LOVE AND FORGIVENESS (PART 13)
You can spin it any way you like, but all unforgiveness is the embodiment of hatred. Just as you cannot separate forgiveness from love, unforgiveness and hatred are eternal bedfellows. To refuse to treat others like God has treated you is utterly detestable. It is unspeakable. Unforgiveness and hatred belong in the same category, for they inspire each other, they strengthen each other in their battle against love and forgiveness, they are birds of a feather, inseparable. You will never find one without the other. Love never promotes unforgiveness, neither does hatred ever encourage forgiveness. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God Whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4:20,21). The Word of God unequivocally states that if you say you love God, and yet hate your brother, you are a LIAR! In other words, if you hate your brother, if you refuse to forgive your brother, you do not love God. There is no escaping this Scriptural fact. Not forgiving your brother is HATING your brother! Not loving your brother is not loving God. To love is to forgive and to forgive is to truly love. You cannot love without forgiveness and you cannot forgive without love. If you truly love God you will love your Christian brother or sister also, and such love will always translate into forgiveness for anything they have ever done which has hurt you in any way. With true love for God comes full restoration of any relationship which sin and unforgiveness have attempted to destroy. To love and forgive is to manifest God in your life. Love, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, tender heartedness, gentleness, meekness, grace, mercy, humility etc., are the virtues that should dominate the true Christian’s life, his whole entire outlook on life, because of God’s having loved him first. Unforgiveness is nothing but the embodiment of hate. To truly be loved is to truly be forgiven. Likewise, to truly love is to truly forgive. To be loved of God is to truly love your fellow man; to be forgiven by God is to forgive your fellow man. To be a true ambassador of Christ, not only involves the accurate preaching of His Gospel, but also the manifestation of His love in you toward others, by loving and forgiving all. All Christians are representatives of God. We are as close as anyone is going to get to seeing the face of God on this earth when we practice love and forgiveness in our lives. Every Christian, therefore, has an incalculable responsibility to love and forgive others as they are loved and forgiven by God.
TO WALK IN GOD’S LOVE IS TO FORGIVE OTHERS GOD’S WAY. As one man has stated, “If God held back His forgiveness, where would we be?” The Scriptures declare: “If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared” (Psa. 130:3,4). Do not deceive yourselves by settling for any other kind of forgiveness than a true, honest UNCONDITIONAL forgiveness. Do not mark the iniquities of others, but forgive them from the heart. Forgive them as God has forgiven you. FORGIVE OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE GOD FORGIVE YOU. Do unto others precisely that which you would have God do unto you. Treat others as you plead with God to treat you. Be merciful, be forgiving, be loving towards your neighbor. Treat their sins against you as God treats your sins against Him. Forgive as you have been forgiven. The love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts (see Rom. 5:5). The first fruit of that love is forgiveness, and the first fruit of forgiveness is freedom, and with freedom comes joy and peace. The peace of God reigns in the hearts and minds of those who walk in His love and forgiveness. Partial forgiveness, or a forgiveness with boundaries and limitations is not without its consequences, it is NOT God’s forgiveness. “A half truth is the same as a whole lie”, and a half-hearted forgiveness is nothing but unforgiveness. IF IT IS NOT GOD’S FORGIVENESS IT IS WORKING AGAINST YOU. Phony forgiveness belongs to phony Christians. TRUE CHRISTIANS ARE TO FORGIVE AS THEY ARE FORGIVEN: FULLY, FREELY, UNCONDITIONALLY AND MOST WILLINGLY AND LOVINGLY.
