WHO HATH BELIEVED OUR REPORT? (PART 8)
The Gospel of God is a Testament to the whole of His grace and not merely selected portions of it. Each of these doctrines is as vital as the other for a true salvation knowledge, otherwise God would not have included them in His Gospel. A gospel without all the doctrines essential to a saving knowledge, which the true Gospel contains, is not God’s Gospel, just like two ain’t three AND NEVER WILL BE!! The fog of confusion that has enveloped the minds of so many people has convinced them that regardless of how contradictory their beliefs and those of others are, all are believing enough truth to be saved. ‘What’ is being believed has virtually lost most of, if not all, its significance, all of its meaning, and the fact that a person ‘believes’ anything at all about God is the evidence that is good enough for most that such a person is saved. This leads me to an illustration I shared with my 6 year old son just a few moments ago. He brought in a pink balloon to show me. I remarked, ‘What a lovely blue balloon'. He promptly informed me that it was a pink balloon and not a blue one at all. I replied by saying, ‘That’s right’. I asked him, ‘Am I right about the color of the balloon merely because I recognized it as a balloon?’ ‘No’, he replied. And so we learn that merely because a person calls a set of doctrines ‘the Gospel’, it does not mean that what they believe are the right doctrines, or that they are all the doctrines of the Gospel. Nor would it be right to say that simply because a person says they believe the Gospel, is it proof that they have faith in the proper Gospel doctrines. ‘What’ is believed has always been important to God. For what a person believes about God reveals whether they have placed their faith in man-made doctrines or a combination of God’s Word and man’s word, which can only ever fashion a god of man’s imagination, or whether in fact the true God has revealed Himself. People say it is not important what you believe but whom you believe! But surely WHAT you believe about whom you believe DEFINES the one you believe in! After all, "it is a man’s doctrine which identifies and distinguishes the god/God he worships and serves". It is what a man believes that reveals who he believes in. What you believe shows which road you’re on, whether it is God’s Road or someone else’s. Salvation is incompatible with ignorance of the Gospel, which teaches Who Christ is and what Christ has done, and the grace doctrines which surround this central tenet. The doctrines a man has placed his trust in will reveal whether he believes in lies about God, which is what false gospels are all about, or whether they believe THE Gospel of God which alone has nothing but the truth to say about Who the true God is and how He saves. A SAVED MAN, A BLESSED-OF-GOD MAN, BELIEVES WHAT GOD SAYS AND REJECTS WHAT HE HAS NOT SAID! The Scriptures show that to believe the Gospel of God savingly, a man must be given the faith that comes from God. The fact that he must be given this faith shows absolutely that he cannot savingly believe the Gospel without it, and consequently, that he will not believe any other gospel with it! Therefore, a man who believes in a false gospel cannot be justified. Faith is sent so that a man will believe God’s Truth and reject every lie that would dare present itself as truth. So, what a man believes shows where a man’s faith comes from, either from God or from his own sinful nature. To believe is at once to reject. As was said earlier, to believe one thing is to reject another, it is to repent of another. Salvation is not just about believing the Gospel, it also involves repenting of all that which opposes God’s Gospel. How anyone can believe they were saved believing that which they are commanded to repent of is another of life’s mysteries. To believe God’s Gospel is to believe that it alone is the power of God unto salvation and to reject every false gospel, and to repent of ever believing that any other gospel could save, no matter how much truth it contains. The Gospel itself says that no other gospel can save, in that each doctrine says what GOD has to say on a matter. For instance, the Gospel doctrine which declares that man is dead in sin, dead to God and without God and therefore without hope, is simultaneously saying that anything which conflicts with what God has said pertaining to man’s spiritual state after the Fall is a false doctrine, which is part of a false gospel which cannot save.
Another objection people have to the ramifications of our Gospel—which says that to believe in God one must hear and understand and believe the Gospel of God, and that before this hearing, understanding and believing none are converted, is:
‘What about the person who knows only that God exists and whose Son is the Savior Who died on a cross, who feels remorseful about their sins and cries out for forgiveness from God and for God to save them? How can you say that such a sincere, remorse-filled, well-intentioned person such as this could not possibly capture God’s merciful attention, and therefore remain lost?’
