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.
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 -
“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!