THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL OF HE GRACE OF GOD

(part 3)

 

 

This whole matter of the Gospel being a free offer to all was taught around the second decade of the seventeenth century by "...John Cameron in France and England and both then and later by his notable disciples Amyraud in France and Davenant, the British delegate to the Synod of Dordt. In its original form it was an attempt to join the Reformed and Arminian doctrines of election by teaching two distinct decrees of election, one an Arminian decree that God decreed to save all and every man in Christ on condition of faith, and the second semi-Calvinistic decree, that God decreed to fulfill the conditions and give faith to only some. Briefly, this is the notion that God wants to save all but wills to save only some (see the author’s book, ‘Not Willing That Any Should Perish’). It is a contradictory dualism, a two-track theology. Its universal election is conditional and Arminian, and in the light of the notion of a particular decree to save some, it is also only hypothetical." These views were condemned by those more orthodox believers in the grace doctrines, such as Frances Turretin and by John Owen in England. These views were popularized by Andrew Fuller and his system which attempted to harmonize Divine Sovereignty and human free agency. "This trend came together in the Marrow Controversy (17th century) in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland..." which was duly condemned as Arminian by the PCS. The term Marrow comes from a book first published by Edward Fisher in 1645 entitled The Marrow of Modern Divinity, which involved "a discussion about the relation of the Gospel to antinomianism and neo-nomianism". The Marrow men taught the rather curious belief that though Christ did not die for all, He is in fact dead for all! A more ludicrous, outrageous and completely untenable statement one would be hard-pressed to find. "...the Marrow men, while denying that they taught a universal atonement, nevertheless did exactly teach that the atoning work of Christ was universal in some sense. These men distinguished between a giving of Christ in possession and a gift of Christ as warranted men to receive Him. The former was limited to the elect; the latter was offered to all. In connection with this, they maintained that while the statement, ‘Christ died for all’ is clearly heretical, it is sound and orthodox to teach that Christ is dead for all." Did not die for all but is dead for all? How can one be dead if one has not died? Surely to be dead for all Christ must have died for all. If not, then how could it be that Christ has died for some but be dead for all? What could Christ possibly say to those He did not die for? ‘I did not do anything for you but if you believe on Me I will save you'. What could Christ offer to such people? ‘I offer to you eternal life even though the Father has directed Me to give that eternal life only to those He has given Me'. How ridiculous! Just as Christ’s death was for no one but those whom the Father had given Him, so too, there is nothing for the others but the ‘freedom’ they so love that keeps them in their sin and away from God. I have always found the popular phrase, ‘Christ’s death was sufficient for all but efficient for some’, rather a strange saying. How could Christ’s death be sufficient for all when His death was for the atonement of the particular sins of a particular people: God’s elect? It was never meant to be sufficient for all, but only sufficient and efficient for those for whom He died! Clearly, these Marrow men realised they could never say Christ died for all, admitting that such teaching was heretical and openly opposing what the Word of God says. So they came up with this dribble, this semantic and theological gobbledegook that says Christ did not die for all but He is dead for all. I mean, what kind of human being would take such obvious theological trash as this seriously? This does not require faith to believe but an extreme case of senselessness!! It is just as bad as the Roman Catholic heresy which claims that though Christ does not die again during each Mass, He is physically present to be offered again and again to the Father as a bloodless sacrifice on their altars. Of what use could a potential benefit be if it were not real? How could the Savior, Who did not die for all, possibly be of any benefit, real or potential, to those He did not die for? Allow me to illustrate: I have payed a debt on the behalf of another. How can my payment of one particular man’s debt possibly be viewed as something that could favor other men? I did not pay the debt for all, but everyone’s debt is paid for? How could my paying one man’s debt be taken and so twisted as to be turned into my having paid every man’s debts if only they will accept it? Its all just hypothetical claptrap! What madness is this? What could possibly be the underlying factor motivating such utter nonsense as this? Any teaching that the Gospel is to be preached as an offer to every individual will invariably bring with it a universal atonement. Christ being ‘dead for all’ is one of the most basic premises of Arminianism. If the Gospel is offered to all, then the only conclusion is that Christ must have died for all and man’s salvation becomes something which is conditioned on his free-will decision rather than on whose sins have been atoned for. If it is said that Christ did not die for all, then no one has any right to ‘offer’ what He did for God’s elect to the non-elect!! "...the Marrow men very clearly taught, in defense of a free offer, that the atonement of Christ, upon which the offer rests, is universal in some sense of the word. Thus the offer expressed God’s universal love for all and His desire to save all. The salvation which men receive, therefore, is a salvation dependant upon man’s act of faith." The Marrow men, and all those who have fallen for their lies, obviously taught a modified form of what the doctrines of grace have unfortunately come to be known as, Calvinism.

 

"The double track theology of the offer makes coherent preaching of the truth impossible. God wants what He does not want, intends what He does not intend. Authoritative proclamation of the truth of the Gospel can but cease. The unity of the truth is broken. By separating Christ as Mediator of the Covenant and as Head of the elect, even Christ’s Mediatorial Work is distorted, and obscured."

