JUST A DOCTRINAL THING? (part 4)
In the following two verses, the apostle John continues his warning against false doctrines by teaching what Paul so often emphasized: the Christian should have no part, no spiritual fellowship, with those who oppose the doctrine of Christ and who hear not the voice of Him who seeks and delivers His sheep: "If there come any unto you, and bring not THIS doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed for he that biddeth him God speed is PARTAKER OF HIS EVIL DEEDS" (2 Jn. 10, 11). Those who heard John were familiar with the doctrine he preached and taught. They believed Christ’s one and only Gospel and the one and only Christ of that Gospel, and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt when one came to them preaching any other gospel than the one they had heard and believed. TO BE A CHRISTIAN IS TO KNOW AND ABIDE IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST (see 1 Jn. 5:20). The Old Testament also sends out a warning concerning false teaching: "Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge" (Prov. 19:27). Do you think the writer is here warning against sound doctrine? Of course not! He is warning specifically about sitting under the teaching of false doctrines, which cause one to err from God’s Words of knowledge. So it is clear, even from just a handful of verses, that we need to be absolutely sure that what we have is the very doctrine of Christ: the doctrine that comes from Him and identifies HIM as the only God and the only doctrine that shows we DO have the TRUE Savior! Why do you think 2 John warns that those who do not have the doctrine of Christ do not have the Father or the Son? Because the doctrine of Christ is the ONLY truth which saves!! God could not have made it any clearer. If one does not believe the only doctrine that teaches and reveals the true Christ—His Person and His Work—which testifies that one has God, then one simply has not God. It is important to note that this judgement does not find its origin in the writings of this author, but in God’s Word. God is serious about doctrine, so serious in fact that all who do not abide in His doctrine about His Son do not have God, and are therefore in an accursed state. This fact cannot be denied or negated simply because there are millions who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, yet claim to believe and love Him. God has never forsaken His Truth in order to save anyone. Salvation does not come at the expense of Truth but by means of the Truth. To truly and savingly believe in Christ, to love Him and to trust only in Him, is to believe in the doctrine of Christ, which details Who He is, what He has done and who He has done it for. To believe in any other doctrine is to believe in any other christ, than God’s Christ. And nothing identifies a person more surely than who they are and what they do or have done. This is what the Gospel of God is all about: it is about His Son and what He has done to save His people from their sins. This is what must be believed in, not so that one can qualify themselves for salvation, but so that one evidences the presence of saving faith which only comes from God and which only believes in the Jesus that God describes, in and by the doctrine of His glorious Gospel.
Let us revisit a point made earlier. Is it inconsequential if one does not believe in the virgin birth of Christ? Absolutely not, for believing He was born of man, just like every other man, would make Him a sinner just like every other man, for He would have been born of, and carry in Him, the sin seed. It would also mean that Jesus is not God, for if He was a sinner, He could not be the perfect and Holy God. Therefore, the undeniable conclusion is, that no one who believes that Christ was not virgin born could possibly be believing in the True Son of God. It cannot be the True God Who has revealed Himself to this man. He certainly believes in someone named jesus, but it is not the one God attests to in His Word. He may claim to believe other doctrines of Christ which are true, but in denying the virgin birth, he has no right to claim belief in one as Savior who did not need to be sinless. Just like the erroneous markings on a counterfeit note disqualify the correct markings from being of any value or worth, so too, the false doctrines one believes disqualify any true doctrines one holds to from being of any value or benefit. This is illustrated by Paul the apostle in the following Scripture: "...if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing" (Gal. 5:2). The Jew who claimed to believe that Jesus was his ‘all in all’, that only by Christ’s obedience would any man see heaven, disqualified himself from being a true Christian by his act of circumcision, which showed that he did not believe what he claimed to believe and that he instead believed he needed to get circumcised in order to ensure his salvation. Error which is added to the truth changes that truth into a lie. Can you see why a basic