Thursday, December 17, 2009

Total Depravity

Today we consider the biblical truth of total depravity. We will do so from our Lord’s words found in John 15:5, “For without me ye can do nothing.”

We see from the last verse of John 14 that our Lord Jesus and His disciples have now left the upper room where they had gathered to eat the last Passover and they had begun a midnight walk across the city of Jerusalem, up to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus will be betrayed to the Jews. We read in John 14:31 Jesus saying to them, “Arise, let us go hence.”

That is, Jesus was interrupting the discourse or sermon that He had begun in chapter 13, a sermon spoken to His disciples. He interrupts this sermon and leads them out of the upper room towards Gethsemane.

No doubt, as they walked, they passed by many orchards and vineyards along the way. And, as was the Lord’s custom, He uses what He sees in the creation as an object lesson to teach His disciples and us a vital truth that we must know as He is about to leave His disciples.

He says in John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”

He goes on to say, “Ye are the branches. Abide in Me. As the branch canno bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in Me.”

The Lord begins to speak to His disciples of the indispensible and urgent need of true faith, of a living, vital connection to Him. He, in the way of the cross, in the way of His resurrection and ascension, is about to return in glory to His heavenly Father. We will on the earth be subject to sin, temptation, death, sorrow, real grief and turmoil. The Lord says, “You must abide in Me and I in you. As the branch abides in the vine and draws its sap and life from the vine and thus is able to bear fruit, so also must you abide in Me.”

He speaks, in this figure, of the gift of true and living faith, of the true, heavenly-wrought, spiritual union between you and Christ—the gift of faith, faith that is not a formal, purely intellectual attachment to Jesus Christ. It is not like two boards nailed together. But faith is a living union to Jesus Christ, worked by God in our hearts so that we say with the apostle Paul, “For to me to live is Christ.” And, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

And then the Lord, in the words of our text, emphasizes the need that we have to abide by faith in Him. For He says that “without me ye can do nothing.” As a branch, severed from the vine, dries and is gathered up to be burned, so we, without Jesus Christ, can do nothing. In words that are clear, simple, and pointed, Jesus teaches us the truth of our total depravity.

Without Jesus, we can do nothing.

You could not save yourself, you could not will to accept Him, any sooner than a dead branch can will to pick itself up and insert itself into the vine. “You cannot receive Me unless I work My grace first in you. You cannot be saved, nor can you persevere (keep yourself within the state of salvation) without Me. Without Me ye can do nothing.”

These words, then, underscore the words of the Lord Jesus: “Abide in me, stay close to Me, seek all of your strength in Me.” As sinners, we are depraved, and we are saved by grace. And, as children of God in the midst of this world of temptation and woe, we have one great desperate need every day: Abide in Christ, a living, true faith in Jesus Christ.

For without Jesus, we can do nothing.

These words, first of all, then, are very humbling: "Without Me ye can do nothing."

They are words that point first to our total depravity as a sinner, and our need of a completely gracious salvation. Jesus here speaks of all men as they are without Him. He speaks of every man, woman, and child as they are without Him. “Without Me, you can do nothing.” He is not talking just about drug-addicts or those who are on death-row. He is not talking only about predators or abusers of mankind. But He is talking of all mankind—of professors, scientists, teachers—men as they stand apart from Christ—you, considered of yourself. You, apart from Jesus, can do nothing. He means nothing good. That is His point. Nothing pleasing to God, nothing good in the sight of God. You can do many things, but you cannot do anything pleasing to God.

Note that Jesus (in the first four verses of John 15) has been talking about bringing forth much fruit to God. He has been talking about a life of good works pleasing to God. He has been talking about love for God, sorrow for sin, humility, meekness—those things that please God. He has been talking about the fact that the failure to bring forth such fruit means that a branch is dead, withered up, and is to be gathered up to be burned in the lake of fire. Jesus, therefore, was talking about every man, every woman, every child—whether they are in poverty or whether they are in wealth, whether they live in a third-world country or in a country of great prosperity, it makes no difference. They cannot do anygood in the sight of God. Apart from Jesus Christ we are dead in sin, fallen in Adam, incapable of any saving good.

The fault is not simply in the totality of our makeup, so that there are spots of sin in every part of our makeup, of our will, words, and emotions, but we are totally depraved, shot through completely with sin, sold in sin, leprous in sin.

Ephesians 2:1-3,
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins….”

Romans 3:12, “…there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Romans 8:7, “…the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

You can do nothing apart from Me.

The Lord is speaking there of ability. Apart from Jesus Christ no one has the ability to do good in the sight of God. We cannot of ourselves will to accept Jesus Christ. It is not we who can do a little. It is not we who decide for Christ and then, depending upon our decision, Christ will respond and come into us. No. Ye can do nothing. As a branch severed from the vine, withered, we are dead in our sins. Salvation is not the acceptance of Jesus by the human will. Salvation is the resurrection of a dead sinner. When we have the testimony within us of the burden of sin, when we feel sorrow for sin, when we covet God’s grace to lead a new, Christian life, all of this is His work in us. It did not proceed from us. It was not me, O Savior true, but it was Thou who didst love me and raise me from the dead.

But Jesus’ words are humbling also in this sense, that they mean that as a renewed, saved-by-grace child of God, without Him, I can do nothing. As renewed by the Holy Spirit, by grace, we are called to live a life of sanctification, that is, to delight in serving God. We are called to live to the service of God in everything that we do. We are to bear our cross, we are to fight a good fight of faith. But we can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. He must daily by grace infuse His strength into us. Your strength, says Jesus, your fortitude, your personal determination, your guts, your stubbornness, your stick-to-itiveness—all of this is nothing. Ye can do nothing in the Christian life without Me, without Jesus. That is, apart from a conscious, heartfelt faith-dependence upon Christ, we can do nothing.

You cannot white-knuckle and overcome that addiction that has cast you down time after time and of which you have said, “I’ll beat it, I can stop, I’m man enough, I’ll preserve my reputation. It’s not going to go any further.” Jesus says, “Without me, ye can do nothing.”

You cannot escape that temptation, the net and the pit laid for you by Satan, the lust, the desire to live for the approval of friends. Believe in this word. “Without Me,” says Jesus, “ye can do nothing.”

You cannot endure that trial, that loneliness, that sorrow that is swallowing you up, pushing you down of yourself. Getting away, a change of scenery is not going to do it. Without Me, ye can do nothing.

A great evil, but performed against you, an abuse, a horrible abuse that haunts you and pursues you and fills you with fear—without Me, ye can do nothing, says Jesus.

A great sin is in your past. You confess this sin, but yet its memory gives you no rest. You try to keep yourself busy. You try to keep in front of it. Without Me, says Jesus, you can do nothing.

Always our sinful nature, that is, our pride, looks to our self. We try to build our own citadel. We try to use our treasured resources and strength. And God, in His wisdom and justice, so often says, “Go ahead. Exhaust your treasured strength—until grace brings you to know that you can’t.”

It is by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. The way of God’s grace leads us to this point that we give up on our own strength, our own way, our own will. And we cry, “Oh, I to the fountain fly, cleanse me, Jesus, or I die.” For without Jesus I can do nothing.

But as humbling as that is, it is also exalting. It is exalting to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is making the most amazing and astounding claim. Think about it. “Without Me, ye can do nothing.” That means that Jesus is saying, “I am the source of all good, all spiritual strength. I am the source of good and spiritual strength. You have no good, no strength, no merit; I and I alone am the source of all good and strength. As you are devoid, utterly devoid in yourself, and cannot find any strength of yourself, you will have all strength and all merit in Me.” So it always is. If you lift up man in your faith or religion, you debase Jesus Christ. If you give credit to yourself or to man, you discredit Jesus Christ. If you walk in pride, any pride, you will think little of Jesus Christ.

