THE HOUSE OF GOD - part 11
Only an ignorant fool could complicate the simplicity of truth. Only those that are dead in sin, and dead to God could possibly turn such a simple truth as salvation by grace through faith into a systematic religious entity whose teachings are dominated by man’s obedience being something which is, not a fruit of salvation, but an attribute upon which salvation itself is dependant. According to this line of thought, the lifeblood of a saved man is not the grace of God, but what a man does in obedience to his idea of God. False gospels which teach the obedience of man in salvation, are saying that works are as indispensable to God’s salvation plan as the Righteousness of Christ is! Man loves to complicate things. In some vain effort to show how intelligent, even intellectual a person is, some try to convince others that this, or that, is not as simple as it might appear. They boast of their ‘insight’, their ‘considered opinions’ which in reality only serve to reveal their ignorance of the facts, and disobedience toward God. The desire to lord it over people, to control, or have an advantage over others by behaving in a superior way, has been behind not a few of religion’s rules and regulations, teachings and traditions. Scripture says that those who are of the world cannot discern, or understand the things of God. This is not some way the writers of Scripture had devised to protect and defend that which cannot be explained, but shows that to know the things of God one must born of God. To know what the truth is, one must hear it, understand it and believe it. One must be given an understanding from God to know the things of God, and to see that they all make perfect sense. Man complicates believe and be saved - disbelieve and be damned by unnecessarily adding character, conduct and conviction of private interpretation to the equation which always leaves man with a non-Scriptural answer, or a conviction that there is no answer at all. Lost man is always influenced more by character and conduct, than by the Word of God. Religion thrives on the must do’s and can do’s of character and conduct, whilst ignoring the already has been dones of grace.
Lost man is passionate about making excuses, and seeking imaginary loopholes, when faced with who is saved, and how a man is saved. Many so-called pastors also offer excuses, and mitigating factors which, to their minds, exempt certain people from the Biblical rule that salvation is by God’s grace alone through belief of the Gospel, and by no other way. Man, imprisoned by his sinful nature, is locked into this way of thinking because he inherently, and incessantly, counts the things of God as foolishness. “… the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness…” (1 Cor. 1:18 cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Many religions teach the historical veracity of the death of Christ on the cross, but all deny the central teaching of Christ’s obedience unto death: the sins of His people imputed to Him, and His Righteousness imputed to them (see 2 Cor. 5:21). All Christ’s enemies count as foolishness “…the doctrine of salvation by a crucified Christ; or the doctrine of peace and reconciliation by the blood of His cross, and of Righteousness, pardon, atonement, and satisfaction by the offering up of Himself upon it as a sacrifice for sin, is here intended; and which is foolishness in the esteem of many; and that because man’s wisdom has no hand either in forming the scheme of it, or in the discovery of it to the sons of men; and besides, being revealed, it is very disagreeable to the carnal reason of man. This way of preaching is very impolite and unfashionable, and therefore despised; it is a doctrine which is not received by the wise and learned of the world, but has been in all ages loaded with reproach, stigmatized either as a novel or licentious doctrine, and attended with persecution; though the only doctrine God owns for conversion, which administers comfort to distressed souls, and is food for the faith of believers; yea, it is a display of the highest wisdom; is what angels approve of, and desire to look into (see 1 Pet. 1:12); is wiser than the wisdom of men; it has made foolish the wisdom of this world, and is what is only able to make a man wise unto salvation; and yet this doctrine is accounted foolish, yea foolishness itself; but to whom is it so? to them that perish. All mankind is in a lost and perishing condition, by reason of sin, and want of Righteousness. There are some who shall not perish; the Father has chosen them unto salvation, the Son has redeemed them, and the Spirit sanctifies them; but there are others who do perish in their sins; wicked and ungodly men, carried away with their own lusts and blinded by Satan, the god of this world: these are they that are lost, to whom the Gospel is hid (2 Cor. 4:3), and who judge it foolishness; but their judgment of it is not to be regarded, being no more capable to judge of the glory and wisdom of the Gospel, than a blind man is of colours: but unto us which are saved; who are chosen in Christ unto salvation; whose persons and grace are secured in Christ, and in the everlasting covenant; for whom Christ has wrought out salvation; and to whom it is applied by the Spirit of God; and who are kept unto the full enjoyment of it by Divine grace: to these it is the power of God.”