doctrine such as Christ’s virgin birth is so important, so vital, to knowing if one has the true Christ? That no one can be saved without believing this? That it is not simply a case of a person needing more teaching if they don’t believe it, yet are saved nonetheless? No one is denying that it is the intention of the person who does not believe in the virgin birth to believe the True Christ, for who among us sets out with the desire to purposely believe in a counterfeit christ? But intentions, just like sincerity, have never saved anyone unless it was coupled with the truth. It may well be my intention to travel to Sydney, but if I have been given the wrong directions, no amount of genuine sincerity or good intentions is going to get me there. And why attack the person who gently points this out to you? They are only trying to guide you in the right direction. Of course, the virgin birth is not the only doctrine one must be abiding in, in order to rightly claim one is saved, but it is certainly a fundamental and essential one. One can have all the right doctrines there are, but if one fails to believe in Christ’s virgin birth then one has no basis to believe other sound doctrine concerning the Savior. One may be convinced of all the other doctrines, but denying the virgin birth is to deny Christ the Person and His subsequent atoning death, whether one is aware of these implications or not. Without the doctrine of the virgin birth, there could be no doctrine of His bodily sacrifice, for that body would have been racked with sin like any other man’s and completely unacceptable to a Holy God as a sacrifice for sin. God’s whole plan of salvation would come to nothing if Christ was not born of a virgin and therefore without sin. Now if the doctrine of the virgin birth is essential to right teaching about the true Christ, then the doctrine which reveals who He died for on the cross is also of paramount importance, for it reveals what He did. It is no less significant. Without the true doctrine of who Christ died for on the cross we could never rightly know, and therefore savingly believe, exactly what Christ did through His death on the cross.
And what of other doctrines concerning Christ? Does it really matter if we have them right or is error o.k., God simply putting up with it knowing we are imperfect creatures. Is it inconsequential if one believes that Jesus is not God? Would it really matter that much if we believed everything else about Jesus but this one truth? Such thinking is madness for it is the Father Himself who testifies to the fact that Jesus is God (see Heb. 1:8). To deny what God says about His Son is to call Him a liar and no one is saved who calls God, not in so many words but by the very doctrine they believe—and consequently the doctrine they deny—a liar. "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" (1 Jn. 5:10). There would be no God the Son, if Jesus was not God. The JW’s say that He is a god but not the God. Are we to count such ones as saved because they believe in the existence of Jesus, even though they deny the very Deity of Christ? Absolutely not. Jesus is God! Denying this is to deny Him, His very existence. Christ could not have done what He did for His people if He were not, and always had been, God. Either Christ was a sinful man or the sinless God. No man could ever have achieved salvation (see Matt. 19:25,26). No normal man born of the seed of Adam could have possibly done what Christ did, for no man other than Christ has ever been born of a virgin. Many involved in non-christian religions such as Islam, say that Jesus was a prophet, but not God. Are they saved? Is their jesus the same one God loves and cherishes? They have the name right and perhaps some general details about His life, but when they begin to reveal what this jesus of theirs is like, who he is and what he has and has not done, we see clearly that the jesus of the Muslims is not the Jesus of God. And so, with this knowledge can we rightly say that Muslims are saved, abiding in the doctrine of Christ? Hardly! Yes, the Muslims speak with great respect concerning their prophet ‘jesus’, but they really show nothing but disrespect to the Lord Jesus Christ, they dishonor Him when denying His Deity. Everyone who believes in another jesus speaks with reverence about their jesus, but it is a different story when the True Jesus is presented to them. Do you think Christ is honored when a Muslim defends his doctrine that Jesus was just a prophet? Do you think Christ will refer to Muslims, or anyone who did not believe on Him, as His people on Judgement Day? Try telling a Muslim of the true and only Jesus and that their jesus is an imposter, that if they believe not in THE Jesus—that He is God and the only way to salvation—they will perish, and you will find out very quickly what the Muslim has to say about the True Christ. If the Islamic jesus were to appear, do you think he would claim to be God and that His sufferings on the cross were for the redemption