INDEX TO: Undeniable Doctrinal Truths
Undeniabl: UDT.001 Introduction
Undeniabl: UDT.011 Lesson One
Undeniabl: UDT.012 Lesson Two
Undeniabl: UDT.013 Lesson Three
Undeniabl: UDT.014 Lesson Four
Undeniabl: UDT.015 Lesson Five
Undeniabl: UDT.016 DEAD MEN CAN'T SEE
Undeniabl: UDT.0161 Lesson Six
Undeniabl: UDT.017 Lesson Seven
Undeniabl: UDT.08 WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ELECTION?
Undeniabl: UDT.081 Lesson Eight
Undeniabl: UDT.082 Lesson Nine
Undeniabl: UDT.083 Lesson Ten
Undeniabl: UDT.084 Lesson Eleven
Undeniabl: UDT.084 Lesson Twelve
Undeniabl: UDT.085 Lesson Thirteen
Undeniabl: UDT.1401 Lesson Fourteen
Undeniabl: UDT.1402 Lesson Fifteen
Undeniabl: UDT.1403 Lesson Sixteen
Undeniabl: UDT.1404 Lesson Seventeen
Undeniabl: UDT.1405 Lesson Eighteen
Undeniabl: UDT.1406 Lesson Nineteen
Undeniabl: UDT.1407 Lesson Twenty
Undeniabl: UDT.1408 Lesson Twenty-One
Undeniabl: UDT.1409 Lesson Twenty-Two
Undeniabl: UDT.1410 Lesson Twenty-Three
Undeniabl: UDT.1411 Lesson Twenty-Four
Undeniabl: UDT.2501 Lesson Twenty-Five
Undeniabl: UDT.2502 Lesson Twenty-Six
Undeniabl: UDT.2503 Lesson Twenty-Seven
Undeniabl: UDT.2504 Lesson Twenty-Eight
Undeniabl: UDT.2505 Lesson Twenty-Nine
Undeniabl: UDT.2506 Lesson Thirty
Undeniabl: UDT.2507 Lesson Thirty-One
Undeniabl: UDT.2508 Lesson Thirty-Two
Undeniabl: UDT.2509 Lesson Thirty-Three
Undeniabl: UDT.2510 Lesson Thirty-Four
Undeniabl: UDT.2511 Lesson Thirty-Five
Undeniabl: UDT.3601 Lesson Thirty-Six
Undeniabl: UDT.3602 Lesson Thirty-Seven
Undeniabl: UDT.3603 Lesson Thirty-Eight
Undeniabl: UDT.3604 Lesson Thirty-Nine
Undeniabl: UDT.3605 Lesson Forty
Undeniabl: UDT.3606 Appendix
Thus the plan of this little study book is systematic. The doctrine of salvation is studied according to the acronym TULIP. The "T" stands for Total Depravity (Mankind Dead in Sins); the "U" stands for Unconditional Election (the Doctrine of Election); the "L" stands for Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption); the "I" stands for Irresistible Grace; the "P" stands for Preservation of the Saints.
The reader might want to read Lesson Five first. This lesson is entitled "Salvation by Grace." It is really a very brief summary of the entire doctrine of salvation. I really should have used this lesson for an introductory lesson but I am choosing to leave it where it is. All the other lessons are in their proper places.
Each lesson is followed by what I trust will be thought-provoking questions which should be easily answered by reading the lesson and by looking up the references from Scripture.
Most of the lessons are followed by suggested memory verses. I can't urge too strongly that each reader commit these verses to memory as you move from lesson to lesson. These verses committed to memory will greatly aid you in meditation on the wonder of God's salvation. They will also greatly aid you in explaining to others what you believe. If you will memorize each verse as you come to it the task will not be too great.
I recommend this little study book for individual study, for group study, for family devotions. I have taught these lessons on two occasions at Grace Chapel Primitive Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, and we have greatly enjoyed them and have been benefited by them.
I give many thanks to Brother Keifor Beauchamp who type-set this little work in an attractive and very readable form. Thank God for co-workers like this.
I will be amply paid for my work if just one of God's dear little children benefits thereby. One of the main reasons to study the glorious doctrine of God's salvation is that we may better praise the Lord for saving us from our sins. As the dear servant of God, Elder E. C. Holder, who baptized me forty years ago used to say: "These truths will stand when the world is on fire."
Zack Guess, Memphis, Tennessee
God put man in the garden of Eden and gave him everything that he needed. God gave man only one negative command -- He told man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that if man did eat of this tree he would die (Ge 2:17).
Satan tempted the woman and told her that she would not die if she ate of the forbidden fruit. The woman believed Satan and ate; she also gave some to her husband and he ate (Ge 3:6; 1Jo 2:16). The woman was actually deceived by Satan, but Adam was not -- he simply rebelled against God's commandment (1Ti 2:14).
Now Adam and Eve did not drop dead on the spot even though God had told them that on the day that they ate they would surely die (Ge 2:17). We know that God is not a liar, so what did He mean when He said that they would surely die?
To begin with they began to die physically the very day that they ate. They became subject to infirmities, sickness, and the aging process which finally killed them. Scientists and doctors have tried for centuries to halt the aging process in mankind but have never been able to do it. Literally, "man is born to die." (Job 14:1-5; Ps 90:10; 103:15; 1Pe 1:24; Jas 4:14).
This physical death is basically the separation of the soul from the body (Ec 12:7).
But, even more important, Adam and Eve died in another way the very day in which they disobeyed God. This death was the separation of man from God. Before sinning, man had enjoyed fellowship with God; after sinning man no longer had this fellowship with God (Ge 3:7-13).
Both physical death and the death of separation from God are a result of sin (Ro 5:12; Jas 1:1
Did Adam's sin make sinners out of all the other people who would be born? (Ro 5:12).
If questions 1 is answered "yes", then why is this so? (Job 14:4)
When babies are conceived in their mothers' wombs are they conceived pure and sinless or are they conceived as sinners? (Ps 51:5; 58:3).
Do babies ever die in infancy? If so, what brings about their death? (Ro 5:12).
Is there anything in the Bible about an age of accountability at age 12 or any other age? If so, where is it found?
Memory Verse: Ro 5:12
I want to make it plain that God can and does save infants who die in infancy. He saved David's child (2Sa 12:23). Whether God saves all infants who die in infancy we don't know because the Bible doesn't say either yes or no and we are not to argue when the Bible is silent.
One thing is sure from Scripture and that is that babies are born sinners. If they are saved it is by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The only hope of an infant dying in infancy is salvation as believed and taught from the Scriptures by the Primitive Baptist Churches. Most other people teach that a person must hear and accept the gospel in order to be saved. This is impossible in the case of an infant.
But the Scriptures teach that God can give eternal life to an infant in its mother's womb (Lu 1:41,44) or to a very small baby on its mother's breast (Ps 22:9). But we must not let this blind us to the fact that babies are sinners. God hated Esau while he was still in his mother's womb (Ro 9:10-13). We must not question God.
When man fell into sin and died the death of separation from God, he also fell under the wrath of God (Joh 3:36; Ro 5:9; 9:22; Eph 2:3; 1Th 1:10). This wrath of God is a terrible thing and those who have to endure it will be in torments forever in hell (Mr 9:44). This terrible penalty is a result of sin, which is rebellion against God. If a person dies in his sins, he will have to endure this terrible wrath (Joh 8:21,24). This shows how very terrible the fall into sin in the garden of Eden really was. The only hope anyone has of escaping this terrible penalty is in the lord Jesus Christ.
When man is in this condition of being dead in sin, he is completely dead to the things of God. He is not just sick -- he is completely dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1,5). While in this condition, a man may have physical life but be completely dead as far as understanding spiritual things are concerned. He can eat, sleep, go to church, even read the Bible -- but he can't really know, love, or appreciate the things of God. He can hear and understand a sermon but he can't really understand it in its deepest sense (Joh 8:43,47). He simply cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God because he does not have the Spirit of God in Him (1Co 2:9-14).
A natural man, dead in sins, may be very religious and may do many good works, but he doesn't do them for the right reason. The Pharisees were very religious but many of them were not God's children (Joh 8:13-24). A true spiritually alive child of God will serve God from the heart because he loves Him. A dead sinner may outwardly serve God, but he cannot serve Him from the heart, for his heart is dead toward God.
A dead sinner can't save himself; he can't even help save himself; he can't even meet God halfway; he can't even cooperate with God in his salvation.
Can a man dead in sins "accept Jesus Christ" as his personal Saviour? Why or why not?
Can you tell if a man is dead in sins by looking at him?
Can a very intelligent man, dead in sins, understand the Bible better than a real dumb, spiritually alive child of God? Why or why not?
Can you think of some reasons why a dead sinner might like to go to church?
Why would a dead sinner give a lot of money to the church or to some other Christian cause?
When man fell into sin his nature became corrupt. By this we mean that his disposition, his desires, his appetites became prone to evil. Man's very nature -- his very instinct, was to do evil (in the Bible sense, everything which is not done to the glory of God is evil). Man does not sin in order to become a sinner -- he sins because he is a sinner. Man, in his natural state, loves sin (Mt 12:33; 15:19; Joh 3:19).
While in this state man's will is a slave to man's nature. So no man has a free will. There is no such thing as a free moral agent. For example: place a piece of raw meat and a bowl of cereal in front of a lion. Which will he choose? The raw meat, of course. Why? Because he is by nature a meat eating animal. In a sense he was free to choose either the cereal or the meat, but in another sense he was not really free because he was controlled by his nature. Likewise, a spiritually dead sinner will always choose to do evil, he will always rebel against the demands of Christ in his life. He will always reject the gospel. Outwardly he may appear pleasant and good, but inwardly, he is always bad. And even his outward good works are bad in God's eyes. This is because "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Ro 14:23). The spiritually dead sinner does not have faith so everything he does is sinful in the eyes of God (Heb 11:6; 2Th 3:2).
Why is even the action of a dead sinner when he is working at his normal occupation sin in the eyes of God? (Pr 21:4).
Why didn't God accept Cain's sacrifice? (Ge 4:2-5; Heb 11:4).
When we say that man doesn't really have a free will, does this mean that God makes him sin? (Ac 4:26-28; 2:23; Pr 16:4; Jas 1:13).
When spiritually dead sinners sin are they doing what they want to do? (Ro 1:32; Joh 3:19).
What does Mt 7:15-20 mean? 1Jo 4:2-3).
Every part of a spiritually dead sinner is affected by sin. Since this is a very misunderstood subject, let us see what we do not mean by the above statement.
WE DO NOT MEAN THAT:
. . . the sinner is completely without a moral conscience. Even the dead sinner has a certain sense of right and wrong (Ro 1:32). Even criminals have a certain code of ethics.
. . . the mere natural man does not have any of those qualities which are considered good according to human standards. A mere natural man may in fact be considered an outstanding citizen in his community (1Co 13:2-3; Mt 7:22-23).
. . . every man is by nature prone to every form of sin. This would not be possible, because some forms of sin exclude others. For example the sin of stinginess may exclude the sin of luxury -- the sin of pride may exclude the sin of adultery or drunkeness.
. . . men are by nature unable of engaging in acts that are outwardly conformed to the law of God (Lu 18:11-12).
. . . men are as corrupt as they might be. Men may and do grow worse and worse (2Ti 3:13). The potential for every form of evil is in the heart of the sinner, but he may not have fully developed this potential.
What are some good qualities that a dead sinner may have? Are these considered good in the eyes of man or good in the eyes of God? (Mt 5:46-47)
Can you think of a reason why a dead sinner might live a good life so far as sexual morality is concerned?
Why would some dead sinners not commit murder?
Why would some dead sinners not be drunkards?
Can you think of at least one man in the Bible who outwardly kept the law of God even while he was dead in trespasses and in sins? Why did he keep God's law while he was in this condition?
Are all dead sinners lazy and slothful? Why would a dead sinner be a hard worker?
Memory Verse: Ps 51:5
We are already supposed to have memorized Ro 5:12 which shows that Adam passed sin down to the whole human race. Let us now memorize Ps 51:5 which shows that David and all other people are born into the world as sinners.
Salvation is entirely by the grace of God. The Bible tells us, "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). This scripture sets grace in contrast with works. In fact, salvation can't be by a combination of grace and works because it would no longer be salvation by grace (Ro 11:6). The main idea in grace, then, is "kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved."
Grace is also set in contrast to the law, therefore if salvation comes by grace, then salvation does not come by the individual keeping the law of God (Joh 1:17).
Many people say, "Yes, I believe in salvation by grace. I don't believe that man gets salvation by his works. But I do believe that man must exercise his will and accept Jesus Christ as his personal saviour." But the Scriptures plainly teach that salvation is not by the works of man nor by the will of man (Ro 9:16). Salvation is the work of God alone.
This has to be so because man by nature is dead in trespasses and in sin and can do absolutely nothing to save himself, to help save himself, or to even cooperate in his salvation (Eph 2:5).
God, in his mercy and for reasons known only to Himself chose or elected a people before the foundation of the world and determined that He would save them from their sins (Eph 1:4; 2Ti 1:9). Some people say that God has a book of life and that He writes people's names in it as they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. This is not true. God had all the names of His elect people written in the book of life before the world began (Re 17:8). God did not choose or elect some people because they were better than others. He simply chose some according to His good pleasure and didn't choose others according to His good pleasure (Ro 9:11-24). We are not to question God about this but we are to trust Him.
These elect or chosen people were still sinners so something had to be done to remove their sins from them. Jesus Christ came and paid for the sins of the elect when He died on the cross. He didn't die for everyone. He died for the chosen or the elect only. And everyone for whom Christ died will be saved eternally in heaven. Christ is not a failure. He did just exactly what He intended to do (Joh 6:39; 10:11; 17:2; Mt 1:21; Joh 8:47; 10:26; Mt 20:28).
Christ, in His death on the cross, provided salvation for all His people. But that salvation actually has to be brought to them. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings the elect to Christ to receive spiritual life. As the Holy Spirit calls, those who are called always come because the call is so powerful (Joh 6:37,44; 3:8; 10:27-30).
After God's people are born again, or have eternal life, then God preserves them in grace so that they can never lose their salvation. They may stumble and fall but the Lord will always pick them up again. When they die their spirit will go to God and their bodies will return to dust. At the resurrection their bodies will be raised and glorified; their bodies and spirits will be rejoined and they will be eternally happy in the presence of God. (Php 1:6; Joh 10:27-30; Ro 8:28-39; Joh 6:39,44).
The gospel is not an instrument that brings about the new birth. But after a person is born again then he is able to respond to the gospel in a positive way. The gospel does not give spiritual life but it manifests spiritual life. The Lord has to touch the heart of a person before he can truly accept and embrace the teachings of the gospel (2Ti 1:10; Ac 16:14).
To try to show the work of each person in the Trinity in the work of salvation, let us give a homely illustration:
God the Father is the architect who drew up the plan of salvation. He designed it perfectly in every detail. He did this before the world began. God the Son was the Contractor of the work of redemption. He took the plan drawn up by the Father before the foundation of the world and built the house of salvation by coming into this world, living perfectly before the Father, and dying the death of the cross.
The Holy Spirit is the One who actually gets God's people and puts them into possession of the house of salvation. He does this when He causes them to be born again.
In Scripture, this work of the Trinity can be seen in 1Pe 1:2.
Memory Verses: We have memorized Ro 5:12 and Ps 51:5. Let us now memorize Eph 2:1 and 1Co 2:14.
Note: The following article should be read and studied before proceeding to Lesson 6.
The Natural Man
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." This passage from 1Co 2:14 tells us that the natural man (the man who has not been born from above by the Holy Spirit) is totally unable to receive or even to understand anything of a truly spiritual nature. The natural man may be extremely intelligent and well-read; he may be very cultural and sophisticated; he may be artistic and able to converse in several languages -- but he cannot understand even one small spiritual truth while he remains in his natural state.
This man may read the Bible and even memorize whole chapters from it, but he cannot really grasp its true and deepest meaning. This man may go through the motions of prayer, but he is not really praying as far as God is concerned.
Why is this so?
Because the natural man does not have spiritual life. He is totally dead to the entire realm of the Holy Spirit. How did the get to be this way? The first man on the earth, Adam, disobeyed God's command and brought death -- both spiritual and physical death -- down upon the entire race of mankind. The Apostle Paul states the case in Ro 5:12 -- "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
The purely natural man has physical life but he is spiritually dead. In the Bible this is called being "dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph 2:1). All men are nothing more than natural men from their very conception, and they remain this way unless God gives them spiritual life. David even said, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Ps 51:5).
Natural men do not realize how very dead they are!
Christ once talked to a group of these natural men who didn't realize that as far as spiritual things were concerned, they were utterly dead. He was speaking to a group of Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day. He said, "Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word." (Joh 8:43). This is a remarkable statement. These men did actually hear the words spoken by Jesus, yet Jesus said that they didn't hear His words. Furthermore, he said that they could not hear His words. So there must have been a deeper level of hearing that went beyond the mere physical sound of Jesus' voice. And as far as this level was concerned, these Pharisees were dead, even though they had physical life.
And they are not the only ones who are dead.
Christ said, "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." (Joh 8:47). So only the people of God can really hear and spiritually understand the words of God. They are foolishness to everyone else.
I would like to ask a question. Are God's words foolish to you?
Alive, Yet Dead
How can a man have physical life, be intelligent and active, and yet be dead to the things of God? Why is a man who is able to comprehend physical realities unable to do the same with spiritual phenomena? The simple answer is this: "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (1Jo 5:12). So a man may have tremendous physical vitality and be as dead as a stone to the true realities. This explains why many scientists with very high levels of intelligence are able to deny the things of God and some of them actually deny the very existence of God. They may be very brilliant men but they are also dead men.
