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Free Ebook-Christ-The Object of True Saving Faith

September 30, 2016 2 comments

d9c72af6b54865a1e4268bc8ffcdab9d_f3101by Lee Roy Shelton, Jr. (1923-2003)

Christ – The Object of True Saving Faith

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Pastor Shelton begins this booklet by showing us that we must put our faith in Christ alone. He looks at the nature of true saving faith which trusts in Christ and leans upon His character as surety of the new covenant, His willingness to save sinners, and His precious blood which will never lose its power.

Pages: 32.

Item code: ctoo.

Format: booklet.

 

Source [Chapel Library]

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 10-Saving Faith

CHAPTER 10-SAVING FAITH

All is not gold that glitters; all is not silver that shines; every cow that moos does not fill the pail; neither will all who profess faith, and say “Lord, Lord” reach heaven. When we speak of saving faith the implication is, that there is a faith that does not save. We preach salvation by faith without any works of human merit, and in this we are right on safe ground. It is the uniform teaching of Scripture that the sinner is saved by faith only: “It is of faith that it might be by grace” (#Ro 4:16). If the sinner does anything beyond faith for salvation, he frustrates the grace of God. But we have reckon with counterfeits in the matter of faith, as in other things. There are many counterfeits in the realm of religion. Satan is the master counterfeiter. If God has a Son named the Lord Jesus Christ, then Satan also has a son who is called the son of perdition: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” (#2Th 2:3). If God has His ministers, then Satan has his ministers who transform themselves into ministers of righteousness to deceive “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (#2Co 11:15). If God has a gospel, then Satan has his gospel, which Paul calls another gospel, which is not the true gospel “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (#Ga 1:8). If Christ has His church, then Satan has his synagogue “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (#Re 3:9). If there is a faith called the faith of God’s elect, then Satan counterfeits this faith: “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (#Heb 10:39). Counterfeit money passes through many hands without being detected, and many counterfeit Christians pass as true believers. It appears that Judas was not detected as a false professor by the other disciples, for no finger was pointed at him when Christ predicted that one of them would betray Him. This is a challenge to every professor, including the writer, to make sure he possesses saving grace and saving faith. Let us now consider:

SOME SUBSTITUTES FOR SAVING FAITH

1. There is what might be termed historical or theoretical faith.

This is a mere assent of the mind to the revealed truth. This is without any emotional or devotional element. The truth does not reach the inward parts, and the heart is not in it. It is lacking in love and trust. It is to believe about Christ as one might believe about Washington or Lincoln.

2. There may be a natural and temporary faith.

This finds illustration in the parable of the sower. The stony ground hearer received the word at once with joy, but not having the root of the matter in him, he endured only for a while, and under testing lost interest in what he had professed. Everything was on the surface, and therefore, was hasty and unreal; nothing more than fleshly emotion. It was not of God and therefore not abiding. In a real experience of grace, the word does not at first make glad. The Holy Spirit drives the truth through the bowels of self-esteem and the sinner feels bad. It is the Spirit’s way to expose the sinner to himself before He reveals to him Christ as Saviour. It is the conscious sinner who looks to Christ for salvation.

3. There is what the Scriptures call vain faith.

In showing the necessity of the resurrection of Christ, Paul says, “And if Christ be not raised your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (#1Co 15:17). The apostle is saying that faith in a dead Christ would be in vain. Here he was not thinking of the nature of faith, but of the object of faith. Vain faith is to trust that which does not have power to save. Weak faith may be saving faith, while strong faith may be vain faith. Strong faith in a dead Christ could not save, while weak faith in the living Christ is saving faith. This makes the object of faith of supreme importance. If the sinner trusts the wrong object, his faith will be vain. The only object of saving faith is the crucified and living Christ; the strongest faith in any other object will be worthless. All of us ought to have greater faith in Christ; however, it is not the strength of our faith that saves, but the strength of the saviour. Isaiah describes the idolator who makes his god from the same tree with which he warms himself and cooks his food. His strange conduct is explained thus: “A deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (#Isa 44:20). Spiritual insanity of the human race is amply revealed in the things people trust for salvation. Only those taught by God trust in Jesus Christ “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (#Joh 6:45).

4. Feelings may be substituted for faith.

Much preaching is calculated to produce feelings rather than faith. Preachers should beware of telling sob stories and getting sinners to act on their emotions when they have been given no saving object to trust. The true order in an experience of grace is:

Fact; Faith; Feeling.