 

A book that has been written recently is not dissimilar to the teachings of the Marrow men, such as Thomas Boston, James Hog, Traill, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine, who taught the Gospel as a free offer to all men. If I may digress for just a moment, it has been alleged by some of the supporters of the book that this author is not teachable because I have chosen not to read this book that highlights the free offer and insists that election is not part of the Gospel. This is rather rich, as the author of this book has refused discussion with me about his attack on election’s rightful place in the Gospel. Simply because a person chooses not to read a book does not mean he is ignorant of its contents. For instance, I have never read Mein Kampf but am familiar with its contents and the madness of its author. As far as the book in question is concerned, I have had some of the book’s contents shared with me by both those who defend it and those who do not believe its premise. Had I been unwilling to hear anything about what the book teaches, I would have a case to answer. But while I have not closed my ears to the gist of what is taught in it, I have neither the time nor the inclination to read literature that has been written opposing, and therefore denying, the doctrines of the Gospel, offering something else in its place. This does not leave me in ignorance of the contents of such literature, but is a decision based on the fact that I am well aware of the principles behind the doctrines in false gospels. I am not ignorant of ‘church history’ and of the various branches of erroneous teachings, especially those that have universalism at their heart. One would not have to read a book which teaches that man must do just one work in order to get or remain saved, to realise it is not Gospel-friendly but rather an enemy of the Gospel. One must not judge a book by its cover, but one can judge a book by its central tenet, and sometimes by its title alone, and realise that it is not a book which promotes the Gospel of the grace of God. Anything that attacks grace, anything that attacks the doctrines of that grace through denying their truthfulness or rightful place in the Gospel, is something that can be safely discarded as spiritual bunk. The enemies of the Gospel would call this convenient, but the Scriptures command it: "Cease, my son, to hear (or read) the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge" (Prov. 19:27 cf. Rom. 16:17,18).

 

As far as the accusation of being unteachable goes, I fail to understand how this applies to one who already knows the truth. Would the apostles have rightly been accused of being unteachable because they refused to listen past the point where they recognised a message as another gospel, one that differed to the one they preached? Of course not. Could you honestly see God rebuking His disciples for not reading books that promoted the erroneous gospels of the ministers of Satan? Of course not. Could I rightly be accused of being unteachable because I refuse to waste my time reading a book by a Roman Catholic scholar which claims to disprove the grace doctrines, and therefore my Gospel? Of course not. To think this way, to reach such a conclusion, is simply nonsensical. Rather than showing up an un-Christian-like prejudice in us, this unfounded accusation reveals a rather childish insistence on the part of those who demand everyone read and believe what they say. If I was not teachable, I would never have submitted to the Gospel of God. To be truly teachable has a lot to do with what is being taught and who is doing the teaching. What would this teachableness have done for me if I did not remain loyal to the Word of God? Once one has seen the principal that salvation is by grace, and therefore the Gospel of grace must be that which teaches grace doctrine that has to do with salvation, what is there that one must remain ‘teachable’ on when it comes to what the Gospel is and how God saves? I dare say that there are many enemies of the Gospel who conveniently label as ‘unteachable’ those who believe it and so refuse to waste their time with erroneous teaching or who fail to be converted to their way of thinking. I might add, just for the record, that the author of the book in question failed to reply to my two emails to him wherein I gently expressed my concern over what he had written. And for that matter, the author of the book and our mutual associates failed to mention one word of the book and their beliefs to me until the book was completed. They all had me thinking that their prior comments about the excellence of my writings was real and sincere. Without my knowledge they had secretly believed differently. But why all the secrecy? Why all the whispers and lack of openness and honesty? I would much rather be ‘unteachable’ than unscrupulous!

 