But when our emptiness is shown, when our weakness is made plain, when our depravity is exposed to us, it is then that Christ is exalted for who He is. Christ is the source, the only source, of good in all the world. Christ is the source, the only source, of strength in all the world.

Christ, therefore, is exalted in salvation. Total depravity is the gate or the door to the gospel. You must go in through that door. The teaching of free will, that notion that salvation is owed to a decision of the dead sinner, who must first accept Christ before Christ can save him—this heresy of free will debases Jesus Christ. Free will glories in itself. I accepted Christ. He could not enter in unless I allowed Him into my heart, unless I first invited Him. He stood there knocking, unable to do anything until I gave Him the permission. The glory is free will.

In the name of Jesus Christ, I say, away with that false doctrine.

in I Corinthians 1 we read: “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

For of God are ye in Christ Jesus, says the Scripture. Of God, not of free will. Of God, God’s work, are you in Christ Jesus. We cry out with the hymn: “Nothing in my hands I bring.”

It is Jesus Christ, by His Spirit, who opens our heart that is closed, shut up, and sealed, as in a coffin of sin. We read in Acts 16:14 of Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened. It is Jesus Christ who regenerates, that is, by Him we are born again. He implants His life in us. “If ye then be risen with Christ,” says the apostle in Colossians 3:1. It is Christ who converts. It is Christ who regenerates. It is Christ who saves. It is Christ who illumines our minds. It is Christ who softens our will and enters into the inmost recesses of our soul. It is Thy grace, O Lord, that saved me, not myself. All hail the power of Jesus’ name. Not free will. Not your name. Not man’s name. Not this man saved me, or this person. But Jesus Christ saved me.

So also it is that Jesus Christ is exalted in our life of sanctification, that is, in our Christian living. It is Christ who infuses His strength into us through faith. It is Christ in me. It is Christ in me in every trial and every way of darkness, in every burden and in every temptation. Christ Jesus is our strength.

But you might say, “I know that and I believe that. I believe that without Christ I can do nothing. But why are there yet times in my life that it seems that I cannot find Him or when He is absent from me, when the peace of His grace eludes me?”

The disciples of Jesus Christ at this point were about to go through that in that very night. At the moment of trial, they will all run away from Jesus. Apparently the strength of Jesus Christ was gone and their hearts were filled only with fear.

Why, then, are we led down ways of darkness?

“Lord,” we say, “I believe this. Why must I be led in such dark and difficult ways?” And the answer is: Because our need of Jesus Christ must be burned, must be branded, into our heart, because His grace and His strength are not cheap, because it pleases the Father to work this truth into our deepest heart. Through every way of trial and through every way of woe, Jesus Christ wills that we confess: without Jesus, I can do nothing.

But, you see, this is assuring, it is humbling, it is exalting of Christ and it is assuring to us. This is not a false assurance. This is not a sales pitch. This is not a soap bubble to pop on the first sharp point of life. Jesus Christ is our good and our strength. His perfect work on the cross is our righteousness. His grace is our strength. He is the solid rock. Everything else is sinking sand. Believe in Him, rely solely upon Him.

The assurance is, first of all, that when we feel the burden of sin, when we feel within us the desire to obey and serve Him, then this is due to His work in me. It did not arise out of me. I did not create that. But it came from Him.

Do you know yourself as the sinner in God’s sight?

Do you know your sorrow and the depth of your sin?

All of this is worked in your heart by Jesus Christ and by His wonderful grace.

And, still more. There is the assurance that Jesus Christ will also strengthen us unto every good work. He will give us His grace. He will dwell within us. It is Christ who will strengthen us.

So, hear the call of the gospel. He speaks. He calls in the gospel: “Abide in me.” That is your need. Always stay closer to Jesus Christ. That is your one, and your great, and your desperate need. Stay close to Him in the word. Stay close to Him in the church. Stay close to Him in prayer. Stay close to Him in your daily walk of life. Abide in Jesus. For without Jesus, you can do nothing. But "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

By Carl Haak

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Limited Atonement

Salvation from sin through Jesus Christ is entirely of God’s grace. This is something that Jonah learned when he was in the belly of a whale. We read in Jonah 2:9, Jonah’s confession: “Salvation is of the Lord.”

Salvation in its plan, that is, in its eternal election; in its accomplishment, in the actual payment for sin upon the cross; in its application, the giving of this salvation into the human heart; in its consummation, when at last one is taken before the presence of God — all of it is of God. "Salvation is of the Lord."

This is especially true of the doctrine of the Bible called “Limited (Particular) Atonement.” The truth is that Jesus Christ, in His atonement, saved by grace all those given to Him of the Father. And they shall never perish, because Jesus died for them upon the cross.

Limited or definite atonement of Jesus Christ upon the cross is the heart of the precious gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we sinners will see our Savior in all of His beauty. Through all eternity we will know Jesus as the Lamb who was slain and has redeemed us unto God. Throughout all eternity we will see Him as the One by whose stripes we are healed. We will rejoice in Him as the crucified one. And this is how we know Him today. In every trial, in every heartache, in every moment, in joy or in death, old and young, those who have walked with Him all their life, and those who have learned His secrets only recently in their new conversion — all of us will know Jesus as the One who died for us, who laid down His life for us.

In John 10:15, Jesus says: “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

In John 10 Jesus was contrasting Himself with the false leaders and teachers of His day, whom He calls intruders, hirelings among God’s people. They did not love the sheep. They fleeced the sheep. They used the sheep for themselves. They were hirelings who would run at the first sign of danger.

In contrast to that, Jesus says, in John 10:14: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” He calls Himself the Good Shepherd because He knows His sheep and will keep those sheep. And He calls Himself the Good Shepherd because He lays down His life for them. “I lay down my life for the sheep.” In those words Jesus Christ taught the truth of a limited, particular atonement.

We consider that today.

The question is: For whom did Jesus Christ die?

And the answer of the Bible is: Jesus Christ died for the elect, for all those throughout all ages and races, chosen eternally and loved graciously by God. The atonement was limited. That means that Jesus Christ died on the cross for a definite, particular number of persons. Revelation 7 refers to this as a multitude that no man can number. A great number known and chosen of the Father.

His death was an atonement.
That is a biblical word that refers to a payment or a covering for the sins of men and women.

It was redemption.
That is another word that is used in the Bible: redemption from sin. It was the purchase of men and women out of the guilt and bondage of their sin to the state of pardon and adoption as the sons and daughters of God.

This atonement or redemption was limited. Not in the sense of what He suffered, that what He suffered was limited. No. He suffered the full and the eternal wrath of God against our sins. But it was limited in the sense of for whom He suffered. He was definite or particular. He did not die for all human beings, but only for some, for those given to Him of the Father. His death on the cross was for a definite, particular group of men and women, each one of whom He knew personally, in divine, particular, gracious, saving love.

Now it is this truth, this truth of a limited or particular atonement, this truth of all the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace, that becomes so offensive to many. The response is that it is hated.

“What,” people will say, “did not Jesus die for all? Does not Jesus love all? How can we possibly do mission work?”

This truth will be assaulted and hated, and those who confess it will be accused of denying the gospel, and of denying the love of Jesus for sinners. It will be assaulted with a host of Bible verses: I Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 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.”

But what seldom happens is that men and women listen to the biblical exposition of this truth. Listen to Jesus, who taught this truth.

Jesus Himself will answer the question: For whom would He die upon the cross?

In John 10 He says, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).

When He says, “I lay down My life,” He is talking about the cross. He is not simply talking about a sacrificial desire that He has to serve other people. But He is referring to the cross of Calvary. John 13:1, Jesus knew that His hour was come, and in the Scriptures we go on to read that at that night He said, “The cup that My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?”

Jesus knew that He had to go the way that the Father had willed. True, the Son of man goeth as it was determined of Him (Luke 22:22), but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed. And He says that that death, that predetermined death on the cross that He had come to suffer, had a definite intention or purpose. On the cross He would lay down His life, He would die for a definite number of persons. “I lay down My life for the sheep.”