for all for whom he died? Find out what the arminian thinks of the true Jesus Who died exclusively for the elect and see if they say He is the same one they believe in. If the arminian jesus were to appear, do you think he would claim that his death was to secure the eternal redemption of all for whom he died? Do you think Christ is honored when the believer in arminian doctrines spouts his belief that Jesus’ death was for everyone without exception? Could the arminian jesus, whose death alone was not enough to save anyone but requires the assistance of a sinful individual in order for it to be made effectual, be the same Jesus Whose DEATH ALONE SAVED ALL those for whom He died? Could the true Christ, who was made a curse for all those He died for on the Tree, possibly be the same ‘savior’ who was made a curse for every individual ever born, most of whom will go to Hell anyway? Surely not. Salvation is found in either the one who died for all, or the one Who died for the elect. You cannot have it both ways. If the true Jesus and the false arminian jesus were standing side by side and you asked the one to step forward who died for the elect, only one of them would. Surely no one could possibly be so blind as to think that both would step forward and lay claim to being the one who died for the elect, when one of them died for all! What makes the arminian think that, if he was to die and go to heaven, there to find himself confronted with several false jesus’s and the True One, he would embrace the True One Who died for God’s elect? Whichever ‘christ’ one has entrusted oneself to on earth is the one they will spend eternity with. In such a situation, it is clear to see the importance of believing in the right Jesus. This is all so ridiculously simple, it is almost embarrassing to have to write these things. But such is the blind and ignorant state of professing christians, such is the confused and deceit-riddled false doctrine filled ‘churches’ of today, that such things do need to be written down and made as clear as possible.
When the follower of arminian doctrine says that he believes Christ died for all he is saying that He did not die for the elect of God exclusively and therefore that His death, His precious blood did not atone for all for whom He died. How then can the arminian possibly conclude that anyone is saved who believes Christ died for the elect? Universal atonement teaches that for the most part Christ’s death was a miserable failure for the majority He died for still go to Hell anyway for they died unbelievers. This is one of the keys which unlocks the ‘mystery’ of who Christ died for and what He did on the cross: If all sin has been atoned for, would it not be right to conclude that the sin of unbelief has also been taken out of the way? For what good would it have done and what sense would it have made for Christ to atone for every sin EXCEPT that ultimate and unpardonable sin which keeps a man out of heaven, the sin of unbelief? Therefore is it not right to conclude that every person who ends up in Hell, obviously in unbelief, could not possibly have been among those for whom Christ died, for they all end up believers in Him! (Jn. 10:26 cf. Jn. 8:47). If it is not in accord with Scripture to believe that the sin of unbelief was amongst those sins which were nailed to Christ’s cross, then the sin of unbelief has not been done away with for ANY man, moreover, there is no atonement for it. The penalty it incurs has not been paid and therefore no one can possibly come to God, via God’s will or man’s, for the sin of unbelief reigns supreme, being untouched by the atoning blood of Christ. Can you see how this horrible doctrine of universal atonement is so opposed to what God says about His Son? How it is the complete antithesis of what He actually did do and accomplish on the cross, and how it is so utterly against the blood of Christ? There is nothing in this universe that Satan attacks more than the blood, the death, of Christ. He will pervert it; he will try and diminish its importance; he will try and replace it with false doctrines such as 'God loves everyone' and 'Jesus died for everyone’. The reason why such doctrines dishonor God is this: if God loved everyone and Jesus died for everyone, then it would not be His Love and Christ’s death which makes the difference between saved and lost. God’s love would be nothing more than an emotion, rather than the reason He elected a people, and Christ’s death a contributing factor to a man’s ‘salvation’, rather than the ONLY reason one is eternally redeemed. Satan’s hatred of Jesus’ blood is evidenced, in the false teachings of religion which either places Christ’s blood below the position it rightly holds in the Gospel message asserting that something must be added to what Christ has done, such as our decision for Him, or our good works, or does away with Christ’s death altogether as being in any way effective for the purpose of redemption, as the doctrines of Christian Science teach.
