WHO HATH BELIEVED OUR REPORT? (PART 10)
The bottom line to the feelings expressed in the above objection is the same tired argument that says that God will save those who are sincere enough and faithful enough to what they do know, even though they don’t know much or are intellectually challenged when it comes to understanding and believing the Gospel. This kind of thinking readily appeals to the carnal, unregenerate mind because it leaves the way to salvation open for man to believe what he feels comfortable with, or whatever he is ‘capable’ of believing. In other words, though man by nature hates God, he does not hate religion and though he does not understand the true God, he claims to and thereby is convinced that the one he seeks must be the true God. This is a humanist gospel because it puts what man thinks and feels ahead of what God says. The reason why so many people believe false gospels is because of the absence of the true God in them! They have carnal minds which cannot understand or lead a person to seek the true God, hence their attraction to gospels that do not preach the true God. There is one thing unregenerate people love about the true God and that is His absence from the gospels they believe in! The first temptation man ever faced was a direct one from Satan. In the Garden of Eden Satan tempted Eve to disobey God by providing her with his interpretation, his version, of what would happen, of the truth God had told Adam, if she ate of the forbidden fruit. ‘Don’t believe it the way God said it’ was behind Satan’s words, ‘but believe what I tell you the truth is’. This is the foundation of all false religion. ‘Don’t believe what God has said, or what He meant by what He said, but believe Satan’s version of what God said or meant.’ Don’t believe God’s ministers when they preach the Gospel and say that none can be saved who do not believe it, but believe Satan’s ministers, as they provide a user-friendly interpretation of what God meant that is far more appealing to man’s spiritual taste buds, that makes provision for belief in error rather than pronouncing a curse on all who do not believe the Gospel. If it doesn’t suit your particular religious bent, then simply look for what does, is Satan’s motto. If those you preach to are getting upset at what you are saying, just change it to suit so that everyone will be comfortable, or just don’t speak about it at all! Scripture mentions such people, doesn’t it, in 2 Timothy 4:3: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." The true ministers of God may not tell you what you want to hear, but they will tell you what you need to hear. The Christian is different. He is made so by the grace of God, whereby he has been given the faith of God to believe His Gospel as the only means to salvation. He will not turn away from the Gospel, because he has been affixed to it by the adhesive of faith! It is the Gospel he believes at the beginning of his Christian life and remains the Gospel he believes to the end of his life and beyond. There is no doctrinal metamorphosis after one has been born again; doctrinal allegiances are not changed after one has been born again, born of the Gospel, for being born again is a sign one HAS ALREADY gone from a false gospel to the true. Jesus is the Way, Jesus is the Truth and Jesus is the Life, and this Jesus is revealed only in the Gospel of God. If anyone thinks they can be saved without knowing that Gospel, or before they ever believed in the Jesus it defines, they are among men the most deluded. Woe unto those who embrace the darkness with open arms believing it to be light.
Only our enemies have said that we condition salvation on knowledge. Incredibly, even those who claim to believe the doctrines of our Gospel have falsely accused us of conditioning salvation on knowledge because we maintain the biblical tenet that those who do not believe the Gospel are lost. We have never said salvation is conditioned on knowledge and the word of God has never said this. Knowledge of the Gospel is not so much a condition of salvation as it is the evidence of it. Now, humanly speaking it can seem to be a condition, but not in the sense that it is something we must attain to. If Paul’s response to the question, 'What must I do to be saved?’ was believe, then of course one must believe to be saved, and one cannot believe if one is ignorant of that which is to be believed in. This is said, not in order to teach a man that he must meet a condition before he can be saved, but to highlight the fact he cannot be saved without the grace and faith of God. It is designed to take his eyes off of himself and onto God, the one upon whose grace ALL of salvation is conditioned. Knowledge of the Gospel is not an achievement of ours, it is not a condition we have met, but is the gift of God. Saving knowledge is therefore not conditioned on ourselves but wholly on the grace of God. If knowledge of the Gospel were a condition man could fulfill, in and of himself, in order to be saved, then salvation would not be something conditioned solely on the grace of God. So to accuse us of saying that before being saved we must by some effort on our part find out what the Gospel is and then believe it, is to present a straw man argument. By all means search the Scriptures etc., but if and when you come to a saving knowledge of the Gospel it will not be because you have met some condition, but purely because of the grace of God. The Bible says that there is no salvation without believing the Gospel of God. How then can one believe it without knowing it, without a knowledge of it? We have seen that the apostle Paul prayed for the salvation of those Jews who showed extreme zeal for God, because their zeal was not according to the correct revealed knowledge of God. No one is saved without faith and so no one is saved without the revealed knowledge of God that saving faith is given to believe. Again, how can our Gospel condition salvation on knowledge when it plainly states that all of salvation is conditioned on Christ? Yes, we must believe the Gospel but this belief, this faith, is a gift of God’s, not something we have attained through any independant effort of our own. IT IS NOT A CONDITION WE HAVE MET BUT A GIFT WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN! Therefore salvation is not conditioned on man, but totally on the grace of God and not on any effort on the part of, or any goal reached by, man. Salvation knowledge is the evidence that a man is saved and without this evidence no man can be saved or rightly be said to be saved. What those who operate within the bounds of the carnal mind have assumed is that we say salvation is all about man achieving a certain acceptable level of knowledge and that everyone has to reach that level in order to be qualified to be saved; that if you study enough and gain enough knowledge, you too can be saved, which by definition means that this knowledge is a work of man’s. But we join with the Scriptures in saying, the saving knowledge of God as He is revealed in His Gospel is not a work but a gift, a gift so indispensable, so absolutely essential to salvation, that one cannot be saved without it. The jailer who asked what he must do to be saved was told to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. So obviously there is nothing else to conclude but that before he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in His Father’s Gospel, the jailer was not saved. He did not have the right knowledge, so therefore his ignorance was an unmistakable sign of his lostness. So we see that, as with all of salvation, saving knowledge of the Gospel is conditioned on God’s gift of grace. Yet again we see the straw man argument being put forth by those who are so biased against the truth of Scripture that they cannot see their utter disdain for God’s own rulings, which underpins their rejection of our Gospel. A saved man is not one who has gained his salvation through his knowledge, but one to whom God has REVEALED Himself and has done so, and could only have done so, through the doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!! This is not semantics, but a matter of grace versus works. The Christian is saved because of grace, and through that grace comes the gift of faith to believe in the right knowledge of God as it is contained in the Gospel of God. You see, salvation is not about what man has to do or know to get saved, but about God revealing Himself to a man, bringing that man out of doctrinal darkness where dwells every false god, and bringing him into His marvellous Light where He, the God and Savior of the Universe, and all His people dwell. No man can savingly believe the Gospel without the grace of God, therefore a saved man’s ‘knowing’ is not a work of his but a gift from God. What gets a man saved is not his ability or inability to believe the truth, but God revealing that truth to him through the Gospel, wherein the righteousness of Christ is revealed, and providing the faith with which to believe it. Salvation involves both a revelation and reception of the Gospel of God. The revelation of it is by God’s grace and the reception of it is only made possible by God’s grace through faith, which He gives to each one of His elect through the work of the Holy Spirit. Importantly, this faith from God is given not so that a man will remain ignorant of the Gospel, not so that he will continue to remain unsubmitted to the truth of God and about how He saves, but so that he will BELIEVE it and thus be fully submitted to it!! Salvation, far from being something that a man can attain via knowledge, is a gift which comes by the grace of God through faith in the true God. No man can be saved without the grace or faith of God, therefore no man can be saved who does not know the Gospel of God, which is why this grace is manifested and why this faith is given.