Many love to comment on things of which the Scriptures speak nothing of, in an attempt to represent themselves as wise on the matter. They love to raise issues concerning which they believe the Word of God is silent. Several such men have written to this author raising the subjects of the mentally retarded and infants as some argument against, and, therefore, exception to the rule of, believe the Gospel, or perish. The Word of God is never silent. Many believe God’s Word is silent on a subject, because to their eyes it does not make a concise statement on a particular issue. However, the Holy Scriptures are never silent, for they are, in reality, thundering its declarations by what it does clearly and succinctly teach. Scripture does not comment directly on the eternal future of infants that die at birth, or who are mercilessly murdered in the womb, of toddlers who die, or of the mentally impaired. Scripture does not say all infants, toddlers and the mentally impaired will be saved. It does not even say that some of them will be saved, or that all of them will be lost. But Scripture does say that Christ died for the people God had given Him. That the Lord Jesus has atoned for their sin, become a curse for them, and has/will impute His Righteousness to them. Therefore, anyone, be they embryo, infant, child, adult or lderly who was not chosen unto salvation by God before the foundation of the world, for whom Christ became a curse, and blotted out their sin, will not be saved. To claim that anyone is saved, or can be saved for whom Christ did not die, is to say what the Word of God simply does not teach. If all who die as infants go to heaven, not based on Christ’s death for them, but merely because they died as infants, it would, therefore, behove every Christian parent to kill their young children as a way of ensuring their salvation, rather than praying for them, and teaching them the Gospel. The absurdity of such an assertion, I am sure, will not escape the reader. No one is saved based on what is perceived to be ‘special’ circumstances, or situations, or because a person was murdered, or because they were old, or young, blind or deaf, or stillborn, or because they were your cousin, mother, father, child or friend, or because they died whilst helping others, etc. If such were the case where would the loopholes ever stop, and the subsequent excuses ever end? Make room for one lie, and you will soon be overwhelmed by lies, and your whole theology will be governed by falsehoods, rather than the Word of God.
The Bible clearly states that all are conceived in sin (see Psa. 51:5), and the only answer to man’s sin problem is the grace of God through Jesus Christ the Saviour of God’s chosen. All men, whether they are young or old, whether they are sick, or well, whether they are lost, or saved carry within them the sin seed which eternally condemns us all by nature. The Word of God speaks of those who are now saved as once being “…by nature the children of Wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3). All by nature are not the children of God, but the children of God’s Wrath. All are children by creation, but they are not in the family of God, they are not of the Household of Faith, by birth, but only by a re-birth by grace into God’s Kingdom. Scripture states that salvation is by God alone through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ said “…I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh to the Father, but by Me” (Jn.14:6). He that hath an ear let him hear. No one gets to Jesus because they died as an infant, or because they didn’t die as an infant. No one gets saved by default, by a non-payment of their sins by the Lord Jesus Christ. Man thinks he has invented innumerous ways to get saved, however, none of them have ever eventuated in anyone’s salvation, for none of them have ever dealt with the full payment of sin, or established a perfect Righteousness. Man’s excuse-filled, and loophole-laden false ways to salvation are the evidence that man, by nature, is lost and without God, without the true and only way to salvation. There is nothing about man’s age, mode of life, or death, which will influence God in any way to save him. Salvation is not according to anything of man, but according to God’s will, grace, mercy, purpose and love. Salvation is of the Lord, and He gives it to whomsoever He wills. One gets to Jesus, one is saved, ONLY if the Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life for them. Special circumstances and situations never saved anyone! They have never exempted anyone from being judged according to the only Standard by which God judges the saved, and the lost. Human sentimentalism, the romanticizing of a man and salvation, does not consider the reality of man’s sinful and accursed state, and what it takes for a man to be saved. Nothing that man does, hasn’t done, will do, or won’t do, or that which happens to him over which he has no control, plays any part in anyone’s salvation. There are no mitigating circumstances by which God can justly overlook a man’s sin nature, and, thereby, reduce, let alone waive, the eternal penalty which sin has incurred. The fact that Hell is eternal, that there are no reduced sentences, is testament to the reality that the sin seed resides in all men by nature, and