"THOU SHALT SURELY DIE!" (PART 11)
The Scriptures teach that God will have “…mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth” (Rom. 9:18). Paul, no doubt, often received quizzical looks, and more than a few questions from many who opposed what he taught, from those who protested, after hearing Paul’s preaching on Sovereignty, and election by grace. Many such lost people would have asked questions along the line of: “…Why doth He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?” (Rom. 9:19). “Why does He blame men, since their conduct is in accordance with His purpose, and since He bestows mercy according to His Sovereign will?” The following is the apostle’s reply to such ignorance: “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and (to make) another unto dishonor?....that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, Even us whom He hath called..." (Rom. 9:20,21,23,24). Let us take a close look at Paul’s reply, to reflect on what God has said through him. The first thing we notice is that Paul does not correct his complainant. He does not say to him, ‘Now wait just a minute friend, you have completely misunderstood what I am saying. I am not saying that election is all up to God, and that the man He does not choose to be merciful to goes to Hell without a hope of being saved. I am not saying that God chooses those He will love, and those He will hate, solely based on His will before the people have even been born (see Rom. 9:11-13). I am not saying that salvation is solely of God’s will, and not man’s’ (see Rom. 9:15,16). Notice that the apostle says nothing of the kind. Paul’s immediate answer to his detractors shows that the one who is remonstrating with him was quite correct in his understanding of what the apostle was teaching: that God chooses those who are to be saved, based on His will and mercy, and not their will or deeds, and that indeed none can resist God’s will. There is nothing wrong, strange or unfair about the Absolute Sovereignty of God in Paul’s eyes! God’s basis for election, far from being something unfair, is proper and right, and the only way any could be saved. It is proper and right for God to choose those He will have mercy towards, and appoint others to His Wrath, for there is nothing a man can do to attract God’s mercy. All men, by nature, are children of Wrath (Eph. 2:3). Speaking to believers, Paul said, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us…” (1 Thess. 5:9,10). God has appointed, or predestinated, some to obtain salvation, and others to His Wrath clearly based on His will and mercy. None can shake a fist at God, and say ‘I wanted you but you would not have me, having appointed me to your Wrath’. Have we not learned that the Scriptures state clearly that all of humanity, by nature, is dead in sin and under the curse of God, that there is none righteous, and that none seek after God, and that those found by Him were not in the process of seeking Him, for they did not desire Him at all?
Paul’s first words of reply are a direct assault on the one opposing his doctrine, and all those who would dare come with the same mind-set. They are the very words God inspired His apostle to write, and what God would say to any man who approached Him with such an attitude today: “O man, who art thou?” In other words, 'who are you, mere sinful wretch, to complain against God, to dare dispute with the Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords? Away with such a mind-set borne by the insolence and horror of man’s original sin against God!' Paul shows here that man in his natural state is unqualified to understand, let alone voice his opinion on, the matter of election, and so Paul castigates the man for such an attitude against God and His doings. “Who gave man the authority, or invested him with the prerogatives of judge over his Maker’s doings? Nowhere is there to be found a more cutting or humbling reply to the pride of man than this.” This is precisely why the doctrine of Sovereign election, as well as the God of election, is so hated by the natural mind of fallen man: it cuts right through man’s pride, and leaves him with no room to boast of anything which he has done. It is not the doctrine of election by God’s Sovereign free grace that is in question here—there is nothing strange, wrong or unfair about it. The only thing which is odd, strange, wrong, unfair and out of place in this passage from Romans 9 IS THE ATTITUDE OF THE MAN WHO IS OBJECTING TO IT!! What right has any spiritually dead man to dispute with God over what God has done, and the way He has chosen to do it? “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Gen. 18:25). “…wilt thou condemn Him that is most Just? Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? And to princes, ye are ungodly? How much less to HIM that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? For they are all the work of His hands” (Job 34:17-19). Even a lost man like king Nebuchadnezzar knew that God is Sovereign, and does whatsoever He wills, and that no man has any right to judge what He does, and dispute His will, or object in any way: “…all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and HE DOETH ACCORDING TO HIS WILL in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, ‘What doest Thou?’” (Dan. 4:35). No one has any right to question the equity of God, nor of what God does, or has done, and no one can stop God's will from being fulfilled. Has God ever done anything wrong, or unjust or unfair? Of course not. Shall not God do right! saith the Scriptures.