What exactly does this word ‘unteachable’ mean anyway? What is it supposed to imply? That one who is not willing to read a book whose fundamental tenets are clearly understood, but not believed, is in some way lost or of dubious character? That he is closed-minded towards that which he recognizes as something contradicting the Gospel that has been revealed to him? When one discerns a teaching as error, and sees from the scriptures why it is error, why should one remain open to teaching that is clearly false? If one has read of a particular erroneous teaching and seen it for what it is, why should one waste time by reading a whole book on the subject? If one has been correctly taught that 3 + 3 = 6, is one to be labelled ‘unteachable’ if one refuses to sit and read a thesis claiming that 3 + 3 equals anything but 6, or anything as well as 6? Of course not. Would you read past a banner headline in a newspaper that read, ‘Mathematician Discovers 3 + 3 = 7' when you know FULL WELL that the answer is 6? Of course not. You would not waste your time with such obvious rubbish. Are you the uneducated or ignorant type if you refused to examine this man’s findings based on the fact that the issue of what 3 + 3 equals is a settled one according to every law and principle of mathematics, and therefore in your mind? Of course not. The only reason you might read the article in question is to see how silly the mathematician is who wrote it! Those who would read it in order to see if perhaps they have been wrong in concluding that the answer was 6, are those who cannot be truly convinced that it is. Every person saved by the grace of God is convicted by the Holy Spirit in his heart of what the Gospel is, and therefore believes only the Gospel of God and no other. They will not close their eyes and ears from hearing what others have to say, but once they recognize that what is being taught is not the Gospel but a false one, what further need is there to listen? Once one has been convinced by the Holy Spirit of what the Gospel is and why, one’s ‘search’ and investigation of what the truth is has ended. What is there left to be revealed? If one is to be condemned for this in the minds of others, of those who do not believe the whole Gospel, then so be it. If one is looked down upon and judged as narrow-minded, so be it. Does the fact that a person who has been convinced of one thing looks into another and believes that they have been wrong and that this new teaching is right, the kind of person we should all strive to be even if one changes from true teaching to false? Hardly. Just like the apostle Peter could not leave his Master because of his belief that He had the words of eternal life (Jn. 6:68), so too, a saved person cannot but believe the Gospel of God. A saved person recognizes, just as clearly as the apostles for he has the same faith (2 Pet. 1:1 cf. Titus 1:1), that the words of eternal life exist only in the Gospel of God and no other. He can never leave it, for he is convinced by God Himself no less, that what he believes is indeed the very Gospel of the grace of God. Now of course the enemies of the Gospel do not see it as truth, but claim something else as the truth. Such has been the case for thousands of years and will continue to be until the end of time. To be teachable in regard to what error says is to be unteachable in regard to what the Word of God says.

 

What kind of fool would you be if you were to take this teachableness, this willingness to be corrected attitude, to the extreme? Am I open to correction when it comes to what my name is? NO. Am I, and should I be, open to correction when it comes to what my son’s name is. NO. Am I open to what the gospel of the Mormons says? NO! Do I need to read book after book, OR EVEN ONE BOOK, by the Mormons so that I won’t be labelled ‘unteachable’? NO!! Am I open to the possibility that any other gospel in this universe could be the true Gospel? ABSOLUTELY NOT! God has revealed THE Gospel to me, so why should I insult the Living God by doubting that the Gospel He has given me, and which by His grace I believe, is the true one, entertaining the possibility that what I know is a false gospel is really the true one. Now, this in no way suggests that we should be unreasonable in our belief of the Gospel. A true believer knows what he believes, and has been given eyes to see what the scriptures are saying. Why so many people think that one cannot be convinced of the truth, of what the Holy Gospel of God is, just as much as one can be convinced that 3 + 3 = 6, is beyond me. How stupid would a person sound if they said, ‘I believe 3 + 3 = 6 but I am teachable on this, I am open to correction'. I mean, you’d just walk away from such a person thinking they were a nut—and you’d be right! Its just foolishness. How arrogant it is for those who do not believe the Gospel to accuse those who do believe it of being unteachable, simply because they refuse to read a book that opposes it and teaches another gospel. Rather than wasting their time accusing others of being unteachable, perhaps these ‘dear ones’ should consider the possibility that it is they who are the unteachable ones, that it is they who are deceived, because it is they who have rejected the truth. Such people do not consider themselves unteachable, for many of them will actually read a book or listen to a sermon that preaches the true Gospel. But the fact that they never end up believing the true Gospel shows that they have unteachable hearts! Now, does anyone think that such people would be satisfied if I did read the book they have offered me, but still failed to believe what it teaches? Of course not. I would, in their minds, remain labelled as unteachable until the day I turned from what I believe and acquiesced to their false claims. No doubt every believer of every different gospel out there believes that those who do not hold to their gospel are unteachable because they refuse to believe what they believe. If to stubbornly believe the true Gospel makes me unteachable in the eyes of some, then may I forever remain ‘unteachable’. I stubbornly believe the Gospel, for I steadfastly WITHOUT WAVERING believe it!! The truly unteachable are those who are reprobate, who will never see or believe the truth, and not those who hold to the true and only Gospel whilst resisting all counterfeits. It is the reprobate who are "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7). One who believes the truth can never rightly be labelled as unteachable or unreasonable, because what he believes is the truth and he has the full backing of Scripture. The unreasonableness, the unteachableness, falls squarely on those whose convictions are based on false teachings and perversions of the Scriptures. Those who bounce from one false gospel to another, or from the true doctrines to false ones, far from being teachable, far from commanding our respect, are simply among the deceived. The deceived do not know they are deceived. They are those that are blown about by every wind of doctrine, something that the true Gospel believer can never be guilty of for he is rooted and grounded in truth. When a person has the truth, he no longer needs to be teachable on the matter of what the truth is, otherwise we would have the very bizarre situation of a person being convinced that what he believes is the truth but forever remaining open to the possibility that it may not be! What kind of faith would this be? The kind which God gives? Hardly. This would mean that they would have to read every book and listen to every sermon that differed with what they believe, not to see the kind of errors which those who do not have the truth promote, but to read believing that what they believe may be wrong and what they are reading or hearing may be what is right. In light of all this, how do you think it would make God feel if He saw His people all claiming to believe, and have eternal love and allegiance towards, the Gospel He has given them the faith to believe, and yet remaining ‘teachable’ or ‘open’ to the possibility that they may be entirely wrong!! What utter nonsense! This would be like marrying one person and then entertaining thoughts of marriage to others. I do not remain teachable on the matter of what 3 + 3 equals because I have seen for myself, I have made the calculation and come to the irreversible conclusion, as has every other mathematically educated mind out there, that the answer could be nothing else but 6. Not only do I think I am right, I know I am right, because I am right! On this I am not teachable, as I, like all other true believers, am not teachable on the matter of what the Gospel is. I have seen for myself because God has given me the eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a mind to understand, and a heart that believes, and a mouth that confesses His Gospel as the everlasting Gospel and the only Gospel by which God saves. Anyone who claims to believe God’s only Gospel, but still holds to the possibility that they are mistaken and so read items or listen to ministers of other gospels to see if they are right, are double-minded people and unstable in all their ways. I have believed all sorts of false gospels but now know why they are false gospels, as I know why the Gospel I now believe and always, by the grace of God, will believe, is the true Gospel. I once wrote to around twenty so-called pastors, asking them to tell me what the Gospel is. (This was due to my desire to write a book on their replies etc). I read every one of their replies and had several ongoing discussions with some of them about what they believe, and challenged, yet did not doubt, the Gospel I know and love, and saw for myself that nothing of what they said even came close to disproving my Gospel. I did not write to these men because I doubted the Gospel I believe, but knowing that if there was anything I was not aware of, these men were the ones who would mention it. Am I ‘unteachable’ because I do not believe the false gospels of these men? Of course not! Am I unteachable because I do not, and will not, delve into their books or listen to their sermons to seek further explanation of what they believe and why? Of course not. I have listened to what they have to say, not because I doubted the Gospel I believe in, but to see what they say the Gospel is, and recognizing from their own words that their gospels were all false merely confirmed to me that I indeed had the true Gospel and that they had nothing new to say that I had not heard before. I listened to what they said in order to give them every chance I could, and also to present and address their ‘arguments’ in my booklet. Not that there were any doubts in my mind as to the veracity of the Gospel I believe, but to see for myself what so-called ‘church leaders’ excuses were for not believing it. I am not some johnny-come-lately, but one who has been around the religious world for over 20 years and am more than familiar with false gospels and their false foundations and principles, as well as the deceptive methodology of the enemies of God’s Truth who, "...by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:18). I, like other Gospel believers, do not have to read an entire book or listen to an entire sermon before recognizing what is being taught as either the Gospel or another gospel. This is not arrogance, but the discernment which comes by having one’s eyes opened to the truth. To be unteachable is to stubbornly refuse to investigate and believe the truth in the face of undeniable and documented fact. One can hardly be accused of being unteachable because one will not read, listen to or believe a lie. How can a person who believes the Gospel of God as it is revealed and defined in the Word of God, possibly ever be accused of being unteachable other than by those who believe a different gospel to the one outlined in the Holy Scriptures of Almighty God?

