The Word of God – A Petition for Reason

The Word of God – A Petition for Reason

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:7-11

During this sermon, I am going to reference myself about 8 million times, taking you through some of my personal experiences since coming to Christ. This is not to blow my own horn, but it is to provide you with a basis for understanding why I am constantly telling you to read your Bible.

The one way that I can, hopefully, drum this into you, is to tell you about my own experiences. In seeing them, I hope you will see why you also need to follow suit.

The night before typing this sermon, I was getting over a cold and quit work early, just after I got all the necessary Sunday stuff done. “The rest can wait while I get some rest.” As Hideko wasn’t home, and as I was too hungry to go to bed without eating, I turned on a war movie that I was still finishing from days before.

The guys were in combat and right in the middle of the fighting, they took a break to read their letters from home. Those letters were handwritten, took some time to arrive in Vietnam, and then more time to get out to the men in the field.

The next day, when I typed this sermon, I went as usual to the mall and 7-11 to do my morning jobs there before coming home and finishing this sermon. As I came home, an Amazon truck pulled in front of me, rushing down the road with some hugely important package that had to be there… right now.

We have gone from patiently waiting for things to come about, to wanting everything – right now. And more, we want bigger, better, flashier, and something that will delight our senses and tickle our ears. The love letters from home no longer fill our minds with delight.

We can talk to someone on the other side of the world, face to face, for free, and any time we wish. We hurry through our conversations and cut off the other person over a knock on the door, or the start of a football game.

We started this series with a sermon entitled, “The Word of God – The Basis of Our Faith.” Since then, we’ve mildly touched on only a few relevant points of doctrine. This was never intended to be a series on anything more than the most important of tenets which will at least give us a sound basis for not getting pulled into some teaching which is completely crazy. But that can still happen. I assure you of this.

To teach forever on doctrines which may be important to anyone of us would mean that we would never again actually get into the Bible itself. And if that was the case, each and every one of us would be all the less sound in our relationship with the Lord. Doctrine is not a means to an end. It is simply a part of what the Lord expects of us in our walk with Him.

And so, if you want to continue learning sound doctrine, there is a cure for your hunger. That is to attend our Thursday evening Bible studies. Yes, I know… Oh no! Each week, you will get exactly that – directly from the Bible, but also as a compilation of doctrinal concepts which fit in with the verses that are being analyzed.

However, what I teach you there is still based on who I am as a person, what I have learned through reading, studying, being trained by others, and so on. Or, maybe I simply plagiarized someone else – meaning I just took what sounded good and went with it because that was the easiest route to my path of wealth and stardom.

When I met the Lord – I mean when I really realized who I was in relation to Him and my need to devote my life to Him – I had a lot of other responsibilities in my life. Of course, I had Hideko as a wife, and you must know how time-consuming that is… well, at least for her.

Tangerine and Thorr lived in the house and children are known to take up some of our time. I had a business just down the road – Asian Trade. I also had several part-time jobs. In total, I worked seven days a week, from before sunrise until up to, or after, sunset.

But I also had something that most people don’t have. I had ten hours a day of free time. How is that possible? It is because I had Asian Trade. A retail business, especially one that deals with things that people don’t need, but who are just looking to fill their lives with something interesting, is a business that may have one customer a day, or maybe ten, each there for just a few minutes.

The rest of the time is spent all alone and it needs to be filled with something. With ten hours a day, and with nothing else to do, when the Jehovah’s Witnesses came and asked if I wanted to talk, I was like, “Thank God – relief from the boredom!”

And so, we talked. At one point, I asked a question, and one of the two said, “Oh that’s right here.” He opened up the Bible, showed me a verse that was pertinent to a particular part of my life that was not right with the Lord, and I froze. One verse had changed my life.

From that day on, I started to read the Bible – ten hours a day. Actually more, because when I got home, I started to read it again on the couch. If you have an audio Bible, you know that it takes about 70 hours to get through it. That is read aloud, and it is read slowly. One can read the Bible in much less time than an audio Bible.

Each week, I would read the Bible through. As soon as I got to the word “Amen” at Revelation 22:21, I would turn back to Genesis 1:1 and start again. For the first couple of months of this, I also started going to the JWs Kingdom Hall on Sunday morning. I had never seen anyone actually open the Bible to teach, and so I thought they must really know what they were talking about.

After just a short time, it was perfectly evident that what they were teaching had nothing to do with what the Bible says. If it was two months going there, I had already read the Bible at least eight times. If it was three, make it twelve or more. And so, through the Lord’s tender mercies of giving me a slow retail business to run, we parted company.

Text Verse: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16

Paul warned us about being tossed to and fro and being carried about by every wind of doctrine. And as he says, that is “by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” My question to you is, “How do you know?” It is the main subject of our final sermon of this series.

After my short stint with the JWs, I continued to read the Bible each week or so. But I started changing things up. I would count time intervals – how many years it was from this to this. Or how many days old a person was when something happened in his life, and so on. One time through, I counted how many times the word “Jerusalem” was mentioned in the Bible and made a note of all of the different names that God used when speaking of Jerusalem – there are a lot.

I also changed the order of reading. I would read one OT book and then one NT book. By the time I had read the Old once, I was also finishing the New for a second time.

Then I started reading books 1, 23, and 45; 2; 24, and 46, and etc. Thus, you would end at 22, 44, and 66. The patterns that run through that type of reading are literally astonishing, but that is for another day.  Every time that I read through the Bible, I would think of something interesting to do or to search out so that there was some type of a challenge for me.

Eventually, I took a self-learn course in both Hebrew and Greek, and then bought an interlinear Hebrew and Greek Bible and read both testaments, out loud, in Hebrew and Greek. I had no idea what it said, but it was a start.

As I went through them, I also looked for translational and numerical errors in their text. By the time I was done – after going through only one time and without knowing Hebrew or Greek at even a basic level, I had almost nine single-spaced pages of errors which I submitted to the publishers for correction.

An example of a very basic error is that they translated the divine name Yehovah as “Jacob.” I would say that is a bit problematic for someone who thinks they are reading an accurate translation. If you want to see the errors – the four-part Bible is on the shelf in the back here at the church. Just flip through and look for highlighted or annotated errors.

Why is this important? Because people are reading that document, as pitifully translated as it is, and they think they are getting the straight scoop. They have put their trust in something which even a dolt like me, on my first read through it, could find innumerable errors.

And that was recommended to me by the well-known TV Show “Prophecy in the News.” It came with his highest stamp of approval, and it turned out to be a marginal translation at best. After that, I realized that if he is endorsing something so bad, I could find something other to do with my time than watch his TV show.

Ok, that is a portion of my original time in the word. I continued this pace for two full years until I finally closed Asian Trade and went back into the wastewater business. This wasn’t bad, because on the night shift, other than one’s regular duties, you either watched TV, read a book, or went outside out and threw paper airplanes. Again, I spent any free time reading the Bible.

So, I’ll let you do the math. I never counted the number of times that I have read it, and that isn’t what was important. What was, is that despite having read the Bible many, many times, I still had absolutely no theology at all.

One can read a manual on chemicals and understand what is being said, and yet not know how to properly work with those chemicals because there are other things that are involved doing so. One form of knowledge does not necessarily equate to ability in all areas of that discipline.

I knew all about Jesus, why He came, and what the Bible was telling me, but I had no way of expressing it. I had never told anyone about Him in a specific way and probably could not have done so. But one day, a pastor asked Hideko if he could tell her about Jesus. He did, and in three minutes, he had explained something that I could not have properly done after three years of reading the Bible.

Once I realized this, my next step was to make a sign, “Bible Questions Answered – Don’t Be Shy,” and I would go to the beach, plunk it in the sand, and wait for people to come. And they came constantly. If you want to learn how to teach, or if you want to learn how to unpackage the knowledge you possess and turn it into theology, then what you need to do is to simply get a sign and let people start asking you questions.

You might make yourself look like a fool for the first week, but very quickly, if you care at all about sticking it out, you will expand in your ability to unpackage that information you possess, and you will be able to convey it to others in a reasonable, intelligent manner.

But there is the same problem with going to that guy on the beach that there is with going to church on Sunday morning. Without knowing the Bible yourself, you are listening to someone who may or may not have any idea of what he is talking about. That is a real problem. Because the Bible is our means of understanding the Lord and what He expects. And so, let us discuss that beautiful word once again, and may God open our hearts to His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Proper Interpretation

The subject of proper biblical interpretation has been written about and expanded on for millennia. Entire books are dedicated to single sections of individual disciplines, and in-depth courses in Bible colleges and seminaries are focused on these things as well.

Simply defined, the subject of hermeneutics is that of dealing with interpretation of a given literary text. In the case of the Bible, we would say, “biblical hermeneutics.”

Within biblical hermeneutics, there is a vast array of terminology which is used to define various interpretive methods. In order to properly apply biblical hermeneutics, however, we need to first define what is proper concerning the application of those things.

In other words, we might know that the book of Acts is a historical account of what occurred at the beginning of the church. But we may not understand how to properly apply that knowledge in our interpretative method.

And so, even before knowing the type of literature that is presented – be it historical, prophetic, poetic, or whatever, we must know how to draw out from what we are reading what is actually appropriate.

This is the area of study known as exegesis. The prefix ek, means “out,” and thus one is to draw out of the text what is being said. The opposite of this, then, is eisegesis. Instead of drawing out what is intended, someone may read a passage and insert his own completely subjective interpretation into the text. Without any support for the conclusion at all, he will make a statement that what he presents is valid, logical, and appropriate.

This is what democrat scholars do with the constitution of the United States of America. They call it a “living document,” meaning that it changes and grows within itself, and it is thus subject to their own personal interpretations. From that faulty premise, they then eisegete all kinds of ideas which destroy the original intent of those who presented us with this founding document.

The Bible was given to man by God. He did it through men of God at various points within history, in various languages, and in various locations. But even with these variations, there is the one overarching truth that what is presented is ultimately from God. Therefore, the word will be consistent, unchanging in its overall intent, and will steadily and unwaveringly direct the reader concerning its overall truths.

Therefore, and with that in mind, we are to exegete, or draw out, what is being said. But there is then something which is actually even more important to be considered. It is the first, greatest, and most destructive failing of almost all students of the Bible. That failing is to simply know the contents of the Bible – in their entirety.

One of my favorite personal expressions – one that I say all the time and so many of you have heard it many times – is that “Everyone is a specialist in the Bible, but almost no one knows the Bible.” They may dogmatically argue for a particular precept from the Bible, for example a mid-tribulation rapture, and yet they may not have ever read the entire New Testament, or even the books in which the rapture verses are given.

Never mind that the rapture is actually even alluded to in Old Testament typology – a part of the Bible which they probably have never even opened. For anyone to teach any part of the Bible, it is almost unthinkable to me, and unconscionable at best, that he would not have first read through the Bible – from cover to cover many, many times.

And yet, there are pastors and ministers that I know personally who have admitted to me that they have never read the Old Testament, or that they have gone through the Bible once. One was an ordained minister of 34 years, and he had read it once. What this means is that everything such people are teaching is based on an uncertain footing, and it has been derived solely from someone else’s possibly already faulty hermeneutic.

But the problem is that if they have not read their Bible – which is a vast and complicated book – many, many times, then they cannot truthfully say that what they have been taught actually matches with what God – who is consistently revealing Himself through this word – is actually saying.

An example of this is the heresy known as hyperdispensationalism. This teaching incorrectly divides the overall gospel message of Jesus Christ into two gospels – one for the Jew and one for the Gentile. This occurs based on a faulty hermeneutic, and an eisegesis of many verses and concepts, particularly those which refer to the Old Testament, and especially the Mosaic Covenant.

And so, I ask you now, before we continue on, have you read the entire Bible – cover to cover? If not, you are unqualified to teach on any subject of the Bible. Because the Bible is inspired by God, and because its message is a unified whole, how can you know that what you are teaching is not somehow aberrant when taken in the entire context of Scripture, of which you have not even read?

Secondly, how many times have you read through the Bible? Some have better memories than others, but remembering something is not the same as properly aligning that memory with all of the other points contained within the whole.

Only in repeatedly returning to the Bible, reading it while considering everything else that is contained within it – something which can only occur through repeated readings – and then properly aligning those considerations into a rounded systematic theology, can you properly explain why you have chosen one interpretation of a verse or concept rather than another.

There is a savant who has memorized every book he has ever read. He read the KJV of the Bible once, and you can ask him, “What is the name of the person on page 247” of the copy he read, and he will tell you that – or anything else that is in that book. And yet, despite knowing every word of that Bible, he has no theology at all.

Thirdly, how long has it been since you last read the Bible? How many here today remember what they had for lunch yesterday? How about lunch last Tuesday? That food was something you probably personally selected based on its size and content, numminess, cost, and etc. Or, maybe it was prepared by the loving hands of someone important to you. And yet, you don’t remember what it was.

The Bible says that God’s word is sweet to our taste, more so than honey (that is the numminess). It says that it nourishes us (that would be the size and content). It says that it is better to us than thousands of coins of gold and silver (that is its cost). And along with those things, it was prepared, in love, by the hands of the Creator of the universe. And yet, like our lunch from last Tuesday, our memory will fade concerning its contents if we do not open it daily and eat of its delight. This not an “if.” It will happen.

Fourthly, have you limited yourself to one translation of the Bible? If so, you have limited yourself to man’s fallible and short-sighted ability to translate what God has given us. As I type commentaries and sermons from the word, I make a special point of documenting each valid translational error in the King James Version.

So far, and having completed only a small portion of the books of the Bible, I am up to thousands of actual, verifiable, and often damaging errors in it. If you want a copy of that resource, email me and I’ll send it to you.

But people have been so conditioned by a false teaching that – as Paul calls it – “the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” – that they simply accept that the King James Version is the only acceptable Bible version on planet earth.

But, like not reading the Bible and yet being a specialist in all things theology, many have never checked these translational things out. Despite this, they are adamant that what they have been told about the infallibility of the King James Version is not to be questioned. How can they know if they haven’t even checked it out?

I will give several reasons for both sides of this issue before we finish today. For now, I will give you arguments against the lie. One is that there is great money to be made by those who perpetuate this lie. The KJV is in the Public Domain. Anyone can make a printing of it without any costs apart from the printing itself.

Making a Bible translation is a huge undertaking. It is expensive, time-consuming, and tedious. But printing Bibles can be a very profitable business. And so, translations are copyrighted. But what if you can convince people that the Bible you are printing for free is God’s only inspired word? These people make – literally – millions of dollars.

Secondly, like any cult, if you claim that you have the only “something” that comes from God, you now have total sway over those you are leading. If your doctrine is based on the faulty King James Version, and someone in the congregation says, “But wait, that’s not how the NASB translates it!”, then your theology is called into question, and it very well may be wrong. Poor Pastor Imperfect. He has made an error!

And so to tell your congregation that the KJV is inspired by God and no other translation is to be accepted – why, in fact, it is of the devil!, then you now have ease and comfort in your control over those otherwise difficult miscreants.

And thirdly, this type of practice comes down to pure laziness. Theology is hard work and walking around with an unopened and unread KJV is so much easier. The pastor will explain to you what you need to know, and that is sufficient for you. This is one of the largest problems within the church – simple laziness towards the things of God.

Those are but three of the innumerable reasons why people hold onto the inane teaching of KJV-onlyism. I will give the other side of the argument before we finish today. This is a sad mark on those people, and someday they must stand before the Lord and give an account for their beliefs, as we all will.

Next, it is of the highest value to believers that they read the Bible from cover to cover, that they read it constantly, and that they ask questions of it, and then mentally tie the various parts of it together into a unified whole. If you are not doing this, then you have absolutely no basis – at all – for accepting the doctrine of one person over another.

The teachings of RC Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, John Calvin, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, John Hagee, Andy Woods, and Charlie Garrett – and any and all others – are actually on an exact same level with you. Your acceptance or dismissal of their teachings is subjective and without any real foundation. This is a thought that Solomon deals with in the proverbs –

“The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:17

Each of these people or groups has a theology which sounded good to those who listened, and yet the divergence in doctrine between them is often as great as the difference between oxygen and lead. Someone gives his case, and it sounds good. But then you hear another argument and you say, “Yes, that sounds better.” But without knowing the word, they could both be completely wrong, and you would never know it.

There are people that spend their entire lives pursuing constitutional law. They argue over it, they debate it before courts, they present their cases to representatives and senators, and they fight against those who twist the true intent and meaning of what the constitution is saying. As important as that is for each of us in the United States, it is actually of very little weight, value, and meaning in the greater scheme of things.

As you sit here, or in any other church, unless you have read your Bible, and unless you continue to read your Bible, how can you be sure of anything – literally anything – that you are told concerning this marvelous gift of God?

The Word of God – holy, pure, and perfect too
It is given to satisfy man’s weary soul
In this life we trod, let us take an eternal view
And allow the word to convert us to God’s heavenly roll 

There, in the Book of Life our names will be
Because we pursued His word and found Jesus
Innumerable redeemed, there by the glassy sea
Such a marvelous thing God has done for us

If we will just open the Bible, our own Book of Life
And accept what it says as holy and true
Then between us and God will end the strife
The word is given; to us life begins anew 

Thank You, O God, for this marvelous word
In accepting its truths our place in heaven is forever assured

II. Errors in Thinking

My hope, my desire, and my yearning for each of you is that you get to know this word. This doctrine series is fine, but it is simply an attempt to have you reason out what you should already know. This is why we have been going through the Bible, verse by verse, on Sunday morning and on Thursday evening.

Doctrine sermons are only as good as how they actually align with what the Bible says. In Acts, Paul said to those at Ephesus, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). One cannot declare the whole counsel of God unless he teaches the whole word of God.

But in teaching – be it in the word of God, in constitutional law, in thermodynamics or astrophysics, or in some type of scientific, religious, or philosophic discipline – we as humans make logical errors in our thinking. These are known as fallacies.