John said that, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Joh 3:3). All men are natural men and nothing more at conception. But God gives spiritual life to some by causing them to be born again, and then they are able to see and understand the glorious realities of the kingdom of God. Then they are possessors of both natural and spiritual life. And it must be added that a man is no more able to obtain spiritual life by his own efforts than he is to obtain natural life on his own. The giving of spiritual life is wholly the work of God who gives spiritual life to whom He pleases (Ro 9:15).
But to better understand the mystery of how a man can be alive physically but dead to spiritual things at the same time, let us consider the following: A dog has natural life. There are many things that a dog has in common with a man. They both eat, they run, they breathe, they play, they hunt, etc. but when it comes to the world of rational thought and speech, the dog is dead to the man's world of thought.
In like manner, a man may have physical life and be able to function brilliantly in the world of thought, but, at the same time, be completely dead in so far as the spiritual realm is concerned. A natural man and a "born-again" spiritual man have much in common. They both have physical needs and appetites; they both operate on a high intellectual level and are able to think in the abstract. They can both communicate with speech and can work with mathematics. They can both marry and raise families. There is so much that they have in common. But when they reach the limit of natural realities and enter the threshold of the things of God, the purely natural man must stop. He cannot enter here. He is not equipped to do so. He is dead to this world!
A purely natural man is as dead to the things of the Spirit as the dog is dead to the man's world of the intellect.
A mere natural man may read the Bible, may learn all of its original languages, may make a close study of its grammar, and still not really understand what God is saying in it. He may think that he understands -- many of those Pharisees thought that they understood, too, but Jesus said that they did not understand His speech and could not even hear His word (Joh 8:43).
On the other hand, the most ignorant and handicapped child of God can understand more of the true meaning of Scripture and other spiritual things than the most brilliant of natural men. In fact, the natural man can understand exactly nothing of the true import of Scripture. Jesus said in this regard: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou has hid these things form the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Mt 11:25-26).
The spiritual man will love the Lord God; it is impossible for the natural man to do so.
The spiritual man has repented of his evil ways and turned to God for mercy. Have you repented toward God? Do you feel the need of repentance? The natural man does not even feel the need of repentance.
The Case of the Dead Bible Scholar
I have on my desk a book written by a very brilliant and learned student of the Bible. In his own words he says that this book "is the outcome of an endeavor which has extended over forty years to discover who the man Jesus Christ really was." It seems wonderful that a man would spend forty years of hard labor to find Jesus Christ. The only problem is that from all appearances the author is a dead man. He did not find the real Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, because he did not have eyes to see or ears with which to hear. He did not seek Jesus because he wished to adore and worship Him, but that he might blaspheme Him and tell lies about Him. What this man has written in his book shows so clearly that Jesus Christ can't be found by the natural man, no matter how brilliant and studious he may be.
The name of the scholar is Hugh J. Schonfield. the name of his book is The Passover Plot. Let us examine a part of it. We may gain some insight into the workings of the mind of the natural man. This man thinks he is a free agent (all natural men make a loud boast of their vaunted freedom). But to all appearances he is an abject slave to Satan and to sin. Satan is the real author of all the lies about the Son of God which he promotes in his book. Schonfield states that as a youth, the Person of Jesus greatly attracted him (p. 12). But what a morbid attraction it proved to be! He was not like the Wise Men who wanted to find Jesus to worship Him; rather, he was like King Herod who wanted to find Jesus that he might hurt and kill him.
In this man's diligent search he even made a translation of the Christian Scriptures from the original Greek. But in the process he denied that the Scriptures are the inspired word of God (p. 14). He does this primarily because he wishes to do away with the miraculous element in the New Testament. He wants to deal with Jesus merely as a man of flesh and blood and to explain Him apart from being the divine Son of God. This is a common tactic among men who are dead in trespasses and in sins.
In doing away with the supernatural he denies that Jesus Christ was born of Mary the virgin (p. 48). This is a flat denial of the Scriptures (Mt 1:18-25), and amounts to calling God a liar. To use his own words, Schonfield says: "There was nothing peculiar about the birth of Jesus. He was not God incarnate and no Virgin Mother bore him. The Church in its ancient zeal fathered a myth and became bound to it as dogma" (p. 50).
The Fairy Dust of Faith
A blind man cannot see. A man dead in sin cannot receive spiritual things. Jesus, in speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, said: "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him . . ." (Joh 14:17). All that a purely natural man can see is limited to the natural world. The things of the Spirit appear as utter foolishness to him. Schonfield shows his utter inability to "see" in the following statement: "With the birth stories of Jesus, and of John the Baptist also, we pass directly from the world of sober reality into the world of fairy tale" (p. 49); a horribly blasphemous statement that reveals the author's complete blindness. But then, even though he means to be irreverent and sarcastic, he unwittingly utters a great truth. He says, "All we need is the application to our eyes of the fairy dust called faith to enable us to see and acknowledge this."
Schonfield meant to be sarcastic but what he said contained a great truth. Men cannot see without faith. Not all men have faith (2Th 3:2). Men cannot please God without faith (Heb 11:6). No one has the ability to just reach out and get faith. Faith is a gift of God's grace (Eph 2:8). God sovereignly gives this gift to whomever He pleases and withholds it at His pleasure (Ro 9:15-16). As far as true Christians are concerned, "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2Co 5:7). This is why one with faith can believe the account of miracles in the Bible and those, like Schonfield, who have only natural sight, are utterly incapable of such belief. This lack of faith is what makes the Bible such a strange book to him.
The Passover Plot
Schonfield's main thesis is that Jesus thought He was the Messiah. He planned His life so that it would be a fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. He even planned His death on the cross, but he arranged that a narcotic would be given Him so that He would just appear to be dead. He also arranged that someone would take Him down, put Him in a cave-tomb, and revive Him. Then He would appear as if He had risen from the dead. Schonfield says, however, that when the Roman soldier thrust his spear into Jesus' side that He was wounded so badly, He revived just long enough to give some last minute instructions and then He died never to rise again.
In speaking of this plan Schonfield says, "A conspiracy had to be organized of which the victim was himself the deliberate secret instigator. It was a nightmarish conception and undertaking, the outcome of the frightening logic of a sick mind, or a genius" (p. 132).
It is difficult to see how more blasphemous ideas could be entertained or more ungodly words could be written. If anyone doubts this conclusion he has good reason to wonder whether he has eyes to see or ears to hear.
What do you think the Almighty God thinks of these words written about the Son of God who took on Himself a body of flesh and lived, suffered, and died on behalf of His people? What do you think the Lord will do about such words as these? What would you men do if someone called your wife a whore? Would you just smile and shake his hand and agree with him? If you did, what kind of a an excuse for a man would you consider yourself to be? What do you think the God of heaven will do to one who calls His Son a liar and a fraud and never repents of it?
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Ro 12:19)
Satan is no fool. He will do anything he can to win the favor of God's people and, like the spider, entice them into his net. We must beware. Schonfield says a lot of nice things about Jesus, but this must mean nothing to us when we consider the total impact of his message. He does this to gain the sympathy of a Christian audience. It is as if someone tortured and killed your family and then said, "Oh, what a lovely family you had."
And even in the nice things that this dead man says about Jesus, he lies. For instance: "We have to accept the absolute sincerity of Jesus. But this does not require us to think of him as omniscient and infallible" (p. 41). Or again: "The historical Jesus has always been there for the finding, not faultless, not inerrant, not divine, but magnificently human" (p. 185).
Christ said that He was the divine Son of God. Schonfield says that Christ is a liar.
"Let God be true, but every man a liar..." (Ro 3:4).
If Christ was a mere man there is no hope for us; there is nothing but despair. Paul tells us the full implications of this: "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain . . . And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sin . . . If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (1Co 15:14,17,19).
I am thankful that I do not share the blasphemy of this dead man, Schonfield. My God is the God of the Scriptures. He lives and moves. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Re 19:16) I believe Him when He says, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death" (Re 1:18).
Because I believe this, I want to say, "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Re 19:6).
Can You Hear?--Can You See?
Do you share this faith in a triumphant, resurrected, reigning Christ, whom you acknowledge as Lord? If so, then, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear" (Mt 13:16).
Are you an unbeliever? If so, then remember that, "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" (2Th 1:7-9).
Our assignment for this time was to read DEAD MEN CAN'T SEE by Bro. Zack Guess. This is a study of the truth contained in I Cor. 2:14. After reading this, let us answer the following questions:
According to the Scriptures, what is a natural man?
If the things of God are foolishness to a person, what does that indicate to us about that person?
What did Jesus mean in Joh 8:43 when He said, "Ye cannot hear my word?"
What has to be done to a man before he is able to really understand and appreciate the things of God?
What are some of the things that a natural man and a born again spiritual man have in common? What are some of the things they don't have in common?
Why do natural men commonly deny the miracles in the Bible?
Why is it dangerous when someone writes a lot of nice things about Jesus Christ, but also writes some very wrong things about Him? (See 2Co 11:13-15)
Memory Verses: Joh 8:47 and Ro 3:23
We have memorized Ro 5:12; Ps 51:5; Eph 2:1, and 1Co 2:14. Let us now memorize Joh 8:47 and Ro 3:23.
When man became dead in sins, every part of him was affected. Therefore, there is no part of man that is able to respond to God while man is in this condition of being dead in sin. There is no good left in man -- not even a slight spark. Sin has affected every faculty of man's being just as a drop of poison would affect every molecule of a glass of water. Sin has stained every faculty in man, and thus it affects his every act.
An examination of the Scriptures will abundantly show that sin has warped every faculty in man: Ro 8:7 The mind is depraved. Jer 17:9 The heart is depraved. Joh 3:19 Man is depraved in his affections or desires. Tit 1:15 The conscience is depraved. Ps 58:3 & Ro 3:13 The speech is depraved Even the feet are depraved. Ro 3:10-19 & Isa 1:5-6 Man is depraved from head to foot. Because man is thus totally depraved or completely dead in trespasses and sins, he cannot, until quickened by the Spirit of God, turn from sin to God in Godly repentance and faith (Jer 13:23; Joh 6:44,65; 12:39-40).
This doctrine that we have been studying has sometimes been called the doctrine of Total Depravity or Total Inability.
Is the expression "let your conscience be your guide" a safe one to go by? Why or why not?
Since the heart is deceitful, what is the only safe guide we can use to govern our lives by?
Why did the chief priests and Pharisees want to kill both Jesus and Lazarus, even though they knew that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead? (Joh 11:47-53 & Joh 12:10-11; Ac 4:16-17)
Why will the world experience trouble and bloodshed until the Lord Jesus Christ returns?
Memory Verse: Romans 3:10
We have memorized Ro 5:12; Ps 51:5; 1Co 2:14; Eph 2:1; Ro 3:23; and Joh 8:47. For our last verse on this subject let us memorize Ro 3:10. This will give us seven basic Scriptures on this subject which will enable us to witness to others and to defend this Scripture truth.
The Importance of the Doctrine
Before you begin to read this article, please get your Bible and have it close by you as you read. This article is designed to point out what the Bible, itself, actually has to say about the important DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. References from the Scriptures will be given to support every point that is made, and it is suggested that you look up each of these references for yourself, as they occur. As you begin to see the rich and full support of Scripture for this doctrine, it will, no doubt, become apparent to you why this truth has been one of the most prized and cherished ones loved and defended by the people of God for thousands of years. However, Satan also knows how vital this doctrine is and it is for this reason that no other single truth in all the history of the church has been so viciously and consistently attacked as the TRUTH OF ELECTION. Satan's primary goal is to bring dishonor on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. To believe in, to rejoice in, and to support the doctrine of election is to honor Christ. To deny the teaching of election is to dishonor the Lord and to deny the glory that is due Him, and Him alone.
Different Types of Election
There are at least three types of election spoken of in the Scriptures:
Election of an individual to an office or to a work.
National Election: the election or choice of a nation for a particular work.
The election of individuals from a state of death in sin to a life in Christ.
Each of these needs is to be considered briefly in the light of Scripture, but particular attention must be paid to the last phase of election mentioned--in fact, this election of individuals to salvation is usually what people have in mind when they think or speak of the DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. No matter what type of election is being spoken of in the Bible, the basic idea is always "to choose from, to pick out from." Notice this basic idea in the discussions that follow of the several different types of election taught in the Bible.
1. Election Of An Individual To An Office Or Work
Many times in Scripture God chooses an individual to fill a particular office or to do a certain work. Jeremiah was chosen or elected by God to be a prophet long before he was born (Jer 1:5). God chose David to be king over Israel (1Ki 8:16). Jesus chose His apostles to do a certain and particular work (Ac 1:2). These few references will suffice to show that there is indeed in the Bible an election or choice by God of certain individuals to particular offices or to perform certain tasks. Notice that none of these individuals volunteered for the job or office; none of them co-operated with God in their choice. God did all the choosing, all the electing. God did not choose these individuals because in His prior knowledge of all events He saw that they would come to love Him and gladly do His will. In fact God called Paul when Paul was actively opposing Him (Ac 9:1-18). He chose Peter even though He knew that Peter would later deny Him (Lu 22:54-62). In other words, God did not choose these individuals to do a work for Him because they were worthy to be chosen; rather He chose them out of His mercy, in spite of themselves and their sinfulness, BECAUSE HE DESIRED TO DO SO. He did what it pleased Him to do. His choice or election originated entirely in Himself and was not based on any conditions that must be met in those whom He chose.
2. National Election
The same general principles discussed immediately above also apply to another type of God's election taught in the Bible--His National Election. God has chosen particular nations to do particular things or to fulfill certain destinies. The most prominent example of national election in Scripture, of course, pertains to the nation of Israel. God chose Israel to be His particular people of covenant privilege. Israel is often called God's elect (Isa 45:4). God chose Israel and determined that it was through this nation that He would give the law, the prophets, and eventually this was the nation through whom the Savior would come, according to the flesh.
The question is, why did God choose Israel? Why didn't He choose some other nation? Why make particular choice of any nation? Why practice discrimination against the nations that were not chosen? Did God choose Israel because she was larger? Smaller?
The Scriptural answer is plain. It is found in De 7:6-8. This Scripture plainly states that the choice of God was not because Israel had any distinctive traits about her which set her apart from the other nations. The only reason why God chose Israel was because He loved her. His choice was free and sovereign. He did not love her because she was loveable; on the contrary she was stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful. God's love for Israel originated entirely within Himself and is one of the wonderful mysteries of His Divine Person.
3. The Election Of Individuals To Salvation
The climax of this discussion has now arrived. God's election, selection, choice of a people to Himself, in Christ Jesus, for eternal salvation is a basically important truth that deserves much prayerful meditation and study.
It would be well to state the doctrine as concisely and clearly as possible at the very start. Election is that decree of God which He eternally makes, by which, with sovereign freedom, He chooses to Himself a people, upon whom He determines to set His love, whom He rescues from sin and death through Jesus Christ, unto Himself in everlasting glory. Every clause in this definition is upheld by a great mass of Scripture as will be shown in the following discussion. But first, why was election necessary anyway? Why did man need salvation? What did he need salvation from? If he did need salvation, could he not save himself without the need of outside help? If he was not able to completely save himself could he not at least co-operate with whomsoever it was that was trying to save him? These questions must be carefully considered in the light of Scripture in order to get a correct teaching on the subject of election.
Adam, the father of all humanity, disobeyed God and brought ruin upon himself, but not only himself was affected, but all of his posterity, that is, all the human race (Ro 5:12). Paul tells us that the result of sin is death. Physical death was included as punishment for Adam's sin, but a much worse death than physical death was also under consideration--a death in sin. A man may be very much alive physically and indeed quite healthy and still be dead in trespasses and in sins (Eph 2:1-5). Now, as it is true that a man who is physically dead cannot perform any physical activity, it is also true that a man who is dead in sin cannot perform any spiritual activity (1Co 2:14). He is just as dead to spiritual things including salvation as a physically dead man is to physical things. How much help could a dead man give to a doctor who is trying to bring him back to life after he has been dead for some time? The answer to this foolish question, of course, is that he would be able to give the doctor no help whatsoever, because he is dead. The same answer would have to be given if the question were asked about how much a man dead in sins would be able to help get himself out of this state of death into a state of spiritual life and fellowship with God.
The reader may think this discussion about being dead in sin has nothing to do with election and that the above paragraph has been completely irrelevant and off the subject--but not so! This discussion is necessary to prepare us to correctly answer the above question. We now can answer why man needed salvation--because he was dead in sins. What did he need salvation from?--this state of death into which he fell in Adam (Ro 5:12). Could he not save himself or at least co-operate with someone for his salvation? Absolutely not! Why? Because he was dead and dead men are capable of no activity. Is salvation then impossible? With men, yes, salvation is impossible. God must do the work of salvation, from beginning to end (Mr 10:27). How then does God save and who does He save? This brings us face to face with the Bible teaching of God's election.
Considered against the background of man's being dead in sin, election is seen very clearly. Since the whole of humanity is fallen in sin from which they cannot save themselves, none will be saved apart from the redeeming grace of God which is in Christ Jesus. ELECTION IS THE SOVEREIGN CHOICE OF GOD AS TO WHO MAY RECEIVE THIS GRACE. Election is God's design to choose from sinful mankind all of whom deserve condemnation, those who He will save. The source of this salvation is Jesus Christ, and the means through which this salvation is applied to the individual is the Holy Spirit, but the actual choice of who will be included in this salvation is the work of God the Father (1Pe 1:2).
