WHO HATH BELIEVED OUR REPORT? (PART 7)
You’re not going to be saved believing something to be true which God does not. Some will ask, ‘But how will we know when an error has actually perverted the Gospel and turned it into another?’ Any gospel that differs with the Gospel of God in any way to any degree cannot be God’s Gospel. ERROR IS THAT WHICH DISAGREES WITH TRUTH and is in no way compatible with it, so how can any believe that both will produce the same reward. This is why the presence of any error when it comes to what the Gospel is leaves a person with another gospel which cannot save. Error denies truth and no one who believes in an erroneous gospel can at the same time believe the true Gospel. To believe in a gospel which contains error is to believe in a distorted and warped gospel and not the pure Gospel of God. A gospel which contains error is one which has misquoted God, it has misrepresented what God has said, and is duly proscribed by God as a false gospel which cannot save. Error is the sign that it is not God’s Gospel being preached or believed, for there is no error in God’s Gospel. Moreover, it is not the size of the error, not the degree of error, that corrupts the Gospel and turns it into another gospel, it is the fact that there is any error present AT ALL that spoils God’s message and qualifies it as another’s message. Error is the spoiler. Error is the leaven which leaveneth the whole lump. Error is that which changes truth into a lie and THE Gospel into another gospel. 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 excused, or overlooked, but is always, always, always the identifying mark of a false Christian. Tolerant Calvinists say that a man such as an Arminian is saved despite his error. Despite the fact they say Christ died for all, thus making salvation hinge on a man's free-will decision rather than on the Sovereignty and grace of God. Such men say, and you can read this in greater detail in several of my booklets, including 'How Many Gospels', that they were saved BEFORE knowing the Gospel. Does this mean that though God saves through the instrumentality of truth, He also, in certain situations and under certain circumstances and with certain ‘privileged’ people, saves through the instrumentality of lies??? I hardly think so. How could the God of Truth save anyone based on lies? How could the God of Truth save anyone based on their belief of something God did not say? How could God ignore His own Gospel and save people based on their belief of a false gospel and still be the God of Truth? How could the Holy Spirit of truth, Who is never without His Sword, the Word of God (Eph. 6:17), be instrumental in the salvation of a man who still believes in lies? Does God save a man through sanctification of the Spirit and also prior to one’s being sanctified? Of course not. Then how could He save one man through belief of the truth and another through unbelief? Its either one or the other. You cannot have salvation in both cases, through belief and unbelief, for the two are diametrically opposed and God would be a God of contradiction and the author of confusion if He saved the believer and unbeliever alike. 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 mean to save them as infidels, or unbelievers. He intends that they shall be believers first—and hence He sends His ministers that they may become such in order to secure the proper acknowledgement or recognition 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). God justifies the ungodly, He justifies the unbeliever, not by perpetuating their unbelief but by delivering them from it and causing them to believe in His mighty Gospel. It is the truth that makes a man free (Jn. 8:32 cf. Jn. 8:36). Belief in lies about Jesus Christ will only keep you tied to the apron strings of hell. The only way one can acknowledge the truth is if one has heard the truth contained in the Gospel and been given the Faith to believe it. If all the sins of God’s people have been atoned for, is it not right to conclude that the sin of unbelief has also been taken out of the way? For what good would it have done and what sense would it have made for Christ to atone for every sin EXCEPT that ultimate and unpardonable sin which keeps a man out of heaven, the sin of unbelief towards the Gospel of God which is a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? The Scriptures are clear when speaking of true believers, the elect 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). Notice here how there is a connecting line, an unbreakable chain of iron, existing between God’s sovereign election of a man, the Holy Spirit, sanctification, belief of the truth, the Gospel of God and the obtaining of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, try and fit belief of error into all this as being acceptable to God and grounds upon which He will save a man. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!! It would be like removing the Holy Spirit, or God’s sovereign grace-based election, or sanctification, from the process of the salvation of a man and still think that at the end of such a mess one will nevertheless obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Can you imagine, for instance, the elect of God believing in all the Gospel doctrines barring the doctrine of the election of grace! All you, I or anyone need concern themselves with is not who has believed our report or how many have believed our report but WHAT IS THE REPORT! What is God's Gospel? What is the record that GOD bears of His Son. Incidentally, for those who are not convinced that ‘Who hath believed our report’ is a direct reference to the Gospel, may I direct you to Romans 10:15,16: "...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach THE GOSPEL of peace and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?" (cf. Jn. 12:38-40). The word report actually means doctrine or preaching and as is seen clearly in our passage from Romans, the doctrine being preached is the Gospel of God. It means: "That which is delivered to be heard and believed." God has given us His Scriptures which show what His Gospel is and also what it is not and could not be, and the faith God provides each and every one of His people believes His Gospel and no other. This should be proof enough that God saves only through belief of His Gospel and no other, for the faith He gives believes in no other. The grace of God, through which He gives His faith, could never be the catalyst to anyone’s believing a false gospel. To not believe this is to say that God, by grace, gives His faith to people to believe in any number of gospels and that He saves His chosen through whichever gospel they happen to believe. How dishonoring to His Son, Jesus Christ, would it be for God to save a man who did not believe in what Christ actually did to save His people from their sins, but placed his trust in what He, in reality, did not do! IF CHRIST HAD TO PERFECTLY FULFILL GOD’S PLAN TO SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS, HOW CAN ANYONE BE SAVED WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE IN THAT PERFECT PLAN PERFECTLY!! If Christ had failed to fulfill even one part of God’s salvation plan, it would have been a fiasco and no one would have been saved, so how can anyone not see how vital it is to believe in what Christ did, and how foolish it is to say that to believe not the whole Gospel is still grounds for God to save a person. If God had overlooked the necessity of His electing by grace those whom Christ was to die for, how could any have come to Him? God saves a person based on what He gives His faith to them to believe, and that is HIS GOSPEL! If you believe that God gives His faith to a person so that they will believe any other gospel but His and save such a person based on this, you are in dire need of a Scriptural awakening.
If you have any concern or problem with any doctrine which makes up the Gospel we teach, then my advice to you is to bear down on it and study it out and find out, try and prove to yourself from the Scriptures, what the Gospel could be if it isn't what we say. Your task would be to first deny the Gospel doctrine that we preach from the Scriptures and then try and prove another doctrine as Gospel truth and prove it from the Scriptures and also show what the Scriptures that we use to preach this Gospel are 'really' saying. I have made this challenge to several men in the past and have received not a single word in reply. I told them they would not be able to show me what the Gospel is, not because of any inability on their part but because one can only biblically prove THE Gospel from the Scriptures and be right. Those of you who claim to believe the right doctrines which make up the Gospel of God, are asked to find in the Scriptures how a man can be saved without believing in them. How could a man who is not submitted to the truth of God be saved by God? God goes through all the ‘trouble’ of meticulously preparing and attending to every detail that had to be fulfilled in order for His salvation plan to be successful and then put that plan, and no other, into action, and then saves those who don’t believe it? It just don’t add up!!
