THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD
Seeing then that salvation is all of grace, it stands to biblical reason that anything which seeks to take away from that grace, or hinder one’s view of any part of that grace, which one’s zeal for God must be in accord with, is that which perverts the Gospel of God and leaves one with a false gospel which cannot save. To try and separate the doctrines of grace by including only some of them in the Gospel and leaving the others out, even if those others are said to be essentials to a saving knowledge of God, is to do the devil’s work. No matter how much one insists those other doctrines have to be believed for one to be saved, one would always have a gospel that could not save anyone, which is clearly not the Gospel that Christ spoke of in Mark 16. A gospel which insists that doctrines outside of it are essential to salvation, that salvation cannot be without belief in them, reveals itself as a gospel which cannot save anyone without them! What kind of a gospel is it that requires belief in something other than itself for salvation to occur? And of what use is a gospel that cannot save? CHRIST’S GOSPEL SAVES! It requires belief in nothing else for salvation to take place, for it is God’s Message on salvation. Its what God has to say about salvation. If I write a 3 page letter to someone, I do not send them only one sentence of it, saying, ‘This is my entire letter to you on the subject but there is more that you must know'. Or think of it this way: a man has a full and balanced meal of meat and vegetables set before him. He separates the vegetables by placing them all onto another plate, calls the meat alone his meal, yet still wants to eat the vegetables, admitting that without them he has not had a proper balanced meal! The Lord has included everything He has to say on the subject of salvation by grace in ONE Gospel and there is nothing essential to saving knowledge that exists outside of God’s only Gospel, nothing outside that Gospel that one needs to believe to be saved. How could, and why would, any spiritually sane person want to separate the doctrines which define the Gospel of the grace of God? Isn’t it all Good News? What would make one grace doctrine better than another, or more necesssary than another, if all are said to be essential to one’s salvation? If salvation could not be if even one of these precious doctrines were missing? To despise one grace doctrine out of ‘love’ for another, or to look down on one grace doctrine because of one’s admiration and awe of another, is to bring strife and conflict among the doctrines that define saving grace. If believing all of them is essential to salvation, then no doubt what God has done through each individual act of grace in getting a man saved was essential to salvation. Now if the Gospel is that which must be believed if any are to be saved, and it is, if the Gospel is about salvation by grace, and it is, then how can any doctrine dealing with grace in salvation be left out of that which must be believed—God’s Gospel? "How can one be saved whilst not believing in, or not knowing, all the doctrines that are essential to one’s salvation?" On what scriptures would such a gross and deadly error as this be based? How could the Gospel of salvation, the Good News of salvation, be about anything less than the whole of salvation? WHAT WOULD ’GOSPEL’ MEAN IF DOCTRINES THAT ARE NOT INCLUDED IN IT ARE JUST AS ESSENTIAL TO SALVATION AS THOSE THAT ARE INCLUDED IN IT? We would have a case of the Gospel being about the essentials of salvation, but not including all of those essentials! What nonsense. The Gospel is the Good News of ALL of the grace of God in the salvation of His people.
By splitting justification and salvation, the proponents of the false gospel which has only the doctrine of the Righteousness of Christ in it, have not merely shot themselves in the foot but have completely blown it off, for the Gospel is never called the Gospel of justification, but "...the Gospel of your salvation..." (Eph. 1:13). If the Gospel is the Gospel of salvation and includes within it the story of the Savior—Who He is, what He has done and who He has done it for—it must then include the doctrine of justification, for all that are saved are justified. The Gospel is made up of the teachings of God’s grace in the salvation of His people. This is what it was meant by God to be, so one can rest assured that every doctrine dealing with salvation is included in the Gospel of the grace of God including the doctrine of justification. No part of what it took to save God’s people from their sins by His grace could ever be left out of the Gospel God has Authored, and therefore no grace doctrine that must be believed can rightly be left out of the Gospel. To set the grace doctrines, the knowledge of which is essential to salvation, in competition with each other, or to segregate them in any way and for any reason, is the work of the Devil. To say that belief of one doctrine is more important than another Gospel doctrine, is to say that the hub of a bicycle wheel is more important than the spokes which connect it to the wheel. But the hub without the spokes would collapse just as quickly as the spokes would without the hub. The hub needs the spokes, as the spokes need the hub, and the wheel needs both if it is to be of any use at all. The gospel that teaches that only the doctrine of the Righteousness of Christ belongs in it, but that the other doctrines which deal with salvation are just as essential, makes about as much sense as saying that wheels are an essential part of a car but should not be attached to it! Simply because the Person and Work of Christ is the ground of salvation, does not entitle anyone to think that this doctrine alone is the whole Gospel. There is nothing to such a teaching, especially in light of the fact that the grace doctrines left out of the Gospel are said to be as essential to salvation as belief in the Righteousness of Christ is. If you cannot be saved without it then the Gospel cannot do without it. A person’s heart is a very necessary organ, for without it they would die. But needless to say, a body could not survive if other organs such as the liver, kidneys or lungs were not also in, and therefore part of, the body. So just as the body requires more than the heart to remain alive, the Gospel of God requires more than its central doctrine to be rightly and fully preached and believed. The Gospel of the grace of God is not made up of any one doctrine, but all the doctrines which cover the whole message of grace in salvation. If salvation took more than one act to be fully accomplished, then the Gospel must be made up of more than one doctrine. The Gospel is a doctrinal manifestation of all that was done to save God’s people. It stands to biblical reason, then, that every doctrine dealing with grace in salvation must be part of the Gospel of the grace of God. To omit, or to eject, any such doctrine from the Gospel is to play the Devil’s fool. To reject any grace doctrine as being part of the Gospel is such a black and evil thing, that only the deepest, darkest bowels of hell could be a fitting place for all those who have immersed themselves in the depths of such an heretical teaching. Crippling, or mutilating, the Gospel by removing most or even some of its doctrines that are agreed by all are essential to salvation, blasphemes the name of God and is an insult to His grace, and warrants an eternity of torment for those guilty of doing so. To preach and believe such a gospel, is to preach and believe another gospel, not God’s only Gospel. All who are guilty of such a crime are lost. The doctrines of the grace of God in the salvation of man belong in the same Gospel, for the Gospel is God’s Good News about His salvation plan according to His grace. This is not Calvinism, this is not Reformed thinking, this is nothing but the Word of the Truth of the Gospel of the grace of God!!