4a) The fact of the gospel of Christ and Him crucified;

4b) Faith in that fact—-faith in what Christ did as Saviour;

4c) Feelings as the natural result of our reliance upon Christ as Saviour. We are not saved by our feelings, but if we trust Christ for salvation, we will have a sense of peace in our souls and a feeling of safety as we ponder what the Scriptures say about the power of His blood to save. And now may we consider more directly:

THE NATURE OF SAVING FAITH

There are two senses in which the word “faith” is used in the Bible. Sometimes—most of the time-the word means the act of believing, and a few times it means what one believes: his creed. In Jude 3 where we are exhorted to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” the obvious meaning is that we are to contend for the body of truth given in the Scriptures. And Jesus appears to use the word in the same way when he says, “Thou believest that there is one God” (#Jas 2:19). This was the orthodox creed of the Jew according to “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” (#De 6:4). But to have an orthodox creed concerning God is not the act of saving faith.

Saving faith as an act is a compound of belief and trust: belief in God’s testimony about His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and trust in Christ as the Saviour. To believe God on the question of salvation is to trust His Son as Saviour. John tells us that God has testified that there is eternal life in His Son and that to refuse to trust His Son is to make God a liar. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (#1Jo 5:9-12).

Saving faith is accompanied by works; otherwise faith is a dead thing and has no value. We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith which is alone. In the new birth there are three graces implanted in the human soul; faith, hope and love, and these three are inseparable. Hope presupposes faith, for we could not hope for the fulfillment of the promise if we did not believe the thing promised would be received. Faith is joined to love and works by love: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (#Ga 5:6). Paul preached faith without works as any part of the procuring cause of justification. He also preached works as the fruit or evidence of faith. Paul and James were agreed on the nature of saving faith. James preached justification by works as evidence of real faith. He wrote about justification of profession. He insisted that a real living faith could only be shown by works. “Shew me,” was the challenge of James.

DEFINITION AND ILLUSTRATIONS

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews tells us what faith is and what it does. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report” (#Heb 11:1,2). Faith operates with respect to the future, things looked forward to with hope or expectation; and it also operates with respect to things which cannot be observed, things beyond scientific demonstration. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The word for substance literally means, “That which stands under”. So faith is that which stands under hope to support it, to keep it from dying while waiting for what is promised. What is hoped for is not yet possessed, but faith is the assurance that it will be possessed. The word of God is the objective ground on which hope rests; one hopes for something because God has promised it. Faith furnishes a subjective ground for hope, for faith is the inward assurance that what is hoped for will be received. It is like this. God makes a promise in His word, hope begins to look forward to its fulfillment, and faith is the confidence or assurance that the thing promised will be forthcoming. Now saving faith is the assurance that all the blessings God has promised in Christ will be received. Some of these blessings, such as personal perfection, and a home in heaven, lie out in the future as matters of hope. If I did not believe that I would ultimately reach heaven and be conformed to the image of Christ, then I would be without hope as I face the future.

Faith is also the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the inward conviction that what God says is true, even though it is beyond reasons and scientific demonstration. This twofold definition of faith is followed by illustrations in the realm of the future and of the unseen. We have space for only two of these illustrations.

THE FAITH OF ABEL

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts” (#Heb 11:4). Abel hoped for acceptance with God, and this hope was founded upon God’s promise. God had spoken to both Cain and Abel about the way of approach to Him, and acceptance by Him. Faith presupposes a divine revelation, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (#Ro 10:17). The way God prescribed indicated that men are sinners, and can only be accepted on the ground of blood, for “without the shedding of blood is no remission” (#Heb 9:22). Both Cain and Abel were told what to bring as an offering to God. Cain, like the Pharisees of Christ’s day, rejected God’s counsel or verdict against himself, denied that he was a sinner, refused to bring the bloody offering God demanded and brought a mere thank-offering of the fruit of the ground. He thus acted in unbelief, and he and his offering were rejected. Abel acted by faith and brought the kind of sacrifice prescribed. He took the place of a sinner and brought a slain lamb. Both Cain and Abel offered in hope of being accepted, but Cain’s hope did not rest on faith in God’s word and ended in disappointment and despair. Abel’s hope was realized, and he obtained witness of acceptance with God on the ground of the gifts he brought. We have heard it said that if Cain had brought his fruit of the ground by faith, he too would have been accepted. The reply to this is that if Cain had brought an offering by faith, he would not have brought fruit, but the same kind of sacrifice brought by Abel. We are told that Abel brought a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which we are not to understand that it was a greater intrinsic worth, but it was more excellent as a confession of sin and a type of the promised bruiser of the serpent’s head.