It must be emphasized that the basic idea in election is that of choice or selection. We must admit this if we study the Scriptures and give a true and faithful interpretation of the words that are contained therein. Two Greek words, contained in the original of the New Testament plainly show this basic idea of sovereign choice in election. EKLEKTOS is an adjective signifying "the chosen". This word is used in such passages as Mt 24:22,24; Ro 8:33; Col 3:12. The same word is translated "chosen" in Ro 16:13 and Re 17:14 among other places. EKLOGE is a noun, meaning "that which is chosen". It is used in Ro 9:11; 11:5; 7:25; 1Th 1:4; 2Pe 1:10. Even if you had never heard of the doctrine of election before now, if you have carefully referred to each of the Scriptures mentioned, you are now perfectly aware that election is a very Scriptural doctrine. Some ministers are so opposed to this clear Bible teaching that they would much prefer that those who hear them would steer clear of the many passages which teach this doctrine. This approach involves dishonesty and an unwillingness to bow before Scripture. Others will admit that election is taught in the Bible but will deny in several subtle ways, that it is talking about the choice of some sinners out of the whole race of sinners to salvation. The perversions of the doctrine of election will be considered a little later, but now it is necessary to get back to the discussion of the Bible teaching of election itself.
The doctrine of election declares that God, before the foundation of the world, chose certain individuals from among the fallen members of Adam's race to be the objects of His undeserved favor (Eph 1:4; 2Ti 1:9). These and these only, He purposed to save. God could have chosen to save all men (for He had the power and authority to do so) or He could have chosen to save none (for He was under no obligation to show mercy to any). But He did neither. Instead, He chose to save some and to leave the rest in their sinful condition. Men, by their sins, have cut themselves off from the Lord of heaven and have forfeited all rights to His love and favor. It would have been perfectly just for God to have left all men in their sin and misery and to have shown mercy to none. GOD WAS UNDER NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER TO PROVIDE SALVATION TO ANYONE.
Those who were not chosen to salvation were passed by and left to their own devices. Man has not the right to call God's justice into question for not choosing every one to salvation (Ro 9:14-24). Knowing of the goodness and mercy of God we are obligated to accept God's revelation of Himself and His work as it is presented to us in His word, and knowing that He is infinitely good, refuse to foolishly charge Him with being wicked and unjust. This is the very height of sin, and the foolish accusations against the goodness of God in His work of election are motivated by the God-hating Satan.
Why did God elect His people unto Himself? His choice of particular sinners unto salvation was not based upon any foreseen act or goodness or willingness on the part of the elected ones (Ro 9:11). God's choice was based entirely on His own good pleasure and sovereign will (Eph 1:5,11). Election, then was not determined upon anything that man would do, will, or think, but resulted entirely from the purpose of God. Remember that this same principle held true in God's election of men to certain offices and works; it also held true concerning God's choice of certain nations to particular works and destinies (De 7:6-8). God did not choose Israel to be His special covenant people because she had some good to merit God's choice. God does His choosing in all phases of election according to the good pleasure of His will. God's choice was not based on man's goodness, works, faith, holiness, not even on his faithfulness to the gospel.
In a paragraph or two following, some popular and wide-spread objections to the doctrine must be considered. This is necessary because the truth must be defended. But right now, it would be good to look at this doctrine from a positive standpoint. This is the way election should be looked at, not as a harsh doctrine to be dreaded, but as a beautiful truth to be cherished and loved. And it is beautiful when it is considered that there are no spiritual blessings apart from election. If you have enjoyed spiritual blessings it is because you are one of God's elect. Do you enjoy praying, singing praises to God, reading His Holy Word, hearing and rejoicing in the blessed Gospel of Christ, living an honorable life that God may be glorified thereby? If the answer is "yes", THEN YOU ARE ONE OF GOD'S ELECT. You are bound for heaven because God loved you before the world began (1Th 1:4). The apostle Paul broke forth into jubilant song when he began to write about all the blessings that stem from election. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." Thus all blessings stem from election and it is a beautiful doctrine to rejoice in.
In view of the beauty of this doctrine and of the comfort to be derived from it, it is, at first glance, somewhat difficult to understand why such wrath and opposition has been directed against it. Even when Christ preached this doctrine, Himself, as He did so beautifully in John 6, some of His own disciples called it a "Hard Saying" (Joh 6:60). The truth is that Satan hates this doctrine with a passion, because it gives all the honor and glory to God for salvation, and each of us, even the elect, still have a sinful nature which we will have to contend with till death (Ro 7:15-25). This sinful nature wants to have a little glory of its own. Our sinful nature is plagued by pride. We like to think that there was at lease a little something good or beautiful in us that caused God to love us. Our pride strives to prevent us from admitting that in ourselves we are completely helpless and unless a sovereign God had loved us when we were unlovable and chosen us in Christ, we would have gone into everlasting damnation. In heaven the triune God will get all the credit for salvation. Here man wants a part of it. The way some men discount the power of God in election, they seem to think the song they will be singing in heaven will be somewhat as follows: "Praise God for His work of election! Praise the Son for His work of redemption! Praise the Spirit for His work of regeneration! Praise the missionary board for sending the preacher to me! Praise the preacher for coming and preaching the gospel to me! Praise me for receiving the gospel and thereby becoming saved!" You can readily see that here the work of the preacher or the sinner is fully as important as the works of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No matter where the breakdown occurs, salvation is thwarted if one of the above parties fails to do his part. But, praise God, salvation is not left up to man. It is the work of God, Who makes no mistakes, and will have ALL the praise! There won't be any songs like the above sung in heaven. The so-called "soul-winners" will have to give way before the God of Heaven. The heavenly chorus will give all the praise to the one who actually wrought salvation. "Any they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation . . ." (Re 4:9).
Some Objections Considered
What are some of those objections that are raised against the glorious teachings of God's election? First, and most horrible, there are some objections that contain charges against God Himself. These objections are not new, They have been raised as long as the doctrine has been preached and taught: even when it was taught by Christ and the apostles. There are two of these types of objections found in Romans 9. It would be well to examine these and observe the Apostle Paul's inspired answer to them. Our answer today can be nothing but the same answer of inspiration.
"What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?" (Ro 9:14).
"God forbid". Our answer must be the same today if the foolish and sinful objection is raised that God is unfair because He chose some to salvation and left others out. The God of heaven and earth, Who has revealed Himself to us in many ways is incapable of committing wrong. The reasons He has given us in His word should be sufficient for us. Speculation on any further reasons is futile and sinful. Trying to limit God's actions to our own notions of what we think would be right or wrong for Him to do is the very height of unenlightened presumption. What are the reasons God has given us for His work of election?
"That He might make known the riches of His glory. . ."(Ro 9:23).
It is "according to the good pleasure of His will. . ." (Eph 1:5).
"To the praise of the glory of His grace. . ." (Eph 1:6).
We cannot go beyond these answers that are revealed in Scripture. If there are still questions that are unanswered to us we must bow in humility before the truth of Scripture.
If election is true then "Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?" (Ro 9:19).
THE ANSWER FROM SCRIPTURE:
"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?"
Another objection that is commonly raised against the doctrine of election is that it is fatalistic. It leads men to be careless sinners. A man may say, "If I'm not one of the elect, I'm going to hell no matter what kind of life I live, so eat, drink, sin, and be merry".
This is a very old objection. It is at least as old as Paul's time (Ro 6:1-2). How is this objection to be answered? Simply this - if a man has the above attitude, there is no evidence that he is one of God's elect. God's elect have an inborn spiritual life that prompts them to bring forth fruits of righteousness that God's name may be honored by their lives (Mt 7:15; 12:33). There have been many of God's elect who, far from having the above sinful attitude, have given their lives as martyrs in the service of their Lord. A licentious person has no grounds for claiming that he is one of God's elect. Election does not lead to sinfulness of life. On the contrary, the child of God is continually seeking to "make His calling and election sure" unto himself and to others (2Pe 1:10). One of God's elect will be grief-stricken when he falls into sin, will seek repentance and God's forgiveness.
Some Perversions Of The Doctrine
Having show what election is, it will now be necessary to briefly show what election is not. This is necessary because many who must freely admit that the doctrine of election is abundantly taught in the Bible, seek to pervert it and attempt to dilute it.
One perversion of this doctrine is that God elected or chose only the Jews and that was only as His representative nation on earth. It has already been pointed out that God did choose the Jews or the nation of Israel for a specific purpose. This was His national election or choice of Israel to perform certain functions. But this national election was not the election of God's chosen ones to salvation. The Jews were chosen to deliver to the world the law, the prophets, the priesthood, etc., but they were not all chosen for salvation (Joh 8:39-44). It is a very simple matter to demonstrate that election unto salvation pertained to Gentiles as well as Jews. Paul, a Jew, in writing to the church composed mostly of Gentiles at Ephesus states that "God has blessed us (Jew and Gentile) according as He hath chosen (elected) us (Jew and Gentile) in Him before the foundation of the world, that we (Jew and Gentile) should be holy and without blame before Him in love." (Eph 1:3-4). The whole epistle abounds with the words we and us. A Jewish writer and mostly Gentile readers, both chosen and predestinated.
Another perversion of the doctrine of election is that God chose only the apostles. When Christ mentions His own in Joh 17, He speaks of the apostles. Election then, it is affirmed, is only God's choice of the apostles, and nothing more than this. It has again, already been pointed out that God did elect or choose the apostles and other men as well, to fill certain offices or to do particular work, but this election is not the election of all God's people to salvation. It is easy to show that there is a lot more to election than merely pertains to the apostles. Peter shows this plainly in his first epistle: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father . . " (1Pe 1:1-2). Peter covers a broad region and states that there are those of the elect scattered throughout this region. To scatter the eleven remaining apostles over such an area would be to scatter them mighty thin indeed. Certainly eleven men could not be scattered throughout such an area. Peter also states that these elect are strangers. The Apostles were not strangers to Peter. They had lived and labored together and were intimately acquainted. So, this perversion of the doctrine of election is just another vain philosophy of men.
Finally, one more corruption of this precious doctrine must be answered. Some teach erroneously that election was based on a foreknowledge by God of some good in men or on a foreknowledge that some men would accept Christ and these would be the elect. This interpretation not only contradicts the idea of sovereignty, but ignores the basic meaning of the word foreknow in Scripture when it pertains to election. In the first place, if this interpretation were correct, then God would not be electing anyone. He would merely be ratifying the choice of the sinner. There is a great deal of difference between election and ratification. In the second place, when the word foreknow is used in Scripture pertaining to election it does not mean mere knowledge beforehand but carries with it the idea of regard with favor. This is easily seen in Ro 8:29; 11:2. Ro 8:29 does not say that "those whom God foreknew SOMETHING ABOUT, He predestinated." It says "WHOM He did foreknow." God foreknew people here, not things about people. The same is true in Ro 11:2. When the Bible speaks of God knowing particular individuals, it often means that they are objects of His special regard and concern. In Am 3:2, God, speaking to Israel says, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth, . . ." The Lord knew about all the families of the earth, but He knew Israel in a special way. In Mt 7:23, Jesus says to some men, "And then will I profess unto them, I never KNEW you: depart from Me ye that work iniquity." It is certain that Christ knew ALL ABOUT these evil men, but He never knew them as the objects of His favor and love. While it is certain that God had a prior knowledge of man's actions, it does not follow that any such actions were to be the basis of God's choice of them.
In summary, election in the Bible is the unconditional choice of individuals. The choice was based on God's love and purpose, not merit; neither merit potential nor merit foreseen. Election was the act of a sovereign God who cannot be halted or even questioned. This doctrine is the central truth of all the Scriptures. It is present in every passage, implied or pre-supposed in every part. To deny this truth is to make of God a helpless God, dependent upon the will of man, able to work only after man has made his decisions. GOD FORBID. Let us rejoice in the God of Scripture, the Almighty one to Whom all the praise, honor, and glory is due forever! THAT GOD IS THE ELECTING GOD.
Our assignment for this time is to read the pamphlet "What Does the Bible Say About Election?" by Eld. Zack Guess. After reading this, let us answer the following questions:
What are the three basic types of election taught in the Scriptures?
Give an example from Scripture of the election of an inidividual to a special work. (Jer 1:5; Ac 1:2)
Give an example from Scripture of the election of a particular nation for some special purpose.
What is the basic idea in election, no matter which type is under consideration?
Why did God choose Paul to be an apostle?
Why did God choose Israel as His special Old Testament people?
Memory Verse: Let us memorize Eph 1:4.
Our assignment is to continue to read the pamphlet "What Does the Bible Say About Election?" by Bro. Zack Guess. As we read this, let us answer the following questions:
What is the final destiny of an individual whom God elects to salvation?
Which Person in the Holy Trinity elected people to salvation? (1Pe 1:2)
When did the work of God's election take place? (Eph 1:4; 2Ti 1:9)
Was God obligated to save anyone? Why or why not?
Why did God choose some persons to salvation and others He did not?
Was there any thing in man that caused God to choose to elect him?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Eph 1:4. Let us memorize 2Ti 1:9.
Our assignment is to continue to read the pamphlet "What Does the Bible Say About Election" by Bro. Zack Guess. As we read this, let us answer the following questions:
Is election a beautiful doctrine or is it a harsh doctrine? Give reasons for your answer.
What are the benefits that flow to God's people through election?
How can you tell if you are one of God's elect people?
Why does sinful human nature object to the Bible teaching of election?
How does the Bible teaching of election bring glory to God?
If someone says that God is unfair in His work of election, how are we to answer him? (Ro 9:14-18)
Memory Verse: We have memorized Eph 1:4 and 2Ti 1:9. Let us memorize 1Pe 1:2.
Our assignment is to continue to read "What Does the Bible Say About Election?" As we read, let us answer the following questions:
If someone said the doctrine of election causes men to be careless sinners, how should we answer him?
If someone said that election pertained only to the Jews, how should we answer him?
If someone said that election pertained only to the apostles, how should we answer him?
If someone said that God foreknew who would accept Him and that He elected them because of this, how should we answer him?
What is the Bible usually talking about when it uses such words as "know" and "foreknow"?
Memory Verses: We have memorized Eph 1:4; 2Ti 1:9, and 1Pe 1:2. Let us memorize Ro 8:33.
We can see God manifesting His purpose of election down through the centuries. Even in the second generation of mankind, Abel was a man of faith and Cain was of the wicked one (Ge 4:4-5; 1Jo 3:12; Jude 25; Heb 11:4). Abraham was an idolator (Jos 24:2; Ac 7:1) when God called him. Why did God choose Abraham and not someone else? Simply because it was His good pleasure to do so. God loved Jacob and hated Esau even though these two boys were twins. And He did it simply because it pleased Him to do so (Ge 25:21-23; Mal 1:2-4; Ro 9:10-13). God certainly didn't choose Jacob because he was better than Esau, as an examination of their lives will show.
In the New Testament, we see individuals who were of God though they had formerly been His enemies (the Apostle Paul), and we see individuals who were not of God (Judas Iscariot, for example). On the day of Pentecost after our Lord's resurrection we see two kinds of people: those that spoke of the "wonderful works of God" and those that mocked the work of the Holy Spirit (Ac 2:11,13).
Throughout history there have been two kinds of people in the world--those of God and those not of God. What makes the difference? God's eternal decree of election.
Why did God choose Abel and reject Cain?
Why did God choose Abraham?
From reading Ge 25 and Ge 27, did God choose Jacob because he was better than Esau?
Did God choose Paul because Paul had a great love for the Lord Jesus Christ?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Eph 1:4; 2Ti 1:9; 1Pe 1:2, and Ro 8:33. Let us memorize Ro 9:11.
The Doctrine of Election
God does just exactly what He wants to do. This is plain from Da 4:35. So if God wanted to save all men it is certain that all men would be saved. But it is certain that not all men are saved (Joh 8:44), so it stands that God did not intend to save all men. He elected or chose to salvation all whom He intended to save. God is the supreme sovereign and election is an expression of God's sovereignty. Election gives all glory to God. "There are only two systems of theology. One of those gives all the glory to God, the other divides it with man." (J. W. Porter)
Arminianism is any system of doctrine that makes salvation conditional on the acts, will, or merit of man. "All men are by nature Arminians; and the absolute sovereignty of God is a doctrine hateful to the natural and depraved heart. False teachers have taken advantage of this natural feeling and have for ages inflamed the prejudices of Christian men and women against the exercise of sovereignty on the part of God." (J. R. Graves)
"Arminianism is the slickest lie the devil has ever invented in all his age-long opposition to God. It is his supreme effort to deface the godhood of God. It exalts man and insults God. It festers human pride and detracts from divine glory." (T. P. Simmons)
"The Bible not only teaches the doctrine (of election) but makes it prominent--so prominent that you can get rid of election only by getting rid of the Bible." (Bishop)
What is an Arminian?
Why is Arminianism so popular?
What is meant by God's sovereignty?
Is the Arminian idea of God the Biblical idea of God? Why or why not?
Why is the doctrine of election glorifying to God?
Memory Verse: "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God, for our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." 1Th 1:4-5
Many people teach that Christ did not actually save anyone by His death on the cross. But rather, they say, He died to provide salvation for each and every human being in the world. However, they say, each human must do his part or the work of Christ is in vain. Most of these people will admit that there will be many people in hell--in fact most of them teach that there will be more people in hell than in heaven. So perhaps without realizing it, they have Christ a great failure who lost a great many of the ones for whom He died. They have many people in hell for whom Christ died.
This is terrible and it is simply not true. The Bible teaches that Christ did not lose even one for whom He died. (Joh 6:38-39).
If Christ died for every individual of the human race then every individual will be saved.
But the Scriptures plainly teach that there are those who will not be saved. (Mt 7:23; 25:41; Joh 8:44). Therefore, Christ did not die for everyone, else all would be saved.
What does redemption mean?
Who did the work of redemption in the salvation of sinners?
For whom did Christ die?
Did Christ's death actually secure salvation for those for whom He died?
If Christ actually died for every member of the human race, what would be the final destiny of every human being?