if a man’s sins have not been washed away in the blood of Christ, there can be nothing but eternal punishment which awaits him. Only the blood of Christ could, and has washed away the sins of all for whom He died. Hell is not for the rehabilitation, or purification, of any, but for the punishment of all for whom Christ did not die. Salvation only comes by the grace, purpose and good pleasure of Almighty God. Christ is the Way, the ONLY Way, and there is no salvation for anyone without Him. The redemption of sin, and the imputation of the Righteousness of Christ is the only way a man can be saved. THERE ARE NO EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES FOR ANY MAN WHICH GOD WILL USE TO EXCUSE HIS SIN, OR OVERRIDE SALVATION’S GOVERNING PRINCIPLE OF SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE THROUGH FAITH ALONE. All men are conceived in sin, and are deserving of nothing, but the Wrath of God whatever their situation or circumstances might be. Whether a person is confined to a wheelchair, or to whatever handicap has befallen them, a life which is impeded by sickness of any kind cannot make a man innocent before a Holy God. Sickness, or tragedy is not the Saviour. Nothing, and no one, can separate a man from his sin except the Lord Jesus Christ. Punishment for sin is not something which is restricted to the healthy, but to all who were not given by the Father to the Son. Horrible deaths, and murders and tragedies are simply part of man’s sin-fuelled world, the outcome, and extension, of his original sin against God. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21,22). God having sent His Saviour into the world is the clearest of all evidences that no man by nature is a child of God, and the need of grace for salvation shows that no one can do anything to become a child of God. Man is, by nature, a child of God’s very real Wrath, and is in need of salvation which can only be provided by the obedience of Another.
Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, man has always considered himself a better judge than God of what is right, and what is wrong. Man takes particular pride in voicing his opinion on what is unfair and unjust, as well as on what is just and equitable. Moreover, man is often preoccupied with how, to his mind, God should save people, and that it would be inequitable of God to not take each individual’s circumstances, situations, intentions and general character into consideration whilst deciding their eternal destiny. As God is the only God, and there is none like Him, it is clear that salvation can only be of God, and by God. GOD IS THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN SAVE, THEREFORE, SALVATION IS ONLY BY HOW GOD SAVES. This is why there is only one Gospel which Scripture calls the power of God unto salvation. God is the only one Who saves, and He has only one way by which He saves, the doctrines of salvation as revealed in, and by, the Gospel of the grace of God. The true mark of a saved man is his being sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God, and his belief of the truth of God as revealed in the Gospel of God “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13,14 cf. Heb. 10:14). Notice the order: chosen, sanctification, belief, Gospel, glory. Clearly, if there is no belief of the Gospel there can be no glory which awaits the disbeliever. Salvation does not come whilst a person resides in ignorance of Who God is, and how He saves His people from their sins, nor can it come before one is sanctified of the Holy Spirit by the grace of God. A man is chosen to be saved, not through ignorance, or unbelief, but through knowledge and belief of the Gospel of God. There is no salvation prior to believing the Gospel of God, or before sanctification. There can be no salvation prior to the grace of God granting the gift of faith that believes only in the Gospel of Almighty God. Ignorance of truth, or belief in error is not the way by which God saves. Ignorance and unbelief are not the operatives, or emissaries, of grace. God saves by His Word, His Gospel, and not by what a man wrongly believes it to be. ERROR IS NOT WHAT GOD HAS SAID, BUT WHAT AN UNREGENERATE MAN BELIEVES GOD HAS SAID! Belief in error concerning the Gospel is something that can never be validly excused by man, or overlooked by God, but is always the identifying mark of a false Christian. The reason that knowledge plays such an integral part in salvation is that God reveals Himself through the knowledge of His Doctrine, and ignorance of that Doctrine of God means the absence of the knowledge of God. An absence of the knowledge of salvation by grace alone—which is revealed by God through His Gospel—means the presence of ignorance concerning God’s Truth on the matter. Anyone who believes that works plays a part in salvation, has not been equipped by God with the knowledge that salvation comes only, and purely, by His grace. False gospels can only tell you some facts about Christ. God’s Gospel provides saving knowledge OF Christ. It is not the knowledge of error which saves, it is not the knowledge of salvation by works, or partly by works, or by grace and works which saves, but salvation by grace alone is never given without providing the knowledge of the Truth of the Gospel of God, and the faith to believe it. None are saved who are in ignorance of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, ignorance of the true Christ, ignorance of His Gospel, ignorance of how He saves, is what a person is brought out of, what they are relieved of, when they are called by the Gospel of God. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13,14 cf. Acts 26:18). “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). The heart, soul and purpose of the Gospel of grace is to dispel ignorance by revealing Christ. Christ is the nucleus, the crux, of the Gospel message. If one is in ignorance, or in error—which go hand in hand—about the Person of Christ, and what He has done to gain the salvation of His people, then it is undeniable and incontrovertible evidence that one does not know the true Gospel of God’s grace, nor the Christ of salvation. The True God has not revealed Himself to that person. Without revelation from God, there can be no right knowledge of God (see Gal. 1:11,12). All those whom God reveals Himself to, love and believe the Truth about Him and His Son. It is God’s record of His Son to which they testify and have allegiance toward (see 1 Jn. 5:9-13).
Man’s guilty conscience has been stroked and pampered so much that he is now comfortable with the fallacious teaching which dictates that a man can be saved despite his trusting in doctrines which do not find their point of origin in the Word of God. That it is not what is actually believed, but that it be believed with sincerity, is for many the key to salvation. Such ‘thinkers’ say that a man can be saved without the Gospel of God, without believing in grace alone, that somehow a man’s good works can make up for the fact he has believed in another gospel. Does this mean that though God saves through the instrumentality of truth, He also, in certain situations and depending on specific circumstances and with certain ‘privileged’ people, saves through the instrumentality of lies? How could the God of Truth Who has specifically sent His Holy Spirit to lead all His people into all truth save anyone based on the lies they have believed? How could the God of truth save anyone based on their belief of something which God did not say? Likewise, how can anyone be saved based on their belief of what the Saviour did not do? There is the key to why believing in false doctrines contained in false gospels is such an extremely serious matter. BELIEVING IN FALSE GOSPELS IS TRUSTING IN WHAT HAS NOT BEEN DONE. BELIEVING IN FALSE GOSPELS IS TRUSTING IN A SAVIOUR WHO SIMPLY DOES NOT EXIST. Merely because you call the one you believe in, jesus, and that you believe he died on a cross, is no evidence that you believe in the true Messiah. Many who claim to be Christian have little more than knowledge of an historical event, rather than a saving knowledge of Who the Saviour is, and what the Saviour has done for His people. To believe is to know, and to know is to trust in God’s Gospel, and God’s Son. To trust in God’s Son is to trust in Who He is, and what He has done. Salvation is not about trusting in a saviour, but in THE Saviour. Believing in a counterfeit saviour who died for all, past, present and future is trusting in a saviour of the imagination. A non-existent saviour in whom is no salvation whatsoever. How can God save anyone who believes in a false gospel which tells of an imaginary saviour? Especially in light of the fact that God’s people are chosen unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit of Truth and belief of the Truth, belief in the true Saviour? How could God ignore His own Gospel, wherein His Righteousness is exclusively revealed, and save people based on their belief of a false gospel, and still be the God of truth? Indeed, how could God be true to Himself, true to His own Gospel, if salvation can come by believing any other? If God saved anyone through their belief in a false gospel, it would make the apostle Paul more faithful to God’s Gospel than God Himself! How could the Holy Spirit of truth, Who is never without His Sword, the Word of God (see Eph. 6:17), be instrumental in the salvation of a man who still believes in lies? Who has never been delivered “…from the power of darkness, and…translated…into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13). How could that man’s ground of salvation be the Righteousness of Christ, when he believes in a gospel which does not reveal that glorious Righteousness, and the fact that none can be saved without it? How can God save anyone whom He has not called by His Gospel (see 2 Thess. 2:14). How can God save anyone whom He has not chosen to salvation through sanctification of His Holy Spirit and belief of His Holy Gospel? (see 2 Thess. 2:13). The Scripture plainly states, “…if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His….For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:9,14 cf. 2 Jn. 9). They are the sons of God because they have been led by His Spirit away from the lies about God, and into the truth of God. They are the sons of God because they all believe the truth of God. Clearly, we learn from these Scriptures that those who do not have the truth of God, have not been led by the Spirit of God, therefore, they cannot in any way, shape, or form be the sons of God, the lively stones of God’s habitation.