He does not lay down His life for all humans, but for the “sheep.”

In John 10, He makes that very plain when in verse 26 of the chapter He refers to some (the unbelieving Pharisees) as not being of His sheep. “But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep,” He says to them. “I will not lay down My life for you.” Sheep does not include all men. But sheep includes all those whom the Father had given to Him.

Jesus goes on to say that in John 10 as well, verses 27-29: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me….”

My Father gave the sheep to Me. He is “greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” Jesus teaches that He lays down His life for everyone whom the Father, out of mere grace, out of free election, gave to Him.

The ones for whom He dies are the ones He knows in that gracious, unbreakable bond of love.

John 10:14-15
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father.”

He is referring there to a knowledge of gracious, personal, intimate love. He says, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father.”

He brings us there to the point of intimacy beyond our ability to comprehend—the tender, the personal, the intimate love of the triune God. The Father loves the Son, knows the Son; and the Son knows the Father. Jesus says, “In like manner, even so I know My own and My own know Me. I know them intimately. I know them personally. I know them exhaustively. There is nothing in these people that will startle Me.”

There is nothing that can suddenly come up and He would say, “But I didn’t know that about them.”

“I love them graciously and unchangeably. I know who My own are. I know the sheep given to Me of the Father. They will hear My voice and they will come to Me. And I will die on the cross, for the ones chosen from before the foundations of the world, whom I have loved with an everlasting love and whom I will draw to Myself.”

The death on the cross of Jesus Christ extends to all the elect. God’s gracious and eternal election determines who Christ died for on Calvary’s cruel cross.

The question, of course, is: “Who determines the extent of Christ’s death? Who determines who it will be for whom Jesus will die?”

The answer is: Not man! Not yourself!

John 10:26
“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”

Jesus did not say, “You are not of My sheep because ye believed not.”

He did not say, “Your unbelief has excluded you from the sheep.”

But Jesus said, “You ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep.” The cause of their unbelief was that they were not His sheep.

God did not elect them.

God did not give them faith.

So also those who believe do not make themselves sheep by their faith. You are not one of the sheep because you believe. No. You believe because you were made one of His sheep. God determines the sheep in the decree of election. “My Father gave them Me” (John 6:39). And the fruit of that election is faith. For these elect of God, to whom God gives faith as a result of His election, for these Jesus dies.

The atonement of the cross is in harmony with divine election.

We read Jesus’ words in John 6:38-39)
“I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”

Again, in John 17:2, in His prayer on the night before He went to the cross: “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.”

But there is an even more important question.

It is this: What was Jesus death?

We must see that the question, For whom did Jesus die? is related to this other crucial question: What was His death?

The difference between the truth of saving, sovereign grace and the teaching of free will is not that sovereign grace has Jesus dying for a few, and free will has Jesus dying for many. Or, to put it bluntly, the difference between free and sovereign grace and Arminianism works religion is not that the one (sovereign elective grace) is stingy and the other (Arminianism) generous and more loving.

But the difference between them is this: A Christ who dies for some (the elect) and a Christ who dies for all.

The difference is, what is the nature of Jesus’ death?

The Christ who dies for all those given to Him of the Father saves them so that they shall never perish.

A Christ who dies for all saves no one.

Did Jesus, then, intend or want to save all?

Does God’s love mean that He wants all to be saved?

Then, of course, there is a question to be put to that: All, clearly, are not saved—unless one wishes to throw out the Bible, for the Bible does not teach a universal salvation. It does not teach that all are saved. Jesus Himself spoke repeatedly of hell. He said, “Fear Him who is able to cast the body and soul into hell.”

There is a hell.

Not all are saved.

Well, if Jesus died for all, did Jesus fail?

And the answer that is given by those who believe in the free will, or the Arminian heresy, is that, “No, He didn’t fail. You see, on the cross, what Jesus did was to make it possible for everybody to be saved if we add something to that, namely, our decision for our faith. He cannot (even though He died on the cross—supposedly for sin) He cannot save unless we help. We save, then, ourselves—with Jesus’ help.”

But this does not exalt the cross.

This cheapens the cross.

This limits its power.

Then the cross does not save any.

It is a Christ who does not save unless He is helped.

It is a love that cannot keep anyone from hell unless he helps God.

And then sinners are flattered.

Sinners are assured that it is in their power to repent and to believe.

To make the cross of Jesus Christ actually effectual depends upon them.

God cannot save them, even though His Son suffered on the cross.

They can keep God at bay.

And the gospel is trivialized.

This is not the gospel.

This is not the biblical, wonderful truth of the gospel.

The gospel proclaims that the cross truly saves.

It saves everyone for whom Jesus laid down His life.

The cross does not fail.

By His death, Jesus has made certain that all for whom He died shall go to glory.

There is power in the cross.

Look upon the cross. It is flanked on the one hand by the total depravity of the sinner. The sinner cannot save himself. On the other had it is flanked by unconditional and free grace of election. Jesus Christ died to save a certain number of helpless sinners upon whom God set His free and electing love. Christ’s death insured not only that they would all be saved, but that, because Jesus died for their sins, they would also be called. And the Holy Spirit would work faith in their hearts. The cross saves. And the cross saves because Jesus laid down His life for you, for everyone given to Him of His Father.

What does the Bible teach about the nature of Jesus’ cross?

It says that this cross was, first of all, a precious death. The One who died upon Calvary was God’s Son in the flesh. He was the Holy Son of God without spot or blemish. His blood is the blood of God in the flesh. The value and the power of that blood is mighty.

Still more. It was a willing death: “I lay down My life.” His death was not an accident. His death was not a misunderstanding or tragedy. He was not forced to this cross against His will. It was a deliberate and intentional action. It was a willing sacrifice. He laid it down.

And His death was substitutionary. “I lay down My life for the sheep.”

“For,” that is, “in the place of, instead of, as a substitute for.”

We were guilty before God in the judgment. We deserve to be bound over to the torments of hell. But Christ, by grace, was sent of the Father, and upon the cross He said, “Father, I have been sent to stand in their stead that they might not be condemned. Let the condemnation that they deserve fall upon Me. That they might never be forsaken or cast out, forsake and cast Me out.”

He died for sins.

For whose sins?

Not His own sins, but for the sheep. He was wounded, Isaiah says in chapter 53, “for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities.”

What you deserved was given over unto Him.

Romans 5:6
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

Therefore, the death of Jesus Christ accomplished something. It availed. It redeemed everyone for whom He died.

Ephesians 1:7
“In whom we have redemption through his blood.”

Revelation 12:10
“Who has redeemed us to God by his own blood.”

Colossians 2:13-14
“..having forgiven you all trespasses;
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."


Our Lord’s crossword: “It is finished.”

All for whom He died—their debt is paid. He has obtained eternal salvation for the sheep. He obtained their faith. Faith is not the key in your pocket to open salvation. Faith is a gift that Jesus earned on the cross. It is the power of the cross. The power of the cross does not wait for the dead sinner, but it breathes into the dead sinner new life.

To teach that Jesus died for all is to deny His cross.

It is to present the cross as a failure.

It fails to save those whom it intends to save.

Indeed, it cannot save them at all unless they first help.

It did not pay any debt.

It did not obtain righteousness.

It has no worth.

It has no power.

It has no comfort.

But the truth of sovereign, saving grace is this: Jesus is no failure. Jesus, on the cross, conquered. Jesus paid for the sins of all His sheep.

Did Jesus then die for me?

This question must be answered in our souls. We cannot leave this unanswered. If Jesus died for you, then you will never die, you will never be condemned by God, you will never be forsaken. And if Jesus did not die for you, if you live impenitently and without faith, in your sins, if there is no fruit of sorrow for your sin, no desire after Christ, you are going to stand accountable to God for your sin.