Memory Verse: Mt 1:21
The simple fact is that Christ simply did not die for all men. He did not intend to save all men or He would have done so. He certainly has enough power to do what He wants to do. Many have the perverted idea that there will be persons in everlasting hell whom God loves. Would you let someone you love suffer such a fate? Some say that God's love changes to hate when the sinner rejects God's offer of salvation. But God's love is not of this nature. God's love is like God Himself--it is simply eternal and unchangeable (Jer 31:3; Mal 3:6). God simply doesn't love all men (Ro 9:13) and Christ didn't die for all men (Joh 10:11).
John Owen has pointed out that there are three possibilities of the extent of the death of Christ:
1. Christ died for all the sins of all men
2. Christ died for all the sins of some men
3. Christ died for some of the sins of all men.
If 1 is true, then all men will be saved. We know this is not true.
If 3 is true, then no one will be saved.
If 2 is true (and it is), then some men will be saved. These are the "elect" spoken of in Scriptures.
Some people say that Christ died for your sins, but that your unbelief will keep you from being saved. But is not unbelief a sin? If Christ died for all the sins of some, He also died for the sin of unbelief.
People who believe that Christ died to provide salvation for everyone but did not actually secure salvation for anyone believe in the General Atonement. Those who believe (rightly so) that Christ did not die for everyone, but that He actually secured salvation for everyone for whom He died, believe in the Limited Atonement (the work of Christ being limited intentionally by God to the elect) or in Particular Redemption (being purchased for particular individuals--the elect).
Loraine Boettner has aptly described the General Atonement as a wide bridge that only goes halfway across a stream. Everyone gets on the bridge but no one gets across the stream. He describes the Limited Atonement as a narrower bridge which goes all the way across the stream. Not everyone gets on the bridge, but every one who gets on goes all the way to the other side.
Will any that God loves go to hell?
Does God's love ever change?
Will unbelief keep one for whom Christ has died out of heaven?
Why didn't Christ die for everyone?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Mt 1:21. Let's learn Joh 10:11.
Redemption from sin was accomplished by the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. This happened nearly two thousand years ago. Therefore, when we talk about redemption, we are talking about an accomplished historical fact. We are not talking about something that remains to be accomplished or completed, but something that was completely finished over nineteen hundred years ago. The book of John points this out as follows: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." (Joh 19:30) Whatever was necessary for the removal of sin from the people of God was accomplished at Calvary. It has been done perfectly and nothing from man needs to be added to it! This was the work of Christ for His people. We will consider later the work of Christ in His people (the new birth.) But we can say now that everyone that Christ did something for on Calvary will, sometime in their lives on earth, experience the work of Christ in them as the benefits of salvation are brought to them by God, the Holy Spirit.
To further show, from Scripture, that Christ actually finished the work of redemption on Calvary, let us examine the following passages:
"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Pe 1:18-19).
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb 9:12)
Notice here, that it doesn't say that He tried to obtain eternal redemption or that "He did His part; now you must do yours to make it complete." He actually obtained eternal redemption for those for whom He died. If He died for the entire human race, then they have all been redeemed and there will be no one in hell. But from other Scripture we know that this is not true. So for whom did Christ die? For the elect. Every one of them will be eternally saved because Christ actually redeemed them from their sins on Calvary.
"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation." (Re 5:9)
Not one drop of Christ's blood was shed in vain! But those who teach that Christ tried and intended to redeem the whole human race teach that much of Christ's blood was, in fact, shed in vain.
Christ's death was a substitutionary death. He actually died as a substitute for certain people (the elect). He satisfied the debt that these people owed to God. The elect were set free because their debt had actually been paid. If I go to the bank and pay off the debt for one hundred particular men, then these men are actually debt free. But not everyone that owes the bank money is free of debt.
We find this principle of substitution set forth in the following Scriptures:
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for (lit. instead of, in the place of) many." (Mt 20:28)
"For he hath made him to be sin for (lit. in behalf of) us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2Co 5:21)
When was redemption accomplished?
Does any of the work of redemption remain to be done?
What was the redemption price?
Who offered the redemption price to God? When was it offered?
What do we mean when we say that Christ died as a substitute?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Mt 1:21 and Joh 10:11. Let us memorize Mt 20:28.
We have already stated that the doctrine of Particular Redemption teaches that Christ died for the elect and the elect only. Christ did not die for any that would perish in hell. Let us examine this teaching and see how reasonable and consistent it is.
All those for whom Christ gave His life as a ransom are either ransomed or they are not. It is very evident, from Scripture and from observation, that not all the human race is ransomed from the penalty of God's law. Now, if some for whom Christ gave His life are not ransomed then it follows that Christ at least partially died in vain! This, of course, is absurd. Since we know that Christ did not die in vain, we must conclude that He did not die for every individual in the human race.
The very song of the redeemed in glory is a joyful song of election and particular redemption: "Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." (Re 5:9) The elect are said to have been redeemed out of or from among (Re 14:4) the mass of mankind. There is certainly no universal redemption taught here.
Consider further the fact that if there are people in hell for whom Christ died, suffering for their own sins, then God is demanding double payment. Christ paid for their sins on the cross, and they are suffering for the same sins in eternal torment. God does not operate like this. He is a God of justice. When His justice has been satisfied, those for whom satisfaction has been made go free. The elect are Christ's by right of purchase. (1Co 6:20; Ga 3:13, etc.)
To teach universal redemption is to teach that Christ died for the damned in hell as much as for the saved in heaven! This would make the atonement a very haphazard and loose arrangement. But the atonement (redemption) was precise and exact. God's justice demanded that Christ pay the exact penalty of the sins of those who are saved.
There are many passages of Scripture where Christ is said to die for certain ones, not for every human being. Let us examine some of these.
Joh 10:11--Here the elect are called His sheep. Notice that in this chapter there are other humans mentioned who are called "thieves," "robbers," "hireling," "wolf." But Christ said that He laid down His life for the sheep. Joh 10:26 plainly says that some of the Jews were not His sheep. Therefore, He did not die for them. This Scripture alone is ample proof that Christ did not die for every individual in the human race.
Mt 1:21--Here the elect are called His people. And the emphatic statement was that He would save them from their sins. He would actually save them--not just make provision for their salvation.
Joh 6:37,39; 17:9--In these passages the elect are spoken of as those whom the Father had given to Christ.
Heb 2:13--Here they are called the children.
If some for whom Christ died are not saved, what does this tell us about the work of Christ?
If Christ died for the sins of some people who will suffer for these same sins in hell, what does this tell us about the justice of God?
Did Christ die for those who will be in hell?
What are some of the names in Scripture by which those for whom Christ died are called?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Mt 1:21; Joh 10:11, and Mt 20:28. Let us memorize Heb 9:12.
There are some Scriptures which seem at first glance to support the idea of universal redemption. But the Bible doesn't contradict itself and teach particular redemption in some places and universal redemption in others. On closer study, each of the Scriptures which might seem to support the idea of universal redemption in fact teach that Christ died for the elect and for none other.
One of the most commonly used Scriptures to support the idea of universal redemption is Joh 3:16--"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Let us note, first of all, that God does not love all men without exception: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Ro 9:13); "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity" (Ps 5:5); "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Mt 7:23); "Ye are of your father the devil..." (Joh 8:44).
These and other Scriptures plainly teach that God doesn't and never has loved each and every member of the human race.
But the Scriptures don't contradict each other, so what is meant when it is said that God loved the world?
The word "world" is used in many different ways in Scripture. Anyone who will simply examine a concordance and look up the passages where "world" occurs, will soon discover that this word is used in the New Testament in a variety of ways. Sometimes the word "world" is used of unbelievers in distinction from believers (Joh 14:17; 15:18-19; 17:9,14). Sometimes it refers to people in general (Joh 12:19). Sometimes it refers to the created material system (Joh 1:10). In the great majority of instances it is a general and indefinite expression which has reference to the Gentiles in contrast with the Jews. Sometimes the word means everyone on earth (Ro 3:19).
Here, in Joh 3:16, the word "world" means God's elect in all nations--Gentiles as well as Jews. As a typical Jew, Nicodemus thought that God loved nobody but Jews. The Jews of Christ's time on earth believed that all but Jews were unclean and could only be saved by becoming Jewish proselytes. This idea prevailed even among some of the Jews who had been baptized into the Christian church (Ac 15:5).
In Joh 3:16, the Lord told Nicodemus that God so loved the world (elect Gentile as well as elect Jew), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (elect Gentile as well as elect Jew) believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Commenting on Joh 17:9, dear old Elder C.E. Smith said, "And so Jesus prayed for those He died for, and He died for those He prayed for."
The "whosoever believeth" in Joh 3:16 is a descriptive term, not a conditional term. No one can be a believer in Christ but a born-again child of God. All God's elect become believers when they are born of God. Christ told some who were not God's chosen ones, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep..." (Joh 10:26). In Ac 13:48, it is said, "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Notice that they didn't believe in order to become ordained to eternal life. They believed because they were ordained to eternal life. Believing doesn't give one eternal life; one believes because he has eternal life. The ability to believe (faith) is given to the child of God in the new birth (Php 1:29; Eph 2:8; Joh 6:29). Notice it says in Joh 6:47, "He that believeth on me hath (already has) everlasting life." So belief (the exercise of faith) is an evidence of life, not a condition to be met in order to get life. A baby cries because it is alive--a person believes in Jesus Christ because he has spiritual life.
What is some of the Biblical evidence that God doesn't love all men?
What are some of the ways the word "world" is used in the Scriptures?
What does the word "world" mean in Joh 3:16?
Who can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?
What is faith?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Mt 1:21; Joh 10:11; Mt 20:28, and Heb 9:12. Let us memorize 1Pe 1:18-19.
In the following lesson, we will continue to examine some Scriptures which are used by some to teach the doctrine of universal redemption.
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1Jo 2:2).
First we must examine the word "propitiation." The idea of propitiating is that of appeasing one who has been offended. The offended one has been pacified--his good will has been won or regained. Thus the basic idea is that of satisfaction--the offended party has been satisfied.
So we can see that whoever Christ is the propitiation for--satisfaction has been made to God for them. For, here God is the offended party. His righteous law has been broken by mankind and His holiness has been offended. He would have forever remained offended at all mankind had not Christ made satisfaction. The question is, who did Christ make satisfaction for? If He is the propitiation for every human being, then every human being will be saved. But we know that not every human being is saved so who constitutes the "whole world" spoken of in this text?
The answer is essentially the same that we gave on Joh 3:16 in the previous lesson. As was pointed out there, the word "world" is used in many ways in Scripture. Sometimes this term means only a relatively small part of the world, as when Paul wrote to the church at Rome that their faith was "spoken of throughout the whole world" (Ro 1:8). No one but other Christians would praise these Romans for their Christian testimony. The world in general didn't even know that such a church existed at Rome. So the reference to "world" here was only the believing world, which constituted an insignificant part of the entire world. Shortly before Jesus was born, "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed" (Lu 2:1). The "world" here was only the comparatively small part of the total world which was controlled by Rome.
In ordinary conversation we speak of the business world, the sports world, the world of politics, etc. But we always understand each of these "worlds" in a limited sense.
If in 1Jo 5:19, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness," the author meant every individual of mankind, then he and those to whom he wrote were also in wickedness, and he contradicted himself in saying that they were of God.
The "our" in 1Jo 2:2 refers to Jewish Christians, for John was an apostle to the "circumcision" (Ga 2:9) and these were the people to whom he ministered primarily. The "whole world" in 1Jo 2:2 refers to God's elect scattered among the Gentiles. To understand the meaning of 1Jo 2:2, we would do well to consider Joh 11:51-52. That the expression, the "whole world" is not an unlimited one, is clear from Re 12:9 compared with Mt 24:24.
To repeat for emphasis what was in the previous lesson, there was a good reason for the New Testament writers to use such expressions as "the whole world," "world," "all the world," etc. These expressions were used to correct the false notion that salvation was for the Jews only. These expressions are intended to show that Christ died for all men without distinction (that is, He died for Jews and Gentiles alike) but they are not intended to indicate that Christ died for all men without exception (that is, He did not die for the purpose of saving each and every lost sinner).
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (Joh 1:29)
The same statements apply to this verse as apply to Joh 3:16 and 1Jo 2:2. If the world here is every human being, then the sins of every human being have been taken away and there will be no one in hell. But we know that this isn't the case because of Scriptures like John 8:24.
It is also interesting to note that a portion of the human race was already in hell when Jesus spoke these words. This compels us to admit that the world here is not the entire human family.
We must emphasize again that we often use general terms like this when we want to express a general principle. When we read that a certain city is smitten with a smallpox epidemic, no one concludes that every individual in it has contracted the disease.
In every Scripture where the word "world" is used in a similar sense the above statements will apply.
The Scriptures very plainly teach definite or particular redemption. We have already seen this from such passages as Joh 10:11; 17:9, etc. Scripture doesn't contradict itself. The only contradictions are found in the minds of sinful men. Therefore, when the Bible speaks of the "world" in connection with the atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ, it does not teach something contrary to the plain Scriptural teaching of definite atonement.
What is the basic idea in propitiation?
Who made up the "whole world" spoken of in Ro 1:8?
Who made up the "world" spoken of in Lu 2:1?
What are some of the ways in which we use the word "world" in ordinary conversation?
Who are the "our" spoken of in 1Jo 2:2?
Who are the "whole world" spoken of in 1Jo 2:2?
Why did the Bible writers use such expressions as "world," "the whole world," "all the world," etc., with reference to salvation?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Mt 1:21; Joh 10:11; Mt 20:28; Heb 9:12, and 1Pe 1:18-19. Let us memorize 1Pe 2:24.
There are some passages of Scripture where the use of the words "all," "every man" etc. are thought by some to teach universal redemption. But as was the case with the word "world," an examination of such Scriptures in their contexts and in the light of the teaching of the Bible as a whole, will show clearly that these Scriptures actually teach particular redemption.
First, we will show that the word "all" is used in many different senses in Scripture. Usually the meaning of the word is "all who are under consideration." Who are the "all" in Joh 6:37). The "all people" in Luke 2:10 were all the people of God.
These few considerations show unmistakably that the word "all" is used in different senses in Scripture. To repeat what was said about the word "world"--one use for these seeming universal words was to correct the false notion that salvation was for the Jews only. The salvation of the Gentiles was a mystery which had not been made known in other ages (Eph 3:4-6; Col 1:16-27). This then was a truth which was necessary to be brought out in the very strongest language. Paul was for example, to be a witness "unto all men" of what he had seen and heard. (Ac 22:15). As used in this sense the word "all" means to mankind in general-to Jew and Gentile alike.
We will now examine some specific Scriptures where these terms are used:
Hebrews 2:9--the phrase "every man." In the first place the "man" is not in the original Greek. So every what is under consideration? The next verse plainly shows that it is every son. In fact the context of this entire chapter restricts the "every In v. 10, it is the "sons;" in v. 11 it is the "sanctified" and the "brethren." In verses 13 and 14 it is the "children." Verse 14 makes it plain. He destroyed death for those for whom He died. Therefore He destroyed death for the "every" for whom He tasted death in verse 9. If this is the entire human race then the entire human race is saved.
I Tim. 2:6--"who gave himself a ransom for all." In the first place whoever He gave Himself a ransom for are ransomed and saved. So if the "all" means every human being then this Scripture teaches universal redemption.
In the second place Scripture always interprets Scripture. This expression should be interpreted by Christ's own words: "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mt 20:28). Titus 2:14 says that He "gave himself for us." The "all" in Timothy and the "us" in Titus and the "many" in Matthew are the same. They are God's elect. The elect are made up of all sorts of men--Jew, Gentile, rich, poor, black, white, etc.
I Tim. 2:4--"Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
In the first place, if Christ wills all men to be saved, then all men will be saved. Whoever the "all men" are here will be saved. God works "all things after the counsel of his own will". (Eph 1:11). He does, "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)
In the second place, each of those who are saved are going to be brought to a knowledge of the truth. I don't think this truth here means a complete system of doctrinal truth but rather an experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior (See Joh 17:3; Heb 8:10-11). Every child of God comes to some inward acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ when he is born again. And this is the "truth" under consideration here. After all, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (Joh 14:6).
The "all" here is God's elect among all classes of men. They, and only they, are the ones for whom Christ is mediator between them and God (Verse 5).
Who are the "all" in Mt 3:5-6?
Who are the "all" in Lu 2:10?
What does the word "all" usually mean in Scripture?
Who is the "every man" in Heb 2:9?
If every human being is included in the "all" of 1Ti 2:6, what does this mean?
In what sense will all of God's people come to the truth?
If God wills all men in the world to be saved will all men be saved?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Mt 1:21; Joh 10:11; Mt 20:28; Heb 9:12; 1Pe 1:18-19, and 1Pe 2:24. Let us memorize Heb 9:28.
In our previous studies, we have examined some Scriptures which, at first glance and isolated from other Scriptures, seem to some people to teach universal redemption. In each case, we have seen that these and all other Scriptures teach that the redemption of Jesus Christ is limited to the elect people of God.
In this study sheet we will consider several other Scriptures which some use erroneously to teach universal redemption.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1Co 15:22) In the first place this Scripture proves too much for those who advocate a universal atonement, for these are not statements of possibility--they are statements of fact. If the "all" made alive in Christ include the whole human family then the whole human family will be saved. No Bible believer holds to this position.
What is under consideration here is the fact that while Adam was the HEAD and REPRESENTATIVE of the human race, Jesus Christ, "the second man," "the last Adam" (1Co 15:45-47) was the HEAD and REPRESENTATIVE of God's elect. Because God placed Adam as the federal head and representative of the entire human race, they all fell in him when he sinned (Ro 5:12). But, unlike the first Adam, Jesus rendered perfect obedience to the Father and merited a perfect righteousness which is imputed to all the children of God. (Joh 17:2; Heb 2:13).