This is an objection which I have heard from many, including a Presbyterian pastor who, upon hearing of our Gospel, phoned me to express his vehement opposition to it. Though calling me saved, he strongly objected to my saying that if one did not believe the Gospel, or believed they were saved before hearing it, one could not be saved. The main reason for this was revealed later on in his call when he presented the following scenario to me: "So when I cried out to God on my bed when I was young, are you saying I was not saved?" Regretfully, he did not give me a chance to properly explain what I believed before interrupting me, saying a few other things, and then hanging up. Isn’t it amazing how there was no love, or patience and a preparedness to listen and understand, shown by this man, yet he has all the love in the world for those who say they were saved before they believed the right doctrines of the right Gospel! I am sure that had I been a scripturally ignorant little man, this ‘pastor’ would have had no problem with me no matter what I believed. Scripture asks the question plainly: "How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard" (Rom. 10:14). These of course are rhetorical questions which are making a statement rather than looking for answers. In light of the Word of God, it is utterly impossible for anyone to savingly believe in the true God without having heard the Gospel which reveals Him! The Word of God says that none can be calling on the true God if they do not believe in Him and that none can believe in the true God if they have not heard of Him, and that there can be NO CONVERSION without HEARING, UNDERSTANDING and BELIEVING the Gospel: "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should SEE with their eyes, and HEAR with their ears, and should UNDERSTAND with their heart, and should be CONVERTED, and I should heal them" (see Matt. 13:15). Now, what exactly this ‘pastor’ believed about God when he claims to have cried out to Him was never mentioned, but it was understood in the context of the conversation that he did not know the Gospel at the time he ‘cried out to God’ and therefore my question is, how could he have known the true God and been calling out to Him? Now he may well have known some truths about God, but any error mixed in with that truth would have ruled out any saving knowledge of the Gospel on his part. Religion has taught us that one can simply lift up one’s head, call out to God, and He will instantly spring to attention and do what we ask. But the Word of God states that to truly call out to Him, one must believe in Him, and no other, and to believe in Him one must have heard of Him as He is revealed in the Gospel. How can anyone call out to God before they know the Gospel wherein God has revealed Himself? Knowing a few truths about God, a few facts, such as He is all-powerful and His Son is the Savior and that He created all the pretty little butterflies and the big blue sky, is not going to save anyone for this is not salvation knowledge. The Jews in Romans 10 are a perfect example of this. They knew a great deal more than the fact God is the Creator etc., but it did not profit them for they were ignorant of His Righteousness, how He saves, and were therefore lost. Think of the apostle Paul prior to his salvation. Philippians 3 shows us how loaded up with religious credentials Paul was, and how zealous for God he was. But none of this was enough to save Paul. He was still a lost man despite all his religiosity and ‘knowledge of the Scriptures’ prior to his knowledge of the Gospel. It in no way means that purely because you know a handful of things about God this automatically means you actually know Him. To know God is to obey His Gospel and to obey His Gospel is what it means to truly know Him (see 2 Thess. 1:8). And you can’t have a personal relationship with someone if you do not know them. To know the God of the Gospel, one must know the Gospel of God. How can one obey that which one does not know? To know of God is not the same as knowing God. One can believe many facts about God and yet be very wrong about how He saves and therefore what God is like, His Character etc. Most religions know some truths concerning God, but the false gospels they teach show clearly that they do not actually know Him, that He has not revealed Himself to them. To know how God saves is to know what God is like. This knowledge comes only by revelation of the Gospel of God, by God. The fact that a person cries out to ‘God’ is no certainty that they are addressing the true God. Your sincerest intentions of calling on the true God are not the pass key to heaven. Sincerity is not the key to heaven. It is sincerity and truth that will open the doors of heaven. Man is not born again out of his own sincerity or because of any conviction