There are people in the world who believe in some very strange gospels. One of the strangest gospels is the one which says that as the work of Christ, His atonement and perfect obedience, is the ground, or basis, for a man being righteous in God’s eyes, this is the only doctrine which constitutes the Gospel. All the other grace doctrines are essentials to salvation, they say, but they are not to be included in the Gospel! But where in the Scriptures is the Gospel of God ever defined as the ground of salvation? This is the fatal mistake made by such errorists. They have presumed that because the righteousness of Christ is the ground of salvation, the Gospel must contain only this single doctrine. They maintain that the inclusion of any other doctrine, even doctrines which they agree are essential to salvation, and that one cannot be saved if such doctrines are not believed in, would be adding to the Gospel. But aren’t these people the ones who are guilty of supplementing the Gospel when they say that there are doctrines outside of the Gospel which must all be believed for a man to be saved? Aren’t they saying that you must believe the Gospel and..., to be saved? And where in the Word of God does it say this? Doesn’t this contradict what Christ said about His Gospel—that belief in the Gospel shall save a man—and therefore there is nothing that needs to be added to it, or that could be essential to salvation that lies outside of it? As we have seen, the Gospel is the Gospel of the grace of God, it is not limited to any one doctrine but is made up of all that it took to save a man from his sins, from election to atonement to regeneration to final glorification. No one can deny that there would be no salvation, that the salvation plan would be incomplete, if any one of these acts were missing, so how can any say that not all have a right to be in the Gospel? Election cannot be the whole Gospel, for election only elects. Righteousness cannot be the whole Gospel, for righteousness only makes righteous; and, regeneration cannot be the whole Gospel, for regeneration only regenerates. A saved man is an elected man, a righteous man and a regenerated man and there can be no Gospel, no Good News of the salvation of man, without election or righteousness or regeneration. The Gospel does not only include what was done to atone for a man’s sins or the imputation of righteousness, but also teaches how those for whom this was done got to be those for whom this was done. The Gospel also includes within it the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. If you could not be saved without it, then the Gospel cannot be without it. Those who believe they were chosen because God foresaw that they would choose Him, or that they would be ‘good’ people, are lost. As are those who believe one is regenerated after they make their ‘choice’ for God or after they have believed the Gospel. This alone makes these two doctrines, election and regeneration, very much a part of the Gospel, for any abiding ignorance or error concerning these doctrines shows a belief in a gospel that is not wholly based on grace, and therefore not consistent with grace. What good would it do for a man to believe in the Righteousness of Christ if he thinks that he was elected based on God foreseeing that he would believe this. Or what good would it do a man to believe in the Righteousness of Christ if he thinks that regeneration comes after one makes a ‘decision’ for Christ. Such a man would have salvation based at least partly on what he has done. He would believe that only the righteousness of Christ comes by grace, but that election and regeneration come by what he has done. This is further evidence that belief of election and regeneration according to grace is essential to salvation, and therefore essential to the Gospel. The Gospel is about the grace of God necessary in the salvation of His people and includes the mighty doctrine that teaches the Person and Work of the Savior Jesus Christ.
Election in particular is the doctrine that has been singled out for the roughest treatment by those who have forbidden membership in the Gospel to all but one of the doctrines of grace. It cannot and must not be preached to the ungodly, we are told, for this would make it impossible to preach the Gospel as a legitimate and sincere offer to the hearers. The error that the Gospel should be preached as a free offer, in its original form, "...was an assault upon the doctrine of election. It developed into an assault upon the...doctrine of the atonement. Under the influence of its promoters in England and Scotland the focus was shifted to the idea that one could preach that Jesus was dead for all but had died for only some. That is, hypothetically, Jesus’ death was...designed and intended to be available to all upon condition of faith and repentance. This was an attempt to marry the Reformed and Arminian doctrines of atonement, to teach a provision for all men in the death of Christ but an efficacy for only some. This trend came together in the Marrow Controversy in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. This dualist conception of the atonement was condemned...as Arminianism....The theory of the offer belongs to a certain Arminian trend which has been present in the Reformed and Presbyterian community since the time of the Synod of Dordt. It was an attempt to marry the conditional universalism of Arminianism to the truth of Sovereign particular grace...perhaps the best description of this error is to call it hypothetical universalism." Let me make it quite clear that there is nothing hypothetical about the Gospel or Christ’s death. Something hypothetical exists only as an idea or concept in the mind of man and not in the real world of God. To say that Christ’s death was for everyone, or that His death was efficacious for some but sufficient for all, is to teach heresy. Now, had Christ died for everyone ever born, all would surely have been saved, for by the shedding of Christ’s blood there IS remission of sins (see Heb. 9:22 & 10:18,19). The act of Christ dying and offering His body to God as a sacrifice for sin, would have saved the entire world had He done this for everyone. But the reality is that He did not do it for everyone, but EXCLUSIVELY for those God had given Him. Christ’s death was not for anyone else but His people, those whom the Father had given Him (Jn. 17:2). So how could His atoning death be sufficient for all when He died only for the people God had elected? He was a Substitute for, and had represented only, those whom God had chosen (see Jn. 10:15; Eph. 5:25). How can one offer to others that which has been done only for some? How can one offer to others that which has not been purchased for them? How can my payment of someone’s bill at a restaurant possibly be of any benefit to anyone else? How could I offer my payment of their particular bill to anyone else? To say that Christ’s death was sufficient for all is to say that the high priest’s sacrifices in the Old Testament, which were a shadow of what the coming Messiah would do, though directed by God to be performed exclusively for the nation of Israel, were sufficient for the whole world! (see Lev. 16:34). Nobody ever preaches this, so why do people insist that the Messiah’s sacrifice could ever benefit those for whom it was not made. Why does carnal man insist that Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient for all but efficient for some? If ever there was a catch phrase belonging to those who claim to believe in a definite and particular atonement but have no courage to preach it, this is it! For ‘sufficient for all but efficient for some’ to be true it would mean that Christ died for every man’s sins but only effectively for the sins of some! There is no such thing as an inefficacious, directed-by-God, sacrifice in all of Scripture. There is simply no sense to such ‘reasoning’. If Christ’s sacrifice was efficient, if it in any way accomplished anything, then it must of necessity have accomplished it on behalf of all those it was done for. If it was at all efficient in atoning for sin, then it must have atoned for the sins of everyone it was done for. (For more on this see the author’s book, ‘Atonement For Whom?’). To mix the hypothetical with reality is to always end up with a fiction.
