Thursday, December 21, 2006

THE DAY OF SALVATION


When we read the Old Testament we should ask:
"How Readest Thou?"

How do we read the Old Testament?

We should always remember the words Jesus spoke to the two disciples going to Emmaus in Luke 24, where Jesus said:

Luke 24:27
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

This is how we should read the Old Testament: Always looking if we see Jesus there, and if we see the Gospel of salvation there. This is how we now should read Isaiah 19:1 and following:

The Burden of Egypt

It is a burden, but with a happy ending. The title of this article is: "The Day of Salvation".

Isaiah 19:1
The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

Isaiah 19:2
And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.

Isaiah 19:3
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.

Isaiah 19:4
And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

This prophecy is a strong expression of the truth that "God smites in order to heal".

First the spiritual resources of Egypt crumble, and civil war breaks out. They seek the counsel of their spiritual leaders, but they are given into the hand of a fierce and cruel king, which probably represents Satan.

What is going on?

The following verses speak about the Nile River being dried up. But the Nile River has never dried up in past history.

Is God then speaking about Judgment Day in the future?

No! In the following verses God is speaking about sending them a Savior, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. These verses cannot be interpreted historically. These verses must be interpreted spiritually. God is preparing the ground for having them receive the Gospel.

What does Egypt represent?

Egypt represents the House of Bondage. The People in Egypt represent the unsaved.

Isaiah 19:14
The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.

Isaiah 19:15
Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.

First the unsaved find out that their own works-gospels do not give them any consolation. Then, they experience the beginning of salvation.

It is:

The Fear of the Lord

Proverbs 9:1
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Why would people fear the Lord?

What would make people fearful?

They realize they are on the way to Hell. That is scary!

Isaiah 19:16
In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.

Isaiah 19:17
And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

Why would the land of Judah be a terror unto Egypt?

Historically it was always the other way around: Egypt was a terror unto the land of Judah. Until we realize that the land of Judah spiritually represents the territory of those whom God regards as Jews.

Romans 2:28
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

Romans 2:29
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Those who have been born again are in God's eyes the Jews.
They are also the ones who evangelize. In Isaiah 19 they are evangelizing the people who are in the land of Egypt. These are people who are in the House of Bondage, and they know it. The Gospel is being preached in Egypt, representing the unsaved in the world. God declares in the Bible that at the time of Christ's second coming all those who are still in bondage are going to end up in Hell. The Gospel preached by the faithful church is a terror to those who are still unsaved and know it.

Why?

Because:

Hebrews 10:31
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

In that day (Isaiah 19:16)

What day is that?

It is the day that the Gospel is being preached to those who are still in the House of Bondage. In that day Egypt shall be like unto women. They do not stand up and fight like men, but they believe what has been told them, and they tremble like women, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts, which He has determined against those who remain unsaved.

What is this counsel of the Lord of hosts?

God says in the Bible: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die", and "The wages of sin is death", and the death that God has in view is an eternity in Hell. There is NONE of the unsaved who can claim that they have not sinned. They all came into the world as sinners. Therefore, all are guilty. All are bound for Hell. That is the counsel that the Lord of hosts has determined against them. But then we read about:

Five Cities

Here is the second "In that day". We read in Isaiah 19:18:

Isaiah 19:18
In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.

What day is that?

It is "the day of salvation" for them.

Five cities shall swear to the Lord of hosts. Five cities make a vow to the Lord of hosts, which means that five cities have become saved. God says: They speak the language of Canaan, to indicate that they speak the language of the people living in the land of Canaan, which is the land representing the Kingdom of God. Only five cities became saved. That is a small fraction of the land of Egypt.

And is it not true: it is only a remnant that is saved?

God sends the Gospel through the entire world. Everyone hears, but only a remnant chosen by grace is actually saved.

Who are those people belonging to this remnant?

God says in Ephesians 1 that they are a people the Father chose before the foundation of the world, and He chose them to be in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why did God mention "five cities"?

God is pointing to the five cities that were conquered in the land of Canaan leading up to the general victory of Joshua and the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.

Now we turn to Joshua chapter 10 and see that the Gibeonites had made peace with the children of Israel. Then five kings of the Amorites sought to destroy the Gibeonites. We read:

Joshua 10:5
Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.

They besieged the cities of the Gibeonites, and the Gibeonites called for Joshua to deliver them. Joshua and all the army of Israel came and the victory was great. So great was that victory that Joshua asked the Lord for the sun to stand still. And we read in Joshua 10:13:

Joshua 10:13
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

Joshua 10:14
And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.

Joshua defeated these five kings, and from hereon the children of Israel had one victory after another.

Why was one city called the city of destruction in Isaiah 19:18?

Actually the Hebrew word "destruction" should be read as "the Sun". The scroll of Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls supports this.

What then is this city of the Sun?

It refers to Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, spoken of in Malachi 4:2. One of the five cities is named "The city of Christ"; the other four cities remain unnamed, because these represent the saints throughout the world. And then we read about:

An Altar and a Pillar

(Isaiah 19:19-20). Here is the third "In that day".

Isaiah 19:19
In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.

What day is that?

It is "the day of salvation" for them.

What does the altar represent?

An altar is a place where a lamb is sacrificed.

Will there be in the future altars in the land of Egypt where animals are sacrificed to the Lord?

No! Never again! When Christ, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed on the cross, the Ceremonial Law was fulfilled. Even though the Ceremonial Law stated that these sacrifices must be performed forever, the New Testament says that all these ceremonial laws were fulfilled to completion in Christ, as if they were fulfilled forever.

The altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt is a representation of the cross on the hill of Golgotha, which has been made known to all those in the House of Bondage. They now understand that the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the center of the Gospel, and Christ is in the center of their lives.

Is Christ in the centre of our life?

Is Christ in the centre of our kingdom?

Then what is this "pillar" at the border?

Who erected that "pillar" at the border?

God did that! The Hebrew word for "pillar" has been translated both "pillar" and "image". In other words, this pillar at the border is also a memorial and an image of the God they worship.

What is this pillar?

It is the Bible, the Word of God. The Bible stands firm as a stone pillar. The Bible is a memorial given to us by God, and it is as well an image of the God whom we worship. All we must know about God is in the Bible. The Bible stands at the border to let everyone know that enters this land: "Here is where we begin".

Isaiah 19:20
And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a Saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.

The Bible, the Word of God, stands for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the House of Bondage. They cry unto the Lord, because of the oppressors.

Who are the oppressors?

Satan and his army of demons are their oppressors. The slaves cannot free themselves from this bondage to sin and Satan. But God shall send them a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall deliver them out of this House of Bondage: Not by leaving Egypt, but by changing them from the inside.

How does Christ save all those who are in Him?

The Lord Jesus Christ took the sins of all those people whom the Father had given Him, and burdened with all their sins He stood at the Judgment throne of God, and endured the wrath of God on all those sins. Christ had to pay the full penalty. There was no grace for Him, because there was no one to stand in for Him. So He endured the full penalty, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. And when He completed that payment, He cried: victoriously with a loud voice: "It is finished". And then He died; He was buried, the third day He rose from the dead, and 40 days later He ascended into heaven. Presently He is reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords.

How do the people for whom Christ died get to know all this?

The Lord Makes Himself Known (1 John 4:10, Isaiah 19:21-22, Romans 12:1, Hebrews 12:6)

How does the Lord make Himself known?

The Lord sends His ambassadors to those who need to be saved. Not just once, or twice, but many times, until their ears are opened and they hear the Gospel, and they hear that Christ has died for them. The Lord Jesus Christ did not die for the sins of everyone in the world, because not everyone in the world ends up in heaven. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7 that only a small fraction ends up in heaven, most end up in Hell.

Did the Lord Jesus know who would end up in heaven and who would end up in Hell?

Of course He did. He would not be God if He did not know that. Christ did not plan to save those people who end up in Hell, and He did not pay for their sins the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. But those whose sins He did pay, He pursues relentlessly until they come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. God's grace is irresistable. God says in 1 John 4:10,

1 John 4:10
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Is it not wonderful that He loved us first?

Here is the fourth time we read "in that day". We read in the ninth chapter of Isaiah:

Isaiah 19:21
And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.

The Lord shall be made known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord, in that day.

What day is that?

It is "the day of salvation" for them.

