Tuesday, March 25, 2008

GOD'S GLORY - THE PROVISION OF SALVATION


"GOD IS LOVE" (1 John 4:10), and the greatest evidence of God’s love is His sending His Son to die to honor His character in the salvation of guilty sinners. By nature all men are “dead in trespasses and sins,” guilty, depraved, without spiritual life, incapable of thinking, feeling, choosing, acting, enjoying, or loving communion with a holy and just God. If any are to be saved, God must in love choose and bestow eternal life upon them by the Savior. The Gospel declares that God in everlasting love, according to His own will and good pleasure, chose out of Adam’s fallen race a multitude of undeserving sinners which no man can number, and that He appointed His Son to be their Mediator and Surety. God laid all of the responsibility of their salvation upon Christ. Herein is God’s love.

God’s love is guided by His infinite wisdom and it is accompanied by His infinite power. There can be no obstacle that God’s wisdom has not foreseen or that His power cannot remove in the salvation of all the objects of His love, all whom He purposed to save. The definite nature and scope of the death of Christ lies in His representing the sinners for whom He became Mediator and Surety. They were all those whom the Father had given Him out of Adam’s fallen race before the foundation of the world (John 6:37).

God the Son became incarnate in order to successfully accomplish all the duties of His offices on behalf of His sheep. All of the conditions for their salvation were laid upon Him alone. The main condition of their salvation was that God be glorified. His having met and satisfied the conditions insures that every attribute of God’s holy nature demands the salvation of everyone whom He represented, for whom He lived and died. God’s love and holiness, His truth and faithfulness, His wisdom and mercy, His grace and justice, all being manifested, honored, and satisfied in Christ, demand that all whom Christ represented be made partakers of eternal life (John 17:2).

Another more subtle heresy that is opposed to God’s glory in salvation is the view that many of God’s elect, even the majority, will hate and totally reject God’s Gospel in this life and still be saved. Those who believe this heresy say that may of God’s elect will not come to a saving knowledge of Christ here on earth, but they will find out at the Judgment that they were elect, and, thus, saved. They say that many of God’s elect will never hear the Gospel, never come to saving faith and true repentance. They believe that this honors God’s sovereignty in salvation and that it takes away all the works of man in salvation. It is true that a universal/indefinite atonement and a conditional salvation denies everything that actually honors the character of God and everything that exalts Christ as Mediator. It is also true that to deny that all for whom Christ died will actually experience eternal life is deny God and His Christ. To deny that any of God’s elect will come to faith and repentance is to deny the same, because it denies the certainty of the Holy Spirit’s application of salvation to God’s elect in this life. The Holy Spirit’s work in the elect sinner is the direct fruit and effect of Christ’s work for the elect sinner. It all goes back to the glory of God in Christ.

To deny that any of God’s elect will come to faith and repentance also denies the everlasting covenant of grace. This covenant of grace declares that God the Father has actively engaged all of the infinite perfections of His character to save all the object of His love through Christ. Considering that a sinner is not saved until God is glorified in his heart (mind, affections, and will), it is necessary that the sinner be born again, come to faith in Christ and repentance of former idolatry and dead works, by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. The glory of God, every attribute of His character, is just as much concerned and engaged to bring His elect to faith and repentance as it was engaged to redeem them. Christ’s mediatorial glory consists in the fact that He is our Priest to redeem us, our Prophet to reveal God’s glory to us, and our King to make sure that nothing keeps us from being made partakers of all grace here and all glory hereafter. Those who deny this think themselves to be wiser than God. God has purposed and provided all things necessary to honor His sovereignty, as well as all His attributes, and to remove all ground of boasting on the part of men, in His purpose to glorify Himself in salvation conditioned on Christ alone. The promise itself, wherein God’s glory is revealed, honors God, exalts Christ, and excludes all grounds of boasting on the part of sinners.

CONCLUSION

Deceived sinners will raise many objections to the truths raised in this article. They will even wrest Scripture to prove their false views. One of the most misused is John 3:16 -

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

They claim that the word “world” here proves that God’s love and Christ’s death are universal. But this Scripture teaches no such God-dishonoring doctrine. It merely shows the magnitude of God’s love, not to every individual, but to mankind, in the salvation of His elect through Christ. It is through God’s elect, based on the righteousness of Christ, that mankind will be preserved forever.

Many refuse to believe the truths of election and definite atonement because they think it means God refuses salvation to sinners who desire to be saved. But election, definite atonement, and the Gospel, wherein God’s glory is revealed, shuts no sinner out of heaven. The Gospel is God’s promise of eternal salvation and final glory conditioned on Christ alone. From this revealed truth, God commands all without exception to believe His promise of salvation and seek justification and eternal life based on the imputed righteousness of Christ alone.