Many people, who upon hearing the Gospel for the first time, do find the concept rather unsettling and they can be quite shocked and perturbed at the fact that prior to their hearing and believing the true Gospel they were not, and could not have been, saved; that there is no salvation, no provision made, for those whose beliefs lie outside the Gospel confines. They believed they were lost when they lived an immoral lifestyle or before they believed in the existence of God, but not while they believed fallacies about God and how He saves. Then what is believing in a false god if it is nothing but believing lies about the true God!! Am I to understand then that to believe "an incorrect or misleading notion or opinion based on inaccurate facts or invalid reasoning" concerning God and His Gospel is O.K. but don’t you commit such and such a sin or you’ll be lost! What do people think believing any other gospel but God’s Gospel is! A righteous act which God will reward? Name me a greater sin than not believing what God has said and not only that but thinking you can be saved believing it!! To believe what God has not said is to disbelieve and reject that which He has said. The initial shock that professing christians go through who hear the Gospel for the first time and then realise that it is saying they were never saved because they had never before believed it, is due mainly to three reasons: (a) the intention of the heart ie, the fact that they cannot see how a person who wants to be saved and is convinced what they believe is truth could be lost; (b) the conditioning everyone goes through who has ever been part of mainstream religion where a person’s claim to be a Christian is taken at face value merely because they utter the name of Christ, professes to be His follower and does it all with a smile; and (c) because man seems to equate an openness to religion as evidence that one is loved of God and therefore saved. They believe that because they are, in their minds, not against Christ they must be for Him. But Christ did not say this at all. He said: "He that is not with Me is against Me..." (Matt. 12:30). Every man by nature is against God and His Son, for there are none who seek Him. So we see then that to be with Christ, one must believe in Christ as He is revealed in the Gospel of God for none can seek Him who are not with Him. Before one knows and believes the Gospel one cannot be with Christ and therefore, despite what anyone might believe about Him and how sincere they are in those beliefs, they are against Christ, as is every person to whom the Gospel is hid. Christ, of course, was talking about Himself in the above verse and not any of the counterfeits who are presented in false gospels. This would preclude the man who performed miracles in Jesus’ name from being one who did not abide in His doctrine (see Mk. 9:40). To be with Christ is to abide in the doctrine of Christ, to believe His Gospel and no other. To be without Him is to be against Him. To not be against Him is to abide in His doctrine not that one can say His name with a smile, or have a ‘zeal for God’ that is without right knowledge of God. Most are aware of the doctrinal disagreements that abound, but in the current ecumenical climate these are not allowed to stand in the way of just about anyone calling anyone else saved. Only the ‘positives’ are accentuated and doctrine is laid aside, it is not focused on because anyone can see that many beliefs of the various religions clash. What comes as a shock to me is that there are some who are not even aware of the fact that the Bible warns about believing in another jesus. Not just other christs, but other jesuses. This other jesus is revealed by false doctrine, which makes up the various false gospels. In my lost religious days I believed, without question, that I was saved simply because I was a Roman Catholic, and years later because I had woken up to the lies of Roman Catholicism, asked God to forgive me my sins and for Jesus to save me. And when I joined the local Baptist church no one questioned my salvation, but rather had me up in the pulpit as quickly as they could, giving my testimony. Doctrine did not figure in the equation, and I don’t recall anyone asking me what the Gospel was that I believed. The fact that I asked God to save me and that I had ‘renounced Satan’ was enough for me, and those around me, to believe I was saved. And this, sadly, is the case with most who profess to be Christians. What a condemnation this is of the men who dare to call themselves ‘pastor’ who cater to a politically correct religious system where questioning a person’s salvation based on what they believe and calling someone lost because of what they do not believe is just not the done thing. As they ‘grow’ in their ‘christian’ lives, some people come to realise how important doctrines are but they never see their initial ignorance of right doctrine as evidence of lostness but merely as their days as ‘babes in Christ’. It is generally accepted by the rank and file church attendee that those in their midst are all Christians. Yes, many are aware that their beliefs and the beliefs of their comrades do differ, sometimes to a great extent, but for some inexplicable reason none of this is ever seen or considered as evidence that either one of them is lost. Believe just about anything you like and most congregations will be happy to welcome you in their ‘churches’ and call you brother. You might find a few there who would seek to discuss some of your beliefs with you and gently try and correct you, but throughout this process you will be accepted as a Christian. This is seen as being loving and kind and exhibiting the brotherly kindness spoken of in the Scriptures. In reality it is not love at all. It does not evidence the love of the truth of God, for it claims that one can be saved without it. It would seem that ignorance of the Gospel is no grounds for calling a man lost in the mind of twenty-first century man but is seen as an opportunity that just about commands some people to make sure they call such a person saved and to approach them with great tenderness, careful not to offend them by even hinting that they are not saved. The love of God is not merely gentle but it speaks the truth in gentleness. If one does believe the right doctrines but is what we call a tolerant Calvinist, their tolerance exhibits an attitude of compromising the truth of God and condoning error for the sake of ‘peace among men’. Baloney is what it is! God’s zero tolerance of error is made plain in His Word, in particular the verses that mention belief of the Gospel as that essential, indispensable component of salvation, and unbelief of the Gospel as that which shows one has not received the justifying faith of God, given so that His Gospel and no other will be believed or tolerated. If Christ was not ‘permitted’ to make a mistake in carrying out God’s plan, if He had to carry out God’s plan to the letter for the salvation of His people, what makes anyone think that believing erroneously about what Christ did will get anyone saved? To believe erroneously about what Christ did on the cross is the equivalent of believing that He failed in fulfilling God’s salvation plan perfectly.
