SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS
…be ready always to give an ANSWER to every man that asketh you a REASON of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…(I Peter 3:15)
A Study of THE FAITH which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).
BY ELDER HOYT B. SIMMS
1.WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS AND OTHER BAPTISTS?
At one time only one group of Baptists was in existence, with all Baptists holding similar beliefs concerning the basic doctrine of the Bible, especially those Bible teachings relating to the salvation of sinners. About 1832 the first division of Baptists occurred with one group becoming known as “Primitive Baptists” and the other as “Missionary Baptists.” Since that time the Primitive Baptists have held to the original beliefs of Baptists while other Baptist groups have divided many times until a great many different Baptist factions are now in existence. Most Baptists, with the exception of Primitive Baptists and some other sovereign grace Baptists, believe in an Armenian doctrine; that is, a doctrine of works which teaches a general or universal atonement, meaning that Christ died for every person who has ever lived. Primitive Baptists believe in a limited or particular atonement, meaning that Christ died for the sins of His elect only and not for the sins of every man.(Isaiah 53:10; John 10:11,14-15; Romans 9:11-24; Romans 8:29-33; Ephesians 1:4-5; John 17:6-9; I Peter 1:2; I Thessalonians 1:4). If Christ died for every person who has ever lived, all would be saved and this we know is not true for He said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:37-39). It has been well said that one of three things must be true: 1. Christ died for all the sins of all men, 2. Christ died for some of the sins of all men, or 3. Christ died for all of the sins of some men. If Christ died for all the sins of all men, everyone would be saved; this Bible does not teach. If Christ died for some of the sins of all men, no man is saved for one sin that has not been remitted would be enough to keep any person out of heaven. Therefore, Christ did die for all the sins of some men – the elect; this Bible teaches. The Primitive Baptists believe.
WHY ARE YOUR PREACHERS CALLED “ELDER”?
The Bible gives the title elder to preachers; therefore, we would use no other title. “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder…” (I Peter 5:1). New Testament preachers are referred to as “elders” or “bishops.” The term bishop is much misunderstood and we do not use it for that reason, but it would be a legal title for a minister. We do not use the term reverend because it is never used in connection with a man in God’s Word. This title appears only once in God’s Word and there it has reference to God alone: “holy and reverend is his name” (Psalm 111:9). Should any man take upon himself a title that is reserved for God alone?
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MISSIONS?
The term’s mission and missionary do not appear in the Bible. They represent the introduction of ideas, which were advanced after the giving of the Scriptures. What is a mission? Is it a church? Primitive Baptists do believe in churches and if by missions you mean churches, Primitive Baptists do believe in missions. What is a missionary? Is he a preacher – or a minister of the Gospel? Primitive Baptists believe in God-called ministers of the Gospel and if a missionary is a preacher, we believe in missionaries. Primitive Baptists do believe in preaching the Gospel in all nations (Matthew 28:19), but only as the individual minister is instructed to go by the Holy Spirit. They “were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6-8). We believe the minister is to go as did the Apostle Paul, where the Holy Spirit directs, and is to be supported in this work by the people of God (1 Corinthians 9:14). We do object to the common idea of missions; namely, that eternal salvation is brought to individuals by the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel does not bring salvation but rather reveals salvation. It is “the savior of death unto death; and… of life unto life” (II Corinthians 2:16).
“And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Some people believe that a person cannot be saved unless he hears and accepts the Gospel. This belief completely damns anyone who has not heard the Gospel, even if his failure to hear it was because no one preached it to him. Is it reasonable to assume that God would predicate salvation on a belief such as this? Someone might say that if a person never hears the Gospel, he is not held accountable and will therefore be saved automatically. If this is so, why send preachers anywhere? If a preacher goes to a country where the Gospel is heard for the first time, some will believe and some will not. Those who do not believe are said to be not saved and will go to hell. If we leave the preacher home, all of them would be saved. Can God’s plan of salvation have this many holes in it? No, the Bible tells us “thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…” (Revelation 5:9). Since God has a people in every kindred and tongue and people and nation, certainly their salvation does not depend upon a preacher’s reaching them with the Gospel, but it depends upon the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit.
TO WHAT CONVENTION DO YOU BELONG?
Primitive Baptists belong to no convention and have no ruling body. There is no scriptural authority for this. The New Testament standard for each church is that it is an independent church, answerable only to her Head, which is Christ (Ephesians 5:23).
WHO ARE THE PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS?
They are members of independent local churches holding forth the doctrines and practices of the New Testament. They contend for the doctrinal position formerly held by all Baptists. About 1832 a split occurred among Baptists concerning the purpose of missions (See number 3). The minority group was called “non-mission” or “Hardshells” by the “missionary” group, but later became known as “Primitive Baptists.” The name is derived from the word first or original, holding to the first doctrine as taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles. They are also known as “Original” or “Old School” Baptists.
WHAT IS MEANT BY “OLD SCHOOL BAPTISTS” OR “HARDSHELLS”?