How do I know that Jesus died for me?

Everyone for whom He died, in them, by the power of His cross, He sends forth the Holy Spirit. By this Holy Spirit, He gives you to know that you are in Christ. He gives you to know your sin, your unworthiness, your deep pain of heart of having offended God.

Still more, He gives you to see yourself, to see Jesus as your Savior, your hope, your good. You marvel at the love of God, that He would give for you, a sinner, His own Son. He gives you to believe on Him, to trust Him, to desire to obey and follow Him. You feel His grace working in you. Jesus works spiritual life in everyone for whom He died. By the power of the cross, He works in them a sorrow for sin, a repentance, a trust in Him, a hiding in His blood, and a deep personal love for Jesus. Then I know that something happened on Calvary long ago, on the hill outside Jerusalem — something happened that cannot be undone.

Jesus died for me.

He paid for all my sins.

He obtained the right to God’s presence.

Why did He do that?

Because He loved me purely, graciously. God so loved me, that He gave His only Begotten Son for me. Christ loved me and gave Himself for me. I will not perish.

This is the Jesus we preach.

This is the Jesus we love.

This is the Jesus we obey.

And all who put their trust in Him, by God’s grace, shall never be ashamed.

And we say, “This alone my plea shall be: Jesus Christ who died for me.”

By Carl Haak

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Remnant According To The Election Of Grace

Romans 11:5
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Before we begin our study on the remnant, I would like to define a few terms in our text:

1) "remnant": means a small group within a group. As we study this doctrine we will see it's meaning in the scriptures. The scriptures teach that at any given time in history: there are very few people elect in comparison to the mass multitudes who are reprobate and will face eternal damnation.

2) "election of grace": is the doctrine that God has a people He chose in Christ before creation (Ephesians 1:4), and Jesus came and died for their sins establishing righteousness for them only (Isaiah 53:11), and the Holy Spirit will come to each one of these elect with the true gospel and they will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE for ALL their salvation (John 6:37). It's God's election, and it's all by His grace.

So our text Romans 11:5, "Even so at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace": is teaching that at any time in history, there are few people saved, and the majority of mankind are unbelievers and under the wrath of God; and that this salvation is all of God's grace in Christ.

The Lord was asked: "Lord, are there few that be saved?" (Luke 13:23). The Biblical answer is yes. It is true that the Bible teaches that the elect in heaven will be a number that no man can number:

Revelation 7:9
"After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb (Christ), clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

Revelation 7:10
And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."

Praise God it is a great number; but in comparison to all who have lived in history, it is a remnant (a small group within the whole group). This is what we will now look at through scriptural history - because over a billion people on earth profess to be Christians; yet the Biblical teaching is that there is only a remnant of mankind that at any time in history is Christian.

We will begin with Noah's time in history.

As Noah existed on the earth, the Bible teaches that the earth was full of people. Read for yourself in Genesis chapter 5 the generations of Adam. We read also in Genesis 6:1.

Genesis 6:1
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them.

When God brought Noah unto the earth it was populated with people. Noah was called: "a preacher of righteousness" (II Peter 2:5).

Noah preached the gospel to an earth full of sinners.

How many were elect?

Only 8 people were, inclucing Noah (I Peter 3:20). God saved only 8 in the ark out of mankind; the ark being a type of Christ.

Next we look at the time of Elijah the prophet: the time of the Kings: Elijah speaks:

Romans 11:3
Lord, they (Israel - the professing people of God in Elijah's day) have killed thy prophets, and digging down thy altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

Romans 11:4
But what sayeth the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

In Elijah's day the earth was full of people, yet how many were elect?

7,000 people. (The historical account of this is in I Kings 19;9-18).

Next: in the prophet Isaiah's day. Read Isaiah chapter one. Here God is addressing those who professed the true religion - Israel of the Old Testament. God reveals in the first chapter of Isaiah that their worship of Him was false. Yet God had a remnant:

Isaiah 1:9
Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

Now remember, during this time, God allowed all other nations of the earth to be without even the preaching of the gospel; it was confined to Israel. And in Israel there was only a "very small remnant".

Israel was the center of the worship of God; yet even among them there was only a remnant:

"Esaias (Isaiah) also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved".
(Romans 9:27; with the historical passage being Isaiah 10:20-23).

Go to the seashore, or see the seashore in your mind, and all the grains of sand on the beach; then hear God say only a remnant of them are my people. Now remember that God here is speaking of the religious Jews here - not the whole world. The rest of the world was left out of even the eternal preaching of the gospel.

We now will look at the time when Christ walked the earth. Christ said that among Christendom (those that profess Christ) there will be very few saved:

Matthew 7:13
Enter ye in at the strait gate (salvation conditioned on Christ alone): for wide is the gate, and broad is the way (false religion within professing Christendom and all unbelievers), that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Matthew 7:14
Because stait is the gate (salvation conditioned on Christ ALONE), and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Within professing Christendom, many are lost and few are saved.

Many (compared to the remnant) who profess Christ will be damned.

The Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 7:21
Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 7:22
Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

Matthew 7:23
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.

Many who profess Christ on the day of judgement will be damned.

Why?

Because they will plead their works as their righteousness before God, even giving God the credit ("in thy name").

God tells us in the passage what the remnant will do: verse 21: "he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven".

What is the Father's will here?

Jesus said:

John 6:29
"..This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him (Christ) whom He hath sent."

The remnant will come to believe in Christ ALONE for ALL of salvation, apart from their works.

The Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.

Many hear the true gospel, but out of that group, few (remnant) are chosen by God to believe it. Now Christ here is speaking of those who have heard the true gospel: salvation conditioned on Christ ALONE. He is not speaking of the rest of mankind, and the false gospels of so called Christendom.

Now we come to our day. The true gospel being preached in congregations is rare. There are few (remnant) gospel congregations. The majority of Christendom (those who profess Christ) do not even have the gospel. They believe in a gospel of works.

Roman Catholicism is not ashamed to openly teach salvation by Christ + works.

Arminianism is the prominent teaching in Christendom today: that Christ died for everyone, saving no one; and your salvation is actually based on your decision, an altar call, being baptized, "I let Jesus into my heart"; or whatever man dreams up. But this is all works of the sinner and not the gospel.

In our day, just like in every day in history, our text is true:

Romans 11:5
Even at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

All of the remnant will hear the true gospel, and repent (totally change their thinking and turn from their false god), and believe on Christ ALONE for ALL their salvation.

But there is only a remnant.

But God's remnant will rejoice to hear the Savior say:

Luke 12:32
Fear not, little flock (the remnant elect): for it is the Father's good pleasure to give (in the election of grace) you the kingdom (salvation)

Amen!

By Craig Miklosik

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Two Religions

The religion of men

With only one exception, every religion that has ever existed in this world maintains that the way to salvation is through good works. Their view of what constitutes salvation may differ (some may see it as a right relationship with God; or attaining to ones "higher self;" or a positive relationship with the universe; or access to heaven and bliss); however, the underlying way in which they all aim to obtain salvation is always the same – through their own dead works.

These religions all maintain that the exercise of the will; the performance of good works; the abstention from evil deeds; the improvement of character, thought and conduct; and/or the performance of certain religious rituals, observances, and other duties are all necessary factors in initiating their salvation, and often, in preserving their salvation.

The specific works at issue will vary from religion to religion, as will their opinions on what constitutes necessary moral reform, religious observance and duty, etc. However, if you strip away the specifics of these things, the core foundation is always the will and work of man. Likewise, the books they deem holy will vary; as will the names of their religious "holy men;" and even the names of their god or gods. Nonetheless, the works they have in view; their "holy" books and men; and their false gods will always point them back to self – and what they must think, say, or do to get right with the divine.