They "shall do sacrifice and oblation".

No not literally, because the Ceremonial Law died with Christ on the cross. Christ has made the complete sacrifice.

But what sacrifices are acceptable unto God after Christ has gone to the cross?

God says in Romans 12,

Romans 12:1
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

That we present our bodies a living sacrifice means that our whole life will be dedicated to serving the Lord in whatever capacity He puts us. This is not just acceptable to God. This is our reasonable service. We cannot be puffed up for doing this. It is only reasonable that we serve Him this way. We serve Him not just one hour on the first day of the week. We serve Him every minute of every day. But on the first day of the week God commands us to dedicate that whole day to His service. Then we read in verse 22,

Isaiah 19:22
And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.

Here we see the chastening hand of the Lord for those whom He loves. God says in Hebrews 12:6,

Hebrews 12:6
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

The chastening of the Lord is a form of teaching His children to walk in His ways. Next, we see:

A Highway (Isaiah 19:23, Isaiah 35:8-9)

Here is the fifth time of "in that day".

Isaiah 19:23
In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve (with) the Assyrians.

What day is that?

It is "the day of salvation" for the Assyrians. Historically the Egyptians and the Assyrians were archenemies. But notice how God wrote this: "There be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria." Egypt reaches out to her archenemy Assyria. Egypt became saved, and now she desires that salvation also for Assyria. This is how Christ calls us to love our enemies.
Spiritually, Assyria, like Babylonia, is known as the kingdom of Satan. The Assyrians are in bondage to sin and Satan, and the Egyptians are willing to help them. First there is a mingling of Egyptians and Assyrians. Then the verse ends with: The Egyptians shall serve the Assyrians. It means that the Egyptians are serving the Assyrians by bringing them the Gospel.

What does this highway out of Egypt represent?

The highway in the Bible, if it must be interpreted spiritually, is the place where people are drawn to salvation. People are drawn to salvation through the Bible, the Word of God. Perhaps you remember that John the Baptist quotes from Isaiah 40 when he said: "Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God".

In the parable of the wedding feast the Lord Jesus said to the servants: "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage".

God's grace is irresistable.
Therefore, from the picture of this highway out of Egypt to Assyria we can see that it was God's plan all along to include the heathen nations into the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We now turn to Isaiah 35:8 where we see the same meaning for the highway.

Isaiah 35:8
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:

The Word of God is the way of holiness, by grace through faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The unclean shall not use this highway; they use another way. The lions and the ravenous beasts shall not use this highway. Only the redeemed shall be on this highway. Let's return to Isaiah 19:24. Finally we see Israel enter the picture:

The Third Part (Isaiah 19:24, Zechariah 13:8-9)

Here is the sixth time God uses the words "in that day".

Isaiah 19:24
In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:

What day is that?

It is "the day of rejoicing in one faith" for Assyria, for Egypt and for Israel. The saints in Christ are drawn from every tribe and tongue and nation in the world. People who formerly were in the kingdom of Satan, or they were enslaved to the House of Bondage, or they were enslaved to a Ceremonial Law. Those are all wretched conditions.

Those who are truly saved out of those wretched conditions receive the label "the third part". In Zechariah 13 God focuses on the New Testament time. The chapter opens with: "In that day, there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness". This fountain, to wash off the stain of sin, is the blood of Christ, which He shed for the remission of our sins. There is no other way sins can be washed away. Then in verse 7 God speaks about Christ being smitten, beginning in the garden of Gethsemane until He died on the cross: "Smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered". Then We read about "the third part".

Zechariah 13:8
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.

Zechariah 13:9
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

Unmistakably, the third part is the part that is truly saved. They are the elect, who have been chosen from before the foundation of the world. Two parts shall be cut off and die and remain unsaved. But the third part is brought through the fire of Hell. We were in Christ when He endured the fires of Hell in our place. We were crucified with Christ, and we died with Christ, and we were buried with Christ, and we rose from the dead with Christ, and we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Therefore, God will never ask us to go through Hell again. In Christ we are eternally secure. That is why God can say: "It is My People".

My People (Isaiah 19:25, Hosea 2:23)

Please turn again to the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 19, verse 25. There we read that the third part shall be a blessing in the midst of the land:

Isaiah 19:25
Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

Does God have three different plans of salvation?

No!

Are there three different groups of people in view?

No! From verse 24 we have concluded that Israel, Egypt and Assyria represent the one third who have been saved. God has only one plan of salvation. But let us now consider each of these three superlatives, and let us consider each of these three blessings God has bestowed on them.

Blessed be Egypt, my people

We know that the actual land of Egypt is not in view. Egypt, in this picture represents those New Testament saints who were in the House of Bondage, but have been liberated by the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah knows only one Savior, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The prophet Hosea's wife bore him three children. God gave these children their names. The last two were named Lo-ruhamah, meaning "No-Mercy", and Lo-ammi, meaning "Not-My-People".

Who did Lo-ruhammah and Lo-ammi represent?

They represented the unsaved people of the world, both from the Jews as well as from the Gentiles. They were still in the House of Bondage, and thus they were under the curse of God. Then God speaks about the New Testament saints who were delivered from the House of Bondage in Hosea 2:23, where God says:

Hosea 2:23
And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.

In other words, God reversed the curse. We know that God was speaking about the New Testament saints, because this verse has been quoted in Romans 9:24-25.

Is it not wonderful to be named "My people"?

God himself named us "My people".

Then God says in Isaiah 19:25,

Isaiah 19:25
"...Assyria, The Work of My Hands..."

Again, it is not the literal Assyria that is in view, but those who have been in the kingdom of Satan, and have been translated out of the kingdom of Satan, into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. The mercy of God is that they have heard the Gospel preached, and it has pleased God the Holy Spirit to give them a new soul, or a new heart, and they have been brought into the church for further spiritual growth. Overall the number of people included here in this verse, Egypt, Assyria and Israel combined, represents only a small fraction of the world's population: It is only a remnant saved by grace.

Why does God say: "Assyria, the work of My hands"?

Does God have hands?

Only the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ are God's hands.

What work did the Lord Jesus do with His hands to make "Assyria the work of His hands"?

God says in:

Isaiah 49:16
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

How were our names graven upon the Palms of His hands?

BANG! BANG! The nails were driven into His hands and into His feet. The Lord Jesus hung on the cross for the remnant saved by grace. This remnant is called here Assyria, or Egypt, or Israel, to indicate that all along God planned to include the Gentiles into His salvation plan. These nails were only a fraction of the suffering that Christ had to endure for all those He came to save. Christ suffered both in His body and in His soul, meaning His Spirit essence. The outward evidence of His suffering was visible in His body.

Why does God say in Isaiah 49:16, "Thy walls are continually before Me"?

These are the walls of protection. God surrounds us with His protection, so that we will be preserved until the end.

Think of it now. We are the creatures. God could have sent us all to Hell and start all over. His righteousness would still be fully satisfied if He had done that. God did not have to send the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to be spit upon, and to be flogged, and to be nailed to a cross. But God chose to do that, because He loved us so much. He loved His creatures so much that He was willing to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for us.

Can we understand so much love for creatures that He has made?

And yet, the reprobate want to compare us to robots. God has no love for robots.
God says in:

Isaiah 19:25
Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

Israel Mine Inheritance

Does this mean that Egypt and Assyria are not God's inheritance?

No!

"Mine inheritance" is a title God ascribes to every one of His creatures who becomes saved. The name Israel here does not refer to the descendants of Jacob. We must interpret the Old Testament by using the New Testament information as the latest revelation from God, and the later revelation carries the greater weight.

God says in Romans 9:
"For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel". (Romans 9:6)

In other words, all those who are of the seed of Jacob are not called Israel in the sight of God. There are many names in the Bible of those who are descendents of Jacob, and yet they died unsaved. Judas Iscariot is one. Judas Iscariot does not belong in Christ's inheritance. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel".

In Galatians 6 the Gentile saints are also called "the Israel of God".

In Isaiah 49 the Lord Jesus is called Israel. We must keep in mind that we are a people that are called by His name. Therefore God says in the 3rd Commandment:

"Thou shalt not bear the name of the Lord in vain".

How readest thou?

Do we indeed consider that the Bible is one coherent whole?