Fallacies can be things we can do in our own heads without ever expressing them, we can type them up in an article for a newspaper or magazine (liberals are especially good at this type of thing), or we can pass them on to others in our speech. These things usually come about because we do not think critically.

A great way to think critically is to take a course on…. Yes! Critical Thinking. What is a category mistake? Well, if you don’t know, then you might not see why Calvinism is wrong on so many points. What is a fallacy of illicit major? What if I said to you, “All cats are mammals. No dogs are cats. Therefore, no dogs are mammals.”

You know that is incorrect, but you cannot reasonably explain where the error is. What is a red herring? What is an argument from popularity? What is a source fallacy? If you don’t know what these things are, then you probably haven’t got a clue as to why you are being led down the primrose path by a speaker, scholar, or commentary.

Not too long ago, I finished a line by line commentary of the book of 1 Peter. In verse 5:13 Peter says, “She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.” People argue over what Peter means by “Babylon.” Is he speaking of the real Babylon, is he metaphorically speaking of Rome? Or is it something else.

Regardless as to the answer, one commentator that I read – one of my favorite commentators – cited the work of a guy named Professor Salmond, stating, “Professor Salmond, in his admirable commentary on this epistle, has so forcibly summed up the testimony that we cannot do better than to give his comment entire:” (Vincent’s Word Studies).

In his quote, Professor Salmond makes several illogical arguments, he makes at least two fallacies – an argument from popularity and an argument from silence, and then he makes his faulty conclusion based on those things.

My goal next is to give you just a few fallacies that run through our heads so that you will not make these errors in the future. The first is so obvious that it is hard to know how we fall for it, and yet we do. It has become such a large problem within the church in recent years that it has stolen away countless thousands from the simple gospel of grace, or from simple proper doctrine.

It is the source, or genetic, fallacy that because someone is Jewish, he is authoritative to speak on a particular issue. This has grown so much in recent years because Israel is back her land, Hebrew is revived as a language, and the Jewish people are coming to Christ in large numbers.

Because of this, people make the immediate assumption that this particular person, or that guy over there, is a specialist simply because he speaks Hebrew and/or was raised in Israel. Others go even further and quote rabbis and rabbinic commentaries as if they were authoritative.

Such people have rejected Christ, and still reject Christ, and yet they are sought out because of who they are. Because of this, there are so many aberrant teachings on things like the Feasts of the Lord, or the Sabbath day, that it is almost impossible to find anyone who can give a proper biblical answer on those things.

And because people haven’t taken the time to simply read their Bible, they just… go with it. “That sounds good to me. I’ll go with it.” And this is not limited to Jews, but to Arab Christians, or even – believe it or not – Muslims who have converted to Christianity. Because of the source, they are held in an esteem which is both improper and dangerous.

Paul says in Galatians 2, “But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me” (v.6).

The Galatians had gotten into an idol-fest because of Jews who came in, showed how holy they were through the teaching of a false gospel message, and had led the church astray. Paul had to deal with them forcefully and in a direct rebuke because of their inability to not think logically – they had fallen for the genetic fallacy.

And more, in both 2 Corinthians 11 and Philippians 3, and elsewhere, Paul gives a list of his own supposed qualifications – much greater than anyone else’s – and yet he calls them as loss and as rubbish. They are not the basis of who he was as an apostle, and nor should they be the basis for what we think concerning others.

A second, similar, fallacy is trusting in someone because he knows a source language – for example Hebrew or Greek. Add in that they are Jewish and they speak the language, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. One of the people that I mentioned in a previous sermon, who teaches that Jesus was created by God, is both Jewish and speaks the biblical languages.

And yet he not only teaches that Jesus was created, but he also teaches that one can lose his salvation, and that the rapture is mid-tribulation, not pre-tribulation. If he can’t get those basic points of doctrine correct, then he shouldn’t be listened to. But… he is Jewish and he speaks Hebrew and Greek. So what!

Every single day as I type my own Bible commentary, and each week as I type a sermon, I read numerous commentaries from some of the finest Hebrew and Greek scholars in Christian history, going back hundreds of years, and yet they will come to completely opposite conclusions concerning very important verses, concepts, and even doctrines.

And so, the only thing that I have to rely on when I come to such divergent opinions is my own understanding of Scripture. If my knowledge of the word is limited, then my analysis of the word will also be faulty. Forget the fact that Pastor Imperfect knows Greek. That means less than nothing if he doesn’t know how to tie his knowledge of Greek in with what the rest of the Bible is saying.

And that fallacy ties in with the next. Forget his race or culture. Forget whether he speaks Hebrew, Greek, or Latin. And also, please ignore the title that is placed before or after his name. That is a fallacy known as an appeal to authority. We look to titles, accredited degrees, or the place where someone was educated, as a mark of authority.

Do you know how many Doctors of Theology teach Calvinism or Wesleyanism? Do you know how many pastors and professors were educated at Yale or Harvard Divinity School? Nowadays, they don’t even teach the Bible for the most part, and if they do, they dismiss it as a book of myths and nonsense.

Accepting someone’s theology because he has a particular degree, or was schooled at a particular school, or has a particular title – such as “Reverend” – is a terrible way to place your trust in someone. Do any of you know what Jesse Jackson’s title is? How about Al Sharpton?

Having said that, it is equally fallacious to dismiss someone because he has a certain degree, title, or place of education. People do that all the time as well, and it is equally as wrong. The only thing that matters in a presentation is if that which is presented is correct.

Another thing we should avoid is to assume that someone is a great preacher or teacher because of either his eloquence or rhetorical skills. How many of you would agree with the statement that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah? How many of you would agree with the following statement –

“The Jewish people have a relationship to God through the law of God as given through Moses… I believe that every Gentile person can only come to God through the cross of Christ. I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption.” John Hagee, April 30, 1988, Houston Chronicle

The man who said these things is one of the greatest orators that you might ever hear. He is confident in his presentation, dogmatic in what he barks out, and he is a first-class heretic. He clothes his sermons in Americanism, he presents flowery sermons which are powerful and stir the emotions, and yet, of those I have heard, very few – if any – were biblically accurate. I personally do not remember one.

He says that the Torah is the word of God, but he fails to acknowledge that it is only a part of the word of God, and that it speaks of one over-arching theme – the need to come to Jesus Christ. as He Himself said in John 5 –

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39, 40

Another preacher, who gave some of the finest sermons I have ever heard, and which were delivered with precision and conviction, admitted one night that he had never read the Old Testament. So, where did his theology come from? Even if it was correct, and it was, it was only by the grace of God that he was educated in one school rather than another. Because he didn’t get it from Scripture.

What a sad commentary on how we select our leaders, and on how we nearly idolize people without even considering what their standing with the very basis of our faith is. Such fallacies could go on and on. “He leads a 20,000 person church? So what! Is that any more important than a guy in rural Arkansas that leads a 50-person church?

“He’s been to Israel 47 times?” Yes, and Benny Hinn was raised there. So what! “Everybody agrees with Him!” Yes, and everybody could be wrong. It doesn’t matter if 10,000 people teach that Yom Teruah is a picture of the rapture. If it isn’t (and it isn’t!), then it is a false teaching. That is what is known as “The Bandwagon Fallacy.” “Everybody climb aboard! The more on the bandwagon, the truer this will become.” No, it doesn’t work that way.

For now, that is enough fallacies. You get the point. What I would ask of you is to be reasonable in your thinking, dogged in your pursuit of sniffing out the truth, and fervent in your desire to read the word. Read it when you rise. Read it during the day. Play it on the radio as you drive. Think on it, meditate on it, talk about it, and let it fill your heart and your soul as you come in and as you go out. And in the evening, before going to bed, pick it up and read it again.

I know some of you have it with you in bed at night, right under your pillow, but that means of learning is untrue. Biblical osmosis has been scientifically proven to not work. You will have to expand your brain cells through active participation with the word. And when you do, I know that the Lord will be pleased with your efforts. I know He will.

And so now, before we close, I want to read you some highlights from the original preface to the King James Version. This preface is exceedingly long, very hard to read and understand, and at times tedious. One might think that this is why it is no longer published with the King James Version, but that is not correct.

The reason for this is because it dispels every single myth that KJV Only adherents hold to. And if it were known to the general populace, then those who profit so greatly off the word of God, in the manner in which they do, would no longer have that giant source of revenue filling their unholy coffers.

And, people would actually start to obtain sound theology by doing what the King James translators suggested when they put forth their very faulty, but admirable translation. Their words speak of the word of God, the basis of our faith. If people cannot get something as basic as what they say correct, then how susceptible are we as humans to the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.

There are numerous quotes in this lengthy preface which speak of using reason when handling the word of God. I have selected only a few for you today. The rest are recorded and explained on my website for those who wish to know more.

Nay, we will yet come nearer the quick: doth not their Paris edition differ from the Lovaine, and Hentenius his from them both, and yet all of them allowed by authority? Nay, doth not Sixtus Quintus confess, that certain Catholics (he meaneth certain of his own side) were in such an humor of translating the Scriptures into Latin, that Satan taking occasion by them, though they thought of no such matter, did strive what he could, out of so uncertain and manifold a variety of Translations, so to mingle all things, that nothing might seem to be left certain and firm in them, etc.? [Sixtus 5. praefat. fixa Bibliis.] Nay, further, did not the same Sixtus ordain by an inviolable decree, and that with the counsel and consent of his Cardinals, that the Latin edition of the old and new Testament, which the Council of Trent would have to be authentic, is the same without controversy which he then set forth, being diligently corrected and printed in the Printing-house of Vatican? Thus Sixtus in his Preface before his Bible. And yet Clement the Eighth his immediate successor, published another edition of the Bible, containing in it infinite differences from that of Sixtus, (and many of them weighty and material) and yet this must be authentic by all means.

The finger of the translators of the King James Version not only points back in time to those who accuse translators of various translations of being in bed with Satan, but they point forward to modern King James Only adherents who make exactly the same claim.  

Further, they make it quite clear that those named translations and editions are all authoritative. And more, they go on and name other Bibles, stating they too are also of equal authority, even though they had “infinite differences” between them. Despite all of these variations in numerous translations, they state that each is authentic.

Has God completely lost control of His word? The answer is “No.” He has protected this marvelous gift and has given us the honor and responsibility of searching it out and using reason when we approach it. It may be that translations by man have problems, as the KJV certainly does, but God’s message still goes forth, even through such marginal translations as it.

Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: [S. Aug. 2. de doctr. Christian. cap. 14.] so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is no so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded.

The King James Version translation committee agrees that a variety of Translations is profitable for finding out the sense of Scripture. And not only that, but marginal notes for those “no so clear” areas are not only a little ok, but they are “must needs do good” and are necessary.  

They that are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other.

According to the translators, the wise should search out varied translations. The opposite then, would show a lack of scholarship by those captivated by one translation. It is exactly why we use at least two versions during our Thursday night Bible study, and I refer to between 20 and 25 versions for each sermon I type. I would also say that sticking to one teacher of the Bible is equally damaging and that multiple teachers, may bring you to a better understanding of the truth.


Add hereunto, that niceness in words was always counted the next step to trifling, and so was to be curious about names too: also that we cannot follow a better pattern for elocution than God himself; therefore he using divers words, in his holy writ, and indifferently for one thing in nature: [see Euseb. li. 12. ex Platon.] we, if we will not be superstitious, may use the same liberty in our English versions out of Hebrew and Greek, for that copy or store that he hath given us.

The translators say God uses diverse words in His holy word to make a point and that we should feel free to do the same through multiple translations in the English (or any) language.

As you can see, from this final sermon in our doctrine series, a sermon which actually contains almost no doctrine in and of itself, there is an immense need to do one thing above all else, and there is another thing which supports that first matter. We are to read and study the word of God, in its fullness, in order to know God and what He expects of us.

And the thing which supports that first matter is that we are to use reason in our pursuit of this word as we do so. If we are willing to do these two things, we will be on a sure footing as we proceed on our happy trek to our even happier home where we will fellowship with our Creator for all eternity.

Don’t squander your time. What you do right now has bearing on what you will be doing for all eternity. This word tells us of our state before God, of what God has done to correct that state, and what that correction means for the human soul.

And throughout the entire word – this precious gift of God – there is one point of highlight that radiates forth from it – the promise and then the coming of Messiah. The whole body of Scripture testifies to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. May we never be found deficient in our pursuit of this word, because in pursuing this word, we will be pursuing the love of God in Christ – to the glory of God the Father.

Closing Verse: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Saturday, 25 January 2020

And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 2 Peter 2:2

There is a dispute between manuscripts in this verse. Some say the plural of the same word used in verse 2:1 (destructive). Others use a different word signifying licentiousness. Either way, the intent is that the false teachers will lead those they teach astray, the number being “many.”

This has been true throughout the church age. False teachers leading aberrant sects and cults have taken many down unsound paths of unrighteousness, sexual sin, perversion, bad doctrine, and on and on. This isn’t just limited to those who branch off from the mainstream church, but it is also found in a great way among the church itself. Within large, mainstream denominations, there is an underlying culture of sexual sin and the covering up of it when it catches public attention.

At times, however, what is shameful becomes an open part of the ways of such people, such as Joseph Smith of the Mormons. Today, that has become a reality in many “mainstream” denominations where such destructive and licentious ways are openly acknowledged and applauded. Several branches of the Presbyterians, the Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Methodists, and many more all applaud sexual perversion, abortion, and other unholy lifestyle choices. In fact, it has become a necessary requirement for ordination and selection to a position to that people hold to completely unholy values.

Even the most conservative denominations in the church today are showing signs of cracking and giving way to such avenues. The magnitude of the term “many will follow” probably could not have even been imagined by Peter as he sat and wrote out the words of his epistle. It is because of following such people, and their perverse agendas, that many will be led astray, Peter notes that of them “the way of truth will be blasphemed.”

There are at least two ways that this is true. The first is that people would actually believe that this is what the gospel teaches. It is taking something pure and glorious and turning it into something vile, perverse, and unholy. The second is that people would then accuse the gospel of actually being responsible for what the people did. The first thought leads directly to the next. When it is believed that the gospel is the source of such unholy conduct, then it is the gospel which leads people to following that same path of unholiness.

Considering, for example, that homosexuals are gladly ordained as pastors and priests in such denominations, and then they are eventually elevated to the positions of Bishop, it is no wonder that the outside world sees this conduct, believes that it is something acceptable within Christianity, and turns from any desire to participate in the faith at all. The greatest heathen in society is on a better moral standing than the highest officials within the church. When this is so, woe to those who lead and participate in such halls of unrighteousness.

Life application: Such people are set on their own appetites and how they can manipulate others for their own benefit and glory. Unfortunately, in order to be a false teacher with followers, there must be those who follow.

History is replete with such groups and sects. In the 1800s, there was a huge turning away from the truth and many heretics flourished in the freedom provided by the US Constitution. The Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some Adventist groups grew rapidly in numbers. All of this occurred because people followed a charismatic leader rather than paying heed to the Bible – which admonishes us to follow the Lord, to think on the Lord, and to fix our eyes on the Lord.

Cults continue to spring up in our times, but something much less obvious has arisen in the 20th and early 21st century. Heretics have infiltrated mainstream denominations – both in the seminaries and in the pulpits. Bad doctrine abounds and there has been a grand shift from reliance on the word of God to the traditions and teachings of these heretical leaders.

What the Bible clearly forbids is heralded as “tolerant” and they say God is “doing a new thing.” But God is unchanging, and His standards never fluctuate. Sadly, the congregants who sit in these denominations are accountable for their failure to investigate what they are taught, but the majority will fail to do so. As you attend church, please compare what is taught with what the Bible says. If the two contradict each other, the problem rests with the church or the pastor, not with God and His loving intent for you.

What He speaks is for the good of His creatures; the Bible is for our well-being and to dismiss it will only bring sadness. Be filled with the joy of the Lord; read, learn, and love His word – the Holy Bible.+

Heavenly Father, You are a great and loving God. We know that Your word is meant to lead us down paths of righteousness and safety and we divert from it at our own peril. Please continue to give us the desire, time, and ability to study and discern Your word and intent for us. All glory to You. Amen.


Once Saved Always Saved? Or, “Not So!”

“Once Saved Always Saved?” Or, “Not So!”

“But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
16 I will go in the strength of the Lord God;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.” Psalm 71:14-16

Each day begins for me by getting up and typing a commentary on a verse of the Bible. Right now, I am going through 2 Peter for the second time, refining the commentary I wrote many years ago. The day I typed this sermon, after typing the commentary, and before starting here, I went to emails to see if there was anything pressing, or if there was anything simple and which could be responded to in less than a minute or so.

There were a few quick emails to answer. The rest will have to wait. I’m sorry, but brevity is the key to getting a response from me. Type a long email, and you go to the back of the line for a response. What was propitious is that one of the short emails I responded to, and also the closing comments of the Bible commentary I typed, both fit into the content of today’s doctrine sermon. First, the email –

“Have you ever produced a salvation message geared to children? Or do you know of any?”

That was the entire email. May the Lord bless such brevity! My answer to him was –

“Not that I can remember. A reason why it shouldn’t really be necessary is something I mentioned in the sermon we did at the church yesterday. The gospel is the epitome of simplicity – it tells what God did in Christ to restore us as is detailed in 1 Cor 15:3, 4 –

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4

That is the gospel message. So, just simply explain what it means – to the youngest child, or to the wisest professor. Christ died for our sins. “Have you ever disobeyed mom, or told a lie?” Any and all must acknowledge, “Yes” if truthful. “Jesus died for that. He was buried, proving He was dead, and He was raised – proving He had no sin. The sin He died for was yours, not His. As only God is without sin, then Jesus is God.”

That simple message is all that is needed. In fact, anything beyond that isn’t the gospel. Then you simply ask, “Do you believe that God did this for you? If “Yes,” then thank God for sending His Son and accept it as the full payment for what you have done wrong.”