As a result, we see:

Talmudists (modern-day followers of the Jewish religion) attempting to keep the Old Testament law and otherwise working and exercising their fallen will in an attempt to get saved;

Arminians, Romanists, and all other so-called "free-will christians" going about "making a decision for Christ;" "accepting Jesus into their heart," "saying the sinners prayer," and otherwise working and exercising their fallen will in an attempt to get saved;

Muslims keeping the Islamic/Sharia law, performing the Hajj, praying towards Mecca, and otherwise working and exercising their fallen will in an attempt to get saved;

Hindus/Buddhist/Taoist etc., performing various rituals, observances, acts of self-denial, acts of obedience to their moral codes, and the exercising of their fallen will to reach their desired religious ends; and

Every other religionist likewise implementing their own rules, belief systems, acts of obedience, and manifestations of will-worship, that they deem necessary to reach their desired religious end.

The Religion of God

As stated above, there is one exception and that exception is Christianity. True, biblical, Christianity is the only religion that states that your best efforts at moral reform and religious observance, if aimed at forming the basis of your salvation, serves only to further distance you from God. God's word declares that exercises of the will and moral and religious activity (collectively known as works of the law) only serve to bring you closer to the pit of hell if you believe that these things can do anything to initiate, preserve, or improve upon salvation. The true Gospel (as opposed to the free-will counterfeits that abound in our day) declares that the Lord Jesus Christ completed all that was necessary for the salvation of His people. He performed all the work required to satisfy the divine law, justice, and wrath of God. He left nothing undone, no aspect of a sinner's salvation depends on something that they must do (as if to make up for something that the Lord Jesus Christ could not, would not, or otherwise did not do to obtain full pardon for His people).

True Christianity is not an "Ivory Soap" religion; it isn't 99.44% God's work, and 0.56% percent our own. Salvation is either all of God, as in one-hundred percent, or it is a damnable lie that cannot save anyone. Thus, any attempt to add ones own works into God's plan of salvation (whether the works be mental, verbal, or physical), is tantamount to attempting to steal the glory due to Christ and Him alone. It is tantamount to declaring Christ's blood common, impotent, and insufficient for the cause. Finally, it is tantamount to declaring the Lord Jesus Christ a liar, and declaring that the work wasn't really finished when Jesus declared "It is Finished."

By Curt Wildy

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Refuting Charges of Neo-Gnosticism - Part 1

I Corinthians 15:1
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

I Corinthians 15:2
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

I Corinthians 15:4
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The Gospel Outline

The passage above is one of the most common passages given to define the Gospel. However, when we look at it carefully, we see that this passage is not a strict definition of the Gospel, but rather, an outline/summary of it.

Why an outline, and not the actual definition?

When we consider the use of the phrase "according to the scriptures," we see that we must look beyond this passage alone to determine its true definition. We must consider all of the relevant biblical passages to come to a proper understanding of, and definition for, the Gospel. It only serves as a Gospel definition for those who already have a knowledge and understanding of the scriptural context that gives fulness and meaning to this passage.

Moreover, when we consider the passage carefully, we see that whatever the true Gospel is, it must address the following questions (and do so in a manner that is harmonious with the Scripture):

Who and what is meant by "Christ"in verse 3?

Why did Christ come to this Earth and why did he have to die?

Who are the "our" in "....our sins" in verse 3?

What is the significance of Christ's burial? - v4;

What does it mean that Christ rose again? - v4;

and what was accomplished by His death, burial, and resurrection?

Righteousness Revealed

Another way to determine whether I Corinthians 15:1-4 is the full Gospel message, or an outline or summary of it, is to apply this simple test:

Imagine saying to someone: "the Gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day;" and then imagine proceeding to ask them to explain to you, based on this one sentence, "what is the righteousness of God that is revealed in this Gospel" (Romans 1:16-17).

If they have never been exposed to Christianity or to the pseudo-Christian religions of christendom, they will probably look at you like a deer caught in headlights (not having any idea how to properly answer this question). They may say something to the effect that "God is a righteous God; He doesn't do anything wrong; God is good;" however, they will have no idea (from that one sentence) about the righteousness that The Lord Jesus Christ established for His people. They will not understand that Christ is the end of the law for them (i.e., law-keeping as a supposed means of being accepted before God), and that when His righteousness is imputed to them, all aspects of their salvation were guaranteed and sealed.

The Spirit of Compromise

Christians (as opposed to Arminians, Arians, Sacramentalists, those within the reformed community that embrace them, etc.) are often accused of making the Gospel "too complicated" or too "doctrinally inclusive."

They lodge the false charge that "unless someone has studied calvinism for some time (we say) they can't be saved." This is foolishness.

This has nothing to do with "studying Calvinism."

It has to do with the fact that our accusers want a "simpler" gospel (supposing the True to be too complicated); they want a watered-down gospel, one that has nothing to do with election, predestination, righteousness imputed, or perhaps any of the other vital precepts that make up the Doctrine of Christ. Although these doctrines are associated with Calvin's teachings, they stem not from Calvin, but from God as revealed in the Bible. These doctrines are all very much biblical, and they are intimately tied-into the Gospel and God's plan of salvation.

Now, there are many amongst these false accusers who claim to support the doctrines of free and sovereign grace. In "fairness" to them, many of them do indeed speak often and eloquently on such vital precepts as election, predestination, effectual atonement, sola scriptura, and other key doctrines (including righteousness imputed). However, they absolutely do not believe (in a spiritual, saving sense) the things that they say. They are not submitted to these Gospel truths because they willingly embrace not only those who deny these truths, but those who do so openly and teach others to do the same. By doing so, by openly embracing those who embrace heresy, they set these vital truths at naught before their congregations, and before all people. These compromisers make the precepts to appear as nothing more than interesting truths, enlightening truths, accurate and beneficial truths, but not truths that are essential components of the Gospel Truth. These false accusers simply do not see certain vital truths as being vital; they see them as optional (thinking that one can be saved though they are in clear rebellion against them).

Thus, such accusers (who account for a large, and growing, number of those who identify as Reformed, Calvinistic, Predestinarian) want a gospel that allows them to embrace nearly anyone as "Christian." You see it's so much easier, so much more comfortable, palatable, and "loving," to take on an ecumenical mindset, even if it means compromising the Gospel. It is so much less painful to the flesh to avoid the reviling, persecutions, and tribulations that arise out of making accurate and needful judgments based upon what the Bible declares. Believers, think about how many more friends you would have; how many more church members; how many more council/association affiliations and "guest speaker" requests you would have if you (and your church) would simply abstain from clearly defining the Gospel and distinguishing it from all counterfeits. You could gain the world, and lose your own soul (thus evidencing that you were never true believers). However, God's people find such notions repugnant; choosing Christ (by God's grace) and the tribulations associated with following after Him, rather than selling-out to the wicked of this world.

These false accusers compromise in various degrees. Some will speak out against the ills of Popery (Romanism), but will openly embrace Arminians. Some will speak boldly about the truths embodied in the acronym "TULIP" but will argue that God saved them and allowed them to remain "Jehovah Witnesses" and Pentecostals for months or years on end. These compromisers come in many different (spiritual) shapes and sizes; however, one thing is always true, they will embrace the heretic of their choosing if it suits there ungodly purposes.

The Charge of Neo-Gnosticism

Since these false accusers believe that they are saved, they must distinguish themselves from those who are truly saved. They most often do so by employing inaccurate arguments, outright lies, and corrupt appeals to human logic and emotion. One tactic in their arsenal is to accuse Christians of being Neo-Gnostic in doctrine. If such an accuser can mislead others, and convince them that those who preach the True gospel are really just making "deep doctrinal knowledge" a requirement (and/or a prerequisite, or precondition) for salvation, they can deflect the fault from themselves and make it appear that the error lies elsewhere.