GOD IS FAITHFUL TO FULFIL THIS SPECIFIC PROMISE TO EVERYONE, WHOSOEVER, BELIEVES.

The reason sinners refuse to believe this is due to self-righteousness that causes them to insists on a conditional salvation, giving the sinner room to boast. Men by nature do not really care whether or not God is glorified in salvation. They may desire salvation, and they may seek it diligently and continually in their own way. But until their way is rejected and God’s way is received, there will be no salvation. Sinners by nature think too highly of themselves and too little of God. The command of the Gospel is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and repent from ever thinking that any part of salvation was conditioned on the sinner. This is the message that sinners by nature hate, but it is the only message can, if God be pleased, be the power of God unto their salvation. This is the message that true love to God and a true concern for His glory will not compromise. This is the message that the world labels uncompassionate.

Read the following quote from William Rushton’s “Defence of Particular Redemption.”

“There is a kind of charity prevalent among us, a spurious charity which rejoiceth not in the truth. It is now though an evidence of a bigoted spirit, to contend earnestly for the peculiar doctrines of grace; and it is considered the mark of a candid disposition to bear with doctrines opposed to truth, and to cover such opposition with the mantle of charity and forbearance. But how often does it occur that those amiable persons who can easily forbear, when only the honor of God and the glory of Christ are concerned; have very little forbearance, when their own dignity is wounded or their pride mortified. O how indignant are they when personally offended! How wroth, how implacable! Who would think that these amiable creatures, who are so charitable when the honor of Christ is wounded, could exercise so little forbearance when their own selves are injured.”

God’s testimony is not given to drive sinners away from Christ! It is given for the recovery of sinners, that sinners would see their need of God’s grace and believe God’s promise of salvation conditioned on Christ! These things are revealed so that sinners would come to repent from idolatry and dead works. We beseech sinners to be reconciled to God. All sinners who hear the Gospel have every reason to ask God to glorify Himself in their hearts. The command of the Gospel is a command to desire the honor of God’s character above all things and be loyal to God’s glory in Christ against all opposition!

Bill Parker

Monday, March 24, 2008

GOD'S GLORY - THE DEFEAT OF SATAN


Satan’s attacks are always aimed against God’s glory in salvation. It is in this context that we understand the wiles of Satan. Satan’s goal is to keep sinners in a state of condemnation, and his main weapon is deceit concerning the glory of God and the ground of salvation. Satan’s attacks are always aimed against God being glorified in the hearts of sinners.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The sad fact is that the vast majority of people in this religious generation who claim to be saved, who even claim that their salvation was by Christ alone and by grace alone, believe and support a system of doctrine that dishonors the Father and the Son. This is not to question the sincerity and morality of such people. Most of them sincerely believe that their doctrine gives glory to God. But, as we will see, they are deceived by Satan. This religious generation believes, for example, that men and women already know God and that all they need is to accept Christ as their “personal savior” for salvation. This kind of thinking is opposed to God’s Word, opposed to God’s glory, and opposed to the Gospel.

When a sinner believes in Christ, he must of necessity be convinced that he was formerly an idolater. It is impossible to know the true and living God apart from knowing the only true Christ and what He accomplished in the redemption of sinners. Until we see how God, the true and living God, the God of redemption, can be just to justify the ungodly based on the merits of Christ’s righteousness imputed alone, we worship and serve a god who cannot save, a god who is no god at all. Until we see God as just to justify us based on the righteousness of Christ, to the praise of His glory, we cannot know God as our Father.

Salvation is a change of gods. It is a change from being a servant of sin, worshipping a god of our own imagination, to being a servant of righteousness, worshipping and serving the true and living God (Romans 6:17-18). Salvation involves a change of doctrine, but unless this change of doctrine involves true repentance where we change our minds concerning God, then there is no salvation at all. Many have changed doctrines who have never changed gods. For example, many have come from being “free-will Arminians” to being “five-point Calvinists,” but who still insist they were saved under that system of doctrine that dishonors every attribute of God’s redemptive character, casts shame and reproach upon the Person and work of Christ, and leaves room for the sinner to boast. They have never truly believed the Gospel, and they have never truly repented.