That is all that is needed according to Scripture. Upon belief, the person is sealed with God’s Spirit as a guarantee of His salvation (Ephesians 1:13, 14).

And from my commentary on 2 Peter 1:15, in the “Life Application” section of the commentary, I said –

There are still thousands of unique languages without a copy of the Bible. Christian churches spend a great deal of money sending missionaries overseas to evangelize the lost. This is most noteworthy, but without a strong follow-up, only the people who originally hear the word will benefit. Therefore, it is important to not only tell of Jesus, but also to put in place safeguards so that the message will continue to be told. One way of doing this is schooling, raising up elders, and establishing churches. However, without a copy of the Bible, bad doctrine can easily creep in.

Likewise, missionaries from non-conforming sects such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses can come in and steal away the truth. To provide copies of the Bible in English is arrogant and presumptuous when it isn’t the native language of the people. Therefore, it has been the practice of faithful Christians throughout the ages to translate the Bible into the language of the natives.

What do these two thoughts – a question about salvation and an impetus to have both trained people and a copy of Scripture available to those who receive the gospel – have to do with one another?

Text Verse: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9

If the person who emailed me was wondering about a gospel message for children because he was wanting to evangelize his own child, then he was wanting to ensure that his child would call on Jesus and be saved. My answer, that the simple gospel is the only gospel, is true.

We don’t need an elaborate presentation. We just present what the Bible presents and accept that what God has presented is reliable and effective. But what if this person told his child the gospel, then the child – we’ll say one that is six years old – accepts the message, and then the person dies the next day. Without this Christian influence in the child’s life, that child may go off on many unhealthy paths. He is a human, after all.

And what about the folks in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. A missionary comes into a village, tells the gospel, and the whole village gladly receives the good news of God in Christ. They all believe and are baptized – grateful for the salvation God has granted.

But, a week later, the missionary is eaten by a saltwater crocodile. After a year, a group of Mormons comes in, establishes a church based on Mormon doctrine, and everyone starts attending there. They had no discipleship beyond their conversion, and they had no copy of Scripture left in their native language. They have even, as Peter says, forgotten they were cleansed from their old sins.

What will happen to that child who received Christ by faith? What will happen to that village who gladly came to Christ? The answer you give will show just how much you understand, or fail to understand, several key words which the Bible uses, especially the meaning of the words “gift,” and “grace.” It will also reveal your understanding concerning several key concepts, such as the nature of God and the weight of His decrees.

The issue of whether one can lose his salvation or not is one of the most important issues that can be addressed in Scripture. It calls into question the truth of God in Christ, the surety possessed by any person who has been saved, and also the efficacy of what Jesus did – was it sufficient or not? This is not a minor issue, but it is the heart of the matter in salvation.

It must be addressed, and it must be faithfully answered. And it can be, right from the word of God. And so, let’s turn to that precious word once again, and may God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Scriptural and Logical Reasons for Eternal Salvation

The gospel was stated in our opening comments. It is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4 – “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Paul tells how to appropriate that in Romans 10:9, 10 – “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

That is the gospel and the means of receiving it in order to be saved. Paul also gives these words to show that there is nothing beyond that gospel which man must do, or indeed can do, in order to be saved –

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9

Grace is unmerited favor. Anything – anything at all – which is added to grace negates grace. A gift is something that cannot be earned. It is something given without any strings attached, and it is something that once given away now belongs – wholly and entirely – to the recipient. A “gift” which is, or can be, recalled, is not a gift.

Paul then tells what the effects of salvation – of this gift – are in Ephesians 1:13, 14 –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14

Paul says that upon belief a person is saved. When this happens, he is sealed with the Holy Spirit. The word for “sealed” is sphragizó. It “signifies ownership and the full security carried by the backing (full authority) of the owner. ‘Sealing’ in the ancient world served as a ‘legal signature’ which guaranteed the promise (contents) of what was sealed” (HELPS Word Studies).

This seal then is as sure as a signature of ownership by God. No higher seal than this can be found in heaven or on earth. And no power can reclaim from God what God has sealed. Further, it is something that is given and will never be taken back. If it were to be taken back, then it means that God has made a mistake in His sealing; something impossible. The logical progression of what Paul says is –

1) A person hears the word of truth (the gospel of his salvation).
2) He believes the message.
3) He is sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
4) He is now entitled to all of the benefits that the Jews, as an inheritance, also received by that same process of faith – there being one gospel alone for both Jew and Gentile.

Next, the word for “guarantee” is arrabón. It is a rare word, found only three times in the New Testament. It means “properly, an installment; a deposit (‘down-payment’) which guarantees the balance (the full purchase-price) … [It] is the regular term in NT times for ‘earnest-money,’ i.e. advance-payment that guarantees the rest will be given…[it] then represents full security backed by the purchaser who supplies sufficient proof they will fulfill the entire pledge (promise)” (HELPS Word Studies).

Understanding the meaning of this word, it is impossible that there could later be a loss of salvation for a person who has – at any time in his life – believed in Him and been saved. If God seals us with His Holy Spirit as a guarantee, and if we can lose that, then –

1) The gift was not a gift at all. As it can be taken back, the term “gift” is then a lie.
2) It was not a very good guarantee. In fact, it was no guarantee at all. God’s decree has failed.
3) It is, by default, of our effort and not of God that we are saved. (If we can lose our salvation at any time after having it granted, then it was never of grace in the first place. By default, it must be of works.)
4) God made a mistake in sealing us with His “guarantee.” As God cannot make a mistake, because He knows the end from the beginning, a person who believes salvation can be lost is now following a false god.
5) It would diminish the value of Christ’s atoning shed blood which was used for the purchase of the possession. His cross is, by default, unable to procure and secure that for which it was intended.

As noted, the word arrabón is found only three times in the New Testament. The other two times are in 2 Corinthians 1:22 and in 2 Corinthians 5:5. In all three uses, it is referring to the pledge of the Holy Spirit. He is our surety and our guarantee. As this is the sealing of God in us, it represents the highest of all authorities.

It further represents an eternal decree of God. It can never be undone without violating the initial decree. As we learned in a previous doctrine sermon, God’s decrees are unconditional, and they are eternal. Therefore, the believer is one hundred percent secure as he awaits “the redemption of the purchased possession.”

What is being referred to here is, as Charles Ellicott says, “the complete and final salvation from sin and death.” This indicates the result of the action, and not the action itself. In other words, we have already been purchased by and through the work of Christ. This is evidenced by the sealing of the Holy Spirit.

God cannot lie. The salvation of the one who has believed the gospel is secure. And all of this is, as Paul says, “to the praise of His glory.” Vincent’s Word Studies notes that this final clause is to be taken together with the words “you were sealed.” Our sealing is to the praise of God’s glory because it conforms to “God’s purpose as it respects Himself.”

Those who teach one can lose his salvation state the following –

1) What Christ did is ineffectual for the purpose it was intended.
2) God’s gift of salvation, meaning Christ Jesus, must be earned; it is not a gift.
3) Salvation is not of grace, but of works.
4) God’s sealing of the Holy Spirit has no value beyond human ability.
5) God’s guarantee is conditional upon human action, which is fallible, forgetful, and futile.

Further, to teach that one can lose his salvation demonstrates a complete misunderstanding, or a total rejection, of what Christ did in regard to the law and its effects for the people of the world. The Law of Moses was given to Israel, and only to Israel, but it is the standard which God has set for judgment. This is true, because Jesus Christ came under the Law of Moses. Therefore, in man’s judgment – whether Jew or Gentile – the comparison is to Christ, who came under the law. It is His perfection which is the standard by which all will be judged.

Paul shows us in Romans 6:14, 15 that for those in Christ, they are not under law but under grace. He further explains in Romans 10:4 that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” In other words, for the one who has placed his faith in Christ, He is their righteousness. In Him, the requirements of the law have been met, and the law is dead to them.

Paul says in Romans 3:20 that by law is the knowledge of sin. In Romans 6:23, he then says that the wages of sin is death. Death is the payment for sin, which comes through law. But Paul then says that, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s gift is given, the demands of the law are satisfied in Him, and therefore, the believer is not under law. Without law, there can be no imputation of sin. And this is what Paul says is the case for those in Christ. He says that God is “reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

This then is the fundamental misunderstanding of those who believe one can lose his salvation. Sin is the problem which leads to death and separation from God. Sin comes through law. Those not under law are not imputed sin. Therefore, they cannot lose their salvation.

If God did count sin against the man in Christ, then it would mean that God has not accepted Christ’s fulfillment of the law for that man, or any man – ever – in human history. The entire point of Christ’s coming is wasted if even one person who has been saved by Christ is lost. And if one person is lost, then none will be saved. The efficacy of what Christ has done is obliterated by those who teach salvation can be lost.

As stated already, God’s decrees are unconditional. Those who believe that the decree of salvation is conditional have no understanding of the nature of God, or of the eternal nature of His spoken word.

To understand salvation on a basic level, all one needs to do is to look to Israel. God made a promise to Israel that He would never reject them, even when they rejected Him. His word is His guarantee, and His honor is what is at stake. It is “to the praise of His glory.”

This was not for their sake, but for His name’s sake. The salvation or rejection of Israel by God is the template for the salvation or rejection of each individual in Christ. As He said to Israel –

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.’” Ezekiel 36:22 (and substantially repeated in Ezekiel 36:32)

Though individuals were cut off, it was not to individuals that the covenant was made, it was made with the people of Israel collectively. In the New Covenant, God promises salvation through His covenant of grace not only to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah collectively, but it applies to individuals.

If God were to reject Israel, He could not be trusted. His word is given, and it must come to pass. The same is true with each person in Christ, of which Israel is the template. His word is given, and that person’s salvation must come to pass – or God cannot be trusted.

Despite Israel’s failings, they remain collectively saved. And thus, despite our failings, we remain individually saved. We can ask, “What sin would separate us from God’s salvation in Christ?” The answer comes back in several ways. First in 1 Corinthians 5, a man is noted as committing an offense “not even named among the Gentiles.”

So perverse were his actions that Paul instructed the congregation to expel him from the fellowship. They were to, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (verse 5).

He may die in the process of his sinful life, but he remains saved. Secondly, can walking away from the faith result in a loss of salvation? The answer is, again, “No.” From 1 Timothy 1 –

“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” 1 Timothy 1:18-20

These two rejects, Hymenaeus and Alexander, had shipwrecked their faith, they had left the proper path, and Paul gave them the exact same treatment that he instructed the Corinthians to give to their offender – handing them over to Satan. The implication is that they remain saved but will suffer affliction in this life and loss in the next.

There is no incident in Scripture where a person is said to lose his salvation, and there is no verse in Scripture which supports a loss of salvation, as we will see next…

Who can find the end of God’s grace?
Who can say, “It goes this far, but no further does it go!”?
Can you, this attribute of God erase?
The answer comes back from the heavens with a resounding “No!” 

What God has done is because of who He is
When He grants salvation, it is a gift – handed out to you
He will never take back a gift; He is not in that biz
Rather, His word stands firm because He is ever Faithful and True 

Praise be to God who does not forget His word
But sends it forth as a testimony of His mercy and grace
And to the ends of the earth, His message will be heard
To those who come to Jesus, upon them will forever shine His face

II. Proper Context and Right Division

In biblical interpretation, context is king. It is the primary point of consideration – before any other is necessary – to determine the applicability of a passage or verse. For the doctrine of salvation, including whether it can be lost or not, the context is that of post-resurrection.

Generally, verses or precepts, prior to Christ’s work in the fulfillment of the law which includes Christ’s death as a part of that fulfillment, are not acceptable to be considered in the context of salvation. The law was not fulfilled, Christ had not died for our offenses, and He had not been raised for our justification.

Therefore, if someone cites a verse from the synoptic gospels as proof that one can lose his salvation, that can be tossed out immediately. The words are spoken to Israel, under the law. The context is wrong, and therefore the analysis is also wrong. There is no need to go further.

The book of Acts is a descriptive account of the establishment of the church. It prescribes almost nothing. With very few exceptions, if someone uses the book of Acts in a prescriptive manner, that analysis is to be tossed out. The context is wrong, and therefore the analysis is also wrong.

The epistles are where church age doctrine comes from. If one is to also include Revelation 1-3 in this analysis, which is not unacceptable, the context still needs to be maintained. Who is being addressed? Under what circumstances are the words being written? Are the words speaking about individuals or a group of people? Does the verse stand alone, or is it a part of a greater whole? What brought about the issue? And so on. All of this must be considered. An example of this is the often-misused verse of Revelation 2:5 –

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” Revelation 2:5

This verse has nothing to do with individual salvation. Jesus is speaking to a church, not to individuals. This is even explicitly explained in Chapter 1 where he says that the lampstand represents the church. To have a lampstand removed, then, is to no longer be recognized as an acceptable church. That verse can be tossed out.

This idea of a corporate addressee resolves several of the most often misunderstood verses concerning loss of salvation in Scripture – Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-29. Who is being spoken to? The answer is, “The Hebrews.” Hebrews 6:4-6 says –

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6

This set of verses has nothing to do with individual salvation. It has to do with the corporate group known as Israel. Everything the author says is in the plural. But to settle this, we will spend the next several minutes, or more, going through these verses individually, maintaining that context, and see what they are saying –

6:4 – “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,”

The letter is written to Hebrew Christians. The temple was standing at the time of the letter to the Hebrews as can be determined from other verses within the letter.

The content of Hebrews is pertinent to today’s church as well, but the specific addressees are the Hebrew people. With this understanding, the words of this verse are not directed to the Gentile-led church age, nor to individual salvation.

For it is impossible.” The words themselves call to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” However, some things are, in fact, impossible with God. He cannot violate one of His own attributes. He is righteous and He cannot, therefore, commit unrighteousness.

Such is the case with all of His attributes. What Jesus was referring to were things which are not logically or morally impossible for God. Such is the case with spiritual matters like salvation. Man cannot save himself through his own merits, but man can be saved through the merits of Christ.

…for those.” The words are not in the singular, but are rather in the plural, “those.” This will continue throughout all three verses. It is speaking about a collective whole.

…who were once enlightened.” This is a metaphor which is used in Hebrews 10:32 where it is again in the plural. There it applies in a general manner to all who are addressed. Here it is speaking of a certain group who have been enlightened. From this, the words will explain what that enlightenment means.

…and having tasted.” To “taste” something in Scripture is to experience or understand that thing. In Hebrews 2:9, Jesus “tasted” death for everyone. He experienced death, but it was also something that was, at least in the case of believers, something that could be tasted vicariously. Some will never taste death because He died on our behalf (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17).

…the heavenly gift.” There is a parallelism with the words here, and the words of chapter 2. In verse 3, it speaks of salvation (tasted); and in verse 4, it speaks of gifts of the Holy Spirit (the heavenly gift). The heavenly gifts, those of the Holy Spirit, are the proof of salvation. These were imparted to the Jews of Acts 2.

In Acts 2:38, Peter, while speaking to the Jews of Israel (not the Gentile-led church), promised that they would likewise receive the gift of the Holy Spirit by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus.

This is something that occurred differently (in order and in requirement) in Acts 8 with the Samaritans, and again in Acts 10 with the Gentiles in Caesarea. The author of Hebrews is writing to this same group of people, the Hebrews, to instruct them in how to properly understand what reception of this gift then means to them as a collective group.

…and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.” They (the collective whole, but not necessarily every one of them) tasted of the gifts of the Spirit because they had partaken of the Holy Spirit. Those who so tasted can only mean true believers. When we partake of something, we participate in that thing. The Holy Spirit is the Gift, and the Gift itself is what bears the heavenly quality.

This is the state of things so far in the first of these three rather complicated verses. “Those who have tasted the heavenly gift” are those who have understood the message which they heard – whether they collectively accepted it or not.

They have, in their mind, all the knowledge sufficient to be saved through the work of Jesus Christ. Theirs is no longer a problem with comprehending the message, but the collective heart hasn’t been touched – something which must occur.

Those “who have shared in the Holy Spirit” are those who have seen the effective power of God displayed in the lives of the converted among them. They may have personally witnessed the miracles and power of Jesus and/or the apostles, or they may have seen the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated in the conversion of another – they “have shared in” this experience. This does not necessarily mean that all of those in this collective have received the Holy Spirit personally.

6:5 – “…and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,”

…and have tasted the good word of God.” Again, to taste is to experience. The good word of God is the gospel message of Jesus, the Messiah of the Hebrews (who are the recipients of this epistle), and all of the sound doctrine which pertains to this word. It is an acceptance of the truth of Jesus the Messiah as Scripture testifies to.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The language here speaks of the Hebrew people collectively having tasted this good word of God. First, while the temple was still standing, the Jews had this taste and yet, as a people, they adamantly remained under the sacrificial system of temple worship.

In the first century, these people had both the Old Testament and any word which was then in circulation – either orally or written – which confirmed Jesus’ ministry and spoke of how the Old was fulfilled in the New.

By hearing and understanding this word, they could taste and understand its goodness. Adding in the demonstrable proofs of the apostles which testified to the fulfillment of their Scriptures in Jesus, they had surely tasted the good word of God.

…and the powers of the age to come.” The wording here is different than in Hebrews 2:5, though some translations make them the same in the English by saying “the world to come.” Hebrews 2:5 speaks of the inhabited world; here it is speaking of a cycle of time, and thus an age.

In the end, they both look forward to the same thing: a taste of which was given to the Hebrews at Pentecost, and which will also be the case after the rapture of the church, and during and after the tribulation period. There will be notable gifts of the Spirit then as there was at the beginning.

Charles Ellicott states, they “were as truly anticipations of a future age of glory as was the ‘heavenly gift’ an anticipation of the ‘heavenly fatherland.’” These Hebrews had experienced these “powers of the age to come.” These powers most especially indicate the promised time when Jesus will return to rule the nations and “He will rule them with an iron scepter…” (Revelation 2:27).