The Gnostics of old misused the scriptures, and "spiritualized" it in ways that not only were not in harmony with the entirety of the Bible, but utterly undermined it. They brought in many pagan (mystery cult) beliefs and practices and rejected many of the core beliefs of Christianity (the virgin birth, the deity and/or humanity of Christ, the Trinity, etc.). As a result, heresy after heresy arose from those who claimed they had this "higher knowledge (gnosis)" of Scripture. They believed that only those initiated and immersed in their ways could truly understand the Bible. Such thinking by no means describes the true believer; and when the Neo-Gnostic charge is lobbied against God's people, it only serves to reveal the depths of wickedness, ignorance, and spiritual blindness of those making the accusation.

You see, true believers do not make doctrinal knowledge a prerequisite for initiating, maintaining, "improving upon," or sealing their salvation. Christ is the Author and Finisher of our Salvation; He that began a good work in us is faithful to complete it until the end. The Holy Spirit is our Seal and Earnest. The elect are maintained due to the divine, free, and sovereign will of the Father, as it was made possible solely by the Finished work of Christ, and made effectual in the elect sinner's life by the Holy Spirit. Our man-mustered, knowledge, faith, understanding, repentance, etc, has no bearing on getting a man saved or keeping him saved.

However, there are things that accompany salvation; a belief in the true Gospel is one of those things. When God regenerates and converts a person, He does teach them. We read that when the Spirit comes, and works that work in a person, He reproves them of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. He leads them into all truth pertaining to the essentials of the Gospel and the knowledge of God. God does not save a person, and then allow them to proclaim a false Gospel for days, weeks, months, or years. He doesn't save them so that they can still the glory from God for a season, and give that glory to man, or man's fallen will. God saves His people for His Name and Glory's sake, and He sends them out to be ambassadors of the Truth (not of lies, half-truths, and other falsehoods).

We read that Paul was "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)

These compromisers are ashamed of, and in rebllion against, the Gospel. Though they may speak great, swelling words, they are ultimately ignorant (in a spiritual sense) of that righteousness revealed in the Gospel; especially as it relates to the value and necessity of it.

By Curt Wildy

Refuting Charges of Neo-Gnosticism - Part 2

What is the True gospel?

The Gospel is a declared message; it is not an offer or an invitation. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for sin-sick souls; it is the good news and glad tidings of God, His kingdom, and His glorious plan of salvation (the complete salvation of elect sinners conditioned upon the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone, without any contribution from the sinner as it pertains to their becoming saved, staying saved, or improving upon their salvation). It is a message that is full of vital truths; and the Holy Spirit gives His people faith to belief and to understand those vital truths when He quickens them.

My goal is to show that when the True Gospel is declared, the questions listed in the first section are answered and the Kingdom, Grace, and Righteousness of God are clearly revealed (Romans 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:8-9; and Matthew 24:14). My goal is to show that when these things are not revealed in supposed "gospel preaching," it isn't because the speaker is refraining from adding extraneous material from their message; instead, it is because they are preaching a diminished gospel, a watered-down gospel, an inaccurate gospel, or better put, a false gospel. There is only one Gospel, either it is preached faithfully, or it is despised and replaced with counterfeits.

At this point, let us consider I Corinthians 15 again (considering it prayerfully, systematically, and Lord willing, harmoniously with the Scripture). Let us also verify again whether the charges of Neo-Gnosticism are at all accurate.

Christ!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ....

Who is Christ?

You cannot properly understand this verse without first understanding who and what Christ is. When we search the Scriptures, comparing all relevant passages, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son, co-equal with the Father and Holy Spirit in the Triune Godhead. We see that He is the God-Man mediator who kept the law perfectly on behalf of His people, atoned for them, and who alone makes their salvation possible (having reconciled them to God).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made....
(John 1:1-3)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14)

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
(John 5:17-18)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form (external appearance) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
(Philippians 2:5-8)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
(John 20:27-28)

Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. Psalm 45:6 -- But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. Hebrews 1:8

We know from numerous other passages that these precepts are true, and that they perfectly accord with the Scriptures. So, any gospel that denies the full humanity, and the full and co-equality of deity of Christ, is a false gospel. Such a "gospel" reveals a false Christ; one that is utterly unable to save. Such a false Christ is preached in many a pulpit today.

Died!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died... according to the scriptures.

Why did He die, how did He die?

You cannot properly understand this verse without first understanding how and why the Lord Jesus Christ had to die. When we search the Scripture we see that Christ was made a curse for His people (cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree - Galatians 3:13), so that they would be free from the curse of the law and free to enjoy eternal communion with God in Heaven. The Bible declares that He "was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5).

Again, by searching the Bible, we know that these precepts are true. So, any gospel that denies the death of Christ, the Atonement, the doctrine of imputation, or any other related vital doctrine is a false gospel. Such a "gospel" reveals a false Christ, one that can save no one. Again, such a false Christ is preached in many a pulpit today.

Romans 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 5:2
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God....

Romans 5:6
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:7
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

Romans 5:8
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:9
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Romans 5:10
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

For our sins!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

For whom did Christ die?

You cannot properly understand this passage without first understanding *who* is in view when the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to declare "for our sins." Who are the "our," is it only those in the Church of Corinth? Surely not, or else this would have no application to believers in our day.

Is it the entire world?

Many teach this; however, despite its popularity, it is a repugnantly inaccurate doctrine as we shall see below.

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
(Ephesians 1:3-5)

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Ephesians 2:4-9)

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
(John 6:37-39)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand. I and [my] Father are one.
(John 10:27-30)

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.....I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
(John 17:6-10)

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(II Thessalonians 2:13)

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
(I Peter 1:1-2)

There are many more passages that refer to the fact that the "our sins" refers to the sins of God's elect, and only His elect. It does not refer to the sins of every person that has ever lived, or ever will live. God's atonement is effectual for all those for whom He died. Simply put, Christ died to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) by paying the penalty they deserved. In so doing, He did all that was necessary to establish a righteousness for them that guarantees all aspects of their salvation. Christ came to save His sheep, and all of them will hear His voice and believe the Gospel unto salvation (by the grace, mercy, and effectual working of God).

So we see that any gospel that denies that "our sins" refers to God's elect, all of His elect, and only His elect, is a false gospel. Such a false gospel reveals a false Christ that cannot save. Such a false gospel often takes the form of Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism/Sacramentalism and declares the abominable lie that Jesus' blood was shed commonly for all and that He died to atone for all (even though He knew the majority of them would end up in Hell); what utter, and blasphemous, foolishness. The Lord Jesus Christ is no fool, no failure, and He is by no means guilty of double jeopardy; He is both a Just God and a Saviour, both Just and Justifier.

By Curt Wildy

Refuting Charges of Neo-Gnosticism - Part 3

Buried!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

I Corinthians 15:4
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

What is the importance of His burial?

In Isaiah 53:8-9 we read of Jesus

Isaiah 53:8
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Isaiah 53:9
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

We see that the Lord Jesus Christ was buried, evidencing the fact that He was truly dead. Many a heretic of old, and even in our day, denied the actual Crucifixion, death, and burial of Christ (supposing that He was spared death just in the nick of time).

Though Christ, in His deity, could not die - His fleshly body (His humanity) did. He died in the stead of His people, as a guilty sinner. Not guilty in Himself, for He was perfectly pure, spotless, and free from sin. Nonetheless, He was guilty in the eyes of God, having the sins of His people imputed to Him (so that the righteousness He established for them would be imputed back to them).

As such, He made His grave with the wicked, having died as a guilty man (in that He willingly accepted the guilt and unspeakable punishment due His people, paying for every last one of their sins).