These terms were given to Primitive Baptists after the division among Baptists in 1832. The term Old School does not refer to a college or university, but to a school of thought or belief. The missionary Baptists were referred to as New School because of their new beliefs. The term Hardshell is a colloquial expression given to Primitive Baptists in certain sections. Ideas about the origin of this term vary. Some believe it is derived from the emphasis that Primitive Baptist preachers placed on the “shalls” of the Bible. They emphasized greatly the word shall as in “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6:37). Eventually the expression hard shall changed to the term Hardshells.
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE NAME “PROGRESSIVE PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS”?
About the year 1909 there arose a division among the Primitive Baptists, or Old School Baptists, concerning the use of musical instruments in the church and “protracted meetings.” Any meeting that continued more than three days was considered a “protracted meeting.” These two things were the main issues, but from all appearances preacher jealousy was the real cause of the division. Those abstaining from the use of musical instruments and declining to go beyond three days in a meeting named themselves “Old Liners” and branded those whom they opposed as “Progressive.” Progressive Primitive Baptists do have Bible Study classes, Youth Fellowship meetings and musical instruments in their churches whereas the Old Line Baptists do not.
DO PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS BELIEVE THEY ARE THE TRUE CHURCH?
Jesus Christ said, “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Please note that He said “church,” not “churches.” Also He said the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The church that Jesus Christ established must therefore still be in this world, or else Jesus must have been mistaken. The only way a church can be identified is by its doctrine and practice. Primitive Baptists contend for the same doctrine and practice as did the New Testament church; and therefore they believe they are the true church.
DO PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS BELIEVE THERE ARE ANY OTHER RELIGIOUS BODIES THAT ARE A PART OF THE TRUE CHURCH?
As was stated in the last answer, the true church can only be identified by its adherence to the doctrine and practice taught in the Scriptures. If any other church, even though called by another name, holds to the doctrine and practice of the Scriptures, it would be part of the true church. The Strict Baptists (or Particular Baptists) of England hold to the same truths as do Primitive Baptists in the United States, and undoubtedly there are other bodies of believers in the world doing the same.
Some people accuse Primitive Baptists of being narrow in thinking their church to be the true church, but let us examine this. We know of no group claiming to be a Christian Church who would not believe their church to be a part of the true church. Any person would be most insincere if he or she did not believe his or her church to be a part of the true church. Jesus Christ built only one church. If every group believes itself to be the true church, it would be just as narrow in its thinking as Primitive Baptists. To any reader we would say that if you are in a church not holding to the truth of God’s Word, you should seek one that is.
DO PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS BELIEVE THAT GOD’S CHILDREN ARE FOUND ONLY IN THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH?
No. Primitive Baptists believe that God has children in every religious group and possibly untold numbers not belonging to any religious group. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9). “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9,10).
DO PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS BELIEVE IN FEETWASHING?
Yes, Primitive Baptists believe in washing the saints’ feet and they practice it. They do so because Jesus taught this service. “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:4, 5, 12-14). We are bound in duty to wash one another’s feet if indeed we claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Master. We also practice feetwashing because it was practiced by the early church. 1 Tim 5:9,10, “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” This practice in experience has proved the words of our Saviour when He said, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” Please read the complete account of Jesus’ teaching concerning this vital subject in the 13th Chapter of John.
WHY ARE YOU A MEMBER OF THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH?
Many reasons could be given but first and foremost, one who is a member of a Primitive Baptist Church is one who believes his church is the Church of Jesus Christ, endeavoring to attain at all times to the doctrines and practices of the true church as are outlined in the New Testament. We do not claim that we are perfect any more than any of the New Testament churches were perfect, but we do strive to teach only that which God’s Word teaches and to practice only that which God’s Word instructs us to practice. Since Jesus built only one church and since there can be only one true church today, we sincerely believe the Primitive Baptist Church to be a part of that one church. If we did not so believe, we would be out of the Primitive Baptist Church and would be looking for that one church that Jesus Christ did build.
WHY DO YOU PRACTICE CLOSE COMMUNION?
First, what is meant by close communion? Close communion is the partaking of the communion service instituted by our Lord with only baptized believers who have been baptized by ministers of the same faith and order, believing and teaching the true “faith once delivered unto the saints.” If a person has been baptized by a preacher who teaches salvation by works, he has been baptized into a faith of salvation by works. According to God’s Word there is only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. We believe in the doctrines of grace and will accept only a baptism consistent with the doctrine of grace. If a doctrine is erroneous the baptism is erroneous also. In the same manner, the communion service must be consistent with the doctrine and the baptism. Since the doctrine of works cannot be in communion with the doctrine of grace, we believe that anyone believing in the doctrine of works is not a fit subject to partake of the communion service with those believing in the doctrines of grace. Paul said, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (II Corinthians 6:14a). “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace… We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle” (Hebrews 13:9,10). By this we do not imply that only Primitive Baptists are the children of God. We do believe the Bible places restrictions on the observance of this ordinance inasmuch as it is a church ordinance (I Cor. 11:2, 18, 23). This is restricted to those who have professed their belief in God as their Savior and submitted to God’s ordinance of baptism.
WHY DO YOU NOT BAPTIZE INFANTS?
There is no scriptural instruction or example that any infant should be baptized. The only pre-requisite for baptism is found in Acts 8:37: “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” For this reason we hold to a “believer’s baptism.” Since water baptism has nothing whatsoever to do with eternal salvation there is no purpose to be gained by the baptism of infants. Church history records that it was several hundred years after the time of the apostles before any record is given of the baptism of infants.