The Jewish people had seen or heard of this power demonstrated in the resurrection – the very proof that Jesus is God. These points would have been made known to those who received this letter – that Jesus both fulfilled the role of Messiah and would return again in that capacity at some point in the future.

To have an understanding of these wonderful tenets and then to reject them for an inferior system (meaning temple sacrifices) would not only make no sense, but it would also show a complete lack of faith in God’s provision which was provided in the Person and work of Jesus.

6:6 – “…if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”

The author now begins with, “if they fall away.” There is actually no “if” in the Greek. This insert is based on a presupposition that the entire thought is hypothetical, but one which could not be expected to occur in reality. The words say, “and (then, or having) fallen away.” The verb is in the aorist tense. However, though “if” is not included in the thought, it is still, in a sense, a hypothetical postulation.

From verse 6:4 until this point, the author has not said that such a thing has occurred, but he is proposing that it could and then stating what the results would be. In this case, and understanding that, at a specific time, there was a falling away in this proposal being submitted.

Despite having tasted and participated in what was offered through the Holy Spirit they fell away.  It is a warning that in the rejection of the Lord, after they had tasted the heavenly gift, and after they had tasted the good word of God, they would be considered as having fallen away.

It is the same collective type of thought which was mentioned earlier in Hebrews where the people failed to believe, and they collectively did not enter into God’s rest. That was referring to the time of the people’s rejection of the Lord in the book of Numbers.

If it were to occur that this group of people fell away, it would be impossible “to renew them again to repentance.” The “repentance” speaks of turning the mind of the people once again to what they had already turned their minds to.

Many in the collective had believed, but eventually, the people as a whole turned from this belief in (or about) Christ. They had been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, etc. To be renewed, in fact, implies that they had once been endowed with this tasting of Christ; some were followers of the Messiah.

The verb here for “renew” is now in the active voice. What this is telling us is that it is impossible for men. However, as seen from Jesus’ words of Matthew 19:26, what is impossible with men is not impossible for God. There can be no contradiction in Scripture, and so this must be considered.

Nothing that a man does to renew this group will be possible. But the truth is that nothing any person does can bring a person to salvation in the first place. Apart from God’s specific revelation of Himself, salvation is not possible. God has brought man to salvation through Christ. A man cannot save himself. The same is true with this verse here concerning Israel.

Scripture never shuts the door on forgiveness to anyone who repents concerning Christ, nor does it shut the door on Israel as a collective (see Romans 9-11). Therefore, when such a falling away occurs, as long as the condition lasts, a renewal is impossible.

The words in no way mean that such a renewal is impossible, but that it cannot occur while the person (or the group) is living under an old economy which has found its fulfillment in Christ (through the New Covenant).

As Cambridge notes, “There can, he implies, be no second ‘Second Birth.’ The sternness of the passage is in exact accordance with Hebrews 10:26-29 (comp. 2 Peter 2:20-21); but ‘the impossibility lies merely within the limits of the hypothesis itself.’”

…since they crucify again.” The Greek, as is translated by the Berean Study Bible, more closely reads, “and then having fallen away– to restore them again to repentance, crucifying in themselves the Son of God and subjecting Him to open shame.”

It does not say, “again,” twice. Rather, it is only used once in relation to “repentance.” As far as the word, “crucify,” the verb is a present participle; and thus, the Berean Study Bible is correct in saying “crucifying.”

It has the intent of “crucifying as they are doing.” It does not imply an absolute apostasy, but one which is continuous. The tense of the verbs went from past to present. Such is the case with Israel today. They are “crucifying” the Lord through their rejection of Him.

The temple was standing; a future temple will stand. To observe temple rites, to then come to Jesus who is the fulfillment of all of those types and shadows; and then to return to the same temple rites which only prefigured Him, would be to reject what God has done in Christ. He died for the sins of the world. Therefore, the cross of Christ is no longer available to them because it no longer has the meaning they once assigned to it.

The author then continues with, “…for themselves.” This is a reflexive pronoun, dative, third person, plural. It should read, “in themselves,” or, “to themselves.” As Cambridge notes, “This is what is called ‘the dative of disadvantage’ – ‘to their own destruction.’”

There is no human remedy for sin forgiveness, and the temple rites which looked forward to Christ are now, in fact, a human remedy to Israel. Only God can forgive, and that through Christ, who is “… the Son of God.” To take this course of action would then lead to the final words of the verses, “…and put Him to open shame.”

What is the purpose of Christ’s cross if Israel retreats to what only looked forward to that cross – meaning observing the Law of Moses? It is a shameful act which would, in turn, bring discredit upon the Lord who voluntarily took on the very sin which the temple rites could not expiate. This is what Israel did. After tasting His goodness, they shunned Him and returned fully to temple worship. To this day, they are looking to re-establish that temple worship once again.

What is seen here is merely A theoretical possibility concerning the salvation of God’s people, Israel, collectively. It is not speaking of what God has done in saving and sealing individuals under the New Covenant. This is the same for Hebrews 10:26-29 which we will not bother analyzing due to time constraints.

For Israel, there is no finality revealed in these three verses. Everything in Scripture testifies to the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ which is by grace through faith. The author’s warning is that for Israel to assume that going back to the temple rites will make them holy (or more holy), or bring them nearer to God, is completely contradictory to the work of Christ itself.

Further, the words of the author later in verse 9 actually presuppose that this is, in fact, a hypothetical situation which is being spoken of, and thus it is a doctrinal treatise for the church to read and learn from, and for the nation of Israel, as a whole, to do the same. Until they, as a collective whole, come to Christ, they can find no way of being restored to God. Those things of the Old merely looked forward to the New.

As I noted, the other set of verses which are often used to justify that one can lose his salvation are Hebrews 10:26-29. Like the previous verses, a proper evaluation of them will likewise reveal that these words have nothing to do with the loss of individual salvation. This is true with other difficult verses like John 15:6.

Time does not allow for a full evaluation of these verses, or for any others which are brought into this false teaching by the theologically confused. For anyone who feels differently, my commentaries are available to them for their doctrinal correction.

This is true for any other verse or verses that are incorrectly and haphazardly pulled out of their intended context. If you feel you have the verse which you believe clinches your claim concerning this matter, I have two points for you –

1) You are wrong, and
2) Email me for the correction of your faulty analysis.

Stand approved, obtain right doctrine, and don’t continue to spout off the false doctrine which says that one can lose what God has given, sealed, and guaranteed. Your stubborn attitude in this diminishes the work of Christ, and thus the glory that God is due through the giving of His Son.

In the end, simple logic concerning the nature of God refutes the idea of a loss of salvation. The written word, combined with understanding His nature, confirms this. And finally, taking all verses in their intended context dispels any misunderstanding or misapplication of what is being conveyed.

Saved once and for ever through Christ’s shed blood
Safe within Him for now and for all eternity
Come and be rescued through the cleansing flood
His grace is a gift of love, poured out abundantly 

We praise You, O God, for what you have done
We thank You for the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord
How glorious, O God, is the Gift of Your Son
For through Him, on us, Your salvation You have poured 

Now and forever, we give You thanks and praise
Yes, we shall hail Your goodness and glory, even for eternal days

III. Rewards and Losses

Paul says in Romans 8:30, “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

God’s decrees are unconditional. What He has stated is done. Though we are still in this mortal body, in God’s mind, we were predestined, we were called, we are justified, and we are glorified. That is His decree, and it is immutable. Thank God that this process is once and forever behind us.

However, because we are still in this body, there are consequences for not living as we should while still here. Those consequences will not affect our salvation, but they can affect us in several profound ways –

1) In our earthly walk in physical or mental ways.
2) In the confidence of our walk with the Lord. And,
3) In our future rewards when we stand before the Lord.

The first was alluded to by Paul concerning the sexually immoral man at Corinth. He instructed the church to hand him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. What that meant is, “To the consequences of his sin.” He may suffer or die from a sexually transmitted disease, he may get shot by a jealous lover, and so on.

Any sin is destructive. A drunk may die from alcohol-related problems, a person taking drugs may contract a communicable disease, die of the effects of the drugs, and so on. This is what Paul meant.

The second way our life can be negatively affected is through an uncertain walk with the Lord. When we are not living for the Lord, it hinders our prayer life. Peter says this explicitly when husbands fail to honor their wives as they should.

If prayers are hindered for that, then it is logical to assume that they will be hindered for other failings as well. Further, when one fails to live for the Lord, his personal testimony is harmed in the eyes of others. How can one be confident in the Lord, especially before others, when he isn’t living as he should?

And thirdly, all that we do from the time we come to Christ is being evaluated for the day when we receive our judgment before Him. Paul speaks of this day and what it means for the believer, explicitly, in both 1 Corinthians 3 and in 2 Corinthians 5. In his words are further confirmations of the doctrine of eternal salvation –

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:9-15


“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-11

We are not saved in order to then continue working to keep our salvation – something which both denies the grace of God and which excludes faith in His provision. Rather, we are saved in order to live faithful lives and lives of faith. Those things we do, in faith, for the Lord will receive rewards. Those things we do that are not in faith will receive none.

And I would suggest to you that for those who started in faith, believing the gospel, and who then later turned to the false teaching which says salvation can be lost, will receive no rewards for their conduct. Having started in grace, they have returned to works, setting aside that grace.

And having started in faith, they no longer trust that the grace is sufficient. Therefore, and by default, they are no longer walking in faith. Thus, rewards are excluded. Such a person is ever striving to somehow earn the grace he has set aside.

In such a walk, there is no room for failure, and there is no true joy in one’s salvation. The doom of banishment is one slipup away. And worse, there is nothing in Scripture to say what that one failure might be. Therefore, any failure at all is one of possible, but uncertain condemnation. What a sad, vapid existence in Christ.

At the beginning of this sermon, I mentioned the scenario where a child was led to Christ and then he was no longer discipled. And also, of the village that was led to Christ and then their mentoring ended. For the villagers, an aberrant cult came in and reeducated them with a lie.

What are the consequences of such things? Those people will remain saved because salvation is eternal. God has spoken and sealed and the deal is done. However, sadly, the next generation of those villagers will never come to the same saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is why it is incumbent on us to not only lead people to Christ, but to lead them to sound doctrine in Christ.

Some years ago, I was friended on Facebook by a person who watched the prophecy updates. He was all excited about them and sent a gift to me, a painting. However, many months later when he – in his confused theology – found out that I teach the doctrine of eternal salvation, he emailed me and demanded the gift back.

That is a marvelous object lesson for each of you. Think about it. Think about the nature of what was supposed to be a “gift.” And think about the depravity of the giver who would do such a thing. Now think about the nature of God, the goodness of God in sending His Son, and what God has said in His word concerning this issue.

Are you going to ascribe such a perverse nature to the Giver of all good things? Israel’s failings actually bring glory to God because He has stood by them despite their conduct. And your failings, tragic as though they may be, will not be imputed to you as sin who are in Christ. Such is the nature of God’s grace.

If you are one of the uninformed or willfully uneducated people who actually believes that you have to help God along in order to stay saved, you are to be pitied. Your walk has become a walk of works, and if of works, it is not of Christ.

Such is not the case for those who have trusted and continue to trust in God’s provision of unmerited favor in Christ. There are no loopholes in God’s promise that a person is justified, sanctified, and glorified. It is a done deal. So, rest in that blessed assurance. And then, go forth in faith and receive your rewards for the conduct of your life on that great Day when you stand before the Lord who saved you, once and forever.

Closing Verse: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21






God’s Predestination and Election in Christ

God’s Predestination and Election in Christ

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me, 14 for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. 15 Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’” Exodus 9:13-16 

In our last sermon, we looked into the doctrine of being saved by grace alone through faith alone. This, as we saw, does not mean that we must first make Christ Lord of our lives (MacArthur’s Lordship salvation). Logically, that cannot happen until one is saved. It is faulty logic based on a faulty premise.

We also cannot logically repent of sin prior to our conversion in the way that Ray Comfort of The Way of the Master presents. It is true, we are sinful beings, and we need a Savior. But to repent of sins as Ray Comfort states then implies that we know all of that which is considered sinful, turning from all of that, and only then can we can be saved. This too is faulty logic.

We turn from sin as we discover that which is displeasing to God, and that comes from discipleship, not calling on Christ by faith to receive the gift of salvation which God offers in Him.

Both of those teachings were shown to be faulty because they present a faulty view of the simple gospel – salvation by faith alone through grace alone. But what is the process provided by God that even gets us to that point? And once we arrive at that point, what are the results of the act of salvation which God provides?

These doctrines, those of predestination, election, and that of the security of the believer, are major doctrines. Today we will look at predestination and election. Next week, we will look at the security of the believer.

However, these are not separate in the mind of God, as we will see today. Each point of doctrine leads logically and absolutely to the next because of the very nature of God. That they are combined, is seen in the words of Paul to the Romans in a single verse, Romans 8:30, but for more context, we will give you both verses, 29 and 30…

Text Verse: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:29, 30

Paul speaks of being foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified – all in just two verses. Each of these five verbs is in the same tense – aorist, indicative, active. In essence, the act is defined at a particular moment, it is past, and its effects are ongoing.

Today, we will look at some of the mechanics of what this means for the individual who is to be saved by God through Jesus Christ. Be advised, though, that no matter what is said in the next few minutes, another ten volumes of commentary could be added to each point, and there would still be someone who says, “But you didn’t cover this verse in Romans,” or “Why didn’t you mention that particular point.”

The study is vast, and it takes a lifetime of pursuit. So, please don’t think that every “i” has been crossed or every “t” has been dotted… Wait! reverse that, please. This is just a short talk to hopefully encourage you to desire more. Because there is ever so much more to be desired in His superior word. And so, let’s turn to that precious word once again, and may God speak to us His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

God’s Predestination and Election in Christ

Paul says that believers are predestined, and they are called. The Greek word, proorizó, translated as “predestined” means “to mark out beforehand.” It comes from the preposition pro, meaning before, in front of, and so on, and also the verb horizó, meaning to mark off by boundaries or determine. You can see the English word “horizon” in it. One might think of “pre-horizon,” and thus “pre-determined.”

God has “pre-determined” those who will be saved. But what does that mean? Did God actively choose each before creation as in, “I will make a Charlie Garrett, and I will save him”? If this is so, does He then say, “I will make a Joseph Stalin and I will condemn him”?

Or does God say, “I will make a path to salvation. This is the predetermined boundary, and any who accept that path will be saved”? Or, is there some variation between these that God will use to save man?

One thing is for sure, Paul says believers are predestined, and so there is no reason to argue if this is true or not. What needs to be established is what that actually means, and how it comes about. The importance of why this needs to be known translates directly into the nature of God – His love, His competence, His trustworthiness, and so forth.

It also translates directly into what the believer needs to do in salvation, and even after salvation – both in regard to his salvation, and in regard to his obligation to others for their salvation.

In order to understand at least a small part of predestination and election, we will go over various views on what is involved in them. To do this, we will repeat points already covered in earlier sermons from the books of Moses, and in several Bible studies that some of you have already attended or watched.

However, as this is a series on doctrine, the repetition is necessary, and it will – hopefully – be a good refresher for those of you who have already heard these things before. So, no napping and sit up straight.

Paul’s words of Romans 8:29, 30 are a result of his statement in 8:28 about all things being worked out for good for those who are the called according to His purpose.

Based on this, he says that those whom God “foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Those who are a part of God’s plans and purposes will be conformed. It is already done in God’s mind. How does this come about?

Four main views will be presented – supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism, sublapsarianism, and Wesleyanism. Despite being mentally challenging and a bit complicated, we can simplify the big words for your mind by using easier examples for you to grasp.

In the past, I have used ducks in a pond which then flows into a river. That was so that people wouldn’t quack their heads by thinking too hard. Today, we shall use real people stuck in the same dilemma. The wrong views will be explained first, who believes them, and why.

*The first view is known as Supralapsarianism (supra – above). It says that election, or predestination, is logically prior to the decree to permit the fall of man. In other words, even before sin entered into the picture, election was made for all people. The big word is more easily understood from its parts – Supra-above. Lapse-fall. Ism-doctrine. This is the doctrine of “before the fall.”

This view involves a group known as hyper-Calvinists. It is also known as double-predestination because its effects actively go in two directions. It is radical and biblically unsound. It inevitably leads to judgmental egoists who feel God loves them and hates everyone else.

The reason for this is because their assumption is that God predestined humanity before He permitted the fall of man. Therefore, He actively elected some for salvation and actively elected others for condemnation. The fall hasn’t even happened, and He has made His choice.

In His act of creation, He purposefully created with the intent that His people would either be saved or condemned. That is their state and they have no choice in the matter.

This means that God provides and applies salvation only for the elect. This is known as limited atonement. Christ’s atonement is limited only to those who were elected, and it applies – both potentially and actually – only to certain people. Another term must be applied to those who are saved and those who are unsaved – forced salvation to the one, and purposeful condemnation to the other.

To explain, we can look at the Garden of Eden where God placed man. God created both the garden and the man. The man was placed in the garden, and even before the man has done anything wrong, God has already chosen which of his descendants He will love and which He will hate.

Only after this decision, this one man and his wife disobey. In this, the catastrophe of sin entered into the realm. Man was forced from the garden into a stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. However, that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete, total, and eternal separation from God.

But, during the course of time, God actively comes along and initiates a process of salvation for those He chose to save even before any wrong had been committed. He gives them his Spirit and seals them for future glory whether they want it or not. The choice was made even before the fall, and they were saved at that point in time. The work of Jesus may be a part of this process, but it is actually an afterthought in the stream of events.

And the ones He created for condemnation, He actively withholds His saving of them, forcing them into condemnation and hell because He chose them to be created for condemnation. This is a mean and angry God who actively hates some of His creation, the non-elect, even before He created them.

If you think about it, for those who espouse this doctrine, there is absolutely no reason to evangelize anyone. Why bother telling anyone about Jesus or sending out missionaries? God chose and that’s that. And more, why go to church or read your Bible? If you are elect, there is nothing needed by you in regard to that nonsense. So, live it up, elect!