THE FAITH OF NOAH

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (#Heb 11:7). “Faith cometh by hearing,” so Noah had a revelation from God about a coming flood and how to escape destruction in it. This was something never seen and something beyond scientific proof. All that Noah had to act upon was what God said. Noah believed God. He was not interested in scientific proof of the possibilities of a flood. One never believes God as long as he tries to ascertain whether what God says is reasonable or possible. One never believes God when he puts what God says in the crucible of human reason and judgment.

SOME METAPHORS OF SAVING FAITH

Saving faith is represented under a variety of metaphors, some of which we will now consider:

1. Faith is committing the soul to Christ.

Paul speaks thus in #2Ti 1:12: “For I know whom I have believed (margin, trusted), and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Paul had deposited his soul with Christ for eternal safekeeping with the assurance that it would be safely kept.

2. Faith is coming to Christ.

Christ says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (#Joh 6:37). And again, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (#Mt 11:28).

3. Faith is receiving Christ.

Of Christ it is written: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name” (#Joh 1:11,12). Faith is the empty hand receiving Christ as the one mighty to save. Faith has nothing to give as the price of salvation. Faith says, “Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling.”

4. Faith is feeding on Christ.

In the great discourse on the bread of life our Lord uses the words believing, coming, and eating interchangeably. See #Joh 6:32-58. Believing on Christ is the same as coming to Him, and both are the same as eating His flesh and drinking His blood. How absurd it is to take the words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood in the gross and carnal sense! These are figures of speech to represent the soul as appropriating the benefits of Christ’s death. Christ was offered for sin once, and nobody has His material body and blood, nor can it be manufactured by anybody. We feed upon His body and blood spiritually by faith and not with carnal mouths. There is nothing which can be put into our fleshly bodies or applied to them outwardly that will effect our salvation.

5. Faith is fleeing to Christ.

Under the Old Testament economy there were cities of refuge to which the manslayer might flee for safety. “And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities. So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs. And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment” (#Nu 35:6-12). And so Christ is the sinner’s refuge from the danger of sin. We have two immutable things: God’s word and His oath so that “we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (#Heb 6:18).

6. Faith is looking unto Christ.

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else” (#Isa 45:22). “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (#Heb 12:2). Truly, there is life for a look at the crucified One.

7. Faith is calling upon Christ.

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (#Ro 10:12,13). Those who will not call upon Christ in this day of salvation will call upon the mountains to fall on them and hide them from His face in the day of His wrath. But none who call now by faith shall call in vain, for Christ is a willing and able Saviour.

ILLUSTRATION

All the elements in saving faith may be brought out by the use of an old illustration. The thoughts, feelings, and action of a person who stands by a boat upon a small island which is threatened by rising waters, will represent the whole of saving faith. The person first regards the boat from a purely intellectual point of view. He believes the boat actually exists, just as the sinner believes there is a God and that there is a Saviour. As the stream rises and swells, the man will look at the boat with some sense of emotion and feeling of interest. And so the sinner under conviction of sin has a feeling of concern for his safety. When the man sees the rushing tide is about to sweep him into the raging waters, he gets into the boat as the only way of escape. Getting into the boat is what actually saves him, and he cannot be said to have trusted the boat until he gets into it. And so the sinner may believe that Christ is the Saviour, but he is not saved until he gets into Him by faith —not saved until He relies upon Him for salvation. The very essence of faith is reliance or trust. Every believer gladly confesses: “I broke God’s law, Christ came between; I’m depending on Him to save.”

“Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with power;
He is able, He is willing doubt no more.

“Come ye weary heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all;
No the righteous—sinners, Jesus
came to call.

“Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him;
his He gives you; ‘Tis the Spirit’s
rising beam.”

—Joseph Hart, 1712-1768

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 6-Justification, or the Divine Acquittal

September 18, 2015 Leave a comment

CHAPTER 6-JUSTIFICATION, OR THE DIVINE ACQUITTAL

Demosthenes well says that knowledge begins with definition. Every teacher needs to remember this, and be careful to define his terms. The Bible abounds in big words—-words of tremendous importance—-and we should exercise much care in defining these words.