Two verses that are most pertinent to our response to those who say that salvation comes before knowledge, are found in the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians. This will show the reader that there simply cannot be any evidence of saving faith present if one does not have the knowledge of the Gospel. "...faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). How can there be faith without hearing? And, how can there be hearing without the word of God? How can there be right knowledge of God if one has not heard His word? The following Scriptures will show the reader how utterly impossible it is to trust in Christ for one’s salvation before one has heard and believed in the Gospel of Christ: "That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In Whom ye also trusted, AFTER that YE HEARD the Word of Truth, THE GOSPEL OF YOUR SALVATION: in Whom also AFTER that YE BELIEVED, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. 1:12,13). Can you see how perfectly this matches with what the Holy Spirit is saying in Romans 10, that one cannot have the faith of God that believes His Gospel until one has heard the Word of the truth of the Gospel of God? Note the emphasis in Ephesians 1 that Paul made by twice using the word ‘after’ in relation to when a man is actually saved. This shows that salvation is an impossibility, a figment of one’s imagination, a spiritual mirage if you will, if one has not heard and believed the Gospel. If you have not heard God’s Word of Truth—the Gospel—then you cannot trust in the true Savior. How can one have trust in the Savior before one has heard of that Savior through the Savior’s Gospel? Clearly, and beyond dispute, these verses are saying ‘YOU CANNOT TRUST IN CHRIST BEFORE YOU HAVE HEARD THE GOSPEL'. How would you know what to trust about Him if that which reveals him remained a mystery to you? Obviously then, this shows that the Savior who is to be trusted in is ONLY revealed in that Word of Truth, the Gospel, and unless one believes in it one cannot believe in Him. Its like, how can one know and therefore identify what is hidden from sight before one knows what it is and can distinguish it from other things. The Gospel is hid from the lost, the Scriptures say, so how can the lost savingly believe that which the Gospel contains? The fact that trusting in the true Savior can only come AFTER one has heard the true Gospel that alone reveals that Savior, is at once a very simple thing that hardly needs any mention at all, and yet a most profound thing that must be made as clear as possible over and over and over again. The Scriptures show that one cannot trust—look to for salvation—in Christ and consider oneself sealed for all eternity with that promised Holy Spirit of God before one has heard and believed the Gospel of God. If what you believe is a false gospel, made up of nothing but lies about God or a mixture of lies and truth, then you cannot be trusting in His Son as Savior, but in an impostor! In other words, Paul is saying that there is no trusting in the true Christ, no being sealed by His Holy Spirit, without the Gospel. "The sealing was the result of believing, and that was the result of hearing the Gospel." THE ISSUE IS NOT THAT A MAN ‘BELIEVES’, BUT WHAT A MAN BELIEVES! Is it the truth or is it a cunningly devised imitation, or a fable? Doesn’t it make perfect biblical sense to say that if one can only trust in Christ after one has heard the Gospel, any christ—whose person or work would naturally differ from the true—who was trusted in before one heard the Gospel was a false christ? Now in light of these Scriptures, we challenge you to try and convince yourself that you were, or that one can be, saved before hearing the Gospel, and how you or anyone else could be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, that is, have God’s stamp of ownership on you, before you believe the one and only Gospel of God. Some have said, ‘But isn’t it enough to know that you are elect, and that if you are elect, you will be saved regardless of what you believe?’ Election is not the be all and end all of salvation. The error of those who express such a view is seen in the fact that God does not elect a person to salvation and then leave them in ignorance of Who He is and what He has done, which is revealed in the doctrines of the Gospel of grace, for the whole purpose of election is for God to reveal Himself to those whom He has elected that they might KNOW Him, the true God, and His Son Whom He has sent. God saves by the election of grace through the instrumentality of truth, not lies. One can be assured that before one believed the Gospel, one did not believe the Gospel, just as before one was saved, one was not saved. One can be sure that before one believed the Gospel, one was numbered among the lost, to whom the Gospel is hid (2 Cor. 4:3). To believe the Gospel is to say one is saved. Therefore, to say one was saved before knowing and believing the Gospel is to say that one was saved before one was saved!! Everyone agrees that there is no salvation, no saved state, before one is sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, so what makes anyone think that they were saved before they believed the Gospel, seeing that one can only be sealed with the Holy Spirit after one has heard and believed the Gospel of God? People who do not believe in salvation without the Holy Spirit make the fatal mistake of thinking that one can be saved without belief in the whole Gospel. They fail to realise that the main purpose the Holy Spirit is sent is to guide God’s people into God’s Truth. Obviously then there can be no salvation prior to this taking place. BELIEVING COMES ONLY AFTER HEARING THE GOSPEL AND THE SEALING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES ONLY AFTER ONE HAS BELIEVED THE GOSPEL. The process of salvation does not begin and end with election, but involves the distribution by grace of God’s faith, which believes the Gospel. The fact that all the elect will believe is accentuated by Christ when He said that those who believe the Gospel shall be saved. Election is the forerunner of belief and love, and belief of the Gospel is always the fruit of election. The passage we have before us is perhaps the clearest evidence of the truth that no one is saved before hearing and believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That no one is saved who has not been blessed with saving knowledge of God as He is revealed in His Gospel.