Love and forgiveness are no respecters of persons. They do not discriminate. They do not pick and choose. They love equally and they forgive equally. True Christian love and forgiveness work at the same level all the time no matter who the subject is, nor the sin they have committed. Love loves all, and expects no reward. Forgiveness forgives all, and expects no applause. Love and forgiveness is the only way that the Christian life can be lived because it is the only way God deals with His people. Godly love and forgiveness is something which this world knows nothing about. True love and genuine forgiveness bring blessings and freedom from this world’s ways and mindset. Love will never refuse to forgive another, and forgiveness will never refuse to love another. Walk in God’s love, practice Godly forgiveness, and you will be filled with great peace, joy, freedom of conscience and freedom in life. TO WALK AS A TRUE LOVING AND FORGIVING CHRISTIAN IS WHAT LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL IS REALLY ALL ABOUT. IT IS THE ONLY WAY LIFE CAN REALLY BE LIVED TO ITS FULLEST POTENTIAL. Living life to the fullest is not about doing things like travelling the world, or having as much fun as possible and being happy every day with who you are and what you are doing, but loving God by loving people. Moreover, by living a life of love you will be showing others what it is to be a true Christian, and what God’s love and forgiveness are all about. The true Christian is gracious and merciful to all, for they have received grace and mercy from God. They are loved by God, and so, love their neighbour. They are forgiven by God, and so, forgive their neighbour. There will be no more awkward moments for the one who loves and forgives as he is loved and forgiven when the subject of forgiveness is raised, or when they come across a verse of Scripture which deals with unconditional forgiveness and the Christian’s obligation to be fully committed to it. Real love removes all fear from such times and releases you into a life of forgiveness and freedom. There is no guilt or sin that can attach itself to one who is consumed by the love of God into loving his neighbour as himself.
The following beautiful quote by American author, Mark Twain, captures the very essence of what true forgiveness is all about, “FORGIVENESS IS THE FRAGRANCE THAT THE VIOLET SHEDS ON THE HEEL THAT HAS CRUSHED IT”. True love can never be conquered, and true forgiveness can never be suppressed by sin.
LOVE AND GLORIFY GOD:
Love and forgive your enemies,
Love and forgive your brethren,
Love and forgive your family members.
There are many millions of people who do forgive and walk in love toward others, but they still do not know the true God, for they hold to a false gospel. False gospels do not teach the true God, for their doctrines do not identify Him, but lie about Him. False gospels do not teach the true God, only false gods that cannot save.
If the gospel you believe differs in any way to what God has said, then it is not God’s Gospel. Those who believe a false gospel are still in their sins no matter who they are, or what they do (see Gal. 1:8,9).
The following is a brief presentation of the doctrines which make up the Gospel of the grace of God which uniquely gives all the glory to God alone for the salvation of His people.
The Gospel, or Doctrine, of Christ is fundamentally as follows: Man is dead in sins (see Eph. 2:1,5), without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world (see Eph. 2:12). This is due to man’s disobedience toward God in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Subsequent to their sin, Adam and Eve “…heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden" (Gen. 3:8). This reveals the fact that after the Fall there was nothing left in man for God, no desire that would cause him to seek the true God, but only an antipathy, a deep-seated feeling of aversion, toward Him, and a fear of Him, not based on respect or reverence, but a fear due to guilt and the evil of having sinned against Him, as the following Scriptures testify: “…there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11); “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” (Jer. 17:9); “…the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart…” (Eccl. 9:3); “…there is not a just man upon earth, which doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20 cf. 2 Chron. 6: 36); “…the carnal mind is enmity against God…” (Rom. 8:7). “The Greek word translated ‘enmity’ is ‘echthra’. It means ‘hostility’. It is translated incorrectly in the NASV and NIV as ‘is hostile’. No, ‘echthra’ is not ‘is hostile’, but rather, ‘hostility’ or ‘enmity’, ‘enemy’, ‘hatred’. The mind of fallen man is not merely hostile to God; it is hostility itself! The carnal mind is hostility against God!” Man’s natural, sinful and lost condition is so anti-God, so filled with a detestation of, and animosity toward, the true God, that in His summary of such a deplorable creature, the Lord Jesus concluded: “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…” and, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing…” and, “…Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:44,63,65). The Psalmist says: “…in Thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psa. 143:2). In Job we find, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one…How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job. 14:4; 25:4). “…Except a man be born again; he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3); “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God…” (1 Cor. 15:50 cf. 1 Pet. 1:23). The people of God are described by the apostle Paul, as: “…the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3 cf. Phil. 3:9). There is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, that a man can do that can get himself to God, thus it is God Who must come to the man.