 

Now back to the issue of the offer. As I have already stated, the Gospel is not to be preached as a personal promise to anyone. Nor is the Gospel of God to be preached as an offer to everyone. Now, the Gospel does carry with it promises in terms of the consequences that await those that will believe it and those who don’t. Those who believe the Gospel shall be saved and those who do not believe it shall be damned (Mk. 16:16 cf. 2 Thess. 1:8,9). All those who believe the Gospel will be saved. That is guaranteed, just as all those who do not believe the Gospel are promised damnation. But the only ones who will believe the Gospel are those whom God has chosen before the foundation of the world, by grace, to believe it. This is why one cannot go about like the deluded Arminians promising salvation to every individual, whether it is intended or not. The promise of salvation for all conditions salvation on faith because such a message implies that Christ died for every individual. The Gospel is God’s declaration of man’s fallen spiritual state and of Who God is and how He saves. Those people who believe God’s declaration shall be saved and those who do not believe it shall be damned. Again, as a rebuke to those people who say that the Gospel should only be preached to the elect, and to those who have gone to the other extreme by saying that the Gospel should be preached to every creature but not include the doctrine of election, believing this would preclude it from being a sincere promise and being preached as an offer to the non-elect as well, Jesus the Lord says in Mark 16:15 that His people are to "...PREACH the Gospel to EVERY creature". Notice how this rules out any confusion as to who the Gospel is to be preached to. And at the same time it rules out any possibility that the Gospel is some free offer to every individual, even the reprobate, that if they accept it they will be saved. The Gospel is to be preached, not offered. How can the Gospel be preached as an offer, that whoever believes it will be saved, when the Word of God says that all are dead in sin and none by nature seek (crave, or desire) God (Rom. 5:12; 3:11). You cannot offer anything to dead people. This offer, in whatever guise it takes, is eternally connected to the false premise that a man can, of his own free-will, choose God, which comes from the lie that man is not dead in sin but merely sin-sick, struck down by sin, but not mortally. But none can accept the offer for all are dead (Rom. 5:12 & Gen. 2:16,17). Salvation comes when a man is made alive by God and given the faith to believe His Gospel. It is not something chosen, but given. Scripture says that the saved are a "...chosen generation..." (1 Pet. 2:9) not a generation of choosers. Therefore the Message preached is not an offer but a declaration. What good would it do to offer the Gospel when those who are saved are described by God, not as choosers, but as the chosen?