The doctrine of grace in the salvation of God's people is all about God saving those who cannot save themselves. Salvation by grace is not about man coming to God, but of God coming to man. A saved man is born from above not from below. Salvation is not drawn down from heaven by man, but it is brought down by God from heaven to man. Man cannot reach up and drag salvation down to him, for it can only be brought down by a loving God, and given to those He has chosen to receive it. Salvation by grace does not include man doing anything, for to say salvation by grace is to say salvation is by God doing everything. Contrary to what most people think, salvation is not primarily about man, but salvation is all about God. Everything about salvation by grace draws attention to God, and gives all the glory to God. Any Gospel which turns one’s attention to man, and what he must do, is a false gospel. Salvation by grace is not about drawing attention to man, but about a man’s sole focus being turned to God. No part of salvation is about what man must to do get saved, for it is all about what God has done to save His people from their sins. It is all about what God has done, His Grace, and does not include anything which man has done or must do, with or without God's grace. God does not equip a man with anything which the man must then utilize before God can save him. There is nothing man must do to get saved, and there is nothing a man can do to stay saved, or even lose his salvation, for the salvation he has been given is eternal, and is conditioned solely upon the Savior. Therefore, salvation cannot be by ANYTHING God has ‘enabled’ a man to do, for if grace was about God enabling a man to do something, to either get saved or stay saved, then salvation would be conditioned on the works of a man and not exclusively on the Work of God. God makes a man alive and causes him to believe in the only Gospel, that reveals Christ and His Righteousness, for this is God's only power to save. A man does not believe and is then saved, but he believes because he is saved. The gift of believing is given to all those whom God saves. God saves His people by rescuing them from their dark, spiritually dead state, making them alive unto Him evidenced by their believing in His Gospel, His Record, His Testimony of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Having to be made alive, or regenerated, or the essentiality of a man being born again, shows that man, prior to these things occurring, is dead in sin and dead to God, which is why the Scriptures say that man is without hope and without God in the world. Why would a man need to be made alive if he is merely unwell? Indeed, how could a man be made alive if he were not first dead? Look at the Scriptures, dear reader, and see the words by which God has chosen to express His Truth.
Without regeneration there is simply no life. It does not take any time at all for a man to see the Light once the Lord has turned it on. As soon as that switch is flicked the man instantly sees. Not only is the Light made to go on, but by this act a man is made to see. Man's will has no choice in the matter, for his seeing the Light is not dependent on him, but solely because of God, solely because of the grace of God which is the catalyst in God turning the Light on causing the man to see. Man's 'seeing' does not turn the Light on. Man cannot will the Light to come on, but the Light comes because of God and so a man is made to see. Grace in salvation has to do with God doing, and not man's being enabled to do anything before he is saved, for prior to salvation a man does not need enablement, but to be made alive from the dead. This is something only God can do. Again, the Scripture says that a man is created a new creature in Christ UNTO good works, and not BECAUSE OF, or AFTER, anything the man has done (see Eph. 2:10). Hereby is the fallacious teaching of man's free will not only exposed but utterly dissolved like a vampire in the light! Scripture teaches that a man is made a new creature in Christ not because of any good works which he has done, but unto good works, and so the whole notion of man needing to do anything, whether it be by grace or not, is completely rejected. Being made a new creature in Christ is not something instigated by a man’s works, but so that he can, and will, perform the works to which he has been appointed.