When asked who can be saved, the Lord Jesus’ categorical reply was: “…with men this is IMPOSSIBLE; but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). If all things, including salvation, are only possible with God, then nothing, including salvation, is possible without Him. In other words without God man has absolutely no hope of salvation. A man who is saved by the grace of God does not need works. Those who are not saved by the grace of God cling to their works. Clearly, salvation cannot be the result of what a man does, thinks, feels or wants, for it emanates only from God, because of God. “…Salvation is of the Lord” (Jon. 2:9); “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord…” (Psa. 3:8). Salvation is only by the will, mercy and grace of Almighty God. No man can procure it, by will, works or effort of any kind. Any man who attempts to obtain salvation by his works knows not the true God. No man, by nature, seeks the true God. Salvation is a gift from God because of God. Salvation is by grace. Salvation is “by grace through faith without works”. Salvation is something which comes either from man, which Christ has declared can never be, or by God, Whom Christ has declared is the only way (see Jn. 14:6). When man was without sin, he could not stay with God because man sinned, so what makes anyone think, now that man is a prolific sinner, that he can do anything to get back to God. “…there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20). Man’s inability to attain salvation is at once a declaration that nothing within the scope of man’s abilities, capabilities, thoughts or religions can in any way be used to gain, or maintain, his salvation. That is why salvation is only possible with God, and, therefore, must be something which is 100% according to the grace of God for Him to rightfully receive all the glory for salvation. This is in accord with the teaching just mentioned, that a man without God, and without the Gospel of God, is a man without any hope of salvation. Man, if left to himself, has no hope of eternal salvation, of everlasting life, of ever being born again. The true horror of man’s existence is seen in the Biblical reality that, if left to himself, he never can, or ever will come to the true God. It takes the will, love, mercy and grace of God to make a man alive to Him.
A man who seeks to do in order to establish a righteousness of his own in the hope that he can somehow appease the one he believes to be God, and gain his forgiveness, is a man who is alone, without the true God, and, therefore, hopelessly helpless in the world. Such a man does not know the Gospel, he does not know the only true God, and he does not know the Way to God. “As it is written, 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 cf. Psa. 10:4). This Scripture reveals the reality that at any given time, no matter the man and no matter what ‘good deed’ he has just performed, “There is none Righteous…there is none that seeketh after God”. You will never be Righteous by what you do, therefore, you can never be saved by what you do. The world cannot receive the Spirit of truth “…because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him…” (Jn. 14:17). This is the spiritual state of every man by nature. In his Letter to the church of God at Corinth (see 1 Cor. 1:2), the apostle Paul wrote: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2:11,12). “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God…neither can he know them…” (1 Cor. 2:14 cf. 1 Cor. 1:18,23). If you do not know the truth, the things that are freely given by God to all His people, you do not know Him. Those who do not know the things of God have not received the Spirit of God. Man is spiritually destitute! By nature, mankind is devoid of all spiritual life. Consequently, far from being that which facilitates the salvation of a man, his every thought, every action and every gospel is consistent with that which impedes his salvation by catering to man’s natural aversion to the true God’s Gospel of salvation by grace alone.