that a certain religious experience he once had, or is having, came from God. SINCERITY IS NOT THE SEED, and therefore no amount of it can bring forth a new creature in Christ, for this is wholly the domain of the True Seed of Christ: His Gospel. Sincerity of belief is not the evidence, proof, or qualifier for salvation. What man believes, however sincerely, does not mean it is true even if there are millions who believe it. Sincerity is an evidence of conviction, but the issue is: is it a conviction based on Truth? The true believer is saved not because he is sincere but because his sincerity is coupled with belief of the Truth. That sincerity must be directed to, and centred on, the Gospel of God. Everyone believes something and most are very sincere in their beliefs, but it is WHAT a man believes that is the central issue and not how sincerely he believes it. You can sincerely intend to drive to Sydney, but if you are not on the right road you are headed in the wrong direction. No matter your sincerity, you will simply not arrive at your intended destination if you persist on travelling the wrong road. It is noteworthy to add that you do not need to be on any particular wrong road, for when you are not on the right road you are always heading in the wrong direction. Sincerity is not the key to freedom, it is the TRUTH of God which makes a man free: "And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free" (Jn.8:32). It is vital for all to realise that GODLY SINCERITY IS ALWAYS ACCOMPANIED BY GOD’S TRUTH. Joshua 24:14 says: "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in SINCERITY and in TRUTH: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord" (see also 1Cor. 5:8; 2 Cor.1:12; 2;17).You cannot be fearing the Lord of the Gospel and serving Him in sincerity and truth if you have yet to put away the gods you have served, and disowned the false gospels you have believed. How perfectly all this ties in with the fact that there are none who understand or seek God and therefore none by nature who fear God (see Rom. 3:10-18). Sincerity without Truth always leads to false gods and false gospels. Many believe that their sincerity and well doing somehow offsets their belief in error; that failure to believe God’s truth is compensated by what a man does. But the good works a man performs and the sincerity of belief which motivates his doing, can never hide or excuse the fact that he rejects what God has said His Gospel is and has chosen another gospel, one which speaks lies about what God has said. This ‘pastor’ may well have embraced the Seventh-Day Adventist jesus after ‘crying out to God’, for in his ignorant yet zealous state he could easily have been convinced that the jesus of their gospel was the true one. Or what about the man who knows little about God, but what he has heard has come from Mormons or J.W.’s. Could he be calling out to the true God? His sincerity is not being questioned nor is his zeal, but as with the Jews in Romans 10 he may well have been sincere and had a great zeal for God but if that zeal was not according to the knowledge of God, as He is revealed in the Gospel, he was lost and remains lost today for ever thinking that he was saved without God having revealed Himself to him in the Gospel. The apostle Paul prayed for the salvation of the Jews, of whom he said "...have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge" (Rom. 10:2), and representatively of all who would in the future have a zeal for God but not according to saving knowledge. They are ignorant of God’s righteousness and therefore cannot be submitted to it. No one can be saved whilst ignorant of God’s righteousness, for how can ignorance be conducive to submitting oneself to something which, due to that ignorance, is not known. None can call on Him of whom they do not believe and they cannot believe in Him of Whom they have not heard, so how can anyone submit themselves to that which they are ignorant of? Now tell me, how can a person who does not know God, has not heard the truth about Him as revealed in His mighty Gospel, possibly be calling out to Him! One can call out a person’s name at an airport but if two or more people present themselves, how will he know which one is the one he had to meet? Only if he knows the person, or has had them described to him, will they be able to discern. Again, the person who ‘calls out to God’ in ignorance of the Gospel could, moments later, be presented with false doctrines about the true God and believe them, and thus embrace a false god. I am not being pedantic, I am not asking a question that I have made up from some false concept I have devised about what salvation is and what knowing God is all about. I am simply echoing the Holy Word of God! YOU CAN ONLY CALL ON THE ONE YOU DO BELIEVE IN AND YOU CAN ONLY BELIEVE IN THE