN BOAST!! So that no man could ever rightly claim any glory for any part of salvation. “…by grace are ye saved through faith…not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9 cf. Rom. 3:27,28). And if no man can ever rightly lay claim to any of the glory for salvation, it would be an insane act to subscribe to the abominable lie that any part of salvation is conditioned, reliant, on man. Faith goes hand in hand with grace and is the antithesis of works. Salvation cannot be by grace and works for the one nullifies the other. Salvation is not by grace and works, but a matter of either grace or works. Salvation is either all of grace, or all of works (see Gal. 3:10; 5:3).
Paul the apostle states, "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21). Salvation through faith points to grace not works. Salvation by grace through faith points to what God has done, and not to what a man has to do. Grace points only to God which in turn shows that He alone is deserving of all the glory for salvation. "...a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ..." (Gal. 2:16). The faith spoken of here is the faith of Christ that justifies a man. That is, a man is justified by true faith in Christ which comes only from Christ. So then, if salvation is by grace, then it is ALL of grace, it is a work of God, and so it stands to reason salvation is ALL of God, and, therefore, ALL the glory for it belongs to Him. No supplementary act by man is required to either save him, or keep him saved, for it is ONLY "...by the OBEDIENCE OF ONE..." (Rom. 5:19) that a person is made Righteous and remains in a state of Righteousness before God. If no glory for salvation belongs to man, then it is logical and right to believe that man plays no part in his own salvation. It is a gift from God, and a gift is bestowed never earned. Now, this does not mean that a saved man does not need to be obedient etc., however, it does mean that his salvation does not depend on his obedience, but only upon that obedience of Christ. Christ got him saved, and it is Christ Who keeps him saved.
Q. So what is man; what is his role in salvation?
The answer is quite simple: man is a recipient! He is a vessel of God’s mercy. He plays no part in his salvation, for no part of salvation is conditioned on man. Humanly speaking he must believe, but this believing is an evidence of his salvation rather than the cause of it. It is an evidence of God having come to the man and revealing His Mighty Gospel to him, providing the necessary faith to believe it. “Who BY HIM do believe in God…” (1 Pet. 1:21 cf. Jn. 6:29). Nothing a man does can get himself saved, keep himself saved, or effect the loss of his salvation. All are dead in sin before God comes to a man, and what can a dead man do? NOTHING! According to natural man’s thinking, which is the sandy foundation of all false religion, there can be no salvation without man’s compliance, without his ‘decision’ to accept what is ‘put on offer’ to him. How, though, can a man comply, how can a man accept what is ‘on offer’ if every man in his natural fallen state is dead to God, does not seek Him, and, therefore, could never want Him? (see Rom. 3: 10-12). God must initiate, so if God must be the one to make the first move before a man can approach Him, if a man can only love God BECAUSE God loved the man first (see 1 Jn. 4:19), if God is the cause, the initiator, the Author of it all, then to God belongs all the glory, for without Him man would be forever dead, forever lost. Nothing man does, even his believing, can be attributed to him as worthy of praise and be counted as something he has done to complete God’s plan of salvation for him. Man is saved not because of anything he has done. Salvation is not because of man, it is because of God. It is not by man’s effort, but by God’s grace; it is not by man’s will, but solely by the will of God which is only conditioned upon His grace, mercy and purpose. You will also find God behind every good work a saved person does: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). A person is saved as a result of "...the purpose of God according to election, not of works, but of Him that calleth" (Rom. 9:11). "(God) hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9).
Salvation was sorted and settled even before the world began (see Eph. 1:3-9), so how could any boast in what they have done, with or without the grace of God, to ‘get themselves’ saved. Man’s believing, just as with his repentance, is a gift from God. It is not something that comes from within, but is a gift given from without. Without God no man would ever believe, so it is easy to see, based on this biblical principle, that to God belongs all the glory. The Christian is not found in Christ because of any condition he has fulfilled, but the Scripture says: "...OF HIM are ye in Christ Jesus..." (1 Cor. 1:30). Salvation is by grace through the gift of faith because it is a work of God’s, and not man’s. “…not of yourselves…not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). No man can boast in his salvation, for his salvation is not of man, it is not by a work of man, but by the grace of God, therefore, ALL the glory for salvation belongs entirely to God. All of salvation is because of God. None of it is conditioned on man because no man could ever even begin to even partly fulfil any condition to become saved. How, for instance, would a man believe, or even want to believe, the true God when there is nothing in him that prompts him to even seek God! “…there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11). What could a man do to keep himself saved? If his salvation demanded perfection, could his salvation be maintained by anything less? Of course not. All of salvation is because of God’s unmerited love for His chosen ones, and not the smallest degree of glory or praise is deserved by man, for he is a mere recipient, a receptacle of God’s love, grace and mercy—deserving of nothing, yet given everything. Man is saved because of the love of God, and he remains saved because of the love of God in Christ (see 1 Pet. 1:4,5).