It ascribes evil to God because the evil that exists is not attempted to be corrected by Him when it could have been corrected by Him, even by those who may have desired it.

This view, double predestination, was held by the first Calvinist, John Calvin. In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter 21, Section 5, he states –

“All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” John Calvin

Such is the view of the first Calvinist, and it is a heretical view of what God is doing in the stream of human existence.

*The second incorrect view is Infralapsarianism (infra – below). This concept says that the decree of election, meaning to call someone to salvation, is logically after the decree to permit the fall. This is held by strong Calvinists, but it is technically not double-predestination.

In essence, God created all and then He permitted the fall of man. Since then, He has and will continue to elect some and will pass by others. He provides, and applies, salvation only for the elect. He chooses who will be saved and they have no choice in the matter.

Traditional Calvinists such as RC Sproul, John Piper, and others, are in this category. This view still holds to limited atonement like the first view. Christ’s atonement is limited only to those who were elected and it applies – both potentially and actually – only to certain people who will be saved. To the saved, it is forced salvation, and to the unsaved we could use the term uncaring condemnation.

We’ll go back to the Garden of Eden to understand. God creates the Garden and the man. After this, man disobeyed, and the catastrophe of sin entered into the realm. It is at this time that God decides who He will save and who He will simply ignore.

In the meantime, man is forced from the garden into a stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. But that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete and total separation from God.

During this course of time, God actively comes along and initiates a process of salvation for some of these people. He gives them his Spirit and seals them for future glory whether they want it or not. The rest, He simply ignores. He does nothing to secure their salvation.

They were simply not a part of His plan. One might argue that this isn’t a hateful God, but that is incorrect. He is uncaring about those He didn’t elect, and to not care about their eternal state is an unloving act.

He made the choice for salvation or condemnation after the fall, but He also did so before He actually took any action to correct the matter. Thus, the cross is an afterthought in God’s redemptive plans and purposes. In His mind, they were saved before His decree to correct their state. Like the first view, the work of Jesus may be a part of this process, but it is actually a secondary thought in the stream of events.

There is an implicit problem with this view which brings it to the same level as the first view. God is all-knowing. The order of the occurrences as I am presenting are for our benefit and understanding, but they are not actually how God’s mind see things. He knows all things at all times. To state that God didn’t actually create some for salvation and some for condemnation in this view would be a hard sell.

In both views so far, God loves only the elect in terms of salvation. The others, He either actively hates, or He simply doesn’t care about them. Which, by default, is a hateful act.

Another problem with this is that God is love – He loves everyone equally. There is no increase or decrease in His love for us from His perspective. The Bible proclaims this. But to pass over some while choosing others, especially after finally providing the means of salvation to the world, is actually no different than actively condemning them. Both views present an unloving God towards the non-elect.

This “passing by” someone, when He knew before creating them that He would “pass them by” is actually more than uncaring. It shows a disdain for a certain portion of His creatures. Calvinist’s like to say that those who are not elect are “simply not a part of His plan,” and that may be true, but it is He – not the poor soul who might want to be – who determines it is so.

In order to justify this, many verses have to be taken out of context, and entire doctrines which are, in fact, taught in Scripture – such as free will – have to be dismissed. By denying free will in the process of salvation, Calvinists then supposedly remove this stain from God, as they view Him.

Like the first view, there is no reason why someone would bother telling anyone else about Jesus or sending out missionaries. They will dispute this, but it is the logical result of such a view. If God chooses us for salvation apart from our will – and even before He has initiated the plan for man’s salvation – then honestly, what is the point? Are God’s plans going to be thwarted by us somehow?

Further, proponents of this faulty view would say that if it was intended for all to be saved, then all would be saved – because God’s sovereign intentions must come about. God is, after all, sovereign – as we saw in a previous sermon. Therefore, if it was not intended for all to be saved, then it was only intended for some, meaning the elect.

This is a fallacy of thinking known as a false dilemma. The atonement of Jesus is an offering and it is intended to save all, but it only applies salvation for those who believe – as 2 Peter 3:9 states explicitly –

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Calvinism wrongly assumes, and therefore asserts, that the atonement of Jesus has only one purpose, which is to secure the salvation of the elect. In other words, Jesus died so that we can be saved. This is incorrect.

It can be inferred that Jesus’ sacrifice, according to Romans 1:32, has another purpose – to reveal the righteousness of God in judgment. God sends His Son to die in your place, but you turn Him down. Even without the cross, we are condemned. How much more just is God in judgment because of it!

The result of the idea of limited atonement is that it denies that God really desires all people to be saved. This is contrary to His omni-benevolence and also to what Peter wrote, as inspired by God, and which God included in His infallible word.

To understand this view more clearly, one needs to consider the concept of free-will. Do we freely choose Christ, or does God choose us apart from our will? The two options are known as monergism and synergism.

**Monergism, or Unconditional Election, teaches that regeneration is completely the result of God’s work and man has no part or cooperation in it. It is salvation by irresistible grace leading to regeneration and then to faith. In other words, if thought through logically, a person is saved before he is saved. This is in accord with the two models we have already discussed – supra- and infralapsarianism.

To justify this, Calvinist doctrine says that one is born again by the Spirit. After that occurs, they then choose Christ Jesus, and then they are saved. In other words, being “born again” is not salvation, but rather an intermediate step on the road to salvation.

One could paraphrase that by saying, “Nobody has freewill unto salvation, but God chooses a person to be saved, gives them freewill to choose through regeneration (being born again) and then he uses that free will of choice to be saved.

But if they have free will to choose after being born again, and they cannot use it to reject Christ, then it really isn’t free will. Rather, it is “forced will.” Calvinism is convoluted and it involves very unclear thinking and a twisting of the Bible.

Further, this view actually usurps God. If you have no choice in your salvation, then how do you know you are saved? How can anyone make a claim that they are saved when they didn’t have anything to do with their salvation? In other words, you are speaking for God by claiming salvation at all.

Of course, an answer might be, “I believed after regeneration; therefore, I am saved.” However, there are false gospels and people believe them. There are people who believe wrongly and yet claim they are saved. When they find out they are wrong, they change their belief (hopefully) in order to be saved. So, when were they saved? When they believed correctly!

But Calvinism says they were saved by God’s predetermined will, even before they were created. So why did they go through the times of falsely believing they were saved. What exactly was God doing with them at that time? If He wasn’t doing something with them at that time, then they had to have been freely choosing to do what they were doing. Hence, they had free will in the matter.

False gospels imply there is a true gospel and the spirit of the antichrist implies that there is a true Spirit. Belief must precede regeneration. And it does. This is what the Bible teaches. Your faith brings salvation. Finally, monergism denies free will in fallen man, but free will is necessary for love because forced love isn’t love at all. And if you are forced to will, then you are not freely loving.

**Synergism, or Conditional Election, on the other hand, teaches that we freely choose Christ and then are regenerated to life. This is exactly what the Bible teaches numerous times, both by Jesus’ words as well as the apostolic writings –

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13,14

An argument against this though is that the Bible says we are dead in our sins and that it is Jesus who restores us to life. The argument is, “How can a dead person choose life?” RC Sproul, who is now dead, basically says it this way – “You have as much power to awaken yourself from spiritual death as a corpse has the power to awaken himself from physical death.”

This is a fallacy, or an error in thinking, known as a category mistake. We are spiritually dead in our sins. We are not dead beings. God made us with the ability to reason, to choose, and to decline. In fact, this is exactly what Genesis 3:22 implies –

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…’” Genesis 3:22

Just because we are totally depraved beings, incapable of saving ourselves, it does not mean that we cannot see the good and receive it. People always strive towards what they perceive is good. And this is what Jesus came to do, to lead us as a beacon back to God. As He said Himself –

“He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:44-46

Christ is the Beacon, and man comes to God through Him. Nobody in his right mind who has read the Bible accurately assumes that he can restore himself to life. Only Christ can do that. He has done all that we need for that to happen. We simply receive it, and He accomplishes the rest. Peter speaks of this synergistic model in 1 Peter 3 –

“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 3:21 

There, he uses the word suneidésis, translated as “conscience.” It is a compound of sýn, meaning “together with” and eídō, meaning “to know or see.” It provides a look into the idea of synergism.

It is a word used frequently by Paul that signifies joint-knowing. In other words, man has a “…conscience which joins moral and spiritual consciousness as part of being created in the divine image. Accordingly, all people have this God-given capacity to know right from wrong because each is a free moral agent” (HELPS Word Studies).

Peter says that man uses this God-given capacity, acknowledges what God has done through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he is saved.  As man is a free moral agent, and as his conscience must work out an acceptable faith in the work of Christ – a work which culminated in His resurrection – then it shows that man is not regenerated in order to believe as Calvinism wrongly states.

Rather, man’s free will must actively reason out his state before God, see that he is lost in a world of filth (meaning moral unrighteousness), and come into the Ark of Safety, which is the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and thus be saved.

The faith in Christ leads to the “baptism” which is the demand, or question, by which God answers – “Am I right before God?” The answer is, “Yes.” It is Christ who allows this to occur.

Mixing categories, and rejecting core doctrines of the Bible – as Calvinism does – leads to bad theology, such as monergism. To understand the doctrine of free will better go back and watch our Genesis 2 sermon entitled Free to Will or Not Free to Will.

The Bible teaches what we would call anthropological hylomorphism – we are a soul/body unity. The spirit of man is dead, but the spirit of man is tied to the soul. Paul, speaking to saved believers in 2 Corinthians 5, says the soul without a body is naked. The spirit of man is made alive when we call on Christ, even if the body later dies.

This is eternal life, and it occurs the moment we believe. We don’t become a soul/body/spirit unity. Rather it is our soul which is now spiritually alive. Adam’s spirit died at the fall, faith in Christ regenerates that spirit. As I said, the spirit of antichrist which John speaks of confirms this. This is the error of Calvinist thinking. The spirit is not a separate entity. It is a reconnection of the soul to God.

The third wrong concept of our four major categories is Wesleyanism – named after John Wesley. Jacob Prasch, who we mentioned in a previous sermon, is a proponent of this faulty view. It says that God’s election is based on His foreknowledge but not necessarily in accord with it. In other words, God’s decrees are conditional; He changes His mind.

This is the beginning of major error and it goes back to a guy named Jacob Arminius who lived in the 1500s. His view denies eternal security. It reveals a God who is changing and makes mistakes.

John Wesley couldn’t decide what was right and so he followed the teaching of Arminius after asking God for a sign and then throwing lots twice. But we don’t get our theology from happenstance and chance. Instead, we get it from the Bible.

John Wesley, the Methodists, the Church of God, Mennonites, and others who hold this view are wrong – frightfully wrong. Like the previous view, they believe that God created all and then permitted the fall. Then He provides salvation for all people.

God knows who the elect are based on the foreseen faith of those who believe. Because of this faith, He applies salvation only to believers, but believers can lose their salvation.

Going back to the Garden of Eden for an example, God creates the garden and the man. The man disobeys God and the catastrophe of sin entered into the realm. Man is forced from the garden into a stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. However, that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete and total separation from God.

God, however, offers the corrective measure for man – He sends His Son to die for their sin. The Son calls out, “Come to Me and be saved.” Some never hear the message and continue through life without Christ. Some respond and come to Him. Others like the existence they are living and have no care about where their end will be, or they simply fail to believe what they hear, and they reject what God has offered.

For those who come to His Son, however, they can never know if they have upset God enough for Him to take away the salvation He has provided. They must keep doing things, or not doing things, in order to continue to be saved. If they fail in the doing, or not doing, God removes His salvation from them, and they are returned to the highway to hell.

There is never true safety, and in fact, those who are saved can’t really tell if they are saved or not from day to day. They spend their entire life trying to please a group of lower level pastors, preachers, and scholars who carefully decide what constitutes acceptance or rejection.

When God says in the book of Hebrews that those who believe have entered God’s rest, it is a conditional statement. When God says in the book of Ephesians that the seal of His Holy Spirit is a guarantee, it is so in name only. But a guarantee in name only is not a guarantee. In this, God – and what God says in His word – cannot be trusted.

Where Jesus says that hearing His word and believing in Him who sent Him results in 1) everlasting life, 2) that they will not come into judgment, and 3) that they have passed from death to life, does not really mean that. Jesus’ words are not to be taken at face value, but rather, they are conditional.

As this is so, one must earn his salvation, and thus salvation is not by grace through faith. This is a failed system of deceit which comes from a God who vacillates and changes. His decrees are conditional.

Understanding this, we can make a simple and logical refutation of Wesleyanism. First, there is actually no chronological order in the decrees of God. We put them in an understandable order for our benefit, but in God, there is no chronology.

He does not think in time or in sequence. Rather, God knows everything immediately and intuitively. All thoughts in God are simultaneous, and so chronological thinking is therefore excluded. However, there is an operational order in what God has done.

He has willed all things to occur in the temporal sequence of time. One thing happens and then another. We know that God created first. Only after creation came the fall of man. Only after the fall did God then begin to explain His plan of redemption. That plan slowly unfolded in the stream of time.

In this, we can think of a person getting sick. Once sick, a plan is made to bring him back to health, the doctor writes a prescription, and if the man follows what has been prescribed, he will get well. But this plan is unfolded for our benefit. What God has decreed is eternal –

“All of God’s attributes, thoughts, and decisions are eternal in accord with one another, and none is logically dependent on or independent of another. If it were, there would be contradictory logical sequence in a God who has no multiplicity, not even in His thoughts.” Norman Geisler

God provides salvation. Man accepts the prescription which has been filled out for him. The man is saved. The man is sealed with the Holy Spirit. The salvation is eternal. Each decree is eternal, none is taken out of the whole, but is in accord with the whole, and man is saved. That corresponds wholly and accurately to Paul’s words of Romans 8:29, 30 which was our text verse today.

Our final view is what is correct. First, it makes sense from a philosophic standpoint. Second, it makes sense from a moral standpoint. And third, it is the only view which is supported by the Bible. It also answers the question of why we fell in the first place.

Further, it answers where evil came from without ever ascribing it to God. Without this view, one is forever searching for where evil came from. This is a question that Calvinists must, and do, ask. They can never find an answer to it because their theology leaves no room for it.

Their mistaken idea is that God created everything perfect and so if man fell, then God must have blown it by creating a being that could fall. This is especially true because if intent to sin is evil (as Jesus clearly says it is), then Adam fell before the fall because he lusted after the fruit before he ate it. But they know God didn’t create evil, so – as RC Sproul is noted for asking – “Whence comes evil?”

As a short and logical reason for free will in Adam, it is obvious that what Adam did involved self-determination. That Adam sinned can be taken as an axiom. But was it caused by another, meaning it was determined; was it uncaused, meaning it is undetermined; or was it caused by himself, meaning self-determined?

We know that God did not cause him to sin, and the serpent did not force him to sin. So, it was not determined.

As far as Adam himself, there was no lack in him concerning the matter at hand. What he possessed in himself as created by God was perfect. Though he did not possess the knowledge of good and evil, that was not an imperfection. A lack does not necessarily correlate to, or imply, imperfection.

Adam was given a command which he could obey. He simply did not. As there is no such thing as an uncaused action, the action was not undetermined. The answer to “Whence comes evil?” is that it was self-determined by Adam.

For our views on predestination and election, the correct view is sublapsarianism (sub, meaning under or after). In order of decrees, God’s order to provide salvation came before His order to elect the people of the world, as the Bible reveals in Revelation 13:8 where it calls Jesus “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

“I will send My Son to die, and then all who call on Him will be saved.” It provides unlimited atonement for everyone potentially, but only for God’s people who choose Christ actually. Thus, it is unlimited atonement, potential; limited atonement, actual.

Like the previous two views, this view holds that God created all and then permitted the fall of man before election. He provides salvation for all people, but the elect of God are those who believe. God passes by those who do not believe based on their rejecting His offer of Jesus. It isn’t that He doesn’t care about them, it is that they don’t care about Him.

This view applies salvation only to believers who cannot lose it. This is in accord with Scripture which reveals there is security, eternal security, in the arms of Christ. A theological basis for this view is that God is omni-benevolent. In other words, He loves all of the people of the world because He is love, as the Bible states.

There is no hatred of the person willing to come to Him, and no active passing by people. He offers to any and all who hear the message, and the elect respond. He desires all to come to Him for His unmerited salvation and favor. This doesn’t mean there is good in us, it means we see the good in Him and we come to it – as the Bible states. Christ is the Light drawing all men unto Himself.

For a final, and correct visit to the Garden of Eden – God creates the garden and the man. The man disobeys God, and the catastrophe of sin enters into the realm. God, at this time, reveals that He will provide salvation for man – before He elects anyone to that salvation.

This is the order which is revealed in the Genesis 3 account. Man fell, God’s curse came, but even during the curse, He promises a Redeemer. After that, Adam demonstrates faith in the promise by naming his wife Khavah, or life, and because of that act, God covers the man and the woman – a picture of man’s atonement.

This pattern continues outside of the garden for those in the stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. The stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell and complete and total separation from God, it is true. Jesus said it is so in John 3:18 –

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18

God, however, offers the corrective measure for man – He first promises a Redeemer and those who believe are rewarded for their faith, such as Abraham. Eventually, He sends His Son to die for sin. The Son calls out, “Come to Me and be saved.”

Some respond and come to Him, others like the existence they are living and have no care about where their end will be. Or, they simply reject Him out of disbelief. Or, they are never told the message because a bunch of Calvinists who say that God’s plans in salvation cannot be thwarted – and so it isn’t necessary to share the gospel for people to be saved – fail to get out and share the message of Christ. Or, for whatever other reason the word doesn’t get out.

For those who come to His Son, they move from condemnation to salvation. They move from hell to heaven. They move from mortality to immortality. They are further protected from themselves by Christ, even if they fail Him along the way.