The Scriptures declare “…if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Gal. 5:18). If a man is led by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, he is led away from the bondage of law, and the bondage of religion which always places the emphasis on what a man must do instead of what God has done. Religion says you must do, or you will die. Christ says “…ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32). Many quote this particular verse, but few there be who actually follow up with an explanation of what a person will, by truth, be freed from. Christ is the truth, and the truth of Christ is the Gospel of Christ which is God’s power unto salvation which frees a man “from ignorance and error, and the prejudices” of man’s carnal way of thinking, and from his sin-induced enslavement to the spurious principle that salvation can only come by one’s personal obedience to God’s law. Christ says, “…whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (Jn. 8:34). All those that are led by the Spirit of truth are led out of servitude to religion, away from the lie that says man can, and, therefore, must perform acts of obedience which are necessary to salvation. Truth states that “…Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4). Those who believe that at least part of the ground of salvation is made up of one’s own obedience, who are, in effect, saying that Christ’s obedience, Christ’s Righteousness alone, is not enough to save anyone, are, like all those who follow the world’s religions today, seeking salvation by way of their own righteousness: “For they being ignorant of God's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the Righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3). Being submitted unto the Righteousness of God means never seeking to establish a righteousness of one’s own. It also means never believing any other gospel, but God’s Gospel. Not being submitted to the Righteousness of God is to disobey the Gospel of God wherein that Righteousness is revealed. No such person is of the Household of Faith.
Any time anyone teaches, or believes, the lie that salvation cannot do without the obedience of man to certain laws and commandments, they display an outright ignorance of the Righteousness of God. Those who seek to establish a righteousness of their own are living proof that they are ignorant of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, and follow a gospel which is according to the traditions of men. Christ’s being the end of the law for Righteousness shows that Righteousness unto salvation can only come by the obedience of Christ alone. “…for the bringing in of an everlasting Righteousness; a Righteousness justifying in the sight of God; a Righteousness sinners wanted (lacked), and could not obtain of themselves, and could never be obtained, but by a perfect fulfilling of the law: this Christ has done partly by the conformity of His nature, being exactly like that, and what it requires holy, just, and good; and partly by perfect obedience of His life to all its precepts; and also by suffering the penalty of it, death, in the room and stead of all His people; and so the whole righteousness of the law is fulfilled by Him, and He becomes the end of it, for a justifying Righteousness before God, to everyone that believes: not to him that works for life, and in order to obtain a righteousness of his own; nor to the Jew only, but also to the Gentile, even to everyone, be who He will, that has faith in Christ; not that faith is either the matter, cause, or condition of righteousness, but this Righteousness is only revealed unto, and received by the believer, and can only be pleaded by him, as his justifying Righteousness. Moreover, this phrase is descriptive of the persons to whom Christ is the end of the law for Righteousness, and suggests that for whomsoever He has fulfilled the law, in order to bring in for them a justifying righteousness, faith in consequence is given to them, to receive and embrace it, and enjoy all the comfort and privileges of it.” The law, the obedience of any rule, or set of rules, be they in the Word of God, or injected into it by the spiritually dead mind of religious man, in order to get right with God, serves only to show man that none are righteous, nor can any ever become righteous in God’s eyes by their own obedience, for none can ever obey the law perfectly. The law of God pointed to Christ. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). No man could ever have obeyed the law like Christ obeyed it, therefore, justification could never have come by obedience to the law. Christ is the Finisher of the law, for He has perfectly obeyed the law of God.