It should not all be like loose sand. Let us not be swayed by those who hold the premillenial view of eschatology. When we see the name Israel in the Bible, we must interpret this name based on the context. In Isaiah 19:25 God is definitely speaking about salvation of the Gentiles in the New Testament era. When Christ died on the cross all differences between Jews and Gentiles were erased. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. Therefore, "Israel Mine inheritance" refers to the Israel of God. We are Christ's inheritance: We have been purchased by Him to be His bride.

What a beautiful name we have received. Not only are we called Christians, meaning "Of the family of Christ", but we also have received the name Israel, the same name as Christ has. Therefore, all the blessings promised to Israel in the Old Testament are directed to us. When we read, for example:

Psalm 33:12
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

This is the nation of the Kingdom of Christ. This is the nation whose God is Jehovah, the God who saves, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance. First God chooses us, and we become saved because God has chosen us. We love Him because He loved us first.
Amen.

By Alfred Chompff

Monday, December 04, 2006

GOD’S GOOD NEWS


SALVATION!

What is it?
What is one saved from?
How does one get saved?
Is salvation really necessary?

These questions seldom, if ever, receive answers that are compatible with God’s Word. Many people take the following approach to things ‘religious’:
‘I believe that religion is ok for some people but personally I don’t have a need for it. I don’t see anything that wrong with my life. I work hard, I’m good to my wife/husband and the children. I’m not perfect but I’ve never killed anyone. I give to charity and try my best to always be there when people need help. I’m quite content with my life and happy within myself and to be honest, I think I’m just as moral as the next person—even a religious one.’

Religion however, far from offering salvation, weighs a person down with duties and ceremonies one must perform, and a rigid set of rules one must conform to, in order to ‘get into God’s good books’.

It places an impossible burden on people to change their lives, become moral etc, so that one day they might become acceptable to God. But anybody can change their lifestyle, reform and become a ‘new person’ whether they get involved in religion or not!

The true Christian Faith is not a religion, nor is it primarily a lifestyle. True Christianity is all about a message—God’s Message: the Gospel.
This Gospel reveals the spiritual condition of man and God’s way of salvation. This leaflet will briefly explain what salvation is, what a person needs to be saved from, how a person is saved and why salvation is so necessary—why YOU need it.

In essence, we shall present the reader with God’s Gospel: God’s Good News.
Salvation is deliverance. It means to be rescued or freed from a place of danger and brought to a place of safety. It also means to be preserved, to be kept. Salvation is God saving, or rescuing, a sinner from the eternal punishment for their sin and transferring them to a state of eternal safety and security.


To find out why salvation is necessary, we need to see what God says about the spiritual condition of man. In the Book of Genesis we see the account of Adam and Eve. God made Adam and Eve perfect, free of sin, and gave them a beautiful garden to live in and enjoy, with wonderful trees providing succulent fruits. Their life was one of tranquil days of love, happiness and contentment and of peace with God.
God said they could eat from any tree in the Garden,

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"
(Genesis 2:17).

Death, previously unknown, would enter their lives—not merely physical death, but also spiritual death. Adam and Eve did eat of the forbidden fruit and death did enter their lives that very day, just as God had promised. Physically, they did not die immediately but the ageing process of decay and corruption, the breakdown of their physical bodies, did begin that day.

However, they did immediately die spiritually. They were no longer acceptable to God for they had become sinners and were unclean in His sight. This death, both physical and spiritual, has passed on to every person ever since:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL men..."
(Romans 5:12).

This is because Adam, the first man, was made the representative of all mankind by God. As their representative, Adam’s sin was imputed (charged) to them, his descendants, the entire human race:

"...by one man’s disobedience (the) many (that he represented) were made sinners..."
(Romans 5:19).

The fact that both you and I sin offers undeniable proof that we are sinners and shows that we come from the sin seed which began with Adam. Just as a grass seed will only produce grass, so too, the sin seed will only produce sinners.
Most people readily admit that they are not perfect but a source of comfort for many is that they see themselves as only ‘minor’ sinners.

Most people’s assessment of themselves is,
‘I am basically a good person. I know I’m not perfect but at least I’m not as bad as that person.’ They judge themselves by comparing themselves with others and according to this standard, they judge themselves to be basically good people. But the reality of the situation is that we have all sinned against God:

"For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"
(Romans 3:23).

Man has missed the mark, or target, and as far as registering points with God—man isn’t even on the scoreboard! Almost everyone is under the impression that if they do their best then God will accept them, for what more can a person do than his best?

But God says
"...every man AT HIS BEST STATE is altogether vanity (unsatisfactory)"
(Psalm 39:5).

The best a man can do to recommend himself to God falls far short of the perfection which God demands:

"...we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses (good deeds) are as filthy rags..."
(Isaiah 64:6).

Despite all of mans’ enthusiastic religious efforts, God says

"...There is NONE righteous, no, not one: there is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God. They are ALL gone out of the way, they are together become UNPROFITABLE; there is NONE that doeth good, no, NOT ONE"
(Romans 3:10-12).

Quite a predicament isn’t it?

The standard by which we are to judge ourselves is the one that God has set: perfection—and if we are honest, we will admit that we are imperfect.

The Lord Jesus says:
"...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law..."
(Matthew 22:37-40).

No one, not even the most religious person around, would dare say he has loved God perfectly or his fellow man as himself. So we see then that, far from being guilty of only ‘minor sins’, we all stand guilty of the greatest sins.

The concept of ‘minor’ sins is a false one anyway, for to break even one of God’s laws is to break all of them:

"For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all"
(James 2:10)

and God has made clear to us the penalty of sin:

"For the wages of sin is death..."
(Romans 6:23).

Society often gets into an uproar when a judge lets a criminal off with just a warning or hands down a light sentence. The judge that does this is perverting justice, he is not a just judge. When someone commits a crime, they should pay the full penalty that the law requires.

While it is true that God is a God of love and mercy, it is of the utmost importance to note that He is also a Just God, a Just Judge.

God declares of Himself:
"...The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...WILL BY NO MEANS CLEAR THE GUILTY..."
(Exodus 34:6,7)

and
"...there is no God else beside Me; a Just God and a Saviour..."
(Isaiah 45:21).

In order for God to save a sinner (someone who has broken His law) without perverting His justice, His law must be obeyed perfectly and His justice, which demands full payment for sin, must be satisfied. How was this accomplished?
God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. He was conceived in the womb of a virgin by the agency of God the Holy Spirit and therefore did not carry within him the seed of sin. He did not descend from Adam and was, therefore, without sin and wholly acceptable to God. Just as Adam is a representative, so too is Christ. But while Adam is the representative of all mankind, Jesus Christ is the Representative of all those God gave Him—those whom God chose to save—through faith in His Gospel:

"...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..."
(2 Thessalonians 2:13);

"As Thou (the Father) hast given Him (the Son) power over all flesh, that He (the Son) should give eternal life to as many as Thou (the Father) hast given Him"
(John 17:3).

Being chosen by God for salvation was not something that was to be earned or merited, it was not to be a reward, but was solely according to His Will:

"(God) 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 Timothy 1:9);

"...He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world...Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will"
(Ephesians 1:4,5).

Faith, like everything else pertaining to salvation, is a gift given by God, it does not originate within ourselves:

"For by grace (unmerited favor) 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 2:8,9),

and this faith ALWAYS believes THE TRUE Gospel, never a false one (see 1 Thess.2:13,14 again).

Jesus Christ is the Substitute of all those God chose to save. As their Substitute, He lived the life of perfect obedience to God’s law that none of them ever could, thus providing the obedience they needed to become right with God:

"...by the obedience of ONE (Jesus) shall (the) many (those He represented) be made righteous"
(Romans 5:19).

As their Substitute, He died and was resurrected, thus paying the penalty in full for their sins:

"(Jesus) was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (acquittal)"
(Romans 4:25).

Jesus blotted out
"the handwriting of ordinances that was against us (those He represented)...and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross"
(Colossians 2:13,14).

God’s Word says that all the sins of those for whom Christ died were transferred to Him, and that His righteousness would be charged to them:
"For He hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him"
(2 Corinthians 5:21).

The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the only way that God can remain Just and at the same time be the Justifier of sinners:

"To declare, I say, at this time HIS Righteousness: that He might be Just and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus"
(Romans 3:26).