They are clothed in Christ, they are no longer imputed sin, and therefore, they cannot die again, because “the wages of sin is death,” but death comes through sin. If sin is not imputed, death no longer reigns. And, as a witness to them that this is true, God’s word says that they are sealed with a guarantee – not a crummy Wesleyan Arminian guarantee that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but the guarantee of God in Christ.

God was pleased that they believed. He saved them, and He continues to save them, even if they may have forgotten it. Peter even says that can happen in 2 Peter 1:9. A person can go so far away from God that he can forget he was ever saved, but God never does. God’s redeemed are eternally secure because of what He has done, not because of what we may do or fail to do.

God even gives us examples of people who either commit such grievous sin that what they do is worse than anything Paul can describe among the Gentile nations, or who completely shipwreck their faith, and yet Paul uses terminology saying that they are saved, and they will remain saved, yet as through fire. Meaning they will suffer great loss at their judgment.

Concerning predestination and election, the first two views hold to salvation only for the elect. The third view holds to salvation for believers but that they can lose it. The correct view holds to salvation for believers, who are the elect, even though it is offered to all – and when that is accepted it is a done deal, the salvation cannot be lost.

This will be the subject of our next sermon entitled “Once Saved Always Saved? Or, Not So!” There is ample biblical support for salvation being offered, free will in the process, and also of eternal salvation. Any verses which appear to contradict these views are taken out of context by the theologically confused Christian.

John 6:44, for example, is a boilerplate verse used by Calvinists to deny that one can come to Christ through free will. It says –

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44

“See, you have no free will to come to Christ! See!” Wrong! The problem with using this verse for saying that one does not have free will in salvation is at least two-fold. First, it rejects the context of what Jesus relayed to the people. His words were based on the argument he had begun to build in John 5. There He said –

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39, 40

God had drawn them, through His word, for about 1500 years. However, they were unwilling to accept the word and failed to come to Christ. When Jesus said that no one can come to Him unless the Father who sent Christ draws him, that is true.

Nobody can come to Christ apart from the word of God. Paul says as much in Romans 10 – “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Paul goes on to show in the next four verses that God did, in fact, draw them, and He continues to do so today.

The problem isn’t the drawing by God. The problem is the rejection by the people. This is without a doubt, because, secondly, John 12:32 – which comes after John 6 – says the following –

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

God draws all men to Himself through His word, and it is His word which tells of the cross of Christ, by which Christ will draw all people to Himself, and thus all people to God. Likewise, this goes for John 15 where Jesus says –

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:16

NEWS FLASH: Jesus was speaking to His disciples. The entire chapter deals solely and only with them. He said the same to them in John 6:70. He chose them. Such verses cannot be used to justify God electing people apart from their free-will.

Predestination is what God has done for the people of the world by sending Christ. When they receive that, they are a part of God’s predestination. Election is God’s calling in Christ. This comes about when one hears God’s message of salvation and responds to the call. When this occurs, the man is justified. And when that occurs, the man is glorified.

In God’s mind, these are eternal decrees which came about through His will being expressed in the temporal sequence of time. Our response to them results in an action which is not conditional, but which is fixed and forever.

To further solidify this, we will spend next week looking at the doctrine of eternal salvation as a separate doctrine. But you can see from what has been submitted today, they are only separate in our minds, not in God’s. This is something that will be confirmed in our closing verse.

As I said at the beginning of this sermon, we could go on and on, for hours, and yet someone will find a reason why I should have also addressed this particular precept, or this particular verse. There is no end to the learning that can be done.

What matters concerning this sermon is not the content which is not provided, but the content which is. And that which you have been provided is accurate, it is logical, and it is in accord with the word of God. Please be sure to now take this information, and use it as a basis for going forward and analyzing the countless other precepts which this short sermon did not include due to its time limitations.

Closing Verse: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14

Salvation By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone

Salvation by Grace Alone through Faith Alone

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from aboveor, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:1-13

Paul is speaking in this passage about his brothers of the flesh meaning the Jews. They had gone about seeking a righteousness of their own, and not the righteousness of God which is found in Christ. Today, we will confirm that salvation is by grace through faith – alone.

To do this, we will choose the supposed gospel message of two prominent preachers to show where their fault is, and that what they proclaim is actually quite different than what Paul speaks of here. The messages actually boil down to one thought, and one thought alone – self. Let us endeavor to keep “self” out of the equation, except where God allows such an insertion.

During the Reformation, one of the points which was raised was that of the Five Solas, meaning “Five Alones.” These were an obvious and open rebuke to the Roman Catholic Church which had, by their time, violated every precept of sound Christianity one could think of.

Roman Catholicism is a “plus” religion. But in God, there is no “plus.” What He decrees is fully sufficient in and of itself, and we need go no further than what He conveys to us to know if our state before Him is acceptable or not. The Five Solas, these “Five Alones,” are –

Sola Scriptura (“Scripture Alone”): The Bible alone is our sole authority for knowing God’s intent for His people. We need nothing more to know our standing before Him.

Sola Fide (“Faith Alone”): We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ, and that alone. Nothing else that we do can add to our salvation, and nothing else can make us “more” saved.

Sola Gratia (“Grace Alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone. Nothing apart from God, and what He has done in Jesus Christ, can add to our salvation. The things we do may be in obedience to His word, such as being baptized, but they add nothing to the grace which is imparted to those who demonstrate faith.

Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ Alone” or “Through Christ Alone”): A priestly class of mediators is unnecessary. We are saved through Christ’s work, He is our One Mediator between us and God, and there needs to be no intermediate to go before the Lord on our behalf. Jesus Christ alone is our Door of Salvation, and He is the Way to and through that Door as well. And once we are saved, He continues to be our only needed contact with the God of the universe.

Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone, and we give no glory to any other being apart from God.

Everything that is good, right, and holy concerning these Five Solas is obliterated by the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholicism adds to each of these. For them, it is Scripture “plus” the church Canons, councils, edicts, and papal bulls. For them, it is faith plus works. For them it is grace, plus cooperation to obtain greater graces. For them, it is Christ plus Mary, Christ plus the pope, Christ plus the priests, and so on. And for them, glory is to be ascribed to Mary, it is ascribed to the pope, it is ascribed to the church, and it is ascribed to the saints. Reverence, prayer, petition, and even worship are given to these lesser “gods” which are no gods at all.

For each point, Roman Catholicism adds – plus, plus, plus, plus, and plus. The soundness of the faith, given to us by God through Jesus Christ, is utterly ruined and worthless in the presence of such “plusing.” In its place is a chaotic stream of man’s invention and a rejection of the purity of what is conveyed to us in the pages of Scripture.

Text Verse: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9

Of these points, most people who fall under the general umbrella of Protestantism accept that the doctrine of these Solas is sound, and there is – at first – a high degree of agreement in the general thought of what is being conveyed. Indeed, if almost anyone is asked, “Do you believe in “Sola Scriptura?” The answer will inevitably be, “Yes, of course.”

But for the large part, this is then immediately violated in their teachings. It is one thing to cite a rabbi, the Talmud, John Calvin, or Charlie Garrett, and it is a completely different thing to cite them as equal in authority to what is written in Scripture. But this is as common as oranges in Florida at harvest time.

For example, what is taught concerning the Feasts of the Lord, by almost every single person who has taught on the subject, injects countless Jewish traditions which are not even hinted at in Scripture, holding them up as authoritative.

Because of this, there is almost no understanding of the correct meaning of these feasts by the vast majority of Christians. Indeed, the number of those who truly “get” what is conveyed there is probably less than one percent of one percent of those who have even heard of them.

In the same manner, if you ask someone, “Do you believe in Sola Fide and Sola Gratia?” The answer will be “Of course! That is what the Bible teaches. I completely reject the Roman Catholic notion of such things.” And yet, what they say very well may not be true at all.

It is our duty to pay attention to what is being said as we listen to others who convey their idea about such things. In the end, we should be well-versed enough to know where error has crept into someone else’s theology. This error may not be heretical, but it is simply incorrect.

Incorrect implies the need for correction. Let us ensure that we stick to the basics given by God – meaning those things which are irreducible in their simplicity, and which convey only the truth of what He has delivered to us. Such truths are right there waiting to be found in His superior word, and so, let’s both turn to and contemplate that precious word once again, and may God speak to us through His word today. And may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Way of the Master

How many of us have listened to Ray Comfort evangelize someone on the street? He does a great job of it, doesn’t he? His ministry is called, “The Way of the Master.” The reason for this is that when Jesus spoke to people, He would get right to the heart of the matter.

He was able to discern what was amiss in someone’s idea of what they needed to do in order to be right with God. Some people that He spoke to were so broken that He would simply give them grace, they would receive it, and they would go away restored in mind and soul.

We might think of a person who is completely down in heart and soul, he understands that he is as vile as any man who ever lived, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. “Oh God, I am wretched and naked, and I can’t find a covering for my sin.”

Such a person does not need the weight of the law cast upon him. He already has that burden weighing him down. Jesus wouldn’t walk up to such a person and say, “Yes, you are vile, but now I’m going to show you how truly vile you are. Not only did you commit adultery, but you also failed in the following 427 points of the law since you woke up this morning…”

Rather, He brought them grace, and they took the package, opened it, and through tears of joy and release, they went away full, clean, and satisfied. Here is an example for you to see this from Luke 7:44-50 –

Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

This sinful woman went away forgiven, free, and filled with the hope that only Christ can provide. On the other hand, when someone would come to Jesus with a streak of greed, pride, or idolatry in his heart, He would bring it right out to the surface.

From there, He would either break that streak and then give him grace, or the person would be so caught up in what trapped him that he would leave without any conversion at all. Maybe he would even leave loving God less than before. An example of this is found in Mark 10 –

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”
20 And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”
21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:17-22

Jesus knew the heart of the man before the first question was asked of Him. Instead of giving him grace, He gave him the law. “Here, this is what you need to do.” In an act of pride in the law, he responded as one under law would be expected to respond – “I’ve done all those things.”

But Jesus then got to the heart of the matter. The same God who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

The man loved his possessions, and quite possibly his personal obedience to the law – pick and choose as it may be – more than he loved the Lord his God.

This is The Way of the Master. Look at each individual, evaluate what they need, and then give that to them. If they need grace, why would you give them the law which negates grace? If they think they don’t need grace – “Well, I’m a good person,” then give them the law.

Once they see the weight of the law, and once that weight and burden terrifies them, then give them the grace that they thought they didn’t need, but which they now realize they desperately need. And what is that grace? It is “Grace Alone” as we have already seen.

Ray Comfort does a great job of sending someone down the right path for most of the way that he sends them. He can get them right to the point where they realize they need GRACE! And then… he fails to give them what the Bible offers.

The problem with Ray’s approach isn’t the approach. It is the failure to make a distinction between what happened before Jesus was crucified, and what happens now.

Jesus never told anyone that they could violate the Law of Moses. These people needed to repent, or change their mind, and turn from their violations of the law. This is what John the Baptist proclaimed, and it is what Jesus continued to tell the people, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

Unfortunately, Ray Comfort continues with this in a completely different dispensation. The dispensation of the Law was only a tutor to lead people to Christ Jesus. Until Christ was crucified, the grace of God which saves through Jesus Christ could not be granted. Instead, people observed the law, repented when they failed, and looked for mercy through the sacrificial system.

With the coming of Christ, the grace of God is revealed. It is a revelation which says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

To understand what this means, that God’s salvation is a gift and that it comes through faith, one must simply understand what this gospel message is. Paul declares it in 1 Corinthians 15 –

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Paul then tells us how this is appropriated –

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:8-10 

Paul calls this gospel “the word of faith.” He then says that it is obtained through confession with the mouth, something which is not – by the way – a work, as is preposterously claimed by some. One believes and confesses. We’ll talk about that more later. In this, they are saved. From there, Paul tells what this means to the believer –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14

This, then, is the gospel message, it is the process of receiving it, and it ends in the stated result. It is a process of belief leading to salvation. And so, what is wrong with Ray Comfort’s message? His message adds to this simple process given by Paul, and which is in accord with the other apostles.

How does Ray Comfort add to the message? Listen to his presentation on one of a thousand videos he has posted. He consistently tells his hearer, “You must repent.” He then explains that as, “you must turn from your sin.” He says it again and again. And he is causing damage to the gospel, and to the hearer of his false gospel, each time he says it.

Although this is a truth for Christians, it is not the gospel of their salvation. It is an addition to it, and thus, it is not the gospel of their salvation. It is a false gospel of faith plus works, which is different than Roman Catholicism only in order and type.

First, the Greek word for “repent” is metanoeó. It simply means “to change one’s mind or purpose.” Paul never uses the term in conjunction with salvation or the reception of the Spirit – never. The closest he ever gets to this is in 1 Corinthians 7:10, where he says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Paul does not mean that repentance is necessary for salvation. He is saying that godly sorrow for one’s state in life will lead them to seek out the salvation found in Christ. It is a changing of the mind. It must be remembered that salvation is based on faith in what Christ did, not on works.

One cannot be saved by merely repenting from sin. If a drunk gives up drinking and yet has no faith in Christ, he will never be saved. Paul’s words cannot be used in and of themselves to say, “repentance leads to salvation.”

But that is how Ray Comfort presents his message – “You must do this in order to be saved.” If someone does give up his sins, based on what Ray Comfort says, it does not mean that he is any closer to God than before giving them up.

Instead, it is the grace of Christ which saves. The repentance of a sin may lead to faith in Him, or it may not. Either way, it is only by grace through faith that one is saved.

On the other hand, there is a sorrow of the world that Paul also writes about. There are many types of sorrows in the natural world. If we are sorry over losing a bank account full of money, that doesn’t lead us to God. Instead, it just leads us to frustration and bitterness. If we are sorry over losing our girlfriend, that hasn’t helped us in our spiritual life at all. Instead, it is simply a sorrow which is natural and of this world.

For the drunk who gives up drinking. If he is sorry for being a drunk because it led him to lose his job, he may change his mind (repent), give up drinking, and get his job back. In this, he may become proud and say, “Look at what I have done.”

This sorrow then only produced death in him because of the sin of pride. Ultimately, through such sorrow there can only be regret. In the end, it produces nothing concerning salvation, but it continues to produce death in the unbeliever. But this is what Ray Comfort adds to his gospel. As he says, “You must repent, turn from your sin, and come to Jesus.”

Those words are not found in the gospel which we read earlier in 1 Corinthians 15, and thus they are an addition to the gospel. As there can be no addition to the gospel, then it is a false gospel. Always be careful when handing out tracts that the Ray Comfort false gospel is not a part of the tract you are handing out.

For example, the tract “How Can We Know We’ll Go To Heaven,” written by Randy Alcorn, and which follows the Ray Comfort model says –

We cannot pay our own way. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf, God freely offers us forgiveness.

To be forgiven, we must recognize and repent of our sins. Forgiveness is not automatic. It’s conditioned upon confession: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The author of this tract does not understand either the meaning of grace, nor does he understand the gospel as the Bible proclaims it. He further has taken a verse from 1 John out of it intended context. When we believe the gospel, and accept it as our payment for sins, we are forgiven – wholly and completely – past, present, and future.

Without giving a minute analysis of 1 John 1:9, suffice it to say that it is strategically placed between two antithetical proclamations –

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10

The premise of coming to Christ is that a person is acknowledging he is a sinner. There is no other need to call on Christ. Thus, a person who does so is admitting he has sin – exactly as 1 Corinthians 15 states. Further, confession is not the same as repentance, or “changing one’s mind.”

And finally, the idea of repentance, as laid out in this tract, or as given by Ray Comfort, is not what the biblical idea of repentance actually means. Their implication is that a person must first turn from his sin in order to be saved. That is not a part of the gospel, and thus it is a false gospel.

Nobody who needs to go to the doctor says, “I need to get myself better so I can go see the doctor.” That is putting the Ray Comfort Cart of Works before his horse. Instead, one goes to the doctor, is given the cure for his ills, and then – in faithful obedience to the salvation he has obtained, goes about in Christ’s sufficient power correcting his many deficiencies – hopefully.

But just as a person may or may not continue in the antibiotics given by the doctor, so a person may not continue to heal in his pursuit of the Lord. The Bible instruction we receive, after being saved, will determine the health of our walk. But it does not affect our arrival at the end. That was accomplished through a judicial act of Christ, justifying us – once and for all – when we received the grace of His gospel through faith.

The use of the word, “repent,” as given by Ray Comfort, is both misleading and it is harmful, because it presents giving up one’s sin as a necessary part of salvation. It is a false gospel. But… you may say, “Paul may not have said that you must repent in order to be saved, but Peter did. It’s right there in Acts 2:38.”

This is a doctrinal problem that has nothing to do with the gospel. First, the book of Acts is a descriptive account of the establishment of the church. Outside of a very few verses from Jesus in Chapter 1, it prescribes almost nothing.

Secondly, the context of Acts 2:38 does not apply to any living person today – Jew or Gentile – who has never heard the gospel. And thirdly, Peter’s message of salvation through Christ is exactly the same as Paul. Paul confirms this while speaking of Peter and the other apostles in 1 Corinthians 15:11 –

“Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”

Acts 2:38, where Peter was speaking to the Jews alone, says –

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Why did he say this to them? It is because they had just, within the past short period of time, rejected Jesus, nailing Him to the cross. In this, they had to repent, or “change their mind.” He wasn’t telling them to repent of anything else except their rejection of Christ. That is why a verse, preceding Peter’s instructions, said, “therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

If someone has, in his life, rejected the gospel, then – by default – he must repent of that. If he doesn’t change his mind about his previous rejection of the gospel, then he has not accepted the gospel. 1 + 1 will always equal 2 in theology, and for someone who has never heard the gospel, there is no repentance necessary in order to be saved.

He hears the word of faith, he has faith and confesses, and he is saved and sealed. The deal is done. No works were involved, and the sin-debt is paid for. Now, only now – after this act – can a person turn from his sin and be a fruitful member of the body of Christ.