The book of Job is full of questions. “Canst thou by searching find out God?” (#Job 11:7). “If a man die, shall he live again?” (#Job 14:14). “How can he be clean that is born of woman?” (#Job 25:4). “How should man be just with God?” (#Job 9:2). And this last question is repeated in #Job 25:4 “How then can man be justified with God?” This last question is to have our attention in this article. Let us fix the question in our mind: How can rebellious man, who has tried to dethrone the God of all the earth, find acquittal with God?

A man was once asked if he would not like to be saved. He replied: “Yes, but I do not see how God can save me without doing wrong.” This man was a thinker. He went on to say that he had sinned: that God’s word declares the wages of sin to be death, and that as a sinner, he must receive what he had earned. He confessed that he deserved to be punished, and could not see how God could remain just without punishing him for his sins. Job’s question was this man’s question.

There were no questions until sin entered the world. Eve was deceived into thinking that the forbidden fruit would make one wise and thus resolve all future questions. But this attempt to become wise resulted in separation from God with resultant darkness in the face of innumerable questions. Adam and Eve had been walking by faith—by faith in what God had said—but in disobedience they embarked upon a career of walking by sight, which means to believe what one sees. Eve saw that the fruit of the forbidden tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes. Now in salvation, the sinner is restored to the principle of walking by faith, which means to believe what God says. “The just shall live by faith” (#Heb 10:38). “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (#Ro 10:17). If sin reigned by bringing questions into the world, then grace reigns by giving answers to these questions. How can man the sinner be acquitted before the Holy and righteous God? This is a big question, but there is a blessed and infallible answer found in the Bible. We will consider:

THE NATURE OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT JUSTIFICATION IS

Justification is that particular aspect of salvation which consists of deliverance from the guilt and penalty of sin. It is the legal aspect of salvation in which one has right standing before God as Lawgiver. So far as guilt and condemnation are concerned, the believer is as perfect as if he had never sinned. Paul challenges the whole universe to lay anything to the charge of God’s elect “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (#Ro 8:33). At Antioch in Pisidia, the apostle preached the crucified and risen Christ, saying, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (#Ac 13:39).

Justification is a forensic or law term. It does not refer to any inward work of grace as regeneration does. It has nothing to do with moral improvement, but with judicial standing. It means acquittal, vindication, acceptance before a judgment seat. The Council of Trent (1547) gives the Roman Catholic view of justification, in which the term is defined as “not the mere remission of sins but also sanctification and renovation of the inner man.” But such a definition confounds justification with regeneration and sanctification, other aspects of salvation.

Take the word in its every day use, and it will be obvious that it has nothing to do with improvement of character or moral change. To justify one’s views does not mean to change them or to correct them but rather to vindicate them. To justify a course of conduct does not mean a change of conduct, but the vindication of what one has done. To justify a friend does not imply any change in your friend, but the vindication of him before some judgment seat, it may be, the bar of public opinion.

Take a clear illustration from Scripture: “If there be a controversy between men, and they come into judgment, that the judges may judge them, then they shall justify the righteous and condemn the wicked” (#De 25:1). Here it is plain that no moral improvement is implied. The judges were not to make anybody better, but to declare who was right in the eyes of the law. A human court or judge can only maintain justice by justifying the innocent, but God maintains justice and magnifies grace by justifying the ungodly: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (#Ro 4:5). There are no innocent people for God to justify, for all have sinned. The next question is that concerning the author of salvation.

THE AUTHOR OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHO IS THE JUSTIFIER?

This question finds explicit answer in #Ro 8:33: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” There is no salvation through self-justification. In #Lu 10:29 “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?,” we are told of a certain lawyer who was willing to justify himself, but he was not saved thereby. Paul said, that even though he might not have anything against himself, he would not thereby be justified, for it is the Lord who judges “For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord” (#1Co 4:4). There were Pharisees who justified themselves before men, but that did not mean salvation. To be justified before God one must be justified by God. One might have a clean bill of moral health from his friends and neighbours, but to be saved he must be pronounced righteous by God. God Himself must pronounce the acquittal, else we stand condemned before His righteous law. One’s conscience may not condemn, but the question of guilt and penalty is not left to the conscience. Nobody’s conscience would consign him to hell. It is not the human conscience but a holy God who must first be satisfied before there can be justification. This leads on to another question:

THE SOURCE OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT CAUSES GOD TO JUSTIFY THE UNGODLY?