The false doctrine of universal atonement denies that Jesus Christ’s death ensured the eternal redemption of all for whom He died, whom the Father had given Him.
It denies outright that Christ became a curse for God’s own elect, taking and paying the penalty in full for their sin so that none for whom He died will ever see Hell.
It denies that His Righteousness would be imputed, or charged, to everyone for whom He died and became a curse for.
It denies that those who were to be justified are all those whom the Father chose before the foundation of the world, not according to their deeds but according to His mercy and grace, and that these alone are they for whom Christ died.
It denies the fact that all those whom the Father gave to His Son would be saved by His death and that not one of these would be excluded from His Kingdom.
Ultimately, it denies that it is Christ’s Righteousness—His perfect obedience and atoning blood—that makes the difference between Heaven and Hell, saved and lost.
Universal atonement is a damnable doctrine which, far from being one which exalts God and is acceptable to Him, is an abomination to Him because it changes what He did to secure the salvation of His people into a failed bid to save every individual ever born. It turns the Triumph of the cross into a miserable failure. The doctrine of universal atonement is a one-way ticket to Hell! Just as no one can board a plane with a home-made ticket, regardless of the fact that it has all the characteristics of the genuine article produced by the airline, so too, no one will enter heaven via a doctrine or doctrines which teach another jesus, whose death did not do what God specified and guaranteed it would do, and did do. Such a person will not be among the "...partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel" (Eph. 3:6 cf. Gal. 3:22,29). God’s promise of eternal life is only to those who believe in the Gospel of Christ.
My friend, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is THE issue. It is a life and death issue! This matter of who it is Christ’s death was for and what He accomplished by His death, is not just a doctrinal thing, it is not something that can be mistaken by a person who is truly saved. The atoning work of Christ is something which is central to the preaching of God’s Gospel, it is that which lies at the very heart of the Gospel message and is precious and dear to every saved person, and is heard and believed at the time of one’s conversion, for to be converted is to change from one attitude or belief to another. Why the error of those who do not believe this truth and other Gospel essentials such as election and man’s total inability to come to God in and of himself and that unless one is submitted to the Righteousness of Christ one cannot be saved, is a fatal one, is that not believing in them, or even being undecided as to whether one believes them or not, shows that one is believing something which contradicts God’s truth—which does not come from Him and therefore opposes Him and what He has said—and is in ignorance/darkness which is what a person in a saved state is brought out from in the first place. Either way, they are not believing the Truth. Belief of the truth which is revealed in the doctrine of God, which every true believer abides in, is what distinguishes a saved person, who has been brought out of darkness into God’s marvellous Light, from a person who is lost and sitting in darkness. The state of every man by nature is shown clearly in the following verse: "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Eph. 4:18 cf. Jn. 1:5). The blinded heart cannot pump the blood of eternal life. None can be born again and yet remain in darkness and ignorance of what the Gospel is, for "...if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Cor. 4:3). Just as in physical birth one is brought out of darkness (the womb), so too, to be born again (spiritually) one is brought out of darkness (ignorance of the truth) into God’s marvellous Light—where knowledge of His Truth is. Ignorance is an unmistakeable sign of lostness. Ignorance is the womb, if you will, from which a man is brought out of when he is given birth to by God through His Truth (Jas. 1:18). The Bible teaches that one cannot believe in the true Christ whilst in ignorance of Who He is and what He has done. One is not born as long as one is in the womb—one is not born again as long as one is in ignorance. Only after one has heard of the true Christ can one rightly claim to believe in Him: "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" (Eph. 1:13). This Scripture shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that one cannot believe in the true Christ, who have not had that Christ revealed to them via the word of truth, His doctrine: His Gospel. The only hope for sinners is revealed in God’s Gospel Message: "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before IN THE WORD OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL" (Col.1:5). The sure hope of Heaven lies in the doctrines of the Gospel and none can bear fruit unto God before they hear His Gospel and know the grace of God IN TRUTH (see Col. 1:6). One cannot believe and trust in Christ until after one has heard His Gospel and none are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise who have not believed that glorious Gospel, wherein Christ and His Righteousness are revealed, and rejected all others (Rom. 1:16,17). One cannot have true, saving God-given Faith, if one does not believe the one, true, God-given Gospel. None are saved whilst insisting they were saved before hearing and ‘believing’ the Gospel, for the very Gospel they claim to believe denies that such a thing is possible! The Gospel of God cannot be yoked together with one who believes they were saved prior to hearing and believing it. Equally, none are saved who say that a person who has not heard or does not believe THE Gospel, are saved. For they are saying that one can be ignorant of the Gospel—willfully or otherwise—and be saved nonetheless.