 

The whosoever spoken of in Romans 10 does not mean that anyone can believe the Gospel based on their decision to do so, it means that whether one is a Jew or a Gentile, if they believe the Gospel of God they will be saved: "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:12,13). "The word ‘whosoever’ just designates individual people and its definition is defined by its usage." It does not mean that if a person does ‘this’ then ‘that’ will happen, but simply that those who do this, or will do this, are the saved, or as the case may be the unsaved. It is a declaration that those who believe will be saved, and should in no way be construed as an offer that any by their own free-will can accept. The Gospel is God’s declaration that He will save His people from their sins and how He will do it. Christ’s command in Mark 16 leaves no room for anyone to think that He meant the Gospel was to be preached exclusively to the elect, or as a sincere promise to the non-elect, and makes clear that the Gospel of the grace of God is to be preached to EVERY creature, not as a promise or offer but as a declaration! As not all will be saved and not all will remain unsaved, this Message is neither a promise or an offer but an announcement or proclamation. As no one knows who the elect are, or who they are who have been appointed unto wrath, the Gospel must be preached to every creature for the elect must hear it to believe it. Notably, the word ‘preach’ here means to proclaim or publish. It also means to herald (as a public crier). In all, the word ‘preached’ is used sixty times in the New Testament. The word offer appears only 27 times in the New Testament, but never in connection with the Gospel of salvation. Many times it speaks of a sacrifice to God being an offer, but never of salvation or the Gospel being preached as an offer to any. To ‘herald’ is to ‘announce publicly’, as distinct from secretly or in any way exclusively in one particular area or to one particular group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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With so many people confused by man-made issues, debates, and arguments, concerning the Gospel and the matter of election and the Promise and who the Gospel is to be preached to, or who it is not to be preached to etc., one quickly sees how this confusing and unnecessary mess is designed to deceive and prevent people from seeing the real issue which faces every man: what is the Gospel? I believe that all the satanically inspired lies and wresting of scriptures concerning these issues have been borne out of the mind of carnal man and are fuelled by his innate inability to see, understand and believe the truth. These lies, which some have turned into main issues, even THE issue, can all be seen for what they are through proper, biblical instruction as to not only what the Gospel of God is but why the specific doctrines of the Gospel are in the Gospel in the first place. The bottom line to every argument about what the Gospel is and what the Gospel could not be, is how does God save? For how God saves will instantly reveal what His Gospel is all about. How is salvation brought about? By the grace of God, of course. What then would the doctrines of the Gospel of salvation all deal with? The grace of God of course. If God saves by grace, and it is that grace which we are to trust in, and it is that grace by which he has done everything necessary to save, what else could His Gospel be about, what else could His Gospel be filled with, but the glorious grace of God? The Gospel is the Gospel of the grace of God. The Gospel is about what salvation is all about: God and His grace, without which no man can be saved. The Gospel, too, is what grace is all about: salvation. But to just say ‘salvation is by grace’ is not enough to preach the Gospel of grace. If we did not explore and study out what is meant by certain terms, we would have no real idea of what is meant by grace and therefore one interpretation would be as legitimate as another. For instance, according to Titus 3:5-7, God’s people are said to be saved according to His mercy and justified by His grace. So, is there no need to go into these terms and find out what is meant by them? If we are saved according to mercy, does this mean we are not saved by grace? If we are justified by grace, does this mean we are not justified by the righteousness of Christ? Of course not! One needs to look at what the whole of scripture is saying and not at some select verses. There are other scriptures that explain what these scriptures are saying, and failure to understand what those other scriptures are saying will result in failure to understand what the Gospel of salvation is. One must always seek the proper, biblical definition of terms. One cannot simply ‘believe’ in grace, for to truly believe in grace one must know and believe what was done by that grace to save.