“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect” (Rom. 4:13,14). Obedience to the law for salvation is now made redundant, as is all works-based religion, for the perfect Righteousness required for salvation has been established by the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and revealed in God’s Gospel. CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW! Notice the identical language, used in Romans 4, concerning law and faith with works and Grace in Romans 11, and in Galatians 2: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work… I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if Righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Rom. 11:6 & Gal. 2:21 cf. Gal. 3:18-24; Phil. 3:9; Heb. 7:19). If salvation is by obedience to the law, then faith is made void. Paul said if election were by works it was no longer by grace. The Word of God declares that salvation is by grace through faith, therefore, there is no room whatsoever in God’s Gospel for an inheritance of eternal life through an individual’s obedience to the law through works (see Gal. 2:16). “…if those who are under the law, and are seeking for righteousness and life by the works of it, should, on the account of their obedience to it, be heirs of the grace of life and of glory, faith is made void; for if the right to the inheritance is by the works of the law, there is no room for faith; that can be of no use or service;…if salvation is by works, it is to no purpose for God to promise, or men to believe; for the thing promised depends not upon God's promise, but upon man's obedience to the law; and if that is not perfectly observed, as it cannot possibly be, then the promise of God stands for nothing, and is in course made void. The apostle here argues from the absurdities which follow upon the doctrine of justification by works, as he does from the different effects of the law, in the following verse” “Because the law worketh Wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. THEREFORE it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed…” (Rom. 4:15,16). It is the grace of God that makes His promise of salvation a SURE THING! Only what God does is to be trusted for salvation, not what we do, OR, what we are enabled to do. God does the work, and His people receive the benefits. The fruit of a tree has no cause to boast in itself, but by its very existence declares the glory of the tree. So too, man cannot boast as if he were responsible for salvation, or for any good deeds he has done, or even the fact he believes, for it is God Who has given Life, it is God Who saves by grace, therefore, it is only God Who deserves all the glory, it is only God Who has reason to boast, for it is only God Who has done the work. The law worketh Wrath “Not the wrath of man, though that is sometimes stirred up through the prohibitions of the law, to which the carnal mind of man is enmity, but the Wrath of God. The law is so far from justifying sinners, that it curses and condemns them; and when it comes into the heart and is let into the conscience of a sinner, it fills with terrible apprehensions of the wrath of God, and a fearful looking for of His judgment and fiery indignation…That the promise might be sure meaning either the promise of being heir of the world, or the inheritance itself, or adoption which gives heirship, or remission of Sin, or the blessing of justification, either and all of these are of faith; not as the cause or condition of them, but as the means of God's fixing and appointing to be the recipient of all and each of them: which is done, ‘that it might be by grace’; appear to be of the free grace and favour of God, as each of these blessings are: forasmuch as every blessing is received by faith, it is manifest it must be by grace; since faith itself is a gift of God's grace, and lies purely in receiving favours at the hand of God, to Whom it gives all the glory of them…” To believe in Christ Jesus the Saviour is to trust that His Righteousness is all that is required, all that is necessary, and only that which can be accepted as the ground of a man’s salvation. This is why a man trying to establish his own righteousness is not just a vain, pathetic venture, but it is also an insult, a gross blasphemy in the face of the Righteousness of Christ.