However, consider also the following passages:

Romans 6:1
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Romans 6:2
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Romans 6:3
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:4
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:5
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Romans 6:6
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Romans 6:7
For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:8
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Colossians 2:8
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Colossians 2:9
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Colossians 2:10
And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Colossians 2:11
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Colossians 2:12
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

The burial of the Lord Jesus Christ is directly tied into the precept that we were buried with Him; the very image of the ordinance of water baptism typifies His death, burial, and resurrection and ours in Him. We will address the resurrection aspect shortly. But in the meantime, let us boldly declare that if any gospel denies the death and burial of Christ (and the precepts associated with it), it is a false gospel. If any gospel denies the relationship between his death and burial, and the elect being buried with Him (indicating that our sins, embodied in the old man, were legally done away with forever in this life; and completely done away with in the life to come), it is a false gospel. Such a false gospel manifests in our day as true antinomianism (as opposed the groundless charge often laid against God's people), and is a root of such false doctrines as purgatory, and the notion that a true believer can lose their salvation.

Resurrection!

I Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

I Corinthians 15:4
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

What is the significance of Christ's resurrection?

You cannot properly understand the importance of the resurrection without understanding that the Lord Jesus Christ evidenced that He completed all that was necessary to guarantee the salvation of His people by being first raised Himself. His resurrection, and His subsequent return to Heaven as our Prophet, Priest, and King, proves and guarantees (beyond all shadow of doubt) that all of His elect people will likewise be raised and will reign with Him for all eternity.

Romans 4:23
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

Romans 4:24
But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Romans 4:25
Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

I Corinthians 6:14
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

I Corinthians 15:15
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

I Corinthians 15:16
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

I Corinthians 15:17
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

I Corinthians 15:18
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

I Corinthians 15:19
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

I Corinthians 15:20
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

I Corinthians 15:21
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

I Corinthians 15:22
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

II Corinthians 4:14
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

Ephesians 2:4
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Ephesians 2:5
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Ephesians 2:6
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

I Thessalonians 4:14
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

I Thessalonians 4:15
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

I Thessalonians 4:16
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

I Thessalonians 4:17
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

I Thessalonians 4:18
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Thus, if any gospel denies the literal resurrection of Christ, or if any gospel denies that that resurrection of Christ evidences the fact that His people were raised in Him and are guaranteed all aspects of salvation (from regeneration to final glorification in Heaven) due to His finished work alone, it is a false gospel.

By Curt Wildy

Refuting Charges of Neo-Gnosticism - Part 4

I Corinthians 15 revisited

Based upon what has been written in the previous parts, we can see that the Gospel is not simply the "Death, Burial, and resurrection of Christ;" as if these words existed in some vacuum.

Rather, the Gospel is the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ "according to the scriptures." Thus through the scriptures, the Gospel reveals:

Who (and what) Christ is;

He is God the Son (co-equal to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in the Triune Godhead)

He is the promised Saviour and Messiah who came to actually seek AND save that which was lost (God's elect);

He is the God-Man mediator that makes communion between God and His elect possible.

Why He became incarnate and why He had to die;

To keep the law of God perfectly as a man;

Though being spotless and without sin, to suffer the wrath of God (equivalent to eternal damnation for all of the sins of His people), so that He would atone for them, and establish for them a righteousness that guarantees their salvation.

All those for whom He died;

Every single one of God's elect (none one more and not one less).

The significance of His burial;

Setting for that He truly died for His people, and that His people are buried with Him being dead to the law, having the old man crucified, and being free from the dominion of sin.

The significance of His resurrection; and

Irrefutable proof that His work was finished; that atonement had been made for His people; that His people would be raised again with Him; and that He was our King victorious (conquering Satan, Death, and Hell and reigning over Heaven and Earth).

What was accomplished by His finished work?

Our blessed Prophet, Priest, and King, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved His people to the utmost by His atoning blood and imputed righteousness. His faithfulness to the Father in atoning for the elect glorified God in the highest. He reigns supreme, and His bride (the elect church) will be with Him forevermore. No one, and no thing, has ever, nor can ever frustrate His divine will, purpose, kingdom, honour, and glory.

Romans 1:16-17 and the Gospel revisited

We also see that the righteousness of God (established and imputed to all of God's elect) will be revealed when the true Gospel is declared. When a faithful preacher, teacher, or witness in general proclaims the Gospel, you can guarantee that the truths of free and sovereign grace and righteousness imputed will be affirmed.

When false prophets and false brethren bring their counterfeits, these doctrines will either be rejected, maligned, ignored, or water-down to make them of no real effect (in the hearts and minds of carnal men and women).

Too complicated?

Too extraneous?

The assertion that believers proclaim a Gospel that is too in-depth and confusing for the young believer is nonsense. To claim that the true Gospel is "Gnostic teaching" is bewildering at best. This argument could be plausible perhaps, if a man-mustered faith and a carnally-obtained understanding were prerequisites for salvation. However, for the true saint, drawn of the Father and regenerated and taught by the Holy Spirit, there is nothing complicated or extraneous about this Gospel. It is all very clear, especially when worked out in the heart, mind, and experience of the saved sinner.

The reality is that the essence of the Gospel can be laid out in a very short period of time (not that we are rushing, or that the time is at all relevant, but since our accusers pretend that our Gospel is too difficult, excessive, complicated, and time-consuming to be the true, it is worth pointing out). True believers know that there is no need to artificially "shorten" the Gospel, water it down, or make it more palatable (by leaving key elements out). Those who feel the need to do such things do not know the truth, they are those who have "made lies [their] refuge, and under falsehood have hid [them]selves" (Isaiah 28:15).

A sample message

But let's test it, let's see how complicated the Gospel really is.

Consider the following:

All of us are sinners by nature, guilty of the wrath of God. We all fell in Adam and we all commit an innumerable number of sins, the very first of which was enough to send us to Hell for all eternity. Nonetheless, despite our wretched state by nature, God sovereignly purposed to save a people for Himself. Through the Gospel, God declares to us the good news of His promise to save His people from their sins based upon the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

From before the foundation of the world, out of the mass of fallen humanity, God the Father elected a people for Himself; in multitude, they are a number that no man can count (though they are a remnant compared to the whole of mankind). In the divine covenant, the Father purposed to give His people to His son, that they would be His bride (His church or body of believers). Jesus likewise covenanted with the Father to save the elect, knowing that this would mean (a) humbling Himself, (b) becoming Incarnate, (c) keeping the law perfectly on their behalf; (d) dying in their stead (suffering both physically and spiritually under the wrath of God though He, himself, was pure and innocent); and (e) being raised again (evidencing that God's law and wrath were fully satisfied, Christ reigns victorious, and that His people are guaranteed all aspects of salvation - from regeneration to glorification in Heaven). Thus when Christ, in willing obedience to the Father, became incarnate, kept the law, died on the cross (declaring "it is finished"); and was raised again, we can rest assured that He completed all that was necessary and that all who truly believe in the Gospel are saved, and will persevere until the end.

However the Bible makes clear that a person believes only because they have been given the gift of faith and repentance to believe. They believe due to the fact that, as part of the salvation covenant, the Holy Spirit purposed to save all of the elect of the father, all for whom Christ atoned. At God's appointed time, the Gospel is brought to the elect sinner, and He is regenerated by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit converts that individual, and reproves him of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He convicts them of their sins, and points them to that blessed remedy (the Lord Jesus Christ). From the declared gospel, He reveals to them both doctrinally and experientially (experimentally) that their only hope for salvation is in the finished work (atoning blood and imputed righteousness) of Christ and that nothing they say, do, think, abstain from doing, etc. plays any part in getting them saved or keeping them saved. The Holy Spirit causes them to throw all of their hopes on Christ, and on Him alone (causing them to reject will-worship and any notion that salvation is conditioned in any way upon them).