What we shall look at next is what it actually means to believe a thing. Every word in the Bible is there for a reason. God does not use words as we do. He uses them as deliberately and with more precision than a surgeon uses his delicate instruments. An example of this is seen in the Gospel of Matthew where a man who came to Jesus addressed Him as "Good Master" (Matt. 19:16). Christ’s response was: "Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God..." (Matt. 19:17). Now, if ever there was a good man who walked the earth it was Jesus Christ, so why did He respond to His enquirer in this way? One can see by this that Jesus’ use of the word good was a whole lot different to how it was used and what was meant by the one who spoke with Him. The proof of this is seen in Christ’s calling no one good but God. By this we see that by good Jesus meant perfectly, flawlessly and interminably good, and not merely as basically good. Christ was saying, "Why do you give Me a title that belongs only to God? You suppose Me to be only a man. Yet you give Me an appellation that belongs only to God...And though the title applies to Me, yet you did not intend to use it in the sense of which it is proper, as denoting infinite perfection, or Divinity; but you intended to use it as a complimentary or a flattering title, applied to Me as if I were a mere man-a title which belongs only to God." According to this, we would be right in saying that Christ would never call anything or anyone good that had the slightest bad in it. Hence His calling only one good, that is, God. For Christ to call someone good they would have to be perfectly good which is what the word good implies in the first place, hence Christ’s question to the one who thought Him a mere man: "Why callest thou Me good? (when you think Me to be only a man)" To say something is mostly good is to say that a thing can be mostly perfect, which is to deny the proper meaning of the words good and perfect. A thing could not be perfect if it contained any flaw and a thing could not be good if it had any bad in it. When Christ commanded that His Gospel be believed, He meant it in the purest sense. To believe something is to believe it perfectly. It is to believe it wholly and not in part. Jesus would not have used the word believe to imply that a person hold rightly to some Gospel doctrines or to believe them in an imperfect way. Any imperfection in a person’s believing signifies unbelief when it comes to the Gospel. To believe means no less than correctly and fully accepting and abiding in what God has said in His Gospel. Does it sound right to say that in order to acceptably believe something, Christ meant not only believing it 100% but also that one could believe it 50%? How about 75% or even 90%? Hardly. If Christ had meant to believe the Gospel less than 100%, then He could not have meant to believe it 100% at all. Believe it enough is all we would be left with and if this were the case, then to not believe enough of the Gospel correctly would leave a person lost. But where are the Scriptures to show us what it is to believe enough and not enough? To believe is to believe perfectly and precisely that which is to be believed in. Of course, no one is expecting perfect belief of the Gospel as God knows it, but believing the Gospel as God has revealed it to His people. If Christ has said believe, then that is exactly what He meant to say. If there was any qualification to a man’s believing, surely Christ would not have failed to mention something as important as this. To believe God’s Gospel means there has been a perfect transition, a perfect copy, made of the Gospel from the ‘mouth’ of God to the mind of the one who believes. The Gospel is not something which man may interpret with his own mind, but is that which is written on his mind (and heart) by the very hand of God (see Heb. 8:10; 10:16). Only then can a man be said to truly believe. God would never call truth that which contains the slightest error. No one could imagine God saying a man was correct who said 2 + 2=5, so how can anyone say God would declare as His chosen child one who believed in a gospel other than His Gospel. To believe the Gospel is to believe the whole Gospel. As soon as you allow for one error to be believed concerning it, yet still claim to believe