by Mike Ratliff
1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. Romans 13:1-2 (NASB)
There are some who teach that our salvation is something of a crapshoot. Oh, they don’t ‘use words like crapshoot to describe their Soteriology, but their insistence that a person’s salvation is a mere decision means that their approach to the Gospel is one of mood and emotion manipulation that can be resisted by a person and, therefore, results in nothing more than some emotional decisions amidst many equally emotional rejections. Is this the means that God uses in the building of His Church?
The problem seems to be that those who operate like this ignore what the Bible says about the Fall, the curse, and the total spiritual inability of natural Man.
10 as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18 (NASB)
44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. John 6:44-45 (NASB)
64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” John 6:64-65 (NASB)
If we get our minds around these passages as the Holy Spirit speaks the truth to our hearts then we will see that the Doctrine of Total Inability of Man is exactly what the Bible teaches. Then we must come to the natural conclusion that it must take a miracle for anyone to be truly saved from the wrath to come. Also, that miracle includes a spiritual regeneration that changes a person from what they were before to a Born Again, New Creation. Let’s look at Paul’s Epistle to Titus.
1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. Titus 3:1-2 (NASB)
Paul tells Titus to remind his congregation to exhibit godly behavior. He tells him this with the full understanding that they are able to do this. This exhortation is one in which the speaker or writer assumes that the people have the character and ability to be subject to ungodly rulers, obedient, and ready for every good work. Also, they are to hold their tongues, be gentle and humble toward everyone. This is describing how people are only if they are Spirit-led. Only a Christian can be Spirit-led. However, the assumption is that these people have the ability to be this way and not as we described above from Romans 3. These people don’t just try harder nor are they naturally good people. No, they have been changed and are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Here is how all of us are outside of God’s grace.
3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. Titus 3:3 (NASB)
These are the fruits of a heart that is unregenerate. This is how we all are before the miracle of salvation. Unfortunately, many believers still exhibit these traits in their daily walks. This should not be. However, Paul expects Titus’ congregation to obey this exhortation to be godly and Christlike. He knows that they have something now that they did not have before. What is it?
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (NASB)
What a theologically packed passage! Our salvation is a good work of kindness of God our Saviour. God did not have to save anyone. He could have allowed our entire race to die in our sins, but He showed kindness to those He would save, not by any works of righteousness they have done, but according to His mercy. This word “mercy” describes an act to relieve the misery of another. Unless God shows us mercy, we cannot be saved from the penalty of our sins. However, there is a bonus to being declared righteous, which is that He saves us through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. Our salvation happens at once. According to this passage, God forgives and regenerates and renews us all at once. Our regeneration, which makes us New Creations in Him, also cleanses us of our sins and brings us into relationship with Him. We now are able to obey our Lord according to His will.
Our salvation is not done haphazardly nor it the result of a successful crapshoot. No, God planned it for each of us and saved us in His timing His way. In it, He pours out our renewing by the Holy Spirit richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Our regeneration is a special event and, in it, we are eternally changed. After this, God justifies us by His grace. That means that we are declared righteous with Christ’s righteousness being imputed to our account. We are now heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Amen!
8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. Titus 3:8-11 (NASB)
Does everyone believe? Sadly, most do not. Those who believe are the ones whom God regenerates and justifies. They can obey God, but no one else can. Even with our regeneration and the work of God in us, we still sin. In this passage Paul tells Titus to warn his congregation to be careful to maintain good works. That means that we are to do them. Why? They are good and profitable to men. They also are used by God to do good work in us as well as Him using us to draw others to Himself.
However, there is a tendency within the Body of Christ to major in minors and pursue things as if they are vastly important that actually deserve little or no attention. For instance, I have been in classes where we were studying very deep and vital spiritual things, but someone in the class insists on bringing up peripheral topics that are not edifying. We must not do this, nor allow these things to be used by our enemy to distract us and sow seeds of discord in the Body. Paul warns that if someone is so bent on this type of behavior that they become factious then they are to be warned twice then shunned if they don’t repent. We may find ourselves accused by them and their friends if we do this, but it is highly unprofitable to become bogged down in fruitless arguing.
My brethren, I pray that we can agree that salvation is God’s good work in us. It is not our work. He chose us we did not choose Him. How could we choose Him? Unless He regenerates us, and spiritually restores us to Himself, we remain dead in our trespasses and sins. I pray that we will all seek to obey our Lord in being gentle and forgiving as Christ was. He was firm with hypocrites as we should be, but always ready to forgive those whom the Father gave to Him. I pray for God’s people to see that He is Sovereign and we are the work of His hand. Let us seek to obey Him in all things for His glory alone, by His grace.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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