ONE OF WHOM YOU HAVE HEARD. And, in turn, you can only submit yourself to that which you are NOT ignorant of! You cannot be calling on the true God if you believe in a false god, and you cannot call on a false god if indeed you believe in the true God. You cannot be calling on the true God if you are ignorant of the true Gospel. How can a person holding to a false gospel possibly be calling on the true Christ, Whom that gospel does not and cannot reveal, and in Whom they do not believe? It would be like expecting the true Jesus to claim responsibility for something He did not do. Or allowing Himself to be yoked with one who did not believe the truth about what He has done, but in falsehoods. And how can anyone believe in the true Jesus if they have not even heard the only Gospel which reveals Him? If we love God because He loved us first (1 Jn. 4:19), then it proves that no man can call on God before He has revealed Himself via the Gospel. You cannot call on God and love Him before God saves you. SALVATION IS NOT ABOUT MAN COMING TO GOD BUT ABOUT GOD REVEALING HIMSELF TO MAN! If such were not the case, then salvation would be something merited by a man who had conformed to a directive. It would no longer be something given but earned. You cannot call on, trust in, or be submitted unto, the true Christ if you have not believed in Him. "In other words, calling on the name of the Lord is preceded by faith." If not, then one could rightly call on the true Lord before being given the faith to believe the Gospel which reveals Him! If there is no saving Faith present, which can only come by hearing the Word of the Gospel (Rom. 10:17), how can the one you are calling on be the Savior defined and identified in the Gospel? FAITH DOES NOT COME BEFORE HEARING, BUT BY HEARING! How can you be submitted to the Lord Jesus if you do not believe the Gospel which reveals Him? You may well be calling on the name ‘jesus’, but if it is not the Jesus of the Gospel, how can you be calling on the true Savior? No one has any right to say they believe in Jesus if they have never heard the true Gospel, which alone reveals Him. To think that God will save a person regardless of what they know and believe about Him is to say that God cares nothing about His truth, His grace, or how many lies a person believes about Him. It would mean that what God has done to save does not matter and is therefore not a factor in the salvation of a man. How would anyone be able to identify a false god if believing in lies about the true God could get a man saved? By their names? But what about the many false gods who go by the name jesus and god? False gods are identified by false doctrine. And, false christians are identified by the false doctrines they believe. False gospels may engender hope of salvation, but that hope can never be realised for it is not founded in the Gospel of God. Surely no one is foolish enough to think that one could identify the true God by false doctrines? Then how, it must be asked, could a man ever be believing in the true God who did not know and believe the true doctrines of His Gospel! It is to say that God will save you based on your ignorance of Him, based on what others say about Him as well as what He reveals about Himself in His Gospel! The Scriptures do not concur with any of this, for ignorance is the refuge of the damned! The Word of God says that belief of the truth, not ignorance of the truth, is the evidence that a man is saved. Sincere, heartfelt, belief in a false gospel, rather than being an excuse for someone’s salvation, is an indictment on those who preach and believe it. The man who is brought out of darkness and into the Light is the one who is saved, and the one who remains in darkness/ignorance is lost. Salvation is separation. It is to be separated from darkness to Light, from Satan to God, from error to truth, from ignorance to knowledge, from a false gospel to the true Gospel etc. It is not a gradual separation, but an instantaneous one! One does not become a Christian and is then slowly weaned off a false gospel, for the Christian is one who has been born of the Gospel. Belief of the Gospel comes at the point of being born of the Gospel. One cannot be born of God unless one is born of the Gospel which is the Seed of God. The Word of God does not say that anyone can be saved whilst believing a false gospel, but only those who are separated from such beliefs, who are sanctified by the Spirit of God for the express purpose of separating them from the ignorant and unregenerate who adhere to error, into God’s kingdom of Light where all His people—those who have heard, understood and believed His Gospel—dwell.
‘What about the person who believes most doctrines that are part of the Gospel but differs in only one or two. Are you saying that such people are also lost?’