The Bible says “…verily every man at his BEST state is altogether vanity” (Psa. 39:5 cf. Psa. 39:11; 94:11). There is nothing a man can achieve spiritually, whose best is only vanity. There are no points which can be scored with God by the man whose best is without any value. It is God Who makes alive, purely by His Sovereign will, grace and mercy (see Rom. 4:17). Man can do nothing. The fact that man can do nothing, in no way hinders God’s ability to save those He has chosen before the foundation of the world, for salvation is all by grace. Salvation is conditioned on what God alone has done, not on what a man must do. Salvation is of, and from the Lord. God owns salvation and He gives salvation to whomsoever He pleases. It is the gift giver who decides who will receive the gift. The apostle Paul, addressing believers, wrote: “But God Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved;)” (Eph. 2:4,5; cf. Col. 2:13,14). The only alternative to being saved by grace, is being dead in sins. “...OF HIM are ye in Christ Jesus...” (1 Cor. 1:30). Before God acts, a man is dead in sins. Only after God has made a man alive can he be said to be saved by grace. It is BY GOD that a man is in Christ Jesus, and it is by Christ Jesus the Lord that His people believe in God: “Who BY HIM do believe in God…” (1 Pet. 1:21 cf. Jn. 6:29; Acts 18:27; 1 Cor. 8:6). God does not grant the gift of faith so that people may have a mere potential to believe, but the granting of this most precious gift is to ensure they WILL believe, and ONLY believe, His unique Gospel which declares salvation to be by God and grace alone. God has chosen people from among every nation to be His people, His very own elected children (see Jn. 11:51,52; Rev. 5:9), and they all receive the same “…faith of God’s elect…” (Titus 1:1 cf. 2 Cor. 4:13), to believe the same Gospel that every believer is separated unto (see Rom. 1:1). They all obtain “…like precious faith…through the Righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:1 cf. Titus 1:4; Phil. 1:5) to believe the only Gospel which is “…the power of God unto salvation…” (Rom. 1:16). God did this according to His Own Counsel. He did not confer with man, nor was the giving of the gift of faith based on any man’s ‘good deeds’ perquisite act, or decision. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor hath taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and shewed to Him the way of understanding?” (Isa. 40:13,14 cf. 1 Cor. 2:16; Job 33:12,13). “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself” (Eph. 1:9).
“The Gospel is sent when and where God has determined within Himself it shall go; and persons are called by it according to His purpose and grace” (see Eph. 1:11,12; Jn. 3:5-8). God choosing those whom He would bless, before the foundation of the world, based on grace alone (see Eph. 1:4-6), is proof positive that man is dead in sins, and cannot come to God by will, or works. Salvation is by grace and mercy alone because there is no other way! Salvation is either by will and works, or by grace and mercy. If salvation is by will and works it cannot be by grace and mercy. Likewise, if salvation is by grace and mercy it cannot, therefore, be by will or works (see Rom. 11:6). God says, “…I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:15,16 cf. Ex. 33:19). Salvation is about God being merciful to whomever He chooses to be merciful. You cannot induce mercy, it only comes from the will and love of Almighty God. Salvation is not an amnesty, or a pardon, of sins. Salvation is not about being excused from the consequences of one’s sins, but is only possible by having had one’s sins charged to, and punished in, Christ Jesus the Lord. Salvation is about God being compassionate to whomsoever He chooses to be compassionate. No man can induce compassion from God, for it comes only from the will and love of God Almighty. Neither election or salvation come because of a man’s will, or his efforts. Salvation is all about God saving whomever He has chosen to save by His mercy, by His compassion, by His grace, and NOT at all by the will or works of any man. The word runneth in Romans 9:15, means “strenuous effort”. “…election, which is what the apostle Paul is discoursing of, is ‘not of him that willeth’, ‘nor of him that runneth’: that is, it is not owing to the will or works of men, to the desires, inclinations, and affections of their minds, or to the actions of their lives; these are not the motives, conditions, or causes of this act: ‘but of God that sheweth mercy’; in a free Sovereign way and manner, which He is not obliged to by anything the creature wills or works; God is at full liberty, notwithstanding whatever they will or do, to give His grace and mercy, when, where, and to whom He pleases; and therefore to give it to some, and deny it to others, can never be accounted an act of injustice, since God is not bound to give it to any.”