The grace of God in the salvation of man has to do with God’s free will to choose, before the foundation of the world, those whom He wanted saved, and not man's ‘free will’ in choosing God. Man does not trace his roots back to before the foundation of the world, therefore, to speak of a man's free will to choose simply does not make any sense. Whatever does not make Scriptural sense, is utter nonsense. The grace of God is not dependent upon anyone, or anything, except the God of grace, otherwise, God would be a respecter of persons, who a man is, and what he has done, and, consequently, grace would no longer be grace. God’s ‘decisions’ would not be Sovereign ones, according to His Counsel, for they would be pre-empted by the actions, or non actions of man. The possibility of this taking place is, of course, absurd for the Word of God states that God “…worketh all things after the Counsel (purpose) of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). Those whom He has chosen are the only recipients of grace for He appointed them to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ through His death and Righteousness. The grace of God is indispensable to salvation, for no one can be saved without it. Scripture does not teach that a man is saved by his choice of God, but that he is saved only by God's grace through Faith which is a gift of God's and not man's contribution to his salvation. Man has no gift for God, for all that a saved man is, has, will have and does is a gift given to him of God via His grace "...by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10). IT IS SALVATION WHICH GIVES A MAN FAITH, AND NOT FAITH WHICH GAINS HIM SALVATION. Faith is not given days, weeks, months, years or decades after a man is saved but, like the man who sees the light the instant the light is turned on, so too, the saved man is instantly given the Faith with which to see and believe the Light of the glorious Gospel of God. This, of course, does not mean there is no process of learning prior to believing, seeing the Light, but that once the Light is revealed one instantly sees. One does not see the light as it is being turned on, but only after it has been turned on.
Just as no man can trust in Christ prior to hearing and believing the Gospel of Christ (see Eph. 1:13), so too, Faith cannot come prior to salvation but only as a result of salvation, as one of its fruits or fruits of the Spirit of God (see Gal. 5:22), "Not of nature or man's free will, as corrupted by sin, for no good fruit springs from thence; but either of the internal principle of grace, called the Spirit, (Gal. 5:17) or rather of the Holy Spirit, as the Ethiopic version reads it; the graces of which are called 'fruit', and not 'works', as the actions of the flesh are; because they are owing to divine influence, efficacy, and bounty, as the fruits of the earth are, to which the allusion is; and not to a man's self, to the power and principles of nature; and because they arise from a seed, either the incorruptible seed of internal grace, which seminally contains all graces in it, or the blessed Spirit, who is the Seed that remains in believers; and because they are in the exercise of them acceptable unto God through Christ, and are grateful and delightful to Christ Himself, being 'his pleasant fruits'; which as they come from Him, as the Author of them, they are exercised on him as the object of them, under the influence of the Spirit; and because they are profitable to them that are possessed of them, seeing the promise of this life and that which is to come is annexed to them; and the good works which are done in consequence of them are profitable to men: once more, as the works of the flesh are the unfruitful works of darkness, and make men so, and therefore cannot be called fruit properly; these, as they are fruits, and are rightly and properly so called, so they make men fruitful, and to abound in Divine things....though fidelity, both in words and actions, which is very ornamental to the Gospel, and a profession of religion may be meant; yet faith in Christ is not to be excluded, as it is generally by interpreters; for this is not of a man's self, nor have all men it: it is a gift of God, the operation of His power, and the work of His Spirit, whence He is styled the Spirit of Faith; and which therefore must have a place among his fruits; and which lies and shows itself in believing in Christ for salvation, in embracing the doctrines of the Gospel, and making a profession of them, which is called the profession of Faith; all which, when right, comes from the Spirit of God."