The belief that there are many religious paths one can travel but that all lead to the same God, is a lie which deceives many, for not only do they differ greatly in what they say about God and salvation, they often totally contradict each other. Just as there are many wrong answers that can be given to 2+2, there is only one correct answer.

So too, there are many false gods and many false christs in religion’s supermarket, but there is only ONE TRUE God, there is only ONE TRUE Christ, and what you believe about God and about Jesus Christ will show whether you believe in the True or in one of the many counterfeits which cannot save. God warns that many

"...pray unto a god that CANNOT save"
(Isaiah 45:20).

Only ONE road leads to God:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me"
(John 14:6).

Religion, even that which professes to be ‘christian’, claims to know what it is that man can do to ‘make up with God’. But we can tell you right now that their teachings about salvation are false, for they all teach that man must do something in order to get saved and/or stay saved.

This is the identifying mark of religion’s false gospel.

The word religion comes from the Latin word religare meaning to tie up, or to bind. Religion binds you to a system of laws and duties which must be obeyed if you are to see Heaven and if disobeyed will condemn you to Hell. God declares in His Holy Word that man cannot do anything to get saved, that salvation is 100% God’s work from start to finish and that no one is saved who believes contrary to this.

What better news could there possibly be for man than to learn that God, Who demands perfection, does not save sinners based on their imperfect efforts, but on the perfect obedience unto death (the righteousness) of Jesus Christ. Please do not misunderstand. The Bible does not say that obedience is not necessary, that one can simply believe in Christ and then live as one pleases. Obedience is very important in the life of a saved sinner, but that obedience is not what saved him or keeps him saved!

What we have shared with you is, in a nutshell, the Gospel—God’s Good News. Only those who believe the Gospel, which reveals Christ’s righteousness alone as that which saves sinners and keeps them saved, will enter into Heaven with nothing to fear.

Those who do not believe the Gospel shall be damned – condemned to Hell forever (Mark 16:16), for their sins remain charged to them.

"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth....for therein is the righteousness of God revealed..."
(Romans 1:16,17).

This true gospel message was presented by Moreno Del Ballo


Saturday, December 02, 2006

RECIEVING JESUS CHRIST


Receiving Him

"But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
John 1:13

What does it mean to "receive Christ"?

According to the popular understanding, God is appealing to our will to make a decision as to whether we want Christ in our life or not. It is as though we occupy the place of a jury in a court room. On the one hand, we hear an appeal to make a decision in favor of Christ. On the other hand, we hear an appeal to make a decision in favor of Satan. After hearing the evidence, it is up to us. We supposedly choose by our own "free will" whether we will "receive Christ" or not.

It is up to us. According to this understanding, God loves all people the same, and he appeals to all with equal desire for their salvation. It is finally and ultimately up to the individual person whether he or she will "receive Christ" and so make the love of God "real" for them. Salvation, then, is understood to be the result of a decision. It is not the result of God's decision, because God supposedly wants everyone to be saved.

God, says the popular view, has already made His decision. It is the result of man's decision, for God, according to the popular understanding, can not "force us" to do something against our own will. Salvation is by the "free will" of man.

But this popular way of understanding salvation is false.

It is not what the Bible teaches.

The Bible does not teach that salvation is of the will of man.

The Bible does not teach that "receiving Christ" is an act of our "free will".

Consider what the Scripture above is saying:
"...who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God".

According to the Bible, salvation and true forgiveness is by the will of God, not by the will of man. When a person "receives Christ", it is not something that ultimately comes from the individual's "free will". To receive the true Christ is a demonstration of the will and power of God. We receive Christ, not by our own will, "not by the will of man", but by the will of God. By the power of His Holy Spirit, God uses the good news of Christ's effective work as a substitute for His people. He received the punishment due His people, that they might receive the resulting blessing of forgiveness and justification based on Him alone. (Matthew 1:21; John 10:11; 2 Corinthians 5:20,21; 1 Peter 2:24).

Why is this important?

Because the salvation God gives He gives to helpless sinners who are unable to save themselves. He did not come for the healthy, but for the sick, yes, even for those who are "dead in their transgressionsand sins" (Ephesians 2:1).

Hopeless, spiritually dead sinners have no inherent power to make a true decision.

They are not in the spiritual jury box, but in the spiritual grave.

If they are to be saved, God must decide. He must exercise His will, and raise them from death to life. If we see ourselves as other than the helpless and spiritually dead sinners that we are, we will embrace a "salvation" that is more a tribute to our own good judgment than an indication of true forgiveness. Such "salvation" is only false security, but is not true forgiveness. We need true forgiveness. May God teach us that "receiving Christ" is by the will of God!

"It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy."
Romans 9:16

John Pedersen

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD

For God so Loved the World

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."

A False interpretation of this verse goes like this:

This verse is probably the best known verse in the Bible. It may also be the most misunderstood. God sent His Son Jesus into the world to providesalvation for all of mankind, but all mankind is not "automatically" saved.There must be an act of our faith on our part in believing in the Lord JesusChrist. We must make this verse personal. We need to look at it as directedto us, "For God so loved [your name], that he gave...". Jesus came into theworld to give his life for your sins. Have you applied this verse toyourself? Have you asked Jesus into your heart to be your Savior? If you'renot sure about this, please write or call for help.

A True interpretation of this verse is as follows:

John 3:16 speaks of the good news of the gospel. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should notperish but have eternal life."
Why is this message of God's love good news?
Because it tells of what God has done. The next verse,
John 3:17, says:
"For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that theworld through Him might be saved." God sent His Son to save the world, and He succeeded! By His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus Christ both paid for the sins of His people and provided His own righteousness as the basis of God's forgiveness and favor. As the angel said to Joseph,
"You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins".(Matthew 1:21).

The good news is that God has actually accomplished the salvation of the world by the work of Jesus Christ.
Are you numbered among the world Jesus came to save?
Are you given to the Lord Jesus by the Father?
As the Lord Jesus says:
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and he who comes to Me I will in no waycast out." (John 6:37).

Come to the One who really saves. Come as you are,helpless, hopeless, knowing you have no goodness or power in yourself. Ifyou do come to Him with this knowledge, you are assured that He has brought you.
His love really saves!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

EVERLASTING LIFE


"And this is everlasting life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent."
(John 17:3)

"There is only one God. He is The God who made the world and all things in it, this One being the Lord of Heaven and of earth."

(Acts 17:24)

"He has done all that He has pleased."
(Psalm 115:3)

God has revealed Himself in His Word, the only inerrant God-inspired book called the Bible.

The Bible reveals the Law of God. All of God's Law is summarized in these two commandments: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

(Matthew 22:37-39)

God demands perfect obedience to the Law (perfect righteousness) and pronounces a curse on those who do not have perfect righteousness: "Cursed [is] everyone who does not continue in all things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them."

(Galatians 3:10)

Those who die under this curse.. "Shall drink of the wine of the anger of God having been mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever."
(Revelation 14:10-11)

Adam, the first man, who was the forefather and representative of the whole human race, broke God's Law. The guilt of Adam's sin is imputed to all humans: Because of this, "even as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so also death passed to all men, inasmuch as all sinned."

(Romans 5:12)

Consequently, all humanity is conceived in sin: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5); and all human beings have broken God's Law:
"There is not a righteous [one], not even one! There is not [one] understanding, there is not [one] seeking God. All turned away, [they] became worthless together, not [one is] doing goodness, not so much as one!"
(Romans 3:10-12)

Therefore, all men are by nature the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), under God's curse, "for all sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

Yet God has chosen to adopt a particular people for His own glory to be His children, an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession. (1 Peter 2:9)


He has chosen to save them and have fellowship with them.

How can God, who hates sin and pronounces a curse on all who do not have a perfect righteousness, remain righteous and yet have fellowship with them?

For God says that He is both a just God and a Savior. (Isaiah 45:21)

The answer lies in the gospel of Christ, ... "for in it the righteousness of God is revealed." (Romans 1: 16-17)

The gospel is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ, [the] Son of God. (Mark 1:1)

Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of God:

"In [the] beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

He came to this earth two thousand years ago, having been conceived by God the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin.

Jesus Christ said, "I and the Father are One!" and "the Father [is] in Me, and I in Him." (John 10: 30,38)

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, the only one qualified to be a Mediator between God and men.