If salvation is only by grace and mercy then it cannot be by works, foreseen or otherwise, and if salvation is by works, then there is no need for grace and mercy. “…if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6). Works implies there is something you can do, while grace and mercy state clearly there is nothing you can do. Works implies reward. Grace and mercy are gifts. GIFTS DO NOT COME AS A REWARD, BUT BY AN ACT OF THE WILL AND THE LOVE OF THE GIFT-GIVER. Mercy is the only hope for the guilty. When mercy is required there can be no reward for anything done, for the need for mercy is a proclamation that nothing can be done! The person who must have mercy to be saved is irredeemable by anything they can do. Man is so steeped in sin and sinfulness that when he does ask for mercy he cannot but think that his asking will in some way be rewarded. Man thinks that his asking for mercy, to be saved, is what prompts God to save him, but how can this be when salvation is clearly a gift given by grace which rules out any possibility of it being prompted by anything outside the love and will of God. Moreover, by nature, a man never asks the true God for mercy, for he does not know Him. Mercy does not come as a reward, or after anything which a man has done. Mercy comes only according to the will of the One Who provides it, and God provides it not in accord with anything done by anyone else, but only Himself, by His predetermined will before He even made the world.
Why is God wholly responsible for all of salvation, why does God alone receive all the glory for all of salvation, if there was something man could do to come to Him of his own volition? If man has any hope outside of God, then why is salvation by grace alone? (see Eph. 2:5,8,9). Because salvation cannot be by works. Believing what you believe, is a work. Believing what God says, is a GIFT. Christ said “…no man can come unto Me…” (Jn. 6:65), either by his will, or his efforts (see Rom. 9:16), but only if it is given to the man by the grace of God: “…except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:65). That is grace. The elect are saved not by any of their works, but only by the Gift of God. The elect are saved, not by means of their own obedience, but by the obedience of ONE: “…by the obedience of One shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19); “(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), and not, as so many falsely teach, according to God’s foreknowing who would choose Him, for such an ‘election’ would be according to a man’s deeds, and by reward, something which he has earned, rather than by God’s own will, purpose and gift-given grace. It would be an ‘election’ based on the electee, not the Elector. True election is made perfectly clear in the Word of God: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as HE HATH CHOSEN US in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE, wherein HE HATH MADE US ACCEPTED in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:3-6). “…the objects of election are not chosen because they were holy, but that they might partake of the sanctification of the Spirit; that they might be sanctified by Him here, and be perfectly holy hereafter; and be without fault and blame, both in this life, as instilled by the Righteousness of Christ, and as washed in His blood; and in the life to come, being entirely freed from all sin, and without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; and appear so in the sight of Christ, Who will present them to Himself, and in the sight of His Father, to Whom they will also be presented by Him, even in the sight of Divine Justice: and this will be all ‘in love’, or ‘through love’, as the Syriac version renders it; or ‘through his love, as the Arabic version; for the love of God is the source and spring of election itself, and of holiness and happiness, the end of it; and which is shed abroad in the hearts of God's people now, and will be more fully comprehended and enjoyed in the other world; and which causes love again in them to him.”
The Scriptures speak plainly: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt” (Rom. 4:4 cf. Rom. 6:23). If man must do something before salvation, in order that salvation/election can then take effect, it is not salvation by grace, but salvation by works. It is not the election of grace, but election based on works. If salvation was dependent upon anything a man had to do, then it would be reckoned as a debt paid, and not a gift freely given. If man can do something to come to God then he is not without hope, and salvation would indeed be conditioned on a man’s will and works, and not solely upon God’s will and grace. Therefore part of the glory of salvation would belong to man. It would mean a man can, by his own will and effort, come unto Christ, and is not, therefore, solely reliant upon the mercy and grace of God. Salvation would be something God would be indebted to reward a man with, rather than a gift freely given by His grace. The reality of the situation is that Christ is the Saviour of His people, and not they themselves. “In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). Salvation is not according to, it does not take any instruction, or cue, from man’s will, or works, but is solely in accord with God’s will and grace. If salvation is by God’s grace then it is by God’s will. If salvation is by God’s will it can only be by God’s mercy. If salvation is by God’s mercy then it cannot at all be by a man’s works. If it is by man’s works, then it is by man’s will. If it is by a man’s will then salvation is by a man’s works, and not by grace at all. The apostle Paul teaches in Romans 11 that salvation is either all of grace, or it is not by grace at all. He teaches that if salvation is by grace, then it cannot be by works at all.