Does the fruit appear before the tree? How then can a man have saving Faith toward God before God saves him? For before a man is saved he is dead to God, can have no faith toward the True God, and, therefore, does not seek God. Before a man is saved he is a corrupt tree which can only bring forth evil fruit which cannot be evidence of a saved life (see Matt. 7:17,18). The very principle of salvation by grace excludes anything done by the sinner in order to receive from God. If salvation came after one believed, then salvation would be a debt owed by God to the sinner. Seeing that salvation is clearly a gift from God it must, therefore, be provided by grace of which its first fruit is Faith in God. Every true teaching of salvation always and only points to God and gives HIM ALL the glory, for salvation is a work of God's and NOT AT ALL a work of man's. Just as a clinically dead man does nothing to initiate his resuscitation, in no way can a spiritually dead man influence or do anything which Scripturally qualifies as a contributing factor to his salvation. Salvation is by the grace of God, therefore, SALVATION IS WHOLLY AN ACT OF GOD. It is an operation ordered and conducted by God. Salvation is produced by God and received by man through the grace of God, and not through any work of man's, which includes his so-called free will. Salvation is not of ourselves for it is the gift of God. Salvation is by Grace through Faith and these three are all Gifts from God and, therefore, none of them are by, or because of, the works of man. Salvation does not come because of a work of man's but by the grace of God. It is by grace that salvation and faith are given. Man's believing is only by the grace of God: God's choosing and causing the man to believe. Believing the Gospel of God is a gift given by God to all the elect. Salvation is not a prize to be awarded, or a wage earned, but can only come as a gift given. Faith/believing is a gift of God not a work of man's, meaning, believing is something which is not initiated by man through his free-will, but only by the Grace of God. God takes the first step, and causes every ensuing step of man's to follow. Man believes by God's free-will and not his own. God alone is the Initiator, the Instigator, the Catalyst and the Provider of salvation, not the enabler. Just as imputed, justifying, Righteousness is of God, so too, a man's believing etc., is also totally and completely of God.
The language of the Scriptures is clearly black and white. Man is dead, and must be born again by the power of God. Man is dead, and must be made alive, not merely made well. Man must be brought back from his state of spiritual death incurred at the Fall. In effect, he must be spiritually resurrected, literally born again. Born a new creature in Christ. Salvation is wholly by the grace of God and not through the works of man with or without the grace of God. Salvation is by GOD's choice, by HIS free-will and according to HIS good pleasure. Scripture teaches that salvation is not of man nor of a man's will: "...to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of (the will) of God" (Jn. 1:12,13; cf. Rom. 9:16). Nobody chooses, or asks to be saved. "Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth..." (Jas. 1:18; cf. 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Jn. 5:1). God chooses us to be born again according to His purpose exclusively through sanctification, and belief of His glorious Gospel of Truth (see 2 Thess. 2:13,14). "This act of begetting here ascribed to God, is what is elsewhere called a begetting again, that is, regeneration; it is an implantation of new principles of light and life, grace and holiness, in men; a quickening of them, when dead in trespasses and sins; a forming of Christ in their souls; and a making them partakers of the Divine nature; and this is God's act, and not man's. Earthly parents cannot beget in this sense; nor ministers of the word, not causally, but only instrumentally, as they are instruments and means, which God makes use of; neither the ministry of the word, nor the ordinance of baptism, can of themselves regenerate any; nor can a man beget himself, as not in nature, so not in grace: the nature of the thing shows it, and the impotent case of men proves it: this is God's act, and His only; (see Jn. 1:13) and the impulsive or moving cause of it is His own will. God does not regenerate men through any consideration of their will, works, and merits: nor have these any influence at all upon it; but He begets of His own free grace and favour, and of His rich and abundant mercy, and of His Sovereign will and pleasure, according to His counsels and purposes of old. And the means He makes use of, or with which He does it, is with the Word of Truth; not Christ, Who is the Word, and Truth itself; though regeneration is sometimes ascribed to Him; and this act of begetting is done by the Father, through the resurrection of Christ from the dead; but the Gospel, which is the Word of Truth, and Truth itself, and contains nothing but Truth; and by this souls are begotten and born again; see (Eph.1:13; 1 Pet.1:23) and hence ministers of it are accounted spiritual fathers. Faith, and every other grace in regeneration, and even the Spirit Himself, the Regenerator, come only this way..."