 

The Bible talks about the grace of Christ (Gal. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:28), so are we to understand that the grace whereby a man is saved comes only from Christ, or is only of Christ? No. There are other scriptures that speak of the grace of God (Acts 15:40; 2 Cor. 1:12) and the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29). The Bible talks about God’s people being in Christ: "...Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus..." (1 Pet. 5:14); "...in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22); "...if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17 cf. 1 Thess. 4:16). But can this doctrine be taught on its own? Are we to separate it from the other doctrines that speak of salvation? No. We must ask ourselves, ‘How did these people get to be in Christ?’ Was it through the Person and Work of Christ? Was it through their ‘free-will’ choice? How did these people get to be the ones Christ would die for? Scripture tells us plainly: "...OF HIM are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). Galatians 1:6 talks about "..Him that called you into the grace of Christ..." One needs to be in the grace of Christ to be saved, but equally important is how you get there. It is God the Father who has placed His elect ones in Christ to receive the benefits of Christ, for Christ is the Savior sent of God to redeem His people. Of a surety, the Christian is justified "...through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus", but this redemption is "...by His grace..." (Rom. 3:24), by God’s grace. The redemption that is in Christ could never have been were it not for the grace of God, and can therefore never be preached separately from that grace which is just as responsible for election and regeneration as it is for redemption. The following passage of Scripture shows clearly how the whole Trinity is involved in the salvation and preservation of the elect: "Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:21,22). As with Paul the apostle, so it is with all God’s children: "...The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the word of His mouth" (Acts 22:14 cf. Jn. 10:27). Any Gospel that neglects to preach what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done in salvation, is a gospel that stands opposed to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Just as "...without Him (Jesus) was not any thing made that was made" (Jn. 1:3), so too, without the Trinity there is not anyone saved who are saved.

 

To preach grace is to preach the specifics of grace. Grace is not simply a word. It is that by which all that salvation required has been done: election, atonement, imputation, redemption, regeneration, justification, sanctification, faith, repentance etc., have all been made possible by and come by the means of grace. By grace ye are saved through election, atonement, imputation, etc. To preach grace is to preach all that was done by that grace in the election, salvation and preservation of God’s people. When one hears the term ‘Gospel’, one must remind oneself that the Gospel is the Good News of God. "Our English word ‘Gospel’ comes from a combination of ‘God’ which means ‘good’ and ‘spell’ which means ‘talk.’ The Gospel is ‘Godspell’ or ‘good talk.’ In the Scriptures it is the Message concerning the salvation of the people of Christ as it has been accomplished by the blessed Trinity." This good news comes in light of the bad news of the fall of man, that every man by nature is dead in sin and dead to God. Man’s condition is a hopeless one. He is without God and therefore, in this condition, is without any hope of salvation (see Matt. 19:25,26 & Eph. 2:12). Without the good news of God there is only bad news, which man has brought upon himself by his disobedience to God in the person of Adam (see Rom. 5:12). As man is now dead in sin, without God and without hope in the world, the only way any person can be rescued from this cursed spiritual state is by the glorious grace of God—all that has been done by grace. Grace is the key that unlocks the door to salvation. Grace lies behind everything that had to be done in the salvation of man. This is why the Gospel is called the Gospel of the grace of God. Whether we are talking about the work of the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit in salvation, it is by grace that They did what has been done. Not one part of salvation is without the grace of God, and so a gospel that fails to include within it all of the grace that was necessary to save God’s people from their sins, is a false gospel, another gospel, and not that Gospel the Scriptures define as the Gospel of the grace of God. And this grace is the key to identifying which doctrines are in the Gospel—what it is that God, in His Triune greatness, had to do in order to save anyone. The Gospel of grace will take you from the very beginning of God’s salvation plan right through to its end, and covers everything in-between. Now, can you picture even for an instant the Gospel of God containing anything short of the whole of the grace of God it took to save His people? Why would, and how could, anyone leave out any part of the story of grace in salvation when proclaiming the Gospel that was ‘formed’ to define and make manifest the grace of God? No man can be saved without the grace of God, so it stands to biblical reason that no man can be saved without all of the grace of God. No man can be saved without the grace of God, so how can any man be saved who does not know or believe in that whole grace-based salvation plan? When God says by grace ye are saved, it is a given that He means ALL the grace of God, all that it took to save. No one can rightly deny that saved means totally and forever saved, so too, none can deny from a biblical standpoint the fact that grace means total grace. Total grace, the Work of God, shuts out everyone else’s work as necessary to salvation. So a gospel that does not do the same, a gospel which fails to articulate every last drop of the grace it took to get a man saved and keep a man saved, is a false gospel. WHY? Why must it be all of grace in the Gospel? Why not only Christ, as our enemies have contended, after all grace reigns through righteousness (Rom. 5:21)? The answer to the first of the above questions, Why must the Gospel be all of grace, is: anything to do with salvation that is not covered by grace, that is not preached and believed, leaves room for man to boast. It leaves room for man to glory in what he has done and not solely in what God has done. The second question, Why not only Christ, is a misleading assumption because, as we have seen, to fully and properly preach Christ one must preach what He did and for whom He did it, as these details define, and are therefore that by which we can identify, the true Messiah from the false. As the whole Trinity was involved in the salvation of God’s people, what the whole Trinity has done must be in the Gospel of the grace of God in the salvation of His people. As for grace reigning through righteousness, it did not only take Christ to ensure the salvation of His people. They had to be elected by the Father and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The context of Romans 5:21 includes sin reigning unto death: "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." This means sin has produced death, or is the cause behind death. The words reigned and reign carry the same meaning. In light of this, we see that in like manner, grace reigns unto life, eternal life. Grace is the cause of life "...and this through righteousness by Jesus Christ our Lord, through the power and efficacy of Christ." Some think, ‘What good would grace have done if not for the Righteousness of Christ?’ But they fail to realise that there would be no Righteousness of Christ, indeed no Savior at all, were it not for the grace, will and purpose of God. His desire to save His people. It is grace which has effected righteousness, it is grace which has caused righteousness to be, by which the elect can be saved. It is grace that reigns supreme over all, for there would be no salvation without it. Our enemies say, ‘See, the Scripture does not say grace reigns through election'. This is true, the Scripture does not say grace reigns through election, but neither does it say that grace reigns through regeneration or sanctification or repentance etc., but does this mean that one can be, or is, saved without these things? Does the fact that grace reigns through righteousness rule out the necessity of anything else in the salvation process? Can a man who has the Righteousness of Christ be saved without being regenerated, or without first having been elected? What foolishness! A man who has the Righteousness of Christ IS regenerated and therefore must have been elected! Does it mean that all one needs is righteousness, that one does not require election or regeneration or sanctification to be saved? That one is saved by grace through righteousness alone? That no other act was necessary in the salvation of a man? That righteousness did not first require a people to be elected so it could make them righteous? Or that righteousness can save a man without the act of grace that causes those people to whom it is imputed to be regenerated? Of course not! Righteousness is what puts a man in right standing with God, but how that man got to be one to whom righteousness would be imputed is just as vital as the righteousness itself. Righteousness is that which is given unto a man by grace that he might stand approved before God, but all those who receive this righteousness must first have been elected and regenerated. You cannot split righteousness from the other salvation doctrines; you cannot separate man’s standing blameless before God from the fact that he is also an elected and regenerated person. Righteousness is that whereby a man is justified, but don’t ever lose sight of the fact that righteousness justifies an elected people.