In a nutshell, YES! How could it be otherwise? How can a person be said to be saved if they do not know and believe the whole Gospel of God? To believe part of the Gospel is like saying that one can be partly saved. What nonsense! People can believe what they believe the Gospel to be, but unless it is what God calls His Gospel it is no gospel at all. One requires the whole of the seed of man in order to be conceived. And one requires the whole of the Seed of God in order to be born again! Those who do not believe the Gospel shall perish, the Scriptures say, so it is imperative that we find out what it means to not believe it. What qualifies as unbelief of God’s Gospel? How much error does one have to believe in order to show they are in a lost state? This is done by finding out what the Gospel is. Then, if one believes it one is saved, and if one does not believe it, that is, if there is any amount or any degree of unbelief towards any of its doctrines, or if any of its doctrines are said to not be part of the Gospel, one cannot rightly be said to be saved. All the doctrines of the Gospel are connected, they are conjoined, and so to reject one is to reject them all, for the Gospel cannot stand, it will not support you, if it does not have all the doctrines which God meant it to have. The Gospel is like a circle—all its doctrines are seamlessly joined, leading into and out of each other. If even one of those doctrines is missing or removed then one is left with a disjointed circle and a gospel which fails to fully distinguish every facet of grace required to save a man. It is to end the unity, the sequence and the coherence of all that God has done to save His people from their sins. Are you of the opinion that the Scriptures mean that to believe the Gospel to be saved is to believe in anything short of the whole Message? Can you honestly detect even a hint of this in Jesus’ command to believe the Gospel? When Jesus said "preach the Gospel" (Mk. 16), do you think He meant ‘preach some of it’ or ‘a certain part of it’ or ‘enough of it’? Did He mean preach all of it, but that preaching some of it would be good enough? Hardly! Christ meant preach ALL of it! If He said preach it He meant preach IT—THE WHOLE THING! There is no qualification implied, no element of adequacy in His words, nothing to suggest He could have meant preach most of it, or preach most of it accurately, or preach enough of it. In saying ‘preach the Gospel’ Christ meant just that: preach the whole Gospel of God. Paul stated that he had "...fully preached the Gospel of Christ" (Rom. 15:19), meaning he had provided "...a full account of the truth and terms of the Gospel", that he had "...not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27 cf. v.24). Nothing short of this and nothing more than this could qualify as preaching His Gospel! If Paul the apostle preached and declared the whole Gospel then it is a given that to be saved one must believe that whole Gospel, for Paul described anything which fell short of his Gospel or differed in any way from it as another gospel, which obviously has not the power to save which only the true one has. To preach the Gospel is to preach ALL of it and so it stands to biblical reason that to believe the Gospel is to believe ALL of it!! How silly would a person be if they were to say, ‘I have heard the Gospel fully preached and I have fully believed it by consenting to most of its doctrines’. Believing only part, or even most, of the Gospel is not enough because in such a case the issue would not be how much truth one believes but why does one not believe all of it! If one claims to have the justifying faith of God, how come one does not believe the whole Gospel with it? Some of, or most of, is not ALL of. Why did the WHOLE Gospel have to be preached if the WHOLE Gospel did not need to be believed for a man to evidence salvation? If one claims to have the right key, HOW COME IT WON’T OPEN THE DOOR!! In order for a key to open a lock, it must be of a specifically contoured shape. A key has several notches in it and only one key will open a particular lock because only one key has the right number of notches in the right place and the precise shape those notches need to be in order to fit the lock perfectly and thus open the door. At first glance two keys may well look alike, and you may even have tried to open a lock using a key which was similar in appearance to the right key, but found that it could not open the lock. Simply because a key will fit the keyhole does not necessarily mean it will turn the lock. And a false gospel may contain some truth, it may even contain enough truth to convince a person they have the true Gospel, but the fact that it does not contain the whole truth of the whole Gospel is what identifies it as a false gospel and is why it will never gain anyone access to heaven. Only the key which was made to fit the lock will open it. Only the key which has all the correct sized notches in all the right places will not only fit the lock but will also open the door. If one tries to open a door with a key that is very similar to the right key, but which is missing even one notch, or that has one notch which is not the right shape, the door will just not open. So too, a gospel which falls even one doctrine short of God’s Gospel is a gospel which cannot save. This raises the question: ‘what is a man believing in place of the truth he should be believing, when it comes to the Gospel God has COMMANDED be believed?’ Those who leave a doctrine or two out of the Gospel are saying that right knowledge of the omitted doctrine or doctrines is not essential to saving knowledge. Not only this, but they leave the way open for erroneous beliefs concerning such doctrines to be mixed in with right belief of other doctrines and claim that such error does not affect salvation. Does it make any sense for God to reveal only part of Himself to a man through a few doctrines and then save him regardless of the fact that He has not fully revealed Himself to the man? Of course not. If only part of the Gospel mattered, then the rest of it would not matter. One could believe anything one wanted about the doctrines which did not matter and be saved regardless. To believe in God is to know God as He has revealed Himself in His Gospel and no other. He gave His Gospel to be believed and no part of it is to be ignored or thought of as dispensable. By ‘no other’ I mean gospels which contain partly truth and partly fiction about God, or nothing but lies about Him. That’s what a false gospel, or as Paul called it, another gospel, is. False gospels are either filled with lies about God or contain a mixture of truth and lies. The more truth it contains the more deceptive it is. Unless it contains the whole truth it cannot be the Gospel of God. So a gospel that does not contain all truth, all the truth God has revealed about Himself which makes up His Gospel message, cannot be His message because it leaves room for error and therefore cannot save anyone. If every part of grace is not covered by the doctrines of the Gospel then it leaves certain areas open to speculation, which leads to private interpretation and inevitably, works. If you have a gospel which allows room for a man to boast in what he has done, you cannot have the whole Gospel of God. For instance, if you have a gospel which leaves out election by grace you are saying that a man can be saved who believes that God has chosen him because of what he has done, or that one can believe that they chose God. How else can a false gospel be recognized apart from the erroneous doctrines it contains and/or the true doctrines it excludes? How else can a false gospel be recognized apart from the room it allows for man to think that some part of salvation is conditioned on his character and conduct? This is why, if it is a gospel that contains any error, or one which leaves out even one Gospel doctrine, it is at once revealed as a false gospel for, at best, it only contains part of the truth God has revealed about Himself in His Gospel and leaves room for conjecture, which can only lead to confusion. The presence of error in one’s gospel, or the absence of even one Gospel truth, shows that the whole truth has not been revealed and therefore one cannot be believing in it. Believing in some truth about God or even believing in most Gospel truths about God, far from being the identifying mark of a true Christian, always reveals that a man is also believing in something which God has not said, but in something which man has imagined. God reveals Himself to a man through the whole Gospel, the unbroken Gospel Message, and then grants the man the whole faith with which to believe that whole Gospel. The faith which God gives a man does not come in dribs and drabs so that it believes the Gospel gradually, for this would suggest that a man could be saved whilst still holding to error. Even if the majority of what he believed was error, he would still have to be considered saved because he has ‘begun’ to believe the truth. ALL THE FAITH NECESSARY TO BELIEVE ALL THE GOSPEL THAT SAVES IS GIVEN IN ONE PRESENTATION! God’s people are given the whole of God’s faith to believe the whole of God’s Gospel, for this is what is required for a man to be saved. The key to understanding this is that the faith which God gives justifies a man (see Rom. 5:1). Can anyone honestly say that God gives His justifying faith to a person only to see them believing in part of His Gospel? This would present us with the absurd situation of saved, justified people all believing with the faith of God but at different stages of their beliefs. Some would believe quite a few Gospel doctrines and others, who had not yet reached ‘such an advanced stage’, would be believing things that contrasted with the right doctrines of their ‘brethren’. ‘God saves this way’, ‘No, God saves this way’, is the situation the very Church of God would be in if each of its members did not believe the same Gospel with the same faith. Could anyone be so naive as to believe that even with the faith God gives, which justifies a man, a person could still fail to believe the whole Gospel message, could still fail to recognize all the doctrines which form the Gospel? How could God’s perfect faith lead anyone to believe in an imperfect gospel? How could God’s perfect faith lead a person to most of the doctrines which have to do with salvation but not all of them? And why would God allow such a thing? Anyone who believes in a gospel that contains error mixed with truth is believing in a false gospel and cannot, at this moment in time, be saved. Why are we so certain of this? Because believing only a few truths, believing only part of the true Gospel along with part of a false gospel is the best any unregenerate man can already do in and of himself. He does not need God’s help to believe God’s Gospel imperfectly, which is what the essence of believing a false gospel is. To believe God’s Gospel imperfectly is to believe it without the saving, justifying faith of God. To believe a false gospel is to believe God’s Gospel imperfectly, and therefore unsavingly, and evidences a faith which is carnal and not God-given. God’s giving a man a faith that could do no more than what man’s natural faith can do for him—believe a false gospel—would not make any difference to a man’s life. It would defeat the whole purpose of God’s dealing with a man by grace. It would serve no purpose, for salvation is incontrovertibly connected with knowing God and believing His Gospel, thereby being brought out of the realm of ignorance and into God’s marvellous Truth.