According to some who espouse a single doctrine Gospel, the Righteousness of Christ is all that needs to be preached, in fact, it is all that must be preached as the Gospel to the ungodly in order for them to be justified. Then, once they have accepted this teaching, the other doctrines such as election and the quickening work of the Holy Spirit, etc., may be revealed to them. All these doctrines, it is said, will be believed automatically if a person has rightly believed in the righteousness of Christ. These other essentials are the fruit of believing the Gospel, they say, and not part of the very Gospel itself. They have so separated justification from salvation, that they say one becomes justified believing in the Righteousness of Christ, but not saved until the other doctrines, which are curiously not in the Gospel, are heard and believed. So there are people running about under the impression that they are justified but not yet saved!! I must say that I have heard some doozies in my time, I have met some weird people in my time, most of them from the religious sector, but I have never heard such ridiculous theology as this. Can you imagine God saying to a person who died believing in the doctrine of the righteousness of Christ, who has had that very righteousness imputed to him, but who died before hearing or believing the other doctrines one must believe to be saved, ‘I’m sorry, but though I justified you and imputed My Son’s Righteousness to you; though there is no Wrath of Mine remaining for you, for My Son has borne it all on your behalf, I cannot admit you into My Kingdom because you are not saved'. And if anyone should claim that, though Righteousness is believed it is not imputed until the other grace doctrines are believed, then what reason could there be for not including those doctrines in the Gospel, and what would it benefit a man to believe in righteousness alone? Believe the gospel of righteousness, but it will do you no good until you believe the doctrines which lie outside of that gospel? ‘Asinine’ is too kind a word for such drivel. No man who is justified walks this earth, or has ever walked this earth, in an unsaved state, and no man who is saved can ever be said to be in an unjustified state. Anyone who fails to understand this or believe it, is not only seriously lacking in spiritual understanding but is, to say the least, mentally challenged. No man justified by the righteousness of Christ has ever walked a single moment on this earth without believing the other grace doctrines which are in the Gospel. Belief of each Gospel doctrine is not separated by years, or months, or even days, but the faith which God gives believes in the whole Gospel package as soon as one is regenerated. The Gospel of God is His Message of salvation, and this message includes within it all that justifies a man and all that was done, and needed to be done, on his behalf to get him to this saved/justified state. If this were not the case, then we would have the absurd situation of God having a main Gospel which justifies, and a separate ‘minor’ Gospel which saves. May I remind the reader that God has only one Gospel, one set of doctrines which must be believed for a person to be saved, and that Gospel includes everything that God did through grace to save His chosen people.
No matter what kind of positive spin is put on the grace doctrines that are left out of the Gospel, no matter how much the point is stressed that these doctrines are essential to salvation, we are left with a gospel that does not teach the whole of the grace of God in salvation. One would be hard-pressed to convince anyone who believes Christ when He said that belief in the Gospel is evidence of salvation, that these doctrines are essential to saving knowledge. Again, we must point out that the Gospel is referred to in Scripture as the Gospel of salvation, and it is understood by almost all who read the Bible that belief of the Gospel is synonymous with salvation. If the Righteousness of Christ is that which justifies a man and it is the only doctrine in the Gospel, then we must conclude that belief in this doctrine alone will save a man (see Mk. 16:16). Yet strangely, the enemies of the Gospel do not say this. They cannot agree with Christ when He said that those who believe the Gospel SHALL BE SAVED!! They are at loggerheads with what the Messiah Himself has declared. They insist that the other grace doctrines, which they have seen fit not to include in the Gospel of salvation, must also be believed if any are to be saved!! But how can this be, when Christ has said that those who believe the Gospel shall be saved? As a consequence of the one-doctrine-gospel, one can believe whatever one likes about election, regeneration, sanctification etc., and still be justified. My question is, ‘How can one believe aright the grace doctrines essential to salvation if they are not all included in the Gospel, if they are not all taught a man before he is regenerated?’ Contrary to 2 Thessalonians 2:13, we would have a case of a man being chosen to salvation through sanctification and belief of whatever he believes the truth to be regarding the majority of doctrines essential to salvation! Can one imagine the Gospel of the grace of God being without even one of those grace doctrines? Do you think God would have, or could have, forgotten to mention even one of the grace doctrines when He was ‘drawing up’ His Gospel plan to save His people by His grace? Of course not. Cutting every grace doctrine out of the Gospel barring one, would constitute such a monstrous incision into the body of doctrines that are the Gospel it would constitute an amputation!! It would be like removing the head from a body and calling the head alone a human being. No one doctrine, not even the glorious doctrine of the imputed Righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, is enough to cover all of the grace of God, which the Gospel is said to be about. As we have pointed out, the Gospel is called the Gospel of Christ several times in the Scriptures, but this can never deny the fact that the Gospel of Christ is the very Gospel of the grace of God. And that which ensures God’s people believe all of the grace doctrines essential to a saving faith and not merely one of them, is the fact that salvation by the grace of God does not only involve the Son of God but includes the work of the entire Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To put it as succinctly as possible, one cannot biblically believe in Christ without right knowledge of, and belief in, the other doctrines that are essential to salvation. Any gospel, therefore, that is missing one doctrine of even one aspect of what it took to save a man, is not the gospel of God but a gospel of demons. Any gospel that does not include within it the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the salvation of God’s people is a false gospel. No gospel that takes away all, or even some, of the glory for salvation as being the sole property of God, can be that which God is the author of, but one that is written with the poison pen of man.