The grand answer to this question is found in #Ro 3:24: “Being justified freely by his grace.” The adverb “freely” means “Without any cause or reason in the sinner.” It is the same word used in #Joh 15:25, where Christ says, “They hated me without a cause.” There was nothing in Christ to merit the hatred of men, and there is nothing in any sinner to cause God to justify him; the cause is in God Himself. It is not good in the sinner but grace in God that moves Him to justify. In #Ro 11:6, the apostle says, “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.” To mix anything of human merit with divine grace is to destroy grace. It is either all of grace or none of grace. There is no conjunction joining anything with grace as the source or cause of justification. And yet, men dare to mix something of man with the grace of God as the moving cause of justification. This is to divide the honour and praise of salvation between the sinner and the Saviour, between men and God. Men may do that here on earth, but in heaven all honour and praise are ascribed to God. And this calls for still another question:

THE JUST BASIS, OR MERITORIOUS GROUND OF JUSTIFICATION

On what ground can God justify the ungodly and yet remain just? It is on the ground of blood atonement, “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (#Ro 3:24). “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (#Eph 1:7). “Much more then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (#Ro 5:9). “Christ and Him crucified” is the only righteous ground for the justification of any sinner. And there is no “AND” anywhere in the Bible connecting anything with His blood as the just basis of justification.

The only way God can justify a sinner without doing wrong is to charge the sinners’ sins to Christ and credit Christ’s obedience to the sinner’s account. This is called imputed righteousness, or the righteousness of God. It is the righteousness Christ wrought out on the cross when He was obedient unto death. God justifies the penitent believer on the ground of the obedience of his Surety and Substitute, Jesus Christ. Obedience is always necessary to righteousness. And as the sinner has no record of obedience, he is therefore unrighteous on his own record. If the sinner is to become righteous before God, it must be by the obedience of Christ. Whose obedience is reckoned to the sinners’ account. The sinner is saved by obedience, but it is by the obedience of “Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (#1Co 1:30).

Let us remember that the Lord Jesus came to this world as a public or representative person. He was God before He became man, and as God He had no personal obligations to the law except to enforce it as Lawgiver. He Who gave the law was made under the law for the purpose of redeeming them that were under law, that we might be adopted as sons of God “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (#Ga 4:5). Having no personal obligations, Christ could assume the obligations of a Surety. A surety is one who assumes all the legal responsibilities of the principal—-of the one who contracted the debt. As the Surety for His people, it was Christ’s duty to die. He himself said that He ought to have died. After His death and resurrection, He joined Himself to the two as they walked to Emmaus, and said to them: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?” (#Lu 24:26). It was in grace that He took upon Himself suretyship engagements, but when He did, He was duty bound to die for sinners. Even yet, we are not through with questions relating to justification. Let us consider:

THE WAY OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT THE SINNER MUST DO TO BE JUSTIFIED

The sinner is justified by faith and by faith alone. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (#Ro 3:28). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” (#Ro 5:1). “It is of faith that it might be by grace” (#Ro 4:16). To add anything to faith on the sinner’s part is to add something to grace on God’s part. And since faith looks to Christ for salvation, to add anything to faith would be the same as adding something to Christ. Perish the thought! He must have all the glory.

Saving faith is much more than the mere assent of the mind to gospel truth, or to the acknowledgment of gospel facts. Trust in, or dependence upon Christ for salvation is a necessary element in saving faith. I believe in George Washington, that is, my mind acknowledges certain facts about him but it has never occurred to me to trust him for salvation. This might be termed historical faith—-the kind of faith nearly every one has in God and Jesus Christ. But a necessary element in saving faith is reliance or trust.

“Not saved are we by trying
From self can come no aid;
‘Tis on the blood relying,
Once for our ransom paid;
‘Tis looking unto Jesus,
The holy One and Just;
Tis His great work that saves us,
It is not try, but trust.

“No deeds of ours are needed
To make Christ’s merit more,
No frames of mind, or feelings,
Can add to His great store;
‘Tis simply to receive Him,
The holy One and Just,
‘Tis only to believe Him
It is not try, but trust.”