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, in which the Righteousness of Christ is revealed. This Gospel reveals the spiritual condition of man and God’s way of salvation. 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 rightly due unto his sin and transferring him to a state of eternal safety and security. Now, how does He do this?
Before we answer that we need to find out why salvation is necessary in the first place and to do this, we need to learn 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 warned that "...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" (Gen. 2:17). Death, previously unknown, would enter their lives—not merely physical death, but of even greater significance, spiritual death. To their shame 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. The Scriptural evidence for this is abundant: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL men..." (Rom. 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 many (those he represented) were made sinners..." (Rom. 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 produce sinners. And every sinner needs a Savior.
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 along the lines of, ‘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. Everyone can always find someone who has sinned worse than they have and with whom they are keen to compare themselves. Many do not see themselves as having committed any serious sin, which they consider to be something like murder, armed robbery or other such crimes of extreme violence. While it is true that some have sinned more than others, and to worse degrees, the reality, not to mention the gravity, of the situation is that we have all sinned against God: "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Man has missed the mark, or target, and as for having registered points with God, by his feeble attempts to make amends for his sins, by doing ‘good’—man isn’t even on the scoreboard! Man in his lost state is under the impression that if he does his best then God will accept him, for what more can a person do than his best? This is the sin that deceives every man by nature (his unsaved state). The fact that we are not perfect shows conclusively that we are sinners in need of a Savior, for we can do nothing to save ourselves. God says, "...every man AT HIS BEST state is altogether vanity (unsatisfactory)" (Psa. 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; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities (sins), like the wind, have taken us away" (Isa. 64:6). Notice that this verse of Scripture is not talking about our bad deeds being unacceptable, for that is something which is obvious to all, but that our very best deeds are as filthy rags in the sight of the Holy God. Religion teaches that our best deeds will recommend us to God, but God says that even at our best we fall far short of His Standard of acceptance. This is because we are sinners and all we do is imperfect and, therefore, unacceptable to a Perfect God. If our best deeds are as filthy rags, one can only imagine how our worst deeds appear in God’s sight. The doctrine that teaches that man is dead to God and consequently that there is nothing he can do to recommend himself to God, is so vital to knowing the true God that if one does not believe this, then one joins with the Arminian in believing and promoting Satan’s lie to Eve that she would not surely die (Gen. 3:4) for they say, ‘we are not surely dead'. Thus they are guilty of saying that Christ’s death was in vain: "...if righteousness (right standing with God) come by (obedience to) the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21). When speaking to the most religious people of His day, Jesus said, "...ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matt. 23:28). Man judges according to the outward appearance but God judges according to what is in man: "...for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7), and at the core of every man is the sin seed: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9).