With what will you come before the Lord?
What will you present for the sin of your soul?
What will bring you the great reward?
On what thing will you, your sins roll? 

Shall you accomplish a great and noble deed?
Claiming it is worthy of His praise?
Shall giving up a wicked life or one of greed…
Bring your honor, blessing, and eternal days?

Rather, come to your God in faith of His grace
Come to Him with hands empty of any pride
By grace through faith alone will you see His smiling face
And through that alone will you in heaven reside

II. Lordship Salvation

Many have heard of John MacArthur. He is well known, articulate, and a great presenter of the Bible. However, he – at least at one time and maybe still – taught what is known as “Lordship Salvation.”

It is certain that if you ask John MacArthur if he believes in Sola Fide and Sola Gratia – Salvation by faith and salvation by grace as conveyed by Paul in Ephesians 2:8, 9 – he will certainly say, “Yes.” Only a fool would not do so, and he is not a fool.

But if he still teaches Lordship salvation, then – like Ray Comfort – he proclaims a false gospel which adds to the three simple sets of verses we cited above, meaning from 1 Corinthians 15, Romans 10, and Ephesians 1. Putting what he says side by side with Paul’s gospel, as we now will, then shows us the problem with his theology.

First, the question must be asked, “Is it sufficient to only believe in Christ according to the gospel in order to be saved, or is it also necessary that He is accepted as Lord in order to be saved?”

In this, there is the obvious secondary question of “What does ‘Lord’ mean?” The Lordship view of salvation, as taught by John MacArthur, says that in order to be saved one must accept Christ as Lord (meaning Master), as well as Savior from sin, in order to be saved.

John MacArthur says Lordship salvation is “the view that for salvation a person must trust Jesus Christ as Savior from sin and must also commit himself to Christ as Lord of his life, submitting to his sovereign authority” (MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, pp 33-34).

This is not the gospel. The gospel is clear and has been presented already. Several problems with what MacArthur says involve – as many such false teachings do – a misunderstanding of the context of what the Bible is presenting.

When Jesus said, for example, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46), who was He speaking to? He was speaking to Israel. It was Israel, still under the law, and prior to His crucifixion. The plan of salvation was not complete.

To mix what is said in the synoptic gospels with what is said in the epistles will inevitably – not just maybe or sometimes – lead to faulty doctrine. Jesus was instructing Israel under the law. The law was a tutor to lead the people to Him.

What Jesus says in that context may apply later in another context, or it may not. But if it conflicts with the epistles, then it obviously does not. But the context of pre- and post-crucifixion/resurrection is not the same, and the intent of the words spoken during those different times, those different dispensations, falls under those different contexts. An example would be Luke 21:36 –

“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

When one comes to Christ, he is saved. There is no need to pray beyond that to be counted worthy. The believer is imputed Christ’s righteousness and is made worthy, not because of himself or what he will do, but because of Christ and what He has done. Rather, Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12 –

“Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul doesn’t pray that we will be worthy to stand before Christ, but that we will be worthy of the calling with which we have been called. The deal is done, but the state of the person in his new position is ongoing. John MacArthur fails to make this distinction. Some of the problems with Lordship salvation are:

1) Salvation and discipleship are confused. One cannot make Christ Lord until one knows what that entails, which is not a provision of the simple gospel which we have already stated. Further, if one never gets a Bible and has no Bible teaching after his salvation, he can never, be obedient in this way. Never.

We are so heaped up with Bibles and supposed experts of the Bible, that we think our way is the way it always has been and the way it is everywhere. But this is not the case. Without a Bible, which includes almost all Christians of history – until the rather recent past, and which continues in most of the world today – we can have no idea what we are expected to do.

2) It places the necessity of doing works (which accompany submitting to Christ’s Lordship) as a condition of receiving the gift of salvation. This is something which is not required according to the gospel. It is contrary to the gospel, and thus it is a false gospel. A gift cannot be earned; hence, the term “gift.”

3) It mixes what is implicit in having, and growing in, faith (such as obedience) with what is explicitly necessary to be saved. It adds to the simple gospel, and thus, it is a false gospel.

4) Like Roman Catholicism, it overstates the connection between faith and works by elevating works to being a part of the gospel, claiming there is an inevitable connection between them – which there is not, as is seen, for example, in 2 Peter 1–

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9

This same logic is not unique to 2 Peter, and it dispels the false notion of the false gospel of Lordship salvation presented by John MacArthur.

5) It stereotypes the Bible’s view of grace, which is unmerited favor (how can grace be anything but free?), by labeling it “easy believism.” But the apostles taught that one is saved by belief. Call it whatever you will – easy believism, apple pie, or the path to restoration, it doesn’t change what the Bible says. John MacArthur attacks the true gospel with name-calling in order to promote his false gospel.

6) It fails to recognize that there is a distinction between justification and sanctification. Each has its place and one is not exclusive of the other.

7) Lordship salvation makes faithfulness to Christ to the end, meaning perseverance, a condition of knowing that one is saved. 1 Corinthians 3 and 5, and 2 Corinthians 5 (which deal with rewards and losses and earthly punishment) explicitly dispel any notion of this false concept.

Further, it calls into question the sovereign decrees of God by saying that they can then change or be revoked. In other words, if a person is sealed with the Holy Spirit upon belief as a guarantee, and then that is revoked, it means that 1) God has changed His sovereign decree, 2) He has made an error in the first place, and 3) His guarantee of eternal life is not a guarantee at all. In short, it portrays God as not all-knowing, that He is vacillating, and that His word is not to be trusted.

8) Despite point 7, it inconsistently admits that a true and saved believer can be a “secret” believer and even be “backslidden” for an extended period.

Finally, concerning this failed system, the words of Paul in Romans 10 cannot be used to justify Lordship salvation. There, as stated before, Paul says –

“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

That is not speaking of making Christ Lord of one’s life, in the sense of, “Master, I will obey every precept of Yours if you will save me.” This is speaking of an entirely different precept, the deity of Jesus Christ.

The word “That” is a conjunction being used to tie together this verse with the thought in the preceding verse, “the word of faith.” This “word of faith” is explained by Paul and is what he preached. It is the means of obtaining “the righteousness of faith” mentioned in verse 10:6.

From there, he says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus…” Confession is more than the audible words which occur with the mouth. To “confess” is synonymous with to “profess.” One can confess a lie, but one only professes the truth.

The word is homologēsēs and the concept of agreement is to be found within it. The audible confession stands because of the inward profession. This is why Paul said in verse 10:8 that “the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” It is as close to us as the air which enters and exits our mouth and fills our lungs, and it is both audible in tone and truthful to the heart.

The reason for the audible profession is obvious. No one would hide their true belief in the Lordship of Jesus. If He is in fact Lord, then He is alive. If He is alive, then He triumphed over the cross. If He did this, then He was without sin because “the wages of sin is death.” If He is without sin, then He is Lord, meaning Yehovah, and thus God because “all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God.”

As you can see by logically thinking this through, the incarnation of Jesus Christ – being the God/Man – is inextricably tied up in the confession of “the Lord Jesus.” One cannot deny His Lordship, meaning His deity, and be saved. This is the heart of what God has done in the stream of time for the redemption of mankind.

Therefore, confession “with your mouth” is the making of an open profession that Jesus is God, thus denying all other gods. This would have been particularly of note in Roman times when people within the empire were required to affirm the lordship of Caesar. For many, it was a life and death decision to call Jesus “Lord.” Most translations, rather than stating “the Lord Jesus” will say “Jesus is Lord.” This is to avoid confusion and to emphasize His Lordship; His deity.

Either way, one must make the confession which is a true profession as is seen in the words “and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.” Paul directly ties the resurrection to Jesus’ Lordship. One cannot honestly call on a dead savior and so acknowledging His resurrection returns us to the thought that He was sinless in His life and death. Peter explains this in his great discourse at Pentecost in Acts 2 –

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Acts 2:22-24 

Peter says, it was “not possible” that death should hold Jesus because He is without sin, and death is the penalty for sin. To ensure we don’t miss the point, immediately before and after stating this, Peter turned to Scripture and spoke of the Lord (Yehovah) in a way which implied that Jesus is Yehovah.

Therefore, calling on Jesus is calling on Yehovah, but the reciprocal is not necessarily true. If one accepts the premise that Yehovah of the Old Testament is realized in Jesus of the New, then he has rightly called on the name of the Lord.

However, if such people stubbornly refuse to see what God has done through Jesus, fulfilling the Old Testament pictures related to Yehovah which pointed to Him, then they have not called on the Lord Jesus, meaning Yehovah. It is an important point which should not be missed.

And so, this belief in God’s raising Jesus from the dead is the crucial key to understanding His Personhood. It is a volitional act of the free-will, which itself is a gift of God.

Faith isn’t something which can be earned; it is something which is received from God and then exercised by man. This doesn’t mean God grants us the faith to believe and that we will then believe. It means that God grants us the faith to believe and we may believe.

This is no different than God granting us the ability to accomplish mathematical skills. We may choose to use this ability or not. Maybe a better example would be the ability to swim. Swimming is possible for any normally constructed person, but it does take a step of faith to actually exercise the ability.

The ability is given by God, but it doesn’t mean that the choice will be exercised. Faith is not earned, it is received, and then it must be put into practice. Once the faith is properly applied, “you will be saved.”

This follows through with the very idea of belief. There are different meanings to the word “believe.” One can know that Christians say Jesus is God, fully comprehending what that means, and simply not believe it is true. Jehovah’s Witnesses do this all the time.

Or, one can believe that Jesus is God, and not believe in Jesus as God – in other words, submit to that fact. A person could say, “I have done the study and I truly believe that the gospel is true, but I just don’t accept it for me. I want nothing to do with Jesus.”

Or, one can hear the word, believe it is true, and by faith appropriate that truth for himself. The difference between the second two comes down to willingness to believe and confess, as Paul says is necessary in Romans 10:9, 10. John gives us a case of exactly this difference in John 12 –

“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:42, 43

John uses the same word that Paul uses in Romans 10. Therefore, the confession is not a work, but a yielding to God. Without the confession, the grace of God cannot be appropriated, because the faith has not truly been exercised. 

But this process has nothing to do with the MacArthur false gospel of making Jesus Lord, meaning “Master,” of one’s life and submitting to His sovereign authority. That is a step outside of the bounds of the one, true, and simple gospel of salvation by grace through faith.

This is why the term “easy-believeism” is such an offense. It is God who reads the heart. But proponents of MacArthur’s false gospel arrogantly place themselves in His place and head right back to the Roman Catholic model by indicating that you have to prove your faith (which God has accepted) to them. God reads the heart, and our submission to Christ will be in accord with our life after coming to Christ – whatever that life may be. The rewards and losses will be ours alone. But those things have nothing to do with the reception of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our obedience to Christ, after being saved, has nothing to do with the salvation that is provided. A wife may submit to her husband, or she may not. And indeed, every wife on this planet does so differently. But the wife is no less a wife based on her submission. She is a wife based on the proclamation made between the two. The categories are not to be mixed.

These two points of faulty theology, Ray Comfort’s “The Way of the Master,” and John MacArthur’s “Lordship Salvation,” are but two of the many faulty doctrines which claim they believe in Sola Fide and Sola Gratia, but which belie that confession through confused theology.

Turning from sin, and submission to Christ as Lord, are both precepts which are found in the epistles, but they are not conditions for salvation. Rather, they are precepts which should, but do not naturally, stem from salvation.

Those things fall under an entirely different category of doctrine – that of rewards and losses. Those are explained, in particular, in 1 Corinthians 3 and 2 Corinthians 5. In keeping our categorical boxes straight, we will avoid the error that these men of God fell into.

In future sermons, we will expand on something that was stated here today concerning the possibility or impossibility of one losing his salvation. The question is, “Is salvation eternal, or can one lose his salvation?” The answer is obvious, but it is one which is denied by countless strange teachings which normally arise by the simple mistake of taking verses out of their intended context.

Having said that, and to prepare you for our sermon next week on predestination and election, and then a coming sermon on security in salvation, we can at least say that the doctrine ties necessarily into what we have talked about today – that of salvation being of grace alone through faith alone. Why is that?

It is because if a person can lose his salvation, it is obviously not because of something God has done. He has sent Christ, He has provided the salvation, and it is offered freely, as a gift of grace. As grace is unmerited favor, then anything added to that cannot be considered grace.

Therefore, as losing one’s salvation cannot be because of something God has done, then it is something that the saved man has done. And if the man must do something to keep being saved, then he – by default – had to do something to be saved – which takes us right back to Ray Comfort and John MacArthur and their false-gospels. Therefore, to teach that one can lose his salvation is a denial of salvation by grace through faith.

In fact, it is the ultimate slap in God’s face. God sent His Son to die for all sins of man – past, present, and future. It must be so because God is outside of time. His decrees are sovereign and when they are made, they stand. To say that one must do some work to be saved or to keep being saved is to say that what God did was insufficient to save at all.

Let us never be found in such an unholy and pridefully blasphemous position in our walk before the Lord our God. Rather, let us have faith and trust in the grace of God for our salvation, and let us hold fast to the truth of Scripture, even if it means we may lose friends or family in the process.

It is better to stand on right doctrine, than to listen to the ear-tickling but false gospels which permeate society, and which call us away from the magnificence of what God has done for us through the giving of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Closing Verse: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6

Next Week: God’s Predestination and Election in Christ (8th Doctrine Sermon)

Jesus Christ, the God-Man, Part III – God’s Atoning Sacrifice for Sin

Jesus Christ, The God-Man, Part III
God’s Atoning Sacrifice for Sin

Read Leviticus 16. If you missed the sermons that covered this passage in Leviticus 16, it would be of great benefit to you to see how Christ Jesus fulfilled every single detail of the feast in His work leading up to and culminating in the cross. Today, we will learn about what that means for us as His people.

We have learned from the previous two sermons that Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully God. In His humanity, He is uncreated except as is incidental to the initial act of creation. His humanity descends from Adam, through Abraham, through David, etc.

Of His humanity, Paul says in Colossians 1 that in Christ Jesus “we have redemption through His blood.” He also says that He is “the firstborn from the dead.” It is Sunday, and not normally a day to take a test, but let’s try it anyway –

1) Does God have blood? No.
2) Can God die? No.

See you get an A+ already. As Jesus Christ’s earthly body had blood, something which is created, and as Jesus Christ died, something that cannot happen to God, then Jesus Christ is…? Yes, correct. He is a human. In theology 1 + 1 will always equal 2.

In His deity, Paul states in Colossians 1 that “He is the image of the invisible God.” Also, that “by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth.” Further that “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”

Logically, thinking through these few words from Paul, it is perfectly evident that Jesus Christ is God. The Greek word translated as “image” signifies a mirror-like representation. It is a direct correspondence to something.

The meaning then is that Jesus Christ is the supreme expression of God. As God is infinite, and as Jesus Christ is the supreme expression of an infinite, then He must be God, because only God is an infinite.

Further, 1) if He existed before all things, and all things other than God are created, then He is God; 2) as He is the Creator of all things, then He is God, and 3) as all things continue to be sustained and held together by Him, then He is God. 1 + 1 will always equal 2 in proper theology.

Jesus Christ is fully human and yet He is fully God, nothing less. Thus, Jesus is the God-Man. He is not God who is a finite human – a logical contradiction. Instead, He is a human who is also God – two natures which never overlap, but in which there is no separation.

For fallen man, there is a reason why Christ, the God-Man, had to come. That reason branches out in both directions. His humanity is necessary for man’s atonement, but His deity is also necessary for man’s atonement.

Only with an understanding of this dual nature of Jesus Christ, can what He came to do be fully understood. Understanding this, at least in a limited way, will be our goal today.

Text Verse: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Colossians 1:19-22

After Paul proclaimed both Christ’s humanity and His deity, he speaks of reconciliation and peace instead of alienation. He says that this came about “through the blood of His cross.” The implication is that without the blood, there would be no reconciliation, but rather enmity. And there would be no peace, but rather there would be strife.

What Paul describes, then, is the process of atonement. The word “atonement,” in its simplest form signifies “a covering.” It comes from the Hebrew verb kaphar, which means exactly that.  For example, the first of its 104 occurrences is found in Genesis 6:1 –

“Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.”

A very high stress is placed upon this word in Leviticus, and in particular in Leviticus 16 which details the Day of Atonement which occurred every year in Israel. In a covering, there is a pacifying action, and in that there is realized a satisfaction, or propitiation.

In this, one can see that something is exposed, and it is an offence. In covering that which is exposed, the one who is offended is pacified, and there is a return to a propitious (let us say a “happy”) relationship. It is a favorable, benevolent relationship which is realized.

Today we will look into the atonement of man’s sin, and why it was needed. We will also look into how that is accomplished by God, and why it could only be through Jesus Christ who is the God-Man. It could not have come about without Christ being both God and Man. That is what the Bible teaches, and that is what we shall see revealed today.

The biblical doctrine known as “Atonement” is a marvelous part of God’s superior word. And so, let us turn to that word once again, and may God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Offering and the Place of Offering

The first implied atonement, or covering, found in the Bible – though that term is not used – is seen in Genesis 3. The man and his wife offended God. The harmony which existed was destroyed, and a curse came upon them.

It says in that account that even before the curse came, however, that the man and the woman realized their transgression, and their fallen state. This is seen with the words, “and they knew they were naked.” In order to hide their nakedness, it says –

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:7

A knowledge they previously lacked now belonged to them. They were unashamed, and suddenly they were ashamed. To correct the matter, they covered themselves. But the record is specific. They didn’t just use leaves to do so. They used t’enah, or fig leaves.

From this point on, the fig takes on a particular meaning in Scripture based on what is seen here. The fig signifies a spiritual connection to God, or the lack of it. This is seen, for example, in the words of Jesus in Mark 11 –

“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’” Mark 11:12-14

Jesus was making a theological point concerning the place where He had left the day before, and where He immediately returned to the next day – the temple. Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree was a parable of the ending of the temple rites and the law as God’s means of restoration with Him. The spiritual connection of the law was to be severed.