The virtue of faith lies in the worth of its object. Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, is the only object of saving trust. Faith, however strong, in any other object cannot justify. This makes faith a thing as different as possible from merit. Richard Hooker says: “God doth justify the believing man, yet not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him which is believed.” It does not make a beggar worthy of food to take it from the hand of his benefactor. Nor does it make a sinner worthy of salvation to receive it as a gift from Jesus Christ. It rather implies his unworthiness. The sinner is justly charged, but freely forgiven. It is not our faith, as a thing of merit, that is accounted for righteousness, but Christ the object of faith. The Lord Himself is our righteousness. We are not saved on account of our faith; we are saved on account of Christ. We are forgiven for Christ’s sake. We must not trust our faith, but Him. And now in closing, there is a final question.

THE EVIDENCES OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT ONE DOES TO PROVE HIS FAITH

We are justified evidentially by works, and by works alone. The only evidences of saving faith are our works. And this includes baptism as a work of righteousness. Any man who claims to be saved and refuses to be baptized, when properly taught the significance of baptism, has a mark against him, in my judgment. We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone, for faith without works is dead. The man who has saving faith also received a holy disposition in the new birth—-a disposition or nature that seeks to please God. Saul’s first question after his conversion was, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” (#Ac 9:6). Saving faith works by love. In the new birth there were a triplet of graces brought into being: faith, hope, and love—-and these are inseparable.

There is no real difference between Paul and James on the subject of justification. They complement, but do not contradict each other. They deal with different classes in their treatment of justification. Paul writes about the justification of a sinner; James writes about the justification of a saint. Both of them illustrate their teaching by the same person: Abraham. Paul takes Abraham as a sinner and writes about justification in the sense of salvation; James takes Abraham, after he had been saved many years, and shows that he was justified by works when he offered up Isaac. Paul writes about God receiving a sinner; James writes about God approving a saint. Paul speaks of justification of persons; James speaks of justification of profession. One’s profession of faith is justified by his works. James challenges the faith of the man who says he has faith, but has no works—-can faith, the faith he talks about, save him? Every saved person is justified, both by faith and also by works. As an alien sinner, he is justified by faith in the blood of Christ; as a professing believer, he is justified again and again by his works. There is no way to show our faith except by our works. The saved man is one who is depending upon Christ alone for salvation and who, out of love, is daily seeking to please Him. The saved man is poor in spirit, mourning over his sins, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and longing to be perfectly whole. The saved man anticipates perfection, but does not claim it. And may both writer and reader be able to join Paul in saying, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (#2Ti 1:12).

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2

The Wednesday Word: ‘Holding on to Spikes’

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.”

Hebrews 7:25

If we are saved by grace through faith, we are safe. Since Christ alone is our Saviour, we do not look to our good works or fine intentions to supplement what Jesus has done for us in his doing, dying and rising again. We are safe. He bought us with blood, His own precious blood and He doesn’t intend losing anyone whom He purchased. Not only so, but at this very moment He is making intercession for us. I have confidence in Christ and His prayers being heard. Don’t you? My question is, are you enjoying the saving power and ability of the Lord Jesus.

Noah is a very striking example of someone who enjoyed the very thing we are talking about. By faith, he prepared an ark to preserve his family. He built and constructed his big boat even when there seemed to be no evidence of a coming flood. By faith, he obeyed God and entered the ark, with all his household, when commanded by God to do so. Now, get this, all inside the ark were secure until the deluge was over. They were kept by an omnipotent power. The ark bore all the brunt of the storm. This is a picture of how Christ bore the downpour of the wrath of God which should have come straight at us.

One preacher of a past generation said it like this, “The ark was a type of Christ. All who are in Christ are eternally secure. Suppose when the ark was completed God had said, ‘Now, Noah, go and get eight large, strong spikes and drive them into the side of the ark.’ Imagine Noah procuring these spikes and doing as commanded. Then when each spike was securely fastened, let us presume that God said, ‘Come thou and all thy house and take hold of these spikes, and all who hang on the end of the flood will be saved.’ How long do you think Noah and the rest would have been secure? I can imagine each one taking hold of a spike – then the waters rising as the rain poured down. In a few minutes, they would have been soaked to the skin. Then think of the terrific strain on joints and muscles as the ark was lifted from the earth and began its perilous voyage through the raging waters. I think I hear Noah calling to his wife, ‘How is it going; is all well?’ And she calls back, ‘I’m holding on. Do pray for me that I may be able to hold out to the end!’ Soon, poor Mrs Noah would cry out, ‘It’s no use, can’t hang on any longer.’ And she would let go and be swept away by the flood. How long do you suppose it would be before each one of them would be obliged to let go and so go down to death?”