WHY DO YOU REQUIRE A SECOND BAPTISM?
There is only one baptism acceptable to God. Read Ephesians 4:5. We require a person to be baptized when his first baptism is not in harmony with the doctrine of God. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (II John 10-11).
Baptism administered by any minister or church group holding a belief different from the one faith mentioned in Ephesians 4:5 cannot be the “one baptism” mentioned in this same verse. In Acts 19:1-5, we have the record of the Apostle Paul’s administering baptism to those who had been immersed before, but who had no understanding of the truth when they were first immersed.
WHAT IS YOUR INTERPRETATION OF JOHN 3:16?
The word world is derived from the root word kosmos, which means a particular order of persons. Where there is more than one order of persons there is more than one world. The word world in John 3:16 is the same as in I John 2:2. “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” This is the “world” that God so loved. Esau could not have belonged to this world because it is written, “but Esau have I hated.” Jacob did not belong to the world of Esau for God said of him, “Jacob have I loved” (Romans 9:13). The “world” in John 3:16 embraces the elect world of God. Jesus said, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine” (John 17:9). There must have been more than one world, one for which Jesus did not pray. Jesus prayed for the “elect world” for He said, “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them” (John 17:10). Jesus Christ is glorified in every one born into the elect world. God loved this world so much “that he gave his only begotten Son,” and He did so “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “Whosoever believeth” is not a condition to be met in order to obtain eternal life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1a). “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27,28). If God had loved all of the world (everyone) so much that He sent Jesus to die for them all, none would be lost. All that Jesus died to redeem will be finally saved and none will be lost. This is why it is certain that Jesus died for only the elect world.
Jesus spoke the words of John 3:16 to Nicodemus, a Jew and a teacher of Jews. Its meaning is seen in the light of Jewish thinking. For example, the Jews thought of the Messiah as coming only to Israel and as a Saviour only for Israelites. Jesus is here revealing to Nicodemus the fact that God loves Gentiles as well as Jews. A Jew looked upon people as belonging to one of two groups: Jews, or the world (Gentiles – the worldly). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus spoke of the Gentiles seeking after material things. When Luke recorded this same statement in his Gospel he identified them as “the nations of the world.” (Compare Matthew 6:31,32 with Luke 12:29,30.) Jesus taught Nicodemus the enlarged view of God’s love – a view that reveals His love for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews. This, no doubt, was a strange and new thought to Nicodemus; but it showed that God’s love was not confined geographically to Palestine or to the nation of Jews.
Paul used the term’s world and Gentile interchangeably. In Romans 11:12, both of these terms refer to the same people – Gentiles. “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?”
It took a Divine revelation for Peter to learn this same fact – that God is no respecter of persons by geography, race, etc. in bestowing His love. (See Acts 10, especially verses 13-17; 34-35; 44-47.) In truth, John 3:16 supports the idea of Revelation 5:9, that Jesus hath “redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
John 3:16 presents this enlarged view of God’s love as demonstrated by the fact that He gave His only Son as the seal of that love. It further gives an assurance of that love – belief. Belief is an assurance of eternal life, not the means by which it is secured. John declared in one of his epistles, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1). Belief is a product of the new birth, the evidence of God’s love and the assurance of eternal life.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REGENERATION AND CONVERSION?
Conversion is a spiritual or moral change attending a change of belief. It means to turn from one belief or course to another. Regeneration is a change in one’s nature by a spiritual birth, which gives one an inner spiritual nature. Jesus spoke of this to Nicodemus when He said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Conversion played a great part in the history of the early church as converts were made through the Gospel; that is, people were influenced or persuaded by the Gospel to turn to Christianity as a way of life. It is basically the same today.
Too often conversion and regeneration are confused. They are not the same. Conversion is a change in belief or the course of one’s life. Regeneration is a change in one’s nature. The means of conversion is primarily the Gospel. The means of regeneration is solely the work of God’s Spirit and because of the distinct nature of the two, regeneration must come first. They may be experienced simultaneously, but even then the cause or means of each remains distinct as indicated above. Regeneration makes children of God; conversion causes children of God to become Christians. Regeneration brings people into a saving relationship with God; conversion then brings them into a serving relationship to Him
WHAT IS MEANT BY “WHOSOEVER WILL” IN REVELATION 22:17? (Do men have a free will?)
These words mean just what they say. “And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” This does not mean that any man can will to come to Christ. John 1:12,13 emphatically teaches that the new birth and eternal life are not of the will of man. The natural man (un-regenerate man) does not have a free will in spiritual things because he is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). He has no understanding of the things of God nor any desire to seek after the things of God (Romans 3:11). Adam had a free will; he was made able to stand but liable to fall. When he disobeyed God he died in trespasses and sins (Genesis 2:17) and all mankind has come forth with a sinful, fallen nature (Job 14:4). The natural man has natural life and therefore free will in natural things. Any man can will to work or not to work; to eat or not to eat; to act kindly or ugly; but can he will to add inches to his ight? Can one with low intelligence will to become one with an excellent I.Q.? OUR WILL IS LIMITED BY OUR NATURE. The one who does not have spiritual life cannot have any will in spiritual things. Revelation 22:17 speaks to those who have been born again, who have spiritual life and a will in spiritual things. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psalm 110:3). Only born again children of God thirst after the water of life and will desire the things of God. For example, many say “whosoever will” may believe the Gospel. But is that true? Acts 13:48 states: “and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Only those who are born of the Spirit of God can believe in the things of the Spirit of God, and the Gospel is one of those things which are definitely of the Spirit of God and not of the spirit of man.
