by Mike Ratliff
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)
In yesterday’s post, Grace of Acceptation With God, we saw that our salvation was far more than simply justification by faith, which in and of itself is incredible, but also includes the imputation of the actual active righteousness of Christ, His good works or keeping of the Law, which is required for our complete acceptation by God into His Kingdom. I know that many reading this may not see the point of this or have no idea what I am talking about. However, please understand, I am praying that you will understand the truth of this because this is a huge missing piece from the gospel in the church in our time. Without this teaching, the church is plagued with professing Christians who are in a form of self-salvation. They did the religious thing “to get saved” at church. They were sincere, but there is no real change in their lives. However, the Bible is very clear as in the passage above that we are saved “not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Therefore, there is a huge problem with a lack of assurance in these people. The issue is not their lack of sincerity or their lack of obedience since their religious experience, but that they have believed a false, man-made gospel that has no spiritual power to really save or regenerate anyone.
I am preparing to take a few days off to spend with my mother this first Memorial Day since my Dad’s death. I will return late Monday. However, I think that it is vital that I spend this time in this last post before I leave continuing to focus on this battle to “recover the Gospel” in the Church. There are many issues right now that we need to address such as new Calvinism. What is that? My friend Ken Silva said today that it is “Postmodern emerging Calvinism, which is no Calvinism at all.” I know that to many Christians that the term Calvinism has a very negative connotation. I can understand that. In some cases it may be called for, especially when it refers to those that have taken such an extreme Calvinistic position that we refer to them as Hyper-Calvinists. I am not one of those and actually do not know any one who is. All of the Calvinists I know are very evangelical.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)
Preaching of the real gospel involves telling the truth from God’s Word of the Fall of Man and the result which we see above. All of us were born dead in trespasses and sins that made us children of wrath. Lest you think Paul is referring to “all people” as the “us” here look closely. He is speaking to Christians who are already saved. He is telling them that they once walking in the wrath of God “like the rest of mankind.” However, God was merciful. Those whom God made alive together with Christ by His grace, He also raise them up with Him and seated them with Him in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This is speaking of what awaits the believer in eternity. How were we saved? All real Christians were saved by grace through faith, not a result of works. No exceptions.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:1-7 ESV)
Carefully read this passage my brethren. The part in bold describes what happens to each person God saves. According to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit each are justified by His grace. The regeneration also speaks of the making of each believer into a new creation. This is that imputing of Christ’s righteous character to us at our salvation. As our faith grows and our flesh becomes more and more under control, as we become more and more humble before our Lord, the more this will be manifest. This is when people will see the transformed life, the Christlike character growing in us. Remember, this is not the Gospel itself, but the fruit of the Gospel. Through the Gospel, we become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Preaching of the real gospel of the grace of God based completely on God’s Word will contain four points that are invariably missing from what is preached in the sermons in most churches in our time. Here are the four points.
- that all men are sinners, and cannot do anything to save themselves;
- that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is a perfect Saviour for sinners, even the worst;
- that the Father and the Son have promised that all who know themselves to be sinners and put faith in Christ as Saviour shall be received into favor, and none cast out (which promise is “a certain infallible truth grounded upon the superabundant sufficiency of the oblation of Christ itself, for whomsoever (few or more) it be intended”);
- that God has made repentance and faith a duty, requiring of every man who hears the gospel “a serious full recumbency and rolling of the soul upon Christ in the promise of the gospel, as an all-sufficient Saviour, able to deliver and save to the utmost them that come to God by him; ready, able and willing, through the preciousness of his blood and sufficiency of his ransom, to save every soul that shall freely give up themselves unto him for that end.” – From The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen p295.
In other words, the real preacher of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is to display Christ, not entertain people, or build large churches. This entails explaining man’s need of Him, His sufficiency to save, and His offer of Himself in the promises as Saviour to all who truly turn to Him. He must also show as fully and plainly as he can how these truths apply to the congregation before him.
If preachers of the Gospel would preach this way again knowing full well that if anyone believed and was saved that it was a work of the Holy Spirit then we might again see the gospel advancing across the world with power instead of this man-centered demon-powered ecumenical evil thing that is only pretending to be Christian that is claiming to be on target to “change the world. “ Well, God is Sovereign. We must pray for His people to once again preach the gospel of offense with power, knowing full well that it could cost them everything. It is this gospel message alone that is genuine and the only one God has promised to bless as He did when Christianity overtook the Roman Empire. May we see that happen again in our lifetime! If not, then, come soon Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!