Hallelujah, God be praised, that is not a true picture of His salvation. He is not calling us to hang on the best we can to Christ. No indeed, just as Noah entered into the Ark and found perfect security, so every believer is in Christ and thus saved for eternity. It is not a question of our ability to hang on, but of Christ’s ability to take us safely through to glory.

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

Arminian Errors Pt 6

(v) THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

The fifth and last point of Arminianism implies that saving grace is not an abiding principle, and that those who are loved of God, ransomed by Christ, and born again of the Spirit, may be cast away and perish eternally. Against this false and God-dishonouring doctrine of the Arminians, Christopher Ness advances twelve arguments proving that special grace cannot be totally and finally lost. Saving grace, he points out, “is called a ‘seed,’ remaining in those that are born of God (1 John 3:9), an ‘incorruptible seed’ (1 Peter 1:23). Grace never differs from itself, though a gracious man does from himself. Saving grace cannot be lost, though as respecting its acts and operations it may not always be in exercise; but degrees and measures of grace (formerly attained to) may be lost. ‘Thou hast left thy first love’ (Rev. 2:4).

“The last and twelfth argument for the final perseverance of the saints is taken from the whole concurrent voice of Scripture testimony. ‘The Word of the Lord shall stand for ever.’ Dr. Moulin and others have computed the texts of Scripture, which declare the doctrine of the saints’ final perseverance, at six hundred: the twelve following may, however, suffice (merely as a sample) to establish it as a gospel truth: Romans 11:29; John 10:28,29; Luke 22:32; Romans 8:30,38,39; 1 John 2:19,27; 2 Cor. 1:21,22; Phil. 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19; Malachi 3:6; John 14:19; Jeremiah 32:40; 1 Peter 1:3-5.

‘This is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing…. That every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day’ (John 6:39,40).

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

Arminian Errors Pt 4

(iii) EFFECTUAL CALLING

“All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call by His word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.” (The Westminster Confession of Faith. Ch. 10, Sec. 1).

“Whom He did predestinate, them He also called” (Rom. 8: 30). “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.” (2 Tim. 1: 9).

“Now here is the touchstone by which we may try our calling not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace. This calling forbids all trust in our own doings, and conducts us to Christ alone for salvation, but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God. As He that hath called you is holy, so must ye be holy. If you are living in sin, you are not called, but if you are truly Christ’s, you can say, ‘Nothing pains me more than sin. I desire to be rid of it; Lord help me to be holy.’ Is this the panting of thy heart? Is this the tenor of thy life towards God, and His divine will? Again, in Philippians 3:13,14 we are told of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Is then your calling a high calling? Has it ennobled your heart, and set it upon heavenly things? Has it elevated your hopes, your tastes, your desires? Has it upraised the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend it with God and for God? Another test we find in Hebrews 3:1—”Partakers of the heavenly calling.” Heavenly means a call from heaven. If a man alone call thee, thou art uncalled. Is thy calling of God? Is it a call to heaven as well as from heaven? Unless thou art a stranger here, and heaven thy home, thou hast not been called with a heavenly calling; for those who have been so called declare that they look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they themselves are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. Is thy calling thus holy, high, heavenly? Then beloved, thou hast been called of God, for such is the calling wherewith God doth call His people.”— C.H. Spurgeon.

Arminians on the other hand believe that man has the natural power of will to exercise faith on Christ. Sinners are therefore urged to make decisions for Christ. On this foundation of sand multitudes build their hope for eternity. The decisionist conversion is but the exercise of the unrenewed will. The faith in Christ professed is not the gift of God. The joy experienced is the joy of the stony-ground hearers. The hope cherished is not the good hope through grace, but the hope of the hypocrite that shall perish. All the religious activity which follows, is not of the Spirit but of the flesh. “Many will say to 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:22,25).

Saving Faith

The faith which is saving, which is the fruit of effectual calling or of the new birth is the gift of God. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8,9).