For God [is] one, also [there is] one Mediator of God and of men, [the] Man Christ Jesus.
(1 Timothy 2:5)

Jesus Christ said, "For I have come down out of Heaven, not that I should do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me." (John 6:38)


He came to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

Therefore, Jesus Christ was one having been tried in all respects according to [our] likeness, apart from sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

He did not sin, nor was guile found in His mouth
(1 Peter 2:22).

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, having come into being out of a woman, having come under Law, that He might redeem the ones under Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

Jesus Christ perfectly kept the Law as a substitute and representative for His people, in order that His perfect righteousness be imputed to His people. The sins of His people were imputed to Him, and He suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty of the curse of the Law for their sins with precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19).

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

In Jesus Christ we have redemption through His blood, the remission of deviations, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

Jesus Christ carried up in His body our sins onto the tree; that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; of whom, by His wound, you were healed.
(1 Peter 2:24)

The truth of the gospel is "that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day, according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

"He was delivered because of our deviations and was raised because of our justification."
(Romans 4:25)

Do you now see how God remains righteous and just in the punishment of sin while saving certain sinners?


The sinners whom Jesus Christ represented have a substitute!

Their disobedience to God's righteous Law was punished in the person of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ's perfect righteousness is imputed to these sinners!

God has communion with His people because they have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to them and have already had their sins punished through the death of Jesus Christ!

"All of God's people are justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth [as] a propitiation through faith in His blood, as a demonstration of His righteousness through the passing over of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God, for a demonstration of His righteousness in the present time, for His being just and justifying the [one] that [is] of the faith of Jesus."
(Romans 3:24-26)

The gospel is the good news of salvation based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone, without any contribution from the sinner!

Do you believe this gospel?


It is the only true gospel. There is no other way to be reconciled to God than through the atoning death and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.

Jesus Christ said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

(John 14:6)

Salvation is not based on anything the sinner does; it is all based on what Jesus Christ did. The people of God are.. "justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24); "a man is not justified by works of Law..." (Galatians 2:16)

"Because by works of Law not one of all flesh will be justified before Him."

(Romans 3:20)

"For Christ [is] the end of Law for righteousness to everyone that believes."

(Romans 10:4)

If you believe that you have favor with God because of what you do, who you are, what you think God enabled you to do, or what you think God saw you would do, then you do not believe the gospel.

If you believe that Jesus Christ died for all persons without exception, then you do not believe the gospel, because you do not believe that Christ's work makes the only difference between salvation and damnation.

Anything you do before believing in the true gospel is evil in the sight of God.

"But without faith [it is] impossible to please [God]."

(Hebrews 11:6)

God commands you to repent of ever thinking that you could merit favor with God by something you do. He commands you to believe this gospel.

"The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draws near. Repent and believe in the gospel."
(Mark 1:15)

Your sins are abominable in the sight of God. Even if you strive to do your best to love God and love your neighbor, you cannot do these things perfectly, and even your best efforts at religion and morality are abominable if you believe that any part of salvation is based on these things. Your sins must be punished. They have either already been punished in the person of the substitute, Jesus Christ, or they will be punished when God sends you to hell. Those for whom Jesus Christ died, whose sins have already been punished, will believe this gospel. Those for whom He did not die, whose sins have not yet been punished, will not believe. All those for whom Jesus Christ died will go to heaven.


All those for whom Jesus Christ did not die will go to hell.

God uses this truth of His gospel to accomplish His purposes among men. For some, this commandment to believe the truth about what Jesus Christ has done to save His people makes them angry and offends them, because it says that they are under the penalty of God's condemning justice unless they are loved and accepted by God on account of the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.


For these, God may use His message to confirm them in their rebellion and to seal their eternal condemnation. For others, this commandment to believe brings them spiritual life and causes them to love what Jesus Christ has done. It is the power of God to give them an understanding of the only way to be reconciled to God.

"For we are a sweet smell to God because of Christ in those being saved, and in those being lost; to the one, an odor of death unto death, and to the other, an odor of life unto life."

(2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

Should you believe, be sure of this: your faith is a gift that God has given you and is a miracle that comes from the power of the wonderful message of His gospel.

"For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast."

(Ephesians 2:8-9)

If you obey God's command to believe the gospel, you must thank God that this belief is a miracle from Him!

"And this is the witness: that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son."

(1 John 5:11)

By Marc D. Carpenter

Thursday, October 05, 2006

CHRIST CRUCIFIED: GOD'S LOVE MANIFESTED


"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
(1 John 4:9-10)

While many people who call themselves Reformed are inventing theories about God's love, let us who are sober-minded hold to Sola Scriptura. The Biblical man will approach the issue of the love of God in this way:

What does the Scripture say about the love of God, and what does the Scripture say about the manifestation of Divine love?

Away with the man-made philosophies that are so prevalent in today's "Reformed" circles!

Give me the Word of God!

Any student of the Scripture would see that there is no instance in the entire Bible in which God loves the reprobate. In fact, there are so many proofs of the opposite that one would have to twist these undoubtedly perspicuous passages beyond recognition and mix in some worldly philosophy to concoct a theory of universal love. But this is a subject for another time. We will focus here on the manifestation of God's love, for it so powerfully puts to rest the vain speculations of man.

What better way to find out the extent of God's love than to search the Scriptures for His manifestation of His love?


This manifestation of His love gives us a clear understanding as to the extent of His love. Is it universal, or is it particular?

As we will see, the Bible states over and over that God's love is manifested in the giving of His Son to die for those He loves. The passage above in 1 John is one such passage.


How did God show His love?

By sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins so we might live through Him.

Is this talking about the reprobate?

If anyone thinks so, then he is no better than the God-hating Arminian who believes that the propitiation was for everyone.

Jesus said in John 3:16 that God's manifestation of love to the kosmos was that He sent His Son so that a certain number of people would be saved. Again, the atonement -- Christ crucified -- is the manifestation of God's love. He said in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."


The laying down of His life is a direct reference to the atonement.

Romans 5:5-8 again gives us a view of God's love and the objects of His love:

"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

How did God demonstrate His love toward us?


He sent Christ to die for us!!

Christ died for all those God loves!

See how love continues to be tied to the work of Christ:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in the heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
(Ephesians 2:4-7)

God makes those He loves alive in Christ!

Again:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word".
(Ephesians 5:25-26)

Christ gave Himself up for those He loves.

The latter part of Romans 8 is overflowing with the love of God. Those He foreknew -- foreloved -- He predestined, called, and justified (vv. 29-30), and no one and nothing can separate us from the love of God or bring a charge against God's elect, because Christ Jesus died for us (vv. 31-35)! And look at verse 39:


the love of God is in whom?

Christ Jesus, our Lord!

Titus 3:4-7, sometimes used by advocates of universal love, actually says just the opposite of what they say it says. Again, as you read this passage, ask yourself, "What is the demonstration -- the manifestation -- of God's love?"


"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

When His love for man appeared, what did He do?

He saved us!

Whom did He save?

He saved those He loved.

Finally, the clincher (as if the other verses did not clearly set it forth): Ask any of the so-called "Reformed" advocates of universal love how we know God's love. Then take them to 1 John 3:16: "BY THIS WE KNOW LOVE, BECAUSE HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US"!!


Advocates of universal love must ultimately advocate universal atonement. Oh, yes, they might sound so bold on particular redemption, but they already have the seeds of universal atonement planted in their hearts.

This ties right in with the lie of the well-meant offer, because the advocates of universal love say that the way God manifests His love toward all men without exception is that He sincerely desires their salvation and offers salvation out of love for them. If you read any of the Marrow Men such as Thomas Boston or the Erskines, you will see that universal love and the well-meant offer lead directly to universal atonement. These men (and many after them) espoused the idea that "Christ was dead for all men" and that Christ was the "official savior of all men."

The lie of universal love also leads to Universalism. If God loves all and, out of that love, atoned for the sins of all, then all will be in heaven. In fact, Universalists are much more consistent in their theology than Arminians or "Reformed" advocates of universal love! They at least acknowledge that Christ died for those God loved and that Christ's atonement was efficacious!