One who has no hope cannot even will to become saved, according to God's Word, for to have no hope is to be without any inherent desire for the True God. Man's not having any hope of salvation is evidence of the absence of the Presence of God in his life, and man's being utterly without God is what it means to be utterly without hope. Man's having no hope, no desire to even seek God, is punctuated by the fact that he is also totally without God. Man's helplessness and Godlessness rules out any use for an alleged free will of man, for even if man did have a free will, God's Word would still declare, that man, by nature, is a child of Wrath, is without God, is without any desire for the true God, and, therefore, without any hope of salvation in this world. This hopeless state has rendered any free will man could, theoretically, have, as completely unprofitable. Man's 'free will' is powerless. It is substanceless. The doctrine of man’s free will is like the empty wagon, which though making the most noise, remains empty of any hope or promise. Moreover, those who teach this false doctrine are like “…wells without water…” (2 Pet. 2:17; cf. Jd. 1:12). Man's 'free will' wouldn’t/doesn't change a thing, for he is still without hope, still without God.
We are told, by those who believe that Christ died for all, that everyone has a free will decision to make—to either choose Christ as their Savior or to ignore, or, resist, His ‘offer’ of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. A favorite verse employed by the Arminian in an effort to prove that man is not dead and can in fact resist the Holy Spirit, is found in Acts 7:51: "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost..." "...the resistance made by these persons was not to the Spirit of God in them, of which they were destitute, but to the Spirit of God in His ministers, in His apostles, and particularly in Stephen; nor to any internal operation of His grace, but to the external ministry of the Word, and to all that objective light, knowledge, evidence, and conviction that it gave of Jesus being the Messiah: and such who resist Christ's ministers, resist Him, and such who resist Him, may be said to resist His Holy Spirit...(see 1 Jn. 4:6)." To resist, or refuse, to accept, acknowledge and embrace the Gospel of God, is every man’s natural state of being. It is what every man is born into. As sure as a man is born, he is without God in this world. To not seek after the true God is no exercise of free will, but the sign of an accursed being who is without hope and without God in the world.
Arminianism teaches that a God of love would never override a man’s ‘free will’, He would never unilaterally choose one man over another to show His grace and mercy towards. Man in his natural lost state, equipped only with a carnal mind which has been blinded by the subtleties of Satan, can only see things from a disadvantaged perspective. Sinful nature dictates that though man is lost he can at any time turn from his carnal ways, choose God and take up His generous ‘offer’ of eternal life based on his own repentance. But, again, Scripture reminds us that man is without hope and without God in the world. This alleged free will to choose, which draws its strength in the mind of Arminian thinkers from the fact a man can choose to do good or evil, which I might add is not always achievable anyway, is a far cry from being spiritually alive to God. There is a veritable plethora of Scriptures, many of which are contained in this book, that exposes man as an utterly dead creature when it comes to God. Man's ability to choose to get drunk, or to drink lemonade does not change the biblical fact that man is without hope, and utterly without God in this world. This Scriptural fact is that man has no will to choose God, or to even seek after Him. No 'good' that a man can choose to do has ever, or will ever, remove the mountain of Scriptures that are united with Ephesians 2:12 which point to the undeniable and unavoidable truth that man is dead in sin, without Christ, without hope and, therefore, without God in this world. When you couple "...there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom. 3:11) with "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked..." (Jer. 17:9) one simply cannot avoid a head-on confrontation with the reality of man's condition before God. To study whether or not man is spiritually dead, is to study whether or not man has a free will. For, if man is spiritually dead to God it is all the proof necessary to show that man can have no free will, but even if he did, man could not come to the true God, for no man can come to God before God comes to the man first and makes him alive. Man needing to be made alive unto God clearly teaches and enforces the biblical Truth that, by nature, all men are dead to Him and, therefore, cannot seek Him, let alone come to Him.