Being lost is directly related to not knowing the true character of God in redemption. Being converted is directly related to knowing the true character of God in redemption (Jeremiah 9:24). To be lost is to be without an acceptable approach to God. Many, in the name of morality and religion, attempt to approach God without a proper mediator, i.e., without God appointed Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, based on His righteousness alone. Most who claim that Christ is their savior have never even heard of an imputed righteousness. When such a sinner attempts to approach a holy God, without regard to the imputed righteousness of Christ, this gives evidence of ignorance of God Himself. Apart from Christ and His righteousness God is a consuming fire full of wrath (Hebrews 12:28-29). If we are truly saved we continually behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We see the true nature of God’s holiness and love which we could not see apart from Christ’s Person and His atoning work. This is the only proper ground for any sinner to approach a holy and just God and find acceptance.

Romans 3:10-12
By nature we do not know the God of salvation and the only true way of salvation.

How can we know the only way of salvation apart from knowing the true character of God and Christ Jesus whom God sent?

As stated before, many who have changed doctrines but who have not repented contend that they were saved while they preached, believed, and/or supported a system of doctrine that dishonors every attribute of God’s character and which casts shame and reproach upon Christ’s Person and whole mediatorial work, His atonement. Satan’s goal is to keep them from seeing this awesome reality in light of the glory of God. Satan uses many false doctrines that appeal to men by nature and which make salvation, or some part of it, conditioned on the sinner. For example, one such false doctrine is universal or indefinite atonement. Consider the following:

1. Universal or indefinite atonement states that Christ died for all without exception conditionally. It states that His death was a sincere attempt to save everyone, but that it secured the salvation of no one, except those who meet certain conditions, usually faith, repentance, and/or perseverance. This false notion teaches that Christ’s death did not actually save anyone, but it merely makes sinners savable.

2. There is a more subtle heresy derived from universal atonement. Many say that Christ’s death was sufficient for all without exception but effectual only for God’s elect based upon their meeting the conditions of faith and repentance. They are quick to say that God gives His elect faith and repentance, but it is still a subtle heresy in that it diminishes the value of the death of Christ, His righteousness, and exalts the value of the work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner. This is more subtle than universal atonement, there is no real difference since both ultimately make salvation conditioned upon the sinner.

Satan is a clever, subtle devil, and the natural heart is:

Jeremiah 17:9
“deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”

This means that it is opposed to God’s glory. Satan has his goal to blind the hearts of sinners from having honoring views of God’s redemptive character. The carnal mind, being at enmity against God, will always take sides with Satan in this matter. It may seem to honor the Father and the Son to say that God loves everyone and that Christ died for everyone. But this actually dishonors the Father and the Son, because it means that God’s love does not actually secure the salvation of anyone and the death of Christ did not actually merit any spiritual life or blessings for anyone. It would be like saying that Christ redeemed everyone but that He actually redeemed no one.

Universal and indefinite atonement may seem to put much value upon the precious blood of Christ, when, in fact, it puts no real value at all upon Christ’s blood, in and of itself. It teaches that notwithstanding Christ’s all of Christ’s efforts in His humiliation, sufferings, and death, He did not actually earn salvation for any one sinner. It teaches that Christ’s atonement, His death, His righteousness, in and of itself, does no more for those in heaven than it does for those in hell. In fact, it teaches, as one false preacher has stated, that hell is really a monument to the failure of the Father and the Son to do what they set out to do.

How dishonoring to the sovereignty, faithfulness, justice, love, and mercy of God!

If sinners fail to meet the conditions, they will perish regardless of God’s love and regardless of Christ’s whole mediatorial work of redemption. In this kind of system, it not God’s love nor Christ’s death that makes the difference between heaven and hell. It is the sinner’s faith, repentance, and/or perseverance. In this kind of system, God’s love and Christ’s death are merely, as Augustus Toplady stated, “pedestals upon which a sinner can boast of his free will.” A sinner would have to be deceived to believe such error.

Can such a faith that denies the infinite value of the precious blood of Christ be the gift of God?

It is worse than useless. It is an abomination unto God. No one would preach, believe, or support such a system of doctrine if they could see the God-dishonoring, Christ-denying implications. Such doctrine denies that which the Scriptures set forth as the only ground of salvation, the imputed righteousness of Christ (Romans 8:31-34), and it denies the foundation of the security of the believer, God’s infinite love (Romans 8:35-39). Sinners by nature do not know and understand such implications. We who believe the Gospel must have enough love and compassion for sinners to raise these issues and clearly state the implications, even at the expense of being persecuted. This is why Christ would not compromise the Father’s glory with the religionists of His day (John 5:41-44). This is one of those areas in which true believers are to seek to be conformed to His image.