Let it be clearly understood by all that Jesus Christ is central to the preaching of the Gospel. Some have even dared to deny this! Nevertheless, it is by His Person and His work that a man is made Righteous. This is what this ministry has taught from its inception and what it will always teach, but merely because the Righteousness of Christ is the central doctrine of the Gospel, indeed the entire Bible, this does not give anyone license to exclude any other grace doctrine dealing with the mechanics of how God saves from the Gospel: that which Christ Himself said must be believed if any are to be saved. That which must be believed, the Gospel, shuts out every work of man’s and conditions the whole of salvation on the grace of God. A gospel which fails to do this is a gospel which cannot save, for salvation is all by the grace of God. To believe the Gospel of grace one must have no room for works, and to have no room for works one must have the only Gospel that teaches the whole of grace in the salvation of man. Though salvation is through the Person and Work of Christ Jesus the Lord, this does not take away from the essentiality of the other grace doctrines and therefore their rightful place in the Gospel. All are agreed that all the grace doctrines are essential to salvation, so why should any of them be kept out of the Gospel, which is the Good News of God’s grace in the salvation of His people! Has anyone stopped to think WHY these other grace doctrines are said to be essential to salvation, even by those who do not include them in the Gospel? Why must they be believed to evidence salvation? OBVIOUSLY BECAUSE SALVATION CANNOT DO WITHOUT THEM! HENCE THEIR INCLUSION IN THE GOSPEL—BECAUSE ANYTHING THAT DEALS WITH SALVATION IS SOMETHING THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION CANNOT DO WITHOUT!! Any error that takes away from, or leaves out, the fact that EVERY part of salvation is by the grace of God, reveals a false gospel and those who preach or believe it as accursed ones (see Gal. 1:8,9).
If all a man knew was that God elected a people before the foundation of the world according to His grace and not their works, one would not have the whole Gospel, one would not be saved. One would only be in possession of part of the Gospel, part of that which was necessary in the salvation of man. Election teaches, and highlights, the fact that those whom Christ has sacrificed His life for are those whom God has chosen and given to Him before the foundation of the world. Jesus spoke about it freely: "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me..." (Jn. 6:37). "...that He (the Son) should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him..." (Jn. 17:2). One cannot preach the Righteousness of Christ, which is made up of His great work of atonement and His perfect obedience established for, and imputed to, His people without teaching why Christ died, what He did in and through that death AND FOR WHOM HE DID IT! Once one has rightly, properly and fully spoken about the atonement of Christ, one has made clear that Christ’s substitutionary death was for a people, people the scriptures describe as "...the election of grace" (Rom. 11:5). Consequently, once one has fully preached the Gospel, one has preached more than simply the Person and Work of Christ but also the work of the Father in choosing those to whom Christ’s Righteousness would be imputed and the Work of the Holy Spirit in making these people alive to the great truth that is the Gospel of the whole of the grace of God. These doctrines are not independent of each other, they do not stand individually, but are interdependent—they rely upon each other and each one leads to the other. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5,6). The whole Trinity is involved in man’s salvation. If the Trinity is One, then what the Trinity has done in the salvation of man is as one. The whole of what has been done to ensure and secure the salvation of God’s people is like one continuous doctrine. The Gospel is the doctrine that teaches the grace of God in the salvation of His people. You cannot separate Who Christ is and what He has done from the people He has done it for, therefore you cannot separate Christ from the doctrine of election or the doctrine of election from Christ.
To ‘preach’ Christ, but not make mention of those for whom He died, the elect of God who have been entrusted to Him, is to be silent about what exactly Christ has done in and through His death. THE MERE MENTION OF CHRIST’S DEATH OBLIGATES THE PREACHER TO STATE WHO HE DIED FOR. A statement like ‘He died for sinners’ will not cut it, because a person can think that this means He died for everyone. Saying, ‘His death atoned for sin’, also falls well short of the mark of what it is to preach Christ and Him crucified—what Christ has done by His death—because it can leave the hearer to think that Christ has atoned for everyone’s sins and that salvation cannot take place unless a person makes his choice for Christ. The proper and only way to preach Christ aright is to state clearly that He died for the elect of God, that He paid the penalty for their sins that were imputed to Him, and that His Righteousness is/will be imputed to them. Anything short of this is to NOT preach Christ! This is why the Gospel is a foolproof system of doctrines, drawing one’s attention to God and His grace. Any tampering with it is to always, always, always take away from it!! How can election according to grace not be preached to those who have been told they are all spiritually dead, without God and without hope in this world? Those who do not believe in election, and even many of those who do, are hellbent on keeping election out of evangelistic preaching. They see it as a hard doctrine, something that should not be preached to the uninitiated, but in reality it is the doctrine that inspires hope that there is salvation, even for a people who are dead in sin with no redeeming quality and no way of personally finding favor with God by anything they are or anything they have done. To not preach the spiritual deadness of man, his complete lack of understanding and utter inability to seek and therefore come to God, is to leave some basis for a salvation that is not wholly by the grace of God. One will always find the absence of the deadness of man coupled with a salvation that is in some way conditioned on man. Election is the hope doctrine. That though man cannot save himself, God has chosen some to be saved.