The "all" who die in Adam includes every member of the human race. The "all" who are made alive in Christ include the elect. 1Co 15:23 makes it plain the elect are under consideration in the second "all" of 1Co 15:22. We die by means of Adam because we were IN Adam; and we live by means of Christ because we are IN Christ. Union with Adam is the cause of death; union with Christ is the cause of life.
"Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Ro 5:18).
The same arguments which applied to 1Co 15:22 apply here. Paul is dealing with FACTS here, not with possibilities. It is a FACT that all mankind died in Adam. The parallel would not hold if condemnation was a fact in the one case, but justification was only a possibility in the other. Just as sure as condemnation came upon the all men in Adam (all mankind), so justification came upon the all men in Christ (the elect). A limitation of the second "all men" of this verse is also suggested by the whole reasoning of the epistle, and especially in Ro 8:30, where the JUSTIFIED are identified with the FOREKNOWN and GLORIFIED.
Union with Adam is both REPRESENTATIVE and VITAL (actual or living). Representatively, his sin is the judicial ground of our dying. Representatively, his sin is the judicial ground of our condemnation. Vitally, we derive from him a corrupt and enfeebled nature. Union with Christ is also both representative and vital--for the elect. Representatively, the righteousness of Christ is judicial ground of our justification. Vitally, we derive from Him the Holy Spirit, which is the source of spiritual life (Ro 8:9-11). So the first "all men" of Romans 5:18 is the family of mankind; the second "all men" is the family of the elect.
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2Pe 3:9). "All" is explained by the word "us-ward." It is to "them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Pe 1:1). Whatever God wills will come to pass (Da 4:35; Eph 1:11). Since God wills that none of His elect will perish but that they will all come to repentance this will happen. God's people are all given the ability to repent when they are born again. The long-suffering referred to in this verse is the long-suffering that God exercises when He refuses to destroy this sinful world until all His elect are born into the world and then born again.
Who are the "all" who die in Adam?
Who are the "all" who are made alive in Christ?
Who did judgment come upon to condemnation?
To whom belongs the free gift of justification?
In what two ways are we in union with Adam?
In what two ways are we in union with Christ?
Who are the "us-ward" in 2Pe 3:9?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Mt 1:21; Joh 10:11; Mt 20:28; Heb 9:12; 1Pe 1:18-19; 2:24; and Heb 9:28. Let us memorize 2Co 5:21.
In this study, we will examine one passage of Scripture which Arminians, Universalists, and others use to teach the doctrine of General or Universal Atonement. We have not studied all such Scriptures, but we have studied a sufficient number to give us some experience in the correct interpretation and application of Scripture. With diligent, prayerful, study the student of the Scriptures who cares enough to find out what the Bible really teaches, has been given a few tools and guidelines with which to work.
Before considering our passages, let us look at a few principles of Bible study which are essential to "rightly dividing the word of truth." (2Ti 2:15).
1. We must first see who is doing the writing and to whom he is writing. This will often greatly clarify the meaning of a passage. In one of the Scriptures we will study 2Pe 3:9. A knowledge of the writer and the persons to whom the epistle is addressed, is absolutely essential to a correct understanding.
2. The context (what goes before and what follows after) of a passage usually MUST be considered if a Scripture is to be correctly interpreted. An example of a Scripture where a knowledge of the context greatly helps is Heb 2:9 where the following verses show who the "every man" (literally "every") is.
3. Scripture never contradicts itself. Therefore, for example, the "all" of 1Ti 2:6 must be interpreted in the light of the "many" of Mt 20:28.
There are other principles to consider, but these are basic and it is impossible to understand the Bible without keeping them in mind.
"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." (1Ti 4:10)
In my mind, there are two possible explanations of this passage. I will give both and then tell you which one I favor:
First, we know that the passage DOES NOT teach that Christ actually saved every member of the human race--this would be Universalism and no Bible believer is a universalist (one who believes that every human being will be eternally saved).
Second, this Scripture does NOT say that Christ is the POTENTIAL Saviour of every human being; that is, that He provided salvation for all on the cross, but the salvation will not really be theirs unless they accept it. No, this passage does not teach that. It does not say that God is the "potential Saviour" but, that He "is the Saviour" of all men. So this Scripture doesn't teach the Arminian view any more than it does the Universalist view.
A. One possible explanation of the passage goes something like this: God is the Saviour of all His elect ones (the "all men") but in a special way He is the Saviour of those elect ones who believe the truth, or in a special way He is the Savior of those elect ones who are REALLY believing in Him (by strongly exercising their faith). Now this is a possible explanation of the Scripture.
B. Another explanation goes something like this: Eternal salvation from sin is not even under consideration in this passage. Notice that "the living God" is here mentioned not the Lord Jesus Christ in His specific role as Redeemer. The work "Saviour" (SOTER in the Greek) can also mean "deliverer" or "preserver." God is the preserver of all mankind in the sense that "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Mt 5:45). All mankind is indebted to God for these temporal gifts without which they would immediately perish.
But God is "specially" the preserver and sustainer of "those that believe" (the elect). Even in this temporal life, as David said, "I have been young, and am now old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Ps 37:25).
God specially preserves His people from all manner of danger, both natural and spiritual. This is seen by the hedge that God had around Job (Job 1:10).
I personally favor the last-given explanation, primarily because of the way that the New Testament usually speaks of "believers." There is a definite sense in which the New Testament speaks of all the elect as "believers." They did not believe IN ORDER TO become elect, but they believed when they came into contact with the gospel, BECAUSE they had been elected. Of course, this was true only of those elect who had already been born again when they heard the gospel. Paul rejected the preaching of Stephen (Ac 7:58; 8:1) because he had not yet been born again. But, because he had been elected (Eph 1:4) he was eventually born again by the Holy Spirit (on the road to Damascus) and then he MANIFESTED his new life by believing the witness of Ananias (Ac 9:17-18). Every elect child of God is given faith (the ability to believe) when he is born again by the Holy Spirit (Ga 5:22; 2Pe 1:1; Php 1:29, etc.). So, the New Testament usually puts people into two classes: the believers (children of God) and the unbelievers (those who are not God's children).
Therefore, I understand the "those that believe" of 1Ti 4:10 to be the children of God.
A partial list of Scriptures that will show this great contrast between believers and unbelievers in the New Testament is as follows: Joh 3:16; Ac 13:48; Mr 16:16 is the Father (see Mt 16:16), and 'Saviour' there means Preserver--in a temporal way."
THE NEW TESTAMENT AND WYCLIFFE BIBLE COMMENTARY, p. 855, "Savior (Gr. SOTER). Used in the sense of "deliverer"; the word can have a wider and a narrower meaning . . . Paul's conception of God is such that all the blessings, deliverances, and kindly providences which men experience are to be attributed only to Him (Mt 5:45). In a special and higher sense, He is the deliverer of those who believe . . ."
AN ANTIDOTE TO ARMINIANISM by Christopher Ness, p. 55. "All this implies not eternal preservation, but only temporal providence and reservation; for the wages of sin would have been paid at the birth thereof, and the world (through confusion by sin) would have fallen about Adam's ears, had not Christ been the glorious undertaker."
Memory Verses: We have memorized Mt 1:21; Joh 10:11; Mt 20:28; Heb 9:12; 1Pe 1:18-19; 2:24; Heb 9:28; and 2Co 5:21. Let us memorize Ga 3:13.
In this study we will examine 2Pe 3:9 and endeavor to obtain the correct meaning:
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
This scripture is commonly used to teach that God desires the whole human race to be saved. He does not will that any human being should perish, but that they should all come to repentance. He is delaying His Second Coming to give each and every human being an opportunity to repent.
This, as I said, is the commonly-held view of this scripture. The vast majority of people who hold this view admit that not everyone will actually come to repentance even though God wants them to. In fact, most of them teach that the vast majority of the human race will perish even though it is God's will that they be saved.
This scripture doesn't even come close to teaching this commonly-held view.
To help us in our study, we will review some of the principles of Biblical Interpretation that were introduced in our last study sheet.
First, we must see who is doing the writing and to whom he is writing. From 2Pe 1:1, we can see that the writer is Simon Peter and that the ones to whom he was writing were "them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Notice the use of the word "us" in 2Pe 1:3-4. Peter also used the words "your" (2Pe 1:5), "you" (2Pe 1:8), "brethren" (2Pe 1:10).
Then, in chapter three, he referred to those to whom he was writing as "beloved" (2Pe 3:1). It is obvious that the "scoffers" of 2Pe 3:3 are distinct from the beloved.
All this shows that Peter was writing to children of God. The "beloved" of 2Pe 1:8 are the same as the "usward" of 2Pe 3:9. When God is long-suffering (delaying His second coming), His long-suffering is exercised on behalf of His children.
Another rule of Scripture interpretation was that the Bible never contradicts itself. But the commonly held view of 2Pe 3:9 involves just such a contradiction. Da 4:35 tells us that God "doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth." Eph 1:11 says that He "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." Php 2:13 plainly states, "for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." These Scriptures plainly teach that God will do His will and that His will is never disappointed or frustrated. Therefore, if as is said in 2Pe 3:9, that He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance," it is plain that none of God's children will perish but that all shall come to repentance.
Repentance is a basic change of mind and is one of the gifts that God gives to His people in the new birth. See Ac 5:31; 11:18. A man can't repent unless God gives him this ability (which He does give to all His children). See Heb 12:17; Re 16:9,11.
The text in 2Pe 3:9 also says God is "not willing that any should PERISH." This reminds one of Mt 18:14 where it is said: "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." (From the context-Mt 18:11-13, it is obvious that the "sheep" are under consideration). Christ also said concerning His sheep, "and they shall never perish" (Joh 10:28). The "sheep" are the ones for whom Christ died (Joh 10:11).
Therefore, if any of the ones of 2Pe 3:9 perished contrary to the will of God, Scripture would again contradict itself.
To sum up in a few words, this is the meaning of 2Pe 3:9. The Lord is delaying His Second Coming even though the world is getting increasingly ungodly. He is delaying His coming because of His attribute of long-suffering. He is long-suffering because He is waiting for every one of His children (the "usward") to be born into the world and then to be brought to repentance (when they are born again).
I will close with this quotation from AN EXPOSITION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, vol. 6, p. 872, by John Gill Gill: 2Pe 3:9: "And upon account of these (the elect) the Lord stays His coming till their number is complete in effectual vocation; and for their sakes he is long-suffering to others, and bears with a wicked world . . . but when the last man that belongs to that number (the elect) is called, He will quickly descend in flames of fire, and burn the world and the wicked in it, and take His chosen ones to Himself."
Memory Verses: We have memorized Mt 1:21; Joh 10:11; Mt 20:28; Heb 9:12; 1Pe 1:18-19; 2:24; Heb 9:28; 2Co 5:21; and Ga 3:13. Let us memorize 1Pe 3:18
This will be our final study sheet on the subject of Particular Redemption. Most of the studies have been devoted to a defense of this doctrine against those who advocate Universal Redemption (the doctrine that Christ died for all men indiscriminately--for those that will be damned in hell as well as for those that will be saved in heaven.)
We will end our study of Particular Redemption on a positive note. This study sheet will concentrate on what redemption actually is, not on what it is not.
Redemption concerns the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. That Christ died is a fact; and all Christians recognize the fact of Christ's death. But there are great differences as to the MEANING of the death of Christ. What did Christ actually accomplish by His suffering and death?
There are several important things that Christ accomplished by His death on the cross. First of all, Christ made SATISFACTION to a just God for the sin debt of His people. Because of sin, God's people were in DEBT to God. They were liable to punishment. That debt must be paid. If, among men, such satisfaction is made of a debt of $1000, then as soon as that satisfaction is made, that debt is gone. If satisfaction of the debt of sin is made for any man, then that man's debt of sin and guilt is gone. God Himself, for the sake of His own justice and righteousness, cannot hold that debt against the man for whom satisfaction has been made.
Satisfaction, while not itself a Scriptural word, is the key idea in Scriptural terms like PROPITIATION (Ro 3:25); RANSOM (Mt 20:28); and RECONCILIATION (2Co 5:19). "Propitiate" means "to appease one who has been offended." This can only take place when satisfaction has been made. "Ransom" means "to obtain the release of a captive by paying the demanded price." This can take place only when satisfaction (the price) has been made." "Reconciliation" means "to restore to friendship." Friendship between a holy God and guilty sinners can only be achieved when satisfaction has been made.
The second main element of redemption is that of SUBSTITUTION. The necessity of that substitution lies in the fact that we are unable to make satisfaction ourselves. We are sinners! Substitution means that Jesus Christ became the Substitute--He stood in the stead--for those for whom He died. Before the bar of God's justice He represented His people. He was their Substitute in a legal sense.
Put together the ideas of satisfaction and substitution and you have a very exact relationship. If one man satisfied the debt on one thousand other men at the First National Bank, then the debt of these one thousand men is paid. Others who owe debts to the bank are not affected. Whoever are in Christ, whoever are represented by Him on the cross, their debt is paid. If all men were in Him, then the debt of all men is forever gone. If the elect were in Him, then the debt of the elect is gone. This is taught plainly in Mt 20:28. "Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for (instead of, in the place of) many." This is also plainly taught in 2Co 5:21: "For He hath made Him to be sin for (in behalf of) us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
The third element of redemption is that of its INFINITE VALUE. The truth of the infinite value of the death of Christ answers such questions as these: How could the death of one cover many sinners? How could sin, which is against the infinite majesty of God and which deserves the infinite wrath of God in everlasting punishment,--how could that sin be paid for in a MOMENT in the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ? All the terrible wrath of God was concentrated in that moment when the cry was pressed out of Jesus' soul, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Mt 27:46).
The truth of the infinite value of the death of Christ also answers this question: How could we be raised out of our totally lost condition, not just back to the state of Adam in paradise, but with an everlasting righteousness which we could never lose?
The answer to all these questions is that it was the Son of God, the eternal and infinite God Himself, in the likeness of sinful flesh, but as a real and perfectly righteous and holy Man, Who brought that satisfaction (Heb 2:9-18; Ro 1:3-4; Joh 11:50-52).
A fourth element of the redemption of Christ is that it is PERSONAL. Christ did not die indefinitely. He did not die merely for a number of men, whoever they might turn out to be. But Christ died for all the elect and for each of them personally. There are many passages of Scripture which teach this beautiful truth. Let us look at two: "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep." (Joh 10:14-15). "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for ME." Every other child of God can make this personal confession. See Joh 10:3.
Can God justly hold a man guilty if his sin debt has been paid by the Lord Jesus Christ?
What does "propitiate" mean?
What does "ransom" mean?
What does "reconciliation" mean?
For whom did Christ die as a substitute?
How could the one Christ pay the debt of many sinners?
Memory Verses: We have memorized Mt 1:21; Joh 10:11; Mt 20:28; Heb 9:12; 1Pe 1:18-19; 2:24; Heb 9:28; 2Co 5:21; Ga 3:13, and 1Pe 3:18. Let us memorize Ro 3:24.
Long before we reached this point, we parted ways with the Arminians. They deny that man is totally dead in trespasses and in sins and thereby totally unable to help save himself. They deny that before the world began God chose His people in Christ entirely unconditionally of works or merit or acts of the will on their part. They deny that Christ died for the elect and for them alone.
We also part ways with the Arminians on this doctrine. They teach that the grace of God that brings salvation can be successfully resisted by the sinner. We deny this. We teach that God's grace comes with irresistible power to those whom God saves.
But here we must note another point of departure. Some sovereign grace believers agree with us on the other points thus far studied. They agree with us on Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Particular Redemption. They also agree that God's grace is irresistible. But they teach that this irresistible grace comes to the sinner through the preaching of the gospel. We deny this! We believe that God brings His grace of salvation which was purchased by Jesus Christ to His elect people exclusively by the Holy Spirit--apart from the preaching of the gospel. Regeneration, or the new birth is accomplished in the heart of the elect by a direct and immediate act of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that God cannot save the sinner while he is hearing the gospel. But the gospel is not what brought spiritual life to him.
As far as I know, this truth is taught only by the Primitive Baptists, the Protestant Reformed Churches, and a few isolated others. In following study sheets, we will show what we believe the purpose of the gospel to be. But, once again, we state that it is NOT to bring spiritual life to the sinner.
The Work Of The Trinity In Salvation
To better understand the work of salvation, and to set the work of irresistible grace in proper perspective, let us consider the following illustration:
Before a house is built, an architect is employed to plan out all the details. In salvation God the Father was the architect. The plan of salvation was perfectly conceived in the mind of God in minute detail before the world began (Eph 1:4). This was the work of ELECTION and PREDESTINATION.
After the plan has been drawn, someone has to take that plan and build according to it. In salvation God the Son was the contractor. He took the Father's plan and executed it perfectly. There was not a detail omitted. Jesus Christ did this in His Person and Work while on the earth in a body of flesh. His work culminated in His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary as He offered Himself to the Father on the behalf of His people (Joh 17:4; 19:30; 6:38-39; Heb 1:3). This was the work of REDEMPTION.
After the house has been built, people must be placed into it if it is to do them any good. In salvation God the Holy Spirit does this work. He takes the elect sinner and places him in the house of salvation which was planned by the Father and built by the Son. He does this for each of the elect sometime from their first moment of life on earth (conception) till their death. This work of irresistible grace is sometimes called being born again or regeneration (Joh 3:3; Tit 3:5).
Irresistible grace, then, is how the elect become partakers of the wonderful benefits of unconditional election and particular redemption. It is the way the benefits of redemption are applied to them.
The Effectual Call
The doctrine of Irresistible Grace is also referred to as the doctrine of the Effectual Call. This means that when God calls a sinner to salvation by the Holy Spirit, the sinner always responds. This is in great contrast to most preaching today which represents God as calling, begging, and pleading with sinners to accept His offer of salvation. According to this false teaching, the sinner is free to either accept or reject the offer.