The law of God vehemently states: ‘You must obey me perfectly’, thus revealing the impossibility of any man being justified by his personal, intrinsically flawed, attempts at obedience to it. Man, at best, has an imperfect righteousness because man is, by nature, an imperfect, sinful, creature who could never even obey one law perfectly, let alone all. “…if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily Righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:21-26). The children of God are made so by their faith, which was given them by grace, in Christ’s Righteousness alone. The faith which God gives to His people is in the Saviour, in what HE has done, and not at all in what they do. The apostle Paul wanted only to “…be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9 cf. Psa. 71:16). What most fail to comprehend is the fact that a man’s righteousness is just as much a part of his sinfulness as his evil deeds are. “…every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Psa. 39:5); all man’s “…righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isa. 64:6) before a Holy God. Of those who believed themselves to be Christians, but who were not, who sought reward for their wonderful works, Christ said “…I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). “The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” Jn. 7:7). “…even those works of it, which were reckoned good works; Christ bore His testimony of these, that they were evil; being done either not according to the command of God, but the traditions of the elders; or not from a right principle, as of faith and love, nor to a right end, as the glory of God; but only to be seen of men: and very severely did He inveigh against the pride, covetousness, hypocrisy, and uncleanness of the Scribes and Pharisees: and so He continued to do, and this drew upon Him their hatred and ill will.” A lost man’s righteousness is something which never gets off the ground. It just lays there in a sin-sodden mess. Man’s righteousness is nothing but a pile of putrid imperfection, of no use to anyone for anything, much less something to be relied upon for salvation. Salvation does not come by man’s obedience to the law, for no man is perfect, and so, no man can obey the law perfectly. The law was not given to justify a man, for the law of God was a schoolmaster that all the while pointed to Christ as the only hope for any man’s ever obtaining the only kind of Righteousness which saves: the Perfect Righteousness of Christ. “…by the obedience of ONE shall many be made Righteous” (Rom. 5:19 cf. Isa. 53:11).
Does God save a man through sanctification of the Spirit, and also prior to one’s being sanctified? No. Does God save a man through belief of the truth, and also prior to one’s believing the truth? Of course not. Then how could God save one man through belief of the truth, and another through unbelief which is nothing short of a denial of the truth? If a man could be saved whilst in unbelief of the Gospel, then obedience, or disobedience to the truth of God would not make the slightest difference to salvation. And, if God’s truth has nothing to do with a man’s salvation what is there left for man to believe, but that of which each individual is convinced. Consequently, everything would become relative, and truth would be something determined by each individual, rather than by the God of Truth. My friend, this is exactly what is happening in our own day, not because the truth of God is somehow no longer relative, or lost, but because man has gone deeper and deeper into himself, and his own self-importance. “…in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves…” (2 Tim. 3:1,2). “The false appearance of humility in man-made doctrines of worship contributes to a false appearance of wisdom. There is a double falsehood. Furthermore, counterfeit worship also involves, ‘self-imposed religion’ — literally, self-made or man-made religion.” Religious man is more devoted to self, than to anything he has imagined, for religion has enormous appeal for sinful man, and his carnal reasoning. Pride is the precursor to rebellion, and there is nothing more pride-filled than a lost man who does not seek the true God, but rather the false gods of his own imagination. What man has yet to realise is the fact that his worship of false gods is, in reality, the worship of himself.
Clearly, 1 Peter 4 instructs us that only those who obey the Gospel are saved, and those who do not obey the Gospel of God will perish. It’s either one or the other. You cannot have salvation in both cases, otherwise it would not matter at all whether one obeyed the Gospel, or not. The world’s wisdom insists: ‘Believe what you want to believe, and God will save you anyway’! The Word of God says salvation cannot come through belief and unbelief, for the two are diametrically opposed, and, therefore, cannot draw the same consequences, or lead one to the same destination. God would be a God of contradiction, and the author of confusion if He saved the believer and unbeliever alike. It would be hypocritical of God to save anyone to whom He had not given His faith, to believe His Gospel. Yes, God saves the ungodly, “…but He intended that it should be in connection with their believing;…it is the purpose of God to save His people, but He does not save them as infidels, or unbelievers. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God…” (1 Pet. 3:18). He intends that they shall be believers first (see Eph.1:12,13)—and hence He sends His ministers that they may become such in order to secure the proper acknowledgement of the truth (see Rom. 10:14,15). The object of the apostleship, as it is of the ministry in general, is to secure the proper acknowledgement of the truth among men” (see Titus 1:1). Evidence of salvation is “…repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). God justifies the ungodly, He justifies the unbeliever, the child of Wrath, not by perpetuating their unbelief, not by accepting, or tolerating, their unbelief because it is sincere, or because they have never heard the Gospel, nor whilst they remain in unbelief, but by delivering them OUT OF THEIR UNBELIEF and disobedience toward His Gospel, causing them to believe and trust only in His mighty Gospel of grace. It is the Truth of God that makes a man free from the lies of religion (see Jn. 8:32 cf. Jn. 8:36).