the Gospel, you’d be asking yourself, why not two, then three, four and so on until believing the truth that is the Gospel simply would not matter anymore—JUST LIKE IT IS NOW!! Truth is pure, therefore believing it must be just as pure, which is precisely why God gives His faith to His people for them to believe with. When Christ said believe the Gospel, He meant to believe it JUST LIKE GOD SAID IT—WITHOUT ERROR!! If this were not so, then the Holy Spirit would never have inspired Paul to say that any who believed a gospel which differed in its doctrinal content from the Gospel God gave Him, was accursed and not blessed (see Gal. 1). Christ told His people to preach the Gospel, not a reasonable facsimile thereof. So to preach a gospel that contained error could never qualify as a fulfilment of His command. The same goes with believing an erroneous gospel, which could never be the realisation of Christ’s command to believe His Gospel. A gospel which differs from God’s Gospel is made so by the error it contains, or by the exclusion of any of its doctrines. To be saved one needs to be perfect, to have never been born a sinner and thus to have never sinned at all. No one can fulfill this requirement, which is why God sent His Son to the earth to die for His people and establish a perfect righteousness on their behalf and charge it to God’s chosen so that they would be perfect in Christ. And, to believe God’s salvation plan as revealed in His Gospel, one has to believe the whole Gospel perfectly. Again, man cannot do this with his own sin affected faith so God has given, along with His grace, Son and Spirit, His faith to His people so that they will all believe all His Gospel perfectly. There are no flaws in, and nothing imperfect about, this Faith just as there are no flaws in the Gospel it was sent to believe, BECAUSE THEY BOTH COME FROM GOD! To believe is at once to not believe. That is, to believe one thing is to automatically rule out any belief of that which opposes or which differs in any way to that which is believed in. Even if a person says they are neutral on a particular subject, they are not for if they do not believe it, if they do not accept it as truth, it shows that they do not believe it, they do not accept it regardless of any claim to neutrality. ‘I just believe whatever’s right’ just won’t cut it. Those who are not with Christ are against Him. You must know Him to be with Him and you must know the Gospel to believe it. Something must happen to you and your entire belief system for you to know God and believe His Gospel. You must repent of the false and believe only the true. You cannot just sit there and say, ‘I believe what’s right’ and not know what is right! Just as God knows those who are His, so too, those who are His know Him and believe the only Gospel that is of Him. One must know what is right in order to properly believe it and to repent of that which is wrong. To say, ‘I believe whatever God says is right’ is not enough, for if you do not know the truth, a person can present anything to you as truth and if convinced enough, you will believe it even though it is really not what God says at all. ‘Whatever the truth is I will believe it as soon as God reveals it to me’ is what some people say, but they do it whilst believing a false god of a false gospel. They do it whilst resisting the true Gospel and in ignorance of the true God. Often these words are said as a polite way of saying, ‘Leave me alone, I’m happy with what I believe and what makes you think you’re any smarter than I am when it comes to knowing what the truth is.’ Being smarter than the next person has nothing to do with knowing the truth. To believe the Gospel one must have it revealed to them by God and one must be given the gift of faith to believe it. The Christian’s believing is not of himself but is a gift from God. You don’t call on God for His Truth, but rather He calls you by His Gospel and gives you the faith to believe it. An empty bottle does not go about seeking someone to fill it, but must be taken and placed under that which it is to be filled with. The fact that I am saved is a matter of grace and not superior intelligence. It is not a matter of having an exceptional intellect or a high enough IQ but rather Divine Revelation. Salvation is by grace not works.