He was taking us back to Eden. The man and the woman had tried to make a spiritual reconnection through the leaves of the fig to what they had lost, but it was too late. God rejected that, He cursed the serpent, the woman, and the man. Death entered the world through the act, and then came the judgment.

The spiritual reconnection could not come through their efforts. The fig leaves were insufficient to restore what had been lost. But while standing there, covered in their own unsuitable works, the Lord spoke out words of promise via His curse upon the serpent –

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

The new master of the realm, the serpent, would be defeated through the Seed of the woman. It is absolutely certain that this is a promise of the coming Messiah. The man and his woman stood there, dead in their sin and destined to die in their bodies. The Lord had just said to the man that he would return to the dust from which he had been taken, but the promise of life, even from their state of death, was made.

We know this because immediately after the pronounced curse upon the man, the very next words say, “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).

The man, though now spiritually dead, and destined to die – meaning he lived in a body of death, now named the woman he had been given – Khavah, or “Life.” Though they stood before the Lord dead, he had believed the promise that the author of death would be destroyed. If death was destroyed, life would come. The naming of the woman “Life” was an act of faith, and in that act, a covering was given –

“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

Something died in order to cover their shame. Blood was shed, and it was not done so by the man. Rather, it was the Lord who did it, and thus it was an act of grace. Further, it was the Lord who clothed them – He provided the covering. There was no active participation on their part. They simply received what the Lord had provided. This is what the words indicate.

In only a few verses of the first chapters of the Bible, the entire basis and process for the redemption of mankind is given. The theology of what is presented in the Genesis 3 narrative will never be departed from.

Man fell; man is fallen; man cannot correct the matter; the Lord will intervene; the Lord – through His grace – will accomplish the necessary sacrifice; the Lord will provide the necessary covering for restoration with that sacrifice; and it will be based on a simple act of faith by the man. Everything in Scripture after this point will be based on that notion, and it will support that typology. Atonement is wholly an act of the Lord.

The atonement mentioned concerning sin, such as that on the Leviticus 16 Day of Atonement, is simply the word kaphar, or atonement. However, in order to be a covering, something needs to be covered. That is where the kapporeth, or mercy-seat, comes in.

The kapporeth is literally the propitiatory, or place of propitiation. That word is from the same as kopher or, the price of a life – meaning a ransom. Both words are derived from kaphar, or atonement. Thus, the verb kaphar is what covers the kapporeth, or place of propitiation.

To understand the significance of this place of propitiation, meaning the typology of its construction, what it is made of, and so on, a full study of the subject is found in our sermons of Exodus which detail the construction of the sanctuary of the Lord, and which includes all of the implements found within the sanctuary.

To understand the significance of the covering itself, meaning the sacrificial offerings, their blood for atonement, and so on, a detailed study of the subject is found in our sermons of Leviticus and Numbers which detail these things minutely.

God laid out every detail of what He was going to do in Christ Jesus in advance – showing through types and representations – so that nothing which occurred when He came should have been a surprise. The theology surrounding His work is detailed and complicated, but the concepts which they detail are simple enough to see and understand on a very basic level.

This is so much the case that the heart of what He accomplished is summed up in what is known as “the gospel.” All of the many books, chapters, and verses, all of the theology found in them, and all of the typology and imagery used in them, is summed up in the following words of Paul to those at Corinth –

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

In its most basic sense, without even mentioning the words grace, mercy, atonement, propitiation, substitution, expiation, or a hundred other theological terms, all of those things are summed up, and can be grasped, through this simple gospel message. And that gospel message, given by Paul, and which all of the apostles also preached (1 Corinthians 15:11), is then summed up in one verse from the gospel of John –

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

If one can understand that simple sentence, he can then grasp Paul’s fuller explanation of it in regard to the gospel. The mind grasps what God has done, and in that grasping – if faith to accept that message is exercised – atonement is provided, and salvation is secured. How can this be? It is because it follows the pattern given all the way back in Genesis 3. Once again –

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

1) The Initiator of the process is God. Salvation is of the Lord. 2) The offering is a Gift – God gave. 3) The recipient of the Gift is the world. 4) The beneficiary of it is general and yet exclusive – whoever. 5)  However, it is all-inclusive of that exclusive group (none should perish). 6) And, those who are included are so included for one reason… they believe. 7) The action is fully sufficient and eternal in its effect – none should perish but have everlasting life.

Paul’s simple gospel further explains Jesus’ statement. Christ died. God’s giving of His Son was not only as a living being, but as a being who would die. He was buried. Christ did not die and then quickly reanimate, as if he were given CPR. He was truly dead, and His life was completely extinguished.

He entered the realm of the dead and remained there long enough to satisfy all doubt that He was truly dead. But after that, He rose again the third day. Death could not hold Him. What Jesus proclaimed in John 3:16 is magnificently explained in 1 Corinthians 15. Summing up all of the theology of what God would do.

We get it, even without further explanation. This is so much the case that children who are just learning to speak understand it. And it is understood in every language and culture that it is presented. It is grasped by the humble and by the proud. It is perceived by the idiot and by the scholar. We get it.

But what is the theology behind that simplicity that we intuitively get? What does the gospel encompass? In regard to atonement, it means that Christ Jesus is both that which atones, and He is the place of the atonement.

In regard to Christianity, atonement refers to the need for a kaphar, or covering for our fallen state. In the reception of this covering, reconciliation between sinful man and the holy God is effected. This reconciliation is possible through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His blood, which is shed, is our kaphar, our atonement.

That shed blood of atonement is what then provides the propitiation. The Greek word used to explain this is hilasmós. It is a noun defined as “propitiation” It is an offering to appease or satisfy an angry, offended party. God is that offended party, and He is angry at man’s sin.

This word, hilasmós, is only used twice in Scripture. Both times it speaks of Christ’s atoning blood that appeases God’s wrath in regard to that sin –

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1, 2

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

Christ is the actual point of propitiation, but more, it is because of His death that this is so. Another noun, hilastérion, which is also found only twice in Scripture explains this. The word means “a sin offering.” It is that by which the wrath of the angry God is appeased.

In type, it was the covering of the ark which was sprinkled with the atoning blood on the Day of Atonement. Its two uses are found in Romans and Hebrews –

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

“For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” Hebrews 9:2-5

As can be seen with the use of these two Greek words, hilasmós and hilastérion, which equate directly to the Hebrew words kaphar and kapporeth – and as we have already noted – Christ Jesus is both that which atones, and He is the place of the atonement.

But this only takes us so far. In our minds, when we receive the gospel, we are making a mental assent that God has done this thing, and that is then received by us. But Paul speaks of “another Jesus,” implying a false Jesus, in 2 Corinthians 11:4 –

“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!”

He further speaks of a “different gospel” in Galatians 1 –

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9

One speaks of a false Jesus, meaning a Jesus who is ineffective in atoning for man’s sin. The other speaks of a false gospel, meaning that what is presented cannot save. Together, these call out for a Jesus who is both truly God and truly Man, and for a salvation which comes from God alone.

An offering for sin to restore the peace
I come to petition my God at His holy altar
Until I do, the enmity will never cease
But knowing He will forgive, in this I will not falter 

He the holy altar, and He is the Door and the Tent
Christ the Lord is slain; His life ebbs away
In that exchange, God’s wrath is spent
Harmony is restored, and has come a new Day 

Innocent and pure, no fault of His own
The death truly touches my heart
But in this exchange, I am clearly shown
That only through death, can there be a new start

Thank God that Another has died in my place
In His death I can again look upon God’s face

II. Why the God-Man?

Why was it necessary for Christ to be a human in order to atone for man’s sin? In a previous sermon, two weeks ago, it was fully established that Jesus Christ is fully human. He wasn’t created as a human in Mary’s womb. Rather, He is fully human because Mary is fully human.

From her, He received all of the genetic information of His humanity – meaning all of that which came from Adam and those who descended from him, and which then was found in Mary.

This genetic information includes all of His human characteristics, including the knowledge of good and evil, human weakness, skin color, and on and on – just as any human possesses because of being born into a particular genealogy. This was necessary for reasons explained by the author of Hebrews –

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:14-18

The author of Hebrews shows that there must be a necessary connection between the Christ and His people. An angel wouldn’t satisfy, nor would an animal. Further, a human body, created in Mary’s womb without any connection to her humanity would mean He was not made like His brethren in all ways.

The only thing Christ did not possess that we as humans possess is inherited sin – something which comes via the human father. The different categories exclude the possibility that the Christ would be anything other than a human being, descended from Mary, and God being His Father.

In this, the author uses the verb hilaskomai, or to make propitiation, to show that what Christ did in the granting of God’s mercy necessitated that a human being be the means of accomplishing the act of atonement. In His atonement, He made propitiation for the people’s sins.

In his defense of this, he will later – in Chapter 10 – demonstrate further why this was necessary. But before going there, one must go back to the law itself. The law was given to Israel as the standard which God expected for man. In the doing of the law, man could be expected to live. God says as much, explicitly, in Leviticus 18 –

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

In essence, God told His people, all descended from Adam, that if they did the things of the law, they would live. “This is My standard. In meeting every precept, and in failing in none of them, you shall live.” In failing to meet the things of the law, life would not come.

However, within the law itself, there was given the provision for forgiveness of sin committed under the law through the sacrificial system. This system was highlighted by the annual Day of Atonement. The implication was that atonement was needed because the law could not be met. So obvious was this, that the Lord made it explicit in Leviticus 23 –

“And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.” Leviticus 23:28-30

“You shall observe this day, and if you do not, your life is forfeit.” Atonement was required because the people needed atonement. What is still implied, but which is obvious, is that none had done the things of the law. God was angry at their sin, and they needed their sins covered over. With that understanding, Chapter 10 of Hebrews explains why only a man could actually atone for the sins of the people –

“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4

First, the provisions of the law could not take away sin. They were a temporary, annual reminder to the people of this fact. And more, the reminder was that they were, in fact, under law. But it is the law which brought about the people’s infractions. If there was no law, then there would be no law to break.

Therefore, in order to atone for the sins of the people, there would need to be a Man to free them from the law. But more, there would need to be a Man without sin to do so. Otherwise, such a man with sin could not atone for his own sin, much less someone else’s. But even more, there would need to be a Man, born under the law, who was also without sin, to do so. That is explained by Paul in Galatians –

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5

In order to atone for sin under the law, the Man who did so would have to be born under the law. Otherwise, He could not be considered an acceptable atonement, nor a suitable place for atonement. This is because the sacrifices of the law are given according to the law, and yet they did not actually take away sin.

To resolve this, only someone coming from under the law, but who had no sin prior to, or during His time under the law, could sufficiently and truly atone for sin. The author of Hebrews explains that this Someone is Christ Jesus –

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’ ”

Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:5-10

Paul says that the human Christ was born under the law to redeem those who were under the law. The author of Hebrews says that this is done by taking away the law which came through the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant is taken away in order to establish the New Covenant – the Christ covenant.

This could only come about through a Man, it could only come about through a Man born under the law, and it could only come about through a sinless Man. And yet, He must be a Man who was born under a law that could not take away sin, meaning He must have been born without sin. And further, He must be a Man who lived without sinning under that same law.

And that premise then leads to the second half of the equation. Why was it necessary for Christ to be fully God in order to atone for man’s sin? In the sermon last week, it was altogether established that Jesus Christ is fully God. Of this, and understanding what we went over, it is perfectly clear to any who are simply willing to check.

But why was this necessary? The answer follows logically with what we just deduced. A Man with sin could not atone for the sins of another. Rather, he too would need atonement. But the Bible, both implicitly and explicitly, teaches that man has inherited sin. The sin of Adam transfers to all of Adam’s seed. This is stated explicitly by David –

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5

It is also taught explicitly by Paul –

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Romans 5:12, 13

So, sin entered through Adam, and all are in Adam. But what about Aaron the high priest? When he and his sons were ordained, didn’t the sacrifice for their sins make them sinless before God? Couldn’t Aaron just have taken one of his four sons, sacrificed him, and been done with all of the sin of the world from that point on? Their ordination is detailed in Leviticus 8. In that ordination, they are clearly presented as having sacrificed for their own sins.

The law was established, and the men who were to be ordained as priests brought a sacrifice for their sins. This would then make them acceptable to sacrifice for the people of Israel. Once their sins were dealt with, why could they not be an acceptable atonement for the sins of the people?

The answer is the same as for the people. The blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin. The proof of this is found in the verse which immediately follows God’s acceptance of the Levitical priesthood which was in Leviticus 9:24. In the following verses, Leviticus 10:1, 2 – we read this –

“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” Leviticus 10:1, 2

Nadab and Abihu were not made perfect, nor did they remain perfect. Instead, they died in sin. At the end of that chapter, Moses became angry with Aaron and his remaining two sons because they did not eat the sin offering of the people, which was required under the law so that they could bear the guilt of the congregation.

Aaron’s reply to him was, “If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been accepted in the sight of the Lord?” (Leviticus 10:19).

The answer to his question is obvious, “No.” If the sin offering and the burnt offerings which were intended to take care of the sins of the priests, before they tended to the sins of the congregation, were tainted by what occurred, thus meaning they – even though priests – were also tainted, then how could they take on the sin of the people in order to purify them? Aaron’s logic was impeccable, and it revealed, right at the beginning of the law, how vastly inferior this priesthood is to that of Christ – infinitely so.

Understanding this brings us to understanding the need for Christ’s deity. It has been established that Christ had to be a human in order to save the people. However, if He was only a human, He would bear Adam’s sin.

If he were created as a human, as one person we cited had said in a previous sermon, he would have lacked the experiential knowledge of good and evil necessary to deal with man’s sin until he gained such knowledge. But that – as we saw in the Genesis account – comes by law. Only by an infraction of the law did man acquire that knowledge.

That knowledge, which was obtained by Adam, was passed on to Christ, but the guilt of it was not. This is, as we saw in the sermon on Christ’s humanity, because sin travels from father to son. But Christ had no human father. Rather, His Father is God.

As all things reproduce after their own kind, we have a human Man, born of a human woman, and born without sin – because He had no human Father. And yet, He possesses the knowledge of good and evil.

At the same time, we have the incarnation of God in Christ because He is begotten of the Father. He is the God-Man. Without the Deity of Christ, sin would have been involved in the picture, and atonement for man could never have taken place.

But with the Deity of Christ, we have a perfect man, born under the law. Thus, He required no sacrifice for sin, as Aaron did. He also lived under the law without sinning, and thus He needed no sacrifice for sins, as Aaron did. And He died under the law having no sin.

And thus, He was the acceptable offering for sin, and the acceptable place of offering for sin. He is both the hilasmós, or offering, and he is the hilastérion, or mercy-seat – meaning the place of offering. This is explained by the author of Hebrews –

Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. Hebrews 7:23-28

These things are both logical and expected based on the simple gospel given to us by Paul earlier. We may not think all of this theology through when we accept the gospel of our salvation, but all of it is implied. But what is more, is that the Deity of Christ is not only implied in these truths, it is proven because of them.

Christ Jesus died for sins, Christ Jesus was buried in His death. But that was not the end of the story. Christ Jesus rose again (Hallelujah!), proving that He had no sin. If He did have sin, He would have remained in the grave. But He did not. He rose. Concerning death, Peter says in Acts 2 that “it was not possible that He should be held by it.”

It could only be true if He was without sin, and being without sin, it was impossible that it could be otherwise. Thus, the Deity of Christ is first, an absolute necessity for our atonement, and secondly, absolutely proven through His resurrection.

Understanding this, it still has to be noted, to sufficiently explain God’s process of atonement, that Jesus Christ actually did die. We must remember that Christ is both the propitiation for sin, and He is the place of propitiation for sin.

His blood was given to cover our sin, but our sin was placed upon the place of propitiation – God’s Mercy Seat. In other words, Christ truly did die, and Christ truly did die for sin. But Christ did not die in sin. Rather, His death was as a substitutionary death for our sin.

In this, and because we understand that He is God’s Mercy Seat, we can then fully appreciate what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 –

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ became our sin and took our judgment upon Himself. In exchange, He grants us God’s righteousness, because being fully God, He is the possessor of the righteousness of God.

Christ redeemed us from the law, we stand justified through Christ’s fulfilling of the law, we are granted the righteousness of God in Christ, and we overcome the world and the power of the devil through the actions of our Lord. John explains this in his first epistle –

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4, 5

Earlier, we spoke of the shame which Adam and Eve experienced at the fall, and their useless attempts to cover that shame with t’enah, or fig leaves. The covering was insufficient, and the guilt remained. They attempted to work their way back into a right spiritual relationship with God, but they failed to do so.

After that, Adam demonstrated faith, and in his act of faith, God covered his two wayward children, setting the example of atonement and redemption which has never been deviated from throughout the entire body of Scripture.

John confirms that the covering of man is externally granted. It is obtained by being born of God. In that, one overcomes the world. It is through the work of God alone, and it is appropriated by us through an act of faith – nothing more. And in exchange for our shame and nakedness, or for any of our own futile attempts to cover our souls, when we demonstrate faith in what God has done, He carefully tends to us –

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5

Who is he that overcomes? It is the one who trusts in what God has done through Jesus Christ – that He is the Son of God. And what does God do for you in that act? He grants you white garments of righteousness – His own righteousness – in place of your sin.

There is a true gospel, and there is the true Jesus, the Christ of God. The true gospel is that God has done all that is necessary to save the human soul and that we exclude ourselves from God’s promise when we attempt to earn His favor through the law.

The true Christ is Jesus who is both fully Man and fully God. As Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, Jesus is the only Messiah, and He is the only path for atonement, for justification, for sanctification, and for glorification before God. He is our both our propitiation and our place of propitiation. He is JESUS!

Call on Christ, receive God’s offer of pardon, and have your sins atoned for through His precious blood – to the glory of God the Father.

Closing Verse: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:6-11