One of the more ridiculous objections raised against this Gospel and its ramifications is made by those in leadership. Some so-called pastors and ministers, and even those who have the affrontery to call themselves evangelists, claim that what we teach is not the Gospel at all. While not disagreeing with the doctrines, they say that they do not make up the Gospel which must be believed in, and therefore are not essential to one’s salvation. Their interpretation of what the Gospel is, is revealed in this next objection:
‘What a man must believe in order to show forth evidence that he is saved, is simply Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. This is the Gospel, rather than a collection of doctrines that are learned and come to be known long after a man is born again.’
The Scripture reference such people use to support this false and misleading claim comes from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. But what they do not realise is, these Scriptures do not end at Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, which precludes these Scriptures from saying that a mere knowledge of what happened to Christ is enough to be saved. But twice in this passage of four verses we are told that Christ’s death, burial and resurrection were according to the Scriptures. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES: And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES" (1Cor.15:3,4). The death, burial and resurrection of Christ, as mere historic events, is NOT what the Bible teaches is the Gospel of God. What it does teach is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES and not according to anything or anyone else as being part of the Gospel of God. The Scriptures spoken of here is a reference to the Old Testament, whose types and sacrifices all pointed to the coming Messiah, and to the prophecies made regarding the Messiah and what He would do. If mere acknowledgement of the historical facts concerning Christ’s death, burial and resurrection were enough to get a man saved, we would have to include every Roman Catholic, every Arminian, every Seventh-Day Adventist etc., in the Body of Christ. That what these groups teach about Christ and His death, burial and resurrection differ greatly is not what is focused on by many ‘pastors’. Simply that they ‘believe in the fundamentals of what happened’ is enough for these men to conclude that these people, though wrong in other areas of faith, actually believe in the true Christ and are therefore brothers and sisters in the Lord because they acknowledge that He died, was buried and rose from the dead. The fact that all these people are guilty of believing false doctrines that have been used to set up empires of false religions which perpetuate lies about God, changing His Nature and how He saves, is simply not considered, or just plain ignored, because it would complicate things. The fact that these people, Roman Catholics in particular, practice all sorts of Babylonian ceremonies and rites would not mean a thing if our enemies are right in saying that acknowledgement of what happened to Christ, and changing one’s lifestyle, was the evidence that a man truly believes the Gospel. The Gospel is what God says it is, not what a man believes it to be.
What Charles Spurgeon has said is the mind set that many people have adopted, in particular those tolerant Calvinists whom we spoke of at the beginning of this booklet, thinking it to be conservative biblical thinking. Spurgeon believed that a person became a Christian, that is, was born again, and then took either one of two roads: the Arminian path or the Calvinist path. Both Arminians and Calvinists claim to believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, but what they teach about these things are markedly different. So different in fact that Spurgeon could see enough to recognize that the Arminian gospel was a false gospel, however, he continued to believe unto his death that the people who believed in this false gospel were just as saved as those on the Calvinist path. To call this outrageous is to grossly understate the issue which is at stake here. Spurgeon, on numerous occasions, had Arminian ministers speak in his ‘church’ and he referred to them as brothers. One of these men who spoke from Spurgeon’s pulpit was prominent Arminian, Dwight L. Moody. "Not only did he knowingly allow it, but he happily and unashamedly endorsed it." (please ask for a 3-page article on Spurgeon’s endorsement of Arminian preachers). Spurgeon said of the modern prince of Arminians, John Wesley, who once called the Calvinist god ‘my Devil’, "I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan" (‘A Defence of Calvinism’). Spurgeon even went so far as to say that if two more apostles were ever needed, one of them should be John Wesley! To call a particular doctrinal system false but to say that those who hold to, teach and completely place their trust in, it are saved is to show oneself to be at best a spiritual buffoon and at worst a blasphemer of the highest order. How can a thing be so wrong, but the person who believes it be said to be so right? And this man, Mr. Spurgeon, is held to be ‘the prince of preachers’ and one of the staunchest defenders of the doctrines of grace, whose books continue to sell in the millions! No wonder people run when we tell them there is no salvation outside of believing the only Gospel of God, for they have been thoroughly conditioned by the works of