DON’T YOU BELIEVE THAT CHRIST DIED FOR EVERYONE?
So Primitive Baptists do not believe Christ died for all men for if Christ died for every man, every man would be saved. Christ is God and is not a failure. Matthew 1:21 tells us, “he shall save his people from their sins.” If all men are His people, all men are saved. We know this is not true for Scripture teaches otherwise (Jude 11,13; Revelation 20:14-15). Hell shall be occupied. The Scriptures teach unmistakably that Christ died only for God’s elect which are His sheep, His children, those whom He foreknew (Romans 8:29,30). The Scriptures teach that the souls of those who die go either to hell or heaven upon death and when Christ came into this world it had already stood for about four thousand years. Many people had died and their souls had gone either to hell or heaven. Did Christ die for those whose souls had already gone to hell? This is not reasonable. Isaiah speaks of the crucifixion of Christ as though it had already taken place. Notice the verb tense he uses. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). Whom does the “us all” include? It includes the “like sheep.” All men are not sheep, but according to the Word of God some are goats. Matthew 25:32-34states, “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” Peter speaking to God’s elect in 1 Peter 2:24-25 states, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Let us not accuse Christ of failure by saying that He died for every man but some of them had hell as an eternal end.
HOW DID JESUS TASTE DEATH FOR EVERY MAN? (Hebrews 2:9)
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
The “every man” under consideration in this text is “every man” of the elect of God. Note the context in the verses which follow. Christ came to “bring many sons unto glory” and “he is not ashamed to call them brethren” and “I and the children which God hath given me (Verses 10,11,13). Then note verse 14: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same…” These were already the children of God, His by election in His plan and purpose. For them Christ came to die. Thus He says,”I and the children which God hath given me.” The elect children of God are the “every man” for whom Christ tasted death. Not one of them will be eternally lost for Christ paid their debt of sin and set them free from the bondage of sin and death.
DON’T YOU BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE HAS A CHANCE TO BE SAVED?
No, for men are not under a chance system for salvation. Those who object to the doctrine of God concerning election say that it is unfair because it would not give all men a chance to be saved. This is true. It does not, but consider this. Assume God has offered men a chance to be saved through the preaching of the Gospel. Since the Bible was written, over two-thirds of the people in this world have died and never heard a word of it preached. If eternal salvation comes through the preached Word, have those who have never heard it had a chance to be saved? Paul wrote, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Men are not saved accidentally or by chance, but according to God’s eternal purpose, which God purposed before the world began.
The trouble with the chance system of salvation is that if there is a chance to be saved, there must also be a chance not to be saved. Does God work by “chance” or by “purpose”? His plan of salvation is based, not upon anything in man, but upon His own sovereign purpose and grace which was laid up in Christ before the world began. As to the fairness of God’s plan of salvation, we might state that all men have an equal chance to save themselves. If any will live completely above sin and keep every precept of the law, he then will have all the blessings of the law. The only trouble with this system is that salvation has never come by keeping the law; and beyond that, no man has yet been able to keep the law with the exception of the Man Christ Jesus. If man could save himself, God would not have sent His Son to pay the price of sin.
DON’T YOU BELIEVE THAT IF EVERYONE WILL JUST DO THE BEST HE CAN, GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF THE REST AND SAVE HIM?
God’s Word answers this question most simply: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10). Every person in this world who is sick of sin and who is from the heart seeking to live a righteous and godly life is numbered among God’s elect and has been called by God’s Spirit out of nature’s darkness into His marvelous light. Condemnation felt in the heart for sin and a desire to live soberly, righteously and godly are evidences that we are God’s children and that Christ has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. We are not dependent upon our good works to qualify us for a home in heaven; we have been clothed with the righteousness of our Lord.
DON’T YOU BELIEVE THAT A PERSON MUST ACCEPT CHRIST AS HIS PERSONAL SAVIOUR IN ORDER TO BE SAVED?
There is no such expression in the Bible as “accepting Christ as your personal Saviour.” Sinners who are dead in sin do not accept Jesus Christ. Jesus is received of them when they are born again. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6). The word accepted is used in Ephesians 1:6, but in this case it is “we” who are accepted. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:5-6). God accepts His children in Jesus Christ to the praise of the glory of His grace. After receiving the new birth and receiving a knowledge of salvation, the believer must every day of his life choose to accept or reject the commandments of Jesus. God’s children were told to “choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15b). If we choose to serve the Lord we are blessed in this life; if Satan, we shall be chastened. Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” This is the injunction to every child of God, which he must consider eve day of his life.
DON’T YOU BELIEVE WE ARE ALL WORKING FOR THE SAME PLACE?