No matter how ‘good’ a man can become, all his efforts fail to address the root problem: his sin nature. If I may use the following illustration, man trying to get to God by what he does is like a man who has one foot nailed to the floor. No matter how much the man struggles or runs, the best he can ever do is go around in circles! He never gets anywhere because the root problem, the reason why he runs around in circles and never achieves anything, has not been addressed! For it to be solved the root problem must be addressed, which in this case is that his foot is anchored to the floor. The fact that we are sinners is that which condemns us and it is a fact which none of us can change. It is the root problem and for it to be dealt with effectively, it must be dealt with by God His Way. Nothing we do, don’t do, or stop doing can alter our sinful nature one bit. A rotten apple, no matter how fragrant it’s aroma may be, can never alter the fact that it is ROTTEN! And no one is going to accept a rotten apple to eat, no matter how fragrant it is! So too, God will never accept an imperfect and sinful man, no matter how many ‘good things’ he might do, because his good deeds can never do away with his rotten sinful state. No matter how many times a person obeys the speed limit, this can never undo, or make up for, the instances when they broke the speed limit, and the full penalty must be paid. Man’s condition, and the fact that he can do nothing to change his state before God, is highlighted by God Himself in this next verse: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil" (Jer. 13:23). The Word of God also says, "...verily every man AT HIS BEST state is altogether vanity" (Psa. 39:5); "...there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Rom. 3:12); "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccl. 7:20). Where there is imperfection there is sin and where there is sin there can never be perfection, and therefore no grounds for acceptance with God. One must either have never sinned, or, one must have all his sin removed. Despite all of man’s 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" (Rom. 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 admit that we are imperfect. We all fail the test no matter how ‘good’ we are or how much better than others we believe ourselves to be. The greatest commandment is to love God with all our being (perfectly). 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..." (Matt. 22:37-40). No one, not even the most religious person around, could ever say he has loved God perfectly and his fellow man as himself. So we see then that, far from being guilty of only ‘minor sins’, we all stand guilty before God of the greatest sins. Consequently, the concept of ‘minor’ sins is a false one, for to break even one of God’s laws is to be guilty of violating the Law as a whole: "For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (Jas. 2:10), and God has made clear to us the penalty for sin: "For the wages of sin is death..." (Rom. 6:23). Sinners cannot be saved by their obedience to the Law of God, for we have rendered it impossible that any of us should be justified and saved by the Law, in that we have broken the law and thus exposed ourselves to the penalty of the Law.
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 actually perverting justice, he is not a just judge. He might be showing mercy, but that mercy comes at the expense of the justice he claims to be a servant of. When someone commits a crime, they should pay the full penalty that the law demands for that crime. God’s Justice, on the other hand, is never perverted, or left unsatisfied, because of His mercy. God never shows mercy at the expense of His Justice. While it is true that God is a God of love and mercy, it is vitally important to note that He is also a Just God, a Just Judge. "God never sacrifices His Holiness to His love." 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..." (Ex. 34:6,7) and "...there is no God else beside Me; a Just God and a Saviour..." (Isa. 45:21). In order for God to be the Savior and at the same time Just, without perverting His justice, His law must be obeyed perfectly and His justice, which demands full payment for sin, must be satisfied. How could this be accomplished?
God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Jesus was conceived in the womb of a virgin by the agency of God the Holy Spirit. He was not born of the seed of man and therefore did not carry within Him the sin seed, which is resident in every man (Lk. 1:31,35). He did not descend from Adam but came down from Heaven and was therefore without sin. Consequently, He and all that He did, was wholly acceptable to God (Matt. 3:17). Just as Adam is a representative, so too, is Christ. But while Adam is the representative of all mankind, evidenced by the fact that all have sinned, Jesus Christ is the Representative of all those God gave Him—those whom God chose to save—through faith in His Gospel. These, and these alone, are the ones Christ laid down His life for. Writing to believers, the apostle Paul said, "...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (faith); whereunto He called you by our Gospel..." (2 Thess. 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" (Jn. 17:3). Being chosen by God for salvation was not something that could be earned or merited, it was not a reward, but was solely done according to His 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 Tim. 1:9 cf. Titus 3:5); "...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" (Eph. 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 (faith) is the GIFT of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9). Saving faith ALWAYS believes THE TRUE Gospel, never a false one, for it is the faith that comes from God (see 2 Thess. 2:13,14). It finds comfort, refuge and security only in the doctrine of Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Substitute of all those God chose to save, of all those whom the Father gave to Him. 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 many (those He represented) be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). As their Substitute, He died and was resurrected, thus paying the penalty in full for their sins: "(Jesus) was delivered for our (those He represented) offences, and was raised again for our justification (acquittal)" (Rom. 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" (Col. 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 (a sin offering) for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21 cf. Rom. 4:6,8). God will not, indeed cannot, impute sin to those Christ died for, for their sin has all been imputed to Him and His Righteousness to them! All those for whom Christ was made sin are those who will never perish, for they have been made the righteousness of God in Him (see Gal. 3:13). Just as Adam’s sin was imputed to all he represented, thus condemning them, Christ’s Righteousness is imputed to all He represented, thus justifying them (making them righteous). All those Christ represented (died for) WILL BE SAVED: "Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgement came upon all men (all he represented) to condemnation; EVEN SO by the righteousness of One (Christ) the free gift came upon all men (all He represented) unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience (the) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall (the) many be made righteous" (Rom. 5:18,19). The imputation to Christ of the sins of God’s chosen people and Christ’s Righteousness imputed to them, is the only way that God could remain Just and at the same time be the Justifier of sinners. The penalty for their sin has been paid in full and the perfect righteousness for their justification has been established. "To declare, I say, at this time HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS: that HE might be Just AND THE JUSTIFIER of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26). God’s Law has been fully and perfectly obeyed by Christ, His atoning blood has been shed, and the resulting Righteousness charged to all those whom the Father gave Him. "...David...describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works....Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Rom. 4:6,8). There is no reason for them to perish, and therefore none of them ever will, for their sins have been charged to Another and they now have the Righteousness of Christ. God’s Justice has been fully satisfied by Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of His people. Christ’s death on the cross was His offering to the Father on behalf of all those the Father gave to Him to die for and redeem. This sacrifice was accepted by God and thus all for whom this sacrifice was made are shown to be the chosen of God, the redeemed of God, the elect of God, THE BELIEVERS IN GOD. No one for whom He has died shall be cast into Hell, and, He has died for no one who is cast into Hell. To be truly saved, one must EXPECT NOTHING MORE and ACCEPT NOTHING LESS than Christ’s glorious Righteousness as that which ALONE is necessary to attain and maintain a state of salvation from beginning to final glory.
The popular yet false belief that there are many religious paths one can travel but that all lead to the true God, is a lie from Hell which continues to deceive people to this day. How can one group, for instance, which teaches that Jesus is not God and another which teaches that Jesus is God, both be right and leading people to the same God? Likewise, how can one who says that Christ’s death has accomplished eternal redemption for all for whom He died be teaching the same jesus whom the Arminians have been taught only made salvation possible, attainable for all if only they would choose him? Once something like this is pointed out it becomes clear that all the different religions, not even the multitude of ‘christian’ denominations, do not lead to the same god, let alone the True God, for not only do they differ greatly in what they say about God and the way to salvation but they often totally contradict each other. Just 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, though this can never erase the fact that there is only ONE TRUE God and that there is only ONE TRUE Christ. What you say 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" (Isa. 45:20). Only ONE road leads to God: "Jesus saith.., I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (Jn. 14:6) and "I am the Door: by ME if any man enter in, he shall be saved..." (Jn. 10:9).