To have a proper and accurate biblical understanding of salvation by grace, is to understand the biblical doctrine of election by grace. For to understand the election which is according to the grace of God, is to understand that salvation is reliant upon God’s Sovereign choice of a hopeless creature based on God's free grace and free will, and not man’s choice or man's decision based on his alleged free will. That it is God’s love for a man and not man's ‘love’ for God which is the motivating factor behind anyone being chosen, ordained, predestined to be saved. In order to properly comprehend election based purely on grace, predestination, the Death of Christ for the people whom God entrusted to Him, and not for every individual ever born, one must look at Paul's Letter to the Romans and the ninth chapter. This chapter has literally been completely ignored by not a few subscribers to the lie of free will. Even so-called pastors during the course of conducting a series of studies on Paul's Letter to the Romans, have gone from chapter 8 straight to chapter 10 without even attempting to extrapolate on chapter nine. What are thy so afraid of which would cause them to take such drastic action to avoid a certain section of the inspired Word of God? Is this the only chapter in the Bible they steer their followers away from, or are there other parts of Scripture they would prefer not to have to comment on of which their congregations are not aware? Most of these 'pastors' are Arminian but some of them are Calvinist men who have ignored, or taken only a cursory look at Romans 9 not wanting to offend the Arminian members of their hybrid congregations. The doctrine of Sovereign election is so foreign to the mind of natural man, and he is so at enmity with it, he even resists it when it is clearly resident in the Scriptures themselves. Nevertheless, spiritually dead man ignores it, and acts in denial of it. As is so often the case, when man has no answer to that which he does not want to see and believe, he simply either ignores, or fashions, it so as to make it fit with his own pre-conceived ideas. They come up with an elaborate theory that they are happy to believe, and then blend their interpretations with truths they are willing to accept, thereby producing a hybrid truth acceptable to their increasingly delicate spiritual palates. An interesting footnote to this aversion of Romans 9 is the fact that no one, apart from three ancient heretical sects—the Ebionites, the Encratites and Cerinthians, believed that the Book of Romans was uninspired. Whilst not denying it was written by the apostle Paul, these three groups “…rejected it because they could not make its doctrines harmonize with their views of other parts of the Scriptures”. Modern-day heretical sects do not deny that Romans 9 is inspired by God, they simply shut it out of their minds, and refuse to acknowledge the truth of what it teaches. No true Christian has any reason to ignore this chapter for it is crucial to understanding the glorious Gospel of the grace of God, and the glory and goodness of God. Romans 9 shows what grace is and what it could not be, as well as revealing who the True God is and who He could not be. (for more on this please read my book 'Election is just not Fair!' at godsonlygospel.com, or listen to the audio at my Youtube channel).
The problem with Calvinists, Arminians, Pelagianists and semi-Pelagianists is that most of them seem to think that believe what they may, rightly or wrongly, they are all nonetheless Christians. That all their ideas, views and doctrinal standpoints are just as pertinent as each other. The fact that they all say they are Christians must never be challenged by Scripture, but blindly accepted on the basis of their sincerity and intent. They say what a person believes does not determine whether or not they are Christians, abiders in the Gospel of Christ, but, it is a sincere heart and who a person chooses to love which are the determining factors. 'We might differ in what we believe but we all love God' are the lyrics to the song they all dance to. But simply because every professing Christian claims to love the true God and Jesus His Son, does not necessarily prove anything. Simply saying the name 'God' does not automatically mean you are referring to the True God. The Mormons and JW's and Roman Catholics 'love God', but does this unquestionably mean they love the True God, or that they believe in the true doctrines of the Gospel of God, let alone the same doctrines? Of course it doesn't. The doctrines which a man believes define the god/God whom he loves. Man does not love a name but the person behind the name. I do not love the false god of Arminianism. Just because he is called ‘God’ and has a son named ‘Jesus’, does not exact upon me any sense of obligation to believe that Arminianism teaches the True God. I am not speaking of the false Arminian ‘God’ when I mention the names Jesus, or God, but what I believe about God, the doctrines which I believe and abide in, clearly indicate that it is not the false god of Arminianism whom I believe, nor is it the false god of Roman Catholicism or Mormonism etc., to which I am referring, but only the Sovereign and True God of the Scriptures. Likewise, Arminianism is not describing the True God when it defines Him by the false doctrines of their accursed gospel, but their own god who is no less than he who has transformed himself into an angel of light (see 1 Cor. 11:14). What all fail to realise is the fact that once a person is truly born-again, born of the Word of His Gospel, only then do they have the Truth of God, only then do they have the True God. Those who do not have the Truth of God, the true and only Gospel of God, have not God: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son" (2 Jn. 9; cf. Jn. 5:38). Those who do not have the Truth of God cannot possibly be led by the Spirit of God: “…when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all Truth…" (Jn. 16:13; cf. Jn. 14:16,17; Jn. 15:26; 1 Jn. 5:6). Addressing believers, the apostle John wrote: “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of Truth, and the spirit of error” (1 Jn. 4:6; cf. Jn. 8:47). “…as many as are led by the Spirit of God, THEY are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). Obviously then, those who are believers in a false gospel are not being led by the Spirit of the Truth of God and so cannot be the sons of God. Those who do not know and believe the Truth of God cannot be born again, for they are not born of His Word (see 1 Pet. 1:23-25). They believe in something other than God’s Word and as a consequence are not Christians, however much they may presume themselves, and others like them, to be.