The Nature Of Irresistible Grace
Irresistible Grace is not some sort of blind force which simply drags the struggling, rebellious sinner into heaven against his will--as a policeman might drag a rebellious prisoner to jail. The grace of God is not such a power that compels those to enter into heaven who would rather not go.
When God's grace enters a sinner's heart, that heart is changed. The will is changed. The sinner who hated the Holy God now loves Him, and longs for holiness (Mt 5:6). The sinner is now willing to follow God and to please Him. As the psalmist said, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power..." (Ps 110:3). As God said by Paul, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Php 2:13).
Where do Primitive Baptists differ with other sovereign Grace believers on the matter of irresistible grace?
Can God save a sinner while he is under the sound of the gospel?
What means are used by God in the regeneration of sinners?
Who did the work of election and predestination?
Who did the work of redemption?
Who applies salvation to the hearts of the elect?
When does the work of salvation take place in the hearts of the elect?
What is another term used to designate the work of irresistible grace?
Is anyone saved against his will? Why or why not?
Memory Verse: Let us memorize Ps 110:3.
It needs to be pointed out that if the truths that we have previously studied be true, then the truth of irresistible grace must necessarily follow. For example, one cannot maintain that man is truly dead in sin and yet deny the necessity of irresistible grace in his salvation. If the sinner is totally depraved, dead in sins, unable to do any good, then he needs far more than mere assistance. Give a dead man a cane and try to assist him in walking! You know that such assistance would do no good. Rather, he must be made alive again or he will never walk. So it is with the totally depraved sinner. God's grace must take the dead sinner and must make him alive again. Total depravity implies that an irresistible, powerful grace of God is the only hope for the dead sinner.
The same can be said of unconditional election--this truth implies necessarily an irresistible grace of God. God has chosen unto Himself a people from before the foundation of the world. The execution of the decree of God can not rest now upon the fickle will of man, but rests upon the irresistible grace of God which will bring to pass His eternal purpose.
When speaking of the truth of the power of God in bringing salvation to the sinner, the Scriptures use three powerful analogies or comparisons. In all three of these comparisons the recipient of the action is helpless and passive until a higher power acts upon it. The first of these comparisons is that of resurrection. In Joh 5:25), so it takes the voice of the Son of God to give spiritual life to one who does not have it. Jesus said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth (makes alive); the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life" (Joh 6:63). This spiritual quickening is what was under consideration in Joh 5:21).
The bringing of a person from a state of death in sin to a state of being alive in Christ is also called a birth in the Scriptures. Jesus told Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Joh 3:3). Nicodemus didn't understand so Jesus explained to him,"Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (Joh 3:5).
Being "born of water and of the Spirit" simply means being born of the Spirit. The conjunction "and" is the Greek word KAI which can be translated and, even, or also. Born of water even of the Spirit would probably be the best translation here in light of the context of Joh 3:6,1).
Notice that everyone who is born of the Spirit is born the same way. There is only one way of salvation. There is not one plan for the intelligent adult, another for the mentally incompetent, and another for the baby who dies in infancy. All are born the same way with the same irresistible power.
In natural birth, we know that the one who is born does not will to be born--in fact, he has no decision in the matter at all. He doesn't decide the time, place, or circumstances of his birth. He has no power to determine the family into which he will be born. The analogy holds true with regard to the spiritual birth. God determines the time, place and circumstances. The sinner can no more resist this than can an infant resist and refuse to be born naturally. This fact is shown so clearly in Joh 1:13). Here, of course, Paul is referring back to the Genesis account of the creation of the heaven and the earth. How was light created? God commanded it to shine with irresistible power! "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Ge 1:3). There was no resistance here. God was the active agent. The thing created was passive (indeed non-existent) until God called it into being.
So it is in the spiritual creation, says Paul. How does an individual get to know Jesus Christ with saving knowledge? God commands it as He speaks life into the heart by the Holy Spirit. God is just as sovereign in the creation of spiritual life as He was in the creation of the universe. No one helped Him create the heaven and the earth and no one helps Him give spiritual life to His people. Look at the following Scriptures which teach this wonderful truth: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (or "creation"--Grk. KTISIS): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2Co 5:17).
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Ga 6:15).
Look at Eph 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." We are HIS workmanship. An artist forms his work as he wills. The artist does not ask the clay which he forms, "In what form would you desire to be made?" But he fashions the clay according to his own will. So also we are God's workmanship. The prophet states this too in Isa 43:21, "This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise." That is irresistible grace. This power of God does not wait for those poor miserable sinners to accept Christ--but it FORMS them to be His people. They therefore show forth His praise.
Why, if you hold to the truth of man's being dead in sin, must you logically and consistently hold to the truth of irresistible grace?
What kind of resurrection is under consideration in Joh 5:25?
Who is the agent in raising one from death in sin to life in Christ?
What does it mean to be "born of water and of the Spirit" in Joh 3:5?
How does Joh 3:8 teach that there is only one way of salvation?
Who helps God give spiritual life to His people?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3. Let us memorize 2Co 4:6.
The great majority of Christians believe in gospel regeneration. They believe that a person must hear and believe the gospel (or at least read the Word of God) in order to be born again. However, they have a problem with what to do with those who die in infancy or with those who are mentally incapable of hearing and understanding the gospel.
Invariably they try to come up with two ways of salvation, because almost no one is willing to admit that all those who die in infancy and all mental incompetents are destined for hell. So the gospel regenerators say that God uses the gospel to accomplish the new birth in "responsible adults" but that He takes care of all others some other way. Some even try to say that children are safe and sinless until they reach the "age of accountability."
There is nothing about such an age of accountability in the Scriptures. There is no such thing as an "innocent" or sinless human being (infant or otherwise) since Adam plunged the entire human family into sin. That infants are all born with a sinful nature we have seen from such Scriptures as Ro 5:12; Ps 51:5; 58:3; Job 14:4. The very fact that infants die is proof of their sinful nature. Sin is what brings death. See Ro 5:12; Jas 1:15.
Furthermore, the Scriptures will not allow us to say that there is more than one way of salvation. In fact the Scriptures assure us that the way one receives the new birth is the way all receive the new birth. This is the plain meaning of Joh 3:8). This clause is rendered in Bagster's Interlinerary Hebrew And English Psalter, p. 29, "causing me to trust upon the breasts of my mother." The word for "hope" in Ps 22:9 is BATACH, which, according to Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon To The Old Testament, p. 112 means, "to confide in anyone, to set one's hope and confidence upon any one." So it is obvious that David was regenerated while a suckling. It is just as obvious that this was before the stage of maturity to mentally comprehend either the spoken or written word of God. The conclusion that must be reached is that regeneration takes place on a level below the consciousness. Faith and repentance are those exercises which reveal this subconscious change.
Another infant who was regenerated in infancy was John the Baptist. In fact John was born again while in his mother's womb. "The babe leaped in her womb" (Lu 1:41) "The babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Lu 1:44).
The occasion of the joy was the presence of his Savior who was in the womb of Mary. This was no ordinary leap of a babe in the womb of its mother. Elisabeth was enlightened by the Holy Spirit and she said the babe leaped for joy.
How does this square with a Scripture like Joh 17:3?.
The Lord Jesus Christ very strongly taught that some infants would be regenerated in infancy when He said, "Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou has perfected praise?" (Mt 21:16). Another man the Lord very probably touched by His grace while he was in the womb was Jeremiah (Jer 1:5).
The infant son of David, who died in infancy, evidently was regenerated. David was sure that he went to heaven at death. David was a man after God's own heart and God must have revealed this to him. When the boy died David said, "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (2Sa 12:23).
These considerations further prove that "Salvation is of the Lord." (Jon 2:9).
What does "gospel regeneration" mean?
Give a verse that plainly teaches that there is only one way of salvation.
Name two individuals in Scripture who were born again at a very early age.
In what sense does a regenerated infant "know" Jesus Christ?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3 and 2Co 4:6. Let us memorize Joh 5:25.
When we speak of irresistible grace, we mean that when God moves in power to bring salvation to a sinner, that this power cannot be resisted--it is always effectual. Those who don't believe this always turn to Ac 7. Stephen is preaching here and in verse fifty-one he says, "ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."
To properly understand this passage, we must see what Stephen is talking about. He is speaking to the Jews concerning the words of the prophets which came to the Jews in the past. In resisting the words of these prophets, the Jews had resisted the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost reveals God's Word to holy men: prophets and apostles. The Holy Ghost uses ministers of the Word to proclaim the Word of God throughout all ages: to the Jew in the Old Testament period, and to every tribe and tongue and language in the New Testament dispensation. People who hate the Word resist, rebel, and show scorn. They take those whom the Holy Ghost uses to proclaim the Word and kill them. That is what Stephen is speaking about here. He is not telling them that the Spirit of God was given to them all to lead them to repentance--but that many of them resisted. But the Spirit is resisted in the sense that these holy men whom the Spirit sends are resisted. The word "resist" is antipipto which means "to oppose." So they resisted the Spirit as they opposed the men who were led by Him.
They were resisting the Spirit in an external way because He was not working on their hearts, trying to bring salvation to them.
To further prove this, we need only point out that Saul was at this time resisting the Holy Ghost in the same sense that they were. See Ac 7:58. But later, when the Holy Spirit moved on the heart of Saul with irresistible power, Saul was instantly brought to salvation. See Ac 9:5-6. See also Ac 22:3-16; 26:9-19; Ga 1:13-17. Saul persecuted the church of Jesus Christ for a considerable time after the death of Stephen. But when the Lord moved on his heart in power Saul or Paul immediately began to preach the gospel he once opposed. This is proof positive that God worked on him on the way to Damascus in a much different way that He did while Stephen was preaching. And Paul later said that God works on all believers with the same power in which He worked on him. See 1Ti 1:16.
Behold, I Stand At The Door
Another Scripture that those who oppose the doctrine of Irresistible Grace like to use is Re 3:20 where it is said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." People misrepresent this Scripture by saying that Jesus is knocking at the door of peoples' hearts and trying to gain entrance. But this is not the door of anyone's heart. He knocked at the door of that corrupt church of Laodicea and He calls to separation those who yet love the word of God. But Christ does not knock at any man's heart. God opens the hearts of His elect by Irresistible Grace. See how He works as in the case of Lydia: "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul." (Ac 16:14).
Another favorite Scripture of those who deny Irresistible Grace is Re 22:17 where it is said, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely."
Let us examine the condition of those to whom the invitation is given. "Let him that is athirst come." A man has to have life before he can be thirsty. A true thirst for the things of God is an evidence of life. A thirsty man is already in a blessed condition. God's irresistible grace has already operated on him. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (Mt 5:6). This man is not in need of life. He is in need of the things which sustain life (the water of life).
"And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Who is this man? He is the one who has been given a willing heart by irresistible grace. Not everyone has a will to come. The Lord Jesus said to some, "And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." (Joh 5:40). What is the difference in those who will and those who won't? Sovereign, irresistible grace! As was mentioned before, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power." (Ps 110:3). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Php 2:13). To show emphatically that man can't come to God by his so-called "free will" the Scripture plainly says, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." (Ro 9:16).
Other invitations in the Scriptures are also given to those who have already experienced a change wrought by the grace of God. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters . . ." (Isa 55:1). The one who is not thirsty is not invited. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt 11:28). He did not say, "I will give you life." They already had life or they couldn't have been weary. What they needed was rest for their souls.
When God determines to save one, His grace cannot be resisted. "But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased." (Ps 115:3).
In what sense was the Holy Spirit resisted by the Jews in Ac 7?
Did Paul resist the Holy Spirit when salvation was brought to him?
What door is Christ knocking on in Re 3:20?
To whom is the "whosoever will" of Re 22:17 addressed?
To whom are the invitations to come to Christ addressed in the Scriptures?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3; 2Co 4:6, and Joh 5:25. Let us memorize Joh 3:8.
Our assignment this time is to read God's Drawing Power by Zack Guess and to answer the following questions:
Give five examples from the New Testament of the use of the word translated "draw" in Joh 12:1)
The above words, spoken by our Lord, are among the most often-quoted and yet the most misunderstood and misinterpreted of any of the words in the Bible. Rightly understood, this Scripture, like all others, is a very God-honoring statement. Misunderstood and misinterpreted, it dishonors Christ by reducing Him from an all-powerful Savior to a poor, weak beggar who is frustrated in the great majority of cases in His efforts to save men from their sins.
In these words our Savior was speaking of His death on the cross, and what would be accomplished as a result of that death. There are several elements of this short verse that need to be examined in order to gain a proper understanding of these words of Jesus. First, what did He mean by the word "draw"? Secondly, who are the "all men" under consideration here? Thirdly, did Jesus do what He said He would do? This last question may seem entirely out of place to the reader who loves God and His Word. But let me assure you that this question is very pertinent to a discussion of the Scripture under consideration. Today many people, even many sincere lovers of God, are saying, oftentimes without realizing it; that Jesus did not accomplish what He set out to accomplish, but that He was disappointed in perhaps seventy-five percent or higher, of the work that He came to do.
Let us examine each of these points with a prayerful heart that God will, indeed "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of they law." (Ps 119:18).
The Word "Draw" As Used In Scripture
We must gain a proper understanding of the word "draw" as it is used in the Bible if we are to gain a proper understanding of the passage we are studying. It is going to be immediately apparent, even on a brief examination of the New Testament, that the word translated "draw" in Joh 12:32) and must be drawn by a powerful God to Jesus Christ for salvation.
The very same word is used in Joh 21:11). In Joh 6:44). Paul wasn't mad because the Lord had drawn him; he now wanted to do the will of God.
Jer 31:3 speaks of this same drawing power in the words of God: "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Many people mistake this lovingkindness as having no power in it, but not so. Just because this is an act of lovingkindness doesn't mean that it is not an act of irresistible power. If I see one of my children run into the path of a speeding automobile, I will draw him back out of danger with lovingkindness because I love him. But
I will also draw him with whatever power is necessary to actually rescue him from danger.
Seeing that the Scriptures teach that this drawing power of God is so effective that it always works, now it will be necessary to search the Bible to see who it is that God draws to Himself.
Will Every Human Being Be Saved?
Most people teach today that the "all men" in Joh 12:32; Isa 1-66). This is a plain statement; God gave some people to Christ, and Christ lost not one of them but they all will be raised up at the last day. We have already seen that this can't be the entire human race.
Who are they, then? Scripture calls them by several names:
(1) "His people" -- Mt 1:21
(2) "My sheep" -- Joh 10:11,27).
Has God drawn you to Him?
There is much misunderstanding in the religious world about "faith" or "belief." Many preachers will say that salvation is by grace but that a person must "put his trust in Jesus Christ" or "believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior" or "have faith in Jesus Christ" before he can be saved. This act of faith, thus presented, is an act of the sinner's free will.
This conception of faith is not true. If it were true then the sinner would be playing a part in his own salvation. He would be doing something in order to be saved. He would be moving toward God before he had spiritual life in order to obtain spiritual life. No matter how much a man may talk of "free grace," any act that a man had to perform before salvation, in order to obtain salvation, would render that salvation not free.
Salvation is, however, of grace. It is wholly of God. Even though no one is saved without faith, yet even that faith is a free gift of God. God gives a person faith when He causes him to be born of the Spirit, not before the person is born again. The born-again one cannot exercise faith before he has it. When we see a man exercise faith we can be sure that he is already in a "born-again" condition. To show that salvation is completely of grace, Paul said, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." (Ro 9:16). Speaking of those that believe on Jesus, John said that they "were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (Joh 1:13). These verses make it plain that "saving faith" is not an act of man's so-called "free will" but is a gift of God.
Definition Of The Terms
The Greek word most commonly translated "believe" in the New Testament is PISTEUO. The meaning is "to believe, be persuaded of, to place confidence in." (W. E. Vine). Thayer gives the meaning as follows: "of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of his soul." When the object of believing is Jesus Christ, Thayer says that it is "a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah."
The Greek word most commonly translated "faith" in the New Testament is PISTIS. The meaning is "firm persuasion." (W. E. Vine). Thayer says of this word that "when it relates to God, PISTIS is the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ-Heb 11:6." He says that, "in reference to Christ, it denotes a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation."
It should be obvious that PISTEUO and PISTIS are cognate words. This means that they were derived from a common original form or root. One is a verb; the other is a noun. Simply put it means that "to believe" is "to exercise faith." "Faith" is "the ability to believe." So, if one believes, he is exercising the faith which he already has.
The Scriptural Record
The Scriptures make plain that faith is a gift of God and not an achievement of man's "free-will." "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). These verses tell us that we are saved on the principle of grace (a free unmerited favor); that faith is the instrument used; that salvation is not of works (including a work of faith); and that man cannot take any credit for his salvation. In short these verses say that God gives the individual faith when He saves him. Faith, as used here is almost a synonym for spiritual life.
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." (Php 1:29). This verse makes it plain that the ability to believe on Christ is a gift of God, and not a power exercised by the "free-will" of the sinner.
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." (Heb 12:2). Many people say that "if you will just take the first step and move towards Jesus, the He will save you." But this verse teaches that Jesus makes the first step. And, He finishes what He started. Faith is not a work of the creature -- it is a work of the Creator, from beginning to end.
To further show that Jesus finishes what He has begun He said to Peter, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." (Lu 22:32). Christ prays for all His people as their Intercessor. Though they lapse into sin from time to time their faith (practically a synonym for spiritual life) will never fail. The fact that Jesus is both the author and finisher of faith is what is being emphasized in the following verse: "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1Jo 5:4).
Another verse that shows that the ability to believe is entirely of God and is not of man is 1Pe 1:21: "Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." The gift of faith was purchased for the elect on the cross: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (1Pe 3:18). We are brought to God in vital, living union by faith. That faith is entirely by Christ is further pointed out in Ac 3:16: "And His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."