“Faith looks to Christ as holding the office of a Saviour. The command is given, and observe it is given to all as blind and guilty and helpless to look to Christ that they might be saved; and the first decisive and satisfactory evidence of a change of heart is to get a sight of Christ as the Saviour. We may even before this, have good hope concerning you, that the Spirit of grace has begun to deal with you: but we dare not, as we value the souls of men, and tender the glory of God, we dare not say, that any man is born of God, in other words truly converted, till he sees Christ.

“Many of you say you have faith in Christ. Can you tell us anything about Him in whom you say you believe? Were your souls ever ready to sink into hell? Did they ever stick fast in the miry clay of corruption? Locked up in the prison of unbelief? Icebound by impenitence? Laid lower than the beasts with lusts? Tormented as beset by devils? Did any one come to rescue you in that state? Who is He? Is He a Saviour? Mary saw the Lord; she could tell something about it. And so the two disciples going to Emmaus. Can you this day condescend upon a single incident, even to the extent of the twinkling of an eye? Any condition of body or soul in which you saw the Lord by faith? Can you tell what passed between Him and you. (Rev. Jonathan R. Anderson, Glasgow, Died 1859).

While Arminian converts usually manifest a strict and praise-worthy abstention in the life they lead from drink, smoking, gambling, cinemas, etc., and a self-denying zeal for propagating their gospel and winning converts, their attitude to the Lord’s day is not one of tenderness and love. “Ye are not under the law, but under grace,” is the Scripture which they wrest in order to justify themselves. True believers in Christ are not under the condemnation of the law—”for there is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” but they are ‘under the law to Christ’ as their rule of life. This the apostle states in 1 Cor. 9:21. Love to Christ is manifested and proved by love to His commandments. “If you love Me keep My commandments.” “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4). All who have no love for God’s holy day, who are not grieved over how far short they come in keeping the Sabbath holy to the Lord and who are not wounded and grieved in soul when they see the Lord’s day desecrated, whatever their profession, and whatever name they may have, they have but a name to live: they are still in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. “This is the love of God that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3). When the Lord writes His law in the heart in regeneration there is love for the Fourth Commandment, as surely as for the other commandments. Love to the Lord, to His Word, to His Cause, to His people and to His commandments, the holy Sabbath included, cannot be separated.

Arminian church bodies of our day have removed the ancient landmarks set by the godly fathers in the past as safeguards and bulwarks of the sanctity of the sabbath. The result is obvious. The curse of the Popish or “continental Sunday” has overspread the land like a flood. Is it any wonder that Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall said that Voluntaryism and Arminianism must be pioneers of Rationalism, for they are both the off-spring of unbelief?

Man’s Inability and Responsibility

Arminians hold that responsibility infers ability, and therefore maintain that when sinners are called upon to believe and to repent, that they have the power to do so. Such teaching is false to the core. The call given in the gospel, and given by all who preach the gospel in its fullness, to believe and repent is the outward call. It is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit alone in His internal and regenerating work to make the outward call effectual. ‘Many are called, but few are chosen.’

Although man through the fall lost his ability, he is still responsible and accountable to God, and because responsible he is duty bound to make use of the outward means and ordinances appointed by God, and the efficiency of which is dependent alone on His power. God has established a connection between the means and the end desired. He commands us to use them, and He has promised to bless them. To separate the means from the end, which the Lord has ordained for the salvation of sinners is to be guilty of separating what the Lord has joined. A despising and a neglecting of the means is a despising of the salvation the means bring before us. ‘And how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?’

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine-16-Assurance and Perseverance

February 6, 2014 3 comments

Assurance and Perseverance

 

1. What is meant by assurance of Salvation?

It is an undoubting conviction of our acceptance in Christ.

2. Do all the people of God attain it?

It is not attained by all.

3. Is not assurance an essential of saving faith?

It is not; doubts and fears assail believers sometimes to the end of life.

4. Is it not desirable to attain this grace?

It is not only very desirable, but we are expressly commanded to seek for it.

5. Do any in whom the work of grace has begun ever finally fall?

They do not.

6. How do we know this?

We learn it from the Scriptures; moreover, salvation is the work of God, who cannot fail in what He undertakes.

7. Do not such persons sometimes fall into grievous sin?

They do; and years may elapse before they are finally rescued therefrom.

8. Can a child of God be contented in this state?

No; the renewed nature God has given him must be disturbed at the presence of sin.

9. What is his plain duty when he finds himself in this condition?

Still to trust in his Saviour, praying to Him for pardon and for help to avoid sin.

 

James P. Boyce-A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine