THAT'S JUST YOUR OPINION! (PART 8)
If there is one thing that the majority of lost people subscribe to it is the view that a person's beliefs are sacrosanct. Moreover, a person's morality is often, yet nevertheless, falsely looked to for verification of the genuineness and legitimacy of what they believe. As far as they are concerned questioning or being Scripturally critical of an individual's personal beliefs is seen as unloving and direct attack upon the person. And yet, they feel perfectly justified in attacking the one whom they accuse of being unloving! Some even launch into a veritable diatribe. Without the respect and universal legitimization of whatever a person believes about God, and how He saves, there would be no Ecumenical Movement whose lifeblood is the ignorance of mankind. The current climate is heavily narcissistic with individual opinion often overriding even the Truth of God in the minds of men. This should not come as any surprise for this type of thinking readily appeals to man's sinful nature particularly in these last days when, Scripture says, man will be a lover of himself: "...in the last days perilous times shall come. FOR men shall be lovers of their own selves....Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away....Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth....these also resist the Truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the Faith" (2 Timothy 3:1,2,5,7,8). A better description of Humanism one could not hope to find. Humanism is the religion of the masses. Humanism, be it secular or religious, bows down to the god of self. This god of self is, of course, a false god, too. But the god of self, which is basically a bowing down to our desires and beliefs etc., takes on many guises including false gods. Basically the god of self puts the person, his will, wants and covetous desires first, displacing God and His Truth. So many people in today's world want to be good and do good, at least outwardly, but they do not want God in the picture. They are self-righteous people turning away from God and resisting His Truth for they want the glory of their goodness all for themselves. After all, they are lovers of themselves and not God. According to the religious humanist it would seem that as long as a person does good and sincerely believes what they believe the truth to be, God is obligated to save them. Such a mindset, however, only leads a person to their own personal jesus rather than to the real Jesus. To what they think of Him rather than what is testified of Him by God. It must be pointed out that God is not obligated to save any to whom He has not committed Himself. The only commitment God has made in reference to salvation is to those He has chosen before the foundation of the world and entrusted to His dear Son (see Ephesians 1:4; John 17:2,3,10).
Seeing that we are all sinful creatures, imperfect and subject to error, sinful, unregenerate man has concluded that no one really knows, or can know, what the Gospel of God is but as long as we sincerely believe it is this or believe it is that, coupled with going about doing good to our fellow man etc., God will accept us. Those who go about searching for truth who argue and endlessly debate over what it could be or should be, rather than Christians who know they have the Truth of God, are said to be the wise ones whom we should all look at and listen to. We get a far different picture, however, when we turn our attention to Scripture and hear what God has to say. According to the Word of God the only ones who do not know what the Gospel is, who are forever learning and debating but yet are never able to come to the knowledge of what God's Truth is, are the lost: "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the Light of the Glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the Image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:3,4). To the blind, the Glorious Gospel of Christ does not shine. It is dull, grey and lifeless. To the blind, the Gospel of God is not the power of God unto salvation but just another of man's many opinions of what the Gospel of God is. The difference between a physically blind person and the spiritually blind person is that the spiritually blind do not know they are blind. The blinded mind cannot see what is plainly obvious to the unblinded mind which does see. That is the solution to the whole question about what the Truth is, how will we know it and what of all the other teachings and views belonging to different and opposing faiths. Those to whom the Gospel is hid do not believe and those to whom the Gospel has been revealed, do see and believe. It's all about REVELATION! God revealing His Truth to whomsoever He wills.
No matter the amount of ignorance involved, sincerity of belief is seen by many to be the very Key to Heaven. Every confidence trickster knows that the keys to successfully deceive are sincerity and honesty. One must persuade the victim through sincerity and honesty much like an actor plays his role convincingly. Man is self-deceived by his sinful nature, which always lusts against the Spirit of God, thereby producing a determined sincerity in believing that which is in reality wrong, and which is perpetuated by his, sometimes wilful, ignorance. Truth is not subjective. It is a perilous thing to judge something as truth according to emotion, how one feels about it, or, even more perilously, by how much a person wants a thing to be the truth. How convenient it would be if the truth were such and such. Truth is never subject to opinion but opinion must always conform to truth. Truth is always and only an objective matter. Sincerity and ignorance never saved anybody but rather sincerity and truth. The Truth, especially in these last days, has been forcefully pushed into the backseat. Some have even thrown it out of the vehicle altogether and replaced it with individual opinion. What God says is no longer the point, if it was ever even relative to the prejudice-driven among us who charge their argument with emotion and who cry out, 'What matters is what we believe God has said'. Emotion will always trump truth in the minds of the spiritually dead. Such an attitude may be found in both the secular and religious worlds and is strongly adhered to by many who believe themselves to be Christian. Politically correct 'Christians' I might add. Such beliefs fall right into line with the view held to in the world of 'white' Witchcraft which says, "An (if) it harm none, do what you will". The infamous self styled Satanist, Aleister Crowley's axiom was the less restrictive, 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law'. In other words, man is his own god and is free to do whatever he considers to be right. Every man is his own law and whatever he says goes, according to Crowley. This is the essence of Satanism. We all know that society's law says that it is unlawful for any man to take the law into his own hands. You cannot be a law unto yourself. If someone harms you, it is not lawful for you to take revenge upon that person and judge your actions as justified and perfectly lawful. So too, one cannot take the Gospel into one's own hands and deem it to be what you believe it to be. Doing what we think is right was one of the major sins of the Jews in the Old Testament. Everyone went about doing what they considered to be right (see Judges 17:6). However, Proverbs reminds us, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). That is how wrong a man, convinced he is right, can be. Man can be so wrong as to be powerfully and sincerely convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is on the road to Heaven and yet in reality be travelling the highway to Hell. Just because something seems right, or feels right or is something you have believed in for 20 years and become accustomed to, does not mean it is right no matter how convinced a person may be. A particular way to Heaven may seem to be right to a man, but THE ONLY CONCEIVABLE WAY IT CAN BE RIGHT IS IF IT IS THE TRUE AND ONLY WAY, GOD'S WAY! Familiarity brings with it a certain feeling of security, but there is no security in the real world, the world of God's reality, in believing something which is wrong. There is no amount of careless emotion-driven conviction which can turn a false gospel into God's True Gospel. There is NO security at all in believing a salvation plan which has not been authored by the True God, in a gospel which is not God's Gospel. The combination of emotion, sincerity and a false gospel, along with real or perceived 'spiritual experiences', conspires to lead a person into an unreal world by creating a very powerful illusory state in the mind of a man, bringing with it an unscriptural perception of what Truth is and what it is not. Of who God is and who He is not. Of what God's Gospel is and what it is not. Merely because something seems right does not mean that it is right. In fact, it could be so wrong as to be the very ways of death! (see Jeremiah 17:9). To know what the truth is one must know Who God is. Warm and fuzzy feelings are not to be relied upon. Emotions, circumstances and situations which seemingly change one's life for the better, should not be interpreted as evidence that God is at work in your life. The only evidence of God being in one's life is that He has visited you with His grace and granted you the gift of Faith to believe in His Gospel and no other. TRUTH is the only Rule by which one can reliably judge whether or not a person has been saved of God.
The satanic prevarication which declares man is free to do whatsoever he wills, also includes within its scope the lie that man has the right and, therefore, is free to believe whatever he wants. The world calls, it 'Freedom of religion' and declares this freedom to believe whatever one wants to, a Human Right. "On 25 November 1981 the United Nations General Assembly passed the 'Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief'. This declaration recognizes freedom of religion as a fundamental human right in accordance with several other instruments of international law..." The First Amendment to the United States Constitution includes within it the free exercise of religion. Everyone is free to believe whatever they want. The world declares man is free to believe whatever he wants. God says believe the truth or die. One man puts it this way, "Religion is like a pair of shoes....find one that fits for you but don't make me wear your shoes". The truth of the matter is that man, dead in sin and dead to God, has a faith inherent within him that has never and can never lead him to the true God. Contrary to popular belief, man is not free to believe whatever he wants but is imprisoned by his own sinful nature to believe anything but the truth of God! Far from being free to believe, man is in bondage to sin and belief in any and every kind of false gospel he can imagine. Man is bound by sin within a maze having multiple exits all of which lead to a false god and never the True God. And yet man is convinced that he is so wise and free that he has the right and freedom to believe whatever he wants about whatever he wants to believe in. Humanism/Satanism always has man in the driver's seat. Man, rather than God, is always the preeminent one. The very essence of true Satanism is not to worship Satan, but to love oneself, to always give oneself the pre-eminence above all others. True Satanism is the love of self. The humanist is always in command. Man needs no assistance or guidance from God or His Truth for it is believed, in ever-growing numbers, that whatever man believes the truth to be is what the truth is. In essence, it is believed that each individual has the right to formulate, not merely their own opinion, but literally their own truth. This is nothing new, however, for since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, man has done nothing but fulfil the satanic precept to do and believe what seems right in his own eyes. Do what you want to do, believe what you want to believe. If it looks good take it, if it feels good do it and if it sounds good believe it. Such a life view causes people to look more upon the appearance and to pay attention to how much conviction a person has concerning a matter, rather than solely on what they are actually saying. Eve was attracted by the appearance of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and was deceived into believing what Satan had said to her, instead of trusting what God had told Adam concerning the immediate and long-term consequences that would result in partaking of the fruit. God had told Adam that if he ate of the forbidden fruit he would surely die. Satan countered by telling Eve she would not surely die (see Genesis 2:16,17; 3:1-5). According to her judgement, Eve reasoned within herself that the combination of the fruit looking harmless, in fact alluringly attractive, and that it must surely taste as good as it looked, judged it to be not only innocuous, but beneficial, thereby convincing herself that what Satan had told her was the truth and as a consequence calling God a liar in her thoughts and by her actions. We are reminded "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). This all seemed so right to Eve. She did not follow Satan's way because she believed it to be wrong but because she believed it to be right. Eve was induced by the lies of Satan combined with her own visual appraisal of the Tree and its fruit. Eve made her own personal judgement call concerning the forbidden fruit, thereby forming her own opinion, her own truth, concerning it rather than simply believing what God had said about it. She believed Satan when he said that it was a tree that would make her and her husband as gods (Genesis 3:5). The sight of the fruit and the positive thoughts and feelings it brought into her mind, combined with a covetousness for gain, engendered in Eve a total disregard of what God had said on the matter. This all conspired to convince Eve that partaking of the fruit would do nothing but benefit her and Adam. Not believing what God has said is the pinnacle of disobedience. Once you stray from God's Truth you leave yourself open to deception and every false thing. Eve did not simply taste the fruit, she did not hesitantly nibble at it, but she willingly and freely ate of it. She then gave the fruit to Adam convincing him to also eat of it. Notice how Satan did not even try to deceive the man directly, to whom he spoke not a word, but used the woman's influence with her husband to draw him into disobedience. Satan's plan was always to get Adam to eat of the fruit and not merely Eve. Satan could not have cared less as to whether or not Eve ate of the fruit for Adam was the federal head, the representative, of all mankind and not the woman. Eve was convinced, and yet deceived into thinking, she was doing the right thing for herself and Adam and that she had chosen the right path for them both. And yet, how wrong Eve was concerning eating, and what would follow her eating, of the fruit. Sin dictates that man does not need God for man is God. This is what Satan essentially said to Eve. Satan believes he is God and so our satanic-like sinful natures dictate this exact same perverted principle to everyone: To rebel against God and go the way we think is right and to believe what we think is true. Witchcraft is the art of rebellion against God, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft..." (1 Samuel 15:23). Our natural sinful/human tendency is to do what seems right in our eyes and to believe what is right according to our judgement regardless of how informed of the facts we may, or may not, be. Man is his own God and needs no external God or His truth. Man does what he wants to do and believes what he wants to believe for man is the supreme being. This Humanistic/Satanic world view, energized by man's sinful nature, is rotten to the core and has only ever caused corruption and every evil thing. It has never led to anyone's salvation but rather ensured their destruction.
Scientists know what chaos there would be if there were no absolutes. If everything in this universe were left to a matter of individual opinion and therefore to endless speculation. A world free of fact and filled with uncertainty where the only acceptable absolute is that there are no absolutes. If such a world existed there would be no truth, or at least nothing would be declared as truth, except for the lie that there are no absolutes, for there is nothing more absolute than truth. It is no different when it comes to things pertaining to God. The universe is an orderly thing created by an orderly God. God is a God of system, method and order. Scientists who at one time were of the opinion that the universe was chaotic have now changed their tunes upon discovering certain unassailable truths of which they were previously unaware or disagreed with. Scientists have learned that the universe is not one of chaos and randomness but of order and structure. Prior to being granted the gift of Faith by a gracious and loving God, the spiritual beliefs in many a now true Christian's life were quite chaotic. Their minds, readily receiving lies spoken in the name of God, were breeding grounds for a welter of half-truths and fiction. Slivers of incomplete truths intermingled with untruths were strewn about their minds. Such chaos still reigns in the lives of those who are not born again, who are not born of the Gospel of God. They are like children, "...tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:14). The Scriptures say that before saving Faith there is spiritual darkness, a darkness from which only God can and does rescue His people through salvation by means of His Gospel. Any who claim to be believers, who say they "...have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness...lie, and do not the truth" (1 John 1:6). Those who walk in darkness walk in "Ignorance, and unbelief...a state of unregeneracy and blindness; whose understandings are darkened, and they know not God in Christ". Before hearing, or, understanding and believing the Gospel of God, none can possibly trust in Christ His Son for they do not know the truth about Him and therefore do not know the true Christ. Many who walk in darkness, yet claim to have fellowship with God, have heard the Gospel with their physical ears but have no capacity to hear it with their spiritual ears. It is only after one has heard the Gospel of God and believed it that one's trust can rightly be said to be in the true God: "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 cf. James 1:21). "'The word of truth', is a phrase used by the Jews, for sublime and heavenly doctrine: now, by the hearing of this, Faith came; and this the Ephesians heard, not only externally, but internally; so as to understand, approve, and believe it, and to put it in practice..." (see 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2:13). Only after one has believed the Gospel does the doctrinal chaos in one's mind cease, and a Godly order established. Only the Gospel of God contains the truth about the true Christ. No one can trust in the true Jesus until after they have heard and believed God's Gospel of salvation. Likewise, no one is sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise until after they have heard of the true Lord Jesus in God's one and only Gospel. Argue about this all you like, but you will be striving against God over what His Truth is and how He saves. Bring up all the 'experiences' you claim to have had, but all you will be doing is resisting, thereby refuting, God's Truth. "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, SINCE the day ye heard of it, and KNEW the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:5,6). Not before the day you heard the Gospel but since that day. You cannot come into the saving knowledge of the grace of God in Truth before you have heard that Truth revealed in the glorious Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of God. The apostle Paul mentioned in the verses just prior to these two that he and Timothy "...give thanks to God...SINCE we heard of your Faith in Christ Jesus..." (Colossians 1:3,4). They thanked God for the salvation of them upon learning of their Faith in Christ. The Colossians, like everyone else who ever became a Christian and whoever will be a Christian were not in a saved state until they were blessed with Faith in Christ, the True and only Christ of God's Gospel. Scripture says he who abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God, and that the only one who does have God is the one who abides in the Doctrine of Christ (see 2 John 9). Now, how can a person claiming to be saved genuinely believe this, and judge saved and lost according to this Divine Principle, if they also believe that they, or anyone else, was saved at a time when they did not abide in the Doctrine of Christ? In other words when they did not believe in the Gospel of Christ. How can a man acknowledge the Truth of God without abiding in the true doctrines of the Gospel of God? Or has God made an error here? Does a man not only have the Father and the Son as long as he abides in the doctrine of Christ but also if he does not? Does a man have the Father and the Son if he abides in the false doctrines of men, false teachings which do nothing but spout lies about the Person and Work of Christ? Where the Gospel is not known or rejected there is spiritual blindness to the Truth of God. Blindness to the true meaning of His Words, and indeed, to the true God Himself. One cannot have savingly acknowledged the truth of God if one has not discerned the lies of false gospels and their powerlessness to save. I have heard it said from the lips of so many who claim to be believers in the Gospel of God, that they insist they were 'just as saved' when they did not abide in the doctrine of Christ as they now claim to be abiders in His Truth! Christ said that salvation is impossible with man: "...With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). To say one was saved without the Gospel, or before one believed it, is to say that one was saved without the power of God which is unto salvation. It is to say that one was saved without God. It is a direct denial of Jesus' Words of the impossibility that a man can be saved without God. God has a means by which every man is saved and that is He elects them, brings His Gospel to them and grants them the gift of Faith by Grace with which to believe it. Paul the apostle, after demonstrating the necessity of hearing the Gospel in Romans 10, said clearly that Faith can ONLY come by HEARING, the hearing of the very Gospel of God: "...Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Obviously implying that there can be no saving Faith without, or before, the hearing of the Gospel of God: His very power to save. The assertion of those who claim to have been saved before or without hearing and believing the Gospel of God, implies that they were saved by grace; granted the Faith to savingly believe in God and were led by the Spirit of God into His Truth. And yet, quite bizarrely, they completely contradict their assertion by tenaciously holding onto the lie that they were just as saved believing in those false gospel(s) which they previously believed which teach a different christ, a false god and to which they were led by another spirit! Their claim to being saved whilst believing in another gospel before they 'believed God's Gospel', leads to the abominable, incongruous and palpably absurd notion that a man is saved who believes in the Gospel of God and when he does not believe it! All such people are, sadly, blind to the Truth of God. Scripture states: "...ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and the table of devils" (1 Corinthians 10:21).
Being saved and being in a lost state are often juxtaposed in Scripture. For example, being in the Light with sitting in darkness. Being lost with being found and as being alive to God with being dead in sin. "For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the Truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18). Interestingly, the apostle Paul wrote these words immediately after declaring the Gospel of God as being God's only Power unto salvation to everyone that believes for therein is the Righteousness of God revealed (see Romans 1:16,17). Clearly, believing in false gospels is ungodliness. Believing the Truth and disbelieving it have eternal, yet quite different and pronounced, consequences. What follows are several instances where Scripture speaks of light and darkness, lost and found and being alive to God and dead to God: "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Corinthians 4:3). "To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death..." (Luke 1:79). "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Light" (1 Peter 2:9). "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the Wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord..." (Ephesians 5:8). The apostle Paul in describing the lost wrote, they walk: "...in the vanity of their mind, 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" (Ephesians 4:17,18). Note the distinctive and irrefutable association between the lost and those whose thoughts are vain, who are destitute of the knowledge of God, whose understanding is darkened not having been illuminated by the Light of the Gospel and who are separated from the life of God, shut out from fellowship and intimacy with God, because of ignorance and spiritual blindness. Those who know not the Gospel of God, the truth of how God saves, go about with spiritually irrational and anti-Scriptural minds that are filled with vain thinking and an utterly warped and profitless understanding. Scripture says such people walk, "...according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2). They are conformed to this world, to this world's religious understanding of what the Truth of God is, whose minds have not been transformed by the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 4:4). Their ignorance of the Gospel, rather than being a cause for mercy and forgiveness, is that very thing which alienates them from God and is nothing but evidence of their spiritually dead, blind, disobedient and accursed state. Paul the apostle was sent by the Lord Jesus to, "...to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God..." (Acts 26:18; see also Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16; 2 Corinthians 4:6; John 8:12). All who are now Christians, prior to their being born again, did live their lives, think and believe, "...according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2), they "...were by nature the children of Wrath, even as others" (Ephesians 2:3), they were "without Christ...having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12), they "...were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord..." (Ephesians 5:8). For the Gospel believer "...the darkness is past, and the TRUE Light now shineth" (1 John 2:8). "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" (Ezekiel 34:11,12 cf. Luke 15:4,5). "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). We see then that prior to salvation man sits comfortably in darkness, in his ignorance of the True God. An ignorance which is enveloped in spiritual darkness which grows ever darker with every view and opinion it spawns. Lost people do not recognize this darkness for what it is, and therefore the perilous state they are in, and so they sit and remain comfortably, and in many cases conveniently, numbed by the darkness which surrounds them reassured by their conviction that the darkness which is around them is light and that what they believe is truth. "...if therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:23).
Let us now take an even closer look at what Paul the apostle was saying when he wrote in his second Letter to the Christians at Corinth: "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Corinthians 4:3). It does not take a brilliantly advanced mind to realise what is being said here. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is saying quite unequivocally and in the most succinct of ways that those people who do not know or do not believe the Gospel of God, who are without the Gospel of God, in other words the Truth about God, Who He is, how He saves and whom He saves, are lost. Lost, not based on their bad works or lack of good works, but clearly because they do not believe in the Gospel of God. Notice how the apostle offers no hope at all, he does not leave his readers with any justifiable expectation that any such people could actually be saved in their current state of ignorance albeit by some unknown technicality. Paul does not give anyone to whom the Gospel of God is hid the benefit of any doubt concerning whether or not they are saved or that they could, in some way, be saved without knowing and believing the Gospel of God. Notice, too, how clearly, and without hesitation, the apostle pronounces those who do not know or believe the Gospel of God as LOST. How he clearly distinguishes the saved from the lost simply by their knowledge, or lack thereof, of the Gospel. Of no small significance is the fact that Paul does not for one moment refer to their morality, immorality or amorality. Personally he must have known some in this lost state but certainly not everyone. For the most part, Paul announces this grave judgement concerning people he had never even met! The apostle judged such people lost based purely on whether or not they believed the Gospel of God. Their 'good works', or lack thereof, had nothing to do with it. Their character and conduct had nothing to do with it. You can be the most moral and devout person that ever lived, a veritable paragon of virtue, but if you do not believe the Gospel of God you do not have God and are yet in your sins. Scripture says "...faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). But what must also be pointed out is the fact that WORKS WITHOUT FAITH are just as dead. Works without the Faith which believes only in the Gospel of Christ and which comes from God as a gift to His people, are nothing but vanity when it comes to salvation. If you do not possess the gift of Faith then your dead works (as the Scripture calls them in Hebrews 6:1) will not help you for a man is not justified by his works but only by the FAITH which is given to him, "Therefore being justified by Faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1 cf. see Galatians 2:16). The elect of God have, by the Sacrifice of Christ had their consciences purged "...from dead works to serve the Living God" (Hebrews 9:14). A perfect example of dead works done by people who believed themselves to be Christians but who clearly did not possess the gift of saving Faith from God, is found in Matthew 7 where Christ will profess unto them "...I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:23 cf. Psalm 6:8; Luke 13:27). These people, who proudly referred the Lord Jesus to, what they believed were their "...many wonderful works" which they had performed in His name and were convinced was evidence that they were saved people, the true people of God, are told to depart from Jesus for He never knew them. Their works were dead works, they did not profit them for they had never been given the gift of Faith, they were never the people of God. Returning to 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul calls those lost to whom the Gospel is veiled: The apostle did not wait to hear how good they were, to whom the Gospel was hid, or how much they gave to charity etc., or of their sincerity and how much they 'loved God', in the hope that all this would in some way counterbalance their lack of faith in the Gospel of God and cause them to be saved regardless of their unbelief. The apostle judged them lost purely by reason of their not knowing and believing the Gospel of God for without the Gospel of God there can be no new creature in Christ: "...born again...by the Word of God....which by the Gospel is preached..." (see 1 Peter 1:23-25).