To believe that 2 + 2=4 is to automatically rule out, at least in the mind of a sane person, any belief that any other number is the correct answer to this equation. To believe that George W. Bush is the current President of the United States is to automatically rule out the possibility that you believe anyone else is. And so, though it appears to have escaped the minds of many who call themselves Christian, this same rule applies to doctrinal matters, namely the Gospel. To believe that the Christ of God’s Gospel is the Savior is to rule out any possibility that the christ of any other gospel can possibly save. Regardless of the fact that many today do not consider a person lost simply because they believe in a different doctrine or a collection of different doctrines, to believe one doctrine is to rule out all other doctrines that contravene it as being truth. To believe even one false doctrine is to come against what God says the Gospel is. Just like an equation can only have one correct answer, so too, there is only one plan of salvation that will work, evidenced in God only having one Gospel. If God’s Gospel were a number, anything which takes away from or adds to that number would make it a different number, a different gospel. To believe that God saves by grace is to automatically rule out any belief in the lie that says God saves a person, or keeps them saved, based on what they do. The fact that so many do not fully understand what the word grace means because they have never been taught that it completely rules out salvation by any work of man’s, does not change this rule. True Christians believe that grace, far from being a mere aid, or helping hand, to salvation, is the sole source of salvation. If a person says they believe in salvation by grace but conditions any part of getting saved or staying saved on what they do, it shows that they do not believe in grace at all (see Rom.11:6). And if a person denies even one of the ‘doctrines of grace’ as being essential to a saving knowledge of God, they too, are denying grace. To not have to know a doctrine to be saved, means one does not have to believe it and therefore it is to say that one can believe anything when it comes to that doctrinal issue and it will not affect one’s salvation. One can believe all the doctrines of the Gospel correctly, but if one denies even one of them as being a Gospel doctrine, one is saying that one does not need to know it, therefore believe it, to be saved. It is to say that the Gospel can do without it and that God will save you regardless of what you believe He says about that particular grace/Gospel doctrine. The Gospel is made up of doctrines that deal with grace, that teach grace. This is why all Gospel doctrines are essential doctrines to a saving knowledge of God, for each one of those doctrines brings glory only to God for the great things He has done and allows no room for man to think that he must contribute any work of his own to make sure his salvation. It covers all the bases as to whom the glory belongs for salvation. (see my booklet ‘To Whom Belongs the Glory?’) Anything which denies grace is anti-Gospel. Salvation is all by grace and to believe one doctrine that conflicts with a grace doctrine, such as election or the righteousness of Christ, is to do away with the Gospel of total grace. This is why Paul had no hesitation in saying that any gospel which differed from his was a false gospel, because anything added to grace turns the whole thing into works and ultimately bases the success of salvation not on God but on God and man. Scripture refers to the Gospel as "...the Word of His grace..." (Acts 14:3 cf. 14:7) and Paul later described the ministry he received from the Lord as his duty "...to testify the Gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). Leave out even one grace doctrine and you give a man reason to believe that some part of salvation is conditioned on him. The Devil is subtle. He will not deny the necessity of a doctrine to salvation knowledge without distracting his listeners from the severity and gravity of such an action by saying that this or that doctrine is far more important, or that what makes a man righteous before God—the righteousness of Christ—is all one needs to believe. The Gospel is more than one doctrine, and it is nothing without ALL the doctrines God has ordained to be part of it. What do you think God calls a gospel that contains some, even most, of His Gospel’s doctrines but not all? HE CALLS IT ANOTHER GOSPEL, THAT’S WHAT! And the last time I checked, God had still not saved anyone who believes any gospel which differs from His. The Gospel is nothing without grace, therefore any doctrine which has to do with grace is a doctrine that is essential to a saving knowledge of God. Beware of those who try to make the doctrines of the Gospel compete with one another and place them in order of importance. Salvation is grounded, it is based, on the righteousness of Christ, which includes His death for His people, but the Gospel which contains this doctrine is not made up of this one doctrine alone, it has others which enhance the beauty and the wonder of it.