The Gospel is a set of doctrines which cannot be separated, for they are as one doctrine. The doctrines of the Gospel of the grace of God are like a circle, an unbroken circle. They flow into and out of one another. All the doctrines of the Gospel are connected, they are conjoined, and so to reject one is to reject them all. The Gospel cannot stand, it will not support you, if it does not have all the doctrines that God intended it to have. A gospel that does not contain all of the grace of God is one that has no foundation, no scriptural means of support and will, therefore, collapse. The Gospel is no Gospel of grace if there is any room in it for a man to think that salvation is in some way conditioned on what he does. Again, the Gospel is like a circle—all its doctrines are seamlessly joined, leading into and out of each other. If even one of those doctrines is missing or removed, one is left with a disjointed circle and a gospel that fails to fully distinguish every facet of grace required to save a man. It is to end the unity, the sequence, and the coherence of all that God has done to save His people from their sins. So, having seen that no one doctrine can be the whole Gospel, it stands to biblical reason that the Gospel is made up of more than one doctrine; that it took more than simply the work of one Person of the Trinity to save a man; that the salvation of God’s people necessitated the work of the whole Godhead; and that belief in what the whole Godhead has done to save is so necessary to saving faith that one is lost if one fails to know, understand and believe every doctrine of the Gospel of the grace of God. "The Gospel of salvation...should include every Divine undertaking of the Trinity to secure the salvation of those people whom God gave to Christ. It should include everything from eternity past to eternity future. It should include everything from God’s eternal purpose to lift undeserving sinners from the mire and corruption of their fallen condition to their being presented ‘...faultless before the presence of His glory..." (Jd. 24). This, is the Gospel of salvation!"
The following will not be an exhaustive commentary on what the doctrines of the Gospel are in terms of teaching why they are truth. For such exposition, I believe my other books have more than adequately covered the truth of each individual doctrine which makes up the Gospel. What I will proceed to do is to provide a biblical definition of the grace it took to save God’s people from their sins. The following doctrines should all be viewed as essentials to a saving knowledge of God and therefore as essentials of the glorious Gospel of the Grace of God.
In order to properly preach the Gospel of salvation by grace, one must include the doctrine that man cannot obtain any part of salvation by anything he does. In order to properly show that there is nothing man must do to get saved, one must show that there is nothing man can do to get saved. No doctrine teaches this clearer than that which proclaims that man is dead in sin and dead to God. Man, in his fallen sinful nature, cannot understand God and therefore does not seek God. Without God, the Bible says, man is utterly without hope in this world. The following scriptures are a testament to these facts: "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the Garden thou mayest freely eat: 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 2:16,17); "...by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL men..." (Rom. 5:12); "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). 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 that 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); "...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). "...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. 14:2,3). No one in their natural fallen/sinful state is aware of their complete deadness to God. Many people, even non-religious people, know full well that they are sinners, but none, by nature, know that they are completely dead to God and that nothing they can do, have done, or will do, will ever make up for their sin, none of their ‘good works’ will ever tip the scales of justice in their favor and nothing they can do will ever find favor for them with God. This is obvious, in light of the fact that every man-made religion out there promotes works as a necessary part of the ground of salvation. Thus we see that, in order to understand why salvation must be all by grace, and why only belief in a Gospel that teaches all of salvation is all by grace, the doctrine of man’s spiritual fall and consequent deadness to God must be preached. It must be in the Gospel for without knowledge of, or belief in, this vital doctrine, there is room for man to think that salvation is in some way conditioned on him. No gospel that allows this could possibly be the Gospel of the grace of God. The evidence for this lies in the fact that every false gospel that conditions any part of salvation on a man’s works, does not teach the utter deadness of man to God.
Seeing that no one in such a spiritually dead state could possibly seek God and therefore choose Him, the choosing had to be something God had to do. And, I might add, it was according to nothing but His grace, for what else could it have been according to when the people chosen were all filthy, unclean creatures with no redeeming quality. In accord with His desire to save some, which was borne out of His love, mercy, will and purpose, God, before the world began, elected a people from every corner of the globe, from every tribe, language and nation, to be His people. There was nothing these people would, or could do, during their life to attract God’s attention to them, thus causing Him to choose them to be His children based solely on His grace. He did not choose them based on His foreseeing that they would choose Him or that they would be ‘good’ people, but wholly according to His grace. "According as 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, TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE..." (Eph. 1:4-6); "...be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God; Who 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). So then, election must also be an essential part of the Gospel because it reveals that those who have been appointed to salvation, those for whom Christ would die and impute His Righteousness to, those who would be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, were all elected for no other reason than God’s purpose and grace. Election unto salvation "...is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Rom. 9:16 cf. Rom. 9:11; Titus 3:5). According to this teaching, we see that no effort on man’s part to get saved, to be made alive, to be brought back from a state of spiritual death to spiritual life, is necessary or even possible. It is God Who has chosen man and not man who has chosen God (Jn. 15:16).