 

Nowhere in the Scriptures is it more clearly stated that the Gospel of God is "the Gospel of the grace of God" than in Acts 20:24, but there are many other passages where this is confirmed. Acts 14:3 (cf. Acts 20:32) refers to the Gospel as "the word of His grace" (see Acts 14:7 for a contextual confirmation that this word of grace is in fact referring to the Gospel). In Acts 15:7 we see "...the Word of the Gospel..." being spoken of, and grace is mentioned as that by which people are saved in Acts 15:11: "...we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved..." As we have seen, the Gospel cannot only contain within it the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also includes the grace of God—His election of those Christ was sent to save, and the grace behind the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit without which none could be saved. From these verses in Acts 14 & 15 we see that the words Gospel and grace are often, if not always, synonymous terms. Therefore when one is talking of the Gospel, one is talking of grace in salvation, and vice versa. The fact that a man even believes the Gospel, is attributed to grace: "...which had believed through grace" (Acts 18:27). Romans 3:24 informs us that the saved are "...justified freely by His grace..." (cf. Titus 3:7). Election unto salvation is also all by the grace of God (see Rom. 11:5,6). The believer is "...called by His grace" (Gal. 1:15), while 2 Thessalonians 2:14 tells the believer that God "...called you by our Gospel..." Again, we see grace and Gospel used synonymously. The elect were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and were "...predestinated...unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:5,6). Ephesians 2:5 and 2:8 both state that "by grace ye are/are ye saved", while Paul, in Ephesians 1:13, calls the Gospel "...the Gospel of your salvation..." Paul teaches further on in Ephesians 3 of "...the dispensation of the grace of God...How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery...as it is now revealed unto His apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs...and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel" (Eph. 3:2,3,5,6). Here we see the dispensation of the grace of God being that which is revealed in and through His Mighty Gospel, hence the Gospel is of the grace of God and about the grace of God. Grace and the Gospel are also connected in Paul’s second letter to Timothy: "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, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light THROUGH THE GOSPEL" (2 Tim. 1:9 & 10). Notice that the grace of God it took to call, or summon, His people is now made manifest by the appearing of Christ. "It is God Who both calls and chooses those who shall be saved" (see 2 Pet. 1:10). God calling and choosing His people is irrevocably connected to Christ Jesus the Lord, as this calling, according to His purpose and grace before the world began, is made manifest by the appearance of Christ. How is this calling made manifest? By the appearance of Christ. The Lord Jesus says "...Behold I and the children which God hath given Me" (Heb. 2:13 cf. Jn. 17:2). Christ is the very evidence of election, and what He did confirms that the benefactors of what He would do would indeed be those whom God had called and chosen! The very presence of the Savior in a world of spiritually dead people is testament to the fact that God sent Him and that God would save people from their sins. Which people? Why, the elect—those whom He has called and chosen according to His grace before the world began. Titus 2:11 talks about "...the grace of God that bringeth salvation". Without grace there can be no salvation.