The Word of God says of Christians that the reason why God loves them is not because they loved Him first, it is not we who have taken the initiative; it is not anything that we have done which has attracted God to us, and prompted Him to love us and choose us, it is not we who have chosen God, it is not we who have made a decision to be saved, it is not we who have accepted Him, it is not that we have loved Him: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us” (1 Jn. 4:10-12). “We love Him, because HE FIRST loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19 cf. Rom. 5:6,8). God’s love is proactive, not reactive. “In the beginning God…” (Gen. 1:1). God’s love is a creating and Sovereign love. It does not come in response to another’s love, but is the cause of a man’s love toward Him. The path which God’s love takes is totally and completely according to God’s will, and is in no way dictated to by a man’s love for Him. God loves His people before they loved Him. It took God’s love for a man to love Him. God’s love for His chosen is the forerunner of their love for Him. The order is irreversible, for God has chosen those whom He would love before the foundation of the world, hence, the impossibility of salvation being by any means other than the grace of God which is no less than the manifestation of His love for His chosen, and not their love for Him. Love for the Lord is of the Lord just as salvation by grace alone is of the Lord. God makes His people alive by His love for them before they ever loved Him, for before they loved Him they did not know Him, being dead in their sins. Only AFTER God manifests His love for a man by making him spiritually alive does a man love God. Salvation is all by God’s mercy upon a lifeless creature. God’s love is not a reciprocal love, but an initiatory love, a love which is independent, and, therefore, not that which can be induced, or attracted, by anything or anyone in the entire universe. God is the sole motivating factor behind a saved man’s believing. If God had never loved, chosen, and granted the gift of faith to His people, none of them would ever have known Him, savingly believed in Him and loved Him. It is God Who MAKES alive, and not man who comes alive. God makes alive by His grace, therefore, it cannot be man who comes alive by his works. Man is GIVEN eternal life, he does not attain it. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing…” (Jn. 6:63 cf. Phil. 3:3,9). Eternal life is not a wage paid, but a gift given (see Rom. 6:23). If it is God it is grace, if it is man then it is works. If salvation is by God it is a gift, if it is by man then it is a reward, a debt which God is obliged to pay, and so not by grace at all.
The Lord Jesus took away, He paid the penalty for, all the sins of all the elect of God whom God had given Him (see Isa. 53:4,5), and has replaced their sin with His Righteousness: “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Salvation is not by the works of man, but only by the grace and Righteousness of God. “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth Righteousness WITHOUT WORKS” (Rom. 4:6 cf. Rom. 4:8). The Christian is Righteous because of nothing he has done. The Righteousness which is given a man is not a reward for anything the man has done, for then it could not be called a salvation purely by grace, and man would not need an imputed Righteousness to save him, for his own righteousness would suffice. The Word of God speaks of “…the GIFT of Righteousness…” (Rom. 5:17). If Righteousness is a gift then salvation must, and can only be, solely by grace. If salvation came after something a person did, it would be due to what they did, and not solely because of what God has done. Salvation is not a debt paid, but a free gift given. Salvation cannot be earned, only given. Salvation is not on offer, nor is it for sale, but is something which is freely given by God to those He has chosen before the foundation of the world, solely according to His will, grace, mercy and love. Salvation is not for sale, for it has already been purchased by the blood of Christ for the chosen of God, “…feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28 cf. 1 Thess. 