These chosen people, those whom the Scriptures call the election of grace, and who are called by the Gospel (2 Thess. 2:14) are the ones for whom Christ Jesus the Lord was sent to earth to deliver (see Jn. 17:2 & Isa. 53:8,11). Why Christ was sent to the earth will determine for us what He did and, in turn, for whom He did it. If one does not specify why Christ was sent to the earth one is not preaching what He did or for whom He did it. Christ was sent to save sinners but which sinners? All or some? He was sent to save people from their sins, but which people? The answer to these questions is what lies at the heart of what Christ has done. It is what defines who Christ is and distinguishes Him from all counterfeits. If Christ died for every individual ever born, then what He has done does not actually ensure the salvation of any but its effectiveness becomes dependant on a man’s decision to accept what Christ has done. Seeing that all men are dead to God and cannot do anything in and of themselves to choose God, which is why the choice had to be God’s, evidenced by His electing by grace those for whom His Son would die, we must conclude that such a ‘decision’ is impossible and thus such a death simply could not be. If Christ died for the elect alone, it ensures that each and every one of them will be saved and that they will all receive Him (see Jn. 6:37). This is the only thing Christ could have done that matches perfectly, complies with, highlights, and is true to, the very nature of atonement. Only this death, only this sacrifice, is a true reflection of that which foreshadowed what the Messiah would do, seen in the Old Testament sacrifices of the High priest. Only this death can truly be said to be the substance of the shadow. Christ lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s law during His 33 years of life on this earth, and then went to the cross to die for the people God had given Him. His death was a sacrifice, and importantly, an atoning sacrifice, for all the sins of all those people God chose by His grace for the purpose of salvation. Christ was a Substitute for them. He did what He did for them. These people were given to Christ and so it stands to biblical reason that all that Christ did was as a Substitute, a Representative, for those very people whom God had chosen and entrusted to Him. God resurrecting Christ from the dead was a confirming sign that He was satisfied with, and therefore accepting of, Christ’s work on their behalf. The Righteousness of Christ, made up of His Person and Work which includes His atoning death and perfect obedience, is imputed to all those whom God has elected. This Righteousness is the ground of salvation, that which makes a man legally Righteous in God’s sight. It requires no work of man’s, but stands alone as that which makes a man Righteous in God’s eyes. The obedience of Christ unto death is the sole Righteousness that every one of God’s elect turn to and claim as that which rightly demands their acceptance with God and their entitlement to Heaven. "...by the obedience of One shall many be made Righteous" (Rom. 5:19). Not one of God’s people look to, or claim, any of their own righteousness instead of, or in addition to, the glorious and perfect righteousness of Christ as that which recommends them unto God. It neither gets them saved or keeps them saved. Together with Paul the apostle they say, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 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. 3:8,9). According to this teaching—the Person and Work of Christ having dispensed with the sins of God’s people and alone establishing for them a perfect righteousness which gains them acceptance with God—there is no room for any man to think for even a moment that any of his own feeble and imperfect attempts at obedience could ever be the ground, or part thereof, of his salvation or that his obedience is in any way necessary to the establishment of a righteousness that meets the demands of God’s law and justice. They do not seek to establish a righteousness of their own but believe they are saved by grace through faith in the Righteousness of Christ. Now, again, this cannot mean that knowledge of, and belief in, only the doctrine of the Righteousness of Christ is knowledge of, and belief in, the Gospel and enough to save, for none can believe, or have believed, aright in the doctrine of the righteousness of Christ who do not also know and believe in the other doctrines of grace which deal with salvation. All the people who are the elect of God, chosen by God before the foundation of the world according to nothing else but the grace of God, have had their sins washed away by the atoning blood of Christ and a perfect obedience established for them by Christ Himself, which is all due to the grace of God. These two doctrines are forever linked by the chain of grace, for they are eternal links in that chain.
To every one of these people, the Holy Spirit of God comes and quickens—He makes them alive unto God and the truth of God to the point they see, understand and believe the whole of the Gospel of God, that for which God’s faith is given, that they might be converted: "...when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth..." (Jn. 16:13 see also Rom. 4:17; 1 Cor. 2:9-12; Eph. 2:1,5). Not one of these people will reject any doctrine of the Gospel, or claim to hold fast to any essential grace doctrine but not confess that they are all part of the Gospel, once the Holy Spirit is sent to open their eyes and minds so that they savingly believe the Gospel. Just as no person sitting in a room with no windows, doors or light switch cannot but see the light once the light is turned on by an independent source. This teaching of the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit also rules out any possibility that the seeing, understanding and believing of the Gospel of the grace of God is something a man can do independently of God, without God’s presence in a man’s life, or without the gift of faith used by the Holy Spirit to make a man see, believe and love only the truth. The Word of God says, "Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee..." (Psa. 65:4) and "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power..." (Psa. 110:3). The regenerative work of the Holy Spirit ensures the belief of every doctrine that has to with grace in salvation. Regeneration cannot be separated from the faith that is given to believe the whole Gospel the instant one is made alive.
So, thus far we have seen that man is dead in sin and dead to God and therefore plays no part in his being chosen of God and that being part of the saved ones is in no way left up to some free-will decision on man’s part to be one of those saved ones. None can seek God, so how can one choose the true God whilst in one’s natural unregenerative state. Therefore none of the glory for this part of salvation work is due unto man but totally unto God alone, for it is by grace. Only doctrines of grace direct, and give, all the glory for salvation to God, for grace is a work of God and not man. Therefore a gospel that fails to mention all that grace has done, and as a consequence does not give all of the glory for all of salvation to God, is a false gospel. We have also seen that the atonement, the blotting out of the sins of these chosen ones as if they never existed, is all done by the Savior, Jesus Christ, Whom the Bible says was named so because He would "...save His people from their sins..." (Matt. 1:21 cf. Psa. 80:2). No work of man’s, or effort on man’s part, has contributed one iota to satisfying the justice of God, which demands that every sinner pay the penalty of an eternity in hell for their sinfulness. Also, the obedience that must be established for any to meet the stringent requirements that God’s law demands, was attained by Christ for all His people. They, in turn, do not look to their own obedience but only, always and exclusively to the obedience of Christ as that which meets the demands of God’s law. All these elect ones for whom Christ has established a perfect Righteousness will be made to see, they will all be given the gift of faith and that faith will be savingly worked into their hearts by the Holy Spirit of God. From this we learn that no man can rightly stake a claim that their believing the Gospel of Christ is in any way due to their ‘decision to accept Him’, but only due to the fact that God has, by His will alone, by His grace alone, chosen and subsequently caused His people to see, understand and believe His Gospel by His Spirit.