Faith is not the work of man. Man only exercises that which God has already worked in him. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." (Joh 6:29). John Gill says of this verse, "This, as a principle, is purely God's work; as it is an act, or as it is exercised under the influence of divine grace it is man's act." He is saying what I have said above -- man only exercises what God has already worked in him. The Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson says, "So here Jesus terms belief in Him as the work of God."
It takes the same power to truly believe as it took to raise Christ from the dead. "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raise Him from the dead ... " (Eph 1:19-20).
Peter gave his witness in the following words, "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (2Pe 1:1). The word translated "obtained" is LAGCHANO, "to obtain by lot." Kittel's Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words has this to say about the word: "The attainment is not by one's own effort or as a result of one's own exertions, but is like ripe fruit falling into one's lap ... In this sentence, the point of LAGCHANO is that faith has come to them from God with no co-operation on their part."
The Lord Jesus sums it up when He says, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (Joh 6:63-65).
Can a person exercise faith in order to gain spiritual life? Why or why not?
Is anyone saved without faith?
When does a person obtain faith?
Faith is the ability to ____________________________.
Faith is almost a synonym for _______________________.
Belief in Jesus is the work of ______________________.
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3; 2Co 4:6; Joh 5:25; 3:8; 6:37,44. Let us memorize Php 1:29.
In our last study sheet, we considered Scriptures which spoke of "faith," "believe," etc. In them we saw that faith is a gift of God, given in the new birth, and not a work of the creature to be performed in order to be born again. Let us now continue to consult the Scriptures.
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (Joh 3:36). This is a statement of description, not a statement of condition. It doesn't say that "if one believes he will be given everlasting life." It says that the believer has everlasting life.
What has been said here is true of the following Scriptures: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Joh 5:24); "He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Joh 3:18); "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and everyone that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him." 1Jo 5:1).
Mark 16:16 also presents a statement of fact and not a statement of conditions to be met: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Ac 13:48 states that "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." It does not say that they believed in order to be ordained to eternal life.
Ro 4:16 states that "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all." This verse emphasizes that faith itself is a free gift of grace. The verse also emphasizes that the promise of eternal life is absolutely sure to all the spiritual seed of Abraham (all the children of God). Abraham is the spiritual father of both Jew and Gentile in the sense that both are saved exactly like he was -- by faith which was freely given to him because of grace.
The pattern of how one becomes a believer is Paul the Apostle. He wrote, "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting. (1Ti 1:16).
Paul became a believer on the road to Damascus by a direct operation of the Spirit of God. He was not under the sound of the gospel when this occurred. Since this was a "pattern" conversion, all sinners who become believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are born again by the immediate power and grace of God, and not by the ministry of the Word.
In conclusion, we must note that not all men have faith (2Th 3:2). Therefore, not everyone will believe when they hear the gospel. Why? "But ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you." (Joh 10:26).
"He that believeth on the Son ____________ everlasting life."
The above verse is a statement of _______________.
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ _________ born of God."
Is Ac 13:48 a statement of condition or a statement of fact?
In what sense is Abraham the father of believers?
How did Paul become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3; 2Co 4:6; Joh 5:25; 3:8; 6:37,44; Php 1:29. Let us memorize 1Pe 1:21.
In the last few study sheets, we have considered the subject of "saving faith." In this sheet we will conclude our study of this subject with some very sound comments from the book, Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Hoeksema.
"Faith is not another work on the part of man, by performing which he becomes worthy of salvation. All the work that makes us worthy of righteousness and eternal life and glory has been performed and completely finished by Christ Himself. This is true even of faith itself. Christ merited faith for us by His perfect obedience. Nor may we say that faith is a condition upon our fulfillment of which God is willing to give us the salvation merited by Christ for us. There are no conditions whatsoever unto salvation. It is free and sovereign."
"The bond whereby we are united with Christ is faith. This faith we do not possess of ourselves. It is strictly a gift of God, wrought in us by the Spirit of Christ."
"A distinction can be made between the essence and the operation, or between the potential and activity of saving faith. Faith is, first of all, a spiritual disposition, a power or aptitude to apprehend and appropriate Christ and all His benefits ... It is the fitness to believe in distinction from the act itself. We may illustrate this by many natural examples. When a child is born, it has all the faculties and powers and gifts it will ever have, even though they do not as yet actively function ... If later in life the child develops into a great mathematician or skillful musician, this mathematical bent of mind or artistic tendency was not added to the child's talents after it was born; his talents were all given with birth. The same may be said of saving faith. As a spiritual ability, it is given with our spiritual birth, that is, in regeneration, while it develops into the conscious activity of believing through contact with the gospel applied to the heart by the Spirit of Christ. Without this spiritual ability it is impossible for a man to believe in Christ. If a child is born blind he cannot be taught to see. If he is born deaf, the activity of hearing will never develop. The same is true spiritually. By nature, the sinner is born blind and deaf and dumb with regard to spiritual things."
"This ability of saving faith is, of course, the fruit of the Holy Ghost. It is true that the power of faith becomes active belief only through the gospel."
"We must also remark here that this ability or potential of faith is wrought in the heart immediately by the Spirit of Christ. The power of faith may be wrought in the heart of the smallest infant as well as in the heart of the adult."
"This potential of faith can never be lost. The activity of saving faith may be very weak at times, may seem to have died out and disappeared, so that we seem to have no hold on Christ and the precious promises of Christ. But the power of faith, the potential of faith, can never be lost -- Once a believer, always a believer."
"Faith cannot be called a condition, a prerequisite, which man must fulfill in order to receive salvation and all the benefits of grace. Faith certainly is not a condition which man must fulfill in order to receive the gifts of grace. On the contrary, faith itself is one of the chief gifts of the grace of God to the sinner. One does not receive grace on condition that he first believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but on the contrary, he receives the gift of faith in order that he may now live from out of Christ. There are no conditions for salvation, simply because salvation is never dependent on anything in man. By grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.--Eph 2:8."
"The real work of God is that we believe in Jesus Christ Whom God hath sent. (Joh 6:29) ... Faith is God's own work, the work of His free grace within us, the spiritual means of God, the spiritual dispositions whereby God ingrafts us into Christ through the Holy Spirit, and whereby He causes all the blessings of salvation to flow out of Christ to us-ward. It is the bond to Christ whereby our soul cleaves unto Him, lives out of Him, and receives and appropriates all His benefits."
"Faith reveals itself as spiritual knowledge. Here a new knowledge is meant, which you did not possess as a sinner and of which you received the power in regeneration. The man that has this knowledge discerns spiritual things. The natural man does not see any of this, but the spiritual man that has the gift of faith discerns all things. On the other hand, if one is not born again he cannot even see the kingdom of God."
"The knowledge of saving faith is spiritual. It is experiential. It is not a theoretical knowledge about God in Christ, but it is the knowledge of Him. There is a wide difference between knowing that thing or person ... A dietitian may be able to analyze every item on a menu and inform you exactly as to the number and kinds of vitamins each offered dish contains, but if he has cancer of the stomach he cannot taste the food and enjoy it. On the other hand, the man with the hungry stomach may sit at the table with him, know absolutely nothing about the vitamins; but he will order his meal, relish his food, and appropriate it to himself in such a way that he is refreshed and strengthened."
"So a man may be a keen theologian and though he gives a lecture on the Bread of Life, he does not hunger after it and cannot eat it -- if he has not faith. On the other hand, a person may be far inferior to this able theologian in intellectual capacity, but if he possess the knowledge of saving faith he will be like the hungry man that relishes and digests his food. The knowledge of saving faith is the kind of knowledge spoken of in Joh 17:3: 'And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.'"
Is it possible for an infant to possess faith?
What effect does the gospel have upon one who has faith?
Explain how one may know a great deal about Christ and yet not know Him.
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3; 2Co 4:6; Joh 5:25; 3:8; 6:37,44; 1Pe 1:21. Let us memorize Joh 6:29.
We have studied the doctrine of "Irresistible Grace" for several study sheets now. We have seen that this means that God's grace cannot be resisted when He operates by the Holy Spirit to bring the salvation treasured up in Jesus Christ to a sinner. There are several Scriptural terms that are used to describe God's operations of grace. The reason, no doubt, that the Scriptures use several terms to describe this operation is that the work is so great that no one term is sufficient to describe it in all its aspects. To gain a more complete understanding of this great work of God, we will now consider several of these terms:
Called Of God
When God calls to the one who is dead in the darkness of sin, that one becomes alive in the light of the Lord. This powerful call raised Lazarus from the dead, will raise the bodies of the dead at the last day, and spoke the worlds into existence. Peter says, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." (1Pe 2:9). John Gill says of this call, "not of an external call by the ministry of the word only; for many are called in this sense, who were not chosen, redeemed, and sanctified; but of an internal, special, powerful, holy, and heavenly calling, by the spirit and grace of God."
Paul shows that the ones who are called are the same ones who are predestinated, justified, and glorified. Their calling is just as sure as their predestination, justification, and glorification. He says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, the He might be the firstborn among many brethren, Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified." (Ro 8:28-30).
Several verses in I Cor. 1 speak of this heavenly calling: "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints." (1Co 1:2); "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (1Co 1:9). This calling is entirely attributed to God, who is faithful.
The gospel is received with gladness only by those who have been called: "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." (1Co 1:23-24).
The calling of God concerns only the vessels of mercy, that is, the elect, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles: "And that He might make know the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." (Ro 9:23-24).
To make it plain that this calling is according to the purpose of God and is not, in any sense a work of man the Scripture says, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2Ti 1:9).
Because this call of God's Holy Spirit is always effective in bringing salvation to the sinner, it is often known among theologians as the Effectual Call.
In Col 1:13 this being brought to salvation is called a translation or change: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." Notice that the Lord does the work here. The ones acted upon are passive.
A New Heart
The Lord through Ezekiel spoke words that many Bible students think are to be taken in a spiritual sense and that refer to regeneration. I think so myself: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." (Eze 36:26). John Gill says of this passage: "It cannot be taken out by men of themselves: nor by ministers of the word; but by the powerful and efficacious grace of God; giving repentance unto life; working faith in the soul to look to a crucified Christ."
Law Written In The Heart
Concerning the Covenant of Grace, of which the Old Testament Covenant was in many ways a type and shadow, God says, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God and they shall be to Me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." (Heb 8:10-12). Gill has this to say concerning this covenant: "This is the sum and substance of the covenant which God promised to make with, or to make manifest and known to His chosen people, the true Israelites (God's children), under the gospel dispensation ... not that part of our flesh that is called the heart; ;but the souls of men, such hearts as are regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit of God ... which is done not with the ink of nature's power, but with the Spirit of the living God--2Co 3:3."
Washing Of Regeneration
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Tit 3:5).
God saves sinners. They do not save nor help save themselves. It is done according to His mercy, not for anything deserving found in the sinner. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The washing is not water baptism for this is a righteous work (Mt 3:15). Regenerating grace is here meant, or a being born of water and of the Spirit (Joh 3:5). "Renewing of the Holy Ghost" is meant in the sense of renewal by the Holy Spirit (a subjective genitive construction in the Greek -- A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament). We are made new creatures in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
Thus we have studied some of the principal terms that describe how salvation is brought to the sinner.
Why is God's operation of grace on the heart of a sinner described by several different terms in the Scriptures?
Why is the call of the Holy Spirit to a sinner for salvation sometimes referred to as the Effectual Call?
Who writes God's law in the hearts of elect sinners?
How do we know that the "washing" referred to in Tit 3:5 is not water baptism?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3; 2Co 4:6; Joh 5:25; 3:8; 6:37,44; 1Pe 1:21, and Joh 6:29. Let us memorize Tit 3:5.
We will consider now the question of the gospel. Many people who believe in the irresistible grace of God think this work is accomplished by the preaching of the gospel. In other words, they teach that the Holy Spirit uses the preached word or the written word to bring spiritual life to the sinner. This idea is sometimes referred to as "Gospel Regeneration."
The Primitive Baptists and some others do not believe that the Word of God teaches this. They believe that the Holy Spirit accomplishes the work of regeneration or the new birth directly and apart from means.
At the same time, they believe that the gospel is very important and should be preached to every creature because God commands this. (Mt 28:19-20; Mr 16:15). But they don't believe that the Scriptures, preached or written, give spiritual life. They believe that the Scriptures are not used in regeneration, but they are used in conversion. I will not take time right now to fully explain the difference in regeneration and conversion, but, essentially, regeneration has to do with obtaining spiritual life, while conversion has to do with being brought to the knowledge of the truth. Only a regenerated person can be converted. The gospel will not be received by one who has not already been regenerated.
The Case Of Infants And Incompetent
If the gospel were necessary for regeneration, then all those who die in infancy and all those mentally incompetent to understand the Word of God would be doomed to hell. People who believe in Gospel Regeneration deny this. They say that God saves all responsible adults who are saved by the gospel and that He saves the rest of His elect by a direct work of the Holy Spirit. But this will not stand the test of Scripture. Peter preached, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Ac 4:12). This verse teaches, first of all, that there is only one way of salvation -- not one way for responsible adults and another way for others.
When Scripture speaks of the "name" of a person, it speaks of that person himself and all that he stands for. As W. E. Vine gives one of the usages of the word "name": "For all that a name implies of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the name covers."
We are not saved merely by a name but we are saved by the Person and Work of the One represented by the Name of Jesus Christ. The salvation is in the One Who wears this name. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins." (Mt 1:21). The name Jesus means "Jehovah is salvation." The salvation resides in Him. Here in Ac 4:12, the name is put for the reality.
For an example of this use of the word "name," "the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Heb 13:15), is equivalent to "the fruit of our lips giving thanks to Him."
Furthermore, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (Joh 3:8). This verse also teaches plainly that all the saved -- infant, imbecile, and responsible adult -- are saved one and the same way.
If, then, anyone is saved by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, apart from the preached or written word, then all the elect are saved this way.
John the Baptist was saved this way as we can see from Lu 1:41-44. John, even though he could not mentally understand, leaped for joy. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ga 5:22). Regeneration is such a deep work that it takes place beneath the consciousness. Conversion is that that takes place on the conscious level.
David was also saved this way as he wrote, "But Thou art He that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts." (Ps 22:9). The word "hope" is from the Hebrew BATACH which means "to trust." David was thus saved while in a state of infancy.
The Apostle Paul
Paul said, "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." (1Ti 1:16).
Paul is the pattern of how God saves His people. Paul was born again not when he was seeking Christ but when he was actively persecuting the church of God. He was "yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord." (Ac 9:1). There was no gospel preacher present when Paul was regenerated and he was not reading the word. The gospel had only made him mad and murderous before this time. He consented to the death of Stephen as Stephen was wonderfully preaching the word. (Ac 8:1). Jesus Christ directly appeared to Paul and called him to salvation. God revealed His Son in Paul (Ga 1:16). Since Paul is the pattern, God saves all His elect by the same method. For the Biblical data concerning Paul's regeneration see Ac 7:58; 8:1-3; 9:1-9; 22:3-10; 26:9-18; Ro 7:9-13; Ga 1:13-16; 1Ti 1:12-16.
We will later deal with Scriptures which have to do with the purpose of the gospel.
The teaching that the preached or written word is used in regeneration is called ______________ ________________.
The Scriptures are not used in ________________ but they are used in ________________.
What do the Scriptures mean when they say that we are saved by the name of Jesus Christ?
___________________ is that that takes place on the conscious level.
Describe the regeneration of the Apostle Paul.
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3; 2Co 4:6; Joh 5:25; Php 1:29; Joh 3:8; 6:37,44; 1Pe 1:21; Joh 6:29; and Tit 3:5. Let us memorize Ro 8:28-30.
We have previously studied that regeneration is a direct work of the Holy Spirit while conversion is a work of the gospel (the preached or written word).
Before we examine the Scriptures concerning these points let us note a few quotations from the book Regeneration and Conversion by W. E. Best:
"The mission of the church is not to regenerate people; she is to preach the gospel whereby those whose hearts have already been prepared in regeneration are made ready to embrace Christ through conversion. Here is a lesson for all of God's servants to heed. The gospel is good news to those whom the Holy Spirit has regenerated. Paul says it is foolishness to everyone else." (p. 5).
"The new birth, contrary to what is commonly taught is something done not merely for, but in man, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Some believe that the subject is active in the new birth, and the Spirit employs the Word as God's means of accomplishing regeneration. But the subject, according to Scriptures, is spiritually dead, blind, deaf, and dumb ... The Holy Spirit, therefore, must quicken the passive spirit of the sinner making him sensitive to the call of the gospel. Sensitivity to the gospel is the fruit of regeneration." (p. 12).
Keep these wonderful statements in mind as we study the Scriptures which deal with the purpose of the gospel.
Life And Immortality Revealed
God's purpose and grace "is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2Ti 1:10). This verse tells us what the gospel is for. The gospel brings "life and immortality to light." What does this mean? The words translated "hath brought to light" are from PHOTIZO. The word means "to bring to light." (W. E. Vine). It means "to render evident." (Thayer). It means "to reveal something." (Arndt and Gingrich). So the purpose of the gospel is to reveal life and immortality. It does not create nor impart life and immortality. When the Holy Spirit regenerates a person, that work is a hidden work, but the gospel reveals that work. When the individual responds to the preaching of the gospel, the work of grace which had been wrought in the heart of that individual is now revealed.
Knowledge Of Salvation
John the Baptist was the first gospel preacher. He preached the same message as did the Lord Jesus Christ. John's father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied of his son. He prophesied of John: "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins." (Lu 1:76-77). John did not come to give salvation. He came to give "knowledge of salvation." And this knowledge was to be imparted to "His people" (the people of God). The word "gospel" means good news. The Person and Work of Christ is good news to God's people. It is not good news to the reprobate who will be forever in hell. But the "knowledge" of salvation which is brought by the gospel is sweet to the one who has eternal life.