 

Now what exactly is grace referring to in all these passages of Scripture? Is it, as our enemies claim, a reference to the Person and Work of Christ purely and exclusively, or is it referring to the outworking of God’s whole plan of salvation? If grace were only a reference to the Righteousness of Christ, then salvation required nothing but the Second Person of the Trinity to be a perfectly fulfilled plan. Salvation, then, would not have required the grace it took to elect the people Christ was to die for. Salvation would not have required the grace by which the Holy Spirit quickens the hearts and minds of those elect ones. This type of thinking has led some to conceive a gospel so mangled, so twisted, so truncated, so perverted as to leave out the bulk of the work of grace in salvation. Subscribers to such warped thinking as this are partakers with those who have ransacked the Gospel of grace, leaving only one doctrine behind. They are left with a gospel that is only about the Righteousness of Christ, the belief of which establishes justification but not salvation. But the Scriptures do not call the Gospel ‘the Gospel of your justification’, but rather the "Gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13). It is simple: believe the Gospel and you are saved. Now salvation, of course, includes within it justification, but to separate the two in terms of a person being justified but not saved, or saved but not justified, is sheer lunacy. Nowhere in the Scriptures will you read of anyone who is a justified but not saved, believing-in-the-whole-Gospel-of-the-grace-of-God, person. Those who are saved believe the whole Gospel and not just part of it.

 

Surprisingly, the word justification is used only 3 times in the entire Bible and is found in three verses from two chapters in the Book of Romans: 4:25; 5:16,18. Nowhere is the Gospel referred to as the Gospel of justification. Romans 8:30 talks about the elect being "...called...justified...and...glorified". Now can anyone honestly say that to be called, justified and glorified is not to be saved? Of course not. A saved person is a person who believes in the whole Gospel of the grace of God, which Gospel reveals the righteousness of Christ by which a man is justified. Justification is part and parcel of being saved, it comes by being saved. Justification and salvation are two sides to the same coin. Again, no one in their right mind could possibly concur with the silly belief that separates justification from salvation in terms of having one but not the other. To be justified IS to be saved, and to be saved is to evidence a justified state. To be justified is the kernel, the very essence of being saved. If you are saved you have been justified and if you are justified you are saved. In the New Testament, the words justified (26 times), justifier (1), justifieth (2) and justify (4) mean to render (ie. show or regard as) just or innocent, holy, just, meet, righteous, to deem to be right. The word justification means righteousness and also acquittal. Justification "Denotes the act of pronouncing righteousness...signifying the establishment of a person as just by acquittal from guilt. Romans 5:18 ‘justification of life’ means ‘justification which results in life’ (cf. Rom. 5:21). That God justifies the believing sinner on the grounds of Christ’s death, involves His free gift of life." How can anyone walking around in such a state—innocent, acquitted from all guilt and possessing the free gift of eternal life—not be in a saved state? Justification by Christ can never be, whilst there is an absence of belief in the whole Gospel of grace. Justification by Christ can never be, whilst there is an absence of the grace that gives faith to His people to believe in the whole plan of salvation founded on grace, as it is revealed in the Gospel. One is not believing in Christ, one is not saved, if one is ignorant of, or mistaken about, who He died for—the elect of God—and therefore what He has done. As one cannot separate the person of Christ from the Work of Christ, so too, one cannot preach Christ’s Person or Work without specifying for whom He died, for this reveals what He has actually done, accomplished, in and by His death. You cannot separate Christ from His people: "For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one..." Jesus says, "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me" (Heb. 2:11,13). To preach Christ aright we must declare what He has done, and to do this in a biblically accurate way, we must proclaim who He did it for and how they got to be the ones He would lay down His life for, and how they came to be the ones given, or entrusted, to Him. The doctrine of election teaches that God the Father chose, before the foundation of the world and according to His grace alone, those whom He would give, or entrust, to His Son to die for, to be a Representative of, to be a Substitute for, and that all of their salvation would be conditioned on His Son, Jesus. Absence of the knowledge of who Christ died for and what He did for those people is the conclusive evidence that Christ has not been fully preached, and therefore cannot be believed in to the point of being justified. To know and believe Christ is to know and believe what He has done to justify His people. To preach Christ aright is to preach the remission of the sins of His people and no others. Christ Himself said, "...repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations..." (Lk. 24:47). This remission of sins is never preached in a general way so as to lead its hearers to think for one moment that all sins of all people have been dealt with by Christ, but only and always in a way that leaves the listeners in no doubt as to whose sins are being spoken about (see Isa. 53:8; Matt. 1:21; 1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:4; Heb. 1:3; 1 Jn. 3:5; 4:10). The doctrine of Christ’s obedience unto death must be consistent with all the other grace doctrines, which are essentials to a right and saving knowledge of God. "With our justification God simultaneously performs the miracle of regeneration." If you have justification you are saved, and if you are saved you are in a justified state. To have one is to always have the other. A person is not justified and later saved, and a person cannot be saved and not be justified.