If the place eternal heaven is meant, the answer is NO. No one gets to heaven by working. Heaven is not based upon works, but upon the saving grace of God. Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” If the place mentioned is hell, the answer is still no, for everyone outside of the covenant of grace is already bound for hell without having to work for it. If it were not for the amazing grace of God, we would all live eternally in hell. If we all receive the due reward for the works, deeds and sins we have done, we would forever burn in an endless hell when we cross the river of death.
HOW DO YOU INTERPRET REVELATION 3:20-22?
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Negatively speaking, the language is not addressed to the dead sinner. There is no such thing as Jesus Christ standing at the door of the sinner’s heart, begging for entrance; and if the sinner will open the door, Jesus will come in. The scripture is addressed to a church, the Church of the Laodiceans. It is at the door of the church that Jesus is knocking and to every man in that church. This church had closed her door to her Head by her lukewarmness.
Many try to make this verse mean that Christ stands at the door of the sinner’s heart begging to be let in so that the sinner might be saved. This view presents Christ as desiring to come into the sinner’s heart but is powerless unless the sinner will let Him. Is the Lord of Glory powerless in any way? Must the Creator beg the creature in any way?
The heart of the sinner is corrupt and evil (Ecclesiastes 9:3 and Jeremiah 17:9). God has declared that He purposed to save some men and join them to Christ forever. In so doing, God the Holy Spirit touched the hearts of these when they were dead in sins and gave them new hearts, the new birth. When this happens, the sinner is saved. Then it is that the heart can be given unto the Lord, the same heart that the Lord has given to the child of God. Read I Corinthians 2:9, Galatians 4:6 and Acts 16:14.
WHAT IS MEANT BY PREDESTINATION?
Predestination is that effective exercise of the will of God by which things before determined by Him are brought to pass. God says that at a certain time He is going to do a certain thing. That thing shall be done at that time because God is sovereign, possessing all wisdom and power. Predestination, as presented in Scripture, does not imply that God arranged all things beforehand but it refers solely to the salvation of God’s elect. The prefix pre means before. Destination is the end of a journey. Destine means to determine. Predestination means the end of a journey determined beforehand. There is but one destination that was predestinated and that destination is heaven and immortal glory. It is there that all the saints will be conformed to the image of God for this is what God had predestinated. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). Paul also writes, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:5). We are told why the saints are predestinated. “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE WHAT IS TO BE WILL BE?
Anything that “is to be” certainly “will be.” The real question is: What is it that will be? We do not believe that God has predestinated all things, that He has ordained the sins of men, the storms and disasters that occur, or any other such things. We believe that God has before determined that certain things shall come to pass and these things are the things necessary to bring to pass the salvation of His people. John was told in Revelation 1:19 by Christ, “Write the things, which thou hast seen, and the things, which are, and the things, which shall be hereafter.” In Revelation, John was given a very accurate account of that which was to take place in this world from his day till the end of the world. Christ said, “Write…the things which shall be hereafter.” “What is to be” has to do only with that which God decreed or purposed before the world began. Do you believe that Jesus is coming back to this world? Why do you believe it? Is it not because God declared it? If so, you believe also that what is to will be. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).
WHAT IS MEANT BY ELECTION?
Election is the act by which God chose certain individuals as His own out of all the inhabitants of the earth. This occurred before the foundation of the world and is accomplished according to the will and purpose of God. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4). Psalm 33:12 states, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” From these and numerous other scriptures we find that election as taught in the Bible is the act of God in eternity, before the world began, whereby God selected or chose some out of every nation, kindred, tongue and people to be His children. Those whom He chose He did predestinate unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, and they are the ones for whom Christ died. The Spirit of God is now moving over the face of the earth calling in regeneration all those who were chosen of God before the foundation of the world and redeemed by the blood of Christ on Calvary.
WHAT IS MEANT BY EFFECTUAL CALLING?
Effectual calling is the consequence of God’s election and predestination of some to salvation. The Holy Spirit calls each of God’s elect in regeneration and this calling is effectual. No person is able to resist the power of God’s Spirit in regeneration. Christ said, “All that the Father giveth me SHALL come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). He also said, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him POWER OVER ALL FLESH that he should GIVE eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (John 17:1-2). At God’s own appointed time, all of God’s elect are brought to Christ by the Spirit of God in regeneration. Notice these words in John 3:8: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” The wind blows in Africa, Asia and over all the earth just as it does in America. So does the Spirit God. No person can prevent or alter the course of the wind; and neither can any person prevent or alter the movement of God’s Spirit. He is always effectual in the calling of regeneration.
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE FINAL PRESERVATION OF THE SAINTS? (Don’t you believe that after a person is saved he can fall from grace?)
To believe that a saved person can be lost is to believe that God is not the possessor of all power and of all wisdom. Salvation is of the Lord and if that salvation becomes ineffective, the wisdom of God must not have been sufficient to provide for every need, nor the power of God sufficient to overcome every enemy. Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ecclesiastes 3:14 declares, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail” (Psalm 89:30-33). “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:15-16). “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Certainly a person saved by God will never fall into condemnation. A brother or sister may fall from the doctrine of grace for Paul said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 1:6; 5:1-4 ).