Salvation is all about God not man. Salvation is all about the glory of God not the glory of man. Salvation is all about what God has done, and the true Christian boasts not in himself, his language is not ‘See what God has enabled me to do’, or ‘I chose God’, but rather "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what HE HATH DONE for my soul" (Psa. 66:16). A man God has chosen does not approach God saying "I choose you", but rather "...God be merciful to me a sinner" (Lk. 18:13). The Christian is not the one who chooses God, for it is God Who chose him before the very foundation of the world (see Eph. 1:4). THAT IS THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPAL OF GRACE!! Rather than ‘boasting’ in their ‘choice of God’, the Christian praises God for making him a part of His chosen generation. Christians are not a generation of choosers, but "...a chosen generation..." (1 Pet. 2:9). True believers do not rejoice in a newly converted person having ‘chosen God’, but because “…God hath from the beginning chosen (them) to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). Salvation is all about the beauty of God, not the ‘goodness’ of man. Salvation is about the grace of God, in other words, it is about what God has done. Salvation is not about what man has to do, but what the Lord has done. Salvation, glory, praise, grace, mercy and faith are things which come from God, and so are designed to point people to Him, that we might look upon Him, and see the glory of His Nature and fill our hearts with praise for Him, the only one deserving of any glory or praise for salvation. No one looks to themselves in adoration after they have been given a gift, but are thankful and praise-filled towards the gift giver. They rave about the gift giver and what he has done and not about themselves, for they have nothing to boast about in themselves that they have acquired a gift. When contemplating the gift, one cannot but think about the one who has given the gift. We do not consider ourselves as having earned the gift, but rather our boasting and our thanks are towards the gift giver for his generosity and kindness. We are mere recipients who do not deserve praise, but are obliged to praise the gift giver, for without him we would have nothing.
By nature man is dead in sins, but God is alive. A saved man did not seek God, but it is God Who sought and found him (see Rom. 3:11 & Lk. 15:4,5 & Ezek. 34:11,12). Man is a sinner, God is the Savior. Man did not believe, God gave him the faith to believe. Before God made him alive man was dead, is enmity against God (see Rom. 8:7), spiritually stagnant and stuck in a miry pit of his own making. A nowhere man with nowhere to go and no way of getting there. Before God loved the man, the man did not love God (see 1 Jn. 4:19). Before a man was saved he was lost. Before man had hope he was hopeless. Before he was given the faith to believe God’s Gospel, man at best believed a false gospel. No man can come to God, no man has ever come to Him on his own accord. “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:44,65 cf. Jn. 14:6). Nothing within a man can prompt him to seek the true God. Unless God has drawn the man he remains in his lost, spiritually debauched state, a hopeless creature. Without God there is no hope (see Eph. 2:12). Man has nothing he can turn to, not within him or without him, that can get him saved, for without God man is hope-less. The Lord Jesus said that with man salvation was an utter impossibility (see Matt. 19:26). But with God all things are possible, yes, even the salvation of a man, but it takes God to make it happen. It is not a case of man coming to God and saying, ‘Save me for I cannot’. How dare any man, in his spiritually dead state, assume that he can approach God anyway! "...every man at his best state is altogether vanity" (Psa. 39:5). No man can come to God, or even wants the true God, before God comes to the man first. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). Nothing man can do inspires God to save him (see Jn. 6:63; Heb. 11:6). Man cannot make the first move, or even come anywhere near making the first move toward the true God, before God comes to the man first. As long as salvation is all of grace all the glory for it will belong to God alone.