The lie of universal love also leads to Annihilationism. John R.W. Stott is the most famous of the professedly Reformed to have come to this position. This heresy stems from the view that since God loves the reprobate, He would not have them suffer an eternity in Hell but just puts them into nonexistence after they die.
If an advocate of universal love does not take an Annihilationist stance, then he must take the stance that God is not immutable.


Does God still love those who are screaming in the torments of hell?

If He does not, then He must have changed His mind about them once they died. He loved them when they were alive, and He hates them after they die. A common statement you may have heard from some of the old-time advocates of universal love is that God sends people to hell for scorning His love for them.

Finally, advocates of universal love are allied with Arminianism. For they, with the Arminians, say that some whom God loves go to hell. The "Reformed" people are more sophisticated than the Arminians when they talk of two different kinds of love (saving and general).


They say, "God loves everybody, but He loves the elect in a special way."

Does this not profane Ephesians 5:25?

How wicked it would be for a husband to say to his wife, "I love all the other women in the world and desire that they be married to me, but I have a special love for you"!

Oh, how the man of God rejoices in sovereign, particular love!


Oh, how he is overcome with love for the One who suffered, bled, died the death of a criminal, and endured God's wrath for those He loves!

He did not do this for everyone!

He did not die for everyone!

He does not love everyone!

But He loves even me, a vile, hell-deserving sinner.

Oh, how the man of God is repulsed by the lie of universal love! For he realizes that a love for all means no love at all. He realizes that a love for all means that God, out of love for all, manifested this love by sending Jesus to shed His precious blood for those who are being punished in everlasting fire. He cannot stand the "well, there's a different kind of love for the reprobate" line. For this cheapens His precious love for His bride.

Particular love resulted in particular redemption. There is no other love than that in which God loves Christ and all those who are in Christ.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. ... I am the good shepherd; and I know My [sheep], and am known by My own. As the father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."

(John 10: 11,14-15)

By Marc Carpenter


Monday, September 18, 2006

JUSTIFICATION AND JUDGEMENT


Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven.Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’ -Matthew 7:21-23

This passage of Scripture is widely misunderstood. The Baptist John MacArthur, the Christian Reformed Norman Shepherd, and Pope John Paul II all misunderstand the passage, and they misunderstand it in essentially the same way. They all-Baptist, Reformed, and Romanist-appeal to verse 21 for the same reason: It seems to teach salvation by doing, rather than by mere believing. After all, Jesus does say that it is only those who do the will of his Father who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

In his book, The Gospel According to Jesus, John MacArthur cites this passage and asserts: Real faith is as concerned with doing the will of God as it is with affirming the facts of true doctrine (189). Real faith, saving faith, according to MacArthur, is as much about doing as it is about believing, for Jesus brought a message of works (79). In his book, The Call of Grace, Norman Shepherd tells us that The consequence of disobedience is exclusion from the kingdom of heaven (49). So a believer may be excluded from the Kingdom for his disobedience, because belief alone is not enough. To faith one must add covenant faithfulness. And the most eloquent statement of the three, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1821, cites Matthew 7:21 as Scriptural support for its statement that In every circumstance each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end’ and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ.

Notice that the Catholic Catechism mentions grace twice in this single sentence. Many non-Catholics labor under the mistaken impression that the Roman Church-State teaches salvation by works apart from the grace of God and Christ. But it does not, and this paragraph reflects its teaching that the good works Christians do are done by the grace of God and Christ. This common misrepresentation and misunderstanding of Romanist doctrine has contri-buted to (or is caused by) a misunderstanding of Biblical doctrine. Our works, our doing, the Bible teaches, contribute nothing whatsoever to our salvation. They are neither an instrument for our justification nor a condition of our salvation. The difference between the Bible and Rome is not that Rome teaches salvation by faith and works-without-grace, while the Bible teaches salvation by faith and works-with-grace. The difference between the Bible and Rome is that the Bible teaches that our salvation does not depend on our works at all (whether allegedly done by the grace of God or not), while Rome asserts that our salvation depends in part on our works. The Bible affirms sola fide; Rome denies it.

But let us return to the text.

Verse 21: Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven.
At first glance, verse 21 seems to be saying that the decisive difference between those who are excluded and those who are admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven is the difference between empty professors and actual doers of the Word. It is not those who say, Lord, Lord, but those who actually do the will of the Father, who are admitted into Heaven. In verse 21, Jesus seems to be making the same distinction that James makes in 2:14: What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? The contrast in James is between a person who says something with his lips, but does not give evidence of his faith by his works. But, unlike James, Jesus does not explicitly mention belief in verse 21; he mentions doing and saying, asserting that doing the will of the Father in Heaven is required to get into the Kingdom of Heaven, but saying Lord, Lord is not enough.

Again, at first glance, verse 21 seems to contradict verses such as Acts 16:31: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.... and Romans 3:28: Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law; and Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast; and scores more verses that deny salvation comes by doing.

This apparent contradiction in the New Testament raises a further difficulty: Does the Bible contradict itself? Many scholars say, Yes, it does. Or if they are coy rather than candid, they say the Scriptures contain tensions, paradoxes, and antinomies. The scholars apparently never consider the possibility that they have misunderstood the Scriptures. They are quick to attribute logical difficulties to the revealed propositions (and they always add that it is pious and humble to do so), but they do not even contemplate the possibility that they might not understand the text. That would be unthinkable! Imagine! Professors and theologians not understanding the text! Impossible! Therefore, the text itself must be paradoxical.

But as Christians we ought to be humble and say, Of course the Scriptures contain no contradictions, no paradoxes, no antinomies, and no tensions. When we come to what seems to be a contradiction in our theology, we must check our premises, return to the propositions of Scripture, and conform our thoughts to what the noncontradictory Scriptures say.

The first glance reading of verse 21 raises still another problem: Does Jesus teach legalism? Here I am using the word legalism in its proper sense: the notion that one can obtain, in whole or in part, salvation by doing, rather than by mere belief. The Pope, Shepherd, and MacArthur all appeal to this verse because they all believe that Jesus does in fact teach salvation by doing here-that he here denies the sufficiency of belief alone for salvation. The central problem in verse 21 is the meaning of Jesus’ phrase: he who does the will of my Father in Heaven. The Pope, MacArthur, and Shepherd all appeal to this verse because they believe that that phrase means works. But that interpretation, of course, implies that the Bible contradicts itself. And that interpretation of the phrase cannot be correct, because of what verse 22 says.

Verse 22: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?

Now if we understand verse 21 as the Pope, MacArthur, and Shepherd understand it, what Jesus says in verse 22 is both unexpected and inexplicable.

If Jesus’ point in verse 21 were that faith is not enough, that good works, or covenant faithfulness, or obedience is also necessary in order to be saved, then Jesus should have said something like this in verse 22: Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, we trusted in you alone, we had faith in you alone, we believed the Bible and your words.’ But of course Jesus says nothing of the sort. Instead, he reports that many people will appear before him at the Judgment and will talk about their works, not their faith. These people-the ones who present works-will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven.

Let us examine this verse carefully.

First, Jesus says Many. At first glance, verse 21 suggests that there will be only a few among those who will say, Lord, Lord who will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus had said, Not everyone, and, sinners that we are, we jumped to the conclusion that he meant almost everyone. But here in verse 22 he says many. Many will come before Christ Jesus and speak to him, saying, Lord, Lord, and they will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven.

Second, many will speak to Jesus in that day: the Day of Judgment, when every person will give an account of every thought, word, and deed done in the body. We each will give an account of our lives to God. There is no escaping this Judgment, no parole, no continuance, no diversion. The author of Hebrews (9:27) writes: It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the Judgment. Those are two appointments each one of us will keep: death and Judgment. We will be on trial for our lives. We will not be appearing in this court as witnesses, victims, or jurors, but as defendants.

Third, each of us will speak directly to Jesus; there will be no attorneys, no priests, no pastors, no bishops, no archbishops, no popes, no confessors, no counselors, no elders, no deacons, no church, no parents, and no friends to represent us and to speak for us. We will each speak directly to Jesus. We will be held individually accountable by God.

This is the basis of the idea of individual responsibility, not merely in theology, but in law as well. Individual responsibility is one of the pillars of Christian jurisprudence, and those who rant against the individual and individualism are merely displaying their ignorance of, or their rejection of, what the Bible teaches about the role and the significance of the individual person. We will each be summoned to this divine court to face the Creator of the universe. What will we say in that Day?