Begotten By The Gospel
Paul said to the Corinthians that, "I have begotten you through the gospel." (1Co 4:15). Paul was not saying here that the Corinthians had been born again or regenerated by the gospel. He was saying that they had been converted to the truth by the gospel. (For a complete discussion of this verse see the pamphlet, Begotten by the Gospel: What Does This Mean? by Zack Guess.BEGOTTEN: 0.1. What Does It Mean)
Begotten By The Word Of Truth
Speaking of God, James says, "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (Jas 1:18). The word translated "begat" is APOKUEO. It means "to bring forth from the womb, or to give birth to." (Thayer). James is not talking about the initial giving of life, but about life being brought forth to the level of consciousness. In the spiritual realm as well as in the natural the conception of life is an instantaneous happening. But the development and birth of this conceived life is a process. The conception is done by the Holy Spirit. The birth (conversion or coming to a realization of one's possession of eternal life) is done by the word of truth. James here is not talking about regeneration: he is talking about conversion. (For an excellent discussion of this and related Scriptures see The Power of the Word by Jimmy Barber).
The Word Of God Revives
David wrote: "This is my comfort in my affliction: for Thy word hath quickened me." (Ps 119:50).
The word translated "quickened" can be translated, "Make alive." But it can also be translated, "revive." It is used in the sense of "revive" here. This seems to be obvious from the way the word is used elsewhere in this psalm. In Ps 119:25 and Ps 119:37, David asked the Lord to quicken him. It is evident that he already possessed eternal life when he wrote this psalm. So he did not ask the Lord to give him life; rather he asked the Lord to revive the life which he already had but which had fallen to a low ebb in the exercise of it. It is equivalent to "restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation." (Ps 51:12). He did not say "restore to me salvation," but "restore the joy of salvation" which had been taken away by sin.
The Lord Saves; The Gospel Looses
When Jesus came to the tomb of the dead Lazarus He said, "Lazarus, come forth." (Joh 11:43). The same Jesus who spoke physical life into existence by His voice speaks spiritual life into existence by His voice. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (Joh 6:63).
After Lazarus had been given life Jesus said to those round about, "Loose him, and let him go." (Joh 11:44). The people loosed the living Lazarus from the graveclothes which greatly hindered his exercise of the life which he possessed. This is what the gospel does; it does not give life, but it frees the possessors of life from ignorance, superstition, and error. Only Christ, speaking through the Holy Spirit, can give life.
There are many other Scriptures which could be examined on this point but they would not contradict what has been taught. The Holy Spirit regenerates. The gospel converts.
What is the difference in regeneration and conversion?
Is the sinner passive or active in the new birth?
What is the function of the gospel as regards life and immortality?
Is "the knowledge of salvation" the same thing as salvation?
What does "begotten through the gospel" mean? (1Co 4:15).
What does "begotten by the word of truth" mean? (Jas 1:18).
What does "quicken" mean in Ps 119:50?
Memory Verse: We have memorized Ps 110:3; 2Co 4:6; Joh 5:25; Php 1:29; Joh 3:8; 6:37,44; 1Pe 1:21; Joh 6:29; Tit 3:5; and Ro 8:28-30. Let us memorize Joh 6:63.
Briefly stated, this truth means that all the elect will be preserved and will persevere in grace and will finally be in glory forever with God. None of them shall be lost. These five points that we have studied really comprise one unified system of Biblical doctrine. Each point necessarily follows the other. They stand or fall together. If the other four points are true, this fifth point has to be true. For example, according to Eph. 1:4, election is sure. If that is true, it necessarily follows that there must be preservation of the saints. Deny preservation, and election means nothing. This is also true concerning particular redemption. If those for whom Christ died could fall from grace, to that extent Christ would have died in vain.
From Two Perspectives
Why do we refer to this truth as both Preservation and Perseverance? We do so because from God's perspective it is Preservation. God's people persevere in grace only because they have been preserved in Christ Jesus. From man's perspective it is Perseverance. If a person is truly saved he will give evidence of his salvation. He will not completely lose his faith and die in a finally impenitent state. Only the wicked will die in his sins (Joh 8:21). The combined truth of Preservation and Perseverance is clearly seen in Php 2:12-13: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
The London Confession
To study this doctrine, let us examine the London Confession of Baptists of 1689. We will include one of the articles on Perseverance in this study sheet and other articles later on:
1. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality (Joh 10:28-29; Php 1:6; 2Ti 2:19; 1Jo 2:19) ; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them (Ps 89:31-32; 1Co 11:32), yet He is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation , where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraved upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity." (Mal 3:6; 1Pe 1:5).
What relationship do the five points we have been studying bear to one another?
Explain the relationship between Preservation and Perseverance.
Who will die in their sins?
Will the belief that we are Preserved in grace make us lazy? Why or why not?
Does this doctrine mean that a child of God will never fall into sin?
Will every child of God be brought to repentance?
Will every child of God be finally glorified and live with God forever?
Memory Verse: Let us memorize Php 1:6 and Joh 10:27-30.
In the last study sheet we examined article one of the chapter "Of Perseverance of the Saints" from the London Confession of Faith of 1689. In this study sheet we will consider the two remaining articles of this chapter:
2. "This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree (Ro 8:30; 9:11,16) of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ (Ro 5:9-10; Joh 14:19) and union with Him, the (Heb 6:17-18) oath of God, the abiding of His Spirit, and the 1Jo 3:9) seed of God within them, and the nature of the (Jer 32:40) covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof."
3. "And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalence of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous (Mt 26:70,72,74) sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur (Isa 64:5,9; Eph 4:30) God's displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and (Ps 51:10,12) comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened and their consciences wounded, (Ps 32:3-4) hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments (2Sa 12:14) upon themselves, yet they shall renew their (Lu 22:32,61-62) repentance and be preserved, through faith in Christ Jesus, to the end."
Does God want His children to have the assurance of their salvation? Prove your answer by the Scriptures.
What are some of the things that make the preservation and perseverance of the saints an absolute certainty?
Can a child of God commit a grievous sin? Give a Scriptural example. Will he remain in a particular sin, unrepented of, all his life? Support your answer by the Scriptures.
What are some of the factors that lead a child of God into sin?
Memory Verses: Php 1:6; Joh 10:27-30, and Ro 8:38-39.
In the previous two study sheets we have examined the London Confession of Faith as it dealt with "Of the Perseverance of the Saints." In this study sheet we will examine the London Confession section entitled "Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation." This subject of assurance of salvation is intimately connected with the truth of perseverance. As a child of God perseveres in faith and holiness he becomes more and more assured of his salvation.
1. Although temporary believers and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and (in a) state of salvation (Job 8:13-14; Mt 7:22-23), which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured 1Jo 2:3; 3:14,18-19,21,24; 5:13) that they are in the state of grace; and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of god, which hope shall never make them (Ro 5:2,5) ashamed.
2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon (Heb 6:11,19) a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith, founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ (Heb 6:17-18) revealed in the gospel; and also upon the inward (2Pe 1:4-5,10-11) evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the (Ro 8:15-16) Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both 1Jo 3:1-2,3) humble and holy.
3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be (Ps 88; 77:1-12) partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit, to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may without extraordinary revelation in the right use of means 1Jo 4:13; Heb 6:11-12) attain thereunto; and therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper (Ro 5:1-2; 14; 14:17; Ps 119:32) fruits of this assurance; so far is it (Ro 6:1-2; Tit 2:11-12,14) from inclining men to looseness.
4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as (Song 5:2-3,6) by negligence in preserving of it, by (Ps 51:8,12,14) falling into some special sin, which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit, by some sudden or (Ps 116:11; 77:7-8; 31:22) vehement temptation, or by God's withdrawing the (Ps 30:7) light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light; yet are they never destitute of the 1Jo 3:9) seed of God, and life (Lu 22:32) of faith, that love of Christ and the bretheren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be (Ps 42:5,11) revived, and by the which in the mean time they are (La 3:26-31) preserved from utter despair.
Is it possible for a person to fully believe he is going to heaven when he dies and be wrong?
Is it possible for a child of God to have full assurance of his salvation while in this life?
On what grounds can a child of God base his assurance of salvation? What are the evidences of it?
Is it possible for a believer to struggle long and to experience agony of soul about his assurance?
Why is it important for a child of God to seek for the assurance of his salvation?
If a man is truly assured of his salvation, will this incline him to live a loose life?
What are some things that would temporarily shake the assurance of a true believer?
Memory Verses: We have memorized Php 1:6; Joh 10:27-30; and Ro 8:38-39. Let us memorize 1Pe 1:5.
It is important to remember that the child of God will overcome the world by his God-given Faith: "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1Jo 5:4). This does not mean that the saint will never commit sin. It means that the Spirit of God in him will not suffer him to always live in sin but will work Godly sorrow in him and will bring him to repentance. 1Jo 3:9 means that the born-again person will not continually and habitually live in sin as a way of life. The child of God may backslide temporarily and fall into much sin, but he will not live in it permanently in an unrepentant state. See also Mt 7:21-23; Jas 2:20; 1Jo 2:4,15; 3:3; 4:15.
One of the ways that God causes His people to turn from their sins and to persevere in holy living is chastisement. See 1Co 11:32; Heb 12:6.
Arguments That Are Used Against This Truth
There are many Scriptures that people who believe that a child of God can fall from grace use to support their arguments. Most of the arguments can be refuted by the principle taught in 1Jo 2:19, "They went out from us but were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." There are those who make a profession of faith, who seem to show some fruits of the Spirit temporarily, but who are not truly regenerated. In time they show their true colors and manifest their true nature. There is a possibility that some of these hypocrites never openly reveal their true nature in this life. See Mt 13:30.
These false professors, who have made a profession of religion, who may have outwardly reformed their lives, but who have no grace in their hearts, are described in such passages as Mt 12:43; 2Pe 2:20-22.
Other Scriptures that the opponents of Preservation use to bolster their arguments, are not talking about falling out of relationship with God, but out of fellowship with Him. When David sinned he did not lose his salvation; he lost the joy of salvation (Ps 51:12). It is possible for a child of God to so walk for a time that he may appear to have lost his salvation, but no one who has truly been saved can ever be lost.
The Comfort of This Doctrine
This is a very useful and comforting doctrine. It helps the child of God to live close to the Lord. It encourages him to repent when he falls into sin. Satan tries to throw a child of God into despair when he falls into sin. He tries to keep him down. But the saint remembers that "he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Php 1:6). He knows the Lord is not through with him. He does not depend on his own faithfulness, but on the faithfulness of God for and in him.
This truth gives hope to one who has fallen into sin. He remembers that David committed some horrible sins: adultery, murder, numbering the people. These are only some of the more prominent sins of David. There was a time when David was overwhelmed because of the burden of his sins (Ps 32:3-4). For a time he lived in an unrepentant state until the prophet of God came to him. God faithfully delivered David from his sin and granted him repentance.
All the saints in the Bible had their sins, sometimes grievous sins, but they were forgiven; and these saints are with the Lord. Nothing can change that fact. The one who truly believes this does not serve God from a sense of slavish fear--afraid that he can be saved today and lost tomorrow. He serves God out of a heart filled with gratitude to God for His great faithfulness.
What causes the child of God to persevere?
What is one of the primary means that God uses to bring about obedience in His children?
What is meant by a "false-professor", a "temporary believer", or a "hypocrite"?
If a child of God cannot fall out of relationship with God, what happens when he sins?
How is the truth of perseverance a useful doctrine?
How is the truth of perseverance comforting?
Memory Verses: We have memorized Php 1:6; Joh 10:27-30; Ro 8:38-39 and 1Pe 1:5. Let us do 1Jo 5:4 and Jude 25,25.
In the last lesson in our little book I would like to further study the relationship between Preservation and Perseverance. To state again the doctrine of Preservation, we say that this means that of all for whom Christ died, none shall finally fall away and be lost. Nothing can pluck them out of the hands of God. None of them can ever lose his salvation. Some Scriptures which prove this are Joh 6:37-39,44; 10:27-30; Ro 8:28-39; Jude 25; 1Pe 1:4-5, and Php 1:6. This is a glorious truth which has been precious to the temptation-tossed saints all through the ages.
To restate the doctrine of Perseverance, we say that this means that all of the saints shall persevere in faith and holiness. They will never permanently and fundamentally repudiate their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. While troubled by their sinful natures, they will nevertheless show evidences of their being alive in Christ. Grace in one's heart does not lead to a life of careless, licentious living. We believers in grace have been accused of believing it is okay to "continue in sin, that grace may abound." But we say, along with the Apostle Paul, "God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Ro 6:2)
The truth of Preservation and Perseverance does not make robots of the saints of God. This truth, properly understood, does not make the saints lazy. In this wonderful truth we see the meshing of the doctrines of God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility.
Preservation and Perseverance really represent two sides of the same coin. They inseparably go together. To give a natural example that may shed some light the relationship between Preservation and Perseverance: I have several very small children. Sometimes I take a walk with one of them over some rough places. As we go over the rough places the little hand in mine grips ever so tightly. But what really provides safety to the child is the fact that my hand securely holds the small hand of the child. The gripping power of the little hand is so weak that it would soon be jerked out of my hand unless I was doing some gripping also. The child may think that his safety depends on his little grip, but not so. Compare my big hand to God's Preservation, and the child's little hand to our Perseverance and you begin to see the relationship between the two. But, remember, the little child doesn't cease to grip hard - he does so instinctively. And the child of God doesn't stop trying to persevere - he does to instinctively because of the life of God which has been placed in his heart!
Many, many Scriptures teach the doctrine of Perseverance and show the relationship between Preservation and Perseverance. One of these is 1Co 15:10. There Paul says, "But by the grace of God I am what I am." (Preservation). "And his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all." (Perseverance). "Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (Preservation). Notice that Perseverance is dependent on Preservation. Notice also that God gets full credit for it all. God's children are responsible for doing good works, but when they are blessed to perform them, they must give all the glory to God for His enabling grace.
Another passage which shows the relationship of these doctrines is Php 2:12-13: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Perseverance). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Preservation).
These truths are also found in 1Jo 3:2-3. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (Preservation). "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (Perseverance).
Every Bible believer who has much light knows that election took place before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4; 2Ti 1:9). Nothing can change the fact whether one is elect or not. Yet Peter in 2Pe 1:10 says, "Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure." This is Perseverance!
There was a song a few years back that said, "Love and Marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage." This I tell you brother, you can't have one without the other.
Well, that's the way it is with Preservation and Perseverance. According to the Scriptures, you can't have one without the other.
All the saints shall persevere in __________________and _______________.
Why is it that the truth of Preservation does not make the saints spiritually careless and lazy?
If a grown-up and a child are walking hand in hand over rough terrain, whose hand illustrates Preservation and whose hand illustrates Perseverance?
Who gets credit for the Preservation of the saints? Who gets credit for the Perseverance of the saints?
Memory Verses: We have memorized Php 1:6; Joh 10:27-30; Ro 8:38-39; 1Pe 1:5; 1Jo 5:4 and Jude 25,25. Let us memorize Heb 13:5.
Introductory note: it is a very interesting phenomenon that in religion the songs that people sing usually reflect their beliefs. This is as it should be. To believe one thing and to sing another would be inconsistent. The Baptist forefathers believed, taught and sang the truths contained in the doctrine of Preservation/Perseverance. Following are a few examples from several standard, widely-used hymnals:
"Lone Pilgrim," No.150 in Old School Hymnal
Ye pilgrims of Zion, and chosen of God,
Whose spirits are filled with dismay,
Since ye have eternal redemption thru blood,
Ye cannot but hold on your way.
As Jesus, in covenant love did engage,
A fullness of grace to display,
The powers of darkness n malice may rage,
The righteous shall hold on his way.
This truth, like its Author, eternal shall stand,
Tho' all things in nature decay;
Upheld by Jehovah's omnipotent hand,
The righteous shall hold on his way.
They may on the main of temptation be tossed,
their sorrows may swell as the sea;
But none of the ransomed shall ever be lost;
The righteous shall hold on his way.
Surrounded with sorrows, temptations and cares,
This truth with delight we survey,
And sing as we pass thru this valley of tears,
The righteous shall hold on his way.
"Adoration," verse five, No.33 in Old School Hymnal
Twas all of grace we were bro't to obey,
While others were suffered to go
The road which by nature we choose as our way,
Which leads to the regions of woe.
"Grace 'Tis a Charming Sound," verses four and five, No.184 in Old School Hymnal
Grace led my roving feet to tread the heavenly road;
And new supplies each hour I meet, while pressing on to God.
Grace taught my heart to pray, and made mine eyes o'erflow;
Twas grace that kept me to this day, and will not let me go.
"Broad Is The Road," No.235 in the Good Old Songs; also found in the Old School Hymnal and in the Primitive Baptist Hymnal.
Broad is the road that leads to death, and thousands walk together there;
But wisdom shows a narrow path, with here and there a traveler.
Deny thyself and take thy cross, is the redeemer's great command;
Nature must count her gold but dross, if she would gain this heavenly land.
Lord, let not all my hopes be vain; create my heart entirely new,
Which hypocrites could ne'er attain, which false apostates never knew.
No.157, verse three, in Good Old Songs.
If e'er I go astray,
He doth my soul reclaim
And guides me in His own right way,
For His most holy name
"Palms of Victory," No.232 in Old School Hymnal is an entire song describing the perseverance of a child of God.
"Never Alone," No.201 in Old School Hymnal is a song of Perseverance and Preservation.
This is only a very small sampling of the songs in our hymnals which describe the Preservation and Perseverance of the children of God. Brethren, our faithful fathers sang these truths. They believed them. They preached them. They lived them. Let us do the same, by the grace of God!