With God there is hope, a sure hope! Without God there is absolutely no hope. With God a man can be saved! So, if man on his own is without hope, how can he possibly attain to salvation? If man could do something to prompt God to save him then he would not be without hope. The roles would be reversed, and it would be God Who would have no hope unless man consented to receive Him, unless man came to God first. Scripture makes it perfectly clear: "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom. 3:11). How could man ever be responsible for any part of salvation if he is a creature so plagued with sin, so devastated by his sinful nature, he cannot know God, and, therefore, does not even seek the true and only God? It is important to note that God is not to blame for man’s spiritually dead state, but it is man alone who must take the blame and reap the consequences if God is not merciful to him. How can any man choose that which he does not seek? And in light of this, how could any man seriously claim that he ever chose God? There is no salvation without God, therefore, all the glory for salvation must belong to God. Salvation is conditioned on the will of God not the will of man. God has done it all, and any gospel that conditions any part of salvation on what a man must do is a gospel that does not give all the glory for salvation to God, but is a perverted message designed to exalt man. It is a message which has not come from God, but from the imagination of man. Anyone believing they were saved when they adhered to a gospel that conditioned salvation, to any degree, upon themselves, regardless of what they now claim to believe, is as lost as they can be.
To God be the glory, great things HE has done. We praise God, not for that which He has enabled us to do, but for that which HE has done. The emphasis, the focus, is all on Him, for it is God Who makes the saved man to differ from the lost. He is the Savior, He is the Light, He is the Hope, He is the Provider and He is the Justifier. God justifies a man by imputing to him the very Righteousness of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (see Rom. 4:6). A man is saved by Christ’s Righteousness, and a man can only remain saved by that Righteousness. So that which justifies us before God is of Him and not us, therefore, He rightly gets all the glory for all of salvation. We praise God for what His Son has done that we could never do; for what His Son has done on behalf of His people. All the glory for salvation from beginning to end belongs to God, and He shares this glory with no man. “…who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:35,36). “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in Heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God” (Rev. 19:1).
I doubt whether there is any man who would dare say, in so many words, that even some of the glory for salvation belongs to man. Even those who insist that the final decision for salvation belongs to man, without which he remains lost, would not directly claim any glory for themselves, but in making God’s plan of salvation ultimately hinge on a man’s free will decision, or a man obeying in order to remain saved, everyone who adheres to these deadly errors in reality exalts themselves and not God (see the article ‘The Pharisee and the Publican’). The moment you include the word ‘I’ when speaking about salvation you immediately shift the focus from God to yourself. Salvation is all about God and what He has done. HIS Love, HIS Grace, HIS Forgiveness, HIS Son, HIS Sacrifice, HIS Blood, HIS Obedience, HIS Death, HIS Righteousness. Just as with the beneficiary of a last will and testament, the truly saved man is an eternal beneficiary of God’s Will for him, and he is forever grateful and thankful to God and what He has done knowing that he, the man, has never and could never do anything to get himself saved or keep himself saved.
Salvation is all of God, therefore, no part of it is conditioned on man, and, consequently, no part of the glory for salvation can rightly be assigned to man, for there is nothing he can do in order to get himself saved or keep himself in a saved state. Yes, he must believe, but this believing can only come when God, by grace alone, grants His gift of faith, by which a man exclusively believes and holds dear His one and only Gospel.
"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will praise Thee for ever, because Thou hast done it: and I will wait on Thy name; for it is good before Thy saints" (Psa. 52:8,9).
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garment of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of Righteousness..." (Isa. 61:10).
"But I have trusted in THY mercy; my heart shall rejoice in THY salvation" (Psa. 13:5).
WHEN IS THE GIFT OF FAITH GIVEN?
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Question answered. Saving Faith comes only when the Word of God is heard. If one has not heard the Gospel one cannot believe, and, therefore, they cannot evidence saving faith. If one has heard the Gospel, but still does not believe, such a person manifests a distinct lack of saving faith. The apostle Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, has been writing about the Jews not having salvation (see Romans 10:1), because their zeal of God was not according to knowledge, knowledge of God's Gospel, His Plan, or Way, of salvation. "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2). So then, if the Jews' zeal of God was not according to knowledge, what do you think it was according to? IGNORANCE! Why were they not saved? IGNORANCE! "For they being IGNORANT..." (Romans 10:3). They, like so many today who claim to be God's people, had a zeal of God, but it was not according to the right knowledge of God, and, therefore, they could not have believed in the only Gospel of God. Paul goes on to talk about it being an impossibility for anyone to be able to rightly call upon the true God unless they have heard the preaching of the Gospel of God, wherein the true and only God and His Righteousness is revealed. How could anyone know about a thing if they have not heard about it? If they are ignorant of it. "How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard?..." (Romans10:14). So the apostle ties the problem of an ignorant zeal of God with not hearing, or believing the Gospel of God.