Jesus in his mercy tells us what many will say to him in that Day: First, they will acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ, addressing him as Lord. Not only will they say it once, they will repeat it: Lord, Lord. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, they will plead for their lives. This repetition of Lord may also suggest that they think they are on familiar terms with Jesus.

Next, they will ask Jesus a series of questions, calling the Christ himself as a witness in their defense. Notice that they will not directly assert that they have done good works. They will speak in interrogative, not declarative, sentences. Because of this, their defense will actually be much stronger than their own mere declarations would have been: They will call Christ Jesus himself as their defense witness. They will ask him to testify to the facts of their lives: their prophesying, exorcising, and wonderworking.

Some commentators have tried to dismiss the claims of these defendants by suggesting that they will lie or exaggerate, that they really will not have done what they will claim to have done. There is nothing in the text that supports such an accusation. That misinterpretation is a desperate device to evade what Jesus is telling us in this passage. The defendants will make no direct assertions. They will ask questions. They will address those questions to Jesus, whom they will acknowledge as Lord. They will ask him to testify to the truth of their claims. They actually will have done these things on Earth: prophesying, casting out demons, and performing wonders.

Now the fact that many people will have done these things on Earth implies several things.

First, it implies that these people are not mere professors, without works and without practice, as we may have concluded from our superficial reading of verse 21. They are not pew warmers; they are not spiritual spectators; they are not churchgoers who show up only on Easter and Christmas; they are not those who have no works. These people have many works, and they will call on Jesus himself to testify to their works on Earth. Theirs is not mere lip service; theirs is not an empty profession. They will have been very active in church and in other religious endeavors.

Second, not only are these people active in the churches, they are church leaders. They prophesy, they preach, they proselytize, they teach; they cast out demons, they exorcise; they perform many wonders-not just a few, but many wonders. These are things publicly done, not things done in a corner or in the privacy of one’s own home.

Third, they will do all these works in the name of Jesus Christ. Notice that the defendants will use the phrase in your name repeatedly: They will prophesy in Jesus’ name; they will cast out demons in Jesus’ name; they will perform many wonders in Jesus’ name. They will be leaders in professedly Christian churches. They are not Buddhists, performing these things in the name of Buddha. Nor are they Hindus, performing these works in the name of Shiva or some other Hindu god. Nor are they Muslims, doing these things in the names of Allah or Mohammed. Nor are they Jews, doing these things in the name of Abraham. These are not pagans ignorant of the name of Jesus; they are professing Christians who will do all these works in the name of Jesus Christ.

Because they were doing these things in the name of Jesus while on Earth, they must have known something about Jesus, perhaps even that he is God. Some demons know no less, such as the one whose conversation with Jesus is reported in Mark 1:24: Let us alone! What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!

Did these defendants know as much as that demon? They were as lost as that demon. This implies, among other things, that simply acknowledging Jesus as Lord, as the Holy One of God, is not sufficient for salvation. Do not the Scriptures say that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord? And do not the Scriptures say that some people will not be saved? It therefore follows that confessing Jesus as Lord is insufficient for salvation; one must also confess him as Saviour.

Now, consider the irony of the exegetical situation. Proponents of Lordship Salvation such as Shepherd and MacArthur appeal to this passage in Matthew 7 to support their view that belief alone in the Lord Jesus Christ is not enough for salvation, that we must also practice the Lordship of Christ by faithfully performing works in order to be saved. Yet this passage clearly teaches that some of those who confess Jesus as Lord and perform amazing works will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, one may acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, perform many wonderful works, and still go to Hell. Jesus himself here warns us that many who confess his Lordship and perform many works will go to Hell. Obviously the passage does not mean what the Pope, MacArthur, and Shepherd think it means. It is not a contrast between mere believers (who are lost) and workers (who are saved), for Jesus himself says that the workers are lost.

Fourth, because these men were visible church leaders on Earth, we know that the visible church is not the Kingdom of Heaven, for these men are excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven.

Let us turn our attention briefly to the sorts of works these church leaders will have done. They will have prophesied in the name of Jesus; they will have cast out demons in the name of Jesus; they will have performed wonders in the name of Jesus. Now, these are not only works; they are extraordinary and supernatural works. In fact, they are the greatest works done by men and among men, to use John Gill’s phrase. None of us, perhaps a few of us, but certainly not this writer, has done anything remotely as great or as impressive as these works. Our works are ordinary: attending church, being good neighbors, giving money to the church and to the poor, taking care of our families, and so on.

Now here is the question: If none of us has done or will do anything like the works these men will have done, and if these men are lost, then what hope is there for us? If Jesus himself turns these men out of the Kingdom of Heaven-these many men who have performed such great works in the name of Jesus-what hope have we? If these very active, professing Christians, these church leaders, will be sent to Hell, what hope have we of gaining Heaven?

The answer is, We have no hope, if, like these men, we rely on our works. If we believe that our works help obtain our salvation, we have no hope of Heaven, no matter how great our works, no matter how faithful our obedience, regardless of whether we act in the name of Jesus, or whether we confess Jesus as Lord. If we rely on our obedience or our covenant faithfulness or our good works, we are lost.

This is the crux of the passage, and of salvation. When these church leaders give their defense at the Judgment, they will offer their works as Exhibits A, B, and C. Their plea to Jesus will be their works-works done in the name of Jesus, to be sure, but works nonetheless. And far from lessening their guilt, doing their works in the name of Jesus increases their guilt before God.

Far from teaching a message of works, Jesus warns us that anyone who comes before him at the Judgment and offers his works, his covenant faithfulness, or his life as his defense will be sent to Hell. Far from teaching that our works are necessary for our salvation, Jesus here teaches that all our works contribute not one whit to our salvation.

Why will many men not be admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven? What is wrong with their defense? Jesus tells us plainly: They will plead their own lives and Christian works.

What their defense should be is not their works, but the imputed righteousness of Christ. Many will be sent to Hell because they will not mention that they are sinners saved only by the righteousness of the Man Christ Jesus.

They will not mention the perfect life, sinless death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They will not mention the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to those who believe in him. They will not mention the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for his people. They will not mention that Jesus Christ earned their salvation for them. They will not mention that Jesus Christ suffered the penalty of Hell due to them, that Jesus satisfied the justice of the Father in their behalf.

In short, they will not confess Jesus as Saviour, even while they confess him as Lord.

Jesus in his mercy has told us one thing that will happen on the Day of Judgment. This is not a parable; this is not a metaphor. This is prophecy. It is exactly what many scholars deny prophecy is: future history. When Jesus here uses the verb will, when he speaks in the future tense, he speaks literally, and these events must happen. We ought to heed his warning and realize that if we rely on anything we do-faithful church attendance, tithing, serving as a church officer, writing, speaking, teaching, holding crusades attended by millions, raising money, giving alms to the poor, building hospitals, Christian schools, churches, baptism, participation in the Lord’s Supper-we are lost. All our righteousnesses-Isaiah does not say unrighteousnesses-are as filthy rags.

Jesus tells us that many people at the Judgment will argue that they deserve Heaven, that they have a right to Heaven because they have done many wonderful works in the name of Jesus. They will not acknowledge their depravity, for they think they are good men. They will not acknowledge the Satisfaction and Atonement of Jesus, because they do not believe it. Their prayer will not be, God, be merciful to me a sinner, but, Jesus, I did many wonderful works in your name, and now you ought to reward me with Heaven. Whatever these churchgoers and church leaders may believe about themselves and about Jesus, they do not believe in their own depravity, nor in the imputed righteousness of Christ. They do not believe that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. In short, they do not believe the Gospel, and that is why they are damned.

The vivid warning that Jesus gives us in this passage is not merely about the futility of working for salvation. It is also a warning about believing some things about God and Jesus, but not believing the Gospel. James tells us that demons believe in one God-and they are lost. That means that monotheism per se will not save anyone. Mark tells us that one demon recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God, and that demon was lost. That means that acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah per se will not save anyone. (And if anyone suggests that it is obedience that makes faith saving, it seems that no one obeys Jesus Christ more quickly in the New Testament than the demons to whom he speaks.)