BUT IF GOD PREDESTINATED AND ELECTED SOME, WOULD THAT NOT BE SAYING THAT GOD MADE THE REST TO BE DAMNED?
It is foolish, unjust, ungodly, and sinful to charge the damnation of any man to God. Man damned himself and in the same condemnation all men are damned. God made man pure and clean, free of sin. It is the sin in man’s life that condemns him to hell. If God sent every person who has ever lived or should ever live to hell, He would be a just and righteous God. Man’s fall was of himself, not caused by God. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). This scripture teaches that it was the man who had all to do concerning his damnation. All men universally were damned. Man, by sin, separated himself from God. God could have remained holy, just, and good if every man had gone to hell. God is under no obligation to save any person’s soul except on the basis of the blood of Jesus Christ, and God will save every one for whom Christ died.
DON’T YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD ELECTED THOSE WHO ARE SAVED BECAUSE HE FORESAW THEIR BELIEF AND ACCEPTANCE OF CHRIST?
The election of God is not based upon works, belief, or acceptance of Christ. God’s foreknowledge revealed that “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). As faith and belief are the “gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) and a “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), it would be impossible for God to see it in any except those to whom He gives it. Paul makes this clear in Romans 9:11, “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:1-6). God’s election was based solely upon His love for His chosen people.
WOULD GOD BE A JUST GOD IF HE CHOSE ONE AND NOT ANOTHER TO SALVATION?
This is the question sponsored by the devil and is not of recent origin. It has been asked for at least 2000 years. Paul had to contend with it in his day as is evident from his words in Romans 9:13-16: “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” God would have been just not to save any. He was just when in Christ He saved His elect.
WHAT IS MEANT BY TOTAL DEPRAVITY?
The word depraved according to Webster means “crooked, to lead into bad habits, make morally bad; corrupt; pervert.” Depravity means a “depraved condition; corruption.” All unsaved men are in a state of total depravity; that is, they are not able to bring themselves out of their state and condition. When man sinned, he fixed a gulf across which he cannot pass to God. In this state he cannot come to God. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). This teaching is also known as the doctrine of original sin. It is stated clearly in Romans 5:18-19, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” When Adam sinned his nature became a sinful, fallen, depraved nature. That nature was transmitted to all mankind as are all the descendants of Adam. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” (Job 14:4). Then Job gives the answer: “not one.” Thus all men are born with a nature of sin. We ” were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:3).
WHAT IS MEANT BY REGENERATION AND THE NEW BIRTH?
Regeneration and the new birth are the same. The word regenerate means to impart new life. In John 3:3, Christ said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” All men are dead in sin and are completely void of spiritual life until they are born of the Spirit of God. John the Baptist was evidently born of the Spirit while he was yet in his mother’s womb; Paul the Apostle was born of the Spirit while on the road to Damascus; one of the thieves who were crucified by the side of Christ was born of the Spirit as he hung on the cross. Paul said in II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” The new birth, or regeneration, is an act of God the Holy Spirit, whereby spiritual life is implanted in the soul of God’s elect. Paul wrote to the saints at Corinth, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (I Corinthians 6:19). This new creature which is implanted within those born of the Spirit of God is as holy and righteous a God Himself. This new creature cannot sin. This old flesh is not changed in regeneration. It is just as sinful and corrupt as before, but the Spirit of God within us wars against the flesh so that we cannot continue to live in sin and love it as we did once before regeneration. Before the new birth we have the nature of the flesh and after the new birth we have implanted within us the new nature of the Spirit.
BY WHAT MEANS ARE MEN REGENERATED?
Men are regenerated by the Spirit of God, certainly by no man nor by anything that belongs to an earthly kingdom. Man has no part in the work of regeneration for: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God (Christ) which liveth and abideth forever” (I Peter 1:23). This work is accomplished without the agreement or assistance of man. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). Many feel that God regenerates only through the means of the preached Word. If this were so, only those who hear and receive the Gospel would be saved and this we know is not so. God the Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration without the use of means or instrumentality’s, but out of His own power. When God created man, He did so without the use of means. When a man is recreated (regenerated) the same is true.
WHAT ARE THE FRUITS AND EVIDENCES OF REGENERATION?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Before regeneration every person cares not for that which is righteous, holy and godly. The preaching of the Gospel is foolishness unto him and he is not concerned with the things of God, His Church, His Gospel, or anything that is spiritual and godly. When the Spirit of God moves in our hearts in regeneration, old things are passed away and all things become new. We begin to despise the wickedness and ungodliness of this world and to love the things we formerly despised. Belief is another evidence of regeneration. Many say that belief is the cause of regeneration, but this cannot possibly be so. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1). If we say, “Whosoever moveth is alive,” we know the movement does not cause life, but is an evidence of life. This is what God’s Word states. Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is a great evidence that we are born of God’s Spirit, but it is not the cause of our being born of God’s Spirit.
WHAT IS FAITH?