If you have not heard the Gospel of God, or do not believe the Gospel of God, then it is of a surety that you do not have the Gift of Faith which comes from God so that a person will believe His Gospel. None are saved without this Gift of Faith, for God's people are saved only by grace through faith: "For by grace are ye saved through faith..." (Ephesians 2:8). God's people are saved through Faith in His Gospel not by the ignorance of it, or by faith in any other gospel. TO BE IGNORANT OF THE GOSPEL IS TO BE IGNORANT OF GOD. It is to be ignorant of that which must be trusted in, in order to be saved. Therefore, to be ignorant of the Gospel is to not know God which in turn reveals that one does not have the Gift of Faith which God gives to His people in order that they be no longer ignorant of Him, but in order that they would know Him. "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath GIVEN US AN UNDERSTANDING, THAT WE MAY KNOW HIM that is true..." (1 John 5: 19, 20). Without that understanding it is impossible to know Him that is true, and, therefore, to be in a saved state. The recipient of God's Gift of Faith is no longer ignorant of who the true God is, and also no longer ignorant of His imposters. This spiritual discernment is what the Jews did not, and still do not, have to this day. This ignorance of God is never greater than in those who wrongfully believe that they are God's people, for they do not have understanding, they do not have right knowledge of Him, for they are and remain ignorant of His Gospel.
If you have heard the true Gospel of God, and yet counted it foolishness and believe another (see 'The Preaching of the Cross'), then you have not the Faith which comes from God as a Gift to all His people which causes them to see, understand and BELIEVE His Gospel, and not count it as foolishness. Romans 1 talks about the Gospel of Christ being the very power of God unto salvation, and that the just shall live by Faith exclusively in that Gospel, "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 from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by Faith" (Romans 1:16,17). The Gift of Faith which comes from God is given so that God's people can see and recognize the true God, and believe (trust, have hope) in Him alone for their salvation. Without this Gift of Faith one cannot distinguish the True Gospel from the false. Without this Faith one cannot savingly believe in the Righteousness of Christ. The Gift of Faith comes when a chosen child of God has heard the Gospel message, and has been ordained to believe it (see Acts 13:48). People without this Faith, this saving Faith, are currently not in a saved state. "Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Clearly this does not mean that as long as one has a faith in any god that this is somehow the evidence that one is saved. But it does mean that if one has THE Faith in THE God which comes FROM THE TRUE AND ONLY GOD, then that is most assuredly the evidence that one is in a saved state. The Gift of Faith is never given unless the Gospel of God is heard, otherwise what would it believe in? How could it be saving faith if did not have the Gospel of salvation to believe in? People who claim to have the Gift of Faith, and yet do not believe God's Gospel, but in another gospel, are in a state of strong delusion, and quite simply, lost. Moreover, when the Gift of Faith IS given by God it is of a surety that the person to whom it is given will believe God's Gospel, and only God's Gospel. He will believe that God's Gospel is His power unto salvation and that no other gospel, no matter how minutely it differs from God's Gospel, could possibly save anybody. "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....A little leaven leaventh the whole lump" (Romans 1:8 & 5:9).
Believer's in God's Gospel do not count themselves saved before hearing and believing God's true Gospel, "In Whom (Christ) ye also trusted, AFTER that ye heard the Word of Truth, the GOSPEL of your salvation: in Whom also AFTER that ye BELIEVED, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise" (Ephesians 1:13). No one is saved before, or without, believing in the Gospel of God; no one is saved without the Gift of Faith which comes from God. The truly saved do not count anyone saved who does not believe in this Gospel, nor anyone who claims to believe it and yet insists they were saved before ever having heard it. The person who has the Gift of Faith given by God believes only and always in the Gospel of God.