Paul picks up on this point in Galatians, where he damns everyone, man or angel, who brings a message other than justification by faith alone. Presumably the false teachers in Galatia who were urging the Christians there to supplement their faith with works not only believed in God and in Jesus as the Son of God, but in the infallibility of the Scriptures (the Old Testament) and in Jesus’ miracles as well. Perhaps they even believed in his resurrection. But a belief in Jesus’ resurrection per se will save no one. That is why unbelieving, apostate churches can recite the early creeds of the church: While they contain some truth (and some error), the creeds do not contain the Gospel. Consider, for example, the Apostles’ Creed. The received form reads:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into Hell; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

What is missing from the Apostles’ Creed? Read it again: There is no mention of God’s law, no mention of Adam’s sin, no statement that Jesus suffered and died for the sins of his people, no mention of his representative obedience and vicarious death, no mention of redemption, no mention of his perfect righteousness imputed to sinners, no mention of justification through belief alone. Jesus’ descent into Hell, an event that did not occur, is mentioned, and the mention of forgiveness of sins is vague enough to leave open the possibility that the Holy Catholic Church forgives sins. The Nicene Creed (A.D. 325) omits any mention of sin, mentions the word salvation, but can hardly be said to present an explanation of it. The A.D. 381 enlargement adds some explanation, but also adds the error that water baptism remits sin.

What we need to believe was stated by Paul in Romans 3:20-28:

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Verse 23: And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.

Notice the “and then.” Jesus pronounces judgment only after hearing the pleas and defenses of the men on trial. If any judge ever had the right to condemn a defendant without hearing his defense, this judge has. But he is so scrupulous about God’s law-and his law became the model for due process in civilizations influenced by Christianity-that Jesus does not pronounce judgment until after the defendants have presented their defenses.

Jesus’ declaration, I never knew you, eliminates another common perversion of this passage. Some commentators have suggested that the men Jesus will send to Hell were once believers, and they performed their good works while they were believers; but they did not persevere; they were not faithful to the covenant, so they lost their final justification. But that is not what Jesus will say to them: He will say, I never knew you. He will not say, I formerly knew you, but you were unfaithful to the covenant. Nor will he say, I knew you once, but you disobeyed my commandments. Jesus will say, I never knew you. These people, these church leaders, were never Christians. They were never foreknown, elected, called, regenerated, justified, adopted, reconciled, or sanctified. They may have been baptized, confirmed, chrismated, ordained, and canonized, but they were never born again. They were active churchgoers and church leaders; they did many extraordinary and wonderful works, all in the name of Jesus; but they were never Christians. Christ Jesus never knew them.

This declaration eliminates Romanist and Arminian doctrine, with its saved on Sunday, lost on Monday soteriology, as well as the Neolegalism of men like Norman Shepherd and Steven Schlissel. The final salvation of Christians-their admittance into the Kingdom of Heaven-just like their election, calling, regeneration, adoption, justification, reconciliation, and sanctification, depends not one whit on our good works, but on the perfect righteousness of Christ alone imputed, not infused, to us through belief alone. Believers have salvation-we possess eternal life-at the first moment of belief, and the gift of salvation is irrevocable.

Notice that Christ Jesus is the only door to Heaven; he admits and excludes. Christ Jesus will send these professing Christians to Hell. Notice that Christ Jesus is the only way to Heaven. It is his life, work, and death alone that entitles sinners to Heaven. Notice that Christ Jesus is the only life. When he says, Depart from me, he is condemning these men to everlasting death. That is what Hell is: separation from Christ.

Jesus will describe these people as you who practice lawlessness. Now if we had seen these people on Earth-and perhaps we have seen some of them-we may not have reached that conclusion. After all, we would have seen these church leaders prophesying, casting out demons, and performing supernatural wonders, all in the name of Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church-State would have declared them saints. The ersatz Evangelicals would have made them best-selling authors and celebrities. But Jesus calls them you who practice lawlessness. Why?

He has already told us why. All of these extraordinary and wonderful works done in the name of Jesus are lawlessness, because they are done for the purpose of obtaining salvation. These works are lawlessness because they involve an illegal use of the law. The law, Paul tells us, is given for the knowledge of sin. It is not given that we sinners might use it to gain entrance into Heaven. Conviction of sin, not salvation, is the purpose of the law. Legalism, because it is an illegal use of the law, is lawlessness. But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, Paul told Timothy. But using the law in an effort to obtain Heaven is not lawful; it is an illegal use of the law; it is lawlessness.

But if we see some of these men on Earth, we are able to recognize them as false teachers, not because of what they do, but because of what they say: They teach salvation by faith and works, by faith and obedience, by faith and covenant faithfulness. They teach on Earth what they will tell the Lord Jesus Christ at the Judgment. That is what they believe.

The simple and obvious notion that false teaching is the indicator by which we recognize false teachers clarifies and explains the meaning of this whole passage. In the verses immediately prior to verse 21, Jesus had been warning of false prophets. He said,

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:15-20)

The trees that are cut down and thrown into the fire in verse 19 are the men Jesus commands to depart from him in verse 23. They are the men who have done spectacular works in the name of Jesus on Earth. This implies, please note, that the fruit by which we are to know them is not primarily their works, perhaps not their works at all, but their doctrine, their teaching. We have become so accustomed to thinking of fruit as behavior that we have missed Jesus’ point in his warning against false prophets: They are recognized by their doctrine. What they teach is their fruit. That is why John gives us a doctrinal test in 2 John 1:7, 9-11:

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist..... Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your home or greet him, for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds

The notion that fruit is doctrine or teaching, rather than works or behavior, is so clearly taught in Scripture that the dominance of the incorrect view must be attributed to our inability to read. For example, Jesus in Matthew 12:32-37 says,

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Fruit is a metaphor for words, doctrine, speaking, teaching. Evil fruit is false teaching; good fruit is true teaching; and we are to judge men by their fruit, that is, their teaching. This is entirely consistent with the tests prescribed in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 13 and 18) for false prophets: The tests were doctrinal. The Israelites were to disbelieve false prophets even if they performed miracles and foretold the future.

Jesus prescribes a doctrinal test for false prophets because a behavioral test is unreliable. We all have known unbelievers whose behavior is better than that of some Christians. And if fruit means behavior, and we must judge them by their fruit, then we must conclude that they are Christians, despite what they say. In fact, this misunderstanding of fruit as behavior has led people to say such foolish things as That Mormon is such a godly man; or He is a good Christian man, when all he is is considerate.

One Last Question

There is, however, one final question with which we have to deal. In verse 21, Jesus used the phrase: he who does the will of my Father in Heaven. What does this phrase mean, if it does not mean works?

The answer may be found in John 6:40, where Jesus says, This is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him have everlasting life, and in John 6:28-29: Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent.’

The phrase Jesus used in Matthew 7:21, he who does the will of my Father in Heaven, is equivalent to believe the Gospel. Far from teaching that our works save us, the passage teaches that even extraordinary, spectacular, and wonderful works are of no value in obtaining salvation, and that the only instrument of salvation is simple belief of the Gospel. Faith alone unites us to Christ. Faith alone is the instrument of salvation. By faith alone we are justified and sanctified. By faith alone we receive the imputed righteousness of Christ. By faith alone we are admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven.

What will be your plea, your defense, in the Day of Judgment? Your good works? Your obedience? Your covenant faithfulness? Or will your defense be the righteousness of Christ alone? Anyone who relies on his own works (whether allegedly done by the grace of God or not), or some combination of his works and Christ’s works, will not enter Heaven. Anyone who thinks he deserves Heaven because of his Christian works will not enter Heaven. Miracles, prophecies, and casting out demons will not help: Judas Iscariot did all three.

A thousand years ago Anselm wrote a tract for dying men, telling them what they ought to say at the Day of Judgment. Here is an excerpt from the tract:

Come, then, while life remains in you. In his death alone place your whole trust; in nothing else place any trust;....with this alone cover yourself wholly; and if the Lord your God wills to judge you, say: Lord, between your judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; in no other way can I contend with you. And if he shall say that you are a sinner, say: Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and you. If he should say that you deserve condemnation, say: Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and you, and his merits I offer for those which I ought to have and have not. If he says that he is angry with you, say: Lord, I oppose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between your wrath and me. And when you have completed this, say again: Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and you.

Our only hope in life and death is our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing less, no one else, will save. That, not works, is the message of Matthew 7:21-23.

John Robbins

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