5:9,10; 1 Pet. 1:18,19; Rev. 5:9). Christ’s Righteousness is freely imputed, or charged, to the elect sinner, by God’s grace based on the obedience of Another: Christ Jesus the Lord. If it is by the Righteousness of Another, then it can only be by the obedience of Another. “…by the Righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life…by the obedience of one shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:18,19). “‘Came upon all men’; not all universally, but all sorts of men indifferently, Gentiles as well as Jews; or all that are His spiritual seed; all who are connected with the second Adam, all His brethren (see 1 Cor. 15:45). Or all men here is put for many men (see Lk. 6:26; Acts 22:15). ‘Many’ is sometimes put for ‘all’, as in Daniel 12:2, and again ‘all’ for ‘many’; and indeed these two words, all and many, seem to be used reciprocally by this context in particular,(see Rom. 5:15,19). If Adam brings death in fact on all concerned, Christ must bring life in fact on all concerned also. Again, a limitation is suggested by the whole reasoning of the Epistle, and specially by Romans 8:29,30, where the justified are identical with the foreknown and glorified, in the plain sense of the passage. The use of ‘all men’ with this change of reference is fairly illustrated by 1 Corinthians 15:22,23. For through that whole chapter the Resurrection of the Church is the sole subject; and 1 Corinthians 15:23 explicitly refers to ‘they that are Christ’s’: and yet, when the parallel of Adam and Christ is in view, the word ‘all’ is equally used there in both cases (see for other illustrations, though less exact, John 12:32; Titus 2:11). The view of Christ as the Head of all Mankind is, to say the least, far less distinct in Scripture than that of Christ as the Head of justified Mankind, the true Church”: “…Christ is the Head of the Church…” (Eph. 5:23); “…He is the Head of the Body, the Church…” (Col. 1:18). “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22,23).
Salvation is not, never has been and never will be, the consequence or outcome of anything a man has done, for salvation is by the grace of God, and the Righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6). It is God’s grace, through the gift of faith in Christ’s Righteousness which saves. Salvation is not at all by a man’s works, by his obedience, but only “…by the obedience of One shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19). NO OBEDIENCE BUT CHRIST’S WILL SAVE A MAN! The currency of man’s obedience can never buy what only the obedience of Christ could have and has already purchased. No one can attain salvation, for it has already been obtained by Christ for all His people. Salvation is no longer for sale, it has already been bought. The currency of works could never have bought it. The price was innocent blood, and only the blood of God the Son has met that price (see Acts 20:28). Salvation cannot be by grace and works, nor can it be by works alone, for if salvation is by grace alone it cannot be by works at all. The works of man nullify, automatically cancel out, the grace of God and the work of Christ Jesus the Lord in the salvation of His people. The apostle Paul stated: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21 cf. Rom. 11:6). If Christ’s Righteousness is not the only Righteousness that saves, then He died for nothing. Paul also said: “Behold, I Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2). “…to join anything with Jesus and His Righteousness, in the business of justification and salvation, is interpreted by Him as a contempt and neglect of Him, as laying Him aside, and to such persons He is of no profit; and if He is not, what they have, and whatsoever they do, will be of no advantage; wealth and riches, yea, the whole world could it be gained, their works and righteousness, whatever show they make before men, God has declared shall not profit them; and trusting to these renders Christ unprofitable to them.” Those who make any appeal to God based on anything they have done do not know Him, and Christ Jesus will say to them all “…I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). Believing that your works play a role in getting you saved, or help to maintain your alleged salvation, is a sign that you are under the curse of sin. You have been taught another gospel which tells of another Christ, and you are being led by another spirit (see 2 Cor. 11:4). To truly trust, is to trust in Christ alone. It is to look to Him and no one else; it is to look to all that He has done and nothing of ourselves: “And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9). Salvation cannot be by God and man, nor can it be by man alone, for if salvation is by God alone it cannot be by man at all. “For by grace are ye saved…not of yourselves…Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9 cf. Rom. 3:26,27). There is no room in the Gospel of grace for a man to boast in anything he has done. A man is made Righteous not by his own obedience, nor by affixing his obedience to the obedience of Christ, for salvation comes only in response to, and by, the obedience of Jesus Christ alone.
God’s Justice is satisfied, for the penalty which the sins of God’s elect had incurred has been met, and could only have been met, by Christ alone: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13 cf. 2 Cor. 5:18). “…by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12). “…being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). If God has done it, then it took God to do it; salvation is of the Lord, therefore, it could only have ever come from the Lord, because of the Lord, therefore, salvation can only be by grace. THE GRACE IS GOD’S, THE FAITH IS GOD’S, THE OBEDIENCE/RIGHTEOUSNESS IS CHRIST’S, WE ARE CHOSEN BY HIM, WE ARE MADE ALIVE BY HIM, WE ARE MADE ACCEPTED BY HIM, AND SO ON. SALVATION IS ALL OF GOD, AND, THEREFORE, NOT AT ALL BY MAN. Nothing that is necessary to salvation comes from within man, or can be done by man, therefore, nothing that is necessary to salvation is dependent on man, for he is WITHOUT HOPE, and does not even seek the true God. Man can meet no condition, for he has no life. Man does not need to play his part, for he has no part to play. Man is a hopeless creature, therefore, how could salvation be in any way dependent on him? Every Gospel believer shall be presented to God holy, faultless, spotless, blameless, and unreproveable (see Jd. 24; Col. 1:22; 2 Pet. 3:14), for they are robed with Christ’s perfect Righteousness, and are no longer covered in the filthy rags of their own righteousnesses: “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isa. 64:6 cf. Isa. 57:12). By grace, the Christian has discarded his own righteousness, and been clothed with the imputed Righteousness of God’s own Son: the Lord Jesus Christ. If you believe in salvation by any works of your own, you are still clothed in the filthy rags of your own righteousness, and remain lost in your sins. Paul the apostle wanted to “…be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9). The saved man’s refrain is: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the Robe of Righteousness...” (Isa. 61:10 cf. Gen. 3:21). Jesus Christ alone has fully met the requirements of God’s Holy law, by His perfect obedience unto death: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19). The elect, referred to here as the many, will not be made Righteous because of their own individual and imperfect attempts to adhere to God’s commands, but are made Righteous solely by the perfect and imputed obedience of One: Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory! Christ’s obedience, His Righteousness, His Work is the only obedience, the only Righteousness, the only Work which the true child of God will appeal to, and which the only true God will accept.
All of God’s elect will hear the Gospel, and will, at the appointed time, believe it, for this has been unalterably predetermined, ordained, by God’s immutable Counsel and eternal Will before the foundation of the world (see Acts 13:48; Acts 2:47; Eph. 1:3-9). “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14 cf. Rom. 8:9); Jesus said: “…Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice” (Jn. 18:37). The chosen of God have not been appointed by God to His Wrath, but to obtain salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ Who died for them. Writing to fellow believers, the apostle stated: “For God hath not appointed us to Wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us…” (1 Thess. 5:9,10). The Word of God teaches that all for whom this has been done—culminating in their being given by the Father to Christ the Son—will never perish (see Jn. 10:27:28; cf. Jn. 6:37-40; 17:2). God’s chosen people will all believe the doctrines of the Gospel of the grace of God, for everyone who does not believe those doctrines show they are accursed, and not saved at all (see Rom. 16:17,18; Gal. 1:8,9). Those who do not believe His Gospel do not have Him (see 2 Jn. 9). If you do not believe in the doctrines of the Gospel, how can you believe in the Author of them? How can you love the Author of the Gospel doctrines if you do not believe what He has proclaimed? The beloved of God are saved eternally, given eternal life by, and are preserved in Christ Jesus their Lord “…sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1); “…the Lord loveth judgement, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved forever…” (Psa. 37:28), and their lives are “…hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3 cf. Psa. 37:28; 83:3; Jd. 1). Christ Jesus says: “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). Who are the ones who will come to Jesus? Only the ones whom the Father has given Him. “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him” (Jn. 17:2). The blood of Christ has not provided a potential, or temporary, state of salvation for those for whom it was shed, but it has actually obtained eternal redemption, PERMANENTLY saving all for whom it was poured out. Their salvation is eternally assured and secured, for their sins and their guilt have been charged to Another, Who has blotted them out forever, their debt has been paid in full, and a perfect Righteousness established and imputed unto all those for whom Christ died (see Rom. 4:6-8 cf. 2 Cor. 1:21,22). There remains no condemnation for them (see Rom. 8:1).