Faith is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). It is the result of regeneration and is possessed by all the children of God when they are brought forth by the Spirit in regeneration. Faith enables the child of God to believe the Gospel. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Before one can exercise faith and believe the Word of God, he must have that faith in order to exercise it. The natural man, one not born of the Spirit of God, “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him…neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-11). We must remember that even the faith we exercise is a gift of God. Many have said that faith is simply believing the Word of God and acting upon it. That is true, but it is again true that only that person who has been born of the Spirit of God can exercise concerning the things of the Spirit.
HOW CAN A PERSON BE SAVED UNLESS THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED TO HIM?
The preaching of the Gospel has nothing whatever to do with eternal salvation except to teach us the way in which God accomplished that salvation. Scriptural proof of this has been given in questions 35 through 37. If the preached Word were a means of salvation, none could be saved except those who hear the Gospel and there are multiplied thousands who have lived and died without ever hearing the Gospel preached. “By grace are ye saved” (Ephesians 2:8).
WHAT IS THE AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY?
There is no such teaching in the Word of God. If it were taught in God’s Word, no children would be dying until they reached that age. Sin is the cause of death whether it be in an infant or an adult. James 1:15 states, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “The sting of death is sin…” (I Corinthians 15:56). Many people do not want to think of an infant or a child as a sinner, but if we believe the truth of God we must admit that the human nature which we receive from our parents is sinful, wicked and corrupt. A zebra is striped because that is the nature of it. A leopard is spotted because that is its nature. Some think that as children grow up they become sinners by transgressing God’s law, but that is not so. Paul wrote in Romans 5:12-14 that from Adam to Moses there was no written or spoken law for men to transgress, yet death reigned from Adam to Moses even over them who had not sinned in the same manner as Adam. This proves that all who lived in that day – for about 2500 years – were sinners by nature, having received this nature from their first parents, Adam and Eve. That sinful nature is still being passed on to every person born of woman with the exception of Christ our Lord. The doctrine of the Bible is that all are sinners by nature and all who are saved – whether infant or adult – are saved by the same method, the blood of Christ on the cross through the grace of God.
IF A MAN IS CHOSEN IN CHRIST BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, WHY PREACH?
Paul said, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). The purpose of the Gospel is twofold: (1) To carry the message of the truth of God and of His salvation to His people. John the Baptist was the first Gospel preacher and we have God’s Word concerning his mission. “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins” (Luke 1:76,77). Paul wrote in Ephesians 4: 11-12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Notice why Paul said Christ gave gifts unto men – not for the regeneration of men or the populating of heaven. (2) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God’s people are commanded to believe God’s Word and everyone who does believe it will be saved from darkness to light and from the erroneous doctrines of man to the truth of God and will live a life of usefulness in His church. This is the “saving” which comes through the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel is good news. Every person who has been saved by the grace of God through the blood of Christ should know of such a great salvation.
WHAT IS MEANT BY “RECEIVE NOT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN”? (II Corinthians 6:1)
It was not a question of whether the grace of God would be or would not be received. The text was addressed to the saints at Corinth. They had received the grace of God in salvation. Paul’s desire and his entreaty to them was that it not be in vain that they had received this grace, but that they make full use of it in their lives. The failure of the proper use of the grace of God in one’s life is receiving the grace of God in vain. Paul gave us a good idea of what he meant when he wrote of the grace of God in his life. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: (referring to those he had named in the preceding verses): yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). To be moved away from the doctrines of grace, to fall from one’s stedfastness, to serve the flesh rather than Christ is to receive the grace of God in vain. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:17-18).
IF YOU BELIEVE IN SALVATION BY GRACE, WHAT IS MEANT BY TITUS 2:11-12?
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
Notice that this text does not say that the grace of God has brought salvation to all men. If so, all would be saved for who can conceive of God’s grace failing to do that for which God has sent it? The “grace of God…hath appeared to all men.” The “all men” of the text refers to all classes of men, which is seen in the context. Dr. Gill states, “This is to be understood of all sorts of men, of every nation, of every age and sex, of every state and condition, high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, masters and servants; which sense agrees with the context, ver. 2,3,4,6,9,10.” If the grace of God had appeared to every man in salvation, all would be saved; but this has not been and will not be so.
IF YOU BELIEVE IN SALVATION BY GRACE, WHAT IS MEANT BY 2 PETER 3:9?
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
In 2 Peter 3, the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the physical world are under consideration. There were scoffers and mockers in that day who refuted this teaching and made mockery of it. They said, “Where is the promise of his coming?” Peter told those Jews how things were at “the beginning,” that the world had been destroyed by the deluge but some things had been held in reserve until the final consummation, and how those things, particularly the “heavens,” the “elements” and the “earth,” shall be destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:6,7).
The text gives the promise that all of the elect of God shall be saved (Refer to 1 Peter 1:1,5.) The promise is given that time shall not be brought to an end until the last one of God’s elect is born naturally and born again spiritually. Peter tells the saints that the Lord will surely come and is not “slack concerning his promise.” He also answers the question, “Why hasn’t He already come?” It is because of His elect, the us-ward of the text. All of the elect must be born into the world and must be brought to spiritual life through regeneration, or the new birth. Until that time God will suffer time to go on; therefore, none of the elect shall perish because God has willed that they should not. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).