Spurgeon and others like him to believe that people whose faith is in false gospels are saved regardless! This is seen as being courteous and loving! One wonders where Spurgeon got this thinking from. Could it have been from the apostle Paul? Did Paul say to the Galatians that if one was to bring them a gospel which differed from his, they were to be considered saved though their gospel accursed? Did Jesus say that whilst a person who believed His Gospel was saved, those who did not believe it, but placed their trust in another, were equally saved? NO!! Paul didn’t say this, Christ didn’t say this and so how one could ever reconcile what Spurgeon taught and his Calvinist students believe with what the Word of God says, is one of the great mysteries of our time. Spurgeon readily claimed to ‘detest’ the doctrines Wesley believed in, but why detest doctrines however wrong they are, however God-dishonoring they may be, if a man can be saved believing them? Why bother hating or detesting any doctrines for that matter if one can be saved regardless of which ones they believe? And so who cares what Christ accomplished in His death, burial and resurrection? As long as one believes these things happened to the Son of God, all is well. So are we to conclude that a man is saved by his belief of a false gospel? Some say, ‘Oh no, we are not saying that God saves people based on their belief of erroneous doctrines’. Well, if the contention is that a man does not have to believe the Gospel to be saved, but that he can be saved if he believes a false gospel, what else are we to conclude but that a man is saved by what he does. If we cannot judge a man saved by what he believes, all that remains is works? But the Scriptures speak clearly that man is not saved according to his works but according to God’s grace. So then, are we to believe that whilst a man cannot be saved by his imperfect obedience, he can be saved based on an imperfect faith? It is not by a man’s faith that he is saved but by his works, is what is really being promoted by people like Mr. Spurgeon. Regardless of how many times Spurgeon wrote about salvation by faith and not by works, refusing to judge a man saved or lost by which gospel/Gospel he believes, shows that there is nothing left to judge by than by a man’s works or lack of them. In light of this, isn’t it interesting how often Spurgeon lauded Mr. Wesley for his ‘godly nature’, saying things like ‘he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one ‘of whom the world was not worthy,’" whilst conveniently overlooking Wesley’s doctrinal atrocities. (‘A Defense of Calvinism’). If Wesley believed in another gospel, as Spurgeon rightly claimed but did not judge Wesley to be saved based on those doctrines which Spurgeon detested, what was there left for him but to judge Mr. Wesley saved by his character and conduct!!! What on earth is a man’s salvation based upon if he does not believe the Gospel? Perhaps a better question would be, ‘what COULD a man’s salvation be based upon if he rejected God’s Gospel and embraced another?’ The answer is quite simply, NOTHING!!! Before a man believes the Gospel, all he could possibly turn to for something to recommend him to God is his works. But seeing that the Scriptures speak clearly, that "...by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal. 2:16), and that God "...hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace..." (2 Tim. 1:9), man has nothing to recommend him to God and therefore nothing upon which to base his ‘salvation’, if he does not believe the Gospel. There is no way one can possibly defend, from the Scriptures, the appalling theory that a man can be saved before he believes the truth, before he believes the Gospel. And by ‘believe’ we mean believe it to the point that one rejects any and all other messages as false gospels, and any claims that one can be saved whilst believing them, as coming from unregenerate people who do not have God. The doctrines of the Gospel must cover all of grace. The doctrines of the Gospel all have to do with grace, which is why they have been rightly termed ‘The doctrines of Grace’. As was said earlier, if there is room in a gospel for a man to boast, it shows that the whole Gospel has failed to be preached. This is why the Gospel cannot only be the doctrines which deal with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, or even the righteousness of Christ, but must include all the doctrines which detail all that the grace of God has accomplished in salvation.
Sadly, no matter how much evidence one provides, no matter how much one may reason from the Scriptures, most who follow Spurgeon and others like him will not see. To deny a truth simply because one cannot come to terms with the ramifications of a provable, undeniable fact, is to close one’s eyes from reality and become willingly ignorant of the obvious. This is no different to the story of the Roman Catholic professor who saw clearly that the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary was impossible to prove from the Scriptures. He said, "...this is not possible — we don’t have a foundation in Scripture. It is impossible to give this as dogma." But rather than see through this lie of the Roman Catholic Church as evidence that she is not the Church of God, nor the bearer of His Gospel, the professor immediately reaffirmed his abiding Catholicism by saying: "No, at this moment I will be convinced that the church is wiser than I."