Finally, no part of this salvation, which could never have been made possible were it not for the election of grace, the atonement and obedience of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in awakening a man to God and His glorious truth, will ever be for nothing. Nothing grace does is ever in vain for it is always connected with the will of God. It will never be in vain for none of God’s chosen will fail to be saved or ever lose their salvation. God’s elect have been foreordained to believe and predestined, or appointed, to salvation (Acts 13:48); the Lamb of God was slain for them from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8); and none for whom He died will ever be lost (Jn. 10:27-29). They have been given eternal life, life which is everlasting, and therefore cannot ever end, and therefore could not ever be dependant on their feeble attempts at obedience. It ensures that they will be obedient people (Eph. 2:10) but their salvation will not depend on their obedience but that of Christ’s alone. The only way they could lose their salvation, by their future sins, has all been blotted out by the atoning blood of Christ. What sin could they commit that would cancel out all that has been done for them? The very fact that God has appointed, or predestined, each one of these people to be saved, alone rules out the possibility that any other fate awaits them than salvation (see 1 Thess. 5:9,10). They have each been given the gift of eternal life and that life they have been given, which also comes by no other way than by the grace of God, is everlasting. Their "...life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). With one voice the elect say, "...If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31) and Scripture says, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth" (Rom. 8:33). God will never leave them, and so they will never leave Him (see Heb. 13:5). Now how could something be lost when it is everlasting and made so by God Himself? How could anything damn a sinner and cause him to lose his salvation, who has been eternally justified by God? By this doctrine of everlasting life, we see that just as no work of man’s is necessary to get saved, so too, no work of man’s is necessary to keep him saved. Salvation is because of grace and a man remains in that saved state because of the grace of God. A man gets saved by grace and he stays saved by grace. This teaching shuts out any possibility that remaining saved could ever be something which man by his obedience could achieve (see Gal. 3:3), and therefore any reason for him to think that part of the glory for salvation belongs to him. A man could never have this understanding were he not made aware, by the preaching of the whole Gospel of Grace, that the whole of salvation is by the grace of God.
The Scripture says: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8; cf. 2:5). Grace, faith, and salvation itself, are all gifts that come from God. No part of salvation is due to, or requires, the obedience of a man to get himself saved or to keep himself saved. Therefore there is no room in God’s Gospel for a man to boast of his salvation, that he has done anything or played any part in his being made righteous in the sight of God, or that he has done, or was required to do, anything to become one of those who would be made righteous in the sight of God. Moreover, this shows us that the only reason there is no room for man’s works in the Gospel is because it is FILLED to the brim with the work of the grace of God! God’s people are not responsible for their election of God; they are not responsible for Christ having died for any of the elect; they are not responsible for the Holy Spirit coming to them and applying the truth of God to them as none of them are responsible for their getting saved, being saved or remaining saved. And if no part of salvation is due to a man’s works, what else could it be due to but the Work of God, which the Bible calls the grace of God, and that exclusively. And if this is the case, which is patently obvious, what else could the Gospel be about but ALL the grace by which God saves His people. None can be saved who believe not in the Gospel as defined by the grace of God necessary in the salvation of His people. None who fail to believe this, or who believe that they, or anyone else, is/was saved in the absence of belief in this Gospel, can be in a saved state.
It must be pointed out that to truly believe in God, one must believe He is Creator of all things, that He has always been and always will be, and that He is all powerful and all knowing; That God the Son was not created but is very God Himself, that He came to this earth and was born of a virgin; That the Holy Spirit is very God Himself and is just as much a Person as is the Father and the Son. These are the absolute fundamentals of the Persons of the Trinity, and without belief in these truths one is not believing in the true God, and therefore cannot be saved.
In light of all this evidence, how can anyone have the audacity to even contemplate the appalling thought of separating the doctrines that deal with grace in salvation? How can these glorious doctrines, which each show the various facets of God’s design, His great salvation plan which is according to, and the manifestation of, all the grace that was necessary to make that plan work, ever be split into two or more groups? How could one of these doctrines be included in the Gospel and the others not, though still be referred to as essential to a saving knowledge of God? The whole premise is based on nothing so solid as sand. It has no foundation, it has no biblical support and therefore is not worthy of belief.
The Gospel is about the grace of God. It is not made up of only one doctrine, for no one doctrine is able to convey the whole message of grace, not even the doctrine of the Righteousness of Christ, for this would imply that ignorance of the other doctrines of grace is permissible and one may believe erroneously about every grace doctrine that has to do with what the Father and Holy Spirit have done—but as long as one believes rightly about what Christ has done, one will be declared just. But how can one be declared just whilst believing erroneously about other salvation essentials? How can one be just but not saved? How can one be just while holding to error concerning doctrines, the knowledge of which is said to be essential to salvation, but not saved whilst believing erroneously about the Righteousness of Christ? As we have seen, some people say that believing in Christ’s Righteousness is enough to justify a person despite any residing ignorance of other doctrinal essentials. But ignorance naturally brings with it unbelief. They say that right belief of all the other grace doctrines will naturally follow on from right belief in Christ’s Righteousness. This is easy for people to say who already know all the grace doctrines, who are not on the other side of the doctrinal fence. But in the real world, there are many folk who claim to believe that it is only by the obedience of One that a man is made righteous, and that it is only through the death of Christ that the sins of people have been atoned for, yet they remain vehemently opposed to at least some of the other grace doctrines which concern the matter of salvation, such as election by grace, that Christ’s death was only for the elect, and the fact that once a man is truly saved of God he can never lose that salvation and return to a lost state. There are plenty of ‘four-point Calvinists’, for want of a better term, who ‘believe’ most of the Gospel doctrines yet think that if they do not maintain a certain lifestyle they may lose their salvation. There are those called ‘Calminians’ who believe partly in Arminian doctrines and in some true doctrines. One of the rudiments of Calminian preaching is that the doctrines of grace should either not be preached or preached very sparingly and ambiguously when lost people are present. Scripture says that a man is saved by sanctification of the Spirit AND belief of the truth. This does not mean part of the truth but the whole truth, and this truth is nothing less than the Gospel of God (see 2 Thess. 2:13,14). Therefore, if it must be believed, IT MUST BE PREACHED!! (see Rom. 10:14). How can it be believed as the Gospel if it is not preached as the Gospel? The truth which one must believe to evidence a saved state must have to do with the grace of God in salvation, for only when a man believes in the fact that God has done everything in the salvation of a man, from election to final glorification, as is only revealed in His Gospel, can he be said to be truly saved. If this is not so, then all that remains for us to conclude is that a man can be saved by believing in a gospel that does not preach the whole grace message, and does not have to, thus allowing room for man to boast. Believing in gospels, then, that allow room for a man to boast would, contrary to what the Scriptures say, be perfectly acceptable. Nowhere in the Scriptures will one find that right belief in one doctrine cancels out the ramifications which come from believing erroneously about the other doctrines which deal with grace in salvation. A lopsided gospel such as this cannot stand. Like a stool with only two legs, no matter how you arrange them, it will always topple over until all of its legs are present and in their rightful place. Someone says, ‘I can make a stool stand using only two legs’. Then please feel free to sit on it, sir...if you dare!