Religion, even that which professes to be ‘christian’, claims to know what it is that man can do to ‘make his peace with God’. But their teachings about salvation are false, for they all teach that man must,thereby implying that he can, do something in order to get saved and/or stay saved. This is the identifying mark of religion’s false gospel. The Lord Jesus says, "No man can come to Me, except the Farther which hath sent Me draw him..." (Jn. 6:44). This means that no man can come to God unless God has come to the man first. True Christianity is not about what we must do to get saved, but about what Christ has done to save His people from their sins. 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 or stay saved, that salvation is 100% God’s work from start to finish—from beginning to final glory—and that no one is saved who believes contrary to this. Salvation by grace is NOT God enabling the sinner to do something which will recommend him to God. Salvation by grace is God doing EVERYTHING that was necessary TO save and to MAINTAIN that salvation. This is why salvation is according to the promise of God and not the deeds of man (see Rom.4:13,16). Everything outside the Gospel of God seeks to usurp, or at the very least share, the glory for salvation which alone is God’s. Only God’s Gospel gives Him ALL the glory for salvation. 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—for He cannot—but on the perfect obedience unto death (the Righteousness) of Jesus Christ. The Bible does not say that obedience is unnecessary, that one can simply believe in Christ and then live as one pleases (see Rom. 6:1,2). Obedience is very important in the life of a saved sinner, but that obedience is not what saved him or keeps him saved! To believe that it is, is to believe another gospel which denies the completeness of the Righteousness of Christ to save and maintain salvation and that one needs to, at least to some degree, establish one’s own righteousness in order to get saved or ensure one remains saved. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO (not because of) good works" (Eph. 2:10); "Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). Anyone who bases their salvation, or believes it to be in any way to any degree dependant, on what they do and don’t do, shows that they are not submitted to the Righteousness of Christ, but are seeking to establish a righteousness of their own (see Rom. 10:1-4). A believer’s obedience is important, but it is only by the obedience of ONE, Jesus Christ, that a man is made righteous and that this state of righteousness is maintained (Rom. 5:19).
This is the Gospel that saves. This is 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 this Gospel shall be damned—condemned to Hell forever (Mk. 16:16). Scripture says that the day is coming when "...the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, AND THAT OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST" (2 Thess. 1:7,8). No matter how many ‘good deeds’ a man may perform, they can never be a substitute for his ignorance/disbelief of the True Gospel. His righteousness is not the Perfect Righteousness of Christ’s and his sins remain charged to him. Those whom the Lord is not willing should perish, never will perish, for they have been provided with a Savior Whose Righteousness alone saves. God has given them to Christ, He has committed and entrusted to the charge, or care, of Christ the Savior, all those whom He is not willing should perish and they shall all be saved. These are God’s sheep who hear His voice and believe and follow Him. Just as the Father has given them to His Son, so too, He has given His Son as Savior to THEM!
A cursory reading of the Scriptures often leaves a person with only a superficial understanding of what God is saying and not the proper one. Those who refuse to study and ‘dig deeper’ into a verse or doctrine, display an attitude of prejudice. He who does not reason from the Scriptures reveals a bias against that which he fears he may discover will prove what he believes to be wrong. He who will not reason from the Scriptures is a slave to that which he holds to, which he is not willing to be examined and have challenged, even by the Light of God’s Word. He has pre-judged something based on inadequate, insufficient, or false, information, refusing to allow himself to view ALL the evidence. Such a person reveals an unteachable spirit and an unwillingness to stand corrected and see God’s Truth. He is enslaved to the traditions of men, willfully ignorant of what God’s Word is saying. Such a person is in a religious comfort zone. All he has is a vain religion, the god of which cannot save him.
The only ‘qualification’ required, in human terms, for one to be saved is: "..believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved..." (Acts 16:31). The very next verse in this chapter reveals that those who gave this answer to the man who asked, "What must I do to be saved?" "...spake unto him the WORD OF THE LORD..." The context of this chapter shows that the Word of the Lord they taught the man was indeed the GOSPEL (see Acts 16:10). The only way one can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is to hear God’s only Gospel wherein Christ and His Righteousness is revealed: "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).