Notice that 2 Peter is written to the same people to whom Peter wrote his first epistle – 1 Peter 1:2 reads, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…” The elect of God are under consideration in God’s longsuffering – not willing that they should perish but should come to repentance. Surely if God is not willing for one to perish, that one will not – cannot, perish.
EXPLAIN JAMES 2:17 AND 26.
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
We have shown elsewhere that faith is a gift of God and that none but a born again child of God has faith – the faith spoken of in the Scriptures. James here shows us the necessity of showing our faith by our works for faith is proved by works. Jesus said to His disciples on separate occasions, “O ye of little faith” (Matthew 6:30, 8:26). Again He said, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). He also said of a certain centurion, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matthew 8:10). James simply shows that even though faith is a gift of God, it cannot be manifested in the child of God without works. James places the emphasis here on faith before men, not before God. Men can see our faith only by our works. Every child of God has God-given faith, but not all are showing that faith. James exhorts the children to exercise the faith God has given them.
EXPLAIN MATTHEW 7:13 AND 14.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Many try to use these scriptures to prove that man enters heaven through works. Others try to prove that heaven will be sparsely populated. Certainly, if heaven is gained by works, there will be none there. These scriptures do not pertain in any way to the gaining of heaven itself. The Sermon On The Mount is basically concerned with the walk of the child of God in this world – in the kingdom of God in the earth. The Sermon On The Mount is the constitution of the kingdom of God. Truly the gate is “strait,” or difficult, to enter into the kingdom of heaven in the earth. Jesus said in this same sermon, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Jesus also said in the parable of the two sons, “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31). What is meant by the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God referred to in these verses? The answer is given by Paul in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” This refers, not to heaven itself, but to the kingdom of God on the earth. There are many who walk in the way of Christ in this life, but they are few in comparison to the number who are on the broad way which leads to destruction.
DOESN’T ACTS 2:38 TEACH WORKS FOR SALVATION?
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Salvation is not taught in this text. There is not one text in the Bible that teaches that heaven is gained by works. Peter commanded the people to repent and be baptized because of what had been done for them, “for the remission of sins,” which literally means, “because your sins have been remitted.” The word for comes from the Greek word eis which means because of. Remit means to pay and to pay in full. This is what had been done for them; He had paid for their sins in full. Therefore, they owed Him a debt of repentance and baptism, which are accompanied with the gift of the blessing of the Holy Ghost.
“And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” A careful study of the Book of Acts will reveal that the gift of the Holy Ghost is quite different from the work of the Holy Ghost in regeneration. The disciples at this time had already been born again by the Spirit of God but they received the gift of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost.
EXPLAIN JOHN 1:7 AND JOHN 1:12.
John 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
In verse 7, the word men is in italics indicating that it is not in the original, but was supplied by the translators. The verse thus reads in the original Greek: “that all through him might believe.” It is not all men who are in question here, but all of the people of God. This is borne out by verses 12 and 13 which indicate that those who do believe are those who are born of God.
The word power in verse 12 means the right or the privilege. Such meaning of the word is found in 1 Corinthians 9:3-6, where Paul treats upon the material care and support due the ministry. “Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?”
In this text we find all who did receive Him were given the power – or the right – or the privilege to manifest their sonship. These are those “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).
IS IT GOD’S DESIRE THAT ALL MEN BE SAVED?
1 Timothy 2:1-4 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
The “all men” of this scripture means all classes of men, which agrees with the context. Therefore, all are to be prayed for. God has an elect people among all nations and peoples. Jesus said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6:37). He also said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). God, by his all-encompassing power, draws to the Son all classes of men, all those given to Him (See John 17:2). If God had given all the race of Adam to Christ, all would be saved. God’s purposing will can never be resisted so as to be frustrated; rather, it is always accomplished. Election is true, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). God could have left all in sin and saved none, but through mercy and grace some are saved. How many are saved we do not know, but we do know that as many as God gave to Christ will be saved.
EXPLAIN ROMANS 10:9
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
As so many other verses in God’s Word, this verse cannot be properly understood unless it is understood within its setting. This verse can only be understood by taking into account all that is written in Romans 10. This verse has a peculiar and particular application to the Jewish nation as its context readily admits, but still it has application to all believers. Who can confess with the mouth and believe with the heart that Jesus is the Christ? The Bible firmly establishes that only the born again child of God is capable of so doing. Those who have received the power of the Spirit in the new birth are those who believe in Christ and confess Him as Saviour. In verse eight God tells us that “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach” (Romans 10:8). How does the Word come to be in the mouth and in the heart? Read Hebrews 10:16,17. What significance does this have? Christ said, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34 The only one who will confess Christ with the mouth is the one with the new heart – the one who is a new creature in Christ Jesus. Does confessing Christ cause salvation? No. Does believing in Christ cause salvation? No. The blood of Christ shed on Calvary effects salvation. But how can I know if I am saved or lost? By confessing with the mouth and believing with the heart. These are evidences of salvation, and only that person who shows some evidence of salvation can possibly have any assurance of it. By faith, the same faith that is a gift of God, we are able to lay hold on that which has been accomplished for us. Paul said, “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12) and we are able to know that salvation is our present possession. This is the manner in which Christ defined eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). One of the driving forces in the life of Paul was that the saints might know their present possession of salvation. “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:8-10).