So, be wary of those who bring with them another gospel AND AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE! Paul the apostle made his warning loud and clear: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned: and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:17,18). The believer is to shun those who, while not denying the essentiality of the doctrines of grace, ‘only’ omit them from being part of the Gospel Message of salvation. If a doctrine is essential to salvation, then it MUST be in the Gospel of salvation. There is no other message which deals with salvation, and all the teachings to do with it, but the Gospel of God. Nothing could be left out of it, for the very Good News that the Gospel is concerns salvation by grace. If the Gospel were a person, it would speak of nothing else and nothing less than everything that was done by grace to save the chosen of God. It would leave nothing out because it could not leave anything out. It would be like Christ atoning for sin but not establishing that perfect obedience for His people. Or the Holy Spirit awakening people to who the true God is but leaving them in the dark as to what His truth is. Or the Father electing a people but not basing this election on grace or not giving them to Christ. Let me ask the reader at this point: how can one have doctrines that are said to be essential to a saving knowledge of God, but that are not part of the Gospel of the grace of God? No one is denying that these doctrines all deal with grace, or that they are all essential to saving knowledge, and yet all but one are disallowed their rightful place in the Gospel, which GOD HIMSELF calls the Gospel of His grace!!! There is no difference between the doctrines that deal with grace in salvation, insofar as their being all brought about by grace, which must all be believed if a person is to be biblically pronounced saved. They were all borne out of grace, so what can possibly stop them from being all in the one Gospel of God, which is given to teach about his saving grace! Just like the children that have been borne out of a mother and father could never be anything else but their children, so too, the doctrines of salvation which have all been borne out of the grace of God could never be anything else but the ‘children’ of the Gospel. Remember, the Gospel of God is that which must be believed if a person is to be saved. This means that every doctrine that must be believed, that is essential to a saving knowledge of God, MUST BE IN THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD!! It must be a doctrine that points to or teaches the grace of God in salvation. If it is essential, it must be Gospel, and if it is Gospel, it must all be essential to salvation knowledge. Why would God leave out even one of these essentials from His Gospel? There would be no rhyme or reason for doing so. In fact, it would be an injustice to the Trinity itself to leave out the work of any Person of the Trinity—Father, Son or Holy Spirit. Salvation is by grace and it is the combined effort of the Godhead. Any so called gospel that denies the rightful place of any part of the work of any Person of the Trinity is a false gospel which, far from saving a man, will only condemn him to Hell.
In conclusion, let me say that:
■ Salvation is by grace and the Gospel of that grace is the Good News of the grace of God.
■ The doctrines of the Gospel are the doctrines of grace.
■ They are the doctrines that cover all of God’s grace, which has to do with the salvation of His elect.
■ It takes all of these mighty doctrines to cover all of salvation and leave no room for man to think that any part of salvation is conditioned on himself, or allow room for him to boast about anything he has done.
■ While there is no listing in the Bible of the individual doctrines which make up the Gospel of God, one can easily recognize what they are by realizing that all of salvation is by grace.
■ God has not left the matter of which doctrines were to be part of the Gospel up to the whim of the religious, let alone to the discretion of His own people, but has given us the guideline of His grace as that which will confirm the doctrines that make up the Gospel of His grace.
■ Therefore any doctrine, such as election, atonement, regeneration or sanctification, etc., that speaks about salvation—that salvation cannot be without—is a Gospel doctrine.
■ Salvation by grace must be believed for a person to be saved, and therefore everything that grace teaches about salvation is that which is essential to a saving knowledge of God and His mighty plan of salvation, and is therefore indispensably a part of the Gospel of the grace of God which heralds the grace of God in the salvation of man.
■ Can anyone supply any Bible-based reason for denying any doctrine dealing with grace in salvation its rightful place in the Gospel of the grace of God?
■ The doctrines that must be believed, which are essential to a saving knowledge of God and how He saves, are all contained in the Gospel of the grace of God.
■ Everything to do with salvation is found in, and taught in, the Gospel of the grace of God.
■ NO ESSENTIAL TO SALVATION EXISTS OUTSIDE OF THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD.
■ To split these doctrines that make up the Gospel in any way, and for any reason, is to cause division within the Trinity.
■ It is to create a breach between the Persons of the Trinity by saying that one doctrine is more important than the others, hence the exclusion from the Gospel of those others, or that one Member of the Trinity is more important than the other.
■ It is to say that one can be saved without the work of the Father and the Holy Spirit, or without the work of the Son and the Father, or without the work of the Son and Holy Spirit.
■ It is to say that the work of One or more Persons in the Trinity is not part of the Gospel.
■ It is nonsensical and blasphemous; it is no minor infraction but a crime of the highest heretical order, to cause the doctrines of the Gospel of the grace of God, which deal with salvation, and therefore the Trinity Itself, to be in competition with each other.
■ Salvation is a work of the WHOLE GODHEAD, therefore all that work is taught via the Gospel of God.
■ It is a work that took all of the grace of God to make perfect, and therefore if a gospel fails to teach any part of that work which was essential to salvation, it cannot rightly be called the Good News of salvation.
■ If one is ignorant of any part of the grace it took to save a man, or knowingly fails to believe the whole of grace defined in the Gospel of the grace of God as that which is necessary to save a man, one is destitute of the truth and remains an unjustified sinner.