By Bill Parker

Saturday, March 01, 2008

THE MEANING OF "KOSMOS" IN JOHN 3:16

It may appear to some of our readers that the exposition we have given of John 3:16 in the chapter on "Difficulties and Objections" is a forced and unnatural one, inasmuch as our definition of the term "world" seems to be out of harmony with the meaning and scope of this word in other passages, where, to supply the world of believers (God's elect) as a definition of "world" would make no sense. Many have said to us, "Surely, 'world' means world, that is, you, me, and everybody." In reply we would say: We know from experience how difficult it is to set aside the "traditions of men" and come to a passage which we have heard explained in a certain way scores of times, and study it carefully for ourselves without bias Nevertheless, this is essential if we would learn the mind of God.


Many people suppose they already know the simple meaning of John 3:16, and therefore they conclude that no diligent study is required of them to discover the precise teaching of this verse. Needless to say, such an attitude shuts out any further light which they otherwise might obtain on the passage. Yet, if anyone will take a Concordance and read carefully the various passages in which the term "world" (as a translation of "kosmos") occurs, he will quickly perceive that to ascertain the precise meaning of, the word "world" in any given passage is not nearly so easy as is popularly supposed. The word "kosmos," and its English equivalent "world," is not used with a uniform significance in the New Testament. Very far from it. It is used in quite a number of different ways. Below we will refer to a few passages where this term occurs, suggesting a tentative definition in each case:


1 "Kosmos" is used of the Universe as a whole: Acts 17: 24 - "God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth."


2 "Kosmos" is used of the earth: John 13:1; Ephesians 1:4, etc., etc.- "When Jesus knew that his hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world He loved them unto the end." "Depart out of this world" signifies, leave this earth. "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world." This expression signifies, before the earth was founded -- compare Job 38:4 etc.


3 "Kosmos" is used of the world-system: John 12:31 etc. "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the Prince of this world be cast out" -- compare Matthew 4:8 and 1 John 5:19, R. V.


4 "Kosmos" is used of the whole human race: Romans 3:19, etc.-- "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."


5 "Kosmos" is used of humanity minus believers: John 15:18; Romans 3:6 "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." Believers do not "hate" Christ, so that "the world" here must signify the world of un-believers in contrast from believers who love Christ. "God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world." Here is another passage where "the world" cannot mean "you, me, and everybody," for believers will not be "judged" by God, see John 5:24. So that here, too, it must be the world of un-believers which is in view.


6 "Kosmos" is used of Gentiles in contrast from Jews: Romans 11:12 etc. "Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israel's) fulness." Note how the first clause in italics is defined by the latter clause placed in italics. Here, again, "the world" cannot signify all humanity for it excludes Israel!


7 "Kosmos" is used of believers only: John 1:29; 3:16-17; 6:33; 12;47; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 2 Corinthians 5:19. We leave our readers to turn to these passages, asking them to note, carefully, exactly what is said and predicated of "the world" in each place.


Thus it will be seen that "kosmos" has at least seven clearly defined different meanings in the New Testament.

It may be asked, Has then God used a word thus to confuse and confound those who read the Scriptures?

We answer, No! nor has He written His Word for lazy people who are too dilitary, or too busy with the things of this world, or, like Martha, so much occupied with "serving," they have no time and no heart to "search" and "study" Holy Writ!

Should it be asked further, But how is a searcher of the Scriptures to know which of the above meanings the term "world" has in any given passage?

The answer is: This may be ascertained by a careful study of the context, by diligently noting what is predicated of "the world" in each passage, and by prayer fully consulting other parallel passages to the one being studied. The principal subject of John 3:16 is Christ as the Gift of God. The first clause tells us what moved God to "give" His only begotten Son, and that was His great "love;" the second clause informs us for whom God "gave" His Son, and that is for, "whosoever (or, better, 'every one') believeth;" while the last clause makes known why God "gave" His Son (His purpose), and that is, that everyone that believeth "should not perish but have everlasting life."

That "the world" in John 3:16 refers to the world of believers (God's elect), in contradistinction from "the world of the ungodly" (2 Peter 2:5), is established, unequivocally established, by a comparison of the other passages which speak of God's "love."

"God commendeth His love toward US" -- the saints, Romans 5:8.

"Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" -- every son, Hebrews 12:6.

"We love Him, because He first loved US" -- believers, 1 John 4:19.

The wicked God "pities" (see Matthew 18:33). Unto the unthankful and evil God is "kind" (see Luke 6:35). The vessels of wrath He endures "with much long-suffering" (see Romans 9:22). But "His own" God "loves"!!

By A.W. Pink