Only the true Christian has and believes the True Gospel of the True God. Being born again is not the time when God begins to teach His children what His Gospel declares, for this would imply they would and could still hold to error, concerning Who God is and how He saves, in other words believe a false gospel, not knowing the true God, and still be saved. Salvation would then be either by believing the truth or by believing error. Truth, would therefore make no difference. And, if Truth did not matter then believing in the True God would not matter. What a man believes about God and His Son simultaneously reveals exactly what they are trusting in, and whom they have placed their eternal trust towards. The beginning of the Christian life is not the time for debate to begin among all who claim to be Christian, for every true Christian has been granted the same precious Faith from God to believe all of the doctrines of His Gospel and no other. There is no born again creature without his believing the only Gospel of God. True Christians have all been granted an understanding of the basic principle of Grace which leaves no room in their believing for a man to boast of anything he has done, for grace teaches that the whole of salvation from beginning to final glory is based on what God has done, and never upon what a man does. One of the great blessings of salvation, indeed the grace of God, is that God's chosen no longer have to wonder what His True Gospel is. They no longer have violent disagreement among themselves, and conflict within themselves, for upon being born again, born of His Word, born of the Gospel, they all have the same Faith given by the same God to believe the same Gospel—His Gospel—and no other. True Christians no longer have to ponder which are the true doctrines of the Gospel of God for they have all been blessed to believe it, and only it, FOREVER! They have all been made alive unto Him and been given the gift of Faith from God to see, understand and believe the doctrine of Christ.
The key principle which releases the Truth of God is GRACE. GRACE IS THE KEY! Salvation is by grace and the Gospel is the Gospel of that salvation. The Gospel is the Good News, the Message which teaches salvation by grace. GOD DOING IS THE KEY! Grace is about what God has done to save His people from their sins and how He has done it. Grace is God doing, salvation is what God has done and all of this is testified to by the Spirit of Truth in God's Gospel of Truth. GRACE IS GOD IN ACTION NOT GOD AND MAN IN TANDEM. Grace includes within it nothing, nor is it accompanied by anything, done by man. In fact, that the grace of God is necessary at all in the salvation of a man is irrefutable evidence that man can do nothing to come to the true God and that salvation is only AND HAD TO BE all by, and conditioned on, what God does by grace. "...if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace..." (Rom. 11:6). No man attracts the grace of God to him, no man can draw God to him for then salvation would not be by grace, but by a work of man's. If man must do something first, before God can come to him, then salvation would be something which is initiated, made possible, and at least partly reliant upon, and only by, a man's cooperation. If this were so, salvation would not be an unmerited favor, or gift, from God but by a wage earned by man. When Grace is truly taught according to the Word of God, what man does or what a man must do simply does not, and will not, fit with the grace of God. Grace is not something which gives man a slight nudge of encouragement to jump, but the grace of God is that which makes him jump. MAN IS NOT SAVED BY HIS WILL, BUT BY GRACE, GOD'S WILL. God does not gently nudge us awake BUT HE MAKES US ALIVE! God's chosen are not awoken from sleep, but are made alive from death.
Scripture clearly teaches that grace opposes works and vice-versa (see Rom. 4 & 11 etc.). Grace is the very antithesis of works, and works are the antithesis of God’s plan of salvation and so works can never be included in a salvation which is by grace alone. Works are simply not necessary in a Gospel of grace. No work could do what grace has done. A salvation by grace does not need the works of men. Grace is the cause of salvation, so when one attempts to add a work of man’s one no longer has grace, and one can no longer appeal to grace. Works neutralize grace, and grace prevents any need for works. Grace and works impede one another. Believing in salvation by grace is a renunciation of every gospel which teaches salvation by works, or by grace and works. Salvation being by grace is God’s Testament to the fact that there is no requirement for works in the salvation of a man. As the apostle Paul stated, “…if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace…” (Rom. 11:6). “…these things are contrary to one another; and so unalienable and unalterable in their natures, that the one cannot pass into the other, or the one be joined with the other, in this or any other part of man's salvation; for what is here said of election, holds true of justification, pardon of sin, and the whole of salvation.” No work of man’s can be joined to the grace of God, for the presence of works would completely do away with all grace, just as a wage earned does away with any speculation that the money received is a gift. The fact that all of the glory for salvation belongs to God proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no room in God’s salvation plan for anything man must do, even if he could do it. Salvation is by the grace of God through the gift of Faith which comes from God, and so there is no room for man to boast in his free will decision, for God has done it all: "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. 2:8,9). Notice the contrasts in these two Scriptures concerning God and man. Salvation is by God and not at all by man. God does not use man as an instrument to procure his own salvation, but has made him a mere receptacle, a chosen vessel of mercy (see Rom. 9:23). A man is not saved by grace through his works, for this would be a contradiction in terms, but God saves by grace through the gift of Faith which comes from God and is given to man. Man has nothing to boast of in salvation, for it is entirely a free gift given from above. Grace is from God, as is salvation and the Faith with which to believe the Gospel of God. All are gifts, and not the result of a man’s works. If any gospel's teachings leave room for a man to boast in something he has done, whether he attributes it to God's grace or not, it is a false gospel.
In summary, what Paul is saying in his Letter to the Ephesians is that Salvation is all of God, and man plays no part in it. God is the doer and man is the receiver. Man can only receive what God has done, what God has sent to him, by the gift of Faith which is given to him by God and is not that faith which is common to all men by nature. “…man cannot even take credit for his own act of faith, but that faith was itself created by God and implanted in us that we might believe.” True grace always teaches that man is without hope and without God. In other words, the grace of God necessary to the salvation of a man teaches that man without God can do absolutely nothing to come to God. Only by grace is a man made alive unto God, and once made alive, the now saved man sees, understands and believes in the Gospel of God. Man needs nothing more to make him alive, to save him, than the grace of God. We see then that man’s being saved is an act of God, by grace, which requires no assistance or supplementary act of man’s. If any work of man's was necessary to, or in any way part of, his salvation then he would have room to boast, but seeing that salvation is by grace through the gift of Faith so that no man CAN boast, it is made patently clear that all of salvation is all of, and by, grace which is why all the glory for salvation belongs solely to God. Though the Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other men, his boasting was in his own righteousness, thereby revealing himself as an unjustified sinner. The Christian boasts only in what God has done, for without God the Christian would not even be a Christian. It is the Lord who makes the Christian to differ from another. It is what God has done that makes the difference. Like the Ethiopian who cannot change his skin, or the leopard his spots, no man can do a single thing to change his nature, let alone anything which can contribute to, or promote, his spiritual re-birth. He cannot do a thing to change his current spiritual state. Man cannot even take one step towards the True God without the Lord, for, by nature, man does not know Him.