God saves a person so that they will go out and testify of the great things the Lord has done for them. That saved sinner is commissioned to go forth and witness to others both in word and in deed. Since no one can determine whether a person is elect by outward appearance, the believer is to witness to all mankind as God gives opportunity. Our focus isn't on determining who is elect or not, but on prayerfully and faithfully declaring the word of God (knowing that if the hearer is of God, the Holy Spirit will quicken and convert them). As each elect sinner becomes saved, we see the advancement of the promise of the Kingdom (i.e. the good news and glad tidings of Christ and his coming Kingdom). God reigns in Heaven and in Earth and His people reign with him as they seek to do His will (knowing that it is god who worketh in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure). Come judgment day, the Kingdom will be visibly manifest in all of it's glory and splendor as God's people are raised to be with Him in Heaven and the reprobate (those whom God never planned to save) are judged and cast into hell for all eternity.

What I have written above is what I often say when I witness to others. Words change here and there, as with order; and surely questions are asked and objections raised. Nonetheless, the truth is summarised in what I believe to be a clear, succinct, and accurate way. From there, I can then go on to address whatever questions or concerns the hearer may have. But nothing above is "too complicated" for them; or too lengthy and time-consuming. Nothing in the above is extraneous, unnecessary, or unimportant as it pertains to the salvation of souls.

So, does the charge still stand?

Is the charge of Neo-Gnosticism accurate when it comes to those who proclaim the true Gospel?

In light of the above (and the previous parts) are Christians really guilty of making human knowledge and understanding a requirement, precondition, or prerequisite for initiating salvation?

I think the clear answer is "no." We are simply guilty of affirming and proclaiming the God-ordained Gospel in a way that does not allow for corruption or compromise.

So let the false accusers tell you what they think about the matter of true Gospel preaching; let them tell you how they feel you are going beyond what the Bible declares the Gospel to be. Let them tell you how unloving you are, unkind, and how you hold to too strict a definition. Let them lament how you refuse to fellowship spiritually with those who deny the true Gospel (or compromise it by speaking spiritual peace to those who deny it).

As they do so, notice how these accusers rarely (a) use biblical means in an attempt to refute the arguments and proof-texts set forth herein; and how they (b) are rarely able to set-forth the scriptural proof-texts necessary to systematically support their own arguments.

You will find that, far more often than not, their biblical exegesis and hermeneutic is based primarily upon biblical misquotation and misinterpretation, carnal feelings/emotions, and their ties to their own groundless opinions and "insights" on the matter (or those opinions and "insights" of other men whom they respect).

All of this leads to one last question...

From whence did these errors derive?

When the "Reformed," "Calvinistic," and "Predestinarian" compromisers water-down the Gospel to embrace heresy, where did they get their arguments to justify such things?

When the Arminians (Semi-Pelagians), Romanists (Sacramentalists), Arians (false-Jehovah Witnesses), and other heretics bring forth their polluted gospels (which are no gospels at all), from where do their arguments originate?

The answer should be simple given that such error did not stem from God; His prophets and apostles; or from any of His faithful witnesses.

So where did this working of error stem?

From Satan, himself, and from the bellies and lusts of corrupt men and women who want to give themselves (and others) the glory in the working-out of their supposed salvation. Trace it back; those who proclaim such heresies can no doubt trace them back (if records survive and they are diligent) to those who "went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." (1 John 2:19).

By Curt Wildy

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Name Have You Called On?

The Scriptures make it quite clear that every sinner elected by God the Father in the everlasting covenant of grace, is justified freely by Christ's substitutionary work of redemption at Calvary, and will call on the name of the Lord.

"And because YE ARE sons, (an event that has already occurred in spiritual adoption) God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
(Galatians 4:6)

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
(Romans 10:13)

The Scriptures declare boldly that "Because ye are sons", you will in time evidence your sonship by calling on God as YOUR FATHER.

Here is an important question:

‘If almost everyone we know (including ourselves) has at some point called on the name "Jesus," and asked Him to save them, can we assume they are indeed God's children?'

Before answering, HEAR GOD'S WORD:

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
(Matthew 7:21)

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
(James 2:19)

Now that simple verse, "For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved," doesn't seem so simple.

Dear friend, this is a life or death matter, and we must be certain of the name we have called on as the God of our salvation.

You might be asking yourself: What NAME must I call on?

First of all, you need to realize that your calling on God (faith) isn't the ground, cause, or hope of your salvation.

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
(Titus 3:5-7)

Secondly, you need to understand that God's name is uniquely revealed to each of His children, AND THEY ALL KNOW HIS NAME.

"And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, (know in an intimate relationship as Adam KNEW Eve, and she conceived) THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
(John 17:3)

God revealed His NAME to Moses and that name was directly related to His glory.

"And He (God) said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy." (Exodus 33:19)

His NAME is what reveals how He can be just and justify ungodly sinners.

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS (JEHOVAH WHO SAVES): for he shall (not might) save his people from their sins."
(Matthew 1:21)

If YOU ARE A SON, then you either are calling on (in true worship) or will yet be brought to call on JESUS as "the Lord your righteousness," the ONLY HOPE OF SALVATION.

If the ‘jesus' you call on only made your salvation possible, you are still in a state of lostness. I pray you have called and are calling on "THE NAME OF THE LORD," worshipping Him in spirit and truth, wholly forgiven and justified by His blood and righteousness alone, Philippians 3:3.

By Richard Warmack

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Caveat Againts Unsound Doctrines

Ask almost any man, "Whether he hopes to be saved eternally?"

He will answer in the affirmative.

But enquire again, "On what foundation he rests his hope?"

Here too many are sadly divided.

The Pelagian hopes to get to heaven by a moral life and a good use of his natural powers.

The Arminian by a jumble of grace and free-will, human works, and the merits of Christ.

The Deist by an interested observance of the social virtues.

Thus merit-mongers, of every denomination, agree in making any thing the basis of their hope, rather than that foundation which God's own hand hath laid in Zion.

But what saith Scripture?

It avers, again and again, that Jesus alone is our hope: to the exclusion of all others, and to the utter annihilation of human deservings.

Beware, therefore, of resting your dependence partly on Christ, and partly on some other basis. As surely as you bottom your reliance partly on the rock, and partly on the sand; so certainly, unless God give you an immediate repentance to your acknowledgment of the truth, will your supposed house of defence fall and bury you in its ruins, no less than if you had raised it on the sand alone.

Christ is the hope of glory.

By Augustus Montague Toplady - Apri1 29, 1770

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vain Glory

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
(Philippians 2:3)

In Philippians 2, Paul addresses his comments directly to the justified, regenerated sinners at Philippi who find consolation and comfort in Christ, and fellowship of the indwelling Spirit (vs. 1) as He points sinners to Christ and His obedience unto death (and that alone) for such assurance (vss. 8-11).

But consider that most who read these verses are among the "many" who remain on the broad road leading to destruction (Matthew 7:13), though they may sincerely presume to have an interest in Christ. These to whom God has not granted the gift of faith and repentance (the fruit and effect of Christ's obedience unto death) may profess and imagine that they have an interest in Christ, yet in imagining that their salvation is conditioned in some way, to some degree upon something done by, in, or through them (the sinner), they unwittingly manifest the height of religious pride and self-righteousness and anything but "lowliness of mind."

As if reading someone else's mail, they may apply this exhortation meant for believers to themselves as they strive to obey God's command to be humble and lowly of mind.

But in clinging to the religion of works (salvation conditioned on the sinner) they demonstrate the reality that they in fact esteem themselves far better than others - for they imagine that some distinction produced by or in them (but not produced by others) makes them accepted and blessed by God.

To remain so deceived is to cling to a false gospel which strikes directly at the glory of God by attempting to rival that which Christ alone accomplished in establishing a perfect righteousness for the elect whose sins He bore. One may strive for humility and lowliness of mind in many areas, but apart from God-given faith and repentance that looks to Christ and His finished work alone for all of salvation, God is not glorified in that sinner's heart.

Rather, when any comfort or assurance is derived from the natural, self-righteous notion that salvation is ultimately conditioned on what I do (my belief, my profession, a righteousness nature put within me, etc.), it is mere presumption and vain glory indeed! "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,..." (Galatians 6:14).

By Randy Wages